April 27, 2016

Honors and Awards ceremony celebrates highest student achievements

Friends of Makabongwe Ngulube '16 react with joy when she was awarded the Mary E. McCahill Award, the University's highest honor. All photos: By Rebecca Studios / Rebecca Zenefski '10

The St. Catherine University community gathered Tuesday, April 26 to celebrate student academic and leadership achievements, including top-10 graduating seniors, inductees into the 24 active academic honor societies and the recipients of scholarships and departmental honors.

In addition, the Honors and Awards ceremony presents six All-University Awards that acknowledge student leadership, outstanding loyalty and service, and contributions to the St. Kate’s mission.

“As a student, your work here is to discover what matters most, what calls forth your best self; to find ways in which you can be your most passionate, most powerful, most engaged and effective self,” said President Andrea Lee, IHM, in her opening remarks. “Honors convocations at St. Catherine have a deeper meaning. It’s about success at the big, important things. And you have succeeded very well.”

2015–2016 All-University Leadership Awards

President Andrea Lee, IHM with Mary E. McCahill Award-winner Makabongwe Ngulube '16.

Long recognized as the University’s most prestigious award, the Mary E. McCahill Award is presented to a senior who has consistently demonstrated outstanding leadership, academic excellence, loyalty and service to the University throughout her years here. This year’s award was presented to Makabongwe Ngulube ’16, an international relations major, with a minor in women’s studies.

Most visible in her roles as an AMP program assistant for the economics department and as lead student for the Information Center, Ngulube also worked with the Sisters of St. Joseph as student coordinator of the Peace Prayer for International Women’s Day. She honed leadership skills as a member of the LEAD Team and Student Senate, most recently serving as Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee.

An international student from Zimbabwe, Ngulube served her fellow international students as peer mentor in the Multicultural Program and Services (MIPS) Office, assisted with New International Student Orientation, and significantly contributes to the annual International Potluck celebration.

Ngulube is not only deeply involved on campus, but has also represented St. Kate’s at prestigious organizations and events including the Minnesota NGO Network (as an intern), the National Model United Nations program, the Harvard Business School’s Africa Business Conference and the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity.

One nominator noted, “She has so many accomplishments on her resume. What is not represented, however, are the relationships she’s built, the lives she’s touched, the stereotypes she’s helped challenge, and the lasting friendships she’s established."

She was also recognized earlier in the evening for her membership in the Phi Beta Kappa and Kappa Gamma Pi honor societies.

Katie Zarbock '16, winner of the Dean of Students award.

The Dean of Students Award was presented to Katie Zarbock ’16 for her outstanding contributions to the University’s mission throughout her St. Kate’s career, including serving as a first-year orientation leader, president of the Social Dance Club, co-president of the Biology Club, supporting officer and secretary of Cru Christian Fellowship and Student Senate representative. She worked as a lab assistant for the biology department and as an Assistantship Mentoring Program (AMP) research collaborator.

Though not as visible as her other involvement, one of Zarbock's most significant contributions came as the student representative on the St. Catherine Presidential Search Advisory Committee.

Zarbock appeared frequently on the Academic Dean’s List, is an Antonian Scholar and a member of three honors societies: Beta Beta Beta (biology), Kappa Omicron Nu (human sciences) and Kappa Gamma Pi (Catholic leadership). She graduates summa cum laude next month with a bachelor’s degree in biology, and a minor in French.

Ella Burnham '16 was nominated by the entire mathematics faculty for the Helen B Lemmer Award in Honor of Mother Antonia McHugh.

The Helen B. Lammer Award in Honor of Mother Antonia McHugh was presented to mathematics major Ella Burnham ’16. The award was established by the St. Catherine chapter of the Association of University Professors, and endowed by family and friends of Helen B. Lemmer, to recognize a student who intends to pursue a career in teaching at the college or university level, and who exemplifies the ideals of Mother Antonia, St. Kate’s first president. The award was first presented in 1973, the centennial year of Mother Antonia’s birth.

“While students are generally nominated for this award by their advisors or professors, Ella was nominated by the entire mathematics faculty,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Colleen Hegranes.

Burnham began her studies in mathematics education, but discovered a real love of statistics, specifically related to education. Her senior project analyzed high school dropout rates with attention to financial challenges and to race.

A National Science Foundation STEM Scholar, Burham’s notable recent achievements include winning the Outstanding Mathematical Sciences Senior Math Award and induction into Phi Beta Kappa. Offered admission and graduate assistantships in three prestigious programs, she decided on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln where she starts next fall.

The 2016 Thomas More Award winners. Out of 72 nominees, 16 were selected.

Out of seventy-two nominations, this year’s Thomas More Award recipients include Denyce Alvarez, Christina Cao, Laura Crepeau, Justine De Jesus, Kayla Guerrero, Ellen Kokes, Olivia Kopecky, Sarita Lauth, Maita Lee, Katherine Lenglet, Elly Leyva, Maria Lopez, Tinodaishe Mandebvu, Anna Shilongo, Brianna Vigliotti and Hannah Young. The Thomas More Award is presented to students who have demonstrated outstanding loyalty and service, as well as integrity and campus spirit.

Among their ranks, this year’s Thomas More recipients include top-10 graduating seniors, Antonian Scholars, Minnesota Space Grant Scholars, National Science Foundation STEM Scholars, a three-time Academic All-MIAC student athlete, and members of the Iota Sigma Pi, Lambda Pi Eta, Kappa Gamma Pi and Kappa Omicron honor societies.

Anne Weyandt ’83, dean of Adult and Applied Education, with Liz Gadbois '16, winner of the Mary Alice Muellerleile Student Leadership Award.

The Mary Alice Muellerleile Student Leadership Award was presented to Liz Gadbois ’16, an English major who will graduate summa cum laude next month. Named in honor of the first director of the Evening/Weekend/Online (E/W/O), the Muellerleile Award is presented to an E/W/O program student who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and service to her peers and to the University, and who has been an advocate of the strengths and development of women of all ages.

Gadbois collaborated on the revision and completion of a textbook with Joanne Cavallaro, professor of English. An active contributor to the E/W/O Student Advisory Board, Gadbois has also served as a teaching assistant and volunteers at Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute as a homework tutor. She was recently named English Major of the Year. Next year, she begins a master's program in literature and English at Minnesota State University–Mankato.

Dean Weyandt with Tracy Peterson, winner of the Michael J. Baynes Reflective Life Award.

In its fourth year, the Michael J. Baynes Reflective Life Award recognizes a student in the Associate Degree program who, through leadership, service to peers and community, and adherence to high personal and academic standards, meets Michael’s daily challenge to himself and others to “Bring Good!” This year’s recipient is Tracy Peterson, who is completing a physical therapy assistant degree.

Peterson leads a weekly exercise class for East African women in Riverview Plaza, volunteers with classmates to teach exercise to Somali residents in the Pentagon Apartments in Minneapolis, and is described by her peers as “a person who empowers others to become their best selves.”

“Tracy truly ‘brings good’ in the classroom, within the physical therapy profession, and in our local community,” said Anne Wyandt ’83, dean of adult and applied education.

Faculty Mentorship Honor

English Professor Cecilia Konchar Farr was recognized during the event with the Patricia O'Connor Myser Award for Excellence in Faculty Mentoring.

The Patricia O’Conner Myser Award for Excellence in Faculty Mentoring recognizes a St. Catherine University faculty member who has demonstrated a sustained record of exceptional mentoring of undergraduates engaged in research and scholarship. Eleven faculty were nominated, and this year’s award went to English Professor Cecilia Konchar Farr.

Throughout her 21 years at St. Kate’s, Konchar Farr has welcomed students into the scholarly dialogue, inviting them to think through new concepts and theory, to question existing "dogma," and to challenge her as well. Konchar Farr’s students inspire and inform her scholarship; her scholarly work begins in the classroom and evolves into published research with undergraduate students involved in every step in the process.

One notable collaborative stand out: A Wizard of Their Age: Critical Essays from the Harry Potter Generation, a book she edited and wrote with seven undergraduate students and alumnae.

“Doctor Konchar Farr brings joy, energy and creativity to her scholarship and to her mentoring. She is creative, inspirational and is a model of how to successfully engage in student-faculty collaborative research in the humanities,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Colleen Hegranes.

By Sharon Rolenc