Award to student caps College’s celebration of women

Saint Michael's raises nearly $15,000 for scholarship fund; first recipient, a junior, announced; profiles tell of inspiring alumna, faculty and staff

March 12, 2020
By Ariel Wish '20

On Sunday, March 8, Saint Michael’s College held its 2nd annual celebration of International Women’s Day, recognizing the accomplishments of multiple women affiliated with the College through a specialized web page and series of emails, and announcing the recipient of the International Women’s Day Scholarship: Rebecca Furgal ’21, a political science major from Northborough, MA.thank you women

“My favorite thing about Saint Michael’s is the wonderful faculty and staff who have made my college experience so positive. Saint Michael’s vested interest in, and commitment to their students’ personal and academic development, is one of my many favorite things about Saint Mike’s!” Furgal said in her profile on St. Mike’s International Women’s Day web page. She is a part of many on-campus clubs and organizations including Common Ground, Spanish Club, and Green-Up, and volunteers off campus at the Williston All Breed Rescue. After graduation, she plans on attending law school to pursue her J.D., with the eventual goal of “partnering with international organizations in establishing more comprehensive climate refugee and immigration legislation.”

Furgal head shot

Rebecca Furgal ’21

Furgal’s profile is one among 13 others showcasing the success, dedication, and wisdom of Saint Michael’s alumnae, faculty, staff, and friends from regional and global communities. Answering questions such as, “what advice would you give to female students?” and “what are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?,” these stories are meant to support and encourage younger female generations in the St. Mike’s community.

“Be your biggest advocate; when you find a role or opportunity you want, don’t hesitate to speak up for yourself and work hard to show why you deserve it… don’t let the assumptions of others impede what you want to do in your career and your life. These are decisions you make—and you’re entitled to make them and still pursue whatever path you wish,” advised Marianne Harrison P’14 P’22, President and CEO of John Hancock, in her profile. Following her, Amy (Triolo) Brady ’01 told students, “Trust and support your female peers. Remember that institutional sexism, racism, and classism persist—make an effort to dismantle them whenever possible. Listen to different perspectives, but don’t sacrifice your identity. Integrity matters.”

Reflecting on the idea behind the SMC International Women’s Day web page, Carla Francis, Annual Giving and Stewardship Coordinator, said, “We’re hoping that students will read it and see all these successful women and be inspired by their paths, and learn about what they did, what they studied, and what impact faculty and staff at St. Mike’s had on them.”

Along with the web page launch, the celebration brought a series of emails to alumni of the College, featuring information about the day and final calls to donate to the scholarship.

The email series was kicked off by none other than Furgal herself, who thanked the alumni for their already generous donations, and invited them to visit this year’s SMC International Women’s Day web page to learn about many inspiring women of the Saint Michael’s community. “This scholarship enables me to fully focus on my studies as a Political Science major, and my involvement with both campus clubs and the greater Burlington community,” she said. Alumni also received emails from Marie Colbert ’89, asking them to match her generous donation, current St. Mike’s professor Joan (Reiss) Wry ’79 P’10, and President of the College Lorraine Sterritt.

At the end of the day, the College raised nearly $15,000 for the scholarship, which will be added to the $12,000 raised last year.

“It’s about being intentional in showing why it’s important for women in higher education to be here,” said Francis, who reflected that the day made for the perfect precursor to next fall, when St. Mike’s celebrates 50 years of accepting women into the community.

Visit the International Women’s Day page

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