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Ambassadors Give Back to Grand Rapids Dominicans

Founded by the Grand Rapids Dominican sisters in 1886, Aquinas College has long cherished its Dominican heritage. While the Sisters have continued their involvement throughout the years as a defining mark of Aquinas, a student group recently decided to give back and honor the Dominicans’ legacy.

Student Ambassadors - exemplary members of the Aquinas community who conduct campus tours, participate in AQDays, and represent the College at various receptions and donor-oriented events - recently initiated a fundraising initiative for the Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters at Marywood. Their goal: to raise $10,000 for the sisters’ capital campaign before Christmas. Over the past two months, the ambassadors have partnered with the Grand Rapids Griffins hockey team to sell tickets towards the cause.

In an interview with Shelley Irwin on WGVU Radio, Aquinas professor David Weinandy explained the motivation driving the students’ project. “As part of their training this summer, we wanted to make sure they knew a little bit about our Dominican heritage at Aquinas. We really don’t have as many of the sisters working on campus any longer and I think we’re down to one full-time Dominican sister on campus! So we think it’s really important that they understand the history of how we started, how we are a Dominican College, so we went over to the Dominican center at Marywood!”

Visiting with the sisters made such a lasting impression on the Ambassadors, many of them were moved to do something for the sisters, helping those who have contributed so much to the Aquinas community. Thus, the ambassadors have sold tickets to Griffins’ games for the past two months, while the Wege Foundation generously agreed to match fundraising efforts up to the $10,000 goal.

AQ senior Michael Gagnon, also interviewed by Shelley Irwin, explained why he felt this was an important effort to initiate. “We were really inspired when we went to Marywood and met with the Dominican Sisters and saw the history of what they’ve done for us, through scholarships and the formation of the College.” Whatever could be done, then, was a simple measure of gratitude to the longstanding work of the Sisters.

“We often adopt families [for Christmas], and that’s great!” said Dr. Weinandy. “We’ve done that in classes before. But they are part of our family, they’re the root of our family at Aquinas. So we’re adopting the sisters this Christmas.”

While visiting Marywood for caroling on Saturday, December 14, the ambassadors presented the sisters with a check for $8,814. The ambassadors will continue fundraising until they’ve reached the $10,000 goal.