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Class of 2022

Highlights from the graduating class, including memories of their experiences and advice to incoming students.

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Communications & Interdisciplinary studies, concentration in professional writing and literature

Lyndsey Widner '22

Why HNU? "I chose HNU because I loved how small our campus is in relation to other universities. We have such a close-knit community and a very welcoming environment that provides students with a lot more one-on-one learning, and opportunities for closer relationships with other students and professors. Also, the location is amazing for the college lifestyle and the view from the chapel is unbeatable."

My Experience: "The classes I’ve taken at HNU has challenged me as a writer and helped me acquire a new set of skills to use for my future career. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to tutor students and help them find their voice and confidence in their writing. I been given the opportunity to connect with others and continue to work on my craft of writing. On top of everything, I’ve been fortunate to play softball and create friendships with my teammates that will last a lifetime."

Thanks to: "I’d first like to thank my family and friends for their continuous support throughout my journey. I’ve been blessed to have a trusting and loving inner circle who I could reach out to for advice or help in any given circumstance. I’d also like to thank the writing studio and communications/marketing department for allowing me to have a platform where I could grow as a writer and inspiring me to further dive into a career of writing. Lastly, I’d like to thank my coaches and teammates for constantly challenging me to become the best version of myself and for providing me with memories that I will cherish forever."

Advice: "Never settle for being comfortable because the best things in life happen at the end of your comfort zone."

MBA with a concentration of Management and Leadership

Gregory James, MBA '22

"My HNU experience has been filled with excitement and a family-oriented community ... I would like to thank the Lord for watching over me and giving me wisdom, my family and friends for all their support, and the basketball program, especially Aren Ulmer and coach Eberhardt, for giving me a chance to represent HNU."

My advice: "Time manage as much as possible. Using timing management and staying organized is very important in college."

Communications, multimedia emphasis

Luis Cardona '22

Why HNU? "I chose HNU because it is based on the fundamentals of my Faith which is Catholicism. This is one of my life's essential parts, and HNU is a catholic school. Without God, I am nothing, and it is through him I get the strength to do everything possible and in his name."

"My experience at HNU has been full of great memories and friendships that I will always hold dear to my heart for the rest of my life. It has been fantastic, from the classroom to the free time that I had to spend with all my friends; it was a way to connect with others on a whole different level, for which I am thankful to HNU for."

Thanks to: "I would greatly like to think Father Sal for being such a great mentor and role model, and I can look up to and follow in the footsteps of God. I would also like to thank Stephanie Silva for all the great opportunities for experience in my field of study that I will never forget."

Advice: "Start investing early. Accumulate as many alternative tokens as possible and ride the wave up to the moon. Also, continue dreaming big and always have God in mind and put him first in any project."

Masters of Arts in Educational Therapy

Ella Holton, MA '22

Why HNU? "I chose HNU specifically for the educational therapy program. I also am from the Bay Area so it was the perfect school for me to pursue my passion and be around my family."

"I love HNU because I was treated like I mattered. At other schools, many times I was treated like a number because there were so many students. I also love HNU because of the professors. The teachers were incredible, and I learned so much that is actually applicable in the workforce."

Thanks to: "Polly Mayer, my incredible advisor in the ET program. She was so accommodating when my partner was going through cancer treatment, and I was struggling to keep up in class. She never let me fall behind and was always empathetic and understanding. It truly meant the world to me."

Advice: "Mistakes are inevitable and so incredibly important. No one is perfect and no one knows what they are doing most of the time, so just go for it."

Liberal Studies

Aaliyah A. Quiñones '22

Why HNU? "What drew me to HNU was the small the classes and how it felt like one big happy family. I also heard they had the best education program here, and I knew I wanted to be an educator and get my master's degree in education. And the view from the chapel."

"My time at HNU has been great; I've accomplished so much in four years, progressing from a shy first year to a beautiful blossoming senior. I want to thank the most high God, my mother and father, and all of the staff and students at HNU."

What's next? "I recently started teaching at Skyline High School and that I'll be returning to Holy Names University in the fall to earn my master's degree in education and my multiple subject certificate."

Advice: "Enjoy college as much as possible since it will fly by."


Maria Avila '22

Why HNU? "I chose HNU because of the very personal tour I received when exploring the campus for the first time. I had toured other campuses and felt very overlooked during the tours, but when I toured HNU, I felt important to the school."

"My experience at HNU has been a true blessing. I have met so many amazing people that have helped me grow as a person in so many ways, and I will forever be thankful for them. The friendships I have made at HNU have been amazing, and I hope to continue them throughout my life."

Thanks to: "I would like to thank Casey LaBarbera for giving me the opportunity to become a Peer Mentor. Becoming a Peer Mentor at HNU exposed me to so many students, and it started my journey as a leader here at HNU. I would also like to thank Janice Argueta for helping me whenever I needed her. And I would like to all my wonderful professors who pushed me to believe in myself and reach my best."

Advice: "Do not be afraid, follow your dreams, follow what your heart is telling you, you'll be glad you did in the end."

Healthcare Administration

Arianna Vallejo '22

Why HNU? "I chose Holy Names University because it was close to home, has a beautiful view, and from the first time I stepped on campus I felt welcomed."

"My experience here at HNU has been incredibly life changing. I have had the opportunity to build relationships with not only classmates but also with professors! I’ve never felt alone these past 4 years, HNU gave me confidence!"

Thanks to: "My family, specifically my mother. She has been my top supporter. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I am today, soon to graduating college. Thank you, mom, for believing in me and staying by my side no matter what."

Advice: "Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Professors at HNU are here to help you through every step of the way. There are so many opportunities for you as a person to grow and step out of your comfort zone, Do it!"

Interdisciplinary Studies

Sasha Ritzie-Hernandez '22

Why HNU? "I was born in Mexico, but at 12 years old I migrated to The US. I grew up in Oakland and my family made Oakland their new home. My mom worked at Holy Names as a cleaner. My mother was an educator in Mexico, but here in the US, she cleaned schools and houses. When applying to university, I wanted to make sure I was close to home. I remember the beautiful school my mom once cleaned, and I wanted to graduate from that school. I wanted to show my family that their sacrifices were worthwhile. In addition, Holy Names is known for their education program and I wanted to study in Oakland to one day teach in Oakland as well."

"I have been able to meet incredible teachers at Holy Names who have significantly impacted my life. Yellowlees Douglas is one of them. She has helped me use my lived experience in the classroom and has become my mentor. I've had the opportunity to serve in the school government and represent the student body. I have also participated in student-led activities to improve our school. Not to mention that I met my wife, Shaniah Ritzie Hernandez at Holy Names. If it wasn't for HNU, I probably wouldn't have met her."

Thanks to: "I would like to thank my family, my mother and father who are the absolute best! My brothers made me tough and resilient. My sister and brother-in-law who are just amazing. My nieces and nephews are the absolute best thing to have ever happen to me and inspire me to keep going to pave the way for them. My wife has supported me through this incredible journey and believed in me. My sobrino-nieto, who was just born--I hope he grows up to be proud of me. My best friend Armando Bibiano, who has been a solid rock for me during the difficult times in school and who I can count on when things get rough. And to all of the educators who have supported me and believed in me."

Advice to myself at the beginning of my academic journey: "Everything is going to be okay--the long nights working on paper will one day pay off. I would also remind myself that I am working not only for myself but the 12-year-old who arrived to the US without knowing English and tell her that one day she will receive a degree. I would tell myself that I am enough and that as long I work hard, my dreams will come true. And to lean into the community and support system who are there whenever I don't feel my best."

M.Ed. in Urban Education

Nakisha Harris, MEd '22

Why HNU? "I chose Holy Names University because of the rich course offerings."

"My experience at HNU has been awakening, empowering, and affirming."

Thanks to: "I would like to thank Dr. Jennifer Obidah for being an amazing professor, she is someone I see myself in and I am grateful to her for the way she pushes me to meet her high expectations."

Future plans: "I intend to continue my education, seeking a fully funded doctoral program. My vision is to be an education consultant, working with school districts to provide intensive professional development for K-12 educators."

Advice: "You are about to embark on an eye-opening journey, you should document every step of the way so you can write a book about it."

Master of Business Administration, Marketing

Noah Barros, MBA '22

Why HNU? "I chose to come to HNU because I was offered a baseball scholarship to play here, and it seemed like I would fit in as a leader. I have enjoyed every minute of it."

"My experience here at HNU was packed with fun my first year (before COVID hit), and since then it has been about striving towards my goal of playing professional baseball. My baseball team has made my experience here at HNU very memorable."

Thanks to: "My father for always being as supportive as possible and always making me strive for greatness and success. I would also like to thank my coaches for pushing me to be better every day as well as my teammates for holding me accountable."

Advice: "Do not let others dictate how you see your future. If your dreams don’t scare you, then they are not big enough. You must believe wholeheartedly that you will be successful no matter what the path you are on leads you to and bring others with you as you rise."

Jocelyn Reyes '22

Why HNU? "I came to HNU because of its diversity and close-knit community. It was a very welcoming environment where people wanted the best for you. I also chose HNU because I’ve always wanted to live in the Bay Area."

"My experience at a HNU was an exhilarating journey. I came in not knowing what to expect, but I made a lot of new friends that I get to cherish memories with for the rest of my life. HNU has given me the opportunity to receive an education all while establishing special bonds with many different people."

Thanks to: "Most importantly, I would like to thank my family and friends. Without their endless support and guidance, I would’ve not been able to succeed in this journey. I would also like to thank my soccer coaches for helping become the player I am today and help me with my athletic career at HNU."

Advice: "Take your career and academic journey seriously, but never take yourself too seriously. Relax, have fun, and enjoy every minute of this journey because it will go by much faster than you think."

MBA, Management and Leadership

Sherlyn Talavera, MBA '22

Why HNU? "I was looking for a school big on diversity, inclusion, culture, and values. It is important to go to a school where you feel like you belong and that is why I chose HNU."

"My experience attending HNU has been amazing. All the professors have the best interest in their students. I also appreciate how accessible all the classes in my program was, specially during the pandemic."

Thanks to: "I would like to thank Dr. Ben Olmos who has been integral in the planning process of my educational journey and who has given me such great career advice. Thank you, Dr. Olmos!"

Advice: "Take in and celebrate even the small successes. Sometimes we don't acknowledge the small successes, but you should always celebrate the small achievements that get you to your goal."

Certificate in Educational Therapy

Sarah Durantini

Why HNU? "HNU has an outstanding Educational Therapy Program with very well-known educators and Educational Therapists as professors, directors, and advisors in the program."

"At HNU, I have gotten to know some outstanding leaders in the field of Educational Therapy as well as fellow students who work at a variety of schools and private practices around the state of California."

Thanks to: "Marion Marshall, Polly Mayer, and Toby Mickelson for being excellent teachers and mentors. Additionally, I would like to thank my husband, children, and parents for their continued support as I worked my way through the ET Program at HNU while working full time."

Advice: "Be kind to yourself, you are working full time, raising a family, and going to night school. Continue to learn and grow."

Communications with a minor in Psychology

Olivia O'Neal '22

Why HNU? "I chose HNU for many reasons. I never wanted to attend a huge campus, and the smallness and beauty of HNU immediately drew me in. I couldn’t have asked for better with the gorgeous views and it being surrounded by nature. It was also a place offering me the opportunity to continue my passion of playing softball, something that was very important to me."

"My experience at HNU has been one to remember. I have made so many amazing friends and created so many memories I will cherish forever. Being at HNU allowed me to experience new things, and to find myself. My softball experience has definitely been an interesting one, but I wouldn’t trade those experiences in with those people for anything else."

Thanks to: "I would like to thank first and foremost my travel softball coach, because without him I wouldn’t be at HNU or even playing softball in college. I would like to thank my family and friends, for always encouraging me to stick with it and never give up on myself or my dreams, and who supported me every step of the way. Thank you to my current softball coaches, for always pushing me to be better and to work my hardest and never give up on myself, and for always encouraging me to see the best in myself. "

Advice: "Live in the moment and not worry so much. Life is too short to spend time worrying and stressing about the future or the past. Enjoy every second of everyday and live with no regrets. The experiences you are going through, you are going through for a reason. You are where you are meant to be. So be free, be happy, and love yourself and love every second of everyday."

Dual Masters in Counseling and Forensic Psychology

Alejandra Arias, MA '22

Why HNU? "The small campus, diverse community of students and faculty/staff. HNU has a very welcoming environment."

Thanks to: "My family who have always supported me in my education."

Advice? "Make connections with your professors"