When we were your age, we applied to college too. And now we get to put that experience (and many others) to use, making the application process as easy as we can. We look forward to getting to know you!
Michael Beseda, Vice President for College Communication and Vice Provost for Enrollment
Michael Beseda has been responsible for the enrollment function at Saint Mary's since 1998 and for college communication since January 2003. In his enrollment role, he oversees admissions, financial aid, registration, institutional research and student retention efforts. As vice president for college communications, he is responsible for Saint Mary's communication with its key internal and external audiences, including faculty, students and staff, and members of the media, government and community.
Beseda earned his bachelor's degree at Saint Mary's as well as a master's degree from San Francisco State University. He began his career here as an admissions officer and has also served as director of admissions and assistant vice president for research, planning and technology.
Michael K. McKeon, Dean of Admissions
"I pay the school master, but it is the school boys who educate my sons" - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Fit is critical in your college choice. Your fellow students will be some of your greatest teachers, and their varying perspectives will create the synergy you experience in and out of class. Carefully consider who is attracted to the campuses you are examining; carefully consider who you want to be your teachers.
A New York State native, Michael McKeon earned his bachelor of science in history from the State University of New York College at Oneonta and his master of arts in history from Adelphi and Hofstra Universities. He has been in college admissions since 1978 and served as Assistant Director of Admissions at Adelphi University, Director of Admissions at Alfred University and at the State University of New York College at Cortland, and as Dean of Admissions at Seattle University prior to coming to Saint Mary’s. He is a member of the National Merit Scholarship Program Selection Committee and previously served as chair for the Western Regional Assembly Council of the College Board, and president for the Pacific Northwest Association for College Admission Counseling.
Omar Zazueta, Senior Associate Director of Admissions
“When selecting a school, do your homework. Research all the colleges, compare them, and most importantly: VISIT THEM! Your decision will be based on how your visit goes. Then make sure you are choosing the school for the right reasons.”
Growing up in rural Northern California, I never imagined I could attend such a beautiful place like Saint Mary's. After I graduated from Ukiah High School, however, I was fortunate enough to come here as a first generation college student. I decided to commit to SMC the moment I arrived for an overnight program. The campus was stunning, and the people here were so friendly and caring. I loved that this college was only slightly bigger than my high school because I was able to get to know my professors and engage in wonderful conversations in and out of the classroom. As a student, I was frequently invited into the homes of professors for dinner. After graduating in 2003 with a BA in Communications and a minor in Spanish, I moved home to work at Ukiah High School as an Academic Advisor for children of migrant farm workers. Now I have returned to Saint Mary's (I just couldn't stay away) to work in the Office of Admissions. As a recent alum, I look forward to working with prospective students, and helping them along the admissions process.
Angelica Moore, Associate Director of Admissions and Director of Transfer Recruitment
"Don’t rule out the value of a good liberal arts education due to the published costs to attend a private college or university. Often the costs decrease dramatically with scholarships and financial aid. You can only discover the true cost of attending a college after you go through the admissions process.”
I received my Bachelor of Arts Degree from San Diego State University, and I had a positive overall experience because I was a member of the volleyball team and thus had a support system. Otherwise, I could have slipped through the cracks. It was difficult to feel connected to the college when I attended classes in lecture halls with 200+ students. I only began to enjoy a deeper learning process when I attended a liberal arts institution for my Masters Degree in Education. My courses had about 20 students per class, and I experienced a much more interesting and engaging style of learning. The class sizes were small enough for me to get to know the students and the professors quite well. I was attracted to Saint Mary’s because there is a very strong sense of community that permeates the campus between students, faculty and staff. I firmly believe in the value of community and the liberal arts education, and I am proud to speak with students about Saint Mary’s College of California.
Damien Fatongia '05, Associate Director of Admissions and Southern California Regional Representative
"I encourage prospective students not only to visit the colleges they're interested in, but also to contact and get to meet your admissions officers. It is always nice to put some faces to the applications we read. But more than that, knowing your admissions officers will make it easier for you to contact them if you have any questions or need help with the application process."
I graduated from Saint Mary's in 2005 with a BA in Sociology/Anthropology. After graduation I went straight to work for the Admissions office. After a year, I decided to travel Europe and live as a professional rugby player in Frankfurt, Germany. Now I'm back with my alma mater and thrilled to share my experiences with prospective students and the reasons why I enrolled at Saint Mary's. One of the things that attracted me to the school is the location; it is nestled in the rolling hills of Moraga where the big cities of San Francisco and Oakland are just a stone's throw away. But more than that, it is the feeling of community that I appreciate most. If you walk down the halls, you are sure to be stopped by one of your professors for a quick chat. If you're at a sporting event, the athletes representing Saint Mary's are your friends. I invite you to visit and experience these things first hand!
Rolando Crisostomo, Associate Director of Admissions and Coordinator of International Recruitment
“Don’t be intimidated about the college admissions process. Admissions counselors are always available to help you – from the time you apply to when you actually enroll. Our job is to provide you with all the resources you will need to achieve your goal of pursuing a college degree.”
I grew up here in the Bay Area and attended a small liberal arts college and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and a Master of Science in Education. As an undergraduate student, I enjoyed the benefits of attending a liberal arts college which offers small classes and small ratio between faculty and students, allowing me to get to know all of my professors on a personal level. Attending a small school also made it possible for me to shine and stand out amongst my peers as opposed to my friends in high school who attended bigger colleges and universities. I was encouraged to get involved from the start of my freshman year to the time I graduated. Getting involved on campus became second nature and a favorite part of my college experience. This is one of the main reasons I was attracted to Saint Mary’s College. The sense of community is the first observation I made when I toured its beautiful campus. Students, faculty and staff are all involved in making the college experience on campus worthwhile for everyone. I am excited to have an opportunity to work with prospective students and their family, not only about the admissions process, but sharing with them the endless opportunities that Saint Mary’s has to offer and why this place is truly special.
Patrick Lorenzo, Associate Director of Admissions
"Difficult takes a day. Impossible takes a week." Jay-Z
Born in the East Bay and raised in the South Bay I have come full circle. I spent my undergraduate years at Thurgood Marshall College in UC San Diego (Political Science and Urban Studies & Planning) and received my graduate degree from Saint Mary's College (Leadership). I thrived because of the undergraduate college system and through my involvement with organizations that celebrated culture, advocated for community outreach and produced hip-hop shows. After graduation, I stayed at UC San Diego, coordinating student activities. I returned to Silicon Valley at Santa Clara University coordinating admission events and the student ambassador program. At Saint Mary’s College, I oversee the Visitor Experience which includes the visitor center, preview days and the student ambassador program. I appreciate the genuine sense of community at the College and look forward to assisting prospective families navigate the college admissions process.
Drew Riley, Assistant Director of Admissions
I graduated from Carroll College, a small, private, Catholic liberal arts school in Helena, Montana, in 2008 with degrees in English and English Writing, after coming from a large public high school in Ohio. I also earned an MFA in Poetry (a passion I developed as an undergraduate student) from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, where I had the opportunity to study with poets writing on the front edge of contemporary technique. Saint Mary’s is my second professional stop, after three years as an admission counselor at Carroll. I certainly never thought I’d be where I am today, and that’s the most important lesson I’ve learned: if you allow yourself to follow your passions, you’re going to end up confronting yourself on a deeper level than if you had settled for convention. I love Saint Mary’s because the air is full of discontent here – this is a community of people who aren’t satisfied with the status quo, who don’t want to be told the meaning of life but want to discover it for themselves. It’s a rare place. Its location, nestled in the hills of the East Bay and mere miles from one of this continent’s great cities, certainly doesn’t hurt that distinction. I always enjoy working with bright students as they go through the exciting process of selecting a college, and I’m eager to talk to families about what Saint Mary’s can offer them.
Pedro Ramirez, Senior Admissions Officer
“ The college search is a fun and exciting time for you and your family. Think about the things that are most important to you – academically and socially – and then ask yourself if you can picture doing them there. You may be surprised at the answers you’ll find”.
I earned my Bachelor of Arts from UC Irvine, with a degree in Psychology & Social Behavior and a minor in Chicano/Latino Studies. Upon graduation, I worked as a program coordinator for underrepresented STEM students, developing support programs for access and retention. Assisting students in navigating the college experience was a real honor, and motivated me to earn a Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration at The University of Texas. There, I worked as a graduate assistant for student programs on ethical leadership and social justice. As much as I loved live music and barbecue, I just had to come back to California. Born and raised in the Central Valley, I’ve always had a deep affection for the Bay Area. Here at Saint Mary’s, being a Gael truly means being part of a learning community, on and off campus. When students leave Saint Mary’s they will have a better understanding of who they are, what they want to do, and most importantly, who they want to serve.
Erik Coloma '09, Senior Admissions Officer
" Get involved! In college, get involved with extracurricular activities such as clubs, sports, mission and ministry or student government. You will be able to meet wonderful people that share the same interests as you, and you might find a new interest that you grow a passion for. Your experience in college is truly what you make it. Get out there!"
I graduated from Saint Mary's with the class of 2009, receiving a Bachelors of Arts in History. The thing I love about Saint Mary's is that it is an institution that offers opportunities at every corner. These opportunities range from getting involved in an organization to receiving an internship. It is a place where you are able to find your passion and grow. Not to mention we have a beautiful campus located in the hills of Moraga. My experience at Saint Mary's took shape both inside and outside of the classroom. I loved how I was able to meet with my professors and just have conversations with them. They were always available whenever I needed help. Outside the classroom, it is easy to get involved at Saint Mary's. My junior year I held the position of Vice President for Student Affairs, in which I oversaw all student organizations on campus. Then during my senior year I had the honor of serving my fellow peers as Associated Student President. I loved and enjoyed every single moment as a student at Saint Mary's. I now have the pleasure and joy of sharing my experience with students as an Admissions Officer for the College.
Shiralee Batten, Marketing Communications and Database Administrator
It is often noted that "roots" are a foundation to one's success and that "home" is where you lay your hat. "
My first encounter with Saint Mary's was as a spectator at the Pat Vincent Rugby weekend. I immediately became homesick on entering this beautiful campus set in the Moraga hills. The surroundings reminded me of Maritzburg College, my husband's Alma Mater in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
I was educated and raised in Durban, South Africa and have lived in Walnut Creek, California since 2000. My family and I spent two years in Montpellier a small city in the south of France where I fell in love with the people and their culture.
I am the proud mother to three graduates; my eldest daughter practices veterinary medicine in Petaluma, CA - UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine 2011. My son and youngest daughter are both alumni of Saint Mary's graduating class of 2011. The education they received from Saint Mary's College has empowered them to compete with the best for positions in this very touch economy.
I am very fortunate to be part of a very dedicated professional admissions office. Our team strives to process your application in a personal and professional manner ensuring that this part of your college experience is smooth and memorable.
At Saint Mary's the education is the foundation to your student's success and whilst they lay their hat here for a time, it will also be their home.
Raymond Crider, Administrative Assistant
After participating in several campus events and interacting with members of the Saint Mary’s community, working at the College was a goal I set for myself. The campus became a huge draw for me. There was something different, something I had not experienced anywhere else. Born in California, but raised in Louisiana, I quickly realized how important education is to meeting your goals. I transferred to a California college to complete some of my educational goals and I have not left since. Completing a Bachelor of Science in Business Management has enabled me to join a wonderful institution whose sense of community is unmatched. As a member of the staff, I take pride in assisting students and parents with the admissions process. I am given the opportunity to assist students in the beginning of a journey to find something that will give them purpose. Saint Mary’s is an excellent place to start that journey and whatever I can do to help is my goal. In my personal time, I enjoy playing basketball, traveling, visiting family, and collecting Air Jordan shoes.