Endowed scholarship pays tribute to a great intellect and mentor

Donor and Volunteer Tribute 2022–23: Our Students
Agnes Hyungnam Moon, PhD

Agnes Hyungnam Moon, PhD

From the 2022–23 Donor and Volunteer Tribute summer edition of St. Catherine University Magazine.

LEAD & INFLUENCE: The Campaign for the Next Level of Excellence: Our Students

An endowed scholarship fund has been established in honor of the late Mary (Kevin) O’Hara, CSJ, ’45, PhD.  A beloved philosophy professor, Sister Mary graced the St. Catherine campus with a towering intellect, imposing physical stature, and dedication to mentorship that helped advance the careers of many academics  and professionals.

The $1.5 million fund was created as a bequest of the estate of Agnes Hyungnam Moon, PhD. The Sister Mary L. O’Hara Scholarship Fund will provide tuition support for students with financial need. The bequest will also create a second endowed scholarship, the Anna Jayoung Chung Endowed Scholarship Fund, named after Moon’s mother, who was a woman considered to be ahead of her time in early 20th century Korea for her commitment to women’s education. Both funds will be awarded with a preference for students studying philosophy.

The two scholarships align with the mission of St. Catherine University completely, says President ReBecca Koenig Roloff ’76. “Our mission, educating women to lead and influence, attracts students who are leaders, grounded in reality and powered by values. The generosity of Dr. Moon’s bequest is a grand statement of faith in our students.” The funds honor Sr. Mary’s history of mentorship by preparing women to be changemakers with a grounding in the liberal arts. 

Though not a St. Kate’s alumna, Moon herself flourished thanks to the support of Sr. Mary, whom she met at a professional conference. The two became friends, and eventually Sr. Mary grew to be a personal and professional mentor to her. 

Three photos of Sister Mary (Kevin) O'Hara ’45, PhD

Sister Mary (Kevin) O'Hara ’45, PhD

Anita Pampusch, ’60, PhD

Anita Pampusch '60, PhD

“She took me under her wing,” Pampusch recalls. Members of religious communities need approval to attend graduate school, she explained: “Sr. Mary stood up for me in that. She was my mentor. She pushed it with the powers-that-be in the order.” 

Thanks to this advocacy, Pampusch went on to earn a PhD in philosophy, later becoming St. Kate’s academic dean — and then first lay president. She also served  on local, regional, and national boards, and served  in the prestigious position of president of the  Bush Foundation.

Like Moon, Pampusch will always be grateful for  Sr. Mary’s mentorship. Without her, she says, her life would have gone in a completely different direction. “When you were around her, you felt you were in the presence of a great intellect,” she says of Sr. Mary, “but you also felt her kindness — and her interest in encouraging your ambitions.”

The generosity of Moon, and donors like her, enables continued mentorship of students in their academic and professional paths to leadership, supported by the well-paved tradition of Sr. Mary and countless other St. Kate’s professors