Such a Surprise

Gina Twardosz surprised by award

Gina Twardosz ’20 was shocked to learn she was the recipient of the Realizing the Dream grant. A first-generation college student, Gina and her parents always planned on her attending college and she knew to achieve her dream job in journalism she would need a college degree and Saint Mary’s was the perfect place to earn that degree.

The Realizing the Dream grant is awarded to first generation college students during their sophomore year who attend Indiana’s private, nonprofit colleges and universities. The student is nominated by an advisor from their school which in Gina’s case was Sarah Pressey, a senior academic advisor at Saint Mary’s. The students are nominated because of their outstanding achievement during their freshman year.

Gina’s father loved Saint Mary’s and wanted her to go to a Catholic school, so she was looking forward to her first visit to campus. From her first step down the Avenue, she knew Saint Mary’s was the place for her.

“I love that all different sorts of people come to Saint Mary’s and the professors are so supportive.”

Saint Mary’s has continued to surprise Gina. She knew she wanted to major in English prior to starting college, but after taking one communications course she was hungry for more. In addition to communications, Gina became very involved in theater at Saint Mary’s and is interested in pursuing an MFA after graduation. Saint Mary’s has provided great opportunities for her, the Realizing the Dream grant being one of them.

Recipients of the grant have the opportunity to award a teacher who has had major influence in their academic life $1000 for professional development. Gina chose Benjamin Lieske, her psychology teacher from Valparaiso High School in Valparaiso, IN because his passion and excitement to teach made her look forward and enjoy school every day.

Author Bio

Emily Doyle '18

Emily Doyle '18

Emily Doyle is a senior Business Administration major with concentrations in Marketing and Management. During her time at Saint Mary’s, Emily has written for Spoon University, worked for Fighting Irish Media, and has not missed a Notre Dame football game yet. She loves being able to share her love for Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame with everyone through her writing.