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Dec 10, 2020

A look back at the Class of 2020 and their time at Flagler.

Through their words.

Headshot of Max Hammack

Jake Geoffrey

Accounting and Finance major, Business Administration, Computer Information Systems, and Economics minors

New Jersey

Why did you choose to come to Flagler?

It was my first-time visiting St. Augustine. We came here for Orlando, and I remembered I applied to a Florida school, and we were going be two hours away. We came here to look at the school, and I found out it is was, like, the #1 [most] beautiful school in the country. So, we took a tour, and I fell in love with it.

How did you choose your majors and minors?

My neighbor is a tax manager, and I knew he was making a good amount of money. I was really good with numbers, so he told me to take an accounting class in high school, and I got the hang of it really quick. My teacher was like, “You should take it up as a major in college,” and I did. Finance kind of came along with that. I wanted to broaden myself and finance kind of goes along with accounting. Business Admin basically comes with the accounting major. I knew that computers are everything nowadays, so I really wanted to get familiar with Computer Information Systems. Economics is slightly correlated with accounting and finance.

What extra-curriculars were you involved with at Flagler?

I basically started Lambda Chi Alpha, the fraternity here. There was a group of nine people my freshman year, and we started it off, and it’s still going on. Internship-wise, Korey Garibaldi, [‘20], recommended me to Scine & Associates, which is managed by Dom Scine. I applied, and he hired me on the spot as an intern.

Headshot of Jake Geoffrey

Max Hammack

Accounting, Business Administration, Economics, and Finance major

Recipient of Ameris Bank Endowed Scholarship for Business in 2015-2016

Why did you choose to come to Flagler?

I’m a native somewhat, so I came here when I was 18, and I started going to Flagler when I was 26. My wife went to this school, so the reputation preceded itself. I decided to go ahead, because I was interested in business.

How did you choose your majors and minors?

When I came to Flagler originally, my first chosen major was Accounting. I probably should’ve been an Economics major from the beginning, but I chose Accounting because I enjoy math, I enjoy logic and systems, and I had always gotten a good idea that Accounting would be good if you’re going into a business career. But as I continued on, I could easily add some other majors, so I added Business Administration. I enjoyed math, so I dropped my Math minor and decided to major in Economics as well. Ironically, I’ve enjoyed my Economics classes probably the most. Then while I was at Flagler, they added the Finance major, so I picked that up as well, and that’s how I ended up with four majors. I don’t like the idea of minors. If I learn something, I want to learn it as much as I can, so I ended up doing majors instead. I love education, so it made sense to pick up the extra majors, since they all went together. But going for the fourth one was more of a challenge, something fun for me to do for myself. I know not everyone does that, so I did it to differentiate myself. I had the opportunity to do so through my VA benefits, so I went ahead and did it.

What extra-curriculars were you involved with at Flagler?

I did a lot of study groups and peer-to-peer tutelage. I’ve been doing an internship this last semester with Jake’s boss’s brother, Mike Scine. It’s been a great marriage of what I’ve learned at Flagler and how he operates his firm, which is much different than others in town. It’s taught me a lot, especially software-wise. I’ve learned probably seven different pieces of software that we don’t even really talk about at Flagler.

Hannah Leonard holding two baby sea turtles with breaking waves on the shoreline as her background.

Hannah Leonard

Coastal Environmental Science major, International Studies minor

Franksville, Wis.

Why did you choose to come to Flagler?

My grandparents lived here when I was growing up, so I’d always vacation here. I always grew up seeing Flagler, so when it came time to start touring colleges, I thought Flagler would be a good fit. I wanted warmer weather and a beautiful campus and the student-to-faculty ratio. I liked how it was smaller classes.

What field work and research have you done with your major?

I helped with dolphin research, where you go out on a boat in the intercoastal and you take photos of the dolphins and count population numbers in our local waters. I’ve also done a turtle relocation project with the Jacksonville Zoo, where the zoo was doing some construction, so they asked us to collect all the turtles out of the freshwater ponds and relocate them to different ones. I’ve done squid research projects, where we go out at night to collect squid samples by the fort and document the populations there.

My capstone project right now is with the St. Johns County Wastewater Treatment Plant, and we are working with the water quality with Lake Maria Sanchez here and in the intercoastal to test for different bacteria. That’s been really cool, to work with the Wastewater Treatment Plant. We’ve actually been able to work in their labs and work closely with them and see how those processes are carried out.

What made your Flagler experience memorable?

All that field research and getting all that hands-on experience in a bunch of different fields. I’ve worked a lot with animals and water quality and even sediments. And also, getting to know a lot of different people and getting to make different friends along the way.

How has Covid-19 affected your experience?

I was taking some really hard classes when it hit, and it took away some of those field research opportunities that we could’ve had. But I still think it worked out really well. My professors were really good with teaching on Zoom and getting us to have those hands-on experiences on our own time.

If you could give one piece of advice to Flagler students, what would it be?

Get involved and get to know your professors, because they can really help you get involved in the community around you and get all that experience.

Where would you like to be 5 or 10 years from now?

I think I would like to be working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or with NOAA and helping with conservation and sustainability in the United States.

Leilanie Morales painting

Leilanie Morales

Fine Arts and Psychology double-major

Where are you from?

I was originally born in New Jersey. For the first nine years of my life, I lived back and forth from New Jersey and New York. And then I moved to Illinois for a month, and then Milwaukee, Wisconsin for five years, and then Arkansas. I’ve also lived in DC and Texas and Georgia.

I joined the Navy right out of high school so that I could afford to pursue higher education. When I got out, I knew what degree I wanted to pursue, and I pinpointed Washington state or Florida, and I flipped a coin and moved to Florida. I went to Daytona State for a year, and I got my associate’s there.

Why did you choose to come to Flagler?

I looked up the art program, and I thought it was really nice. It was a good, niche art program, and the psych classes also looked really interesting. I also liked that it was more of a smaller school. Between St. Augustine and St. Pete, I felt this pull to go to Flagler.

How did you choose your majors?

I’ve always been super into psychology and art my entire life. I had taken this art therapy class when I was in the navy, and I didn’t even know art therapy was even a thing. It’s also two of my passions and to be able to combine those, it was a no-brainer.

What sort of academic research did you conduct within your majors?

My thesis focused on research medicine with psychedelics and the juxtaposition between how effective those therapies are with the leading pharmacotherapeutic and psychotherapeutic therapies for certain mental illnesses. Within the last two years, I got really into it because at Flagler, I was also learning about Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine with herbalism. There are online classes you can take for that, which I’ll be taking when I move to Colorado.

With my art major, this wasn’t my thesis, but one of my favorite classes was the Artist in Residence class with Leslie Robison. We got to work with this artist, Jackie Sumell, and she’s a prison abolitionist. Her project right now is called “Solitary Gardens,” a collaborative project meant to cultivate conversations around alternatives to incarceration. Our class got to work with the incarcerated youth at St. John’s Youth Academy and create seed packets based on medicinal herbs they learned and identified with most. Those seed packets were then dispersed to the community to extend the conversation past those immediately affected.

How did you get involved as Artist in Residence at St. Augustine Youth Services?

As part of the class, you have to do some sort of volunteer work, and their mission statement really resonated with me, because I grew up in a lower socioeconomic status for a while. I was an artist in residence with St. Augustine Youth Services, and I was trying to teach them art therapy. This was also during Covid when we went into lockdown, so I wasn’t able to go there in person, but I did the classes through Zoom. I’m just very passionate about giving back to the community, especially to those who really need it. It’s really nice to have someone show you some act of kindness. A lot of them are not in a good place, and something like art can take their mind off whatever’s bothering them.

What made your Flagler experience memorable?

I feel like I have grown a lot as a person and as an artist. I used to just make art out of feelings, but specifically now, I’m in video arts with Patrick Moser, I’m really trying to focus on making art that’s conscious and aware of what’s going on in the world, in a contemporary way.

How did you discover the Transcendental Art Therapy program at Naropa University?

There’s not that many universities in America that offer an art therapy degree. I think there’s only thirteen. Out of that, there’s even less that are CACREP accredited. The two that called to me the most were Naropa and George Washington University, but the art therapy there has a trauma focus, and the program at Naropa is very set in Eastern philosophy. When I went to tour the campus, the classrooms don’t have furniture, you sit on the floor and on pillows, and you meditate together before class starts, and when class is over, you do the same thing. The first two years of the program is directed towards healing your own inner traumas, because they believe you can’t help someone else until you solve your own things.

If you could give one piece of advice to Flagler students, what would it be?

Don’t lose sight of the things you’re passionate about. It is important to make connections and make friends and have fun, but at the same time, don’t forget what you’re here to do.

Where would you like to be 5 or 10 years from now?

I plan on staying in school for a long time, probably like the next 10 years. After my art therapy degree, I want to get a doctorate in clinical psych, and then I also want to get a post-doctorate in research medicine with psychedelics. I’m also really interested in plant medicine. Eventually, I want to open up my own healing center that offers every form of alternative therapy and publish papers about it.

Five years from now, I’ll still be in school. Ten years from now will be towards the end of my schooling, so I’ll be starting my healing center. I already have other friends that are passionate about the same thing but they’re going to school for different parts of what the healing center would offer, and all of us want to come together and start this place. So hopefully starting my own business and publishing papers on plant medicine.

Headshot of Karina Quinones

Karina Quiñones

Psychology and Communications major

Orlando, Fla.

Why did you choose to come to Flagler?

On my 4th grade field trip to St. Augustine, I was looking at the “castle,” and I looked at my mom and I was like, “I’m gonna go there.” I didn’t really give Flagler much thought after that, until I took AP Psychology in high school, and I knew I wanted to go into that. I took a campus tour of UF, and it was so huge. I knew that I would get lost, I didn’t like the feel at all, so I knew that I wanted a smaller campus. I looked up “best colleges in Florida for psychology,” and Flagler came up. Once I went to Admitted Students Day and got a feel for the place, I was like, “this is exactly what I want.”

How did you choose your major?

I double-majored in Psychology and Criminology first going in, because I wanted to be a criminal profiler. Once I was looking at classes and thinking of what to take, I didn’t love Criminology as much as I loved Psychology. I missed yearbook and talking to people, so that’s what brought me to Communications and Psychology. I knew there was a lot of overlap in it, and I knew not many people considered that as a double major.

When did you know you wanted to pursue counseling?

Hearing Dr. Brueske talk about her experiences being a counselor in private practice, I knew that I wanted to sit down with people. Before then, whenever my friends would ask me for advice, I loved helping them figure out what to do and seeing how it went. I think once I knew I wanted to go into Psychology, counseling was my #1 way to go.

What kind of counseling do you want to do?

At first, I wanted to do adolescent, around the teen age, but once I started getting into my classes, I knew I wanted to focus on adults with common mental health, like anxiety and depression. Right now, it’s just mental health counseling, and hopefully as I get further into my studies, I’ll pick a specialty or specific disorder I want to focus on.

What was a pivotal moment in your Flagler experience?

The most pivotal [moment] happened in my senior year, and that was the adulting series. The vice president of student government, historically, was just a crutch to the president; they stepped in whenever they were needed, but there was never really a role they played. Because I was starting to graduate, it gave me a lot of anxiety. I didn’t know how to file my taxes, I didn’t know how to deal with landlords. I got the idea to do the adulting series and teach students things you need to know in the real world, because that’s what college is supposed to do. There are some common things people need to know that college doesn’t give you, so I knew I wanted to be that resource for students.

Headshot of Joaquin Vargas

Joaquin Gutierrez Vargas

Sport Management major

Men’s soccer student-athlete

La Paz, Bolivia

Why did you come to Flagler?

I chose Flagler because my cousin was part of the tennis team and he always mentioned how nice Saint Augustine was and the culture that existed within the athletic department. Plus, I knew that the sport management department was very good, so it had the perfect combination for me to choose Flagler.

How did your sports management degree set you up for success?

It prepared me in all fields related to sport, which helped me to start working not only as a coach but also as the social media coordinator of the club. Having the internship requirement helped me to start looking into the professional field during my junior year.

Current occupation?

Coach and social media coordinator for Ancient City Soccer (

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