I am a proud member of the Class of 1960 – Caldwell College for Women! My major was Chemistry along with minors in both Mathematics and Biology. This field of study laid the foundation for my professional career. It also gave me the distinct privilege of cleaning Mendel Hall (affectionately known as The Mouse House) – now a Security Guard office – on Saturdays, as I was also a boarding student.
Being a boarder brought with it more traditions – that of having Sr. Joanna Tracey, O.P. greet me and my date at the door when John (my future husband) brought me back to Caldwell on Sunday evenings! Mandatory study time and lights out were also part of rituals which fostered discipline and led to future success.
The curriculum taught me well, as I was awarded fellowships to St. John’s University and Fordham University. I accepted Fordham’s offer, and received a Master of Science Degree in Biochemistry from that institution. While there, I received the American Cyanamid Teacher of the Year award for my work in the undergraduate division.
The ‘real world’ finally beckoned, and I became a Research Biochemist at the labs of Colgate Palmolive in Piscataway. Using radioactive isotopes, I sought to determine how deep their lotions penetrated into the various skin layers.
Marriage catapulted me out of my comfort zone, as I found myself living in Italy while John completed his medical studies at the University of Bologna. Unable to secure the necessary working visa documentation to work in the University’s labs, I ventured forth into the surrounding towns to sell Lycra – the remarkable stretchable fabric!!
I returned to America – a doctor’s wife wearing a navy-blue suit, hand-made (fatto-a-mano) in Bologna of Lycra. It was time to see where leaving Hudson County and settling at Fitkin Memorial Hospital in Neptune would present new career opportunities. The hospital lab’s Chemistry Department had an opening, and I have remained there ever since. I am now part of Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Hackensack Meridian Health. The organization offered me the opportunity to further my education, and I was awarded a Master’s Degree in Public Health Administration with a concentration in Healthcare Management from Seton Hall University. I have since transitioned from working at the bench to the world of academia. My role is that of Assistant Program Director of the Florence M. Cook School of Medical Laboratory Science which has an affiliation with Caldwell University. I am also the Instructor for Clinical Biochemistry along with mentoring research activities.
Whatever my professional role has been, the fundamental values of adaptability, resiliency and dedication were firmly planted in me at Caldwell. The Dominican sisters were role models of successful work ethics and respect for others. Their spirituality instilled in us all the reason why being honest and fair matter.
The friendships which were forged through four short years at “Beautiful Caldwell’ have lasted a lifetime – through times of joy when we got together at weddings and to travel in Europe and the USA, and times of sadness when we assembled to say goodbye to classmates and spouses, and to this pandemic year via weekly zoom sessions.