Message from the President: Student Achievement

May 3, 2012

 To our alumni friends:

For many reasons, the business of higher education is unlike any other enterprise – not least of which being that we set up our finish line right in the middle of the year. The final few weeks leading up to our mid-May commencement are full of energy and anxiety, inspiration and perspiration, joy and frustration as administrators, faculty and students alike try to get everything done before time runs out on us.

Last week was one of celebration on the St. Norbert campus. Two events in particular highlighted the commitment and accomplishments of our students, both in the classroom and in the community – a balance that our founder, Abbot Bernard Pennings, desired of them right from the college’s start in 1898.

Thursday was devoted to recognizing community service. More than 1,600 of our nearly 2,200 undergraduate students participated in at least some form of documented service in 2011-12. Collectively they volunteered more than 44,000 hours (yes, you read that correctly) to make the greater Green Bay area a better place to live. The remarkable range and creativity of their service was on display all afternoon in the students’ presentations in Todd Wehr Hall. (Incidentally, many of these same achievers were honored over the weekend at the Norbertine Leadership and Service Awards.)

This day of "celebrating service" was aptly capped by the formal dedication of the Sturzl Center for Community Service and Learning. The Sturzl Center, a collaboration between our Division of Academic Affairs and Division of Mission and Student Affairs, creates meaningful learning experiences for our students through sustained service opportunities. 

Ed and Ann Sturzl are SNC graduates. Ed was longtime director of human resources for Sargento Foods Inc. of Plymouth, Wis., and he is on our board of trustees. Ann is a member of the Gentine family, which owns Sargento. The Gentine family came together to make a substantive gift to endow the center. Sargento is a company that takes its commitment to community every bit as seriously as we do. The Gentine-Sturzls are great partners, and we thank them for their generosity and confidence in us. It’s gratifying to know that their gift ensures that the work of the Sturzl Center will continue in perpetuity.

The other event, two days earlier, was our annual Academic Awards dinner, where we recognized those graduating seniors who have distinguished themselves at the college, both in terms of overall academic accomplishment and in their individual majors.

If you want to feel inadequate sometime, join us for this dinner and listen to the impressive roster of achievements from literally every one of these young men and women.

There are far too many honorees to mention here; a full 28 seniors, for instance, are graduating summa cum laude (that is, with a GPA of 3.90 or higher in their SNC career). But as I did last year, I thought you’d like to get at least a sample, so you can appreciate the achievements of all.

* BREANNA MEKULY is a double-major in Spanish and religious studies. She studied in Chile, interned at the Peace and Justice Center, and created an initiative inviting students to embody good choices. She already has been accepted into graduate studies at both Yale and Vanderbilt.

* BRIAN PIETSCH is a double-major in mathematics and physics, and has done an internship writing code to help track atomic particles at a linear accelerator. He is mulling full graduate assistantships at the Universities of Iowa, Kentucky and Miami.

* LINDSEY JONES is an international studies major. She was SNC’s first student to study abroad in Morocco (during last year’s Arab Spring uprisings), where she worked on her Arabic and did research into the health of Moroccan mothers. She plans to continue on to medical school.

* LEIVUR REINERT DJURHUUS is a native of the Faroe Islands, located halfway between Norway and Iceland. An art major, he’s a brilliant artist and photographer, winning two ADDY gold awards for his work and publishing photos in St. Norbert College Magazine.

* LEAH TABBERT is a philosophy and political science double-major who has done several research assistantships, captained the St. Norbert Mock Trial team, and served as co-president of Rainbow Alliance. She has already been accepted to several top law schools.

* IRINA RAU is an international business major who studied in Ecuador and ran the purchasing department of Discoveries International this year. She is fluent in Russian, Spanish, German and English.

* DANIEL SJOQUIST is a biology major with an emphasis in biomedical science and a minor in chemistry. While maintaining an active research agenda in biology, he also played on the football team and was twice an Academic All-American – only the fourth SNC player to achieve that double-distinction.

Students like these have made St. Norbert College a richer place, and it is exciting to know they are now ready to bestow the same great gift on the world outside.

Tom