A Powerful YES

The Prikkel Family Commits to the Future of Saint Mary’s with the Creation of the Prikkel Family Career Center 

Today’s college students often have a laser focus on what they believe will be their career path. So it’s no surprise that high school seniors are placing greater emphasis on career preparation when they choose a college. Finding a school that supports both their academic goals and their career goals has become a top priority. 

Jennifer Mathile Prikkel ’95, Patrick Prikkel, and their children have made a transformational gift that allows us to redefine our approach to connecting professional preparation with academic study. President Katie Conboy noted that Saint Mary’s can now become first-in-class for encouraging students to discern and accomplish their future goals: “Scaling up our current approach is essential for attracting students to Saint Mary’s and ultimately connecting them with employers,” said Conboy. “We already have the foundation in place in our Career Crossings Office, yet we know that today’s college students want and deserve even more. The Prikkels’ remarkable gift gives us the opportunity to think big.” 

The Prikkel investment will allow the College to increase staffing and programming and will provide a base of funding in perpetuity to continue integrating career and academic advising. This is a critical component of our new Avenue experience, where every student will have a mentoring team who helps them to understand their strengths and to direct those toward their dreams for the future (see page 10). Conboy suggested that “each student’s journey will involve multiple experiential learning opportunities that help them to test their goals and to reach their potential (even if they change their goals—perhaps more than once—along the way).”

Jen Prikkel believes that there has always been a kind of magic in the way Saint Mary’s helps students discover their passion and their purpose. “I’ve always thought, what if we could just bottle what happens in this place?” she said, “How would anyone not want to send their daughter to this school? Now I feel with the Avenue experience, in a way, it is being bottled.” She notes that the Avenue experience is pulling together many previously disparate pieces of the student experience, weaving them together, and ensuring that every student has equal access to tools that help them focus on the future. “It’s so exciting that the messaging and marketing of this experience is bold and newly developed. I am confident that prospective students will find it cohesive, fresh, and original. ”

The Prikkel family believes the promise of the Avenue experience will meet the needs of a new generation. That promise is, first and foremost, to provide holistic support for students from enrollment through graduation as they develop their skills as emerging leaders. Pat Prikkel says, “Young adults are searching for guidance and validation as they determine what best suits them in the world, and they want to grow during their college years as professionals shaped by faith, spirit, and community.”

Now is the time to be all in for Saint Mary’s College.

– Jen Prikkel

Active Champion

Jen’s experience at Saint Mary’s changed what she believed about herself. When she graduated from the College, buoyed by the care of her professors and inspired by the faith of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, she felt confident to lead and serve in ways she hadn’t known were within her power. While her four years at Saint Mary’s were challenging, Jen muses they also represented a time of great spiritual and personal growth. She remembers arriving on campus with self-doubt and leaving with great optimism about her future. “Being a leader and believing in who you are—standing up and saying what you believe, but with kindness,” she says, were some of her personal lessons. “The whole environment supported me as someone trying to find who I was in this world.” 

Saint Mary’s is currently in the early stages of a comprehensive fundraising campaign in support of the College’s strategic vision to be a national leader in empowering women at all stages of life. Jen serves as one of the campaign’s tri-chairs, and she and Pat have now made this leadership gift in support of a key area of the strategy: robust career development and mentoring.

This new support is all the more impressive because Jen has already been such an active champion of the College. Having served on the “Faith Always, Action Now” Campaign Steering Committee and the President’s Circle, she is now serving her second stint on the Board of Trustees after a pause from a nine-year term from 2002 to 2011.  Her SMC experience inspired her to give back, and she and Pat have made previous gifts to support the Science Center renovation, the construction of Spes Unica Hall, the development of the Spes Unica Award in 2003, and more. 

This Is Our Moment

Trust was also at the heart of Jen and Pat’s decision to give substantively in support of a signature student experience. Through Jen’s service as a member of the Board of Trustees and her ongoing collaboration with the College leadership team, she grew in her belief that Saint Mary’s has a rich and vital future. 

But when she and Pat were approached about recreating and growing the career center with a transformational gift, the couple took a moment to reflect together. They had long intended to include a significant gift for Saint Mary’s College in their estate plans, but that was a plan for far into the future. What would it mean to offer that financial support now rather than later? In the end, Jen says that it was a matter of trust—trusting the current board and administration to manage the investment wisely for the greater good of Saint Mary’s.

“I’m going to say, ‘I trust you, and I believe in your vision,” Jen says. “I’m going to let go of the control of the money and move from a position of holding power to a position of empowerment. If I give it to you now, these funds can start to do something powerful—they can start making a difference. The more Pat and I talked, considered the request, and thought about what was right for us and our family, we just kept coming back to the question: If not now, when?” Stating emphatically that the path has never been clearer, Jen added: “We believe in Saint Mary’s, in President Conboy’s strength and leadership, and in the vision set forth by the strategic plan and the campaign’s case for support. This is our moment! Knowing that this vision can’t be achieved without financial support, Pat and I decided to take a leap to support the dream we all have for Saint Mary’s.”

“Whenever Saint Mary’s calls, we always respond,” Pat echoes. “And as Jen’s counterpart, I see her light up when she’s here. She lights up brighter here than she does anywhere else.”
The couple also feels that their commitment to student outcomes through the Prikkel Family Career Center will better position Saint Mary’s to meet the demands of today’s students and to prepare them more effectively for success in their life work.

“As an alumna, if I want this place to be around for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, this is what I have to do,” she says. “If we want other women in this country—in this world—to have what I had, we have to do this.” After a pause, she adds: “NOW is the time to be all in for Saint Mary’s College.” 

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