After moving to Minnesota in the 1970s as an international student at Macalester College, Osiris Guzman Cert’93 discovered another institution just down the street from her alma mater with a uniquely captivating mission: the College of St. Catherine (now St. Catherine University). That was over 30 years ago, and Guzman has been at St. Kate’s ever since.
Says Guzman, “As a woman from a small town in Panama, raised with Catholic values, my parents viewed education as one of the most important gifts that they could give us. St. Catherine University offers women the opportunities to learn, grow, lead, and serve with compassion and social justice values that will shape our future world.”
Guzman has worked at St. Kate’s for over three decades, watching many generations of Katies dream, develop, and launch their paths in the world. She has supported the University through massive technological advancements, three University presidents, the integration of our Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses, the establishment of the second-largest human anatomy lab in the state, the foundation of the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health, and, of course, a global pandemic.
Through it all, Guzman continues to believe in the mission of St. Kate’s as a force for good in a changing world. “The University invests time and resources in activities and programs to promote the social justice values of the Sisters of St. Joseph,” says Guzman. “These are the values I adhere to in my work at St. Kate’s and as a board member at the non-profit Centro Tyrone Guzman in Minneapolis: leadership with kindness and compassion. I also value the investment the University is making regarding inclusive excellence opportunities of growth for our community.”
In a testament to her years of leadership as a commercial banking executive, Bridget Manahan ’78 outlines her reasons for giving back to her alma mater with remarkable clarity and depth.
“When I graduated,” says Manahan, “I walked into a very different business and commercial banking environment than that which exists in the Twin Cities today. There were far fewer women in commercial banking, and fewer yet in senior management positions or holding board seats. My St. Kate’s experience gave me an awareness of the market and the tools to compete.”
Manahan graduated with a degree from the St. Kate’s business department, which offered a women-centered approach to the curriculum. In addition to teaching students about navigating and understanding the market, the department’s pioneering educators helped women learn how to stake their claim as leaders in their careers and communities despite the realities of gender-based discrimination.
“The mission [of St. Catherine University] is important to me for a variety of reasons,” says Manahan. “We are living in an increasingly complex world, but St. Kate’s consistently provides students with an excellent educational foundation while fostering an environment that values and promotes leadership, equity, and inclusion.”
Manahan credits her time at St. Kate’s with cultivating the professional strengths that would help her build a rewarding and impactful career. However, the most meaningful lesson the University taught her was the importance of service, which has become a significant part of her life and a key personal value.
“When I graduated,” says Manahan, “I walked into the business world with everything I needed, and I started giving back as soon as I could. There are three considerations that motivate my giving: the value of my educational experience and career preparation, the personal relationships and treasured lifelong friendships from my time at St. Kate’s, and that, as a beneficiary of a Catholic education, I want that experience to be available to tomorrow’s students.”
Donna McNamara ’68, PhD, once strolled around Dew Drop Pond, attended Mass in Our Lady of Victory Chapel, and peeked through microscopes in Mendel as a student at St. Catherine University. Today, she serves that same institution from the Board of Trustees.
“St. Catherine University’s mission is important to me,” says McNamara, “on the most basic of levels, because it is an institution dedicated to educating women. On a personal basis, this fact is one of the main reasons that I attended in the first place. Once at St. Kate’s, doors opened to me in a world I had never been exposed to or imagined. These were worlds of learning, ambition, confidence, exploration, contribution, caring, and adventure. I am an ardent supporter of St. Kate’s because I am grateful for how the University helped shape me and my life; and, I want to provide that same opportunity to others who might not otherwise be able to achieve their potential.”
After graduating from St. Kate’s, McNamara’s career led her to Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, where she earned a doctorate in education and human resources. McNamara’s work quickly collected accolades and elevated her to the rank of executive first at AT&T, and then Colgate-Palmolive Company.
McNamara had not considered her relationship with St. Kate’s for some time; but that changed when a development officer visited her in New York City. According to McNamara, “the real motivation to act was that when our conversation steered to St. Kate’s, I began thinking back – in a way I had not done for years – to my days on campus, how much my experiences there helped shape the trajectory of my whole life going forward, and how grateful I was for having had the opportunity to attend.”
This year, Todd Deutsch, MFA, embarks on his 25th year of teaching art and art history at St. Catherine University, making him someone who knows more about the work and the vision of St. Kate’s than most. “I see the impact of our mission every day,” says Deutsch. “It is evident in the classroom, for sure. [Our students] are eager to change the world, and this place is providing the tools for them to do it. And they push me to live up to those expectations.”
Humbly as he may describe himself, Deutsch is an accomplished photographer with a long resume of internationally recognized work, including multiple McKnight Fellowships and exhibitions across the U.S. and the world, including in Germany, Spain, France, Italy, and Uruguay. Throughout his career, he has also earned recognition specifically in the local art scene of the Twin Cities and upper Midwest, forging invaluable connections to the same institutions that inspire our students, including the Walker Art Museum, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Center for Photography, and more.
Professors like Deutsch play a massive role in the St. Kate’s educational experience, as experts in their fields with the talent, skill, connections, and know-how to help students find their paths – even in highly competitive and non-linear career areas like the art world. One can only imagine how helpful Deutsch and his colleagues are to our aspiring photographers, artists, and art-lovers here at St. Kate’s, not only as educators but also as mentors.
Donna Krzmarzick’s educational journey is not the story of a traditional four-year college experience. Instead, her story reflects the unique obstacles and challenges — as well as the triumphs and values – shared by many students who have made a home at St. Kate’s. Krzmarzick begins her story, as many Katies do, with the woman who launched her into the world: her mother.
Krzmarzick’s mother grew up on a farm, working hard to meet the needs of her family. The realities of long hours, heavy labor, and around-the-clock responsibilities kept Krzmarzick’s mother from school, and her husband-to-be dropped out for similar reasons before high school. However, when Krzmarzick’s mother did not enroll in high school, several nuns showed up at her family farm to convince her parents that she should continue her education. Their efforts were a success, and when Krzmarzick’s mother graduated, she did so as valedictorian. However, when it came to pursuing college, “my mother was not allowed to pursue her dream of further education,” said Krzmarzick, “but she became a strong advocate for all of her children to attend college.”
Growing up, Krzmarzick embraced her mother’s love of education, and her father humored Krzmarzick’s fascination with hospitals by sneaking her in to visit her mother after the birth of a younger sibling. The atmosphere of determination and the importance of the work taking place around her captivated Krzmarzick. “When I was in high school,” said Krzmarzick, “I decided I wanted to be a registered nurse and practice nursing in a hospital. St. Kate’s was my first choice because it was a Catholic women’s college with an excellent reputation.”
Immediately after graduating from the College of St. Catherine — the future St. Catherine University – Judi Druke Teske ‘66 moved to Washington, D.C. to launch her career as a national leader in healthcare. That career would span several decades and touch the lives of many Americans, but Teske never forgot where she came from.
“St. Kate’s fit all the boxes for me,” says Teske. “I credit my education at St. Kate’s – and its emphasis on lifelong learning – for nurturing me as a young adult, and I want others to have that same opportunity.”
St. Kate’s mission as a Catholic women’s institution with excellent academic standing and a strong science department attracted Teske. As the first in her family to attend college, she needed the support of a University that fiercely believed in her potential while offering both the rigor and resources to launch her career in STEM. Thinking back, she says, “As a woman, as a lifelong Catholic, as a budding scientist, and as a true believer in the value of a liberal arts education, I was drawn to the College of St. Catherine. I have a strong sense of gratitude for the scholarships I received from St. Kate’s that allowed me to attend a top college – now University – that I grew to love.”
Despite relocating to Washington, D.C. — where she remains to this day —Teske did not say goodbye to St. Kate’s at graduation. She remains deeply connected to the University and its work, most notably through funding an endowed scholarship for biology students with high academic standing, strong leadership aspirations, and financial need.
“I love feeling a part of the University as it grows and evolves,” says Teske. “It keeps me focused on my roots in Minnesota and at St. Catherine University. Over the years, I have served from afar in various roles, including as chair of the School of Health’s advisory council. My entire career was in healthcare, so I want to see the University continue to educate science leaders for the future.”
Mary Kappel Burch ’79 credits her time at St. Kate’s not only with an empowering education, but enduring relationships and a vision of service that animates her life to this day. In her words, “St. Catherine University is built on the vision of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet [CSJs] in their love of God and of the dear neighbor. The Sisters’ work for social justice continues to be an inspiration to this day. Many of the Sisters I counted among my mentors, and, later in life, as my friends. They are among the finest people I have ever known; selfless and dedicated to doing good for others.”
The St. Kate’s impact of brilliant women committed to lives of meaning has resounded throughout Burch’s career. She found success and significance in her work conducting and teaching scientific research, steadily navigating the complexities of being a woman in STEM like many Katies. Beyond aptitude for the sciences, Burch shares something even more profound with many students, past, and present. As she describes it, “The Sisters’ mission of social justice is embodied at St. Kate’s by its students — who are primarily women, diverse, often first-generation — to attend college or university, and in need of financial support. This also described me as I attended St. Kate’s.”
Burch sees herself in today’s St. Kate’s students, and feels a deep responsibility to ensure that current students receive the support they need to access their own life-changing Katie experiences. “I want to give back to the University that provided me with financial aid and work-study opportunities when I needed them. I want to give as often and as much as I possibly can. This was true shortly after I graduated and is true today. St. Kate’s became and remains the most important philanthropic donation I make as I continue to endorse its mission. My professors, many of them CSJs, helped me realize my potential personally and professionally. That mission needs to continue so others may benefit.”
Mary Hurrle Bennett was the first in her family to graduate from college, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Nursing at St. Catherine University in 1978. After launching her career as a nurse, Bennett felt her education journey was not yet over, so she returned to school at the University of St. Thomas to obtain her MBA in 1986. Just as she forged a new path as a first-generation college student, Bennett pursued a unique application of her healthcare and business training by bringing her skills to work as a financial planner. Over the past several decades, Bennett has risen in her field to the rank of Senior Vice President and Wealth Advisor at a global wealth management firm where she has worked for over ten years. In her work, she serves healthcare professionals, private individuals, small business owners, senior executives, and her own employees. Her knowledge, animated by sincere understanding and service-oriented leadership, dedicates her to her colleagues, clients, and friends.
Throughout her career, Bennett has centered her decisions around service. To her, those choices were simple: “I believe each person should make life choices based on their priorities. Education improves the individual and individuals can improve the world. A life as a nurse and a financial planner are focused on service.” Bennett’s life-changing education experience motivates her to seek out opportunities to improve access to education for current and future Katies. Bennett found her voice through her education, and she continues to write her own story by influencing the future of her alma mater. “Legacy is important to me. None of us are promised tomorrow. Including St. Kate’s in my estate plan is a decision consistent with my priorities.”
Mary Jo Abler is a 1987 St. Catherine University alumna and current trustee. After earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from St. Kate’s, Abler achieved a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Rochester in New York and a master’s in management of technology from the University of Minnesota. Abler has put her education to work at 3M, applying her expertise across multiple company divisions for 30 years. This includes three years as vice president and general manager of the communication markets division, which she successfully led through its divestiture from 3M. Abler’s last position before retiring from 3M in 2020 was vice president of new technologies and platforms.
Like many forward thinkers, Abler began building her legacy early in her career. “I first started donating to St. Kate’s shortly after I completed grad school and began working,” she says. Abler attributes her generosity to gratitude for “a built-in advantage of having been educated at St. Kate’s, compared to my colleagues. Confidence, leadership, collaboration, empathy, and integrity are all words that come to mind when I think about my education at St. Kate’s.”
Abler embodies one of the most distinctive characteristics of St. Kate’s history: women empowered not only to succeed, but lead in STEM fields. Part of her strategy to further advance the careers and innovations of women in STEM is by championing the Mendel science building renovation priority of St. Kate’s LEAD & INFLUENCE: The Campaign for the Next Level of Excellence.
Colleen Curran ’75 was a St. Catherine University trustee from 2004 to 2007 and currently serves on the Campaign Cabinet for LEAD & INFLUENCE: The Campaign for the Next Level of Excellence.
Curran’s role is the latest example of her active involvement at St. Kate’s, which also has included teaching as an adjunct professor of business law, participating on several advisory committees, one of which established the Alumnae Association, and another that spearheaded the name change to “University”, and serving as president of the Alumnae Association. All of this she accomplished while building her career in financial services; she retired from Ameriprise as vice president and legal counsel in 2012.
In addition to giving of her time and talents, Curran also has built a decades-long history of philanthropic support of the University based on her advocacy for the liberal arts. “My St. Catherine education honed my critical thinking and communication skills and gave me the confidence and love of learning that sustained me throughout my career and today in retirement,” she said.
Curran’s generosity to the campaign has come in the form of financial aid to students and support for Our Lady of Victory Chapel.
“When I heard that some St. Catherine students were invited to conferences to present research papers, but didn’t have the financial ability to pay for airfare and a hotel room, I knew I had to do something. I worked with Beth Carney [’82, vice president of development and alumni relations] in the Development Office to create the Margaret Reuder Sutton ’50 Travel Fund. Margaret Reuder Sutton was the first St. Catherine student to receive a Fulbright grant. She spent a year teaching and studying French in Paris, which is dear to my heart, since I was a French major, and I’m still studying French today,” said Curran.