Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Denise McNulty

Who met Donald Trump twice, loves disco dancing, and had a bus driver try to poison her food?  Dr. Denise McNulty, head of the nursing department at Ave Maria University, wears all these crowns. Dr. McNulty spoke to the students of Ave Maria University in the second “Professors are People, Too” Q&A of this year.

In the academic world, she is incredibly accomplished– Dr. McNulty attended Holy Family University for her undergraduate degree, and has a master of science in nursing as well as a doctorate from Duquesne University, with a post-master in psychiatric health nursing.  

She has 30 years of psychiatric nursing experience and, ever since childhood, has always wanted to be in this field.  Dr. McNulty got a job working as a nurse’s aide in a Catholic hospital when she was sixteen, and the rest is history.  “I don’t have any one reason,” she said, looking back on her career choice. “I think I always just knew.”  In addition to working in hospitals, Dr. McNulty runs a private practice in Naples as an advanced nurse practitioner, and is the co-author of a book on nursing leadership.  Her favorite part about her job are the opportunities- “Nursing’s not a boring career at all– there’s always somebody who needs your help.”  

Dr. McNulty’s best advice for college students is to remember to have a good time.  “Have fun– you gotta have fun!” she encourages, “Whatever your fun is to you, just enjoy yourself!  And you’ll be that shocked your grades will be really good, because you’ll be happy.”

Larson Saves the Women’s Soccer Season 

This year, Ave Maria’s soccer program has been persevering through the struggles of their season. After being in a tough conference and having to reschedule games due to Irma, it’s a miracle that they have been able to handle everything thrown at them. Their record does not reflect their hard work and dedication, but one person’s statistics have stood out. Freshman goalie, Erica Larson, has tied the school record with 21 saves in one game and has broken the school’s record for total saves in one season.

The record hasn’t been touched since September 28th, 2013, when Francesca Singleton had 21 saves in a game verses Northwood. On October 11th, Erica tied the school record against St. Thomas University when they lost 7-0. Larson had 13 saves in the first 45 minutes of play and had 8 more in the second half. Her last save came in the 89th minute of play, which tied her for the school record. On Monday October 23rd, Larson has accumulated 143 saves in one season, which broke the Ave Maria record.  Francesca Singleton has had the record since her 2013 season, but it wasn’t a match for Larson.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, she is ranked the 10th goalie in the nation by having 143 saves in NAIA Division I soccer. Larson is also 7th in the nation in saves per game (10.670), and this is just her freshman year. It’s been a tough season for the Lady Gyrenes, but they have refused to back down despite the hardships and Erica Larson has been a key component for her team.

The Grace Project Welcomes January Donovan for “The Art of Being a Woman”

“I’m living the life of my dreams,” spoke Bethany Bateman while introducing the evening speaker from The Grace Project, January Donovan. Women from the University gathered to attend a talk given by the praised January Donovan, a woman who will, as described by Bethany Bateman, “impact your life within minutes.” An uplifting discussion ensued, centering around the message that “you can live an extraordinary life.”

January delivered this message to the women at Ave Maria University who live in a society where the value, gift, and beauty of women are not fully appreciated. Societal pressures downgrade the importance of women. January Donovan discussed ways for women to think opposite the way society wants them to. No longer should women allow their minds to be filled with expectations from others that prevent them from being their true selves. “What kind of woman do you want to be?” This question impacted the minds and hearts of the women in attendance. January Donovan spoke of being the kind of woman who allows herself to live her dreams, who knows what she wants, who gives herself permission to want what she wants, and who “leads the rise” with other women to strive to live a beautiful life.

January Donovan aims to illustrate “the art of being a woman” in order to assist women in impacting the world in their own individual and unique ways. Through her talk series on campus, she works with the women of Ave Maria to build and cultivate skills and talents which can assist them in living extraordinary lives. College women are at a time in their lives where they have so much ability to become extraordinary yet also where there is so much attack aimed to prevent them from doing so. The Grace Project works against the negative pressures in this society to supply women with the tools and skills needed to excel and succeed as beautiful women.

JPII’s Feast Day: A Student’s Reflection

“There is no place for selfishness and no place for fear!”  Saint John Paul II gets right to the point when describing the head-on, Christ-centered life he is calling today’s youth to live.  There is absolutely no room for selfishness or fear anywhere in the world, but this is especially true on college campuses.  It’s easy to be scared of college sometimes, especially as an underclassman. Will I like school? Will I make friends? Will I get good grades? Will they make me to go daily mass?  These are questions most students had running through their mind during orientation at Ave Maria.  Consequently, getting wrapped up in one’s own worries can easily lead to selfishness– it is easy to focus on your concerns, your desires, your preferences.  Thankfully, JPII sees this trend among the youth, and joyfully encourages us to be exactly the opposite!  He wants us to let go of our worries, most famously proclaiming “Do not be afraid!” from the balcony of St. Peter’s.  Although it is easy for universities to become selfish and fearsome places, Ave Maria has certainly not succumbed to this worldliness.

The devotion that the faculty, staff, and students on campus have to JPII is really quite remarkable.  The professors are constantly giving of themselves to the students to make sure that they’re getting the most out of their education.  From staying late in their offices, answering emails at all hours of the night, to meeting up at the pub to talk philosophy, Ave professors have done it all to ensure that each student reaches his or her academic potential.  As a result, the students reciprocate the love of learning they witness in their professors.  The teaching style in most classrooms is discussion based, so that everyone can voice their opinion. The unselfish nature of this education style is immeasurably valuable, for students and teachers work together to achieve the academic excellence cherished by Ave Maria University.

Academia isn’t the only realm on campus affected by Pope John Paul.  He had a great love for sports, particularly skiing and swimming, and his positivity and competitive spirit reverberate with the Gyrenes.  Each team on campus has a marvelous work ethic, and demonstrates sportsmanship in victory and defeat.  The camaraderie on the teams builds a community that John Paul II would be proud of, one that encourages self-discipline as well as pride in Ave athletics.

Not only does Ave Maria embody Pope John Paul’s advice in the classroom and on the sports fields, but also embodies a spirit of service which John Paul II held dear. This was evident in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. While the 130 mph winds were approaching, students, faculty, staff, and President Towey himself bustled around campus, making sure everything was safe and secure.  The field house was a shelter for residents of surrounding areas whose homes were in danger. After the storm, the community united to clean campus and provide assistance to more severely impacted areas.  Ave Maria is truly blessed to have such serving hearts present on campus.  Whether it’s assisting in hurricane cleanup, working in soup kitchens, or doing mission work in Africa– the students and staff of Ave Maria do not hesitate to give of themselves every day in extraordinary ways, living out John Paul’s command to the fullest: “Wherever people are suffering, wherever they are humiliated by poverty or injustice, and wherever a mockery is made of their rights, make it your task to serve them.”

Saint John Paul II didn’t only preach about courage and love– he lived these messages each and every day.  Born Karol Józef Wojtyla on May 18th, 1920, in Wadowice, Poland, he was destined for greatness right from the start.  After losing his mother and older brother at a young age, he went on to study at Jagiellonian University in Krakow.  During World War II, the Nazi’s closed down the university, so the young John Paul II had to continue his studies in secret with the Archbishop of Krakow.  After the war, he returned to school and was ordained a priest in 1946.

Pope John Paul earned his doctorate in theology after two years of fruitful study in Rome, after which he returned to Poland and served in parishes near Krakow.  His brilliant mind was recognized early on, and after becoming an Archbishop, he was invited to participate in the Second Vatican Council in 1962.  John Paul II’s contributions to this council were immeasurable. In 1967 he became a Cardinal. JPII was elected Pope in 1978- the first non-Italian Pope to succeed Saint Peter in over four hundred years.  He exhibited a great love for the youth throughout his reign as Pope, but it was most evident in his founding of World Youth Day in 1984.  John Paul II invited young people from all over the world to join him in Saint Peter’s square on Palm Sunday for an International Jubilee of youth, and over 300,000 attended.  He smiled on this massive crowd and declared with great joy, “What a fantastic spectacle is presented on this stage by your gathering here today! Who claimed that today’s youth has lost their sense of values? Is it really true that they cannot be counted on?”  JPII would say the same words to the youth of Ave Maria, who are afire with love for Christ and are ready to spread Christ’s love to the world.

From the JPII dorm on campus to the budding St. John Paul the Great leadership program, Ave Maria University embodies Saint John Paul II’s giving spirit, courage, and love.  His presence on campus is very real, and almost tangible– the way in which his spirituality is imitated is part of what makes Ave so unique, and is what makes its students such wonderful witnesses of the Catholic faith. Happy feast of St. John Paul the Great. John Paul II, pray for us!

Kington’s Comedy Makes Ave Laugh

On the evening of October 12th, laughter, uplifting humor, and the scent of buffalo wings filled the ballroom as Kenn Kington engaged students through a comedy performance. At first glance, Kington’s performance was seemingly a typical light-hearted comedic routine–but it came with a deeper message that left the audience with something to chew on–other than the buffalo wings.

In the beginning of his routine, Kington used the example of young children approaching relationships, referencing the good ‘ole days of passing notes and checking that ominous “yes” or “no” box to let one’s desk buddy know of one’s intentions. Bridging into the older years, he talked about navigating through the confusing era of high school relationships. As Kington puts it, the days of “yes” or “no” notes are long gone, but the days of having the “talk” with cheerleaders and the like are far from over, and the friend-zone becomes a home.

Following this amusing–albeit accurate–depiction, Kington started to bridge into his message. He spoke of how sometimes, we don’t get to be what we want to be–and how we can’t be “anything,” unlike what the world tells us. However, the best possible thing we can be is who God made us to be. As St. Catherine of Siena says, “Be who God made you to be, and you will set the world on fire.” God has a plan for who we were meant to be–and He wants to show us His plan, if we trust Him to do it in His time and His way.

Kington enlivened a number of students on what would usually be a somewhat busy night of homework, studying, and countless other activities by providing an opportunity to enjoy an entertaining evening and testimony. Through his use of humor, Kington conveyed the joy that trusting in God brings to our lives. Whether friend-zoned or not, whether that kid in first grade checked the “yes” or “no” box–we are all God’s children, and His vision of who we are meant to be is far greater than we could imagine.

Pro-Life Conference at Yale

A group of our students travelled to New Haven, Connecticut to attend the Vita et Veritas Pro-Life Conference at Yale University. The group attended several talks regarding the pro-life movement, and met many other students from various schools across the country, such as Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Penn State.

Here is a short reflection from Shelby Mayer, one of the students that attended this conference:

“I had a phenomenal time this past weekend at Yale University! Myself and 5 of my classmates (plus one of our wonderful RDs and her adorable baby) traveled there to represent Ave Maria at a pro-life conference, and it was spectacular. We started our trip bright and early Friday morning, and flew out to Connecticut, where we each stayed with a wonderfully gracious host, all a part of the Yale community. That night we had a semi-formal banquet where we heard from keynote speaker Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood worker and now pro-life activist. Her story was incredibly inspiring, and the talk itself was powerful and moving, with appropriate jokes towards the beginning. We continued the night by meeting our fellow pro-life students, coming from a large (and very impressive) variety of schools, such as Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Penn State (just to name a few)! It was a blast getting to know everyone, and was certainly an opportunity I don’t think I’ll have again soon! The next day was full of great content, as we had talks from six different speakers, each with a unique perspective to offer the pro-life movement. We were given breaks in between, and during lunch decided to check out a local restaurant (which was delicious by the way), which was super nice because we got to experience the town whilst still having a very informative conference! My personal favorite speakers were Abby Johnson (who spoke Friday night), Christina Bennett, and Kevin Burke. The passion behind their outlooks of the pro-life movement was clear by their talks, and they all had a strong ability to engage the audience; I never wanted their talks to end! After the conference we had the opportunity to experience the town of New Haven, explore the school a bit, and spend time with our newly developed friends before heading out at 3am for a 6am flight back! The entirety of the weekend, though short, was a remarkable experience, almost as much so as the people we met there. I would love to go back next year, however I also want to refrain, so that others could go in my place! I had a wonderful time getting to know my classmates, as well as other students better, and it was very inspirational to hear the testimonies and talks from the speakers, as well as see the strong interest and desire for a pro-life world.”

Faculty Spotlight: Anne Marchetti

“Anybody who knows me knows I love accounting– it’s like magic!”

October 10, 2017 – In the cozy JPII lobby, students snacked on brownies and listened to the first “Professors Are People, Too” Q&A of the year, featuring accounting professor Anne Marchetti. Professor Marchetti has done it all – from motorcycle riding to working with MTV.

After earning an undergraduate degree in economics and a master’s degree in accounting, Professor Marchetti has worked in various roles, including implementation of accounting software, consulting, and teaching. One of her favorite consulting jobs was in California for Nickelodeon at the time SpongeBob was just starting to air – she was even offered original concept art done by the artists! Although Professor Marchetti’s consulting work led her to travels across the globe, she won’t hesitate to tell you that her favorite place is New York City.

Professor Marchetti’s enthusiasm for her field cannot be downplayed. It has driven her to author three books and pursue a doctorate in accounting, for which she is currently writing a dissertation on small business fraud.

She encourages her students to find what they love and pursue it: “Find what you’re passionate about, and do it.  It’s cliché, but it’s true.  Plus, you’ll be a lot better at your job if you love what you do!”


John Paul II First Class Relic Visits Campus

AVE MARIA, FL – On October 3, 2017 the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary came to Ave Maria University to give a women’s talk titled “Living Out Marian Devotion.” They brought with them the relic of St. John Paul II’s blood.

His blood, still in liquid form, has traveled internationally. From the spiritual graces received in prayer before the relic of St. John Paul II, people may be renewed in their daily striving for holiness of life and obtain the courage and spiritual strength to imitate his saintly life and persevere in their Christian witness to the Gospel.

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WINK News: Habitat for Humanity partners with local university to help hurricane victims

IMMOKALEE, Fla. Habitat for Humanity responds to people devastated by Hurricane Irma in Immokalee today, with the help of a group of students from Ave Maria University.

This neighborhood in Immokalee is completely made up of Habitat homes, which already house 90 families, including Maria Cardenas family.

Cardenas and her husband put in 500 hours of work to help build their Habitat home.

“It’s something to call yours, it’s your own place to raise a family,” Cardenas said.

Even Cardenas daughter is in love with her new home.

“She is so excited when people come over,” Cardenas said. “She’s like, ‘Come see my room, my room!”

When Hurricane Irma was headed directly for Immokalee, everything came into perspective for the first-time homeowner.

“My daughter has a ritual, she says bye to the house,” Cardenas said. “For us, it was hard to not shed a tear at that because we didn’t know what it was gonna be like when we got back.”

Cardenas home didn’t get damaged, but some surrounding houses did.

That’s why the Ave Maria University students with the Mother Teresa Project and Habitat for Humanity broke ground on two new sites today.

Andrew Nussbaum is a Mother Teresa Project scholar who helped build homes in this neighborhood.

“All it takes is a little bit of effort, that’ll go a long way,” Nussbaum.

The new construction will eventually become two homes for people who lost everything from Hurricane Irma.

“They handled it with so much grace, these are some of the happiest people in the world because they love each other,” Cradenas said.

Nussbaum said they are using that kind of spirit to guide them through this project, love and some dirt.

The volunteers and students will begin construction on Oct. 21.

Graduate Theology Alumna has Translation Published

Alumna and former faculty member, Sr. Albert Marie Surmanski, OP, has had her translation of Albert the Great’s On the Body of Our Lord recently published.

According to Sr. Albert Marie’s notes,

Albert the Great wrote On the Body of the Lord in the 1270s, making it his final work of sacramental theology. A companion volume to his commentary on the Mass, On the Body of the Lord is a comprehensive discussion of Eucharistic theology. The treatise is structured around six names for the Eucharist taken from the Mass: grace, gift, food, communion, sacrifice, and sacrament. It emerges from the liturgy and is intended to draw the reader back to worship.