Notable Events

Attendees of the Afro-Latinx/Latinx/Indigenous Symposium

The main event of SMC’s monthlong Afro-Latinx/Latinx/Indigenous Heritage Celebration, the Honoring Our Identities: Afro/Latinx/Indigenous Peoples Symposium, took place on Saturday, September 21, 2019, and embraced the community in inclusion. Part of a combined effort by Ethnic Studies; Justice, Community, and Leadership; World Languages and Culture; and the Office of Mission, the event featured a free breakfast and lunch, along with representatives from Causa Justa: Just Cause; Beats, Rhymes, and Life; and Mujeres Unidas y Activas. All the organizations work toward community empowerment, social justice, and building community/solidarity. Students, staff, and faculty who have attended SMC’s border immersion programs also spoke on a panel, and visitors attended breakout sessions to learn how to get more involved. “It’s important that we support all students as they come to know themselves and their identities. It helps to ground us in who we are, in terms of ourselves and beyond,” said Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs and Senior Diversity Officer Kathy Littles.

A panel of speakers and an audience watching

Saint Mary’s prides itself on being the bridge between the student and the professional. “Enter to learn, leave to serve,” reverberates in every classroom. In keeping with this standard, the School of Liberal Arts’ Bridge program (SOLA’s LAB) presented an alumni panel on “The Business of Creativity” on Monday, October 29, 2019. Students were treated to a five-member panel of esteemed alumni moderated by SMC’s Dean of SOLA, Sheila Hassell Hughes. The alums came to instill wisdom and inspire the next great SMC creatives while demonstrating SMC’s history of producing innovative thinkers in the spaces of film, television, marketing, advertising, and animation. The night’s panelists included Pete Kelly ’98 (Fine/Studio Arts); Alexis Salmons ’17 (Communication); Natalie Derksen ’16 (Communication); Andrew Shaffer ’09 (Business Administration); and Andrew Verducci ’08 (Liberal and Civic Studies).

Melissa Harris Perry at a podium

Black excellence, history, and achievement were honored during Saint Mary’s third annual 44 Days Celebration, from Feb. 1 to March 15, 2020. Prolific speakers, dynamic workshops, engaging discussions, and a host of social events rounded out Black History Month. This year’s theme, “Building Community Through Adversity,” reflected the African American historical legacy of joining together to resist oppression and bring about change in our society. The speakers and workshops addressed the theme through targeted discussions from their researched and lived experiences. Melissa Harris-Perry, PhD, educator, journalist, and activist, was the keynote speaker. She is the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair, a professor at Wake Forest University, political analyst, and award-winning author. The 44 Days Celebration also featured a Black Mental Health Series with noted health professionals Dr. Kristee Haggins, Dr. Taisha Caldwell-Harvey, and Dr. Derrick Bines

A screenshot of the 2020 Commencement Website

In light of the COVID-19 shelter in place, Saint Mary’s IT Services and College Communications Department created a fabulous Class of 2020 website to commemorate the year’s graduates. The community was invited to honor and celebrate our 2020 Saint Mary’s College Commencement candidates. The site included student profiles, where seniors shared their hopes and dreams, and it introduced undergraduate Commencement award winners. SMC also encouraged students to share their photos on social media, using the hashtag #SMCgrad2020 to enjoy one another’s happy day. Messages poured in from all corners of the country throughout the weekend. Graduate & Professional Studies students also connected here and enjoyed video greetings from the deans. The website sprinkled tons of virtual confetti to celebrate until we can be together again.

Mark Desaulnier standing at the front of a room with a sign next to him

In November 2019, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier packed Saint Mary’s Claeys Lounge for a town hall–style meeting to address the most urgent issues facing Saint Mary’s students, including the election. DeSaulnier, who has been in Congress since 2015 representing California’s 11th Congressional District, captured students’ attention with his mild-mannered but firm talk about government—and where it’s most lacking. DeSaulnier emphasized the enormous importance of voting in the upcoming election. “The good news is that we have the potential to educate multiple generations about the importance and best practices of being a good citizen and voting. The bad news is largely how people get information on social media and how easy it is to mislead people with 24/7 news.” Politics Professor Patrizia Longo added, “My hope in having a town hall meeting is for the students to practice democracy, to become informed about important issues that affect us, and to be active citizens.”