If you want a glimpse into the history of St. Kate's, you can simply take a look at the legacy behind our nearly 270 named scholarships. Often established by alumnae/i and their families in honor of someone, these gifts not only represent a legacy left behind, but one St. Catherine University will continue to keep moving forward. Every scholarship, honoree and beneficiary harken back to the mission, vision and core values on which St. Kate's was founded: Catholic, women, liberal arts, leadership, academic excellence, community and social justice.
It is truly remarkable to reflect on where these scholarships come from and what they mean. They not only pay tribute to the honoree and their inspiring attributes and accomplishments, they will impact the lives of so many Katies in the future. These scholarships ensure that smart, talented, compassionate women and men have the opportunity to be challenged in an environment that fosters their growth. An opportunity to ask questions, dig deeper, drive change. An opportunity to influence the world.
While their names are recognized by some, it's not often we get to hear the stories behind these scholarships that continue to benefit generations of Katies.
Barbara Probst Wollan Endowed Scholarship for Nursing
When Barbara Probst Wollan 58 was honored with a St. Kate's Alumnae Award in 2008, her friends and family recounted that “her impact will surely be felt on the countless lives who have benefitted from her clear sense of compassion, dedication to family and faith, and unwavering commitment to serving others." Ten years later, her family made sure this legacy will continue by surprising her with a named scholarship gift in honor of her 60-year reunion last summer.
The Barbara Probst Wollan Endowed Scholarship for Nursing was established as an annual gift to a St. Kate's nursing student who demonstrates leadership, academic excellence and financial need.
Wollan has enjoyed a lifelong connection to St. Kate's nursing program, beginning in 1954 when she started her bachelor of arts in nursing with 32 other bright, young women. Over the years, relationships with these nursing friends have flourished as they faithfully attend reunions and take alumnae trips together, heading straight to the back of the bus each time, where they laugh and chatter non-stop throughout the journey. They are now known by the trip organizers as the “noisy nurses"! Wollan has been a class representative for the past 15 years, and many classmates credit her for keeping them connected.
Wollan was encouraged to enter nursing by her grandmother for the same reason many of today's students choose nursing: to support their families. She went on to have a distinguished 27-year career at HealthEast in a variety of nursing and leadership roles. Mid-career, Wollan decided to return to St. Kate's to pursue her Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL). And she is not the only Katie in her family—four of her six daughters, her daughter-in-law, and even her son-in-law are St. Kate's graduates. Her son Robert Wollan is an honorary Katie as he is currently a member of the University's Board of Trustees.
Beyond St. Kate's, Wollan is busy tending to her bustling family of eight children, 22 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. She is active in her parish, Nativity of Our Lord, and serves on the Funeral Lunch committee and the Grandparent Apostolate program. When asked about her reaction to the scholarship, Wollan has two words: "overwhelmed and grateful."
"My mom loves being connected to St. Kates in both big and small ways," says daughter Anne Wollan Kocon '82. "We wanted to honor her commitment to St. Kate's in a lasting way. Each year, she can feel a part of one student's success. This scholarship is her living legacy, and we hope it inspires other families to do the same."
Elizabeth Ann Beatson O'Shaughnessy Scholarship Fund
Not unfamiliar to the St. Paul community, the O'Shaughnessy name and legacy are especially important in the history and development of St. Catherine University and the University of St. Thomas. Ignatius Aloysius O'Shaughnessy, a 1907 alumnus of St. Thomas, is a legendary benefactor to both his alma mater and St. Kate's. His philanthropy supported the building of The O'Shaughnessy performing arts center on the St. Kate's campus. The I.A. O'Shaughnessy Foundation, under the leadership of his son Lawrence (Larry), also made a $1 million gift to help build the Butler Athletic Center at St. Kate's, and the family has supported numerous other projects and programs at St. Kate's and St. Thomas alike. Larry served as a trustee at both universities for many years, and was St. Kate's board chair from 1981-1984.
In 1991, Larry O'Shaughnessy established the Elizabeth Ann Beatson O'Shaughnessy Scholarship Fund in honor of his first wife, Elizabeth (Betty), a 1943 graduate of St. Kate's who died of lupus in 1989. It is the most substantial and competitive scholarship available at the University, offering four-year tuition to a student demonstrating excellent academic performance, extraordinary artistic talents or outstanding extracurricular accomplishments.
But Larry O'Shaughnessy's influence perpetuates well beyond the campuses of these two distinguished St. Paul universities that he held so dear. A driven scholar, educator, businessman, civic leader and philanthropist, he worked with many organizations on a wide range of issues, from poverty and housing to legal reform and ethical business practices. A fervent believer in education, O'Shaughnessy became very interested in the value of Montessori more than 50 years ago. In 1963, he founded Highland Park Montessori, the first Montessori preschool program in St. Paul. He also established the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota in 1973 to train teachers, and later inspired his daughter Molly to dedicate her career to Montessori education.
O'Shaughnessy's passion for poetry in particular will long be celebrated by many, especially his second wife of 25 years, Bonnie, who would read it with him daily. As his December 2017 obituary states, “Larry's love and writing of poetry say much about who he was and what he did in his life. The pursuit of truth and beauty, and the life of the mind led him on a path both to an understanding of the human experience, and to actively attempting to improve that experience."
Sor (Sister) Juana Inés de la Cruz is often lauded as one of the most brilliant, self-taught scholars and poets in Mexican history. Born in 17th century patriarchal New Spain (Mexico), she was arguably one of the first feminists, a bold and persistent advocate for women's empowerment, education and gender equality – which sharply contradicted social norms and earned her more enemies than friends. Despite this, many political and intellectual authority figures recognized her brilliance by the age of 13, and she soon became one of the greatest poets, mathematicians and scientists of her era. Sor Juana served the Roman Catholic Church as a nun for 25 years and continued to immerse herself in her studies and literary works.
Sor Juana once said, "I do not study to know more, but to ignore less." Similarly, the Consulate of Mexico in Saint Paul believes in the transformative power of education for everyone, and empowering the community to earn the skills and knowledge needed in a fiercely competitive and integrated economy, ultimately benefiting all of Minnesota and beyond.
Every year, the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the Institute of Mexicans Abroad (or IME in Spanish), invites higher education institutions and social organizations interested in fostering education for Mexican or Mexican-American students to apply for a scholarship grant program sponsored by the government of Mexico. In 2011, St. Kate's used this grant to create the Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz Scholarship in honor of an exceptional woman who challenged the status quo through her intellectual pursuits and curiosity. Much like first-generation Mexican/Mexican-American students, Sor Juana Inés was a pioneer and a woman who transcended her time.
The IME-Becas local selection committee has continued to award funds to St. Kate's on the strength of its measurable results toward student success. St. Kate's is highly regarded for its fantastic first-to-second-year retention rate for multicultural students and the specific services and activities designed to help them succeed.
"Through IME-Becas, we seek to instill a sense of national pride in Mexican and Mexican-American students, and we value how St. Kate's rewards highly accomplished students with this scholarship," says Consul Gerardo Guerrero. "It not only eliminates access barriers to a first-rate education, but does so while emphasizing and valuing a commitment to social justice."
Professor Suzanne Hendricks FCNS Scholarship Award Fund Endowment
Affectionately called “Dr. Sue” by her students, Professor Emerita Suzanne Hendricks taught fashion merchandising at St. Kate's for three decades and chaired the family, consumer and nutrition sciences (FCNS) department for 12 years before retiring in 2009.
In 2004, Hendricks and her family established the Professor Suzanne Hendricks FCNS Scholarship in celebration of her 25th anniversary of teaching at St. Kate's. The award supports a sophomore or junior fashion apparel major.
The family's motivation for establishing the scholarship was to recognize Hendricks' contributions over the years and to do something that would have a direct and lasting impact. Hendricks' close connections with her students were obvious to her daughter Wendy Hendricks Degler '91, when she was a young girl tagging along on campus. "She inspired me to have the belief that I could do anything I wanted in my life, without limitation," said Degler. “Her relationship with her students was inspiring, and it made me want to attend St. Kate's from the time I was 12 years old. How many people can say they lived with their college advisor?"
Hendricks embarked on her career as a home economist and went on to complete her master's degree in textiles and clothing at Michigan State University. One of her professors there suggested she consider teaching at the college level, so she pursued teaching at the University of Minnesota in Duluth and the Twin Cities before landing at St. Kate's. Recognized as an exceptional teacher and advisor by students and peers alike, she was very involved in the development of The Reflective Woman core curriculum, the fashion merchandising and apparel design majors, and student recruitment and retention efforts.
"We believe it is important to give back to St. Kate's for the exceptional education we received," adds her daughter Heather Hendricks Chevaillier '93. "It gives us the opportunity to honor our mom and help students do something they might not otherwise be able to do." The family is particularly pleased that several recipients have used the scholarship to study fashion and design in London and Italy to enhance their studies and broaden their perspective.
Hendricks is spending retirement traveling the world herself, and reflects back on her career at St. Kate's with great pride and gratitude. "I feel very honored to have a scholarship in my name that continues my legacy with students at St. Kate's."