2014 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Spirit of Francis - Rev. Diana M. (Thompson) Gorgos, SFSN '59

Rev. Diana Gorgos graduated from St. Francis School of Nursing in 1959 and has gone on to receive a degree in Community Health/Education from Winona State in 1985 and a degree from the University of Minnesota in adult education in 1989. She studied theology at St Joseph’s College of Maine.

As a registered nurse, she spent 20 years in the dermatology department at Gundersen Health System, and in 1975 with Dr. Stephen Webster began education for sexually transmitted infection within the public and parochial schools and universities/colleges within the tri-state area. She has published independently and with Dr. Webster in medical journals nationally and internationally as well as being the editor of the Focus, a bimonthly newsletter for dermatology nurses.

In 1990, she began working to educate the patients diagnosed with cardiac diseases about the secondary diseases associated with that diagnoses. In January 2006, when most of her friends retired, Diana rid herself of her earthly possessions and moved to a foreign land without modern conveniences to serve as a missionary nurse with the Anglican Church of Kenya. She lived in the Garissa Region, a remote desert area with three million refugees from Somalia, where she served in grave and dangerous conditions. Most United Nations and other volunteer workers from western countries have left this area as it’s heavily populated with Al-Qaeda and Al-Shahab militant terrorists.

She was recruited to begin medicine in rural Eastern Kenya basis out of Kitui. Diana was instrumental in planting the new Diocese first church, started the first school and they were able to begin drilling the first well. It was here that she continued with her theology and was ordained an Anglican Priest in 2010.

In March of 2013 the situation in Garissa became so unstable for a Western person that the Kenya government and U.S. Embassy requested she be reassignment from Kenya. She is now attached to the Anglican Church of North America, Pittsburg Diocese and has a chapel in St. Paul where she ministers to those living in memory care at a Presbyterian Home.

According to one nomination, “It was spine chilling to listen about their activities in the face of adversity; with Al-Qaeda and Al-Shahab, illiteracy and disease. Diana appears quiet and unassuming, considerate of all humans and even animals. Diana finds solace in the teaching of St. Francis of Assisi: ‘Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.”

In December of 2014, she will go back to Kenya where on Jan. 4, 2015, an alter will be placed and blessed in the new church at Ukasi. The switch will be pulled and power to the well will begin pumping water and electricity to the compound.

Professional Development - Camille Orridge '80

Camille Orridge graduated from Viterbo University in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science in Medical Records Administration. Camille later went on to further her education and earned a Master of Health Administration from the University of Toronto in 1983.

As a young woman, Camille immigrated to Canada from Jamaica to begin a new chapter in her life. In her first job in Canada, Camille worked as a ward maid at Toronto General Hospital in the late 1960s, marking the beginning of her career in health care. As Camille furthered her education, she moved into senior executive roles at the Home Care Program for Metropolitan Toronto, followed by a promotion to Executive Director and then Chief Executive Officer of the Toronto Community Care Access Centre. The Toronto Central Community Access Centre has a staff of 500, located throughout the community at various office locations and 24 hospital sites. The Centre serves a population of 1.2 million residents in Toronto.

In November 2010, Camille was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). In this capacity, Camille oversees an organization responsible for the overall performance of over 170 health service providers and allocating $4.2 billion to hospitals, long-term care homes, and community agencies.  Camille is also accountable for the shared services for all 14 LHINs across the Province of Ontario. 

As a senior executive with comprehensive experience in the community sector, Camille has dedicated her career to the health care system of Toronto, and has been active on both local and national levels. She was a founding member of the Canadian Home Care Association and the Black Coalition of Aids Prevention. 

Throughout her career, Camille has advanced strategies to design services around patient needs, and has been active in driving the ethics, equity, and quality of care agendas.

Camille has received accolades for her passionate advocacy for developing strong and inclusive communities. Most recently, Camille was awarded an African Canadian Achievement Award for Excellence in Medicine in 2014, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013, and was named one of the Top 25 Women of Influence in 2012.

Service to the University - Carolyn Hogan '63

Carolyn graduated from Viterbo’s St. Francis School of Medical Technology in 1963 and worked as a generalist and microbiologist at St. Francis Hospital in La Crosse. Her family moved to Chicago, where she worked in microbiology, taught medical parasitology, and set up the cytogenetics lab at Illinois Masonic Hospital Medical Center.

After being a homemaker and raising three talented children, of which two are also Viterbo graduates, she returned to her profession by becoming employed at Community Memorial Hospital/Winona Health, where she worked for 27 years as a generalist and served several years on the ethics committee and lab integration committee.

You can see Carolyn and her husband Tom at most Viterbo functions, including theatre productions, lectures, alumni board meetings, sporting events, and volunteering in countless ways at events and around campus. In fact when Carolyn was ill she found out there was a way to stream a game so she could cheer on the V-Hawks.

According to someone who nominated her for the award, “I met Carolyn the first day I set foot on campus and continue to experience her warm hospitality.” Carolyn’s Franciscan service is alive and present on campus as she continues active service on the Alumni Emeritus Board and is a tireless advocate for alumni, students, and the entire Viterbo community.

Community Service - Melinda Van Slyke '97, '06

Melinda Van Slyke enrolled at Viterbo in 1992 and promptly took in every theatre and Spanish class she could find. While an undergrad, Melinda was fortunate enough to take advantage of Viterbo’s many offerings, including performing in plays and musicals as well as participating in study abroad programs, most notably the Global Awareness Through Experience program. Melinda graduated from Viterbo in 1997 with degrees in theatre and Spanish. She returned to Viterbo and earned a Master’s in Servant Leadership in 2006.

Shortly after receiving her undergraduate degrees, Melinda went to Guatemala where she lived for a year as a human rights observer in a repatriated refugee community. She lived in a community of 80 families on the south coast of Guatemala who had fled into Mexico during the height of the genocide and had since returned to their beloved homeland to rebuild their lives. Her purpose was not to “do” anything. Her purpose was to be a witness, to be a voice to the rest of the world. Her purpose was to be there so that a) Guatemalan community leaders would have the political space to organize without threats and intimidation and barring that, b) that her presence would prevent a massacre.

While based in Spring Green, Melinda has spent the past 15 years traveling frequently to Guatemala. Over the years she founded a fair trade Guatemalan textiles and jewelry company called Heart of the Sky Fair Trade. She also serves on the board of The Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala, an international organization that supports individuals, organizations, and communities working for justice in Guatemala. With Heart of the Sky Fair Trade and The Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala, Melinda continues to advocate for human rights by empowering artisans and craftspeople and by working to change the root causes of poverty in Guatemala.

According to one nominator, “Her integrity is her life as she lives it. It is a bright, resilient, fiercely loving integrity…for justice, compassion, and devotion to all that is good and right in humanity. I trust her to always speak with integrity, passion, wisdom, courage; with the heart-centered intent to speak for those without voices in a world of so much crisis and corruption. Melinda is truly a Franciscan-hearted sort of human being, and the spirit of all she does honors and inspires the Franciscan tradition.”

Young Alumni - Molly Simones '10

Molly Simones graduated with a degree in biochemistry and a minor in religious studies from Viterbo in 2010. At that time, she joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, an organization based on the values of social justice, simple living, spirituality, and community. Molly was placed in Sacramento, where for a year she lived in an intentional community and worked at Friendship Park, a homeless day center serving mostly men. Molly stayed on as a staff member at Friendship Park when her year of service was over and has served as the assistant director of Friendship Park for two years where thousands of homeless guests arrive daily seeking hot coffee, showers, lunch, counseling, and a safe place.

Friendship Park is a place of welcome and refuge to our sisters and brothers living on the streets of Sacramento. The most rewarding part of Molly’s job is hearing people's stories and being able to accompany them on their journeys. Last year Molly took the time to listen to a guest that had formerly resided at a psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas. This resident was given a one-way Greyhound ticket, three bottles of Ensure, and a three day supply of an antipsychotic medication and was told to find an emergency room in Sacramento when he arrived. Molly started a domino effect where “she unveiled Nevada’s broken mental health care system and dominos have been tipping over ever since.”

As written by someone who nominated her for the award, Molly responded with the heart of St. Francis and “did exactly what most of us would not have taken the time to do. She treats everybody as if they’re the most important person in her life that day.”

Molly was the keynote speaker for Viterbo’s humanity symposium and is currently enrolled in Viterbo’s Master of Servant Leadership program.