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Leadership program places Arts and Sciences students on lifetime track

Oct 13, 2023
3 min Read
Eugene Curtin
College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Fellows beside Willa Cather sculpture.

Creighton is replete with opportunities for its students to emerge not just with a four-year degree but with leadership skills developed through servant-leadership activities under the guidance of trusted campus mentors. 

Prominent among these is the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Fellows Program that this year marks its 10th anniversary. 

Rooted in Creighton’s Jesuit tradition of service, the four-year program opens the way for qualifying students to become campus leaders while developing relationships with faculty, staff, alumni and students. 

Bridget Keegan, PhD, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, says the program works for students because students in large part designed it. 

“We developed the program with the students, to ensure that whatever activities or curriculum we created met their needs and interests,” she says. “The best parts of the program, such as our annual retreat or our senior leadership immersion trip, exist because students thought they would be valuable.” 

Key to that effort has been partnership with other Creighton agencies, Keegan said, such as the Creighton Intercultural Center, the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice, and the Student Leadership and Involvement Center. 

Senior Karissa Patera says her time as a Dean’s Fellow has been a highlight of her Creighton years. 

“It has been one of my favorite parts about my time here at Creighton,” she says. “Beginning my freshman year, I was able to quickly make friendships within the program with both the students and deans in the program. 

“The program provided me with one of my greatest leadership opportunities during my junior year as chair of service and advocacy when I partnered with the Red Cross to host a blood drive each semester for the overall Creighton community.” 

We developed the program with the students, to ensure that whatever activities or curriculum we created met their needs and interests.
— Bridget Keegan, PhD, dean, College of Arts and Sciences

Omaha’s Siena Francis House homeless shelter was also a beneficiary of Patera’s service work, as well as Creighton’s Summer Health Program in the Dominican Republic, which she attended with the support of a $1,000 scholarship. 

Lydia Johnson, now a first-year student at the Creighton School of Dentistry, says the program comfortably accommodated her interest in combining art and science. 

“During my senior year my academic advisor helped fund my participation in a weeklong painting workshop,” she says. “While that may not seem plainly related to dentistry, the workshop allowed me to elevate creative skills and techniques that I implemented in my senior thesis, which aimed to show the intersection of art and science in health care. 

“Beyond the workshop, the program supported me throughout my senior year and through the thesis process.” 

Johnson’s experience was typical of the Fellows program, Keegan says, which encourages its students to identify their strengths and develop them with a view to service.   

“Ignatian leadership is a complex and nuanced approach, and our four-year program allows students to appreciate the many dimensions of what it means to serve and lead authentically and effectively,” she says. “I am so proud of these students and all they have accomplished and will continue to accomplish.” 

For more details about the Dean’s Fellows Program, email the dean’s office at or call 402.280.2116.