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Profiles of Philanthropy

Investing in science, inspiring women

Profile of Philanthropy: Myriam ’72 and Roy Easton

By Anissa V. Rivera

The university atop the Santa Monica mountains is 2,289 miles away from Havana, Cuba. It must have seemed a world away for Myriam (Perdices) Easton ’72 when she arrived on campus in 1970, a young Cuban refugee with limited English skills but enough determination to start anew.

Myriam ’72 and Roy Easton

“Mount Saint Mary’s was a very important influence in my life,” she says. “It helped me become what I am. The Mount trusted and accepted me as a student without official credentials,” which she could not obtain to substantiate her prior studies of three years in chemistry at the University of Havana, because of the political situation in Cuba.

She went on to UCLA, where she earned her master’s degree in chemistry and met her husband, Dr. Roy Easton. Roy serves as executive director of the Easton Family Foundation, which was started by his father, Dr. Nelson Easton, the inventor of Prozac.

Since 1977, Myriam has worked as a research scientist at The Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, Calif., providing technical expertise to the Air Force and other Department of Defense groups. She is an expert on rocket fuels and their compatibility with other materials; explosives used on rockets and spacecraft; and adhesives, composites and similar materials.

Interested in giving back to Mount Saint Mary’s, the Easton Family Foundation recently donated a green diode laser to the physical sciences department. The Eastons were happy to see it being used by students, and hear about the impact it will have on future research, during a campus visit in June.

 “I loved being a Mountie, living in Brady Hall and making friends with some of the nicest people that I have ever met,” Myriam says. “I give credit to (my professors) and to the Mount for preparing me for the scientific career that I have enjoyed for more than 40 years.”

The laser will be used in student research in several labs, says Eric Stemp, PhD, chemistry professor and chair of the physical sciences department.

“We are very grateful to the Eastons not only for the laser itself but also for the time they spent with our students and faculty,” Stemp says. “Their stories, particularly those from Myriam about how she has overcome adversity throughout her life and career, were truly inspiring. Myriam loves to encourage women scientists not only in their jobs but also in balancing family and careers.

“Society still discourages women from non-traditional female jobs,” she says. “Young women have more difficulty than their male counterparts to pursue and persist in those roles and jobs. They have to prove themselves constantly. (So my advice is) do what you love, and know that you have contributed in your endeavors.”

That’s the standard that brought success home to Myriam, who remains grateful and happy to pass the lessons and the blessings along to her Mount family. The Easton Family Foundation’s generosity continues, as they have recently funded the purchase of molecular modeling software critical to the department’s modern chemistry education.

Healthy lifestyle leads the way

Profile of Philanthropy: Pat Galt ‘47

Pat (Gisler) Galt ’47

Pat (Gisler) Galt ’47 believes in balance. As a lifelong tennis player, a healthy lifestyle has always been a top priority. In her junior year at Mount Saint Mary’s, Galt started the first competitive sports team at the University. She found a tennis coach, assembled a team, trained and ultimately competed against other colleges. She served as president of MSMU’s Women’s Athletic Association her senior year.

“I grew up at the Mount. It’s where I started my adult life,” she says. “But I just loved tennis so much, I didn’t know what else I wanted to do!” Galt found direction through Sister Mary Ida, who encouraged her to go into social work. She worked for the Catholic Youth Organization for a few years and then decided that teaching was a better option. She became an elementary school teacher, coached tennis and eventually became the main coordinator of physical education at St. Mary’s Academy. She taught for over 30 years.

Galt is thrilled to establish her legacy at the Mount and become a member of the Heritage Society. She is among many who have designated the Mount in their estate plans with the help of the Institutional Advancement team. She is also a strong supporter of the Wellness Pavilion.

“Being healthy is how I’ve lived so long,” she says. “It’s important for women to be active, and I’m thrilled to help any way I can.”

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