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Faces of the Future

BY AMY LINDGREN '83

Standout members of the Class of 2015 highlight St. Catherine's commitment to excellence.

  • Team Player
    Christina Ramsdell
    Outgoing and athletic, Christina Ramsdell is known as the go-to person when someone pulls a muscle on the soccer field. An athlete since junior high, Ramsdell experienced a season-ending injury when she tore ankle ligaments in eighth-grade track. After spending weeks on crutches, she returned to competitive sports with a passion for a career in physical therapy.

    Now, with the Elizabeth Ann Beatson O'Shaughnessy Scholarship covering the cost of her bachelor's degree, Ramsdell plans to earn her Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) in a six-year program unique to St. Catherine University.

    Ramsdell chose St. Kate's in part for its proximity to her home in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Her family enjoys hunting and fishing at their northern Minnesota cabin, where Christina brought down an eight-point buck on her first outing. Spending days alone in a deer stand was a contemplative counterpoint to high school, where Ramsdell knew every person in her class of 110 and participated in sports, theater and band all while maintaining a 3.95 GPA.

    Making new friends on campus is one of the many challenges she anticipates at St. Kate's. "Starting fresh is exciting," she says, "but it's a little scary too." Thanks to early campus visits, Ramsdell already has befriended her new roommate. Even so, she's leaving her deer antlers at home. Some decorating decisions are best made as a team.
  • Unstoppable Commitment
    Fardowsa Mohamed
    Fardowsa Mohamed grew up hearing stories of her mother's escape from Somalia with three young children and how her parents brought their growing family from the Kenyan refugee camps to the United States. Now, Mohamed, the middle child of nine, is keenly aware of both her heritage and her future.

    Every child in her family will attend college, she says, because learning is a responsibility. Mohamed plans to use her college education which is shifting in focus from international affairs to medicine to help her native country and other struggling nations.

    She has already earned 29 credits by using the state's Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program to attend Normandale Community College in Minneapolis during the last two years of high school. She did this while working part time, volunteering for UNICEF, and participating in school clubs such as the National Honor Society and the Muslim Student Association.

    Although Mohamed intends to bolster her financial aid by commuting from home and continuing to work, she also plans to jump into campus life. "I'm most excited to explore the student activities," she says. "That's what I love most about school. It's worth the extra time. You get to know people from all walks of life."
  • Role Model
    Mai Kou Lor
    When Mai Kou Lor rose from C-squad to co-captain of her high school's 70-person badminton team in the Minneapolis suburb of Coon Rapids, she learned several things: She can reach goals, she can lead others and she can use what she calls "woman power" to build winning teams. She also learned to heed her older brothers, who told her to build on her potential.

    Lor used those lessons when competing for and winning a highly competitive Bill and Melinda Gates scholarship from a national pool of applicants. The rigorous process, which included eight essays, netted Lor full tuition, room and board to earn her nursing degree at St. Kate's. For Lor's parents Hmong immigrants whose income includes the sale of vegetables from a five-acre farm the family tends by hand the scholarship was an unbelievable gift.

    Before receiving the award, Lor had already earned more than a year of credits by attending classes at St. Paul's Concordia University through the PSEO program. Although she is not pressed now to save for tuition, Lor says she's glad she took college classes while in high school.

    "People looked at me differently because they knew I was a college student," she says. "They respect you; they look up to you. I love that feeling."
  • Food For Thought
    Lynn Luecke
    From detassling corn in the hot Iowa sun to cleaning bedrooms in a retreat house, Lynn Luecke has always worked hard. But she has balanced that effort with a tireless slate of extracurricular activities — including track, speech and her school's senior leadership team — all while maintaining a high GPA and participating in her church.

    The University rewarded Luecke's well-rounded, high-achieving lifestyle by presenting her with the inaugural The Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn Archbishop Emeritus Scholarship, which covers four full years of tuition. A friendly person who is anchored by her faith, Luecke plans to get involved with spiritual ministry at St. Kate's and minor in Catholic studies. The surprise scholarship didn't change Luecke's commitment to hard work. "I had planned to pay for college by working and taking loans," she says. "I'm still planning to work to help pay for room and board. I feel like I can handle it, so I should be contributing."

    Luecke is excited to start her studies in dietetics. An inveterate reader of cookbooks, she dreams of opening a restaurant with her sister, who has been her cooking partner in countless experiments at their home in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Her love of Mexican food began when her family lived in Mexico during Luecke's early elementary school years. She also hopes to study abroad and learn more about foods from other cultures.
  • Eyes on the Prize
    Cierra Lewis
    For Cierra Lewis, the future is now, and there's no time to waste. That's why she spent the spring semester of her senior year in high school on a grueling schedule of classes at Maranatha Christian Academy followed by night classes at Hennepin Technical College in Minneapolis, in pursuit of certification as a nursing assistant (CNA). During her "free time," she worked at Dairy Queen.

    The effort paid off. Lewis became a CNA in time to search for a job that will fit with her rigorous coursework in nursing at St. Kate's. "It's exciting," she says. "I'm finally getting to do something with my career goal."

    Already she has made steps in that direction. The summer after her junior year in high school, Lewis won a competitive slot volunteering at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, where she worked with patients and learned hospital protocol. Next stop? St. Catherine University and a roommate she has known since fourth grade.

    Lewis can't wait: "I'm not apprehensive about anything," she declares. "I'm excited to get my future started. I'm going to go at it full force and keep looking forward."
 
graduation tassel

St. Kate's educates students to lead and influence. The University's mission statement declares it, and evidence abounds on campus every day as students engage in dialogue and research with their professors, participate in clubs and groups, break records in team sports, and take initiative wherever they see a need.

We found five stellar examples of the Class of 2015, the first-year students in the College for Women, whose faces and stories bring the oft-quoted mission statement to life. They come from diverse backgrounds, but their lives are now entwined as they study, make friends, and plan their futures.