Greetings from our alumni!
Shannon “JJ” Behrens
BA in Mathematics with a concentration in Computer Science, class of 2000
Winner of the Br. Alfred Brousseau award for “outstanding scholarship as a mathematics major”
“I graduated from SMC back in 2000 and then spent more than a decade working at various startups. I eventually joined Google and then later Twitter. Currently, I’m a software architect at Udemy.
“Tech moves fast. Companies come and go. Technologies come and go. I don’t code in any programming language that I learned in school. However, you don’t go to SMC to learn a particular programming language. You can do that online. What you learn at SMC is much more valuable and profound. You go to SMC to learn how to think critically, how to communicate effectively, how to solve problems no one has seen before, and how to work hard even when the going gets tough.
“You might think it strange, but the seminar classes and proof-based math classes I took at SMC have had a profound, lasting impact on who I am as a developer. To use an analogy, instead of learning how to work on cars, I learned to think about transportation in order to design the transportation of the future.
“The other thing that I most appreciate from my time at SMC is how much time I spent with my professors. Sure, there are more prestigious schools churning out graduates like efficient factories. However, to really thrive, I needed that face-to-face attention that I got so much of while attending SMC. My professors not only knew who I was, but they cared about me at a personal level. That made all the difference.”
BA in Mathematics, class of 2010
“After graduating from Saint Mary’s I became involved with the Lasallian Volunteer Program. I currently serve at John XXIII Educational Center in Racine, Wisconsin. My primary role at the center is Mentor/Tutor. In this role, I work with high school students in our after-school study hall hours. Our center provides a place where all students from Racine can come and do their homework from 3:30-5:30 and 7:00-8:30 pm Monday through Thursday. Many of our students struggle with basic math skills, and I have the ability to work with these students on various levels of mathematics, and also help them with the rest of their assignments. However, that is not my only role at John XXIII. During school hours, the center offers outreach programs to the school district. I am involved and helped to develop a 5-week course that focuses on gossip and bullying at the middle school level.
“As a Lasallian volunteer, you tend to wear many hats; along with the tutor role and leading outreach programs, I also have two other roles that are very important to the center. The first is most important to me: I have been working with a high school senior, teaching him one-on-one to make up an algebra class credit so he might have the opportunity to graduate on time. The other is geared towards development of the center: keeping track of expenses and donations to the center, and responding to those donations when they come in. It’s a long nine- to ten-hour day of work, but as a Lasallian volunteer I am helping to make a difference in many students’ lives and carrying on the mission I learned at Saint Mary’s: Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve.”