Arches Magazine Fall 2020

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Mount Mary University Fall 2020

“The residents are still laughing – just behind closed doors and 6 feet apart.” p. 26 BLM: students weigh in Nonprofits survive the pandemic on its meaning p. 2

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p. 16

Travel the world from home p. 20

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ART DIRECTOR Denisse Hernandez

WEB EDITORS Leslie Chavez

Allyson Gebauer



efore the semester started, the staff had no idea how the upcoming months would unfold. We didn’t know how we’d be able to execute a print edition of the magazine, or if we’d even be able to publish one at all. When I sat with the creative director, business manager and advisers, we all decided that we’d work to publish a magazine, despite the challenges that came with the pandemic. The choice to do so is a perfect example of how Arches never takes the easy way out. Through my time as the editor-in-chief, I’ve watched reporters, designers and photographers strive towards excellence, exceeding expectations every time. We may be small, but we are always mighty. Those in the residence hall here at Mount Mary has been able to stay connected with one another, coming up with innovative ways to prevent residents from feeling isolated during a time when human connection can feel impossible. Emily Cabaltera’s story on page 26 explores how resident assistants have been able to safely bridge the students in the dorms together. However, when it comes to safety, Mount Mary’s response to COVID has also been under some scrutiny. Emily Blazer highlights some students’ concerns, as well as touches on what the university has done well so far, on page 23. Halloween’s right around the corner, and the perfect story to get you in the spooky spirit is Allyson Gebauer’s article on page 8. Could there be spirits lurking on campus? Some employees and students say there may be. I never considered that, out of nowhere, I’d be writing my last letter from the editor for the magazine that has been such a huge part of my life. I am proud of the final product, especially considering we were able to publish in the midst of a pandemic. I want to thank Arches for helping me grow, not only in my journalism career, but as a person. My hope is that our publication will remain as strong as it is today for years and years to come. Thank you for picking up a copy of Arches. Sincerely,

EDITORS Emily Cabaltera Shanita Rowsey Nancy Plascencia Rob Steger WRITERS Emily Blazer Hannah Gergeni Sister Yen Thi Bui Giselle Gomez Emily Cabaltera Shanita Rowsey Allyson Gebauer DESIGNERS Leslie Chavez Denisse Hernandez Allyson Gebauer Rob Steger Hannah Gergeni Ann Tran PHOTOGRAPHERS Allyson Gebauer Giselle Gomez ILLUSTRATORS Leslie Chavez Denisse Hernandez Hannah Gergeni FACULTY ADVISERS Linda Barrington Rachel Rauch Arches is written and edited by the students of Mount Mary University, who are solely responsible for its editorial content. Arches is a member of the Associated Collegiate Press.

Contact Arches at Arches, Mount Mary University 2900 N. Menomonee River Pkwy. Milwaukee, WI 53222 414-930-3027 Email:

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Cover Design by Denisse Hernandez

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Table of Contents Campus 2 BLM: Students weigh in on its meaning 5 Accommodations: Supporting student success


8 Could spirits be lurking in Mount Mary?


Creative Works


11 Student poetry, photography, art

Features 14 Michelle Lopez: Fashion designer credits Mount Mary for her success


16 Nonprofits survive the pandemic

COVID 20 Travel the world from home 23 Critical lens on MMU safety regulations 26 Caroline Hall connections

Perspectives 28 Becoming a religious sister

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Markasa Tucker is a well-known Milwaukee activist fighting for racial equity. After the fatal shooting of Dontre Hamilton by a Milwaukee police officer in 2014, she knew she had to do something. Hamilton is pictured on the pin on her jacket.

Students weigh in on its meaning Words Shanita Rowsey | Photo & Design Denisse Hernandez


Demonstrators walk through Wauwatosa on Oct. 7 after District Attorney John Chisholm decided not to criminally charge Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah for killing Alvin Cole.

Originally, Diavian Lyons, senior at Mount Mary University, didn’t understand the term “Black lives matter.” “At first, I didn’t understand why it was just Black lives matter and not all lives matter,” Lyons said. However, she decided to look into what it truly meant. “When I realized that it was because of police brutality, I began to join the movement,” Lyons said. “As an African American, the movement now makes me feel strong and powerful.” On May 25, George Floyd was killed by police. His death caused an uproar all over the world, leading to several protests and riots, including ones in Milwaukee that have taken place almost every day since. The cry of many Black people, angry, frustrated and fed up, brought more awareness to the Black lives matter movement. Awareness surrounding Black lives matter has increased. Mount Mary students weighed in on their opinions and how it has impacted them. Lyons said she participated in one of the many protests that have been taking place in Milwaukee. “It saddens me to know that the people who are here to serve and protect are not fully committed to that mission,” Lyons said. “I just expect better from the police force. Over the summer, I had the opportunity to be a part of the protest when the curfews were put in place. It was fulfilling to be surrounded by my people, fighting for what is right and doing it peacefully.” Rae Fodor-Law, a junior at Mount Mary, has recently grown to understand the meaning of Black lives matter. “I believe in the idea that all lives matter, but I understand the focus of Black lives matter,” Fodor-Law said. “It is the current focus because of the current events that are happening in our world.” In the midst of the protests, Fodor-Law realized the power of her voice. “This year with heavy protesting and the Black lives matter movement being highlighted, it confirmed for me how my family feels regarding the issue,” Fodor-Law said. “It made me realize that I cannot change the opinions of other people, so I find it best at times to not talk about the issue. During this time, as the protestors were passing my neighborhood, near Mount Mary, I was standing outside

of my home in support. It was refreshing to see that my neighbors were supporting, too, which made it easier to express my thoughts around Black lives matter.” What is Black Lives Matter? On April 20, 2014, a Starbucks employee called the police on Dontre Hamilton because he was sleeping in Red Arrow Park. He suffered from schizophrenia. When the Milwaukee police officer arrived, he argued with Hamilton, eventually shooting him 14 times. The involved police officer was fired, but not charged for his use of force. This led the family to pursue changes in the way use of force cases are handled in Milwaukee. “At this moment, I knew I had to do something,” Markasa Tucker, Milwaukee activist, said. “When Maria Hamilton, the mother of Dontre Hamilton, hosted a march, I reached out to her and asked her how I could be of service. I wanted to help bring about change because the senseless death of another Black person was just not right. Hamilton was excited to know that I had genuine interest in the movement to create change.” This is the moment that changed Tucker’s life forever. “At this time, I began to seek knowledge on how change can occur in our city regarding this matter,” Tucker said. “(I began to) understand the systematic ways of creating campaigns and being a part of a solution rather than heightening the problem.” Tucker is heavily involved in creating social change in the state of Wisconsin. In fact, Tucker was just honored by being panted on a mural in Milwaukee for her work in the community. She wants people to know that there is a difference between the Black Lives Matter organization and the movement. According to the organization’s website, their mission is to “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.” Tucker says it is important to be aware of the issues of inequality that occur daily. Without feeling overwhelmed about the process of learning, a major key to becoming

Fall 2020 | Arches


CAMPUS informed is utilizing available resources. “Begin to educate yourself through social media, the world newspaper, radio and media outlets to hear what is going on in the world,” Tucker said. “There is no excuse for not seeking knowledge about this issue. Learn to unlearn. There are some things that you have to be willing to unlearn what you thought, to learn the truth. By educating yourself, you keep from committing harm even though you don’t sense it. It is the need to unlearn that makes you aware.” Everyday Racism Lyons said she has witnessed racism at her job. “At my job, I work as a cashier and there have been times where people of different races have put money on the counter instead of in my hand,” Lyons said. “As a person, I try not to take it personally and I want to remain professional, but it is a sign of racism.” Tucker remembers when she saw white privilege up close. “I can remember when I was working at Channel 12 news station as a sports reporter for the night shift,” Tucker said. “I

was really passionate about my job, but I wanted to move to first shift. In my mind, I didn’t think I would ever get the opportunity to move because no one was leaving. Meanwhile, I did well on my shift and was praised for my amazing work.” It was this job at the Channel 12 news station that opened Tucker’s eyes to the reality of white privilege. “Soon, someone quit and I was finally able to move to first shift. Shortly after I received my new shift, a white woman was hired,” Tucker said. “This woman was horrible and just wasn’t a good fit for that role. Instead of working with the lady to improve her skills or get rid of her, they moved me. The role that I waited for, (I had) to give up to allow her to have it, even though I had more seniority.” This experience opened her eyes to the racism that still exists. “It taught me not to be blinded to what is happening in our world and to educate myself on how to act in the presence of police in the event that I am pulled over,” Tucker said. “It is very important for all races to do their own learning.”

Diavian Lyons, a Mount Mary senior, says the Black lives matter movement makes her feel strong and powerful.

Protesters took to the streets of Wauwatosa on Oct. 7 to protest District Attorney John Chisholm’s decision to not charge Officer Joseph Mensah for killing Alvin Cole, a young black man.



Supporting Student Success Words & Design | Hannah Gergeni

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Services Offered semi-private or private testing spaces

Aryanna Norris, creator of the DREAM team, said, “If a student feels as if their needs aren’t being met, ... we are an ally for them to come to.” Photo provided by Norris.

alternative test options

note takers For years, Aryanna Norris, a junior at Mount Mary University studying early childcare development and art therapy, struggled with getting the right accommodations for her visual impairment. Norris has septo-optic dysplasia, which means her optic nerves are underdeveloped. When her junior high school teacher refused to enlarge her test, saying it was too much of a hassle, Norris was unable to read it. Her teacher’s lack of understanding reinforced Norris’s discomfort in asking for assistance. Fortunately, once Norris came to Mount Mary, that began to change. At Mount Mary, she found herself becoming more confident in asking for the accommodations she deserved for both her septo-optic dysplasia and her hypopituitarism, a condition that affects the hormone production throughout her body. Her newfound confidence and supportive school environment helped Norris find herself. “I would say that since coming to Mount Mary I’ve gained a lot of confidence, just in my abilities in myself as a person,” Norris said. Norris chose to work on a degree in education so that one day she would be able to help students with disabilities feel comfortable. She also looks forward to being a resource to assist students in seeking the accommodations they deserve. “I decided to become a teacher because I wanted to be better,” Norris said. “I wanted to be more than what I got.” When choosing a college, Norris was drawn to Mount Mary since it provided a small community and class sizes. “In my past school, we had classrooms of like 30 plus kids, so I was never really confident enough to get one-on-one time,” Norris said.

Asking for Accommodations College life can be challenging for students who are committed to success and refuse to let a disability hold them back. Sara Sharpe Krenke, director of accessibility services, explained what accommodations are offered at Mount Mary for


alternative class format

video recordings of classes and lectures

students with disabilities. “Accommodations at Mount Mary vary widely depending on what is needed to ensure that a student has equal access to their education,” Krenke said. “Equal access is the understanding that people with disabilities can have barriers to parts of their education because of their disability.” Krenke works with students to make sure they are provided with the accommodations that are necessary for their success. “Depending on the students’ needs, I would meet with a student to discuss how their disability is limiting their access to their education, and what supports they think they might benefit from to allow you to succeed at Mount Mary,” Krenke said. Krenke believes Mount Mary can improve its accommodation services by creating a straightforward and comprehensive environment. Krenke has developed an assistive technology guide. Assis-

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tive technology (AT) is any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of people who have disabilities. This information is at accessibility-services/assistive-technology.html “I’ve developed an assistive technology guide which is available online, and I’m working to put in place assistive technology training opportunities/demos both online and in person for interested students,” Krenke said.

Deciding Where to Go to School When choosing a school to attend, a million things can affect someone’s decision. For students with disabilities, there are even more levels to one’s choice. However, Krenke says that all colleges offer accommodations for students with disabilities. “MMU’s accommodation process is largely the same as other schools,” Krenke said. “You’ll find that all schools have roughly the same process because we are all compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. All students who are interested in accommodations in higher education are responsible for applying to services, providing documentation and working with accessibility or disability services to develop accommodations.

International Symbols of Access


“Equal access is the understanding that people with disabilities can have barriers to parts of their education because of their disability.”

-Sara Sharpe Krenke

Sharpe also encourages students to seek community support. “Lastly, I’d encourage students to try to maintain and build support systems at school – both with peers and at least one trusted person on campus you can go to when you are struggling,” Krenke said. “This has been a difficult year, and the stress of classes can be really challenging. This could be an adviser, therapist, resident assistant, student success consultant or me. There are several wonderful student organizations on campus including Active Minds and the DREAM Team which can provide peer support.” Norris created the Disability Rights Education Activisom and Mentoring Team in hopes of supporting others on campus. “It’s an organization on campus that basically advocates for students who have disabilities,” Norris said. If you are a student looking for accommodations in the classroom, reach out to Krenke at, 414930-3173, or visit at HL 124 in the Student Success Center.

Sign Language Interpretation

Wheelchair Accessibility

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Could spirits be lurking in Mount Mary?


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Employees, students share stories of paranormal activity Words & Photo & Design | Allyson Gebauer


hree years ago, on a cold and rainy night, Tony Lemke, Mount Mary University public safety officer, was touring campus completing his nightly duties. As he entered the first floor of Gerhardinger Center, he noticed something out of the ordinary. “I saw three women who appeared to be very frightened,” Lemke said. “Being inquisitive, I asked them what happened.” Lemke recalls that after the three women came from class on the second floor, two of them had to use the restroom. One woman took a drink of water from the nearby water fountain. Suddenly, she felt a grab on her shoulder. She thought it was her friend. According to Lemke, when her friend came out of the bathroom, the woman who was getting a drink asked her, Why did you sneak up on me like that? This left the other woman confused. I didn’t. I just came out now, her friend replied. This left the women in shock. “I was coming down the hallway and I saw absolutely nothing as far as an apparition or anything in the air,” Lemke said. “So whatever they felt was all them.” The experience in Gerhardinger was not the first time someone had a chilling experience on campus. Three years prior, there was another late night scare on the fourth floor of Notre Dame Hall. As Lemke was on another night shift, he noticed something abnormal. “I was on the elevator and I went up to the fourth floor of Notre Dame,” Lemke said. “I got off of the elevator and started walking down the hallway, and one of the girls came running out of room 464. Kind of struck to me as being a little unusual, and I asked her if something was on fire or if there was an accident. She said no.” The woman was in the room, working on a metal sculpture, when something quickly came up to her and grabbed her shoulder. The woman whipped around and saw absolutely nothing. According to Lemke, she was completely shaken. Lemke asked the student, “Are you sure it was a touch, or was it something in the air, like from the air vents in the ceiling?” According to Lemke, the student said, No, it was a definite touch. After the student thought for a while, she clarified that it was more of a firm grip on her shoulder, not just a touch. This left Lemke in shock.

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The Fidelis Hall tunnel is sometimes colder than the adjacent walkways.

Around Gerhardinger Center, the ghost meter that detects a ghost’s energy registered high on the scale. This signified that something may be present.

Public Safety officer, Tony Lemke, says that in room 464, a woman felt something grab her shoulder.

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A statue of a School Sister of Notre Dame on the fourth floor suggests the possibility of a sister watching over students.

Resident Assistant, Destiny Rodriguez recalls the Programming Resource Center door creaking open on its own.

An eerie silence fills the Program Resource Center at night. Resident Assistant, Destiny Rodriguez, says this made her feel uneasy.

“I went in the room. I did not see or feel anything. I told her, ‘Maybe you should take a break for the rest of the night,’” Lemke said. The paranormal activity continues to impact on students on the fourth floor. Years ago, an event occurred that left students working late at night on an edition of Arches in shock. Ann Angel, English professor at Mount Mary and a previous adviser for Arches, said she heard stories from students on staff who had unusual experiences. “I’ve heard students say they’ve seen a nun in an older habit in the mirror on the fourth floor,” Angel said. “I told the students who swore they saw her one midnight when they were working on layout (for Arches) that she was probably letting them know it was past bedtime.” The School Sisters of Notre Dame used to live at Mount Mary many years ago. While some have passed away, there is a possibility that the former sisters of Notre Dame are watching over students on campus. “I think she’s a good spirit, probably just trying to get students to call it a night and get some sleep,” Angel said. There is a possibility that another type of energy remains on campus, unlike anything in Gerhardinger Center or Notre Dame Hall. Destiny Rodriguez, a sophomore and residents assistant at Mount Mary University, had a mysterious incident occur. She was in the Program Resource Center, also known as the PRC, in Caroline Hall when she experienced something that left her frightened. “I was in the PRC at 9 p.m. on a Saturday. I was in there doing door decorations,” Rodriguez said. “It’s night time and I didn’t expect there to be any noises because it’s a weekend and it is 9 p.m.” Then all of a sudden, she saw and heard something unusual, unlike anything she has experienced in the PRC before. It left her confused and astounded. “I had the door open a little and it just kept creaking. It kept creaking open every 20 minutes. I was like, this is weird because it kept happening periodically. Every single time that it happened, rationally, I knew it was the door leading out of the PRC,” Rodriguez said. “But, the very back door by the cabinets, it just felt like it was opening. It felt like something was in there and I was being watched the whole time. It was just this really bad energy.” With the door opening frequently in the same exact intervals leaving an uneasy energy inside her, Rodriguez was lead to believe there was something bad making the door move. Everything in her gut and her instinct told her that there was something waiting behind that door. “I tried to ignore it because, instinctually, you think it is a ghost or demon that is going to excite it more. And I was trying to do that,” Rodriguez said. The possible spirit that lingered with her continued to make her feel uncomfortable. “I was like, ‘Okay, I don’t feel comfortable here. It is 9 on a weekend where nobody should be here or should be at this end of the building,’” Rodriguez said. “I decided to leave then before I saw a ghost or demon. I never want to be there late at night ever again. It just freaked me out.” Could other spirits be lurking on campus? If you would like to share your story, email Allyson Gebauer at

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Creative Works Creative Works provides a place for students to showcase their work. We accept all types of artwork, potography, poetry and flash fiction. For full submission guidelines, visit

Design | Rob Steger

Malignant Monday I used to love when spring was the season; the stained snow would dissolve into the dirt and we’d stomp in slush. And then you went in to the doctors to see why your head hurt so much. They found that fatal lump in the mold of your whimsical mind. You were not done living, you said. You were the one to hold

me as I cursed God’s cruel plan. The sun that afternoon was goldno chance of rain in the milky clouds. That goddamn Monday will forever be etched into my brain. I hate days with perfect weather and pray that the flowers flood in spring showers to prove how much I am drowning without you.

Kristen Tetzlaff is a junior majoring in art therapy and creative writing. She hopes to accompany those on the journey of discovering the wonder of poetry. She also hopes to bring healing through art and writing.

Kristen Tetzlaff

Naideliz Gonzalez Naideliz Gonzalez is a junior, majoring in marketing. She has been doing photography for about three years now. While her anxiety may be high whenever she takes photos of others, she loves creating the end result. Gonzalez loves being able to help preserve a moment in time to look back at the photos in 10 years.

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Kristen Hardwick Kristin Hardwick is a senior majoring in fashion design and plans to pursue her endeavors within the fashion industry by starting her own brand, while also continuing to learn and network with others in the industry. Growing up, she has always had the mindset to keep creating and building new things to improve her creative design and artistry skills. She plans to apply those skills and assets in different ways throughout her career.

Adia Kolell

As a senior studying fashion design and philosophy, Adia Kolell loves creating from lively inspiration that brings happiness to others as well as herself. She’s aiming to land a corporate job after she graduates to learn more about the fashion industry in hopes of having her own business one day.

Kaylee Reeder

Hayley Knowles

Senior fashion majors Kaylee Reeder and Hayley Knowles put together a “Birthday Party” themed photoshoot that they directed and styled. All clothing was thrifted.


A Poem for Allahna You are the bully, I am the victim in this situation. Around the world, across the nation: interracial discrimination. Like an animal in this cage I’m in, on display for your fascination. Ignoring that you are also here as a result of migration. Then you ask me my race and keep trying, to guess if I somehow am lying, when I say that I’m Black, Pacific Islander and Caucasian. And that those are only a few I can list on occasion. I am a human not a mutt. Why must you feel the need to keep me locked up? Yes! My parents love me very much, he hasn’t left, and she isn’t stuck. I was a choice, not a sprout of bad luck; I’ve had enough, this needs to stop! If you wish I didn’t exist so much then treat me as the backdrop, I’d rather be ignored than be criticized nonstop. I see it, the way you look surprised, when my sister says her dad is black because she looks so white. I see it, like I wish you could through my eyes. How it hurts to be out with my sister, and treated worse just because the color of my skin is not right.

Mileisis Romero Morban

Skin color is a spectrum, it ranges from the darkest darks, to the lightest lights. Why does the amount of sun my ancestors got decide if you have to hold your bag tight. Sometimes I wish for the ability of invisibility, because to avoid discrimination it takes more than just luck and agility. It takes humanity to have humility; are you even aware of the concept of mortality? It’s death..... in the end we all die, so why feel the need to be above me while alive. Shouldn’t we focus more on trying to survive? I’d like to live. To actually live, because right now I’m “just alive,” since living takes more than I can give. It takes my confidence, my comfort, my trust in my family. It takes away my ability to stand up for myself, my freedom to be out in public; and it hurts when you treat my sister nicely, but treat me poorly. Here is my message, the truth is out, it’s my confession. Define oppression, a result of the endless cruelty and suppression, of society that seeks to teach us all a lesson: live by my standards or expect aggression.

Mileisis Romero Morban was born in the Dominican Republic, but has grown up in the U.S. in Milwaukee and Florida. She attended and graduated from Milwaukee High School of the Arts with a focus on Visual Art. She is a freshman fashion design major.

Fall 2020 | Arches



FASHION DESIGNER CREDITS MOUNT MARY FOR HER SUCCESS Words Nancy Plascencia | Design Leslie Chavez | Photos provided by Michelle Lopez Many women have walked the halls of Notre Dame, sitting in classrooms, taking notes and making friends. Some start their college experience here, and some transfer in, but Mount Mary can leave an impact on them all. Michelle Lopez, a long-time Milwaukee resident, began classes at Mount Mary in 1999. Since then, she has become a designer and owner of the brands, theMINIclassy and MaskOn.MaskOff. “I’ve literally loved fashion for as long as I can remember and always knew I wanted to be a fashion designer, so after I got married in 1998, I started looking at different schools with fashion programs, and eventually decided on Mount Mary because the program looked amazing, and I wanted to stay close to my family,” Lopez said. Mount Mary University is known for its fashion program and was the first in the nation to start a four-year fashion degree program. Because of her love for fashion, it was no surprise that Lopez majored in apparel product development. Lopez says Mount Mary helped her to grow into a more confident version of herself. “I definitely think Mount Mary helped me to become much more self-confident, independent and taught me a lot about responsibility,” Lopez said. “Growing up, I had (attention deficit disorder), and back then they didn’t know a lot about it, so school was difficult as I had a really hard time focusing, and I eventually kind of gave up on trying because I felt like such a failure.” Although she had trouble focusing at a young age, Lopez found that she was able to set her mind on succeeding at Mount Mary. “I started at Mount Mary when I was 25 years old, and I think that being a bit older I was able to focus better


and really apply myself,” Lopez said. “I started getting really good grades and being a very competitive person, I just kept trying to outdo myself, so it became like a game to me. I was able to get my GPA up to a 3.8 which was something I had never done before. It gave me something to strive for and is something I’m still super proud of.” Lopez loved the strong community presence and the fact that class sizes were small to create a strong work environment. “I love that some of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned would have to be from my classes at Mount Mary,” Lopez said. “A ton of emphasis was put on paying close attention to detail while focusing on construction and quality – those are still super important to me and I’ve literally applied them to everything I’ve done since. I also absolutely loved the smaller class sizes and the attention we got from the teachers/staff. Sister Aloyse (Hessburg) was my favorite.” The small classes allowed Lopez to gain a sense of responsibility, which inspired her to be her best. “I think, for me, that (small class sizes) really helped me to focus more and it made me feel more responsible for my actions because I felt like I was letting people down if I didn’t do my best,” Lopez said. Along with the small classes, Lopez enjoyed the strong fashion program that Mount Mary was able to provide her with. “A few more things (that I enjoyed) would be the amazing historic costume collection and ties to the fashion world. Being that we’re in Milwaukee, not a very fashionforward city, it was really cool that we had such a highlevel program and that we knew that what we were being taught was right on point,” Lopez said.


Lopez, along with her business partner, Andrea Dotcaught on all over the world. zauer, another Mount Mary alumna, were asked to be a “We’re the innovators of the Original Dino Harem – a part of the “Here’s to the Bold” campaign and to be judges luxe, drop-crotch harem pant with fabric ‘dinosaur’ spikes for Mount Mary’s CREO Fashion Show. down the sides, and since 2013, designers both big and “We also were asked to be on the judges’ panel for the small have ‘borrowed’ the idea, and the addition of the ‘dino 2016 CREO Fashion Show and have worked with Sarah spike’ has become a huge fad worldwide,” Lopez said. “Our Eichhorn and Trish Kuehnl as guest speakers for a few of brand was also picked up by Barneys NY, Nordstrom, Fred their classes,” Lopez said. Segal and Ron Robinson in Beverly Hills.” Lopez never got to graduate from Mount Mary due to Lopez’s new trend has landed her clothing items on some personal circumstances. She took a leave of absence and very famous people’s children like Kourtney Kardashian, was unable to get financial aid. Beyonce and Jay Z. “I ended up having to pivot and went to school for aesLopez also launched a mask business due to the panthetics which landed me a job as a medical aesthetician,” demic called MaskOn.MaskOff. Lopez said. “I worked in that field for about eight years “Many of the graphic designs (on the masks) have a and eventually got back into fashlot to do with the social and political ion/beauty in 2010 as a makeup climate right now.” artist/stylist.” “My goal was to try to make the y goal was to try to make the “(Andrea and I) started theMIbest out of a bad situation and create a NIclassy in 2013. At the time, we best out of a bad situation and create a product that allows people to express both had little kiddos and were themselves and their personalities product that allows people to express sick of having to buy boring kids through fashion while protecting others clothes that would fall apart after themselves and their personalities and themselves.” a few washings, so we decided to Lopez is also currently donating 25% through fashion while protecting others of her proceeds to Black Lives Matter take what we learned at Mount Mary and start a kids’ clothing organizations. From April to August, and themselves.” brand,” Lopez said. “Instagram she donated 100% of the proceeds to was just becoming popular, and the movement. Lopez has been able to we knew that we could use it as donate almost $1,600. a global platform and as a free, “I also collaborated on a cute little ichelle Lopez, virtual showroom.” capsule collection with my 8-year-old designer and founder of theMINIclassy daughter this summer called ‘Super Much of Lopez’s inspiration came from streetwear culture, Kitty Sasha’ where we put some of her and MaskOn.MaskOff. which includes New York hipartwork on masks and donated 50% of hop fashion, California surf-skate the proceeds to the ASPCA (American culture and elements of sportswear, punk, Japanese street Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and to fashion and now, haute couture. the Villalobos Rescue Center from the show, Pitbulls and Lopez said she wants her clothes to mean something. Parolees.” “Well, our tagline is ‘Keep Your Head In The Clouds,’ Lopez has advice to give to aspiring designers and college which is a reminder to encourage kids to be themselves students. - to imagine, explore and create,” Lopez said. “Our goal “I think the best advice I can give is never be afraid to was to make garments that allow kids to feel good about be different, never give up, never be too scared to ask for themselves and be confident no matter what they’re wearhelp and always give it your best,” Lopez said. “Believe in ing. I’m proud to say that’s something I know we’ve been yourself and follow your dreams. I wouldn’t be anywhere if I able to do.” did any different.” Lopez’s brand was able to create a new trend that

“M -M

Lopez launched MaskOn.MaskOff. to create masks that not only act as protection, but make a statement.

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Nonprofits survive the pandemic Kathy’s House and Red Cross adapt to COVID-Iq

Words & Photo Giselle Martin Gomez | Design & Illustration Leslie Chavez


OVID-19 forced many businesses to close, but nonprofit organizations are the lifeline of the people who rely on them. COVID does not stop the need for nonprofits, so they have no choice but to figure out how to remain open safely – but how? Kathy’s House Patty Metropulos, chief executive officer and president of Kathy’s House, said that the nonprofit never considered closing their doors. “There was not much of a consideration to the idea of remaining open,” Metropulos said. “Our frontline staff didn’t even flinch. Our commitment to guests never wavered.” Kathy’s House, currently located on 600 N. 103rd St, focuses on providing affordable lodging for individuals undergoing treatment for cancer or other life-threatening illnesses. These individuals come into the city for treatment, but finding a place for them and their family to reside temporarily can be costly.


“One thing I’ve learned since working at

Kathy’s House is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people in the state of Wisconsin alone that have to travel for their medical care,” “Here, in Milwaukee, we have this incredible care in our own backyard.”

-Patty Metropulos

CEO and president of Kathy’s House

Metropulos knows what it’s like to have family suffering from critical illnesses that require extensive medical care. Both her father and brother suffered from cancer. “The earth shifts beneath your feet,” Metropulos said. “It is a marker in time, and you have a whole new reality. The positive aspect is that you grow as a family and as a caregiver, and it just kind of makes you realize what is important.” At Kathy’s House, they are aware of the importance of the sense of community and keeping families together when dealing with a critical illness. “Here, we really recognize that, not only is it important for the patient to access the care that they need, but also that their family can be with them during that time,” Metropulos said. “There are so many studies that prove that having a network of support and loved ones close by really makes a difference in a patient’s recovery.” At the beginning of the pandemic, Kathy’s House faced some challenges regarding how things ran and the way they did certain things. First, they had to reduce their occupancy limit to 15%, send their volunteers home and alter their fundraising events. Second, they had to keep a sense of community. Volunteers used to help prepare meals for the guests, which is something that the guests really enjoyed. Currently, volunteers can sponsor a meal for the guests from local restaurants. One of Kathy’s House’s board members, Bill Severson, did this by having all of the guests look at Gilly’s custard shop’s menu and order whatever they would like. Kathy’s House had to cancel its annual gala in May and its annual Oktoberfest. The gala, however, was approached in a unique way. They launched a Critical Operations Campaign and contacted their sponsors who have supported the gala in the past. They raised $50,000 in sponsorships, which they issued as a challenge digitally to their donors and community partners.

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FEATURE “Our goal was to raise $100,000, and we met our goal,” Metropulos said. Kathy’s House partners with hospitals, like Froedert, to provide housing for patients far from home. “The hospitals where the patient is being served will send us a patient referral for a request to stay here, and then we will ask the patients and their family a number of questions on their level of exposure to anyone with COVID,” Metropulos said. Currently, the number of guests the house can accept has been reduced, but even before COVID-19 hit, Kathy’s House had not been able to take in every guest that came its way. “For the past several years, we have had to turn away hundreds of families because our house was completely full,” Metropulos said. That’s why Kathy’s House is in the process of relocating to Doyne Avenue, which can be found in the middle of N. 92nd St and N. 87th St. They broke ground on their new location at the end of May. Despite the challenges that COVID-19 could have thrown their way, their plans for relocating in summer of 2021 are on track. Their new location is twice the size, will provide better accessibility accommodations and will be closer to Froedtert Hospital. One thing that Kathy’s House has been infected with is the drive to push through the pandemic and to keep serving the individuals who need them most. Currently, there are no in-house volunteer opportunities; however, Kathy’s House is accepting sponsored meals for guests as well as donations. For more information, go to kathy’

Source: kathy’

The American Red Cross The Red Cross’ mission was also unfazed by the pandemic. If anything, the Red Cross’ mission was fueled by it. The Red Cross supplies and collects blood products and plasma, offers CPR and first-aid classes and supplies emergency help during natural disasters. “We are still providing the same types of support as we always have, and we are doing everything we can to keep the people safe and healthy during this really wacky pandemic,”Laura McGuire, the external communications manager for the American Red Cross, said. Within the services and support that the Red Cross offers, they are also helping individuals who are recovering from COVID-19. “We are supplying blood products (and) we are collecting plasma to help people that are recovering from COVID,” McGuire said. “We continue to offer CPR and first-aid classes, and, as always, it is our life-saving mission to supply emergency help by volunteering and/or donating blood for the Red Cross.” While the Red Cross continues to provide the same services, they have employed safety protocols in order to keep all staff, donors and volunteers safe. They ask about exposure to the virus, require face coverings, follow social distancing practices, continue to use sterile needles and practice enhanced cleaning protocols.


Kathy’s House is the only hospital guest house in the area that serves patients of all ages and their caregivers who need to travel to Milwaukee for medical care.

“We are here for people in their darkest days, and we like to keep people healthy and safe, and it has really been a record-breaking disaster season.”

-Laura McGuire, External communications

manager at American Red Cross

The Red Cross provides on-the-ground relief for natural disasters like wildfires or floods. Currently, some of that relief is virtual and has been modified to accomidate new safety protocols. The organization has done this while still remaining essential. “We’re not really able to give someone a hug when they really need it during a flood, a wildfire,” McGuire said. “The need for blood is constant… It is absolutely an essential business. We have had Gov. Evers and the attorney general make statements that giving blood is an essential business, so during the lockdown we were really encouraging people to come and donate blood as long as they were feeling well.” Hospitals are cancelling selective surgeries, and blood does have an expiration date, so the Red Cross must be very careful with how much it collects. “Once COVID came along, we really saw that we had a really urgent need for convalescent plasma, so we were really encouraging people that had recovered from COVID to come in and give convalescent plasma,” McGuire said. The Red Cross was FDA approved to test blood for COVID antibodies, which led to a spike in the inventory. They also received FDA clearance for their whole blood to be used for COVID purposes. The Red Cross has been


contributing to the fight against coronavirus while also aiding in recovery from natural disasters affecting the United States. “Last I heard, there were up to 45 different crises here in the United States, including floods, hurricanes, wildfires; so the need for volunteers is absolutely tremendous,” McGuire said. “We are out there helping people at their darkest moments.” If you want to get involved in helping the Red Cross’ mission, go to

Amid the pandemic, The Red Cross continues its mission to turn compassion into action and allieviate human suffering wherever it may be. Photo provided by

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the world from home: Study Abroad goes virtual Words Sister Yen Thi Bui | Design Hannah Gergeni

Olivia Hickman, senior at Mount Mary University, studied for a semester in Peru. Her experience reaffirmed her desire to help others. Photo provided by Hickman.



Olivia Hickman, senior at Mount Mary, poses in front of Machu Picchu, an Incan citadel in Peru. Photo provided by Hickman.

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livia Hickman, a senior at Mount Mary University double majoring in Spanish and International Studies, studied abroad in Peru from August to December of 2019. With the desire to discover a new horizon and challenge herself in a country where English is not its official language, Hickman decided to take on the journey overseas. “I had three classes in Spanish and one in English, and they were absolutely fantastic,” Hickman said. “We went on so many field trips to show that what we were learning in class was applicable. For example, our professor took us to the market and asked different vendors about fruits and vegetables and different recipes we could make with them.” Living with a foreign family in another country can be challenging, but Hickman’s host family was accommodating. “I lived in a homestay, which was great,” Hickman said. “I had my very own room and bathroom. My host mom was very accommodating because I’m vegetarian. She was very conscientious about making sure my food wasn’t cross-contaminated with meat products.” When Hickman wasn’t at home, she worked in the community. “I also did service learning at Colibiri, an after-school program, funded by the Peruvian Police Department, for at-risk children,” Hickman said. “The goal was to allow the children to eat two meals a day, work on homework and play with other children, without having to worry about finances or working to provide for their families. I want to be a humanitarian aid worker, and my time in Peru reaffirmed my desire to help others.” “It’s extremely unfortunate that COVID-19 has occurred and that opportunities to study abroad have been cancelled,” Hickman said. “I think that the option to study abroad virtually is very interesting.

If you are considering studying abroad, I definitely would explore this option.” Virtual Opportunities Due to COVID-19, there are ways that the program is being handled virtually this year. “Many of the program providers who typically offer summer or semester term programs abroad are currently offering Virtual Global Internships,” Nancy Metzger, director of international studies, said. Metzger said there are varying lengths to these virtual opportunities. “These global, remote internships provide an opportunity for students to have an internship and work cross-culturally, while developing valuable skills working as part of a team,” Metzger said. “These global remote internships are offered for varying lengths of time, and students can choose between fourweek or eight-week group project remote internships or eight-week or 16-week individual remote internships.” Virtual interns can work for companies in the UK, Spain, Asia and Australia. “Additionally, some providers are also (offering) ‘Remote Learning Opportunities’ where students can choose between one to four courses to complete online, but do coursework with professors in Spain, Costa Rica or other countries,” Metzger said. Jenia Cunningham, a student at Mount Mary University, studied in Spain from January to June of 2019. Cunningham says that studying abroad virtually could be a great option. “Even though virtual study abroad limits one from the magnificence of visiting monuments and historical sites in person, it may be a good option because it would be more cost effective, which might open up more opportunities for those who could not have studied

Patricia Golden was the first Mount Mary student to win the ASIA Freeman Scholarship, a $5,000 scholarship to study abroad. She also won the $4,000 Gilman Scholarship to study abroad in fall 2021. Photo provided by Nancy Metzger.

Jenia Cunningham, graduate student at Mount Mary University, studied in Seville, Spain in the spring of 2019. Photo provided by Cunningham.

Jenia Cunningham takes a cooking class in Seville, Spain, where she studied abroad in 2019. Photo provided by Cunningham.

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abroad before,” Cunningham said. “One can also avoid the more challenging parts of studying abroad: being away from family and friends, homesickness, high costs and potential language barriers.” The Future of Studying Abroad “Currently, those programs that were planned to travel in this upcoming spring semester have been deferred or delayed one year –– to depart in Dec. 2021 and travel/be abroad in January 2022,” Metzger said. “However, in addition to assessing what program(s) options are available and suitable for a student, we would also be looking at CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and WHO (World Health Organisation) guidelines, as well as travel advisories from the U.S. Dept of State. Currently, many countries do not want U.S. citizens to come, and/or may require a 14-day quarantine period before travelers can engage in local activities/events.” Scholarship Support in 2021 Many Mount Mary students have received the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to support their study abroad. The Gilman Scholarship is especially concentrated on students who are underrepresented in study abroad, for majors who are under-represented abroad and to support students who are planning to study abroad in nontraditional destinations. “Gilman is being very flexible this year in how they will allow students to use their scholarship funds they can use any time between Jan. 1, 2021 to Dec. 31, 2021,” Metzger said. Although COVID put an end to plans of studying abroad this semester, Vanessa Garnica, senior Mount Mary Gilman scholarship recipient, said that she is looking to use it for an international internship.


“Unfortunately, COVID-19 had affected my chance of studying abroad, but that does not mean my chances are over,” Garnica said. “I was awarded the Gilman Scholarship this year, which I am super grateful about, but unfortunately I won’t be able to use it to travel to another country. It’s okay, though, because I am looking for an international internship.” Even though studying abroad has been her dream for a long time, the pandemic and her economic ability has prevented her from doing so. Garnica is trying her best in order to make it possible in the future. “Beside the dream of obtaining academic study, I want to study abroad because I would love to get a feel of travel,” Garnica said. “I have never been out of the country before, but the Gilman was a huge opportunity. Even though it does not seem like I will be able to travel this year, I hope to raise enough money to one day be able to. I would be open then to study abroad for a longer time. I do graduate this year, so I’m not sure how that would work yet.” Right now, she is interested in one in Argentina. “This internship helps people with disabilities find a suitable job. I love to help others and feel like this one is for me,” Garnica said. “I plan to take advantage of the funds Gilman has awarded me in order to build more on my resume. I am grateful for the opportunity and can’t wait to see what is next.” For more information on studying abroad, email Metzger at

Jenia Cunningham enjoys a game with her dad, Marlon Cunningham, in 2019. Photo provided by Cunningham.

Oliva Hickman makes friends with a couple of llamas in Peru where she studied in 2019. Photo provided by Hickman.

Senior Olivia Hickman said her experience in Peru helped her grow in her Spanish-speaking skills. Photo proivded by Hickman.

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Are COVID guidelines being enforced? Words Emily Blazer | Photo & Design Denisse Hernandez

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One of the first things people see when they enter Mount Mary University’s Caroline Hall is a fold-up table adorned with health surveys for staff and students. The surveys ask if they have any symptoms relevant to COVID-19, such as a temperature above 100.4 degrees or fatigue. Signs on the walls read: “Have you taken your health survey today?” Products such as hand sanitizer, masks and gloves are grouped together on the table. This is the new normal for Mount Mary and campuses across the country. Employees and students can find newsletters outlining the steps that Mount Mary has taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus under the tab named COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Resources on For example, face masks are required in all buildings on campus and strongly recommended outside unless students are alone. Students should walk on the right side of the hallway with six feet between the person in front and/or behind them. All in-person classes should have socially-distanced seating. However, students and staff have varied opinions about the implementation of these rules. Feeling Safe in the Classroom

There are signs all over campus that remind students to take their health surveys, properly wash their hands and remain socially distant.


Dr. Jeremy Edison, a mathematics professor on campus, admits that the guidelines bring new challenges pertaining to his teaching, but overall feels like they are being upheld and are effective. “Ideally in a non-pandemic (classroom), I wouldn’t be

standing at the front of the room while teaching as much as I do,” Edison said. “I think with the classes being held on campus there has to be some balances and things like that. Sometimes people lean in to ask each other questions, but I think the university’s ‘close contact’ (definition) means closer than six feet for 15 minutes. (That) is the guideline that I’ve been told. For the most part, in the classrooms that I’ve been in, the students have done a good job of enforcing those measures.” Cassandra Stutzman, senior at Mount Mary, thinks that COVID-19 precautions are being handled to the best of the university’s ability. “I think that they are handling it in the best way that they can at this time,” she said. “Yes, the masks are annoying and I strongly dislike them. However, at the moment, I believe that the university requiring students to wear them is for the best.” However, Stutzman also says that it is difficult to remain socially distant in the fashion labs. “In fashion, you can’t stand six feet away from someone and point out the things that need to be changed,” Stutzman said. “You have to stand right next to them and say, ‘I want you to do this,’ while your hand is on or near whatever is being sewn to show exactly what you want done.” A major concern is sanitation. The coronavirus can reside on surfaces and spread to the students. Students have to rely on the staff, and sometimes themselves, to disinfect the spaces where events take place.

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Jad Moun of the Assoc about camp “Po 15 stu and th after t will h spray may) I thou suppo bottle for th cleani but th clean there and m quick may n table

C in

Wh may b in the studen oppos dorm freshm distan practi “W closer dorm each o or are same “I und exactl

Jade Langkau, a senior at Mount Mary and president of the Student Government Association, is concerned about the cleanliness on campus. “Potentially, if you have 15 students in a classroom and they are cleaning up after themselves, all of them will have touched the two spray bottles and (some may) not use hand sanitizer. I thought the professor was supposed to touch the spray bottle,” Langkau said. “As for the dining hall, they are cleaning the tables often, but there is not a way to clean the tables 100% since there is no one watching me and my friends sit down, eat quickly and then leave. They may not notice that that table has been used.” COVID Guidelines in the Residence Hall While safety measures may be being followed in the classrooms, some students believe that the opposite is true in the dorms. Angelica Zietlow, a freshman, claims that social distancing is not consistenly practiced in the halls. “We sometimes are closer than six feet (in the dorms), like when we pass each other in the hallway, or are in the kitchen at the same time,” Zietlow said. “I understand that it’s not exactly possible to be six feet

apart at all times, especially when we all live with each other in a shared space, but it’s one of the guidelines, nonetheless.” Zietlow also expressed the concern that there’s no way to know if Caroline Hall residents have come into contact with someone with COVID-19. “In the dorms, we also aren’t allowed to have any guests currently,” Zietlow said. “The rule makes sense, but is also kind of useless when you consider the fact that we do not know who everyone is coming into contact with when they are outside the dorms.” Another student, wishing to be anonymous, added that she hasn’t seen people without masks in the dorm hallways. However, she’s seen people without masks when they are working at the front desk. “I think it’s really important that the people who are at the front desk set a good example for everyone else coming in because they are usually the first people you see when entering Caroline Hall,” she said. “If someone sees a (Mount Mary) worker not wearing a mask, then they will feel like they shouldn’t have to wear a mask.” Members of the Mount Mary University COVID-19 task force did not get back for a comment.

Spray bottles filled with disinfectant are in every classroom. After class, students’ desks must be wiped down. ADVERTISEMENT

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Caroline Hall connections: Residence Life adapts to new restrictions

Words Emily Cabaltera | Photo Ally

son Gebauer | Design Ann Tran


or cannot due to quarantining are still able to attend alking through Caroline Hall, an eerie events virtually. lead silence hangs in the air. Doors that “If you're isolating in your room or you don't feel The closed. to residents’ rooms remain safe coming, that's fine,” Lauren Nylund, resident floor lounges that were once filled with the sound assistant, said. “All the supplies will get dropped off. of laughter remain silent. Signs reminding students You can follow along in real time on Zoom, and then are to wear their masks and remain socially distant submit or keep whatever work or products you get.” posted outside the elevator, kitchen and lounges. Some memorable aspects of programming in the The COVID-19 pandemic that shook the Mount residence hall can no longer be happen due to COMary campus in March changed what it meant to VID concerns. live in Caroline Hall. The lively energy from semes“I was kind of bummed out that the events that I hing eye-catc the for ters before is nearly gone, except wanted to do are not possible in the variation that I bulletin boards created by the resident assistants. wanted to do,” Nylund said. “We have to minimize On the third floor, the large bulletin board is decofood consumption. Any food we do has to be preand rated with a colorful tree made of orange, yellow packaged.” letters holds ine red paper. Across the center, a clothesl In past years, resident assistants were each assigned for sements Adverti y’all.” fall, of the phrase “Happy a night of the week where they would host an event. events held by resident assistants and other campus The weekly events ranged from watching The Office organizations are plastered across the board. to study nights. Due to COVID, these events are no really to been just “This semester, (the goal) has longer possible. pump out the programs, really let students know that “It would be hard to make them socially distant re,” anywhe go didn't Life ce Residen that here, we're overall, we are trying to minimize in-person conand, Bryn Bowden, assistant director of student engagetact,” Nylund said. ment and residential living, said. “We really value Taylor Roberts, resident assistant, designed an we're what see to them want I them (residents). event called Pen Pals to connect residents and accominvolved in. We want to be there for them.” modate these new requirements. Residence Life has been working hard to offer “I wanted to get into doing pen pals myself, so I followwhile the all programs for residents to enjoy, thought that would be a really cool thing to do here, ing COVID-19 safety guidelines. especially with COVID,” Roberts said. “It's not all in “You have to be able to socially distance in spaces,” person, but it's not all online. I thought that it would that Bowden said. “We're trying to really make sure be a really good hybrid program to do, especially for we offer as much space as we can with programming, the first month.” so a lot of our programs are in the Caroline Hall Roberts hung brown paper bags on the doors of ” lounge. participating resident that contained all of the each to Students in the residence hall who choose not letter writing materials they may need. Participants of attend events in person because of COVID concerns


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the Pen Pal event wrote letters to other residents that they may have never connected with before. At the front desk, a box served as the pickup and drop off spot. Participants wrote to their pen pals as little or as often as they wanted and watched the box for a response. “It's a different way to get connected that we haven't done in the past, which is fantastic,” Nylund said. Kaitlyn McKnight, junior at Mount Mary, praised the event for encouraging new connections. “I loved the pen pal program,” McKnight said. “I actually found a girl who is a transfer student just like me. I didn’t know any transfer students until her.” McKnight and her pen pal wrote about what it was like to be a transfer student and one of their shared interests: cooking. “We are actually exchanging recipes,” McKnight said. “Because I was a transfer student, I made friends with incoming freshmen, but it was cool finding someone my age.” Each resident assistant is tasked with finding new and creative ideas to engage the Caroline Hall community. It is more important now than ever that students are reaching Resident Ass out and connecting with others. Taylor Rober istants Amiyah Jones “The Pen Pal event had you looking forward to someNashia Bass ts, Destiny Rodriguez, Margaret Dishaw, , La ex an event wher citedly prepare for Rev uren Nylund and thing. I was always checking the box for another letter,” e erse Tric th ey kn Caroline Hal McKnight said. “It really did put a smile on my face. This l and deliverocked on doors of resi k or Treat, d ed candy an definitely should continue after COVID because it is a d a note. ents in mental health booster.” Engaging with residents extends further than just hosting events. Bowden and the resident assistants are making an effort to take advantage of each interaction with residents. “When they are getting personal interaction, (the resident assistants) are really maximizing that personal interaction and are staying a little bit longer and talking a little bit longer,” Bowden said. “People are having a really hard time getting that personal interaction and so the RAs are trying to be very intentional about staying a little longer or catching people in the hallway and just being like, ‘how are you?’” Even the students in the isolation dorms are considered when it comes to making people feel connected and cared for by Residence Life. “We're delivering meals to our students in isolation. I deliver them every morning by myself,” Bowden said. “That's because I really value that face to face contact. Even if it can’t be literally face to face, if you're in quarantine, you know that I'm going to come as the assistant director to your room and give you your food.” Despite COVID, residents are also finding their own ways to safely connect with each other. “A lot of things just happen behind closed doors,” Nyler und said. “I'm sure there are connections that I just don't garet Dishaw deliv h Jones and Mar resident, for their iya Am s nt ta sis As an t know about. From what I can see, it's just different. It's freshm Residen to Alexis Avalos, like everything is more hidden.” candy and a noteTreat event. Reverse Trick or The residents are still laughing — just behind closed doors and 6 feet apart.

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ecoming a religious sister

Words Sister Yen Thi Bui | Illustration Denisse Hernandez | Design Denisse Hernandez In 2007, one year after I graduated from Luong Son High School in Phu Tho, Vietnam, I had a difficult time persuading my mom to allow me to become a religious sister. I believed that if God wanted me to follow Him, He would change my mom’s mind and guide me on the journey. One beautiful evening, I walked alone in the wild, flowery garden near my house. The sun was shining in my eyes and on my long black hair. I followed a colorful butterfly waving her tiny yellow-black wings around wildflowers in the garden. Suddenly, she perched on my left shoulder. I tilted my neck slightly toward the left with my whole body still, worrying she might fly away. However, she remained on my shoulder, waving two glowing wings up and down. Very gently, I took her and ran home to put her in a big jar and stared at her. I really enjoyed watching her play. As usual, I sank into prayer in order to discern God’s will for my life. I knelt on the carpet and looked at an image of Jesus Christ crucified on the cross; the scent of the candles and flowers seemed to bring me to a dream that I had been thinking of since I was in secondary school. It was to enter the convent; I was 22 now, and I still played with the thought in my mind. I asked myself whether God was really calling me to live a consecrated life. I recalled my difficult time in December 2005 when I first mentioned my wish to enter the convent to my mother. Mom, I want to join the vocation class in the parish, I said. Are you kidding me? Mom replied. Where did your idea come from?”


I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you my intention, I answered. I was inspired to live a consecrated life when I saw photos of some religious sisters serving the children in the center working at Nhat Hong Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Sai Gon. My mom continued, I don’t know. I want you to become a teacher. Don’t you remember? Coming closer to her and grabbing her hands, I said, I know, Mom! But I didn’t dare to talk to you. You make me sad. I’m waiting for you to become a teacher who can make money and support the family, my mom said. However, I need time to think about this. Late night when everyone was sleeping, I was alone on the porch and saw a meteor flying off in the sky. I paused and prayed, Dear Lord, if you want me to follow you, please help me! The meteor flew fast as if there was something very special for the one who just saw it. I folded my hands and prayed, My dear Lord, please bless my dream to become ‘a beautiful star’ in the convent. The sky seemed to become lighter. I softly opened the door and went to my bed, full of thoughts in my mind. Please convert my mom’s thought, Lord! I continued praying as I drifted off to sleep. The next morning, I woke up earlier than usual. I went out to the garden and took a water pipe to water the cabbage garden. The sun was shining, covering the cabbage garden, making it fresh with tiny dew drops that seemed to be visiting the leaves. I felt refreshed at the moment of a new day as I listened to the chirpings of sparrows in the trees around my house. While I was almost blown away by the beauty of nature, my mom walked closer to me and said, “My

darling! I have carefully pondered on your dream. You are mature now, make your own decisions for your vocation!” Mom! You agree for me to go, don’t you? I asked. I don’t want to become a barrier to your holy dream! she said. Nonetheless, my mom shed tears and worried, You’ve never gone far away from our house! How will you be familiar with living, eating and sleeping in the convent? How can you get along with other unknown girls? You will have to get up really early around 4 a.m. Don’t be too worried, Mom! I believe in God. He will lead me gradually in how to follow Him, I replied happily. The smile in my eyes and on my lips grew when I thought my dream would come true. Mom! I do not know when I will come back to visit you, I said to her with my hands around her waist. You can change your mind now and stay home, she answered sadly. I did not want to cry, but my eyes filled with tears as I looked at the familiar village path that I had traveled every day. I loved my neighbors because they were friendly and worked hard. What way am I going to go? I wondered. I could not know right now. My future had not come yet. It rained in the afternoon. The road in our small village became difficult to travel after rainy, windy days. The next day, the shining sun approached and covered my face. The flowers bloomed and the grass was richly green. I prayed, Dear Lord, please grant your peace to my homeland.

I was a little bird who was leaving my sweet home to look for a fresh spring that I had dreamed about. Now, I could spread my tiny wings and soar in the wide sky. However, in my heart, I will never forget where I had grown up and was taken care of by my dear mom and the beloved people. The clouds looked like waves hanging in the sky. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the miracles that God would do because I chose to “set out” according to the call of the heart, of the ideal, and especially by Jesus who loved me before I knew Him. Mom,” I whispered, I am leaving you and my childhood in the village and carrying with me profound gratitude for being born and raised in this lovely family. You all have inspired and supported me throughout my life. I believe that you will always accompany me all the way in my religious vocation by your encouragement and constant prayers as I am going to keep you and all my beloved people in my daily prayers. Do not worry, my mother said. Trust that Jesus will come to remain with us as a spiritual Bridegroom when you devote your whole mind and heart to become His Bride in the convent. Soon, I would set off on my journey to go to Congregation of the Lovers of the Holy Cross in Ha Noi. I pondered, “The love of Christ urges me.” (2 Cor 5, 14).

Sister Yen Thi Bui belongs to the Congregation of the Lovers of the Holy Cross of Hung Hoa Diocese in Ha Noi, Vietnam. This is the convent’s chapel.

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