If I knew then what I know now …
Alumnae offer life lessons for the record-breaking Class of 2014
BY AMY LINDGREN '83
For the second straight year, St. Catherine University has enrolled a record-breaking number of first-year Day students. At every link of the Admission chain — from inquiries and applications to acceptances and deposits — young women are expressing more interest in attending St. Kate's.
More contact with families, stronger financial aid packages and marketing to a broader pool of prospective students all play a part. "Strong enrollment has been a priority, and we're pleased with the success we're having," says Associate Dean of Admission Marlene Mohs. "It speaks to the strength of
The success of St. Kate's graduates — and their willingness to help up-and-coming Katies — also speaks to the value of their education. More than a dozen baccalaureate alumnae offered advice they wish they could have given their 18-year-old selves. Ranging from the practical to the philosophical, their collective wisdom will help launch the Class of 2014:
Marlene Schuster Palkovich '60 entered what was then the College of St. Catherine more than five decades ago. "Always remember to have fun and enjoy education," she says.
"There's nothing like going to a job you hate or a class you loathe — so make learning fun while keeping a firm focus."
Wenda Schmelebeck '91, an accounting major, works as a management consultant in Haymarket, Virginia. Noting that "college life is about developing leadership, values and relationships," she counsels students to "seek opportunities to engage multicultural and international students. Their experiences will open your eyes to a global world."
Susan Lukwago '89 traveled to the United States as an 18-year-old after having fled with her family to Kenya at age 10 to escape unrest in their native Uganda. Lukwago was aware of diversity in the world; in college sheneeded a chance to grow as her own person. "From my first roommate, I learned discipline," says Lukwago, a coordinator of dietitian services and co-owner of a coffee shop in Liberal, Kansas. "From my job I polished my work ethic. And from the Sisters of St. Joseph, I acquired a belief in the contribution that I, especially as a woman, can make in making this world a better place." Her advice: Experience everything you can, and know that it will all have value later.
Laotian-American Cynthia Phimmasone Shasky '05 came from relative isolation in Utah and discovered a wealth of college clubs at St. Kate's — including one that spoke to her cultural heritage. "Joining the Asian Women's Association changed my life," says Shasky, a political science major who works in employment services in St. Paul. "I learned a lot about myself and made friendships for a lifetime. You grow as a person when you get involved."
Angie Schaffer Butterbrodt '03 wishes she had sought out the Career Development office on campus earlier. An English major now working as a senior communications specialist at Thomson Reuters in Eagan, Minnesota, Butterbrodt was "shocked to learnthat I could get a job related to my degree. Be as proactive as you can about your own development," she urges new students.
Three sisters who came through St. Kate's within a few years of one another offer three different perspectives. Julie Jirik Balamut '80 and MA'08, is glad she registered for difficult classes, even with professors who made her cry. "You will shortly forget that easy A," she says, "but you will never be more proud than of the B or C from the professor who challenges you." Joanne Jirik Mullen '83, an attorney who now serves on the University's Board of Trustees, is glad she stretched herself to learn about new perspectives. And the youngest sister, Mary Jirik Anderson '85, offers this from her perspective as a leadership development manager at Allianz Life in St. Paul: Find a balance between work and fun.
Cassie Atteberry '93, a human resources manager at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, feels reflective after having dropped off her stepdaughter at college this fall. "I offer you these charms," she says. "These are the charms on a necklace that I wear every day. They match the charms on a necklace I made for my stepdaughter: 'Love life, live life. Be free. Follow your heart. Trust in your dreams.' My time at St. Kate's taught me these important life lessons."
Amy Lindgren '83 runs Prototype Career Services in St. Paul and is a careers columnist for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press.
CARD: MAHN MILLER AUCTIONS