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Bee Positive Runs Through Our Veins

April 2013

Camille Ponce was helping hungry kindergartners in an impoverished school district overcome learning deficits that can set them behind for life.

That wasn't helping enough, the St. Ambrose Master of Speech-Language Pathology student decided.

When a young student told her he often checked out the same book from a school library where choices were thin, Ponce stepped outside her clinical experience role. She wrote an application for a grant that will put $2,000 worth of new books on the shelves at Eagle Ridge School in Carbon Cliff, Ill.

That's how to Bee Positive.

Maggie McGonigle's heart broke a dozen times during a summer mission trip to the famine-ravished African nation of Swaziland, but the SAU senior experienced heart-warming moments there as well. She helped feed hungry children and then watched them smile as they enjoyed the playgrounds McGonigle's mission group built.

"Who would have ever thought I would be helping a little kid in Africa?" she wondered.

Well, actually, many Ambrosians would have thought that.

Because that's how to Bee Positive.

St. Ambrose students, faculty and staff are positively driven on a daily basis "to enrich their own lives and the lives of others." Those are the closing words of the SAU mission statement and they are good and meaningful words around which to shape a life.

But making a positive impact on the world around them isn't so much a mission for Ambrosians as it is a habit. We are wired to be Bee Positive.

Calvin Cooper, a member of the SAU security team, introduced the idea of a day of positivity on campus during his term as Staff Assembly president last year. It was a great idea, but in reality such a day isn't radically different than the 364 others spent under the oaks in a given year.

On April 24, 2013, Calvin's wonderful idea will be re-invented by Staff Assembly as Bee Positive Day, a day to celebrate the positive lives Ambrosians lead daily.

It is a day to celebrate students such as Camille Ponce and Maggie McGonigle.

And to celebrate students like Molly Gabaldo, who spent last summer feeding the hungry and homeless on the south side of Chicago.

And Olivia Lofgren, who turned the tragic death of a high school friend into a campaign for a moped helmet law that took her to the state capital to testify before the Iowa General Assembly.

And Jennifer Arnold and Emma Williams, whose positivity-filled St. Ambrose resumes made them Emerging Leaders in the eyes of The Women's Connection of the Quad Cities.

There are Student Government Association officers and student advocates Patrick Schmadeke and Kemper Rusteberg; track and cross country All-American John Darmody, whose work as a team leader helped to mold a Champions of Character national award winner of the indoor track team; and Theresa Diggs, who did something so positively simple as write upbeat messages that passersby could read on her dorm room window.

There is Buzz editor Sara Clifton, one of our busiest of Bees and a leader of whom one newspaper staffer said, "I hope to be half the person she is."

And softball player Nicole Green, who took on a position she hadn't played before to fill a team need this year. After undergoing risky eye surgery to extend her career. After spending her Christmas break on a mission trip to Africa.

There is Kellyn Cochran, a first-year student whose involvements already include participation in theatre productions, Campus Activity Board events, and working as Student Ambassador. Busy, yes. But not too busy to spend several hours each week, helping a fellow student stay on track in the classroom.

And there is Lauren Lemieux, Camille Ponce's MSLP classmate, who, despite the rigorous demands of graduate school, initiated and leads a monthly stroke and head injury support group for survivors and their families at the Center for Communication and Social Development.

These students know how, show how, to Bee Positive.

Then there are Mark Brauweiler and Haley Hogan, leaders of a troop of hundreds of Ambrosian students who built a Dance Marathon organization that more than doubled its fund-raising goal in its second year, collecting $48,000 for the Iowa Children's Hospital earlier this month.

The last example is evidence, perhaps, that the thing that is most remarkable about the students mentioned above is that, here at St. Ambrose, they really aren't all that remarkable.

They are typical, instead; members of a St. Ambrose family whose veins course with Bee Positive.


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