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Initiate Bios

Initiates at Santa Clara University (2020)

Inducted as juniors in 2019

Alexa DeSanctis. Alexa is a Psychology and Child Studies double major. She volunteered with the Santa Clara Community Action Program, provided one-on-one ABA therapy for children with autism, and led an immersion trip to Cape Town, South Africa, where she studied abroad. She also served as a peer advisor and an editorial assistant for the Psychology Department and planned multiple events for the SCU tUrn Project to promote climate-crisis action and awareness. Alexa is the co-founder of Zarella, an e-commerce platform selling ethically and sustainably sourced goods.

Matthew Duff. Matthew, a Psychology and Communication double major, is a native of the Seattle area. He served as the liaison between an on-campus Christian fellowship and various local churches and also led the fellowship as a team coordinator. He spent a year researching memory and learning with Dr. Bell, Dr. Simone, and Dr. Whitfield of the Psychology Department. He loves running, linguistics, and pondering the intersection of psychology and faith. Matthew plans to pursue a PsyD and explore clinical practice.

Lauren Larson. Lauren is a Psychology and Child Studies double major from Truckee, CA. She served on the leadership boards of Christian fellowships, tutored statistics, volunteered at elementary schools, and implemented behavior interventions for children with autism. Lauren conducted research for Dr. Kieran Sullivan's psychology lab evaluating the role of online communication and intimate relationships. She wrote her senior thesis on the relationship between social media use and social behavior in adolescents. Lauren will work as the high school director at Peninsula Bible Church, helping with programming and mentoring teenagers, while applying to doctoral programs in psychology.

Inducted in 2020

Max Bjorni. Max is a junior majoring in both Neuroscience and Biology. He began performing on-campus research with Dr. Lindsay Halladay as a first-year student and recently joined Dr. Jon-Paul Pepper's lab in the Department of Otolaryngology at Stanford. Currently, he is a shift lead for SCU EMS and a member of the squad's leadership team. He went abroad for the first time last year when he led a medical brigade to Panama to provide healthcare services to rural populations. After graduation Max plans on pursuing a post-baccalaureate program in the neurosciences before applying to graduate school.

Sarah Blair. Sarah is a double major in Neuroscience and Spanish with a minor in Public Health. She served as an EMT and PR Officer with SCU EMS. She worked as both a Christian Diversity Intern and Meditation & Mindfulness Intern in Campus Ministry. Through the REAL program, she created bilingual patient resources for clinics in her home community of Portland, OR. Sarah studied in Sevilla, Spain, volunteered in Panama with Global Medical Brigades, and traveled to Hungary as the representative for the Presbyterian Church USA at an international conference. Next year, Sarah will work at Disney World before entering medical school.

Ali Deambrosio. Ali is a double major in Political Science and Communications with an emphasis in Film Production. Ali worked in Bolivia for an ethical artisanal goods manufacturer, studied abroad in India researching Buddhism and religious identity, and participated in the Global Social Benefit Fellowship during which she created documentary films about gender equity and social entrepreneurship in Uganda. She also worked as a Zero-Waste Intern for the Center for Sustainability and volunteered as a peer educator. After graduation, Ali will join the Jesuit Volunteer Corps as a Community Food Resource Specialist for Catholic Charities in Spokane, WA.

Marie Fagetti. Marie is a Political Science and History double major who studied for a semester in Washington, D.C. While there, she served as a research intern for the Hudson Institute’s Center for Political-Military Analysis, during which time she analyzed Sino-Russian relations as well as international missile defense policy. She received Santa Clara University’s 2019 McPhee Prize for “outstanding research in a thesis paper”. Through the Anna Sobol Levy Foundation Fellowship, Marie plans to pursue a master’s degree in Government, with an emphasis on Counterterrorism and National Security, at Israel’s Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.

Kira Fahy. Kira, a San Diego native, is earning dual degrees in Biochemistry and Spanish. Through her research in the labs of Dr. Patrick Hoggard and Dr. Korin Wheeler in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, she was named a Jean Dreyfus Research Scholar and co-authored three publications. She’s the co-president of the Chemistry Club and served as a TA for several upper-division chemistry courses. A member of Global Medical Brigades, she raised funds to set up medical clinics in rural Nicaragua and Panama, and also studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain. Kira will attend Northwestern University to pursue a Ph.D. in Chemistry.

Kelly Fradet. Kelly, a Physics major and Philosophy minor, has competed in the Association for the Practical and Professional Ethics Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl at the regional and national level for the past two years. She interned at Jet Propulsion Laboratory for two summers and then she worked as a student research assistant in the Physics Department. She presented her work on dual comb spectroscopy at the Far West Meeting of the American Physical Society where she won the Steven Chu Award for Best Research by an Undergraduate Student. Kelly will work for the Department of Justice after graduation.

Alexandra George. Alexandra, a junior initiate, is a Philosophy and Political Science double major. During her junior year, the Philosophy Department faculty awarded her the Fallon Award to recognize her achievement in the study of philosophy. Passionate about helping others, Alexandra has worked with victims of domestic violence. She has also interned at the Department of Justice. Alexandra is the president of the SCU Harry Potter Club and is currently working as a research assistant for Professor Colleen Chien in the SCU School of Law. Next year, Alexandra will complete her senior honors thesis and prepare to pursue a career as an attorney.

Mary Helget. Mary is a Political Science major with a minor in Latin. She has served as a peer educator in both the Political Science and Classics departments under Professor Baker and Professor Crofton-Sleigh. She worked in the Dean’s Office of Santa Clara Law, where she had the opportunity to participate in the organization and execution of several annual events and to work closely with Provost Kloppenberg and Interim Dean Han for special projects. After graduation, Mary will be pursuing a law degree in hopes of fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming an attorney.

Cameron Heon. ​Cameron is a Religious Studies and Japanese Studies double major. Starting his studies of Japanese as a first-year student, Cameron was motivated to become a board member of the Japanese Student Association and to study abroad in Tokyo, Japan. His passion for Religious Studies shone in the classroom, leading to his receiving both the Catherine Bell Award and the Religious Studies Award for Academic Excellence. Following graduation, Cameron will further his interest in interfaith dialogue by volunteering as the Religious Affairs Associate at the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding

Janik Karoly. Janik is a Physics major with a minor in Political Science. An avid rock climber and member of the men’s club soccer team, he worked with Dr. Guy Ramon calculating cumulant expansions for noise spectroscopy with qubits. Between his junior and senior years, Janik also worked with Dr. Kristin Kulas at the NASA Ames Research Center, calculating and mapping the magnetic field in a dark nebula called L183. Janik will be pursuing a Ph.D. in Astrophysics working on observational star formation research at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, England.

Liya LaPierre. Liya is a Psychology major from Seattle, WA. In her time at Santa Clara, she worked as a research assistant for Dr. Kathryn Bruchmann’s Social Cognition Lab, played upright bass in the University Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble, and worked as a tutor for the Drahmann Center. For her senior thesis, she researched how morals and politics can predict our attitudes about police and who we blame in instances of police violence. After graduation, Liya will be continuing her research and applying to graduate school while working in Portland, OR.

Maggie Long. Maggie is an Economics major with a minor in Political Science. She spent a semester in Freiburg, Germany, studying the formation and politics of the European Union. She is an elite equestrian vaulter training with Pacific Coast Vaulting Club in Woodside. She represented the United States at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, NC, where her squad finished in fourth place. She also coaches many of the young vaulters at her club. After graduation, Maggie will continue vaulting and coaching and plans to work in the sustainability field.

Noah Lordi. Noah is an Engineering Physics and Mathematics double major with a minor in CS. He has pursued research in the areas of statistical modeling and theoretical fluid dynamics. He is an avid board gamer and member of the SCU chess club. His interest in teaching has led him to several tutoring positions through various outlets at SCU. He will be pursuing a PhD in Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Erica Martinez. Erica is a Biology, Public Health and Spanish triple major. Over her four years she did research in the Biology Department and Environmental Studies and Sciences Department. She presented posters for both of these research teams in Washington, D.C. She was also a member of Global Medical Brigades for which she went to Panama twice to help underserved indigenous communities. She also lived in Guadalajara for a month to complete a summer program at the UAG medical school. On campus, she was a tutor and played intramural soccer. This summer Erica will be volunteering at SCVMC through the SCOPE program.

Sam McNeal. Sam is a Philosophy and English double-major with a Pre-Law Emphasis. He studied abroad at the University of Cambridge in England in the summer of 2018. In his junior and then senior year, he received the Fallon Prize and the Sourisseau Award as the outstanding Philosophy major. He has been a member of the Ethics Bowl team for two years and this year, he and his team finished 8th at nationals. Sam is currently finishing a Markkula Center Business Ethics Internship at Intel. He is studying for the LSAT and will be attending law school in the fall of 2021.

Katie Moulton. Katie is an Economics major with a minor in Sustainability. During her time at Santa Clara, she was a member of the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Club, Swim Team, Economic Student Association, and served as both a Big Bronco Mentor and desk assistant. After graduation, Katie will be returning to Colorado to work as a contracts negotiator at Lockheed Martin Space and hopes to one day pursue a master’s degree and explore Asia.

Marni Murez. Marni is a Neuroscience major with a minor in Biology. A Southern California native, she spent her freshman year at Boston College before transferring to Santa Clara University. At SCU, she played on the Women’s Golf Team and was chosen to be on the West Coast Conference All Academic Team. Marni was also involved with the SCU Jewish Student Union, where she helped to promote Jewish and Israeli culture on campus. She will spend the next year preparing for the MCAT and gaining more clinical experience before applying to medical school next spring.

Alekhya Parvathaneni. Alekhya is a double major in Biology and Economics, with a Data Analysis concentration and a minor in Biotechnology. She has researched neuronal-glial connectivity with the Cocas Lab for all three years of her undergraduate studies, and was awarded a DeNardo Science Scholar award as a first-year student. On campus, she served as a tutor and TA, and was a member of Santa Clara Consulting. She has also volunteered at several hospitals and as an ESL tutor. She will be joining Tenaya Therapeutics as a research associate on the Gene Therapy Team before applying to MD/Ph.D. programs.

Laura Pearl. Laura is an Economics and Finance double major with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. During her time at Santa Clara, Laura twice chaired Own It, SCU’s Women’s Summit; traveled to Mumbai, India, through the Ignatian Center; and was a proud participant in the Civil Society Institute. As a research assistant for the Center for Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Laura conducted research under Professor Greg Baker on the ethnic disparities in food assistance recipients’ ability to afford nutritious meals. Following graduation, Laura will return to her hometown of Phoenix, AZ, to work at Mercer Consulting and pursue a master’s degree in nonprofit leadership

Mariana Perera. Mariana is a Political Science, Communication, and Spanish triple major from Fair Oaks, CA. After graduation, she will be completing a Fulbright research grant in Brasilia, Brazil, focusing on disability rights and democracy. Originally from Mexico City, Mariana is interested in Latin American politics and democracy-building. She studied abroad in Santiago, Chile, during her time at Santa Clara. On campus, Mariana participated in IGNITE SCU, the Ignatian Center's immersion trip program, and worked at the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. She was also selected as a Hackworth Fellow for the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, focusing on government ethics.

Caitlin Phelps. Caitlin is a Psychology major and Public Health minor. For the past three years, she has served as a mathematics tutor for the Drahmann Center, taking on the role of student director for the program this past year. She has also served as a peer advisor for the Psychology Department and a peer educator for Professors Whitfield and Simone. After graduation, Caitlin will be attending Santa Clara University School of Law and plans to pursue a career in healthcare law and administration.

Sabine Pigg. Sabine, a Biochemistry major with minors in Spanish and Political Science, has been a member of and the training officer for SCU EMS, the co-director of our campus CPR certification program, a high school tutor, and a Health Care Ethics Intern with the Markkula Center. She studied abroad in Denmark and is excited to be ever-so-slightly closer to Copenhagen when she moves to New York City in August to spend a gap year before medical school working for Reading Partners, a literacy non-profit. Sabine is the valedictorian of the Class of 2020.

Elena Robles. Elena, a double major in Psychology and Spanish with a minor in English, is from Santa Fe, NM. In her time at SCU, she worked as a peer-educator for Professor Minowitz’s introductory course in political philosophy and as a research assistant in Professor Bruchmann’s social psychology lab. She wrote for Spoon University and was a member of the American Sign Language club. As a member of the University Honors Program, she wrote an honors thesis about the psychological experiment she performed on campus studying sexual assault language in both English and Spanish.

Mary Claire Simone. Mary Claire is a Mathematics and History major with a minor in Political Science. While at Santa Clara, Mary Claire worked on research involving combinatorial modeling of crystals with Dr. Appleby and Dr. McGinley, led an immersion trip to San Francisco, and raced in the Buffalo Run on the Santa Clara Women’s Rowing Team. She spent a summer participating in the Budapest Semester in Mathematics program and expanding her CrossFit training. Mary Claire is excited to continue studying mathematics as a Ph.D. student at UC Davis. 

Katherine Stephens. Katherine is a Neuroscience major with an Economics and Italian Studies double minor. She was born and raised in Mexico City before enrolling at SCU. She has travelled extensively, having been to over 30 countries. During her senior year, she studied abroad in Milan and served as head of marketing for an international startup. She worked as an English-Spanish interpreter in a hospital emergency room for two years, and continues to hone her language skills in both Spanish and Italian. She plans on taking a gap year to work before going to law school in the fall of 2021. 

Bjørn Thyrring. Bjørn is a double major in Religious Studies and Political Science from Oceano, CA. Deeply committed to public service, he has worked as an intern with Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2018 campaign, the congressional office of Member Ro Khanna, and with the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office. Bjørn is a first-generation college student and a proud member of the LEAD Scholars Program. He spent his junior year studying at the University of Oxford as the 2018 recipient of Santa Clara’s Mansfield Fellowship. The recipient of the Nobili Medal for the Class of 2020, Bjørn will be attending Harvard University to pursue a master’s degree in Theological Studies.  

Mackenzie Tobin. Mackenzie is a Political Science major and Philosophy minor. She has been involved on campus as a coxswain for the Division I Men’s rowing team, as a peer educator for political philosophy, and as a teacher’s assistant in advanced quantitative methods for political science. Last year she won the Bernard Kronick Political Science Undergraduate Research Award in Applied Quantitative Methods for her paper on the variation in political participation, and interned for Santa Clara County working with the Assessor’s Office and County Council. Mackenzie will be attending law school at the University of Southern California.  

Katherine (Kat) Xia. Kat is a Biology major and Beckman Scholar working in the polymer chemistry lab of Professor Eric Tillman. In addition to publishing two first-author papers, she is working to patent a procedure used to make cheaper and greener medical equipment. She has also worked with Dr. Jamie Chang in the Department of Public Health to research homeless deaths in Silicon Valley, and has served two years as the program coordinator for the transitional home Julian Street Inn through the Santa Clara Community Action Program. She is currently applying to MD-PhD programs.

Braden Yoshinaga. Braden is a Biology major and Public Health Science minor from Honolulu, HI. He worked as a tutor in the Drahmann Center, a teaching assistant in the Chemistry Department, and helped establish a new chapter of the Delta Epsilon Mu pre-health fraternity on campus. With funding from the ALZA Corporation Science Scholar Program, he has especially enjoyed conducting PARP enzyme research in Dr. Carter O’Connell’s biochemistry lab. In the summer of his junior year, he interned at Hawaii Pacific Health, where he solidified his interest in medicine and orthopedics. Braden plans to work as a medical assistant in the Bay Area while applying to medical school.

Stephanie Zhi. Stephanie, a Psychology major, has been a member of the only all-female a cappella group on campus, Measure Up, for the past four years. She has volunteered as a research assistant at the Emotion, Health, and Psychophysiology Lab at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) since June, 2019. After graduation, she plans to take a gap year to work in a research lab before applying to Ph.D. programs in clinical psychology. She hopes one day to open her own psychotherapy clinic. 

Ashley Zhong. Ashley is a Mathematics major who served as a grader for multiple mathematics courses. Her passions include graphic design as well as nutrition and fitness. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, she studied abroad in Hong Kong to experience first-hand its intangible cultural heritage. She served as a designer and design editor for The Redwood, the campus yearbook. She designed a logo for a medical technology startup, working closely with its chief business officer. Ashley has started her professional career with Accenture in San Francisco.