Heather Thonovold MAOL'22

I worked for a company that had a partnership with St. Kate’s, so I signed up for the certificate program. I wasn’t going for an entire degree. But, later, the faculty suggested it. I’m glad they took time to help me figure that out. This program was a launching pad to me switching careers.

My talents were affirmed by the faculty and my fellow students. Most important for me was that St. Kate’s has a very inclusive policy on who gets to attend. I don’t identify as female. All the professorsI had first introduced themselves by name, then said their pronouns. I thought: Huh, that’s cool. That awareness is not present at most places. For members of the LGBTQ+ community, that stuff really matters. Not everyone gets that at college.

There were a lot of group projects in the first year or so. Often in group projects, there are people on your team who don’t pull their weight. But it wasn’t that way at all. I was surprised how eager students were to help each other. I’d say most of the people I encountered were motivated, humble and compassionate.

I would love to be Chief Diversity Officer of a major healthcare organization. I want to be the person who helps others get where they want to be. The most helpful course ever was Strategic Communications with Dr. Jermaine Davis. It was really a turning point in my program and self-realization. I knew it was time to go do what I feel called to do. After a recent job interview, I sent a note to Dr. Davis that said: Your class is one of the top reasons I got this job. I really like the way St. Kate’s engages the whole person and wants folks to get to know themselves and clarify their passions and goals. Asking, through introspection, what am I called to do?

If you just want to read a bunch of books, don’t come here. If you want to experience transformation, St. Kate’s is the right place for that kind of work.


Student photo
MAOL, '21

I ran into a friend who was going through this program. I was interested in organizational development and she told me about the information session. I liked St. Kate’s program because it was more about self-growth. I knew from my Peace Corps experience that I still had growing to do.

My passion is service. I’d like to do something internationally related. The world has billions of people, but we’re all connected in some way. What we do affects somebody somewhere else. I think we have a sense of responsibility not just here, but around the world. One day, I would like to have my own NGO, or non-government organization.

I was in the Peace Corps fellowship program. My thesis topic is Tibetan American Women in Leadership. In our existing system, we lack representation in women leaders. That’s our current state of reality. The goal is to understand the roots of marginal communities. Having the right guidance and support around you is so important because a thesis takes a lot of time.

St. Kate’s has given me more confidence to lead and a voice to represent as a minority student. It’s helped me grow into my role at work. Having knowledge has pushed me into exploring other positions. Growth makes you feel more prepared. I can definitely sense the support from my peers and that it’s a strong network. A network has its own power that is limitless.

In class, I was surprised the discussions were just as rich as the materials. My peers had a lot of amazing experiences I could listen to and learn from. Many women were already in leadership roles in their work. The person sitting right next to me was telling these amazing stories! Hearing their theories plus real life experiences was great.