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.”
My personal passion for nutrition stemmed from some personal complications in high school. I had to see a dietitian who helped me change my life and feel and function better. I wanted to do that for other people. When I was taking my food science class, I fell in love with the more science-y aspects of how food systems work and the biological aspects of eating. I didn't want to go the clinical route anymore, I wanted to focus on the science. I would love to become a microbiologist and research the gut microbiome and how that relates to mental health.
St. Kate’s was on my radar because I wanted a smaller school in the Twin Cities area. My friend wanted somebody to take the campus tour with her and stay overnight. Instantly, I fell in love with the community, the campus and the people, who were so open and friendly. I walked into that weekend expecting not to go to school there and walked out knowing that I was going to go to school there.
I was not looking for an all-women's college nor a Catholic college, but the all-women’s aspect of St. Kate’s surprised me. It doesn't come off pretentious or exclusionary. For somebody who identifies as a woman and decided to go to that school, it didn't feel like I was being hand-held because they thought I needed that. I felt more empowered because I deserved that.
As a new transplant to Minnesota in 2019, I finally had the time to fulfill my dream of earning my master’s degree. I came to Minnesota because it is my husband’s home state and he was retiring from the military. He was inspirational in leading me to St. Catherine University. Until then, my dream of an advanced degree in nursing had been stopped and started countless times over the past two decades.
As an active-duty military mom with small children, I chose to pause my nursing career to raise my children, a choice I was fortunate to be able to make. As much as I loved being the ‘rock for my children’, I was concerned my break from nursing would end my academic options. But not in the eyes of St. Catherine’s. The admissions personnel validated that I was still a competitive candidate for the nursing program with my years of clinical and teaching experience, a current nursing license and lots of volunteer opportunities to boast about. I felt there was a place for me at St. Catherine’s.
Even in my first academic class, a prerequisite online statistics class, the instructor was super friendly, organized and intelligent. She was so kind and I could tell she honestly wanted me to do well.
Once that last hurdle was completed, on to the graduate program I went. It was evident that the faculty at the School of Nursing wanted me to graduate and to succeed, too. Early on in my program I knew I wanted to go beyond a master’s degree and earn my Doctor of Nursing Practice; however extra practicum hours were required. My program director helped align independent study opportunities for me under the guidance of the associate dean to reach that personal goal and earn those practicum hours. When you are mentored by top people in your school, that’s really incredible. This is just one of several unimaginable opportunities that helped me flourish at St. Catherine’s.