2008 AWARD WINNERS
Ironically, peace activist extraordinaire, Elizabeth Walters, IHM, was born during World War II, the same week the Pentagon opened its doors. In stark contrast, her life has been dedicated to abolishing war and activating peace.
Sister Elizabeth or “Liz,” as she is known to friends, earned two degrees at Marygrove, 42 years apart. Although she has devoted her life to bringing about social justice, she returned to Marygrove to undertake its formal study. This is at the same time the college began the new Master of Social Justice cohort program, from which she graduated in May 2008. She also earned a master’s degree in Political Science from St. Louis University. She has extensive study from a number of institutions in Computer Science, Catholic Social Teaching, Theology, Secondary School Administration and Management.
According to Kimberly Redigan, who taught with Sister Elizabeth at Holy Redeemer High School in southwest Detroit and was a fellow student in the Social Justice program, “It was an honor for me to share an arrest with Liz on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and to stand with her against war on other occasions. Liz was and is my inspiration when it comes to putting faith in action.” Sister has been arrested many times on picket lines at various military installations and has served three years in prison for her protests.
Dr. Mary Trepanier-Street is lauded for her leadership by her colleagues at the University of Michigan-Dearborn
(UM–Dearborn) and by child development experts at colleges and universities all over the state.
After receiving her degree in child development and elementary education from Marygrove College, she earned a master’s in educational psychology at Miami University (Ohio) and a doctorate in education from the University of Rochester (New York). She also studied at Northern Illinois University.
Dr. Mary Trepanier-Street has been a faculty member at UM–Dearborn for over thirty years. This year, the UM–Dearborn Alumni Association presented her with the Faculty of the Year Award for her exceptional teaching and administrative work.
There is no doubt that finding a cure for cancer drives Dr. Patricia Mucci LoRusso’s life.
Recognized among her peers as one of the top cancer drug researchers in the nation, Dr. LoRusso began her research career while a student at Marygrove. Her student internships, arranged through Marygrove, began at Ethyl Corporation and Ford Motor Company. She cites professors Suzanne Fleming, IHM (Chemistry) and Donald Rizzo, Ph.D. (Biology) as inspiring and helpful in enlarging her experiences. Veronica Maher, IHM, introduced her to cancer research during her final undergraduate internship, which was done at the Michigan Cancer Foundation (now the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute). This began her love for cancer research.
Dr. LoRusso earned her medical degree at Michigan State University School of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed her internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Riverside Hospital in Trenton, Mich., and followed with a fellowship in the division of hematology and oncology at Wayne State University School of Medicine and the Detroit Medical Center’s Harper Hospital.
Since her graduation from Marygrove College, Sharnita Johnson has worked on both sides of the philanthropy business — raising money and giving it away. Her expertise in both areas is highly sought after.
Professor Frank Rashid recalls a workshop he and Professor Barbara Johns, IHM, attended in the late 1990s for organizations seeking funding from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs. “We weren’t surprised to see Sharnita there -- after all, we knew she was a grants officer for MCACA, but we were rather amazed at the way everyone deferred to her. The tables had turned: Once upon a time, she had been asking us if we needed anything and quietly hoping for A’s from us. Now, a decade later, we were asking her for advice on our proposals and quietly hoping for funding from her.”
He adds, “I was so impressed with Sharnita that, after I became department chair, I invited her to serve on a panel composed of successful English major alumni who speak about career paths to our present students. Her talk was informative and entertaining, spiced with good, practical advice and self-deprecating humor. As she candidly discussed lessons she learned the hard way, she demonstrated the importance of discipline and persistence. She showed students how to profit from criticism, how to continue to learn after graduation, and how to set their own course in adapting the English major to a professional career. I could not have asked for a better role model for our students.”
Seemingly destined to make a career in the word business, Mary D. Moore Hubbell penciled columns, ads and scribbled body copy on her mother’s pad of linen weave letter paper. The six-year-old entrepreneur then sold them to the neighbors for a penny a piece.
Years later, a semester away from receiving her journalism degree, Mary D. enrolled in a new radio/TV writing and production class at Marygrove. This gave her a leg up in landing an advertising agency job immediately after graduation, where she wrote and produced supermarket commercials.
Mary D. spent a number of years as a stay-at-home mother of six sons and squeezed in volunteering. As an elected member of the St. Mary of Redford Parish Council, she wrote and tabulated a survey to determine how parishioners felt about the post-Vatican II changes in the Church. She also produced the weekly “Detroit Show” for then-Mayor Roman Gribbs. The show presented a positive view of the city’s public and private sectors.
Providing opportunities for children has been the focus of Patricia Newman Brasseur’s professional and volunteer life since she graduated from Marygrove in 1973.
Regarding the choices she has made, Pat says, “I believe that a Marygrove education affects one’s life in every way because it affects your value system. We were given the challenge to step outside of ourselves to be involved in and improve the world around us.” Pat continued postgraduate study in social work at Grand Valley State University.
Even before Pat earned her degree in sociology, she was committed to the Girl Scouts as a counselor in Flint, Mich., following the example of her mother. Keeping with this commitment, she chairs the Kalamazoo Girl Scout Council’s Capital Campaign, which has raised more than $9.5 million for their Program and Training Center and camp improvements. “She has made it possible for girls to experience an adventure of a lifetime, where lifelong friendships will develop and memories will be made, all while having fun,” wrote Janet Barker, CEO of the Glowing Embers Council. She has served in many capacities from troop leader to board chair as well as assisting the troop led by her daughter, Jodie Mrak, for the past 13 years.
"My success at Marygrove started the day I stepped on campus. Admissions made me feel at home right away and were always encouraging and helpful.
Enrollment Services always answered my questions with patience. The staff in the computer and writing labs is priceless, and I probably wouldn’t be graduating without the help and guidance from Student Support Services. President Fike’s open door policy for students also exemplifies commitment on his part to hear what students have to say.”
Urged by her husband, son and niece, Debra entered Marygrove as a mature student to pursue her lifelong dream of earning a four year college degree. Prior to enrolling at Marygrove, she had already amassed decades of experience. She earned an associate’s degree from Oakland Community College, Magna Cum Laude. She has a builders license, which she keeps current, and has built spec homes in the Dryden, Mich. area. For five years, Debra coached Varsity Track for both boys and girls at Dryden High School and expanded the program to include more than ten percent of the student body. She was also a paraprofessional for the Avondale Schools and has used her work experience at a gardening center to help the Marygrove Urban Hunger Garden.