|Healing through Blogging|
Kate Johnson Doubler '03 arrived at Saint Ben's with a passion for healing, and identified a major she felt would lead her confidently in the direction of her dreams. As a nursing student, she threw herself whole heartedly into her studies, and did not waste a minute of her time here on campus. As she learned more and more about the world of medicine, she also developed an interest for other aspects of health, especially natural food.
"I was just so hungry for that aspect of healing that I spent a lot of time researching natural wellness options. I also worked in an organic garden on campus with Sister Phyllis. That was one of the hardest jobs I've ever had, but it taught me such an appreciation for where food comes from," remembers Kate.
Kate left Saint Ben's armed with a nursing degree and an appreciation for natural and healthy food, determined to solve the health problems facing society today. As a nurse, she was able to provide immediate treatment for many people, but she was also getting frustrated with the inefficiencies of the health system, and the lack of emphasis on prevention education. Kate began filling this education gap by sharing her recipes online. It did not take long for her blog to pick up speed, and soon enough it became an income generating machine! Now, more than 300,000 people a month are visiting her website, www.realfoodrn.com, to learn how to live healthier and more natural lives.
Kate's entrepreneurial journey was not always easy, but she had handled every challenge with grace and perseverance, fueled by her passion to educate and heal. As someone with limited business knowledge, Kate looked to other food and health bloggers for guidance, and has become a member of a community of women who support and share her ambitions. Through the assistance of her blogging community, she has learned how to code her website, manage her team and create a thriving enterprise.
In the future, Kate hopes to continue educating and informing through new business initiatives. "My goal is to get my blog to a high enough revenue to create some kind of women's center that includes natural medicine techniques," says Kate. "I just want to get the word out and educate people on how to live a healthier life."
Her advice to anyone contemplating voyaging off the beaten path? "First, read and research and find a way! Second, don't let other people's opinions on what you're going to do influence your dreams. And lastly, when you do work that you love, it's not work."
|Giving girls a running start|
Mary Winzenburg Uran '06 (pictured top) and Kori Fitschen Carlson '04 (pictured bottom) didn't know each other in college. Though they had mutual friends, and their time at Saint Ben's overlapped, they never actually met. But the Bennie connection runs deeper than four years on campus. And just five years after graduating, the two became colleagues - working as a team to bring a nonprofit organization called Girls on the Run to the Twin Cities.
"It's a youth development program," explains Kori, "but at the core, it's really about giving girls the tools they need to be successful."
Third through eighth grade girls meet after school for a 10-week season in the fall and spring. They train for a 5k run over the course of those 10 weeks, but most importantly, they have fun while doing it.
"Girls on the Run inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident, using a fun, experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running," says Mary. "There's no prior experience required. It's not a running program, it's a youth program that uses running as a catalyst for change."
It's a national organization that began in 1996. But the Twin Cities never had their own official branch of the nonprofit.
Kori first heard of Girls on the Run while at Saint Ben's, volunteering to time runners at the Girls on the Run 5k in Red Wing. When she moved to Utah for grad school, she did behind-the-scenes work to help start and coach the Salt Lake Council of Girls on the Run.
Mary discovered the organization at a volunteer fair in Washington, D.C., where she was working in the Attorney General's office, and began coaching a team after work.
But life brought both women back to Minnesota.
Kori first contacted Girls on The Run to try to start a local branch. The organization connected her with others who were interested in the same thing.
But the process was moving too slowly. The group tried to work through YMCAs and community centers instead of establishing themselves as an independent organization.
When Mary moved back to Minnesota for grad school, things began to click. Girls on the Run connected Mary with Kori. It was then that they started working together, and realized their Bennie connection.
"It seemed appropriate that the only other person who was ready to start working and building an organization was also a Bennie," says Mary.
The two made strategic choices to drive forward as an independent organization.
"I think sometimes there's a timing piece," says Kori. "Right from the start, Mary had put in the application to be an independent 501(c)(3). It's a lot more work because you're becoming an actual nonprofit. That's what we needed to do - we needed to stand on our own."
Both women had fundamentally different strengths. Kori majored in psychology at Saint Ben's, and Mary majored in political science and communication. In the initial months, Kori became the director of operations, and Mary the director of development.
"Our skill sets and our strengths just complemented each other really well," says Kori. "Mary was more the face of Girls on the Run, and I was the behind-the-scenes person working on a lot of the details. That worked for us."
In July 2011, Girls on the Run Twin Cities was officially established as a 501(c)(3), with Mary as the executive director. They launched their first season for girls in the spring of 2012 with six coaches and four participants.
In their most recent season, they had 150 coaches and 1500 participants in the 11-county Twin Cities metro area.
While coaches are ultimately in charge, the program is largely girl-led. And that brings huge changes in the participants after the program is over.
"I remember a mom this spring talking about how her daughter was very shy at any after school activity," says Mary. "At first, she was sitting against the wall at practice, but eventually she started participating in not only the running but also the activities, raising her hand. At the end of the season, I saw her at the 5k, wearing butterfly wings, giving her teammates high fives and dancing to the music. She'd really come alive."
Mary and Kori say the youth development aspect is central to what Girls on the Run is all about.
"Making a place where people feel safe, and where they can grow and turn to someone, is a big deal," says Kori.
| Shifting perspectives|
Jane Murray Marrin ’64 has been shifting the ideas of what’s possible since she stepped on the Saint Ben’s campus. Jane was one of 48 women in the first CSB class to take courses on the Saint John’s University campus in the fall of 1963. She also spent her entire junior year studying abroad in Mexico City, with no prior experience speaking Spanish, just armed with a desire to embrace a new culture and form new relationships.
This desire to push boundaries did not stop with her time at Saint Ben’s. After graduation, Jane moved to Indiana to begin her career in social work, where she aided and worked with young women as a pregnancy and adoption counselor. She then transitioned from her social work career to teaching, and continued to make ripples in the lives she encountered after marrying Jim Marrin (SJU ’64). Jim became an officer in the Navy after finishing law school and thus began a life of unique challenges and many, many moves.
One of those moves took them to Georgia and in the late 1960s, where Jane became one of three white teachers in a predominantly black school in Oglethorpe County, Georgia. “I was the integration,” Jane remembers. “In order to get federal funding, the county had to integrate the school systems. They put three white teachers in the black school, and three black teachers in the white school, and called that integration.” This experience was the beginning of her career changing ideologies and shifting perspectives. While she only worked as a teacher in Georgia for six months, Jane credits this experience with opening her mind and pushing her to continually advocate for social justice.
Years and several U.S. states later, Jane returned to Minnesota with Jim and their four children and worked as a social worker with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Saint Cloud. In 1997, Jane became the first lay person to direct the Pro Life office (which she later renamed “Respect Life Office”) in the St. Cloud Diocese. Jane then moved on to become the director of the Office for Social Concerns, then Director of Parish Pastoral Planning for the diocese and finally to her current role as Chancellor of the Diocese of Saint Cloud.
While her duties are plentiful, Jane continues to view
Moving forward, Jane will continue using her role to move the Catholic tradition forward in an ever-changing society. “All of my work is about building relationships. Bottom line is we need to develop relationships in family, in parish, in society. I had a wonderful formation for that at Saint Ben's."
| Empowering through education|
Dr. Giavana Bain Jones '02 has always been an advocate for the underdogs, so it was no surprise that her career path led her to facilitate access to educational opportunities for deserving students without the means or support to pursue tertiary education on their own. After a robust career in advocating for youth, Giavana was named Program Director of Scholarships at the Lyford Cay Foundation. "Education has been the vehicle to get me to my dreams. Because of this, I am a strong advocate for education as one integral avenue to help people overcome generational and systemic challenges that tend to fuel cycles of poverty and hopelessness," affirms Giavana.
|2015 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards|
Two graduates from the College of Saint Benedict recieved Entrepreneur of the Year awards from the Donald McNeely Center. The CSB Entrepreneur of the Year award was presented to Janet Setter Dryer '83 (pictured top), former CEO and current chair of the board of HelpSystems. The CSB/SJU Social Entrepreneur of the Year award was presented to Krista Cleary Carroll '00 (pictured bottom), co-founder and CEO of Latitude. That same afternoon, Rick Bauerly (SJU '91) of Granite Equity Partners was named SJU Entrepreneur of the Year.
The CSB Entrepreneur of the Year award recognizes the achievements of CSB graduates who best exemplify the ideals of entrepreneurship by starting and successfully managing one or more businesses in a way that demonstrates notable entrepreneurial characteristics and achievements while practicing Benedictine values in the workplace and in their lives.
Dryer joined HelpSystems in 1985 as a sales representative and has held positions of increasing responsibility over the years, including director of sales and marketing and vice president of sales and marketing. She was named president in 1998, succeeding company founder Dick Jacobson. In 2007, she became CEO of the HelpSystems family of companies. She announced her retirement from HelpSystems in December 2014.
The CSB/SJU Social Entrepreneur of the Year award recognizes the achievements and qualities of a CSB or SJU graduate who best exemplifies the ideals of social entrepreneurship by starting and successfully managing one or more ventures that enrich humanity or address a social issue in a way that demonstrates notable entrepreneurial characteristics and achievements while practicing Benedictine values in the workplace and in their lives.
Carroll is co-founder and CEO of Latitude, an independent creative agency that believes "purpose elevates talent." Their stated purpose is to elevate people living in extreme poverty around the world, and invest 50 percent of their profits in organizations that advance this cause. This fuels them to passionately use their talents to best serve their clients as they elevate their brands in the marketplace. Since 2009, they've done that for retail brands like Ann Taylor, Under Armour, Puma and Petco and have invested over $2.1 million to-date.
|Life-saving and life-changing|
As Christy Stutsman '06 leaves for work in the pre-dawn darkness, she reminisces about the cool mornings she loved as part of the crew team her first year at Saint Ben's. The simplicity of waiting for the sun to rise as boats glided across the misty lake are memories that have stuck with her over the years. Little did she know that five years later, she would be watching the sunrise from halfway around the world.
After graduating with a degree in nursing, Christy volunteered in Kenya for one year through the Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB). She worked in pediatrics at a remote hospital, but after working with sick children and too few resources, she switched to assisting new mothers in labor and delivery.
When her commitment with CMMB was completed, she returned to Minnesota. She was back for only one month when she realized she was not where she was called to be. "I didn't know why I was here," remembers Christy. "Felix (Christy's now husband) was still in Kenya, my heart was still in Kenya — I had to go back."
She soon returned, earning her nursing license through the Kenyan Board of Nursing, and moved to a hospital closer to Felix where she practiced for an additional three years. Throughout that time, Christy worked to make a difference in labor and delivery by working one-on-one with the mothers. She explains how, when babies are born prematurely in parts of Kenya, there is no known way to care for them since the hospitals don't have adequate resources.
"It weighed on my heart," says Christy, "An unfortunate culture developed where the mothers became desensitized to infants passing and would leave...so I would take those babies and hold them until they passed away."
In the face of such tragedies, Christy remained optimistic through the hope cultivated from the many lives she saved. She tells of one mother in particular who gave birth to twins and went into a coma after delivery. Christy and her co-worker cared for the children, despite strong opposition from family members who feared the babies would have no one to care for them if the mother died.
Despite that resistance, she continued to care for the twins. Three days later when the mother came out of the coma, she was elated; she and the babies were safe. She named the baby girl Christine after her.
"It changed my life," Christy says of the experience. "Here [in the U.S.] you're a nurse and you have this big team that's all working for the common good. There, people just give up hope because they see so much death."
It's immeasurable how many lives Christy saved or touched in a profound way during those three years. Her own life changed significantly as well — she got married and had her first daughter. It was shortly thereafter when she and Felix decided to move back to Minnesota. She is now working as a Labor & Delivery nurse at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital.
Christy considers her time at Saint Ben's as the foundation for her experiences in volunteering abroad. With the school's many service-related distinctions, including being placed on the Peace Corps' annual list of the top 25 volunteer-producing small higher education institutions, it is clear that Bennies are equipped for service.
"There are a multitude of diverse volunteer opportunities available as a student," Christy says. "CSB/SJU does a fantastic job at cultivating a social justice mindset in students."
Though her student life may be behind her, her international volunteering life may not be. "I am always open to any opportunity which presents itself. Anything is possible...so I'm curious to see what the future holds."
Liz Fogarty '98 wants to be part of the solution to problems in the foster care system. That sounds simple enough, but Liz's contributions toward change are particularly stirring because her approach touches lives in three distinct ways - she advocates for foster children in the court system, she travels the country instructing teachers on how to best reach and challenge gifted learners and she is a proud foster parent herself.
Liz's journey began at Saint Ben's with dual degrees in elementary education and psychology. "So much of what I learned about education I learned at Saint Ben's," says Liz. "When it comes to learning how to be a teacher, there is probably no better place to learn than at CSB."
After graduation, Liz taught 5th grade while completing her master's program and then went to the University of Connecticut for her Ph.D. in educational psychology. Shortly after, Liz and her husband moved to North Carolina where she became a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), also called Guardian ad Litem. In this volunteer position, she conducts interviews, writes reports and meets with the foster children she's representing to advocate for them in the court system.
"I loved this volunteer position and still do it to this day," says Liz. "But as I worked with kids in foster care, I began to see how much need there was for foster parents. At the time, my husband and I did not have any children and decided to become licensed therapeutic foster parents. Our first foster child came to live with us just two months before our son, Holden, was born."
Liz is now an associate professor at East Carolina University, teaching undergraduate and graduate level education students and working in the Honors College. She is also a public speaker and travels to schools across the U.S. to help teachers be better educators to gifted children. "A common experience for new teachers is a feeling of uncertainty when working with gifted kids," explains Liz. "Almost no one does really well in this area because there is little emphasis on it in pre-service education programs. That's why I felt compelled to learn more about these kids, what makes them tick and how to best teach them."
Liz's work has benefited countless lives and she encourages others to consider advocating for foster kids or becoming foster parents. "Whether it's my biological children or foster children, being a mom is the toughest and most important job I've had," says Liz. "People often think, 'The foster system is not my issue. They're not my kids. I take care of my own kids.' But it is everybody's issue. It's the idea that we're all in this together. I think that's one of the greatest lessons I learned at Saint Ben's - great things can be accomplished when you work as a community. Plus as alums, no matter where we go there's a sister who's got your back (sometimes literally a Sister). We are in this together."
|The gift of music|
Katie Corbett Phenow '02 remembers getting teased for choosing a profession that paid so little, but she can now proudly tell all the naysayers that her career in music ministry has been one of life's greatest gifts. "When I'm singing at church or directing choirs for mass, it doesn't feel like work," says Katie. And as a busy mom of six, with twins following after four kids, it's easy to understand why it's a blessing to have a career that never feels like a job.
Katie came to Saint Ben's with a love of music, but in addition to the lessons learned while studying K-12 music education, she was also inspired by the examples she saw in her classmates and professors of the Benedictine values in action.
"In a field of performance, you'd think you would encounter a lot of competition or favorites, but I always felt bolstered by the classmates around me, like we made each other better and celebrated what each of us brought to the table," she explains. "That vigor was also present in the workplace and in the passion the professors had for sharing their knowledge with students. The sense of everyone bringing their best energy together was exciting."
Years down the road, the value of celebrating strengths and using your own to serve others was still a big part of Katie. Even with an already full schedule, she was inspired to help a cause that had been close to her heart since first learning about it as a teenager - eradicating human trafficking. With a prayer and a little Googling, Katie was soon connected with the Advocates for Human Rights of Minneapolis and the philanthropic choir VocalPoint.
"100% of donations from the concerts went to aide women and children through the Advocates for Human Rights," says Katie. "We raised thousands upon thousands of dollars for a worthy cause, and probably just as important to me was the fact that my kids saw me do this. They saw me demonstrate that no matter how busy you are, there are people suffering who need your help in whatever capacity you can give it. For me, God was quite clear - I may not be rich but I can sing!"
As a mother, music minister and VocalPoint member, Katie continues to channel those lessons cultivated at Saint Ben's into demonstrating how a personal gift can enrich the lives of others. "Bennies come from an environment that shows us how to lift up those around us, so we can't help but do that wherever we go after graduation," says Katie. "I'm incredibly proud to belong to a sisterhood of women that demonstrate the value of intelligence, motivation and service."
|A mission for Africa|
Ever since serving in Swaziland, Africa in the Peace Corps, Barb Houle '85 had been on a mission to find a way to make a positive and lasting change for the people and place she had grown to love. Three decades later, an unplanned visit to a Swaziland hospital sparked an idea that would lead to the change she had always imagined. But long before that distinctive trip, the groundwork for being undaunted by new ideas and ventures was laid during her time as a Saint Ben's student.
Barb graduated from Saint Ben's with a degree in natural science and began her professional career as a biology lab supervisor at Anoka Ramsey Community College. Wanting to advance her education and explore options, Barb decided to take a psychology course. It turned out to be a great fit and with her supervisor's encouragement, Barb went back to school for a master's degree in psychology and then attended Northern Illinois University for her Ph.D.
"Sometimes life takes a different turn and that's okay," explains Barb. "I always felt that my Saint Ben's education prepared me very well for graduate school. The skills and knowledge I acquired there could be applied to any academic discipline. My career change from natural science to psychology demonstrates that well. I am now a psychology instructor at Riverland Community College in Austin, Minn."
In 2009, Barb returned to Africa for a year-long sabbatical through school. One day during the trip, Barb and her friends visited the local hospital and noticed the room, which held a number of patients on cot-like-beds, didn't offer anything for patients to do to pass the time. There were no TVs, no magazines or books, and nothing for recovering patients to look at. Barb shared this observation with her friend and colleague Lindiwe Sibisi, who lives in Swaziland, and they started Read to Recovery, a program that provides books for recovering hospital patients.
"Sometimes you have an idea and you just go with it. Read to Recovery was exactly that. In my heart, I knew I couldn't walk away," says Barb.
The program launched later that year and has since expanded to hospitals throughout Swaziland. Barb has returned several times since then, most recently in June 2014 to expand Read to Recovery to include Christian music CDs sung by the group Spiritually Motivated.
"I believe God gives everyone special talents, and it's up to us to decide how we use them to serve others. I'm grateful for what I have been blessed with and consider it a privilege to share my talents with others," says Barb.
|Answering the call|
St. John of the Cross Episcopal Church in Bristol, Ind. was founded in 1843 and has long been a testament to the power of faith and hard work in the community. It is no surprise then that newly ordained Rev. Jennifer Coe Fulton '93 fits right in as the most recent priest-in-charge. Jen has embraced every twist and turn in her career and has used her drive and incredible faith to embrace her newest position as the leader of this historic parish.
"If someone had told me ten years ago that I would one day be an Episcopal priest, I would have laughed at them," says Jen. "But when God called me, while I resisted that call for a while, I was eventually able to submit with something akin to grace. The roots of all of that began with my family, childhood church and Saint Ben's."
Jen graduated from Saint Ben's with a bachelor's degree in English and pursued a master's degree in the same field at the University of Illinois. She began her professional career teaching at an all-girls Catholic school in the south suburbs of Chicago. She then raised two daughters as a stay-at-home-mom before joining the staff at the University of Notre Dame as the student coordinator for the Nanovic Institute for European Studies. She did all this before going back to school again for a master's degree in ministry from Nashotah House Theological Seminary.
"The connections between my Saint Ben's experience and my life now as an Episcopal priest aren't obvious," explains Jen. "I wasn't a particularly faithful or faith-filled Christian. In fact, many of my friends and professors might call that an understatement! However, being at Saint Ben's helped root me in the Christian sacramental tradition in ways that I didn't see, and even actively resisted at the time. When I finally wandered into an Episcopal church years later, it was like I had wandered back home. In addition, spending those years surrounded by the monks and sisters instilled in me a sense of respect for those who devote their lives to God and the Church, and I believe that helped me respond in faithfulness to God's call to me."
In addition to her ministry work, Jen continues to work for Notre Dame in the Nanovic Institute, empowering students to conduct research, internships or service projects in Europe. She uses her own study abroad experience in Austria to inspire more students to take a leap of faith in their college years and embrace unfamiliar territory. Through both of her current positions, Jen has been able to channel her experiences at Saint Ben's into enriching the minds of others spiritually and academically.
"Work hard and faithfully, but don't let yourself think for even a minute that you are the sole determinant of your life path," advises Jen. "Our lives often take us in directions we would never have expected. Leave yourself open to life's twists and turns and to the still, small voice of God. They might lead you to a place that you didn't expect but that is very, very good."