Student Successes

A portrait of Jemiya Jacobs standing on a bridge in Oakland

In May 2019, School of Liberal Arts Dean Sheila Hassell Hughes announced the recipients of the inaugural Liberal Arts Bridge (LAB) Internship Scholarships. “Internships are an important way for Liberal Arts majors to explore their interests in potential career pathways; develop professional skills, networks, and self-confidence; prepare themselves for future employment opportunities; and gain experience in relevant workplace environments. These are the goals of the Liberal Arts Bridge Program,” said Hughes. “And because many of our students are interested in exploring careers in the public and nonprofit sectors, where internships are more likely to be unpaid or underpaid, we have established the LAB Internship Scholarship.” Six liberal arts students received scholarships, including majors from Design & Technical Theatre; Philosophy; Ethnic Studies & Spanish; Art History; Politics; and Justice, Community, & Leadership, to pursue meaningful summer internships with nonprofit and public-sector employers nationwide in the summer of 2019.

Smithsonian interns McKenna Decker '20 and Juliette-Monique Garcia '20 pose in front of the museum.

In 2017, Saint Mary’s College received a $50,000 Humanities Access Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), which supports the School of Liberal Arts (SOLA) and the History Department’s Partners in Public History: Training Students and Engaging Communities internships. In January 2020, two history majors embarked on their own journey as interns with the Smithsonian Institute. McKenna Decker ’20 and Juliette Garcia ’20 were the latest of four such undergraduates to attain this distinguished opportunity. They were selected from a competitive pool of Saint Mary’s undergraduate students by Smithsonian curators at the National Museum of American History. Garcia worked directly with Margaret Salazar-Porzio, the curator of Latina/o History and Culture in the Division of Home and Community Life at the Smithsonian, assisting her on a new exhibit displaying the intersection of Latina/o culture and baseball.

A portrait of Mathew White

Biochemistry major Matthew White ’20 was chosen as the winner of Saint Mary’s highest honor, the De La Salle Award. The honor is given annually to the graduating senior with the highest record for scholarship and general excellence. “It’s a tremendous honor to be selected…and it’s something that’s incredibly humbling to me and gratifying as well for the efforts I’ve made throughout my time at Saint Mary’s,” White said. Originally from Plano, Texas, White is an aspiring physician with interests in both clinical medicine and biomedical research, and he has solid plans for the future. “I’m doing a couple of gap years between Saint Mary’s and medical school,” White said. “I’m going to do research at UCSF. Essentially, it’s cell biology, tissue engineering research, and we’re focusing on some areas of human development and regeneration and disease, with heavy implications in terms of cancer treatment,” he added.

A student presenting an idea to a representative from the city of Antioch

The city of Antioch—the second largest city in Contra Costa County—and the Antioch Chamber of Commerce joined with Saint Mary’s School of Economics and Business Administration and the College’s Center for the Regional Economy to spearhead a student competition to develop proposals addressing the challenges in Somersville Town Center, an economically depressed retail corridor in the city. Five student teams were steadfast in their research, data collection, analysis, and concept development for a solid academic year, with the ultimate goal of presenting their proposals to city of Antioch stakeholders and vying for first place in the business case study competition. The winning team, No. 5, comprised of Maira Espinoza ’20, Ben Khatirine ’20, Victoria De La Rosa ’20, Kylie Ruff ’20, and Bronwen Lane ’20, proposed a three-step solution involving jobs, retail, and the community.

David Perry laughing while talking to another man on SMC campus

Dave Perry ’97 holds the record for being awarded the most degrees from Saint Mary’s College. Perry earned his BA in 1997, MBA in 2001, teaching credential in 2002, Administrator Certificate in 2004, MA in educational leadership also in 2004, and his EdD in 2019. His ascent from doting freshman to Dr. Perry has been a blessed journey. “The influence that the Brothers had on my life as a young collegian was life changing,” said Perry. After earning his BA, Perry started working in banking and finance, and later decided to enroll in the evening MBA program. After completing his second degree, he decided to pursue his passion, which was education. Perry returned to Saint Mary’s and earned a teaching credential and Administrator Certificate. “I had already become a principal at a pretty young age, but I wanted to do more. The thought of earning an EdD from Saint Mary’s was very appealing,” said Perry.