Newman University to award honorary degrees to Newbery Medal recipient, Guatemala missionaries on Dec. 17

Nov 30, 2011

Newman University officials have announced that alumna and Newbery Medal recipient Clare Sander Vanderpool, and Guatemala missionaries Dani Brought, ASC and Kris Schrader, ASC, will be awarded Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa degrees during the Fall 2011 Commencement ceremony, beginning at 10 a.m. Dec. 17 at Central Community Church, 6100 W. Maple in Wichita.

The university bestows the honorary degrees at each Fall and Spring Commencement upon notable members of the extended Newman community based on exemplary dedication to one of the university’s four Core Values: Catholic Identity, Culture of Service, Academic Excellence, and Global Perspective. Newman President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D., said Vanderpool reflects the university’s Core Value of Academic Excellence, while Brought and Schrader embody Global Perspective.

“We are thrilled to recognize these three remarkable women, not only for their achievements but also for the principles and values they represent,” Carrocci said. “Clare Vanderpool is a model for young people who aspire to be writers, teachers or historians. Sister Dani and Sister Kris are an inspiration for us all through the work they do to bring hope, knowledge and compassion to an underserved population in Guatemala. We could not be more proud of their affiliation with Newman University and with our founders, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ.”

Clare Sander Vanderpool
Vanderpool will be honored for her work guiding and educating young people and for her achievements as an author.

Clare Vanderpool
Clare Vanderpool

Vanderpool grew up in Wichita not far from her current home in College Hill, and attended Blessed Sacrament Catholic School and Wichita Collegiate School, where she developed a strong love for storytelling and writing. Following her graduation in 1987 from Kansas Newman College (now Newman University) with degrees in English and Elementary Education, she served as Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Wichita, where she planned and conducted retreats, leadership training and other projects and programs for high school youth and young adults. When her first child was born, Vanderpool left that position to care for her children, and to pursue her love of storytelling.

Vanderpool published her first novel, Moon Over Manifest, in 2010. The book tells the powerful story of the only daughter of a drifter searching for her personal meaning of home and family during the Great Depression. To write the book, Vanderpool relied on her creative powers, but also did extensive research on the era and drew from the experiences and history of her maternal grandparents’ family. In January 2011, she were named the winner of the prestigious Newbery Medal, which is bestowed annually by the American Library Association to recognize, “the best contribution to American children’s literature.” She is the first Kansas author to receive this honor. Vanderpool received the Newbery Medal in June 2011 at the annual meeting of the ALA in New Orleans, La., where thousands were in attendance. By then Moon Over Manifest had become a best-seller.

Today, when not working on a new book or spending time with her husband Mark and children Luke, Paul, Grace and Lucy, Vanderpool is a sought-after speaker at schools, libraries, and conferences around the country. In spring 2012, the Newman University Alumni Association will recognize her achievement as a children’s author by awarding her the Leon A. McNeill Distinguished Alumni Award in Arts and Humanities.

Kris Schrader, ASC
Kris Schrader, ASC

Dani Brought, ASC and Kris Shrader, ASC
Brought and Schrader will be honored for their ministry of education and health care for the poor in Guatemala in the name of their religious order, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ.

Schrader began her ministry in Guatemala in 1988. Working with the Precious Blood Missionaries and the Precious Blood Sisters from Dayton, Ohio, she built a school, now known as the Maria De Mattias Education Center, in La Labor, Guatemala, on land purchased by the former Ruma province of the Adorers. Today, the school remains under Schrader’s direction offering secondary education, technical training and adult education, and serving as a community center for a vulnerable population in rural Guatemala. In addition to the center’s excellent reputation for quality education, it now includes a regional library serving all age groups from 14 area communities, provides in-service opportunities for hundreds of teachers in the area, and creates programs for the development of reading skills and the promotion of reading.

Dani Brought, ASC
Dani Brought, ASC

Brought became the Director of the Precious Blood Health Project in La Labor in 1994, where she developed and currently supervises medical and dental clinics, pharmacies and laboratories, as well as programs for vaccinations, health education, environmental health and sanitation. Each month, this award-winning health care ministry, now known as the Sangre de Cristo Health Care Project, meets the basic needs of hundreds of families with limited resources. Under Brought’s leadership, the Sangre de Cristo Health Clinic and its Healthy Habits program is also helping to improve the conditions that make Guatemala the country with the third highest rate of chronic hunger and malnutrition in the world.

In addition to their daily work with the people, both Schrader and Brought have addressed local, regional and national organizations in Guatemala about their ministry and the need to improve conditions and the quality of life for those to whom they minister. For the past three years they have also welcomed groups of Newman University Spanish students and faculty to their mission so that they can learn firsthand about the lives and needs of these people.