High Notes

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Ursuline alumnae are making an impact as accomplished professionals and as Serviam women, bringing strength and leadership to their families and communities, sharing time, talent and resources to help neighbors in need, embracing opportunity and challenge at home and around the world.

To follow are highlights of recent professional, volunteer, and personal accomplishments submitted by Ursuline alumnae.

Melodie Matthews Cottingham ’83, Media Market Specialist at Camelot Strategic Marketing & Media, recently received the 2019 Mary Henry Humanitarian Award. Established by DREAM Fund in 2005, this award is to honor Mary’s unselfish commitment to volunteerism. 

“Melodie truly represents the spirit of this award with her willingness to help others, compassion, and positive spirit. She has a true servant’s heart and is a champion for others.”

Alex Huffman '00, LCSW, OSW-C, Support Services Manager at UT Southwestern, is a recipient of the 40 Under 40 in Cancer Award. This award is to recognize the contributions being made across the field of cancer by rising stars and emerging leaders under the age of 40. She was selected by a panel of reviewers from across diverse roles in oncology.

Alex has multiple accomplishments that could be listed, but to highlight a few from the nomination submitted: 

  • Alex’s drive and commitment to excellence.
  • The design and implementation of a financial assistance and support program for children with a parent in cancer treatment through a partnership with a generous donor.
  • The psychosocial retreats for those “forgotten survivors” for women and those that support them.
  • Development of the Patient and Family Advisory Council.
  • Advancing the level of oncology expertise in social work through certification, which then led to the implementation of multiple support groups.
  • Her passion that led to being accepted into the University of Michigan’s Integrative Oncology Scholars program which is an intensive 1-year curriculum focused the addition of integrative therapies to the oncology patient experience and further compliment other standard treatment modalities.

Alessandra Comini ‘52, University Distinguished Professor of Art History Emeri at SMU, recently received the Dallas Historical Society’s Award for Excellence in Community Service, Humanities Category. 

Alex Huffman ‘00, LCSW, OSW-C, Support Services Managerat UT Southwestern, was featured in a #StaffSpotlight discussing the UT Southwestern Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, virtual support groups, and COVID-19. Read more.

Mara Papakostas ’15, recent graduate from the University of North Carolina, was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. From January to June 2021, she will be an English Teaching Assistant in Taipei, Taiwan. 

Cecilia O’Brien ’20, freshman at the University of Notre Dame, joined the 15th class of Stamps Scholars. Stamps Scholars are chosen via a rigorous process by their universities and colleges for the academic excellence, leadership experience, dedication to service, and exceptional character. 

Dianna Walsh Smoot '97 is the new Executive Director of Dallas ISD's new Mental Health Services (MHS) Department. 

Kate Stark Knight '00, Director of MPact at My Possibilities, was featured in Plano Magazine, "#Changemakers in the Disabilities Community: Kate Knight and Craig Tiritilli." Read more. 

Nancy Hairston '86, CEO of MedCAD, was featured in Dallas Innovates, "A Custom Medical Device Company in Deep Ellum is Protoyping Better PPE to Fight COVID-19." Read more.

Jordan Wedell '16 has been selected as a 2020 recipient of an Academic Achievement Award from the Department of History at Loyola Marymount University. 

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