Follow your compass

The 2012 Alumni Association Awards recognize and celebrate greatness in Bronco alums

Follow your compass
Reaching out: Francisco Jiménez and Christina Dolores '05. Photo by Charles Barry
From the classroom to the clinic, from California farm communities to Haiti and Tanzania, these Broncos have made a difference. They were recognized at the 2012 Alumni Association Awards, presented April 28.

Paul L. Locatelli, S.J. Award

“Santa Clara was the compass by which I set the course for my life,” Francisco Jiménez said. That life has been spent promoting education and opening doors to historically underrepresented students, and it has earned Jiménez recognition as an exemplary leader in higher education.

Today Jiménez is a scholar, author, mentor, and the Fay Boyle Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures at SCU. In the late 1940s, when he was a boy, he and his family emigrated to the United States from Mexico. Young Jiménez worked in the fields to help support his family; at the same time, he excelled at school, even serving as student body president at Santa Maria High School on California’s Central Coast.

At Santa Clara the values he had grown up with were nourished, and he was encouraged to use his talents to make a difference in the world. He earned graduate degrees from Columbia University and secured a teaching position there. But when an opportunity arose at his alma mater, Jiménez came back to what he really wanted: a university deeply committed to educating the whole person.

In 2002, Jiménez was selected U.S. Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. He is the author of a series of award-winning autobiographical works for young people, including: The CircuitBreaking ThroughReaching Out, and La Mariposa. Through his work with many state and regional boards and commissions, his teaching and scholarship, his writing, and his personal outreach to communities across the nation, Jiménez has always strived to improve educational experiences for all students, from all backgrounds, ensuring they are well prepared to succeed in a diverse world.


Ignatian Award

Diagnostics and compassion: Bob Downey at work. Photo by Charles Barry

Thanks to Bob Downey, for the past decade some of the poorest people in Haiti and Tanzania have received compassionate, competent medical care. While a student at Santa Clara, Downey studied economics and supported himself by working in labs and blood centers in the area. That combination of training led to a successful career in medical diagnostics and laboratory services—which also allowed him to follow a call to use his talents to help others.

His first job with Abbott Laboratories took him to Tanzania, where he helped train staff and modernize lab facilities at hospitals. Wanting to do more, he joined with the Seattle-King County Disaster Team, a nonprofit that has run a medical clinic in Haiti continuously since 1998. His first volunteer medical mission was in 2004 to a remote mountain clinic in the community of Leon. He’s made more than 16 visits, returning two to three times a year with the all-volunteer staff of medical professionals.

In Haiti, many needed tests, and diagnoses require lab services that aren’t available anywhere else but at the Leon clinic. So volunteers work nonstop, with no electricity, to provide care to more than 1,000 patients a week, many of whom have walked more than six hours to be seen. With assistance from the local Catholic parish, the clinic promotes good public health practices and provides integrated, consistent care. Downey also recruits and trains other volunteers in the laboratory, coordinates donations, manages supply purchases, and serves on the Disaster Team’s Board of Directors.

All of this is in addition to Downey’s regular job, now at Sysmex America. Combined responsibilities have meant many long days, weeks, and months—including a yearlong stretch that saw him traveling from Africa to Haiti and back again, with only a few days at home in between. But he knows, particularly as Haiti recovers from the devastating 2010 earthquake, how much work remains to be done.


Ignatian Award

From pitcher to deacon: Larry McDonald. Courtesy Larry McDonald

A testament to the power of a Jesuit and Catholic education in instilling values for a life of service, Larry McDonald was recruited as a pitcher for the Broncos—fresh off the team’s trip. For him, there was fun on the field—the team played exhibition games against the San Francisco Giants—as well as off, especially with friends who became known as the “Rodents.”

At Santa Clara, McDonald also met his future wife, Karen ’67. They wed and moved to Seattle, where he took a job with his father-in-law in the family’s commercial bakery. He moved into management, first with the bakery and later a specialty coffee company. The McDonalds raised two children and were active in their parish. For Santa Clara, McDonald served on the Board of Regents and Bronco Bench Foundation; he and Karen created the McDonald Family Endowed Scholarship to ensure the foundational experiences of a Catholic education could be available to future students.

With his family raised and daily life a little quieter, McDonald embarked on the path to become a deacon in the Catholic Church. Ordained in 2007, he was presented with a challenge from the Seattle archdiocese: Create a new spiritual home for Catholics and others in downtown Seattle, in a 100-year-old building that had once been a hotel. Skills in business and leadership came into play—as did faith and perseverance: Christ Our Hope Parish celebrated its opening in summer 2010. McDonald says he is proudest of the way their work to restore the building has lifted the spirits of the people from all walks of life who live and pray there.


Ignatian Award

Agent for change: Dori Rose Inda. Courtesy Dori Rose Inda

A native of Watsonville, Calif., Dori Rose Inda began her career as a social worker in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties. She sensed she could be a more powerful agent for change armed with a law degree. At Santa Clara she found encouragement from classmates and faculty; she also found inspiration while working at the Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center—which provides pro bono legal representation to low-income individuals.

Inda wanted to bring that same crucial assistance to people in her community who couldn’t possibly make the 100-mile round-trip to the South Bay—as she did to attend classes, while at the same time raising two young children. With help of SCU faculty and advisors, she was able to secure a grant to plan and establish a center that serves largely low-income and agricultural communities. The Watsonville Law Center opened in 2002 with a team of two. A decade later, the center boasts 12 staff and dozens of volunteers, plus attorneys who offer pro bono assistance. Last year, they helped more than 2,500 people with issues regarding health care, fair wages, workers’ compensation, consumer protection, and child custody and visitation.


NICK LIVAK ’59, J.D. ’63
Louis I. Bannan, S.J. Award

Bronco red: Livak, left, with former SCU men’s basketball coach Carroll WilliamsCourtesy Nick Livak

For more than 50 years, Nick Livak has been a model for alumni involvement, also nurturing the community that fostered his talents and shaped his career. It was in law school that he met the fellow students who became his partners in a law firm just blocks from the Mission Campus. He’s given back to the neighborhood he cares so much about, for decades assisting organizations like Via Rehab, the Bill Wilson Center, and Santa Clara’s Parks and Recreation Committee.

One of Livak’s first teachers at Santa Clara was Lou Bannan, S.J.— who spent more than 40 years as a champion of the Alumni Association and inspired that same commitment in Livak. A lifelong sports fan, Livak serves as a trustee for the Bronco Bench Foundation, raising scholarship funds for student-athletes and cheering them on. When admission letters go out, he helps congratulate and encourage prospective Broncos as part of the New Student Calling Program. His wife, Mary Ellen, serves on the Board of Fellows. More than a dozen extended family members are now alumni, with the third generation part of the Class of 2015.

Kind of a Big Dill

This pickleball prodigy’s journey from finance to the courts is a power play.

New Tech, New Storytelling Tricks

In his latest book, educator Michael Hernandez ’93 explores alternative ways to teach by embracing digital storytelling.

From the Law to the Page

S. Isabel Choi J.D. ’02 planned on becoming a judge. Now she’s an author with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.