Fall 2019 Class Notes

Drone photo of USD campus looking toward the bay showing the immaculata and other campus buildings.

MARILYNN (MAYER) NEVILLE (BA) writes, “Hello out there to the great Class of ’56. We were the first to matriculate at USD for all four years. Our names are somewhere in a cornerstone —or was it a time capsule? Do you remember the good times we had?” Marilynn encourages her fellow Class of ’56 alumnae to share updates to USD Magazine for all to see.


NADINE THOMAS (BA) is the author of Grandma’s Magic Box, a children’s book that she wrote for her grandchildren, available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. “I loved every minute I was privileged to attend the San Diego College for Women,” Nadine says. She is now working on her next book, an autobiography.


PHILIP IDEMA (JD) retired on Jan. 1, 2019, after practicing law in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for 52 years. “I know I’ll miss many aspects of practice, but am eagerly looking forward to the years ahead,” he says.

VERN SCHOOLEY (JD) has been honored with the naming of the Long Beach Inn of Court as the Ball/Hunt/Schooley American Inn of Court. Vern was the founding president of the inn nearly three decades ago and acted as president for the first 10 years. He continues today as counselor of both that inn and the Judge Paul R. Michel IP Inn of Court.


RUBEN ESCOBOSA (BS) is excited to be coming back to campus this fall to celebrate the reunion of those he played football with 50 years ago, when the sport came back to campus after a brief absence. Ruben and his fellow alumni will celebrate with a reception for players and their families on Sept. 20, followed by a pre-game tailgate before the Toreros v. Harvard game on Sept. 21.

GARY KURUTZ (BA), ’72 (MA) retired after 47 years working in rare book libraries, including the Huntington Library, California Historical Library and California State Library.

GUS MAGEE (BA), ’72 (MA) received the Kappa Alpha Psi Western Province Community Service Award, which was presented at the 72nd Western Province Council meeting in April 2019.


DAVE NEWARK (BA) writes, “I am retired now and only accept tee times and doctor appointments. Just got through an annual golf outing with my Phi Kappa Theta bros Steve Nasman ’71 (BA), George Davey ’71 (BS) and Rod Ozust ’71 (BA). Yes, we are still alive thanks to our great times at USD.”


PIERRE PORTAS (BS) is organizing a slow fashion event in Europe that he hopes to bring to fruition in 2020. He writes, “There is not a single place on Earth where biodiversity is not at work. Every square meter of the planet is important.” Convinced that art is the medium of change, he is working on a project called ArtForLife that will link art and fashion to create a powerful message by “exploring the visual and sensual dimension of the merging of human beings into the aquatic world.”


DEBBIE HALL (MEd), ’75 (MS) earned an MFA in writing in 2017 from Pacific University. Her first poetry collection, What Light I Have, was published in 2018 by Main Street Rag Books.


TIMOTHY EARL (JD) was listed in San Diego Magazine as a 2019 Top Lawyer in San Diego. Chair of the construction and insurance practice group for Sullivan Hill, Tim practices in the areas of construction litigation, insurance coverage and business litigation.


ALICE RODRIGUEZ-GONZALEZ (BAcc) is a kindergarten teacher at St. Martin of Tours Academy in La Mesa, California. “Getting ready for summer and another trip to England!” she says.


CHRISTINE BOLOGNA (JD) and John LaRocco ’77 announce that their son, Jeffrey LaRocco, graduated with honors from the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering (BS/BA) and was commissioned as a naval flight officer in the San Diego NROTC in May 2018. “There are now three USD graduates in the LaRocco family,” Christine says.


SUE EBNER (BA), ’86 (MBA) continues to expand Ebner Consults’ sales training programs for corporations and sales executives with leadership development training.

TERESA JENNA (BA) returned to the United States after 38 years abroad during which she lived in 15 countries. “I have worked across the world on every continent and traveled to more than 100 places on the globe, thanks in part to learning the basics of training and disabilities education at USD,” she says.


FRANCISCO ANTONIO (BBA) works for Southwest Airlines.


MICHELLE JOHN (BA) leads a nonprofit organization that seeks to prevent homelessness in San Diego County by getting jobs for people and keeping them in their current housing. Assistance includes job connection, interview preparation, rental assistance, bus passes, car repairs and removing other obstacles to employment. “We are always seeking employers to partner with to achieve our mission,” Michelle says. Learn more at  www.newgateway.org.

MARK NORYCH (JD) is building a nationwide arbitration and mediation company that never requires physical appearances, as mediation and arbitration hearings are held either by telephone or by video conference.

DEBORAH WOLFE (JD) writes, “In addition to trying legal malpractice cases, I have started coaching young lawyers in matters of business and professional competence, and testifying as an expert in the fields of legal ethics and civil trial advocacy.”


JANE EBERLEIN (MSN) is retired from the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps. She is a nurse practitioner and business owner of Complexions Rx, and is married with three children — including two daughters in the U.S. Navy — and three grandchildren.

MARIANNE ROSSI (BA) expected to retire in July 2019 after 35 years in financial aid with the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.

MARYANN THOMSON (BA), ’82 (MEd) says that after 40 years of teaching in public elementary schools in San Diego, she is enjoying her newly retired status by traveling, walking with her friends on the beach and at the bay, spending time with her son, and sleeping in later than 6:00 a.m.


ROBERT EATINGER (JD) reports that he joined the law firm Dunlap Bennett and Ludwig as a partner to head up its national security law practice.

EASTY LAW (BSN), ’86 (MSN) is a retired Navy nurse.

SISTER MARY CATHERINE POTTER (BA) has retired and moved to Ireland after 41 years of ministry with the Catholic Church in San Diego.


MIKE BROWN (BBA) operates the Tin Fish, a restaurant in San Diego. “Loving being a grandfather to Charlotte and Ford, working with the Knights of Columbus at St. James and enjoying our great community,” he says.

LOURDES ESQUER (BBA) retired from the Social Security Administration on Dec. 31, 2018,after nearly 33 years with the agency. She served as manager for Social Security’s call center in San Diego for the past 13 years.

HALLIE GARDNER (BA) writes, “After a long and varied career, I am semi-retired in private counseling practice. I am loving the freedom along with the privilege of helping others.”

JEFF HILDEBRANDT (BA) retired from the education field and established 95959 Publishing, releasing a collection of aphorisms titled On Being MetaFishical by Jeff Goldfish (Bookpatch.com). His second release will be Life is Therapy by Jeff Gladman and the third in the series is Lyrical Meditations by Jeff Goodrock. Jeff also works as a bronze bell artisan at Cosanti Originals in Paradise Valley, Arizona.


BOB GAGLIONE ’84 (JD) is retiring from private practice after 33 years as a civil trial lawyer in San Diego.

VICTOR TORRES (BA), 88 (JD) was appointed commissioner of Superior Court and assigned to the Vista courthouse in California.


THE REV. WALTER BROWNRIDGE (MA) is an associate rector with Christ Church, an Episcopal church.


GARRISON “BUD” KLUECK (JD) and fellow USD alum Traci Hoppes ’92 (JD) are partners at Klueck and Hoppes, a 14-lawyer family law firm in San Diego.


DAVID BAKER (JD) opened his own law practice in Irvine, California, in 2018. The practice focuses on intellectual property matters “with an emphasis on popular media, computer software and even comic books.”

KEVIN BOILEAU (LLM) has worked with colleagues to develop an innovative mediation practice that uses game theory math, psychoanalysis and extensive financial review to provide the highest level of service to clients with complex cases.


MARK JUDD (BBA), ’94 (MIB) has been a clinical professor of accounting in USD’s School of Business since 1997. His wife, Raffaella, operates their gift shop in Seaport Village.

ROBIN PHELAN (BBA) started a daily money management business for the elderly and for families that need someone to ensure that bills get paid on time.

JENNIFER TRAN (BA) is a kindergarten reading specialist at an independent school in Atlanta and has been married for three years.

PETER STAMATOPOULOS ’88 (BBA) was recently promoted to the two-star rank of Rear Admiral and assigned to the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) as the J4 Director of Logistics. As the logistics directorate, the J4 coordinates logistics, health readiness, engineering and humanitarian support throughout EUCOM’s theater.

VINCE VACCHER (BBA) is with Mar Vac Electronics. He writes, “We are a family business of three brothers, who all attended USD. Our company’s most recent endeavor has been in the world of sports communication: providing headset solutions to coaches from high school to Division I teams nationwide. Our online business is growing as well, shipping small components all over the world. It’s been a great time. We’ll see what the next 30 years bring.”


WILLIAM MORRISON (LLM) is commander of VFW Post 7907 in Poway, where he says there are many opportunities for community service. “Looking for members to join — vets helping vets,” he says. “We are an All-State Post and hope to be All-American.”


CHARLES PORTER (LLM) writes, “I’ve recommended USD to friends who’ve then sent their children as undergraduates. I’ve just finished 50 years of law practice as a judge and subsequently proprietor of a part-time law school in San Luis Obispo, California.”

ANNE SANDAN (BBA) is the vice president of finance and corporate controller at ViaCyte Inc. She says that her greatest milestones were being able to care for her beloved parents and raise four talented children, two of whom are now attending Jesuit universities. “All this while balancing a full-time career and home life,” she says. She and her husband, Norman, were married 24 years ago at Founders Chapel.


ROBERT JACKSON (BA) published his eighth novel, Hester and the Battle of Bannockburn. He has a movie project in the works based on his memoir, Running Scared. The screenwriter is Gustavo Freitas.

GINAIA KELLY (JD) is the director of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

BARRY WALLACE (JD) reports that he lives in San Carlos in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, Casey ’91, and their 11-year-old son, Jacob. Barry is the director of business development for Bliss Lawyers.


KRISTINE ASHTON-MAGNUSON (BA) handles publicity for various music festivals and events around the country, including the band Dropkick Murphys.

BOB KAMANGAR (JD) writes, “Haven’t been practicing law for decades now. I am a realtor and developer on the (San Francisco) mid-Peninsula.”


MIKE DALY (BA) is senior vice president of sales for Freebird, a mobile flight rebooking company. In his new position, Mike works with corporations, credit card companies and travel partners. With more than 25 years of experience in business development and sales, Mike has worked at Key2Travel, Travelocity Business, Sabre GetThere, United Airlines and Deem, where he was vice president of travel and car services.

DAVID NEMETH (BA), ’96 (JD) celebrated 25 years of marriage with Kristi (Harris) ’93 in June 2019 and the five-year anniversary of starting his own law firm in March 2019. David and Kristi live in San Clemente, California, and have three children — ages 21, 18 and 15 — with two in college,
including son Jacob, who is a fresh-year at USD. “Life is good,” David says.

GEORGE SANCHEZ (BA) completed his second year as a real estate broker/sole practitioner. “Daughter and wife are doing awesome,” he says. “Miss my alma mater!”


ERIKA HARRINGTON (BA), ’03 (JD) opened Needles Studio in January 2019 in Palo Alto, California. “We offer sewing classes, workshops and open studio time for customers to come and use our equipment and amenities,” she says.

MICHAEL SHEPARD (JD) was named one of the 2018 Massachusetts Lawyers of the Year. In October 2018, he obtained a $43.1 million verdict on behalf of his client in a lawsuit against tobacco and asbestos companies.


KIMBERLY ATHANS ’95 (BA), ’00 (MEd) returned to San Diego in August 2017 to teach literacy and secondary methods classes in Point Loma Nazarene University’s School of Education.

WILLIAM CARNESE (BA) writes, “In addition to my 15-plus years as a freelance web designer/developer, I’m also an active professional musician currently performing in three bands.”

DEANNA (GONZALES) DUNCAN (BA) reports that she and Joseph Duncan were married on June 30, 2018. “Together, we have three children: Will, Ainsley and Anna,” she says.

NESSIE (POLENDEY) MARTIN (BAcc) writes, “Completely retired from the Navy and as a Department of Defense government employee in April 2017.”


DONALD McELFRESH (JD) was elected to the bench as Superior Court judge in Del Norte County. He thanks all of the faculty at USD School of Law for the “excellent education and skills imparted by such a fine institution of learning.”


CARLOS MARTINEZ (BA) has a pending MLB agent certification.

ROBERT MICHAEL WAY (BA) and his wife, Toni Basco ’01, are part of a nonprofit working to establish the Byzantine Catholic shrine of Mary Undoer of Knots on Mount Lemmon near Tucson, Arizona.


MARIA BOWDEN-WEISS (BA) is an airbrush makeup artist for weddings and special events. “I have worked with hundreds of brides in San Diego,” she says. “I love making women feel more beautiful for their special events.”

STEVE KUL (BBA) started Konnect Resources in 2015, a staffing and human resources consulting company. He and Lukicia Kul ’01 live in La Mirada, California, and are the proud parents of Mila, 6.

SCOTT MAAS  (BBA) recently established a new design/build venture headquartered in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. Fieldxstudio (Field and Studio) is a full service architecture, construction and real estate development firm.

KRISTEN (AMES) MAHRER ’98 (BA) says, “I am happy to report I am a sales representative for Lang Nissan here in San Diego. Please stop by or call for a USD discount.”

ZAC MISSLER (BA) reports that he and his wife, Michelle, celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. “Looking forward to continuing development on the central coast of California in San Luis Obispo near Cal Poly,” he says.

MICHAEL SACKMASTER (BBA) is an experienced banking manager looking for new opportunities.

JESSICA (CARRANZA) TACHE (BA) writes, “I’ve been married for almost nine years and am a full-time mommy to my son, Oliver.”


SCOTT SMERUD (JD) started TrustKeeping, a remote outsourced accounting firm, offering monthly fixed-fee bookkeeping and business back-office services.

JOHN KENT THURSTON (BBA) writes, “Traveling, fishing, restauranting … being a father to Harper and husband to Trish. Enjoying life with my family in my hometown in South Florida.”


KELLY (WOOD) GEMELLI (JD) has been promoted to a principal in Jackson Lewis’ San Diego office. Kelly provides advice and counsel to management on a wide range of employment issues. She is a certified leave of absence specialist and is an active member of the California Advice and Counsel Resource Group.

ALFONSO HERNANDEZ (BBA) reports that he has been creating new products and businesses for experience travelers.

KATE MOSLEY (BBA) owns two Orangetheory Fitness locations in Northern California.

DOUG WORKS (MBA) writes, “Enjoying life with my lovely wife and baby daughter. Looking for business opportunities in sports.”


MARK JONES is pursuing a Master of Science in executive leadership at USD with an expected graduation of 2020.

KIRA RUBEL (BA), ’07 (JD) writes, “I have been working long hours to complete my firm’s transition from litigation to estate planning and business transactional work. My husband and I have also been busy raising two little girls. We don’t sleep much around here!”

COLLEEN (DeCOOK) SNYDER (BA) earned an MEd degree and taught for 10 years in Massachusetts. “We moved to New York, where I now use my degree in anthropology and ethnic studies while serving the public in real estate needs. I love it!” she says.


CHRISTINE ANTOINE (BA) was selected as an honoree in the government category for Assemblymember Shirley Weber’s annual Salute to Women Leaders of the 79th District.

AMANDINE AZENCOTT ’02 (MBA) says, “I still remember my years in USD, truly, the best of my life. As a French student discovering universities in the USA — and especially this one — it was a dream that came true. Best memories ever. Since then, I have been working for different companies in California and back to Paris. In 2010, I launched my own skincare brand, which is 100 percent made in France: CODAGE Paris. This has been a great journey. The brand is now in 35 countries, through a network of five-star hotel spas, selective perfumeries, department stores and professional settings, such as those in clinics and doctor’s offices. In 2019, we are launching in the USA, so stay tuned! Hope you’ll try our products soon!”

ANNIE PETERSEN (BA) was in a television news career until 2016. “The job no longer fulfilled me, instead it just filled me,” she says. Seeking a life of purpose and possibility, she enrolled in the coaches training program at Accomplishment Coaching. “I am a practicing coach and work with sports anchors, math tutors, tech specialists, police officers, C-suite executives and more, on creating what they want in life. I am also a blogger and public speaker.”

SCOTT RAHN (JD) is managing partner of RMO LLP and opened the firm’s fourth office in San Diego. RMO focuses on trust and probate estate litigation and has offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and Kansas City, Missouri.

ROSARIO BURGOS SANTOYO (BA), ’08 (JD) was promoted to litigation manager at Cordell & Cordell, a domestic litigation firm that focuses on representing men in family law cases. Rosario is a member of the San Diego County Bar Association, the Lawyers Club of San Diego, Latinas in the Law and the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association.

KURT VARRICCHIO (JD) published his first book, Behind the Count: My Journey from Juvenile Delinquent to Baseball Agent, in June 2018. This autobiography chronicles his life in the Florida juvenile justice system through his current position as president of KVA Sports, an athlete representation firm based in Orange County, California. The book is available on Amazon.


KRISTIN EDELHAUSER CHESSMAN ’03 (BA) resides in Orange County, California, with her husband, Ryan, and her three children under the age of 8. She is a freelance writer and editor, and recently fulfilled her dream of becoming a member of the Disney Parks Moms Panel. The Panel accepts about 12 new panelists each year, and she was chosen to represent Disneyland Resort. She’s says she is “excited to share her passion for Disney with future guests as they plan their dream vacations!”

ADRIAN DOWNING-ESPINAL (BA) earned credentials as a Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor – II. Adrian has more than 9,000 hours in the field and stays active volunteering on various board and committees in San Diego.

ED HINER ’03 (MS) is a retired Navy SEAL, bestselling author and speaker. He is passionate about helping children and veterans.

ANNE KINNE (MA) is pursuing a PhD in transformative studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies and is using her master’s degree in theology as she does so. “While not working on my dissertation, I am the editing services manager for the Center for Writing and Scholarship at CIIS,” she says. Anne is also a technical editor for CIIS, on the editorial board for the Society for Consciousness Studies and developing a website for her editing business, Redwood Coast Editing.

KATHERINE MICKS (JD) was sworn in as the first female elected district attorney in Del Norte County, the northernmost coast county of California.

MARK RAGO (MBA) started his own athletic training business, San Diego Training Systems.


KADIE COTTER (BA) says she and her husband welcomed their second son, Michael Thomas, on Feb. 18, 2019. Michael has a big brother, Maxwell Brent, 18 months.

ZACHARIAH CUSKELLY (BBA) has been running TechLX, a K-12 technology education company, for three years. “We develop and teach elective, after-school and summer programs focused on robotics, coding, game development and makerspaces,” he says.

KARLA ESCALANTE-FREITAG (BBA) started working in real estate last year. “It is such an interesting, challenging, rewarding career,” she says. “I came to USD’s library to study for my real estate test. It brought wonderful memories of my time at USD, which I will cherish forever.”

DONALD MORRISON (BBA) writes, “Two of our triplet children started USD this year: Jacob and Nicole. Kevin chose Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.”

DIANA TREVINO (MA) transitioned into private practice in 2014, after several years of working with at-risk youth and human trafficking victims. She provides counseling for those suffering from anxiety and trauma using EMDR and other mind-body techniques.

ETHAN WATTS (MBA), ’04 (JD) has a solo law practice and has been helping clients comply with the European data protection and privacy law (GDPR) and preparing clients to comply with the California data protection and privacy law (CCPA).


ALEX CALERO (JD) was elected chair of the Public Law Section of the California Lawyers Association. His term begins at the October 2019 CLA Annual Meeting.

ALEJANDRO CASTRO (BA) and his family started Ruben Castro Charities, with food distribution at Moorpark College on Tuesdays and at the Ventura County Office of Education, Career Education Center, in Moorpark on Saturdays. “We are seeing an increase in the need for food services at both distribution locations; any assistance would be appreciated,” he says.

LINDSAY (HANSEN) La Pointe (BA) welcomed her second child, Betty, in 2018. 

PATRICIA LaVOIRE (MEd) worked in El Cajon in San Diego County for several years, then retired. “I like to travel, spend time with family and friends, and relax at the beach,” she says.

MORGAN SCHAENING (BBA) moved to Australia after graduating, where she began her career in global education and leadership development. She moved back to California in 2015 to start her company, Unearthed Travel, and is enjoying the challenges of the work and its outcomes.


JAMES BLACK (BAcc) is the co-founder of a top-rated hostel business in Southern California.

OLIVIA GIL-GUEVARA (MA) moved back to San Diego after living in Chicago for 10 years. She managed a hip-hop recording artist whose song went viral, then signed him to Capitol and Atlantic Records. She was accepted into Accion’s Entrepreneurship Academy in 2019, where she created ThirdSectorProject, a nonprofit consulting company specializing in social media campaigns.

STEVEN SMITH (EdD) is with Northern Arizona University, where he serves as assistant director of veteran and military services; director of the Oral History Project, Cline Library Special Collections and Archives; serves on the Martin-Springer Institute Advisory Board and as a faculty member for First-Year Seminar. He is retired from the U.S. Navy.


ISIDRO BARRAGAN (BA) obtained a teaching credential and now teaches eighth-grade science in Southeast San Diego. “I am enjoying the challenge and the outcomes,” Isidro says.

MONICA DOHRMAN (BA) is a pediatric nurse practitioner with Phoenix Children’s Hospital and is a “proud momma to an 18-month-old boy (Hudson) and a 4-year-old little girl (Olivia).”

DUSTIN GUERRERO (BBA) says he spent his days at USD as a scholar-athlete on the men’s soccer team. “I cherish the friendships I made as a Torero and still play soccer weekly with many of the men I played alongside for USD more than a decade ago,” he says.

FATIMA PIMENTEL (BA) earned her dental degree at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, School of Dental Medicine in 2011. She finished her pediatric dental residency in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2013, practiced in Chicago for four years and then in Detroit for two years. In the summer of 2018, she decided to establish roots in Phoenix.

REIS ROSENBLEDT (BBA) has been building a successful financial services practice for 11 years with Foresters Financial Services in San Diego.


MARGE BHOLA (BA) writes, “After starting my digital franchise (Juice Plus+), I was able to retire myself from my government position. For the last three years, I have been traveling the world, running my business from my computer/phone and impacting the health and wellness of others in four different countries!”

RYAN BOLLIER (BA) is a process improvement specialist at the Health Plan of San Mateo, where he’s worked since 2012. He earned a BS in computer information science from Notre Dame de Namur University and is in the Executive MBA program at San Francisco State University.

BRANDON DEILGAT (BA) moved to Nashville in 2014 to set up a second production plant for a family manufacturing business to promote growth east of the Rockies.

AMANDA FITZSIMMONS (JD) was promoted to partner at DLA Piper. In the firm’s litigation practice, Amanda focuses on complex business and commercial litigation with an emphasis on data privacy and security, antitrust and competition, and class action litigation.

REBECCA FRAZEE (EdD) teaches at San Diego State University and runs a nonprofit open education resource called FLEXspace.org that helps higher education and K-12 campuses connect with a global network of practitioners and experts to help plan, design, support, evaluate and improve learning spaces. Rebecca is also a singer and percussionist in a local R&B band.

MARISSA ARREOLA MARTINEZ (MSGL) joined BAE Systems Inc. in San Diego as proposal director, where she manages the proposal development center operations and personnel.

PAMELA SALGADO (MBA) works for Teachstone in Charlottesville, Virginia, supporting state/county departments of education in their early childhood education initiatives. She says that she is happy to have found the ideal job that combines her graduate business and education degrees.

MELISSA (MIRANDA) SANCHEZ (BA) earned a JD and worked for three years in the public sector in New York. She moved back to her home state of Texas, was married in 2016, and she and her husband welcomed a baby girl in 2017. Currently, Melissa works for the Alzheimer’s Association as director for public policy for the Texas region.


SHAWNA FEHRMAN-LEE (BA), ’09 (BA), ’14 (MBA) reports that she was promoted to director of operations at HelloFresh. “Ben and I just had our first baby!” she adds. Evangeline Fehrman-Lee was born on Jan. 6, 2019.

KEEGAN FONG (BBA) opened Woon, a restaurant in Los Angeles.

RYAN KURTH ’09 (MS) manages regional business for private commercial real estate lender iBorrow in the Pacific Northwest. Previously, he worked six years in Wells Fargo’s commercial real estate group and three years with Fannie Mae’s chief economist, Doug Duncan.

NICCOLO LEKAI (BBA) lives in Paso Robles, California, and makes “beautiful and, of course, tasty gelato (Leo Leo Gelato) that is distributed across the country.”

JAMES NELSON (BAcc), ’09 (BA) developed a leading treasury consulting practice within PwC in the German-language region of Switzerland, and has repatriated to Southern California to serve the needs of local businesses.

ROSALIE RAMIREZ ’09 (MA) has worked at Riverside County DPSS Adult Protective Services and In Home Supportive Services for more than nine years ensuring elderly and disabled population obtain essential caregiver services and are safeguarded from abuse.


ELVIS BABILA (BS/BA) worked for Solar Turbines and then for Caterpillar as an engineering manager. After earning a master’s degree in material science and engineering and an MBA from Columbia University, he worked in General Electric’s Venture Capital Group — GE Ventures — the Corporate Strategy Group at IBM and started Empatia Home Care. He also reports that he got married.

MO CISSE (BA) writes, “After I graduated from USD, I worked jobs that gave me good experience but unfortunately they failed to excite me or give me the fulfillment I desired. So three years ago, I decided to go all in by following my passion in fashion! Our company (Meraki Allure) provides high-end clothing for men and women and offers a variety of image consulting services.”

MATT LEIGH (BS/BA) continues to work as a music producer, mix engineer and session musician at The Tracking Room in Nashville. He recently engineered sessions for country music legends Ronnie Milsap and Willie Nelson. Matt is currently composing and developing new music for the Nashville Predators’ (NHL) pregame festivities.

MARISSA MARTINEZ (MSGL) joined BAE Systems as proposal operations director to lead the company’s Proposal Development Center for the Electronics Systems sector in San Diego.

JACQUELINE McCORMACK (JD) left the Appeals Council with the Social Security Administration, moved back to San Diego and changed career paths. She now works at a law firm specializing in veterans law. “It is a growing and constantly changing area of law,” she says.

ELIZABETH SMUTZ (BA) accepted a staff attorney position at the Central California Appellate Program after serving as a panel attorney for four years.

ANALISE ZOCHER (BA) is a copywriter for Microsoft’s Brand Content Studio, Cloud + Enterprise. She lives near Seattle with her husband, Mark ’14, and 25-year-old cat, Lilly.


IRENE CARR ’11 (PhD) recently semi-retired after 45 years of nursing. She is active with The Immaculata parish.

JANET CHEN (JD) writes, “I get to practice constitutional law every day as a deputy attorney general in the California Attorney General’s Office in Sacramento.”

NICOLE (DeFELICE) DRZAL (BA) reports that she married Brandon Drzal in Las Vegas on April 28, 2018. Members of the wedding party included Michelle Dominguez Chavez ’10 (BA), Alexandra Tapper ’11 (BA ) and Jeffrey DeFelice ’17 (BS/BA). Nicole has been working in the hospitality digital marketing field for more than eight years and recently started working with Hyatt as a digital marketing manager. Staying true to her Founders Chapel Choir roots, she continues to sing weekly at her local parish, Holy Spirit Catholic Church.

DERRON JUAREZ (BA) reports that after playing football at USD, he worked in the staffing and recruiting industry for six years. Most recently, he has been working on developing his own company.

CHADWICK MANNING (BAcc), ’11 (MS) was named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 for energy and a Grist 50 honoree, both in 2018.

MEREDITH SCHNEIDER (BA) launched a podcast and merchandise with Imperfect Fifth, and is running the publication entirely on her own. “I continue to do freelance writing and marketing work, and live happily in a 1920s third-floor walkup in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri, with my cat, Schmidt!” she days.

KELSI (MYERS) WILKINS (BBA) reports that she and her husband, Casey, welcomed a son, Cooper, in May 2018.


FEDERICO DURAN (MBA) writes, “Helping our customers to create sustainable solutions that have a better impact on people, planet, profit and progress for many industries in Mexico such as automotive, leather, paint, plastic, construction, shoes and furniture.”

BOYD FELLOWS (BBA) is working in commercial real estate in San Francisco.

SAMUEL GREEN (BS/BA) is working to increase public flood risk awareness with MyFloodMap.com.

SHARI JONES (PhD) has returned to Naval Medical Center San Diego. She was previously stationed at Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms.

ROBERT PECK (JD) has joined Noonan Lance Boyer & Banach as an associate attorney. In his new position, he handles general civil litigation, complex business disputes, professional liability litigation and employment cases. Previously, he worked at a Newport Beach, California, litigation firm, where he represented clients in the apparel, printing, software and retail automotive industries.


MELANIE DELLAS (MA) worked at a local museum after graduation and has started her own business, Muse Curatorial Consulting Group. 

ALEX DeVITO (BA) is an account executive at IX Sports & Entertainment. He has worked with the Breeders’ Cup Ltd. and the San Diego Sports Medicine Foundation.

LISA HAWTHORNE (PhD) is the director/dean of nursing education at Louisiana State University and manages the Associate of Science in Nursing program at the Eunice and Lafayette campuses.

CYNTHIA VILLACIS HICKS (BA) moved to Nashville, where she earned a master’s degree in political science and qualitative methods from Vanderbilt University, then began a career in polling and market research. “I love my new home, but I’m a California girl at heart,” she says. “I visit home often and swing by USD to take a few quiet moments at the IPJ or to get a sandwich from Tu Mercado. I’m so grateful to USD for elevating my work ethic and faith life at a crucial time in my life.”

LIZETH JUVERA (BBA) works in USD’s Department of Biology. “I love being at USD!” she says.

LEA PARK-KIM (BA) works for California State Senator Brian Jones as his communications director.

MARISSA PLEDGER (BA) worked for the Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation in Switzerland for two years, then moved to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to work directly for Dr. Mukwege’s hospital and foundation. “Dr. Mukwege won the Nobel Peace Prize late last year for his work with victims of sexual violence over the past 20 years,” she says. “Here at the foundation, I manage our World Bank funding, which provides for the holistic care of survivors of sexual violence.”


LARRY-JACOB BAEZ (BBA) writes, “I fell in love with the outdoors while attending USD. My first hike in Cali was with fellow classmates.” He has started Pangea Excursions, an outdoor company that promotes the positive energy he felt on that first hike. “I was immersed by nature’s profound ability to recharge and reform the human spirit, and I want to help people get outdoors so they can feel that connection,” he says.

DAVID GRECO (JD) joined RMO LLP in opening its San Diego office. He focuses on litigating trust and probate estate disputes while continuing his business, employment and education litigation practices.

RUTH (“TIKI”) INACAY (MA) is pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology to further research on LGBTQIA+ issues in counseling. Tiki is a Safe Space Ally and former Rainbow Educator at USD, and redesigned and implemented the Safe Space training at Alliant International University in San Diego. Tiki was awarded the Cornell Persico scholarship and is a semifinalist for the Point Foundation scholarship. In addition, Tiki’s project, Trans N Sync, was recognized by the Clinton Global Initiative as being an innovative global socioeconomic development solution to gender expansive issues in the workplace.

ABREAIL (TETZLAFF) LEONCIO (MSN) was a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) at Naval Medical Center San Diego-Balboa and she is currently department head for two outpatient primary care medical home clinics in San Diego County. “My education as a CNS has profoundly helped me keep the three spheres at the front burner of my leadership practices day in and day out!” she says. “My job as a Navy nurse has also allowed me to deploy on the USNS Mercy Pacific Partnership 2018, where we visited several countries. Our focus was building partnerships, collaborating and fostering teamwork to be able to respond to humanitarian disaster relief events.”

MORGAN MARTIN (MS) has been based in Namibia for three years to pursue her PhD research on an unstudied small species of dolphin called the Heaviside’s dolphin. Her first paper was published in March 2019 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. During her research, Morgan collected recordings of the dolphins from a kayak and then confirmed her findings with experts in Denmark: The Heaviside’s dolphin is the first species known to be able to produce two types of sonar: one for echolocating and hunting and the other for communicating. Her work was featured in the Spring 2019 issue of USD Magazine.

KATARINA MURZI (BA) started a new job in March 2019 as marketing coordinator at Kaos at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, which held its grand opening in April 2019.

CATHY NGUYEN (BA) completed an MFA in graphic design at San Diego State University in 2018. Since Spring 2018, she has been teaching two-dimensional design and visual communications at USD as well as advanced courses in typography at San Diego State University.

ARABELLA WANG (MEd) has been a kindergarten teacher at Rancho San Diego Elementary in the Cajon Valley Union School District for five years. She also is the district lead in the Next Generation science standards, blended learning and presentation literacy. Arabella partners with the San Diego County Office of Education to help train teachers in NG science standards. She is currently working with UCSD’s San Diego Science Project to develop a summer science institute for teachers.


EMILIA ARUTUNIAN (JD) is an associate attorney at Jackson Lewis.

CLINTON JOHNSON (BBA) started Johnson Solar, a solar energy company, in 2015 after finishing his MBA. “Things have been going well since,” he says.

KIMBERLY WOODBURY ’15 (BS/BA) continues to work with Thermo Fisher Scientific. In October 2018, she transitioned to a new team and made the move from San Diego to San Francisco.


JENNIFER BUECHEL (PhD) earned her PhD at USD’s Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science.

SHELBY DERN (BBA) is part of the community team at WeWork and lives in downtown Chicago.

CAITLIN DONNELLY (BBA) is a marketing adviser at Compass, a real estate brokerage.

DIANA FONTAINE (BA) joined the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center after graduation and spent two years as a plankton analyst in the Marine Invasions Lab studying phytoplankton in ballast water of cargo ships. She is now a PhD student in the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography. Diana is using genetic techniques to examine how environmental stressors associated with climate change affect phytoplankton.

MARINA LAPARTE (BA) founded Tin Marin, a company based on products crafted by artisans around the world. The first collection features handbags that are woven by a community of women in a small town in Mexico. “The company focuses on giving back, while providing a functional and stylish product to live artisanally,” Marina says.

MARK MALEBRANCHE (PhD) teaches health policy at USD.

FIORELLA MORALES (BA) is the international engagement coordinator at San Diego State University, where she handles study-abroad advising and study-abroad program development. She also has led many groups of high school students through immersion trips in Europe and South America with World Learning. Fiorella also began work on a PhD in Leadership Studies at USD with a concentration in leadership for international school leaders.

HAYLEY PARK ’16 (BA) recently earned her master’s degree in music therapy from Arizona State University. She is currently working full time as a music therapist at the Arizona State Hospital. She also performs around the Phoenix area with her husband Chris.


ALISON ARAGON (MA) is working at Pro Kids, an organization that encourages underserved youth to excel by promoting character development, life skills and values through education and the game of golf. She also graduated from the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy Fundraising Academy. “I’m glad I can help support the San Diego nonprofit sector through philanthropy. I am volunteering with the Latina Giving Circle to reimagine traditional philanthropy, making it more inclusive, community-driven and accessible for all,” she says.

GINA ELLEN (BBA) is with Jet Wealth Advisors. “Lots of new things to consider going into 2019 and new avenues to explore for my clients,” she says. She is brushing up on Mandarin Chinese so she is available for clients who prefer to speak Chinese. Gina is also a board member for Lean In San Diego, which aims to empower women to rise to C-suite levels, start their own businesses and balance work and home life.

IRINA GEDAREVICH (BA) moved from director of marketing at the California Implant Institute to marketing strategist at Roya.com, a full-service marketing firm in Mira Mesa. She also is running as an independent candidate for mayor of San Diego in 2020.

SARAH GRAY (BBA) writes, “With two kids under 5, a thriving business (www.jlchildress.com, which makes on-the-go accessories for babies), a new puppy and an adventurous husband, I’m constantly exhausted but absolutely loving life! Every day is a blessing and also a challenge. We work hard to keep our focus on God so that He guides us through this chaotic yet beautiful season of life.”

VICKELL JOHN-BAPTISTE (BA) is a technology support analyst at USD’s ITS Help Desk while also pursuing yoga teacher training and planning for her wedding.

CHARLES MADRUGA (BA) has joined with a friend and fellow lifelong San Diegan to start A Timeless Day, in which they curate an entire day for visitors who want to experience the essence of San Diego’s coastline.

TOMMY MOORE ’17 (BA) works in the fashion industry for Bright Culture. “Lately I have been working to increase visibility and reach so that one day it can be a successful, respectable and thriving simple luxury brand.” The company offers brand ambassadorships to students looking to gain experience in the fashion industry while also allowing them to earn competitive commission on sales and obtain free or discounted clothes.

CHRISTOPHER REIMANN (BA) earned a master’s degree in secondary education from Loyola Marymount University in Spring 2019. As part of the program, he was a student teacher at his former high school, El Segundo High School. He is also working toward a secondary social sciences teaching credential.

DAVID SHANNON (BBA) is a law student at Santa Clara University Law School.

BONNIE SMITH (LLM) is practicing immigration law and is in a PhD program for creative development and leadership.

MARISA VOILAND (BA) is an event coordinator for the Arizona Community Foundation.


DANIEL BARRY (MBA) writes, “We’ve been growing! Our team has doubled in size and we now have four USD alumni or current USD students working at SunCity Advising. We’ve also expanded our service offerings to include sales and marketing operations.”

JAYDA GONZALES (BA) searched for a career that would offer flexibility to be committed to her marriage and future children and that would align with the traditions of her ancestors, including minimalism and essentialism. Jayda’s company, Containment Home Organizing, helps transform the spaces of clients throughout the Coachella Valley in California. “I am beyond thankful for my education at USD,” she says.

SOLOMON-DANE (“BABY”) HOOD (BA) has been performing in local theater productions and working with X/Nihilo Films for upcoming television shows and movies.

GEORGE HOTALING (MSGL) has started his own business as a financial adviser with Edward Jones.

DIPSHIKA KARKI (MASI) writes, “My journey at USD to obtain my master’s in social innovation has been one of the best decisions of my life!” Dipshika has started a social enterprise that aims to employ youth in San Diego.

PATRICIO KEEGAN (MBA) moved to Atlanta to work as a business development manager at TECME, a medical device company that manufactures mechanical ventilators for intensive care units. In March 2019, Patricio was promoted to global marketing director and is responsible for the global strategy of the company.

ROBERT KNECHT (MAIR) is currently activated in support of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve at Camp Pendleton. He was appointed coordinator for the 2019 Global Goals World Cup via the United Nations Association San Diego and is developing a business startup in sustainable energy development.

HANNAH KURTIN (BA) is in the MEd dual credential program at USD’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences.

CHRISTIANA LAYMAN (BA) started her business as a fine jewelry designer in 2015. She works exclusively with genuine stones along with sustainably sourced, high-quality metals such as 14K gold and sterling silver. “The jewelry I create is inspired by my travels and the raw beauty of the natural world,” she says.

SARAH MacINNES (BA) finished her first year teaching world history and AP world history at a high school in San Jose, California.

TANISHA-JEAN MARTIN (MA) set the record at USD in 2018 for the most USD awards presented to a graduating student. She has applied to USD’s PhD program to further research her newly developed theory around climate-conscious leadership.

ALISON MATTIAS (BNS) spent a gap year after graduating, gaining work experience in the medical field at St. Joseph Hospital, and plans to apply to physician assistant school.

JANAIRA QUIGLEY (MSGL) is the program manager for Meals on Wheels San Diego County and is running pilots for a startup social enterprise.

MICHAEL RASHMIR (JD) took the California bar exam in February 2019 and expected to complete an LLM in taxation in May 2019.

RILEY READ (BA) has been working as an ophthalmic assistant while applying to physician assistant school.

DYLAN VALDIVIA (BBA) was hired by Show Imaging, a vendor of USD events.


ROBERT ORNELAZ (BA) has been preparing for his transition to graduate school at the University of Vermont in pursuit of an MEd in higher education and student affairs administration.

KATIE ROBINSON-FILIPP (MS) was selected by California Sea Grant as one of 23 recipients for the prestigious state fellowship program. During her fellowship with the State Lands Commission, Katie is working with the science policy team on environmental justice and projects related to sea level rise. For Katie’s master’s studies in marine science at USD, her thesis examined differences in the diet of the California killifish in a natural and created marsh habitat, using gut content and stable isotope analysis.


E-mail: classnotes@sandiego.edu

Website: www.sandiego.edu/usdmag

U.S. Mail: USD Magazine Class Notes, University of San Diego, Department of University Publications, 5998 Alcalá Park, San Diego, CA 92110

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