Annual Fund Profiles
Isabella “Bella” Muhia ’12, MSN ’15 (photo on left)
Hometown: Nairobi, Kenya
Programs: Master in nursing (nurse educator concentration); bachelors in nursing and public health (double major)
From Africa to USA: I first heard about St. Kate’s from my dad’s friend. She is also from Kenya, and she was a St. Kate’s student and highly recommended it.
On campus: Life at St. Kate’s was better than I thought it would be. The University community is hospitable and very supportive. St. Kate’s showed me that I had potential, and it taught me how to maximize this potential as a woman, a leader and an influencer.
Layers of an onion: I blossomed at St. Kate’s. My growth and learning happened in stages just like peeling the layers of an onion.
2011 in Tanzania: During my month-long internship at Ilula Lutheran Health Center in rural Tanzania, I saw a life I had never seen before. That experience, organized by St. Kate’s Department of Public Health, made me more grateful for the resources that I have had access to and for the education that I have received. Furthermore, this experience affirmed my ambition of serving as a nurse educator to underserved communities.
Lessons for life: In Tanzania, I learned how to apply my public health knowledge in a different setting. What I witnessed in that country cemented my life goal, which is to give back to society — to use my knowledge to empower my people.
Back for a master’s: St. Kate’s nurse educator program was a great fit for me. I was also drawn back to this University because of the friends and mentors I made as an undergraduate. Additionally, St. Kate’s will provide me with an unparalleled and highly reputable quality of education.
An example for others: I see myself as a role model for women, especially women who look like me. I believe real change happens when you develop trust in a community and people can identify or relate to the change maker.
Future plans: I want to gain experience teaching in academia and in a clinical setting. Eventually, I want to branch out into nurse consulting. And, some day, I hope to run a nursing school or program to equip others with knowledge and skills so that they too can become change agents!
Teresa Lyons Hegdahl (photo on right)
Director and Assistant professor of theater; director of stage productions
Hometown: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Road to teaching: I studied theater — all aspects of it including acting, set construction and directing — from high school through college. I also competed in speech in high school. My husband and I moved to the Twin Cities following the completion of my M.F.A. in Madison, Wisconsin. I worked as a professional actress for many years after that — onstage and on camera — and at the same time I worked as a dialect coach for several theaters and served as an adjunct faculty member at various metro colleges and universities.
Imagination run wild: I have seven siblings, and for my parents sanity we went to the park a lot. We played at the bandshell, letting our imaginations run wild. The Japanese gardens and trails were fabulous for creating a lot of exotic locales.
The St. Kate’s connection: My younger sister who was attending St. Kate’s connected me with the theater program. I started teaching voice classes as an adjunct and joined the faculty fulltime in 2009.
Her classes: I primarily teach performance classes, and I direct two stage productions a year. In my “Voice in the Workplace” course, for example, I collaborate with students to explore how performance theories and methodologies might assist each of them in furthering the impact and influence of their messages.
Joys of teaching: There sometimes is a perception that the application of theater theories and methodologies are limited to onstage performance. This is not true. These same theories and methods, along with critical analysis of situation, audience and the sociological and psychological factors that shape delivery of a message, apply to any communication. I relish collaborating with students to identify the most effective choices, which will lead to listener engagement and understanding.
The disciplined use of voice: We often say at St. Kate's that we help women "find their voice." Your speaking voice reflects your perspective; it reveals your values and beliefs. I help students understand how to access those aspects of self, so that a listener gets as true a sense of them as possible.
On breathing and speaking: Connecting to our breath is one way we can strengthen our ability to communicate well. A lot of young women speak with glottal fry, or raspy vocalization, so you don't get a sense of passion when they speak. Or their vocal rate could be a problem. If you speak too quickly, your audience may think that you're nervous or you want to get out of there. I say to the students, "We talk all the time, but we don't always communicate." Our goal is to foster understanding, not just generate sound.
Morgan Wright '14 (photo in center)
Hometown: Hudson, Wisconsin
Why St. Kate’s? My mother was a first-generation college student, and she wanted me to go where I could excel. St. Kate’s was one of five universities I applied to. The conversations I had with St. Kate’s biology faculty at an information session won me over. The professor’s were articulate and encouraging, and they spoke to me as an adult with valuable insights.
Science makes sense: I’m drawn to science because it’s about how things work.
Interest in physical therapy: I want to make a difference in people’s lives. Physical therapy will allow me to work with patients one-on-one and see them progress through treatment. Last semester, I had the chance to shadow a physical therapist in the intensive care unit at Hennepin County Medical Center, and this experience solidified my interest in the field. I learned about trauma and how multiple interacting diagnoses influence treatment strategies.
Summer Scholars Program: I was interested in doing some research and approached my biology professor Cindy Norton about my options. She suggested studying Helisoma trivolvis (a freshwater snail). After doing the necessary literature research and collaborating on a thesis statement, we dove into the fun part — spending time in the lab! Our goal was to study the sperm precedence of the snail so we — as a society — can better understand how they reproduce and contribute to freshwater ecosystems. These snails are aquatic and hermaphroditic, which means they have both male and female reproductive organs. Each snail can produce one to 12 egg masses a week, and each egg mass can result in one to 30 baby snails. We had a sample size of 53 snails.
Snails, up close: I handled a lot of snails while working side-by-side with Cindy each week. And this did wonders for my skills using a microscope. I was fairly familiar with snails before our research project. We studied them in a biology class my first year at St. Kate’s — but I had never actually held one.
Publishing as an undergraduate: Our research will be published soon, and I’ll be second author. This is an achievement I can put on my résumé forever.
On faculty mentors: It’s really easy to establish mentoring relationships at St. Kate’s. My biology professors are accessible by email and extremely open to discussing academic or career opportunities I should pursue.
Future plans: My passion is scientific literacy. In the long run, I want to help the public better understand women’s health and healthcare in general. In the near future, I’ll be focused on physical therapy in a doctorate program.