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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:

http://dymusa.org/2018/05/31/36-college-students-join-the-dominican-family-at-16th-annual-ncpiac/

 

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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 Resesarch 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.”

Featured News, News, Uncategorized

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.”

Natural and Physical Sciences News, News

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

Biology graduate Steven Han was accepted into the inaugural class of the Seton Hall University School of Medicine.
Michelle Eng graduated from Caldwell University May 20, earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in biology in just three years

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.”

Featured News, News

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.
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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).

Featured News, News

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.”

Featured News, News

Natalie Pedri: ‘I would choose Caldwell over again 1,000 times’

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Cancer survivor receives Nursing degree at Caldwell University 

Therapeutic skills she learned in class saved her life  

Caldwell, N.J., May 20, 2018 – When Natalie Pedri walked across the finish line to receive her nursing degree May 20 at Caldwell University, she was excited to be taking the next step in her journey to become a  nurse. As a new graduate she carried with her insights that most nursing graduates don’t learn even after years in the field.

Her time spent in Memorial Sloan Kettering as a patient with stage-four Wilms tumor, a pediatric cancer, taught Pedri the kind of nurse she wants to be. “I learned about nursing from the other side of the bed.”

The therapeutic skills she learned in class at Caldwell saved her life. Right before the start of her senior year, Pedri found a hard mass on her right side after doing a self-assessment, a technique she learned as a student. “With my nursing knowledge, I knew it didn’t feel right.” She was blessed to be able to connect immediately with her nursing professors, especially Dr. Kathleen Kelley, assistant director of Caldwell’s School of Nursing and Public Health, who had gone through breast cancer, which she acquired after having served as a 9/11 nurse.

With surgery and treatments, Pedri spent an entire year out of school. Her recovery was painful, but she was grateful to members of the Caldwell community, who had their “arms way open” to help.

When Pedri was worried about school and losing her hair, Kelley assured her that the university would be there for her and that every hair that fell out meant the chemo was working and was killing the cancer cells. “During the most difficult time, I was in touch with professors every day.” She learned “what the book doesn’t teach” about how to be with patients. Pedri continued her studies as much as she could by skyping into classes, listening to recorded lectures and keeping up with all her readings.

A member of the bowling team, Pedri was most appreciative to Coach Ken Yokobosky and her teammates for their support and for the fundraiser they held, which provided over $5,000 to help her with her medical expenses. The skills she learned as a student-athlete will most certainly be applied to nursing. “In my career, I will have to work in a team with therapists and other nurses.”

Pedri has set her sights on becoming a pediatric oncology nurse. Since Wilms tumor normally affects children under five years old, her eyes were opened to the needs of little ones.” I remember just looking around in the waiting room and seeing how many innocent children were affected by cancer.” Nurses, she said, are the “ones who advocate for you, are by your side 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” Last fall she spoke at the  New York Stock Exchange about her journey with cancer, providing hope for others at “Shave 4 a Cure” to benefit the Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation.

Pedri received the Positivity and Perseverance Award in nursing at the School of Nursing and Public Health Convocation and Pinning May 18.

Though having cancer was difficult, Pedri is thankful for her journey and says she would not have wanted it any other way. “I can use my experience as a learning experience for others.” She learned much about herself, about nursing and about appreciating the gifts in life. “I would choose Caldwell over again 1,000 times if I had to.”

Watch the News 12 New Jersey story on Natalie Pedri here!

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Caldwell University celebrates 76th annual commencement with record-breaking number of graduates

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Students are encouraged to be “amazing”

Caldwell, N.J., May 20, 2018 – Caldwell University celebrated its 76th annual commencement May 20 with a record-breaking number of graduates. The university  awarded 502 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees.

Danielle Hamblin of White Township, New Jersey, delivered the student address at the graduate commencement ceremony encouraging her fellow graduates to “be amazing.” Drawing on the words of a motivational speaker she once heard, she gave the graduates three simple points they need to be successful in life’s journey and to be “the greatest husband, wife, mother, father, boss, employee ever.”

“Number one, wake up; number two, be amazing; number three, go to bed,”  she said. It is obvious how to fulfill numbers one and three, said Hamblin, but number two is personal. “It is up to each individual to define what being amazing is. Can you imagine if we all did?”

Hamblin received a doctoral degree in educational leadership with a special education concentration. Reflecting on her experience in the doctoral program with students in the cohort, she said, “Caldwell provided us with mental challenges but not without the support of collegial partnership. I felt amazing when I knew I had contributed in meaningful ways to helping others on this journey.” Hamblin teaches as an adjunct on the college level and is director of special services for the Sparta public schools.

Dennis Brady of West Orange, New Jersey delivered the student address at the undergraduate commencement ceremony. “The close-knit family that we have grown into over these four years was something that none of us could have anticipated. Those bonds we will cherish forever—the sporting events we attended, the community service trips we went on, it all happened here on 120 Bloomfield Avenue,” said Brady. “We are now sent out to find our way in this world with the knowledge, and more importantly, the values of Caldwell that are instilled in us from the day we walked onto the campus.” He encouraged the graduates never to stray too far away from their Caldwell family. “As a respected doctor and philosopher, Dr. Seuss, once said, ‘Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened,’” said Brady.  He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and Media Studies with a minor in business administration.

President Nancy H. Blattner, Ph.D., presented doctoral students with their Ph.D.’s and Ed.D.’s, graduate students with their Master of Arts, Master of Business Administration or Master of Science degrees, and undergraduates with their Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Fine Arts or Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees.

Blattner asked the students to stay connected to their alma mater. “Return to this campus that has been your home for the past few years, and carry with you our core values of respect, integrity, community and excellence into your communities and workplaces.”

Graduates wore 100% recycled caps, gowns and tassles. 

Alumni News, Featured News, News

Caldwell Alums bring Cougars Spirit to Baltimore’s Finest

For Carlos Sanchez ’12 and Robert Arena ’12, the start of the workday might feel a little like old times. The former classmates—and teammates on the soccer field—now work together to fight crime on the streets of Baltimore.

If you had asked them in high school, it is doubtful either would have mentioned attending Caldwell. In fact, Carlos wasn’t sure he would even go to college. “I had always struggled in class. At the time, I was looking at other options, such as trade school.”

That’s when fate—and Caldwell’s recruiters—stepped in. “All I knew is that I wanted to play soccer in college, and that I wanted to be on my own,” Robert recalls. He met Coach Nash at one of the University’s recruitment events.

Carlos happened to wander by the Caldwell table at a Nutley High School college fair. “I struck up a conversation with the admissions counselor, applied, and was accepted on the spot! I don’t know who was more surprised: me, or my parents when I called them with the news.”

Robert joined the soccer program right away. The two met when Carlos joined a year later. Many of their best Caldwell memories revolve around their team. Spring break trips to Europe and Canada with their teammates were particularly memorable. And they still laugh about the Halloween when a few of the soccer players showed up for practice in a friend’s convertible, in full costume.

Robert enrolled at Caldwell thinking that he would pursue a career in teaching. He learned pretty quickly, however, that education was not for him. A teammate suggested he try an elective in criminal justice. He signed up for a class about crime families, and he was hooked.

Carlos had a different path in mind. A communications major with a criminal justice minor, his dream was to become a professional photographer—a combat photographer, preferably. After graduation, he worked for a major transit advertising company, taking photos for public transportation giants like New Jersey Transit and DeCamp Bus Lines.

Although Robert had envisioned joining a New Jersey-based police department after graduation, recession-era budget cuts translated into fewer opportunities for new graduates. He decided to branch out, learned that the city of Baltimore was investing in law enforcement, and joined the force there. When Carlos decided to pivot his career toward criminal justice, Robert encouraged him to apply in Baltimore as well. Within months, not only were they both on the Baltimore police force, they were assigned to the same squad.

Robert mentions how quickly they have advanced in their new careers, in such a short time, “I’ve been able to climb to a level that I never expected.”

But when asked about their achievements, both point to their Caldwell degree. “I didn’t think school was for me,” Robert says, about his early days in college. “I am proud that I was able to handle my studies, while also being a student athlete.”

For Carlos, earning a college degree holds a special place as well. “In high school, I was classified with learning disabilities.” College-level work was even more challenging. “I had to study harder than everyone else. But the Caldwell community supported me. Because of the people there—the teachers, the resources, and the culture—I learned to cope, to be patient, and to keep going.”

Robert echoes this sentiment. “Caldwell helped shaped me into a more confident and responsible man. When I was a tour ambassador for the college, people used to ask me all the time, if I had a chance to do it all over again would I make the same choice? And I would respond with a definite ‘yes’!”

Carlos and Robert are not part of a typical patrol team in Baltimore. They are a crime enforcement unit working to improve a community that is struggling. It is dangerous, but very important, work. In true Cougar fashion, they will persist until the job is done.