Alumni Award winners 2011
Each year the college is privileged to honor a few among many
outstanding alumni. Meet this year’s winners, recognized at a
celebratory dinner in October.
Casey Golomski ’06
|Casey Golomski ’06
2011 Young Alumni Award
Casey Golomski ’06 epitomizes the St. Norbert ideal of a “citizen scholar” … a person of exceptional academic accomplishment who is at the same time deeply engaged in the world around him.
Golomski has been the recipient of two Fulbright awards and grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; in 2010, he also won the Carrie Hunter-Tate Award for academic and professional achievement given by the American Anthropological Association.
He has distinguished himself additionally in his burgeoning academic career by teaching at Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts at Boston. He is a doctoral candidate at Brandeis University, and serves as a peer reviewer for the African Studies Review. Forthcoming is his entry on rites of passage for the Encyclopedia of Cultural Sociology.
Golomski is currently living and working in Boston, having returned from a year in the Kingdom of Swaziland where he was doing research for his dissertation “Right Passages: The Work of Ritual in Swaziland’s Age of HIV-AIDS.”
Swaziland has the world’s highest HIV prevalence, and Golomski’s work focuses on the ways the epidemic influences ritual and religious practices across the life-course – such as how people invest in an emergent life insurance market to accomplish burials.
With typical (for him) academic rigor, Golomski prepared for his field research by immersing himself in southern African history, ethnography and the Zulu and SiSwati languages, spoken by some 13 million people.
His goal in carrying out his research is to help bridge cultural divides and bring greater understanding of the unique forces that impact humanitarian crises and the search for solutions.
As Golomski says: “I am most thrilled to do the work that I do because it opens up people’s eyes to the world, making the familiar strange and the strange familiar.”
That’s a reflection of what he feels St. Norbert did for him. The college, he says, “encourages students to take a full range of courses, including them in conversations they may not be privy to at a larger university. … My education allowed me to see a diverse trajectory and arena of world religions … to consider different forms of spirituality and answers to broader existential questions … to think about philosophical issues. It allowed me to develop a singular, confident voice and take on bigger questions about culture.”
But his work in Africa is more than just an intellectual exercise. In keeping with both the tenets of the Norbertines and Golomski’s own passion for social justice, it reflects a deep concern for those who are marginalized, underprivileged and oppressed.
To those who know him best, that comes as no surprise. They paint a portrait of someone generous with his time and attention, an exemplar of communio, and, as one of his professors notes, “an enormously kind young man.” We are proud to honor him as young alumnus of the year.
Terese Allen ’77
|Terese Allen ’77
2011 Distinguished Achievement Award - Public Service
For Terese Allen ’77, food is a celebration. But she knows it is a celebration to which not everyone is invited.
The philosophy major turned food writer/historian/activist/chef has shone a bright light on the culinary riches and traditions of Wisconsin, even as she has illuminated the dark corners of hunger and poverty and advocated for sustainable, socially just food policy.
As a contributing editor of Wisconsin Trails magazine, a food columnist for The Isthmus, and author or editor of 10 books about food and cooking, Allen has become well known – and much beloved – by foodies across Wisconsin. As co-author of the revised “The Flavor of Wisconsin,” she helped create what Kate Thompson of the Wisconsin State Historical Society Press called “an immensely important and lasting chronicle of Wisconsin cultural history.”
Allen is dedicated to the principle that all economic segments of the community have the right to the good, healthy food about which she writes so elegantly. As a result, she has been active in pursuing “sustainable eating” – with food that is environmentally friendly, economically feasible and socially just.
Her commitment has taken many forms: She instituted the practice of gleaning unsold produce from the Dane County Farmer’s Market to distribute at a food pantry, dedicating 10 years to the cause before another group stepped in to help. Later, she helped institute a similar, broader-based program on Madison’s east side.
For years, she organized a variety of fundraisers on behalf of the Atwood Community Center, including international dinners that highlighted the cuisines of various cultures, like those of Southeast Asia and the Balkans.
Today, Allen is board chair of REAP (Research, Education, Action and Policy) Food Group, initiators of such groundbreaking programs as the Food for Thought Festival, Farm to School, and Buy Fresh, Buy Local. She recently co-wrote and published the first annual “Wisconsin Local Foods Journal,” a guide to eating sustainably, as well as an ongoing fundraiser for REAP initiatives.
Allen serves as food editor for Organic Valley, the country’s largest organic farmer’s cooperative. She is an editorial advisor and columnist for Edible Madison magazine, an endeavor that promotes and celebrates local foods. As a longtime member of the Wisconsin Humanities Council’s Speakers Bureau, she spreads the “good word” about local foods and regional foodways all around the state. Currently Allen is working on a state-focused history-cookbook for children, a textbook about foods that reflect and sustain Wisconsin resources and heritage.
She states her mission simply: “Being a part of a community that is working toward a goal and changing things for the better.” She credits St. Norbert with inspiring her dedication to make a difference in the world – something she’s doing, one bite at a time.
|Carol Ehlinger Ritter ’78
|Dr. Tom Ritter ’78
Carol Ehlinger Ritter, M.D. ’77 and Thomas Ritter, D.D.S. ’78
2011 Alma Mater Award
As a general dentist and an OB/GYN respectively, Drs. Tom and Carol Ehlinger Ritter ’78 have the means to spend their leisure time in any number of indulgent pursuits. Instead, they’ve chosen to travel to some of the most desperate places on earth: Haiti, before and after the earthquake; the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina; Sri Lanka after the tsunami; Honduras after Hurricane Mitch; and the oil-fouled parishes of Louisiana. There, they’ve devoted their skills and passion to improving the lives of others.
About eight years ago, the Ritters traveled to Bosnia with the Air Force, working with Bosnians and Serbs who set aside their grievances to bring medical aid to a war-ravaged populace. During their trip, Carol treated one woman who had lost her husband and sons in the war; even her wedding band had been taken from her. Spontaneously, Carol gave the woman hers. This is not an atypical story about the Ritters – indeed, this is not the only ring Carol has given away.
Throughout their lives together, the Ritters have provided compassionate aid to victims of the aforementioned natural disasters and others – Tom removing teeth in the broiling sun and training local dentists, and Carol delivering babies long into the night after a full day of clinical care. Time and again, they have gone where most would be loath to go, leaving comfortable lives behind to help others simply survive.
In 2010, the Ritters were in Haiti, helping to set up a makeshift hospital just days after that country’s devastating earthquake. Amid the chaos, they worked to rescue their friend and interpreter from the ruins of Port-au-Prince, secured a medical visa and transported her to the United States prior to the due date of her high-risk pregnancy.
The Ritters’ vision and commitment extend beyond urgent care to providing people with the means to help themselves. Since the quake, Tom has been working tirelessly with Haitians to keep their lone dental school open and stocked with supplies. Carol works to bring women’s healthcare to places in the country where none existed before. She also meets with village elders to advocate for women’s rights within Haitian society.
Closer to home, the Ritters produced a documentary titled “If the Bough Breaks,” sounding the alarm about the issue of highly qualified physicians (including Carol herself) being driven from obstetrical practice by the medical liability crisis.
Harking back to their college days, Tom reflects on the way St. Norbert College provided them with a safe and supportive environment in which to discover the world and themselves – an experience he likens to a salon of old, where people would gather to discuss and debate ideas. They were inspired by the Norbertine example of selfless service. As Tom says, “So, after you’ve mastered your profession, expanded your mind, found God, attained bliss, or whatever … what do you do with the rest of your day?” To the Ritters, the answer seems to be universal across all religious and spiritual traditions: “Give back. Serve others selflessly, expecting nothing in return.” There are no better examples of that ethos than the Ritters and while recognition is the last thing they seek, it is something they richly deserve.
Oct. 31, 2011