Honors Students & Alumni


Honors Student Spotlights

We are always looking for chances to highlight the many outstanding achievements of our members, both past and current, as they navigate their college careers and their professional pursuits ahead.
Through the many exciting and challenging opportunities afforded to them through their studies at Saint Mary's and in the Honors Program, our students are exploring their passions, honing their skills, and making a difference in their fields here in California and around the country.
Read about a few of our amazing students and some of their accomplishments in Honors and beyond.
Amanda Boutte Honors Profile

Amanda Boutte '23

Amanda double majored in Politics and History and was a member of the Saint Mary’s Women’s Lacrosse team all four years, having served as both President and Captain. She was also a coach at True Lacrosse, a girls’ lacrosse program based out of Danville, where she traveled around the country with players to showcase all of their hard work and skill in hopes that they will someday play at the collegiate level. On campus, Amanda was a supervisor and lifeguard at the campus Recreation Center and served as an intern for both the Politics and History Departments. Her favorite memories at Saint Mary’s include spending quality time with her friends at the Rec Center and traveling to Denmark and Sweden for January Term. Her post graduation plan was to attend law school and eventually to pursue a career in public interest law.

Bella Rawlings, Honors profile

Bella Rawlings '24

Bella Rawlings, a fourth-year biology major, has ventured far from her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, to pursue her academic journey in California. With a fervent passion for genetics and a vision to become a genetic counselor for cancer patients, Bella's journey is marked not only by academic accomplishments but also by a deeply personal connection to her chosen field. Her commitment is evident in her hands-on experiences, including two impactful summers at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Dr. Webby's Infectious Disease lab, contributing to groundbreaking research on the influenza virus.

In addition to her academic and research achievements, Bella's decision to join the Honors Program is underscored by her unique journey as a student far from home. Embracing the challenges of attending school in California, Bella recognizes the Honors Program as more than an academic enrichment opportunity. It serves as a supportive community, providing her with a network of like-minded peers and faculty who share her commitment to excellence.

Chloe Jarrin Honors profile image

Chloe Jarrin '24

Chloe Jarrin is a fourth-year Health Science major and Communication minor. After graduation in the spring, she will be pursuing a Master's degree as a physician's assistant. Chloe has been apart of the Honors program since her first year at Saint Mary's and loves the sense of community, diligence, and diversity the program provides. She is working on her third Honors Contract: researching intercultural communication in immigrant healthcare. She is passionate and determined to make a difference in healthcare, and this research is the first step.

David Friedman Honors profile

David Friedman '24

David Friedman is a graduating Senior who is majoring in Applied Mathematics and minoring in Data Science. David has been a member of the Honors Program since his Freshman year, having joined because he found his studies to be relatively easy and thought it would be interesting to engage with like-minded students. Ever since, he has found enjoyment in hosting his own colloquia to share his interests with his peers, and this program also gave David the confidence to participate in Saint Mary's 2023 Summer Research Program. Studying under Dr. Satbir Malhi, he fostered a strong appreciation for using numerical analysis to solve challenging partial differential equations. This work felt very satisfying, and it has also inspired David to want to go to graduate school to get a Doctorate in Applied Mathematics. It would be enjoyable to have a career developing tools to make advanced mathematics more accessible and predict the effects of real-world issues like climate change or the distribution of pollution. David appreciates the resources the Honors Program has provided towards helping him build confidence, and the program can also do the same for you!

Emma Cardinale Honors Profile

Emma Cardinale '24

Emma Cardinale, an Allied Health Science major, joined the Honors Program to be involved in campus events and meet motivated students like herself while also wanting to be a good role model for the school. In the 10-week Summer Research Program, Emma worked in the department of Biology along with her research partner, Emily Hancock, and advisor, Dr. Kai Blaisdell to complete a scientific research project to determine whether aphids could reproduce at greater rates in drought-stressed conditions while also measuring plant health. Emma has always had a passion for science, so being able to apply her knowledge in a laboratory setting in a longer-term experiment was very rewarding. Emma is also a big advocate for taking action on the climate crisis, and therefore applied the very timely issue to her research and connected her results to impacting agriculture, food supply, and economics. To Emma, being a researcher over the summer was a big commitment, but it was well worth it, because she not only learned so much more about herself, but she was deeply inspired by those around her and made so many great connections along the way.

Emily Britt Honors Profile

Emily Britt '24

Emily Britt, a Psychology major, completed an Honors Contract last semester in her Western Traditions II class. Emily has always found Shakespeare to be an impactful and inspiring influence, and decided to dive further into his infamous work Macbeth, meticulously analyzing two of its well-known scenes for the depictions of power and the gender dynamics between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Looking at the excerpt where Lady Macbeth manipulates her husband into going through with the murder of kind Duncan, Emily juxtaposed many of the details in the description of this scene with that of the excerpt where Macbeth cuts out Lady Macbeth by keeping his plan of murdering Banquo from her. Emily used these details from Shakespeare’s depiction of these scenes to create a drawing of each, using colors, clothes, backdrop, fire, and physical position, as well as many more details to highlight what she thought were the most important points in this scene relating to the power and gender dynamics between the couple. After completing her drawings, she typed a comprehensive essay which analyzed her own illustrations and explained her artistic choices while referencing Shakespeare’s scenes. Emily enjoyed the freedom for creativity that this project allowed her to have, as painting and drawing are hobbies that she enjoys outside of school as well. While Emily originally joined the Honors Program wanting the extra challenge that this academic-minded community would offer, she never imagined how much fun she would have with it.

Emily Hancock Honors Profile

Emily Hancock '24

Biology and Music major Emily Hancock knew once committing to Saint Mary’s that she wanted to participate in two key features of the SMC Experience: The Honors Program and the Summer Research Program. Never wanting to shy away from a challenge, she decided to unify these two unique experiences into one and add an Honors Contract to her summer research project, which was working on finding safer alternatives to insecticides. In this 10-week program, alongside Emma Cardinale and her mentor Dr. Kai Blaisdell, she worked with aphid pests and the viruses that are transmitted by them to barley plants right here on Saint Mary’s campus. Emily found at the conclusion of her experiment that Salicylic Acid, which is already naturally produced by plants, can be applied topically to the leaves of barley plants not only to reduce aphid feeding and reproduction, but also to maximize the plant’s photosynthetic capabilities. After giving a three-minute lightning talk and presenting a poster detailing her experiment, Emily was recognized for her outstanding work over the summer as a runner-up for the Joseph P. McKenna Award, given to the best research project in the program. In this program, Emily’s passion for the scientific process was reaffirmed, and she continues to feel called to find new ways of solving big issues that pose a threat to our world.

Isabella Ruiz Honors Profile

Isabella Ruiz '24

Isabella (Izzy) Ruiz is a fourth year history major and public history minor from Fresno, CA. Izzy has been in the Honors Program since her freshman year and is very active in the Saint Mary's College community, being involved in sports band, la hermandad, and pride club. She has also worked in the Admissions Office as a Student Ambassador for three years now, and truly loves that she is able to represent her school in such a positive way. Izzy loves that the Honors Program allows her to research topics that she is passionate about, and then present it to her classmates and colleagues. Her first honors contract involved collecting oral histories of students on campus, and her last Contract will involve creating a blog on fandom spaces and how these spaces address the ideas of feminism. She has enjoyed meeting all of the wonderful people in the Honors Program and making lifelong friends here at SMC. Her goals after graduation are to pursue a master's degree in Library Science and eventually work at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

Kira Minaise '24

Kira Minaise '24

Having gotten a glowing recommendation by her older sister to join, Kira Minaise, a Business Administration major with a concentration in Digital Media, enrolled in the Honors Program at Saint Mary’s for an extra challenge throughout college. Though expectations of what college life would be like fell due to COVID-19, Kira was pleasantly surprised by the close-knit and welcoming community found in the Honors Program. Extremely integrated in school extracurricular, being the marketing officer for Gael Women and Business, working for the RHA, applying to be an RA, and on the executive team for the Middle Eastern Cultural Night, Kira also decided to take on an extra project (contract) to further enrich her academic experience. With the help of her business-comm professor, Jake Cowan, Kira was able to find popular movies throughout various decades in history and analyze the treatment of women in the workplace within a movie review she wrote after watching each film. Posting her reviews on a site called Letterboxd, she would then discuss each film with her professor in an effort to debrief and fully comprehend the progression of how women were treated in the workplace.

Madeline Fletcher Honors Profile

Madeline Fletcher '24

Transferring into a new school can be intimidating, especially as an upperclassman. However, Madeline Fletcher, a Kinesiology major, used this new beginning to get more involved by joining the Honors Program as a way to meet new people. Once settled at Saint Mary's, Madeline set her sights on an ambitious project in the form of a nutritional cookbook for student athletes. With the help of her Kinesiology 107 professor, Derek Marks, Madeline has been tirelessly working to research and develop new recipes that provide student athletes with healthy options that consist of ingredients available at Trader Joes. Having made each of the recipes herself to ensure each meal is perfected, Madeline put in around 50 hours of work completing this her cookbook.

Madeline Martinez Honors Profile

Madeline Martinez '24

A Politics Major and a Data Science Minor, Madeline Martinez finds the Honors Program an excellent opportunity for personal and academic growth. Not only has she had the opportunity to meet new people but she has also had the opportunity to learn about an array of topics thanks to Honors Colloquia. Madeline lived in Washington D.C. for a semester and interned in the House of Representatives. Through this experience, she gained priceless insight into the legislative process and gotten the opportunity to meet an array of noteworthy forces inside and outside the political sphere. Through her internship in her California congressional office, Madeline had the opportunity to work on multiple legislative projects relating to natural resources and labor. To offer insights to other students at Saint Mary's about how she found this great internship, she hosted her Colloquium Life on Capitol Hill!

Mariella Crudele Honors Profile

Mariella Crudele '23

A Business Administration major with a marketing concentration major and a minor in Italian, Mariella Crudele always found her Italian heritage to be of great interest, and through the Honors Program, she was able to learn much more about her family’s past than she had ever imagined. First joining as a sophomore based on a recommendation, she felt like the Honors Program supplied her with a “good mix of academic and social life.” Working with her Italian 4 professor, Maria Grazia, Mariella spent a semester creating a detailed 50-page Canva document that included an extensive array of pictures and information about her heritage. She also wrote an essay discussing the artifacts she found going through her grandparent’s memorabilia from Italy. Even though she added in the extra step of reading books about Italian history, which she used to connect to her family’s personal experience, Mariella never felt like this project overwhelmed her as she struck a good balance of working and relaxing throughout the semester.

Mary Kyne Honors Profile

Mary Kyne '24

Mary Kyne is a Senior Honors student, First Generation Student, and Saint Mary’s College of California's first-ever English and Computer Science double-major. She was nominated for the Honors Program her freshman year and completed a research contract last summer, which optimized Python code for the Biochemistry department and improved user visualization. The experience grew her interest in programming and her appreciation of the possibilities within interdisciplinary research. Given her educational journey at Saint Mary’s, she is uniquely found at the intersection between STEM and the Humanities. Outside of the Honors Program, Mary is an active member of the Saint Mary’s community and leadership.

Despite the lack of campus involvement due to COVID-19 freshman year, she founded The English Underground, a club that promoted community and networking in the English department for people on and off campus. She is also President of the Tech Club, which held a collaborative event with the Honors Program that taught students Python programming. Mary is also involved in GaelSisterhood, La Hermandad, Rock Climbing Club, the Dean’s Honors List, and is a Lead Adviser at the Center for Writing Across the Curriculum.

Mary’s greatest advice to the current and prospective Honors Program is to get involved on campus; go to as many events as possible, apply for every research opportunity, and attend games, club meetings, and shows, because you’ll be crossing that graduation stage before you know it!

Molly Dreher Honors Profile

Molly Dreher '24

Molly Dreher is an Honors Student and Cross Country, Track and Field athlete for Saint Mary‘s. They’re a Psychology major with a concentration in Behavioral Neuroscience and are also pursuing Chemistry and Women and Gender Studies minors. Molly has been a part of the Honors Program since her first year, and loves the resources and connections available to those in the program. Molly is working towards her goal of attending medical school to eventually become a psychiatrist. Advocacy and community have been important aspects of their passions and extracurriculars from high school to college. As a D1 athlete, she has made a point to involve herself in Title IX work. After helping with Title IX at Saint Mary‘s, they were inspired to join Voice in Sport in order to make her voice heard. From August 2021 to July 2022, Molly led a team that researched, drafted, and presented an amendment to Title IX that aimed to fix systemic issues that prevent the efficacy of Title IX. After meeting with over 30 House and Senate members, they secured two sponsors in Representative Alma Adams and Senator Chris Murphy. July 23rd, 2022, on the 50th anniversary of Title IX, Molly and her team announced the bill on Capitol Hill which marked change for equity in athletics. The experience taught Molly how much her voice matters, and has inspired them to continue advocacy in order to bring more equity to medicine in the future.

Sahiba Kaur Dogra Honors Profile

Sahiba Dogra '24

Sahiba Kaur Dogra is a Biology Major and a Data Science minor. She is passionate about biomedical research and hopes to pursue a career in genetics, immunology, and/or neuroscience. She joined the Honors Program to continue to challenge herself throughout her time at Saint Mary’s. Sahiba enjoys academics, especially when they encourage her to think outside of the box. Her two Honors Contracts have helped her do exactly this. Her first Contract was during the Summer Research Program at Saint Mary’s where she worked with Dr. Kai Blaisdell on aphid vectors and plant viruses. An exciting result of the research was the discovery of plant viruses such as Cereal Yellow Dwarf Virus, Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus, and Barley Stripe Mosaic Virus in the Redwood grove. In her second Honors Contract, she wrote a paper on the genetics of a rare disease called Eosinophilic Esophagitis and the key developments that led to a groundbreaking treatment called Dupilumab. Sahiba also won the Spectrum Award for a Biology paper that her professor nominated for the 2023 competition. These experiences have been invaluable to Sahiba and she looks forward to more rewarding experiences with the Honors Program at Saint Mary’s College of California!

Taylor Perea Honors Profile

Taylor Perea '23

Taylor Perea was a Justice Community and Leadership Major with a double minor in Mathematics and Psychology. She was president of the SMC Women’s Rugby Team and the ASL Club. Taylor was in the Honors Program since her freshman year, when she joined to get more involved around campus and push her academic work forward. She wrote and illustrated a children’s book on how science and religion are closely tied together for one of her Honors Contracts, which was influenced by a TRS class on the topic. Her key focus of the project was to make the information clear and concise enough that a child would be able to understand it easily. In the future Taylor hopes to go to graduate school to become a social psychologist, specializing in conducting research. One piece of advice Taylor would give to people starting in the honors program is to take advantage of colloquia and familiarize yourself with the resources available to you. Reach out to professors as many of them have connections and can get you some experience before you graduate.

Tsiana Crroks-Backus Honors Profile

Tsianna Crooks-Backus '23

Although Tsianna Crooks-Backus, a Clinical/Counseling Psychology major with a Communication minor, initially joined the Honors Program for social involvement, she soon discovered the professional skill development that the program also offered her. The Honors Contract that Tsianna eventually chose, the psychology behind D1 athletes, was unlike anything she had researched before. Sending out a detailed Google survey, she assessed several personality traits and how they correlated with success in sports, eventually finding that D1 athletes scored lower in neuroticism than non-D1 athletes. Though she was also working two jobs and was involved in Expressions of Blackness, Tsianna had support from her Personality Psychology professor, who helped her balance her workload throughout the semester.


Alumni Testimonials

Honors students portraits

Honors Program Alumni Association

Current Honors Program participants are welcome to join the Saint Mary's Honors Alumni Association after graduation. The goal of the Honors Program Alumni Association is to:

  • Give students in the Honors Program the chance to interact with those who have come before them
  • Assist alums in reconnecting with and networking with other Honors Program alums
  • Update alumni about Saint Mary's Honors Program, and its students
  • Promote directed alumni giving
  • Involve alumni in initiatives to strengthen the Honors Program mentoring