Meet Deanna Hotchkiss Agostinelli — From Class of '83 to Board of Directors Chair

Meet Deanna Hotchkiss Agostinelli From Class of '83 to Board of Directors Chair

St. Mary’s was always a part of Deanna’s life. Deanna’s mother was a beloved SMA teacher who filled her childhood with family outings to St. Mary's playoff games and spring musicals well before becoming an SMA student herself. Throughout her 30-year career as a Computer Engineer for Intel, Deanna always felt her Catholic high school experience at St. Mary’s was the gift that kept giving because it was a once in a lifetime opportunity where all the role models and leaders were women. In 2018 she was asked to join the SMA Board of Directors, and this year was called to serve as Chair.

Did you ever imagine you’d have a leadership role at your Alma Mater? Not really! I just knew I had such a wonderful experience at St. Mary’s and I want to ensure this school is around for another 164 years, so others can have that opportunity too!    

What about SMA inspires you most? I am very inspired by the story of the founding Sisters of St. Mary’s Academy. They embarked on a long and arduous journey to get here and faced many challenges once they arrived to establish their Catholic school for young women. They were ahead of their time, seeing the value of empowering women, and took on the mission to educate young women at a time in our history when society did not offer all women an education. And they were strong women, made stronger by their faith in God and their devotion to their mission. I am so thankful for their legacy and so moved when I think about how many young women have come through St. Mary’s and the positive impact they are having now in their communities.

If you were a student at SMA today, what advice would you give yourself going into the new school year? Enjoy the whole experience – the learning opportunities, the friendships, the extra-curricular activities – take it a day at a time, try new things, and be present in the moment. It all goes by faster than you think!
How has the guidance and wisdom you’ve received from the Sisters affected you? As an alumna of St. Mary’s and Holy Family Grade School, several of the Sisters were my teachers for academics, music, and Sacramental prep. They instilled in me a love of music, especially guitar and singing, and to find spiritual connection through music liturgy at Mass. They taught me to be curious, to enjoy learning, the art of discernment, empathy and compassion. They built up my self-confidence, along with leadership and academic skills. They helped me to know I could learn and achieve anything if I worked for it with purpose and to always remember to share the talent and gifts God has given us to help others.

What is it about leading at a women's institution that makes you most proud? Both as Board Chair, and as a mentor for the Beta Blues Robotics team, I find much pride in the successes of St. Mary's students and the school as a whole. As a supporter of SMA's annual Food for Thought fundraiser, I am so inspired every year bo our student speaker and proud of the SMA community for coming together to support student financial aid. I feel pride and joy when I hear feedback from SMA students and alumnae - that their education at St. Mary's helped them to achieve their full potential. I have heard many times from proud parents that their daughter founder her voice at St. Mary's. It is a wondrous thing to see parents so proud of their daughters, to know St. Mary's made such a difference in their lives and that they in turn will go out and make a difference in the lives of others.