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Continuing a family tradition
Ray Mangrobang is a third-generation Hawk
Ray Mangrobang

When asked about their Holy Names experience, students and alumni frequently recall climbing the campus stairs, a Sister’s encouragement, and most commonly–the feeling of family. For some, like Ray Mangrobang, the family connection is a literal one.

Ray, a freshman in the pre-nursing program, is a third-generation Hawk. His grandmother, Yuri Saito ‘86, graduated with a degree in nursing. His mother, Janet (Chung) Mangrobang, and father, Carlos Mangrobang ‘87, met at Holy Names when they were introduced in the Public Market cafeteria. Similarly, his aunt, Victoria (Mangrobang) Schmidt ‘86, MM ‘87, and uncle, Mark Schmidt, MM ‘85, fell in love while pursuing Kodály music degrees.

As Ray approached graduation from high school he had many choices. He was accepted into every university he applied to, but with his father’s encouragement, he decided to follow in the footsteps of family members and became a Hawk. “I liked the small college feel and wanted to get the dorm experience while still living close to family,” he says. “I knew I wanted to go into nursing, so when the nursing program accepted me and offered me a scholarship, I chose HNU.”

Close-knit community

Ray knew he made the right decision from day one. “After orientation, my roommate and I left our dorm room open to encourage visitors and within minutes our room was packed to capacity. The community here is so close-knit that if you don’t know someone, it’s just a matter of time until you do.”

This same close-knit community led to Ray’s parents’ meeting. Ray’s father and aunt, Carlos and Victoria Mangrobang, moved to Oakland together after leaving their family behind in Guam to pursue their higher education dreams. Carlos says he “tagged along” with his older sister, Victoria, who was attracted to the college’s renowned Kodály music program. Carlos was drawn to the exciting new field of computer engineering. Since HNU offered a computer science degree, the siblings were able to attend the same college.

When he wasn’t writing code in the computer lab, Carlos recalls climbing the “117” steps from the library to the cafeteria, eating “buttery-hot-from-the-oven” communal bread during Sunday Mass, playing guitar in the church choir with Sister Carol Sellman ‘69, MM ‘78, EdD, and, of course, meeting his wife-to-be Janet.

Janet enrolled in HNU’s pre-engineering program at the recommendation of her mother, Yuri Saito, who was in the process of completing her nursing degree at HNU. Janet eventually transferred to study architecture at another university, but not before befriending Victoria. Victoria eventually pointed out her younger brother Carlos, who later introduced himself to Janet at Dunn Hall. And the rest is HNU history. Janet and Carlos, married since 1992, have four children and live in Fremont.

Janet and Carlos were not the only Mangrobangs to find love at HNU. Ray’s aunt, Victoria, also met her future husband, Mark Schmidt, at the college. As music students, they met while singing in the collegiate choir Collegium Musicum. They married shortly after graduation and took positions teaching music to children in the Hayward Unified School District. In her time as an educator, Victoria says she has mentored many HNU graduates. The musically gifted couple have two children and live in Pleasanton.

More family connections

Ray’s great aunt, Noreen Yamaoka ‘03 joined HNU as an adult learner. She says that beyond continuing her family’s legacy it was the school’s commitment to adult education that inspired her to enroll. “I remember how refreshing it was to interact with the Sisters on campus,” she says. “I adored Sister Margaret Campbell’s original and energetic way of teaching. She encouraged in me a lifetime of love and respect for nature.

Ray’s aunt, Maria Cecilia Mangrobang ‘92, also followed her older siblings in attending HNU. She earned a degree in biology and chemistry and went on to graduate from medical school. Today, she is a primary care doctor for the Veterans Administration in Honolulu, Hawaii, and serves as a home church pastor for friends and neighbors.

Climbing the steps

Ray’s grandmother, Yuri, attended orientation with Ray and his family this summer. The welcoming spirit of the event impressed Yuri, who says she was glad to see her grandson continue the family tradition at HNU. When a staff person offered her a lift to the upper campus so she wouldn’t need to climb the stairs, she shook her head “no.” “These are stairs I know, steps I’ve climbed before and will take again now,” she says. With that, she joined Ray in his first.