Just three years after graduating from St. Catherine University with a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Women’s Studies, Nancy JP Anderson ‘01 experienced a massive life change. On July 18, 2004, Anderson lost her husband, Bill Anderson, who served as president of Midwest Sign & Screen Printing Supply Co. for over 40 years. Just two months later, Anderson was elected as CEO of the corporation in her husband’s place.
Anderson was uniquely qualified for the role due to her service for over two decades on the company’s board of directors, and her thoughtful leadership over the next two decades brought Midwest to new successes, as well as new branch locations. In 2008, Anderson initiated and implemented a strategic plan to carry Midwest through the economic downturn, and in 2013, the company was ranked as the fifth largest woman-owned business in the Twin Cities by revenue.
These achievements earned Anderson recognition within the Twin Cities business community and beyond, including her induction into the Minnesota Women Business Owners’ Hall of Fame in 2017. Upon her retirement, the company boasted ten locations throughout the region, as well as an even more impressive ranking as the fifth largest woman-owned company in the entire state of Minnesota.
Through it all, Anderson maintained a powerful sense of connection to her education — specifically to the St. Catherine University mission of educating women to lead and influence. The same year that she was honored by the Minnesota Women Business Owners’ Hall of Fame, Anderson graduated once more from St. Kate’s, this time with a Master of Arts in Theology and Spirituality.
What kept her coming back? “I support St. Catherine University because of its mission,” says Anderson. “We as women become authoritative in and through our knowledge, and are encouraged at St. Kate’s to pursue positions of leadership in all areas of society. I am such an ardent supporter because I learned firsthand at this University how to find, and then use, my voice both in the public realm and in my private life.”
As a first-generation international student, Kadiatu Kaya ’24 attributes her success at St. Catherine University to generous scholarships, extraordinary mentorship from professors, and the powerful science community in Mendel.
In the Liberian school system, Kaya received very little lab experience. The moment she began taking classes in Mendel, that changed — and so did Kaya herself. As she created chemical reactions firsthand and practiced handling and experimenting with substances that were once purely theoretical, Kaya unlocked a passion for chemistry that both surprised and empowered her.
Armed with this passion, Kaya set to work. Like many students, Kaya required extensive access to lab resources in order to get accustomed to equipment and safety procedures, as well as to complete her classroom assignments and research projects. Fortunately, the academic community in Mendel was ready to provide everything Kaya needed and more.
“In Mendel, curiosity and commitment are rewarded,” says Kaya. “The professors are extremely helpful, always keeping their doors open for students. For international students like me, this makes a huge difference because it gives us a home away from home.”
At St. Kate’s, chemistry and biology professors keep their offices in Mendel so that they can be available to students as they work to understand complex concepts, find research and funding opportunities, and manage the demands of pursuing a STEM degree. Additionally, labs are kept open to students after class and on weekends so that students like Kaya can access the resources they need whenever they need them. Everything in Mendel is designed to support the specific demands of studying science, from top-notch lab equipment to the software and programs installed on the building’s computers. In fact, STEM students at St. Kate’s view Mendel as a one-stop shop for almost all their academic needs.
Winter, spring, summer, fall — Gabrielle Agbényiga ‘24 does it all! Since arriving at St. Catherine University in 2020, Agbényiga has made the most of her college experience through non-stop activity in the classroom, in summer and J-term research projects, in her involvement with student services, in her on-campus employment, and in the St. Kate’s community at large.
This fall marks the beginning of Agbényiga’s fourth and final year at St. Kate’s, capping off an already exemplary academic career. Among the many roles she has explored throughout her time on campus, Agbényiga currently holds the following: economics research assistant studying growth mindsets at U.S. universities for the National Science Foundation, Antonian Honors candidate, peer mentor with the Center for Intercultural Development (CID), previous Truman Fellowship applicant and current Peace Corps applicant, and founder and president of the Black Student Union.
Agbényiga and the Katie Fund
One of Agbényiga’s secrets to success is a well-founded understanding of the resources available to her on campus. Like all students at St. Kate’s, Agbényiga benefits from the Katie Fund, which supports student scholarships and areas of greatest need across the University. However, Agbényiga’s work at the Digital Engagement Center (DEC) has given her special insight into the many opportunities that the Katie Fund provides to support students as they build their own paths to leadership, community impact, and academic excellence.
100% of first-time, full-time students at St. Kate’s receive financial aid, and the Katie Fund provides millions of dollars in scholarship funding to our students each year. As she made calls to alumni and donors through the DEC, Agbényiga always started the conversation with financial aid. “When I explained to people the role of the Katie Fund here on campus,” said Agbényiga, “I pointed to the two scholarships that made it possible for me to attend St. Kate’s: the Presidential Scholarship and the Venture Scholarship. Without these scholarships, I would not be here.”
This March, Hannah Hausman ’24 celebrated one of the biggest accomplishments yet in their college career. From a pool of over 5,000 college sophomores nationwide, Hausman was one of 1,267 STEM students selected as a 2023 Goldwater Scholar. Established by Congress in 1986 to honor the legacy of Senator Barry Goldwater, the Goldwater Scholarship is known as the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering in America. In their successful application, Hausman laid out their plan to pursue a PhD in molecular biology, specializing in biomedical regenerative sciences with a focus on the treatment and prevention of chronic diseases.
The road to Hausman’s latest achievement was paved by their experiences at St. Catherine University. In their own words, “My time at St. Kate’s has been marked by extraordinary opportunities to advance my career, develop lifelong skills, and pursue my passion while making a national impact.”
Hausman first visited campus while still in high school, participating in seminar and discussion-based courses at St. Kate’s through Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO). In these classes, Hausman discovered how empowering the experience of learning surrounded by women could be — it actually felt like they learned material better in this environment than they could in others.
When college decision time arrived during Hausman’s senior year in high school, they narrowed down their final choice to between St. Kate’s and Macalester College. The two institutions share both a strong commitment to social justice and a neighborhood in Saint Paul, located just over a mile apart. However, in addition to its uniquely women-centered culture, St. Kate’s offered Hausman a more generous financial aid package. Upon their acceptance to the University, Housman was awarded a distinguished presidential scholarship providing $34,000 in scholarship funding each year for up to four years.
Comfort Dondo ’15 knew she wanted to come to the U.S. for college, but that did little to narrow her options for undergraduate education. Out of thousands of institutions across the country, St. Catherine University stood out to Dondo for two reasons: the University’s mission of educating women to lead and influence, and Dew Drop Pond.
Although the beauty of Dew Drop Pond certainly helped clinch the deal, it was St. Kate’s women-centric vision that captured Dondo’s attention as a young woman deeply interested in the experiences of other women. “It’s not just a place, it’s an experience,” says Dondo. “The mission got me here, but the reality of women serving one another is what kept me here. I felt so supported, and I was able to realize many of my dreams right here on campus.”
Dondo, who originally hails from Zimbabwe, came to the U.S. in 2004 to study nutrition science at St. Kate’s, where she encountered many like-minded international students and created a fulfilling home away from home. That sense of belonging has extended into her post-college years, and Dondo married and started a family right here in Minnesota.
However, Dondo struggled with domestic violence in her home life. Even as she worked to create the best possible life for her children, she often found herself alone and without the resources she needed to support her family. She quickly became aware that shelters and state resources for victims of domestic violence lacked the key cultural competencies, targeted care, and language resources necessary to serve communities of color and immigrant communities throughout Minnesota.
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.”