2013 new student convocation

inWords Archive


From theory to practice. Alexander, Olga and Alex Anderson '14 apply their engineering studies to the real world by bringing clean water to Papua New Guinea.

Twins Kathleen and Jacqueline Byron ’92, engineer great lives…together.

Alumna Marisha Kasjan rings in 2015 with pizza and the power of a kindness.

Where students and faculty collaborate: Alumna Kim Menius teams up with Professor Robert Hauhart to take her revised senior thesis to publication.

For Tanzania's Doctor Sister Redemista Ngonyani, O.S.B. '04 education is key to being the change she wants to see in the world.

Christine Schaller '93, aiming high because of Saint Martin’s University.

Rae Simpson BSN '95, MSN '98, using her Saint Martin's education to see the bigger picture.

Joe Skillman '13, masters the art of balancing family, school, work and faith.

Looking for the perfect Christmas tree? Ask Jonathan Sprouffske '04 and his family who keep the holiday tradition alive and well.

Current students

Missed opportunities with her great aunt light the fire of English as a Learned Language (ELL) for Benedictine Scholar Hope Chamberlain '17.

Washington Association for Marriage and Family Therapy honors MAC candidate Liz Robinson '15 with $500 scholarship.

Presenting in paradise! For psychology major Timothy Templin, Honolulu made the presentation process a calmer experience.


Jeff Birkenstein, being influenced by Russian writers in Petrozavodsk.

Julia Chavez, helping students see themselves through the universal elements of Homer's The Iliad.

From Vietnam to Lacey, Assistant Professor Tam Dinh, journeys to the American Dream… caring, generous citizens investing in all of our future.

Mary Jo Hartman, broadening SMU's biology horizons through "Sound Learning Communities."

How do you help your students succeed in their senior capstone projects? First, read Professor Robert Hauhart's Designing and Teaching Undergraduate Capstone Courses.

Louise Kaplan inspires the next generation of nursing professionals.

Professor Terry McAdam explores the challenges when forensic science meets the law, in a new textbook for criminal justice studies.

Why present your scholarly work? Jeremy Newton offers insight into presentation benefits.

New York City. Summer 2014. Healing and social justice through improvisation. A Playback Theatre workshop with Leticia Nieto.


Japanese 101 and 201 students learn about Japanese culture via green tea and a thousand year old ritual.

Six lives are changed by service immersion in Tanzania.

What do you get when you cross a pig naming contest with a pig hunt? Why student philanthropy, of course!

Pack your bags! It's time to head north, south, east or west with Saint Martin's study abroad programs.

Two transfer students representing the Benedictine values and the Saint Martin's spirit are awarded $26,000 each.

Want to become a better teacher? Try traveling to Inner Mongolia.

Like what? Post where? Retweet who? The Saint Martin's Social Squad social(media)-izes SMU!

#SaintsAlive! Let's get sustainable! Going to Bellingham and going green.

How do you make the seemingly unfloatable float? Why build a concrete canoe of course!

Transformation is the name of the game for the 2013 women's fastpitch softball team.

Celebrity chef Michael Symon helps SMU raise $960,000 for student scholarships.

Team Anderson: Olga, Alex and Alexander engineer for the future.

SMU 'takes the LEED' with the highest certification in the Western Hemisphere.

2013 fall convocation Taking the road less traveled.

Social what?

by Meg Nugent Dwyer

Tweets and retweets. Updates, likes and comments. #Hashtags and check-ins. There’s only one way to understand the language of social media: Lean in, hold on tight and don’t be afraid to be social.

At Saint Martin’s University, students aren’t the only ones who know the difference between a tweet and a retweet, a reply and a like, or the various nuances of hashtags.

These days, Saint Martin's president and members of the administration are navigating their own Twitter accounts, as are faculty and staff members who are recognizing the trend that students are much less likely to communicate via standard emails than they are via tweets, Facebook and other forms of social media.

"A tweet is a very simple thing but you can reach large numbers of people that are normally not imaginable for a small university like ours," Hendricks says.

"I wanted to start using Twitter because our students don't always check the University webpage and they don't check their email, so, how are we supposed to be in contact with them?" says Nicole Phillips, executive assistant to the dean of the University's School of Business.

"But even though I knew I needed to learn how to use Twitter, I was a little afraid of it," she confesses. "That's why I'm glad the Social Squad is here."

As envisioned by Saint Martin's Web Manager Carl Lew, the Social Squad is a band of savvy students the Office of Marketing and Communications started employing in 2011 to help strengthen the University’s presence and brand on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Foursquare. In recent months, the Social Squad has been reaching out to the Saint Martin's community in efforts to educate it about the how-tos of social media. The students' goal is to encourage professors, staff members and administrators to become more comfortable with social media so they will use it themselves to interact with the student body.

"The Social Squad is cutting-edge among smaller universities that are getting involved with social media. The fact that most cabinet members at Saint Martin's have their own Twitter accounts says a lot about the willingness to experiment with media and communication, both from the top down and the bottom up," says Chadd Bennett, director of research and publications for the Independent Colleges of Washington, an association of 10 private, non-profit colleges in the state. "Some of our member institutions that are dipping their toes in social media are asking to be connected to Saint Martin’s so they can get advice on how to use social media."

The Social Squad has been providing a picture of Saint Martin's to prospective students by using their own voices as current students, a perspective the University is unable to provide through its more traditional marketing materials, says Lew, who oversees the squad of 12 students, which has included tweeters, bloggers and, more recently, videographers.

"It goes to presenting a more genuine view of what it's like to be a student here because it's from the student perspective," Lew says. "The Squad provides an alternate way of looking at SMU and it also provides more of that authentic conversation, another form of engagement between current students, as well as prospective students."

According to Matthew Hankins, a sophomore and squad member, "When you are checking out a school as a potential student, you want to see what other students who are already enrolled there are saying about it, and that's what we bring."

"There's a whole generation of students, say aged 15-25, who don't embrace email because they haven't been in a work setting yet where they have had to use email, and receiving anything through snail mail is before their time," says Alex Hendricks, a junior and the unofficial "Boss of the Social Squad," according to the handwritten sign perched on a desk on the Old Main office he shares with his fellow squad members and Lew. "Social media is the preferred medium for prospective students right now, and communicating with them in their preferred medium can give Saint Martin's an edge."

Besides, Hendricks adds, "If we're not on social media, it's a mark against us. If a prospective student tries to find Saint Martin's via social media and we're not on Twitter and we have no Facebook or Instagram account, that student will think, 'Social media is the main way I communicate, so why doesn't this school have any social media?'"

The squad members have come a long way since their initial efforts to tweet and blog about their personal experiences as students at Saint Martin's. Last fall, for example, they were able to significantly enhance Saint Martin's profile by generating tweets that reached more than 192,000 Twitter accounts following the squad's ongoing social media coverage of the University's 2012 Gala.

Plus, social media is very cost efficient. "It costs nothing," says Social Squad member Stephen Mahnken, a sophomore, "and people using social media are constantly checking it for updates. As long as Saint Martin's is on social media, people are going to be seeing what's happening at the University."

Lew is especially proud of the squad's successful strategy to fill more seats at a Saints winter basketball game. Within a few hours of a request from Athletics for help in finding ways to encourage more students to attend the game, squad members seized on the idea of organizing a "Harlem Shake" event for halftime entertainment. They generated excitement through tweets and Facebook messages that invited students to take part in Saint Martin's official version of the Internet meme.

"Just a few emails were sent and no fliers were posted anywhere; it was all communicated through Twitter and Facebook about when students should show up," Lew recalls. "The students arrived, ready to go, in costumes they made on their own, and the stands were full at halftime — it was one of the best attended basketball games we've had in a while."

To maintain this momentum, the Social Squad has been taking steps to ensure the entire Saint Martin's community understands not only the importance of social media as a marketing tool but as a communication tool they can incorporate into their daily routine.

"We realized we can't have a strong social media presence externally if there's not a strong social media presence internally," says Lew.

To that end, Hendricks and Mahnken have been demystifying the likes of Twitter and Facebook through a series of workshops the Social Squad has hosted on the Lacey campus. So far, they have conducted workshops with University President Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph.D., and cabinet members, as well as with some faculty and staff members. Mahnken has also made presentations about Twitter and other forms of social media to his business communications class.

The president says Twitter is a medium he can easily embrace. "I believe in brevity, and Twitter works with my particular style because you are limited to 140 characters," says Heynderickx. "If you can't say what you want to say in 140 characters, it's really not worth saying."

Hendricks likes to start his workshops by helping attendees set up their own Twitter or Facebook accounts. "For a lot of people," he says, "that's the biggest hurdle to get over because it signifies taking that first big step to getting to know social media."

Next, he teaches the basics — how to tweet, how to like a person’s Facebook status, how to retweet, reply or post an image.

The Social Squad has established office hours two days a week for people to stop by with questions or concerns they may have about various types of social media. Squad members are also known to conduct workshops "on the fly" for learners who feel they need the help.

"We want to foster the idea that the whole school can come and ask us about social media, not only for professional use, but for personal use, as well," Lew says.

In addition, the Social Squad is in the final stages of producing its "Social Media Starter Packet," a tutorial for the Saint Martin’s community that provides step-by-step with Hankins' help guidance on social media use, as well as a glossary of social media terms.

"During the workshops, there is always so much information coming at people. It can be overwhelming. With the packet, they don't have to worry about forgetting what they have learned because it's all written down for them to refer back to," says squad member Brooke Sanchez, a sophomore.

"The packet is designed to lower the stress and fear associated with learning something new."

The squad hopes the starter packet will help dispel another misconception about social media, Sanchez says. "People think social media is a bit trivial or they think of it as the newest craze that won't stick around. Well, it's been around for several years already and it’s getting bigger all the time. That's why it makes sense to learn how to use it."