2023 Alumni Awards announced

2023 Alumni Awards recipients, smiling and holding awards
Saint Mary's Alumni Association

The Distinguished Alumni Awards honor outstanding Gaels for excellence and service that represent the very best of Saint Mary’s.

Awardees were selected from public nominations by the executive members of Alumni Association Board of Directors.

All honorees were recognized at the Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony and on-court during the Men's Basketball game on Saturday, January 21.  


Alumnus of the Year: Michael Genovese ’72, PhD 

Michael Genovese is a longtime and award-winning political science professor, author of over 40 books, and director of Institute for Leadership Studies and president of the World Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University. In addition to more than a dozen other teaching awards, Genovese was awarded the American Political Science Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2017, only the fifth time it had been awarded. 

Genovese has written over 50 books, including The Modern PresidencyHow Trump GovernsThe Power of the American Presidency 1789–2000, and Leadership Matters. Genovese frequently appears as a commentator on local, national, and international television and radio, including CNN, NPR, and CBS.

Genovese has been The Washington Center’s “scholar-in-residence” at three Democratic national political conventions, the 2008 presidential inauguration, and at the 2012 Republican National Convention. During the presidency of George H.W. Bush, Genovese served as a consultant on crisis management at the Department of Defense and the Pentagon. He is also on the editorial board of the International Leadership Journal, has lectured internationally for the U.S. embassies, and is editor of Palgrave Macmillan Publishing’s “The Evolving American Presidency” book series.

Awarded to the alumnus/a who has made a significant contribution to his/her professional field and/or has demonstrated consistent service to the College, exemplifying the spirit and dedication of the Saint Mary's College graduate.


Signum Fidei Award: Michelle Lewis '78, Jennifer Diaz '85, Karen Bell, Nance Tovar '76

Four alumnae educators founded Northern Light School, which has been serving inner city children in Oakland for three decades. Founded in September 1989, Northern Light School offers a high-quality education for students from preschool to 8th grade with a focus on academic excellence, non-violence, and acceptance of differences. Many students go on to receive scholarships at excellent high schools and boarding schools. 

The four founders, Michelle Lewis ’78Nance Tovar ’76Jennifer Diaz '85, and Karen Bell, scraped to open and maintain the school in its earliest years. They made sure the school practiced the same philosophies they learned about and experienced at Saint Mary’s. Many students received need-based tuition assistance. Class sizes were kept small and arranged in circles, like Seminar. They set out to make meaningful differences in the students’ lives, breaking negative family patterns and creating opportunities. 

Throughout the years, the school grew, with many Saint Mary’s connections — from classroom teachers to board members. 

Awarded to the alumnus/a for outstanding participation in the goals of higher education, in the spirit of the founder of the Christian Brothers, patron of all teachers, Saint John Baptist De La Salle.


Meritorious Service Award: Tammy Ramos ’93, JD

Tammy Ramos has dedicated decades to advancing Latinas and empowering them to achieve career and leadership success. As a first-generation collge student, and first in her family to graduate from high school, Ramos went on to earn a juris doctor from the University of Notre Dame Law School. She has over 20 years of experience in executive coaching, leadership development, career consulting, workshop facilitation and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

She loves to speak Spanish and train on cross-cultural skills to support organizations in creating diverse and inclusive cultures that result in achieving business objectives such as recruiting, retaining, and promoting diverse talent.

As the executive director of LatinaVIDA, it is Ramos' mission to partner with organizations to support DEI goals that advance the professional development and leadership potential for Latinas. She is passionate about coaching Latinas on how to overcome external and internal challenges that can hinder career success. Ramos has over 20 years of experience in executive coaching, leadership development, career consulting, program design, and workshop facilitation. As an executive consultant and coach with InclusionInc, she partners with organizations in developing initiatives and programs to transform corporate cultures where every employee feels safe and welcomed to bring their whole, authentic selves to work. She approaches all her work with the end in mind — a greater sense of appreciation for the individual and the team as a whole to drive positive outcomes.

Presented to an alumnus/a who has exemplified the mission of the College by commitment to service in his or her own community or the College. 



Saint John Baptist De La Salle Award: Álvaro Ramírez, PhD

Originally from a small farming village in Michoacán, Mexico, ÁlvaroRamírez migrated to Ohio when he was 12 years old and worked in California’s agricultural Central Valley before earning his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Southern California. 

A professor of World Languages and Cultures, Ramírez has been a meaningful member of Saint Mary’s College for nearly three decades. Since 1995, Ramírez has taught a Jan Term travel course, and since 2000, he has directed a semester-long study abroad program in Cuernavaca, Mexico, splitting most of his time between Mexico and the United States.

Ramírez’s Postcards From a PostMexican was awarded the Victor Villaseñor Best Latino Focused Nonfiction Bronze Award at the 2021 International Latino Book Awards. His collection of short stories, Los norteados (Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016), received an honorable mention at the 2017 International Latino Book Awards. Ramírez teaches courses on Latin American and Spanish literature, Mexican and Chicano culture, and Mexican film. 

Presented to a member of the faculty or staff who has, over a period of years, demonstrated a personal commitment to the students of Saint Mary's College above and beyond their employee responsibilities. This personal commitment is evidenced by a demonstrated commitment to one or more of the five Lasallian Core Principles: faith in the presence of God, quality education, respect for all persons, inclusive community, and concern for the poor and social justice.



Golden Gael Award: Brother Camillus Chavez, FSC ’57

Brother Camillus Chavez has been a beloved mainstay for the Saint Mary’s Community since arriving in 1975. Known for giving joyful fist bumps to any passers-by, Br. Camillus has led countless meditations as well — teaching meditation in individual sessions and weekend retreats for students, faculty, alumni, and even parents. For many students, his spiritual, emotional, and academic impact has been profound. 

After teaching high school Spanish for 17 years, Br. Camillus attended a workshop by José Silva — a leading meditation teacher who explained how to enter an altered state of consciousness using very simple techniques. Inspired by that experience, Br. Camillus set up his first meditation program at Saint Mary’s College High School in 1973 before coming to Saint Mary’s College in 1975, where he has continued to teach meditation classes to students, faculty, and parents.

Brother Camillus went on to earn a doctorate in social and clinical psychology in 1985, and now focuses on transpersonal psychology — a school of psychology that studies the spiritual aspects of the human experience.

Brother Camillus continues to expand his outreach to others, offering workshops at parishes, schools, and universities in Mexico and the Philippines. He also created a website (www.brothercamillus.com) where people can participate in online meditations.

Awarded to a member of the Saint Mary’s community who has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to the College through loyalty, connection, and philanthropy. Recognizes dedication to promote and advance the mission, support the efforts of advancement and access to education, and embody the spirit of our founder, Saint John Baptist De La Salle. 


Emerging Leader: Brianna Bibel ’16, PhD

Brianna Bibel ’16, PhD is a science communicator, diving deep into biochemistry and sharing her methods and findings on social media to inspire wonder. 

Bibel graduated from Saint Mary’s with a BS in Biology and was actively involved in biochemistry research, studying enzyme kinetics. She has since earned a PhD in Biochemistry and Biology and is now a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, San Francisco. She has been active in the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology since May 2019. Her online persona, The Bumbling Biochemist, has 55,000 followers on Instagram, where she aims to make science accessible and fun.

She is particularly interested in exploring the use of various forms of science communication and advocating for the advancement of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). She hopes to become a professor at a primarily-undergraduate college. 

Awarded to a recent graduate in recognition of leadership and ongoing and noteworthy support of the current students and recent alumni of Saint Mary's College and/or his or her local community.

Athletics Hall of Fame

Additionally, newly-inducted members of the Saint Mary's College Athletics Hall of Fame are recognized at the Alumni Awards event. The class of 2023 includes:


Bryan White ’84

One of the best running backs in Saint Mary’s football history, Bryan White played four seasons for the Gaels, from 1980 to 1983. White was the lead man in the backfield during those years in which the Gaels went 27–13–1, including an 8–2 record during his senior season. White is the third-leading rusher in Saint Mary’s history, with 2,283 career yards, and is seventh all-time in scoring, with 144 points. 

White was also involved in the Saint Mary’s community, working in the Saint Mary’s athletic department on the facilities management team, serving as the co-manager for Madigan Gym during intramurals and inside McKeon Pavilion on basketball game days, and supported the Gaels football program during his time as owner and general manager of Vacaville Ford.

The White family has strong ties to Saint Mary’s, as Bryan’s brother Vincent White was the head football coach during the team’s final season in 2003. Vincent also played collegiately in the Bay Area at Stanford and was drafted by the New York Jets in 1983. Bryan passed away on December 21, 2020 and is survived by his two children, their mother, and his brother, Vincent.


Corbin Burnes ’16

Corbin Burnes has established himself as one of baseball’s best aces. In 2021, Burnes earned the National League Cy Young Award, leading the league in earned run average, strikeouts per nine innings, ERA-plus, strikeout-to-walk ratio, and home runs allowed per nine innings pitched. He was named an All-Star in 2021 and 2022. 

Burnes was selected in the fourth round by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2016. He was called up to the Major League on July 8, 2018. 

Burnes was twice named an All-American (Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball Newspaper) that year after going 9–2 with a 2.48 ERA and 120 strikeouts. He was named First Team All-West Coast Conference while helping lead SMC to its first-ever WCC regular season championship, first-ever WCC Tournament appearance, and subsequently its first-ever tournament title, which led to the program's first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament.