Two Students, Two Paths
MEGAN BUYSSE ’15
The Wildcat tennis player and budding fashion designer is turning heads on the local runways. She won the Katwalk 2014 Junior Design Award.
BEING A PART of the St. Kate’s community has definitely made a difference in my life. A week before my sophomore year, I was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. It was hard to believe at first, and I didn’t know if I would make it or not — let alone, if I’d come back to school or be able to play tennis again.
During chemotherapy, the tennis team came to visit me while I was in the hospital, and all my professors continued to ask how I was doing. When I came back to St. Kate’s one year later, everyone was so welcoming and thrilled I was back. Class projects became more demanding in my junior year, and my coaches could tell that balancing academics and athletics was taking a toll. This season, they were willing to give me a more flexible schedule so I can stay healthy and focus on my future. I am very grateful for that. I really love playing with my teammates and I’m excited to finish out my college tennis career.
Before I started the apparel design program, I hadn’t really thought much about sustainability. But the more I learn about fashion and how hard it is on the environment, the more I want to focus on that sustainability aspect. I had the chance to research milkweed as a sustainable textile with Professor Trudy Landgren. That work took me to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Lexington, Kentucky. I also attended the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, where I won “Best in Show” in the undergraduate category.
Those experiences have allowed me to grow as a designer and to meet more people in my field — like Seth Aaron Henderson, the winner of “Project Runway” and “Project Runway: All Stars,” whom I met at the conference in Missouri.
Speaking of “Project Runway,” I plan to audition for the reality show after graduation. If I make it big with my clothing line, I want to become a St. Kate’s donor. I would love to see the apparel design program have a bigger workspace and more sewing equipment.
What I have learned most in my college career is to always follow your dreams. We never know when our time will be up, and our lives are way too short to not do what we love.
TINODAISHE MANDEBVU ’16
The biochemistry major and business minor from Zimbabwe, is taking advantage of everything a liberal arts education has to offer.
I THINK IT’S FAIR to say that St. Kate’s chose me. The mission of “educating students to lead and influence” attracted me. I thought, “This is exactly me.”
In my very first class at St. Kate’s, the instructor had images of Tide and other common brands up on a PowerPoint presentation. While he dove further into the lesson, I was stuck thinking: “What is Tide?” That pushed me to seek out the answers. This marketing course taught me more than the basic concepts of buying and selling. It challenged me to learn more about the cultural norms in the United States. I ended up being one of the top students in the class.
That fall, I also started my very first job. It’s not common back home to work while going to school. But my library job enabled me to save money and travel across Canada the following summer to visit cousins and friends. I had never traveled on my own like that. The Global Studies office helped me figure out visa requirements and other travel logistics. I felt empowered after that trip. I wanted to explore and grow more.
At St. Kate’s, I didn’t feel the pressure to declare a major and decide my future. I’ve found that by applying myself to any field with effort and hard work, I can be successful. As a result, I’ve really tried to embrace any opportunity that comes my way, whether related to my major or not — like working on the organic chemistry synthesis of ibuprofen, attending the Model United Nations in New York or going to the African Development Conference at Harvard. That conference helped bridge the gap between what I knew and experienced growing up in Zimbabwe, and what I was learning in class.
In fact, after that conference, my interest in international development grew. Professor Deep Shikha connected me with a summer internship opportunity in India. I worked with an agriculture team on creating strategies to empower female farmers in Mewat, one of the poorest districts of Haryana, India.
I’m also grateful for the leadership experience I’ve gained through student organizations. I’ve been vice president of the International Students Organization, a member of the LEAD team and a Peer Mentor coordinator for the Multicultural and International Programs and Services. This year, I’m the international student representative on the Student Senate.
Every day I’m learning and narrowing down my interests and passions. I love having the variety of professors who give me feedback, whether it’s Deep Shikha on economics and international development, James Wollack on chemistry or Faye Larson on business. Their guidance has a huge influence on my future plans.
My long-term goal is to make a difference back in Zimbabwe. I’m not sure what my purpose is just yet; I’m still trying to find out. But until then, I will keep myself open to opportunities that propel me forward.
Photo by Dave Puente Photography
Megan Buysse models the avant-garde look she and five St. Kate’s students created for the International Interior Design Association 2014 Fusion+Fashion