Junior Jasmine Saavedra spent her holiday break at home in Hammond, Ind., celebrating Christmas and New Year’s eve in her family’s traditional way. “On Christmas Eve the family gets together and we have Mexican food such as tamales de arena, tamales de pollo (chicken), tamales de azucar (sugar), and pozole (Mexican soup with hominy and pork). We have drinks such as atole de tamarindo and ponche—it is somewhat like a fruit punch [served hot] and is really good,” describes Saavedra. She says her family eats, talks, and plays games, until midnight, when they all go to mass. “When we come back we open presents. On Christmas day the family gets together again to eat leftovers and hangout.”
Saavedra is not the first person in her family to attend Saint Mary’s. She was introduced to the campus by her sister and two cousins. Even so, she says she chose Saint Mary’s because she loves the small class size. “At Saint Mary’s you’re a student and not just a number to the professors. Saint Mary’s has so many opportunities to offer everyone.”
Taking advantage of those opportunities, Saavedra has been the secretary for the Student Diversity Board (SDB) for the past two years, and she is a member of the student club La Fuerza, Future Women Doctors, and the Biology club, all while volunteering at Memorial hospital on the pediatrics floor.
This past summer she traveled to Ecuador with other students and biology professor Dr. Tom Fogle, who she says made an “everlasting impression” on her. “He has so much knowledge and is so passionate about things he has already seen plenty of times,” comments Saavedra. “He is an inspiration because I strongly believe that passion is a strong motivating factor and it makes life easier and more fun.”
Dr. Nancy Nekvasil is Saavedra’s biology advisor and another motivator. “She really helped me last year when I was unsure of where my future was headed,” says Saavedra. “She was very encouraging and told me not to give up, and that anything was possible.”
Saavedra is double majoring in biology and Spanish and plans to attend medical school to become an ophthalmologist. While Saavedra finds all of her biology classes to be challenging and stimulating, she says, “Saint Mary’s College has helped me to become a well rounded person in all subjects.”