Maria (Kilner ’99) Sousa

As Maria (Kilner ’99) Sousa looks back at her years at Oakcrest, she sees the ways that her liberal arts education shaped her college experience and beyond. 

“The liberal arts education I received at Oakcrest really set me up for success in college - to be a thinker and to ask questions,” she says. “My education at Oakcrest helped me become the problem-solver and leader that I am today.”
After graduating from Oakcrest in 1999, Maria attended The Catholic University of America, studying communications and media studies. Her degree led her to The Heritage Foundation, a conservative public policy think tank in Washington, D.C., where she worked for almost two decades, working her way from administrative assistant on the web team to the organization’s digital director. In May 2022 Maria returned to her alma mater, The Catholic University of America, where she now is the Director of Marketing. 

“As a proud alum, I work to market the university to prospective students and their families,” she said, adding that it is a highlight that she has the opportunity to bring people to the university that is so dear to her. 

Today Maria lives with her husband, Jose, and their four children, ages 15, 12, 10, and 8 in Washington, D.C.

While at Oakcrest, Maria said two teachers who stood out to her were Ms. Kate Hennesey Makuc, who taught history, and Mrs. Joanne Walsh, who taught math. 

“Both challenged and encouraged me,” Maria remembers. “Neither history or math were my best subjects, but I still loved these teachers the most.” 

As a student, Maria played basketball, softball, and soccer, all for Oakcrest teams and was involved in student council and served as Senior Class President. She also participated in the Oakcrest theatre productions, singing, acting, and dancing. It was these experiences that she believes still help her today. 

“The shows were a huge part of my growth,” Maria said. “I grew in confidence as a performer and that confidence has helped me throughout my career.” 

To the Oakcrest senior class, Maria encourages them to “never stop learning.” 

“Read, take a class, ask questions, and never underestimate yourself. We were made for great things. As women, we can lead and change the world!”
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