How is Saint Mary’s keeping Sister Madeleva’s “promise of discovery” today?

Panelist and Moderator Biographies

Gail Mandell is professor emerita of humanistic studies and the Bruno Schlesinger Chair in Humanistic Studies emerita. She came to the College in 1972 and joined the humanistic studies faculty in 1978. Gail earned the highest faculty awards the College bestows: the Maria Pieta Award for teaching and the Spes Unica Award for service. In 1994 she delivered the 10th annual Madeleva Lecture in conjunction with the publication of her book, Madeleva: A Biography. She recently published a chapter on Sister Madeleva in Reclaiming Catholicism: Treasures Old and New. In addition, she has published a book-length study of the poetry of D.H. Lawrence (The Phoenix Paradox) that received the Chicago Women in Publishing Award for Excellence in Publishing, and she has authored a collection of interviews with biographers on the art of biography (Life into Art). It is her research and writing on Sister Madeleva that Gail will weave into the conversation with our panelists.

Alma Bravo will graduate in May with a bachelor of arts degree in social work and a minor in Spanish. Alma is a South Bend native who has been involved in a wide variety of community and campus activities. At Saint Mary’s, she worked with the College Academy of Tutoring (CAT) program for two years as a tutor and teacher’s assistant and earned the Sister Maria Concepta McDermott Award for Service in Education as a first year student. As a CAT Scholar she provided over 600 hours of service to at-risk students at Warren Primary Center, one of Saint Mary’s partner Title 1 schools. In 2011 Alma received the College’s Spirit of Service Award. In addition, La Casa de Amistad, which serves the Hispanic community, named her Volunteer of the Year for her work with Fiesta Michiana, the food bank, and providing interpretation and other services. Currently, Alma works at Catholic Charities in South Bend to fulfill degree requirements. She assists the adoption and pregnancy specialist and works with the ECHO (Education Creates Hope and Opportunity) program that helps girls graduate from high school when they are pregnant or have children. Alma plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work and will enter graduate school with advanced standing.

Amanda Lester will graduate in May with a bachelor of arts degree in communication studies and a concentration in mass communication. In her junior year, Amada enrolled in Saint Mary’s New Venture class in which students experience real-world entrepreneurship by launching a new business. With three other students, Amanda developed BTG Advertising, Inc., a full-service agency providing creative design services and on-campus publicity for businesses, school departments, and student organizations in the South Bend area. Clients pay to place advertisements on the 22” monitor that BTG Advertising installed in the shuttle bus between the Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame campuses. The company is profitable and Amanda plans to continue with the business after she graduates from Saint Mary’s. Along with classmate Melissa Jackson, Amanda was recently named an Orr Fellow. They are the first Saint Mary’s students to receive this honor. Approximately 25 Orr Fellows are selected from a pool of nearly 2,000 soon-to-be college graduates who seek to break into the professional world through paid positions with high-growth Indiana companies. Amanda will serve a two-year internship at TinderBox, a web-based proposal management solution company in Indianapolis. She will be the fifth full-time employee at the tech start-up company and the only non-engineer.

Liz Bajema graduated in 2011 with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry, a second major in religious studies, and a minor in math. She also spent a semester studying abroad on Saint Mary’s Rome Program. She says her religious studies major was a crucial part of her maturation at Saint Mary’s; it kept her balanced and gave her the intellectual freedom to form her own views. Liz deferred graduate school to work as a professional specialist in the chemistry department and continue assisting Professor Toni Barstis with the Paper Analytical Device (PAD) Project, a joint research project with the University of Notre Dame that seeks to provide a way for consumers to detect counterfeit drugs in the developing world. As a student, Liz traveled to Liberia to participate in a conference for small businesses and to see firsthand how hospitals, pharmacies, and clinics are dealing with the problem of counterfeit drugs. The PAD project has helped Liz to find her calling: using her skills in chemistry to meet worldwide social needs. Liz will begin a chemistry PhD program this fall at Northwestern University.

Courtney Parry graduated as valedictorian of her class in 2009 with a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics and economics. She was one of four Saint Mary’s students to receive the prestigious Clare Booth Luce Scholarship in Science and Math which covered tuition, books, travel to conferences, and an internship. She served as the student trustee on the Board of Trustees and as a resident advisor. As a junior, she presented a lecture titled “Mathematics and Nature” at the spring meeting of the Indiana Section of the Mathematical Association of America (INMAA). Courtney received a master’s degree with distinction from the University of Notre Dame’s ESTEEM program in Engineering, Science, and Technology Entrepreneurship. Currently she is an associate with Graham Allen Partners in South Bend, focusing on new venture development and strategy in information management and cloud services. Her responsibilities include identifying new investment opportunities, conducting due diligence and market research, and managing projects.

Julia Malone Hum graduated in 2007 with a bachelor of science degree in biology. In recognition of her leadership and loyalty to Saint Mary’s, she received the Lumen Christi Award at Commencement. It is the highest award the College confers upon a student.  Julia was a two-year varsity basketball athlete, winning the Player’s Choice Award and the Coach’s Award. She was involved in a variety of activities including serving as the student trustee on the Board of Trustees, peer minister with Campus Ministry, residence hall president, and providing tours for prospective students. As part of her senior comprehensive project, Julia participated in graduate-level research at the Oral Health Research Institute in Indianapolis. Her research involved testing two types of fluoride gels on tooth decay. This led her to a statewide undergraduate research conference in Indiana and later to the national conference in San Francisco where she presented her findings. Julia is currently a PhD Candidate in the Department of Cellular Physiology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. She was recently awarded the 2012 Charles H. Turner Young Investigator Award for her research on the cellular signaling pathways by which bone responds to its external environment. She plans to finish her degree next summer and pursue a tenure track appointment at an undergraduate institution.