Mary Hurrle Bennett was the first in her family to graduate from college, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Nursing at St. Catherine University in 1978. After launching her career as a nurse, Bennett felt her education journey was not yet over, so she returned to school at the University of St. Thomas to obtain her MBA in 1986. Just as she forged a new path as a first-generation college student, Bennett pursued a unique application of her healthcare and business training by bringing her skills to work as a financial planner. Over the past several decades, Bennett has risen in her field to the rank of Senior Vice President and Wealth Advisor at a global wealth management firm where she has worked for over ten years. In her work, she serves healthcare professionals, private individuals, small business owners, senior executives, and her own employees. Her knowledge, animated by sincere understanding and service-oriented leadership, dedicates her to her colleagues, clients, and friends.
Throughout her career, Bennett has centered her decisions around service. To her, those choices were simple: “I believe each person should make life choices based on their priorities. Education improves the individual and individuals can improve the world. A life as a nurse and a financial planner are focused on service.” Bennett’s life-changing education experience motivates her to seek out opportunities to improve access to education for current and future Katies. Bennett found her voice through her education, and she continues to write her own story by influencing the future of her alma mater. “Legacy is important to me. None of us are promised tomorrow. Including St. Kate’s in my estate plan is a decision consistent with my priorities.”
Bennett’s values align with the Our Students priority of St. Kate’s LEAD & INFLUENCE: The Campaign for the Next Level of Excellence. Championing students like Bennett is integral to St. Kate’s future. This campaign promises an expansion of need-based financial aid; the development of the Office of Scholarly Engagement to improve access to fellowships, research, and community partnerships; and enhancement of the Career Development Center to strengthen the alumni professional network and increase paid internships. The trajectory of Bennett’s life and career demonstrates the power of a St. Kate’s education, and the ongoing task of this University is to evolve and expand our offerings to support our incredible Katies.
“My life changed forever due to my time at St. Catherine University -- I often describe my decision to attend St. Kate’s as the best decision I ever made. I was a first-generation college student and chose a career path foreign to my parents. It required working two jobs and acquiring some scholarship assistance to fund my education. Campus life provided me an opportunity to live with students who had a dramatically different upbringing than I did. Title IX was beginning to make an impact on opportunities for women. I saw a world of opportunity and I developed the self-esteem to be able to make a difference.” Bennett’s educational and professional journey is a living testament to the mission of St. Kate’s, and Katies like her deserve our absolute commitment to equity, accessibility, and empowerment.
Bennett’s generosity to the campaign comes easily to her as the next step in a long career of applying all available resources to serve those people whose lives intersect with her own. As a highly qualified financial advisor, Bennett spends every day helping people make big decisions about their money and their legacy. As we enter the second-to-last year of the campaign, Bennett offers a final word of advice: “Be intentional with your choices. Every decision can make a difference.”