The Office of Alumni Relations created Letters to Prospective Students because we want to give Dominican alumni an opportunity to speak to students interested in attending Dominican University of California. Is there a better way for a perspective student to learn about the quality of Dominican education and its memorable student experiences than by hearing about them from former students who lived on campus for four years, attended classes, and are familiar with Dominican values, ideals and traditions?
I graduated from Dominican some time ago, but in a way have never left the school (I am a faculty member). When I thought about what characterizes the spirit of Dominican University of California, I realized that two values that mattered most to me as an undergraduate are values that students say matter to them today.
The first of these values is the quality of education offered by faculty. Dominican is a teaching institution. Faculty devote themselves to study and to teaching well, encouraging students to explore matters beyond mere facts. Professors believe that critical thinking, reading, and writing are essential to becoming a truly educated person; they want students to understand what they are learning, to form opinions based not only on knowledge, but also on experience so that later, as graduates in the professional world, students will be confident in sharing with others all that Dominican education offered them.
As equal in importance to learning from dedicated faculty and other students is the value of friendships that very often grow into lifelong relationships. Friendships are made not only in classrooms, on-campus residences, and the dining hall; all students, resident and non-resident alike, are welcomed as part of a community where bonds are made through campus activities and academically-related projects, giving students time and place to make enduring friendships.
The core ideals of the Dominican Order, and thus of this Dominican University of California, are community (relationships beyond oneself: friendships fit here); study (dedication to learning in its broadest sense); service (giving to others from one’s storehouse of knowledge); and reflection (considering the deeper, spirit-dimensions of life). These four ideals lie at the heart of learning and friendship, values that continue to characterize Dominican University of California.
I agonized all senior year of high school over where to go to college. All four years I had been an overachiever with great grades and stellar extracurricular activities. However, my SAT scores were far less awesome. Hoping scores didn't really matter, I applied to some very prestigious schools and ended up with a laughable stack of denial letters.
On to Plan B: Maybe I should follow my dream and go to art school? Most art schools I visited were either drab cement blocks in not-so-inspiring neighborhoods or the portfolio requirements called for a Matisse-in-the-making. Maybe a state school was more my style? If riding a bike or hiking miles to a lecture hall of 100+ students were interests of mine, then maybe it would have worked.
Dominican literally fell into my lap via snail mail. I had no other choice but to open the envelope and give the institution a consideration. Dominican instantly had all that I was looking for: small class size, liberal arts curriculum, a nurturing art department, student government, an eclectic mix of professors and staff, even a prom!
My years at Dominican were a dream and I ended up staying an extra year because I couldn't leave my college family behind. I still make my way back to campus frequently as an auditor of classes, a guest speaker, a member of the alumni board...I've even traveled to Paris with Dominican.
I tell everyone that Dominican is a hidden gem of the San Francisco Bay Area. It's worth a visit just to be amazed by the sheer beauty of its manicured campus. In the springtime (I should say all the time) Dominican smells like roses!
If you are an alumnus and are interested in writing a letter to a prospective student, contact Alumni Relations at email@example.com.