Senior Spotlight: Bianca Guzman '22 Earns De La Salle Award

English major Bianca Guzman takes home Saint Mary’s De La Salle Award, awarded to the graduating senior with the highest record for scholarship and general excellence. She also has earned the  Brother Leo Meehan, FSC, Award for her outstanding scholastic record as an English major. Guzman has made great use of her passion for community-building and advocating for equity at SMC. She was the president of La Hermandad, a student representative on the Seminar Governing Board, the lead organizer of the first and second ever English Colloquium centering BIPOC voices, and a lead adviser at the Center for Writing Across the Curriculum (CWAC). We asked her to share some of her SMC memories.

How did you feel when you learned about your Commencement awards?

When I first learned that I had received my Commencement awards, I genuinely couldn’t believe it. I’ve always been so grateful for the experiences that I’ve had at Saint Mary’s, and to receive this recognition is such an honor. It’s a privilege to be able to represent some of the positive change that happens on campus, as well as SMC’s core principle of Entering to Learn and Leaving to Serve. Overall, when I learned about receiving these awards, I felt proud and so humbled. I truly value the importance of dedicating yourself to your community and making the world you live in a more equitable place for everyone, and receiving these awards really cemented the importance of following through with these ideals for me. 

Tell us about a class or activity that was special for you. What was it and how did it change you?

The most formative experience I had at Saint Mary’s was being able to lead the first and second annual English Department Colloquium centering the voices of Black, Indigenous, People of Color. In response to the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and far too many others and the historic uprising that followed in the summer of 2020, I found myself rexamining my role in my community and, more specifically, within my discipline as an English major. As a member of a discipline that has historically been a tool of political and cultural colonization, I felt it important for Saint Mary’s English Department to not only condemn anti-Black violence, but to also take active steps toward decolonization. So, to ensure that the English Dxepartment is actively examining its role in dismantling structures of white supremacy in the English discipline, I became the lead organizer of my school’s inaugural English Department Colloquium: “Re-imagining the Narrative: Centering BIPOC Voices in Literature.” As a student-led event, I was given the opportunity to mold the Colloquium from the ground up alongside an amazing group of English majors. This opportunity definitely allowed me to see the positive impact I can have on my community, and really emphasized the importance of advocating for equity—especially because I have the privilege to do so. 

What brought you to SMC?

What initially drew me to SMC was the campus culture and climate. The idea of attending a large college or university and spending four years of my life floating by without a tight-knit community was an environment I knew I couldn’t personally thrive in. After visiting SMC for the first time and seeing how close everyone here is, I knew this was the school for me. The small class sizes, the intimate setting of Seminar courses, and the meaningful relationships you can build with peers and professors is something that I really value about Saint Mary’s, and they’re all what initially drew me in.

What has surprised you most about your studies at SMC over the years?

I think I was always pleasantly surprised by how much Saint Mary’s emphasizes the importance of perspective and empathy through community. There are so many incredible professors who teach meaningful courses on campus, and because of their human-forward approach to learning, I found myself able to have difficult discussions with my peers. I’m a huge lover of the Seminar program because of this, and I believe that some of my most meaningful experiences at SMC have occurred during these courses. I’ve found that the culture at SMC really values caring for the people you share your space with (whether during or outside of class), and this emphasis on community and respect has definitely encouraged me throughout my time in undergrad. I don’t think you’d find this kind of community anywhere besides here—especially at larger universities. 

Where are you headed next?

Because I finished all of my classes this January, I have been fortunate enough to work as a copy editor for a multimedia company these past couple of months while I’m completing my graduate school applications. My ultimate goal is to get my doctorate in Rhetorical Composition and become a professor of English at the collegiate level—maybe even at Saint Mary’s some day! Regardless, I’m so excited to see what comes next in my journey after Saint Mary’s, and I am confident in (and extremely grateful for) the knowledge and experience I’ve gained during my time here.