As young students at St. Joseph High School in Lakewood, Anna Barreiro and Terry Dodge knew all about the excitement and challenges, and the nervousness and fears, that face graduating seniors.Which is one reason why the two — now Anna Barreiro Sutti, ’01, and Sister of St. Louis Terry Dodge, ’69 — were invited, as St. Joseph’s “Distinguished Alumnae of the Year,” to speak to the graduates of their alma mater at St. Joseph’s June 1 commencement ceremony with 184 graduating seniors. Anna — whose family came to the U.S. from the Philippines seeking a good education for their two young girls — was salutatorian for the class of 2001 and she received the President’s Scholarship to attend Marquette University, where she helped organize Tuesday night Masses and programs for students on homelessness. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the College of Business and earned a double major in International Business and Marketing with a minor in Political Science. With a passion for assisting those in need, she taught public school sixth grade students in a low-income neighborhood and she volunteered at homes for unwed mothers. Believing that a career in law might make a deeper impact, she attended Loyola Law School at night while working as a global trade compliance consultant by day. She, graduated Magna Cum Laude in law from Loyola and joined Jenne & Block, LLP, a national law firm noted for its commitment to pro bono services. Today Anna — married to Marquette classmate Ken Sutti — works on cases involving asylum for victims of trafficking, torture and false imprisonment in foreign countries. And she credits her success to God’s generosity, love and support from her family and her education at St. Joseph High.In her June 1 talk, she shared three lessons she learned the morning of her own salutatory address in 2001:—“You have to be flexible! Life is filled with the unexpected, and the sooner you realize that you cannot plan everything, the happier you will be. Maybe your dream college could not accept you this year. Surprises await at every corner, and most of the time, the surprises are great. If you are able to adjust, you will be just fine. —“Have courage. Have courage to do what you think is right. Learn to listen to your gut. If a choice feels like the right thing, do not back down. No matter the consequence, you will never regret doing the right thing.—“Most importantly: trust God. When I gave my [salutatorian] speech, I knew somewhere deep down that God Himself had led me to that moment and that decision. As I held on tight to my new Rosary [given to her by a friend as she went to the podium], I was sure that that morning, God picked my friend to remind me that He was beside me. Ladies, you are never, ever alone. Trust that God is in charge.” Sister Dodge said she knew while attending St. Cyprian School, Long Beach, “I knew with certainty was that I wanted to teach and I wanted to enter the convent. I decided I wanted to be like the religious women who staffed St. Cyprian, and at St. Joseph I carried that dream with me. I also knew I’d have to postpone my plans for three years to help out at home by working while I attended college. “ After entering the convent of the Sisters of St. Louis, she earned a Bachelor ‘s from Mount St. Mary’s College and a Master’s in Feminist Spirituality from Immaculate Heart College. She credits the charism and unity of the Sisters of St. Louis for assisting her in ministry. “Whether I am in the classroom teaching or with the women at Crossroads [her ministry with women on parole], that charism is part of my perspective on life and helping to create community for and with others.”Currently on the leadership team of the Sisters of St. Louis in the US/Brazil region, she has been (since 1989) executive director of Crossroads, a re-entry home for women on parole in the setting of a caring community. “I believe in the power of communities, that human beings thrive in communities and need each other to survive,” she told the St. Joseph seniors.In recent years, Sister Terry has begun other innovative programs for the incarcerated, including Turning Point Staffing Services, to help formerly incarcerated and at-risk women develop employment skills. She has received many accolades for her work, and in March was listed by Newsweek as one of 150 women who are changing the world.To the 2012 graduates of St. Joseph, Sister Terry said, “In school we learned that a good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. But what life teaches us is that our own story has many beginnings, several middles, and never quite ends. Forty-two years ago, I was where you are. At that time, I couldn’t have imagined what my life would be like in 2012.” She also shared that nothing happens by mistake unless we do something about it. Her brother had been in prison so she knew firsthand that something had to change. “Crossroads is that change,” she said. Both speakers reflected on what in their lives has encouraged them to be part of making something better happen, and the importance of never giving up. Sister Terry shared a few lines from Keith Kent: —“If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.—“What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.—“People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.—“Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.”Added Sister Terry: “I think the prophet Micah puts it another way when he says: ‘Act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with your God.’ My prayer for you today is that your story is filled with many beginnings, that you embrace these opportunities, and find yourself awed with unexpected gifts of life and love and joy when you choose to do the things we are called to do anyway.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/0629/gradstjoseph/{/gallery}