You have two ways you can answer. You could say that Gael refers to an ethno-linguistic group that spread from Ireland to Scotland and the Isle of Man. But what you’re probably thinking is this.
Gaels dream big. They’re smart, strong, tenacious and consistently outperform others’ expectations.
Gaels know that to make a difference in the world you have to understand it. So they study. They ask questions. They travel. They pray. They probe deeply. They serve.
Gaels use their intellect and their might to rise up in the face of giants. They’re strong in adversity, and they look out for the neediest among us. Gaels are compassionate and understanding. They’re ethical global citizens.
Gaels have hope, determination, guts and a drive to make the world a better place. They’re alumni and non-alumni. Brothers and students. Professors, mothers, fathers, friends and family. Neighbors, public servants and business professionals.
And Gaels are worthy of celebration.
We’ve highlighted just a few in the pages of this annual report. Meet more Gaels and nominate more for recognition at yearofthegael.com.
Students who come to Saint Mary’s are here to be challenged.
The National Survey of Student Engagement reports both freshman upon entering and seniors before exiting consistently rate the level of academic challenge at Saint Mary’s higher than a variety of peer groups at other institutions.
Students come to the College because they know they will reap the rewards of the kind of education only Saint Mary’s provides. Undergraduates learn to articulate ideas in Collegiate Seminar, and step out of their comfort zone in January Term. The Lasallian tradition emboldens their faith and instills a desire to change the world for the better.
Others have taken notice. In 2012 Saint Mary’s was profiled in the book “40 Colleges That Change Lives,” in which the academic and spiritual mission of Saint Mary’s is described as fundamental to its success with students. In 2010, Forbes magazine ranked us fifth nationwide for “raising your earnings potential,” noting that 10 to 19 years after graduation, SMC alumni earn an average salary of $97,415, while the average salary for graduates across all 611 schools on the Forbes’ list of America’s Best Colleges was just $74,709.
We believe a college education should do more than stretch students’ intellects.
It should also feed their souls and enliven their desire to change the world for the better.
Saint Mary’s students pour themselves into everything from social action to community service to spiritual formation. Serving 40,000 hours each year, they do a multitude of good works. They tutor middle-school students. Teach English as a second language. They go farther afield — New Orleans, Alaska, Haiti, and throughout the Bay Area — to get involved in helping build (or rebuild) communities in need. And they continue this service after Commencement: nearly 10 percent of graduates join the Peace Corps, Lasallian Volunteers, Teach for America or the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.
Saint Mary’s was listed on the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction. The award particularly recognized SMC leadership initiatives as well as a School of Science environmental education project and math camp. The College was also recognized by USA Today College as one of the top 10 colleges “most committed to community service.”
In nearly every way — from athletics and academics to service and spirit — Saint Mary’s has an energy that’s undeniable.
We come at the world with David-meets-Goliath intensity. We work against the odds and consistently come out on top. Whether it’s our current students, our faculty or our alumni, we’re making a huge splash out in the world. Examples can be found in every corner of the campus. The Macken Debate and Speech Team members regularly represented the College in competition, earning honors in every event in which they competed. The SMC Chamber Singers and Glee Club, competing against 362 choirs from 64 countries, both won silver medals at the 2012 World Choir Games in Cincinnati.
In 2012 Saint Mary’s athletics program was named the best men’s sports program in the West Coast Conference. The award came after Saint Mary’s teams won three WCC championships — men’s soccer, men’s basketball and men’s golf. In club sports, Saint Mary’s men’s rugby advanced all the way to the Division I semifinals in 2012 and were in the Sweet 16 for the past eight years in a row.
And news coverage of Saint Mary’s increased substantially during the 2011-12 academic year, with the number of media mentions about Saint Mary’s faculty up 104 percent.
Where can you find the Gael spirit? You’ll find it in the 40,000 alumni, 4,000 students, 350 staff and 200 faculty living out the College’s Lasallian mission everyday in ways large and small.
It’s in the weekly Community Time barbecue where students, faculty and staff gather for casual conversation. It’s the roar of the Gael Force and the feeling in our hearts as we attend the Mass of the Holy Spirit each year. And it’s in the way we come together in support of the College.
Last year alone 5,800 alumni, family, friends and donors attended a record-breaking 80 events in 25 locations worldwide. Attendance at July 2012 class reunions jumped 62 percent with nearly 1,000 alumni and friends participating in the weekend activities — the most in College history.
Household giving to the College grew by almost 15 percent, with alumni giving up 9 percent and donations from parents up 30 percent. Service to the College by alumni and friends is at an all-time high, with 776 alumni and friends serving on 27 different College boards, committees, chapters and groups, and providing an estimated 7,000 service hours.