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Saint Mary’s awards students in honor of sisters

Tabitha Ricketts | Friday, April 19, 2013


Seven Saint Mary’s students received service awards for outstanding community service at an awards banquet April 9.

Five students were recognized with volunteer service awards for exemplary leadership and dedication to the community within different concentrations. Two students also received awards for their work in the College Academy of Tutoring (CAT) program.

Senior Olivia Pahl received the Sr. Christine Healy, CSC Award for Service to Women.

Connie Adams, director of the Belles Against Violence Office, said she nominated Pahl for her commitment to empowering women and particularly for her longtime involvement with local nonprofit S-O-S. 

According to the S-O-S website, the group is an offshoot of the Family Justice Center in South Bend, which offers services to victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse and provides educational presentations to local schools.

“Olivia [Pahl] has overseen the development, marketing, implementation and evaluation of [S-O-S],” Adams said. “Olivia has a passion for empowering women and has truly impacted not only Saint Mary’s, but the larger Michiana community.”

The Sr. Olivette Whalen, CSC Award for General Service was presented to senior Haley Van Der Linden. Dr. Kurt Buhring, associate professor of religious studies, spoke about Van Der Linden’s extensive work with St. Margaret’s House, a center for women in South Bend, and her leadership role within Saint Mary’s Environmental Action Coalition.

The Sr. Kathleen Anne Nelligan, CSC Award for Spiritual Service went to senior Cassandralee Fill. 

Regina Wilson, associate director of Saint Mary’s campus ministry, said Fill displayed leadership as a peer minister and through involvement in faith-based programs at Saint Mary’s. 

“Fill … has served the spiritual needs and faith life of the Saint Mary’s community graciously and generously since she arrived as a first year student,” Wilson said. “She is always willing to serve the prayer life of the community and to share her faith in ways that will encourage others to live their faith sincerely.”

The recipient of the Sr. Maria Concepta McDermott, CSC Award for Service in Education was Elizabeth Litke, who was recognized for her extensive service in the education community at Saint Mary’s and overseas.

Mary Ann Traxler, professor and chair of the education department and Karen Van Meter, professional specialist in the education department, nominated Litke. Traxler said Litke served as a student teacher, weekly volunteer at the South Bend Center for the Homeless, three-year volunteer in the CAT program and swimming lesson instructor. Additionally, Litke designed and implemented her own service project.

Senior Karah Susnak recieved the Sr. Olivia Marie Hutcheson, CSC Award for Service in the Health Field. 

Ella Sue Harmeyer, associate professor of nursing, said Susnak has a professional manner and compassion for people who lack access to proper healthcare.

“Karah’s style of nursing practice is easy, comfortable, competent, mature, responsible and professional. … I have no doubt Karah will continue to be a positive advocate for populations that do not have easy access to health care, doing so with a respect for human dignity and sincere compassion for each individual for which she cares,” she said.

Senior Kathryn Klinker received the Outstanding Graduating CAT Scholar Award. 

“Katie [Klinker] has worked tirelessly in the CAT program since 2010 as a teacher’s assistant and afterschool tutor at Coquillard Traditional School,” director of the CAT program Jessica Bulosan said.

Senior Shelby Cornett was presented with the Patricia Arch Green Award. 

Bulosan said Cornett completed more than 600 hours in the CAT program as a teacher’s assistant and afterschool tutor, in addition to participating in other service projects.

“Shelby’s creativity, energy and generosity have been incredible assets to the CAT program over her four years of involvement,” Bulosan said.

Sr. Veronique Wiedower, the Saint Mary’s vice-president for mission, said the namesakes of the awards were leaders within the Holy Cross Congregation.

“The sisters for whom the awards are named were leaders in the Congregation at many levels,” Wiedower said. “[W]e remember their giftedness that expressed itself through service.”

Wiedower said she was proud of the award winners’ efforts to make a difference in their communities.

“The Saint Mary’s students we honor tonight stand on strong shoulders,” Wiedower said. “I venture to say that they are developing strong shoulders themselves by the service they have undertaken to make a difference in their own time and place. I am pleased and humbled to call them my sister Belles of Saint Mary’s.”