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Mass celebrates “unbroken bond between Caldwell’s past and its present” to close one chapel and open another


Caldwell, N.J., April 25, 2018 – The Caldwell community gathered for a final Mass in the Mother Joseph Residence Hall Chapel April 23 as the university moves forward with plans to build a new chapel in a more centrally located part of campus.

Father James Manos, of the Archdiocese of Newark, was the celebrant. Reflecting on the Gospel reading in which Jesus’s sheep hear his voice when he calls their names and he leads them out, Manos said we often hunger and search, but we do not know what we are searching for. Jesus says, “I am the gate,” and we need to know when God is calling us in a new direction and telling us not to stay in the same place. And so it is with the plans for a new chapel.

“God’s call remains the same, no matter where we are or what time we live in,” Manos said. We thank God for this house, said Manos, and we look forward to a new house “full of young men and women” who will continue to hear God’s call, no matter where they are.

President Nancy Blattner explained to the alumni, students, faculty and staff that the formal process was being done in accordance with the code of canon law.

She said it was a fitting time to read from “Celebrating the Past, Shaping the Future,” by Sister Rita Margaret, O.P., about the beginnings of the building and the chapel, which was completed in December 1961.

“The joy of their first Mass in the new chapel on Christmas Eve was heightened by the beauty of the stained glass windows and the tabernacle,” Sister Rita wrote.  “The windows, designed by Sister Julia Marie, depicted Dominican saints and are still a reminder of the relationship between the Dominican Sisters and the college.  The tabernacle was a gift of the student body of the college in memory of Monsignor John L. McNulty.” (He was an uncle of Sister Kathleen Tuite, O.P., vice president for student life.)

Blattner invited the attendees to look carefully at the surroundings. “Drink in the magnificence of the stained glass windows created by one of the Dominican Sisters. Appreciate the tabernacle that commemorates the life of one of God’s servants. Look in awe at the green Italianate marble which graces the altar, the stations of the cross, the pillars in the altar rail, the holy water fonts and the candleholders. These are the sacred art and furnishings that have surrounded those who have visited the chapel for more than the past 50 years.”

The new chapel will be located in a more heavily traveled part of the campus, in the Newman Center off of the student plaza, where the Eucharist will be preserved in the tabernacle and there will be an opportunity for prayer and reflection.

Student  Brittany Gaule did the first reading. Students Devin Lattuga and Jacqueline Kajon were mass assistants. “I was honored to be a part of it,” said Lattuga. The students are happy that the new chapel will be more centrally located. It was a beautiful ceremony, “closing one chapter and opening a new chapter,” said Kajon.

Sister Patrice Werner, O.P., the former president of Caldwell and current prioress for the Sisters of St. Dominic, and Sister Michel Rodgers, O.P., worked in residence life in Mother Joseph in the 1970s and ’80s. The Mass brought back many good memories of their days living on the third-floor west wing.

As the university designs the new chapel, made possible by a donation from alumna Elaine Tweedus, “careful consideration is being given to preserve many of the distinctive features of this chapel so that there remains an unbroken bond between Caldwell’s past and its present, between its founding and its future,” Blattner said.

The family of Sister Julia Marie, O.P., who created the stained glass windows, was present.

Blattner invited everyone to hold in prayer the sisters, living and deceased, who lived in Mother Joseph and the former and current resident and commuter students who came to the chapel for Mass and reflection as well as current members of the sponsoring congregation, the board of trustees members, faculty, staff, all students, alumni and benefactors.

“As God has blessed the work of the hands of those who have come before us, we pray that Mother Joseph Dunn (Caldwell College founder) will intercede with our heavenly Father and ask for continued blessings on Caldwell University in the years to come.”

Blattner and Sister Patrice ceremonially closed the doors for the last time as the community left for a reception in the Newman Center next to the site where the new chapel will be located.

Tweedus ’66 and her husband, Ed Lonyai, have pledged a generous gift to build the new chapel, which will be named in memory of Elaine’s Aunt Mary, Sister Mary Dominic Tweedus, a Sister of Saint Dominic of Caldwell, who served the community for 67 years.


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Hunger Banquet raises awareness about global poverty

Catholic Relief Services Student Ambassador “I Am Global Hunger Banquet” program organized on April 11.
Students of Caldwell University acting as a low income family at Catholic Relief Services Student Ambassador “I Am Global Hunger Banquet” on April 11.
Students of Caldwell University acting as a low income family at Catholic Relief Services Student Ambassador “I Am Global Hunger Banquet” on April 11.
Students of Caldwell University acting as a low income family at Catholic Relief Services Student Ambassador “I Am Global Hunger Banquet” on April 11.
Middle income family food demonstrated at Catholic Relief Services Student Ambassador “I Am Global Hunger Banquet” on April 11.
Students of Caldwell University acting as a high income family at Catholic Relief Services Student Ambassador “I Am Global Hunger Banquet” on April 11.
Educative flyers at Catholic Relief Services Student Ambassador “I Am Global Hunger Banquet” on April 11.

Caldwell, N.J. – April 17, 2018 – Sitting on the floor eating rice with no utensils at dinner is something many Caldwell University students are not used to doing. But it was something several experienced at the Catholic Relief Services Student Ambassador “I Am Global Hunger Banquet” on April 11.

At the beginning of the event, the nearly 40 students, faculty and staff participants were invited to pick a slip of paper that gave them a number to text for a brief summary of a real person somewhere in the world whose role they would play. Each participant was designated to sit in one of three areas: low income, middle income or high income.

The simulation, said Colleen O’Brien, director of campus ministry, “is about understanding what happens in other cultures, even when things might seem unjust or unfair to us.”

The high-income players sat at tables nicely set with tablecloths and silverware. Servers brought them their food for a fine dining experience. The middle-income participants were invited to sit on chairs, but they did not have tables. They were given rice and beans and used plastic spoons and paper plates. The low-income participants had to sit on the floor and were given water to drink and rice to eat with no utensils.

Elaine Tsogmegha, a senior, is originally from Cameroon. She played the role of a 20-year-old middle-class wife from Yemen who is the mother of two boys. “She was forced into arranged marriage at a very young age, which she said is very common in Yemen. She is very thankful that her family had a roof over their heads and that they had food to eat. She feels like a single parent because she stays home to raise her boys while her husband is out working so the family have enough to keep providing for their needs,” said Tsogmegha.

The simulation made Tsogmegha think about ways she could help effect change. She was particularly shaken to learn that the country of Madagascar has not had rain in years. “The first thing I could think about was the amount of water I wasted in the morning while taking my shower where in Madagascar, they can’t even afford to drink a bottle of water. I sat there and wondered what could I do to help?” She was inspired to attend more events like this to learn about poverty and possibly to volunteer at a soup kitchen or a food bank. “I have been lucky enough to have food to eat … but what makes me think that the situation cannot change tomorrow?”

Keyshawn Pryer and Idris Givens, freshmen, agreed the event was an eye-opening experience. In his role, Pryer was a person of middle income who, due to life circumstances, was bumped down to low income; he saw how quickly things can change in a person’s life. He said this made him think about what it means to be too picky about food. Givens, who was in the low-income area, said it made him appreciate the basics in life like having a coat or a jacket.

The Catholic Relief Services Club ambassadors are Brooke McPherson, Naomi Wingate, Yaskayra Gonzalez, Jessica Cusimano, Joseph Severino, and Danielle Schiavone. Gonzalez said the statistics they shared on poverty in different countries around the world was “mind blowing…the reality on a global scale is something that most people don’t see or even understand.”

O’Brien believes everyone took something away from the experience. “It was a great display or simulation of the inequalities that exist in our world when it comes to food and resource allocation on a global scale. Students were able to get a taste of what it might really be like to only make around $5 per day and what type of food you could then afford to feed your family.”

Before leaving, participants were asked to reflect on the steps they could take to alleviate hunger and poverty. CRS resources were available with information on how to advocate for people around the globe.


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Caldwell University Inducts New Members to Honor Society Phi Kappa Phi

Caldwell University chapter of the honor society Phi Kappa Phi members posing for the photo with the banner.
Caldwell University chapter of the honor society Phi Kappa Phi inducted new member,Yashant Gyawali (Senior at Caldwell University), at a ceremony on April 12.
Caldwell University chapter of the honor society Phi Kappa Phi inducted new members at a ceremony on April 12. 
Phi Kappa Phi inducted new members at a ceremony on April 12 posing for a group photo. 
Caldwell University chapter of the honor society Phi Kappa Phi inducted new members at a ceremony on April 12.
Caldwell University chapter of the honor society Phi Kappa Phi inducted new members at a ceremony on April 12. 

Caldwell, N.J., April 17, 2018 – The Caldwell University chapter of the honor society Phi Kappa Phi inducted new members at a ceremony on April 12.  Students, administrators, faculty, staff and alumni joined the nation’s oldest, largest and most selective all-discipline honor society.

Faculty, staff and alumni inductees are Communication and Media Studies Professor Robert Mann, Associate Vice President of Admissions Stephen Quinn, Education faculty member Dr. Edith Dunfee Ries, Director of Institutional Research and Assessment Susan Hayes,  and board of trustees member and Alumni Director Mary Sellitto-Curcio.

Student inductees are:

Jawaher Almahbub,

Suzanne M. Bilicska,

Heba Bou Karroum,

Melissa Brady,

Christopher R. Colasurdo,

Favour Onose Garuba,

Rebecca Concetta Gerardi,

Yashant Bikram Gyawali,

Susan Hayes,

Tiffany Henawi,

Imran Ali Jaboor,

Lauren Elizabeth Jarvis,

Chennelle Maria Lawrence,

Kathryne Mary Macaluso,

Danielle Elizabeth Marceca,

Jordyn Mastrodomenico,

Natalia E. McGuire,

Trevor J. McLauglin,

Juliann Meletta,

Karen A. Mirro-Drew,

Nicole Monaco,

Samantha A. Myers,

Melissa L. Nelson,

Jana Nieman,

Aida Osmeni,

Arielle J. Peterson,

John Scimone,

Keisha O. Shay,

Olha Shchur,

Marjorie Ann O’Connell

Hanna Marie Weber.

Chapter President Dr. William Velhagen Jr. provided introductions and opening remarks. Velhagen, who is ending his term as Caldwell’s Phi Kappa Phi president, recalled being inducted as a student in his native Philippines. The ceremony’s student speaker encouraged inductees, who were being honored for their academic performance and who had benefited from government-supported education, to use their talents to improve the lives of others and the economic conditions in the country.  The goal was not just to enable more students to join Phi Kappa Phi, said Velhagen, but to lift more out of hardship.  “So, as I end my term as chapter president,” he said, “I will echo that speaker and ask you to be idealistic and ask yourself, how can I make things better? How can my love of learning improve humanity?”

Staff member Maria Miceli, the chapter treasurer, described the society’s seal and motto, and faculty member Lynne Alleger, the vice president, introduced faculty, staff and alumni initiates.

Velhagen announced the chapter officer appointments for 2018-19. Alleger will become president, and Dr. Agnes Berki, associate professor of biology, will become vice president.

Continuing for new terms are:

Treasurer Miceli,

Secretary- Dr. Rachel Carey, assistant professor of communication and media studies,

Public Relations Officer   – Dr. Francine Del Vecchio, associate professor of education.

Phi Kappa Phi was founded in 1897 under the leadership of Marcus L. Urann, who wanted to create a different kind of honor society—one that recognized excellence in all academic disciplines. Today, the society has chapters on more than 300 campuses in the United States and the Philippines and inducts more than 30,000 new members each year. Membership is by invitation only to the top 7.5 percent of juniors and the top 10 percent of seniors and graduate students, along with faculty, professional staff and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction.

The society’s mission is “to recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others.” Since its founding, more than 1.25 million members have been initiated. Some of the organization’s more notable members include former President Jimmy Carter, NASA astronaut Wendy Lawrence, novelist David Baldacci and YouTube cofounder Chad Hurley. The society has awarded approximately $15 million since the inception of its awards program in 1932. Today, more than $1 million is awarded each biennium to qualifying students and members through graduate fellowships, undergraduate study abroad grants, member and chapter awards and grants for local and national literacy initiatives. For more information about Phi Kappa Phi, visit www.PhiKappaPhi.org.






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CU Chorale performs in Harmonic Convergence Concert at Carnegie Hall

Caldwell University Chorale Director Dr. Laura Greenwald with composer Dr. Rosephanye Powell.  Caldwell’s chorale joined other ensembles that performed a world-premiere Choirs of America commissioned choral piece by Powell at Carnegie Hall April 6.

Caldwell, N.J., April 16, 2018 – Performing at Carnegie Hall is a musician’s dream. “It takes years of hard work to get there,” said Eric Dieterle, a member of the Caldwell University chorale, who had the thrill of taking to the stage in the 2018 Harmonic Convergence Concert at Carnegie Hall on April 6.

Dieterle and the other members of the chorale, led by music faculty member Dr. Laura Greenwald, took part in the concert, the culminating performance of the Choirs of America (COA) Nationals for Top Choirs. Caldwell’s chorale was one of several ensembles that performed a mix of massed choir and individual choral repertoire. The evening concluded with all of the singers performing in the finale, a world-premiere COA-commissioned choral piece by Dr. Rosephanye Powell. “I’m so proud that the Caldwell University chorale was able to rise to the occasion and to perform at such a prestigious venue,” said Dieterle.

Caldwell’s chorale is comprised of students, alumni, faculty, staff and community members. They spent the day before the concert being adjudicated at the Aaron Copland School of Music by Joshua Habermann, chorus director of the Dallas Orchestra Chorus and artistic director of the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, as well as meeting other choirs and hearing them perform. They also rehearsed the premiere, “Get Busy,” with the composer. Greenwald was delighted to greet Powell, a classmate from her days at Westminster Choir College. On Friday all of the ensembles had the opportunity to rehearse briefly and to have photos taken on the Carnegie Hall stage, a joy for all the members.

Caldwell chorale member Alison Self, who works in the English Department, said it was inspiring to share the stage and to create music with friends and colleagues and many talented singers from across the country. She said that “the opportunity to work under the tutelage of renowned composers and conductors was both educational and fun.”

Dieterle, a communication and media studies major with a music minor, said the Caldwell music faculty made it happen. “Dr. Greenwald did such a fantastic job organizing the trip as well as preparing us for the occasion. She made the whole experience feel professional while keeping it fun and lighthearted at the same time. Mr. Helms, our accompanist, also played a vital role in helping the choir learn the music for the concert; we couldn’t have done it without him. Professor Vega also helped us keep everything organized and prepared at our rehearsals and Carnegie Hall on Friday.”

Miriam Edelstein, a recent music education graduate, was happy to share the experience with her professor, Greenwald, a talented singer who has helped Edelstein shape her singing and music education goals. It was amazing “to sing next to her on stage,” said Edelstein, who is looking forward to pursuing a career in music therapy. “I know I can make a difference in someone’s life with music.” She had thought it was time to give up her performing days, but being on stage at Carnegie Hall made her realize she wants to continue singing while also pursing music therapy.  Greenwald is helping her as she makes graduate school plans. “I’m very grateful and fortunate to have had her as a professor.”

Greenwald was thrilled to provide this opportunity for her students and to have sung with them on stage. “That is definitely a bucket-list moment, to stand on the historic stage of Carnegie with my students and colleagues. I’m so very grateful to our accompanist, Warren Helms, to my students, alumni, and colleagues for their dedication in making this happen.”

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Students sleep outside for Boxtown project raising awareness about homelessness

Three Caldwell University students taking part in the Campus Ministry project Boxtown aimed at raising awareness about homelessness.
Caldwell University students sleeping whole night outside on a box to support Campus Ministry project Boxtown aimed at raising awareness about homelessness.
Caldwell University students sleeping whole night outside on a box to support Campus Ministry project Boxtown aimed at raising awareness about homelessness.
Caldwell University students cleaning up the boxes after sleeping whole night outside to support Campus Ministry project Boxtown aimed at raising awareness about homelessness.
Caldwell University students cleaning up the boxes after sleeping whole night outside to support Campus Ministry project Boxtown aimed at raising awareness about homelessness.
Caldwell University students having a bonfire, took part in a poverty simulation to support Campus Ministry project Boxtown aimed at raising awareness about homelessness.
Caldwell University students cleaning up the boxes after sleeping whole night outside to support Campus Ministry project Boxtown aimed at raising awareness about homelessness.

Caldwell, N.J.  – April 13, 2018 – They bundled up in layers, grabbed their sleeping bags and assembled their boxes to protect themselves while they slept outside on the Newman Center Plaza on Caldwell’s campus the night of April 12. Several students took part in the Campus Ministry project Boxtown aimed at raising awareness about homelessness.

Before bed, the students gathered on the plaza and heard a presentation by a speaker from the Midnight Run, a volunteer organization dedicated to finding common ground between the housed and the homeless. They had a bonfire, took part in a poverty simulation and watched a segment of “The Human Experience,” a film about a band of brothers who traveled the world searching for the meaning of life. In the video, the brothers slept outside on the streets of New York City.

Then the Caldwell students settled down for the night; some said they did not get to sleep until the wee hours of the morning, awakening shortly after hearing birds chirping or athletes heading into the gym for their early workouts.

For sophomore Maria Lesniewski, a Campus Ministry member and an organizer of Boxtown, a night on the cold, hard ground was a reminder not only of the physical discomforts the homeless suffer, but also the mental discomforts from the fear they face since they most likely do not feel safe.

Freshman Orges Rrapaj was happy he took part in the project. “We have so much to be thankful for, and sometimes we are selfish, only thinking about our clothes and cars,” but participating in Boxtown, “you realize how thankful you should be,” since some people don’t have a roof over their heads or even a place to rest their shoulders, he said.

Lesniewski and the Campus Ministry project organizers Brooke McPherson and Devin Lattuga attended the Dominican National Preaching in Action Conference, a program of the Dominican Youth Movement USA, at Molloy College in Rockville Center, New York, last May. Each university was given the charge to come up with a project to bring back to its campus. Caldwell chose Boxtown.

McPherson was familiar with Boxtown since she had taken part in it during her high school days at Immaculate Conception in Lodi. The issue of homelessness gained her attention even more last December when she was walking around New York City in 15-degree weather and observed spikes placed outside of hotel buildings so the homeless could not sleep there. She was “appalled by it. They are a forgotten group of people.” Boxtown is a good chance to “to live in the shoes” of those who are less fortunate, she said.

Director of Campus Ministry Colleen O’Brien was excited when McPherson, Lesniewski and Lattuga expressed interest in organizing a Boxtown event for Caldwell. “I think this type of experience gives the students a little sense of what thousands of people struggle with every day in our country, even in our own backyard. They truly embraced all aspects of last night from the speaker, to the simulation, to spending the whole night sleeping outside. I hope they each learned something new about homelessness and what the everyday struggles are for people living on the streets.”

Sophomore Sherif Habib said Boxtown made students “pull back” and consider others. “It helps you think about how the world is a larger picture.”


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Poet and National Book Award winner Mary Szybist to present at Caldwell University, April 19

Caldwell, N.J., March 28, 2018 – Poet Mary Szybist will headline the launch for this year’s issue of Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Thurs. April 19 at Caldwell University. Szybist’s collection “Incarnadine” won the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry.  Szybist will read with her husband, poet Jerry Harp, whose book “Spirit Under Construction” appeared in fall 2017.  The event is free and open to the public and will be held in the Jennings Library on campus.

Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry is a venue for publication of new poetry written by authors whose work is informed by the Catholic faith.  The editor is Mary Ann B. Miller, professor and chair of English at Caldwell University.

“We are very grateful to Szybist for agreeing to be interviewed in the second annual issue of Presence and to Harp for contributing two poems to the collection.  We are happy to be able to provide a venue in which the community can hear more about their work and its connection to the work of the journal,” said Miller.

Szybist is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress.  Her first book “Granted” was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.  She lives in Portland, Oregon, where she teaches at Lewis & Clark College.

Harp’s books of poems include “Creature” (Salt Publishing, 2003) and “Spirit under Construction” (NeoPoiesis Press, 2017). He is also the author of “For Us, What Music? The Life and Poetry of Donald Justice” (U. of Iowa Press, 2010). His essays and reviews appear regularly in Pleiades. He also teaches at Lewis & Clark College.

Students in Miller’s undergraduate Journal Editing class read poems submitted for possible publication in the journal each fall in conjunction with the journal’s submission period.   Miller is editor of “St. Peter’s B-list: Contemporary Poems Inspired by the Saints” (Ave Maria Press, 2014), a collection of over 100 poems, written by 70 poets from across the USA.  She guest-edited the fall 2015 issue of the women’s literary journal, Adanna, which is a specially-themed issue devoted to Women and Spirituality.



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Coincidence or Destiny? For this Caldwell Graduate, Unexpected Turns Lead to a Career in Medicine

Bryan Broderick Caldwell University Graduate (2011) outside John Hopkins Hospital.

“When one door closes, another opens.” It’s an expression we often lean on for encouragement when things don’t turn out the way we hope. For Bryan Broderick, the sentiment carried something far more profound.

The truth is, Broderick didn’t really see Caldwell University in his future. His older brothers were already well-established at Caldwell by then, both on and off the soccer field. Broderick envisioned something different. He was, at the time, being recruited by Bucknell University for their soccer program, and he was pretty sure he was on the right path.

Until he wasn’t.

“The cost of attending Bucknell was way out of my family’s range. I wasn’t sure what to do. All I really knew was that I wanted to play soccer.”

As chance would have it, not only did the head soccer coaches at Bucknell and Caldwell know each other, they were brothers. It took only a few phone calls to land Broderick a spot as midfielder on the Caldwell Cougars, with enough scholarships to make his undergraduate education possible.

Choosing a major was another matter. Broderick drifted into the business program. “A good 75% of my teammates were business majors, so I figured that’s what I should do too. But you know how important the liberal arts are at Caldwell, and that was a good thing. Early on, I was introduced to a wide variety of subjects. In the spring semester of my freshman year, I took an anatomy and physiology course for non-biology majors. I just loved it. I couldn’t study enough for this course.”

Broderick’s anatomy and physiology professor quickly saw his potential. In addition to teaching this particular course, the professor was the university’s pre-med advisor as well. Still, he didn’t quite believe her when she first suggested he could have a career in medicine.

Before he knew it, Caldwell was helping to arrange introductions to faculty at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) and the Northeast Regional Alliance (NERA). He enrolled in NERA’s MedPrep Program, a three-year summer enrichment program for underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students interested in the medical professions.

Broderick graduated magna cum laude from Caldwell in 2011, with a B.A. in biology. The honors he earned along the way reflect his love of both the sciences and soccer. In 2010 he received the Frederick W. Neumann II Award for meritorious work in the sciences. His project, “Analysis of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” was awarded credit “with distinction.” For four years running, Broderick earned Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference All-Academic Team honors as well as the Division II Athletics Directors Association Academic Achievement Award.

His years at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School were equally distinguished. He was a four-year recipient of the Riverview Medical Center Lester Simon, M.D. Scholarship, and in 2017 he earned the NJMS Dr. Harold J. Jeghers Future Internist Award, which honors a fourth-year student for academic excellence, skill, dedication, and interest in the pursuit of the field of internal medicine.

Broderick graduated with his M.D. in 2017. His career quickly skyrocketed when was accepted into the residency program at Johns Hopkins. “I couldn’t believe it. The program is so competitive. I’m thrilled to be part of such a well-respected institution.”

Broderick is grateful for the support he has received over the years from mentors, scholarship programs and—of course—his family. He has spent plenty of time,  “paying it forward,” volunteering to provide food, clothing, and holiday gifts for needy families in Monmouth County; organizing Caldwell University’s Midnight Run to deliver food, blankets and other items to people living on the street in New York City; and working at the Student Family Health Care Center in Newark, a student-run free clinic for the uninsured. These days, he is mentoring other hopeful future doctors.

By choosing internal medicine as his focus, Broderick will be able choose from a wide range of sub-specialties. “I’m liking cardiology and pulmonary critical care,” he notes. There’s a good chance that whatever door opens for him now will be the right one.

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Elaine Tweedus ’66: A Gift in Memory of “Aunt Mary” to Create a New Chapel

When Elaine Tweedus graduated from Caldwell College for Women in 1966, a new VW Bug was going for around $1,500, the Beatles had four top Billboard singles and Time magazine’s Man of the Year was awarded to the generation 25 and under. The hippie movement was beginning to take hold, and there were massive protests against the Vietnam War and in favor of civil rights and women’s rights. It was a time of new opportunities, a time when education gave women the chance to become trailblazers. Tweedus, a French major, and her classmates graduated and ventured out into a world that offered them not just jobs but careers and a newfound sense of freedom that fueled their dreams. Tweedus says that when she read “The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Friedan, a light went on.

Looking back on her journey more than fifty years later, Tweedus says she is grateful for the ways in which her Caldwell education shaped her life. Her appreciation and desire to give back inspired a transformational gift of $500,000 to Caldwell to build a new chapel in the Newman Center in memory of her Aunt Mary, a Sister of Saint Dominic of Caldwell.

A product of 16 years of Dominican education, Tweedus says she is blessed to have been taught by excellent, nurturing faculty at Caldwell and to have been guided by Dominican values throughout her life. In light of her career and personal success, she is emphatic in her belief that “Education is one of the best investments anyone can make.”

As a new graduate, Tweedus was hired by Prudential for a position in legal research. Her work ethic and discipline earned her high marks with her supervisors; she rose through the management ranks and eventually became director and corporate officer, the position from which she retired in 2015. She says it was rewarding to witness how her work benefited the company while educating consumers about the importance of making sound financial choices.

Earlier this year Tweedus and her husband, Ed Lonyai, pledged a gift designated for the new campus chapel, which will be named in memory of Elaine’s aunt, Sister Mary Dominic Tweedus, who devoted her life to the Dominican community, serving it for 67 years. Tweedus and Lonyai envision the new chapel as a sacred space for meditation that encourages prayer and reflection—a place where students and the rest of the campus community can find respite from the pressures of daily life. Their investment will enhance the student experience at Caldwell for generations to come.

Tweedus recalls the year or so when her aunt lived at the Motherhouse on campus. “Aunt Mary was my father’s sister. On Sunday afternoons my father would drive my mother, my brothers and me to Caldwell to visit with Aunt Mary. I remember my brothers and I playing tag on the lawn of the Motherhouse. It seems like I had a connection to Caldwell long before I began my college days there,” says Tweedus. She believes her aunt will “be looking down on and offering (the students) insight and advice, as she did for me.”

As one driven to make a difference, Tweedus is active in her community. She spent a number of years volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America. Since her retirement, she has become involved with the Woodbridge River Watch, the Historical Association of Woodbridge Township and the Barron Arts Center in Woodbridge. She is a certified advocate for the New Jersey Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman and works with veterans to help them better understand complex veterans’ benefits. She is an antiques enthusiast, a collector of Chinese porcelain and a world traveler. Now that she has more time for herself, Tweedus is pursuing her love of writing and her lifelong dream of becoming a novelist; she is working on a mystery novel.

Tweedus and Lonyai look forward to the day when the new chapel will open and they can celebrate their memories of Sister Mary Dominic Tweedus in a place named for her in perpetuity.

—Christina Hall

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Music Club records “Song of Love” for girl with special needs

Caldwell University’s Music Club recording a song for little Aubrey Brooks through the Songs of Love Foundation, a national nonprofit organization.
Caldwell University’s Music Club recording a song for little Aubrey Brooks through the Songs of Love Foundation, a national nonprofit organization.
Caldwell University’s Music Club recording a song for little Aubrey Brooks through the Songs of Love Foundation, a national nonprofit organization.

Listen to song here !

Caldwell, N.J., March 19, 2018 – They raised the roof in room 202 in the Student Center the evening of March 5. Students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members lifted their voices to give a little girl with cerebral palsy and seizure disorders some joy.

Arranged by the university’s Music Club, the group recorded a song for little Aubrey Brooks through the Songs of Love Foundation, a national nonprofit organization that creates free, personalized original songs to uplift children and teens who are facing tough medical, physical or emotional challenges.

Miriam Edelstein, a recent music education alum and former Music Club president, was excited to bring the program to Caldwell after having worked on fundraising for the project for the last two years.

The CEO and founder of Songs of Love, John Beltzar, said he started the organization in 1996 when the idea popped into his head as he was walking down the street. He asked himself how he could use his talents “not for commercial success but rather to make the world a better place.” He encouraged members of the group to think about how they could also use their talents to help make a better a world. If you do that, he said, “then it is impossible to feel like a failure.” Since 1996, Songs of Love has provided music for 23,000 children.

Finally arriving at the day for the taping was “surreal” for Edelstein. It was rewarding for her to look around the room and see everyone smiling and sharing in the passion she has for the project. Edelstein wants to pursue studies in music therapy. “It can make a difference in someone’s life.”

Beltzar had just written the song that morning, incorporating the information he had about Aubrey including her parents, her sisters, and her cute kitties, Franklyn and Gregory.

Beltzar recognized the talent in the room and challenged Caldwell’s singers to record more innovative lyrics, which they did. 

Eric Dieterle, a communications major with a minor in music, said it was a beautiful experience. “The song is great. I think she’s going to love it.”

The organization is dedicated to Beltzar’s twin brother Julio who died in 1984 and who had wrote and recorded the composition “Songs of Love” two months before.

To learn more about Songs of Love, go to: https://www.songsoflove.org/.