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Education students honored with N.J. state award for student teaching

Three Caldwell University School of Education students were honored by the state for their accomplishments as student teachers.

School of Education students Lisa Paradiso, Sierra Mitchell and Jessica Mitchell were honored as Clinical Interns of the Year at a N.J. state award ceremony June 13.

Caldwell, N.J., June 20, 2018 – Three Caldwell University School of Education students were honored by the state for their accomplishments as student teachers.  Sierra Mitchell, Jessica Mitchell, and Lisa Paradiso were recognized as Clinical Interns of the Year at an award ceremony June 13 sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Education, the New Jersey Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the New Jersey Field Directors Forum.  Dr. Lamont  Repollet, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education, was a speaker at the ceremony.

The students were nominated by their cooperating teachers and university supervisors and were recognized for their academic performance and clinical practice. They were required to submit essays on how they overcame the challenges they faced while teaching and the impact those experiences will have on their career.

Joan Moriarty, Ed.D, associate dean of the School of Education said, “Caldwell University is proud of each of our nominees  who have gone above and beyond in their clinical internship experience, each who has signed a full time tenure track contract.”

Pardiso received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and psychology with certificates in Pre-school to grade 3, Elementary kindergarten – grade 6 and Teacher of Students with Disabilities. She did her student teaching in the East Hanover School District and accepted a teaching position in Denville, N.J.

Jessica Mitchell received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and psychology and certifications in Preschool – grade 3, Elementary kindergarten-grade 6, and Teacher of Students with Disabilities. She did her student teaching in the Glen Ridge School District and has accepted a teaching position in Draper, Utah.

Sierra Mitchell was a post-baccalaureate student who received certifications in Elementary kindergarten – grade 6, and as a Teacher of Spanish.  She completed her student teaching in the Long Valley School District and has accepted a position in Sparta, New Jersey.

The students’ professors and cooperating teachers had high praise for the Caldwell students.

Elizabeth Skinner, adjunct faculty member at Caldwell for Jessica Mitchell,stated,“Ms. Mitchell presented herself from the first day of the semester as an enthusiastic, conscientious student who was passionate about the prospect of teaching and the field of education. She expressed excitement with being close to realizing her life-long dream of becoming a teacher and was looking forward to the day when she would have her own classroom.”

Francine DelVecchio, Ed.D. professor for Lisa Paradiso, commented that “Lisa has an affable, caring nature that will certainly endear her to students and colleagues. She can relate well to young children and adolescents, and she is well-liked by her classmates for being supportive and collegial.”

Kevin Barnes, Ed.D. professor for Sierra Mitchell, stated  “Sierra has immersed herself in her academic endeavors, and her teacher preparation efforts, as she strives to improve the lives of her students.”

This annual award publicly recognizes approximately 65 top graduates of educator preparation programs in New Jersey’s colleges and universities.  An independent panel of esteemed New Jersey educators evaluates these dossiers to select 15 recipients to be awarded “with distinction”.


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President Blattner: Opinion: Independent schools, students, worthy of investment

Caldwell University President Nancy Blattner is Board Chair of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in New Jersey. She provides this Op-Ed piece for NorthJersey.com and The Record on the importance of increasing state aid for New Jersey’s independent colleges and universities, which are exceptionally valuable in preparing students for the jobs of today and tomorrow, benefitting New Jersey’s economy.

To read the piece, go to: https://www.northjersey.com/story/opinion/contributors/2018/06/07/opinion-independent-schools-students-worthy-investment/678867002/

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Strike Up the Band! How One Caldwell Alum Reached for the Stars

It don’t mean a thing (if it ain’t got that swing)!

There’s nothing like a big band classic to get your toes tapping. For Dot Cacchio ’61, however, that swing sound was more than music to the ears. It was an invitation to follow your heart.

Dot’s angel took the form of her piano teacher in Mendham, whose husband taught physics at Caldwell, Dot recalls. “He told me to go see Sister Joanna, which I did. To this day, I don’t remember ever actually applying to attend the college, but before I knew it I was signed up for my first semester!”

Dot fell in love with Caldwell. “Coming from Morristown High School, which was quite large, I really appreciated the small community feel of Caldwell. I have wonderful memories from those years and many close friendships to this day.”

Some of those memories include playing semi-professional softball for the MacGregor Marauders. It was another dream come true for Dot, who is an avid Yankees fan, as the team played on fields just outside Yankee Stadium.

“We learned to be strong women at Caldwell,” Dot notes. “There were only 115 women in my freshman class. It was up to us to make things happen on campus. And we had so many wonderful role models on the faculty and among the sisters.”

After earning a bachelor of arts in music at Caldwell, the talented musician—Dot plays clarinet, alto sax, soprano sax, flute and piccolo in addition to piano—went on to graduate study in music at what was then Trenton State College. Her years at Caldwell prepared her for the rigors of academia. “After meeting the high standards of my professors at Caldwell, graduate school was easy by comparison!”

She never strayed too far from Caldwell, though, returning in the 1970s to teach. “I loved spending time with the other professors there, talking about ideas, making big plans.”

Dot did more than plan. She established a musical theater program that taught students all aspects of the musical theater business. She also initiated a children’s musical theater troupe and another troupe for adults, called the North Jersey Repertory Theatre. She directed a 25-voice choir and 54-voice chorus as well. She performed in musical theater orchestras throughout New Jersey and in Pennsylvania as well, in productions ranging from Cabaret to Anything Goes.

She never strayed too far from her dream to lead her own band, either, and in 1980 she formed the Silver Starlight Orchestra. The 20-piece band, which features two vocalists, has performed with headliners such as Bob Hope, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Ray Noble, Lionel Hampton and many others.

Dot’s accomplishments don’t stop there. She also found time for a 17-year career as a junior high school teacher and to write a memoir, A Fresh Tree Every Christmas: A Love Story.

It is only fitting, then, that Dot was selected to receive the Veritas Award in 2001, in recognition of her achievements.

Dot still visits the campus often, and is in close touch with her college friends. They get together regularly for a book club, where the talk often turns to reminiscing about Caldwell. “We are all grateful for what the sisters did for us. They taught us to think, to share, to lead, and to care. You could go to them any time with a problem, or to just talk.”

Her love for Caldwell now extends to her legacy plans and she has left a bequest in her will to establish a scholarship fund for women students in their junior year, who face financial challenges that would otherwise prevent them from graduating.

When asked about her decision to give generously, she states, simply, “Caldwell has been such a blessing to me.”

Most vivid Caldwell memory? Listening to Sister Alicia play piano—she could play ragtime like nobody’s business!

Greatest achievements?Succeeding in what was then a “man’s world.”

Most influential book? “Your Erroneous Zones,” by Wayne Dyer

Best adventure? I haven’t had it yet!

Advice for today’s Caldwell students? Follow your heart and take your brain with you.

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Caldwell University Hosts Dominican Young Adult Preaching in Action Conference

Different participants from all over the United States attending the 16th annual Preaching in Action Conference held from May 22 to 27 at Caldwell University.
Caldwell University Students having some fun while attending the 16th annual Preaching in Action Conference held from May 22 to 27 at Caldwell University.
Different participants from all over the United States attending the 16th annual Preaching in Action Conference held from May 22 to 27 at Caldwell University.
Caldwell University Students having some fun while attending the 16th annual Preaching in Action Conference held from May 22 to 27 at Caldwell University.

The 16th annual Preaching in Action Conference was held from May 22 to 27 at Caldwell University. Students from Dominican colleges/universities or college campuses with a Dominican presence throughout the United States participated. The event gives students the chance to become immersed in the Dominican tradition of preaching through presentations, workshops and peer-to-peer sharing. Speakers focused on topics such as the Dominican saints, preaching in a global culture, and the interfaith mission of the Dominican order.

Rochelle Chezick, from Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan, was delighted to meet other students who were “on fire with the Holy Spirit” like she is. Among the speakers, Danielle Corea, relationship manager for Catholic Relief Services, presented on CRS student ambassador programs, which allow students to to raise awareness of issues such as global poverty, injustice, migration, fair trade and more. She spoke about the importance of being aware of the realities of those who live without material goods and of understanding the world as a global community.

“Signs of the Times” workshops focused on the United Nations, migration, “Homelessness: A Day in the Life of an Ordinary New Yorker,” and women’s issues, which was presented by Sean Puzzo, coordinator of charism for the Dominican Youth Movement USA and a Caldwell University alum.

The students were given quiet reflection time to consider what they learned and how they could put their faith into action in their lives and on their campuses. Chezick thought a lot more about contemplative prayer and “being with God and clearing my mind.”

Tara Suchland, who works in university ministry at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, was attending the preaching conference for the first time, along with two students from her institution. She found Caldwell to be beautiful and the staff running the conference to be “super hospitable.”

Caldwell University student Anthony Pineros appreciated learning about the rich Dominican history.   He  was grateful for the chance for the students to “be together as a family” and have the opportunity to volunteer at different service sites  learning how their actions are a form of preaching. They  assisted at non-profits including Toni’s Soup Kitchen in Montclair, Our Lady Help of Christians School in East Orange, First Friends for immigration and asylum seekers, and St. Catherine’s Convent, a home for the elderly located on Caldwell’s grounds.

Caldwell Dominican Sister Honora Werner, O.P., offered theological reflections.

Caldwell University student Julianna Verso was fascinated to learn from speakers how preaching is sometimes done through art, song, and dance and the importance  of  “letting God guide you through the process.”

Caldwell University alumna Kaitlyn Tasjian, a teacher at Lacordaire Academy, encouraged the students to live authentically and to look for the random, teachable moments in their lives to preach the Word of God to others. “We don’t even need a pulpit. If we live an unforced, natural life in the Spirit, we are answering God’s call to preach by using our existence as an example.”

The conference culminated with a Mass celebrated by Father Paul Colloton, OSFS.

In planning the conference, Sister Gina Flemming, O.P., executive director of the Dominican Youth Movement USA, and Puzzo worked with Colleen O’Brien, Caldwell’s director of campus ministry.

The students were challenged with the creation of an action plan for the 2018-19 academic year.  Caldwell students Brittany Gaule, Anthony Pineros and Julianna Verso came up with a plan to put in place a Dominican Week to focus on the Dominican pillars during the last week of September, ending with Caldwell Day to live out the pillar of service.

For more on the conference go to:



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Steven Han: The dream of medical school becomes a reality

Steven Han Caldwell University Graduate receiving his degree on Bachelor's of Arts in Biology from the president of Caldwell University Dr. Nancy Blattner.

Steven Han’s first exposure to medicine was when he fainted in kindergarten.  There were other sign markers pointing the way towards a career in healthcare.   His grandfather was a doctor; he excelled in science and math in high school and he had an interest in biology. “A culmination of experiences led me to believe that a career in medicine was the only job fit for me,” said Han, who received  a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Caldwell University on May 20.

This summer Han takes a big step in that journey towards becoming a doctor when he begins attending Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University.  Being accepted validated his undergraduate efforts and he is happy that his medical school will be close to Caldwell.

During his undergraduate years, he learned the value of research and presented at the Independent College Fund of New Jersey and at Caldwell’s Creative and Research Day.  He is grateful to Dr. Agnes Berki, associate professor of biology, mentoring him on his independent research  for topics such as “Investigation of Microorganisms on Smartphones,” (basically the gross stuff on your phone) and “The Use of Fecal Microbiota Transplant in Treating Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.” The professors at Caldwell are what made his experience incredibly special.

“My mentors here not only taught me how to excel in my studies but went far and well beyond their role as just teachers and guided me to develop professionally,  said Han who is from Reisterstown, Maryland.

He appreciated Caldwell’s Catholic Dominican foundation which gave him the ability to thrive in an environment dedicated to helping him see the value of service. He participated in Midnight runs to reach out to the homeless in New York City, which he says was “a unique, humbling experience,” and he was grateful for Caldwell’s commitment to embracing diversity. “I was able to expose myself to a number of cultures which will undoubtedly help me in the real world after graduation.”

Han was involved in community service as a member of the campus Circle K club and served on the Student Government Association Academic Affairs Committee.   At honors convocation he  received the C-Pin award for the senior class. The award goes to an exemplary student who was nominated by his or her peers.

Through his many experiences and his studies, his interests and passion for medicine were reaffirmed.   Caldwell helped him  reflect on his purpose as a student and his place in the world.  He looks forward to determining his medical specialty and “eventually settling down to start a family.” Most of all he is grateful to his peers, professors and faculty. “It has been the best four years of my life.”

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Dennis Brady: Discovering my dream school in my own backyard

Dennis Brady Caldwell University graduate receiving his degree from President of Caldwell University Dr. Nancy Blattner.

As a student ambassador in the Caldwell University Admissions Office, Dennis Brady gave many tours to high school students and their parents during his college career.

Brady, who was the commencement speaker at Caldwell University’s undergraduate ceremony May 20, always drove home the same message on his tours—Caldwell is a home, and the experience you will get there is not what you will encounter at a big school where you are a number in a huge lecture hall. “The small classroom sizes, the family-like community of our campus, and the continuous help from professors is something that can’t be replicated anywhere else,” says Brady.

Brady, of West Orange, New Jersey,  went to high school at Seton Hall Preparatory, and when he was looking at colleges he did not give Caldwell University much thought even though his sister Melissa had raved about it and had excelled on all levels as a student. But then he finally made a campus visit. “I had to look at schools all around the country to discover that my dream school was right in my own backyard.”

As a commuter who was very involved in campus life, he tells other commuters they can have a full university experience. “If you just get out of your car, go to class and get back in your car and go home, you lose out on experiencing what Caldwell has to offer.” Students have to break out of their comfort zones to “experience Caldwell on a deeper level and all it has to offer.”

And Brady had that deeper experience. His communications background extended to leadership on campus where he was an orientation leader and was a founder of the campus Operation Smile club, which provides surgeries for children and young adults in developing countries who are born with cleft lip, cleft palate or other dental and facial conditions. “To be able to be president of a club that I was so passionate about was a blessing and extremely rewarding.” Brady is proud that the club held fundraising events such as coffee houses and karaoke nights and sent cards and care packages to children. He is a member of the national honor society Phi Kappa Phi, and at honors convocation on April 25, he received the Communication and Media Studies Department award.

As a communication and media studies major with a minor in business administration, Brady appreciated that his professors were always readily available to answer questions. He looks forward to pursuing a communications career, having completed two internships—with Sirius XM’s Shade 45 program and with “Elvis Duran and the Morning Show” on Z100. He is grateful for the “three years in the classroom with the practical experience and then being able to take it to a different level in the big city.”

Brady leaves Caldwell grateful for all that the university has done “in those transitional years between being a child and becoming an adult” and for inspiring him and other students to grow “in ethics, faith and caring about others.”

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Caldwell University Athletics Welcomes Back Hasani Whitfield ‘05 to Lead the Baseball Program

 Hasani Whitfield ’05 the next baseball head coach of Caldwell University.

CALDWELL, N.J.- Caldwell University Assistant Vice President/Director of Athletics Mark A. Corino has announced the hiring of Hasani Whitfield ’05 as the next baseball head coach. Whitfield was a standout four-year player for the Cougars and was inducted into the Caldwell Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.

“We are extremely excited to welcome Hasani back to the Caldwell family to lead our baseball program,” said Corino. “We are fortunate to add someone to our department who has consistently exhibited great leadership qualities. We are looking for him to enhance our program in all facets. With his head coaching experience, we believe that he will do a great job recruiting quality student-athletes to our institution and reconnecting with our baseball alumni from the past.”

Whitfield comes to Caldwell after serving as the Head Baseball Coach at Union County College for the past two seasons. While leading the program, Whitfield had three All-Region players for the first time in 10 years in NJCAA Region 19. In addition, the 2018 team ranked third all-time in homeruns, and his teams finished in the top-20 in the nation for stolen bases the past two seasons. He previously worked as the assistant coach at Union CC from 2012-16. In four seasons as the assistant coach, he was the primary hitting coach and worked with the outfielders.

“It means a lot to be able to return to my alma mater as the Head Coach of a program that is very special to me,” said Whitfield. “I’m grateful to Mr. Corino, the Athletic Department and everyone involved in the process. I look forward to working with the current players and alumni to energize the program.”

Whitfield is the current co-owner of Gamers Academy that he co-founded in 2012. Gamers is dedicated to teaching fundamentals to youth players to ensure they succeed on and off the field.

Whitfield was an outstanding hitter on some of Caldwell’s best teams, ranking among the all-time leaders in several categories during his time on the diamond from 2002-05. He was selected Central Atlantic College Conference Player of the Year as a senior. Whitfield was a three-time CACC All-Conference selection as well as two-time ACBA/Rawlings Northeast All Region honoree in 2004 and 2005. His teams also were successful, as the Cougars won their first CACC regular-season title in 2003 and captured the 2004 conference tournament title to advance to the NCAA Division II Northeast Region Tournament for the first time.

In 2003, Whitfield had one of the most successful seasons not only in Caldwell history but in CACC history. As a sophomore, he ended the season with a .462 batting average, which placed him seventh in nation for Division II. Whitfield ended his career as the all-time career hits leader and currently ranks in the top-five program history in homeruns, RBI, hits, doubles, triples and stolen bases.

Whitfield earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Caldwell in criminal justice with a minor in psychology in 2005.

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Nursing and Public Health Convocation Celebrates Graduates

Caldwell University School of Nursing and Public Health graduating seniors posing for the photo during annual convocation and professional pinning at May 18.
Caldwell University School of Nursing and Public Health graduate senior getting pinned from her mother during annual convocation and professional pinning at May 18.
Caldwell University School of Nursing and Public Health graduating seniors collecting certification during annual convocation and professional pinning at May 18.
Caldwell University School of Nursing and Public Health graduating seniors taking an oath during annual convocation and professional pinning at May 18.
Caldwell University School of Nursing and Public Health graduating seniors posing for the photo during annual convocation and professional pinning at May 18.
Caldwell University School of Nursing and Public Health graduating seniors posing for the photo during annual convocation and professional pinning at May 18.

Caldwell, N.J., May 29, 2018 – The Caldwell University School of Nursing and Public Health celebrated its graduating seniors at its annual convocation and professional pinning May 18. Graduating seniors received their pins showing symbolizing their pride and accomplishments.

Welcome remarks were given by Dr. Brenda Petersen, associate dean of the School of Nursing and Public Health. In a world where the healthcare delivery system is described as rapidly changing, increasingly complex and driven by technology,

the students have been well-prepared by faculty and staff, said Petersen “You are ready to launch into this system, to become agents of change while honoring the mission of Caldwell University as well as representing our core values of respect, integrity, community and excellence.”

Dr. Barbara Chesler, Ed.D. vice president for academic affairs, encouraged the graduates to reflect on what they learned and the skills they mastered. “Listen, feel, and reflect on your clinical and internship practice…remember that what you do and say to a patient or a client will give them the courage to face whatever the medical treatment might be.”

The pinning ceremony, said Chesler, brings together the art and science of nursing.  “The pin represents the badge of courage nurses wear for every day they are on the front lines of healthcare – birthing babies, fighting death, disease and the courage and commitment to the patient, when everyone else might have given up hope and gone home.”

Theodora Sirota, Ph.D., former Caldwell Nursing Department chair and current chair of Nursing at the University of Saint Joseph, was also a speaker.

Nursing alumni remarks were provided by Casandra Venditti’17, cardiac registered nurse at Morristown Memorial Center, and Public Health alumni remarks were provided by John McLaughlin, ’17, a mental health associate who works with individuals suffering from addiction.

Alisa Wilkinson was the nursing valedictorian and Emily Stabile was the public health education valedictorian.

The Nursing Peer Mentor Award was given to Andrea Falano; the Nursing Professional Promise award was given to Andreia Amorim; the Nursing Positivity and Perseverance Award was given to Natalie Pedri. The Public Health Education Peer Mentor Award was given to Dhandevi Deokie; the Public Health Education Professional Promise Award was given to Victoria Thaler; the Public Health Education Positivity and Perseverance Award was given to Emily Stabile.

The graduating nursing seniors were:

Matthew Amling, Andreia Amorim, Daniel Aponte, Zaira Baranukova, Diana Brown, Brittany Buska, Rachel Capote ,Brittany Carlin ,Erin Casner, Nicole Cassaday, Eileen Cox, Kelli Degnan, Lauren DiFabrizio ,Kaliope Diakos, Kelly Donaldson, Setenay Duran, Andrea Felano, Zina Fife, Hope Fischer, Catherine Gbadebo, Charlotte Genthe ,Valeria Gonzalez ,Marissa Greenberg,  Bart Heffron, Brianna Heintjes, Shannon James, Hanifah James, Channel Jorge, Brianna Keeling, Qendresa Jonuzi, David Khavilov, Nancy Kroeze ,Joelle Libman, Alexandra Matchett, Angela Matichak, Jessica Minuto, Catherine Mulick ,Olivia O’Donnell ,Alexis Otun ,Alysse Palestina, Natalie Pedri, Aisha Perez ,Elynette Perez, Rebecca Pasteur, Cindy Pineros, Daniela Pineros, Robert Pohida, Mary Sanchez ,Tara Sike, Tiffany Smith, Breanna Van Dyk, Alyssa Veenstra, Karla Ventura, Alisa Wilkinson, Amparo White , Julianne Worgul.

Dr. Petersen presented the Bachelor of Nursing degree posthumously to the family of Susan Smiley Green, a nursing student and nurse at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson, who passed away while she was a student at Caldwell.

The graduating public health education seniors are:

Jessica Bohorquez, Jessica Campos, Dionna DeGrazio, Raquel Delgado, Deokie Dhandevi ,Rebecca Dodoo ,Keeling Garcia-Magaletta, Brianna Innarella, Farah Leon, Gianna Liaci, Yadira Lopez, Katherine Monteros ,Christina O’Connor, Andrew Ogbonna, Linda Pham, Jade Puello, Tathiana Robayo, Keegan Saunders, Kiahna Silva, Emily Stabile, Victoria Thaler, Brielle Yanic

Nan Childress Orchard, DMA, chair and professor of music, provided the music – the processional by Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring (Bach) and the recessional Trumpet Voluntary (Clarke).

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Michelle Eng ‘18: I have grown to be a leader

The aptitude tests at East Brunswick High School started Michelle Eng thinking about occupational therapy as a field. She shadowed occupational therapists during summers and saw how happy the patients were and how welcoming the therapists were to the clients.

Upon entering college, Eng was not sure if she should major in psychology or biology. After taking her first biology class with Dr. William Velhagen, chair of the Natural and Physical Sciences Department, she felt motivated to keep going. “I’ve never felt so much support, except from my family, as I have with the faculty (here),” she says, reciting the names of the science department professors. “I’m thankful to the faculty for all they have given me.”

Eng graduated from Caldwell University May 20, earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in biology in just three years since she entered Caldwell with AP credits and worked hard. Besides her academics, she has learned about herself during her college career—about who she wants to become. “I’ve grown to be a leader.” And the Caldwell community endorsed that status when at honors convocation she received the Excellence in Leadership Award and departmental honors in the Natural and Physical Sciences Department.   She served as president of the Circle K Club, as vice president of the Health Professions and Earth clubs and as secretary for the Anime club. Eng also worked as a lab assistant and in campus safety at the desk in Rosary Hall.

“I’ve learned to stand up for myself more, to be more ambitious. I have had many firsts here.” That includes applying for her first scholarship, with the help of Dr. Agnes Berki, associate professor of biology. That award was the Independent College Fund of New Jersey’s Becton Dickinson Scholarship for Students Pursing Careers in Health Care. “It was my first outside of a school scholarship.” Other scholarships followed. “It empowered me to go for any opportunity available so that I can truly see how far I can go.”

Eng cherishes the friendships she has made at Caldwell including her international student friends. “So many people from so many places,” she says. “It is hard to leave because I have built such a place here.” Yet she is looking forward to the next great adventure in life—excited to be attending graduate school in the fall to work on her master’s in occupational therapy.   “Because of Caldwell University, I have a future in occupational therapy that I have been looking forward to for three years.”


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