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Life at St. Mary’s College of California – from a DHS Gael to an SMC Gael

April 2, 2013

Dublin High School Class of 2012 Graduate and St Marys College of California Freshman Sarah Finn

Last year we spoke with Dublin High School Class of 2012 graduate Sarah Finn on her love of theatre and how she followed that passion to select St. Mary’s College of California where she was awarded $37,000 in academic and theatre scholarships. With her first year of college well underway, we recently met with Ms. Finn to learn more about her college experience. What attracted you to St. Mary’s College of California?

Sarah Finn: “I saw a show at St. Mary’s, Sweeney Todd, and I was blown away by the production. That drew me into the campus, how beautiful it was, so I did a bit more research and liked the seminar-style small class sizes. I really liked the idea of professors getting to know you. I looked at the bigger schools and felt I would be lost in all the crowds and craziness.” “What is it like living on campus at St. Mary’s College, arguably one of the most beautiful college campuses in California?

Sunset above St Marys College of California

Finn: “I will walk out of my dorm sometimes and I’ll pause, look around and remind myself that I’m so lucky to be here. Even when it’s raining it’s gorgeous. You have the trees and hills surrounding you, beautiful Spanish-style roofs, and there are courtyards everywhere, just tucked in; no matter where you go there is a fountain and a courtyard where you can sit and do your work.

“There are also hiking paths, an area called The Grove that is lined with pine trees and an open grassy area where graduation ceremonies are held. One of the things that you have to do as a St. Mary’s student is hike up to the cross. There is a hill at the back of campus where the cross is located and you can see the sun rise or set, or you can go up in the middle of the night and stargaze. The St. Mary’s observatory is up there as well. Every direction you turn on campus is absolutely gorgeous. It makes you feel good about being in college.” How are classes structured at St. Mary’s College?

St. Mary's College of California - Entrance

Finn: “We have a lot of leeway at St. Mary’s with general ed classes. They have a ‘core curriculum’ covering areas such as American Diversity, Common Good and Scientific Understanding, and you have the freedom to take whatever courses you want that fit the category. The course can be in your major or outside your major, so I know theatre people who are taking astronomy and other courses that can count towards general ed. requirements. This provides a lot of flexibility. I’m in a Women in Gender Studies class that is fulfilling a general ed. requirement. Of course you have your English, Math and Science courses but you have a lot of wiggle room to explore outside your major.

“The seminar program at St. Mary’s College is really interesting. You have to take four seminars and they span from Greek thought to modern thought, tracing human philosophy and human understanding through those different time periods. There is structure, but within that structure there are many opportunities to explore outside your major.” How did Dublin High School’s Drama Program prepare you for theatre at St. Mary’s?

St Marys College of California Spring Awakening Production

Finn: “Theatre at St. Mary’s is really cool because the tech program is growing leaps and bounds, even in the year I’ve been there. My advisor is also in charge of stage management and I meet with her weekly. She’s helping me with rehearsals, giving me tips and advice, and providing personalized guidance in my area.

“Dublin High School’s Drama Program is great because you have to do everything, you don’t really have the choice to say ‘oh, I’m just tech or I’m just acting’. Being forced to take part in every single aspect of the theatre has really helped because in my major I have to take set design, lighting design and a stage management course. I’m even taking a safety lab right now which is a lot of fun. Being thrown into a little bit of everything while in high school has helped me in college. St. Mary’s expects you to learn everything: I’m expected to work in the shop for a certain number of hours, I’m expected to help hang lights, I’m expected to do all these hands on things so having that background experience from Dublin High makes it a little less daunting.” What has been the biggest adjustment from Dublin High School to St. Mary’s College of California?

Finn: “The biggest adjustment is taking responsibility for your own time management. You have to have time management in high school, of course, especially if you are in the theatre. In college there is the added element of having the freedom to choose your classes and extracurricular activities. Your entire schedule is up to you.

“This semester I’m struggling a bit because I’ve overloaded on classes, I’m stage managing a show and I’m volunteering in Berkeley. I’m being pulled in a ton of different directions which has been really stressful, but it’s taught me that I need to prioritize and choose what classes are most important. That’s been the biggest difficulty for me is learning when to pull back, and when to go all the way in.” How did Dublin High School prepare you academically for college?

Finn: “I felt super prepared, especially with the English classes. I was getting A’s on every paper in the general ed. English class I was required to take and the professor was loving it. I felt very prepared for what college threw at me. When our professors say ‘here, read this, write a paper’, a lot of my friends wouldn’t know where to start; I’d say just jump in, it’s like a timed response for an AP course.

“AP credit and AP courses have helped a lot – I’m almost done with my general ed. requirements because of all the AP credit. St. Mary’s has been very generous with how I can use my AP credits. As a result, I was able to jump right into my English major, I don’t have to take history classes, I don’t have to take a math class, and I can just jump straight into what I want to do which is a double major in technical theatre and English, with an emphasis in high school teaching. St. Mary’s has a program that will let me jump right into my credential and satisfy the CSET requirement.” Is your goal to go into teaching?

Finn: “I’m going to see where it leads me. Right now, I’m leaning towards becoming an English teacher, but I’m also looking at Arts high schools like the Oakland School of the Arts, because it would be cool to teach English classes and also jump into a class specifically on Shakespeare, stage management or a technical theatre class.” Describe being a Gael at St. Mary’s College.

St Marys Gael Mascot with Sarah Finn and Friends

Sarah with the SMC Gael and Friends

Finn: “St. Mary’s College is Dublin High spirit times ten. There is so much spirit for being a Gael on campus. We have CILSA (Catholic Institute for Lasallian Social Action), which is dedicated to providing volunteer opportunities and helping the community. St. Mary’s puts an emphasis on social justice and volunteering.

“Our basketball team is another source of school pride. You can join the SMC Gaels Force, which is exactly like the Gaels Force at Dublin High. You get a Gaels Force t-shirt and can go to any game for free. Our stadium is one of the hardest to play in because we’re so loud and so intimidating to opponents!

“Dublin High and St. Mary’s Gaels are connected too, the story I’ve heard is that when Dublin High was getting its athletic program started years ago St. Mary’s College donated athletic gear, and that’s how Dublin High took the Gaels as their mascot.” What advice do you have for students preparing for college, and at the same time trying to enjoy high school?

Painting the SMC ritual

Painting the SMC ritual

Finn: “My advice is don’t stress about your future plans. I was originally going to have stage management as a profession and teaching as a backup, and now teaching is coming into the forefront. I’m finding my priorities are shifting, because I’m really enjoying English.

“If you are looking at colleges of course, have a plan, have an idea of where you want to go, but don’t stress about the details because as you go through your first year your plans may change. It’s not worth stressing over those details now when you are trying to get ready for prom. Enjoy prom, enjoy your senior year. Your future is important, but don’t stress about the details. Focus on the community you want to be a part of, because it’s hard to know where life will take you.”

At the Dublin High School 2012 Senior Awards Night Sarah was recognized several times including earning multiple scholarships from St. Mary’s College of California, was named a California Scholarship Federation Life Member, was awarded the President’s Gold Award for Educational Excellence and earned Dublin High School’s Advanced Scholar Diploma.

Note that as of this writing St. Mary’s College of California has an application fee waiver program. Mention Sarah Finn, Class of 2016, in the Alumni-Endorsement fee waiver option to waive the application fee (currently $55).

Other articles in the Life in College series:

St. Mary's College of California - De La Salle

St. Mary’s College of California – De La Salle

St. Mary's College of California - Campus

St. Mary’s College of California – Campus

St. Mary's College of California - Chapel

St. Mary’s College of California – Chapel

St. Mary's College of California - Fenlon Hall

St. Mary’s College of California – Fenlon Hall

  1. Braja Mohan Tudu permalink
    September 26, 2015 11:14 pm

    I really Appreciate On ur Experience In Saint Mary’s College of
    California…I’m From India …If i would Get a Another Chance To Study There …I’ll definitely Do that…It’s a Awesome College..

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