Address by 2012 Humanitas Award Recipient

Margaret Ann Monahan ’87

Monahan offered these words at the Reunion Banquet on Saturday, June 2, 2012 after receiving the Humanitas Award.

A thousand thank yous to this space full of amazing people. I am incredibly humbled, grateful and mildly mortified by this honor. You can’t throw a stone in this room without hitting a humanitarian. There are those like Heidi Cerneka, Patty Curren, Chris Bodewes and Ann-Nora Ehret who have worked throughout the world in places such as Brazil, Cambodia, Africa and remote Alaska to better the lives of the vulnerable. There are the amazingly generous souls of people like Patti Morrison O’Donnell, Kathleen Kennedy, Jill McGaffigan, Sharon Spicuzza Popielewski and Susan Smith Newell who work tirelessly in their own communities to assist those in need. There are lifelong dedicated teachers, campus ministers, nurses and lots of not for profit soldiers in this room.

This room is full of the women who are the ones that can be counted on to volunteer for a wide range of charitable organizations. They are the ones who are in church basements across the country washing dishes at funerals, stuffing envelopes on kitchen counters for the American Cancer Society, selling raffle tickets for the developmentally disabled, organizing fund raisers for local schools, walking to support a new children’s hospital, biking for diabetes, running for HIV/AIDs programs, the ones who end up babysitting for any random child in the neighborhood who has no other place to go,-look around at each other, you know its true! These are also the people who quietly donate special things for the children I work with for Christmas, for art supplies for art therapy projects and puppets and match box cars and dolls for our play therapy rooms. There is truly an empathy overload among Saint Mary’s women!

I don’t consider myself a humanitarian. I consider myself lucky enough to be able to be with children on their journey of healing and find it an incredible, joy, honor and privilege to be able to do so. But, I know that I don’t do this alone. Even on the most stressful days I look down and notice my Saint Mary’s ring and think of all the amazing women and spirit and mission of the college who are with me.   Next to my Saint Mary’s ring I wear a pearl ring given to me and all of my sisters and female cousins from my grandparents for high school graduation. I am indeed not alone due to the wonderful support of my family. I am lucky enough to have two parents-Pat and Annie Monahan, who are ridiculously generous, kind and thoughtful. I have 5 brothers, 3 sisters, 13 nieces and nephews and countless fun cousins and I feel they are with me when I look at my ring as well.

There is a study that I think of often in my work called ACES, about how adverse childhood experiences such as abuse and neglect can impact functioning later in life. The presenter likened it to going through life with a big heavy backpack full of rocks. I have been lucky enough to have a very light backpack because of my wonderful family, inspiring friends, supportive colleagues and incredibly resilient and brave clients. Thank you so much for this honor and for all of the things that you all do every day to make the world a better place!