The Incredible Value of Alumni – Jennifer Oaten

As an Old Girl of Santa Maria College, I often reflect on what it is like to be Principal of the school I attended. I gained so much as a student here and still to this day feel a powerful connection to our values. I always felt like I belonged, and I treasured the sense of community and the strong sense of Mercy. I also believe there is a great sense of calmness from our open spaces and lovely river views which after growing up in the country is very comforting.

Twenty of our current staff are also Alumni, and this is what two staff said about their reason for choosing employment at the College.

“Walking through the gates of Santa Maria feels like coming home.  The spirit of Catherine McAuley floats peacefully through the buildings and people of this beautiful school.  For me, teaching at Santa Maria was simply a natural progression. I attended school at Santa Maria, I was on the Old Girls’ Association Committee for a number of years, I was a parent at the school and now I am blessed to be a teacher. Here at Santa Maria, we educate for life! We build community and spread the Mercy charism and College values to the girls and I love how this is just part of the day to day practice.” Carolyn Sharp (class of 1986)

I’ve often pondered how it is that I have found my way back to Santa Maria all those years after graduating in 1973! Whenever I hear the song The Circle of Mercy in Mass or assemblies tears come to my eyes, particularly when I sing the lines “the circle of Mercy is endless” and “holds us in God’s loving hands”. I think the tears come because I feel those words are powerfully real for me. Santa Maria feels like a home that I belong to and I am grateful and blessed to be part of the circle of mercy. Ilse Morey (class of 1975)

Our alumni are a reflection of our school and are a valuable resource for our current students.  We treasure our past students and continue to nurture and build this important aspect of College life. Our recent OGA Fashion Showcase is a great example of an event that brought together our alumni and students. They worked together to deliver a fabulous event for our community. A huge thank you to Jacqui Daniels, our OGA Coordinator, Gemma Varone our OGA President, the Alumni Committee and the Santa Maria staff for the wonderful work they all did to help deliver such a successful event.

We welcomed many alumni back to the School for this event. We even had in attendance several families with three generations present — what a great example of the extent of our community. I thoroughly enjoyed a conversation with June Shenton-Turner, one of our original students from 1938. It is these moments that demonstrate to me how important these great women are and how they helped shape our College today.

In just a few short weeks our current Year 12s will become Alumni and have their names in our history books.

Why our Alumni are so valued?

Many of our Alumni donate their valuable time. They offer support to our students, the College and each other. They demonstrate our value of Service, a trait so clearly seen in Catherine McAuley, our foundress.

Our Alumni are so valued because they:

  • Enable us to have connections with our history; there are many stories to be told by those who have gone before us.
  • Are ambassadors for Santa Maria. They share good news stories, in the community, about the College.
  • Share real-life experiences and challenges with our girls and how they learnt and grew from these experiences.
  • Share their knowledge, expertise from their chosen career paths; often assisting with work placements, internships and other opportunities for our girls.
  • Assist our girls in understanding how they made choices regarding post-school opportunities such as jobs, universities, TAFE or gap years.
  • Are excellent role models encouraging girls to be brave, aim high, take on challenging roles and to be successful in their chosen pathways.
  • Are diverse and talented and have a wealth of experience and have many skills to share.
  • Mentor students, share their experience, wisdom and support.
  • Assist our girls in developing personal and professional networks. These networks may help them launch their careers and have a competitive edge in today’s tough job market.


I am so thankful for the many generations of women who are proud to say they are Santa girls. Once a Santa girl, always a Santa girl! No wonder so many graduates apply for roles at the College and our community continues to flourish.


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