Saint Mary's Newsroom

Campus Connection

An update from the president to alumni and parents

Highlighting student achievements and important events around campus

Summer at the Winona Campus is filled with different activities and energy, as we host a variety of camps and workshops, community events, and our alumni reunion weekend. This is also a time to freshen up the campus and facilities before we welcome students back in the fall. Still, I reflect on the spring semester and am reminded why we’re really here: to prepare graduates who have the knowledge, skills, and critical-thinking abilities necessary to be lifelong learners, successful workers, good neighbors, and virtuous, ethical citizens. Please enjoy this newsletter, as it contains updates about our university and provides details of the ways our students are making the most of their college years.

— Father James P. Burns, IVD (Summer 2019)

From classroom to career — the business advantage

From classroom to career — the business advantage

For John Heim, Dixon Irwin, and Nathan Boice, success can be found in the acronyms. They received their B.A.s in May, which have prepared them for their future careers with 3M and IBM. All three are double majors in Business Intelligence and Analytics and Finance who are making it their business to help their future employers with their businesses. All three have a passion for understanding and interpreting data.

Irwin, who calls Red Wing, Minn., home, said he most enjoys the analytics component of business. “All the insights that can be discovered using the tools we’ve learned is what has excited me most about my major and business in general,” he said. Boice, who lives in St. Charles, Minn., hopes his knowledge in business intelligence can help companies thrive. Both he and Heim are headed to IBM to work as financial analysts, while Irwin will work as a frontline intern in business analytics for 3M’s Marketing-Sales Operations division. And all three say that having a job lined up long before graduation took a huge weight off their shoulders, allowing them to focus on schoolwork and athletics. Read the full story.

Photo caption: Graduates John Heim, Nathan Boice, and Dixon Irwin.

Regenerative medicine workshop provides eye-opening experience

Regenerative medicine workshop provides eye-opening experience

As Saint Mary’s senior Danielle Franke dreams of a career in obstetrics, she was excited to learn more about how regenerative medicine will benefit her future patients. She, along with nine other college students from throughout the region, were invited to Saint Mary’s University’s second Regenerative Medicine Workshop, held in May on its Winona Campus. The event — funded in part by a $49,202 grant from Advancing Regenerative Medicine — featured innovative learning and hands-on activities and guest speakers, including a bioethicist, a physician assistant program director from Mayo Clinic, and a researcher from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

The transitional and groundbreaking discipline of regenerative medicine has tremendous potential to impact the treatment of diseases affecting different organ systems, from tissue growth for burn victims to growing new vital organs, like hearts and kidneys. The potential for self-repair can lead to an improvement in the quality of life — and even sustain life — for many patients.

Photo caption: Danielle Franke, Natalie Luo, and Zachary Bracken prepare samples of a strain of epithelial cells to be analyzed with the flow cytometer.

Seniors participate in Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium

Seniors participate in Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium

On April 27, five Saint Mary’s seniors participated in the sixth annual Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minn. Sam Price (History), Robbie Sobczak (Social Studies Education), Bailey Melz (Spanish and History), Sam Hyberger (Social Studies Education), and Brady Weber (Social Studies Education) were among 46 students from 12 regional colleges and universities who presented their research projects on a broad variety of topics and attended a keynote address/live podcast on the future of public history.

School of Education hosts teacher panel

School of Education hosts teacher panel

On April 7, two School of Education organizations, Kappa Delta Pi and ASCD, hosted a teacher panel made up of eight first-year teachers who graduated last year. The panel described rewards and challenges in the first year of teaching, advice for aspiring teachers, and funny moments from the classroom. They also discussed how their professional practice forwards Saint Mary’s traditions of excellence in education, leadership, and our shared Lasallian heritage of relationship and community in the classroom. Members of the panel included Sr. Marie Faustina, Abbey Killian, Katie Homan, Aleaha Zabel, Austin O’Hare, Alex Zuzek, Zach Slowiak, and John Morales. About 40 School of Education students and six School of Education faculty attended the event.

Saint Mary’s presents Student Life awards to students, faculty, staff

Saint Mary’s presents Student Life awards to students, faculty, staff

Saint Mary’s University recognized outstanding students, faculty, and staff April 15 at the Student Life Awards Ceremony. Individuals who have exhibited outstanding leadership and service through co-curricular activities at Saint Mary’s were recognized. Get the full list of awards and honorees, and see more photos.

Photo caption: Tim Gossen, vice president for Student Affairs and Student Life, presents Aldontae Guess with the Student Service Award.

Students and faculty attend computing symposium

Students and faculty attend computing symposium

James Loken, a senior computer data science: GIS major, demonstrated his programming project at the 2019 Midwest Instruction and Computing Symposium (MICS) held April 5 and 6 on the campus of North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D. The project involved developing software to wirelessly control an old scoreboard through a web interface. The scoreboard had been updated to include a Raspberry Pi computer and LED lighting. Other students attending were Brendan Scott and Griffin Rades.

The MICS is a regional conference dedicated to providing higher education participants an educational experience focused on the teaching of computing and its use in learning processes of all disciplines and the incorporation of the study of this technology in the curriculum. The conference features student competitions in robotics, cybersecurity, and programming along with paper presentations, posters, and software demonstrations. Approximately 300 computer science students from more than 25 regional colleges and universities attended.

Photo caption: James Loken demonstrates his project to a group of students.

Theatre students attend USITT conference

Theatre students attend USITT conference

Saint Mary’s theatre students and faculty recently attended the United States Institute of Theatre Technology (USITT) annual conference in Louisville, Ky., where they met and interviewed with national companies such as Cirque du Soleil, Disney, regional theatres, technology and design companies, along with many different graduate schools for design and stage management.

“I enjoyed having the opportunity to talk with professionals about what they do and have them tell me what I should do now in order to make myself more appealing for jobs in the future,” said student Jennifer Honsa.

Photo caption: Attending the USITT Conference were, from left: back, Jason Underferth, faculty; Jennifer Honsa; Mackenzie Jensen; Amber Geyer; Chelsea Boesiger; Niffer Pflager, faculty; front, William Scannell, Kamryn Matta, and Casper Pichotta.

Using personal experience to help others navigate learning obstacles

Using personal experience to help others navigate learning obstacles

A group of memorable teachers helped Michaela Heuckendorf ’19 overcome the challenges that once made it difficult for her to learn. Tables in the classroom have turned. Heuckendorf is now making it her mission to help others overcome their challenges to become the best students they can be.

The Plymouth, Minn., native was diagnosed with a learning disability in seventh grade, but she discovered that it’s OK not everyone learns the same way or at the same rate. Using her experiences, Heuckendorf now wants to be a special education teacher — to inspire and encourage students as she once was. “I had the most amazing accommodation specialist team in school,” she said. “I give them all the props, because I would have not had the success I had growing up and in school without their help. I decided this is what I want to do; I want to help kids who learn differently because I learn differently.”

She found her path at Saint Mary’s University within the education program and graduated this spring with an undergraduate degree in educational studies. Read the full story.

Saint Mary’s students awarded scholarships from MinneAnalytics

Saint Mary’s students awarded scholarships from MinneAnalytics

Saint Mary’s University announced that senior business intelligence and analytics majors Emily Seykora of Lansing, Mich., and Kristjan Meitz of Waukesha, Wis., have each been awarded $1,000 MinneAnalytics Scholarships.

MinneAnalytics Scholarships are awarded to students who display a passion for pursuing a career in analytics and an ongoing commitment to community engagement. Last year, the organization awarded 20 scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each to students from schools across the Midwest. Read the full story which includes more information about Seykora and Meitz.

Photo caption: Michael Ratajczyk of Saint Mary’s Business Department presents two $1,000 scholarships on behalf of MinneAnalytics to seniors Kristjan Meitz and Emily Seykora.

Female students attend second annual Women of Color Summit

Female students attend second annual Women of Color Summit

Eleven Saint Mary’s women attended the second annual Women of Color Summit: Empowering Together at Gustavus Adolphus College on April 13. The Women of Color Summit is similar to the annual Kente Summit for Collegiate Black Men — both offer an environment to build community. It is designed to help women of color, trans feminine people of color, and indigenous women find affinity with one another, help them embrace their intersecting identities, and offer an environment for them to discuss current issues of race on their campuses and nationwide. In addition to Saint Mary’s, there were students from Mankato State University, Century College, and more.

Cardinals’ Stang has scholarship named in his honor by NorsKids Foundation

Cardinals’ Stang has scholarship named in his honor by NorsKids Foundation

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota sophomore Tommy Stang (Mendota Heights, Minn.) had a break-out year for the Cardinal men’s hockey team in 2018-19 — highlighted by a spot on the All-Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference First-Team. But Stang’s impact has proven to go far beyond his uncanny playmaking abilities on the ice — just ask the Thief River Falls NorsKids Foundation.

The non-profit NorsKids Foundation — in conjunction with the Thief River Falls Noskie Junior A hockey team — announced the creation of the $1,500 NorsKids Foundation/Tommy Stang Community Service Scholarship, and, on March 16, named Noskie Alec Daman its first recipient. Stang, who played for the TRF Norskie squad during its inaugural season in 2016-17, was instrumental in organizing and getting the TRF Norskie players involved in NorsKids Foundation events, including weekly Tuesday afternoon bowling with the adult Special Olympic athletes. Read the full story.

Cokie Roberts inspires action at 2019 Hendrickson Forum

Cokie Roberts inspires action at 2019 Hendrickson Forum

A sold out crowd of nearly 300 attended this year’s Hendrickson Forum held April 16 on Saint Mary’s Twin Cities Campus, which included a keynote address from Cokie Roberts and the presentation of the 2019 Hendrickson Medal for Ethical Leadership to Brad Hewitt, retired CEO of Thrivent Financial. In her keynote address, “Weaving the Social Safety Net at Home and Around the World,” Roberts, a New York Times best-selling author and renowned journalist and political commentator, explained: “There has been a strong social responsibility fabric running throughout history, primarily exercised by women. That’s what the women in the foundation of our country did,” she added. “They looked around them. They saw what was happening. They saw the needs and strove to fill them.”

Roberts detailed many stories of notable women who worked for the betterment of society, despite tremendous hardship, adversity, and often ridicule. But amidst these stories, she singled out Saint John Baptist de La Salle, the founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools — of which Saint Mary’s is affiliated. “He was a man definitely before his time, or perhaps more accurately, a man who recognized the sign of the time,” Roberts said. “His remarkable vision about education for the poor, for delinquents, is still so incredibly relevant today … everything I’ve learned about Saint Mary’s underlines that. It’s clear that the Lasallian principles are still the guiding force behind this very important institution,” she furthered. “Faith and the presence of God, quality education, and respect for all persons, inclusive community, and concern for the poor and social justice. Those principles need influence in our country today.”

Roberts encouraged attendees to do what they can do, just like the women throughout history. “To say that it’s too big a problem is just a cop-out,” she said. “I hope the young people coming out of this great institution, no matter what their expertise, emerge awakened, nurtured, and empowered to lead ethical lives of service and leadership.”

New co-op program a win-win for students, area businesses

New co-op program a win-win for students, area businesses

As a college student who isn’t from this area, Elizabeth Wright admits she had never heard of Fastenal, even though they’re the largest fastener distributor in North America and headquartered in Winona. But all that is changing through Saint Mary’s University’s new Cooperative Education Program. From now until they graduate, Wright, a sophomore at Saint Mary’s, and Jordan Malikowski, another Saint Mary’s sophomore, are in the process of becoming immersed in numerous aspects of the business — from distribution to the corporate offices. Likewise, across town, Kyle Brodt ’19 worked this past year at Merchants Bank for 25 hours a week, getting a first-hand look at how the banking world operates.

Saint Mary’s co-op program, in its first year, is like an intense internship. Students receive a meaningful work immersion experience while earning credits (and in some cases compensation), all while being able to participate fully in campus life. The program benefits students with real-world experience, a competitive advantage, and a potential job. On the other end of the spectrum, the program benefits employers by providing them a funnel of students with fresh ideas, as well as potential employees — ones who already know the ins and outs of their business before they graduate. Read the full story to hear more about what Wright and Malikowski are learning through the co-op program.

Father James P. Burns

The Rev. James P. Burns, IVD, Ph.D.
President
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

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Email: chahn@smumn.edu

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