Alumnae Association Announces 2020 Award Recipients

June 23, 2020

The Alumnae Association Board of Directors announced four alumnae were selected as recipients of the 2020 Alumnae Association Awards. The announcement was made at the 2020 Virtual Reunion held earlier in June.

“These outstanding alumnae continue to make their mark and excel in whatever they set out to do,” said Kara M. O'Leary '89, executive director of alumnae and college relations. “We’re humbled and honored to celebrate their diverse accomplishments and hope to inspire current and future Saint Mary’s College students.”

Mary L. Burke '85, The Distinguished Alumna Award

Mary L. Burke graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in humanistic studies from Saint Mary’s, then later received an MBA in 1995 from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. While Burke is a notable investment banker in Chicago, and is partner and owner of Lakeshore Food Advisors, LLC, it is her profound dedication to her alma mater that is being honored. Since graduating in 1985, Burke has not only supported Saint Mary’s through her involvement in alumnae clubs and on multiple boards, she tirelessly encourages her sister alumnae to do the same. Burke is a member of Madeleva Society, Belles Varsity Club, Mother Pauline Society, a 35-year member of the Faithful Giving Society, and member of the Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2019, chairing the board from 2010 to 2019. She is serving as Chair Emerita from 2019 to 2021. She is an active fundraiser for the College, and the President’s Medal recipient in 2016. Burke has also strengthened awareness of the Sisters of the Holy Cross and their global ministries by coordinating  volleyball matches between the sisters and members of the Board of Trustees. Most importantly, she is recognized for the service she has given the countless students at Saint Mary's. She is present for multiple student-centered events on campus every year, and gives a great deal of her time counseling, writing letters of recommendation, and listening to students. Created to honor a Saint Mary’s College alumna who exemplifies the standards, ideals, and mission of Saint Mary’s College and has distinguished herself through consistent support of Saint Mary’s and ongoing work for the Alumnae Association, the 2020 Distinguished Alumna Award is awarded to Mary L. Burke.

Hon.  Muriel D. Hughes '80, The Alumna Achievement

Judge Muriel D. Hughes graduated in 1980 with a double major in Business Administration and Philosophy and her JD from the University of Detroit Mercy Law School in 1983. In 2006, Muriel Hughes was appointed to the State of Michigan 3 rd Judicial Circuit Court by the Governor and has since been re-elected by the people of Wayne County three times. Judge Hughes currently serves in the Civil and Business Divisions of the Court. Before becoming a member of the bench, Hughes successfully practiced law for 23 years with the firm Hughes & Hughes P.C.  specializing in general  litigation, business,  real estate and probate law. Hughes also served as a Wayne County Public Administrator. Judge Hughes mentors young attorneys through the Detroit Bar Association and she has served on numerous committees to ensure access to justice. Muriel Hughes is ever vigilant in all pursuits, and is an astute political and philanthropic volunteer. In recognition of her community contributions, the Junior League of Detroit awarded Hughes with the Volunteer Extraordinaire Award and the Detroit City Council has awarded her with the Spirit of Detroit Award. Judge Hughes has been active in her church and community, modeling her Catholic values in everything she does. Recognized by the Alumnae Association for upholding the standards and ideals of Saint Mary’s College and its mission, Muriel Hughes has been honored as the 2020 Alumna Achievement Award recipient.

Mary Catherine (Cathy) Collet '70, The Humanitas Award

The Humanitas Award honors an alumna who makes the world a better place and recognizes her role in the welfare of fellow human beings. Cathy Collet, who graduated from Saint Mary’s with a bachelor of science in math, is honored for her tireless advocacy and awareness efforts for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). In memory of her mother, who died of the disease, Collet travels the world at her own expense to advance the cause, and speak at conferences. Her focus is to create changes in public policy and clinical research. She has testified at the FDA multiple times, and took part in a Stanford initiative that focuses on patient-centered innovations. An active blogger and social media influencer, Collet passionately delivers the latest research findings and public policy initiatives. She was a founder of the Patient Fellows Program in 2017 after realizing a great number of scientists who research the disease had never met or worked with the real experts in the disease --  actual patients. Today, the program connects patients with researchers and has led to significant changes in patient engagement in ALS research worldwide. Collet was chosen by the Saint Mary’s Alumnae Association as the 2020 Humanitas Award recipient for her personal dedication, compassion, selflessness, and sacrifice.

Nicole O'Toole '15, Outstanding Young Alumna Award

Nicole O’Toole was chosen as the 2020 Outstanding Young Alumna Award for her leadership, devotion to her alma mater, and demonstration of the standards, ideals, and mission of Saint Mary’s College. She received her bachelor of arts degree in political science from Saint Mary’s in 2015, her law degree from DePaul Law School in 2018, and is currently an associate attorney at Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP in Chicago. As a law student, O’Toole received the CALI Award for one of her classes, was a Judge Helen C. Kinney 2018 Scholarship recipient, and was selected to be the student commencement speaker for her class’ law school graduation. She serves as the vice president of the Saint Mary’s Chicago East Alumnae Club, expanding its social media presence and participation exponentially. She serves as a conduit between those in her alumnae chapter and the Saint Mary’s College alumnae office, as well as actively assists the admission team by participating in Accepted Students Receptions. She volunteers at several charities across Chicago, including Lawyers in the Classroom which places attorneys in 2nd–8th grade classrooms to educate students on the constitutions, legal system, and law-related careers. Nicole is a selfless, supportive motivator among her family and friends, and is a role model and guiding light for those around her. 

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