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St. Kate’s highest student achievements celebrated

President Andrea Lee, IHM, announced Alex Kennedy ’15 as winner of the University's most prestigious honor, the Mary E. McCahill Memorial Award.
President Andrea Lee, IHM, announced Alex Kennedy ’15 as winner of the University's most prestigious honor, the Mary E. McCahill Memorial Award.
Photo: By Rebecca Studios

The St. Catherine University community gathered Tuesday, April 28 to celebrate students’ academic and leadership achievements, including top-10 graduating seniors, inductees into the 24 active academic honor societies and the recipients of scholarships and departmental honors.

In addition, the Honors and Awards ceremony presents six All-University Awards that acknowledge student leadership, outstanding loyalty and service, and contributions to the St. Kate’s mission.

2014–2015 All-University Leadership Awards

In its third year, the Michael J. Baynes Reflective Life Award is given to a student in the Associate Degree program who, through leadership roles, service to peers and community, and adherence to high personal and academic standards meets Michael’s daily challenge to himself and others to “Bring Good!” This year’s recipient is Alison Nicastro, who is completing a physical therapy assistant degree.

An active member of St. Kate’s Physical Therapy Club, Nicastro also volunteers with numerous organizations including the Alzheimer’s Association, Feed Our Starving Children, Bridging and Habitat for Humanity. Notably, she organized the Twin Cities Alzheimer’s Association Blondes vs. Brunettes Football Game, which raised over $250,000 in less than two years.

“Ali truly does ‘bring good’ in the classroom, within the physical therapy profession, in her local community and to the greater Minneapolis and St. Paul community,” said Anne Weyandt ’83, dean of adult and applied education.

Honors Flickr buttonThe Mary Alice Muellerleile Student Leadership Award was presented to Barbara Jungbauer, who is pursuing a major in oral communications with a minor in social welfare. Named in honor of the first director of the Evening/Weekend/Online (EWO), the Muellerleile Award is presented to an EWO program student who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and service to her peers and to the University, and who has been an advocate of the strengths and development of women of all ages.

Jungbauer served on the EWO Student Advisory Board and its leadership team, and was recently inducted into Lambda Pi Eta, the national honor society for speech communication. She is also an active community volunteer with Toastmasters International and Dakota County Veteran Services.

This year’s Thomas More Award recipients include Lindsay Borkin ’15, Whitney Brothers ’15, Nina Bukowski ’15, Shoua Chang, Katie Dusek ’15, Ikram Koliso ’17, Maria Koval ’15, Sarah Manning ’15, Rhea Nambalirwa, Makabongwe Ngulube ’16, Emi Nguyen ’15, Jennifer Rocha ’15, Janine Schug ’15, Sophie Shogren ’15, and Nicole Villanueva ’15. The Thomas More Award is presented to students who have demonstrated outstanding loyalty and service, as well as integrity and campus spirit.

Among their ranks, this year’s Thomas More recipients include top-10 graduating seniors, Antonian Scholars, and members of the American Sign Language, Kappa Gamma Pi and Phi Beta Kappa honor societies.

The Helen B. Lammer Award in Honor of Mother Antonia McHugh was presented to Kalyse Engebretson ’15, a sociology major who aims to become a college professor. The award was established by the St. Catherine chapter of the Association of University Professors, and endowed by family and friends of Helen B. Lemmer, to recognize a student who intends to pursue a career in teaching at the college or university level, and who exemplifies the ideals of Mother Antonia, St. Kate’s first president. The award was first presented in 1973, the centennial year of Mother Antonia’s birth.

Sociology Professor Hui Wilcox describes Engebretson as a dream collaborator who “demonstrates the essential qualities for successful academics: intellectual curiosity and openness, discipline and dependability, willingness to take risks, outstanding writing, organizational and communication skills.” Engebretson’s 3.96 GPA and outstanding scholarly work earned her a spot among the top 10 graduating seniors, induction into Phi Beta Kappa, and an Abigail Quigley McCarthy Center for Women Student Leadership Award.

“Kalyse will be the kind of college professor that St. Kate’s would love to have – an outstanding intellectual who cares about social justice and liberal arts and who willingly work for the common good,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Colleen Hegranes.

The Dean of Students Award was presented to Mai Kou Lor ’15 for her outstanding contributions to the University’s mission throughout her St. Kate’s career, including serving as a the founder and former president of SHE Pab: Voices of Hmong Women, multicultural chair for the Student Nursing Association, residence hall advisor, and career ambassador for the Career Development Office. She also volunteers in the community at Minnesota Language Connection, Gillette Children’s Hospital, United Hospital, and Washington Magnet High School.

Notably, her most visible contributions at St. Kate’s include serving as student representative to the Baccalaureate Nursing Governance Committee, aiding in the establishment of the Peer Mentoring Program for Nursing Students of Color, and an Assistant Mentorship Program (AMP) research project aimed at improving the Hmong nursing student experience. A Bill & Melinda Gates Millennium Scholar, Lor will be graduating this spring with a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Considered a “bridge builder” by many who know her, Lor embodies the mission of St. Kate’s. As one nominator describes her, “Mai Kou is a brilliant woman who keenly discerns the needs of society, and moves forward with determination to weave together a community that can influence meaningful change.”

Mary E. McCahill Memorial Award

Long recognized as the University’s most prestigious award, the Mary E. McCahill Memorial Award is presented to a senior who has consistently demonstrated outstanding leadership, academic excellence, loyalty and service to the University throughout her years here. This year’s award was presented to Alexandra Kennedy ’15, a biology major, with minors in Spanish and psychology.

Kennedy is a St. Catherine University Presidential Scholar, Antonian Scholar, a member of Beta Beta Beta, the national biology honor society, and has appeared on the Dean’s list for seven consecutive semesters. She has a published abstract in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology as well as published poetry in the Aisthesis Honors Journal.

The primary founder of the award-winning St. Kate’s Out-of-State Club, Kennedy served as its president for the past three years. Her campus activities include the Spanish Club, Medical Interest Group, and Relay for Life. She has worked as AMP Program Coordinator, Orientation Leader, and in Marketing & Communications. Kennedy volunteers as a technology assistant for Carondelet Village and with Mano a Mano.

One nominator explained the impact of her wide-ranging involvements: “Alex is a living example of a student who ‘claims her education’ by fully engaging in all opportunities available to her here at St. Kate’s. Even better, she encourages and supports other students to join with her.”

Kay Tweeten

Executive Vice President and Provost Colleen Hegranes announced Biology Professor Kay Tweeten as the inaugural winner of the Myser Family Excellence in Faculty Mentoring Award. Photo: By Rebecca Studios

New Faculty Honor

New this year, the Myser Family Excellence in Faculty Mentoring Award was created to recognize a St. Catherine University faculty member who has demonstrated a sustained record of exceptional mentoring of undergraduates engaged in research and scholarship. The inaugural award went to Biology Professor Kay Tweeten.

During Tweeten’s 27 years at St. Kate’s, she collaborated with nearly 100 undergraduates on a wide range of biological research projects, helped them develop their confidence as scientists and inspired many to consider continuing their studies in graduate school. Her student collaborators have made presentations at more than 30 regional and national conferences, and published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals.

“Doctor Tweeten creates a research environment that helps students discover for themselves that they are critical thinkers, with the ability to ask good questions and find the answers to those questions,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Colleen Hegranes.

As one student nominator said of Tweeten, "She gave me skills that I will use for the rest of my life."


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April 29, 2015 by Sharon Rolenc

See also: Faculty, Leadership, Liberal Arts, STEM, Students