October 2011 cover SCAN"St. Catherine University St. Catherine University
June 2012
 
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Beating The Odds

by Sharon Rolenc

Liddard at the Littleton Adventist Hospital about a week after the accident that fractured her top two vertebrae.
"Knowing how extremely close I was to dying...I can only thank God for that woman praying for me."

From her early days at St. Catherine University, Emily Liddiard sp'06 felt God calling her to missionary work in Botswana. "I knew that I wasn't going to be a music teacher in America, but that my training would help me use music in my ministry here in Botswana," says Liddiard, a native of Michigan who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in music education and a pastoral ministry certificate.

As a missionary with Youth for Christ USA, Liddiard works with Botswana youth in schools, community centers, retreats, camps, hospitals and churches. During weekly high school visits, she puts her education to use with music, drama, dance and rap to make her messages relevant.

Botswana is suffering one of the most severe HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world, so Liddiard focuses her work on prevention, encouraging abstinence and good decision making. She's also started a mentoring program, similar to Big Brothers, Big Sisters, that pairs young adults with teenagers.

"With so many fatherless homes and orphans due to AIDS, this seems a timely program to help youth make wise decisions during their crucial formative years," she says. What Liddiard cherishes most are the opportunities for one-on-one mentorship with youth in crisis. She helps them find hope again — like the time she sang over the phone to a girl who had attempted suicide.

Liddiard almost didn't make it toBotswana. Four years ago, her life hung by a thread after the van carrying her and other missionary trainees in Colorado was struck by a car traveling at high speed. Three passengers died; Liddiard was among three who survived. She broke the top two vertebrae of her spine and tore two arteries in her neck.

Two off-duty paramedics happened to be driving by the crash scene. They stopped along with a couple on their way to church. The woman tried to calm a terrified Liddiard and held her hands tightly, which prevented the arteries in her neck from being severed. "Knowing how extremely close I was to dying or becoming paralyzed, I can only thank God for that woman praying for me," she says.

Emily Liddiard SP'06 with members of the Scripture Union Club from Maoka Junior Secondary School in Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana.

Liddiard was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery and later placed in a titanium neck brace. With no serious brain trauma, she was able to walk out of the hospital 13 days later. Soon, Liddiard was running, biking and hiking mountains again — more quickly than anyone imagined. Numerous medical professionals have called her recovery miraculous.

"The two-year delay in getting to Botswana certainly deepened my character and understanding of suffering," Liddiard says. "It gave me a heightened sensitivity and empathy for those who are hurting, emotionally and physically."

 

Sue Wollan Fan '84
Volunteer president of Catalyst Community Partners — urban revitalization.

A World Led By Women

The bar has always been set high for Sue Wollan Fan SP '84,who comes from what she considers a "matriarchal family of super achievers." Her mother and three of her sisters also attended St. Kate's (Her sister Kate Wollan SP'86 appears on page 19 as part of the feature "High Marks.") • "From day one, I never thought women could do anything less than rule the world. It never occurred to me that we weren't at least as good, if not better, than boys," she says. • Wollan Fan enjoyed a successful corporate career, including being named the first woman partner in her accounting firm. Four years ago, she made a bold move and left her corporate career to volunteer full time as president of Catalyst Community Partners, a community development group dedicated to revitalizing distressed urban neighborhoods. • "I feel like it was God's mission for me to take the knowledge and skills I developed throughout my career and pay them forward into my own local community," she says. • Wollan Fan credits her time at St. Kate's for helping her develop her bold approach to life. • "It was really in those formative years in college, defining myself as a young woman, that I was challenged to be powerful, to accept who I was and to bring my skills forward in service of something bigger."—Sharon Rolenc