Le Fer Hall

What Woods Giving Day Means to Me

Blog | 01.31.2024

Lillie Gendel, junior mathematics major

I applied to college in 2020, a year marked by its tumultuous events. Fate seemed to guide me to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC), and as I embarked on my journey at my great aunt’s (Jeanne Knoerle, SP, ’49) alma mater, I felt her presence watching over me. Now a junior at The Woods, I can reflect on significant personal growth over the past three years that is made possible by the donations given by generous alumni and friends on Woods Giving Day.

Lillie making calls to SMWC alumni and friends during Woods Giving Day 2023.

My leadership skills have flourished through roles in the President’s Office, as vice president of Presidential Corps and as a mathematics tutor. Academically, I’ve expanded my horizons with courses in mathematics, political science and kinesiology. Recently, I completed an independent study in Graph Theory and collaborated with one of my peers, Kelly Herrera, on a project using an adapted version of Keener’s method to analyze constituents’ voting behavior. Robert Vandermolen, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics at SMWC, developed an algorithm to rank political parties based on our data, and it turned into a project I am immensely proud of. All these experiences led to my internship this semester at the Indiana Statehouse as a legislative intern for the House of Representatives.

The growth I’ve experienced wouldn’t have been possible without the unique environment provided by The Woods. Knowing everyone on campus and having personalized interactions with professors sets it apart. Woods Giving Day, which I’ve been part of for two years, is a special day in February that allows alumni and friends of the College to contribute to sustaining and improving the College. Alumni, faculty, staff and students are tasked with calling alumni and donors, and in past years, it has allowed me to connect with those who share a deep appreciation for the College. Woods Giving Day emphasizes that the generosity of others sustains the institution, showing alumni’s commitment to the success of current and future students.

Although I’m currently interning in Indianapolis and won’t be making donor calls on campus as in previous years, Woods Giving Day remains a priority to me. As a part of The Woods community, I will advocate for Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College at the Statehouse, share the significance of this day with my family and make my own (college student budgeted) donation. Every dollar contributes to positive changes, such as dorm updates, bathroom renovations and overall improvements to campus. In the past three years, I’ve witnessed the College’s growth in enrollment, new buildings, academic programs and athletics. To sustain this momentum, support from those who recognize The Woods’ significance is essential, and Woods Giving Day keeps that spirit alive.

Learn more about Woods Giving Day here!

Lillie Gendel

Lillie Gendel is a junior at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, majoring in mathematics. Although she is a California native, Gendel has a rich history and connection to SMWC. She is the great-niece of Jeanne Knoerle ’49, SP, the twelfth president of the College. Several of her other family members also attended The Woods. Gendel is highly involved in the Presidential Corps and other student organizations on campus.


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