We asked 17 of our 2017 graduates about their time on the hilltop and what they’re doing now. Their experience at St. Edward’s? Enriching, educational and filled with exciting achievements and personal support from professors. Their accomplishments are mighty impressive, and they’re just getting started. Find out what they’re up to.
Karen Scobey MBA ’17
The Networker/Operational Strategist: Scobey served as vice president of the Graduate Business Student Association (GBSA), a networking and support group that meets for monthly happy hours, a speaker series and volunteer projects. During Scobey’s tenure, the GBSA hosted and helped students network with some of Austin’s biggest names in business, including Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Texas Woman Entrepreneur of the year Lani Rosales, who founded the online networking group Austin Digital Jobs.
What She’s Doing Now: While in the MBA program, Scobey worked full time at Whole Foods as an infrastructure project manager and business analyst. She’s subsequently been promoted to a new role working on more long-term, strategic projects as a member of the operations and merchandising team. She says the MBA program’s big data class helps her communicate with the data analytics team, and her Capstone project prepared her to put together project scope documents with other people’s input. “Capstone helped me identify that you can’t do anything by yourself in the business world,” she says. Her Social Responsibility class helped Scobey realize she wanted to give back to the community, too. Since graduation, she’s been volunteering at the all-rescue Austin Zoo.
Alfonso Lucio ’17, International Business
The Organizer and Activist: Lucio has been an active civic participant on campus and within Austin. He founded a cultural exchange program to help immigrants assimilate to life in Austin. His internship at the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce allowed him to contribute to policy, business and social justice at the local and international levels, where he participated in SXSWedu, contributed to Texas Innovation and Business Roundup events, and led financial aid events in Central Texas school districts. As a Senior Intern with the Kozmetsky Center at St. Edward’s, he has helped organize international events on campus, including a two-day NATO conference, and assists the center’s director, Sharyl Cross, with research. “Dr. Cross has encouraged me to think about a future on campus as a staff member, but she is also helping me apply to graduate programs.”
What He’s Doing Now: Lucio is applying what he learns at his internships and incorporating it into his Strategic Management Capstone paper. He is writing about the militarization of the South China Sea. He’s planning to submit his final paper for publication later in February. Lucio is aiming for a career in international account management or project management, and he is working toward earning the Project Management Professional credential before graduating in December 2017.
Leslie Chavez ’17, Photocommunications
The NPR-Spotlighted Photographer: Chavez was included in a January 2017 NPR project called “Finding Words in Paint: How Artists See Dyslexia.” The story’s coordinator invited artists with dyslexia — like Chavez — to submit work that reflects how their dyslexia makes them feel. Her work, called “Fit In,” ran as part of a story on the news outlet’s Higher Education website. A week later, Chavez got a call from the art director at South Texas College in McAllen: Would Chavez like to participate in an exhibit along with two faculty at the college? It was an easy ‘yes.’ Chavez submitted 16 works for the exhibit, the theme of which was “place.” For Chavez, that means finding beauty in everyday things, like a light pole in front of the Fine Arts Building, and one of Andre Hall’s brick walls — both subjects of photographs in the show.
What She’s Doing Now: Chavez participated in a student internship with Austin-based visual artist and photographer Charles Heppner. Since graduating, she has continued to work with him as she considers other jobs in the fields of art and education.
James Stewart ’17, Bioinformatics
The Plant-Biology Data Scientist: As a St. Edward’s student, Stewart worked on a four-year project examining bacteria and fungi in the soil surrounding the St. Edward’s Wild Basin Creative Research Center. He and his colleagues investigated whether more bacteria are present close to plant roots and if specific bacteria help the plants grow and develop. In Summer 2016 Stewart worked in the horticulture department at Michigan State University as part of an NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), where he wrote computer programs to analyze plant DNA. The data showed that these previously unknown regions of the DNA were controlling gene expression: regulating how a plant behaves, or how it reacts to different environmental stresses.
What He’s Doing Now: Stewart’s continued interest in genetics has encouraged him to pursue a PhD in infectious diseases. By studying the genetic components of diseases like leukemia and multiple sclerosis, he hopes to make progress toward a cure. He’s currently interviewing for bioinformatics jobs and wants to earn his PhD.
Dominick Namis ’17, Digital Media Management
The Service-Minded Data Analyst: Namis was highly involved at St. Edward’s, serving in the Student Government Association and volunteering with S.E.R.V.E. Austin at the Mary House Catholic Worker hospice. He spent a summer interning as an internet analyst in the San Francisco office of Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox browser.
What He’s Doing Now: His internship helped him land his current job at Facebook’s Austin office. He works as a “partner manager,” helping ad agencies understand Facebook’s opportunities for their clients. Rather than focusing on one industry, he’s a jack of all trades, working with agencies that specialize in healthcare, ecommerce, technology, and other fields. “It’s a phenomenal company with lots of room to grow,” he says of Facebook — and it’s fast-paced and intimidating. But Namis says his professor-mentors, like David Altounian and Debra Zahay-Blatz, have modeled and taught him skills that help him succeed alongside colleagues from Ivy League schools. “I had classes with professors at St. Edward’s who have been in the industry for decades, started their own companies, and done it all,” Namis says. “Having been mentored by them and given a strong work ethic and drive has helped me do well in this environment.”
Hannah Wilson ’17, Theater Arts
The Manager-Director-Organizer: Wilson’s theater résumé was impressive for a student; during her college years, she took on responsibilities that usually fall to more experienced professionals — and did quite well with them. Wilson served as production stage manager of Cabaret at Mary Moody Northen Theatre, assistant to the director for two shows with the Austin Opera and as assistant stage manager for four shows with Ballet Austin. On campus, she helped run Transit Theatre Troupe and led the St. Edward’s branch of the United States Institute of Theater Technology organization.
What She’s up to Now: Wilson has already earned 49 of the 50 points she needs to join Actors’ Equity Association, the national union for American actors and stage managers. After finishing an internship with The Glimmerglass Festival (a very big deal for someone in her field), she moved to New York City, joined a network of St. Edward’s alumni and got an artistic production internship with a major classical touring theater company called The Acting Company. She’ll keep looking for freelance theater work and is considering graduate school to further study stage management.
Jonathan Edwards ’17, Global Studies
The Political Change-Maker: Edwards was one of 15 students nationally to be invited by the State Department as a Rangel Scholar. For several weeks, he was immersed in Washington, D.C.: taking classes at Howard University; meeting government entities and nonprofit organizations such as the Democratic Institute; visiting the Pentagon; speaking with members of Congress in the State Department. He also completed an internship at the Department of Defense the summer before his senior year. On campus, Edwards’ involvement was significant (student body vice president, SGA senator, peer minister of Ecumenical and Interfaith Life, Social Justice LLC member, Campus Recreation supervisor, resident of Moreau House). And he takes pride in being named a Texas NAACP Torchbearer.
What He’s up to Now: Edwards relocated to Washington, D.C., to serve as an analyst with the U.S. Department of Defense. He works alongside military service members to clarify complex information to provide decision advantage, over foreign adversaries, for U.S. policymakers and war-fighters.
Julia Harrison ’17, Kinesiology (Pre-Physical Therapy)
The Community-Focused Athlete: Harrison knows a few things about the anatomy and physiology of human movement. It showed in her studies and her performance as a midfielder for the Hilltopper women’s soccer team. She was a regular on the Dean’s List and accrued more than a dozen academic and athletic honors, including First Team Scholar All-America, Heartland Conference President’s Honor Roll, Heartland Conference Player of the Year, and team captain her senior year. Harrison immersed herself in other activities as well — from volunteering in Austin and participating in LeaderShape to interning at a local healthcare clinic and serving others through Campus Ministry, including a week-long Spring Break Experience to Mobile, Alabama, to work with Habitat for Humanity.
What She’s Doing Now: Harrison is pursuing her doctoral degree in physical therapy at the University of Mary Hardin–Baylor. Her ultimate career goal is to have her own clinic someday.
The Education-for-All Advocate: Leos’ goal was to become a medical doctor, but after her freshman Intro to Education course, she realized her true calling: working with children and supporting quality education for kids of every ability, race and gender. She explored the many ways she can contribute to a student’s experience in the classroom during her student-teacher placement at Small Middle School in Austin, where she worked with sixth through eighth graders with high-functioning autism. One way Leos takes a different approach with special-needs students is by integrating music in the classroom. (She grew up in a musical family and plays clarinet.) She uses rhymes, chants and singing to help kids with autism learn skills and social cues.
What She’s Doing Now: Leos is a full-time Behavior Support Teacher at Dessau Elementary School in Pflugerville. She works with third and fourth grade students with behavioral and emotional disorders who are transitioning from a structured learning environment back into the general learning environment with their peers. Leos uses behavioral psychology techniques and theories she learned in the college classroom and in her student-teaching that help correct negative behavior. “I’m trying to change the stigma of the kid who throws a chair across the room. He’s not a bad kid; he’s working through a behavior pattern,” she says.
Jonathan Cruz ’17, Special Education
The Leader and Teacher: A winner of the university’s Emerging Leader Award, Cruz immersed himself in the St. Edward’s experience, including serving as student body president his junior year, a resident assistant, an Orientation student leader, a member of the Multicultural Leadership Board and the St. Edward’s Cheer team. “Those experiences have helped me know how to work with all types of people and personalities,” he says.
What He’s Doing Now: Cruz teaches middle-school language arts at the Cathedral School of St. Mary in downtown Austin, which was established by a Holy Cross order. In fact, he was invited to apply by Brother Joseph Harris, his math professor, who also teaches at the Cathedral School. While he’s not a special education teacher, Cruz says he draws on his major to help his students who have learning disabilities like dyslexia. And when he’s having a tough day, he calls his best friend from St. Edward’s, who’s also a first-year teacher at a public school. “I had a lot of amazing mentors at St. Edward’s, but I didn’t realize my friend would become one, too,” he says. “The support system St. Edward’s has given me has directly helped in my current job.”
Reina Evans ’17, Behavioral Neuroscience
The Sex-Education Researcher: Evans has a longstanding interest in gender equality and reducing violence against women. When she learned about violent sex crimes, especially on college campuses, she started wondering if sex education helps to prevent them. While at St. Edward’s she conducted research focused on college students that examines how sex education shapes people’s attitudes about gender, bodily autonomy and sex. She was also a supplemental instructor for the Learning and Cognition class, which inspired her interest in teaching. Evans was a leader in Service Break Experiences and says Associate Director of Campus Ministry Liza Manjarrez taught her an important lesson about community psychology: to listen to a community about what they need before trying to provide help.
What She’s Doing Now: Evans is now in her first year of a doctoral program in Applied Social and Community Psychology at North Carolina State University at Raleigh, which awarded her a Teaching Assistantship with a full-tuition scholarship and stipend. She works in the program’s teen health lab, where she’s continuing her research about parent-teen communication about sexual issues.
Hufsa Ali ’17, Biology
The Multifaceted Scientist: Ali may be a STEM student, but her education extends far beyond her major. She consciously made the most of being at a liberal arts college. She was a member of the Honors Program, studied for the MCAT and minored in Chemistry because “chemistry is really cool.” She took classes in advanced philosophy, sociology, The Chronicles of Narnia and mindfulness. As service coordinator for the Texas Academy of Science chapter, secretary for Hilltop Pre-Health Society and a member of the Muslim Student Association, she built community on campus. Science students, she says, can get really absorbed in their textbooks. It’s been important for her to help them feel involved and at home on the hilltop.
What She’s Doing Now: Ali is completing an accelerated one-year Master of Medical Science program at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth. Then she plans to take a year off school to work (possibly at a law firm where she interned for the past few years) before enrolling in medical school. Her goal is to become a doctor who helps patients overcome chronic diseases.
The How-to-Land-an-Internship Superstar: The summer before her senior year, Olivier earned a coveted internship with the investment bank Goldman Sachs, a feat statistically harder than getting into Harvard. It took strategy, confidence, charm and endurance to get through the seven interviews in the application process. Olivier began plotting her route well in advance. She attended a pre-internship “Insight Day” at Goldman Sachs in Dallas, knowing that it would give her a chance to introduce herself to company representatives and participate in a first-round interview. She spent hours and hours preparing for the interview. Another potential advantage, she thought, was standing out as a female with Southern roots (she grew up in Louisiana) competing against many Ivy League applicants in a field dominated by men. Her preparation paid off.
What She’s Doing Now: The internship was only the first step for this finance high-achiever: Olivier had a full-time job with Goldman Sachs waiting for her after graduation. She’s now a financial analyst with Goldman Sachs in Dallas.
Cory Harding ’16, Writing and Rhetoric
The Veteran and Creative Writer: Harding has circled the globe, with military deployments to the Middle East, as well as assignments in the Marshall Islands and Afghanistan as a satellite communications technician. Between these experiences, he traveled the U.S. and began his college degree at Austin Community College. His next big milestone was completing his bachelor’s degree with honors at St. Edward’s. He received the university’s Matthew Harris Scholarship for outstanding academic achievement and was on the Dean’s List four semesters. In a unique internship for his major, Harding used his creative writing talent and military background to help HARTH, a nonprofit that offers equine-assisted therapies to veterans. He crafted communications to veterans that explained the process and benefits of therapy with horses.
What He’s Doing Now: Harding is exploring writing opportunities in grant writing, marketing and advertising, and website content development. And he hasn’t dismissed returning to satellite communications for another far-flung adventure, possibly to Antarctica or Turkey.
Ellen Pace MAC ’17
The Compassionate Counselor: Pace specializes in equine-assisted therapy, an increasingly well-regarded option for clients suffering from a variety of psychological issues, particularly trauma. Much of her work is with children and young adults, for whom sessions with Pace and the horses can be life-changing. During her time at St. Edward’s, Pace interned at a center for individuals recovering from addiction. She also traveled to Africa several times with an organization that cares for orphaned children in Lusaka, Zambia; she led the kids in equine-assisted therapy sessions that gave them a safe way to process their trauma.
What She’s Doing Now: Equine-assisted therapy is more than her career; it’s her calling. Pace is continuing to work with the organizations she’s already partnered with, and new groups continue to reach out to her to request her assistance with other clients in need. Soon she’ll begin working with another organization that helps girls recovering from sex trafficking. She hopes to return to Zambia again, too.
Gilbert Rivera ’17, Mathematics
The Math-Wizard Researcher: Rivera conducted three major research projects during his time at St. Edward’s. His neuroscience project mapped out the chronological relationship between pathologies associated with Alzheimer’s disease. In his astrophysics project, he studied dark energy ― the mysterious force that causes the universe to expand. His third project, in the field of atmospheric physics, looked at the causes of change in tropospheric ozone levels. A McNair Scholar, Rivera presented his research at conferences across the U.S. Along with his research and studies, he tutored other students in the math lab and served as a supplemental instructor in Physics and Calculus. He was part of the Math Club, the Latino Student Leaders Association and the St. Edward’s Rowing Team.
What He’s Doing Now: Rivera making plans to earn his PhD in biophysics and then possibly teach (tutoring at St. Edward's gave him lots of practice) or do research for the government or industry. And, truth be told, he says, “the job I do might not be created yet.”
Nick Stiles ’17, Psychology
The Human-Behavior Investigator: Stiles is a McNair Scholar. Majoring in Psychology let him focus on his lifelong fascination with human behavior. He loves that the rigorous scientific method can be used not just for biology or physics but also to explore how people work. Although the McNair program prepared him for grad school, he hopes instead to work at a company like Facebook or Google, where he can do data analysis on human behavior. Specifically, he’s interested in questions of morality and values from a psychological perspective. He’s looking forward to researching a more diverse group of people in a real-world environment instead of a controlled lab.
What He’s Doing Now: Stiles is exploring his next steps. His McNair research qualified him for the jobs he wants, and he hasn’t written off the possibility of going to grad school later on. And further down the road? He’d like to translate scientific and psychological findings into plain language for a broad audience — or to look into lobbying and how research on human nature could affect politics.
Stories by Barbara Johnson, Lauren Liebowitz, Robyn Ross, Camille Saad
Photography by Morgan Printy and Whitney Devin ’10