Student Spotlight: Joe Mullally

Student Government President and AMU Junior Joe Mullally always knew he wanted to come to Ave Maria and follow in the footsteps of five of his older siblings. He says if he could give Ave students advice, he would tell them three main things:⁣⁣

  • Get involved. “Join that club, go to that open household meeting, or tailgate . . . People are so welcoming, so friendly, and they want to meet you. Just take that leap, because that’s when you’ll grow as a person and meet your friends for life.”⁣
  • Take advantage of the sacraments. “The faith is so alive here. You can have the college experience and still foster your faith.”
  • Call your parents. “They’re always there for you.”⁣⁣

If you have an idea about something to change or develop on campus, reach out to Joe and SGA to get a project started!

Student Spotlight: Hannah Lawrence

Hannah, a member of the AMU women’s soccer team and senior, practices soccer every day in addition to her classes. She shared that in the insanity of her schedule, it is especially important to prioritize the faith.

“Remain patient with yourself.” It’s easy to dive into all the events and things going on, but Hannah encourages students to “find something where the Lord really speaks to you and calls you to go deeper. Focus on that.” God wants everyone to find where He is present in their life.

When trying to grow in her faith life, Hannah turns to the Blessed Virgin Mary. “I got here [to Ave] and I thought, ‘it’s funny that I go to a school called Ave Maria but I know nothing about Mary other than that she is Christ’s mother.’ When I started looking to her and doing her devotionals, I started to see different things like my femininity, my role, and the true beauty behind our faith. She has been really powerful in my entire conversion and getting to where I am now.”

In the difficulties of balancing everything, it is important to focus on doing one’s best with what God has given for that day. Hannah’s patron saint is St. Francis of Assisi. She referenced a quote by him saying, “‘I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, He can work through anyone.’ I really like that quote because I may have it all together on the outside, but we are all always working hard to get there on the inside. It’s a constant struggle and sainthood is a pursuit.”

Student Spotlight: Nick Pontarelli

“You need people to run with you, you really do…”

This past summer, frisbee captain Nick Pontarelli worked for FOCUS Summer Projects in Colorado. He recalled that while serving, “There was an emphasis on overwhelming you intentionally.” After pouring himself out all day, he experienced the vital importance of community, prayer, and the sacraments. “You can’t give to others what you don’t have.”

During his time in prayer, Nick often turned to Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, who built his faith life on four relationships: a relationship with God, himself, others, and nature. Returning to Ave this fall for a busy senior year, Nick strives to continue fostering these four relationships and  encourages others to do the same, “We were made for all four, so if you remove one of those aspects, there’s a decline in life.”

At Ave, Nick has noticed the unique opportunity for strong community, saying that one of his favorite things about the university is the friendships he’s developed. “I’ve really learned here that you have faithful, loyal friends, who help you cultivate virtue and encourage you to become the best person you can be.”

Both Nick and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati share a common love of the mountains. Although there are no mountains in Florida, Frassati’s most famous quote, “verso l’alto” or “to the heights” is an encouraging reminder to constantly strive to reach the summit of eternal life.


Nick Pontarelli is a senior accounting major and frisbee captain at Ave Maria University.

Student Spotlight: Emma Boback

Littleness. When describing her small business, Ave sophomore Emma Boback seeks to imitate St. Therese of Lisieux, who praised God in the little things. For almost a year now, Emma has been designing stickers and artwork directed toward Catholic young adults.

“I never really came from a strong faith community. It was kind of just me. And then when I came to Ave I was so inspired by everybody and how I finally had that community. I started just doodling and hand-lettering bible verses that the Lord was really speaking over me. Then, I started making them for friends that I knew were going through things and I would put them on the outside of their door.

It started with a quote from the worship song, “Reckless Love.” Now, she creates pieces based on the lives of saints, bible verses, songs, and more. Her goal is, like Therese, to glorify God in the small things and provide people with little reminders of His faithfulness. Her stickers on laptops, water bottles, and hanging in dorm rooms act as great conversation starters and small pieces of inspiration.

Eventually, it got to the point where people I didn’t know wanted me to make some for them and I was like, ‘oh, I never thought about that!’” Now, Zelie and Lou, her creative brand named after the parents of St. Therese, has over 6,000 followers on Instagram and continues to grow. But, she always goes back to those little things: community, stickers, and small acts of love.