Not to sound too much like Garrison Keillor, but it seems to me like all of the students involved in CILCE programs are “above average.” Many of them have had unusual experiences, as well. Here is a closer look at some of the outstanding achievements of Mary Ejiofor, Matt Fox and Sarah Farnes.
We have a beauty queen working within the walls of CILCE. Mary Ejiofor, a sophomore at St. Thomas, has been working for CILCE’s Literacy Connections program since spring semester of last year. Originally from Nigeria, Mary is a member of the Mbano tribe and very active in celebrating her culture. Each year, her family goes to the Mbano National Assembly, an annual convention that unites Mbano people living in the United States. Mary says that it is kind of like a “big family reunion.” This past year, the assembly crowned Mary the first-ever “Miss Mbano,” a title that not only celebrates her stunning looks but also celebrates her vast knowledge of her culture, which carries with it quite a bit of responsibility.
In order to compete for the title of Miss Mbano, each contestant participated in a fashion show and a talent competition, and also answered questions about her culture. Mary modeled a beautiful traditional black dress and silver head wrap and danced a solo for her talent. During the interview she answered questions about Mbano traditions and celebrations, proving her well-roundedness.
Her mom was “super excited” about her win. “She was laughing and crying and everything at once,” Mary said.
Being the first to hold the title, there is a lot of pressure. Upon being crowned Miss Mbano, Mary “promised to give back to the community and help bring all the Mbano children together.” To achieve this goal she hopes to raise enough money to accompany members of the Mbano National Assembly when they go on their annual medical mission to Nigeria in March. A tireless champion of her tribe, she is also in the process of fundraising to help Mbano children attend next year’s convention, which will be held in Disneyland. If you are interested in helping her fulfill her goals, you can donate to her cause through her website.
Junior Matt Fox has begun his fourth semester with the Tutor-Mentor program this spring and has worked in the CILCE office as a student director since September. In addition to being an amazing student worker Matt also is an amazing student.
During J-Term Matt attended the 2012 Joint Mathematics Meeting, a conference put on by the Mathematical Association of America and the American Mathematical Society and held in Boston. There he presented the research that he has been working on for the past year with St. Thomas alum Benjamin Dellaria and professor Magdalena Stolarska of the UST Mathematics Department.
Thanks to a grant through the National Science Foundation, Matt was able to do computational research over the summer. He has combined his math background with his research partner’s experience in biology. Together they are working on creating a mathematical model of how a cell moves through tissue. The group hopes their work will make it easier for fellow researchers to test hypotheses without setting up experimental apparatus.
Matt’s favorite part? “I thought it was really cool – a whole week of people super excited about math.” He also noted that his professor loves that particular conference because “it is the one week a year that mathematicians are hounded like celebrities.”
If all goes as planned, Matt hopes to publish his research within the year. He hopes to pursue his Ph.D. after graduation and will begin applying to grad schools next fall. As far as a career is concerned, Matt would like to become a professor, unless he finds “something super interesting along the way.”
Graduate student Sarah Farnes has been a member of the CILCE team for seven years. She first participated in the Tutor-Mentor program during the fall of her freshman year, and has been involved in it every semester of both her four-year undergraduate career and the three years of her master’s program. In addition to her record-breaking stint with Tutor-Mentor, this semester will be her third as a Literacy Connections student leader. She is a familiar face in the CILCE Center, but that is not the only reason we are proud of her. She is one of the most involved students at UST.
After graduating with her bachelor’s in 2010, Sarah received the John Ireland Scholarship, which is awarded annually to three graduating seniors who are interested in theology, religious education or pastoral ministry. This spring she will receive a master of arts in theology with an emphasis on interfaith relations, specifically between Islam and Christianity.
As a resident expert on these subjects she was an obvious choice for a graduate assistantship for the Muslim-Christian Dialogue Center. Since the center traditionally has focused on the interaction between members of the community via speakers and other events, Sarah’s role is to get UST students involved in a lasting dialogue. “We want to build relationships,” she said. “If you meet people at the human level, naturally conversation comes up.”
Sarah rounded out her achievements this past January as a staff adviser for a VISION trip to Guatemala. She had a wonderful experience and treasured the opportunity. She spent three weeks in San Lucas Toliman and loved being “so unplugged” and not having to worry about deadlines. “To see the growth of the students was so exciting!” she said. Overall this experience helped her to discover her true calling: “It really solidified that I want to do long-term volunteering.”
The CILCE staff is excited to see what these three will do next year. Congratulations to Mary, Matt and Sarah for their wonderful successes!