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College recognizes seniors for service, engagement

, and | Friday, May 13, 2016

Four Saint Mary’s seniors were honored with C.S.C. Awards for service in different disciplines. These awards are given by the Office of Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE) to students who are dedicated to community-based learning and volunteering.

Senior biology major Sarah Lucas received the Sister Maria Concepta McDermott, C.S.C. Award for Service in Education.

Lucas said she began volunteering at the Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) her freshman year because she wanted to take a break from academics and work with kids.

“I love children, so I thought it would be a great way to spend some time and give back,” Lucas said. “It’s kind of like a stress-relief on top of everything else.”

Kari Alford, program director of the ECDC, said she nominated Lucas for this award because of her ongoing commitment to helping children.

“She’s given freely of her time for so many semesters,” Alford said. “When I think of service, I truly think of the volunteering and consistency that we see from Sarah.”

Saint Mary’s promotes an attitude of service that encourages students to sacrifice their time and help others, Lucas said.

“At the college level, people are trying to figure out what they’re going to do,” Lucas said. “By giving back and just being part of the community, it really helps you focus on what’s important and find what you’re passionate about.”

Volunteering at the ECDC helped her uncover some ambitions and realize her potential, Lucas said.

“I knew that I liked kids, but I didn’t realize that I could probably pursue education, which is a possibility for me now,” Lucas said. “Being there to rub someone’s back doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, but for a kid, it is. No matter how small what you’re doing is, you are contributing to a bigger picture.”

Senior nursing major Anna Cronin received the Sister Olivia Marie Hutcheson, C.S.C. Award for Service in the Health Field. Cronin is the Vice President of the Student Nurse Association on campus, she said.

Associate professors for nursing science Annette Peacock-Johnson and Patricia Keresztes nominated Cronin for the award. Both are members of the nursing department’s Student/Faculty Affairs Committee, and Cronin stood out after the committee reviewed the extracurricular, leadership and service activities of the senior nursing students, Johnson said.

“Anna rose to the top of the list because of her multiple and varied service activities, which all related to health care,” Johnson said. “She consistently engaged in health-care service activities throughout her four years at Saint Mary’s and these activities were not only on campus, but in her home community, as well as her global service experience in Uganda.”

Cronin said she served her home community when providing first aid services to a summer camp after her first year of college. After her second year, she volunteered as a patient aide at a children’s hospital, she said.

She spent six weeks of the summer after junior year staying with the Sisters of the Holy Cross and working at a clinic in Uganda, she said, and would love to go back one day.

“I didn’t really think of it as service,” she said. “My parents instilled in me at a young age that service is a responsibility. Everyone should do some kind of service. I thought of it as something I wanted to do — I wanted to help.”

Cronin admires the spirit of service in her fellow nursing classmates, and loves working with people who have a desire to use their craft to help others, she said.

“I would not be the kind of nurse I am without Saint Mary’s,” Cronin said. “Going through clinicals and this small of a nursing program, where you have the individualized attention and you can ask your professors anything, is great. They know you by name, they know what you’re capable of and they’re not afraid to push you.”

Cronin intends to apply for jobs in either pediatric or nursing fields after graduation, she said.

Senior Eleanor Jones, a global studies major with concentrations in international development, and gender and women’s studies, received the Sister Olivette Whalen, C.S.C. Award for General Service.

Professors of modern languages and intercultural studies Julie Storme and Mana Derakhshani nominated Jones for the award.

“She’s a remarkable young women in many ways,” Storme said. “Her level of social justice is so deep and broad.”

One reason behind the nomination is Jones’ involvement with the Food Recovery Program, Storme said.

“We take the leftover food from the dining hall every Monday and Wednesday evening and we drive it over to the Center for the Homeless,” Storme said. “We’ve done that for two years and we’ve had over 5,000 pounds [of food] saved.”

Through the program, Jones has expanded the circle of social justice at Saint Mary’s by linking sustainability to human dignity, Storme said.

“She’s managed to create enough commitment to the program that it will outlast her,” Storme said. “Eleanor created something that wasn’t being done, and, through sheer grit, made sure it happened by individual action.”

Derakshani said she was impressed with the way Jones lives her life according to her convictions.

“Sustainability and care for the earth is one of the missions that the Sisters of the Holy Cross have taken up as a contemporary issue, so it is fitting that Eleanor receive an award named after a Sister,” she said.

Jones said she was surprised and excited to receive the award, since she sees herself as surrounded by many people who do great service work at Saint Mary’s. Another social justice initiative of Jones’s was inspired by an experience with SUSI (Study of the United States Institute), which hosts women from the Middle East and North Africa for five weeks, she said.

One thing the women do is come together with a project idea to implement in their home country, Jones said.

“Two years ago, the Jordanian team won the idea for SheCab, which is a taxi company that will be female drivers for female passengers,” she said. “So I got to go to Jordan last year, and when I came back with my friend Emily, we decided to start a fundraiser for the company.”

By selling ‘Blinkie’s Belles’ t-shirts and hosting events such as yoga on the Le Mans lawn, the fundraiser raised over $2,000, she said.

Jones said she spent her sophomore year abroad in South Africa, and will be returning there after graduation to volunteer for a year at a children’s home founded by a Notre Dame graduate.

Emily Milnamow, who is a communications major, received the Patricia Arch Green Award. This is awarded to a student who has taken on a leadership role.

Samira Payne, assistant director for the OCSE, nominated Milnamow because of the work she has done with the College Academy of Tutoring Program (CAT) — a program that goes into local Title 1 schools and provides tutors and teacher assistants to students.

In her nomination statement, Payne said Milnamow has taken on a leadership role by putting in extra time with the CAT Program during her senior year.

“Her calm and quiet leadership style has earned the respect of her peers, and even more impressively, the respect of 26 middle school students at Navarre Intermediate Center,” Payne said. “She has devoted many hours to planning and preparing for tutoring, and is always willing to jump in when needed. Her passion and commitment is evident in all her work with the CAT Program.”

Receiving this award helped Milnamow realize her passions, she said.

“What I love doing is what I’m good at, and other people see that, too,” she said. “This is what I love doing, and I would love it if this could be my job some day. It’s really cool that I was able to get [this award] and it’s affirmation that I’m on the right path.”

Milnamow said her time at Saint Mary’s helped shape her into a leader.

“The fact that Saint Mary’s is so dedicated to going out into the community and helping the community has really made the CAT Program what it is,” she said. “It’s given me the confidence to be able to lead, whereas before I would have been more of a follower. … I think that through my major — which is a lot about connecting with people and learning how to be an interpersonal leader  — a lot of that has helped me figure out how to lead in a way that people actually listen rather than just being a boss.”

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About Nicole Caratas

Nicole is a senior English Writing and Humanistic Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. Now a senior news writer, she previously served as the Saint Mary's Editor. She was born in real Chicago but grew up in the suburbs, and she currently lives in Opus Hall.

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About Kathryn Marshall

Kathryn Marshall, Saint Mary's College '17, is a Biology and Humanistic Studies double major. Follow Kathryn on Twitter @kmarshallSMC

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About Martha Reilly

Martha is a senior majoring in English literature and political science. She currently serves as Saint Mary's editor but still values the Oxford comma in everyday use.

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