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Community, career, faculty who care

Kara Shimko and Marta Gayarre were recruited for the Cardinal Stritch University women’s basketball team and began their stretch at Stritch as teammates as well as classmates, then found themselves teaming up again – in the campus marketing department. They grew up worlds apart - Kara’s from Illinois, and Marta’s from Spain - but Stritch is the university they both now call home. And they’re glad they do.

Though basketball was the original spark, they each saw something else that drew them to Stritch.

Kara Shimko

The best of both worlds

“My freshman year of high school, I went to a big public school,” says Kara. “We had about 4,000 kids, and I was not a fan of the bigger class sizes. My sophomore year, I transferred to a smaller Catholic school, and I realized that smaller environment was what I was looking for. When I visited Stritch, it had that exact same feel. A friendly, family environment – that’s something I automatically felt when I set foot on campus. It’s an indescribable feeling, that sense of community. I’ve met a lot of people, learned about other cultures and about myself. It’s the perfect place to find yourself, your friendships and what you aspire to in the future.”

Marta Gayarre

For Marta, it was the unique combination Stritch offered – a smaller school, yet minutes from everything Milwaukee has to offer.

“I wanted to be in a city. I wanted to go to the malls, to go downtown, to have a social life outside my life here at school. So being close to downtown Milwaukee was a really big part for me, but also the fact that Stritch is a small school where you know pretty much everyone. My meaning of community has changed so much here. I’m not just studying in Milwaukee, I’m studying at Cardinal Stritch University. Stritch has this great community of international students. I’ve met people from all over the world here, created such great relationships with people from very different backgrounds. That’s crazy to me. I would not have the opportunity to do that back home. We are like a family, we all support each other.”

You’ll never be a number

That support is also the hallmark of the professors they’re counting on to help them pave their paths to the future.

“Professors and faculty genuinely wanting the best for you,” says Kara, “pushing you to excel and wanting you to succeed – I think that’s just absolutely amazing! They want to know you, and they care about how you’re doing. You’re not just another student walking around the hallways.”

“We’ve got a lot of great professors. Dr. Cheryl Moore, for example, is just the most powerful woman I’ve ever met. She’s constantly pushing her students to apply what they’re learning. It’s not just ‘read the book, take the quiz, answer these questions.’ It’s ‘read the book and I’m going to give you a business situation and you’re going to have to apply it.’ She is just so powerful in the sense of application-based learning. In reality, when you’re faced with those business situations, you’re going to have to make the right decisions. She’s constantly pushing us to be the best possible versions of ourselves. That’s what I aspire to be in whatever industry I’m in.”

“My graphic design advisor, Tim Abler,” says Marta, “has been great for me graphic design-wise and career-wise – searching for opportunities, opening many doors to me, and motivating me in my work on graphic design. I’ve also gotten a lot of guidance from Zak Eden, our main graphic designer in the marketing department. I’ve learned so much working with him and could really connect with him. And now in my senior year I’ve been working with the department where they actually help you develop your portfolio, your resume, your LinkedIn page – whatever you need for the future.”

Looking back as they look ahead

As seniors, that future is right around the corner. And as they look toward it, what do Kara and Marta have to say about choosing Cardinal Stritch University to prepare them to achieve their dreams?

Kara Shimko Headshot

“Even though I’m a senior and I’m still scared out of my mind for what’s to come, one thing that I do know is that – from what my professors taught me – I’m going to be the most educated person in that room.”

Kara Shimko
marketing major

Marta Gayarre Headshot

“I’m very proud of the person I’ve been able to become because of Stritch. When I’m 80 years old, I’m going to remember coming to Stritch with passionate love for this school.”

Marta Gayarre
graphic design major