Le Fer Hall

SMWC Reunion 2024 Brings Over 200 Attendees Together

News | 06.04.2024

A continued and beloved tradition for alumni and friends, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) welcomed over 200 alumni and guests from 24 states and Canada to Reunion 2024. The SMWC campus took on an energy and exhilaration that is only experienced this time of year as alumni gather to celebrate their friendships, legacy and traditions that have made SMWC one of a kind.

During the Reunion Banquet, Interim President Brennan J. Randolph, MBA, shared inspiring words as he encouraged alumni to continue to be engaged in SMWC. “In this next year and the years to come, I think you will continue to see that this institution will strive to look for collaborative ways to be as efficient and sustainable as we can be. This place matters. Students want to be here, and not every college is saying that. Colleges across the United States are seeing declines in enrollment or struggles in enrollment. We are on pace to set another record class for this fall. Every day, I come into my office and approach matters just like I do for my family farm, with a big heart and a love for this place and a deep respect for the roots,” Randolph said.

Alumni gathered in the Le Fer Lobby after checking in to kick-off the weekend activities.

Staples for the weekend continued with activities, informative sessions and the cherished Reunion Banquet to conclude the final night of Reunion. During the evenings, Le Fer Hall was filled with conversations and laughs as alums reminisced about their time as students at The Woods.

Reunion Weekend culminated at the banquet with the Alumni Association Board of Directors President Lynn O’Linski ’76, presenting its prestigious awards. Rosemary Nudd, SP, ’69, Ph.D., was the recipient of the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Award, which is presented annually to an alum who has used their gifts to reflect God’s love in the world and possesses similar purpose, devotion and leadership as Saint Mother Theodore Guerin. In receiving the award, Nudd shared, “My heart isn’t a young chick anymore as it’s had its struggles in the past year, but it couldn’t be more full of gratitude and grace to be in this room with each and every one of you. To be selected among so many worthy Woods women is an honor I will never forget. It’s an incredibly humbling feeling and honor. Every gift is mutual, and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods has given us such a mutual gift in one another in goodness and grace.”.

L to R:  Rosemary Nudd, SP, ’69, Ph.D., Sydney Wilderman ’17, D.O., and Kymberli Payonk ’86.

The Frances Murphy Rumely Award is presented to an alum of the College who has demonstrated outstanding dedication and leadership within civic, religious or educational organizations and this year’s recipient was Kymberli Huet Payonk ’86. Payonk was very humbled as she spoke to the audience. “While I am honored to receive this award, I am still stunned. We may not know how to fix the biggest problems in our world, but we can do something – even small things to help. Saint Mother Theodore, in her wisdom, said, ‘We are not called to do all the good that is possible, but only that which we can do.’ I’m not up here because I’m doing something more amazing than someone else, it is just that someone was kind enough to notice what I was doing. Thank you,” Payonk said.

The G.O.L.D.E.N. Oak Award recognizes a Woods Graduate of the Last Decade Engaging Now. The award celebrates professional achievement, continued service and outstanding personal characteristics. It was presented to Sydney Wilderman ’17, D.O. After being presented with the award, Wilderman shared, “Thank you so much. I just want to say how amazing it is to be here with you all today and share our experiences of The Woods. It is such an honor.”

In presenting a toast to the Golden Class of 1974, Dawn Tomaszewski, SP, ’74, general superior of the Sisters of Providence and SMWC trustee, reflected on the connections and relationships she and her classmates made during their time at The Woods. “What is amazing to me is that these friendships have endured, not only with our classmates but also with other Woodsies who were not in our class. So, let’s raise a glass tonight to enduring friendships, to teachers and mentors who helped us become teachers and mentors, to others and to the Golden Girls, the Class of 1974. We have weathered the storms of the past 50 years, and we pray that like our foundress, Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, we will continue to lean with all of our weight on Providence and find ourselves supported. Cheers to us, the Golden Girls of 1974, God’s blessing upon Saint Mary-of-the-Woods,” Tomaszewski said.

Interim President Brennan J. Randolph, MBA, speaking during the Reunion banquet.

In addition to the award winners being recognized for their leadership and dedication, there were 11 decades of past Alumni Leadership and Service Award recipients represented at the Reunion Banquet. Each recipient who was in attendance was recognized for their continued leadership and connection to SMWC.

Agnes Piszczek ’59 and Mary Alice Cullen Wimmer ’59 were thrilled to be back on campus for their 65th Reunion. “We’ve had a great time just being together and sharing what we’ve been doing since our last Reunion,” Piszczek said. “Just seeing how beautiful the campus looks and all the improvements that have been made has been fabulous,” Wimmer added.

Sarah Stultz Mahady 05, director of alumni relations was pleased with how the weekend went. ’“It was such an honor to welcome so many of our alumni back home for the weekend. The smiles, memories shared and laughter always fill our hearts. We were thrilled to have alumni from eight decades attend the weekend!”

The weekend was a continued reminder to cherish the moments of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Reunion 2024 at SMWC will be remembered for years to come. Save the date for Reunion 2025, which will take place from May 30 through June 1.

View photos from Reunion 2024

Watch videos from Reunion Banquet