Home and away

Home and away

By Christine Cole Harden

Heart and soul: Alumni Award honorees. Front row: Steve and Deanna Erbst. Back: Jane and Louis Castruccio ’60, Maria Arias Evans ’81, and Robert J. Higgins ’80, J.D. ’92. Photo by Dominic KF Wong
From Washington Elementary to the White Mountain Apache Reservation—and right here on the Mission Campus—these Broncos have helped transform the lives of thousands. They were recognized at the 2013 Alumni Association Awards in April.

 

THE AWARDS

Ignatian Award—recognizes alumni who live the ideals of competence, conscience, and compassion through outstanding service to humanity.

Louis I. Bannan, S.J. Award—honors alumni for distinguished service to the Alumni Association and University.

Paul L. Locatelli, S.J. Award—honors SCU faculty or staff for outstanding service to the Alumni Association and University.

Maria Arias Evans ’81

Ignatian Award

Ninety-five percent of students at Washington Elementary School in San Jose qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Three-quarters of them are English-language learners. In terms of parents’ income, the school is the poorest in the district. But in 2011 Washington earned a 10 out of 10 in California’s Similar Schools rankings—a distinction no other school in the district managed. How?

Since 2005, Washington has been headed by Maria Arias Evans, who has built it into a safe place that gives students a chance to succeed. When Evans first took the helm, the school had scored a 4 in the Similar School ranking—and even lower in the statewide rankings. But Evans introduced dozens of engaging student activities and, in doing so, took a bite out of discipline problems. Partnering with the San Jose Rotary Club, Catholic Charities, and other local community groups, Washington is able to offer enrichment activities such as science camp, reading mentors, an annual fishing trip, a philosophy club, soccer, ballet, and monthly academic competitions. Since 2012, SCU’s Leavey School of Business has teamed up with the school through the Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative, and last year top administrators at the University spent a day with teachers and students, learning how the school works. More collaboration is to come.

Evans says it’s almost like magic—or divine intervention—the way things have come together. She’s thankful for all those, including parent volunteers, who are doing their best to enable 500 children to be happy, hopeful, and more educated in the best way. Evans is now working to build a middle school on campus.

Upper grade levels are not new territory for Evans. After earning her degree in psychology from SCU, she served with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Brooklyn, where she taught troubled middle-school students. She later earned a teaching credential and master’s degree. It was teaching at a continuation high school, where students had years of suspensions, transfers, expulsions, and even prison time, that formed her decision to become a principal. Evans believes the best way to prevent dropouts and incarceration is by providing a strong elementary-school education. That’s what she’s been doing at Washington.

 

Robert J. Higgins ’80, J.D. ’92

Ignatian Award

It was a job opportunity in law that led Bob Higgins and his family to Pinetop-Lakeside, a small Arizona community near the White Mountain Apache Reservation, in 1992. And while Higgins’ legal work has been important—he now serves as a judge on the Navajo County Superior Court—it’s the founding of a school that has been the most important contribution he’s made, he says.

Poverty and high unemployment are both serious problems in Pinetop-Lakeside. Along with doing pro bono legal work in the community, Higgins also sought to break the cycle of poverty through establishing St. Anthony’s Catholic School. The goal: offer academic excellence while teaching good habits, shaping character, and encouraging students to live a life for others.

Help from hundreds of folks, including Higgins’ wife, Laura, and fellow Bronco Hal Mack ’67, enabled the school to open in 2006. For four years, Higgins served as the volunteer principal while maintaining his law practice. The school now offers pre-K through eighth-grade classes (the highest grade level was just added), and its mission is to educate each child academically, physically, socially, and spiritually. Some 20 percent of the 110 students are members of the White Mountain Apache tribe.

Higgins now serves as president of the school’s board of trustees and as president of a foundation he established to help defray tuition costs. His SCU education helped mold his values and shape who he’s become today, and it took him to work with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Micronesia before law school. He hopes St. Anthony’s is providing a similar footing for children in eastern Arizona.

 

Steve ’88 and Deanna Erbst

Louis I. Bannan, S.J. Award

With the daily responsibilities of raising a family and managing careers, it’s easy to lose sight of the people and places that shape us. But when Steve Erbst looked back on his years at Santa Clara, one person always came to mind: Richard Coz, S.J., who taught economics at SCU 1963–95, directed SCU’s study abroad program, championed numerous campus activities, and was a lifelong mentor to many. For Erbst, Fr. Coz was a friend and trusted counselor. He presided over the marriage of Erbst and his wife of 18 years, Deanna, and baptized their two children. Really, he was part of their family. As Erbst began to grasp the measure of Fr. Coz’s importance in his life, he also came to understand the weight of Fr. Coz’s influence on hundreds of other students across more than five decades. How to commemorate that legacy? he wondered. The answer: He and wife Deanna, along with friends in their SCU network, founded Pause for Coz.

Today, the grassroots campaign to create an endowed scholarship began with an email from Erbst in 2006. The scholarship is close to reaching the $1 million mark while currently helping 10 students afford the cost of a Santa Clara education. The Erbsts also initiated the annual Pause for Coz Celebration to honor Fr. Coz while inspiring others to give back in recognition of those who have most influenced their lives. Fr. Coz passed away in 2010—but not before he saw the outpouring of affection through a scholarship that will benefit generations of future Broncos.

 

Louis ’60 and Jane Castruccio

Paul L. Locatelli, S.J. Award

When not on campus, Lou and Jane Castruccio are actively involved in the Los Angeles alumni chapter. They were instrumental in starting the annual Los Angeles Santa Claran of the Year Award Dinner, now in its 35th year. Another landmark event began in their dining room with four couples in 1989—the first year that Lou’s classmate Paul Locatelli, S.J. ’60, M.Div. ’74 served as president of SCU. Hundreds now gather for what has become the annual President’s Christmas Dinner in L.A.

Lou’s relationship with Santa Clara began when he was just 8 years old. His father, Constantine Castruccio 1913, often took the family by train to San Francisco—sometimes even to Texas and Oklahoma—to see the Broncos play football. In a memory book compiled for his 50th reunion, Lou wrote that Santa Clara and its Jesuits tracked footprints across his soul, and these have deepened over the years. Jane Castruccio’s connection to SCU is through her husband of 45 years, though she says she feels like SCU is her alma mater, too. “It’s so much like a family,” she says.

The Castruccios have supported many Santa Clara endeavors financially, including a lead gift for the Jesuit Residence in the last capital campaign. In honor of Lou’s father, they established the Castruccio Athletic Endowed Scholarship Fund, and they also participate in the Class of 1960 scholarship fund. Most important, the Castruccios give of their time. Lou has served on the Board of Regents and, since 1986, as a trustee. He is a board member of the Jesuit School of Theology and has served on the National Alumni Board and boards for athletics and law. Lou is also on the board of the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation, which established the landmark $1 million Leavey Challenge last year. The successful response to the challenge, Lou hopes, will serve as “an igniter causing alumni to increase their giving participation rate year after year.”

comments powered by Disqus