Personal Info

I’ve been on the faculty at De Anza College since April, 1988,
first in Physical Education, then in Biological and Health Sciences as well.

I am a member of the De Anza College Academic Senate Executive Committee (since 2012).

pool flags:
I’m a Red Cross certified lifeguard instructor, lifeguard instructor trainer, First Aid,
CPR for the Professional Rescuer and Automated External Defibrillation instructor
(and other Red Cross instructor certifications).

I have taught these American Red Cross courses: Basic Water Rescue; First Aid; Water Safety; Lifeguard Training; Waterfront Lifeguard; Shallow Water Lifeguard; Lifeguard Management; Oxygen Administration; Bloodborne Pathogens: Preventing Disease Transmission; First Aid for Public Safety Personnel (Title 22); Disaster Preparation; Safety Training for Swim Coaches; Epinephine Auto Injector training; asthma inhaler training; Infant, Child and Adult Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Automated External Defibrillation (CPR/AED); and CPR/AED for Professional Rescuers and Health Care Providers.

I have trained Red Cross Lifeguard Instructors, Water Safety Instructors (the swim teacher certification), CPR/AED Instructors, and First Aid Instructors.

I have mentored two Red Cross Instructor Trainers.

I have been a lifeguard, lifeguard captain or in charge of the swim, at 54 triathlons or open water swims, (and my lifeguard training graduates have joined me for many of the following), including the Danskin Women’s Triathlon (6 years), National Triathlon for the Physically Limited (4 years), Bud Light (4 years), All For Kids Day (2 years), San Jose International (2 years) and the 25th Anniversary Far West Games (1992). My husband and I were lifeguard/swimmer escorts for a “Pier to Pier” 6 1/2 mile swim from Capitola to Cowell’s beach in Santa Cruz in 1998. In 2000 through 2013 De Anza College-trained lifeguards volunteered at the Escape from Alcatraz ‘Sharkfest’ swim (and/or the the Alcatri triathlon) from Alcatraz to Aquatic Park in San Francisco, and/or the Golden Gate Bridge Sharkfest swim from the south tower of the bridge to Sausalito. In 2009 we guarded the summer National Senior Games Triathlon when it was held in the S.F. bay area. 2004 through 2014 we guarded (and I was lifeguard captain for) the Silicon Valley Kids Triathlon. In 2017 we guarded the Escape from Alcatraz again. And we guarded the California State Community College Swimming and Diving championships held at De Anza College in May 2018 / May 2019 the Golden Gate Sharkfest July 22, 2018 and the Golden Gate Sharkfest Sept. 9, 2023.

I swam competitively in high school and was Sports Editor (as well as Editor-in-Chief and News Editor) of the De Anza newspaper (La Voz) as a student here.

Below: my editor photo at the La Voz (De Anza College student newspaper) office at age 19.

editor photo: Editor-in-chief of the De Anza student newspaper, La Voz, at age 19
I am a graduate of De Anza College, as is my husband who I met at De Anza on the campus newspaper.

clip of newspaper article
I was Girl Scout Counselor-in-Training in the Santa Cruz Mountains for two summers, worked at San Jose Family Camp for one summer and as a Girl Scout Camp Counselor in Idaho for two summers. At the camp in Idaho I was half of a team that were champions in blindfolded rowboat racing.

Below a typical home for the summer, this one in McCall, Idaho.

summer home:


First female president of Sigma Delta Chi at San Jose State University.


I’ve also taught at various Adult and Community Education centers, City Recreation Departments and have taught other groups as diverse as the staff of the Sunnyvale Senior Center; the staff of James Ranch/Harold Holden Boy’s Ranch (for the County of Santa Clara Probation Department); the Girl Scouts; Saratoga-Los Gatos, Milpitas and Fremont Union High School District staffs; Federal Court staff; De Anza’s Security staff; various corporate wellness centers and trainees for the California Conservation Corps. I’ve taught various subjects as a volunteer at the Silicon Valley Red Cross Chapter, the college, Harker Academy, and the San Tomas Neighborhood Association.

After completing Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training in 2002 I worked many years as a volunteer at Campbell/Cupertino/Saratoga/Los Gatos/Monte Sereno (CERT) training exercises.

In 2003 I became a volunteer trainer (instructor) for Campbell CERT, primarily in Disaster Medicine.

I was given a “2004 Volunteer of the Year” award for CERT work in Campbell
from the Santa Clara County Emergency Managers’ Association.

I am currently a volunteer with Cupertino CERT and Cupertino Medical Reserve Corps.
(At a first aid station I volunteered at for a Habitat for Humanity fundraiser walk / run
we gave out more chocolate chip cookies than band-aids.)
In 2004 I became a Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor Trainer (the person who trains lifeguard instructors) and Water Safety Instructor Trainer (the person who trains swimming teachers).
I served on the Silicon Valley Red Cross chapter Instructor Trainer Committee.

In 2005 I earned my FCC element 2 technician class radio license.

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patch that says volunteer Yosemite National Park

I first became a volunteer in Yosemite National Park in 2006 and have been a volunteer on and off for 10++ years, including five years with Preventative Search and Rescue when it was was initially fully funded in the park.

stars, including part of the Milky Way

As Senior Faculty Advisor to the De Anza Outdoor Club since 1990, I’ve led a multitude of camping, snow camping, backpacking, canoeing and kayaking trips. A dozen links to club info start at Outdoor Club Basic Info.

Below, April 1969, a Sierra Club and Sempervirens Fund project, at Big Basin State Park, building the Skyline to the Sea trail (nearly 50 De Anza students participated, including members of the “Los Montaneros Camping and Climbing Club,” the precursor of the Outdoor Club). Left to right, students Mary Donahue, Jo Ann Siebert and Sue Blair. Photo by Judy Shapero.
Yes, we cleared and got rashes from poison oak.

1969 building the Skyline to the Sea trail photo by Judy Shapero:


In 2021 I received a Certificate of Recognition from the City of Cupertino:

“In recognition of your participation as a Cupertino Citizen Corps Volunteer at COVID-19 testing sites from June 2020 through February 2021. The City of Cupertino thanks you for your continued service during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

I described my work as “greeter, educator and bouncer.”

Mary Donahue holding award next to Covid testing sign

I am the webmaster for this website.

In late October 2006 the original De Anza College version of my faculty website, one of the first faculty websites at De Anza, received its one millionth hit. April, 2008 it received its two millionth hit. In late 2009, the three millionth. In late 2010 it had four million hits, in late 2011 five million. In March 2016 the De Anza server was failing and I moved the faculty website here. This new site got it’s five millionth hit in 2019, it’s six millionth hit in 2021 and seventh million hit in 2022.


In my spare time I work on the Ultimate fixer-upper.

Below, on San Francisco bay:

steering Jeff Robinson's boat on SF Bay


There is no bad weather, just bad clothes. Snow or rain camp must-haves includes this advice: always bring your really good waterproof rain pants and hooded rain jacket (no ponchos).

Don’t waste money on cheap tools.

You are smarter than the bears, but they jog faster than you can run. Moose swim faster than you can paddle. Bison in the Rocky Mountains are more dangerous than bears, (but this is caused by people).

Never turn your back on the ocean and you won’t get caught by rogue or sneaker waves.

Always use waterproof sunscreen. (SPF 5 and 15 are jokes.)

Never swim alone. Don’t fight any current.

Two-thirds of drowning victims are good swimmers. Why you should wear a lifejacket.

Quit being paranoid about sharks

Swim, bike, boat, ski, skate and drive sober. Wear your helmet!

Keep your first aid and CPR skills current.

Chocolate is a food group.

Start your day with a liter of water.

Never hold your breath when you lift.

Play with your food.

Learn how to say no effectively.

It’s never time to give up.

You’re never too old to learn.

Don’t use a chainsaw indoors. Don’t try to weld a gas tank, even if you are sure it is empty.

Don’t be one of the people who puts their fingers in the boiling pools in Yellowstone to see if the water really is that hot. Road trip advice and etiquette

If your budget comes up short and you think you have to drop out of school, drop back in.
Take at least one class every quarter/semester/session, so you stay in the program.

From the 2002 U.S. Census Bureau Report we learn that over a period of 40 years,
people holding bachelor’s degrees earn 2.1 million dollars,
people with a master’s will earn 2.5 million dollars
and with a doctorate 3.4 million.

Spelling counts. If you can’t write well with proper spelling and grammar it will hold you back in anything you try to do.

Give Blood. Only about 5% of eligible donors give blood. It’s estimated we need an average of 34,000 units of blood per day in the U.S. It only takes about an hour, and the Red Cross on North First Street, which is certainly on some kind of a work or shopping commute you take, has a huge supply of OJ, lemonade, chocolate chip cookies (and new & old magazines if you forget to bring some homework or want to catch up on your trashy reading). If you’ve never done it, it doesn’t have to be intimidating or scary! For info on what happens, go to: Blood donation FAQs

Put off getting your first tattoo until you have given blood a few times. You probably won’t want to stop giving blood and will opt for the temporary tattoos instead.

(Allow me to update Mahatma Gandhi, who said:

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”)

Study, manage your money and exercise as if you will live forever.

Play as if you will die tomorrow.

in vain, words strive to tell the happiness of those whose days are lived within the great dance of the earth, under the great dance of the sky

“The idea is to die young as late as possible.” Ashley Montagu

Websites to check out:

NOLO Press has an online legal encyclopedia that has “Plain-English articles on the legal topics that affect you most.”

The NASA photo at:

Has an astronaut’s view of De Anza. The north/south axis is reversed from what you are used to seeing on a map, south is at the top of the page. Steven’s Creek reservoir is the dark blue shape on the right. The main roadways showing are 280 left to right across the page and 85 towards the right side top to bottom. If you look a little closer you can spot Steven’s Creek Blvd and find De Anza at Steven’s Creek and 85.

The whole index to a quarter million space photos is at:

To see a live, or nearly live shot of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, go to

At the site you can become a member of the Yosemite Conservancy and get a discount on books, postcards, etc. at Yosemite visitor centers and most other national parks.

A great stargazing site, with lots of pictures and an almanac is at

Lifeguarding and Red Cross links of interest to professionals are at the page
Lifeguard training, swimming, CPR and first aid links

Mary in a wading pool: Mary in a wading pool wearing only a smile.
I post student evaluations of my classes at:

Give me proof you’re such a great teacher


Yes, you can quit smoking.

Keep trying even if it takes a few tries, it will be worth it.

De Anza College offers offers help to quit smoking

Photo below courtesy of the California Department of Public Health.

California Department of Public Health photo car cancer: California Department of Public Health drawing of a person driving with their arm held outside of their car with a lit cigarette. Text on the photo says: well, at least the car won't get cancer.

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section of US Flag stars and stripes

If there are a multitude of items on the ballot and you only vote on one of them,
your vote will still be counted.

If you are homeless, including living out of your car, you can register to vote.

There is no literacy requirement.

If you are 16 or 17 years old, you can pre-register to vote and you will automatically be registered to vote on your 18th birthday.

The main deadline to register to vote for any election is 11:59:59 p.m. Pacific Time on the 15th calendar day before that election.

If you are registering or re-registering less than 15 days before an election you will need to complete the same-day voter registration process and request your ballot in person at your county elections office or polling location.

BUT you can register to vote on election day as well.

You can register to vote online, (using a computer, iPad, tablet or smartphone) at

There actually have been elections that ended in a tie, in part because many people did not vote.

From Rock The Vote: “Millennials have the potential to be the largest voting bloc in our country but are voting at a fraction of their size, with an estimated 30 million young people staying home in 2012.”

“In 2024 millennials and Generation Z
will comprise 44% of American voters.”