In-Class Speakers

Notable Experiences

At Saint Mary’s Hall, students do not only learn from their faculty mentors, they also are exposed to experts and leaders within the community. On any given day, students have the opportunity to listen to and visit with dynamic CEOs of major companies; artists actively working in their industry and on the cutting-edge of their craft; innovative and inspiring professionals in the fields of science and technology; accomplished sports figures; and social and political leaders; among many others.

Alumni often return to their alma mater to mentor students and share experiential wisdom. In fact, every spring, a panel of alumni visit campus to mentor seniors for Senior-Alumni Mentor Day. Here are just a few more examples of these one-of-a-kind experiences our students cannot receive anywhere else.

Notable Speakers 2019-2020
Notable Speakers: 2019-2020

Francisco ('12) and Tomas ('13) Pergola

Brothers Francisco (Class of 2012) and Tomas (Class of 2013) Pergola, founders of Cheddies cheesy cracker snack, visited Upper School Math Teacher Jose Molina’s Principles of Finance and Investing class in the fall. Cheddies began in San Antonio as a healthier, more natural alternative to other cracker snacks in the market like Cheezits and Goldfish. The brothers founded their business (then called Wuel) in 2016 and achieved success by mid-2018 as they began mass-production, introduced three new flavors, and partnered with leading businesses including Amazon, H-E-B, and, most recently, Barnes & Noble. Although they faced many challenges as a startup, the Pergolas shared how they persevered and offered advice about the business world.

Chris Barton
Notable Speakers: 2019-2020

Chris Barton

Form 2 writers were treated to a writing workshop under the direction of Chris Barton, author of many children’s books. One of his books, Whoosh, was a Bluebonnet nominee book. Mr. Barton explained the writing process from the beginning of an idea to the end product of a published book. The children worked on their own writing pieces following the directions of Mr. Barton, who showed them specific ways to change their text so that their ideas were more easily understood.

Jack Fishman
Notable Speakers: 2019-2020

Jack Fishman

Form 3 Language Arts Teacher Jane Viccellio’s classes Skyped with Jack Fishman from Project Aware, an ocean rescue organization based in California. The students wrote Mr. Fishman letters asking questions about ocean conservation and animal rescue. Each class chatted for more than 25 minutes getting all of their questions answered. Mr. Fishman even wore a shark costume to celebrate! From blob fish to whaler sharks, Form 3 students learned what they can do to protect the future of marine animals.

Henry McLeish
Notable Speakers: 2019-2020

Henry McLeish

Upper School Social Studies students had the enriching opportunity to  visit with Former First Minister of Scotland, Henry McLeish, when he spoke to Social Studies Teacher Adrian Viccellio’s AP European history class. He answered questions and spoke on hot-button issues of the day. 

Sardar Biglari
Notable Speakers: 2019-2020

Sardar Biglari

The Student Investment Group (SIG) was fortunate to have Sardar Biglari, owner of Biglari Holdings Inc., speak to club members about his business and investing philosophy. Biglari Holdings is the parent company of Steak ‘n Shake, Western Sizzlin, and investment management firm Biglari Capital Corp., which is a group of subsidiary companies that collectively are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Dr. Parshita Patel
Notable Speakers: 2019-2020

Dr. Parshita Patel

Form 1 Science students had an exciting opportunity to speak with an astrophysicist via Skype. Lower School Teacher Jennifer Lee’s Form 1 Science classes partnered with a scientist through the Skype a Scientist Program. Dr. Parshita Patel, an astrophysicist from the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration at Western University in London, Ontario, spoke with students about how the sun, moon, and stars interact with Earth.

The students prepared questions before the presentation, and Dr. Patel was happy to answer. The children continued to study space as part of their science curriculum with a newfound understanding of what it’s like to work in the field.

Mentors
Notable Speakers: 2019-2020

Alumni return to campus every spring to engage with members of the senior class. After a meet and greet, seniors divide into groups to hear each of the alumni present about their fields of study and professional careers. This day is an opportunity for seniors to ask real-life and real-world questions of alumni.  Alumni offer words of wisdom and advice for the seniors as they begin their college journey.

Some examples of these accomplished alumni include Corinna Holt Richter (Class of 2003), who is the president and chief administrative officer for Holt CAT); John Brozovich (Class of 2001), who is the director of finance for the The Gambrinus Company; Tommy Calvert (Class of 1998), who serves as Bexar County Commissioner for Precinct 4; Katherine (Katy) Rouse David (Class of 1996), who is a tax attorney and partner for Clark Hill Strasburger; and Dr. Luci Leykum (Class of 1989), who is division chief, general and hospital medicine and professor for UT Health Science Center San Antonio.

Notable Speakers: 2019-2020

Julie Lythcott-Haimes

National bestselling author, highly acclaimed speaker, and former dean at Stanford University Julie Lythcott-Haimes presented on her New York Times bestselling book, How to Raise an Adult.  She addressed the entire Upper School student body (approximately 400 students) about following what you love in life and pursuing your passions. In her talks, she seeks the opportunity to impart her experience in an effort to help students “lead the life you are supposed to lead.”  Julie also spoke to parents about understanding how overparenting can leave long-lasting effects on children.  In a poignant moment, she said, “Our job as parents is to put ourselves out of a job, y’all. We have forgotten this. That means our kids are supposed to develop the skills they need to thrive without us. And when we do this, we can start to enjoy a little bit of a healthy adulthood again. And then, maybe we will have raised young who can actually be capable of looking after us one day.”

Craig Boyan
Notable Speakers: 2019-2020

Craig Boyan

Craig Boyan regularly visits Upper School Math Teacher Jose Molina’s Principles of Finance and Investing classes. Mr. Boyan, who isa parent of three alumni, presents to students about H-E-B and the various strategies the local grocery company has used to become the one of the largest private companies and largest private employers in North America. His presentation and subsequent dialogue with students provide an authentic and invaluable insight into the operation of a multi-billion-dollar company and the business world as a whole.

Craig Kielburger
Notable Speakers: 2019-2020

Craig Kielberger

Craig visited campus to speak to Upper School students about empowerment and responsibility within the context of addressing global poverty. His charitable organization, ME to WE, partnered with a SMH student service trip to Tanzania, where students learned about the ME to WE sustainable development model as they worked on a school-building project in a Maasai community. He is a New York Times bestselling author, as well as a nationally syndicated columnist. Craig has received The Order of Canada, the Nelson Mandela Freedom Medal, and the World Children’s Prize. His work has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, 60 Minutes, and the BBC.

Charles Duke
Notable Speakers: 2019-2020

Charles Duke

Lower School students were treated to the rare opportunity to "go to the moon" with Astronaut and U.S. Air Force Brigadier General (Ret.) Charles (Charlie) Duke.  He was part of the Apollo 16 mission and is credited with being the 10th person to walk on the lunar surface. Duke shared his experiences as an astronaut while encouraging students to dream big, work hard, and be prepared for detours in life. Duke told stories of his space travels including daily challenges of living on the moon. Duke's presentation was a window into the thrills and dangers associated with his mission, but also emphasized the importance of his years of training.

Experiencing the Best: Other Notable Experts and Leaders
  • COO of CPS Energy Dr. Cris Eugster
  • Entrepreneur Makenzie Hogan (Class of 2013)
  • Former Spurs Assistant Head Coach Ettore Messina
  • Olympian Lacey Nymeyer-John
  • Architect with Ford, Powell, & Carson John Gutzler
  • Ballet San Antonio Production Manager Bennett Gunning
  • U. of Florida Dance Assistant Professor Elizabeth Johnson
  • San Antonio-based actor/director/teacher Tyler Keyes
  • Executive/artistic director of the Woodlawn Theatre Chris Rodriquez
  • Artist and Artpace Director Riley Robinson
  • REATA Real Estate Assoc. Luis Garcia (Class of 2013)
  • Oliver Wyman Global Management Consultant Fiona Mohamed (Class of 2014)
  • Author and Illustrator Nathan Hale
  • Co-creator of Shaping Sound Dance Co. and CLI Studios Tedy Forance
  • Guest Artist Ballet Dancers from Ballet San Antonio