Since 1931, the Tommie Award, which is sponsored by the University of St. Thomas Division of Student Affairs, has been presented each spring to a St. Thomas senior who represents the ideals of scholarship, leadership and campus involvement. This year’s recipient was David A. Wierzbicki (financial management and economics double major), who was honored at the St. Thomas Day dinner on March 3, 2007. Four students in the Department of Catholic Studies were among the 27 students nominated for this prestigious award: Amy Gleason (Catholic Studies and music double major), Ann Hepola (accounting and economics double major, Catholic Studies minor), Joseph Librande (Catholic Studies and philosophy double major, Latin minor) and Paul Monson (Catholic Studies and international studies double major, German and theology double minor). An initial vote by the St. Thomas community (including students, faculty and staff) narrowed the list of 27 nominees to three finalists, one of whom was Catholic Studies student Librande.

Originally from Wisconsin, Librande has been a dedicated member of the St. Thomas community. In particular, he has been an instrumental leader within the Catholic Studies community. This past year, he served as a Catholic Studies Leadership Intern and a leader for one of the two Catholic men’s houses. He is also an active member of Students for Human Life, the Knights of Columbus and Catholic Witness, a student organization that aims to unite students on campus by exploring Catholic values through prayer, service and community building. “Joe is a natural leader,” commented Father Michael Keating, professor in the Department of Catholic Studies. “In addition to being involved in many service organizations, Joe provides stability and inspiration and has a knack for bringing others along with him.”

Catholic Studies students have been honored with the Tommie Award in the past. In 2004, Greg Aitchison (theology major, Catholic Studies minor) received the honor, as did Sara Freund (print journalism major, Catholic Studies and Spanish double minor) in 1999. Freund went on to receive her Master of Arts degree in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas in 2004. “The Tommie Award is bestowed on one who has sought out excellence, in a manner similar to how St. Thomas Aquinas pursued excellence,” said Librande, who plans to attend law school following graduation this spring. “To recognize anything good that I have done is to recognize the degree to which the Lord is at work in me.”