News

Believing what is possible

Five years ago, St. Mary's University announced The Defining Moment Comprehensive Campaign with a goal of $130 million — the largest in University history. Some said this was an impossible goal, but we believed. In this issue, our donors share how St. Mary’s touched their lives and helped them envision what was possible for their futures.

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News

Alumni

Beat the heat with summer reads

Need a break from the heat? Stay inside with a one of these books written by our very own St. Mary’s University alumni and faculty. 

A St. Mary’s degree 70 years in the making

For Charles Anderson, 88, the Doctor of Commerce, honoris causa, was more than just another milestone in a life full of accomplishments. Instead, this moment 70 years in the making.

St. Mary’s alumnus ditches backpack for guitar case to open stage at Fiesta Oyster Bake

Trey Gonzalez (B.A. ’18) has played crowds of varying sizes, but his performance at Fiesta Oyster Bake is a little more exciting than others.

Defining Moment: Alumnus hopes to give students a chance

When asked about his defining moment at St. Mary’s University, Antonio “Tony” Sanchez Jr. (B.B.A. ’65, J.D. ’69) paused for a moment before answering, “economics.”  

Greehey Scholars Program alumni begin their happily ever after at St. Mary’s

She was an Accounting major. He was studying Finance and Risk Management. She was in the Honors program. He was on the tennis team. She was a junior from the Rio Grande Valley. He was a first-year student from Sugar Land. 

St. Mary’s alumni better the world with mental health counseling

Through St. Mary’s University’s two counseling programs, the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision, hundreds of students have gone on to become licensed counselors, helping people overcome hardships and live more fulfilling lives.

Alumna becomes the youngest writer in the Writers’ League of Texas Fellowship Program

When Jamira Richardson joined the St. Mary’s University English Literature and Language program in Fall 2016, her professors were confident she’d go far with writing. It was no surprise that she was selected as the youngest member for the Writers’ League of Texas Fellowship Program right before graduating with her bachelor’s degree in Spring 2020.

Alumnus and Executive Director of Development shares Marianist spirit

Before accepting St. Mary’s University’s Marianist Heritage Award earlier this year, Fred “Steve” Hemphill (B.A. ’05) made a list of every Marianist who has impacted his life — 42 names.

Alumna becomes a successful direct mail marketer while putting her family first

Five kids and one stay-at-home mom starting a home-based business sounds like a risky equation. However, when you factor in Brenda Stewart’s determination to put her family first, it all adds up to the perfect solution for her success.

Environmental Science alumna earns state grant for superior teaching

Christina Lopez (B.A. ’18) was 28 years old when she enrolled at St. Mary’s University to study Environmental Science, hoping to teach it someday to young students.

‘You have to be aligned,’ says alumni couple who discovered a lifetime of love

When it comes to a lasting romance, it’s not just a matter of the heart, but also the head. That’s what Sonya (B.A. ’95) and Enrique Alemán Jr. (B.A. ’93) have learned over their 25-year marriage — a love that began at St. Mary’s University in 1993.

Pivoting with excellence: George Hernandez Jr.

In an effort to spotlight those who are Pivoting with Excellence, Gold & Blue sat down with alumnus George Hernandez Jr., President and CEO of University Health System.

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Arts and Humanities

Larry Hufford delivers final lecture and lasting wisdom

With more than 50 years of teaching experience, Larry Hufford, Ph.D., said there is one thing he hopes he's remembered for as a person.

Defining Moment: Alumna names scholarship after Marianist mentor

RaSheeda Keir hopes to give future generations a change at the same success she had while attending St. Mary's University.

St. Mary’s students discover Mexican American culture through new program

St. Mary's offers a 15-hour certificate and the 18-hour minor in Mexican American Studies to learn more about Mexican American history.

Alumna Rachel Huron looks to acting and beyond

by Nathaniel Miller Growing up, many children are told they can be anything. Rachel Huron (B.A. ’21) decided she wanted to be anyone.   The St. Mary’s University alumna, who graduated Dec. 11 with a degree in Communications Studies, also earned a minor in Drama.   Now in the process of applying to graduate schools ...

Theology grad and drummer continues search for meaning

Trivett Wingo (M.A. ’20), in his search for meaning and purpose, has lived many lives — as a drummer for a world-touring band, as an accountant and now as a St. Mary’s University graduate seeking to fulfill his knowledge quest.

With nearly six decades serving St. Mary’s, Political Science professor concludes a legendary career

Charles Cotrell, Ph.D., aka Charlie. To generations of St. Mary’s University alumni, his name signals a jaw-dropping 55-year teaching career, or serving as the University’s first lay president from 2000 to 2012.

Public History student follows Old Spanish Trail to award-winning conclusion

Glory Turnbull (B.A. ’20), a student in the Master of Arts in Public History program at St. Mary’s University, received in May the Student Excellence Award from Texas Digital Libraries for digitizing archival documents and subsequently creating an exhibit on the Old Spanish Trail (OST) — a 2,817-mile automobile route constructed in the early 20th century stretching from St. Augustine, Florida, to San Diego, California.

Peruvian student finds success in economic research

Ana Paula Saravia had every intention of attending college in her home country of Peru — until a St. Mary’s University admission counselor visited her Marianist high school on a recruiting visit.

Longtime local educator and writer discovers literary confidence at St. Mary’s

The mind of Rafael Castillo (B.A. ’75), Ph.D., is like a nonstop gear, housing an inquisitive, wide-ranging vision that has marked him as a man of letters for decades.

Students collect historical information for coronavirus digital archive

By the time the coronavirus pandemic began impacting the St. Mary’s University community, faculty and students in the Department of History had already begun documenting the swift and historical changes reshaping the Rattler landscape.

Pivoting with excellence: Allison Gray

In an effort to spotlight those who are Pivoting with Excellence, Gold & Blue sat down with theology professor Allison Gray.

Pivoting with excellence: Communications professor puts student needs first

Taking advantage of the flexibilities of online learning, Communications Assistant Professor Amanda Hill, Ph.D., has made virtual learning more beneficial for all her students.

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Athletics and Recreation

Women’s Basketball player brings her talents to school and courts

As a five-sport student-athlete in high school in Fredericksburg, Hannah Wilson (B.A. ’21) learned to balance school, sports, a social life and more.

Golf alum journeys from St. Mary’s to the airwaves

Before Peter Burns (B.A. '02) ascended to among the most prominent personalities in college sports, he was searching for direction and guidance in the classrooms of St. Mary's University.

St. Mary’s soccer coach discovers passion for public history

While attending the Master of Arts in Public History program at St. Mary’s University, Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach Adam Nerio (M.A. ’20) started his days on the field at 5 a.m. for team training.

Pivoting with excellence: Men’s Soccer captain continues studies from Brazil

Deni Cresto, a junior from Curitiba, Brazil, studying Exercise and Sport Science, often refers to a message from St. Mary’s University Men’s Soccer Head Coach Johnny Clifford: “Control what you can control.”

Rattler Baseball player graduates to research scientist

Like young baseball fans around the world, Jeff Wigdahl dreamed of making the big league — Major League Baseball.

New St. Mary’s coach among first female varsity collegiate esports coaches

Breaking into the world of esports has been a challenge for women. At St. Mary’s University, Kaitlin Teniente found her chance to become the first head coach — leading the new varsity Esports Program.

Big Solve: Changing the culture

The loss of the opening game of the Fall 2019 Men’s Soccer season felt like a make-or-break moment. But it wasn’t just the loss that stung — it was the way we lost.

Soccer player Pato Botello Faz inks pro deal

In his senior season on the St. Mary’s University Men’s Soccer team, Pato Botello Faz took the Heartland Conference by storm and signed to play with a United Soccer League club in Michigan, the Lansing Ignite.

Roller derby members bring track lessons to St. Mary’s

“Just put a Band-Aid on it.” This was Melanie Call’s nonchalant response after receiving a busted lip playing for the Alamo City Roller Girls (ACRG), San Antonio’s women’s roller derby team.

Coaching for Impact

Hannah Petersen heard stories of how difficult it would be to say goodbye to her new friends in Vietnam after a three-week stay of service in Summer 2017.

Alumna sets the stage for Super Bowl LI

Erica Baum (B.S. ’96) always dreamed of doing something bigger than herself — she just didn’t realize how literal that might be.

You Don’t Know Sumo

Jessica Brower has, perhaps, the best icebreaker in the history of conversation. The diminutive St. Mary’s University senior tells people, quite matter-of-factly, that she’s a sumo wrestler.

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Business

Defining Moment: Bill Greehey’s gifts fund multiple ventures

As the largest donor in St. Mary’s history, Bill Greehey has continuously shared his success to benefit students.

Defining Moment: Couple provides scholarship for those in need

Sally Scholz said her late husband Charles Scholz, would never have been able to get where he did in life without St. Mary's University.

Defining Moment: CEO’s scholarship supports women in business

Lynda Ellis knows the business world can be tough. But the lessons learned at St. Mary's University have helped her in her career, and she wants to help future women leaders a chance to succeed.

Contreras Leaders in Risk Program welcomes inaugural class

The Contreras Leaders in Risk Program launched during the Spring 2022 semester. It was made possible through a $2 million gift by Thomas “Tom” Contreras (B.B.A. ’88) and Leticia “Leti” Contreras (B.A. ’89) in 2017.

Siblings make their mark through marketing research

Two sisters launch careers as marketing professors through the Greehey School of Business MBA programs.

Virtual option allows for international experience during COVID-19 pandemic 

During the Spring 2021 semester — as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to scuttle travel plans — Sami Bouls (B.B.A. ’21) received hands-on experience with two Latin American companies and pursued his degree in International Business — all from the safety of his own home. 

New Vice Provost leads renamed Career and Professional Development Center

In her new role as Vice Provost for Vocation and Career Services, Stephanie Ward sees her mission as a simple one: helping students find purpose in their careers.

Kenyan alumna breaks barriers in leadership role at footwear company

Jeddidah Thotho (B.B.A. ’98) is as self-assured stepping off a global planning call for Bata Shoe Kenya PLC — the country’s largest footwear company — as she is stepping into her favorite pair of Bata Comfit boots to care for her two children.

Management majors launch woman-owned fashion businesses

For some St. Mary’s University students, like Management major Nadia Carrasco-Vasquez, who graduated this May, owning a business is a lifelong dream — in her case, since childhood days in her mom’s coffee shop in Arizona.

St. Mary’s programs fight COVID-19 job loss

Laura Thompson was in the midst of organizing a natural hair event at San Antonio’s Henry B. González Convention Center when COVID-19 spread across the region in Spring 2020.

MBA student and entrepreneur hones vocation toward common good at St. Mary’s

Nick Ramos, who turned 26 in May, had already launched a couple of businesses before he enrolled in the Master of Business Administration program at St. Mary’s University in 2020.

Pivoting with excellence: Sung-Tae (Daniel) Kim

In an effort to spotlight those who are Pivoting with Excellence, Gold & Blue sat down with business professor Sung-Tae (Daniel) Kim.

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Community

St. Mary’s University featured on Amazon Prime’s “The College Tour”

St. Mary’s has been featured in an episode of The College Tour, an Amazon Prime series that spotlights colleges and universities around the country.  

The Defining Moment Comprehensive Campaign succeeds in bringing the University’s vision to life

The Defining Moment Comprehensive Campaign gifts fund scholarships, endowed professorships, world-class facilities, academic programs and research.

Defining Moment: Couple sees sense in togetherness

Leticia "Leti Contreras and Thomas "Tom" Contreras believe the community experience at St. Mary's University is what makes it so special.

Defining Moment: St. Mary’s shares gratitude for a mission made real

In this Gold & Blue, you will hear from several generous men and women who helped achieve what so many believed impossible — a fundraising campaign 10 times greater than any prior St. Mary’s University campaign and larger than all previous campaigns combined.

With numerous college options, top-ranked seniors rank St. Mary’s first

This fall, St. Mary’s University welcomed an astounding number of valedictorians and salutatorians into its Class of 2025. Hailing from all corners of the state, each of these 13 students chose to become Rattlers after graduating in one of the top two spots in their high school senior class.

A summer escape with St. Mary’s authors

This list of Rattler reads will help your mind escape to another place with books by St. Mary’s students, alumni, faculty and staff.

Collegiate cats find companionship at St. Mary’s

At any given time, the St. Mary’s University campus is home to at least 10 free-ranging felines.  Marty, Ringo, Possum and Oliver hang around Blume Library, while A.J., who has made a shelter of campus for more than a decade, frequents the Marianist Residence in her old age.

Pivoting with excellence: St. Mary’s community adapts in response to pandemic

At St. Mary’s University, at no time in our history has our ability to succeed as a team been tested as it has amid the COVID-19 pandemic. At no time has our ability to come together ensured the future of the University and our region as we have this year.

Pivoting with excellence: Housekeeping staff continue their spotless record

During a pandemic, proper cleaning is crucial. Fortunately for the St. Mary’s community, the Housekeeping Department went above and beyond even before COVID-19.

Pivoting with excellence: Rattler Success Center supports students in online learning

At the University made the transition to online, the Rattler Success Center (RSC) was one step ahead, having already begun online tutoring earlier in the 2019-2020 academic year.

International mother and son graduate in St. Mary’s first virtual Commencement

Most students who go to college leave behind proud parents at home. For Abdulrahman Almaghlooth (B.A. ’20), he not only went to college with his mother, Reema Alhowaish (Ph.D. ’20), but also graduated with her in the spring as part of St. Mary’s University’s first virtual Commencement ceremony.

Graduate student escapes homeland for St. Mary’s, thrives at new safe haven

Christmas Day, 2018. A couple of bags in hand, Shaima Khalaf flew into San Antonio to start a new life as a student in the Master of Arts in English Literature and Language program at St. Mary’s University.

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Faith and Service

Defining Moment: Alumnus credits mission for his success

When Charles T. Barrett Jr. (B.B.A. ’62) decided to enroll at St. Mary’s University, he did so wanting to get back to a school with Marianist teachings.  

Alumnus priest pens book of homilies during pandemic

When the Rev. David Garcia (B.A. ’71) was approached to write weekly homilies during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, he initially refused.  

Through transformational leadership, St. Mary’s enhances academic programs, student development and faith formation

With new challenges arising daily, and old ways of life coming into question, St. Mary’s University believes one answer to uncertainty remains one of the bedrocks of a Marianist university — educating for transformational leaders.

After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rican double-major regains confidence at St. Mary’s

When Wilzave Guzman thinks of her homeland — Puerto Rico — she is filled with good memories of growing up in a tight-knit neighborhood, volunteering with military organizations to help feed the island’s needy. But for the senior double majoring in Environmental Science and in International and Global Studies there is also pain and, at the same time, acceptance and awe at the vast power of Mother Nature.

Pivoting with excellence: The Rattler Impact Scholarship awards over $1.2 million to nearly 1,000 students

In July, through the generosity of the St. Mary’s University Alumni Association, President Mengler and his wife, Mona, combined with University funds, St. Mary’s offered the Rattler Impact Scholarship to further support nearly 1,000 students in Fall 2020.

Pivoting with excellence: Mask Squad takes on safety measures

Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear masks. The Mask Squad — a group of about 80 St. Mary’s University students who were trained and are committed to the health and safety of every member of our community — have worked to stem the spread of COVID-19 on campus this fall.

Chapel Choir releases video collaborations amid pandemic

Since 2007, more than 100 students at St. Mary’s University have sung their hearts out for the masses as proud participants of Chapel Choir.

Staff member leads virtual prayer sessions amidst coronavirus pandemic

When the coronavirus pandemic hit San Antonio during spring break – temporarily paralyzing St. Mary’s University’s prayer community – it didn’t take long for Jessica Uhlig, Ed.D., Executive Director of Marianist Educational Associates, to place her faith in technology.

Ethics expert proposes framework for “Voting Catholic”

While there’s no perfect way to “Vote Catholic,” theologian Julie Hanlon Rubio, Ph.D., proposes a framework for helping the faithful make tough decisions during election season. Rubio is a Professor of Social Ethics at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California.

Students and faculty showcase the formation of faith at St. Mary’s

Find out how our students and faculty are better able to strengthen their beliefs through the gifts of The Defining Moment Comprehensive Campaign through Q&A and quotes.

St. Mary’s students study religious pilgrimage in Israel

From following the steps of Jesus’ crucifixion at Jerusalem’s Via Dolorosa to visiting the Western Wall and the Dead Sea, 14 students in a Theology course this spring visited important Israeli sites of pilgrimage in the Christian, Catholic, Jewish and Islamic faith traditions.

University mission meets Marianist calling to improve neighborhood

For 71 years, Holy Rosary Catholic Church and St. Mary’s University have been neighbors on San Antonio’s West Side. Literally steps apart, these two Marianist institutions have largely existed in parallel. Now, there are significant efforts to converge their futures — and strengthen the neighborhoods around them in the process.

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Law

Graduating J.D. student finds her “why” at St. Mary’s Law

Rosa Peterson, scheduled to graduate from the St. Mary’s University School of Law on May 21, has donated her time to various organizations during her studies.

The Defining Moment Comprehensive Campaign funds the future of St. Mary’s Law

Donors to the St. Mary's Law campaign endowed transformational scholarships and professorships, funded cutting-edge facilities, enabled first-generation student programming and propelled law success efforts.   

Defining Moment: Law alumnus expresses gratitude for Catholic Intellectual Tradition

The emphasis on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, according to Martin D. Beirne (J.D. ’69), means that St. Mary’s University focuses on developing the whole person, not just handing students a degree.

Defining Moment: Thanks to donor, program prepares first-generation students for law school

Prior to starting at the St. Mary’s University School of Law, first-year J.D. student Majestad Barragan did not know who or what to expect in her classes. 

Defining Moment: Law alumnus donates to nurture next generation of lawyers

Steven Michael Peña Sr. (J.D. ’94), a partner at Davidson Troilo Ream & Garza, PC in San Antonio, feels law students who underperform are easily overlooked. 

Defining Moment: Alumnus practices what he preaches through gifts

John R. Courtney Sr. (B.A. ’61, J.D. ’67) encourages any student looking for a great leadership and educational opportunity to join the Army ROTC at St. Mary’s University.

Defining Moment: D.C. attorney promotes advocacy program

For Erich Ferrari (J.D. ’06), founder and principal attorney of Ferrari & Associates, the St. Mary’s University School of Law was the starting point for developing his practice as a sanctions lawyer. 

Defining Moment: Couple donates to support law student success

Coll Bramblett (J.D. ’80) applied to many law schools, but only the St. Mary’s University School of Law gave him a chance to become a lawyer, so he took it.

Award-winning Texas winemaker remembers his St. Mary’s Law roots

Ron Yates (J.D. ’05) owns Spicewood Vineyards in the Texas Hill Country. After being in the wine-making business for 15 years, he's learned to roll with the bunches.

New St. Mary’s Law professor shares love of puffy tacos, bullfighting and classroom fun

Even after graduating in 2017 as a new lawyer, Emilio Longoria, J.D., quickly realized that he was drawn to legal issues with no easy answer.

St. Mary’s Law launches the one and only fully online J.D. program accredited by the ABA

This academic year, St. Mary’s Law became the first law school in the nation to have a fully online J.D. program accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA).

Law journal symposium hosts Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and national immigration experts

If there’s one thing Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sonia Nazario wanted attendees of the 2022 Immigration Symposium to understand, it’s that immigrant children who come to the U.S. alone face an arduous journey.

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Science and Tech

Seasoned faculty, new equipment take the Forensic Science program to the next level

With the help of a multimillion-dollar grant, updated equipment and new professors, the Forensic Science program at St. Mary’s University is equipped to give students the specialized knowledge in identifying and analyzing physical evidence needed to succeed in their careers. 

Biology graduate sets sights on medical school 

Attending school away from home can be terrifying. For Ankita Chabra, leaving India to attend St. Mary’s University was an easy decision.

Defining Moment: Former trustee wants to see programs continue to evolve

Robert "Bob" Elizondo knows to keep up you have to change with the world, and he wants St. Mary's to keep up with technology.

Defining Moment: Alumnus hopes to fuel growth of beloved program

Earning three degrees at St. Mary's University, Juan Valadez Jr., said it's his turn to give back to incoming students to help their education.

Defining Moment: Alumnus helps next group of STEM students

Robert Massie gives to the new Innovation Center continuing in the tradition of service to others.

Defining Moment: Gift to help fund innovation center

Growing up, John Sieffert didn’t stay in one place for long because of his father's job. Eventually, he found his way to St. Mary's.

A groundbreaking medical team — featuring St. Mary’s alumni — changed the way we treat COVID-19

It’s April 2020 and a team of researchers at Houston Methodist are studying the effects of convalescent plasma — blood plasma donated from recovered patients — in treating the complicated COVID-19 virus. One day, the group began discussing where they attended college.

Environmental Science professor seeks genetic link between coyotes and endangered red wolves

In 2019, Associate Professor of Environment Science Melissa Karlin, Ph.D., began collecting samples of coyote scat in select Texas regions, hoping to discover a genetic link to a critically endangered animal: the red wolf.

Biology junior co-authors research in three respected science journals during pandemic

Biology junior Cherry Rubannelsonkumar is having a prolific publishing year in 2020-2021: three of her co-authored articles featured in respected science journals, including Cell.

Researchers aim to increase safety for aircraft and nuclear facilities

Juan Ocampo, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, is leading two projects focused on the structural integrity of aircraft and nuclear facilities, drawing students into the research process.

Pivoting with excellence: Hugo P. Salazar Jr., M.D.

In an effort to spotlight those who are Pivoting with Excellence, Gold & Blue sat down with University physician Dr. Hugo Salazar.

Pivoting with excellence: Juan Ocampo

In an effort to spotlight those who are Pivoting with Excellence, Gold & Blue sat down with engineering professor Juan Ocampo.

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Media

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