Small Class Brings Big Wisconsin Leaders

This Fall the Justice Department has launched a new class called “Leadership and the Law.” The purpose of the course is to teach students about Leadership within the law, looking at the careers of successful local leaders and completing case-studies on nationally recognized individuals.

The first interesting aspect about this course is that it is instructed by Michael J. Gonring, a well-respected Milwaukee litigator. Gonring will be able to teach the students about law professions from the perspective of someone that is an active professional himself.

The second interesting aspect of this course is all of the Wisconsin leaders that will be coming to campus as guest speakers. Mount Mary has already had the pleasure of welcoming the course’s first guest speaker this past Wednesday, Dawn Caldart, a Pro Bono Manager at Quarles & Brady. Caldart was the first Executive Director of the Milwaukee Justice Center.

But here’s the best part: all Mount Mary students and staff members are welcome to attend these amazing guest-speaking events. If interested, RSVP for your desired session by contacting Dr. Monaco-Wilcox through email at

The following is a list of all the guest speakers scheduled to visit this semester:

9/16       (2 p.m.)               Justice Annette Ziegler, Wisconsin Supreme Court

9/23       (1 p.m.)               Pat Jursik, Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors

10/7       (2 p.m.)               Kimberly Walker, executive director, Legal Aid Society of 


10/14     (2 p.m.)               Katie Perhach, managing partner, Milwaukee office of 

                                     Quarles & Brady

10/21     (2 p.m.)               Valerie Hill, Municipal Court Judge, City of Milwaukee

10/28     (1 p.m.)               Heather Ramirez, executive director, Centro Legal

11/4       (2 p.m.)                Sue Opper, District Attorney, Waukesha County

11/11     (1 p.m.)                Beth Hanan, United States Bankruptcy Judge

12/2       (2 p.m.)                Pat Gorence, United States Magistrate Judge (retired)

12/9       (1 p.m.)                Laura Gramling Perez, Milwaukee County Circuit Court 



Leadership and Anxiety: Finding Your Footing

If you were offered a role as a leader in some aspect of your daily life, would you take it?

For many of us, the answer is ‘no’.  To justify the ‘no’ answer, you might say “I don’t want to take on that kind of responsibility.”

What are you really saying? Perhaps you don’t think you’d be confident enough to be a leader, maybe you classify yourself as introvert or maybe you just have too much anxiety about being in a place of power.

Whatever the reason is, you are not alone, there are, in fact, a number of famous leaders that have also had anxiety about being public figures.

I’ve compiled a list of beloved woman leaders from all different areas in the media that have dealt with anxiety:

#1 Anne Tyler

Source: Star Tribune

Source: Star Tribune

Not to be confused with Ann Taylor the famous clothing brand, Anne Tyler is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. She is most known for her novels The Accidental Tourist (1985) that was adapted into a film of the same name in 1988 and Breathing Lessons (1988) for which she won the award.

#2 Cher

Source: Houston Press

Source: Houston Press

Yes, that Cher. The same Cher that was once a part of the famous duo “Sonny and Cher” and has also had a lucrative career as a solo artist and actress. It’s hard to believe that the Diva who’s rocked infamous Bob Mackey designed outfits has also had bouts of anxiety.

#3 Eleanor Roosevelt



You may have heard the old saying “Behind every great man, there is a woman” and that woman for former President Theodore Roosevelt was Eleanor. Even after her role as first lady ended, she went on to become a spokesperson for the United Nations. She has also been described as a “shy leader,” proving that you don’t need to consider yourself an “extrovert” in order to be an effective leader.

#4 Emma Stone



Everyone’s favorite “girl next door” is best known for her roles in The Help, The Amazing Spiderman and more recently Birdman. Emma gains more publicity with every role she takes, but she doesn’t let the pressure of the public eye keep her from pursuing her career goals.

#5 Marilyn Monroe

source: Pleasure Photo Room

Source: Pleasure Photo Room

This famous singer, actress, and icon gained notoriety as a model and actress during the 1960s and is well-known because of her affair with President John F. Kennedy and untimely death at the age of 36. However, this is not a sob story. In the more recent, social media driven world, she has become an icon for positive female body image. You may have seen many of the memes that have been circulating the internet on platforms such as Facebook and Tumblr Marilyn Monroe was the first model to have curves.

So, back to our first question: If you were offered a leadership role, would you take it? My hope is that you will channel some of these women and say “Yes!”


Top Five Films to Empower


It’s hard to believe that Fall is approaching so rapidly, before you know it, it’ll be comfy sweater weather. However, while you’re still busy running around in the heat, I’ve compiled a list of empowering movies for those days when you just want to sit inside.

#1 Wild (2014)

This movie gained notoriety during the 2014 Academy Awards with nominations in both actress in a leading role (Reese Witherspoon) and actress in a supporting role (Laura Dern)This film is based off a personal memoir of the same name written by Cheryl Strayed,

Cheryl does what we all dream of doing when life becomes difficult, she packs up and heads out on her own. She backpacks along the Pacific Crest Trail, starting in the Mojave Desert and ending in Washington. Throughout the film, you see flashbacks to what Cheryl’s life was, along with the changes that happen right before your very eyes. The film is quite literally a journey to self-discovery.

#2 Frozen (2013)

It wouldn’t be a movie list if it didn’t include Frozen, an animated film that became a cult classic in a matter of weeks. And why shouldn’t we add this film to our list? Ana and Elsa have paved the way for future strong female characters in children’s movies.

If you’ve been waiting for the hype to die down before viewing this film, wait no longer. It is a must-see film for everyone. It is a story about two orphaned teens, continuing their royal family line but one sister(Elsa) has a dangerous secret that is uncovered during her coronation which causes her to flee. It is up to the other sister(Ana) to bring her family back together and restore order to their little kingdom.

Two things about this film that make it so empowering are that it puts into question all of those stereotypical fairy-tale romances where the couple gets married after only hours of knowing one another and the films ends with love like most fairy-tales do but this time it is the love between two sisters that saves lives.

For those of you complaining of the heat, this is the film for you.

#3 Whip It (2009)

In many empowering movie lists there is always a sports-related film. Usually the film included in those lists is A League of Their Own, which is about an all female baseball league that is playing while the men are at war. It definitely deserves an honorable mention in this list however, I thought it’d be fitting to include a more contemporary film about women and sports.

I give you the female-dominated world of roller derby. Whip It, starring the very lovable and fabulous Ellen Page, is about a teen girl, living in a rural Texas city who is struggling to find where she belongs. After attending a roller derby game in a neighboring city, she decides to lie about her age in order to join the team and become “Babe Ruthless.”

If you like badassery and tough women who aren’t afraid of getting a little bloody, then this is a the film for you. If that isn’t the selling point, then the fact that this film was written by Shauna Cross, based on her novel Derby Girl, and directed and co-produced by Drew Barrymore should be.

#4 Amèlie (2001)

This film is for those that enjoy the occasional foreign film. Set in Paris, this romantic-comedy is about a young, eccentric girl who decides that she wants to improve the lives of those around her by doing good deeds. She creates her own little world and along the way finds love.

How’s that for a love story? Romance aside, there is love shown through our main character for her friends that she helps throughout the film. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own lives that we forget about those around us and this film reminds us that we are not in this world alone, we need each other.

#5 Norma Rae (1979)

Although the majority of our list is contemporary films, it wouldn’t be an adaquate movie list without a classic. This film tells the story of a true woman leader, played by the great Sally Fields, Norma Rae is a textile worker that is sick of miniscule pay and the dangerous work environment (the title character’s mother actually experiences temporary deafness due to her work environment) and decides to rally her co-workers together to start a union.

If petite, little Norma Rae can arouse the support of other textile workers despite all of the threats and attempts to shut her down made by her employers, then there is no telling what any woman can do. Norma Rae shows that if you have passion and persistence of an issue then there are no limitations on achieving your goals.

Now gather all of your girlfriends for a movie night, pile on the couch with some snacks and enjoy. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry but most importantly you will feel empowered afterwards.


Rethinking Feminism, by WLI Intern Stina Carayannopoulous

For more clever and insightful posts visit

For more clever and insightful posts visit

Feminism. A lot of people in our society, both men and women, think of feminism as a dirty word. There are often stigmas attached to the word that make people cringe. Hopefully, after reading this post, those prejudgments will dissipate.
Some preconceptions that a feminist may encounter:
Feminists are radicals.
Sure. There may still be some bra-burning feminists within the community but it is an unfair generalization. Every group has a radical or person that takes their beliefs to the extreme, whether it’s religious, political or social, it does not matter.
Radicalism can also sometimes be a good thing. Sometimes passion about a cause can be perceived as something negative, but, when a person is willing to identify themselves with a certain word, it isn’t hard to imagine how passionate that person must feel about its meaning.
Feminists are “man-haters.”
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Mark Ruffalo are two well known actors that publicly identify with feminism.
On September 21, 2014, Joseph Gordon-Levitt published a video on YouTube acknowledging the public’s opinions about his identification with this word, saying, “To me it just means that your gender doesn’t have to define who you are, that you can be whatever you want to be, whoever you want to be regardless of your gender.” He also had said that he had never realized other people’s strong opposition to the word. The more men the merrier! Shouldn’t it be part of the goal to have men in power or high-profile positions listen to the cause and throw their support behind it?
Feminists are Birkenstock sandal-wearers that never shave.
It may seem like a funny, outdated, stereotype but old stereotypes die hard, am I right? The truth is, a feminist can dress and look however they want to look. Appearance and personal preferences do not necessarily correlate with feminism. There are no uniforms. Feminists are accepted as the individuals they are. Heck, feminists sometimes even wear makeup. Yes, that’s right, makeup – not every feminist is opposed to using it.
Feminism is an outdated concept.
Believe it or not, there are individuals that believe that there is equality among the sexes. Take for instance the debate on equal pay. According to The American Association of University Women (AAUW), 2013 statistics show that a full-time, year-round, working woman makes 78 percent of what a man makes. Let’s say for example a man has made $5, his female colleague has only made $3.90. It doesn’t take an expert in math to see that those two numbers are not equal. According to the site, the best place to work, as a woman, is Washington D.C. where she can make 91 percent of what a man makes. It is progress, but still not equality. So perhaps there is still work to be done.

Now, hopefully some of those potentially cringe-worthy preconceptions can be cleared away, leaving a more positive outlook on the word feminism. After all, the goal is to gain support for issues that have been overlooked for far too long. Who knows, perhaps after reading this you’ll become a marching-bra-burner with the rest of us. Just kidding.


2015 Women’s Summer Leadership Institute

women's leadership

I’ll admit it. I wasn’t exactly compelled to take the opportunity when I first heard about the Summer Leadership Institute. I was so eager to finish the semester for the summer that the thought of coming back to school so early in the summer didn’t exactly thrill me. But I was, indeed, pleasantly surprised. The three and a half day experience was transformative and left me feeling a sense of true accomplishment. I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on this experience.

You might have heard about the opportunity in class as I did. Perhaps your teacher explained it to you as a “Four day seminar, on campus, that teaches women how to become leaders in the world and how to bond with one another.” It’s not exactly a wrong explanation of the program but it just doesn’t do it justice either. There’s just so much more to it. I now see it as a three and a half day journey to self-discovery with a unique opportunity to experience it with other women from a variety of different backgrounds.

Things You Should Know

If you’re like me, you might be skeptical about the whole thing as well. Maybe you’re a little apprehensive about the fact that you’ll be staying on-campus in the dorms, but you shouldn’t be. Think of this experience as a retreat; a vacation where you’ll be spending little to no time in your hotel room because you’ll be doing fun activities. And you are. Everything from learning about Leadership to doing yoga and to creating beautiful pieces of artwork that you’ll have as a keepsake.

Perhaps you’re nervous about the idea of having a roommate that you’ve never met before, don’t worry about it. If you’ve already lived in a dorm room, this will be nothing out of the ordinary. However, if you’re like me, a commuter, you won’t be sure what to expect. It turns out that there wasn’t a woman in the program that wasn’t nervous when they first arrived. On top of that, everyone was extremely respectful of one another and sharing their space.

Or it’s possibly the idea of being with all women for three and a half days that might make you feel uncomfortable, but you don’t have to feel that way. As I said before, everyone was extremely respectful of one another, they were just as nervous and unsure as the next person. But it only took that first woman to open up in the group for everyone else to do the same as well. I saw women being authentic, there was no one to impress or feel competitive against. We were all in this together.

Overall Thoughts

I’ll be honest, the Summer Leadership Institute is intense, focused on discovering yourself, and helps you start to view the world through a different lens. As a skeptic who took a step out of her comfort zone, I can say that I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. I left the experience having made connections with new people and being full of new stories to tell my family and friends. It was all very powerful and eye opening to how we truly feel about ourselves and how to break down walls and become leaders in our own way.

Would I recommend this experience to others? Absolutely. I feel like my perspective on other people and the world has changed for the better. It really is a program for every woman. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity!


Student Leaders: Q&A with Hayley Robinson

With all of the programs and activities that Hayley has been involved in over the last four years, it is hard to imagine that anyone at Mount Mary would not recognize her smiling face. Whether it’s hard at work manning the front desk, getting us all involved in PAC activities, or helping new students settle into dorm life…Hayley has done it all. With all that she has accomplished, Hayley has learned few things about life as a Mount Mary student. As she finishes up her last semester and prepares for graduation, Hayley shared some of her experiences and advice for success.

What are you studying at Mount Mary?
I am an English Literature and History major with a minor in Communication.

What have been involved in on campus and how have these experiences impacted you?

I have pretty much been involved in a lot of things on campus.

  • I was Shalom Club president for three years. This helped me to really understand what types of causes I will stand up for, and helped me to understand how to talk to people about important issues.
  • I have been a Campus Ministry Angel for three years, which has helped strengthen my faith as well as helped me to learn more about other religions.
  • I have been Sigma Tau Delta’s president for two years. This role helped me to become more professional as well as being able to encourage others to excel in their academics.
  • I have been involved with Caroline Hall Council as the Communications Coordinator for two years. This role has helped me to develop networking skills as well as time-management skills.
  • I am currently the co-president for History Club, which has helped me to learn more about others and social justice issues that are going on presently.
  • I am currently on the Programming and Activity Council (PAC). This organization has helped me to develop my programming skills as well as teaching me how to be more flexible.
  • I am also currently a Resident Assistant. This is the role that has impacted me the most. I have had to learn a lot of skills that I would not have acquired through other means. I have developed more professional skills as well as being able to get to know my residents.
  • I have worked at Caroline Hall Front Desk for four years and this job has helped me to become more personable as well as being able to get to know students, faculty, staff and guests of Mount Mary.

Why you chose MMU?

I first chose Mount Mary because my grandmother told me I had to go to an all-women’s university for the first year of college. I then chose Mount Mary because they seemed to really care for their students and this idea was proven true. I love the faculty I have had, they truly care for each student and they take time to learn more about their students and how they can help them succeed.

How has MMU shaped you?

Mount Mary has changed how I view myself. In high school I thought I was a mediocre student who just got passed over time and time again and that I was not as intelligent as others. Since coming to Mount Mary, I have learned that I am an intelligent and very opinionated person. I have learned to stand up for myself and others. I have learned more about myself through the classes I have taken as well as the organizations I have been involved in. I am still a very blunt person who is brutally honest when needed, but I have become a more rounded person. Some of the opportunities I have had here, I know I would not have gotten at another institution. I was able to go to the United Nations and learn more about the human rights issues that are plaguing our world as well as learning about others cultures.

What are your next steps?

My goals are as follows:

  • Hopefully go to Germany to teach English for eight months
  • Then either go to:
    • Grad school for Library Science with a specialization in Youth Services, aka Children’s Librarian.
    • Go to law school and also grad school for a Master’s in Business and an International Law degree. I would love to work in a career that would allow me to travel but also to help create bonds through business.
  • Then once I have completed either then I would love to go back for a post-bacc in Wildlife Rehabilitation. I love animals and have always had an interest in helping wildlife recover. I have been raised to respect people but also to respect the creatures the God made along with Adam. My grandmother has always loved wolves and this love has made me think about how best to help the helpless.

Is there something you wish that you had done differently in terms of MMU?

I wish that would have changed majors sooner. I wish I would have figured out before the end of my sophomore year that my old major was not for me. I also wish I would have taken more time to relax instead of going from work to class to meetings and back to class.

Do you have a favorite professor?

This is super unfair question. I have liked the majority of my professors and each professor has taught me something new about my major, my minor or just life in general.

  • Julie Tatlock has encouraged me to conquer my fear of flying by having me take the United Nations class and flying with me to New York and back. She has also been the most understanding to my style of learning.
  • Dr. Marmy Clason has encouraged me to go and explore other cultures and to learn more about how communication works on a whole.
  • Almost all of my English professors will probably tell you I am very opinionated about literature as well as being able to integrate my own personal experiences with the readings or with class discussion. This has encouraged me to be confident in my opinions and bold enough to voice them.

What was your favorite class?

This is also another unfair question. But I will say my favorite class has probably been Studies in the British Novel: Jane Austen. I enjoyed learning about all aspects of the Jane Austen time period as well as for getting to do a presentation on the many adaptations and sequels to Jane Austen’s novels.

Do you have any advice for incoming freshman?

Get involved day one of being on campus and stay involved. The more involved on campus you become the more you experience how awesome this place is. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!

Do you have any advice for next years seniors?

Take time for yourself. I know this is hard to believe but you are human too and are going to need to take some personal time for yourself. When something is getting you really stressed out, take a break and think about whether this is something to stress out over or can it be let go. Get the negativity out of your life and take a deep breath. When people ask what you plan on doing after college say ” I plan on living to the best of my ability!”


In a few short days, Hayley will be walking across that stage and proudly accepting her Mount Mary diploma.

Congratulations Hayley, you have earned it!


Jessica Disu – FM Supreme

The Women’s Leadership Institute outdid themselves with their latest Studio Series event. What made this event so special, was that the guest speaker is not only an amazingly accomplished female leader – she is peer. At 26 years old, Jessica Disu (aka FM Supreme), as the head of the Chicago International Peace Movement, describes herself as a “humanitarian rap artist.”

As a young girl, Jessica spent four years in the foster care system. Once reuniteFM_Supreme_WEB30d with her mother, Jessica wanted nothing more than to make her proud. Music was the bond that strengthened their relationship. Jessica was convinced that by becoming a successful rap artist, she would garner her mother’s approval and admiration.

Turning to music for comfort, Jessica recognized her own story being reflected in the songs of performing artist Eve. It was during this time that Jessica discovered that she could “give rap a purpose – depth.” She wanted to use her music as a way to help others in the way that Eve’s music had helped her. Around this same time, in school, Jessica was learning about the Freedom Fighters and Assata Shakur. These studies helped to peak her interest in peace and social justice.

In high school, Jessica began writing poetry – winning the Chicago Youth Poetry Slam Festival, Louder Than A Bomb, twice. She took her writing skills into the classroom and started a program called “Her Story,” helping young girls to tell their stories as a means of healing. Jessica discovered that her calling was to “serve young people, specifically young women.” The success of the “Her Story” program launched Jessica into a career as an educator. She spent several years working within the school system, helping to inspire inner-city Chicago youth. With a deep spiritual conviction, Jessica felt God encouraging her to do more to bring young people into a movement for peace, “the solution is the kids.”

Jessica toured internationally with The Peace Exchange in 2013 for a Chicago-Asia coalition of young adults focused on promoting peace in Chicago. Jessica uses her music as a way to inspire others to promote peace within their own communities as well as to highlight the changes that need to be made.  Jessica has performed with many artists such as Russel Simmons, Nick Cannon and Lupe Fiasco. Through her music, her work as an educator, a public speaker, a peace advocate and the founder of Chicago International Youth Peace Movement – Jessica has had a positive impact on youth and adults alike, both nationally and internationally.

With a room full of busy college students, it was easy to feel overwhelmed while hearing about all of Jessica’s amazing work. When asked about how to best get involved, Jessica encouraged us to ask ourselves on a regular basis, “What can I do best to bring peace to my community?” And then do it.