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New Penguins

Meet some of our new Penguins. Dominican has welcomed 279 academically talented, socially conscious, creative, and world-wise students to our freshman class. Our new students come from 15 states, five countries, and 212 U.S. high schools.
  • Combined, our new freshmen completed more than 15,000 hours of community service.
  • About 40 students took college classes simultaneously while in high school. 
  • 64 new student-athletes include multiple All-American awarded athletes and team captains.
  • We are joined by bilingual, trilingual, and quadrilingual students, high school valedictorians, salutatorians, student body presidents vice presidents, secretaries, and treasurers.
  • We are joined by a United States Tennis Association ranked player, a competitive mixed martial artist, a competitive equestrian, a state ranked Tae Kwon Do competitor, a Boston Marathon qualifier, and a student who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.

We also welcome musicians, poets, debaters, and tutors. One of our students turned down a job with “Disney on Ice” to join our BFA in Dance program. Another is a competitive baker.


Benjamin Ludeman 

Major: Business  •  Hometown: Portland, Oregon

ben.jpgHe was a star lacrosse player and two-time team captain at Westview High School in Portland, Oregon, who traveled all over the country to play, yet Ben Ludeman said his “defining moment” in high school was when his anthropology teacher accepted his offer to do an independent study with her about child soldiers in Africa. The curriculum was laid out and Ben wrote two essays that spelled out the problem and potential solutions.

In the Dominican School of Business and Leadership, Ben will be challenged by real-world problems in undergraduate programs such as accounting, finance, international business, management and marketing. His concentration is in marketing, but he also is intrigued by sports management.

“Academically, I like the opportunities that Dominican presents to me, including internships in locations central to so many influential and interesting companies, and the option to enroll in the five-year BA to MBA program was definitely a strong pull for me,” Ben says. “Plus, this was one of the first schools I visited that really stressed the small class size.”

Ben is having an easy time fitting into Dominican. “Everyone’s really outgoing and social,” he says. “Everybody’s been super friendly.”

Ben has applied to Dominican’s Student Ambassadors program and is looking for more activities that meet his interests. He coached youth lacrosse the past three years, volunteered at the Oregon Food Bank, and is inspired by his mother, who once taught kindergarten in the Watts section of Los Angeles.

Teaching may be in Ben’s blood, and that could lead him in a variety of directions. In high school, he took AP classes in U.S. History, Psychology, Literature, and Economics. Next summer, Ben has his eyes set on securing an internship in an international company that is only a 10-minute drive from his home. It’s called Nike.


Maria De Lourdes (Lulu) Herrera

Major: Nursing  •  Hometown: Hollister, California

lula.jpgLulu has come to Dominican with the goal of becoming a neo-intensive care unit maternity nurse. She’s come to the right place, as Dominican’s reputable and versatile nursing program will give her the abilities and options to achieve this goal.

A chemistry honors student and salutatorian of her senior class, Lulu distinguished herself in a variety of ways in high school. She served for two years as her school’s Red Cross Club president, leading a fundraising drive for measles vaccinations in third world countries, as well as a campaign to send holiday cards to members of the military who were hospitalized.

She also never missed a day of school, graduating with perfect attendance for all four years.

At Dominican Lulu has discovered her teachers are both giving and supportive.

“Professors here really do pay attention to you and help you,” she says.

Lulu credits her high school counselor for leading her to Dominican. He appreciates and respects the University’s well-rounded academic reputation.

“He has hopes that I’ll become a doctor,” Lulu says. “He said they have a great biology program at Dominican.”


Salvador Chavez

Major: Occupational Therapy  •  
Hometown: Mountain View, California

sal.jpgWhen touring college campuses, Salvador had one goal in mind: To find a place where he could continue to develop his passion for leadership. In high school, he was a four-year member of the Class Council, Freshman Advisor, Freshman Tutor, Latino Student Union President, and the Student Government Outreach officer. He also volunteered at a local senior center and with the Spanish Speaking PTA at Los Altos High School.

“I was so involved in my high school that it was important to me that I continue my leadership ambitions,” he says.

A proud and enthusiastic first-generation college student, Salvador picked Dominican out of the all the universities he visited after hearing about the wide variety of social and academic opportunities on campus.

Within days of arriving at Dominican, Salvador knew he had made the right choice. A newly minted Student Ambassador, he also is eying leadership positions in the Latinos Unitos Club, the Associated Students of Dominican University, and the Service-Learning program.

“Everyone is really friendly with each other. It’s almost like Dominican is its own little city,” he says. “Everyone knows each other and is supportive of each other.”


Julie Dau

Major: Business  •  Hometown: San Jose, California

julie.jpgAlready fluent in Cantonese, English, Mandarin, and Vietnamese – and with three years of Japanese under her belt – Julie Dau has her sights set on studying and eventually working abroad.

Dominican’s School of Business and Leadership is her avenue to adventure and success. Some of its graduates are currently employed in major corporations throughout the world. Julie aims to study in Asia as well as Europe or Australia.

An honors student in high school, Julie has made it her business to stay busy. She took AP classes in Statistics, Bio, Literature, and Environmental Studies and volunteered away from school at a local soup kitchen and at a Teens Reach program at her local library. Julie joined her high school’s badminton team, was president of her school’s Fashion Club, and was a three-year member of the California Scholarship Federation. She also participated at school in the Interact Club and helped incoming freshmen transition into high school through her work on Link Crew.

Julie’s own transition as a freshman into college is going smoothly and ideally at Dominican.

“My professors have really put forward their time and effort and helped us get the materials we need,” she says. “The people here are just really friendly. It feels weird to be in a place where everybody is so nice.”

Julie discovered this in her second week at Dominican when she attended a Club Fair on campus. She signed up for three student-run clubs and is considering many more.

“My freshman year in high school, I just sort of wanted to explore and I didn’t do too much, but as time progressed I thought I should get involved in a lot of these activities. It was really fun,” she says. “I find that I like to meet new people really easily and this helps me get to know more people and make friends.” No matter what language she uses.


Matthew Erbst

Major: Biology  •  Hometown: Tomales, California

matt.jpgIn recent years, students graduating from Dominican’s science program have been accepted into the country’s leading medical schools, largely thanks to Dominican’s superior undergraduate research program.

However, it was Dominican’s personal touch that made all the difference when it came time for Matthew to select a university.

This high school valedictorian and senior class president was spoiled for choices, receiving offers from large research institutions throughout the state. The one thing they didn’t offer was a strong human connection.

“One of the things that made me know I made the right decision – and I’ve never heard of a college doing this before – is Dominican sent me a birthday card. And one actually signed with a message,” Matthew says. “It’s the personal touch. It’s like being talked to and not being lost in a sea of faces and being a number.”

Matthew already is thriving on Dominican’s tight-knit neighborhood campus. He is enthralled with Dominican’s small class sizes and its accessibility to instructors.

“What I want to accomplish at Dominican, in the most simple sense, is expanding my knowledge of the realms of science,” Matthew says. “But it’s more than that. It’s about building community, building connections, and learning more about myself as well.”

“It’s unbelievable. Even the professors are already calling me by my first name,” Matthew says


Rebecca Lillich

Major: LINES Ballet/BFA in Dance  •  Hometown: Syracuse, New York

rebecca.jpgThough she auditioned for six dance schools and was accepted by four, Rebecca Lillich fell in love with Dominican’s acclaimed Alonzo King LINES Ballet/BFA in Dance program and this summer drove thousands of miles from New York to California for the challenge the program presented.

“LINES is a phenomenal company, but what drew me to Dominican is it seemed like they really wanted me to dance intellectually,” says Rebecca. “They wanted me to be thinking and driven while I was dancing. It’s not just dance as an art or dance as a physical activity. It’s dance as a progression through yourself. There are no end points, just new challenges.”

For Rebecca, dance is a passion she shares with her family. Her mother, Victoria, attended Skidmore College, home to one of first ballet college programs in America. Victoria’s career took her to Germany where she met husband, Andreas. Rebecca was their first child.

Encouraged by her grandmother, Rebecca followed her mother’s footsteps and attended Manlius Pebble Hill School in Dewitt, NY, an independent pre-Kindergarten through grade 12 school with its own performing arts department. Rebecca went there for 13 years and emerged as a well-rounded honors student. She won English composition awards and edited and wrote for the school’s literary magazine, developed a fondness for world history, and studied Latin for six years.

And she danced, from local theaters to the Syracuse Opera stage.

When she was accepted to Dominican, Rebecca decided to prepare for the year ahead by enrolling in the LINES’ Summer Intensive program to acclimate herself to the program.

In the meantime, Rebecca, a dog-lover, is looking to volunteer at the Humane Society. It will be one more activity that interests her. “I’m dancing 4-5 hours a day and, with the academics on top, working with animals would be just perfect,” she says.

She also looks forward to living alongside students whose passion lies elsewhere – be it science, business, psychology, nursing, or any number of academic disciplines at which Dominican excels.

“I’ve definitely come into contact with many people who are not dancers, so Dominican is not just a dance campus or just an art campus,” she says. “I’ve just met so many people and heard so many different stories why they are here.”


James Tapia

Major: Business  •  Hometown: Vallejo, California

james.jpgAt St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School, James Tapia’s academic commitment was recognized when he was named a California Scholarship Federation Life Member, as well as a member of the National Art Honor Society.

But few were aware of James’ dedication as a member of his school’s wrestling team. Once, mere hours before a meet during his sophomore year, he needed to lose three pounds to make weight or else his team would forfeit the match in his classification.

James, the team’s captain as a senior, proceeded to run 45 minutes continuously before he stepped back on the scales to discover he had lost five pounds and thus became eligible to compete. James brings his ambition and drive to Dominican’s School of Business and Leadership, which strives to enhance the professional and personal development of students through highly personalized and engaged learning experiences. 

“I’ve heard great things about the business school here,” James says. “The business school has a reputation for leading you to jobs after graduation, and there are so many internship opportunities prior to that.”

James is focusing on accounting and following the footsteps of his late grandfather, who was a CPA for a firm on Market Street in San Francisco. He already is motivated and is taking steps to connect with influential people. He has registered to join the Dominican Ambassadors and plans to join Dominican’s Filipino Club. And James is in the process of applying for internships with Cadtrak Engineering and Dominican’s Venture Greenhouse, an off-campus business development accelerator for social and environmental entrepreneurs, a learning laboratory for the University’s business students, and a community resource for innovators and new ventures.

“The courses they offer here really put you into the community,” James says

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