Generations of giving support today’s students

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From the St. Catherine University Magazine 2022 donor tribute. Photos by Rebecca Slater ’10 / By Rebecca Studios.

LEADING and INFLUENCING are the hallmarks of a Katie. They are also the calls-to-action that connect alumni to today’s student needs by inspiring them to give to the Katie Fund. Dollars from the Katie Fund, St. Kate’s annual giving program, flow directly to the area of greatest need and most immediate opportunity. The Katie Fund is a powerful tool for the University to fulfill its mission to educate women leaders.

“The Katie Fund impacts all students,” says student Gabrielle Agbenyiga ’24. “From building maintenance, media resources, and technology, to scholarships and financial aid, every Katie Fund gift helps my peers and friends. Because of the Katie Fund, we can receive an education and experience a strong support system.”

Simple, fast, and easy to navigate, the process of donating to the Katie Fund reflects the agility and flexibility of this fund as it supports students experiencing diverse obstacles to their education. While life at St. Kate’s has stabilized since the onset of the pandemic, many Katies still face the challenges of its lingering effects, and the Katie Fund bolsters services such as tutoring, financial aid to close the gap due to lost employment, and more resources for faculty to meet students where they are both academically and social-emotionally. The alumni contributions made through the Katie Fund are being felt by students — whether economics majors like Agbenyiga, biology students like Stephanie Nguyen ’23, or future nurses like Tina Thompson ’22 — like never before.

“We are so grateful that those who were able to give were so generous,” says Mary Beth Iverson ’85, director of Annual Giving. “Recent graduates gave in record numbers. They wanted to show their support and help students keep their education on track. 2021 was our best fundraising year to date, and the generosity of St. Kate’s alumni and friends as we reach the end of 2022 is similarly strong!”

Paying  it  forward  to  provide  opportunities  for  other  women  is  a  reason  to  give  that  has  resonated  with  generations  of  Katies.  Regardless  of  where  they  live,  what they do, or what year they graduated, donors to the Katie Fund find themselves moved by their own St. Kate’s  education. Mary Albright Michel  ’71, for example, has given to the Katie  Fund  throughout  her  life:  “I  had  a  wonderful  experience  and  a  terrific  education  at  St.  Kate’s.  I  look  back  and  feel  such  gratitude for what I was given, and I love that I can help other young women have the same opportunity.”

Donors  also  share  a  strong  desire  to  support  St.  Kate’s  mission  to  create  a  broader,  more  diverse  community. As Kelly Vinson-Taylor ’90 attests, “There is never a question that I will donate to St. Kate’s. I was a  first-generation  college  student  and  I  know  its  challenges. Attending St. Kate’s made such a difference in my life: lifelong friendships and a network of Katies no matter where I travel. I want other women to have that, especially first-generation and BIPOC students. I truly believe by donating money to St. Kate’s, alumni are fulfilling students’ dreams.”

Each  year,  two  special  days  celebrate  this  spirit  of  paying it forward to current and future Katies.

  • Give  to  St.  Kate’s  Day  is  the  University’s  largest  single  day  of  donor  participation  every  year.  In  November  2021,  900  supporters  raised  more  than  $471,953.
  • In February 2022, Give to Honor Her gifts honored 726  women  who  have  made  a  positive  difference  both in the life of a Katie and the world.

“Contributing on these days makes a big difference,” says Iverson. “Our Katies make amazing change in the world, and through the Katie Fund they empower future lives of meaning.”