Part of a Community… Even After You Leave
By Shannon E. Brewer ’03
Ashley Thornburg and Kim Holly Maher.
Kim Holly Maher ’05 and Ashley Thornburg ’05 share a passion for Saint Mary’s that has compelled them to stay involved in College life long past their graduation. The two friends and former roommates are now successful career women. They live in different cities and have lives apart from each other. But they make time to reconnect as leaders of the Class of 2005, and participants in their class’s gift campaigns. “At Saint Mary’s I learned that there is no limit on the ways you can share yourself with the people around you,” asserts Maher. These young alumnae make it a priority to give back to the College, which, in their opinion, has given so much to them—challenging academics, lifelong friendships, and preparation for successful careers. It was these experiences that prompted the two friends to donate their time and treasure to the College at an early point in their education.
Maher’s and Thornburg’s joint participation in Annual Fund efforts began in their sophomore year. The roommates participated in the sophomore Quarters Campaign, encouraging their classmates to participate as well. The Quarters Campaign, now called the Class Gift Campaign, is a way for students to begin raising funds toward their Senior Gift Campaign. During Maher’s and Thornburg’s tenure, they asked their classmates to give a quarter for each year they had been on campus. The twosome joined forces again for the junior class Quarters Campaign, and then during their senior year Maher and Thornburg decided to co-chair the Class of 2005 Senior Gift Campaign. Both women say the decision was an easy one to make. “Kim and I were roommates for three years and because we were involved in the sophomore and junior class quarters campaign together, it just seemed natural that we would assume that leadership role at the end of junior year,” explains Thornburg.
When asked why she decided to chair her class’s Campaign, Maher responds with enthusiasm for the Saint Mary’s experience and a desire to give back. “As a senior, I was in awe of the experience I had and felt a great deal of gratitude,” she says. “By being a part of my class’s Senior Gift Campaign, I was able to give back to Saint Mary’s, and help my classmates see the value of reciprocating the support we had received over the past four years.” Maher is now a third-grade teacher in Manhattan, Ill. She credits her success as a teacher to the example given her by the faculty of Saint Mary’s nationally accredited education program. “In their own ways, each professor I came in contact with helped me to flourish as a student and future educator. I am the teacher and leader I am today because of their support and dedication to this profession.” For Maher, supporting the College financially is her way of ensuring that future Saint Mary’s students are equally challenged and inspired.
For Thornburg, a coordinator of amateurism certification for the NCAA Eligibility Center in Indianapolis, Ind., and volunteer cheerleading coach, the leadership skills she developed at Saint Mary’s continue to motivate her participation. “Saint Mary’s gave me the confidence to know that I could make a difference in the lives of others,” says the sports enthusiast. During her senior year, Thornburg was not only the Class Gift Campaign co-chair, she was also the public relations commissioner for the Board of Governance (BOG), a member of the PR and Advertising Club, and a member of Lambda Pi Eta, the communications honor society. The communications studies graduate says she’s grateful for those experiences and the people who shaped them. “I loved being challenged by my professors and classmates,” she says. Two professors in the Department of Communications, Dance, and Theatre in particular, Professor Michael Kramer and Professor Ann Plamondon, encouraged Thornburg to develop the skills that interested her. “Dr. Kramer did a lot in giving me the flexibility and encouragement in class to take on athletic-type projects as they related to class. Dr. Plamondon helped me get an internship at the sports information office at Notre Dame,” says Thornburg. Now she also holds a master’s degree in sport administration from Indiana University.
Both Thornburg and Maher want to ensure that the Saint Mary’s tradition of educating women lives on, and hope their participation in efforts like the Class of 2005 Gift Campaign will inspire fellow alumnae to give something back. “Saint Mary’s is a place that produces some of the best women in the world and so many alumnae want to preserve that,” says Thornburg.