A Return Home: Mahershala Ali '96

Oscar winner, alumnus Mahershala Ali returns to Saint Mary's to recognize HP students, screen "Moonlight"

Academy Award-winning actor Mahershala Ali '96 meets with High Potential students and President James Donahue for a small reception. An alum of SMC and the HP program, Ali returned to the campus to screen the film Moonlight and honor and encourage current HP students Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali '96 returned to Saint Mary’s for a low-key reception to recognize students in the College's High Potential Program and an invitation-only screening of Moonlight, winner of the Oscar for Best Picture.

During a small reception, where Ali met with and offered encouraging words to HP students, the College announced the establishment of a $30,000 Moonlight Scholarship, which was inspired by Ali's visit and funded by private donors. The scholarship honors four rising seniors in the program and will also benefit at least two incoming first year students.

Ali, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Moonlight in February, delayed a well-deserved vacation after a year of recognition for his role in the film and the recent birth of his child, to return to SMC for the special occasion. Wishing to take a break from the spotlight and media interviews, Ali asked the College to keep his visit under wraps.

The now celebrated actor met with more than two dozen students from the HP Program, and several leaders of diversity clubs. He shook hands, posed for selfies and reminded the students that his beginnings—coming from a low-income family and being the first in his family to attend college—were very much like theirs.

After the reception, the HP students joined a packed audience that included theater majors, donors, faculty, members of the College's leadership and selected staff for a screening of Moonlight in the LeFevre Theatre. Afterwards Ali joined his first drama instructor, Performing Arts Professor Rebecca Engle, for a lively discussion.