St. Thomas Campus News
Andy Cecere ’82, CEO of U.S. Bancorp, spoke at St. Thomas’ First Friday in November 2016 and highlighted how central the role of innovation is in the future of banking. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, the company has created an innovation team, dedicated to shaping the company’s future as it explores and implements technological advances.
Baked into that process is a recipe of creativity, curiosity and ethics, all within the framework of a 72,000-employee finance company. For three members of the innovation team – David Berglund, Kristin Hough Frame and David Marrese – their development for being part of that future-shaping process shares a common thread: their time in the MBA program at the University of St. Thomas.
“What I loved about doing the MBA was that it was learning for the sake of learning,” said Marrese ’13 MBA, who earned his degree as a part-time student. “St. Thomas does a really good job where it’s not just, ‘Here’s your accounting class, go run a business.’ It’s more about asking these critical thinking questions. To work in the [innovation] space we work in, you have to [ask those questions] and be curious by nature.”
Each of the trio made their way to St. Thomas with the hopes of building their business acumen as they advanced in finance. At St. Thomas they found not only the value of developing those business language and skills, but how to apply it directly to their budding careers.
“One of the reasons I wanted to go to St. Thomas was that it was so applied versus just theoretical,” said Berglund ’13 MBA, who heads the innovation team’s work in artificial intelligence. “At the end of the day I had a business problem in front of me from work that I could talk about with faculty and other students.”
Working through those kinds of problems in a small-group setting – similar to the team she’s now on – was critical for Hough Frame ’12 MBA.
“The reason I chose St. Thomas was I wanted that small-group setting that I didn’t get [with my undergraduate degree]. … It helped in learning how to be open-minded and seeing that strategic view, which helps with the innovation team, to see the long-term goals,” she said.
The development of a peer network through that process has continued to pay big dividends, Berglund said, and the program’s emphasis on developing strong ethics has proven critical as her team deals with developing what the future of banking for U.S. Bank and its customers could look like.
“How can we be customer obsessed? … If you’re willing to do that, it’s an ethical question. It’s not just about us trying to extract value from the customers, but truly putting their needs first and knowing it’s putting them in a better place,” Berglund said. “Two of the filters we have are, ‘Is it ethical and is it legal?’ Anything we work on, it’s not just things about whether they’re ethical or legal … but thinking through where it’s going and whether it will put people in a better spot in the future.”
In considering those kinds of complex scenarios, Marrese pointed to the group’s eclectic background – his in journalism, Hough Frame’s in mathematics and Berglund’s in psychology – as being truly dynamic when paired with the MBA degree.
“If you’re elongating the amount of time someone spends learning, that’s what we want to do. That’s what innovation is, it’s learning,” he said. “And the MBA program is that same learning.”
Please remember in your prayers Barbara Lynch, longtime former libraries and audio visual employee at St. Thomas.
President Julie Sullivan’s brown-bag session on March 13 addressed personal safety on campus and featured Karen Lange, vice president for student affairs, and Dan Meuwissen, public safety director, giving an introductory training to developing a personal safety plan, as well as outlining the many campus resources.
“This is a very timely topic, a topic that is getting a lot of attention not only here but around the country,” Sullivan said. “With recent events in Florida and elsewhere, current discussions about mental health, gun and school safety, it’s a time we’re asking questions about our own personal safety.
“It’s a time to step back for all of us and be reminded of the resources we have on campus to deal with these situations,” she added. “To be reminded of the professionals working 24/7 to keep our campus safe … and to be reminded of the cautions and precautions we can personally take.”
Lange and Meuwissen covered a wide range of topics highlighted below.
The role of UART and DART on campus.
Several administrators and staff make up the University Action Response Team (UART), which works together in response to crisis or emergency on campus. The group plans for events as well and carries out quarterly practice sessions based around potential emergency scenarios like a tornado or active shooter.
The Diversity Action Response Team works to be proactive in issues of diversity and inclusion.
“Our goals are clear: We want to anticipate what we might envision happening … and how we might respond,” Meuwissen said. “We want to be consistent and transparent … and maintain an inclusive, safe, friendly community.”
We are all responsible for safety on campus.
Campus safety is both a collective and personal effort, and it is incumbent on both elements to be proactive in taking steps to secure that safety. Meuwissen pointed out that – because emergency situations are often dynamic and come about unexpectedly – planning and training ahead of time are key.
“This is an orientation and introductory level to your own personal safety plan,” Meuwissen said. “The goal is to awaken you to developing your own plans and starting to develop your mindset to how we would handle an emergency situation.”
In the case of an active shooter on campus…
St. Thomas follows the protocol of Run, Hide, Fight. Meuwissen highlighted that this is not a linear path of action; the first option should be to run to safety, and if that is not possible to barricade yourself in a safe location. Fighting should be a last resort if running and hiding are not viable options.
Meuwissen outlined the response process of an active shooter on campus, which includes an alert being sent through St. Thomas’ emergency notification system. (Click here to sign up.) Public Safety maintains strong relationships and training practices with Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments, Meuwissen said, which would coordinate with on-campus officers to respond.
“Your job is to be safe for that 5-10 minutes, which is that normal incident time rate,” Meuwissen said, adding that employees should discuss their emergency response plans and that Public Safety is available to facilitate meetings and trainings around that.
There are many, many resources available to help ensure personal and campus safety, including…
- Public Safety officers available 24/7 at (651) 962-5100 to respond to any on-campus situation where an individual doesn’t feel safe, including as escorts around or off campus
- A detailed crisis resources manual
- Detailed active shooter policy
- Counseling and Psychological Services, especially the Learn to Live program for community members feeling overwhelmed or anxious about any personal safety issues
“These are entry-level planning concepts to help you working toward your own personal safety plan,” Meuwissen said.
As amazing as the mountaintop sunsets and sunrises were, or the moped travel around Taipei, the best thing about senior Bryjett Nordmark’s summer in Taiwan was the people. Immersed in this culture so far from the small North Dakota town she grew up in, she realized how much her world was opening up.
That’s thanks to Project Global Officer (Project GO), a Department of Defense (DOD) program through which Nordmark and dozens of other St. Thomas Reserve Officers’ Training Corps students have taken advantage of to learn languages and cultures around the world.
“ROTC has done things for me I would never have dreamed of, especially this,” Nordmark said. “This is the best thing I’ve ever done.”
DOD designates critical languages around the world for officers to learn, and then funds opportunities for them to travel to learn. Nordmark spent a summer in Boston learning Mandarin, the most spoken language in the world, and then was selected for Taiwan last summer. Several other ROTC cadets have similar upcoming experiences: Junior Jackson Roche is majoring in Russian and went to Estonia last year; sophomore mechanical engineering major Ellise Brennan studied Arabic at Indiana University last summer and will be going to Morocco this summer; and sophomore electrical engineering major Wyatt Melloy studied Korean last summer and will be going to Seoul this summer.
“As far as value for the students, Project GO not only provides language skills through immersion training, but it also helps build invaluable regional expertise about strategic parts of the world, and also fosters intercultural communication skills of future military officers,” said Lt. Col. Mark Madaus, commander of St. Thomas AFROTC Detachment 410. “Bringing those skills and experiences back to the campus benefits their fellow cadets as well as every other student they interact with at St. Thomas. Those cross-cultural skills and experiences will help them to better understand the world overall, and those skills will carry over when they transition to being leaders in their community after their military careers are complete.”
With plans on becoming an intelligence officer after she graduates, Nordmark is looking forward to all the opportunities her experience with Project GO have helped create.
“If you would have told me four years ago I would speak Mandarin I would have thought no way,” she said. “I can communicate with 3 billion more people than I could before.”
The Department of Art History has a lot to be excited about these days: a renovated gallery space, a new exhibition, an ambitious archival project and ties to a major international conference happening in April.
The revamped Department of Art History Gallery recently opened in the O’Shaughnessy Education Center lobby. For decades, the area has housed a handful of display cases for art works, but they were spread out across the lobby and space was limited.
“It was a really hard space to do exhibits in,” department chair Victoria Young said. “Nobody could pick up what the space was because we weren’t telling them what it was. So now we are.”
The renovation includes a dedicated art space for exhibitions and related programming, including a main gallery area decked out with signage, a clear entrance and museum-quality lighting. The revitalized lobby also has new chairs, tables and couches.
“Preserving the Present: The Voorsanger Architects Archive at the University of St. Thomas” recently opened in the new space and runs through June 22. It highlights the work of New York City-based firm Voorsanger Architects, led by principal and founder Bartholomew Voorsanger.
“Bart’s got this level of excellence that I don’t normally see in design,” said Young, an architectural historian. “It’s across the board in everything he does. He’s well known for [his work on] the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. But once everyone sees the show, I think people will be pretty floored.”
Young met Voorsanger through their mutual involvement in the Society of Architectural Historians. While Young was on sabbatical doing research in New Orleans a few years ago, Voorsanger asked her to write about the National WWII Museum. Impressed by his work, she agreed.
Young and Voorsanger have teamed up once again to curate an archive of his firm’s work, consisting of digital material, oral histories and physical objects. Marria Thompson, the department’s collections and program manager, also serves as the gallery’s curator.
“Visually it’s so striking,” Thompson said of the exhibition. “It really pulls you into the interior of that gallery space because there’s so much going on. Even if you don’t know a lot about architecture, you can look at it and see it’s a quality product. We hope to embody all of that and give the viewer the basics, then drive them to the archive website where they can learn even more.”
The digital archive and website will be celebrated April 17 at a Department of Art History Gallery reception for the exhibition. That same week, the Society of Architectural Historians is holding its international conference in St. Paul. Young is one of the society’s vice presidents, and the university’s College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Art History are sponsors of the conference, which runs from April 18-22.
Young said students were involved in many aspects of the Voorsanger archival project, from working on the database and website to helping with the physical collection and exhibition. The archive has even inspired student research projects, she said.
“Getting exposed to practitioners in the field is really important for the students,” Young said. “They hear me talk about Bart, they’ll look at an exhibition, they’ll read the book on him, but when he comes in the room and sits down with them and they can ask really pointed questions because they have prepared and done all this background research – it’s magical to see that sort of thing. Anytime we can do something that’s taking us out of our classroom – something that has a world focus, where we can engage with the broader community – I think it’s really great for everybody.”
Earlier this week it was revealed professional basketball star and former Minnesota Timberwolves player Kevin Love recently experienced panic attacks and may be suffering from panic disorder.
Often many athletes are reluctant to disclose their mental health difficulties due to stigma and concerns it will not be accepted among the athletic community. Love courageously discussed his recent situation, and such disclosure does a great service toward reducing the shame associated with experiencing a mental health condition.
While at least 20 percent of Americans may experience a panic attack in their lifetime, about 3 percent of the population experiences panic disorder, which is characterized by recurrent panic attacks and a fear of having additional attacks. Many individuals come to associate their panic attacks with the contexts in which they occur (e.g. locations, performance situations, activities such as driving) and come to avoid these situations for fear of experiencing another panic attack. Panic attacks are particularly distressing and most often are characterized by a sudden rush of fear, accompanied by a variety of physiological “symptoms” such as a racing heart, shortness of breath, sweating and tingling sensations in the extremities, among many others.
In Love’s case, he was taken to a hospital for evaluation after a panic attack, a common occurrence given the physical nature of the experience. When the initial panic attack typically occurs “out of the blue,” individuals are often bewildered as to what is happening and quickly conclude they may be facing a medical catastrophe or, in many cases, that they are losing control of themselves. Receiving emergency medical services is often of limited benefit; patients are provided a battery of medical tests that confirm nothing is amiss, leave with some degree of reassurance, only to find the symptoms occur again. If the initial panic attack involves a more cognitive symptom pattern, such as experiencing de-realization – an unusual experience where individuals feel as if they are in a dreamlike state or perceptions appear slightly altered – they may tend to develop fears they are losing their mind and/or will lose control of their behavior. The net result of these fears is often dread about attacks occurring again, coupled with avoidance of activities, which can significantly limit an individual’s ability to function in their daily roles.
A research interest of mine is to retrospectively study the initial experiences of early emergency medical intervention for individuals with panic disorder to ascertain ways in which emergency medical personnel might better respond. A 1992 study by R.P. Swinson, B.J. Cox and K. Kuch published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found an accurate diagnosis of panic disorder diagnosis, and simple and brief instructions not to avoid activities associated with attacks, significantly affected the course of the disorder, reducing both panic frequency and avoidance. Since that study was published, little has been done to educate emergency medical service providers about panic attacks and panic disorder.
Often when celebrities (especially those in fields like athletics that are associated with a degree or normative anxiety about performance) are vocal regarding their experience, the perception may be that panic disorder is an exacerbation of normal performance anxiety. While performance anxiety can also be associated with panic, general life stressors might precede a panic attack. Under life stress some individuals experience a pattern of stress-related symptoms that are initially perceived as threatening, and the fear and mis-attribution of them quickly escalates into a panic attack. Individuals are not aware of this stress-fear-of-feelings cycle, and the experience becomes disconnected from the life stressors that preceded the initial attack. Panic disorder occurs in virtually all cultural groups in the U.S.; only recently has there been more attention to possible cultural differences and nuances in the experience of panic attacks and panic disorder.
Fortunately, this is a problem that can be treated successfully. Therapies that educate individuals about the panic process and help them understand how fearful thoughts exacerbate the cycle of panic – along with gradual exposure to feared situations and feared bodily and cognitive experiences – are very successful. Individuals who have been “beaten back” by their anxiety become empowered to overcome the problem, and the process often has additional benefits on one’s life, such as an increased sense of confidence and resilience to life stress.
It is important for anyone suffering with panic-related symptoms or panic disorder to find a therapist that has experience treating the problem and using exposure-based cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is strongly supported by research evidence, not only in randomized clinical trials but in naturalistic settings. Medication can also have a place in treating the condition and it is often prudent to see a psychiatrist or a primary care MD with knowledge of the panic disorder. Excellent sources of information about panic disorder and well-qualified therapists are available at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.
Christopher Vye, Ph.D., L.P. is the Chair of the Graduate School of Professional Psychology at St. Thomas. His research and clinical interests are in the assessment and treatment of anxiety disorders. His research is aimed at learning more about the experiences of individuals who sought treatment in emergency medical services for their initial panic attack, to inform the design of a training program for emergency medical personnel to better assist individuals with panic. He has provided clinical services (currently on a limited basis) to individuals with panic disorder for more than 25 years. He provides frequent training and consultation regarding the treatment of anxiety for the professional community.
The Office of Academic Affairs is pleased to announce affirmative decisions on tenure and promotion following the conclusion of the Tenure and Promotion Committee meetings in February 2018.
The following member of the faculty was granted tenure, effective Sept. 1, 2018:
- Jessica Hodge, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, College of Arts and Sciences
The following members of the faculty were granted tenure and were simultaneously promoted to associate professor, effective Sept. 1, 2018:
- Katherine Acton, Department of Mechanical Engineering, School of Engineering
- Amy DeCelles, Department of Mathematics, College of Arts and Sciences
- Mark DelCogliano, Department of Theology, College of Arts and Sciences
- Amy Finnegan, Department of Justice and Peace Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
- David Forliti, Department of Mechanical Engineering, School of Engineering
- Sarah Hankerson, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences
- Sarah Heimovics, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences
- Thomas Höft, Department of Mathematics, College of Arts and Sciences
- Emily James, Department of English, College of Arts and Sciences
- Allison Jessee, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences
- Paul Mellick, Department of Health and Human Performance, College of Arts and Sciences
- Kristian Mortenson, Department of Accounting, Opus College of Business
- Zsolt Nagy, Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences
- Brittany Nelson-Cheeseman, Department of Mechanical Engineering, School of Engineering
- Lesley Scibora, Department of Health and Human Performance, College of Arts and Sciences
- Gaston Small, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences
- Mark Spencer, Department of Philosophy, College of Arts and Sciences
- William Stevenson, The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity
- Muffet Trout, Department of Teacher Education, College of Education, Leadership and Counseling
- David Williard, Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences
Please join us in congratulating them on their success.
Three St. Thomas engineering students and their professor have been working for several months to create something revolutionary: an implantable device that would capture energy from the beating of a heart and turn it into electrical power to run a device such as a pacemaker.
The students – Austin Lorch ’18, Amanda Tenhoff ’18 and Milad Audi ’19 – are developing a system that uses energy-harvesting technology to improve battery life and simultaneously measure multiple vital signs, including heart and respiration rates. And all it entails is a magnet moving inside of a coil – which is harder to achieve than it sounds.
“With further development, this system has the potential to eliminate the need for batteries in implantable cardiac devices and can provide continuous or near-continuous diagnostic data streams to improve overall patient monitoring and treatment outcomes,” said Dr. Tom Secord, assistant professor and former Medtronic mechanical engineer.
“Two other research groups have published results using different approaches to this problem, but our approach is promising and unique in that it adjusts to different heart rates – at rest (sedentary) or exercising (active),” he said.How it all came together
The idea for the implantable energy harvester technology started with a Faraday flashlight, which is powered by shaking it. A magnet passes back and forth through a coil of wire and creates an electric current. Secord presented the idea to his researchers and they got to work.
In their prototype, a magnet oscillates back and forth (because of opposite end magnets on either side) within a cylinder of ¼-inch diameter.
“We wanted to develop the technology so we could replace a pacemaker battery without appreciably increasing the overall pacemaker size,” Secord said.
Implantable cardiac sensors, such as pacemakers, tend to focus on only one vital sign (e.g., heart rate from EKG). But the full suite of vital signs includes heart rate, respiration rate, temperature and blood pressure, which the St. Thomas prototype will provide one day soon.
With a viable prototype the researchers are drafting a journal article for submission to the IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering journal.
All this lab work and research were possible because of Secord, who earned his graduate degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Prior to joining St. Thomas in 2016, Secord spent six years at Medtronic working on the development and testing of transcatheter heart valves. His work at Medtronic encompassed many aspects of structural design, accelerated testing and regulatory approval for implantable devices.
When his project at Medtronic was concluding, Secord saw it as a great opportunity to pursue an academic career. He was pleasantly surprised by what he discovered at St. Thomas because “unlike many other schools, St. Thomas highly valued the experience of someone coming from industry,” he said.Austin Lorch creates a silicone heart
Secord leads the research team of Lorch, Tenhoff and Audi. The three mechanical engineering majors are enthused about working with Secord in the Lab for Biomedical Robotics and Mechatronics at St. Thomas, where they created and experimented individually and collaboratively.
Lorch, from Andover, Minnesota, said he was excited by the potential for his family and friends to have prolonged and improved lives through the research he conducted.
“I found this project thrilling because it was aimed at solving an issue that almost everyone has a connection to,” he said. “An even cooler thought is that our work has the potential to impact the lives of those across every part of the globe. It is awesome to be focused on the heart, as it is one of the most central and crucial components of every human being.”
Lorch, who started on the project in January, created a model of a heart’s left ventricle and left atrium, the optimum location for the device because of the muscular nature of the ventricle and its attendant motion.
“I chose to 3-D print the mold, because it would be impossible to machine the mold considering its intricate geometry,” Lorch said. To create the mold, he made a computerized 3-D model of the heart from CT image data from an actual patient.
“It was our goal to make the silicone model accurate to a specific patient to show the testing would be replicable for not only a generic model, but for individualized patients,” Lorch said. “Essentially, the patientspecific silicone model will give credibility to our case for the tunable resonance device to be used in real-life situations.”
To mimic heart muscle, a specific silicone was chosen and poured into the mold, creating a malleable left ventricle and atrium. The model was then actuated to replicate the motion of a human heart beating (at various beats per minute).
Tenhoff’s work provided the needed beat.Amanda Tenhoff has got the beat
Tenhoff began her research – her third project at St. Thomas – last spring. Her main job this time was working on simulation with imaging to analyze heart motion. The Eagan, Minnesota, native said she enjoyed the research because it’s what she wants to do after graduation.
“My dream is to be able to use my engineering skills to work with, heal and improve the human body and the lives of the people who would be receiving the medical treatment,” she said. “This is my first step to being able to do that. In particular, I love this project because of the variety of different sub-projects in it: computer-aided design, programming, electrical wiring and building mechanical parts are all key components to this project, and all of us have the opportunity to try out any of it.”
Her project goal was to create an accurate 3-D pumping heart model. To prepare, she spent last spring using programs that would allow her to read and manipulate 4-D CT scans, which illustrate the movement of the heart through the entire cardiac cycle.
“We successfully created a 3-D model of the heart on the computer and created a ‘point cloud’ of data that describes the topography of the heart,” she said. “By comparing the topography of the heart at its smallest size to that at its biggest, we can roughly calculate how the heart moves.”
During the summer, she wrote code in MATLAB, which analyzes the point cloud data and calculates how much the heart expands and contracts over its cycle, pinpointing places where it moves the most.
With the silicone heart created and Tenhoff’s beat info, the main component was still missing – the prototype of the energy harvester that included a magnet moving inside of a coil.Milad Audi experiments with (many!) copper coils
Audi also wants to work in the biomedical engineering field. Having completed two research projects already at St. Thomas, he chose the heart research because, “It was awesome! I was paid to learn and contribute to an important project at the same time,” he said.
He wanted to work with Secord because of his work at Medtronic. “He knows a lot about biomedical engineering and about control systems. Both of these are things that I want to learn, and one of the best ways to learn is by working with someone who knows what they are doing,” said Audi, who is from Crystal, Minnesota.
His part of the project, which he began in June, involved creating a device to implant on the heart, capture energy from the beating of the heart and turn it into electrical power to run a device such as a pacemaker. Audi made multiple prototypes with various coil and magnet parameters to find the most efficient one.
The fabrication process involved 3-D printing, winding coils and soldering wires. Audi systematically refined coil designs to find the best combination of factors to maximize power, such as using different lengths, different wires and different diameters. To test his prototypes he uses Simulink, a computer program, in conjunction with a physical system that simulates heart motion. He helped build a final prototype that attached to the silicone heart while it was beating.
“Hopefully one day the device will actually be in use and helping people,” Audi said.Students value faculty partnership
Secord’s mechanical engineering experience in industry, along with his collaborative teaching style, appeals to young engineers.
“He is great to work with because he provides insightful suggestions and guidance at every step of the process,” Lorch said. “I believe that the combination of his prestigious academic accomplishments coupled with work experience at Medtronic have given him a targeted and realistic approach to research.”
“He is also one of the most intelligent people I know, but he is fantastic at being able to explain things in a way that’s easy to understand,” Tenhoff said.
Audi cited his work with Secord and his previous research projects as helping him become a better engineer.
“I think one of the coolest things about St. Thomas is that there is such a great opportunity to do research with professors,” he said. “I don’t think most schools give you such a great chance to work closely with professors on their projects while you are still an undergraduate. It is also much easier to get into than most engineering internships at companies, so I was able to start gaining experience as early as J-Term of freshman year.”
Read more from St. Thomas magazine.
With more than 1.3 billion people, India is second only to China as the most populated country in the world. With an array of ethnic groups, languages and religions represented, India also boasts one of the world’s largest economies, making it a prime learning ground for University of St. Thomas students.
Over J-Term, students in two Opus College of Business study abroad classes – Marketing in a Mega-market and Social Entrepreneurship in India – experienced firsthand the country’s vast social and economic diversity.
While each program had a distinct focus, both offered students a unique educational experience through cultural immersion halfway around the world.
Marketing in India
For 12 days, 17 MBA students split their time between New Delhi and Mumbai learning how marketing and business in India differ from the United States. By meeting with businesses across the two heavily populated cities, students experienced the conditions and complexities surrounding business in India. They also visited the Bombay Stock Exchange.
“It was so exciting to be in that market and in that space,” MBA candidate Rachel Daniel said. “We had the privilege of going to some pretty big companies and talking to executive teams. We learned about each company’s business model, how they reached certain demographics and how India is a great testing site because there are so many people, so many different cultures, languages and barriers. It would be a really exciting place for an American company to come test their products. The underlying message – whether it was at Nivea or a 3-D company we went to – was hope for India, and I thought that was cool.”
In addition to talking with business people, students experienced Indian culture through group dinners, sightseeing excursions and city exploration during their free time. As part of the class, they kept journals and held daily discussions about their observations and experiences.
Daniel said her time in India was both exciting and humbling. She’s now eager to see more of the world.
“On the business side of things, it was so exciting and everything felt so fresh and new,” she recalled. “I really wanted to jump in and get my foot in the door. It gave me more of a global perspective and I’m definitely going to take that into my future career.
“It also gave me a different perspective, a different lens on how to look at life and issues,” continued Daniel, who noted the extreme poverty she witnessed. “The main thing was being able to look at the world through a different perspective and put myself in another person’s shoes.”
Associate Professor of Marketing Avinash Malshe said the class gives students a deeper-level understanding of what it takes to do business in global contexts. Learning on trips like this one, he added, is an asset for a student’s future professional development. In India, they became familiar with the country’s complexities, gained an understanding of a global market and experienced personal growth.
“I would like them to feel a little bit uncomfortable,” Malshe said. “That allows you opportunities to grow. There’s tremendous personal growth happening as they go through this particular experience. India is a developing country – you see lack of infrastructure, poverty. …People walk away appreciating what they have a lot more before they came. That is very evident in the conversations you have toward the end. It’s not one of the objectives, but it ends up being one of the many outcomes of the trip.”
Social Entrepreneurship in India
Students in the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship’s Social Entrepreneurship in India course had a three-and-half week dive into living in the world’s fourth largest city: They were based in Mumbai and learned firsthand about India’s social and environmental needs.
In conjunction with India’s S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, the 16 St. Thomas students – a combination of undergrads and grads – had an opportunity to work alongside social entrepreneurs and organizations tackling a variety of issues in some of Mumbai’s largest slums. Students were broken into groups and assigned to one of five organizations with missions that ran the gamut from providing underprivileged children educational opportunities to helping artists with disabilities sell their wares.
Bradley Casemore, a graduate student studying business analytics, worked on a project for Door Step School, an organization that turns school buses into mobile classrooms to help educate needy children. Casemore and his team worked on developing methodologies to make Door Step School’s processes more efficient and effective.
“We were able to help them document what their processes are, which allows them to standardize operations across the buses,” said Casemore, who is also a project management professional. “It allows them to look for places they can become more efficient. It decreases onboarding time as well, so when new employees are hired they have all those things documented.
“When we left the project, I felt really good,” he added. “I made contact with them two weeks out and I’ve seen they’ve taken what we showed them how to do and created a number of new process documents since we left. It wasn’t like we went there, showed them something and left. They’re actually using the knowledge we gave them to solve additional business challenges that they have. From a project perspective, I couldn’t be happier.”
Mo Fahnestock, PhD, who teaches Social Entrepreneurship at the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship and leads the Institute for Executive Director Leadership, said many of the students made significant contributions to the projects they worked on in Mumbai.
“Part of it’s a journey,” said Fahnestock, who noted students also had a chance to explore the city and take in the sights. “It’s a different way of looking at the world, understanding it and living in it. We’re going into places where most people would say are really tough. What’s fascinating is most of the people we are going to meet have a spirit of life in them that’s just beautiful. Even in some of the tougher slums and areas we were in, there was a spirit in people that was wonderful.”
“We relied on oral tradition, and that brings me here today,” Bob Klanderud said to the standing-room-only crowd on the St. Thomas campus as he shared stories of culture, belief and modern-day realities of Dakota and Lakota people, particularly in Minnesota. To an audience that included undergraduates, community members and seminarians, Klanderud made what can seem to be a simple request: to listen.
It’s a theme also at the core of the Encountering Religious and Cultural Traditions series being hosted by the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning this academic year. This session was co-sponsored by Justice and Peace Studies Department, the American Culture and Difference Program, and Students for Justice and Peace. Klanderud’s talk was part six of eight, with remaining events focusing on Chinese traditions and Buddhism.
This yearlong series aims to foster religious literacy and inter-religious understanding by examining the world through the eyes of religious scholars and practitioners from various traditions. The presenters share their own lived experiences of these traditions and also address common stereotypes and misconceptions.
Klanderud, of Dakota and Lakota heritage, is enrolled with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in Minnesota. He works with Healing Minnesota Stories (HMS), a project that works toward understanding and healing between Native American and non-Native people.
“Bob’s presentation packed the room full, which was wonderful,” said Hans Gustafson, director of the Jay Phillips Center. “I strongly encourage all Minnesotans, young and old, to sign up for the Dakota Sacred Sites tour with him and Jim Bear Jacobs to get an even more powerful sense of the place we live in, and to hear the challenging stories about Native and non-Native encounter of the past and today.”
Here are five observations from his talk.
Oral tradition connects community
With the opening quote, this observation likely comes as little surprise. One of the most important aspects of having an oral culture, Klanderud pointed out, was that shared stories and information connected the teller and the listener.
“With oral tradition, when young people needed to know how to plant these seeds, they would go to an elder and ask, ‘Grandmother, how do I plant these seeds so I have food for my family?'” Klanderud said.
“And that elder might sit down and tell them, ‘Well, those seeds, you need to plant in the dark of the moon in June, and that they’ll be ready to harvest in 60 days, and you plant them like this. And you might plant those seeds around some corn and maybe some squash so those three things support one another.’
“That grandmother told that young lady how to raise food to sustain her life or her children. That young person respected that elder, maybe not even her own grandma. … That old person respected that young person, so our community was kept strong by virtue of that respect.”
Dakota people are a people of relationships
Early in his talk, Klanderud shared that Dakota can be translated to mean “ally people” or “brother people.”
“We are a friendly people by our very name,” he said.
In line with that, one of the important ceremonies of the Dakota people is to create relationships – an adoption ceremony where one may extend their family by adding another person as aunt, grandmother, father or nearly any other relation.
“When we take that person as a relation, they know they have an extended family,” said Klanderud, speaking of the many family members he has added over the years and just how important they have been to him.
An important phrase in relation to that belief is Mitakuye Osain (all my relations). While this phrase indicates the interconnectedness of all human beings, it also reflects connections to the Earth and all other creatures.
“We take that concept to another level,” Klanderud said. “All relations great and small, all creatures great and small, the Creator made. All creatures great and small have a purpose and a right to that existence.”
Minnesota is a sacred space, in part because of its water
As part of HMS, Klanderud volunteers as a teacher by guiding groups to the sacred sites of Bdote, where Wakpa Tanka (Mississippi River) and Mnisota Wakpa (Minnesota River) come together. Central to Dakota origin stories, Bdote is understood to be the center of the Earth and the place where the Dakota people trace their beginning to. (It is believed to be the center of the Earth because Dakota people view the North American continent as Turtle Island, and Minnesota sits where the heart of the turtle would be.)
“All of us as citizens benefit from the beauty we have of the … water of life,” Klanderud said. “The 10,000 lakes we are known for is more valuable than gold. We have to take a position or stance that we live near one of the greatest rivers of Earth, the Mississippi, and we don’t take care of it. We don’t honor it the way we all should. … It might help you stand in those places with a different feeling and know you’re connected to that.”
Narratives can be used as a form of oppression
Klanderud emphasized how negative narratives were used to make it acceptable to kill and displace Native peoples when Europeans arrived.
“First impressions make a lot of difference. If you’re encountering an unknown people and you were told these terrible things about who we were, your preconceived ideas shape your image of who you are talking to,” Klanderud said. “If they were preconditioned to think that we were hostile savages from the Devil himself and red skin and this and that, that is a negative connotation.”
Importantly, he said, narratives are still being spun today about Native peoples that affect both Natives themselves as well as the perceptions non-Native people have of them. First, he pointed out that history surrounding who lived on these lands has been forgotten or suppressed.
“‘The Dakota people moved to make room for the European settlers coming in. Wasn’t that nice of them?’ That’s the common narrative that we believe, and we let it go,” Klanderud said.
He said one of the first steps toward reconciliation is to acknowledge the spin of those narratives and to listen to Native people’s truths of their own experiences. He added that these narratives continue to have a negative impact on Native peoples, who don’t have access to their own history, which in turn perpetuates trauma and impacts self-esteem.
“I want to tell you a different story based on my understanding, because those narratives are those that keep our people repressed, with low self-esteem, not knowing who they are. At 65 years old, I’m standing here a miracle,” Klanderud said.
The work of changing those narratives is helped along by diversity and faith
As part of HMS Klanderband helps promote stories as a way of healing. HMS is also a part of the St. Paul Interfaith Network, and, as such, believes faith communities have a large role to play in the healing work.
“We stand together in solidarity – laymen, clergy, rabbi, imam, priests, nuns, preachers,” Klanderud said. “We stand together and bring that hope, that together we can bring beautiful diversity to the rest of the sick world and give them a model of standing together and working cooperation.”
The University of St. Thomas has added a new peace engineering minor to continue to meet the growing needs of the engineering field. Peace engineering helps students develop skill sets to look at engineering projects from an intersectional perspective and to provide innovative and sustainable solutions.
“In the past engineering has been considered a technical profession, and we didn’t ask some of the bigger holistic questions,” said Camille George, associate dean of engineering. “Engineering affects every person. Many items that influence your life were designed by engineers — your car, your fridge, your phone. How do you engineer across cultures, economic boundaries, resources to capital, and understand reasons that people are in different places than you are in your life?”
Engineering partners with the Justice and Peace Studies Department to consider how engineering projects can be affected by these social disparities, and then to empower those experiencing injustice. This may mean tackling projects related to energy and water resources, the aid of technology in areas of conflict or natural disaster, advocating for public safety in engineering decisions, and agricultural tools to fight poverty and hunger.
In doing so, George believes engineers’ ability to be empathetic, think critically and solve problems will be improved.
The new minor will consist of taking classes housed within the Justice and Peace Studies Department and completing a capstone project.
While the minor is a way of formalizing St. Thomas’ commitment to peace engineering, the university has a long history of projects done in the vein of peace engineering. Past projects have included improving how to dry breadfruit in several developing nations and how to better turn sorghum into syrup in West Africa. Both projects empower locals to more effectively harvest natural resources to support themselves and their families.
Another project entailed designing a solar-powered picnic table for the city of Elk River.
George believes collaboration and continued community partnerships are vital to the minor. In a pilot program for the minor, students this summer will travel to Jordan to brainstorm how to more effectively dry yogurt that is sold as a starter for many dishes in the region.
“Changemaking is important to teach our students – that everyone can contribute to making a new world,” George said.
In 2011, Lynsey Addario was kidnapped while covering the Libyan uprising. She had been kidnapped before, by Sunni insurgents in Iraq and ambushed by the Taliban. As a photojournalist, she is no stranger to the risks of a conflict-riddled area.
Sitting with her colleagues in a situation that most could only imagine, Addario reflected in a 2015 New York Times article: “Yet as guilty as we felt, and as terrified as we were, only Steve [Farrell] sounded convinced by his own declaration that he would no longer cover war. Each one of us knew that this work was an intrinsic part of who we were: It was what we believed in; it governed our lives.”
Addario hit at the heart of just that in her recent memoir It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War. She shares stories about her work covering conflicts and human rights around the world, particularly in the Middle East. She also discusses what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated field. Her memoir is now being made into a film, with Jennifer Lawrence slated to portray Addario.
Addario will speak on “Women’s Work in the Time of War” on Thursday, March 8, from 7:30-9 p.m. in O’Shaughnessy Educational Center’s auditorium. The event is sponsored by the Luann Dummer Center for Women and fits into their yearlong theme “Women & Economic Justice.”
The Newsroom caught up with Addario ahead of her visit to campus.
In your memoir, you talk about the challenging part of being an embedded journalist, especially as a woman, and also the benefits people don’t often think of. Would you talk a bit about these?
Overall, I have found it beneficial to be a woman in this profession. Most of my colleagues are men, and as a female photojournalist who has focused most of my career on the Middle East, and on cultures where men and women are often segregated by gender (in more conservative Muslim cultures) I have access to both men and women, and have the ability to work inside family homes often when my male colleagues cannot.
Over the years, I have done a countless number of military embeds with male Marines and with the Army, and have had to work hard to be physically fit enough to keep up with them on patrols, carry my pack and my gear while wearing protective gear, and to prove myself capable and together under fire. As a woman, I often faced obvious looks of skepticism by male troops whenever I showed up in a hostile location or a place where troops were routinely under fire. I think the general feeling was that women were a liability on the front line. But once I was able to prove myself able to keep up and hold it together under fire then I was welcome.
What are some of the images you have taken that you are most proud of or more rewarding to you?
I am never really proud of images – I am basically always tortured by the images I have not taken!
But I think overall, I am honored to have spent time documenting some of the biggest stories of my generation: the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Darfur, Congo, the Arab spring in Libya, Lebanon and Israel war – I hope they have helped shape foreign policy, and that they have educated people along the way.
I feel privileged that so many brave women around the world have opened up their stories of sexual assault and rape as a weapon of war to me, as well as the challenges many women face to give birth safely around the world – whether it was Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, India or Haiti. I think we all need to be aware of the challenges facing women around the world, and it wouldn’t be possible without these women opening up their lives to me and to other journalists.
In your memoir, you mentioned patience as the most important skill in photography. Tell us about how you get your quality shots.
I generally spend a lot of time with the people I am covering, trying to get to know them, explaining to them why I am there, asking them to share their lives and stories with me and with the rest of the world. I always explain how the images will be used and viewed by thousands – if not more – and let them decide whether they want to be photographed. I think people appreciate being asked whether and how they want to share their stories, and ultimately the process of moving slowly and sincerely opens doors.
What are some of the things you think about when you take a photograph?
How to tell a story, how to convey someone’s character, the light, the composition, trying to include as much information into the photo as possible without cluttering it, and how to be respectful toward my subject.
You’ve done some work introducing and “normalizing” the lives of women in the Middle East. Why is that important to you? What do you think the Western world doesn’t understand about the Middle East?
I think its important to offer a more nuanced view of cultures, of women in the Middle East, of Muslims and Islam. We often hear or see this one-dimensional view of the above, and it drives me crazy, because nothing in life is one-dimensional – especially not a population of women or people. So, I try to dispel stereotypes, to offer a different perspective, to educate people about the complexities of a population.
How do you balance being a mom and a photojournalist?
I barely do. I have a very supportive husband, and I try to be more selective with the assignments I take, so I am not away from home all the time. But I always feel like I am failing at both motherhood and at being a successful photojournalist, and missing the stories I want to be on, while also missing essential moments in my son’s childhood. It’s an impossible balance.
How did you choose, among your portfolio, what photos to include in your memoir?
The photographs in my memoir were mostly selected to illustrate certain chapters and situations I was writing about. Ironically, even though I am a photographer, the writing was my focus for the memoir, and the images were used to illustrate the text. I am now working on my first book of my photography, Of Love and War, which will be published by Penguin Press this fall.
What is the impact you hope your work has?
I hope my work will be part of a larger record of the important stories of our time, have and will educate people about human rights, humanitarian, and women’s issues around the world, and also inspire young women around the world to continue telling these stories!
In her Stillwater, Minnesota, office, Laura Dean, M.D., recalled one of the most pivotal moments of her life. On Jan. 10, 1984, her 18th birthday, the kitchen phone rang at her family home in Roseville. On the line was Dr. Tom Tommet, University of St. Thomas Physics Department chair, informing the teen she was one of two recipients of the school’s first fulltuition science scholarship.
“It was a life-changing event for me,” said Dean. “Not only was I now going to college, which was not necessarily a given in my family, but I was going to St. Thomas.”
She explained: “I had three siblings – two who had degenerative brain disease, which was ultimately terminal. I grew up helping care for my siblings as their conditions worsened. I was the healthy kid. My parents thought it was great I was a good student, but we didn’t talk a lot about college.”
A self-proclaimed “blue-collar kid,” Dean became the first in her family to attend college. At St. Thomas, she took pre-med classes, was a dedicated member of the track team and was involved in student activities before graduating with a degree in chemistry in 1988. Then, it was on to medical school.
Dean, who has practiced medicine for more than 20 years, is chair of the OB-GYN department at Stillwater Medical Group and recently took the reins as chief of staff at Lakeview Hospital.Doctor on call
Since becoming a doctor, Dean has delivered more than 3,000 babies and said it’s “phenomenal” to be involved at significant points in people’s lives.
“With well care, pregnancy care and surgical care, you really get to take care of women through much of their lifetime,” she said. “I have patients I started taking care of when they were teenagers. I saw them go to college, I saw them get married and I’m delivering their babies now. Women I’ve delivered babies for have kids who are in college with mine. It’s an amazing thing. It’s a real gift to be able to be a part of people’s lives in that way.”
In October, Dean played that momentous role for Jack and Kacie ’13 Youso, who had their first child, Emmett.
The Yousos first met Dean when they arrived at Lakeview Hospital. Kacie was in labor and her main provider was out of town. Dean was the doctor on call.
“She was serious and used her ‘track coach voice’ as she calls it when I needed to work harder or when I was giving up,” Kacie said. “She would look at me with a face that said, ‘I think you can do better than this’ when the pushing stage was going longer than I had wanted and was taking more strength than I had.
“Once Emmett was delivered, she switched gears and was incredibly loving,” Kacie continued. “As I was sitting in the hospital bed after delivery, completely in shock and out of touch with reality, I remember her coming to the side of my bed and holding my hand and giving me a side hug. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but it didn’t matter and it was enough to make an impression on me.
“She made me feel like I had finished the race successfully even though it wasn’t as I had planned. She didn’t care that I wasn’t the strongest woman or that I gave up during labor at multiple points; she still showed me love.”
“The most important thing for me is providing compassionate care for patients where they are and for what they need,” Dean said. “I want to make sure the care is patient-centered and that I’m somebody who patients can trust to take good care of them, can trust to care about them, and can help them in good times and in bad.”Compassionate patient care
“Dean will do anything for her patients,” said Dr. Andy Dorwart ’85, president of Stillwater Medical Group and chief medical officer of Lakeview Health System. “Whatever needs to be done, she’ll go the extra mile. She has a lot of empathy and compassion for her patients. They know they can trust her and she’ll be looking out for their best interests and help them out any way she can.”
Dr. Nicole Nelson ’00, part of Dean’s OB-GYN team, calls Dean a mentor and often asks for her counsel on patient care.
“She is someone who always knows just what to say and when to say it,” Nelson said. “I will often come to her when I have a difficult situation and don’t know how to communicate it.”
Ted Wegleitner ’94 MBA, Lakeview Hospital president and Lakeview Health System CEO, said it’s important to have a strong leader such as Dean when planning for the future, especially when it comes to obstetrics and gynecology.
“Strategically, it’s really important for a health system like ours to have a really great obstetrics practice because that’s a way we can attract new, young families,” Wegleitner said. “Having a great team of doctors, word of mouth gets around that this is the place to come and it’s really great. I think she has the vision for the kind of women’s clinic and women’s center here in the hospital that we want to have.”Tommie of the Year
Even though it’s been nearly three decades since she graduated from St. Thomas, Dean is proud of her undergraduate achievements: summa cum laude graduate, Delta Epsilon Sigma Honor Society vice president, All-American honors in track and field, member of the Aquinas Scholars and Tommie of the Year.
“I received the outstanding senior award from my university and that’s something I’m so proud of that it stays on my curriculum vitae even though I’m 51 years old,” she said.
Last fall marked the 40th anniversary of coeducation at St. Thomas, and Dean remembers helping with the 10th anniversary during her junior year. She noted that few women were involved in math and science when she first arrived at the university in the early ’80s.
“[The university] was just starting to develop programs to promote women in science, engineering and medicine,” she said. “I can’t say I was a pioneer, but I was on the early end of a lot more women going to college, especially in science and math.”
When asked if she feels she had to work harder than her male peers, Dean smiled.
“I worked harder than anybody I knew,” she said. “I had to work hard because I had goals and I had things I wanted to do. There might have been folks who didn’t need to crack books, but I did. I cracked the books very hard. And it paid off.”Coach Sweeney writes a powerful recommendation
Along with serious study habits, she was a student-athlete under the watchful eye of Joe Sweeney, St. Thomas’ head coach for track and field and women’s cross country. During her first year on the team, she was part of the 4×400 meter relay team awarded All-American honors. Being part of the track team, she said, was another essential part of her Tommie experience.
“Going out for the track team didn’t have anything to do with the classroom, but it had everything to do with the classroom because it was about discipline, teamwork and goals,” said Dean, who asked Sweeney to write a letter of recommendation when she applied to Mayo Medical School (now known as the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine).
“The dean of the medical school said, ‘I’m not supposed to show you your letters of recommendation, but I’m going to tell you something. The letter that your coach wrote was one of the best letters I have ever seen,’” Dean said. “He said it was very revealing about my work ethic and how I was as a teammate. He said these things are so important in medicine because you care for patients as part of a team.”
Sweeney remembers Dean as a motivated student athlete with a great competitive spirit and giving nature. When her science labs overlapped with track practice, Sweeney would leave a workout regimen taped to her locker so she could practice after her classes.
“In coaching you get to know people in a completely different way than you would as a professor,” Sweeney said. “I see students every day in various situations. I see them interact with their teammates. Everything Laura did was impressive. She was definitely a rising star.”Another Tommie on campus
Dean and her husband, Matt, have known each other since kindergarten. Matt did his two-year pre-architectural studies at St. Thomas before earning his degree from the University of Minnesota. He now works as a state representative.
The two were married in 1991 at the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas and have three children. Their middle son, Jack, is a sophomore at St. Thomas studying computer science.
“I started thinking about my own experience and felt Jack would really benefit from the closeknit community,” Dean said. “And also the balance – he could do scientific study, but he’s also a good writer and likes to read.”
Dean is quick to sing the praises of a liberal arts education. While excelling in science during her time at St. Thomas, she also loved classes such as 18th Century British Literature and Architectural History. That mix of classes was key, she said.
“Medicine is science and art and humanity all wrapped together,” she said. “Parts of my education really helped with expression. It’s important to be able to talk to a patient about their cancer diagnosis in a compassionate way. It’s important to weigh the important issues. I took Biomedical Ethics with Professor Ron Hamel, where we were churning through those thoughts and significant decisions at 20 years old. So then, when I was in Rochester at Mayo taking care of patients and studying and learning those things, I had a basis and I could talk about these things from a human perspective.
“As somebody who wants to be a good mom to my three kids, who wants to be a good wife, I think finding balance is challenging,” she said. “St. Thomas is a place that really instilled the importance of balance. It also taught me that it’s worth working hard and putting your heart and soul into something that you care about doing and to make a difference for other people. That’s definitely worth it.”
From the science scholarship that allowed her to attend college years ago, she has been working diligently to advance the field of medicine through her dedication to patients during pivotal times in their own lives.
Whether on VISION trips or service learning-based courses, countless Tommies have taken mission trips as part of their life experience. Thursday’s “Hot Topics, Cool Talks” from the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law and Public Policy was a fitting topic, then, as panelists Dr. John O’Keefe of Creighton University and Dr. Gerald Schlabach of St. Thomas discussed, “Should we take mission trips off the bucket list?”
Underlying tensions around the issue are wide-ranging, including questions of whether Americans seek these experiences are sought for superficial reasons, whether people in developing countries are exploited and whether aid legitimizes relying on a foreign entity.
O’Keefe, a professor of theology and the director of the Center for Catholic Thought and co-host of the podcast “Catholic Comments,” is involved in documentary filmmaking projects that explore the mission of the Catholic Church in the developing world. Schlabach, a professor of theology, former chair of the Department of Justice and Peace Studies, and winner of the 2012 Service-Learning Faculty Award, has led students on mission trips to San Lucas, Guatemala, for 18 years.
The pair discussed several elements of the value and dangers of mission trip experiences, especially for students. Here are five observations from their discussion.
The most important work takes place when you get back.
Working with his students in the mediums of photography and film, O’Keefe said he has grappled for years with the tension of whether subjects are exploited by their work even in the best instances of advocacy and attempting to help. He said students work for months ahead of trips in understanding their role as witnesses in the time they are there, and using their experiences to do more.
“The most important thing we tell them is that we’re not going to change the world. We really hope they’re going to be changed by the experience, and the rest of their life they can work for systematic change,” he said.
You shouldn’t be a chameleon and revert right back to your own culture.
In returning to their own community and daily life, mission trip workers in the United States need to have an awareness of not putting their experience “on the shelf.” As easy as it can be to get sucked “back into the vortex of American consumerism,” O’Keefe said, mission trips represent the potential for people to change the underlying way they view everything. To maintain that, he added, “you need to be in a community that calls you to account.”
The impact of mission trips can come a lot closer to home than many realize.
An audience member prompted a discussion of whether students are more open to the impact of mission work when it comes in a foreign country versus the United States. O’Keefe acknowledged the unsustainability of flying all over the world to facilitate the impact of mission trips, especially when some of the poorest places in the Western hemisphere are in the United States. Students may be more open initially to the impact of trips in foreign countries, but “it has to do more with how you’re formed and an openness to seeing what’s there,” he said. That can come anywhere.
People shouldn’t go on mission trips to solve everything…
Schlabach has brought students to Guatemala for nearly two decades, and part of the message these is that they’re not going to solve huge, systemic problems in their time there. “We’re introducing students to the tensions, and at least trying to make them creative tensions. You’re dealing with some of the most complex questions on the globe; to think you would have an ultimate solution would be the cheekiest thing you could do,” he said.
People should go on mission trips with solidarity as the underlying goal.
Speaking to the question itself of whether mission trips belong on bucket lists, Schlabach drew a definitive line that they should not. “Mission trips don’t belong on bucket lists, but that’s because bucket-list mentalities are the problem. Mission trips can be a way to weave networks of solidarity and initiate young people into them, if solidarity itself is the mission,” he said.
The stars and the way Earth fits into the universe’s bigger picture intrigue many people. It’s pretty rare, though, for someone to be on the cutting edge of finding the planets that fill out that picture.
That’s exactly what Sarah Millholland ’15 started at St. Thomas and now continues at Yale University. She recently contributed to the discovery of some 60 new exoplanets; known as hot Jupiters, these bizarre planets have temperatures that can reach above 2,000 degrees and orbit around stars found far outside our solar system.
“It’s really exciting,” Millholland said. “This project in particular was introducing a new method of finding exoplanets: We were looking at reflected light from the star. People have been proposing that for seven years or so, but no one had undertaken it. It’s cool to be at the forefront of this development.”
Millholland discovered and grew her passion for the stars while she was at St. Thomas, where she originally started as a math student. Some serendipitous scheduling put her in associate professor Gerry Ruch’s introductory physics course her freshman year; she quickly proved exceptionally adept.
“We have six exams. A perfect score on one of those is pretty rare; you’ll maybe see one in the stack. It’s unheard of for someone to get 100 percent on all six, which Sarah did. She aced everything. And everything in the next physics class. She just tore it up,” Ruch said.
Ruch pulled Millholland into a summer research project after her freshman year modeling planets’ rotations around their respective stars. Millholland quickly moved past anything Ruch originally had in mind for the scope of her work, learning from scratch how to code software and eventually developing the programming needed for St. Thomas’ south campus observatory to observe exoplanets. Throughout her four years at St. Thomas she also published papers, presented at a national astronomy conference and secured the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship.
“She’s one-student-in-20-years smart. Ridiculously smart,” Ruch said. “As a freshman coming in she didn’t realize it, so my job was to point her in a direction.”
Millholland said the tutelage of Ruch and the physics faculty was the key to everything she did at St. Thomas.
“I can’t even express in words how instrumental it was to have the physics faculty be so supportive of my academic and research development,” she said. “That’s a huge strength of St. Thomas: You formulate closer relationships with your advisers. Larger universities are more focused on their grad students. Right from the beginning I thought it was so cool you could teach in the classroom and also explore what you’re passionate about in your research. The passion professors there bring to both sides is amazing.”
All her research and coding experience at St. Thomas also gave Millholland a leg up in graduate school at University of California, Santa Cruz, where she connected with adviser Greg Laughlin. When Laughlin went to Yale in 2016 he asked Millholland to join him, and their continued work there is a testament to collaboration and the joy of discovery.
“I would put [finding a new exoplanet] analogous to a sports moment, where you’re just very, very excited. I’ll run up to [Laughlin] like, ‘Look at this!’” Millholland said. “I have to credit him for being very, very excited, which has kept me very excited about these new developments. It’s definitely super fun to work on.”
Millholland said her work over the next three years for her Ph.D. will likely focus on more theoretical areas than the exoplanet hunting she’s undertaken so far, but her overall goal is tied directly back to the teaching emphasis of her St. Thomas professors.
“I’m pretty passionate about teaching students about exoplanets, so a research and teaching path is what most interests me,” she said.
Of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s annual “40 Under 40” list honoring young business and community leaders from throughout the Twin Cities, an unprecedented 10 are connected to St. Thomas as alumni or current employees. Those Tommies are:
- Alvin Abraham, dean, St. Thomas Dougherty Family College
- Jordan Benning ’17 MBA, director of integration, Polaris Industries, Inc.
- David Burke ’13, founder and owner, Great Lakes Northern Outfitter
- Liz Deziel ‘ 09 MBA, senior vice president, U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management
- Nick Dyer ’16 mini-MBA, owner, PubPass
- Lindsey Hickey ’07, president and owner, Simek’s
- Mary Jane Melendez ’07 MBA, executive director, General Mills Foundation, Global Philanthropy and Volunteerism
- Adine Momoh ’06, partner, Stinson Leonard Street
- Marcus Owens ’16 MBA, Northside Economic Opportunity Network
- Jamie Tharp ’03, president, PulteGroup Inc.
They will be honored March 22 at an award reception at Union Depot in St. Paul.
The Newsroom caught up with some of the honoreers to ask them how their St. Thomas education helped prepare them for such a great start to their career.Mary Jane Melendez ’07 MBA
My education and my family were the bedrocks that prepared me for a fulfilling and purposeful career.
St. Thomas not only provided me with rigorous academics and intellectually stimulating courses like entrepreneurship, theology and philosophy, but it also provided the opportunity to serve others.
My first semester at St. Thomas helped me to build muscles in the areas of prioritization, time management, organization and planning. It also brought a great realization that sacrifice, hard work and pure determination were essential if I was to be successful in college and in my career.
St. Thomas’ study abroad program offered experiences I never had before, including the opportunity to travel internationally and take courses offered in a foreign language. These experiences pushed me out of my comfort zone while at the same time broadened my perspective, helped me gain a deep appreciation for cultural diversity, and made me realize that this world is a big and beautiful place.
Service learning, and the fulfillment and sense of purpose that came from that powerful experience, opened my heart and my eyes to the possibility of spending my life working to make the lives of others better.
Today, I have the privilege of leading one of the most generous corporate foundations in the country, the General Mills Foundation. Our work in the foundation is focused on increasing food security, alleviating hunger and advancing sustainable agriculture. Our impact is multiplied by the thousands of General Mills employees who serve as volunteers in their communities around the world.Jordan Benning ’17 MBA
Getting my MBA from St. Thomas was one of the best investments I could have made for my future. The Executive MBA program strengthened my leadership, problem-solving, creativity, communication and international skills. Being a part of a diverse cohort model provided for a tremendous amount of learning. I was able to interact with talented individuals during the 21-month program that I still interact with and learn from post graduation.David Burke ’13
I think one unique attribute that sets entrepreneurs apart is a willingness to venture into the unknown. None of my classes were necessarily focused on building a brand, apparel production or building a website, but St. Thomas as a University (specifically the Entrepreneurship program) is very supportive and encourages students to chase their own ideas. I took a very interesting sales course, an intro to small business finance and a capstone class that taught me several things I’ve carried forward into building Great Lakes. Specifically, the art of bootstrapping and evaluating the financial health of a small business and creative ways to test and prove your ideas and hypotheses before your invest too heavily.
With a goal of increasing overall awareness for the academic reputation and graduate outcomes of St. Thomas, our Marketing, Insights and Communications team, in partnership with the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship, is launching a new TV, radio and social campaign starting today.
In February 2016, we united all our schools and colleges under one consistent brand look and feel, wrapped in the expression “All for the Common Good.” This next iteration of branding seeks to build on that foundation and provide more specific messaging, particularly to highlight our academic credentials and lesser-known programs. As an example, we know from a survey conducted last summer that less than 50 percent of Minnesotans recall we offer engineering or entrepreneurship programs. We count strong programs in STEM, amazingly supportive faculty-student relationships and undergraduate research opportunities as differentiators that set us apart from other institutions.
“There is a ‘special sauce’ to the University of St. Thomas, and this campaign gives us an opportunity to showcase that,” said Kymm Martinez, vice president and chief marketing officer for the university. “Students enter through our Arches, some sure of what they want to do while others are still searching, and within their years they all have an opportunity to transform. Key to this transformation is our faculty and the high quality of our academic programs. We want all prospective students to hear these stories.”
The first of three commercials that will air features Sarah Millholland ’15, who discovered her passion for the stars while she was at St. Thomas. Associate Professor Gerry Ruch’s introductory physics course her first year led to a research project that summer modeling planets’ rotations around their respective stars. Today, she is continuing her research as a PhD candidate at Yale and recently discovered 60 new exoplanets.
Three mechanical engineering students take center stage for the second commercial. Austin Lorch ’18, Amanda Tenhoff ’18 and Milad Audi ’19 have been working for several months to create something revolutionary: an implantable device that would capture energy from the beating of a heart and turn it into electrical power to run a device such as a pacemaker.
Schulze School-inspired entrepreneurs Susan and Michael Wuollet, founders of ClotIt, invented a quick way to stop bleeding from minor cuts and scrapes. Already proven effective for animals, the Wuollets are seeking federal approval for human use. They credit support from their St. Thomas faculty as key to their inspiration and ability to start a business.
Taking advantage of a more affordable advertising market after the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics, the campaign will run throughout Minnesota in the major media markets of the Twin Cities, Rochester and Duluth through March and April, including a guaranteed appearance during the Academy Awards ceremony. While influencing decision making for prospective students is not the campaign’s primary goal, the timing tucks nicely into the recruiting year, when final acceptances are due by May 1. The primary audiences are parents, teachers, counselors and other prospective student influencers. This is the first time St. Thomas has launched a TV campaign since the early 2000s.
Faculty, students and staff are encouraged to share the videos, images and stories as they appear on social media and in the Newsroom, and use the hashtag #WeAreTommies.
“Most adults spend the majority of their waking hours working, so to live a meaningful life, it helps to have meaningful work,” said Professor Christopher Michaelson, the David A. and Barbara Koch Distinguished Professor of Business Ethics and Social Responsibility in the Opus College of Business.
For Michaelson, 9/11 played a pivotal role in the course of his career. A business consultant living with his wife and baby in New York City at the time, he remembers being in Washington, D.C., when the terror attacks happened and trying to reach his family to make sure they were OK. Thankfully, they were.
“A lot of people – including myself – thought, ‘We’re the lucky ones; we survived,’” he said. “We thought about how we could honor the memory of those who died.” He asked himself, “How can we live more meaningfully because we have a more conscious appreciation of our good fortune and our obligation to use that fortune well?”
While still doing some consulting work, Michaelson ventured into academia, teaching business ethics and social responsibility classes. Among his research specialties is “meaningful work.”
“My meaningful work is more of a combination of the two rather than doing either one or the other,” he said. “I’ve been lucky to do both for much of my career.
“I believe that if people thought more carefully about and more intentionally sought out meaningful work, the world would be a better place,” Michaelson said. “Work that is considered meaningful is typically meaningful to the worker. Sometimes, what makes that work meaningful is that it promotes the common good.”
In the classroom, he purposefully primes his business students to consider how they may find work that is self-enriching and makes a positive difference. When they graduate, St. Thomas students join a network of Tommies who have gone on to build communities and establish relationships to solve some of today’s most pressing problems.
Among those graduates are retired doctor Wayne Thalhuber, M.D., who has spent years working in hospice care; teacher Courtney Hauboldt, who changed her career to work with children with autism spectrum disorder; and lawyer Amanda Mortwedt Oh, who is examining human rights abuses in North Korea.
Here are their stories.Dr. Wayne Thalhuber ’60: Helping patients through the dying process
On a warm day last September, retired doctor Wayne Thalhuber stood in front of a group of cadets, former classmates and visitors at Saint Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights as he received a distinguished alumni award. In his speech, he talked about his time at the all-boys military school along with wisdom gained throughout his years working in the medical field, specifically in hospice care.
“I found that if you really want to live, you talk to a dying patient,” he said. “Because their focus is on today and the importance of their relationships.”
In 2017, Thalhuber received the University of St. Thomas Humanitarian Award for his more than 40 years providing physical and spiritual support for hospice patients. Since he graduated in 1960 with a degree in biology, Thalhuber’s achievements have been impressive, including serving as hospice medical director first at Midway Hospital and then later at HealthEast Hospice. However, it’s the four decades he spent as medical director at St. Paul’s Our Lady of Peace Hospice (formerly known as Our Lady of Good Counsel) that he considers the most fulfilling aspect of his medical career. In fact, he loved it so much he stayed there eight years after retiring from his private practice.
“When I walked into Our Lady for the first time, it just seemed like they needed help,” Thalhuber recalled. “They needed a doctor around who they could call and who could work through the cases. It just seemed like the right thing to do. And then the right thing to do just kept being the right thing to do. I liked it and it was the best part of my medical practice. I felt like I was getting better as a person. When you serve, you get back in spades.”
Instead of the funeral-home atmosphere he was expecting when he first walked into Our Lady, Thalhuber was pleasantly surprised to find a peaceful, loving and accepting place with one purpose: help patients through the dying process.
When Thalhuber started going to Our Lady, the idea of hospice was in its infancy in the United States. Over the years, the field grew and Thalhuber was there to experience all he could, including becoming board-certified in hospice and palliative care. Instead of saving patients like he was taught to do in medical school, he was spending a lot of time helping people at the end of their lives when recovery was no longer a possibility.
“My colleagues would say, ‘Why do you waste your time? What’s there to do?’” Thalhuber recalled. “Well, there’s a lot to do. You manage the patients’ symptoms and make them comfortable. Then you can help them work through the bargaining, denial, depression and anger, which are human defense mechanisms we all use. The goal is to get the patient to a level of acceptance.
“Once they’re at acceptance, then they can transcend all that physical pain,” he continued. “Then they can do something with their relationships, with their spirituality, with making amends. All that can come into play. It becomes a very rich environment in which to treat a patient.”
A self-described “amateur clergy person,” Thalhuber would spend time asking his dying patients about their spirituality, helping them find the good in their lives and praying with them.
“I was treating the whole patient,” he said. “Even though I had an M.D. after my name, I was more like a friend, a counselor, a buddy, who was trying to get them through a very difficult stage of their life.”
Time spent at Our Lady made his life richer, he said, not only as a physician, but as a human being. He learned how to be more accepting of people and things in his life – even within his own family. “Wayne’s way” wasn’t always the right way, he said.
In his internal medicine practice, meaningful work meant making a diagnosis and helping patients improve their health. At Our Lady it meant managing a dying patient’s symptoms, and seeing the growth at the end of their life.
Even though it’s been a decade since Thalhuber retired from medicine, his work continues.
“Now I take care of my sick friends or people who call and ask for advice on death and dying,” he said. “I continue to be offered opportunities to help friends, family, neighbors, high school and college chums. I’m busy. My calendar fills up.”Courtney Hauboldt ’17 M.A.: Teaching students on the autism spectrum
Courtney Hauboldt caught the attention of hundreds of people last summer with a heartfelt LinkedIn post. On the social media site, she opened up about leaving her job as a corporate recruiter to teach children with autism, something she had done briefly more than a dozen years ago.
“Life is too short not to do what you love,” wrote the 40-year-old Wales, Wisconsin, native. “It’s never too late. Work hard, follow your dreams and never, ever settle.”
A few years ago, Hauboldt realized she needed a change. While doing some soul searching, she kept coming back to a time in her 20s when she worked at an organization providing autism services to children and adults. So, she started taking online classes at St. Thomas in addition to her full-time job as a recruiter.
In August, she earned her master’s degree in special education with a focus in autism spectrum disorders, along with an autism teaching license. At the start of the school year, Hauboldt became a special education teacher at Highland Elementary in Apple Valley, Minnesota. In her classroom, she has six children – all with a primary autism diagnosis.
“This has been 13 years in the making,” Hauboldt said with a huge smile as she looked around her classroom. “I’ve never worked so hard. I’ve never worked so many hours. I’ve never been so overwhelmed and so exhausted. I’ve never been so happy.”
Even though her career path was a winding one, Hauboldt said she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m not the same person I was 15 years ago,” she said. “I’ve grown a lot personally. I’m grateful that I didn’t have an opportunity to get my autism teaching license back then because my intuition, my gut feeling, tells me now is the right time. I have no regrets about being in the corporate world; I grew so much professionally and had experiences there I never would have had and never would trade. Because of all that – my corporate experience and personal changes I’ve made – I appreciate this so much more now than if this would have been my 15th year teaching.”
For Hauboldt, the idea of meaningful work comes down to making a difference in someone’s life.
“The kids bring so much joy to me just being who they are,” Hauboldt said. “I feel blessed I was hired at Highland and to be in their lives and make that difference.”Amanda Mortwedt Oh ’12 J.D.: Tracking abuses in North Korea’s prison camps
For the past four years, Amanda Mortwedt Oh has been monitoring North Korea’s political prison camps for the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), a nonpartisan human rights organization that researches and publishes reports about North Korea’s human rights abuses.
For most of that time, she has been based in Washington, D.C., but on Thanksgiving Day 2016, Mortwedt Oh, along with her husband and young twin daughters, relocated to Seoul, South Korea.
“One of the most egregious issues is the political prison camp system,” said Mortwedt Oh, a graduate of the University of St. Thomas School of Law and 2013 LL.M. graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. “The Kim family, from the start, has imprisoned people they perceive not to be loyal to them, and the manifestations are these camps where there’s forced labor, and people are tortured and dying – horrors beyond belief that we have learned through former prisoners and satellite imagery. A lot of what I do is look at the satellite imagery and try to identify new facilities.”
Being in South Korea has been helpful, she said, because that’s where the largest North Korean defector community is – about 30,000 people – thus giving her more opportunities to interact with North Koreans and gain a greater understanding of what they’ve endured.
Last fall, Mortwedt Oh briefly returned to the United States to present with human rights advocate David Hawk a report that included former prisoner testimony and satellite imagery of about 20 new unconfirmed political prison sites in North Korea. She’s hoping their findings will put additional pressure on the regime with the ultimate goal of ending the country’s system of political imprisonment.
“I’m not seeing it firsthand, but I feel for the victims,” Mortwedt Oh said. “I try to process and feel as much of it as I can without losing myself in it, because it’s really sad and terrible and makes me angry, too. I think, in a way, it helps me know there’s a bigger purpose in trying to do something meaningful. I’m not sure I’m making any sort of difference or maybe I never will, but I hope to. There are too many people who don’t have a voice, and I’ve been really lucky and blessed. It makes me want to give back however I can, and I hope this is that way. The more I read about North Korea and talk to people and hear about what’s happening, the more I can’t look away.”
Before her time at St. Thomas, Mortwedt Oh was on active duty in the Army for five years, which included two deployments to Afghanistan. Following active duty, she enrolled in the University of St. Thomas School of Law and focused on international law and human rights issues. It was during this time that she had an opportunity to do an externship at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Cambodia.
In the spring, Mortwedt Oh, who is an Army Reserve attorney, plans to return to the United States with her family to continue her work with the HRNK in Washington, D.C.
Read more from St. Thomas magazine.
In the first year of a new national award, the Department of Defense recognized St. Thomas’ Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) as one of the best in the country.
St. Thomas was named one of the final four schools – out of more than 1,000 colleges and universities nationwide – and the top one in the Midwest region.
“It’s cool to see the work we’re putting in isn’t going unnoticed,” said senior Luke Hubers, who was also recognized this year as one of the top five cadets nationally in his class, and served as an elite cadet training assistant last summer. “People on campus see us in uniform and may not understand what goes on behind the scenes, but it’s incredible how in depth everything is between the coordination with the university and the Air Force, all that to make this whole operation happen. Not to mention the leadership growth and mentorship that goes with it for everybody. To see it all come together in this amazing product, and to see people recognize it with the university, it’s incredible.”
St. Thomas was the lone Division III school to be recognized, along with University of Notre Dame, Auburn University and Texas A&M. Lt. Col. Mark Madaus, commander of St. Thomas’ Detachment 410, cited the longstanding tradition of partnership with the university as crucial in all the program’s success.
“We’re very well integrated into everything that goes on across campus,” he said, citing the support of a St. Thomas grant for ROTC students to receive scholarship support as well as room and board. “I’m not aware of any of the other 1,100 schools in the country that have that level of support.”
St. Thomas has consistently been one of the top AFROTC detachments in the country for cumulative grade-point average and physical training scores, with a current ranking of eighth in the country, Madaus said. Along with that collective achievement, several students were recently tapped for national-level leadership roles.
“We had three cadet training assistants this summer, which is pretty unheard of to have a detachment do that,” said Hubers, speaking of the tabbing of cadets in the top percentages of field training for leadership roles. “It speaks to the support we give each other and the university gives us in this entire endeavor. The support is absolutely incredible.”
Hubers also pointed to the program’s core values – integrity, service and excellence – combining so well with St. Thomas’ values.
“It helps create this culture of not just being a military presence on campus, but an integrated part of the student body,” he said. “The values we hold in ROTC carry over so well to the academic part of things.”
The Dean of Students Office is accepting applications for the William B. Malevich Student Leadership Scholarship. This scholarship was established in recognition of the 26 years that William Malevich served as the university’s dean of students.
The scholarship is awarded to students who:
- Will have attained senior academic status following the spring 2018 semester.
- Have demonstrated leadership.
- Are interested in enhancing their leadership skills in their final year of study.
The criteria for the scholarship are:
- Experience fostering and encouraging volunteerism and leadership through on- or off-campus activities.
- Good academic and disciplinary standing within the university.
- Preference may be given to students who have been elected to a position of leadership by their peers.
- Preference may be given to students demonstrating significant financial need.
Applications are available here. The deadline for completed applications is 4:30 p.m. Friday, March 16. The decision of the scholarship committee will be announced the week of March 26.
For more information contact Sister Sharon Howell, (651) 962-6050.