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‘I am first generation. I am Caldwell’ is theme of forum


Caldwell, N.J., Nov. 2, 2018 – “I am first generation. I am Caldwell” was the theme of a forum at Caldwell University on Oct. 30. Students, faculty, staff and administration shared their experiences of being the first members of their families to attend or graduate from college or the first to receive their undergraduate or graduate degrees in the United States.

The moderator of the panel was Elizabeth Elices, Caldwell’s compliance manager and Title IX coordinator. She also co-chairs the Diversity and Inclusion Committee with Dr. Bonnie French, assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice. Elices opened the forum by recounting how her family escaped the revolution in Cuba and came to the United States.She was the first in her family to go to graduate school; she went on to become a lawyer. “When I passed my bar exams, I didn’t get sworn at the big ceremony in Trenton. I took my oath as a new attorney at the Bergen County Courthouse—where years before, my father had taken his oath to become a new citizen in the United States.”

Elices guided the panelists in discussing topics such as how they responded to challenges as they navigated being a first, where they found support, what advice they have for others facing similar circumstances and how being a first has shaped them.

Jhoanna Oliva-Marquez’s parents were immigrants from Peru. As a result, she did not know how to navigate the college experience. “Sometimes you just don’t know who to go to,” she said. She worked through college to afford it. Balancing classes, homework, her job, family and friends was a challenge, but she graduated and went on to earn her master’s degree. Today as a senior academic advisor at Caldwell, Oliva-Marquez can relate to many first-generation students. She advises them not to be afraid to take opportunities, recalling how she accepted an internship with no pay or credits and it turned out to be a positive experience for the start of her professional life.

Christine Millien, a senior studying business administration, grew up the youngest of five children. Her parents were from Trinidad, and her other siblings were born there. Even though she was born in the United States, she said she went through culture shock as a child since she was from an immigrant family. When she graduates this December, a semester early, she will be the first person in her family to earn a college degree. “Don’t be afraid of differences. You are uniquely beautiful,” she told students in the audience. “Learn to love yourself first … don’t wait for someone else to tell you that you are doing good; you are your biggest cheerleader. You need to find your purpose and work for that.”

R. B. Alverna, a doctoral student in Caldwell’s educational leadership program, was the first in his family to earn a college degree. He came to the United States from his native Haiti as a child. Alverna recalled how growing up his father provided for the family financially but was not there for him emotionally. Therefore, it was a great joy to hear his father say he was proud of him when he earned his undergraduate degree. As a first-generation student, Alverna felt the pressure to succeed, so for a time during college, he would not return his mother’s phone calls because hearing her voice added to the pressure. Maturity showed him that was wrong. “Don’t ignore your parents. Speak to your parents in college … my mom is my best friend.” Today in his work as the coordinator of Project L.E.A.P. at Hudson Community College and as a husband and a father, he stresses the importance of honest communication and of admitting mistakes. He encourages other adults to “make sure you educate youth to make wise post-secondary decisions.”

Jenelle McLeod, a graduate student in Caldwell’s counseling program, was the first in her family to attend college. Being prepared, observant and on top of things was important to her. “Stay ahead of the game; talk to other students and professors and get involved.” Students need to be aware of the “golden ticket” they have with networking capabilities, she said. As a counseling student, she knows “self-care” is important and advises students to be mindful of that.

Yang Cai, professor of sociology, grew up in communist China. When entrance to graduate studies in the United States became more available, Cai’s family scraped together enough money for her to pursue her graduate studies in sociology. When she came to this country to study at the University of Georgia, she faced many obstacles, including financial and cultural barriers. One significant challenge for her was learning how to critique scholars’ work since she grew up in a culture that does not encourage students to challenge others, especially people in authority. Today she pushes her students to inquire and to question. “Critical thinking is a privilege,” said Cai. Her years of living without much money has also taught her—as she tells her children—that “we don’t need a lot of things to be happy.”

Monika Sywak, assistant professor of finance, came to the United States from Poland when she was 23 years old. She worked in a department store, but she knew she wanted to pursue higher education. When Sywak said she was leaving to attend college, she got some pushback from her employer, who asked why she wanted to go further. She went on to pursue her bachelor’s degree while working six or seven days a week—full-time at a bank and one day a week at the department store. She earned an MBA and her doctorate and had a career in corporate America.  When Sywak starts a semester with her business students she shares a quote she likes: “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” She encourages first-generation students to “dream big.”

The president of Caldwell University, Dr. Nancy Blattner, shared how she attended Southeast Missouri State University in her hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, as the first in her family. Her parents did not go to high school yet they worked hard so their daughter could have a good education. Many of her aunts and uncles had only third- and fifth-grade educations since they were born in the early 20th century to rural farming families.

Blattner said that she grew up “on the wrong side of the tracks” and that her childhood life consisted mainly of going to “school, church, a part-time job and the library.” As a result, she became a voracious reader, which benefited her as she excelled in her studies. When it was time for college, she had several full-ride scholarships including one she wanted to take at Washington University farther away from her home. However, she turned it down. Her father—who believed in her and was proud of her—told her that if she lost that scholarship she would have to move back home and go to Southeast because he and her mother could not help her financially. “I thought about what he told me, and not trusting my untested capabilities, I enrolled at Southeast … I don’t regret the decision … still I have wondered how my life might have been different if I had felt more confidence in myself and tested my abilities by taking the scholarship to Wash U. ”

Blattner worked hard to perform well on CLEP exams so she could earn credits to reduce her expenses at Southeast. When she entered the university her family had never been on the campus to experience cultural or social offerings. “It simply wasn’t part of our lifestyle.” She went on to earn her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and has had many accomplishments including serving on state and national higher education boards. Blattner advises other first-generation students to remain strong as they confront obstacles and to stay connected with their loved ones no matter how much they achieve. “I love my family, and my parents gave me many gifts: a strong work ethic, a deep Catholic faith and a desire for the education that they were never able to obtain.”

The program was sponsored by the university’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

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Caldwell to name Newman Center Floor for Mark A. Corino

Flyer for ceremony honoring Mark Corino Saturday December 8, 2018.

CALDWELL, N.J.- Caldwell University will name the playing floor at the George R. Newman Center in honor of the assistant vice president/director of athletics and head men’s basketball coach, Mark A. Corino, who has led the men’s basketball program since its second season in 1988.

Mark A. Corino Court will be officially dedicated in a pre-game ceremony prior to Caldwell’s Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference game against Bloomfield College on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 3 p.m.

“Mark Corino is truly deserving of having the basketball court at Caldwell University named in his honor,” said Caldwell President Nancy Blattner, Ph.D. “It has been a pleasure to partner with Mark as he has worked diligently to create and maintain an expectation of excellence for our student-athletes, our teams and our coaching staff.”

Corino, a Belleville native, received a bachelor’s from Kean University and a master’s in education from Caldwell.  He has coached basketball for 35 years at the collegiate level, five years at Bloomfield and 30 seasons at Caldwell.

“I am deeply grateful and truly humbled to have the Newman Center basketball court dedicated in my name,” said Corino “I would like to thank  the three university presidents that I have served under; Sister Vivien Jennings, Sister Patrice Werner, and Dr. Blattner, and all of those involved in supporting this great honor. I am looking forward to sharing this day with family, friends, and all of my former players and former athletes, all whom have contributed to the program’s success over my 31 years at Caldwell.”

Corino has made a lasting impact on the university and the Athletics Department in his three decades at Caldwell. He was awarded the Caldwell Cup in 1999 and received the Caldwell President’s Award in 2006. Corino was selected as the NAIA Region X in 1992 and 2000, CACC Administrator of the Year in 2000, the ECAC Administrator of the Year in 2010 and the CACC Athletic Director of the Year in 2017-18. He is president of the CACC Director’s Council, having been re-elected in 2018 for a two-year term, a position he has held four times. Most recently, he was honored with the Garden State Award by the Collegiate Athletic Administrators of New Jersey.

“This is a fitting honor for Mark Corino to commemorate his dedication to not only Caldwell Athletics but to the entire Caldwell Community,” said CACC Commissioner Dan Mara.  “I have known Mark for over 20 years and he is certainly one of the most dedicated coaches and athletic administrators in the country. Mark has been a leader on the conference, regional, and national levels and has helped to shape the CACC into the model conference it is today. I sincerely hope the students of Caldwell University will continue to benefit from his efforts for many years.”

Corino spearheaded the growth of the Athletic Department from three programs in 1988 to what will be 16 programs by 2019-20 with the addition of men’s lacrosse. From 2011 through 2020, Caldwell will have added seven new sports under Corino’s leadership (women’s track and field, women’s lacrosse, men’s cross country, men’s track and field, women’s bowling, sprint football and men’s lacrosse). Originally a NAIA member school, Caldwell began the transition to NCAA Division II in 1998 and finished in 2002 under Corino’s guidance. Also in 2002, the George R. Newman Center, Caldwell’s state-of-the-art indoor athletics facility, was completed following years of planning and fundraising.

In 2010, Caldwell University, West Caldwell and Essex County came together to fund the renovation of the Kiwanis Oval, an artificial turf facility used by multiple municipalities and Caldwell University. Corino has contracted agreements to lease the Essex Valley Field to host the women’s lacrosse team home contests; he has directed an agreement to lease a space for locker rooms, trainer rooms and office and meeting space at Provost Square, adjacent to the Kiwanis Oval, for the baseball and sprint football teams.

Corino began his college coaching career as the men’s basketball coach at Bloomfield College where he posted a 95-48 record from 1982-1987. He moved to Caldwell in the summer of 1987 as the athletics director and took over coaching the men’s basketball program in its second season. Corino guided the Cougars to eight CACC Championships during his 30 seasons, five NAIA tournament appearances and one NCAA Division II Tournament in 2007. He was named the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association Coach of the Year in 1998. Corino was selected as the CACC Coach of the Year four times and was inducted into the Caldwell Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016.

“I’ve known Mark for over 30 years and have seen his growth as a coach and administrator at Caldwell,” said Bloomfield College Athletic Director Sheila Wooten. “I am extremely proud of him and his accomplishments. His success as a coach and athletics director has been tremendous and he is deserving of this prestigious honor to have the court dedicated in his name.”

Corino is among three college men’s basketball head coaches in New Jersey with over 500 wins and ranks second in the state with 563 wins (468 at Caldwell). Last season, he joined an elite club coaching in his 1,000th game as a college head coach. He is the second active coach in the Division II East Region to reach 1,000 games coached and is among 28 active coaches in all divisions of NCAA men’s basketball to have coached 1,000 games.

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Caldwell Athletics CAANJ Awards

Caldwell Athletics CAANJ Awards

Corino Receives Prestigious Garden State Award; Janssen Earns CAANJ DII Female Student Athlete of the Year; Caldwell Athletics Receives DII Cup

CALDWELL, N.J.- Caldwell University volleyball’s Katrina Janssen (Seville, Australia) was selected as the Collegiate Athletic Administrators of New Jersey (CAANJ) Division II Female Student-Athlete of the Year. The Caldwell University Athletics Department earned the DII Cup for their outstanding athletic accomplishments during the 2017-18 year. In addition, Assistant Vice President/Director of Athletics Mark A. Corino received the prestigious Garden State Award from the organization.

Caldwell Athletics as a department has another outstanding year on the field and in the classroom in 2017-18. The Cougars won two conference championships in women’s volleyball and softball, which both won their respective regular season titles as well. Caldwell three major award winners with Janssen earning CACC Player of the Year, while her teammate Jessica Mitchell (Plainfield, Ill.) was selected as the CACC Defensive Player of the Year for a second straight season. Women’s basketball Sharell Sanders (Dorchester, Mass.) also earned CACC Defensive Player of the Year honors. The department featured five all-region players and two honorable mention All-Americans. Women’s volleyball, women’s basketball and softball earned berths in the NCAA Division II Championship, while women’s lacrosse reached the CACC Final Four for the first time in program history. Caldwell earned 19 CACC All-League honorees, including eight on the first team.

Janssen ended her collegiate career in 2017 with an outstanding senior season. She was selected as the CACC Player of the Year and was a CACC First Team All-Conference selection. Janssen helped lead the Cougars to their third CACC Tournament Championship as she earned the CACC Tournament MVP honors for her standout play in the tournament. She was selected to the AVCA and D2CCA All-East Region First Team and was named the D2CCA East Region Player of the Year. Janssen also earned AVCA Honorable Mention All-American honors, the first All-American in the program’s history.

Corino enters his 31st year as the Director of Athletic and Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Caldwell. As a longtime administrator at Caldwell, Corino has spearheaded the growth of the athletic department from three programs in 1988 to 16 programs by 2019-20 with the addition of men’s lacrosse. From 2011-2020, Caldwell will have added seven new sports under Corino’s leadership (Women’s track and field, women’s lacrosse, men’s cross country and track and field, women’s bowling, sprint football and men’s lacrosse). Originally a NAIA member school, Caldwell made the transition to NCAA Division II beginning in 1998 and was completed in 2002, under Corino’s guidance. Also in 2002, the George R. Newman Center, Caldwell’s state-of-the-art indoor athletics facility, was completed following years of planning and fundraising. Corino was selected as the CACC and NAIA Region X Administrator of the Year in 2000 as well as the 2010 ECAC Administrator of the Year.

He ranks second in the state of New Jersey

Corino, Janssen and the department were honored at the CAANJ luncheon on Thursday,

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Caldwell University Reaches New Highs with Nursing Board Pass Rates

Natalie Pedri working in the hospital.

Caldwell, N.J. – Oct. 5, 2018 – Caldwell University Nursing faculty members were thrilled to learn that all of their 2018 traditional students passed their boards, paving the way for their next step as nurses. Brenda Peterson, Ph.D., associate dean of the School of Nursing and Public Health, said they are very proud of this 100% pass rate of their May 2018 bachelor of science nursing graduates.  The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN™) is a national examination for the licensing of nurses in the United States and Canada.  In addition to the traditional students, those students who came in for nursing as a second degree, passed at a 94.7 percent rate.  When combined, Caldwell boasts an impressive overall pass rate of approximately 98 percent for May 2018 graduates.

The School’s clinical partners are reporting great interest in Caldwell University BSN graduates and many of the May 2018 graduates had exciting jobs awaiting them before they even earned their license.  “Our graduates are now employed in positions across New Jersey and the mid-Atlantic including a residency with Georgetown University Surgical Intensive Care Unit, as well as roles in acute care settings that include the emergency room, behavioral health, labor and delivery, and cardiac step-down telemetry unit, just to mention a few,” said Petersen.

Matthew Amling’18 is the Caldwell graduate currently at Georgetown. “Without the education that I received from Caldwell’s Nursing program, I would never have been able to take on this amazing opportunity.” The “realistic simulations and mock emergent situations in the nursing lab at Caldwell,” he said, prepared him for his work with patients.

Caldwell’s Nursing program, said Petersen, prepares future nurses “with the core values of our university—respect, integrity, community and excellence–that become embedded within their practices.”

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Caldwell Athletics Names Klank as Men’s Lacrosse Coach

Matt Klank Tabbed to Lead the Inaugural Caldwell Men’s Lacrosse Program

Matt Klank Tabbed to Lead the Inaugural Caldwell Men’s Lacrosse Program

Matt Klank Tabbed to Lead the Inaugural Caldwell Men’s Lacrosse Program

CALDWELL, N.J.- Caldwell University Athletics Assistant Vice President/Director of Athletics Mark A. Corino has announced the hiring of Caldwell native Matt Klank to lead the inaugural men’s lacrosse team in the spring of 2020. Klank comes to Caldwell after serving as the head coach for 14 seasons at Centenary University and will serve as an athletics administrator for the department.

“We are extremely excited to add Matt to our department to lead our new men’s lacrosse program,” said Corino. “Matt has a long track record in the men’s lacrosse world and is a well-known coach in the state of New Jersey. Matt is a longtime resident in the Caldwell area and we feel that he will be an asset to our community as the university continues its expansion for 16 sports in 2019-20. The athletics department is excited and enthusiastic about playing a major role in the continued growth of our institution.”

Klank has guided the Cyclones to five conference tournament berths during the last eight seasons, including Centenary’s first-ever appearance in a league championship game in 2013. He has had over 40 student-athletes to achieve all-conference recognition, including 10 first team selections.

“I would like to thank Mark Corino and the entire athletic department for the opportunity to lead the first men’s lacrosse team at Caldwell University,” said Klank. “I am confident that my experiences has prepared me well for this challenge.”

Prior to his time at Centenary, Klank was the assistant coach and offensive coordinator at Drew University for our seasons. Klank also served as an assistant coach at Division I Villanova from 1998-2000 and at his alma mater, Montclair State. Klank gained experience coaching at the high school level from 1995-97 as the offensive coordinator at Montclair Kimberly Academy.

Klank began his collegiate playing career at Drexel University in 1992, where he led the Dragons in scoring as a freshman. Following his sophomore season, Klank transferred to Montclair State for his final two years of eligibility. He received the ECAC Most Valuable Player Award and garnered All-New Jersey First-Team accolades in 1994, while leading the Red Hawks in scoring during his two years at MSU.

A 1997 graduate of Montclair State, Klank earned his bachelor’s degree in commercial recreation and tourism. He currently resides in Roseland, N.J., with his wife, Marisel, and their children, Ashley and Justin.

The Cougars will compete in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference, which sponsored men’s lacrosse as a conference sport this past spring. Fellow CACC members Felician University and Wilmington University completed their first men’s lacrosse season in 2018 as they joined Chestnut Hill College, Dominican College, Georgian Court University and Post University, who already had men’s lacrosse as a sponsored sport. Men’s lacrosse championship season is in the spring semester with the program competing in exhibition games and limited practices in the fall of 2019. The Cougars will hit the field for their first season in the spring of 2020.

About Caldwell Athletics: The Caldwell Athletics Department sponsors 16 varsity sports with the addition of men’s lacrosse in the 2019-20 academic year. Caldwell University is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division II (NCAA DII). The Cougars compete in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) and the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). Caldwell’s sprint football program began competition in the 2017-18 academic year and is as a member of the Collegiate Sprint Football League (CSFL). Caldwell’s women’s bowling team is an associate member of the East Coast Conference (ECC).

About Caldwell University: Caldwell University is a private, Catholic coed four-year university with a strong liberal arts core curriculum that enhances critical thinking and analytical reasoning. Caldwell offers 25 undergraduate and 30 graduate programs, including doctoral, master’s, certificate and certification programs, as well as online and distance learning options that prepare students for today’s global marketplace. The university has 15 NCAA Division II athletic teams along with sprint football and numerous clubs, fraternities, sororities and activities. It is located on a beautiful 70-acre campus in suburban Caldwell, New Jersey. Caldwell was founded by the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Caldwell. Its core values of respect, integrity, community and excellence influence academic and campus life. For more information about Caldwell University, visit caldwell.edu. Follow the university on Twitter @CaldwellUniv, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/caldwelluniversity, and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/caldwelluniversity.

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Compassionate Community Service is a Theme of 10th Annual Caldwell Day

Caldwell University Students polishing and arranging the shoe during Community Service Day.
Caldwell University doing a video shoot Caldwell Service Day.
Caldwell University Students cleaning a front yard during Caldwell Service Day.
Caldwell Students preparing wonderful postcard for the sisters at Caldwell University during a Service day.
Group photo Caldwell University faculty and students outside the Caldwell Pollinator Garden during a service day.
Caldwell University faculty members and students group photo.
Caldwell University student Suman Thapa carrying pillow and sheets during Caldwell Service Day.
Shore Chapter Volunteers

Caldwell, N.J. – Oct. 1, 2018 – While volunteering at the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, student Sagar Basaula decided to take 10 minutes out to walk around and look closely at what the other Caldwell students and faculty and staff members were doing on the warehouse floor. “Everyone was packing boxes with love and compassion because they genuinely wanted to,” he said.  Basaula’s group put together 506 boxes for 506 families as part of the university’s annual day of service, Caldwell Day.

Basaula was one of approximately 230 members of the Caldwell campus community who took part in the 10th annual event on Sept. 28 for which classes are canceled and participants volunteer at nonprofit organizations in Essex County and elsewhere in the state.

Nancee Roth, coordinator of tutoring services, and student Emmanuel Steplight visited the homebound through St. Aloysius parish in Caldwell. Roth said the people they visited appreciated any communication; they were happy to have someone listen to them and to receive a compliment. The takeaway for Roth was that a smile or a positive comment can mean a great deal even in a simple encounter like meeting someone in the store. She appreciated volunteering with Steplight, who is blind. “The spirit she brings, the kindness she shows inspires me. She indicated that through this experience she wants to continue visiting the homebound,” said Roth.

Quinn DeLaRosa and Bianca Ho served at FilmAcademy360 in Livingston, which teaches high school and college age students on the autism spectrum skills in filmmaking, video editing, game creation, and graphic arts. The two assisted the academy staff in producing a video by handling production duties such as running the teleprompter, operating the camera and coaching the learners in on-air skills. For Ho, who is planning to work in the art therapy field, the most important aspect was how she quickly felt a part of the learners’ community. “They helped us easily know their world.” DeLaRosa was moved by how the learners were comfortable being themselves. “To see how cheerful these people are shows how much we overcomplicate things.”

David DiIanni, director of the academy, said having the Caldwell volunteers was very good for his students because they learn to engage with people from the community.  It is beneficial for the learners to work with peer mentors, he said, and it is helpful to the academy to make connections to build their program.

Cathy Lundquist, an adjunct faculty member in education, volunteered at Our Lady Help of Christians in East Orange and met Sister Pat Hogan, O.P., the principal— “an amazing woman. I was grateful and honored to have worked with her.”

Many of the Caldwell volunteers were inspired by the care and commitment they saw from those who run the nonprofits. Student Deanne Murray served at the historic Kingsland Manor in Nutley and was impressed with the passion of staff members, who “enjoyed restoring, inviting everyone in, and know the history.” Madison Perry worked with the Caldwell Environmental Center, moving mulch, pulling up weeds, and cleaning.  “I saw a lot of passion from those who work at the pollinator garden.” As a biology major, she was happy to experience a variety of bugs, plants, and species.

A group of alumni from the Shore Chapter, along with Sharon Dwyer from the university’s Development and Alumni Affairs Office, volunteered at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic School in Asbury Park, NJ doing art projects and helping out in the classrooms.

Colleen O’Brien, director of campus ministry, said the university engages in volunteerism as part of its Catholic Dominican mission of service. St. Dominic stressed “the importance of bringing light to a world in darkness,” she said, and the university encourages members of its community to do that in whatever way they are called whether in service or in other walks of life.

The other nonprofits they served were:

The Caldwell Fire Department

Jefferson Elementary School

Grover Cleveland Park Conservancy

Caldwell Public Library

Academy 360 Lower School

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Essex Fells, NJ

Volunteers also took part in campus cleanup and preparation for the Midnight Run in New York City. Caldwell University President Nancy Blattner began Caldwell Day her first year at Caldwell in 2009 as part of the mission of the Catholic Dominican university.  One of the four Dominican pillars is service.

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Faith with Benefits: Hooking Up, Hanging Out and Finding Relationships on Catholic Campuses

Faith with Benefits by Jason King picture

Caldwell, N.J., – Oct. 12, 2018 – “Faith with Benefits:  Hooking Up, Hanging Out, and Finding Relationships on Catholic Campuses” will be the theme of a talk at Caldwell University 4:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 5, in the Alumni Theatre. Jason King, professor of theology at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, will share how he investigates the effects of Catholic identity on the hookup culture.

Dr. King has authored the book “Faith with Benefits:  Hookup Culture on Catholic Campuses” (Oxford University Press, 2017), is editor of the Journal of Moral Theology, and writes for the blog CatholicMoralTheology.com. He is working on an edited collection of essays titled “Love, Sex, and Families: Catholic Perspectives” (Liturgical Press) and a book project about the environment, children and Mr. Rogers.

The Caldwell University Department of Theology/Philosophy will present the talk as part of the Sister Maura Campbell lecture series. It is free and open to the public.

The lecture series is named after Sister Maura Campbell, O.P., a Sister of St. Dominic of Caldwell. She was a theologian, philosopher, professor, researcher and national leader in education whose scholarship and teaching spanned 50 years.

For further information, call 973-618-3931.

About Caldwell University

Caldwell University is a private, Catholic coed four-year university with a strong liberal arts core curriculum that enhances critical thinking and analytical reasoning. Caldwell offers 29 undergraduate and 30 graduate programs, including doctoral, master’s, certificate and certification programs, as well as online and distance learning options that prepare students for today’s global marketplace. The university has 15 NCAA Division II intercollegiate sports programs and a football program that is a member of the Collegiate Sprint Football League.

Caldwell offers numerous clubs, fraternities, sororities and activities. It is located on a beautiful 70-acre campus in suburban Caldwell, New Jersey. Caldwell was founded by the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Caldwell. Its core values of respect, integrity, community and excellence influence academic and campus life. For more information about Caldwell University, visit caldwell.edu

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Andrei St. Felix: An Education In Passion

Andrei St. Felix with one of the EOF Student Yaya outside Caldwell University.

EOF Senior Yaskayra Gonzalez with the Director of EOF Andrei St. Felix.

Everywhere you turn in Andrei St. Felix’s office, you see pictures of students—smiling, confident groups of young people gathered at events and ceremonies, representing the many people who have passed through the Educational Opportunity Fund offices. But in the EOF program at Caldwell, you don’t just “pass through” the college experience. Not if Andrei St. Felix has anything to do with it.

The EOF at Caldwell University works to provide a full range of career, academic, financial and spiritual support to its students. It is no accident, then, that St. Felix is at the helm of the department. She is a living example to students of what you can achieve if you commit to school, set strong goals for yourself and put God at the center of everything you do.

St. Felix has a hunger for education that is contagious. After growing up in Haiti, she came to the United States with the goal of obtaining a college degree. When she saw a job at Caldwell College posted in the Newark Star-Ledger (she still has the clipping), she applied and was hired as the EOF secretary.

That was in 1992. St. Felix has stayed with the department, learning and advancing from secretary to counselor to assistant director and in 2009 to director. Thanks to strong mentorship from previous directors and a determination to grow and learn, she took a path that led to her college degree, solid work experience, the directorship and much more.

“I love learning,” St. Felix says, her face glowing as she describes her path to higher education.

After being hired at Caldwell, St. Felix began attending the college at night, first earning a degree in business administration and then a master’s in contemporary management and another master’s in pastoral ministry. She is pursuing her Ed.D. in the educational leadership program at Caldwell.

St. Felix’s journey is painted with confidence, her goals checked off with fierce determination. That determination to stick to personal goals is central to the success of EOF students. As freshmen, they are asked to identify their long-term educational and career goals.

“The goal is to push them,” St. Felix says of students, “to remind them, ‘This is the goal.’ We remember what they told us.”

She recalls one student who came into the office and was shocked when St. Felix reminded her in detail of her life goals.

“How did you remember that?” the student asked.

“I remember because it meant something to you,” St. Felix answered.

Life journeys are intensely personal, and that means something to St. Felix. She takes time to listen to students, to hear about their struggles and victories, and to gently remind them of the goals that led them to college in the first place. Goals, goals and then, always, God. These guiding factors are never far from her when she is counseling students.

“That is what I like most about Caldwell University. I can talk about God. I can listen to students talking about their journey.”

Her faith background and her master’s in pastoral ministry help St. Felix advise students on how to be spiritually present as they go through life.

“Being spiritually strong helps you get stronger in other areas of your life.”

Knowing their goals and understanding their relationship with God are major components of a bigger picture that St. Felix encourages her students to see. These factors are a part of each person’s identity, and the concept of identity is second to none at the EOF.

St. Felix knows who she is, and she encourages her students to embrace their identities as well.

“I am a woman of faith. I am a woman who cares about other people. I am a woman who is liberated, free to do whatever I want to do. I am a woman who is not afraid to take risks.”

In an era when women more than ever are seeking a place at the table, St. Felix has found hers. Her responsibility to represent herself, black women and all women in places that lack diversity is not lost on her. It is woven into her identity.

“I am happy to represent. I have a responsibility,” she says with a smile.

St. Felix, a wife and a mother of two, has a passion for pursuing higher education. That is a core part of her identity, and she is passing it on to the next generation in her family.

Just as St. Felix’s strong sense of identity has been a key part of her success, it is a key for her students. In fact, the first workshop the EOF runs during its introductory summer program is called “Who Am I?”.

During the academic year, St. Felix and her staff promote cultural events on campus, including gospel night, praise dancing and Hispanic Heritage and Black History Month activities.

“If you do not know your roots, then something is missing,” St. Felix says. “That’s where you find your voice—when you know who you are.”

Armed with that knowledge, the alumni from her program have gone on to own businesses, serve as community leaders and work as doctors, teachers and lawyers. St. Felix is confident that with well-defined goals and hard work, many more will achieve their dreams. She will be there to help them along the way.

And so this woman, who has boldly woven together a tapestry of strong faith, fearless belief and a hunger for learning, is leading forward a group of students who are determined to succeed.

“I have found my purpose, my passion,” she says with confidence, “to educate young people.”

—Nicole M. Burrell ’08

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Journalist, poet Judith Valente to present “Who Is This Dude Called Benedict?” on St. Benedict at Caldwell University

Journalist, poet Judith Valente headshot photo Why are people in the age of Snapchat still reading a slender text written by a monk who lived at the end of the Roman Empire? Perhaps because that time isn’t so different from our own, contends poet, journalist and author Judith Valente, who will speak in the Alumni Theater at Caldwell University at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4. “The ‘Rule of St. Benedict,’ originally written for people in monasteries, is still one of the best guides for discovering what truly matters in life,” said Valente.

Her talk, “Who Is This Dude Called Benedict?,” is part of the Sister Maura Campbell, O.P., lecture series presented by the university’s Theology/Philosophy Department. Valente will tell how “The Rule,” with its emphasis on listening “with the ear of the heart,” simplicity, community, balance, prayer and praise, changed her from a hard-charging workaholic into an “everyday contemplative” and how the timeless wisdom of St. Benedict offers a way forward from the divisions sweeping our country.

Valente is an award-winning print and broadcast journalist who has been a regular contributor to the national PBS-TV news program “Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.” Her work has appeared on PBS-TV’s “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.” She is a commentator for National Public Radio and Chicago Public Radio for which she covers religion, interviews poets and authors, and is a guest essayist.

She has authored a number of books; her most recent is “How to Live: What the Rule of St. Benedict Teaches Us About Happiness, Meaning and Community,” which explores Benedictine spirituality.

The lecture series is named after Sister Maura Campbell, O.P., a Sister of St. Dominic of Caldwell. She was a theologian, philosopher, professor, researcher and national leader in education whose scholarship and teaching spanned 50 years.

For further information, call 973-618-3931.