Central American St. Mike's Grads hold 20th Reunion in Costa Rica
Scores of high achieving Central American students studied at Saint Michael's College in the 1980s and 90s through a U.S. State Department cultural enrichment program to expand understanding between the United States and its neighbors. In all, the program sent 800 students to some 23 colleges and universities across the country. From 1986 to 1999, nine groups of 10 to 15 students per group came to Saint Michael's and earned bachelor's degrees.
Called CAMPUS students (Central American Program of Undergraduate Scholarships), they were highly involved in Saint Michael's student life. Many were inducted into the National Catholic honor society, some organized campus events, one was commencement speaker, and one was class president.
Some 14 CAMPUS graduates and one of their professors, Dr. Luis Quiroz, had a reunion in Costa Rica, December 17-18.
CAMPUS graduates who attended the December reunion and their current employment:
- Flory Fuentes, SMC 1991, Ministry of Public Education, Costa Rica
- Gary Quesada, SMC 1990, Kimberly Clark, Costa Rica
- Zaida Ugalde, SMC 1990, on-site coordinator for the University of Kansas study abroad program at University of Costa Rica
- Rhadakrisnan Castillo, SMC 1991, company controller, Roche, Costa Rica
- Ana Laura Escobar, SMC 1991, University of Costa Rica, Distance Education
- Lydabel Cabrera, SMC 1992, United Nations Development Program, Panama
- Noemi Godinez, SMC 1991, distributor account manager, Roche, Panama
- Mappy Cortez, SMC 1992, U.S. Agency of International Development, Nicaragua
- Nuri Munoz, SMC 1991, International School of Panama
- Ana Martha Somarriba, SMC 1991, The Notre Dame School, Nicaragua
- Gloria Pacas, SMC 1991, now a professor of English at Central American University
- Jose Simeon Canas, El Salvador
- Wilber Perez, SMC 1991, Costa Rica.
"Our reunion brought back beautiful memories of my time at St. Mike's," wrote Gloria Pacas. "The freezing winter evening when we arrived made me want to run back to my tropical El Salvador...Little did I know that evening of the warmth, hospitality, and life-long friendships I was going to encounter in my 30 months there.
"Fr. Myhalyk's smile (Rev. Richard Myhalyk, SSE) and loud laughter at the airport were a kind reminder that love, solidarity, and care can be found anywhere, if one dares to give others a chance to enter our hearts. Fr. Dick accompanied his shining smile with heavy winter coats donated by St. Mike's community members."
Ms. Pacas wrote further, "Rick Gamache (associate professor of applied linguistics), should be added to the list of people who made us feel welcome. I can only imagine [what] it took to deal with us, our homesickness, our desperation at times. I am so grateful for his presence at St. Mike's.
"I laugh and I also cry a little while remembering all these pieces of a life I left behind two decades ago now, but which have left a deep mark on who I am, what I do, and plan to do.
"This is why this reunion was so significant to me--Mr. Quiroz, to whom I will also be forever thankful, and some of my closest fellow CAMPUS friends, made it better than I expected. We laughed, sang, danced to salsa songs, ate, and shared, like in the old days.
"I hope there is a way," Ms. Pacas wrote, "to tell the SMC community, staff, ministry, and faculty of the great job they did with us."