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 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!
Patrick Lorenzo, Associate Director of Admissions
"One who does not know how to look back at where they came from will never get to their destination." Jose Rizal
Patrick grew up in the bay area and spent his undergraduate years at Thurgood Marshall College in UC San Diego double majoring in Political Science and Urban Studies & Planning. He also received his M.A. in Leadership from Saint Mary's College. He thrived because of the undergraduate college system and through his involvement with organizations that celebrated culture and advocated for higher education. After graduation, he stayed at UC San Diego, coordinating student activities. He returned to Silicon Valley at Santa Clara University managing both admission events and the student ambassador program. At Saint Mary’s College, he oversees the Visitor Experience which includes the visitor center, on campus programs and the student ambassador program. He also has served as a Regional Director for the Collegiate Information & Visitor Services Association.
Drew Riley, Senior 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, Assistant Director of Admissions
“ 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 important, who they want to serve.
Erik Coloma '09, Assistant Director of Admissions
" 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.
Natalie Vazquez, Senior Admissions Officer
"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." Oscar Wilde
As a first generation student, born in San Francisco and raised in the Bay Area, I am a true product of diverse experiences and cultures. After high school, I attended Diablo Valley College where I earned an Associate of Arts degree and is where I gained the desire to work with college students. Shortly thereafter, I transferred to UCLA where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Latin American Studies and a Minor in Spanish. Knowing I would have to advance my studies to work in Higher Education, I earned a Master’s of Science Degree in Counseling and Guidance. Through my Master’s Program, I was exposed to the College Admissions process and knew it would be a great fit! I love working with students from different educational backgrounds who are able to offer different perspectives and experiences. The Admissions office at Saint Mary’s has given me the opportunity to meet with many students, assist them with their college exploration and teach them about the advantages of earning a college degree. Come on in and talk to us about becoming a future Gael!
Samantha (Sami) Davison '12, Senior Admissions Officer
“Jump First, Fear Later”
My experience as an undergraduate student at Saint Mary’s gave me more opportunities than I ever imagined and in 2012 I graduated with degrees in Communication and Anthropology. I then made the leap to the admissions world and took a position working for a school on the east coast for a year. As wonderful as it was, Saint Mary’s is home. I am beyond elated to be working with the wonderful staff members in the admissions office and getting to share the great experience I had with so many new Gaels. Saint Mary’s taught me to challenge myself and follow my passions. And it is important to surround yourself with people and a community that support those passions. Part of the endless opportunities I had a student include participating in the performing arts, serving as the Director of Campus Activities Board, and moonlighting as The Gael, Saint Mary’s Mascot. Among some of my favorite experiences was having the opportunity to travel to East Africa during January Term my senior year. This experience is hard to sum up in a sentence, but those were some of the best four weeks of my life. The opportunities and connections made here are like no other and January Term is only a snap shot of the great things that Saint Mary’s allows students to do. Most importantly, Saint Mary’s taught me to learn with my head but also with my heart and my hands.