Civil rights internship inspires Vaughn’s career path

Civil rights internship inspires Vaughn’s career path

As an African-American student at Saint Mary’s University, Manire Vaughn ’15 has worked hard to make other students of color feel more comfortable in their academic surroundings, and as a volunteer through Campus Ministry, he worked to serve underprivileged communities. Looking back, Vaughn realizes his passion has always been advocating for civil rights and human rights. And, looking forward, his experiences — coupled with a summer internship with the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department — have strengthened his desire to eventually become a civil rights attorney. The Human Services and Criminal Justice major from Chicago is working this summer as a community outreach engagement intern. The internship is part of the competitive Minneapolis Urban Scholars Program, which provides students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds with a distinctive professional experience focused on gaining essential leadership skills and creating career pathways to positions of influence. This summer 26 graduate and undergrad Urban Scholars have been placed throughout Minneapolis for the 12-week full-time paid internship experience. Vaughn said the experience has been fascinating. One of his key responsibilities has revolved around local celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the federal Civil Rights Act. He’s been involved with planning and organizing events, creating talking points and press releases, working with media outlets, posting to social media, and sending out invites. In addition, he’s been working on a policy recommendation project with the city’s Community Planning Economic Development Office. “We’re trying to see how we can engage youth in the City of Minneapolis,” he said. “We’re holding a series of focus sessions to test the climate of youth to see what they know about...
Take a look at Saint Mary’s!

Take a look at Saint Mary’s!

Real-World Experience When it comes to getting experience that will help you get a great job, you can do it at Saint Mary’s. Our students and faculty work very closely together to develop research projects or find internships that give you knowledge you can only gain by EXPERIENCE. The Winona area has many opportunities for you, from international corporations to world leaders in medicine and research. Students have also completed internships all around the country – and world. You could even perform on stage in London, as our students do each year! At Saint Mary’s, learning goes WAY beyond the classroom. Biology major and recent graduate Bethany Schmidt spent last summer doing cancer research at the Kabara Cancer Research Institute. Read more stories like Bethany’s here:...
Giving real voice to computers

Giving real voice to computers

Taniya Mishra ’01 knew she wanted to study computer science in college. Yet the native of India admits with a quiet laugh that she had never touched a computer before she arrived on campus. While in high school, she read computer books and tediously wrote out programming language in a notebook. When she started school at Saint Mary’s, simply typing her research papers was a struggle, as she had never used a keyboard. During her college career, Mishra not only taught herself to type and double-majored in computer science and math, she also interned with the Mayo Clinic and assisted with a research grant that would come to shape her career as a computer speech scientist. “My senior year, I ended up doing research through a grant with Ann Smith, (retired) then-chair of the computer science department and my advisor. It was an NSF grant, which looked at how to teach computer science to someone who is visually impaired. We had to use a lot of computer-generated speech,” she said. “This was my first introduction to getting computers to produce words and speech, and I was hooked. It ended up becoming my career. I’m very glad I got that amazing opportunity; it changed my life.” Mishra earned her Ph.D. in computer science and is now a senior member of research staff at AT&T in New York City, a position she has held since 2008. Mishra works on speech and language technologies to improve communication and reduce accessibility barriers. She builds synthetic voices to embody different characters and emotions. As someone who speaks five languages, she has always been fascinated...
Taking gaming to a new level

Taking gaming to a new level

John “J.J.” Williams ’00 can tell you that the mouse has clout. After 10 years in the video game design industry, Williams can drop lots of respected and recognizable names in the gaming world; he’s worked on Mortal Kombat and Rockband, titles that resonate with more than a few avid players. “I have to say that the crown jewel of my career has been getting to be a lead designer at Disney,” he said. “I’ve never gotten this much respect. The mouse gets their attention.” Williams has been a lead designer at Disney Interactive/Wideload Games for nearly five years, but — looking back — the self-proclaimed nerd may have always been destined for this career. “I have played video games pretty much since I remember being around,” he said. As a kid, his gaming fascination began with The Legend of Zelda and Mega Man. A business and communication major at Saint Mary’s, Williams remembers he and his roommates playing a ton of Mario Cart and Golden Eye. Later, games that made him want to get into the industry were Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy VII and Diablo. “It may have been why my GPA was so low,” he said with a laugh, adding in a serious tone, “I’ve got to go back and tell them it was research.” Fresh out of college, Williams entered the business world but quickly knew it wasn’t a good fit. “I didn’t feel like my life’s ambitions were being met,” he said. “I felt I was a little more imaginative. I always enjoyed my creative writing courses in school.” So, he went back to...
Twin Cities Campus Turns 30

Twin Cities Campus Turns 30

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and its Twin Cities Campus has come a long way since Professor Emeritus Marilyn Frost, Ph.D., first arrived in 1985. Sharing her perspective from the inaugural days of the campus on Park Avenue in Minneapolis, Frost spoke to faculty and staff about the evolution of Saint Mary’s Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs on June 30. Her talk was part of an event that celebrated 30 years of the Twin Cities Campus. Frost, who served as graduate dean from 1985 to 1996 before returning to the psychology department on the Winona Campus and eventually retiring, recalled how the arrival of Brother Louis DeThomasis as university president in June 1984 began the initiative to offer graduate courses throughout the Twin Cities metro area and beyond. That vision included making education at Saint Mary’s affordable, accessible and transformational — aspects that are still maintained today and come from the institution’s Lasallian heritage. Frost said in the early days of the campus employees wore many hats. Before stretching several blocks down Park Avenue, the Twin Cities Campus began as a single rented building. Frost also described the introduction of bachelor completion programs and expansion to new sites. “We acknowledged and embraced the power of adults coming back to transform their lives,” Frost said of what has propelled the Twin Cities Campus. “It was powerful to work with them. Whenever I return, I am amazed. I have to tell you, I am thrilled and moved beyond measure to see a thriving adult campus here.” In addition to Frost’s talk, to commemorate the 30 years, a sugar maple tree...
News from Nairobi

News from Nairobi

By James Chege Librarian Maryknoll Institute of African Studies Editor: Father Michael C. Kirwen, Director Second Three-Week Immersion Program On Tuesday, June 17, the second and final immersion program of the academic year began. The session welcomed a host of returning students as well as six new students. Of the new students, three are U.S. citizens, including Kyle Black an Assistant Professor at Saint Mary’s. There is also a Spanish national and two Kenyans. The second immersion program features the courses African culture: an overview and Moral Teaching and Practices of African Traditional Religion. The courses are being taught by Prof. Mary Getui and Prof. Douglas Waruta respectively. Public Lecture on Political and Economic Situation of Kenya As part of the first weeks activities, a public lecture was given on the present political, social and economic situation in Kenya. The guest speaker was Dr. George Outa, a renown literary scholar and lawyer. His lecture touched on democracy since the collapse of the Berlin wall in 1990s, tracing developments until the present day,  and the present Kenyan context. Insecurity in Kenya and the current threat from the Somalia based terror group Al-shabaab  was one of the focal points of the presentation, raising questions on why other countries like Ethiopia, Uganda or Rwanda, who are also part of the AMISON forces deployed to Somalia, are not being targeted by the terrorists. The lecture lasted two hours with a lively and interactive question-and-answer session at the end. Special Two-Day Course Offered for Lasallian Students On Monday, June 23, a group of six Lasallians students began a special two-day course on African culture...
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