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12 Saint Mary’s students receive ministry, service awards

and | Friday, May 18, 2018

On April 24, 12 Saint Mary’s students received awards in the fields of ministry and service at the Sister Rose Anne Schultz, CSC Mission Awards and Appreciation Dinner.

Seniors Jessica McCartney and Veronika Hanks received special recognition for the Jane O’Rourke Bender Award. For consideration, students were asked to submit a form of artistic expression that reflected spiritual themes such as forgiveness, service, compassion, social justice, love or option for the poor.

McCartney said in an email these themes embody the life of Jane O’Rourke Bender, who dedicated much of her life to the service of others.

“Jane O’Rourke Bender graduated Saint Mary’s in 1967 after studying political science,” McCartney said. “She later went on to graduate school for social work, becoming both a social justice advocate and prolific writer.” 

McCartney said she embodies both of these themes through her devotion to faith and service at Saint Mary’s.

“I received this award for my written submissions — an essay and a poem, each focused on the concept of faith and my involvement in service activities on campus,” McCartney said.

This is the first year the Jane O’Rourke Bender Award has been given out. McCartney said this honor has inspired her to continue living out Bender’s mission.

“It is both exciting and humbling to be recognized for my writing and this award was made especially meaningful knowing that Jane was an active writer herself,” she said. “Learning about Jane’s life inspires me to continue writing about subjects that hold meaning for both myself and others.”

As graduation approaches, McCartney’s commitment to service has prompted her to think about the legacy she wants to leave behind at Saint Mary’s.

“I would like to think that I’ve shared words that have impacted and inspired others both verbal and written,” she said. “I’d like to think that I’ve shown compassion and lived out my faith, and that, like Jane, I used the time I had here at Saint Mary’s to make a difference for the better.”

Sophomore Carey Dwyer received the Patricia Arch Green Award for her service in the South Bend community.

“I received this is award through CAT [College Academy of Tutoring], which works with some South Bend schools and provides additional help for teachers and students,” Dwyer said in an email.

Patricia Green left behind a legacy of activism in the community and Dwyer said she continues this legacy through her efforts in the classroom.

“Patricia Arch Green is an alumna of Saint Mary’s who was very involved in community service,” she said. “My goal is to become a school social worker, so I volunteered as a teacher assistant in kindergarten and first grade at Coquillard [Traditional School], a Title I elementary school in South Bend.”

While this experience provided many highs and lows, Dwyer said she believes it helped her grow both as an individual and in her major.

“I got to help students with assignments, reading, artwork and other projects,” Dwyer said. “Working with kids can be challenging sometimes, but I loved having the opportunity to connect with and help them, especially because I want to go into a career in this area.”

The award was a humbling experience for Dwyer because she was unaware she was nominated for it, she said.

“I feel really honored to receive this award,” Dwyer said. “When I started CAT, I didn’t know about this award, so receiving it was a big surprise,” she said. “I’m really glad Saint Mary’s has so many opportunities for community service and that I can be part of it. I look forward to continuing to do more service in the future.”

Dwyer said she wants to continue her involvement on campus and helping others in the future.

“I’m not exactly sure what kind of legacy I want to leave at Saint Mary’s, but I love how dedicated and involved Saint Mary’s is within the South Bend community,” she said. “I want to continue to help underrepresented children and their families, and I’m looking forward to being involved in more service opportunities next year.”

Senior nursing major Madison Carmichael received the Sister Olivia Marie Hutchenson, CSC Award for Service in the Health Field. This award recognizes compassionate service in the nursing field.

“Sister Olivia Marie Hutcheson, CSC was a compassionate nurse, talented hospital administrator, builder and spiritual guide,” Carmichael said in an email. “She responded to the need of the time and sent fellow Sister nurses to help the people of Cambodia in efforts to rebuild their lives after suffering from the Khmer Rouge regime.”

Carmichael said recipients of this award must be involved as a health care provider or advocate and represent the dedication of Sister Oliva Maria Hutchenson.

“I was nominated by the nursing department for my work in Uganda with the Sisters of the Holy Cross,” Carmichael said. “Along with a few other students, I worked in a clinic for six weeks and lived with the Sisters in the community.”

Carmichael said she worked on ways to improve patient care in Uganda and participated in research that gained recognition from the National Student Nurses’ Association.

“I initiated classes for the staff at the clinic on how to improve patient care. My main focus was on pain assessment, which was previously absent from the clinic,” she said. “After the classes, I followed the charting in the clinic as part of a research project in the success of the classes, and presented the research under [associate professor] Dr. Tracy Anderson at the National Student Nurses Association Midyear Conference.”

This award is particularly meaningful for Carmichael because she said the Uganda experience had a profound influence on her life.

“This award is so special to me,” she said. “I will never forget my time in Uganda. I can’t wait to see what the next group experiences and accomplishes. Saint Mary’s has been such an empowering environment for me, and I hope the next generation of Belles will see that their opportunities are endless.”

Senior Katherine Soper, an elementary education major and mild intervention minor, is the recipient of the Sister Maria Concepta McDermott, CSC Award for Service in Education.  Sister McDermott instituted an interdisciplinary approach to teachers’ education at Saint Mary’s College and spent time teaching in Uganda, Brazil and China.

“Sister Maria Concepta McDermott — a dynamic, determined young woman — was known by her students and within education circles for her work in multicultural education and among troubled youths,” Soper said in an email.  “Sister Maria was a woman ahead of her time and an outspoken voice for the rights of the poor.”

Education department chair Dr. Nancy Turner nominated Soper for the Sister Maria Concepta McDermott award on behalf of the Saint Mary’s department of education.  Soper said serving as a part of the education department has given her the opportunity to observe and teach in six public and Catholic schools in the South Bend community.  Saint Mary’s also sent Soper to Uganda in the summer of 2017 to teach at Moreau Nursery and Primary School.

“While there, I lived, prayed and worked with the Sisters of the Holy Cross,” Soper said, “These opportunities have prepared me to educate students hearts, minds and souls.”

This award is in remembrance of Sister McDermott’s devotion to education, and Soper said she is honored to have received acknowledgment in the name of someone whose passion for educating students from all walks of life inspires her to be a better teacher.

“I hope to emulate her passion in my future classrooms … and leave a legacy of faith, fellowship and perseverance [at Saint Mary’s],” Soper said.

After graduation, Soper will be returning to Uganda to teach for seven weeks. Upon returning, she will teach a second-grade class at Saint Joseph’s Grade School in South Bend.

Sophomores Anne Maguire, Jessy Nguyen, Chiara Smorada and Yufei Zhang were nominated by the Saint Mary’s department of campus ministry to receive the Sister Olivette Whalen, CSC Award for General Service. Sister Whalen dedicated her time to serving the needs of the poor, promoting the ministry of education and responding specifically to unmet needs in India. While traveling to India in 1941, Sister Whalen was captured and imprisoned for four years, according to the division for mission. 

Zhang, a statistical and actuarial math major, said that this award is given to students who serve the community and the college with the same spirit of Sister Whalen’s devoted advocacy and fight for human rights.  While she said she did not expect to receive this award, Zhang was honored to be acknowledged alongside her friends. Together, the group started a student club called “Project S.H.E.,” or “Project Spreading Hope through Education,” through which they visited and worked with girls from Coquillard Traditional School, Robinson Community Learning Center and La Casa de Amistad.

“We mainly work with girls from elementary schools to empower them to become future leaders through weekly organizing workshops at local schools,” Zhang said in an email.  “Besides our own club, we are also interested and involved in interfaith, intercultural and other events and clubs on campus.”

The group of friends was surprised by their nomination, as they consider their work to be a passion project, not anything outstanding or special, Zhang said.

“This award is such an honor and a recognition of my work,” she said. “It definitely motivates me to work harder and do more good things to return to the College and to the community.”

Zhang said she considers women’s educational rights to be fundamental.

“I hope there will be people continuing Project S.H.E. works to empower young women and help them realize their potentials,” she said.

In addition, seniors Katherine Dunn and Julia Sturges were awarded the Sister Christine Healy Award for Service with Women. Senior Colleen Zewe won the Sister Kathleen Anne Nelligan Award for Ministry.

Editor’s Note: Colleen Zewe is a news writer for The Observer. 

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Maeve is a senior studying political science and economics at Saint Mary's, as well as Journalism, Ethics and Democracy at Notre Dame. She serves as an Assistant Managing Editor of The Observer, and thinks everyone should support student journalism.

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