Mary Angela DiGiovanni had a bright future and a deep desire to improve health care for those in need. This aspiration, confirmed through her academic and personal endeavors, strengthened her resolve to enter the profession of public health care. Unfortunately, she was involved in a fatal car accident on January 5, 2003, while returning to University of Michigan after the holidays.
She had a deeply rooted respect for human dignity that was instilled by strong family values. She had a resolve to listen to her heart which shaped her goals and values. Mary Angela had great respect and understanding of the cultural dynamics of human behavior affecting health care. She was attending the University of Michigan to obtain her Masters of Public Health Degree with a concentration in Health and Social Behavior. Her vision was to become an effective leader in local and international public health care and administration. As a result of the inspiration that she provided to her fellow students and to her professors at U of M, the University posthumously awarded her a Masters of Public Health degree in the spring of 2003. In 2004, the University established the Mary Angela DiGiovanni Disaster Preparedness Fund, which was used to provide relief to tsunami victims.
As a student at Mercy High School in Farmington Hills, Michigan, Mary Angela twice traveled to Appalachia to work on projects to aid less fortunate families. During her undergraduate work at Michigan State University, she was active in fundraising, counseling, and coordinating educational efforts at Eleís Place, a local organization providing counseling to grieving children. It was working with children and adults from diverse ethnic backgrounds that confirmed her belief in the vital importance of socio-cultural factors in health policy and intervention.
As part of Michigan States Study Abroad Program, Mary Angela first spent a semester studying in Florence, Italy, and later traveled to other parts of Europe. She next studied abroad in Pokhara, Nepal, and witnessed firsthand the results of misguided public health initiatives that failed to meet community needs (This later was the subject of a journal article that she co-authored in Abroad View). Upon leaving Nepal, Mary Angela traveled to Bangkok, Thailand, and then onto Pattaya, Thailand, where she visited an orphanage. She was so impressed with the work being done there that it became one of her goals to someday help them. These experiences planted the seed in her ambitious nature that fueled her dedication to improve local and international public health care by way of social, cultural, and behavioral interventions. Mary Angela graduated with highest honors from Michigan State University. In her honor, Michigan State University established a Mary Angela DiGiovanni Study Abroad Scholarship.
In addition to excelling in her academic pursuits, Mary Angela was an avid sports enthusiast. She was the MVP goalie on Mercy High Schools first Varsity Field Hockey Team, excelled in two marathons, hiked in the Himalayas, rock-climbed in the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains, loved to kayak, was a pioneer snowboarder, and became a nationally-certified white water raft guide, conducting tours on the Colorado River.
Mary was intrigued by opportunities that challenged her abilities and strengthened her character and was most comfortable in multicultural environments. The Inner-City Games Foundation decided to honor Mary's spirit of service and hope for the future by establishing the Mary Angela DiGiovanni Beacon of Light Award.
Mary was the daughter of Mike and Chris DiGiovanni, and the sister of Mike and John.