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Studying culture and Catholicism in summer programs overseas

Students near St. Dominic statue

The Caldwell University group near a statue of St. Dominic at the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba.

Professor and Students pose in Spain

Dr. Rosa Sanchez (2nd from left) and students in Segovia, Spain.

Campus Minister Colleen O’Brien overlooking the "seignadou,”

Campus Minister Colleen O’Brien overlooking the “seignadou,” which means sign of God, where St. Dominic saw the globe of fire from the sky over the church of Prouilhe, which would become the place where he would start the Dominican order.

Colleen O’Brien outside the St. Dominic house

Colleen O’Brien outside the house where St. Dominic lived between 1206-1215.

Cross statue

The cross marking the spot from which Dominic received the seignadou.

Laura Ziegert in Carcassonne, France.

Laura Ziegert in Carcassonne, France.

Members of the Caldwell University community spent time in Spain and France this summer on study-abroad experiences to learn about culture, language and Catholic history.

Anne Ilardi was one of the students who traveled to Segovia for “The Catholic Tradition in Spain,” a monthlong excursion led by Dr. Rosa Sanchez of the Modern Languages Department. One of the most enjoyable parts for Illardi was living with her host family. They shared their food and dance and “showed [me] that their family dynamic is similar to the American family dynamic,” said Ilardi.

The students took two classes and visited sites in Madrid, Seville, Granada, Cordoba and Malaga in June. “The courses are designed to help them appreciate what they will see on the excursions, so they learned about architecture, history, religion and literature in addition to language,” explained Sanchez, who teaches one of the courses. “They visited nearby palaces and cathedrals, strolled through the Jewish quarter and learned how to cook paella and croquetasfrom a local chef.”

Illardi said she progressed in her Spanish language skills and brought home Spanish recipes, a yearning to travel and “a respect for people who move or immigrate to a new place and have to learn the customs and languages of that area.”

Summer Study in Fanjeaux and Paris

The annual trip to the medieval village of Fanjeaux, France, to trace the roots of the Catholic Dominican tradition took place May 28 to June 13. It was “life-changing” to learn about the Dominican heritage along with faculty, staff and students from other Dominican institutions, said Laura Ziegert, a graduate admissions counselorand Dominican associate with the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell.

Members of the group would start their days with “warm croissants and coffee,” said Ziegert, and then they would take classes to learn about art, medieval history and the spirituality of St. Dominic. She found it soul-stirring to visit the ancient churches, walk along the country path St. Dominic traversed in the 1200s and attend the evening vespers prayer service with the Dominican Sisters in Prouille, France. They also spent four days in Paris.

Ziegert was grateful for the opportunity to have learned more about St. Dominic’s vision and explore how she can carry that forward in her life and on campus. “I brought back St. Dominic’s love for teaching and education, and I hope to incorporate it in my work as a graduate admission counselor.”   She encouraged others at the university to explore the Dominican foundation, which can be done “right here,” she said, by visiting the Motherhouse or the Sisters in the infirmary or by getting involved. “There is so much to learn.”

Attending with Ziegert were Caldwell School of Psychology and Counseling instructor Linda Farina and students Caroline Colmary and Adriana Floridian.

Lands of Dominic Pilgrimage

Colleen O’Brien, director of campus ministry, made the “Lands of Dominic” pilgrimage to Fanjeaux from June 26 to July 4. She traveled with Dominican religious and lay associates and lay staff members at Dominican institutions as they went from Toulouse to Carcassonne to Prouille learning how Dominic preached the gospel and lived in relationship with others.

O’Brien was in awe of St. Dominic’s courage and the depth of his belief, especially since he was a Spaniard living in France. “His commitment to his faith was so deep that he solely trusted in God to make the impossible possible,” said O’Brien. “It was his faith and his humility that led him to aid in the conversion and change of hearts for many people in southern France in the early 1200s.”


Featured News, News

Caldwell University Named a College of Distinction

College of Distinction 2019-2020

Caldwell University has been named a 2019-2020 College of Distinction.The university has been recognized for its successful delivery of four distinctions—engaged students, great teaching, vibrant community and successful outcomes.

The university was also acknowledged with 2019-20 awards as Business College of Distinction,Education College of Distinction, Nursing College of Distinction and Catholic College of Distinction.

Stephen Quinn, acting vice president for enrollment management and communications, says the awards reaffirm areas of strength at Caldwell. “We are delighted to be acknowledged in areas where we are exemplary in serving our students and preparing them for the global marketplace.”

The university is offering a new Bachelor of Science degree in esports management and a new fully online Master of Science degree in nursing in population health; it is relaunching its Bachelor of Science degree in computer science.

About Colleges of Distinction: Colleges of Distinction has recognized and honored schools throughout the United States for excellence in undergraduate-focused higher education for over 15 years. The member schools within the Colleges of Distinction consortium distinguish themselves through their focus on the undergraduate experience. For more information, visit CollegesofDistinction.com.

Featured News, Natural and Physical Sciences News, News

Health Sciences Grad Receives Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship for Medical School


Favour Garuba recipient of Phi Kappa Phi fellowship

Favour Garuba ’19 is the recipient of a Phi Kappa Phi fellowship. She will be attending Washington University School of Medicine in the fall on a full scholarship.

Recent graduate Favour Garuba is the recipient of a fellowship from the prestigious honor society Phi Kappa Phi.  PKP awards the grants to members who are starting their first year of graduate or professional study.  Garuba, who received her bachelor’s in health sciences May 19, will be entering Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis in the fall on a full scholarship.

Garuba was active in community service during her undergraduate years including spearheading the Phi Kappa Phi book drive for Autism Awareness month in April where students collected over 300 books for The Learning Center for Exceptional Children in Clifton, New Jersey.

She was thrilled when she found out that she was selected for fellowship. “Once I read the email, I felt grateful, honored, and humbled,” and she felt like a load was lifted off her shoulders, “All I could really say was ‘thank God.’”

Lynne Alleger, associate faculty member in the Academic Success Center and president of Caldwell’s chapter of PKP, worked closely with Garuba on the project.  “Even with mid-terms looming and graduation quickly approaching, Favour was always ready and willing to meet, make suggestions, and coordinate with our book drive recipient.”

Alleger is also proud of the other student leaders, Chennelle Lawrence, Roksana Korbi and Anwar Khalil for “their diligence in getting the book drive off the ground in a very short period of time and securing a very grateful recipient…all of the young women were more than motivated to meet with me and get the ball rolling on our agendas.”

Garuba, an international student from Nigeria, is grateful to the Phi Kappa Phi Chapter at Caldwell for nominating her, to the professors in the Natural  Sciences Department who wrote recommendation letters and to “the countless other individuals” at Caldwell who helped her achieve her goals.   She is looking forward to starting her medical studies so she can use her gifts to help those in need. “I would like to dedicate my services as a physician and researcher to improve health in a way that reaches every community, including those in disadvantaged areas.”

Watch News 12 New Jersey’s feature with Favour as Viewer of the Day. Watch it here.

Business News, Featured News, News

Business Student’s Apprenticeship Provides In-depth Human Resources Training

“All schools should be making this a priority. It should be across the board,” says Caldwell University business student Crystal Zamora of her human resources apprenticeship program.  Zamora is the first federally registered human resources apprentice in the U.S. thanks to a partnership with the Employers Association of New Jersey.

Crystal Zamora

Zamora, who is majoring in business administration and minoring in human resources, has worked in HR for the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey where among her duties she assisted with payroll and planned a wellness program, and she is currently working in HR at Mott MacDonald, a national engineering firm in Iselin, New Jersey. “The companies I have had the honor of working with have given me such invaluable experiences,” she said.   The networking has been one of the highlights of the apprenticeship.  “There are so many professionals who are willing to help me.”

Apprenticeships are different than internships since students have the opportunity to work for two to three years immersing themselves in the business experiences.   John Sarno, president of EANJ, says most of the students, like Zamora, are the first in their families to attend college and they are “totally committed to their career development, working and attending classes full-time, a long-term commitment that requires the utmost endurance.”

Zamora, who will graduate in December and continue in Caldwell’s MBA program, is applying  concepts she learned in the classroom to “real life experiences” as she is exposed to areas of HR like the Affordable Care Act and Occupational Safety and Health Administration reporting, bargaining agreements, recruitment and promotion, and harassment issues.  EANJ has given her the opportunity to attend classes on human resources administration and law and compensation.

The US Department of Labor is promoting apprenticeships following the 2017 executive order to expand the programs. According to the US Department of Labor, nationally registered apprenticeships are becoming increasing available with reportedly 585,000 in 2018 compared with 375,000 in 2013. Graduates who have had apprenticeships are attractive to employers because they have on the job experience.

Sheila O’Rourke, Caldwell’s vice president of institutional effectiveness and member of EANJ’s board, is happy that Caldwell is one of the first to embrace this way of giving students more in-depth work experiences. “Crystal worked in our Human Resources office at Caldwell University before she started her apprenticeship.  There, I had the pleasure of getting to know her, and to witness firsthand her eagerness to learn and her strong work ethic.  Crystal will be an asset to any HR office lucky enough to employ her.”

Zamora recommends apprenticeships to students in any majors for their personal and professional development. “I hope more of these apprenticeship programs come to life,” she said, because it gives students solid experience and “enhances the connection” between class instruction and the field work.

Virginia Rich, associate dean of the School of Business and Computer Science, says the program is a terrific opportunity for employers to groom a potential employee to meet their firm’s unique needs and is one of the best active learning experiences a student could have. “Through industry experience, the lessons we teach in the classroom are reinforced in a tremendously meaningful way. And the employers benefit from the valuable work apprentices provide.”

Zamora is grateful to Rich and business faculty member Helen McGowan for introducing her to the program. “They have guided me throughout the entire experience.” She knows it has put her on the right path. “I have realized this is something I would love to do and a career I could see myself happy in.”


Celebrating the Class of 2019

Devin Lattuga: Ready to take on the marathons

Devin Lattuga is a long-distance runner. As the captain of the Caldwell University men’s track and cross-country teams during his senior year, he Devin Lattuga on his Graduation knows his sport helps form community. “With all the technology and the fast-paced world we live in, running provides a different kind of speed—a chance to enjoy nature and to enjoy friends.”

Lattuga, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Caldwell University on May 19, is proud that his team took first place his senior year at the Caldwell Cougar Chase home cross-country meet and that he won the individual first prize.

Soon he will turn his attention to training for marathons—marathons for athletics and the marathon of law school, at Columbus School of Law at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. for which he received a full tuition scholarship.

Lattuga, a resident of Denville, New Jersey, has known for a while that he wanted to pursue law, but his work in Campus Ministry at Caldwell inspired him to look at how lawyers can reach out to those on the margins. One of his favorite activities has been Midnight Runs when students pile into a van and drive into New York City to provide the homeless with warm clothes, soup and conversation. Lattuga has been involved in other Campus Ministry projects including Boxtown for which students slept outside to raise awareness of homelessness. Campus Ministry is a great way to “meet like-minded people,” and the director, Colleen O’Brien, “is so inspiring” and makes students feel at home, says Lattuga.

In the spring semester, Lattuga became a student docent when the university hosted the Gospels and Acts heritage edition of The Saint John’s Bible, the first handwritten illuminated Bible of monumental scale in over 500 years. This gave him a chance to talk with the guests viewing the exquisite sacred art and to hear a little about their faith journeys. “As a practicing Catholic, I love hearing other people’s stories.”

Lattuga transferred to Caldwell in the second semester of his freshman year and felt welcomed from the beginning. He recalls his first trip to the cafeteria when another track team member was behind him and said, “Sit with us.” She noticed Lattuga had a running watch and invited him to run with team members the next day. That caring atmosphere made him realize he was in the right place.

He appreciated the individualized attention he received from his “amazing” professors in the English Department, who “always wanted me to succeed.”

At Catholic University of America, law students are given opportunities to work in pro-bono areas of law such as immigration and veterans affairs something that interests Lattuga. “I’m going in with an open mind, trying everything, seeing what suits me best … and letting the Spirit move through me.” Pacing himself and planning will be the key, but he is up for the challenges. “In both the marathon of running and the marathon of law school, it is most important to be prepared. I know for both I need to work hard and be dedicated; if I can do that, I know I will reach my goals.”


Favour Garuba: Using her gifts and talents in science to serve others

The first time Favour Garuba volunteered at the Community FoodBank of New Favour Gabura on her GraduationJersey, she saw a banner with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. that said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘what are you doing for others?’” That thought has stayed with Garuba as she has contemplated how she can use her gifts in science and at the same time serve others.

Since that day at the foodbank, Garuba looked for opportunities to volunteer during her college career. She has appreciated how Caldwell has exposed her to what community service means and has helped her grow as a leader who understands the importance of philanthropy. In the Health Professions club, she enjoyed each fall when students would collect food for the “Halloween for Hunger” campaign. Garuba is proud that she was one of the founders of the African Caribbean Association, and that she and the other members fundraised for a literacy program for disadvantaged children in Ghana. As a student vice president of the prestigious honor society Phi Kappa Phi, she was excited that members held a drive this past spring and collected 336 books to promote literacy for children. She also loved working with children when she volunteered at the university’s Center for Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis.

An international student from Nigeria, she  received her bachelor’s in health sciences degree on May 19.   She is grateful to the faculty members in the Natural Sciences Department, who pushed her toward excellence and encouraged her in her research endeavors.  Last year at the Independent College Fund of New Jersey Research Symposium and at Caldwell University’s Research and Creative Arts Day, she presented on the antibacterial effect of cinnamon and peppermint essential oils. Natural Sciences Professor Agnes Berki has helped her learn how to become a thorough researcher. Garuba remembers the first time she met Berki. “I was with my mom, and Dr. Berki told my mom she would ride me hard.” It was true. Berki pushed Garuba not just to do research but to do it exceptionally well. “She is like a mother to me,” says Garuba.

Garuba has also looked out for her classmates at Caldwell, always thinking, “What can we do for students?” She arranged for Health Professions Club members to watch a live surgery online at the Liberty Science Center where they communicated with the surgeon and other members of the surgical team. The goal was to expose students to as many health care fields as possible so they could make educated decisions about career goals, she says.

Garuba was an orientation leader, worked in the Academic Success Center and in the Accounts Payable Office where learning to be accurate with numbers, she says, will help if she becomes a physician.

She currently volunteers at Overlook Medical Center and has set her sights on improving health on a global level as a clinician and researcher. At a recent program of the National Society of Leadership and Success, Garuba was tasked with writing down her gifts. Her answers were “intelligence, charisma, problem solving and diligence.” She knows they are not gifts just for herself and she is particularly interested in using her abilities in preventive care, “much cheaper and less invasive than treatment.” She points to her native Africa where natural products can aid in health. It all comes back to that banner with the quote from MLK Jr.: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘what are you doing for others?’” And her answer? “I would like to dedicate my services as a physician and researcher to improve health in a way that reaches every community, including those in disadvantaged areas.”

Marisa Castronova:  Looking beyond the walls of the classroom

Marisa Castronova has always loved her job teaching Life Science at Robert L. Marisa Castronova on her GraduationLazar Middle School in Montville, New Jersey but she never really considered how she might expand her influence beyond the four walls of her classroom.  That was, until she became a student in the doctoral program in Educational Leadership at Caldwell University.  There, she and fellow cohort member, educator Jessica Shackil, were encouraged to develop their idea of STEM PALS, a cross-district and cross-grade program designed to get students excited about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). “The doctoral program helped us to take STEM PALS through to fruition,” says Castronova.  With grant monies from the NJEA Frederick L. Hipp Foundation, the two were able to expand the project and provide STEM access to even more students. Today, four years later, fourth-grade students from Parsippany work with seventh and eighth grade students from Montville on STEM challenges in real time.

Castronova, a resident of Nutley, New Jersey was selected to give the graduate student address at Caldwell University’s commencement ceremony on May 19.  She earned her doctorate last December and says she fully appreciated the model of the program that was designed for working adults.  “I looked forward to going to class on Friday night and Saturdays. I loved talking about educational issues with people who were also interested in teaching, reform and educational leadership,” says Castronova.   She grew as a researcher as her Caldwell professors encouraged her to dig deep, push theory forward and share findings with colleagues.  Her work caught the attention of others; she was accepted to present at the Northeastern Educational Research Association and was invited to speak at the RiSE Center’s STEM Colloquium at the University of Maine (Orono).

She misses not going to class on the weekends.  The classes were “intellectually stimulating and provided me with a rich perspective on different educational topics.”

The program has forced her to grow intellectually and ask ‘how can data help me?’ Now, she uses research more often to make decisions.  She sees that her initiatives as a science educator and as a researcher can influence others. “I feel that my work at Caldwell has led me to create positive educational change and reach people on a broader scale.”

Jennifer Mary Gates: “Prepared for My Encore Career”

When Jennifer Mary Gates came to class, she sat up front in the center, “raised Jennifer Mary Gatesmy hand all the time and kept the class late.” She was a graduate student in Caldwell’s master’s in business administration program and she was focused on getting the most out of her classes decades after receiving her undergraduate degree. “I needed to learn how to go to school. There was so much to get from each class,” said Gates, who was also juggling full-time work, family obligations, and transitions and teaching yoga.

Gates, who received her MBA on May 19, overcame the preconceived notions she had about going to college as a mature student.

Gates, who received her MBA on May 19, overcame the preconceived notions she had about going to college as a mature student.

“I was intimidated by Excel.” Now she knows its benefits. “Preparing for assignments enabled me to better execute research and analyze and produce reports.”

She was not sure what it would be like going to school in a younger culture. “Now I understand the younger workforce so much better.”

Gates was apprehensive about studying on the internet. “I was terrified of online classes but now I enjoy them. Many classes were challenging, but “they opened up opportunities,” she said.

Before starting her master’s classes, she needed to take seven prerequisite undergraduate classes, which turned out to be good introductions. “It got me into the student mode.”

Gates appreciated the faculty members in the School of Business and Computer Science. “I learned so much from each and every teacher, even if their style was not my style.” She found that they were more than willing to help. “They understood what the students need,” said Gates, who is a bank commercial loan officer in corporate risk. “In graduate classes everyone is engaged,” she said. “I was taught how to present to an audience, and now I have the tools to be confident in my presentation and delivery.”

Along the way, Gates adjusted according to her needs, taking a semester off, enrolling in summer, Saturday and evening classes and learning to manage her time effectively. She took advantage of the short-term study-abroad course, run by Business Professor Bernie O’Rourke, focusing on industry in Ireland. She enjoyed singing and laughing with the other students as they traveled through Ireland’s different counties and scenic countryside, going to and from the corporations, speaking to business leaders and learning their operational processes.

Gates received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina–Greensboro and previously worked as a real estate agent and in retail in family-run small businesses. Her MBA has prepared her for her next “fulfilling encore career.” “I refreshed myself. It opened up everything for me.” She wants other adult learners to know they can do it too. “Have the confidence to know your opportunities are unlimited.”

Jessica Noel: “Life is precious”

Jessica Noel knows one thing for sure: She does not want to “just live”; she has Jessica Noel on her graduation to live for others too. Her experiences at Caldwell University have solidified her determination to reach out to those on the margins.

“This whole college experience has opened my eyes,” says Noel, a resident of Union, New Jersey, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology on May 19.

In clubs and programs, Noel took advantage of just about every opportunity presented to her.  When volunteering with the Educational Opportunity Fund at a soup kitchen, she learned to appreciate the Catholic Dominican tradition and its charism of helping others. In attending Student Government Association meetings, she came away encouraged to be involved in her community. In Black Student Union and Latin American Student Organization meetings, she realized the importance of being aware of the needs of others. With the Gamer’s Guild Club, she learned how to play a game; “something I never knew growing up with two sisters—I learned technology and it was fun,” she says. In her courses, she appreciated being exposed to world issues.

Noel, who came to the United States from Haiti when she was a year old, has a heart for helping others; it was born out of her life experiences. When she was starting sixth grade, she was diagnosed with cancer, medullobalastoma. “A minor aspect of my life” is how she describes it.   Her experience with cancer made her realize how fragile life is. “I survived,” Noel says, but she saw other children who did not. She emerged from that challenging time this difficult time knowing “life is precious,” she says.

The Educational Opportunity Fund has been an important part of Noel’s experience at Caldwell. She started classes in 2015 in the EOF summer program. “I knew I loved it here.” Throughout college, Noel had a work study job in the EOF office, learning about the business world with the guidance of Director Andrei St. Felix and the other staff members.

Noel is considering graduate school to pursue social work, but first she would like to explore other occupations that would allow her to help others. She is concerned about kids and young people caught in horrific situations like human trafficking. “I want to empower kids to know who they are … I want to grow and help others.”

She is inspired by Matthew West’s song “Do Something” and points to the lyrics: “God, why don’t you do something?” He said, ‘I did, yeah, I created you.’” The song  makes her think about the bigger picture as she maps out her steps after graduation. “So much to do. I want to save the world.”

Justice Baskin: Teaching the next generation the importance of leadership  


Justice Baskin is looking forward to teaching social studies to high school students so they can be encouraged to become productive citizens. It is the reason he switched his major to history when he was a sophomore. “I want to educate inner-city people about the need to vote,” says Baskin, who received his Bachelor of Arts degree in secondary education and social studies on May 19 from Caldwell University. Baskin, who grew up in Jersey City, believes it is imperative for young people from urban environments to become leaders. It is the reason he wants teenagers to see more African-American men as educators in their classrooms and why eventually he would like to become a school principal.

Justice Baskin on his graduation

Baskin was recognized for his own leadership skills during Caldwell University’s honors convocation. He received the “C” Pin, awarded to an individual in his class who portrays the qualities of an exemplary Caldwell University student, and he took second place in the Golden Eagle Award for Excellence in American History.

Caldwell University was a part of his life from a young age. His father is an alumnae, and Baskin remembers fondly coming to campus with his dad. The pleasantness of the staff, faculty and students is something unique, stemming from the Catholic Dominican foundation, says Baskin.

Looking back at his college career, Baskin is proud of pushing forward conversations and initiatives on diversity and inclusion and of taking part in the Educational Opportunity Fund. He says staff and other students in the program were there for him “every step of the way.”

Baskin was a member of the track and cross-country teams and a founding member of the dance team. He worked through college as a Caldwell resident life assistant in the dorms and at Fordham in the Bronx at night in merchandising and design for a campus store.

Energetic with excellent communication skills, Baskin says he also learned “to be quiet” during his college years. He knows there is a gift in listening that is linked with leadership. Listening helped him learn, he says. “It helped me in family and in work.”

As he leaves Caldwell, Baskin takes other life lessons with him. He has learned to be more open-minded and that “it is okay to make mistakes and bounce back and keep going.” He has become more resilient too, although he says with a smile that he already knew that—“I learned it in Jersey City.” He is grateful to his Caldwell professors, “every single one of them,” and is excited to begin a career that will allow him to help young people engage and to become productive citizens. It is an imperative, he believes, for a healthy society. “The students of today will be the leaders of tomorrow.”

Kathryn Marano: Women Business Faculty Members Inspired Her to Lead

It was the women faculty members in Caldwell University’s School of Business Kathryn Marano delivering Commencement Speechand Computer Science who especially inspired Kathryn Marano during her college years. “There are so many influential women, lawyers, women with other advanced degrees that have guided me. From the minute I walked through the door, it was one of the reasons I knew Caldwell was right for me.” The female faculty members were role models who pushed her “in a good way,” and that helped her become a leader. Marano was chosen to give the undergraduate commencement speech at Caldwell University’s graduation May 19. The Nutley, New Jersey, resident has also led by finishing college in three years and by taking on roles such as vice president of the Women’s Leadership Initiative on campus.

The importance of women supporting each other and being at the helm is something she heard quite a bit about growing up. Marano attended high school at St. Dominic Academy in Jersey City where the slogan was “Empowering women for leadership since 1878,” and an aunt, Caldwell Dominican Sister Maureen James, was a positive influence on her life. Marano entered Caldwell with AP classes, and this summer she will receive her Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with minors in small business entrepreneurship and marketing. She has been in the dog grooming business since she was 12 years old and has worked through college. She hopes to become an entrepreneur and to run her own dog grooming business.

As a commuter, Marano did not think she would have much of a college experience, but she was pleasantly surprised to find out she was wrong.  She made friends and became involved—so much so “that I sold Caldwell to my younger sister who is now a student here,” she said.  Marano hopes to return to campus someday to tell other young women about her journey and the importance of finding their own voices and leading. “I love women supporting women.”

Liam Kearney: Discoveries from “long sprawling conversations” on campus

It was the conversations that enriched Liam Kearney’s time as an Liam Kearny on his graduation undergraduate student at Caldwell University—conversations inside and especially outside the classroom with other students. “You have a responsibility to take what you learn in class and test it outside,” said Kearney, who graduated May 19 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and a minor in communication and media studies.

Caldwell’s beautiful 70 acre campus provided many places “to nab at the end of the day” to have meaningful conversations. “What astonishes me is how quickly people will talk about what they are passionate about—in five minutes—if you are genuinely interested in them,” said Kearney. At the core, a meaningful exchange is something people are looking for, he contends, even if they do not know it. The “modern truth-seeking platforms we use, like social media, prioritize conflict and polarization over healthy dialogue,” he said. Most people, Kearney said, are interested in a wide range of things. “If you meet them well, they are willing to talk about their interests for a long time.” Those “long sprawling conversations,” he said, can become messy, but there are opportunities to find common ground and they can bear fruit.

Kearney also appreciated the dialogue in the business classes and how the “practical” was applied by the faculty members who had a wealth of experience Liam Kearney receives his degree from his great aunt, Sister Mary John Kearneyin business or law. “I could trust what they would say,” said Kearney. “We would take abstract ideas and apply them to something concrete; there was more utility to it.”

He grew up in Oceanport, New Jersey, and came to Caldwell with credits from AP and from a partnership he took part in between his high school, Marine Academy and Science and Technology, and a nearby college. He will continue at Caldwell in the fall, studying for his MBA and aiming to finish the combined degrees in four years.

His interest in learning about people’s lives extends to his talents in music as a singer, composer and musical artist. Music is a vehicle for interaction and communication and he enjoyed when a group of university students would get together to jam, play their instruments and sing. “I would typically be the facilitator, making sure everyone was getting along. You have to give it structure.”

This past year, Kearney attended the Spirituality and Leadership Institute retreat in the Poconos, which focuses on developing young citizens who promote public justice and seek the common good. Again, it was the conversations that were fascinating. “I wish I had found the program earlier,” he said. In his senior year, he took the spring break study abroad course, “Vienna-Experiencing Austrian History and Art”. This coming fall, he will serve as treasurer of the business honor society Delta Mu Delta.

Seeking out the interests of others came from growing up with “a great family structure” that taught him “what you don’t know is always more important that what you know.”

That sentiment, Kearney admits, is “not a normal resting space” for humans and requires “a muscle that has not been flexed” but is certainly one worth discovering. He invites other students to look closely for the truth, beauty and discoveries that can arise from simply engaging in a conversation with another member of Caldwell’s campus. “Don’t have contempt for the small opportunity. It can quickly grow into an experience which is deeply and unexpectedly meaningful.”

Graduate Students Confront Real World Issues in the Field of Trauma and Abuse

How does a student learn to develop “thick skin?” For Jana Nieman and Maureen Duguid, both graduate students in mental health counseling, it was their shared experience of working with survivors — and perpetrators, of sexual abuse and domestic violence.

Jana Nieman

Jana Nieman

Through an internship at JBWS in Morris County, New Jersey, a nonprofit organization providing support services and solutions that bring balance and renewal to their clients, Nieman and Duguid were face to face with the depths of pain and suffering caused by sexual abuse and violence.

Duguid provided survivors of abuse with individual and group counseling, helped clients prepare for legal counsel and accompanied them on visits to the Morris County Justice Center. Nieman co-facilitated group and individual counseling sessions and coordinated the intake process with perpetrators –“a challenging population,” she says. These experiences helped her focus on “finding the good in people.”  Since she had never imagined herself working with those populations, the experience was both eye opening and mind broadening.

Juli Harpell-Elam, director of abuse prevention at JBWS, says that since 2015, the staff of her organization has welcomed Caldwell’s mental health counseling student interns. Coming into their internships, she says, these students evidence proper foundational training. Harpell-Elam supervised Nieman and was impressed with her ability to remain calm while creating a safe, supportive environment for her clients. Nieman worked with “mostly mandated clients” who were “feeling judged, feeling punished,” and not necessarily coming into the program on their terms, explained Harpell-Elam.

Maureen Duguid

Maureen Duguid

“Caldwell equips its students,” says Marianne McCrone, director of the Morris Family Justice Center, who was Duguid’s supervisor. “They arrive with a “big knowledge base and good clinical skill set, which translates into hands-on here at the site,” she added.  She described Duguid as an empathic “team player” who is calm in a crisis, committed to the safety of her clients, and professional in her interactions with police officers, attorneys, judges, and court staff.

On May 19, Nieman and Duguid each received a Master of Arts degree in mental health counseling. They are grateful to their supervisors and the faculty members in Caldwell’s Psychology Department. “I could always go to my professors for help and feedback,” said Duguid.  The Caldwell professors were “highly resourceful,” and there was “great supervision,” said Nieman.

Dr. Emma Kendrick, the coordinator of the graduate programs in counseling, takes pride in all that Caldwell’s mental health interns contribute to valuable community programs like JBWS. “Even before graduating, our students can start serving the needs of a diverse population within the local community. The work that the interns are doing is beneficial not only to the clients but to their ongoing professional development as counselors.”

The fieldwork at JBWS has prepared Nieman and Duguid for their next career steps. After all, “You don’t learn how to be a counselor from a textbook,” said Nieman.


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Caldwell Offering Fully Online Master’s in Nursing in Population Health

Caldwell, N.J., April 26, 2019– Caldwell University’s School of Nursing and Public Health is offering a new fully online Master of Science in Nursing program in Population Health for fall 2019, the first of its kind in New Jersey.

“We are delighted to be able to offer this 36-credit innovative population health program,” said Dr. Donna Naturale, RN, APN-BC, CDE, assistant professor and coordinator of the program. “It will prepare nurses to meet the demands of health care today and tomorrow by promoting healthier communities and addressing needs associated with the social determinants of health, commonly attributed to the zip codes in which we live and work.” The social determinants of health include factors such as access to health care, finances and income, transportation, housing, social support, and level of education.

Graduates of the program will be prepared to serve as leaders in nursing and health care. They will be qualified to work in a number of positions within a variety of health care systems in positions that include care coordinator, project, case and nurse managers in outpatient facilities, hospitals, public health departments, and within insurance and quality improvement fields. Upon graduation, they will also be qualified to teach in undergraduate nursing programs.  Students will integrate technology utilizing healthcare data to identify trends and issues associated with the overall health of populations.


They will also learn to provide high-quality nursing care, promote health, and prevent diseases that may be linked to the social determinants of health.

The MSN in Population Health was planned and developed in response to the Institute of Medicine report “Primary Care and Public Health: Exploring Integration to Improve Population Health.”

It addresses needs which are identified in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation “Future of Nursing 2020-2030” report. “The academic program will aim to prepare nurses to identify health disparities and works towards reducing those disparities which are influenced by social determinants of health working towards improving overall health and well-being for populations as we plan to care for the next generation,” Naturale says.

The program ties in with the mission of Caldwell University, a Catholic Dominican institution. “As the Catholic Health Association states, there is a ‘moral imperative for making a commitment to the people of our community and that our focus on social determinants of health is not only because it is necessary but also because it is just,’” explains Naturale.

For information on the program, contact the Caldwell University Admissions Office at 973-618-3500 or admissions@caldwell.edu or go to https://www.caldwell.edu/graduate/academic-department/graduate-programs-in-nursing/master-of-science-in-nursing-in-population-health .

Prospective students can apply to the program at www.caldwell.edu/applynow.

Alumni News, Featured News, News

Caldwell University Remembers “The Life and Words of Sister Vivien Jennings, O.P.”



Caldwell, N.J. – April 10, 2019 – They gathered to remember their mentor, their friend, their colleague and their teacher. Caldwell University alumni, colleagues, faculty, staff and family celebrated the “Life and Legacy of Sister Vivien Jennings, O.P.” at a Mass and program Sunday, April 7.

In the packed Motherhouse Chapel, celebrant Father Bob Stagg, former chaplain of the college when Sister Vivien was president, remembered his colleague as a woman of great intellect and vision. He reflected on how, just as the readings for the Fifth Sunday in Lent told of God “making a new way,” Sister Vivien always focused on the making of a new way that would benefit others and encouraged her colleagues to join her in those endeavors. As opposed to breaking things apart, he said, Sister Vivien built, healed, affirmed and reinvented herself and every institution where she worked.

Following Mass, a program focused on “The Life and Words of Sister Vivien Jennings, O.P.” Communications and Media Studies Chair Bob Mann hosted a panel with History Professor Dr. Marie Mullaney, university president, Dr. Nancy Blattner, and former president of the university and Prioress of the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Caldwell, Sister Patrice Werner, O.P. Mann said Sister Vivien “gave me a break” to create a Communications department and major and he has always been appreciative for her vision and support.

The panelists reflected on Sister Vivien’s lasting legacies to Caldwell including the “monumentous decision,” said Mullaney, to go forward with making the college co-educational. Sister Patrice said Sister Vivien fostered the Dominican charism and mission throughout the campus including starting the Fanjeaux experience in France where students, staff and faculty can learn about Saint Dominic and the Order, the Dominican Colleges Colloquium and the Veritas Award recognizing alumni professional excellence. Dr. Blattner said that in addition to the special decisions Sister Vivien made for the campus, her lasting legacy is her publications. “Her written word is one of her great legacies,” said Dr. Blattner. Sister Patrice said Sister Vivien, “led by example” believing that one should be willing to do what he or she is asking others to do. Mullaney, who worked with Sister Vivien during the transition to the institution becoming co-educational, has always remembered how Sister would say, “In higher education to stand still is to fall back.” Dr. Blattner said it is incumbent upon all in the campus community today to keep Sister Vivien’s vision alive and to pass forward the mission and her words.

Friends, Sisters of Saint Dominic, students and grandnieces of Sister Vivien read selections from her three books, “The Valiant Woman: At the Heart of Reconciliation,” “November Noon: Reflections for Life’s Journey” and “The Essential Journey: From Worry to Mercy to Hope, the unfinished words,” which is not yet published and was not completed at the time of her death on May 5, 2018.

The guests then moved into the Jennings Library for the unveiling of a framed image and history panel. “As we stand here in the place named after Sister Vivien in 1994, we are surrounded by the things and people that she loved – literature and learning, family, friends, students and colleagues,” said Dr. Blattner. She unveiled a huge “breathtaking photo” of Sister Vivien that was taken by alumnus Pushparaj “Raj” Aitwal, who was “a true friend of Sister Vivien” and the wall display chronicling Sister Vivien’s life and accomplishments.

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Lecture “Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) on the Eucharist” with Dr. Pristas

Lecture “Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) on the Eucharist” with Dr. Pristas

Caldwell, N.J.–March 5, 2019- “Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) on the Eucharist” will be the topic of a presentation by Lauren Pristas, Ph.D., Professor Emerita of Theologyat Caldwell University, 4:30 p.m., Thursday, March 21, in the Alumni Theater on campus.

In Lent of 1978 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, gave four talks at St. Michael’s Church in Munich in which he reflected on basic dogmatic and catechetical themes of Catholic Eucharistic faith.  Dr. Pristas’s talk will focus on essential questions that Cardinal Ratzinger addressed in 1978. Some of these are: What is the origin and source of the Eucharist/Mass? What did Jesus mean at the Last Supper when he said “Do this”? How did we get from the Last Supper to the Mass? How is the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist to be understood? When one receives the Eucharist, what exactly does one receive?

Dr. Pristas is the author of “The Collects of the Roman Missal” and numerous scholarly articles on liturgical subjects. She is a member of the Academyof Catholic Theology and a past member of the board of directors of the Society for Catholic Liturgy. She has served on the editorial boards of Antiphon: a Journal for Liturgical Renewalandof Usus Antiquior. In 2003 she held the Pope John Paul II Chair for the Study of Person and Community at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., and in 2005 she received a St. Catherine of Siena Society research fellowship in liturgical theology. Dr. Pristas is an alumna of Caldwell.

The lecture is being presented by the Department of Theology and Philosophy as part of its Sister Maura Campbell lecture series. Sister Maura was a Sister of St. Dominic of Caldwell, a theologian, philosopher, professor, researcher and national leader in education whose scholarship and teaching spanned 50 years.

For further information, call 973-618-3931.

Featured News, Natural and Physical Sciences News, News





From the time Dr. William Velhagen was a child growing up in the Philippines, he thought of teaching as a way to make the world better. “For me it was a way to improve humanity, to ease suffering… I loved learning and was always curious. I wanted a career as a scientist.”

Today, as an associate professor and the chair of the Natural Sciences Department, Velhagen encourages his students to look at how science can benefit the lives of others and to be eager to learn. “In many ways, I’m an idealist. Excellence for its own sake matters. If you really love what you are learning, you will stay up late to learn more. You’ll read books and news articles,” he says.

As advisor for Caldwell’s pre-professional programs, Velhagen wants his students to appreciate what it means to work hard toward their goals. Koumudi Thirunagaru, a science alumna now in medical school at George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, benefited from being challenged in Velhagen’s classes. When she was a sophomore she took his physiology class and was instantly engaged by the way he taught. “He pushed our boundaries to think outside the box and challenge ourselves.”

In the classroom, Velhagen’s zeal for science inspires his students. Thirunagaru says his enthusiasm gave her a passion for a subject “as bland as histology” and trained her eye to look at pathology slides in medical schools. When it came time for her to apply to doctoral programs, she was grateful for his guidance. “He was extremely supportive and prompt with everything I needed and wanted so I could put my best foot forward.” After starting her studies at George Washington, she saw how her undergraduate background connected. “The clinical cases and clicker questions Dr. Velhagen did during his classes tied everything in and put it in perspective, making it easier for me to think about clinical cases as I began my journey in medical school.”

Velhagen believes it is important to keep the bar high for future doctors. “I know what it is like out there… I know what it takes to get into medical school.” He recalls how he attended medical school for over two years in his native Philippines—“those were great times”—before realizing he was being drawn to a different field.

The seeds of academic excellence were planted by his parents while he grew up in a family of six boys. They lived in the capital region of Manila—that “wonderfully, crazy, chaotic, cosmopolitan city”—where he attended La Salle Green Hills grammar and high schools run by the Christian Brothers in which studies and community service were emphasized. “The school as a whole gave me a great education.” He was a voracious reader, constantly taking books out of the school library or from his parents’ library. “I always loved science for its own sake… I was always inquisitive.” While studying as an undergraduate student at the University of the Philippines, he was invited to become a member of the selective, all-discipline, century-old honor society Phi Kappa Phi. Two years ago, he was honored when he was asked to be a founding member and the first president of Caldwell’s Phi Kappa Phi program. “It is a great way to bring faculty and students from different disciplines together.”

Velhagen first came to the United States for graduate school at Duke University. For his thesis, he was drawn to an understudied area of research focusing on the intersection of evolution and development of reptiles. “I don’t like following the crowd; even as a scientist I wanted to do something that is a little different.” It was “pure intellectual curiosity,” not utility, that led him to research snakes. The project—funded by the National Science Foundation—led to a competition against other students who today are accomplished scientists; he received the prestigious Stoye Award for Best Student Presentation in Genetics, Development and Morphology.

Velhagen’s career took him to teaching positions in science departments at universities in the United States including James Madison, Longwood and New York University. After experiencing large and small institutions, he appreciates the size of Caldwell where he can teach students throughout their four years rather than in only one or two classes during their college careers. “I see them grow from their first year to their fourth years… so that is gratifying.”

Velhagen considers himself the luckiest department chair in the university. “My colleagues are among the most proactive and collegial at Caldwell.” Velhagen and his colleagues begin guiding students in their freshman year as they prepare for medical, dental, veterinary or other professional schools. They teach them how to present themselves to admission officers and potential employers, how to prepare for mock interviews, how to put together a CV and how to study for the MCATs and other tests. During the time Velhagen has been overseeing the pre-professional programs, the department has greatly increased the number of students who have realized their dreams of being accepted into graduate and medical schools. He cites several reasons: “the students we are bringing in, my colleagues, the groundwork laid by others.” Still, it is clear that the numbers have gone up while he has been at the helm.

In addition to encouraging preparation for the health professions, the Natural Sciences Department encourages student research; the department is working to interweave more throughout the curriculum for all four years. Many science students have displayed their projects at the university’s annual Research and Creative Arts Day, which is aimed at promoting STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts 
and math.

For Velhagen, a busy father of two teenage girls, effective learning always comes back to that word “curiosity.” If educators want their students to be curious, he believes, they have to model it themselves. “A big problem with how we teach is that we make it appear that what is known is set in stone and final, but it is always growing,” he says. “There is so much we don’t know… being interested in something helps you go a long way.” He strives to stimulate a love of learning in his classroom by encouraging questions and breaking up his lectures with interesting tidbits. “Sometimes it’s medical” or sometimes it is “how an animal does a thing in a weird way,” he says. Other times he will have students take out their laptops and phones in class and answer questions via an app for their participation grade. “It helps keep them active. It gets them to work together,” explains Velhagen. This spring semester, Velhagen is teaching a new honors course, “Evolution’s Lessons,” for students in all academic programs. “It will be great to bring in perspective from the humanities and the social sciences,” he said. “Beyond the science of evolution, I have to think, ‘What is the historical context and what are the cultural implications?’”

Velhagen firmly believes that knowing about science is foundational to a good liberal arts education and to the betterment of society. “Altruism and science” go hand in hand. “It’s about making things better for the greater good, for society as a whole… It’s about giving students the ability to go to good schools, to acquire the skills and knowledge they need to get work.” Every educated citizen should know how science works, because it has the potential to create inventions to make new discoveries that will help the rest of humanity, he says. Education works, he stresses, when people can use their talents, when the economy is working because people have the skills they need. “Directly or indirectly, education helps us all.”  


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Black History Month African-American Read-In



Caldwell, N.J., Feb. 27, 2019 – Caldwell University’s English Department celebrated Black History Month with an African American Read-In Tuesday, Feb. 26, in the Cougar Den on campus.

The featured speaker was Dr. Valerie Lewis-Mosley, who teaches in the Caldwell University Theology and Philosophy Department. She spoke of the cost many fearless African- Americans paid in carrying forward their history through language, literature, readings and words. She stressed the importance of knowing and communicating the stories including the fact that many African-Americans could read and write before the Emancipation Proclamation but would not let others know for fear of punishment. “Books carry a legacy of a people,” she said.

Lewis-Mosley noted she is a great-granddaughter of South Carolina Gullah Geechees, descendants of enslaved Africans who were transported from Barbados to South Carolina; those ancestors of hers taught others to read and write. She spoke of the fortitude of many people of African descent who traveled to the United States and would hide bricks with writing on them underneath dirt, fearing others would discover they could read and write. Lewis-Mosley shared her favorite stories and writers including the autobiography of Frederick Douglass and Langston Hughes’s poem “I, Too,” which states, “I too, am America.”

Students, faculty and staff were invited to read their own favorite poems or short passages from African American writers or to share their own creating writing.

The National African American Read-In is the nation’s oldest event dedicated to diversity in literature. It was established in 1990 by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month.