The High Potential Program Celebrates Its Class of 2023

For students in the High Potential Program, graduation is a reminder of the community they’ve forged, as well as the history they’re making in their own families.

by Hayden Royster | May 11, 2023
Every commencement celebration is meaningful, of course, but for those present at the High Potential Program send-off on May 10, there was added poignancy. After all, many of these soon-to-be college graduates are the first in their families to do so.

For 50 years, Saint Mary’s High Potential Program has provided a comprehensive support system for first-generation and low-income college students. Those in the program are assigned a Success Coach and a peer mentor from day one. Often, they'll go on to become peer mentors themselves. 

Many consider the program to be a second family, a home away from home. As Angela Garcia ’23, this year’s John Dennis Award winner, told us back in the fall, “I really would not be here about to graduate if I did not have this program—I just appreciate this program so much.”

High Potential Program Stoles
The stoles that will drape the shoulders of High Potential seniors on Commencement Day / Photography by Francis Tatem

And those connections will continue after graduation, Associate Director of High Potential Sharzad Mozaffar shared during her opening remarks at the graduation event. "No matter what you decide as the next step in life, just know that we are here for you. The support and relationship building does not stop here - it will continue to blossom." 

After the event, as the bittersweet strains of Bobby Pulido’s “Desvelado” filled the Soda Center, students mingled, danced, and posed for photos together. The seniors were draped in purple stoles embroidered with the words “High Potential Program.” There were plenty of hugs—and tears—to go around. 

One current Peer Mentor, sophomore José Miranda ’25, couldn’t help envisioning himself here two years from now, wearing a purple stole of his own. “It’s exciting to think about what the future holds,” he said.

Check out more photos below:

LEARN MORE about the High Potential Program.

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Hayden Royster is Staff Writer at the Office of Marketing and Communications. Write him.