Michael Gattas, SDS Class of 2010
Tell us a little about your college experience…
I attended Duke University for 4 years, graduating in May 2018 with a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Economics and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Science.
I also was fortunate enough to study abroad twice in college. First, I participated in a six-week finance immersion in London in the Duke in London Finance Program. During this trip, we visited banks and learned about international finance immediately after the Brexit vote occurred, and it was a great way to flirt with a career in banking or finance. Second, I spent the fall of my junior year in Edinburgh, Scotland, taking courses and experiencing the fun of Scottish culture throughout the country. During my summers I worked as a counselor at Camp Bear Track, participated in an internship with Duncan Williams Asset Management in Memphis, and worked as an intern at Pfizer, Inc. in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. All of these experiences helped me try out different career tracks in finance and technology, as well as helped me learn to be a team player and to relate well to the people around me!
What activities were you involved in during college?
While I was in school, I participated in improvisational comedy with Duke University Improv. I was a crew leader for the pre-orientation program “Project Waves,” and I was a rush chair for my selective living group, Wayne Manor! While at Duke, I also participated in “Me Too Monologues", and wrote for the online comedy magazine Department Of. While Improv and P-Waves were definitely my biggest commitments on campus, the friendships and relationships I experienced at Duke were the most valuable parts of my time at school.
What are your career plans?
In September, I will begin a two-year fellowship at the Horizons School of Technology in San Francisco, California. I will spend a year in coding “school” before being matched with a company and working for a second year in software development. I'm really excited and curious to see how applying my computer science knowledge to the real world will feel!
How did your years at St. Dominic School prepare you for high school and college?
St. Dominic was, in my opinion, the best possible preparation for high school and college that I could have received in Memphis. Not only did my teachers lay an excellent foundation for understanding higher-level math, science, and humanities, but they also taught me discipline in applying myself for totally new subjects that I came across later on (like Computer Science). My fellow Suns and I were among the best writers once we moved on to high school, and even at Duke, I was among the better writers in my humanities courses. Honestly, this would not have been likely without the foundation I received at St. Dominic School. I still remember my parts of speech, the quadratic formula, and details of the Civil War, which goes to show how well my teachers and role models at SDS reinforced these things during my time there.
What is your favorite thing about St. Dominic?
I loved the classroom environment I got to experience at SDS most of all. Being in a smaller classroom helped me learn thoroughly and get personalized attention every step of the way, and it helped me bond with my classmates. Today, many of the guys that I met in Pre-Kindergarten at St. Dominic are still my best friends and the relationships I value most.
What do the Dominican Pillars of Study, Prayer, Community, and Service mean to you?
I think the pillars mean living a balanced and disciplined life, paying attention not only to studying or pursuing career achievements, but also paying attention to loving others and reflecting on how we can best treat and serve one another. It‘s something that requires everyday attention and care. Some days I'm better than others, and some days I fail, but St. Dominic instilled an attitude in me that even if I fail, the best I can do is get up, get going, and get at it again! My development as a young man at St. Dominic was among the most connected and loving periods of my life, constantly being surrounded by people whose primary motivations were love, respect, and faith. Loving others and seeking connection is so, so important, and it’s something that I always look back at fondly and work to achieve even as I move away from St. Dominic in my adult life.
Best St. Dominic Memory?
I remember my 8th-grade year when the SGA was able to fundraise and budget to purchase the school’s first mascot costume. Following Mass one day close to Christmas, I got to unveil the costume by jumping out of a big Christmas present box and then run around the St. Agnes Gym, showing people the latest addition to the school’s events, games, and pep rallies. I remember dancing and being a goofball inside “Sunny D” and the student body just losing it. It was so much fun, and it’s a memory I'll never forget.
Advice for current St. Dominic students?
My best advice is to absorb everything around you at St. Dominic and stay curious! The teachers, students, and staff at St. Dominic are so kind, intelligent, and positive, and are working every day to create a beautiful and loving environment for you to grow. Homework and assignments might seem cruddy at first, but I promise that they pay off and that you'll remember your times at SDS as some of your best! Finally, stay curious and engaged in all the things around you. More than any other period in history, things are changing in the world because of technology, and the best thing to do is ask questions and connect the education you get in the classroom with the much bigger “classroom” of the outside world. Your teachers work so hard to help this process, so be sure to ask them questions and use them while you have them. They're some of the best educators you'll ever have!