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SMC gives Doctor of Humanities to entrepreneur

Kaitlyn Rabach | Wednesday, May 15, 2013

 Jennifer Mathile Prikkel, former Saint Mary’s Board of Trustee member and alumna, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from the College during the commencement ceremony Saturday.

Prikkel is a partner at Mathile Family Enterprise, founder and president of Bridging Hope Farms and a member of the Board of Trustees for the Mathile Family Foundation. She said she is thankful for her Saint Mary’s education because it has shaped her many successes.

“My Saint Mary’s education has shaped all aspects of my life: my work, spiritual and family life,” Prikkel said. “My time at Saint Mary’s in the past and present isn’t something that goes away when you leave. It is ever-present in all I am and all I do.” 

She said receiving this honorary degree means the world to her, because of the unique path that led to her time at Saint Mary’s.

“In 1991, I was I was deferred and was asked to wait until the end of my third quarter grades before I would hear whether I was accepted to the College,” Prikkel said. “So, in the mean time I was going to do everything I could to put a good word in for myself. I made my parents drive me up one Friday and I met with the vice president of college admissions. I had a private meeting with her and insisted she accepted me to Saint Mary’s.”

Prikkel said after graduating in ’95 with a degree in religious studies, Prikkel said she her education at Saint Mary’s nurtured her heart as well as her mind.

Saint Mary’s taught me to trust in the gifts I was given and to use them to change the world,” Prikkel said. “I have tried to do that in all parts of my life.  I have especially tried to do that at Saint Mary’s because the College has given me so much.”

She said receiving this honorary degree has taught her the meanings of ‘hard work’ and of ‘reward.’

“For someone who almost didn’t get accepted to someone who is now getting her doctorate from her beloved Saint Mary’s, I am not sure I can put words on what my heart feels every time I think about it,” Prikkel said. “In fact, if I think about it too much I might cry. I just hope I can make it through the hooding without slobbering all over President Mooney.”  

Prikkel said Saint Mary’s “never forgets her own,” so, after she graduated she wanted to make sure she never forgot Saint Mary’s. 

According to a College press release, Prikkel and her parents are significant benefactors to the College, supporting the campaign to build the Spes Unica Hall academic building and to renovate the Science Hall. 

“I am a firm believer of ‘paying it forward’,” Prikkel said. “I stay connected and engaged with the College because Saint Mary’s has given me so much and has enriched my life. I want to help her in any way I can. I want Saint Mary’s to be around for the next generation of women.” 

Prikkel said she is proud to support a college with such “pure intentions.”

“Saint Mary’s wants the best for its students,” Prikkel said. “No place can be successful and stand strong without a strong foundation. That foundation of course comes from the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Still today the charism of the Sisters is alive because they laid a very good foundation for this College to stand upon.” 

She said she is thankful because so many Saint Mary’s women have continued after their graduation from the College to work toward making the world a better place. 

Contact Kaitlyn Rabach at krabac01@saintmarys.edu