May 7, 2013
Cassandra Becker of Bismarck was recognized with the University of Mary Alumni Association's Outstanding Senior Award for 2013 at the university's annual President's Recognition Breakfast, Saturday, May 4. Each year, the America's Leadership University teaching faculty nominate members of the graduating class for this prestigious award, based on their academic achievement, community service and service to the University of Mary. The Alumni Council Board then selects the recipient from these nominees.
Becker, a double major in early childhood education and elementary education, was nominated for this year's award for her involvement and dedication in and out of the classroom. She consistently went above and beyond assignment requirements and projects by bringing qualities of creativity, resourcefulness and initiative into her coursework and also into practicum and other fieldwork experiences. Becker took advantage of opportunities that the University of Mary could afford her locally, nationally and internationally. For example, while studying at Mary's Rome campus, Becker volunteered at an Italian preschool gaining necessary experiences working with young children.
In her nomination on behalf of the Education Department, Dr. Linda Gutensohn stated that Cassandra "is of exemplary character and is a true example of the high moral standards upon which the Benedictine values are based." Gutensohn added, "Cassandra is a pleasant, cheerful young lady and is poised in any setting. In the Bismarck community, she has shared her home to prospective students, helped flood victims during the summer of 2011, and cared for military children as a tutor and friend while a parent was deployed. She is involved with her church, Church of Corpus Christi, as both a faith formation teacher and as founder of a spiritual based literature discussion group. Truly a selfless and faithful young woman."
Although carrying an exceptionally heavy academic load and doing superior work, Becker was active in diverse campus and professional organizations and activities, in many instances in leadership roles. In addition to organizing and leading the literacy and leadership project at St. Bernard's Mission School in Fort Yates, she has given talks about the effects of bullying, is the founder and leader of "Vera Forma," a faith formation organization at Mary; and is one of the top 100 young people in the world selected for a recent conference on the New Evangelization in Rome sponsored by the Vatican.
"These four years at the University of Mary have been the best four years of my life," commented Becker. "Mary blessed me with so many opportunities. Perhaps one of the most critical lessons I learned while studying at the University of Mary is the value of servant leadership. The only way to truly be a joyful leader is by serving the people around me, whether it is in my classes, in my practicum experiences, service projects, through professional relationships, with family and with friends. I was blessed to study abroad at Mary's Rome campus and I can honestly say that this experience change my life, and opened my eyes to the rest of the world."
Becker plans to teach in Bismarck, elsewhere in North Dakota, another state or even in a foreign country. She is contemplating whether to pursue a master's degree in theology from the Augustine Institute. Her future aspirations also include her passion for mission work, where she hopes to coordinate locally or in a foreign country.
Becker was awarded the Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude at Commencement 2013, on May 4, 2013.
Nominees for the 2013 Outstanding Senior Award are: Melissa Agnew, Onamia, MN; DeShon Benton, Modesto, CA; Rachel Brown, Minot, ND; Alexa Edman, Pierre, SD; Collin Engelhardt, Bismarck, ND; Josie Harding, Cheyenne, WY; Grant Hillestad, Breckenridge, MN; Jon Marsh, Dickinson, ND; Brenton Peltz, Glen Ullin, ND; Kristin Ripplinger, McClusky, ND; Chelse Simon, Grand Forks, ND; Hunter Stemmer, Plymouth, MN; Nicholas Trout, Motley, MN; and Deland Weyrauch, Ray, ND.