We sat down with four students of this fall’s incoming class and took notes on some pretty amazing feats. You’ll get to know a commuter student who is enthralled by film and loves to travel. Hear from a talented singer who aspires to teach. Meet a transfer student who completed a pretty cool summer internship for a nonprofit organization, and shake hands with a first-year biology student who has a passion for dolphin training. These are just a handful of the remarkable minds that dot the diverse landscape of St. Mary’s College.
Meet Carol Lowe, The Explorer
First-year and local commuter student Carol Lowe planned on returning to University of Maryland at College Park this fall until she quickly changed her mind and applied to St. Mary’s College in August. A film and media studies major, Carol has finally found her school.
St. Mary’s is Carol’s third college in three semesters. Her journey began last fall at the College of Southern Maryland before she was admitted to College Park in the spring. At the university, Carol explored her interest in film. She participated in the school’s “Satanic Mechanics” student-theater group and appeared as an extra in a shadow casting of the 1970s film “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
Carol transferred to St. Mary’s knowing it to be a beautiful campus by the water. When she first started applying to colleges, she was worried St. Mary’s would be too small. But, St. Mary’s small, close-knit community and small class sizes work for her, she says.
“I prefer discussion-based, not lecture-based courses.”
Carol’s main interests in life are photography, theater make-up, and cinematic study and horror films. While she does not wish to pursue acting at the academic level, she does wish to turn it into an extracurricular activity. She will direct a shadow casting production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” through the college’s White Room.
Depending on how the semester develops, Carol will decide if she wants to pursue psychology as a second major. For her, psychology was the only subject she liked in high school.
“I like psychology because of how it affects everything we do, yet, we don’t realize it,” she said.
Carol’s goals are to graduate and enter a job in her field. In a broader sense, she wants to see the world and enjoy life. She has traveled before and seen France, Spain, Italy and the Vatican, too.
“I don’t want to get comfortable,” she said. “There’s so much to explore, so many places to see.”
Meet Alex Conrad, The Performer
Alex Conrad, a native of Gaithersburg, Md., recalls how his sophomore friends at St. Mary’s College urged him to apply for the fall 2013 semester. They told him it would be a fun and beautiful place to attend school.
Alex wanted to see it for himself, and fell in love with the school during an open house on campus last year.
“I just felt at home here,” he said. By then, he had already visited at least four other schools.
St. Mary’s was Alex’s first choice. He was drawn to the school after looking at the different academic departments and the level of experience shared among the instructors. In Alex’s eyes, the faculty take part in the culture of the college by bringing their own backgrounds into the classroom and showing an interest in what they teach. “There’s a genuine investment in teaching students what they know,” he said.
Alex also values how students’ opinions are welcomed. “Professors embrace what students think.”
With interests in theater, dance, acting, singing and writing, Alex is very involved in campus life. He participates in the St. Mary’s Triangle and Rainbow Society (STARS), and is member of the college’s Chamber Singers and the all-male a capella group, C-men.
Alex plans to double-major in English and, perhaps, theater studies. With aspirations to become an English teacher at the secondary-education level, he plans to minor in both educational studies as well as music for vocal performance.
While at St. Mary’s, Alex hopes to learn more about himself, the world and others.
Meet Holly Gonzalez, Rising Humanitarian
Junior Holly Gonzalez of La Plata, Md., is enjoying her first year at St. Mary’s. After transferring in with an associate’s degree in general studies from the College of Southern Maryland, she is confident that she is in the right place.
When asked why she chose St. Mary’s to complete her undergraduate work, Holly said, “It kind of was always the plan.”
Now that she’s here, she’s finding that the college fits her style in many ways. “I love the low-key atmosphere,” Holly said. She is also finding great benefit from the small class sizes and having more one-on-one time with her professors. After taking sociology and Spanish coursework at the College of Southern Maryland, Holly is now majoring in sociology and minoring in Spanish here at St. Mary’s.
This past summer marked another important milestone for Holly. She interned for AUVSI, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International in Arlington, Va. AUVSI is the largest non-profit organization supporting unmanned vehicle systems and robotics internationally. While there, Holly worked for the communications department and co-wrote magazine stories, in addition to updating an online news blog and doing in-field reporting at the SUAS (Student Unmanned Aerial System) competition at the Patuxent River Base, Annex.
While focused on her studies, Holly is also an active member of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship on campus. And aside from finishing her degree in two years, Holly’s objective is to gain valuable career experience. She hopes to pursue a career in human advocacy, working in human resources as a diversity officer in a non-profit setting.
While at St. Mary’s, Holly also plans to get out of her comfort zone. She’s looking forward to meeting people, making friends and finally being on her own.
Meet Rysheem McGirt, Renaissance Man
First-year Rysheem McGirt of Baltimore, Md., prides himself on being interactive and well-rounded in his studies. And, according to him, he’s open to trying anything, even if it means being a little silly.
You may share a scene with him in his acting class. You may find him in Piano I with Instructor Beverly Babcock or playing or singing tunes in his spare time. You might also cross paths with him in the Biology Department, or even at the National Aquarium in Baltimore every other weekend where he volunteers as a dolphin trainer’s assistant. He’s a motivational speaker for public school students in his hometown, and he can answer any questions you may have for the Financial Aid Office on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Rysheem, a biology major, has always been fascinated by science. It started in the sixth grade when he learned about the water cycle and other scientific principles. Though funding for science education was limited in his high school, he appreciated the opportunities he had to study different disciplines within the field and took as many science classes as he could before settling on biology.
He also has another passion: dolphin training. When he was seven, his grandmother took him to the dolphin exhibit at the National Aquarium; this is when and where his passion for dolphin training sprung. During the summer before his senior year of high school, he began volunteering as a tour guide at the aquarium. Rysheem eventually became a trainer’s assistant, where he aids during exhibit presentations and in feeding the dolphins, among other duties.
Rysheem likes St. Mary’s for its research opportunities and because the natural environment of the campus is conducive to his studies in biology. He loves being by the water and has helped with the college’s oyster restoration efforts. Rysheem was also drawn to the college’s DeSousa-Brent Scholars Program, of which he is a member.
Rysheem is a scholarship recipient through the National Aquarium’s Henry Hall Program. This, he says, has inspired him to give back. He is in the process of creating another National Aquarium-based scholarship program for Baltimore City students, designed to place awards directly in students’ hands prior to the start of college classes. Possible criteria for the program could be a 3.0 grade-point average and proof of service in the community.
“Sometimes the students need it right then and there,” Rysheem said. “I just want to be helpful. This is one of the ways I can give back.”