Shaping things to come

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March 2, 2016

By Greg Skoog '89 for the College of Saint Benedict Winter 2016 Magazine

Molly Flaig '15

Nancy Torrison '82 (behind desk) and Molly Flaig '15.

Molly Flaig '15 arrived on campus and got involved

She became vice president of the Marketing Club. She served on the executive board for Up 'til Dawn. She worked at Campus Rec. She studied abroad — several times. She soaked up speaker events — assigned or not. She was involved.

As her senior year began, Molly searched the CANE database in the Career Resources Center and discovered Nancy Torrison '82, the executive director of A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation. A week later, Molly was eagerly sitting in the front row as Nancy spoke during the CSB/SJU Career Expo Non-profit Panel.

"I talked with Nancy after the panel," remembers Molly, "and she offered me an internship for the upcoming semester. Toward the end of that internship, Nancy offered me a full-time position as the Development and Marketing Coordinator of A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation.

"I was lucky enough to find my dream job right after graduation," Molly smiles.

Then end, right?

A student came, she worked hard, she graduated, she got a great job. That's the college success story, isn't it?

For some schools it might be. But at Saint Ben's and Saint John's, 99.4 percent of our 2014 graduates were employed, continuing their education or engaged in a full-time volunteer program within one year of graduation. We're doing quite well at that one. Frankly, we have to set our sights higher.

How high?

At the College of Saint Benedict, we're committed to the holistic and transformational development of women.

"We worked for much of last year to determine our strategic directions for the next five years," says CSB President Mary Dana Hinton. "The goals and metrics that were eventually approved by our Board of Trustees reflect the input of more than 800 staff, faculty, students, alumnae, members of the Order of Saint Benedict, donors and friends. That finalized plan is constructed on four foundational pillars. And one of those pillars is holistic and transformational development of women."

What does that mean? As spelled out in the college's strategic plan, it means that, "by 2020, the College of Saint Benedict will transform and empower young women to live their lives with integrity and purpose, utilize their voice with confidence and compassion, and engage diverse perspectives and peoples, inspiring them to reach their full potential."

Everywhere and all around

"As a result of her education at the College of Saint Benedict, a woman should graduate with a deeper knowledge of who she is and what strengths she brings to the world," declares Mary Geller, CSB's vice president of student development. So the entire campus community is involved in helping to develop women as, "leaders and shapers of the world."

In mind

Of course the cornerstone of the college's transformational experience is academics. "The CSB/SJU liberal arts curriculum offers both breadth and depth of study," says Academic Dean Karen Erickson. "We remind the math genius that she can also perform in the jazz band and the woman preparing for a global business career that she can enrich her study with history or physics or creative writing. We welcome our students as individuals with developing interests and identities that resist simple definitions."

In body

The Blazers who proudly represent CSB invest significant time, effort and energy into developing themselves and growing as players. (See Kaitlyn's story on page 10.) But beyond that there are clubs, intramurals, programs and opportunities designed to give every Bennie the chance to develop and grow physically. "Physical strength in women hasn't historically been a societal norm," says Geller. "We're trying to break through that and show that strength in women is beautiful."

In spirit

S. Sharon Nohner '73, director of campus ministry, recognizes that this goal of holistic development is nothing new. "The blend of arts, sciences and spiritual growth has been woven into the fabric of life on campus since the founding years. Women come seeking to grow in knowledge and experiences that open them to the world around them. In the process, they discover the place where their talents and passions meet the world's needs."

The structure of campus ministry at Saint Ben's is designed to help that process of discovery. "A healthy spirituality [at Saint Ben's] is not confined to a few pious exercises each day but, rather, pervades all aspects of life," said S. Cathy Nally, IHM, from Immaculata University, in the campus ministry program's most recent review.

In community

Some of the most foundational development a student experiences at Saint Ben's happens right in her new home. "The four-year residential requirement at CSB offers students a tremendous advantage," says Director of Residential Life Christy Brown. "Just as the curriculum in a student's chosen major builds on material learned over four years in the classroom, the staff in

Residential Life has the opportunity to present material and build skills in a developmentally appropriate manner."

"Activities in the first-year area are introductory," continues Brown. "Sophomores do a deeper dive into good habits, questions of spirituality and preparation for study abroad or internships. And in our upperclass area, there is a heavy focus on further developing students' purpose in life with events about life after graduation."

Outside the classroom

By stressing experiential learning opportunities, Saint Ben's empowers students to integrate and apply the knowledge and theory they've gained in the classroom setting into hands-on learning environments - internships, service learning, research, etc. In the end, students gain a deeper understanding through clear learning outcomes.

"CSB/SJU's commitment to experiential learning demonstrates our understanding that students can and should be actively involved in their education in a variety of ways," explains Angie Schmidt Whitney '97, director of the Office of Experiential Learning & Community Engagement.

Around the world

CSB and SJU consistently rank among the top national baccalaureate schools for U.S. students studying abroad, according to the Institute of International Education. (See page 6 for more on this year's results.) Certainly traveling and experiencing other cultures can have a transformative effect. But Saint Ben's seeks to maximize participation and engagement by developing established programs. "We send the vast majority of our students abroad on faculty-led,

semester-long programs," says Joe Rogers (SJU '89), director of the Center for Global Education at CSB and SJU. "These often involve working with our global partners like Southwest University in China, with whom we just celebrated 30 years of collaborative partnership." (Learn more on page 8.)

Molly Flaig, our 2015 alumna who graduated into her dream job, confirms the impact of travel. "I studied for a semester in Greece and Rome, spent a month in Spain and also participated in a

Campus Ministry Alternative Break Experience trip to the Dominican Republic. They all transformed my perception of the world.

"For example, I was humbled by service work such as hand-mixing cement in the Dominican Republic and serving soup to homeless in Rome. Yet I also had the opportunity to shop famous

Parisian streets and kayak through the Swiss Alps. Each unique way of life gave me a better understanding and appreciation of the world."