2019 Distinguished Alumni Awards Recipients
Catriona (Sweeney) Harris '00
Alumna of the Year
Catriona (Sweeney) Harris is CEO and co-founder of Uproar PR, a full-service public relations and digital agency. She and her husband, Mike, started Uproar PR in 2011. In this role, Catriona oversees the daily operations of the agency and provides the vision for new initiatives and strategies that will drive outstanding results for clients.
Under Catriona’s direction, Uproar PR has grown to two different locations – Orlando and Chicago with nearly 60 employees and more than 100 clients. The agency has been named in the Inc. 5000, a list recognizing the fastest growing companies in America, for the last three consecutive years, and in the Orlando Business Journal’s Fast 50 list for 2017 and 2018. Uproar PR was also included in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top Company Culture list in both 2016 and 2017. Catriona was recognized in the Orlando Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list in 2009, 2011 and 2016 for her dedication to the PR industry and local community, and was named CEO of the Year in 2017 by the same publication.
Prior to starting Uproar, Catriona was the vice president of East Coast operations for a San Francisco-based PR firm, where she helped the firm triple its client base and revenue in less than two years. Catriona grew up in Folsom and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Saint Mary’s College in 2000. While at Saint Mary’s she was on the rowing team and was active with KSMC, where she hosted her own radio show.
In her free time, you can find Catriona running a half marathon, baking with her two daughters, Reilly and Brooke, or exploring the country with her family as they attempt to conquer all 50 states. She also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Orlando Science Center and is on the Executive Board for Making the Difference.
Joe O'Conner '56
Golden Gael Award
Joe O’Connor ’56 is one of four generations of O’Connors and dozens of his wife Jane’s family to attend Saint Mary’s, starting with Joe’s father who graduated in 1916.
Joe has been an ambassador for Saint Mary’s College for over 60 years. He has assisted in student recruitment, hosted College receptions at his home, sponsored golf tournaments, and volunteered at auctions, alumni socials, and pre-basketball game parties. Joe was also involved in setting up the first Orange County Scholarship endowment for SMC students, and in 2012, he and Jane provided a gift to help build a new baseball field named after his former baseball coach.
To show his appreciation for the quality of education provided at Saint Mary’s College, and for the Christian Brothers’ dedication to their mission and educating the underserved, Joe and his wife Jane recently created a Charitable Remainder Trust valued at more than $1 million to benefit scholarship students from Orange County, California.
He and his family have been staunch supporters of the College over the years, not only donating financially, but with time and talent. Joe embodies the true Lasallian spirit: Enter to Learn. Leave to Serve.
Angélica Garcia '98, EdD
Signum Fidei Award
Angélica Garcia '98, EdD, is an educational leader who is passionate about issues of access, equity, and student success in higher education. Angélica graduated from Saint Mary’s in 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal & Civic Studies, earned her Master’s in Social Work at San Diego State University and her doctorate in Educational Leadership at San Francisco State. Over the past 16 years her professional experiences include direct student support, teaching, and administrative roles in non-profit organizations, secondary, and higher education. Angélica is the Vice President of Student Services at Skyline College, where she provides leadership and guidance to statewide reform efforts for the California Community Colleges, and also serves on the Executive Board for the Chief Student Services Association and the Latina Leadership Network for the California Community Colleges.
As an experienced educator, she combines her education and training as a social worker with her research and work in higher education to design and implement evidenced-based programs and services that support the retention and success of all students. Angélica is committed to leading with integrity, teaching from a student centered framework, and promotes building collaborative relationships across instructional and student services divisions to meet the needs of students.
Angélica's tenure at Saint Mary’s included serving as Director of the High Potential Program and in Student Academic Support Services, where she provided leadership and support to the evolving program needs in academic advising. She was one of the founding members of the College Committee on Inclusive Excellence and served as a Resident Director in Mitty Hall.
Mony Nop EE '04
Meritorious Service Award
Having been born into the slave labor camps during the Killing Fields of Cambodia, Mony and his family escaped when he was six years old, walking from Cambodia to Thailand. They lived in multiple refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines, until they immigrated to the U.S. and resettled in California in 1984.
Overcoming extreme challenges, he became a police officer and served the Livermore Police Department for 17 years. After earning a business degree from Saint Mary’s in 2004, he retired from the police force to establish a successful real estate office here with Keller Williams in Livermore.
Mony truly believes in Saint Mary’s motto, “Enter to Learn and Leave to Serve” and became heavily involved in the community. He is founded the Mony Nop Foundation, focused on youth leadership, and the co-founder of Tri-Valley Nonprofit Alliance, dedicated to strengthening the community by supporting local nonprofits. He recently authored the children’s book: Officer M.N.O.P and Me—How Police Officers Serve the Community On and Off Duty.
For his community involvement, Mony has been featured on CBS Early Show, ABC Extreme Make Over-Home Edition and awarded the Bay East Association of Realtors’ Good Neighbors Award in 2014, the National Association of Realtors’ Good Neighbor Award in 2017, and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award in 2018.
Roy Wensley, PhD
Saint John Baptist De La Salle Award
Roy Wensley earned his bachelor degree in Physics at Purdue University and graduate degrees, an MS and PhD in Physics at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. He has been at Saint Mary's since 1989, and served as Dean of Science since 2010.
As a faculty member, he has served on the Rank and Tenure Committee, as Chair of the Academic Senate, and was the first chair (co-chair) of the Core Curriculum Task Force. He was Department Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy from 1999-2003. Roy has 30 years of teaching experience, teaching all levels of physics courses, teaching in the January Term and teaching Collegiate Seminar. His scholarship has been supported by three National Science Foundation grants. He is currently the principal investigator on a US Education Department grant funded through the Hispanic Serving Institutions Federal Title III Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics and Articulation Program.
Shubhi Badjatiya '17
Emerging Leader Award
Shubhi Badjatiya graduated from Saint Mary’s in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Concentration in Finance. Throughout her college experience, Shubhi was deeply committed to supplementing her theoretical education with practical experiences. Shubhi completed five internships in the span of three years, which earned her a scholarship with the Financial Women of San Francisco in 2016, a scholarship reserved for women who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, humility, and drive in pursuing a career within finance. Shubhi was chosen to be a Guyette Leadership Fellow where she served as the cohort’s President in her fourth year of college.
A huge part of her commitment also included her work with CILSA. Shubhi served as a SALT leader, ELF, and participated in the SLICE program for her senior thesis. Her senior thesis was focused on building personal finance curriculums for Monument Crisis Center, and wrote about Fringe Economics and Social Injustices Against the Poor.
Shubhi’s remained committed to service after graduation. Shubhi co-heads the graduate social impact committee, which empowers young professionals to volunteer for San Francisco based organizations and serves on two non-profit boards: Summer Search and Financial Women of San Francisco.
Athletics Hall of Fame
Louella Tomlinson '11
Louella Tomlinson’s name not only fills the Saint Mary’s record book, but the NCAA’s as well. The two-time West Coast Conference Defender of the Year finished her career as the NCAA’s all-time leader in blocks, triple-doubles, and remains the all-time leader in blocks per game. She also graduated as the school’s record-holder in points (1,840), field goals (686), games started (124), and rebounds (1,122).
She became the program’s all-time leader in blocks during her freshman year. Along the way, Tomlinson was selected as an All-WCC performer three times.
Following her tremendous run at the collegiate level, Tomlinson began her professional career in her home country of Australia. Following a season home, Tomlinson took her talent overseas to Europe for several seasons, experiencing some of the top levels of professional basketball. She captured two league championships within her first three professional seasons, winning a WNBL (Australia) title in 2012 and a Hungarian league championship in 2014. Currently, Tomlinson is back in Australia, playing for the Bendigo Spirit of the WNBL.
Tomlinson graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology.
Trevor Newquist '13
Trevor Newquist graduated as one of the most successful student-athletes in the history of the men’s soccer program. He was a member of the school’s first West Coast Conference championship team, led the Gaels to two NCAA Tournament appearances, and left as part of the winningest class in team history with a 40-25-16 record.
Newquist arrived in 2009 and immediately made an impact. He was named to the WCC All-Freshman team and the team received its first ever NCAA Tournament berth. Two years later, Newquist was the anchor to a Gael defense that won its first WCC championship and made an incredible run to the National Quarterfinals. He capped his career at Saint Mary’s by earning the WCC Defensive Player of the Year and NSCAA All-Far West Region First Team honors.
Not just a great defender, Newquist remains prominent in the record books and is top 10 in points, goals, assists, game-winning goals, and matches played.
The San Diego native graduated in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and recently completed his master’s degree, also from Saint Mary’s, in sport management.