Saint Martin's College Commencement will be May 10

Thursday, May 1, 2003

Lacey, Wash. -Valedictorian Michael A. Smith of Tumwater will deliver the main address to fellow graduates of the Saint Martin’s College Class of 2003 at the college’s Commencement Convocation Saturday, May 10. Commencement ceremonies begin at 1 p.m. at Saint Martin’s Pavilion, 5300 Pacific Ave. S.E.

Smith’s speech, “Reality With Teeth,” will deal with honesty - to others and to one’s self.

Smith, who will receive a bachelor of science degree with a double major, mathematics and computer science, earned a 3.98 cumulative grade point average during his college career. He will begin work on a doctorate next year at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Salutatorian is Timothy John “T.J.” Underwood, a biology major from Chehalis who has a 3.96 cumulative grade point average and served fellow students this year as student body president. He plans to attend graduate school, as well.

Smith will speak after degrees are conferred on the 366-member Class of 2003. Also addressing graduates and their families will be Phillip Joseph “Phil” Partington, Bothell, an English major who was selected to represent his fellow graduates as class speaker. (Please see brief Commencement biographies below.)

The Saint Martin’s College Class of 2003 is composed of students who completed degree requirements in December 2002 and May, as well as those who will do so in August. It also contains those enrolled at the college’s main campus in Lacey and its two military extension campuses at Fort Lewis Army Post and McChord Air Force Base. The class has 104 December graduates, 206 May graduates and 56 August graduates. Most - 219 - are enrolled at the Lacey campus, with 100 enrolled at Fort Lewis and 47 at McChord. The class has 272 students receiving undergraduate degrees and 94 earning master’s degrees.

Saint Martin’s College is an independent, Roman Catholic coeducational college offering a full range of baccalaureate and graduate degree programs. About 1,000 students are enrolled on its main campus and about 600 more in courses offered at its military extension campuses.


Michael A. Smith
Valedictorian - Class of 2003
Valedictorian Michael A. Smith of Tumwater has achieved a near-perfect grade point average, 3.98, while completing dual majors in mathematics and computer science. Smith says he has always displayed a “flamboyant drive for the weird.” At 4 years of age, he announced his intention to build the first time machine, and as he grew up, he pursued that goal by absorbing all he could about philosophy and the sciences. When his energy and independence overwhelmed the public school system, his parents, psychologist George C. Smith and registered nurse and lay historian Ruth E. Smith began homeschooling their child. Homeschooling was balanced with social activities, time spent with improvisational acting troupes and in martial arts training. Smith is now licensed to teach the martial art of Aikijujutsu. He also was a member in Boy Scout Troop 1 until starting South Puget Sound Community College when he was 16. He continues to be active in a storytelling team and still enjoys taking part in numerous philosophical and spiritual discussion groups. He is a member of the College’s honor society, the Society of Fellows. Smith says he has discovered a love for teaching. He plans to use his insight and talents to instruct college-level mathematics and sciences in the future. This fall, he will begin his doctoral studies in mathematical physics at the University of Oregon. And someday, perhaps, he will design and build that time machine.

Timothy John “T.J.” Underwood
Salutatorian - Class of 2003
T.J. Underwood, who is graduating with a bachelor of science degree in biology, has earned a 3.96 grade point average during his college career to become 2003 salutatorian. He also garnered another honor earlier this year when he was named Outstanding Student Leader of the Year for 2003. As 2002-03 president of the Associated Students of Saint Martin's College, the student government, he has done a great deal to help students and future students at Saint Martin’s. His vision for involving every student in campus life has helped further the College’s strong sense of community. Under his leadership, ASSMC evaluated its functions, restructured its constitution and took steps to assure student representation on board of trustee subcommittees and in planning for future College growth and academic excellence. Among his many committee responsibilities have been the Catholic Identity Steering Committee, the General Education Task Force and the board of trustees’ marketing and academic affairs subcommittees. He has served as president for both Biology Club and the college’s chapter of Beta Beta Beta national biology honorary. He also is a member of the Society of Fellows, the College’s honor society. Academically, his work and research have led to honors, as well. He did undergraduate chemistry research that led to presentations of a potential cancer cure at a national meeting of the American Chemical Society and at the Oregon Health Sciences University’s annual research conference, both in 2002. For three years, he has been chosen to present his research findings at the College’s Student Scholars’ Day, a day that honors outstanding student academic contributions. Underwood of Chehalis is the son of Tim and Linda Underwood and the grandson of Ed and Evie Underwood. After graduation, he will work and hopes to eventually attend graduate school.

Phillip “Phil” Joseph Partington
Class of 2003 Speaker
After serving as an usher for Saint Martin’s commencements for three years with Sigma Mu Kappa fraternity, Phil Partington, 2003’s class speaker, will cross the stage himself this year, receiving his bachelor of arts degree in English with a minor in business administration. The son of Tony Partington and Dolores Partington, he hails from the city of Bothell. During his years as a Saint Martin’s student, he has been involved with many student and community activities. As 2002-03 communications director for the student government, the Associated Students of Saint Martin’s, he created the ASSMC webpage, served as the students’ webmaster and started a popular student message board that gave Saint Martin’s students a place for lively dialogues on subjects great and small. The year before, he served as ASSMC’s senator of residence life. For the past two years, he welcomed new students to Saint Martin’s as a Freshman Orientation leader. Partington has taken an active role in Campus Ministry since his freshman year. He has served as music coordinator, guitarist and peer minister, and was involved for three years in the Search Retreat. He is a student representative on the College’s Catholic Identity Steering Committee and a past member of the Student Conduct Committee. He also has given more than 80 hours of his time and talents to tutor children in need at Evergreen Vista Apartments’ Homework Club. Partington’s internship with the Plant Operations Support Consortium, a program at the state capitol, will turn into a full-time job following graduation.

For more information:
Mary Law
360-438-4356 or

Deanna Partlow, media relations coordinator
Saint Martin’s Office of Communication