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Student speaker announced for Winter Commencement 2011

Rebecca Roepke ’11 is one very busy woman as her 10-page curriculum vitae attests. She’s a double major in social work and American Indian studies at St. Catherine University; a member of several honor societies; a research collaborator and a longtime Girl Scouts volunteer, among others.

On December 20, Roepke will speak on behalf of the graduating seniors at St. Kate’s winter Commencement ceremony. She was selected for this honor in October by a University committee of faculty, staff and students — based on high academic achievement, leadership and community involvement.

Roepke, who hails from Oklahoma, is a member of St. Kate’s Antonian Scholars Honors Program and has been inducted into five national honor societies: Phi Beta Kappa, Kappa Gamma Pi, Phi Alpha, Delta Phi Lambda and Phi Theta Kappa. She has made the dean’s list every semester she’s been at St. Kate’s.

In 2011, Roepke received the University’s prestigious Mary E. McCahill Award — given to one senior who has consistently demonstrated outstanding leadership, loyalty and service to St. Kate’s throughout her years here.

She also won the Sister Alberta Huber Intercultural Award that year, and was nominated for the Thomas More Award in 2010 for promoting community spirit and contributing to a broad range of activities on campus. In 2009, St. Kate’s recognized Roepke with the Nichole Miller Social Justice Award for living “a life promoting awareness and diversity.”

“Centered and calm on the outside, Rebecca is passionate and proactive when it comes to the injustices and prejudices that marginalized people in the world have faced and continue to face,” says Geri Chavis, English professor and Roepke’s senior honors mentor.

For her senior honors thesis, “Poetry as decolonization and empowerment: Strengthening American Indian adolescent girls’ self-worth through a developmental poetry/story group,” Roepke analyzed 13 contemporary American Indian survivance (survival and resistance) poems and designed a curriculum for seven 90-minute group sessions for early adolescent urban American Indian girls.

Committed to civic engagement
Roepke has presented or co-presented research at events near and far, including “My Wish: What diverse students wish professors knew about supporting our learning” at St. Kate’s faculty development workshop and “And the things on the staff evals: Supervision and other factors influencing camp staff job satisfaction and retention” at the McNair Undergraduate Research Conference in New York.

As chair of the Student Senate Academic Affairs committee, she serves as a student representative to the University’s Educational Policy Committee. She also held board positions with St. Kate’s English Club, Honors Program Student Organization, Social Work Club and Catholic Club. She’s a member of numerous other organizations, including Women of Color, Amnesty International, Minnesota Public Interest Research Group and the Muslim Student Association.

Roepke is a writing tutor and program development assistant for St. Kate’s O’Neill Center for Academic Development. She was an America Reads tutor at the Anishinabe Academy and two other elementary schools.

Since 1996, Roepke has been an outdoor adventure group advisor and troop leader and volunteer for Girl Scouts in Oklahoma and Minnesota.

Nov. 28, 2011 by Pauline Oo

See also: Leadership, Liberal Arts, Social Justice, Students