Science alum supports student research with legacy commitment

While Saint Mary’s is known for its liberal arts tradition, the College has also established a visionary science program centered on undergraduate research and professor mentorship. One biology alumna, Elaine Rowzee ’88, plans to support the sciences at Saint Mary’s with a bequest commitment.

“I wanted to establish a lasting legacy that would live beyond me,” Elaine said. “After serving on the Alumnae Board, I learned so much about Saint Mary’s efforts to help underserved students not only to get an amazing education, but also a life-changing experience in college. I want to help them experience all that Saint Mary’s has to offer.” 

Elaine Rowzee and her fatherElaine’s interest in science was sparked by her father’s encouragement during her  high school years, when he’d start conversations with Elaine about articles he’d cut out of the newspaper.  Elaine studied biology at Saint Mary’s, where she was mentored by then-professor Dr. Nancy Nekvasil, known to generations of students at Saint Mary’s as “Dr. N.” 

For Elaine, studying science at Saint Mary’s was transformative because of the required senior comprehensive. “As undergraduate students, we got to do actual research.” Elaine feels that the outstanding mentorship was a steadying influence for her studies. She remembers Dr. Nekvasil coaching her before she presented her senior comprehensive project: “You know more about what you’re talking about than anyone in that room,” Dr. N told her. That message of confidence spread beyond her science studies and into her life as a whole.

Elaine remains an advocate for girls who want to study science. “There are so many career opportunities in science and unfortunately, many girls are discouraged from studying science growing up.” Elaine has directed her bequest to help underprivileged students participate in scientific research at Saint Mary’s.

As Elaine met with development staff at Saint Mary’s about her future gift, she realized “There are many opportunities to make a financial impact. Gifts can be large or small, but a legacy gift not only gives back to an institution that meant so much to me, but also continues to help shape future generations of women.” To learn more about establishing a legacy for your passion, contact Valerie in Gift Planning at 815-280-3409 or