Santa Clara University

SCU College of Arts and Sciences

Initiate Bios 2011

Initiates at Santa Clara University (2011)

Laura Beck. Laura is a Communicationmajor with minors in Art History and Environmental Studies. While studyingabroad in London she held a catering internship and introduced her diners to thefiner points of sweet potato casserole. On campus, Laura was in GREEN Club,copy-edited for The Santa Clara,co-authored a capstone project about violent online video gaming, researchedSanta Clara composting programs, and interned at The Forge Community Garden.This fall, Laura will intern at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Carolyn Biemer. Carolyn is an English major. After two years rowing for Santa Clara'screw team, she spent a semester abroad in Buenos Aires. Although she plans fora future in medicine, she also has a passion for creative writing and has hadwork published in the Santa Clara Review.During this school year she took part in a health ethics internship through theMarkkula Center for Applied Ethics and O'Connor Hospital. She plans to returnhome to Portland, Oregon, and work in a local hospital while applying tomedical schools.

Brooke Boniface. Brooke is a double major in PoliticalScience and History. She wrote for the campus newspaper each of her three yearsat Santa Clara, serving as the editor of the opinion section this past year.Outside of classes, Brooke worked at the student call center to raise funds forthe university, as a research assistant for Professor Naomi Levy, and atvarious other jobs around campus. Following graduation, Brooke will join Teachfor America as a middle school science teacher in Eastern Kentucky.

Sabrina Brett. Sabrina, a native of Carmel, CA, will graduate with degrees in Music and Political Science. Shestudied abroad in Vienna, Austria and Freiburg, Germany. During her junioryear, she interned as an environmental policy coordinator at the Silicon ValleyLeadership Group. She also interned with the County of Santa Clara, assistingin the implementation of the County's Waste Reduction Program. Sabrinaperformed in numerous campus productions, including: Hansel and Gretel, TheMarriage of Figaro, and The Mikado.


Amanda Kazimir Brown. Kazimir graduateswith degrees in Sociology and Political Science. She ran on the University'strack team and is both an SCU and West Coast conference record-holder. She hasserved as an assistant in the LEAD scholars program, as a student ambassador,and published a piece on first-generation college students and their academicaspirations in the Sociology Department's SiliconValley Notebook.She has interned atboth the San Francisco Mayor's Office and Silicon Valley Council for Nonprofits.She will begin a master's degree at UC Berkeley's Goldman School of PublicPolicy.

Jessica Cassella. Jessie, a Political Science major and English minor, is thevaledictorian of the Class of 2011. Shehas been an orientation leader, community facilitator, secretary of theMulticultural Center, and an intern in the U.S. Congress. As a Provost ResearchFellow, Jessie wrote a paper on the influence of staff members in the House ofRepresentatives that she presented at the Midwest Political Science AssociationConference in Chicago. She will work at the ACLU of Northern California whileapplying to law schools.

Matthew Akio Chee. Matthew is a Financeand Economics double major with minors in Mathematics and Political Science. Anative of Waipahu, Hawaii, he was the president of Delta Sigma Pi and assessedthe financial health and value of AMR Corporation for his senior honors thesis.Matthew has interned at the State of Hawaii Department of Business, EconomicDevelopment, and Tourism as well as the Hawaiian Electric Company. Aftergraduation, he will start his career at NetApp in Sunnyvale, CA, as a financialanalyst before pursuing a master's degree in Public Policy.

Angela Cooke. Angela graduates magna cumlaude with a degree in Religious Studies. Born and raised in the Santa ClaraValley, she has run a monthly study and worship group for her religiouscommunity in the East Bay since 2004. On campus, she has focused on ecumenicalactivities, including participating in the SCU Interfaith Council and SiliconValley Interreligious Council, interning with the Local Religions Project, andserving as a peer educator in the Religious Studies department. She plans toearn a graduate degree in Counseling Psychology and will be ordained as clergyin 2013.

Erika Dose. Erika is an English majorfrom Eugene, Oregon. While at Santa Clara, Erika has cultivated a love forvolunteerism through her participation with the Santa Clara Community ActionProgram. As the coordinator for Kids' Club, Erika took an active role mentoringand tutoring at-risk youth in San Jose. Last summer, she taught in a Tanzanianschool for orphans with the organization Cross Cultural Solutions. Erika hasalso served as a peer educator on campus. Erika will be applying to graduateprograms in elementary education.


Isabel Durón. Isabel is a PoliticalScience and Ethnic Studies double major. Over the past four years she hasactively been involved in the Multicultural Center and served as its directorthis past year. She attended the Washington Semester Program where shecompleted her senior thesis on gentrification in Columbia Heights, aneighborhood in Washington. DC. Isabel was awarded the Matt Meier Award inEthnic Studies for her research on undocumented students; she also organized apanel of undocumented students for SCU's first ever Diversity LeadershipConference. Isabel will work as a summer associate for the GreenliningInstitute, a multi-ethnic public policy research and advocacy institute.

John Fullerton. John is an Economics major. He was a co-founder of the acapella group, Vocalicious, and has been involved withthe Music department and concert choir for the past three years. John hasvolunteered with SCU's Arrupe Program and the AmericanCancer Society's 24hr Relay 4 Life.Hehas also been a member of the SCU Division One SCUTS rugby team and competed inSCU's Iron Bronco triathlon challenge. John will be attending StanfordUniversity's Institute for General Management over the summer and hopes topursue a career in technology and social media.

Nicholas Giustini. Nicholas is aBioengineering major with minors in Biology and Chemistry.He was a research assistant in Dr. Steve Suljak'sAnalytical Chemistry laboratory on campus and also spent two summers atDartmouth College researching the hyperthermic treatment of cancer using ironoxide nano-particles.He has served as acommunity facilitator, writing tutor, Department of Engineering tour guide, andas the vice president of the Pre-Health Club.After graduation, Nicholas will be matriculating at the Keck School ofMedicine at USC.

Francisco Gutierrez-Villarreal. Francisco is an Economics major and is the first member of his family to attenda four-year university. He grew up in Salinas, CA, where he studied at HartnellCommunity College for two years before transferring to Santa Clara. Franciscowas awarded the Charles and Barbara Hazel Prize as the top Economics major inthe College of Arts and Sciences. He plans to apply to graduate programs inEconomics or a closely related field.

Lindsay Hammons. Lindsay, a Biology andPublic Health double major, served as a program planner and Community Councilvice-president for the ALPHA Residential Learning Community. For the last threeyears, she conducted research on muscle-cell differentiation with Dr. Jim Graingerin the Biology Department. Lindsay also studied abroad in Rome and interned atthe Italian Red Cross. She tutors on campus and is actively involved in hersorority, Kappa Alpha Theta. Lindsay plans to pursue a medical degree.


Stephen Hobbs. Stephen, a double majorin Communication and Political Science, was a member of the men's water poloteam. A native of Walnut Creek, CA, he was a four-time Academic All-American andin his final year a co-captain and All-American Honorable Mention. He completedhis final two quarters studying Journalism and New Media as part of theWashington Semester Program at American University in Washington, D.C. andinterned at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. After graduation, Stephenplans to pursue a career in journalism.

Drew Hodun. Originally from Cincinnati, OH, Drew is a Physics and ReligiousStudies double major with minors in Philosophy and Mathematics. He studiedabroad with the Casa de la Solidaridad in El Salvador after spending a summerteaching English in Peru as a Donovan Fellow. His passions include travel andoutdoor activities, especially backpacking. Highlights from his time at SantaClara include working as a campus tour-guide, membership in an acapella group,and his participation in the Santa Clara Community Action program. He has also servedas a program coordinator working with AIDS patients in San Francisco.

Morgan Hunter. Morgan graduates summacum laude in Classics. A member of the University Honors Program, she has alongstanding interest in languages, having studied French, German, Japanese,Arabic, and Sanskrit, in addition to her major languages. She was awarded aDiebold Fellowship in Indo-European linguistics to study at UC Berkeley duringthe summer after her sophomore year. This year she taught Latin tointermittently intrigued students at her former middle school. She will attendUC Berkeley as a Classics graduate student in the fall.

Amanda Igeta. Amanda is graduating witha double major in Biology and Economics. Originally from Pearl City, Hawaii,she studied abroad at Cambridge University and in Costa Rica. Amanda designedan experiment on primate seed dispersal while in Costa Rica and went on to completean honors thesis based on this study. She was a flute player for the universityorchestra, secretary for the Multicultural Center, student assistant in theEnglish Department, and a volunteer at various animal organizations. Thissummer she will intern at the Wildlife Center in New Mexico, after which shewill be applying to veterinary schools.

Erin Lee. Originally from Flagstaff, Arizona,Erin will graduate with a degree in Biochemistry. While at SCU, she wasinvolved in undergraduate research as a part of the Adalsteinsson Research Group.Her research involved using nuclear magnetic resonance to track the behavior ofvarious molecules involved in organic solar cells. She was a member of the SCUCheer Squad for four years, serving as the team captain in her senior year. Aftergraduation, Erin will conduct research in pharmaceuticals or alternative fuelsbefore pursuing a graduate degree in medical illustration.


Carolyn Linck. Carolyn is a member of the University Honors Program double majoringin History and Communication. A native of Henderson, Nevada, Carolyn studiedabroad in Cape Town, South Africa. She is a four-year member of Santa Clara'scheerleading team and also served as education chairperson of her sorority,Kappa Kappa Gamma. In 2009 Carolyn won the Redwood Award for besthistorical essay. Carolyn has worked as an intern in media relations at SantaClara Athletics and is interested in pursuing a career in communications orsports administration and management.

Conor Merritt. Conor, a CombinedSciences major, was a member of Santa Clara Emergency Medical Services, and thevice-president of the campus chapter of Global Medical Brigades which tookmedical immersion trips to Honduras and Panama. He studied abroad in ElSalvador where he volunteered in the public hospitals of San Salvador, andworked as an orientation leader for the incoming students of the class of 2014.Next year, Conor will be doing muscular-skeletal research at Children'sHospital of Denver while applying to medical schools.

Stephanie Mita. Stephanie is a Biologymajor with minors in English and Public Health Science. During her time at SCU,she worked in Dr. Tracy Ruscetti's Biology lab researching oral vaccineefficacy in mice. She worked as a Chemistry tutor and an English peer educator,as well as the fiction editor for SCU's literary magazine, Santa ClaraReview. Throughout college she volunteered in the emergency department of alocal hospital. After graduating in December 2011, Stephanie hopes to spendtime learning languages and working in a podiatry office before enteringpodiatry school.

Adrian Morales. Adrian is a PoliticalScience major with minors in History, Philosophy, and Middle Eastern Studies. Hewas a member of the speech and debate team each of the past four years, andserved as a senator in the Associated Student Government during his last twoyears. This summer, Adrian will study abroad in Jordan to complete requirementsfor a certificate in Arabic Studies from San Jose State University. In thefall, he will be moving to Sacramento for a fellowship in the California StateAssembly.

Christopher Mosier. Christopher, anative of Mission Viejo, CA, is a double major in Political Science andEconomics. He was a captain on the cross country and track teams and workedwith the Athletics Department to improve game day atmosphere. Christopherserved as Student Body President and attended the semester-long PanettaInstitute Leadership Seminar. For his honors thesis, he researched the ChineseCultural Revolution and explored the religious relationship between Mao and hisstudent followers. After graduation, Christopher will attend law school at SantaClara University.


Amalee Nsour. Amalee has a double major in Political Science andEconomics. A Bay Area native, she spent a semester studying Arabic in Cairo,Egypt. She attended American University's Washington semester program inForeign Policy where she completed her senior thesis on Israel's impact onUS-Iranian relations. She also interned with Catholic Charities' refugeeresettlement department and with the National Security Network in Washington,D.C. After graduation, Amalee is going to Istanbul, Turkey, to work for awomen's non-profit through the Leavey Business School's Global Fellows Program.

Anna Paustenbach. Anna is a double major in English and Religious Studies with a minor in Women'sand Gender Studies. She has been actively volunteering in the Santa ClaraCommunity Action Program throughout her four years at Santa Clara, and has alsobeen a peer educator in the English department. Anna studied abroad in London,and reflected upon her experiences interning there at a homeless shelter in herarticle featured in the social justice magazine, Live One World. In the fall, Anna will attend the University ofChicago's Master's Program for the Humanities.

Bonnie Phan. Bonnie, a junior, is pursuing a double degree in Political Science and Music.In her freshman year, Bonnie won the concerto/aria competition and performedwith the orchestra in its fall concert. She has also performed with the newmusic ensemble and the world percussion ensemble. This year, she served as the research/fundimplementation director of The Music Connection. With a strong interest in Europeanpolitics, Bonnie completed her quantitative methods requirement in PoliticalScience with a project on factors determining public attitudes towards the EuropeanUnion.

Diana Pillsbury. Diana is a Political Science major with a minor in Spanish. Graduating in threeyears she has been very busy! During her time at Santa Clara, Diana conductedresearch on U.S.-Turkey relations at Sabanci University in Istanbul as a LeaveyBusiness School Global Fellow, corrected many essays as a writing tutor andpeer educator for the HUB Writing Center, and worked on federal educationpolicy in Congressman Honda's office as Santa Clara's 2010 Panetta Fellow.Diana will attend law school at George Washington University.

Lucas Ramirez. Lucas is a Music majorwith a minor in History. Although he focused primarily on composition, he hasperformed as a member of both the Santa Clara University Concert Choir and theWorld Percussion Ensemble. A self-styled political observer and news junkie, hehopes to dedicate more time to following the messy process of formulating publicpolicy at the state and national levels. Lucas will explore opportunities inthe music field while continuing to compose and researching graduate programsin music.


Tanya Schmidt.Tanya, a junior English major with minors in Classics and Religious Studies, isthe captain of the University's Division One women's volleyball team. She worksas a student ambassador and campus ministry liturgy intern and also enjoysvolunteering through the SCU Community Action Program. As a Donovan Fellow lastsummer, she taught English to elementary school children in Cusco, Peru. Nextyear, as a Canterbury Fellow, she will write an honors thesis comparingShakespeare and Ovid. In the fall, she will apply to graduate school to pursuefurther studies in English Renaissance Literature.

Erin Schulz. Erin, a native of Morgan Hill, California, is an English Major with minors inPolitical Science and Dance. For her senior seminar, she studied pirate andcastaway literature under Professor Michelle Burnham, and, for her thesis, sheexamined the significance of religion and spirituality in pirate culture asdepicted in various literary works from Dana to Stevenson. She was also anactive member of the Dance program, performing in, and choreographing for,numerous university and student productions. Her future plans include pursuinga PhD in English, teaching at the university level, and ultimately publishing anovel.

Brian Scott. Brian is an Economicsmajor and Mathematics minor. He has tutored mathematics to potential first-generationcollege students, and has served food to the homeless in the Tenderloindistrict of San Francisco. He was also the lead actor in the acclaimedshort-film, Nerds Collide. Brian isan avid snowboarder and an aspiring hip-hop artist. He has worked in wealthmanagement for Morgan Stanley and UBS and worked in commercial real estate forKidder Mathews. He will soon begin work as an investment banking analyst forRobert W. Baird & Company.

Emilee Sena. Emilee is a Chemistrymajor from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She participated in collaborative researchunder Professors Richard Barber, Thorsteinn Adalsteinsson, and Brian McNelis.She conducted spectroscopic time studies of organic photovoltaic devicedegradation, and presented this research at an American Physical Societyconference in Dallas. At Santa Clara, she tutored and was the service and socialevent coordinator for a women's Christian ministry. This fall she will attendUC Berkeley in pursuit of a PhD in Materials Physical Chemistry.

Tierney Siler. Tierney is a Psychology and Communication double major. Sheserved as director of philanthropy in her sorority, Alpha Phi, helping to raiseover $70,000 for Women's Cardiac Care this past year. After studying abroad inFlorence, Italy, Tierney worked as a research assistant on two differentstudies for Dr.Tim Urdan in the Psychology Department. She also volunteered asa tutor at Scott Lane Elementary and Buscher Middle School. At Santa Clara,Tierney has focused her studies on Social Psychology, which will aid her as shetakes on a full-time position in recruiting for Blach Construction Company.


Merit Logan Smith. Logan is a Philosophymajor with an English minor, though his interests include everything fromanthropology to improv comedy. This year, Logan was selected to be part of SCU'sfirst class of Learning Facilitators who teach workshops on effective learningtechniques based on the latest educational theory and neurobiology research.Logan was also the founder and lead instructor of Santa Clara's Capoeira Club,a club dedicated to the Brazilian martial art of dance-fighting. No one knowswhat the future holds for Logan--not even Logan--but he is confident he will goon to do great, honorable things…or maybe he will just go to law school.

Kyla Teramoto. Kyla is graduating oneyear early with a degree in Biology. Some highlights of her undergraduatecareer include cheering on the Broncos as a member of the SCU Cheer Team,helping to organize Hawaii Club events, and serving as a peer health educator.She researched antibiotic resistance with Dr. David Hess for her Honors Programthesis.A resident of Honolulu, she heldresearch positions there and volunteered with Kuakini Health Systems. Thisfall, Kyla will be attending the University of Hawaii's Burns School ofMedicine.

Hilary Titus. Hilary, anEnglish major and Biology minor, studied at Casa de la Solidaridad in ElSalvador and spent a summer working in rural Tanzania with a Donovan Fellowshipfrom the Ignatian Center. As a Canterbury Fellow in the English Department,Hilary completed her honors thesis with a work of creative nonfiction entitled,Junt@s Somos Libres (Together We Are Free), in which she explores questions oftheology, solidarity, and her experiences in community. Next year she will beworking at Sacred Heart Nativity School in San Jose through the JesuitVolunteer Corps.

Sarah Tkach. Sarah graduates with a double major in History and French Studies.She studied abroad in Burkina Faso and hopes to return to West Africa in thefuture. Sarah has enjoyed many experiences at SCU including Ethics@Noonlectures, immersion trips to Mexico and West Virginia, and the 9pm studentMass. She has loved being part of Wonderfully Made Women's Christian Group andapplying her editing and marketing skills in the English Department'sCalifornia Legacy Project. Sarah will begin work with Dominican Volunteers inNew York City or with Vincentian Service Corps in St. Louis.

Katherine Tolentino. Katherine isgraduating with a degree in English and a minor in Women's and Gender Studies.She spent most of her free time at Santa Clara writing and singing, as aneditor of The Santa Clara newspaperand a member of the University's Chamber Singers. She was very grateful to havethe opportunity to study abroad, not once but twice, first in Rome and then atthe University of Oxford. After working for KQED Radio this summer, Katherinewill return to Oxford in the fall to complete a degree in Social Science of the Internet.


Sara Vakulskas. Sara is a Political Science major with minors inGeneral Business and History. Recent adventures include interning at theCouncil on US-Arab Relations in Washington, DC, and studying Islam and MiddleEastern politics in Jordan and Egypt. Her thesis, "Honor Killings: The OngoingTragedy," analyzes the relationship between Islam, tribalism, modernity, andhonor killings in Jordan. Sara's paper, "The Patriot Act," is published in the fourthedition of The Well-Crafted Argument.Next year, she will attend the University of Minnesota Law School on a fullscholarship.

Whitney Vellequette.Whitney is a French and Psychology double major. She studied abroad in Arlesand Paris, and has been a peer educator for the French Department. She was alsoa research assistant for Dr. Melissa Gilbert in the Education Department,analyzing the impact of motivation on math scores. This year, she interned withthe Reading West Africa program on campus, and wrote her French Honors thesison film adaptations of The Count ofMonte-Cristo. In September, she will move to Toulouse, France to teachEnglish, and hopes to continue on to a graduate program in France in eitherbusiness or international affairs.

Curtis Martin Wagner. Curtis, an Economics major from Manhattan Beach,California, was a four-year member and the 2011 captain of the Santa Clarabaseball team. In 2010, he was named an Academic All-American by ESPN The Magazine and won the West CoastConference batting title, finishing the year with a .404 average. He has alsovolunteered for the Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation, raising over$2,500 to fully fund a wish for a terminally-ill child. After graduation,Curtis will move to Southern California to pursue a career in litigationconsulting.

Christopher Wemp. Chris is a juniormajoring in Music and Political Science. He serves as a music ministry intern,playing piano and composing songs for Mission Santa Clara. He studied abroad inSCU's Casa de la Solidaridad program in El Salvador last fall, and will begoing to Lima, Peru this summer for music ministry and ethno-musicologicalstudies. In his senior year, Chris will start a music education program forSacred Heart Nativity School, and will continue to tutor on-campus SCU workersin English.

Kristen Williamson. Kristen is anEnglish and Spanish double major with a minor in Communication. A native ofPhoenix, Arizona, she studied abroad in Argentina and received a Donovanfellowship to travel to Costa Rica and teach English to Nicaraguan migrantchildren during summer 2010. This year, she was an Arrupe intern at FoothillHigh School and created a program to improve literacy among the students.Kristen plans to travel before pursuing graduate work in Latin American Studies.


Stephanie Wilson. Stephanie, an Englishmajor and Philosophy minor, was captain of the women's cross-country and trackand field teams. She received the Saint Clare Medal at commencement. In the2009 cross-country season, Stephanie placed 28th at Nationals, earningAll-American honors. As a Donovan Fellow, Stephanie spent the summer of 2008interning on an organic farm in the Salinas Valley. She was also involved withCampus Ministry and the SCU Community Action Program. Stephanie is exploringcareer paths in environmental education and training with a local running clubto try to qualify for the Olympic trials in the marathon.

Amanda Wong. Amanda is a Biochemistry major withminors in Biology and Biotechnology. Sheserved as a community facilitator and emergency medical technician on campus. Amandaalso worked in an organic synthesis laboratory under the mentorship of Dr. MikeCarrasco. This experience has inspired Amanda to integrate research into herfuture medical career. After graduation, Amanda plans to continue doingresearch as she applies for MD/PhD programs. She will also be raising awarenessfor the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by participating in the Nike Women's HalfMarathon this October.

Angelica Wright. Angelica is aPsychology major and English minor. A Las Vegas native, she studied abroad inBarcelona and enjoyed traveling across Europe. During her senior year, sheserved as the Arrupe Program's intern at Julian Street Inn, a mental healthshelter in San Jose. For her honors thesis, she researched premaritalcounseling in the Catholic Church and analyzed the Mission Church's marriagepreparation program. Next year, Angelica will begin a master's degree in counseling psychology at Santa Clara.


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