Each year, during Brescia University’s Founder’s Week there is a tradition of recognizing one male and one female student who possess in remarkable ways the spirit of Saint Angela Merici. Angela Merici was a leader in great and small ways and touched the lives of many. Saint Angela founded the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph in 1535. The Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph founded Brescia University in 1950.
Saint Angela attracted people from all walks of life; rich and poor, nobility and common folk, learned and uneducated. She is often noted for her hospitality, her healthy sense of self in relationship to God and others, her contemplative spirit while being involved in the world and her ability to be a reconciler and peacemaker.
Any member of the Brescia family (Students, Faculty, Staff, and Administrators) had the opportunity to nominate a Brescia student to receive the “Spirit of Angela Award.”
This year, Jenifer McLuskie, a BUonline student from Herndon, Virginia in the Master’s of Social Work program, and Rylan Smith, a senior working towards a degree in Political Science from Beaver Dam, Kentucky, were nominated and chosen to receive this honor.
Throughout her participation in the MSW program, McLuskie has demonstrated a great intellectual capacity, a devotion to caritas and social work values, stead-fastness to professionalism in field and work, excellence in her academic performance and leadership in her collegiality with other students and professors. Creating a sense of community and connection, Jenifer is always going above and beyond within the program, among her cohort, and in field towards inclusion, empowerment, and compassion.
Most recently, she was recognized in her field placement, where she works with families in a supportive housing program, for creating and implementing a series of workshops on self-care for agency staff. In a note of appreciation, her field supervisor acknowledged Jenifer’s impact on the agency and her clients as well as her dedication to the social work profession. She is involved in a wide range of advocacy activities in the USA and abroad.
“I greatly enjoy volunteering, and find it to be one of the highlights of my life. I love when I can impact an organization with my abilities but I also enjoy the time learning with other people. I have a great passion for women’s rights of all kinds,” said McLuskie. “Most of my volunteering focuses on the needs of women and children and how we can break the cycles of abuse, low education, and poverty.”
McLuskie is the first graduate student to receive the Spirit of Saint Angela award.
Smith was described by a fellow student as leading with strong faith, welcoming everyone without discrimination, being a person who builds others up, and someone who speaks out courageously on situations of injustice and willing helps others in need.
Rylan has participated in several organizations, and clubs including Alpha Chi National Honor Society, Honors College, Political Science Club, Psychology Club, BU’s Chapter of Habitat for Humanity and even started a new Environmental Club in Fall 2017. Starting the Environmental Club grew out of his becoming a member of Owensboro’s Sierra Club dedicated to environmental protection and Rylan’s passion for creation. As much as his schedule allows, he also volunteers at the Daniel Pitino Shelter and the Owensboro Humane Society.
“I want to attend law school, become an environmental or human rights lawyer, and, who knows, maybe become President someday,” said Smith. He also cited a quote from the Methodist Creed, as summing up what gives him meaning and purpose; ‘Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as you can.’
Along with the “Spirit of Angela” recipients, a number of other student leaders were also recognized for their service to the Brescia community:
Student Activities Program Board – Maggie Ballou, Student Government Association – Alanna Mudd, Men’s Cross Country & Track/Field – Chase McCauley, Women’s Cross Country & Track/Field – Alicia Salazar, Student Ambassador – Kyle Robinson, Ichabod Society – Ryan Oates, Men’s Soccer – Luan Yoshida, Women’s Soccer – Haley Coons, Phi Alpha – Wyatt Locke (not pictured), NSSLHA – Courtney Reels, Men’s Golf – Daniel Steele, Women’s Golf – Brooke Hattabaugh, Brescia Arts – Cheyenne Bennett, Psychology Club – April Gilbert, Men’s Basketball – Mason Roland, Women’s Basketball – Jayde Robinson, Baseball – Shawn Callis, Resident Assistant – Alex Wink.