A few things have changed on the Mission Campus over 40 years. And, as I’ve learned, we’re part of an unfolding story here at Santa Clara—one we can be proud to tell.
My path to Santa Clara was a little different from most: I was offered the opportunity to enroll here out of high school but chose to go somewhere else. It took until my sophomore year—after a few semesters of being not particularly focused on academics, changing majors several times, and playing a lot of golf—to realize that Santa Clara was a better fit for me. I called the admissions office asking for an application and for information on the due date. The turnaround was short and the office was closing for the day, so the person with whom I spoke suggested that she could leave the application outside, in a large potted plant. Things were a bit less formal in those days. I picked up the application, filled it out, and submitted it the next day.
Thanks to each of you who have given back to Santa Clara, both with your time and financially.
I was accepted to the business school. Dean Charles Dirksen sat me down and mapped out a patchwork curriculum of lower-and upper-division courses that allowed me to graduate on schedule. The time the dean spent with me and the personal care he took made a great impact on helping me focus on academics. I enjoyed classes, played NCAA golf, and was part of a vibrant campus life that included student occupation of the Administration Office, streakers, and an occasional bowling ball or shopping cart hefted out of a Swig Hall window.
|Show your guns: Jasmine Blaine '11 and colleagues dig in. Courtesy Jasmine Blaine|
I continued at Santa Clara for law school, where I befriended B.T. Collins ’70, J.D. ’73, a sort of larger-than-life man who had been a Green Beret in Vietnam and later served in administrations of both Democratic and Republican governors of California. In many ways, B.T. was an inspiration to me and many other Broncos. He was a tremendous ambassador for the school and constantly drummed into anyone who would listen the need to give back to the University that gave so much to its students. For me, the Sacramento Chapter of the Alumni Association was also a great place to forge ties to Santa Clara. I attended events and became involved in the leadership of our local chapter, the national alumni board, and this past year as national president.
Among the activities this year: We implemented an alumni event survey system, created a brochure that offers an overview of the Alumni Association, and established an Alumni Speaker Series for students. Perhaps the most rewarding was recognizing a graduate from the class of 2011 as the recipient of the Alumni Board Service Award. Jasmine Blaine, who studied economics and environmental studies at SCU, received $2,000 from the Alumni Board as financial support while she helps build an aqueduct and water-collecting receptacles for a village in Panama as part of her two-year Peace Corps tour. Jasmine is clearly a get-her-hands-dirty kind of person who does not shy away from tough, back-breaking work to improve the lives of those around her. B.T. would be proud of her, too.
And so we begin
Commencement exercises took place at Santa Clara just a few weeks ago—and that special occasion is a very good reminder that nurturing the connections we have with Santa Clara may just be beginning. For me, the connection has now spanned more than four decades; last October I celebrated my 40th reunion. Certainly when I picked up an application from a potted plant an evening long ago, I did not expect to be serving as president of the Alumni Association.
When I talk to folks now, particularly high school students and their parents, I tell them about the educational opportunities that I had and what Santa Clara did for me. There are different ways as alumni we can make sure that the most important tradition continue—giving students the opportunity to have a Santa Clara education and become part of an unfolding story. So let me say thanks to each of you who have given back to Santa Clara, both with your time—by volunteering or attending an event—and financially. Through your support we want to ensure that current and future students continue and improve upon this tradition of excellence. For those of you who have not been involved, I encourage you to reacquaint yourself with the University. Once you become involved, you will find yourself celebrating old friendships and developing new friendships with those who share the common bond of Santa Clara University.
So, thanks again—and go Broncos!
James M. Schiavenza '71, J.D. '74
Immediate Past President of the National Alumni Association