My Club by Julia Sullivan



Women’s club team celebrating a hard fought victory against Cal Poly.

Taylor Ferdinandsen believes playing club volleyball at Santa Clara is the best decision she has made in college.

“It’s quick, it’s fast, you can make mistakes and then get over it,” the senior said. “It’s a different pace than everyday college life.”

Santa Clara University offers many sports for both men and women at the club level, including volleyball, lacrosse, and rugby. These teams practice on average three times a week and play other colleges competitively. It could be described as falling somewhere in between  Division 1 level and intramural. They offer the chance to be competitive, be part of a team, and stay in shape without the commitment of playing D1.

While sitting down with Taylor, she explains how by her senior year in high school she was simply burnt out from playing volleyball. She just wanted to go college without the pressures and stress of playing volleyball as a career. She admits that it would be hard to let go of volleyball completely. College club volleyball was her golden ticket. “Even when I didn’t have the best years or good coaches, I was still so happy I did it,” she said.

Taylor smiles as she thinks back on her decision to sign up at the fall activity fair her freshman year. Just watching Taylor brighten up when talking about her experiences it is clear how much love and passion she has for the sport.

Taylor admits there are some downsides of not being  Division 1. While club sports do receive funds from the university, they are minimal and do not cover the basics needs for each sport. In addition to the lack of support by the university, there is not much advertisement done by the university of club sports. The only fans attracted to games are drawn in by players themselves through social media usually.

“Wo Knows about us?” she asked? “No one. Have they ever advertised for us? No. Do they give us any money? No.” 


Women’s team at 2016 Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky

The only advertising for games is done by the players themselves and most of the funding comes from player dues and fundraising done by the players.  While club sports do not bring money in for Santa Clara University like division one sports do, they still are a positive representation of SCU. Many clubs on campus create a budget for their needs that the school funds, and club sports should have the opportunity to do the same. If SCU wants to continue to have a positive representation of club sports more funding from the school will be needed.

While not every aspect of playing a club sport is perfect, it gives a talented, competitive athlete like Taylor a chance to keep playing the sport they love. For Taylor, one of the greatest things to come from being on a team is the camaraderie. In her opinion, no one can just join any club and have that instant bond over something so passionate as playing a sport.

“When you put a bunch of women together to work towards a common goal there you wouldn’t really expect it to work,” she said. “And then you have a team sport where everyone is so different. I’m different than my teammates but it doesn’t matter we can all work towards the same goal and get along and make it work.”

One thing, as trivial as it might seem, that creates an instant bond for volleyball players is the ability to scream. “Where else in your life do you get to yell? Tell me about the most stoked you have ever been in your life and say it wasn’t during sports,” Taylor says.

By Julia Sullivan


SCU’s Unnatural Beauty by Lisa Lieberman


Santa Clara University has been ranked among the top 5 most beautiful college campuses in the country in Newsweek, College Rank, and the Huffington Post on several occasions. At tours, prospective students and parents are guided through the sparkling new buildings and walkways outlined with roses, lilies, and pansies in vibrant colors.  When I tell people I go to SCU the first thing they say is “that’s such a beautiful campus!” Beauty, however, is in the eye of the beholder. This beholder believes there is a big difference between beauty and unnatural neatness.

At SCU the grass is always green and perfectly mowed; the rose bushes, whether they are in bloom or just a bundle of thorny branches, are always trimmed to fit into each other and around pathways. All shrubs and trees are a certain height and are shaped meticulously. Gardeners are often seen driving around in lawn mowers, pruning bird of paradise trees and rosemary bushes, planting violets, chopping down old palm trees, or removing any dead leaf in sight.

It says a lot about a university to be well groomed and maintained. It makes it look put together and cared for, which creates a very positive image. But aesthetically it seems unnatural. It feels like a house that is up for sale, sterile and staged with bland furniture and decorations; and even though it looks appealing it doesn’t look lived in, it looks fake. The purpose of having such a generic aesthetic is to ensure that prospective buyers won’t dislike the house, and that it will appeal to the majority.

This is not to say that the extreme care, planning and work put into the campus’s landscaping is a bad thing. Maintaining a good image is important for the university when trying to reel in high school seniors and their parents. And being ranked one of the most beautiful campuses in the country certainly holds bragging rights. But the image they paint is too perfect and too clean-cut to the point where it’s uncomfortable.


Despite my personal cynical feelings toward the unnatural ‘beauty’ of campus (and the spike in my allergy symptoms in the spring), there is a lot to appreciate about the work of the gardeners. In an interview with Ricardo, the gardener in charge of the area from Graham Hall to Brannan, he explained that he works eight-hour days, five days a week. His daily to-do’s include trimming, mowing, pruning, shaping, and caring for the plants and grass in his designated area.

He can trim the plants in the area the way he wants, but they have to meet a certain standard set by the head of the gardening department. Ricardo mentioned that even though he originally did not have much interest in gardening, after 40 years on the job it has grown on him. He cares for the plants and is very proud of his work.

The level of obsession SCU has with aesthetics is slightly ridiculous. Gardeners can spend hours on a couple of bushes to get them the perfect shape. The university spends too much time and energy on aesthetics. Because the greenery is over cared for, even if they were to give it less maintenance, it would still be well kept. And the time and energy spent on it could be used on something less superficial.


Risky Business by Olivia Bentley


Not my problem…these girls are not in my sorority! 

My official report to the Standards Chair after our last sorority formal was dry and clinical: “At the venue, she was caught running down the sidewalk trying to leave and get into an uber,” I wrote.  “She was sent home on the first bus.”

What really happened went down a little differently.  On one cold Wednesday night, I was the sober one surrounded by about three hundred drunk college kids trying to keep everyone safe.  This meant that I had to do things like rip off my heels and chase a freshman around the corner on some random street in San Jose just to make sure she didn’t leave an official event too early.  I have to know where all girls and their dates are at all times just in case something happens at an official event.  You see, in my sorority I can be called many names: the bad guy, the alcohol police, the sober one, or the Risk Management Chair.

I got nominated for my job on a Sunday morning last year.  It was about eleven o’clock when I was promptly woken up from my hungover haze to what I would later call the “Risk call.”  When I saw who was calling, I perked up as best as I could because I thought I was going to be nominated for something fun, like Recruitment Chair, or New Member Educator.  When the words ‘Risk Management Chair’ rolled of off my sorority sister’s tongue, by heart dropped into my stomach.

After that phone call, I did what any 19 year old girl would do, and I immediately called my mom.  About point five seconds after hearing her voice, I broke down in tears.  I didn’t know what I was going to do and I thought that my life had just been ruined (yes, I believed every melodramatic word in that last sentence).  I was terrified that I would have to become the stiff and boring girl who was a major buzzkill at all of my sorority’s events.  At the end of that talk, I decided that I was going to do my best at being Risk, using it as an opportunity to build skills and write down something pretty impressive on my resume.


One might ask why someone would want to become a sorority Risk Management Chair and the answer is that nobody wants my job.  Other members of the chapter Executive Board use words like “hard,” “difficult,” “important,” and “authoritative” to describe the job.  It is a job that, according to the girls who voted me into my position, a “responsible, resilient, approachable and dedicated” person gets put into.  Well, in the last six months I have been forced to be all of these things and more.

We all know what responsibility is, you know, like with great power comes great responsibility and all that crap.  But I have learned what real responsibility is.  Real responsibility is having to not let a girl on a bus to a formal because if she does, you just know that she will only embarrass herself more, or worse throw up and leave it for you to clean.  People drink excessively for these kinds of events, I guess it makes them fun.  I try my best to stop people from making drunken mistakes and fools of themselves.  I am responsible for making sure that someone is looking out for them even when they are not in any state to do so.

Resilience is the ability to recover quickly.  This was really put to the test when I went to go help a girl’s date who was barely standing and grasping onto the bar to support himself.  When I went over to him, he just turned straight towards me and projectile vomited all over my dress.  In shock and disbelief, I was whisked away to the bathroom to clean off my dress.  Without any recovery time, I had to march outside and send both the girl and her date home from the event.  The girl was in tears and I was doing everything I could not to let mine fall.

One of the reasons that I was slated for this position because I am approachable. I was out one night and this girl came up to me and introduced me to her friend, saying “This is the Risk Chair, she’s super chill.  She kicked me out of a dance once, but like we’re totally chill, it’s like I was supposed to say I’m sorry but like you’re just like super chill so I didn’t.”  Now, I don’t know that being ‘chill’ equates to being approachable, buy hey, I’ll take what I can get!  This honestly came as a shock to me because I have never been told that I am an approachable person before.  Now I don’t know if is the resting look on my face or what, but being unapproachable is something that I am used to.  Funny enough, being Risk has apparently made me more approachable.


Substitute “mom” for “risk.”

Dedication has really been the key to my job.  I have lost hours of sleep over filling out planning forms and incident reports, not to mention the hours I’ve lost actually dealing with the members of my chapter.  I have stayed in on the weekends in the event that someone needs to go to the hospital, needs some water, or needs someone to talk to.  I have to be sober at every event.  Let me repeat that, EVERY event.  Yet, for some reason, my dedication not my sorority keeps me committed.  At the end of the day, I am only here to help.  If that makes me the bad guy, I guess I’ll have to live with that for the next six months.

By Olivia Bentley

Photos via Google Images

Reeling in the Party Houses at SCU By Brooke Wiley


SCU Off campus house map from The Clara 

In October 2015, the Santa Clara University Housing Department sent out an email to students living in houses a block off campus on Bellomy and Lafayette Streets. This email shared some “exciting” news that the house they were living in had been bought by the school, and for the 2016-2017 school year it is going to be run by SCU Housing as a part of their new Neighborhood Units.

Most of the students living in these houses are juniors who, at the time, were studying abroad. The email came out of left field, undeniably shocking them. Everyone tried to gather as much information as they could, which was difficult to do from halfway around the world. “I had no idea this was coming, it completely changes my plans for next year,” said Alaina Lester, a junior studying abroad in Prague.



Picnic table outside of “Cloud 9” House on Bellomy Street

After receiving the email Lester heard only little bits of information from the university about the upcoming process. It wasn’t until the beginning of December, that she was told she needed to sign the housing contract attached in the email and turn it in to the housing officer no later than Monday November 30th.

Lester and all seven other members of her house decided to resign the contract, committing to live in their house again next year, even though they didn’t really know all the regulations and changes that were coming their way.


“Cloud 9” House on Bellomy Street

Marley Miller, another junior living on Bellomy Street, lives in a house of four, and only one girl in her house decided to stay. The rest are moving to various houses that are not being run by the university. Miller is one of the three people leaving her current house after this school year ends and moving to a non Santa Clara University run house.

After seeing all these different reactions, it introduced the idea of why Santa Clara would choose to do this now, and according to Lester the answer to that is ‘the party houses’. “Party houses are those houses off campus where people get transported for alcohol poisoning, neighbors complain about noise, and parties get shut down by the police. There are certain houses that are known for constantly getting in trouble and have fines adding up,” said Lester “In my opinion this is one of the main draws from Santa Clara University, and these are the main houses that are a part of the Neighborhood Units”.

unnamedAfter hearing some of Lester’s ideas, she began explaining how her house has been moving forward in accordance with the university. Lester hadn’t received too much information about what was to come next with her house and was getting a little concerned, but she really didn’t have an option of backing out because she had no other housing option. At the end of March Lester and the rest of her housemates got an email from SCU Housing titled “Housing Cancellation” basically saying that no one from their house had attended in person room selection in the housing office or sent a representative so they were going to cancel their housing because it looked like we weren’t interested.


“Pink” House on Bellomy Street

Her whole house went into frenzy, freaking out and wondering how they never got any notice or information about this. They emailed back right away and sent someone into the office, and it did get worked out. This lead to two more emails, one with notices about contractors and another about an off campus Neighborhood Units meeting.


The first email told the current tenants that the university is sending out contractors to each of the Neighborhood Units. This email was sent with very little time for the tenants to respond or ask questions. All they knew is that they would need access to every room in the house. And sure enough the contractors came in an inspected their house. The contractors ended up coming on multiple occasions and the tenants had very little information regarding each of their visits.

At this point Lester and her house had more questions than answers. Finally in late February SCU Housing sent an email out that notified all the future tenants of the Neighborhood Units they are required to attend one of two informational sessions. The girls of Lester’s house decided to go to the first.

First of all, Lester said they university really stressed that there would be minimal intervention from them, unless it became absolutely necessary such as the cops being called on a party and then campus safety would come to the scene. Lester explained some of the other changes and overall they seem fairly minimal such as the only way to get into your house and room is with your access card, you can’t bring in your own lofted bed, and the move in date is September 1st, so no one can live in during the summer due to renovations. Overall these regulations don’t seem awful but some definitely came as a surprise to Lester’s house.


Looking down Bellomy Street

After hearing all about the changes taking place in the units for the next school year, Miller is relieved to not have to deal with it. Miller stated “The Neighborhood Units are so new to Santa Clara’s off campus living situation. It is a smart move from the school, however there has been some backlash. I am interested to see how this will go next year.”



Photos via Brooke Wiley



The Joys of Not Drinking by Anna Patton

stay sober.jpgIt may not look like it, but Santa Clara University is a party school.

We may not have known that when applying. We may not have known that when we first stepped foot on campus. But as soon as “welcome weekend” hit, everyone found out the college campus culture they were really getting themselves into. And depending on who you are, you may have been happy or you may have been disappointed. Despite our curb appeal as a small, private Jesuit University, we happen to have made College Niche, an online college-ranking site, top 100 party schools list as number 68, two spots ahead of UCLA.

If you ask most students around campus why they go out all the time, their response is usually one in the same, they all seem to say that there is nothing else to do here. It’s an unfortunate truth; the closest source of entertainment is going to Bill’s Cafe down the street on Saturday mornings and getting pancakes to curb the nasty hangover we got the night before.

If you ask around school and talk to the social butterflies, they all say they love the party scene. They love going out on Tuesdays and Thursdays to the bars, and Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays to parties.

But there is a community of people we have completely forgotten. What about the non-drinkers? Those who don’t enjoy drinking, those who were possibly disappointed when they learned that Santa Clara was such a big party school, what about them?

After talking to numerous students around campus, it was clear that there were two distinct types of people in the “non drinking” scene at Santa Clara. These two types of people were perfectly exemplified through two of the interviews I conducted on the subject.

Meet Lane Cunningham, a current freshman here at Santa Clara. Apart from his winning smile and outgoing personality, something sets Lane apart from a lot of the students here at school. He has never tasted alcohol before in his life and he says that he most likely will not drink until his late twenties and even then he won’t drink much. Lane has also recently joined one of the fraternities off campus, which usually implement a lot of alcohol into their pledging processes.

After bombarding him with many questions of, “Are you sure? No but are you actually sure? So you’ve never even had a sip at all? What about wine? No? Nothing?” I finally accepted the fact that Lane was telling the truth.

Lane has never felt pressured into drinking at Santa Clara despite being in a fraternity, “Everyone is really supportive of me.”

Lane’s decision not to drink comes from the way he was brought up and the fact that he likes being there for friends, “I got comfortable with going to events sober. I like being there for friends and I got comfortable with being the designated driver all of the time.” Lane knew what he was getting himself into when he made his decision to come to Santa Clara University, it didn’t bother him at all and the transition was easy due to the fact that he had gotten comfortable with not drinking in high school.

Lane says it’s never really been awkward for him going to events, but he did laugh and say it was a little uncomfortable when he went to a “date and a fifth” once, an event where you and your date are supposed to finish a fifth of alcohol between each other. Lane doesn’t look down on people for drinking, however, he does believe that drinking can lead to bad habits, “Scientifically, you shouldn’t drink until about age twenty-four but that’s never really talked about. I think that if you start drinking too early it can cause bad habits.But for the most part I think that in a controlled environment it’s relatively ok.”

Lane doesn’t go to the on campus events catered towards those who don’t drink because he has never heard of them and even if he had he would not go; “I still like to go out and meet people and those events are probably made for the people who don’t like going out at all even if they’re sober.”

In contrast to Lane, a Santa Clara student who would like to remain anonymous said that she had definitely heard of the events held on campus catered to students who don’t like going out because she attended many as a freshman. She thinks that the events are important to have, “I think they are a good alternative to going out. It’s nice to get free food and it’s a fun thing to do but I would say it’s not the plan for the night but it’s a good way to meet up with friends to go and do something afterwards.”

Continuing the conversation, she also commented on the fact that she thinks the University does enough to provide activities for those who don’t enjoy going out, “I think there are enough events. The Activities Planning Board and the Residential Learning Communities both do programming and if you added more it would be spread too thin. If people don’t go out they know what they like to do that’s not going out. People who want to go to these events go to them, they know about them.”

Her own view on drinking is that, “I personally don’t drink. I’m pretty drunk in real life I don’t need alcohol to feel crazy. I get annoyed when other people are drinking if I have to take care of them. That’s when it gets annoying. I don’t care as long as you can be responsible.” She knew that Santa Clara was a party school when deciding to come here and was okay with it. She said that on her initial tour of the school her tour guide told her that they don’t have drinking in the residence halls and the fact that the Greek system was off campus made her feel better about coming here.

Through my conversations with students here at Santa Clara, and through my interviews with Lane and she who shall not be named, it became clear that there are students who don’t drink who still enjoy going out despite the fact that they are always sober, and a lot of students who don’t enjoy going out and are happy that these events on campus are available to them. The moral of the story is, if you do not like to drink, despite being a party school, there are groups of people for you to fit in with and you are not alone.


Image Courtesy of:






The Art of Going Out by Olivia Hayes

1394342156000-2425-d005-00368rIt’s a Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. and third floor Dunne is full of loud planning for the night’s activities as the distinct smell of cheap booze wafts down the hallway. Shouldn’t students be studying or reading? Or at least pretending to be studying or reading? Maybe that’s acceptable at some schools, but not at Santa Clara. As 9:30 rolls around girls finish putting on their mascara as boys pull out one of their nicer button-down flannels and get ready to start the night. Quietly, students hide their fifths of $15 Smirnoff in their shirts and walk down the hallway to a friend’s room where the party begins.

“Pre-gaming,” defined by Urban Dictionary as “[drinking] alcohol before attending an event or social function (especially of a person who is underage),” is a crucial part of going out for any college student, ensuring that the night will be one you wished you could remember the next morning. Before leaving, students down a handful of shots, intending to drink more when the actual party begins. As 10:30 passes, students begin to pour out of the dorms ready to seize the night, unconcerned about making it to their midterm the next morning.

Victoria (who asked that her real name not be used), a first-year social butterfly who is in a sorority and lives in Dunne, was surprised by the volume of partying on campus. There is a party somewhere on most nights, and she said there’s a sense of FOMO, or fear of missing out, that compels students to participate.

As Friday rolls around, mixers between the sororities and fraternities take up a large part of the party structure. Girls are seen walking together in clumps wearing their finest cheetah print or most authentic ‘80s ski gear.

On your typical Friday night, students leave between 10:30 and 11. Unless you have a specific place to be such as a mixer or a party you were invited to, you are most likely wandering Bellomy, or Santa Clara’s very own unofficial Greek Row. More often than not you will find yourself walking into someone’s open front door, implying that all are welcome.

Worried that your buzz is wearing off, you walk to the bar and grab some jungle juice, or if you’re feeling ambitious a shot of what tastes like rubbing alcohol. Confident, that you’ve done all you can to keep up your current level of intoxication you wander in the hopes of finding someone new to talk to, or perhaps to the dance floor in order to make a true ass of yourself before the night is over.

Sometimes, for those less fortunate, you might find yourself out of luck after wandering around the street, lurking outside of what seems to be a lit up house. Once you finally feel embarrassed enough, you might walk back to your dorm, or to The Bronco, to grab a piece of pizza and curly fries in order to soak up all of that wasted alcohol.

“I think the large majority if not more than half [of SCU students] go out. I The parties are never out of control, but there is a lot of underage drinking there’s a lot of drug use, but it’s never excessive to where things get out of control,” says an SCU first year “I think people like the culture here.”

The morning after, a truly wonderful experience, where your best bet is to wake up in your own bed with only a mild headache. The worst? Waking up three blocks from campus on a couch in a house that does not belong to you, still drunk. Hoping that you didn’t do anything too regrettable last night, you walk back to your dorm thankful that it’s a Saturday and that you can sleep off the night during the day. You climb into bed, knowing that you’ll need it because you have exactly twelve hours to get it together before the whole process begins again.

Image: taken from the movie: “Neighbors”×1680/local/-/media/USATODAY/USATODAY/2014/03/09//1394342156000-2425-D005-00368R.JPG


Vape Culture Gives Rise to a New Community by Summer Meza

Dai Sugano

Ken Miguel of San Jose exhales e-cigarette vapor on Oct. 18, 2013 at The Vape Bar in San Jose. Photo by Dai Sugano, Bay Area News Group

Kishan P. walked into a convenience store one day two years ago and saw a small vape pen for about $15. Thinking it would be a portable alternative to hookah, he bought it. After taking it home, he let his friends try it out.

Fast forward to today, and Kishan has spent between $400 and $500 on vape pieces and juices, the liquid solution that contains nicotine. He is a part of “vape culture,” the intense following that vaporizers and e-cigarettes have gained in recent years. This niche culture has been the cause of a new public health debate and plenty of scrutiny regarding the hobbyist aspect that vapers enjoy.

“I used to smoke a lot of hookah with my friends,” said Kishan. “I liked the social aspect and the smoke tricks, but after a while I felt like shit. I could feel the health effects, especially the way my lungs would feel when I was at the gym.”

Kishan’s foray into vaping began the same way the vape industry did – as a way to find a healthier alternative to smoking, either to help smokers quit or to reduce secondhand smoke.

“After a while though, I realized I wasn’t even using my vape for the health benefits anymore, just because I was into the culture of it,” said Kishan.


Photo courtesy of

This culture is stereotyped as “bro” type men who like to show off with huge clouds of vapor, dropping exorbitant sums of money on customized set-ups. As reported by ABC News, some researchers found that vapes are easier on your lungs, containing fewer of the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes. But because the devices are relatively new, conclusive studies are still not entirely reliable, according to the California Department of Public Health. Not everyone believes that they are the harmless hit they’re made out to be.

“At one point, I got a few of those disposable vape pens and figured I’d give them a try,” said Jake L., who has smoked cigarettes for five years. “But I just got more used to nicotine and felt more addicted than I even had before. Since you can smoke them pretty much whenever you want, you start craving the nicotine.”

The addictions that are formed, in addition to the gadget aspect of vapes, may explain how so many people become involved. On a college campus, where young people have an abundance of social time, it’s easy to get friends in on your hobbies as well, when they might not have otherwise.

After Kishan let his friends try out his first vape pen, they were eager to buy their own. And from there, Kishan said, everything just spiraled.

“One friend would get a cooler set-up, and then everyone would just want the same one or one that was even better.”

The social and hobbyist aspect keeps people heavily involved – once you know the vaping basics, there is plenty to be discussed as far as ‘specs’ and funky flavored ‘juices.’
Part of the allure is that vapes can be custom built. A user can buy each piece of the set-up separately depending on their preference, and compare theirs with their friends’.


Graphic courtesy of Mark Nowlin, Seattle Times.

While vape culture has increased, both Santa Clara University and Santa Clara County have cracked down on the devices, releasing a health advisory in 2015 to treat e-cigarettes and vapes the same as more traditional tobacco products, according to NBC News Bay Area. Vapers are not to puff anything within a 30-foot buffer of anywhere that cigarettes are banned.

Local vape enthusiasts, however, are not so easily deterred. Kyle Fisher, owner of Santa Clara Vapors, doesn’t see vape culture slowing down anytime soon.
“Customers come in and realize that they can sit and try 50 different flavors, and they start to get really into it,” said Fisher. “It’s kind of like wine tasting at this point.”

The appeal of tinkering with various pieces of the device is another part of what keeps hobbyists engaged and coming back to buy an ever-increasing number of accessories.

“The people who use vapes to quit cigarettes generally don’t care how the thing works, or what it tastes like,” said Fisher. “It’s the people who realize that they can [mess] with the hardware and sample flavors who end up going to expos, accumulating paraphernalia, and all that. It’s like being really into cars – with so much maintenance, different specs, and being able to customize it all.”

In terms of the stereotypes of vape culture, Kishan is sure to point out that not all vapers are, as the Daily Globe and Mail put it, “Ed Hardy-wearing frat pledges.”

“Yeah, some people are douchebags who want to show off and vape in restaurants and airports, but that’s not really what it’s all about,” he said.
Whether the future of vaping looks something like Napa Valley, with vape connoisseurs and sampling rooms, or if it’s just a trend that will die out, possibly disproven by long-term research, remains to be seen.

“Vape culture has its issues, I think everyone knows that,” said Kishan. “But there are some positives too. I don’t know, I guess we’ll see what happens.”

Stephen Carroll: Profile of a Very Curious Person

Stephen Carroll has worn many different hats in his life—high-end clothing designer, Chinese chef and bartender, to name a few—but teacher is the one that really stuck. He’s been an English professor for almost 28 years, 12 of which he’s spent at Santa Clara, encouraging students to be curious.

Carroll began his college career at UC-Berkeley and loved college so much he refused to declare a major, deciding instead to take whichever classes looked interesting to him.

“At the beginning of every quarter, I would get the course catalog, which was the size of a small phone book, and I would just read through the whole thing and circle all the classes that I thought were interesting,” Carroll said. Then he checked his work schedule and figured out which classes he could take based on the times, and those were the classes he would take.

Carroll took a wide range of classes in different departments, including music, art, math, geography, statistics, linguistics, rhetoric, English and history. “I got an amazing education because I took classes in everything,” he said.

Carroll catches up with a former student, Meghan Degnan, at The Hut.

Carroll catches up with a former student, Meghan Degnan, at The Hut.

After two years, Carroll began receiving letters from Berkeley telling him he had to declare a major. He ignored them. After four years, Berkeley blocked his registration, refusing to let him take any more classes until he declared a major. So Carroll declared three majors: rhetoric, sociology and history.

“I wound up becoming a rhetoric major because I got C’s on my first two papers in college,” he said, “so I knew it was something I needed to improve. It was a challenge.”

So how did Carroll end up an English professor? Initially he thought law school was the place for him. After graduating with his triple major in 1984 after six years at Berkeley, Carroll was accepted to Boalt Law School at UC-Berkeley. He’d written a 100-page thesis on constitutional interpretation, and specifically picked Boalt because of its reputation as a more philosophical law school. But after sitting in on a few classes, Carroll realized it wasn’t for him.

“I absolutely loathed the classes because it was all about how to follow rules, and how to follow procedures, and I’m not interested in that at all,” Carroll said. “I want to know the philosophy, the theory, why it’s this way and not that way, and how do you fix these things. But they were just like, ‘Okay, this is the order you have to file forms in,’ and I decided I don’t care about any of this.”

He withdrew from the school and got a job selling suits at a men’s clothing store across the street from campus. As a back-up, Carroll also began training as a Chinese chef, which he continued for about two and a half years.

Meanwhile, within a year after he’d withdrawn from law school, a woman showed up in the men’s clothing store: Carroll’s former TA from a Shakespeare class he’d taken at Berkeley. She asked him if he’d be willing to help out with an argumentation course at Berkeley that she’d been involved in, and Carroll agreed, assuming he’d act as a TA and hold office hours every week.

“I showed up the next day to sign the paperwork, and turns out I was going to be teaching a section of this class, and class had started the previous week,” Carroll said. “So we were already a week behind and this was one of the classes I had done worst in in my college career, so I knew I needed to study a lot right away.”

Carroll rose to the challenge, studying and planning for his class’s first meeting in just a few days. The first class went well, and Carroll realized that teaching was what he wanted to pursue. He applied to graduate school at Berkeley and while waiting for his acceptance starting taking classes through the UC-Extension, which allowed him to finish his masters in just one year.

But Carroll credits another, more poignant moment as his real epiphany about teaching. He was sitting in the TA’s office one afternoon and noticed a woman walking back and forth outside. She was waiting for her TA to show up, but Carroll offered to help instead. She asked him to help her fit some ideas together for a paper on Stephen Crane’s The Open Boat.

Coincidentally, Carroll had taken an oral interpretation of literature class shortly before, and had done a performance of The Open Boat for his final project. “I knew it inside out, sideways, backwards, I knew everything there was to know about The Open Boat,” he said.

The woman said she had two ideas, and really wanted to say them both, but couldn’t figure out how to connect them. It was obvious to Carroll how the two pieces fit together, and he asked her questions to lead her to the same conclusion. After the second question, all the pieces fell into place, and Carroll said she started talking a mile a minute.

He never saw the girl again. “She’s just a person who appeared randomly out of the blue, but that was the moment that I knew I needed to be a teacher,” Carroll said. “The look on her face when all of those things fell into place, that’s when I was like, ‘This is what I have to do.’”

At Santa Clara, Carroll’s made a name for himself as a teacher who goes above and beyond what’s acceptable into what’s exceptional.

“The reason his teaching style is so unique is that nothing we talked about in class was a waste of time,” stated Christine Pearson, a Santa Clara graduate who took Carroll’s grant writing class.

Carroll is engaging in the classroom, talking quickly and enthusiastically and constantly asking questions. He’s known for his signature Hawaiian-print shirt, colored slacks and boater hat.

Stephen Carroll grilling ribs at a class BBQ.

Stephen Carroll grilling ribs at a class BBQ.

There’s another way Carroll goes above and beyond that of the average professor: during week ten of his classes, he’ll organize a class barbeque, where he’ll barbeque Texas-style ribs and portabella mushrooms for any vegetarians. Carroll estimates he’s had about two barbeques per quarter in the past 11 years; that’s 66 class barbeques.

Carroll has three pieces of advice for students, and it’s advice he lives by.

#1: “Learn first how you learn best.” Carroll says we know a lot about how people learn and what’s effective, but the majority of students don’t make the most of their time. Carroll’s not big on time-wasting, and he says instead of highlighting, re-reading, and studying notes, students need to practice studying the same way they’re going to be tested, which usually involves asking and answering questions.

#2: “Discover what you are capable of.” Carroll says too many people look for the easy way out and never find out that they’re capable of far more. He says that when you work really hard on something you didn’t think you were capable of and you succeed, there’s no other feeling like it.

And, finally, #3: “Be curious.”

— Sarah Ebbott

Michael Guggenheim: A Quest for Adventure

Prudential Award Pic 2.0As the group gathered around the dining hall table, spring break plans quickly became the topic of discussion, as our much-needed break from schoolwork was quickly approaching. Seeing friends, relaxing, and spending time with family were common plans, until Michael volunteered his plans to go scuba diving in Belize with his family. The group was simultaneously shocked and intrigued, as they had no idea Michael even possessed the proper scuba certification to embark on such an adventure.

“Guggz has a story for everything” says Jenna Holtz with an incredulous smile on her face, and the rest of the group nods in agreement. Michael Guggenheim, endearingly refered to as “Guggz” by friends, is not only a wonderful storyteller, but derives his stories from a young life filled with adventure. At only 19 years of age, Michael’s stories of exploration are unparalleled by his peers, and many lightheartedly refer to him as “the most interesting man in the world”. Not only does Michael lead such an adventurous life, he has overcome many obstacles, showing strength perseverance, and determination to live life to the fullest.

Yet, perhaps Guggz’s best quality is not his arsenal of experiences, but that he genuinely cares about his friends and their stories as well. Upon returning from spring break, Michael did not brag about his worldly experiences, and made sure to ask about everyone else’s spring break. As floormates, Michael and I have grown to be close friends, and although my spring break stories paled in comparison to his, he remained attentive and intrigued. I have had the pleasure of learning not about not only his travels and successes, but also the adversity he has overcome.

In his academic career, Michael has overcome many obstacles, but has proved to be an intelligent, hardworking individual. At a young age, Michael struggled with very bad handwriting, which many teachers wrote off as laziness, much to Michael’s dismay. In reality, fine motor movements were very painful for Michael; eventually he was diagnosed with dysgraphia, a rare condition making it almost impossible to write by hand. A therapist even told Michael’s mother that he would probably have to be homeschooled, and would not attend high school, let alone college. But Michael is proudly here, a freshman at Santa Clara University, defying all odds.

Michael has taken his diagnosis in stride, saying it has “put a chip on his shoulder,” a constant reminder of what he says has been the “greatest challenge of his life to date.” His increased competitiveness in overcoming obstacles has contributed to his love of adventure, engaging in many dangerous activities. At the age of four, Michael began to ski, and at seven he learned to drive an ATV. Soon thereafter, snowboarding, scuba diving, and river rafting were added to his favorite activities. Just this past spring break Michael traveled to Belize with his family and went scuba diving, both at night and during the day, coming in close contact with sting rays, sharks, and eels, among much other aquatic life.

A passion for adventure originated not only from the obstacles Michael has overcome, but also from his father, who, according to Michael, is infinitely more adventurous than his son. Michael’s mother cites the life she saw in her husband’s eyes as one of the primary reasons why she fell in love with him, and has grown to be more adventurous throughout their marriage.

His father has been known to push Michael to overcome his fears, often saying If you’re falling, you’re doing something right. It means you’re pushing yourself. It only becomes a problem when you get too scared to do something again”.

After falling off a cliff while dirt biking, Michael’s father enacted such a lesson. Although Michael was stricken with fear, his father made him return and bike through the same location the next week, saying that if he waited longer he would never get over the fear.

Although one cannot quantify Michael’s stories, his motivation to live life to the fullest has certainly contributed to lively discussions amongst friends, and incredulous reactions to his crazy experiences. However scared we may be to engage in risky behavior like Michael does, he still challenges all of us to truly live.

— Kirsten Andersen

Showcasing Filipino Culture by Kathryn Luna


Anjelica Kempis was rustling in her seat with excitement as the annual Pilipino Culture Night (PCN) show began at Santa Clara in 2006.

The house lights dimmed and the crowd erupted with clapping, cheering, and whistles. The lights slowly returned and cast members began to file into the theatre, filling the aisles. The crowd went quiet as the members of Santa Clara’s Barkada club began to sing the U.S. National Anthem, followed by the Philippine National Anthem.

“I’ve been watching SCU’s show ever since, and ’06 is still my favorite. It was my first time in the audience as an excited middle school student, but it was just an all-around amazing PCN that year.”

548890_10201669936689314_1990435224_nKempis is now a college senior, but she has never lost the excitement she felt as a middle school student watching her first show. Over the years, she has seen her friends and cousins perform in this celebration of Filipino pride and heritage. Now it is her turn to take center stage and make it all happen as the director of the event.

More than 100 student cast members will perform this year. The show includes skits, traditional music and singing, and fourteen cultural dances complete with costumes and props representing different geographic regions of the Philippines. Kempis has the assistance of several alumni members and friends from Bay Area schools who will all be involved in putting on a spectacular display. Many of the main actors and teachers when Kempis watched her first show back in 2006 have come back to mentor and teach this year.

 “Our vision this year is to make everything magical,” she said. “We gave a lot of attention to each part of the skit and dances for this show so that we wouldn’t have a dull moment.”

The annual show has been popular and well-received on campus and on the national level. Many other Filipino student organizations use Santa Clara’s YouTube videos for inspiration for their own shows. This show is unique in that it includes not only Filipino students on campus but welcomes students of any racial/ethnic background to participate.10245562_10152092302997196_2324994795745893901_n

“Filipino culture is all about hospitality and mixing with other cultures,” Kempis said. “We love every opportunity we have to show pride in and teach about our culture to cast and audience members who aren’t of Filipino descent.”

Kempis joined Barkada, the Filipino cultural club on campus, and PCN freshman year, and she knew it was time to be more connected with her culture and follow in her family’s footsteps. The Kempis family has a history with the show. Last year Anjelica’s cousin, Ariana, was co-director, and several other cousins have been involved with dancing, acting, and creating the show’s programs. Because this year is the 25th show, as director, Kempis wanted to up-the-ante in every aspect and continue to improve on the legacy her family and friends have left.

There have been many long days and nights of preparation for the big show but Kempis smiled and said she likes to think about a quote from this year’s Miss Philippines pageant representative for Miss Universe, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.”


– Kathryn Luna