Saint Mary’s strengthens our faith that God is the potter and we are the clay. God works through peoples hands to educate us on more than just facts and numbers. The people like Eté Anderson, Ed Tywoniak, Sue Fallis, Fr. Mike Russo, Fr. Sal Ragusa, and the list goes on with remarkable educators that dedicate their lives to us. Their hands reach into our minds and hearts to guide us to be servants of Jesus Christ. The campus beauty, small classrooms, and state-of-the-art power plant hook us in. Yet, it’s the people that are fishers of wo/men that bring us aboard the ship to feel His touch. Reflecting five years graduated, I see that Saint Mary’s was instrumental in paving the way towards my speaking career because of the people.
People like Eté were more than just “bosses,” they were counselors. Eté was my advisor in Associated Student Government for three years. She was the tough cookie with a warm center that gave lots of her time to honing in the leadership skills of many. However, I remember most her listening ear. She listened to my struggles and brought out my authentic self. Authenticity and listening are keys to being a speaker that I learned from people like Eté.
People like Ed were more than just “department heads,” they were mentors. By golly, one of the wisest and coolest cats to prance this Earth! Ed was an engaging teacher in and out of the classroom. He was the landing pad to launching my speaker calling. He allowed me to creatively write a senior thesis that explored the field of professional speaking. Pushing me to go deep and flesh out my story, he brought out the best in me. Storytelling that connects and relates to an audience is everything in speaking; people like Ed ignited the rocket!
People like Sue were more than just “professors,” they were angels. Sue embodies the type of people at Saint Mary’s. I applied for a scholarship to study abroad in Tonga for Jan Term and even after I couldn’t come up with all the remaining funds. I let her know I was very grateful; however, I asked that she give the aid to someone else. She ended up writing a personal check to help. I’m very grateful and still owe her so much. Her giving heart reminds us all of the service to others we’re called to do as speakers.
People like Fr. Russo encompassed the meaning of being a father. A father is someone who gives everything for the betterment of their young. Fr. Russo’s hands led me to an exclusive speaker Institute with headliners Herm Edwards and Leon Panetta. He showed me how being a speaker is a selfless act of love.
People like Fr. Sal were more than just “priests,” they were friends. Fr. Sal and I worked closely at SMC because I was the Master of Ceremonies and he was the presider for many masses. Since graduation, our friendship has grown. He has invited me to speak with his Salvatorian community about Faith in the presence of God. Also, he introduced me to speakers from around the world at LA Religious Education Congress and remains a very dear friend. Fr. Sal gives me the strength to inspire the courage for others to live Christ-like.
Counselors, mentors, angels, fathers, and friends… The people make Saint Mary’s family. The people like these above and many others inspire a powerful idea, “change yourself – change the world.” Phil Boyte is one of these people and I’m very grateful to him for starting my speaking career. As we welcome De La Salle week on and off campus, gael alumni remember that Jesus lives in our hearts and we were blessed to have learned the tools in Moraga to serve our communities. So when I was asked, “how was Saint Mary’s instrumental in driving my speaking career,” the answer was simple. The people.