A number of STA alumni have made lasting contributions to the greater Hyde Park community including: Illinois State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie ‘54, Bronzeville Animal Clinic Veterinarian Sophia Gill, ‘81, and business owners Vincent Schoenberg, ‘89 of Ribs n’ Bibs and brothers William ‘60 and James ‘62 Callahan of “Jimmy’s” Woodlawn Tap. We’re proud of all of the outstanding achievements of our alumni!
STA Alumnus, Neal Sáles-Griffin graduated from St. Thomas in 2001 and is now a potential mayoral candidate for the city of Chicago! We recently had the opportunity to check-in and see how he is doing now, and what he has been up to since he graduated in 2001!
After graduating from STA in 2001 as valedictorian and captain of the football team, Neal attended Mount Carmel High School and Northwestern University. After college, he started doing work in venture capital, which is when he realized how important it was for men and women to learn how to code. So, he taught himself how to code and started his own coding school, which is now known as the Starter League. It was one of the first in-person coding-focused schools! He is now the CEO of his non-profit CodeNow who’s mission is to teach high school students from under served communities how to code. Both of these organizations launched in 2011.
Now, Neal is running for Mayor of Chicago! When asked why he decided to run, he said he “was tired of complaining about the way things are, so instead of talking about it on the sidelines [he[ decided to jump into the arena.” He really wants young people in Chicago to have better lives and to inspire young people to take action in their communities.
When reflecting on how he has accomplished all that he has today, he attributes much of his success to his time as a student at St. Thomas. While he was only in attendance for 7th and 8th grades, he described his time at St. Thomas as a “critical shift in his life path.” He saw improvements in his grades and confidence in himself. Plus he made great friends who he still keeps in touch with and thinks about today. “St. Thomas is the place where I finally felt like I could ‘be me.’ I felt accepted by my peers, and it felt like I finally had a home.”
When asked what his dream for the future of STA is, he explained: “For St. Thomas to continue to be a place that people both in the neighborhood and around the neighborhood are aspiring to have their children attend.”
We would like to congratulate Neal on all of his success since graduating from St. Thomas and wish him luck in the race for Mayor of Chicago!
Alumna Ashley McCann ’99 graduated from Spellman College with a BA in Economics and in 2013 graduated from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and went on to complete a 3 year family medicine residency in the Cook County – Loyola Family Medicine Residency Program. In the summer of 2017, she finished up a primary care sports medicine fellowship at Emory University and planned to start as an associate professor and attending physician of family medicine appointment with the Morehouse Healthcare Family Medicine Program in Atlanta. She also served as the team physician for the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team when they traveled to compete in Germany and England in the summer of 2017.
Alumna Kristen Harper’03 returned to STA in June, 2015 to reminisce about her time at St. Thomas the Apostle and update us on her life’s story. After graduating from Whitney Young High School in 2007, Kristen went on to attend Grambling State University where she received a B.S. in Computer Information Systems with a minor in management. Today, Chef Kristen Ashley is a private chef and owns her own catering company, Cleo’s Southern Cuisine, created to honor the memory of her grandmother. Cleo’s features the same southern soulful food Kristen watched her grandmother “whip up” in her small but quaint kitchen on the south side of Chicago—seared Tilapia, baked cornbread dressing, and sweet potato pie.
While Kristen has had the opportunity to work with numerous professional athletes, corporate partners and community organizations, she also provides classic southern meals for birthday celebrations, retirement parties and school events. We’re looking forward to having her cook for STA soon! Check out Cleo’s unique menu at www.cleossoutherncuisine.com.
Savannah West ’07, St. Ignatius ’11, received the prestigious Fulbright Fellowship Award. She is a 2015 graduate of Amherst College with a B.A. in Political Science and Art History. Savannah served as an English Teaching Assistant in South Africa for the 2015-16 academic year. High achievements run in the family. Sister Delia West ’11, St. Ignatius ’15 was accepted to Georgetown University while Paula West ’15 has continued the family tradition at St. Ignatius.
A visit to Mother McCauley High School on March 18, 2015 reunited eighth grade teacher Mrs. Xanthoula Melachrinides with three St. Thomas the Apostle alumnae, Lauren Merriwether ’11, Heather Bland ’11 and Yinshuo Liu ’12 (all honor roll students!). Two other STA graduates, Katherine Tinsley ’13 and Jemma Marshall ’13 are also Mighty Macs. We loved seeing these empowered young women ready to take on the world! STA Pride!
Several alumni gathered for an informal reunion
on August 22, 2014 following a Mass of the Holy Spirit at De La Salle Institute to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the founding of the school. Taking time to reconnect with STA were:
Jaylen Robertson ’11, Tealia Farmer ’11,
Chatara Lewis ’11, Edward Singleton ’14,
Noah Stuart ’14, Anthony Clark ’11,
Natalie Tarby ’14, Eugene Silas ’13,
Genea’Vi Brent ’14, and Hugh Richardson ’14.
We’re proud to see the continued success of these young alumni!
Neal Sales-Griffin ’01, a graduate of Mt. Carmel High School and Northwestern University, is co-founder and CEO of The Starter League,
a Chicago-based coding and entrepreneurship school. Named to Crain’s 40 Under 40 list in 2013, Sales-Griffin and The Starter League have been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Black Enterprise and the Northwestern Business Review.
Fr. Andrew (Drew) Smith Jr. ’80, attended Mt. Carmel High School, and Loyola University where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Theology. After serving in the Chicago Police Department for 10 years, Fr. Smith earned his Master of Divinity from Chandler School of Theology at Emory University, completed the Program of Priestly formation at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois and was ordained as a priest on May 23, 2009. Currently the pastor at Holy Angels Catholic Church in Chicago, Fr. Smith is also the author of From the Gun to the Pulpit: One Man’s Journey to the Roman Catholic Priesthood.
Summer months always bring STA graduates back to visit their alma mater. During the summer of 2013 we welcomed:
Kenneth Furlough ’05, Brother Rice ’09, Georgetown University ’13,
a psychology/pre-med major who is in the process of establishing “Everyone Has a Shot,” a program designed to increase minority student interest in science in addition to pursuing his ultimate goal of earning an MD/MBA. A former member of STA’s football team, Kenneth also played at Brother Rice and Georgetown.
Nicholas Marshall ’05, Tufts University ’13, received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology with a minor in Film Studies. His sister Gemma, a member of STA’s class of 2013, is a student at Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School.
Gerard Radice ’32, who may very well be our oldest living alumnus!