Measures of Success: Kate Coulouras

By John Grennan

When junior Kate Coulouras commits to something, she often leads the charge.

Like many Saint Mary’s students, Coulouras volunteers as a tutor at the LEO Center for under-resourced middle school students in Oakland. But she has also helped the center’s staff manage the project and train new tutors along with driving the shuttle that brings kids to and from the site.

“She’s really stepped up and helped,” says Jennifer Pigza, associate director of the College’s Center for Lasallian Social Action (CILSA). “She’s very engaged on campus and is always looking for ways to get other students involved.”

Coulouras explains that she likes the “service aspect” of Saint Mary’s. She has designed booths for CILSA’s Carnival 4 Kids, which brings schoolchildren to campus for a day, and during Jan Term 2006, she traveled to New Orleans to help in relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina.

Coulouras’ willingness to go beyond the call of duty carries over to other aspects of her life. An aspiring educator, she’s spent summers teaching for the Breakthrough Collaborative — a nonprofit serving high-potential, low-income students — in her home town of Sacramento and in post-Katrina New Orleans.

After graduation, Coulouras wants to teach at an urban public school, and says has learned the virtue of patience from her LEO Center experiences.

“There are times when I think the students aren’t getting anything out of it,” she says, “But it’s great at the end of the year when a student comes back and says, ‘Oh my god, I got an A!’”

Coulouras herself has dazzled professors with her academic work, especially in her Spanish major.

“I admire her for many reasons,” says Spanish professor Maria Ruiz. “She’s really learning Spanish because she loves it.”

So much, in fact, that Coulouras is spending her junior year immersed in Spanish-speaking environments, with one semester in Barcelona and another in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

“I’m really excited. I’m going in with no expectations.”