Latest Event Updates

Sunday in Seattle: Adventure on a Budget

Posted on

I have lived in Washington for over a year and a half, but until last weekend, I had never really explored Seattle before. It’s something that I have always wanted to do but had never done. Previously, the most “Seattle” interaction that I had were my frequent visits to SafeCo Field to root on the Mariners (unless they were playing the Angels, which I would be decked out in red cheering on good ol’ Mike Trout). My point is, something that we are so lucky to have at Saint Martin’s University is being only one hour away from Seattle. We take it for granted, but if we just make that drive up the 5, there is a plethora of things to do off campus. Here’s what I did with my Sunday off.

Meet my friends, Jenn, Lexi, and Hannah! We are ready to take on the day!

We began our day by going to mass at Saint James’ Cathedral. In awe of its exterior beauty, we took pictures outside. Little did we know that the inside was just as beautiful! We even had the opportunity to bring up the gifts for communion!

Saint James Cathedral in downtown Seattle

Next, we took on the streets to walk to the S.A.M., aka the Seattle Art Museum. The walk wasn’t bad at all, but it helped to have a little coffee first 🙂 Such a classic Washingtonian move…


Once we got to the Seattle Art Museum, we were entered a world full of classic and modern art. Many exhibits included religious pieces, focused on the world’s historical journey to knowledge, or brought up political issues such as human migration. My favorite exhibit of them all was the “Seeing Nature” collection of European and American paintings of landscape.

Did you know that you can get a student discount to the S.A.M. with your school ID?

After visiting the S.A.M., we walked to Pike Place Market and explored to our hearts’ content. The fish throwing, the gum wall, the colorful murals, the music, and food were all remarkable to witness. Even the very first Starbucks Coffee shop had a story to tell. It was so fascinating to see a myriad of cultures come together in a common place. To experience Seattle is to get a glimpse of the world and the people who inhabit it.

At the end of the day, it cost about $25 dollars for a day of exciting adventure. It’s not something that I could do every weekend, but for a college student like me, it was a relatively inexpensive way to get off campus and spend quality time with my best friends. As a student at SMU, I believe that we are really fortunate to have such a wide variety of recreational opportunities around us. For more information about student life and things to do outside of campus, please visit our website:


Home Away From Home

Posted on Updated on

When I was a first-year student, I remember driving back to campus from a dinner off campus with my friends after a long day of school. In the middle of our candid conversations and laughter, I remember saying, “When we get home, we should go to Parsons’ Store”. In that moment, I realized that this was the first time I had referred to Saint Martin’s University as “home”.

Calling a place that isn’t where you are from as “home” is a scary thing because it isn’t actually home. Doing this is truly an exhilarating experience because you feel so many emotions including fear, a little bit of disappointment in yourself for betraying the place that you have lived previously, but also a little bit of joy. As a first-year student, it was the first sign that I was beginning to absolutely love SMU. Every college student goes through this phase where you stop calling it just your room in your residence hall and transition into calling it your home. It is almost like a rite of passage! As a student, I fell in love with the people, my surroundings, and the values that the university upholds. I have learned that home isn’t just the place where you live, but it’s where you surround yourself with people that you love and feel like you belong.

On a separate note, last weekend, I travelled with my softball team to sunny Southern California, the place where I had grown up for eighteen years of my life. It is my

Two of my brothers at my games in San Diego.

original home where my family lives, my roots are, and where I am most happy. I had a wonderful time having my parents, my brothers, and the rest of my family in the stands to watch our games. Being able to spend time with them outside of softball was special too. Even though I was disappointed to have two of our games cancelled on Monday, February 6, my team and I were able to go to Disneyland

Two of my brothers meeting up with me at Disneyland.

(which if you know me, this was really exciting). Everything about being in Southern California just felt right. But despite all this, when I talked about being at Saint Martin’s University, I would still call it “home”.

It’s so crazy to think that you can call two places home. Being able to have a place to call home is special, but the fact that I have two places to call home makes me the luckiest gal in the world. Saint Martin’s University has provided me with so many opportunities to grow and succeed, and for that I am thankful. I love living on a floor such as the Norcia Leadership Community to help me discover who I was meant to be, having teammates that always hold me to a higher standard, and being a part of a university that creates the feeling that you are part of a family. I am so fortunate to be able to call this wonderful place as my home away from home, and I hope that you feel the same way.

Saint Martin’s University: Home Away from Home

A Taste of Brazil!

Posted on

Ligia Karazawa and Andrew Zimmern at the student reception discussing how food and travel has influence them.

This year, I was able to attend this year’s Saint Martin’s University annual gala for the first time as a Social Squad member. This university event was blessed to have Travel Network’s Andrew Zimmern from Bizarre Foods, and Eataly Brazil’s Ligia Karazawa as the celebrity chefs to emphasize this year’s theme of “A Taste of Brazil!” I started my day by attending the “Meet the Chefs” student reception in the Trautman Union Building, and the chefs were utterly personable and kind.

Would you try the insects?

Following the student reception, my fellow Social Squad members covered the gala reception in the Charneski Recreation Center. Decorated to the theme, blues, greens, and purples covered every corner, a Brazilian band played live music, and there was even a “Bizarre Foods Market” where guests could try edible insects! Then, the main event featured a dinner hosted by our two celebrity chefs, involved a live auction, and was just a delight to be able to watch unfold.

The gala was truly an eye-opening experience that allowed me to not only practice my social media communication skills by helping to cover the event, but it also allowed me to revisit the ideas about why I am at Saint Martin’s University and how student scholarships affect me. For those who are not familiar to what the gala is, it is an annual fundraiser that seeks to raise money for student scholarships through guests’ generous donations and support. The gala celebrates our school’s core value of community by bringing people together to enjoy food and wine, and it also emphasizes two of the Benedictine values, hospitality and stewardship. From the outside, this event is to raise money, but for students, it is more than that. The annual gala, fosters dreams and inspires the future.

Community, one of the university’s core themes, is celebrated at the annual gala.



As the eldest of four children in my family, I knew that I needed to go to college, and it was important to me knowing that I would be attending a school where it was affordable but also a place where I could push myself to succeed. Being expected to go to college from

These are my brothers, Trevor, Garrett, Nolan, and our dog Jessie.

my parents wasn’t the sole reason that I went, but because I expected it from myself to set an example for my younger brothers. We live in a world where people tell you “you can’t”. They say “you can’t go to this school because you aren’t smart enough”, “you can’t get this degree because there are no jobs available”, or “you can’t go to college because we can’t afford it”, but really we should be cultivating a world where people tell you “you can”. I want my brothers to know that “you can get into your reach school”, “you can be a doctor if  you work hard”, “you can and will be able to pay for school with the help of scholarships”, and especially “yes, you can achieve your dreams and make a difference in the world”. It is interesting to see my three younger brothers discover themselves and their own capabilities from afar. Not only are they learning from my mistakes, but also they are following my own footsteps. They are involved with sports, volunteer work, student leadership, honor societies, and they are getting good grades. I don’t say that to talk about how great I am, but to describe how my actions affect their lives and their futures. They can see that going to a university that can be made affordable is possible, and Saint Martin’s University fosters that idea for all of its students. All in all, scholarships allow students like me to have the opportunity set an example for future generations; the generation that will become educators, politicians, and scientists, so that the cycle can continue for many more years to come.

From my experience with the gala, I find it truly amazing to witness people who are willing to invest in my education.To all of the generous donors and sponsors of the #SMUGala, thank you. I appreciate everything that you do to help further the educations of students past, present, and future.Thank you so much.

Thank you to everyone who raised their paddle during “Feed-a-Mind”.

Without the help of student scholarships, I would not be at Saint Martin’s University, a place where I can discover what kind of person that I want to be and develop upon my skills. As a social squad member with dreams of working for the Walt Disney Company, I want to be a storyteller; someone who documents the beauty of having community and someone who shines a light on the goodness of people. SMU provides the opportunities that I need to grow, and an environment that sets me up for future success so that I may achieve my dreams. At the end of the day, with the help of gracious donors and sponsors, the gala supports student scholarships, but student scholarships help inspire people.





After the gala, we, Social Squad members, were lucky enough to get a picture with Andrew Zimmern! This was a great night!

Thankful for Family Weekend

Posted on Updated on

When I was first dropped off at college as a first-year student, I was so excited to have my first taste of freedom. It wasn’t because I was excited to leave California and not see my family anymore, but because it was something that was different. I love being at Saint Martin’s University for the community I have formed here, but as time goes on, I can’t help but miss my family. For the longest time, I have been wishing that they could come

Hundreds of people filled the Norman Worthington Conference Center for Family Weekend.

up to Washington to truly experience why I love Saint Martin’s so much; last weekend, Family Weekend allowed me to do that.

That weekend, around 300 people filled the Norman Worthington Conference Center despite the stormy weather that hit the Pacific Northwest, and one of those people was my mom. She flew in from California to join me in the festivities and we both had a great time. The event itself promoted one of the university’s core value of community, and it was really interesting to see how so many Saint families came together to participate in Saint Martin’s University culture. The event began with a luncheon where families were able to meet each other and mingle with SMU faculty. Here, President Heynderickx talked about what has been happening around the university,

The Watson and the Wesselman Families enjoying their time at the events.

including social events and the midterms that are upon us students, and Abbot Neal talked about how he began his journey at Saint Martin’s as well as his role in the abbey community. The big tables at the event were provided a welcoming environment. I was fortunate enough to sit with the Watson family and the Wesselman family. We talked about future careers, what it’s like when we are home, why we are at this university, and  so on and so on. I loved getting to know them and forming these friendships that will carry me through college and beyond.

Following lunch, families were invited to attend SMU Bingo, various “University 101” presentations by

Families of both faculty members and students attended

professors, the women’s volleyball game, and wine, dine, and cider with the deans. These events really allowed me to give my mom a taste of SMU culture, as well as meet and hang out with the other people! The coolest part of it all was learning where every SMU family came from. What amazes me is that if it weren’t for Saint Martin’s, I would have never met so many interesting students and families. People from Hawaii, Indiana, California, Washington, Alaska, and even international students come together to celebrate education and community. And that is incredible.

I am so thankful for family weekend. I missed my dad, my mom, my three brothers, and my dog, but even having just my mom here that weekend really helped make that longing a little more bearable. Our first family weekend as a university was a success, and I can’t wait to see what is to come.

Mommy and Me 🙂

Leadership: Something for You and Me

Posted on Updated on

“Leadership comes in all shapes and sizes, even in from the people you least expect it from. Leadership isn’t just for the extroverts; it can come from anyone…”  Someone told me this during my freshman year and it is something that I will never forget. It sticks with me because it was an original idea that had never crossed my mind, but proves to be true. Saint Martin’s University produces great leaders who are changing the world because of the unique opportunities it provides, and I hope that I am one of them.

Members of the Norcia floor celebrating community, one of the core themes discussed during the Benedictine Leaders Program.

One of the unique programs that Saint Martin’s provides for students is the Benedictine Leaders Program (BLP). BLP consists of two phases that focus on the university’s four core themes, faith, reason, service and community, to help students discover where their strengths are and how they can apply them. It also allows the students to reflect upon how the four core themes affect their lives, and how to lead with integrity. Many leadership positions on campus, including orientation leaders, AHANA mentors, Norcia mentors, club officers and resident assistants, require BLP completion. As someone who has
participated in phase 1 of BLP, I am glad that I had the opportunity to participate in the process

AHANA leaders use their knowledge of reason and service to help educate first-year students about diversity.

because I met some of my best friends during the program, and because it has helped set me up for success during my time a Saint Martin’s, as well as out in the world. Students of all ages, personalities and talents (even the people I never would have formally guessed to pursue leadership positions), gather for a common goal and have proven to be some of the best leaders I know.

To sign up for the Benedictine Leaders Program, visit

What It’s Like To Be Faithful Me

Posted on Updated on

“Faith, Reason, Service, and Community” Banners

Each morning, I have the same routine before classes. I make some tea, take a shower and change, get my softball bag ready for the afternoon, and head off to class. Sometimes, I have my nose in a book trying to finish up the assigned reading before class, but usually I walk out of the residence hall with my head up, admiring the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. On the way to class, I read the same banners every day. These banners hang off of the lampposts and each read “Faith”, “Reason”, “Service”, and “Community”.

They remain there as a simple reminder that these are our school’s core themes.

In preparation for the year 2020 (the year that the school will celebrate its 125th anniversary as an institution), President Roy Heynderickx has announced that each year leading up to the event, the school will revisit each of the core themes. President Heynderickx has officially deemed this year to be the “Year of Faith“.

Well, what does that mean to me? Everything.

Before coming to Saint Martin’s University my knowledge of the word faith was very narrow, but the more time I spend here on campus, the more my own definition expands. It is incredible to realize how much personal growth that a person can experience in college.

As a part of the Benedictine Scholars Program, it is my job to serve as an ambassador for the Benedictine traditions and values that the school was founded upon. For the past few months, the scholars have researched and have redefined what each value means to them. It is very interesting to hear all of the different inputs from other scholars who come from different religions and backgrounds, and these discussions have really opened my eyes. By

Benedictine Scholars of Cohorts I, II, III and IV at their annual retreat

working together and discussing all of our ideas, we are able to find ways to preserve these values that are so near and dear to the university. Overall, faith is having trust in something bigger than ourselves, whether it is in people, politics, social, or in a higher being. People of all faiths have gathered at our University not just for their religion, but for the culture that is cultivated at Saint Martin’s University. As a young Catholic adult attending a Benedictine Catholic university, my faith in my religion has been carried to a new level since I first arrived in Lacey. With having an Abbey Church on campus, it has become easy for me to access the faith-guided resources that I need on campus. We often become so lost in what material possessions that we have or the drama that fills our lives, that we forget about our purpose in life, which is to be the best people that we can be. Being able to participate in programs for interfaith dialogue, and becoming educated on the faiths has really expanded my views on the world that surrounds me. I have always been interested in learning about what others believe in, and being able to have the resources to meet and welcome others of different religious faiths is what helps make Saint Martin’s University unique! Along with this, being able have personal conversations about life or the symbolic meaning of a piece of art with Father Kilian is incredible! There aren’t many college universities that give you the opportunity to know monks on a personal level! Faith has guided my life. My faith brought me to this institution, and has given me opportunities to succeed.

In the residence halls, faith is present. Some of my friends in the halls are Catholic, just like me! On Mondays, we go to Uprising to have a bible study, and to sing praise and

Members of Campus Ministry and Father Peter Tynan inviting people to join Campus Ministry

worship, and on Sundays, we walk to the church to celebrate mass together. Campus ministry also gives students the opportunity to participate in the mass by being greeters, altar servers, eucharistic ministers, and even lectors. Everyone of all faiths is welcomed on campus. We desire to learn more about each other because it brings us all close together. On campus, faith unites the community, and promotes goodness and positivity through the halls.

Students on campus also have the opportunity to participate in service immersion trips as a way to strengthen faith in God, while also giving back to the community. These service immersion trips are available to all students, and promotes the Benedictine Values of “respect for persons” and “hospitality”.

To me, faith is knowing that no matter what happens in life, my God is in control. One of my teammates and my Norcia mentor, Lindsay, once told me, “Don’t doubt yourself,

2015-2016 SMU Women’s Softball Team praying before they take the field

because God created you just the way you are, and He is the one in control. When you doubt yourself, you are doubting
God”. Having a faith, whether it is in a religion, people, or something else is important because it guides you. It isn’t a tangible thing, but rather, it is more of a feeling. Faith is a response to God’s love. Overall, faith isn’t what you believe in, but rather, it is how you use it.

I’m glad that I every morning, I start my day off being reaffirmed that faith is an important factor of my life in all aspects. I have faith in my classmates, that we will help each other to be the best students that we can be; I have faith in my softball teammates, that they will have my back out on the field; I have faith that my God is guiding me through all aspects of my life; and I have faith that Saint Martin’s University will bring out the best in me.



Hi, I’m Lauren!

Posted on Updated on

One semester of college down, and several more to go. I still have so much to learn about Saint Martin’s University and how everything works, but within all of this craziness of growing up, I have begun to really discover who I am as a person. For anyone who does not know me, I’m Lauren Diuco, and I am really happy to meet you!

Hi, I’m Lauren!

Let me introduce myself a little bit. I am a freshman from Southern California, home of the sun, surf, and Disneyland (totally different than the Pacific Northwest right?). Right now, I am a business major and a communication studies minor, however you never know what could happen. Things could change…

I am a member of the SMU Women’s Softball team. These ladies are like the sisters that I have never had. We strive for

Softball Team Christmas Party
SMU Women’s Softball Team 2016 at their annual Christmas party

excellence, and every day with them is always a good day in my
book. I can’t wait for this upcoming spring season to begin!

I am also a Benedictine Scholar on campus. There are ten members in my cohort, with four cohorts total. As scholars, it is our job to be ambassadors of our school’s core Benedictine values: faith, reason, service, and community. We work very closely with the monks and faculty members to ensure that these values are, well, valued. Everything that I have gained from this experience so far has helped shape my views about the world that we live in, and how I can make an impact on campus.

I have also been able to be a part of an awesome organization on campus called NRHH (National Residence Hall Honorary)! Here, we serve as representatives for the students

SMU delegates at PACURH proudly showing their winning display

living on campus, in our residence halls. We put on special programming for students, speak on their behalf, and listen to their needs. This fall, I had the opportunity to go to
PACURH, an NRHH conference that, this year, was held at Washington State University. Not only were my other delegates and I able to get new ideas and tips on how to improve res-life here at SMU, but we even got a spirit award for one of the best displays! What a great day to be a Saint!

Finally, I am also one of the newest members of #SocialSquad. I love Saint Martin’s University so much, and I am so glad that I have this amazing opportunity to connect with YOU about our campus. Hopefully you are as excited to follow me on my journey here at Saint Martin’s as I am to share about my experiences here.

College is still pretty new to me, but I so am thankful to have such a welcoming community to help me form my college experience. Saint Martin’s University has allowed me to create meaningful relationships with so many people that I would not have met otherwise. Everyday, it amazes me that somehow, students from all over the United States (and even the rest of the world) would never have met each other, but somehow, we all met in this one town called Lacey, and became friends.