St. Mary's College News Briefs - Southern Maryland Headline News

St. Mary's College News Briefs

Local Initiative Stands to Make Big Impact on Nicaraguan Community

In May, 12 St. Mary’s College of Maryland students will leave campus behind to spend two weeks in Nicaragua. Rest and relaxation, however, will take a proverbial back seat on this trip. While in Limon 2, a village of 500 inhabitants on Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast, members of the college’s Raíces Hispanas Club will live and work in the small community to promote literacy among the town’s children.

“It happened by a lot of love, passion and support,” explained senior Cristina Tono, 21, from Bethesda, Md., who instituted the Raíces Hispanas Service Trip to Nicaragua in 2013, as she discussed how the trip went from a concept derived from personal passion to an annual initiative—one that the college plans to carry out even after Tono graduates this spring.

Feeling directionless her first year at St. Mary’s, Tono wanted to find an internship that would help her focus her studies. “I had ideas of what I wanted to do, I just needed to go do them,” she said. “I needed some motivation, and I think a lot of students feel this way in the beginning.” Working with the college’s Career Development Center, Tono landed the break she had hoped for: an internship with the Foundation for Sustainable Development, a non-profit, volunteer-based organization specializing in international aid. Although the internship would not happen until her junior year, Tono was more than ready for the opportunity. “I had my application [for FSD] set since my first year,” she exclaimed. She chose the organization’s site in Nicaragua to gain experience in environmental education. As an intern, Tono would help coordinate community trainings on recycling and repurposing trash. The workshops, she describes, consisted of hands-on activities with the locals, such as crafting piñatas out salvaged goods and knitting with plastic.

After spending the fall of her junior year in Nicaragua, Tono returned to campus in the spring with what she would describe as an experience of a lifetime. She had gained invaluable knowledge in a field of interest and helped to stimulate a community’s efforts toward sustainability. But, she had also returned with a heavy heart. “I felt really selfish going from doing something to help other people to focusing on myself and my studies,” she said. Feeling inspired to follow her newfound passion while maintaining her studies, Tono, with volunteers from Raíces Hispanas, a campus service club of which she is a member, launched the college’s first service trip to Nicaragua—a feat she says would not have been possible without the much-needed help received from the college community.

“There are a lot of details that go into such a trip,” she said. “I talked to the college’s Office of Student Services and Department of International Education and they agreed to help me. We got the group [of volunteers] together; fundraised for the trip … it all happened so quickly.” Tono said that help also came from places she had never expected, like student and athletic clubs who pooled money to help pay for transportation, food and other needs.

The first service trip was in the spring of 2013. Nine students spent ten days remodeling a dilapidated community playground out of recycled tires, plastic debris and concrete. This year, May 18 - 31, the 12 students will work with the community library to help the children of Limon 2 read and interpret books focused on environmental stewardship. The group plans to culminate the tutorship by converting the stories into a play, complete with props and costumes made from recycled materials.

Sophomore and volunteer Emily Cerna is looking forward to the experience. “It seamlessly combines all my interests into one beautiful project,” she said. “I am fascinated by the environment; I admire, and may want to be a part of, the field of education; I am passionate about service work; and I am a proud of my Hispanic heritage. … I'm excited about incorporating theater into the environmental education lessons we will prepare for the children. I can't wait to see how it all comes together.”

Like the year before, Tono and the service group are hoping for support to make this year’s trip possible. With a designated project page on St. Mary’s new giving platform, anyone from anywhere can help.

Support the 2014 Raíces Hispanas Service Trip to Nicaragua by visiting the project page at

St. Mary’s College Remembers Dr. Marty Edward Sullivan

St. Mary’s College of Maryland mourns the loss of Dr. Martin Edward Sullivan, 70, who died Feb. 25, 2014 at his residence in Piney Point, Md. Sullivan was the former director of both the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., and Historic St. Mary’s City of Maryland, and was also a member of the college’s Board of Trustees. He was well known in the museum field and the recipient of a number of professional honors including recognition on the American Association of Museum’s Centennial Honor Roll in 2006. He was most recently bestowed the American Alliance of Museum’s 2014 Award for Distinguished Service to Museums.

At St. Mary’s College, Sullivan was an adjunct history professor, the founding director of the museum studies program, and a steady partner in forging joint programs in the Maryland Heritage Project. He joined the college’s Board of Trustees in 2011 and was recognized in 2010 with an honorary degree.

“Marty was a transformational leader for Historic St Mary's City and a guiding spirit of its collaboration with St. Mary’s College,” said Gail Harmon, chair of the college’s Board of Trustees. “He regularly taught our students in the Museum Studies program. As a friend he was a warm, gentle, and literate companion. He will be sorely missed.”

Sullivan chaired three national initiatives to improve standards and practices among America’s museums. From 1992 to 2000 he was a member and chairman of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Review Committee. From 1995 to 2003 he chaired the President’s Advisory Committee on Cultural Property, advising the U.S. government on actions to deter looting of antiquities worldwide. Sullivan resigned from this post in 2003 when looters ransacked the National Museum in Baghdad just before the Iraq War, stating that he believed the looting was a tragedy the United States could have prevented. From 1997 to 2009 Sullivan was a member and chairman of the Accreditation Commission of the American Association of Museums.

Student named to 2014 Allstate NABC Good Works Team

St. Mary's College of Maryland Junior Guard Nick LaGuerre, is one of ten men just named to the 2014 Allstate NABC Good Works Team—an off-the-court honor recognizing college basketball student-athletes for their community involvement.

LaGuerre is a Baltimore native majoring in Economics. His community service resume includes:

-- Mentoring and tutoring students at the local elementary school

-- As a diabetic himself, raising diabetes awareness in the local community

-- Delivering turkey dinners and canned goods to families in need in the community

The final team was selected from 117 nominees by former Duke University student-athlete, two-time NCAA champion and seven-time NBA All-Star Grant Hill. Through the Allstate NABC Good Works Team, student-athletes are recognized for their commitment to enriching the lives of others while contributing to the greater good of their communities.

Members of the Allstate NABC Good Works Team will be invited to the 2014 NCAA Men’s Final Four in North Texas where they will participate in a community project benefiting the city.

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