Who Are the New Gaels?

Weekend of WelcomeThis year’s college freshmen never lived in a world without the internet, music has always been available via free downloads, and the phrase “Don’t touch that dial!” doesn’t mean a thing to them. These are just a few of the findings of a popular list called the Beloit College Mindset List that’s issued each year to remind us of just how different the world seems when viewed through the eyes of a college freshman.

So who are this year’s new Saint Mary’s students? They come to SMC with an eclectic mix of interests and reasons for choosing the College.

Take Marquez Butilla of Hayward, who chose the 3+2 Engineering Program to pursue his passion for robotics. Or Tomas Rodriguez of El Cerrito, who entered SMC’s Integral Program so he could learn to teach his favorite subjects, Greek and Latin. Or Scott Milne of Discovery Bay, who is pursuing a double major in business and music. He’s already in three bands and says he wants to be “the drummer and the manager.”

This year, the College enrolled 648 freshmen from an applicant pool of 4,853 — the largest group of freshman applicants in the history of Saint Mary’s. It also enrolled 199 students who transferred from junior college or another college, including state schools that have been impacted by budget cuts.

Although they may be very different from earlier generations of Gaels, the new students list many of the same reasons as graduates do for choosing the College.

Move In“I like the 4-1-4 model and Seminar, plus Jan Term and the opportunity to study abroad,” said Kayla Riley of Sacramento, an economics major who plans to go to law school. “And Saint Mary’s is a good place to learn critical thinking skills.”

James Lee of Palos Verdes, a business administration major, was drawn to the location. “At first I wanted to go to a school in San Francisco or New York City, but then I went to San Francisco. It’s so crowded. Here, if you want to go to the city, it’s just 40 minutes by BART, and you can come back to this nice atmosphere,” he said.

Chase Webb of Erie, Colo., is majoring in biochemistry and computer science and wants to be a medical researcher. “I like that it’s a traditional college experience, a Christian education and a setting that’s small enough to know everybody but big enough to see new faces,” he said.