Santa Clara University

Religious Studies department

Student & Alumni News

RS Major Jack Mahoney has been awarded a Fulbright grant to travel to Indonesia. He was mentored by Jim Bennett and David Pinault. Jack plans to teach English while in Indonesia.
RS Major Hannah Palm is the recipient of a $6,000 Delgar Scholar Award to support her project on the Catholic Church's Response to HIV/AIDS in Namibia. This will enable Hannah to travel to Namibia and then to write a research paper on her work under the supervision of Professor Teresia Hinga.
Three graduating seniors will be receiving awards at the 2009 commencement ceremonies. Minor, Brandon Ashby, will be awarded the 2009 Valedictorian, minor, Noelle Lopez, will be awarded the Saint Clare Medal, and major, Anne Rovzar, will receive the Richard J. Riordan Award.
Patrick Sauls '07, was accepted to the Princeton Theological Seminary for the M.Div. program, his first choice.
Christine Bourey '07, was accepted to five nursing programs throughout the country and has decided to accept Emory's offer, which came with a fellowship. The fellowship provides focused mentoring in social responsibility and social justice. Christine just left Thailand and is now in Indonesia, where she is working with a midwife.
Former RS Minor, Lindsey Scherer '08, is happy to report that she will begin the M.Div. program at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley in Fall 2009.
Jennifer Vollmann '06, who works for New Global Citizens, was happy to report recently that the Presidential Inaugural Committee of Barack Obama's transition team asked her organization to be featured as an important community service-oriented organization to promote volunteer service.
Senior RS minor, Noelle Lopez, has won a Rhodes Scholarship. She is the first woman Rhodes Scholar from Santa Clara and, at Oxford, will do the B.Phil. in philosophy.

The Ignatian Center has announced that Julie Arcaro, Noelle Lopez, and Anne Murphy-Hagen are Donovan Fellows and Anne Rovzar, Karla de la Torre, and John Michael Reyes will be serving as Immersion Coordinators.

In June, RS minor, Nicole J. van Groningen, was named the Valedictorian for the Class of 2008. Nicole delivered her address at the Commencement ceremony on June 14th.
In June, RS minor, Kyle Ozawa, received the Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J. Award. Kyle was identified as a person who exemplifies the ideals of Jesuit education especially being a “whole person of solidarity in the real world” and having the courage and faith to build a more just and humane world.
In June, RS major, Jessica Coblentz, was awarded the St. Clare Medal. This award established by Santa Clara University, is given to the female student judged outstanding in personal character, school activities, and constructive contribution to the University.
In June, RS minor, Laura Brown, is a winner of one of the Regan Awards.

On May 21, the religious studies department held its student awards ceremony. Linked are are inductees into the Theta Alpha Kappa Honor Society and the recipients of other religious studies awards.

On May 14, RS major and Hackworth Fellow, Jessica Coblentz was one of the panelists in the panel discussion: "Women & Islam: Head Scarves and Other Expression of Faith."

RS major, Stacey Rotta, who graduated in 2006, and who has been working at Santa Catalina, was admitted to UC Davis Medical School.

RS major John Michael Reyes writes about his recent study abroad experience from which he just returned at the end of April 2008: "Ciao! Buon giorno. Non lo so. These were phrases I heard during my semester abroad with Loyola University Chicago’s John Felice Rome Center program. During my time, I made many friends, challenged myself through language barriers and economic differences and tasted good wine and food. It is only in these after days that I am able to unpack the generous grace of realizing at how I grew as a person and learned more about myself."

"I believed that I was 'called' to Rome at the time for many reasons, some which still reveal themselves today. A reason can be of my need to immerse myself into the heart of Roman Catholicism, to rekindle reverence, awe and piety, into the heartbeat of a people who need that mixture of religion, drama and faith. I had a chance to celebrate the Triduum where the heart of Catholicism is and for the first time, I did not have to be in control. (On Good Friday, I was seated only 3 rows away from the Papal Altar!)"

"My time abroad helped me realize the importance of how everything we have is a gift. I was marked by thunder and lightening, cobblestone and marble, white wine and red wine. I was confronted by signs of God’s abundance grace among the craziness of piety in Rome. I was marked by good food and interesting conversation when I had dinner with the American Delegates of the Jesuit General Congregation. (Sadly, Paul Locatelli was absent because he was sick). I was inspired by two Jesuits who by “cura personalis” helped me in my search 'to find God in all things': Mark Bosco, SJ and John Chandler, SJ. I went on excursions around Europe in hopes of learning and what living in a global world means. I participated in the Center’s history as our founder and Director Emeritus, John Felice, passed away in January."

"I was re-taught the lesson of hospitality by two Italians (Nella & Rinaldo) who work all day and late into the night in their on campus coffee bar. (Their panini’s are to die for!) I loved living in a part of Rome that is far from the hustle and bustle of the Vatican and Downtown. Living with 200 other kids in a 5 floor building made our community bond quickly with memories that would last time. My program expanded my thinking, independence and my desire to know what is out there on a global scale. And yet, it also continued my curiosity in the Catholic Church and its teachings and beliefs, something which I hope to share in the days to come."

Religious studies/business co-major, Kyle Ozawa, and business major, Sam Baker, and religious studies student assistant, Patrick Schweiger, went to El Salvador for an immersion trip in March 2008.  Kyle and Sam were recently interviewed by the San Jose Mercury News, which wrote: "Kyle Ozawa and Sam Baker are campus radicals. They're studying business at Santa Clara University - preparing to enter the savage world of mergers and acquisitions, of crushing the competition, of cutting corners and taking advantage whenever possible. They know Silicon Valley's well-earned reputation as a place where good is defined by what's good for the bottom line and where the thinking goes, 'Win first and ask questions later, if at all.' These two seniors are all about questions. Like, does it really have to be this way? More than a year ago, Ozawa and Baker started planning a weeklong immersion trip to El Salvador - the first such intensive study trip designed specially for business students. The idea was to learn firsthand about the struggles of a poor country defined by civil war, while taking the theory of micro-lending into the real world. 'There are so many things that you can do with business that relates to this idea of the common good,' says Baker, 21, who graduates in June. 'You don't have to get out of school and necessarily work for a tech company right away.'"  To read more about their March 2008 trip, please refer to the San Jose Mercury News article.  Kyle was also featured in an article in the recent SCU President's Report.

On April 14, RS major, Jessica Coblentz was the facilitator, and RS minor, Lindsey Scherer, was a panelist at the panel "Religion, Ethics and Abortion," where students discussed navigating their conscience on this controversial topic.

Kellie Flint (minor) and alum Erin Nuccio (2004) participated in the USES Symposium (Undergraduate Science and Engineering Symposium) The goal of this symposium was to promote research science at Santa Clara University. 

Reza Aslan has a joint appoint in assistant professor of Creative Writing and Religion at U C Riverside, starting in the Fall of 2008. He is currently completing his dissertation at UC Santa Barbara.

Class of 2006 alumnus Jennifer Vollmann spent several months in Kenya this year.  While volunteering at the Global Women’s Conference at Santa Clara, she met a woman named Philo, who is running for Kenyan parliament in December 2007.  The main challenge is how to translate support into votes, when the day of the elections the incumbent is giving money for sugar and food.  Philo has to convince her voters that their reward will not just be a bag a sugar for five years, but schools, water, roads, and security. 

Jennifer finds helping Philo is a wonderful challenge to put her four years of political science education and theory to practice and to be a part of a political movement to transform Kenya.  Jennifer has become a full time campaign manager for Philo, and is trying to start a foundation of my own, which is easier said than done for an mzungo (white person) in Africa.

Jennifer has had amazing opportunities to meet most of the presidential candidates in Kenya, and even help write a speech for the only female presidential candidate.  Philo introduced this candidate at her presidential launch and Jennifer wrote most of her speech.  When the presidential speech team read Philo’s speech, they asked for Jennifer’s help.  Jennifer found it amazing to have people stand cheer at the words she wrote about women empowerment and eliminating tribal strife. 

Jennifer is also doing research with her and other women candidates and what they must do to win the election.  She has had contact with a publisher here that is doing a book on the 2007 elections and is hoping to write a few good articles about the election in Kenya and see if they can be published.

Jennifer also decided to start her own NGO.  The Mvule Foundation (it means mahogany tree in Swahili) will be just a small organization that can help for school fees and donations like clothes, computers and books. Secondary school is not free and after the first three weeks of school, if the parents have not paid a certain percentage of the tuition, the students are expelled.  In order for them to return, they must about $20.  This is too much money for most people who make very little or no money, usually by selling their extra crops at the market. 

Jennifer is trying to raise a few hundred dollars every school term and send 20 kids back to school.  The foundation will only match the funds of parents, to ensure they are trying to support their children’s education and a letter from the child, the school, and a transcript will be require.  The student also must improve their grades to keep earn a scholarship for the next term. Education is the only way out of poverty, yet if you are in poverty it is almost impossible to afford an education.  So it is in the works of being registered and I am sure that everyone who reads this will jump at the chance to donate $20 and send someone back to school.

She will go back to Kenya in time for the elections in December.

Maggi van Dorn was awarded an academic scholarship through the Fund for Theological Education (FTE) and over the summer attended their conference in Chicago for "Excellence in Ministry."She writes: "It was an immensely enriching experience, full of inter-denominational dialogue, interesting panels regarding the possibilities for diverse ministry, and many interesting people. I would highly recommend anyone interested in pursuing theology or ministry to research FTE and all that it has to offer students such as myself."

Elena Ebrahimian and Christina Leone participated in the Ecuador Immersion trip this summer where they spent a week in Duran, Ecuador learning about their culture and interacting with the native people of that region. Elena writes: "I think I speak for the both of us when I say it was a very enriching experience and helped open our eyes to a very different part of the world."

Religious Studies Major Jessica Coblentz ('08) has been awarded the 2007-2008 Hackworth Fellowship in Applied Ethics for Senior Undergraduates. Through sponsorship by SCU's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Hackworth Fellows promote ethical reflection and reflective ethical action among their undergraduate peers. In order to pursue this goal, Fellows are expected either to develop their own programs in an area of interest to them or to work with existing programs at the center. Jessica's project will focus on the influence of religious affiliation on students' ethical formation. Utilizing her studies as a Religious Studies and Women's & Gender Studies double major and her work with the Religious Studies Student Gender Initiative this past year, Jessica will explore this relationship through a case study on Christian sexual ethics. She is particularly interested in comparing the role of religion in students positions on "institutional/public" ethics (as expressed through policy, such as university/government policy on birth control, abortion, etc.), versus "personal/private" ethics (as indicated by individual behavior, like birth control use, sexual practice, etc.).

Jessica has also won a coveted Presidential Scholarship.  This award brings honor not only to Jessica, but to the department as a whole.  We are proud to draw so many outstanding majors and minors from our excellent student body and to see them recognized in this way.



Recent Graduates:

Pearl Barros (class of '05) was accepted into the M.T.S. program at Harvard Divinity School, the Graduate Program in Theology at Boston College, and the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. She is planning to attend HDS.

Andrew Giustini (RS minor, class of '06) was accepted into Dartmouth's combined M.D./Ph.D. program and will work with an advisor in the Biomedical Engineering Department for his Ph.D.

Alejandra Lizardo (class of '04) is graduating this Spring from Boston College with an M.A. in theology.


Spring 2012

Check out our latest edition of Perspectives with an article from a student and news from alumni and faculty.


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