2023 Presidential Award Winners

Vilma Sofia Caballero

B.S. in Biology | Houston, Texas

2023 Presidential Award Winner Vilma Caballero

“As an aspiring physician, my goal has always been to serve those who need it and work toward diminishing the boundaries placed in front of low-income and first-generation students. St. Mary’s University has allowed me to do so through my involvement on campus, my academic success and my spiritual growth.” 

Maroun Joe Harb

B.B.A. in Finance and Risk Management and B.A. in Mathematics | Beirut, Lebanon

2023 Presidential Award Winner Maroun Harb

“The family spirit and community have been consistent throughout my involvement at St. Mary’s. While pursuing a double major and being involved across campus, I learned to adapt and enhance my time management skills to meet my vocational goal of becoming an actuary. St. Mary’s has been foundational for my spiritual, personal and professional growth, and I will be proud to say that I am a graduate of St. Mary’s.” 

Kristina Heerdegen 

B.A. in Mathematics with Teacher Certification | Grayslake, Illinois

2023 Presidential Award Winner Kristina Heerdegen

“I would not be the person I am today without coming to St. Mary’s. My favorite thing about St. Mary’s are the relationships I have developed with my peers, professors, staff and the Marianist brothers and priests on campus. They have supported me in all my passions and ideas and have given me resources and assistance to help me pursue my dreams.” 

  • 2022 Presidential Award Winners

    • Ankita Chabra (Biology)
    • Regina de la Parra (International and Global Studies and Environmental Science)
    • Midori Flores (Environmental Science)
    • Pragyan K C (Computer Science)
    • Wilzave Quiles Guzmán (International and Global Studies and Environmental Science)
  • 2021 Presidential Award Winners

    • Andrea Maresa Aldaz (Biochemistry)
    • Steven Alfred Rudy Castillo (Biology)
    • Kathryn Clare Drees (Biology)
    • Alain Patrick Peralt (Forensic Science)
    • Ana Paula Saravia (Economics and Mathematics)
    • Josemaria Sebastian Soriano (Engineering Systems Management)
  • 2020 Presidential Award Winners

    • Faris Adrian Andonie (Engineering)
    • Jocelyn Baca (Physics)
    • Victoria Anne Leh (Chemistry)
    • Nicolas Alberto Romero (Mechanical Engineering)
    • Jesus Valencia (Biochemistry)
  • 2019 Presidential Award Winners

    • Christine N. Flores (Computer Information Systems)
    • Geyner Andres Gaona (Biology)
    • Rebeca M. Gurrola (Physics and Mathematics)
  • 2018 Presidential Award Winners

    • Elena Janay Botello (Electrical Engineering)
    • Stephen Mark Braden (Biology)
    • Iliana Esther De La Cruz (Physics and Mathematics)
    • Kathryn Lorraine Ellebracht (Biology)
    • Deandra C. Gonzalez (Biology)

Notable Alumni

Ravi Chaudhary, D.L.S. (M.S. '99)

Ravi Chaudhary, D.L.S. (M.S. ’99)

As director of Advanced Programs and Innovation in the Office of Commercial Space Transportation at the FAA, Chaudhary is responsible for looking into the future of commercial space transportation. And for Chaudhary, a man with a direct line to the president, not a day goes by during which the lessons he learned as an Industrial Engineering graduate student at St. Mary’s University aren’t on his mind.

“I was blessed to have (Professor of Industrial Engineering) Rafael Moras invest heavily in my development and guide me through a challenging graduate engineering degree. Over time, Dr. Moras become more than an academic adviser; he became a good friend and mentor.

Looking back, going to St. Mary’s was one of the best decisions I could’ve made.”

Giovanni Fazio

With an award-winning career that spans more than half a century, Giovanni G. Fazio earned both a B.S. in Physics and a B.A. in Chemistry from St. Mary’s in 1954. A renowned astrophysicist, Fazio helped pioneer NASA’s development of gamma-ray astronomy using balloon-borne and ground-based detectors. He is a senior physicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Erika Gonzalez-Reyes, M.D. (B.S. ’98)

Gonzalez-Reyes serves as the CEO & President of South Texas Allergy & Asthma Medical Professionals and STAAMP Clinical Research. As a student at St. Mary’s, Gonzalez-Reyes participated in the Health Careers Opportunity Program and the MARCU*STAR program before completing medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston on an Air Force scholarship.

As an alumna, Gonzalez-Reyes mentors pre-med students and allows them to rotate through her clinic. She also serves on the Advisory Council for the School of Science, Engineering and Technology, and by sharing her story with women and minorities, she hopes to inspire them to realize, “That could be me one day.”

“The sense of community that St. Mary’s has, along with the faith-based mission, surrounds you with mentors and educators who are concerned with your success. It’s just as important to them as it is to you.”

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