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Maja De Garay ‘21, G’21, an English adolescence education/special education major, might have spent a lot of time reading and writing about great literature, but that’s not the only way she spent her time while at Saint Rose. De Garay spent several weeks volunteering with The Office of Spiritual Life on Alternative Spring Break Trips to San Francisco (and even had the chance to lead a trip). She also studied abroad in London, England.

De Garay received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees while at Saint Rose, so her next move is to receive a teaching job, but she also has aspirations to work in social work or at a nonprofit someday. We recently caught up with De Garay to ask about her Saint Rose experience and future plans. Here’s what she had to say:

List any clubs/organizations you joined while at Saint Rose:

  • Alternative Spring Breaks: Student Leader for San Francisco Trip
  • Kappa Delta Pi — Education Honor Society
  • Sigma Tau Delta — English Honor Society 
  • Friday Knights
  • Study Abroad: Regent’s University in London
  • PACE Tutoring Program

What is your favorite memory of Saint Rose?
My favorite memory of Saint Rose is leading the Alternative Spring Break Trip to San Francisco. I had attended the San Francisco trip twice and was asked to lead on my third time. Working with Joan Horgan, director of spiritual life, to plan and organize the trip and build the team, was such a valuable experience. It was incredible to be able to share one of the most eye-opening and important experiences of my life with others, and the team was like family by the end of the week. And, luckily, we got home just a couple of days before the pandemic started! 

What have you learned through the pandemic?
The biggest thing I have learned through the pandemic is that it is okay to slow down and take things one day at a time. 

What is the best class you took at Saint Rose, and why?
“Poetry in Performance” with Dan Nester, associate professor of English. This class pushed me out of my comfort zone and strengthened my love for performance poetry. Dan Nester’s style of teaching made the class incredibly fun and engaging, and he is easily one of my favorite professors. I even used what I learned in this class with my creative writing students during my first student teaching placement! 

What are your future plans?
My plans are to stay in the area and apply to teaching jobs! My goal is to find a position teaching English at the high school level. I also hope to go back to school for a second master’s degree in either social work or nonprofit management. 

What did Saint Rose teach you?
Saint Rose taught me to challenge my comfort zone, and that it is always worth it to try new things. 

Who was your best professor, and why?
Frances Ihle. I took many classes with Dr. Ihle for the ASPIRE program and had her as my advisor all five years. She is an incredible professor and her passion for her work is contagious. She was always there to support us and I know I will carry her classes with me throughout my career. 

What is your advice for incoming students?
Hang out on the quad on warm days! Some of my favorite memories are when after winter, on the first warm days, everyone would hang out outside and do work and play games. Also, make friends with the people in your program. You’ll likely be with them in classes all four years, and they’ll make big projects and late library study nights so much better! 

You can find more stories about our Class of 2021 and Class of 2020 graduates in the upcoming Saint Rose Magazine.

By Caroline Murray

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