Spring 2022 Class Notes

student ponders beauty at usd



MARY (WILLIAMS) SCHALLER (BA) writes, “My latest book, written during the COVID pandemic lockdown, was released in June 2021. It is titled, The Most Improbable International Cricket Team Ever. It is the true story of a group of teens who wanted to learn how to play cricket and then to actually play a game in England — all in five months. I was the manager for this team. Both the Library of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia, as well as the global cricket headquarters at the Marylebone Cricket Club in England requested copies of my book for their permanent collections. I am absolutely thrilled by this international response.”


VERN SCHOOLEY (JD) reports that he is still practicing IP law full time and is having fun. He says he was recently presented with the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen Award at the U.S. Supreme Court, CAFC Judge Richard Linn presenting. He also acts as counselor for the Ball/Hunt/ Schooley Inn of Court in Long Beach and the Judge Paul R. Michel Intellectual Property Inn in Los Angeles. He continues to blend his professional life with his social life, including recent travel with the Long Beach State basketball team to his alma mater, Michigan State University, weekly games of tennis, and ski trips this winter to Park City, Utah and Aspen, Colorado, as well as scuba diving in the South Pacific and Caribbean.  



EUGENE ALKANA (JD) writes, “My twins, Robert and Rebecca, finished law school. Rebecca took the February bar and is now practicing. Robert is awaiting his results from the July bar. I am awaiting retirement!”


GILBERT CARRASCO (BA) has been appointed visiting professor of law to teach Constitutional Law I and II at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, California.


ALICE GONZALEZ (BAC) writes, “I’ve lived in beautiful San Diego all my life. I retired from being a Catholic school teacher. I’m enjoying rediscovering San Diego, traveling and volunteering in my community!!!”

DAVID MOUSSETTE (BBA), ’81 (JD) is still living in Williamsburg, Virginia, near his grandsons, who are now 9 and 11 years old. He is involved in the York County Historical Committee in the local area, which also contains Yorktown and Jamestown. “Staying healthy and close to home due to the pandemic,” he says.

JAMES E. STANT JR. (MA), ’78 (MEd) writes, “After 20 years in the Marine Corps, I became a high school teacher in the Oceanside Unified School District, working at both Oceanside (15 years) and El Camino (14 years) high schools. I coached girls basketball at both schools as well as at The Bishops School, San Dieguito Academy, Mission Vista, Fallbrook and Tri City Christian. I retired from teaching at El Camino in 2005. In 2006, I was recruited to be the conference commissioner for the North County Conference. I served in this position until June of 2020. I cannot believe how much USD has grown since I was there. My community service, after 63 years, is finally over.”


JOAN STEIDINGER (BA) has been named a fellow of the Association of Applied Sports Psychology. “My second book on female athletes was released during the pandemic,” she writes. It is titled, Stand and Shout Out: Women’s Fight for Equal Pay, Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities.



ED MCPHERSON (JD) says he was once again honored in Billboard magazine as one of the top music lawyers for 2021. He reports that he also recently celebrated an important victory for Travis Scott in a copyright infringement case.


PAUL DAVIS (BA), ’08 (MS) is living in Waukegan, Illinois, an hour north of Chicago. He is the owner and operator of Spotless Cleaning, a residential and commercial cleaning business.

MARK HOEKSTRA (BBA) is in his second year as a member of cohort 22 of USD’s Master’s in Executive Leadership (MSEL) program.

JANINE MASON (BA), ’11 (MA) recently created and launched the Nonprofit Board Exchange to expand and equalize opportunities for nonprofit board recruitment and service. The site also lists local training opportunities on board governance and other resources for those wanting to learn more about serving as a volunteer board member.


CHRISTOPHER WELLBORN (JD) was sworn in as second vice president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) at the association’s annual meeting in the summer of 2021. He is a solo criminal defense practitioner defending people in South Carolina accused of crimes ranging from misdemeanors to felony charges in state and federal courts throughout the country.


ROSEMARY COATES (MBA) is the executive director of the Reshoring Institute. “We help companies bring manufacturing back to America,” she says.

STEVE SLOCUM (MEd) retired from 35 years in public education working as a teacher, counselor and administrator. “I will be forever grateful for the time I spent at USD and the education I received there, which helped make my time as an educator fun, personally fulfilling and successful,” he writes.


HOLLY (WOODRUFF) LYONS (JD) is retiring from public service after nearly 20 years of working for the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Aviation as staff director and senior counsel. She adds, “Now off to Florida!”


SCOTT MAXWELL (BBA) has joined the Thomas More Society as director of development. He reports that the society is a “not-for-profit, national public interest law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family and religious liberty. They provide high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way to the United States Supreme Court.” 


TERENCE BANICH (BA) has been practicing law in Chicago since 1999 and is a partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, focusing on insolvency, restructuring and related litigation. “My wife, Katherine, and I live in Winnetka, a northern suburb of Chicago, and have two daughters, Sadie (8) and Eloise (6),” he writes.

RICHARD STOUT (JD) reports that on Sept. 1, 2021, he was appointed to the position of county counsel for the County of Colusa.


JULIE BAIRD (BBA) was promoted to president of First American Exchange Company, a division of First American Title Company.

JENNIFER BOWHEY (BA) writes, “My husband and I moved from Seattle to the Virginia Coast with our daughters for a new lifestyle! We started Lighthouse Family Services Inc., then bought Visiting Angels Kilmarnock. We are the largest in-home care company in the area and the third largest employer in the region. We love people care! We strive to be the best with both our clients and our employees. If you have loved ones needing care, call us. If you’re simply in town, we’d love to see students or alumni any time!”

REGAN MOLATORE (BA) writes, “I finished my eighth and final year as a twice-elected member of the West Linn-Wilsonville School District in Oregon in June of 2021. I have greatly valued the education I received in this district, at USD and at the University of Oregon School of Law. I was glad to have earned this opportunity to give back in support of the public K-12 education of the students in my community.”

GUADALUPE RODRIGUEZ CORONA (MA), ’10 (EdD) is the director of the Office of Student Equity Programs and Services at Southwestern Community College.


BRUCE PLEAT (MBA) has joined Randstad Technologies as a client partner.


DINA DAVALLE (JD) heads up Booz Allen’s general legal team, overseeing global real estate, international sourcing and corporate affairs.



MANDI URBAN-LESTER (JD), ’03 (MEd) was selected as the College of Lake County’s (CLC) Outstanding Adjunct Faculty of the Year for 2021. In June, she was awarded the prestigious Illinois Community College Trust Association’s 2021 award for Outstanding Adjunct Faculty of the Year. She is an adjunct faculty member and specialist writing tutor at CLC and teaches a specialized section of critical thinking focused on U.S. Supreme Court cases.


JUSTIN ALMEIDA (BA) graduated with a master’s in divinity from Seattle University and was ordained as a Unitarian Universalist minister serving as a palliative care/hospice chaplain.


JESSICA BECK (BA) is a BBC producer who was honored with a Gracie Award for best producer for ”Snapshots from Black America” for World at One on BBC Radio 4. The Gracie Awards recognize exemplary programming for, by and about women in radio, television, cable and interactive media. She is currently working for the BBC World Service as the producer for National Public Radio’s London correspondent, Frank Langfitt. 

BASIL KONGWAH CONSIDINE (BA) writes, “The Society for American Music has awarded me its John and Roberta Graziano Fellowship, as well as the Hampsong Education Fellowship in American Song!”

JENNIFER PRETAK (BA) writes that she became “a newly employed full-time faculty member at USD, beginning August 2021!”

GEORDIE RAUCH (BA) sends this note: “Yo, just trying to get back with some of you. T-Bone! Pat Cates! Doug Warren (you called me for a reference), Dan, Justin, all you people I have no contacts for. I’m not on the social stuff!”

 MELISSA SHOTELL (BA) reports that she and her husband, Michael Scherer, were chosen to represent the technology revolution in dentistry. In June of 2021, they became the first husband-and-wife team to pose for the cover of Dentistry Today, a leading dental periodical. Melissa is an orthodontist and practices with her husband, who is a prosthodontist, in Sonora, California. They spend much of their time teaching digital advancements in dentistry. 


ROBERTO A. FIERRO (BA) says he was recently named a partner at a Washington, D.C., government relations firm, and adds, “We welcomed our second child last year.”


LT. COL. RYAN LITTLE (JD) recently returned from a deployment to Saudi Arabia, where he served as the senior attorney representing the U.S. to the Saudi military as it responded to a series of attacks by Iran. Ryan currently serves as the chief of international humanitarian law for U.S. Central Command, which commands all U.S. forces across the Middle East and Afghanistan. Previously, he served as deputy general counsel and assistant professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.


CALEB HELDT (BA) recently had a book on the early philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre published with Palgrave-MacMillan entitled, Immanence and Illusion in Sartre’s Ontology of Consciousness. He says, “The book offers a novel interpretation of Sartre’s fundamental philosophy of being, challenging the orthodox views, which have predominated in both the Francophone and Anglophone worlds for the better part of three-quarters of a century.”


SPENCER HOLLISON (BA) reports, “I have two children, Burke (3) and Ingrid (6). My wife is a high school teacher. I own a business franchise on the California central coast. Apex Leadership Co. is a leadership and fitness fundraising organization that helps schools raise funds across the country.”

IROQUOIS JOHNSON (BA) reports that she had her first child, a girl named Peyton, on July 28, 2018. She received her master’s of science degree in regulatory affairs and services on December 20, 2019 from Saint Cloud University. She says she married Denis Johnson in Kauai, Hawaii on February 2, 2020. Her second child, Kai, was born on April 22, 2020.


CLAYTON AUSTIN (BAC) says that he continues to work in health care administration. He spends his free time coaching his sons’ youth sports year round: Football, basketball and baseball. “I use sports to teach our youth life lessons and to build character,” he notes.

CLAUDIA LLAMAS (BA) graduated in June 2021 with a certificate and associate’s degree in American Sign Language (ASL). “I am excited to continue to use this language to communicate with the deaf community!” she writes.

SHEENIKA SHAH GANDHI (BA/BBA) reports that she and her husband bought their first home in Whittier, California.

KIMBERLY WRIGHT (BA) reports, “On Aug. 19, 2021, my husband, Jason Wright ’09 and I welcomed our sweet baby girl, Tera Anne Wright, into this world!”


KAILA MANGRUM (BA), ’12 (MA) started the doctorate of occupational therapy program at the University of Nevada Las Vegas in May 2021. She will be part of the 2024 graduating class and plans to work in pediatrics and specialize in athletic prosthetics.



MICHELLE CHAVEZ (BA) earned her PhD in higher education from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in August 2020.

SERENA ROMERO (BA) was named news director of the ABC affiliate in Rochester, New York.


JOHNNY CUSHING (BA) reports that he is a F-35 Contract Instructor Pilot at Miramar with Lockheed Martin.

NICOLE (DEFELICE) DRZAL (BA) says that she and Brandon Drzal welcomed their first child, Liliana “Lily” Mae Drzal on Feb. 4, 2021. Lily is niece and goddaughter to Jeffrey DeFelice ’16.

JOHN MORENO (BA) says he retired from the United States Marine Corps on January 1, 2022 after “23 years of faithful service.” He is excited to begin his next career serving as a program manager for the nonprofit, Advanced Technology International, located near Charleston, South Carolina. 

MAGGIE SAMUELSON (BBA) writes, “Just got married in July 2021 after postponing our 2020 wedding date. Currently the assistant director of operations for the family business and eventually going to take over the company.”

JUDY (JARNIGAN) WHITE (MSN), ’15 (PhD) writes, “After 42 years in nursing, I am now using that knowledge to start my own health coach business. I love helping others and I get to make wonderful new relationships that last far beyond the hospital stay. Taking care of others does take a village, and I am excited that I have such an active role in moving our world forward!”


KELLI HAGAN (BA), ’20 (MEd) graduated from USD’s Master’s of Education program in May 2020 and is teaching a class this semester at USD on public speaking, having previously taught a public relations and social media pop-up course.

DIANNE MCCAFFERTY (MSN)  Relocated to Midland, Texas, for a new position as a clinical informaticist II for Cerner Corporation.

CHEYENNE MCCARTHY (BA) reports that she graduated as valedictorian from Palmer College of Chiropractic in March 2021 and works as a Doctor of Chiropractic in San Diego’s North County. “I look forward to establishing an integrative, multidisciplinary health care campus in the future,” she says.


LISA HAWTHORNE (PhD) reports that she accepted the job of director/dean of nursing education at Louisiana State University in January 2019. In that role, she manages the associate of science in nursing program at the Eunice and Lafayette campuses.

KATE (PARTYNSKI) EMERY (BA ‘13) and Joe Emery ’11 (BS/BA) tied the knot in San Diego in October 2021. Many Toreros were in attendance, including mom Maureen Partynski ‘82 (a past president of the USD Alumni Association) and several of the wedding party and guests.

JACQUELINE RODIO (MSGL) received her doctorate in education from the University of Southern California and currently serves as the director of Business Administration at the University of California, Los Angeles. She reports that she and her husband, Jared ’14 (MSRE), live in Orange County with their two daughters, Allie and Areline.

VANESSA RYAN (MSN) reports, “Our first baby boy was born in June 2021 (hopefully a future USD student)!” She is currently working as a diabetes care coordinator at Kaiser San Marcos.

JONATHAN SALT (JD) was promoted to partner at the education law firm of Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost, LLP.

WAYNE WAGNER (MS) sends well wishes to his MSEL cohort from 2013. He says, “A finer group of Toreros you will not come across.”


QUINTIN BROWN (BAC) reports, “My wife and I upgraded from a condo to a house this summer, then we welcomed our long-awaited twin babies into our new home shortly thereafter. USD football training camp adequately prepared me for this level of sleep deprivation.”

KATHY PENICHE (BAC) has been working at SDG&E since graduating with her accounting degree. She writes, “I have moved away from accounting and am currently a regulatory case manager working on clean energy policy initiatives for SDG&E.”

ROCIO TISDELL (MS) writes, “I recently made the leap from the nonprofit sector in agency-oriented recruiting and staff training programs to an in-house role with Birchbox’s people and culture team. It’s a remote, six-month contract, so I’m treating it like a graduate internship experience as I figure out where it will take me next!”


EBTESAM ALTENEIJI (MA), ’20 (PhD) was recently appointed as the director of the UAE University Center for Public Policy and Leadership.

ERIC JACOBS (MA) reports, “My wife and I just had our first child, a little boy. So a new adventure in our lives has begun.”

TAYLOR RICHARDSON (BBA) married in August 2020 and celebrated with family and friends at a one-year anniversary party in August 2021.

ALLISON SOARES (LLM) was recently appointed by San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria to the City of San Diego’s Balboa Park Committee and was officially confirmed by the San Diego City Council in August 2021.


ELIZABETH (STENGER) BALBIN (BA) reports that she married Maxwell Balbin on September 18, 2021 in the couple’s home church in Oakland, California. She adds, “after teaching middle school for five years, I transitioned into the nonprofit sector as a learning and evaluation associate, working with the unhoused and unsheltered in San Francisco.” 

KAYLA DENNIS (MSN) writes, “I cannot begin to express my gratitude for the training I received at the USD School of Nursing. I am the nurse I am today because of the MEPN program. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

HENLEY DOHERTY (BA), ’20 (MEd) was recently hired as a seventh-grade English Language Arts teacher at R. Roger Rowe Middle School in San Diego, after completing her master’s in education at USD.

KEENAN O’CONNOR (JD) joined the San Diego office of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore in July of 2021.

JOLINE MANN (BBA) writes, “Since graduation, I’ve worked in the B2B software market and medical industry in various roles and projects.”

LORI SILVA (MS) has relocated from her home in San Diego to Roy, Utah.


GRISELDA ESCOBEDO (MSN) writes, “I’m working in my new job at Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center with UCSD Health! I am a registered nurse in a progressive care unit that cares for patients with cardiovascular disease.”

INDIRA GALVEZ (BA) is the press secretary for Ally Dalsimer, a progressive Democrat who is running for Congress in VA-11.

CONOR P. McLAUGHLIN (PhD) began a new role as the program coordinator for the College Student Personnel program in Bowling Green State University’s Department of Higher Education and Student Affairs. Conor has been serving as a faculty member in the department since 2018.

MONSERRAT LOPEZ (BA)  writes, “I published my first song as an artist regarding my experience leaving my long-term abusive relationship. I want to empower people to understand that no relationship is the same and some people are able to leave their relationships faster than others, and that’s OK. Nothing is wrong with you, it’s a difficult cycle, but you do have the power to break it.”


JESSICA POLAK (BA) recently completed her third year in optometry school at the Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University in Fullerton, California. “I’m excited to share that I have passed the NBEO Part 1 of board certification with flying colors and am now a fourth-year student completing my first clinical rotation in Tucson, Arizona,” she writes.

ERNESTO REYES (BA) reports that his first child was born on May 1, 2021.

DOMINIC RIOS (MEd) writes, “I recently appeared on Jeopardy! It was the thrill of a lifetime and something I will not soon forget!”

RAMONA WALLACE (BA)  was admitted to the Global Field Program at Miami University in Summer 2021. As part of her first Earth Expeditions course, she traveled to Belize and studied coral reefs, manatees, howler monkeys, jaguars and other wildlife while learning the methods communities are using to sustain them. 


JESSICA DEMIRDJIAN (MS), ’21 (MS) has continued to work full time at the County of San Diego while finishing two master’s degrees in Accountancy and Taxation at USD. “In January 2020, I started my own business, Lotus Accounting and Tax Services, providing reasonably priced services for San Diego residents and business owners.”

TAYYIBA KHAN (LLM) reports she has been working with immigration consultancy firm since February 2020. “It’s a wonderful experience.”

LT. CMDR. BRENDA MORGAN (MSN) recently started a job in Naples, Italy.

SUSIE TAYLOR (BBA), ’21 (MA) is working for Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty. She says, “My partner and I recently put our Carmel Valley listing into escrow after it was featured in The New York Times.” She followed up with the following note: “In light of Homecoming and the season of giving, I am committing to donate to USD for the remainder of the 2021 Fall semester. I was lucky enough to complete both my undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of San Diego after being recruited from Australia to compete for the women’s rowing team. I had the best experience as a Torero student athlete and couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunities that USD has provided for me.”

JOSHUA WILSON (BA) reports welcoming his first child on June 14, 2021, “a healthy baby boy named Jack.”



DHALIA BALMIR (MA) writes, “I am a solo entrepreneur and my business focuses on racial equity consulting and coaching and grant management for nonprofits.” She plans to start working toward a PhD at USD in Fall 2021, in the education for social justice program.

TATIANA BARBONE (BS) began working as a software engineer at Dell Technologies in August 2021.

NICOLE SABATINO (BA) has been working for a nonprofit, the Disabled American Veterans. She says, “I would love to connect with my fellow alumni and veterans.” 

In memoriam

AVI BERGMAN ’89 (MBA)  passed away on June 18, 2021.

THOMAS I. GREEN ’83 (JD), a father, grandfather, great-grandfather and Army veteran, with careers in international law and business, passed away peacefully in the company of his family.

ROBERT INFANTINO, professor emeritus of education, has passed away. He was a lifelong educator, faithful husband and loving father who was dedicated to serving his community. He joined USD’s growing School of Education in 1976 as director of teacher education, and over the next 31 years, mentored thousands of future educators, administrators, and professors. He was a scholar of secondary teacher education, character education and ethics in the teaching profession. He served many leadership roles in local, state and national professional organizations. As an author and creative writer, Bob especially enjoyed teaching writing as a process. He was a committed Catholic who was active in the Cursillo movement, Ignatian Volunteer Corps, and the Interfaith Shelter Network. He directed and accompanied the St. Catherine Labouré music group for more than 40 years. He is survived by Ginger, his wife of 59 years, and by six children, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.  

CHARLES L THOMECZEK ’58 (BBA) passed away on March 5, 2021.

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