Succeeding in college is hard. Earning a college degree when you’re raising young children is even harder.
Because they understand just how tough it can be to juggle the dual pressures of school and parenthood, staff at Access and Success—St. Kate’s 16-year-old support program for student parents —applied for a grant from the Kinney Family Foundation. This fall, they were awarded $25,000, which was used to launch a pilot project to help single parents enrolled in the traditional undergraduate program (the Day program) achieve their academic and financial goals."
“We did a comprehensive evaluation of our program a few years ago and found that the students who had more challenges with retention were our Day student-parents,”explains Joan Demeules BA’87, MA’01, Access and Success Director. Many student-parents struggle in the Day program, she says, because “they tend to be younger and they have younger children.” Access and Success’ new program is called Steps to Success, and it targets low-income student parents who are 18 to 22 years old and either in their first or second year of St. Kate’s undergraduate program. In August, 10 students were selected for Steps to Success based on essays they had submitted earlier in the summer.
Every two weeks for one year, program participants will have a one-on-one appointment with an Access and Success social worker, initially to develop their goals (academic, financial, social network and leadership) and, subsequently, to monitor their progress. They will also meet as a large group two or three times a year. Each student will receive a monthly stipend of $150 and must maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA and attend one financial literacy workshop per semester.
“Our notion is that if students are more financially stable, have the support around their academic goals, and are more connected and engaged in leadership opportunities, they are more likely to be successful scholars and to stay in school,” Demeules says. The program“is like a little part-time job that allows them to be more connected on campus and to spend more time on their studies.”
And that, she adds, is a win-win proposition for mother and child alike.
— Pauline Oo
Nursing Innovators Honored
Professors Susan Dandridge Bosher, left, and Margaret Dexheimer
Pharris, right, were presented with the 2009 Bonnie Jean Kelly and
Joan Kelly Faculty Excellence Award in September for their groundbreaking
text that aims to make nursing education more culturally inclusive.
Endowed in 2006, the prestigious award carries a $10,000 cash prize.
Bosher and Pharris are pictured with Senior
Bosher is an associate professor of English and director of the English as a Second Language (ESL) program. Pharris is an associate professor of nursing in the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health. The two edited and contributed to an anthology of essays, Transforming Nursing Education: The Culturally Inclusive Environment (Springer Publishing, 2009).
Bosher’s writing in this field has also been recognized with the 2005–06 Carol Easley Denny Award. She has developed, taught and authored a textbook on English for nursing and initiated a series of courses on Hmong language and culture. Pharris is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of adolescent health, recovery for teen victims of trauma and community health. St. Kate’s alumna Joan Kelly ’46 endowed the faculty prize, a distinguished visiting scholar program and a writing excellence award for students to honor Joan’s late sister, Bonnie Jean, who attended St. Kate’s for a brief time before her death.
Award-winning video nets a physical-therapy student another service-learning trip abroad
BY PAULINE OO
Forget the five-star, all-inclusive resorts. On her first trip to Santiago in the Dominican Republic, Sarah Vandenberghe ’09 came face to face with tin-roof shacks and children who were born without limbs.
Vandenberghe,who hails from the Twin Cities suburb of Maple Grove, made the two-week service-learning trip in March with her classmates from St. Kate’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program. The students provided general health services to the community, helped fit two girls with prosthetic limbs and visited a college to share their knowledge of physical therapy with local peers.
“We learned about culture in so many ways, but sometimes we learned about it by the mistake of us thinking that our ways are the correct ways,” says Vandenberghe in the video that she created about the trip and submitted to the inaugural Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers’ “Explore My Mission” video contest. Clocking in at just over two minutes, the video earned her a 10-day mission trip to Brazil this past summer.
Vandenberghe heard about the contest from her professor, Sue Klappa,
and decided to “make a better video” than she would have
for a class presentation. Like Santiago, the Brazilian cities of
Recife and João Pessoa gave this committed Katie the chance
to broaden her knowledge and help those less fortunate.
Honoring a Role Model
Jean Delaney Nelson awarded for leading a life of faith and service.
A former boss describes her as “a beacon” of how business should be done. Bob Senkler, the chief executive officer of Securian Financial Group, says her sense of values helps determine her success.
Jean Delaney Nelson ’80—a businesswoman, a mother, a woman of faith, a volunteer and a member of the Board of Trustees at St. Catherine University— long has been praised as an effective, well-rounded person who makes a difference for many by acting on what she believes. This fall, Nelson was recognized with a Leading With Faith Award from The Catholic Spirit, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
The prestigious award was presented by Archbishop John Nienstedt to individuals working in large corporations, in small businesses and in the nonprofit arena.
As chief information officer at Securian in St. Paul, Nelson is responsible for a staff of more than 400 as well as all technology for the company throughout the United States. She has been cited by Computerworld magazine as one of the “100 Premier IT Leaders in the United States” and by the Minneapolis- St. Paul Business Journal as a “woman change-maker.” Her department this year ranked sixth out of 100 nationally in a “100 Best Places to Work in IT” ranking by Computerworld.
As Securian’s first female vice president, Nelson has served as a role model for other women in the company. She works to help all her employees make room for personal needs while remaining successful at work. Nelson also has mentored St. Kate’s students considering a career in IT.
A longtime member of St. Michael’s Parish in Stillwater, along with her husband, Dave, Nelson says that her faith “informs every decision I make.”
Her daughter Laura is a 2009 graduate
of St. Catherine University and daughter
Sarah currently is a St. Catherine student.
Along with other volunteer service work,
Nelson serves on the University’s Parent
and Family Advisory Council.
Leading by Example
The new Student Senate President outlines her hopes and dreams.
BY PAULINE OO
Margaret (Marg) Nelson ’11, a junior who is majoring in social work, was elected president of the Student Senate in April 2009. Friendly and confident, Nelson served in the Senate as a first-year and second-year representative. Here, the self-described “small-town girl” from New York Mills, Minnesota, shares some thoughts about herself and her goals for the current academic year.
Senate goals: “The two biggest issues we face are diversity and sustainability. We’ve created a Diversity Chair who is responsible for having at least one forum a semester where students talk about diversity — be it race, sexual orientation, disability or something else.” This year, an Environmental Issues Chair will work on sustainability on campus. We’re looking at going trayless in the cafeteria to save water, for example, and updating printers so they print double-sided to save paper. We were inspired by the work of last year’s Environmental Issues Task Force that worked with Sister Andrea to sign the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.”
What she hopes to achieve: “One of my personal goals is to encourage more communication between the administration and students. If students see a dean walking on campus, I would like them to know who she or he is.”
Pet project: “I’d like the deans to come to a Senate meeting — not all at the same time, but in smaller groups or even individually — to talk about their jobs and how what they do affects students. We meet every Tuesday, so I think it’s a pretty realistic goal.”
Why she ran for president: “I was class president in my high school three different times and president of the student council. When I got to St. Kate’s, I found that student government functioned on such a higher level, and I really liked it.”
Favorite place on campus: “The Chapel steps facing Dew Drop Pond during the spring and fall.”TOP OF PAGE