Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) National Alumni Association Board of Directors honored two alums at its annual Reunion Weekend May 20-22, 2011 on the SMWC campus. The Association’s prestigious awards, The Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and Frances Murphy Rumely awards, were presented to Denise Wilkinson, SP,’68 from Saint Mary of the Woods, Ind., and Susan Maxheim Carter ’64 fromWestminster, Calif., respectively.
“The Woods community can be proud of our former classmates who have distinguished themselves through personal and professional achievements,” said Marcia Reder Schmidt ’72, president of the SMWC National Alumni Board of Directors. “Their dedication to the mission of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College defines them as true leaders.”
The foundress of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, is a role model for any woman. It is in her honor that the board recognizes graduates who reflect God’s love and abundant grace in the world and possess strong leadership, purpose, devotion and community service.
The Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Award was presented to Denise Wilkinson, SP,’68 of Saint Mary of the Woods, Ind. Her years of leadership experience and unshakable faith have guided her as the general superior of the Sisters of Providence since 2006 and as the Sisters of Providence liaison to the SMWC Board of Trustees, also since 2006.
Wilkinson is a woman of many gifts, who uses her talents for the love of God and as aleader inspired by a saint. Her gift of leadership does not call attention to herself but rather encourages and inspires others to work together for the common good. No matter the circumstances, she always displays courageous empathy, patience and grace. Because of these qualities, she has left a profound mark on the Congregation, many SMWC students as the vice president for student affairs in the 1980s and countless others who have encountered her compassion in their daily lives. Her devotion to her community is evident in her crusades for environmental sustainability and peaceful conflict resolution. She encourages everyone to live their faith and inspires all to see the best in others and in ourselves.
“The gifts that have been given to me are manifested through the love, care and support of all of the sisters,” said Wilkinson. “ To receive this honor in the last year of this administrative term generates great gratitude on my part for the people who believe I am worthy of receiving it.”
The Frances Murphy Rumely Award is given to an alumni who has demonstrated excellence and dedication in volunteer service. It is presented annually inmemory of Frances Murphy Rumely, class of 1935, whose life was a celebration of the education she received at the College.
Susan Maxheim Carter ’64’s devotion to service truly honors the memory of Frances Murphy Rumely ’35 and exemplifies the unique qualities The Woods strives to instill in its students. Her work for the CHOC Walk in the Park, a fundraiser held in Disneyland, helped to raise $2 million for the Children’s Hospital of Orange County in California. She has been actively volunteering for the hospital since 1980. Carter also volunteers for the Garden Grove Strawberryfestival, which hosts an annual carnival to raise money for local organizations. As an active member of Soroptimists International, an organization that strives to improve the lives of women across the globe, she helped to raise awareness about human trafficking, provided for young women in foster care and helped young mothers who are still in high school.
“I am extremely honored to receive the Frances Murphy Rumely Award. One doesn’t volunteer to win awards, as service to others is reward in itself, but receiving this is especially meaningful, as I know it isn’t given lightly and there are many other worthy recipients,” Carter said.
Carter and her husband Peter have two children.
Photos from Reunion 2011 can be viewed on SMWC’s Flickr account.