Six members of the St. Thomas community were presented Global Citizenship awards by the International Programs Matrix on April 24. The awards recognize their commitment to international and intercultural awareness throughout the UST community, their contributions to improve the campus climate for people of diverse cultures, and the connections they make between the university and the world.
The awards, presented annually to students, faculty, staff and alumni, were given at the annual Globally Minded Student Association International Dinner. The Global Citizenship Award recipients are:
Felipe Jaque Pino, an international student from Chile, has held a variety of positions that have helped him be a role model of inclusiveness and respect for diverse cultures and viewpoints. He has served as an apartment coordinator, student worker in the Office of International Student Services, an active member of the Globally Minded Student Association and an international student representative to the Undergraduate Student Government. He has advocated tirelessly for scholarships for international students as well as programs that bring together American and international students. Pino’s participation in orientation is invaluable and has led to the development of the “How to Talk Minne-SOH-tan” session at the international students orientation.
Madonna McDermott, director of Student Health Services and the Wellness Center, established the Travel Clinic, where she and her staff help prepare students and staff for safe healthy travel abroad. She also has spent significant time and effort in making health care and insurance understandable to international students, including applying for grant money to purchase materials for students whose first language is not English. She makes a special effort to attend international orientation each semester, and has participated in the Friendship Family since the program began a few years ago. In January 2008, McDermott and Birdie Cunningham took a group of students to Uganda and opened a micro-clinic.
The research of Dr. Kimberly Vrudny in the theology of aesthetics and suffering throughout the world, in particular HIV/AIDS, has become the focus of UST’s Service Learning in numerous classes and community outreach. She is an associate professor in the Theology Department. Her nominators say that she has turned what was a personal and professional passion into a far-reaching campuswide collaboration among students, faculty and staff. Her work has led to the development of a popular J-Term course and VISION trip to South Africa. She is working on a sabbatical project titled “30 Years/30 Lives,” which documents 30 people affected by HIV/AIDS. Vrudny aims to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS in order to challenge commonly held assumptions.
Virgil Wiebe is an associate professor and director of Legal Clinics and co-director of the Interprofessional Center for Counseling and Legal Services (IPC) at the St. Thomas School of Law. At the center, Wiebe’s primary role training law students to work on immigration matters for clients from around the globe who are seeking asylum in the United States because of torture, imprisonment and/or trafficking. His work at the clinic raises the level of awareness and sensitizes students to the difficult life experiences that occur in the lives of people from other cultures and in other parts of the world, especially in issues surrounding immigration. Those who nominated Wiebe stated that all of his efforts, and more, reflect how he teaches, practices and lives his life in service to the citizens of the world.
Ed and Mary LeClair have a deep understanding of the importance of an international perspective and a strong commitment to providing opportunities for international educational exchanges for coming generations of St. Thomas students.
They have established three endowed scholarships:
- Ed and Mary LeClair Scholarship for International Students
- Ed and Mary LeClair Study Abroad Scholarship for Music Majors
- IES/UST Study Abroad Scholarship for Study in Vienna
In addition, Ed LeClair ’65 was a participant in one of the earliest study abroad programs established at St. Thomas (now the IES Vienna Program). He has worked with the Alumni Office to identify other St. Thomas alumni who had international experience, and he and Mary have actively encouraged others to support international education exchanges. They have come to know international students enrolled at St. Thomas and have investigated the needs of and support for the international community.