Author: sshrestha5

Featured News, News

Women’s Lacrosse Arden Kassaleh Selected as CACC Nominee for NCAA Woman of the Year

NEW HAVEN, Conn.- Caldwell University women’s lacrosse senior Arden Kassaleh (Pompton Plains, New Jersey) was selected by the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference as the conference nominee for the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year Award.

Women’s Lacrosse Arden Kassaleh nominee for CACC

“I am so honored to represent the conference and Caldwell University as the CACC selection for the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year Award,” said Kassaleh. “It means so much to be recognized for an award that honors women athletes in a way that means more than just playing the game.”

Kassaleh is one of 161 college athletes have been named conference-level nominees for the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year Award. The nominees represent student-athletes from 21 different sports spanning all three NCAA divisions. Of those nominated, 59 nominees competed in Division I, 39 in Division II and 63 in Division III.

“We are so thankful to the CACC for selecting Arden to represent the conference for the prestigious NCAA Woman of the Year Award,” commented Assistant Vice President/Director of Athletics Mark A. Corino. “As a department, we are so proud of her athletic and academic accomplishments as part of the women’s lacrosse program. The NCAA Woman of the Year Award recognizes the best women athletes from across the country and divisions and we are honored to have Arden represent Caldwell University and the CACC for this award on the national level.”

The NCAA Woman of the Year program is rooted in Title IX and has recognized graduating female college athletes for excellence in academics, athletics, community service and leadership since its inception in 1991. The Woman of the Year Selection Committee, made up of representatives from the NCAA membership, will now choose the Top 30 honorees — 10 from each division — from the conference-level nominees. The Top 30 honorees will be announced in September. From there, the selection committee will narrow the pool to three finalists from each division. The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics will select the 2020 Woman of the Year from the nine finalists.

Kassaleh is a three-time all-conference selection leading the Caldwell women’s lacrosse team. She was a CACC First Team selection in 2019 after leading the nation with 5.53 goals per game. In addition, Kassaleh, was named to the 2019 Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Second Team All-Atlantic Region after leading the Cougars with 110 points on 94 goals and 16 assists. In February, she was recognized by the New Jersey Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women as Caldwell’s Woman of the Year.

Featured News, Natural and Physical Sciences News, News

Science Students Are Winners at N.J. Science Research Competition

Caldwell, N.J., Aug. 6, 2020 Caldwell University science students took home a number of  awards from the New Jersey Academy of Science (NJAS) virtual research competition in July. 

Shweta Sapkota, Biology major student (Class of 2020) at CU

Shweta Sapkota ’20

Shweta Sapkota ’20 won first place in the 2021 senior academy health or medicine category. She was also awarded a grant from the Independent College Fund of New Jersey (ICFNJ) for her research. Sapkota, who received a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in chemistry from Caldwell on May 17, is grateful to the ICFNJ and her professors. “I cannot thank the university enough for providing students like me with an appropriate platform and all the required materials to broadcast our talent in the form of research projects.”  

Sapkota discovered her interest in working with cells and microorganisms when she was a student in Caldwell’s science department. The courses and clinical lab experiences prepared her for her current work as a medical technician in a microbiology lab with Quest Diagnostics. “I  was trained to use most of the equipment used in the real world.”  

In the ecology, environmental or marine science category, Sudeep Khadka ’21, a biology major, came in second, and Madison Perry ’21 , also a biology major, received the third-place award. Students Venisse Abanilla, Kriti Sitaula, Yaman Thapa and Saliha Ulgur earned honorable mentions. 

Sudeep Khadka, Biology Student at Caldwell University(Class of 2021)

Sudeep Khadka ’21

The NJAS is a nonprofit organization with a mission to preserve and promote the advancement of STEM-related fields in the New Jersey scientific community. 

William Velhagen, Ph.D., associate dean of Caldwell’s School of Natural Sciences, says he is delighted that Caldwell University was well represented among the awardees. “The success of our students is a testament to their intelligence and hard work and to the excellent mentorship by our faculty.”

The faculty members are very proud of the students. “It was a privilege to witness the unfolding of the students’ research and how they mastered the scientific method while developing valuable professional and excellent presentation skills,” says Agnes Berki, associate professor in the School of Natural Sciences. 

Students had the chance to network and to share scientific ideas. More than 100 high school, undergraduate and graduate students participated in the event. They were given the opportunity to present original scientific research, to compete to have their research abstracts published and to participate at a higher level. 

The Department of Natural Sciences was renamed the School of Natural Sciences effective July 1; it has become one of the largest academic units at Caldwell. Velhagen says he and his colleagues are proud that growing numbers of science majors have been accepted into internships and into Ph.D. and health profession programs at prestigious institutions. “Students and faculty have also been awarded several grants to conduct research and to support scholars. I am grateful to the university cabinet for recognizing the accomplishments of our faculty and students.”


Graduation (September 20, 2020)

September 20, 2020 Graduation Flyer


Caldwell University is pleased to confirm the 78th Annual Commencement on Sunday, September 20, 2020. On this day, in accordance with the current state guidelines, Commencement will take place outdoors and follow event limits of 500 people. In order to do so, Caldwell University will host multiple ceremonies on campus to celebrate our graduates!

Eligible graduates include those who completed their degree requirements in December 2019 and May 2020, as well as candidates who will complete requirements in August 2020.

In order to comply with the state of New Jersey, each graduate will be allowed two guests. Graduates planning to attend Commencement on September 20 must confirm their participation by 5 p.m. on August 10* through the link provided via email and on the my Caldwell portal. The start time of each ceremony will be determined once the final count is received to ensure proper social distancing and capacity limits. Participants will be contacted no later than August 17, 2020 with their corresponding ceremony times.

If you plan to attend the ceremony and have not yet ordered academic regalia, please contact the Bookstore at 973-618-3262 by August 3* for next steps. Information on obtaining previously ordered regalia is included in the link sent to graduates; please complete by August 10*.

This event is rain or shine and subject to change based on the state of New Jersey guidance and/or executive orders or necessary pandemic response.

Featured News, News

University Awarded Grants to Support Science and Math Majors

Caldwell University was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) Scholarship in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) Program grant to support the retention and graduation of 18 high-achieving, low-income majors in biology, chemistry or mathematics. The five-year federal grant of $650,000 will help to develop the project, titled “Increasing Enrollment, Retention, Graduation, and Job Placement by Supporting the Connections of Commuter STEM Undergraduates to Faculty, Peers, and Industry,” and will enhance student interactions with STEM faculty.

Dr. Darryl Aucoin, assistant professor in the School of Natural Sciences, leads the project team of professors including Drs Agnes Berki and Marjorie Squires, of the School of Natural Sciences, Dr. Patricia Garruto, professor of mathematics, and Dr. Marisa Castronova’18, lecturer and researcher.

The project team will study how well new interventions help commuter students to develop meaningful relationships with resident students and with faculty. Team members anticipate that the project will generate new knowledge about the impact of supplemental instruction on commuter students’ science identity, retention, degree attainment and career choices. Findings can help other colleges nationwide to better support the success of STEM commuting students.

NSF Logo

The university will receive a five-year $1.2M NSF DUE Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program grant for 21 undergraduate students beginning this fall to prepare effective secondary STEM educators (grades 7-12) in local high-need districts.The project, “Building STEM Teachers’ Capacity to Create Authentic and Original Classroom Experiences,”willoffer future STEM teachers with advanced pedagogy and content training with an educational emphasis on engaging in and teaching STEM. This intervention couples hands-on STEM teaching via early field experiences with an innovative and comprehensive educational approach called the CREATE to EDUCATE initiative. This initiative will partner scholars with CU faculty to develop multimedia STEM instructional materials to be used during their field placements and in-service teaching.

Dr. William Velhagen, associate dean of the School of Natural Sciences and a biology professor, says they are excited to have been awarded this grant, which will help students become effective science and math teachers at high-needs school districts.  “We hope that having great teachers will lead to more students choosing careers in STEM.” He will head an interdisciplinary faculty team that includes Dr. Edith Ries, professor of education; Dr. Patrick Sime, professor of mathematics, and Dr. Marisa Castronova ’18, educational researcher. The team will collaborate with two local educational agencies in Passaic and Clifton and will recruit local transfer students from Passaic County Community College and Union County College.


Partial support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S STEM) program under Award No. 193029 and Award No.1950073. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.  

COVID-19 News, Featured News, News

Alexa, Let’s Innovate – Art therapy and counseling students bring connection during COVID-19

Compassion and connection. These are two of the hallmarks of good care. And when it comes to the Lifestyle Engagement team at Sycamore Living, a senior wellness community in East Hanover, New Jersey, providing quality care is a priority, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. No surprise then, that Caldwell University students and faculty  have been playing an integral part in the work there, using new and exciting technology to accomplish their goals.

Sycamore Living Marissa

As graduate students, Marisa Juliano (L) and Amanda Mascolo (R) worked with Caldwell adjunct faculty member and their field work supervisor Maria Lupo (center) at the senior wellness community Sycamore Living. They have used their art therapy and counseling backgrounds along with innovative technology to serve seniors during the pandemic.

Art therapist Maria Lupo is an alumna of the master’s in clinical mental health counseling with a specialization in art therapy program and she is an adjunct faculty member in the School of Psychology and Counseling. Lupo is also the director of lifestyle engagement at Sycamore Living who  supervised Caldwell graduate students Amanda Mascolo and Marisa Juliano as  Lifestyle Engagement associates during the spring semester. These women are on the cutting edge of new technology that is connecting the elderly with loved ones and staff members in a unique climate.

The idea of working in a facility that houses COVID-19 patients may seem intimidating to some. Lupo enters the isolation unit to deliver activity kits and visit  as part of her work while Mascolo and Juliano visit it through the use of technology. 

Lupo wants people to know that the atmosphere inside the unit may not be what you picture.

“Before I went in, I was concerned as to what it was going to be like,” says Lupo. “Once I walked in, though, it was really about that people-to-people connection. Nursing at its best, care at its best. Yes, it’s serious and they’ve come through a lot. But people are still people.”

“It’s not as scary as it would seem to the public,” she adds.

It is that desire for connection that has driven the team to find innovative ways to allow seniors to interact with staff as well as their friends and family. Each of their rooms is equipped with an Alexa Echo Show, a device that allows both audio and visual communication. Each patient is assigned a unique Alexa account that includes a username and password. Associates contact the patient’s family when they arrive and send them a thorough instruction sheet, video, and any additional technical support they need. Once connected, the family can simply call in to virtually visit their loved one, without the patient having to pick up a phone or operate any technology on their end.

Families have described this service as a “life saver.” Many have not seen their family member in weeks while they are treated for COVID in the hospital. Once they arrive at Sycamore for continued recovery, there is finally a renewed connection with home. 

“Technology can be a burden or a lifesaver, and I feel like in this situation, technology is really a life saver,” Lupo says. “It is really creating that human connection.”

Marisa Juliano and Amanda Mascolo at Sycamore Living

Marisa Juliano and Amanda Mascolo say it has been rewarding during their graduate school field work to provide seniors with support, empathy and creative activities throughout COVID-19.

Juliano received her master’s in mental health counseling with art therapy specialization May 17. “I never imagined being an essential worker during a global pandemic…but being able to be there for the residents and patients any way that we can during all of this, knowing that they felt safer, makes us feel better.”

 She has seen her backgrounds in counseling theory and technique and art therapy come together. “I have heard stories about fear, loss, death, but also of hope and prayer for a better world after this. I keep the families and patients in my thoughts each day.”

Lupo recalls Mother’s Day and the unique role that technology played in the day. Prior to the holiday, the team contacted families to see how they would like to celebrate their moms. Families e-mailed artwork that grandchildren had made, pictures of family, or whatever else they wanted to share. Lupo came in and printed everything that had been sent in on the morning of Mother’s Day and put the materials into envelopes with cards from the staff. These special care packages were delivered to patients, and families were able to video in to spend some time with their loved one. Paired with a special meal from the facility’s culinary department, the day was truly special.

Another initiative that has helped keep spirits high is the creation of personal activity kits. The team fills these kits with coloring sheets, puzzles, a journal book with inspirational words, as well as writing and art materials. They are delivered into the unit, and then the associates use the technology of Alexa to virtually visit with each patient. They help them explore the activities, and sometimes, they just offer conversation. Lupo knows that some days, the activities are a welcome stimulation, and other times, the patient may just need a listening ear.

“Even as an art therapist, you give the patient or resident what they need,” Lupo says. “Checking in with them, giving them a one-to-one room visit, listening, and having that human connection conversation.”

Lupo says that patients often want to talk about everyday life. They want to share memories or hear about the staff member’s pets. They want to hear what it is like to go to the grocery store during the pandemic. Simple conversations are a craving that the Lifestyle Engagement staff can satisfy.

Even outside of the COVID unit, residents are seeing the effects of a team who cares to connect with them as they face the same isolation that households across the country do. One such resident is a Caldwell University alumni, Peggy Lavery Leo ’64. She shared about how the Lifestyle team takes the time to bring residents outside to enjoy warm weather, and engages in conversation with the residents. Leo enjoyed the opportunity to reminisce about her memories from her time at Caldwell, when the school was composed of all women, and there were just 114 students in her graduating class. She doesn’t take the challenges the Sycamore staff face for granted.

“With the difference in all of our ages and likes and dislikes, they are making it work,” she says. “If things are all planned and no one is interested in doing that, they’ll sit and talk with the residents. This is especially important since we cannot leave the faculty, nor can we have visitors.”

When you hear about the work being done at Sycamore Living, technology certainly stands out. But flowing under that innovation is a steady current of compassion. Each decision comes out of a desire from the staff to connect with residents and to allow them to flourish in their home. 

“The most rewarding aspect of my work is to be able to provide the residents with support,” says Mascolo who is pursuing her master’s in mental health counseling.  “They are often faced with challenges and are accustomed to hearing that they can’t. My time and experience from Caldwell’s academic program has prepared me to be patient, empathetic and understanding of this population especially during this time.” 

Lupo sees innovation remaining as a standard even after COVID-19 has passed.

“We want to change up what senior living means,” Lupo says, “engaging the mind, bringing purposeful, meaningful activities to seniors.”

Whether that means planting an herb garden or exercising on a normal day, or adjusting to the temporary normal of a pandemic with Alexa-assisted family visits, the team at Sycamore Living is ensuring that for the seniors in their care, every day has purpose.


-Nicole Burrell ‘09

Featured News, News

“You grow more as a person through the years you are here” – Alicia Rodriguez ‘20

Alicia RodriguezNavigating through tough conversations is one of the skills Alicia Rodriguez learned at Caldwell University. As a lacrosse student-athlete and an Admissions Department student ambassador, she interacted with professors, potential employers, teammates, parents and prospective students. What sometimes seemed “difficult or awkward” as a younger college student  became smoother as time went on, “because I got the practice I needed,” said Rodriguez who received a Bachelor of Science degree in Sport Management on May 17.  “You grow more as a person through the years you are here.”

Rodriguez is the first in her family to earn a university degree. She is proud to have represented the university in positions interacting with the public by providing tours to prospective students and parents. “Caldwell has modeled me into the young woman I am today.”     She gave her “hard work, tears, athletic ability and dedication” to her university and in return she gained “a future, family, friends, and teammates” and most importantly, she says, “a better outlook on life and reality.” Rodriguez also took advantage of what was offered including becoming a member of the Sport Management Club and going on a short-term study abroad trip her sophomore year with her academic department to learn about the sport management business in Italy. 

Although the coronavirus pandemic abruptly ended her time as a college lacrosse player, she has applied what she has learned to understand  the bigger picture.  “I learned to take each day, day by day and to appreciate that my loved ones are still well and healthy and that we can all get through this pandemic together.” It is wisdom she will draw on as she pursues a career in game day operations and perhaps goes on to study law.

As she looks back at her four years, Rodriguez is grateful for what she learned through academics, athletics, clubs, campus work and even those “awkward conversations”.  Now she is proud to be a Caldwell University alumna.  “It is not just about getting a degree but also the experiences that come with it that you will cherish forever.” 


Living a Life of Service: Brooke McPherson ‘20

Living a Life of Service: Brooke McPherson ‘20

Brooke-McPherson Headshot Image

Brooke McPherson ’20 was watching Caldwell University’s virtual honors convocation with her parents on May 7.  By the time it was over she had received four awards with her dad saying “it was like watching our own personal superbowl.”  It was quite an accomplishment for a young woman who, when she had first started college, wasn’t sure where she fit in.  She found her purpose at Caldwell in a life of service. It was a journey that took her to several states and even out of the country and culminated in her deciding on a unique post-graduation path.

After feeling a bit like a fish out of water her freshman year, McPherson realized she was never really alone on campus. She noticed that many people wanted to connect with her, whether it was in Campus Ministry, in the cafeteria when she would run into new friends, or in time with professors.

BrookeMcPherson and group

“I think becoming aware of that support system gave me added confidence that helped me to thrive while at Caldwell,” said McPherson, who received her bachelor’s degree in computer information systems and marketing with a minor in communication and media studies May 17.

After discovering the wonderful support system she had at Caldwell, McPherson began looking for ways to apply her love of faith and service to her newfound community. She dove into many activities on campus, rarely saying no to a need. She brought with her commitment a joy that left a lasting impact on everyone she encountered. She served as president of the Delta Mu Delta International Business Honor Society and volunteered as an orientation leader, offering herself as a first friend to freshmen on campus.  Through the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice she traveled to Washington, D.C., to learn about social justice issues and to meet with senators and representatives to advocate for those being crushed by systemic oppression. 

During her time at Caldwell, McPherson gained a greater sense of her faith. She discovered she could serve others and in doing so, grow as a person. Through Campus Ministry, she participated in an immersion trip to Belize. She was also given the honor of serving as a Eucharistic minister during the opening Mass for the new Sister Mary Dominic Tweedus chapel on campus. She was thrilled to be attending a Catholic university where she had lots of opportunities to live out her faith through acts of service.

BrookeMcPherson and group

“I try to preach with my life,” said McPherson of her active spiritual walk.

And others have recognized that too. At the honors convocation she received the Excellence in Leadership, Leadership in Ministry and Faith Does Justice Awards and departmental honors in marketing. 

 She credits the university’s dedicated professors and staff members with helping her find a path in life that she can’t wait to begin. After graduation, she will take the alternate path of a year of service. Based on her history of serving others during her college career, this decision is no accident. At the end of the summer, McPherson will begin a year with Good Shepherd Volunteers in Washington Heights, New York City. She will work as the public policy and advocacy fellow, supporting funding for trauma-informed programs that will provide aid for youth, families and communities in New York. 

After she completes the program, McPherson plans to continue her life mission of service by attending graduate school to earn a master’s with a focus on ethical business practices or public policy.

BrookeMcPherson and group

Reflecting on her time at Caldwell, McPherson is quick to acknowledge the role the university’s staff and students played in her life. Her memories are far-reaching, from service trips to late nights spent with friends in the gazebo, from making her confirmation freshman year to a weekend in the Poconos with classmates. The highlights are varied, but there is continuous thread of joy and community in McPherson’s story. The help of others who met the needs of an uncertain freshman has carried her through to this moment when she is stepping out to dedicate her own life to serving others. And as anyone who has met her knows, she will be doing it with a smile on her face.

COVID-19 News

Essential workers are champions

Thank you to all the essential workers who are stepping up during the coronavirus pandemic. We celebrate the many brave, dedicated members of our Caldwell University community. Here are some of those champions.

Editing by Class of 2020’s Communication and Media Studies graduate Anthony Escanosti.

Featured News, News

Caldwell Makes Standardized Admissions Tests Optional

Caldwell, N.J., May 14, 2020 – Caldwell University will make the standardized admissions tests of the SAT and ACT optional for applicants for three years beginning with the fall semester of 2020.

A picture of Romell Ballentine, an admissions ambassador at Caldwell University.

Romell Ballentine works as an admissions ambassador at Caldwell University. He holds a bachelor’s in psychology with a minor in communication and media studies from Caldwell and a master’s in school counseling, also from Caldwell.

The pilot program has been put in place to allow for increased equity and access for all students and addresses the limitations COVID-19 placed on the ability to administer tests. The research for this policy was under development prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 and accelerated due to the crisis. A  data-informed approach was used to ensure that the university will render valid admissions decisions for students who choose not to submit test scores as a part of their application.

“We believe this is a very good option for students which will still allow for the validity of our admissions process while alleviating stress for vulnerable populations,” said Stephen Quinn, vice president for enrollment management and communications.  “This has been an ongoing dialogue at universities in the United States. This plan reflects our Catholic Dominican mission and the focus of serving students in an inclusive manner.”

Students who do not submit test scores can apply for any major and do not have to submit any additional documentation. Prospective students can still opt to submit SAT or ACT scores as part of their admissions application. Incoming students who do not submit test scores can still receive academic scholarships.  International students are not required to submit SAT or ACT scores. If international students were educated in a language other than English, they will need to demonstrate proficiency through the SAT or ACT or may pursue one of the following assessments: Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE).

In April, the National Association for College Admission Counseling encouraged higher education institutions to reassess their admission criteria in light of the overwhelming challenges faced by many students including the coronavirus pandemic and issues of access for low-income, first generation and other vulnerable populations. Studies have shown that higher family income and the availability of preparation tests affect higher test scores. 


Caldwell joins more than 1,100 bachelor’s granting colleges and universities that are offering test-optional admissions policies.

 For more information about Caldwell University and its admissions process go to

Featured News

Caldwell is designated a Hispanic-serving institution


Cindy Herrera Caldwell University featured news image

Cindy Herrera is majoring in criminal justice with minors in pre-law, criminal forensics, and psychology.

Caldwell, N.J., April 27, 2020- Caldwell University has been formally recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education. The designation reflects the growth in enrollment of Hispanic students at the university and the welcoming environment Caldwell has created for the students. The designation makes the university eligible to compete for federal grant programs managed by the HSI Division of the U.S. Department of Education.  

Stephen Quinn, vice president of enrollment management and communications, said Caldwell is proud to receive this recognition. “Our Hispanic students have enriched our campus life for years. Caldwell is a place where students share the richness of their cultures and know they have support in exploring and pursuing their academic and career goals.”  

Students at Caldwell University succeed with supportive programs such as peer mentoring, vibrant student activities, and small classes that provide opportunities to build relationships with faculty members.

Cindy Herrera CU Student

Cindy Herrera (far left) is a first-generation student at Caldwell who appreciates how a university is a special place that gives Hispanic students opportunities to celebrate their cultures and grow in their academic and career goals.

Cindy Herrera is a first-generation college student who is pursuing her dream to earn a degree. She is doing it not only for herself but also for her parents who have worked hard for her benefit.  “I try to become their hopes and dreams for what they envisioned in themselves,” said Herrera, who is a campus ambassador for the Admissions Office.  A criminal justice major with three minors—pre-law, criminal forensics, and psychology—Herrera appreciates how the university values its Hispanic students and gives them opportunities to celebrate their cultures through academics, clubs, and even food in the dining hall. “Caldwell University recognizes me and the entire Hispanic population as students who can change the future. I will always be thankful for that.”

 Caldwell University joins over 500 designated HSIs in 25 states that serve two-thirds of all Hispanic students enrolled in higher education in the U.S. More than a quarter of the HSIs are private four-year colleges, according to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

The federal grant competitions feature awards to assist eligible institutions with strengthening institutional programs, facilities, and services to expand educational opportunities for Hispanic Americans and other underrepresented populations. Caldwell’s Hispanic student enrollment during the 2018-19 academic year was 27.5% exceeding the enrollment threshold designation of 25%. The university’s one-year retention rate for 2016 and 2017 for Hispanic students exceeded the corresponding national averages among all four-year private colleges according to the National Student Clearinghouse.