2020 Honors and Awards Spotlights Outstanding Student Leaders

2020 Honors and Awards Image

The 2020 Honors and Awards ceremony was conducted virtually, in observance of distancing guidelines.

Virtual Ceremony continues tradition of recognizing excellence

With the stay at home and social distance guidelines in effect this spring, St. Catherine University has changed a number of its traditional year-end recognition events to virtual celebrations. One of the first celebrations can now be viewed online: the 2020 Honors and Awards

A capstone for student leadership, the St. Catherine University Honors and Awards Ceremony celebrates the outstanding accomplishments of the leaders within the St. Catherine University community and not only recognizes them for their efforts, but also the legacy they leave behind. 

“St. Catherine University recognizes that each student demonstrates outstanding leadership in different ways,” said Seth Snyder, PhD, Dean of Students at St. Catherine University. This is particularly true during these times when students have stepped up to be leaders during the unexpected.


Michael J. Baynes Reflective Life Award given to Cat Brooks ’20

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, attempts to do good in the world. 

This year the award goes to Cat Brooks ’20 for reflecting Michael’s challenge to “bring good to the neighborhood.” She has been a leader in the Physical Therapy Assistant program,  and has served as an advocate for a community that tends to be underserved, especially in healthcare. 


Mary Alice Muellerleile Student Leadership Award given to Libby Sanders ’20

The Muellerleile Award is named in honor of the first director of continuing education. Each year, this award is presented to a College for Adults student who has not only demonstrated exceptional leadership and service to her peers and to the University, but further been an active advocate for the development and leadership of women of all ages.

As a single mom, Libby Sanders ’20 has been an active advocate for women and the Access and Success program at St. Kate’s. Libby has also been a strong advocate for the Access & Success program. She is proof of the positive impact that a single student can have when they take the time to find meaningful ways to be engaged. Libby is able to utilize her ability to listen to try to bring people together and find commonality and understanding. She has been an outstanding role model and showcase of women’s leadership for her peers.


2020 Thomas More Award Recipients

The Thomas More Award is presented to students who have demonstrated outstanding loyalty and service, as well as integrity and campus spirit. These students may have made a major contribution to a particular organization, department, program or issue, or may have consistently contributed to a broad range of activities. This year, 86 students were nominated for this award and 22 are recipients, all 2020 graduates.

The 2020 Thomas More award recipients are (in alphabetical order):  Sydney Anderson, Tatyana Beck, Addison Cross, Abril Flores, Anna Foster, Haley Hanson, Melanie Hazelip, Sophie Howes, Olivia Jensen, Iceline King, Maddy Knoll, Mykayla Laurie, Beck Nelson, Tenzin Nordon, Isabel Pastoor, Belle Phoutinane, Tegan Sickeler, Paxoua Vang, Jackie Vargas, Emelin Ventura Gonzalez, KaSua Vue, Erika Wallace.


Dean of Students Award given to Alma Silver ’20

The Dean of Students Award recognizes a senior from the College for Women who has made an outstanding contribution to the University’s mission, throughout their years at St. Catherine University. 

This year, with 23 nominees for this award, Alma Silver ’20 exemplifies service and loyalty to the University as well as living the mission of leading and influencing. She is a scholar, an educator, a writer, an activist and ally. As the O’Shaughnessy Scholar of her class, Alma has excelled in her academics and campus involvement. She has been an active voice in the CFW Student Senate, holding a variety of positions. She was part of Residence Life, the Center for Women, and Community Work and Learning. She also served as the editor in chief of The Wheel, the online student newspaper. Alma created “The Spaces In Between” to advocate for students and allies within the disability and promote neurodiverse communities.


Helen B. Lemmer Award in Honor of Mother Antonia McHugh given to Zaynab Abdi ’20

This award was established by the St. Kate’s chapter of the Association of University Professors and first presented in 1973, the centennial year of Mother Antonia’s birth. It is endowed by the family and friends of Helen B. Lemmer to recognize a student who intends to pursue a career in college or university teaching and exemplifies the ideals of St. Kate’s first president.

Mary E. McCahill Award given to Zaynab Abdi

The University’s most prestigious award, the Mary E. McCahill Award recognizes both academic excellence and extraordinary student leadership and is presented to the senior who has consistently demonstrated outstanding leadership, loyalty and service to the University. This year's award goes to Zaynab Abdi. 

At St. Catherine University, Zaynab has been a Resident Advisor for 3 years, and also has been involved with Student Senate in various roles — most  currently serving as the Student Senate president — and is the student coordinator for the Civic Engagement Collective, where she worked on several Get Out the Vote and voting engagement programs. Zaynab was a Peer Mentor for the Multicultural and International Programs and Services Office (MIPS) last year, and is the Assistant Coordinator for the Peer Mentoring program this year. Her work there has  focused on building an inclusive community amongst the mentors.  

Zaynab’s advocacy efforts extend well beyond campus: she is part of the Young Women’s Cabinet of Minnesota, works with Green Card Youth Voices as the Immigrants and Refugees Youth Ambassador, and is a co-author of the book Green Card Youth Voices: Immigration Stories from a Minneapolis High School. Zaynab also works as a Youth Advocate for girls’ education with the Malala Fund. She has spoken at The United Nations and UNICEF, as well as many other regional and national conferences and venues. The story of Zaynab and her sister is featured in Malala’s most recent book We Are Displaced.

The virtual Honors and Awards celebration may be viewed online; a PDF of the commemorative booklet is also available to download. 

St. Catherine University congratulates each of these outstanding leaders. As Becky Roloff, ‘76, President of St. Catherine University noted, “The world has never needed you, your intelligence and confidence, and your leadership more than it does right now.”