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"“While teaching English in South Korea, I’ll encourage intercultural awareness with the integration of photography and art,"

Eunice Wu
Fulbright Scholar

In spring 2017, CNR graduate student Eunice Yu was looking forward to completing her degree in Art Therapy and Counseling and beginning a career as an art therapist. Suddenly her plans took a turn that would send her across the globe with the news that she had received the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program award in the English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Program from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Just two months later, Yu was in South Korea, preparing to spend the 2017-2018 academic year teaching high school students in Changwon, the capital city of Gyeongsangnam-do on the southeast coast of the country. Yu’s trajectory toward higher education was greatly influenced by her parents, though they had different opinions of what degree path she should choose. Her mother believed she should pursue the security of a teaching career. Her father encouraged her to follow her passion for art. Though at first she thought the two paths might never cross, ironically, her first job out of college was teaching art and photography to students in third through twelfth grades. That successful melding of teaching and art eventually led her to The College of New Rochelle and the Art Therapy and Counseling Program. As a Fulbright ETA, Yu will continue to incorporate art with scholarship as one of 68 ETAs in Fulbright Korea and nearly 2,000 U.S. citizens this year who will conduct research, teach English, and provide expertise abroad for the 2017-2018 academic year. “While teaching English in South Korea, I’ll encourage intercultural awareness with the integration of photography and art,” said Yu. While there, she also plans to produce a personal documentary photography project, capturing the essence of South Korean adolescents as a way to understand their academic, mental and emotional development. It was while working as dorm parent and photography teacher in Rockland, NY, mentoring Chinese high school students, that Yu first began to evaluate her own identity as a Korean-American. “As a U.S. born Korean-American, I have only a rudimentary understanding of the Korean culture. Most of what I know is assumed or researched, but not personally experienced. The ETA is an ideal opportunity to integrate into a Korean community, be a part of students’ school life and multicultural growth, and embrace their culture through firsthand experience. Hopefully, the students and I can share an understanding of the difference in custom, expectations from self, parents, and society, and perspectives of Korean and American culture.” “The selection of Eunice for this prestigious award is reflective of the academic caliber of our students in the Art Therapy and Counseling program and across the Graduate School. It also illustrates the passion, creativity, and professionalism our graduates bring to their chosen fields,” said Dr. David Donnelly, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. Yu received her degree from CNR in August 2017. She plans to put her experience and degree to work when she returns home to the U.S. in 2018. “My long-term goal is to build a career as an art therapist and counselor with the Asian immigrant population and Asian-Americans. Utilizing the knowledge and skills I’ve gained from the Art Therapy and Counseling program at CNR and the experiences gained in Korea that the Fulbright grant afforded me, I am eager and excited to give back to society with my unique background,” said Yu.


Akimie Worrell

Art Therapy
Graduate School

For Akimie Worrell, a graduate art therapy student, art is a big tool in her box of strategies that she uses to cope with her own Sickle Cell Anemia. Through her graduate project, she wants to share these tools with adolescents who have Sickle Cell Anemia and are transitioning from pediatrics to adult care.

Akimie knows a lot about Sickle Cell Anemia and transitioning. In 2000, she left Barbados with her mother and disabled brother to find more opportunities in the United States. In the United States, Akimie was home-schooled to compensate for the frequent interruptions for hospital stays related to Sickle Cell symptoms and pain management. She remembers taking a Regents history exam in the hospital. A pain consultant suggested she take art classes at WCC while still in high school and that set her on a path to developing a portfolio and attending CNR as an undergraduate with a major in art.

During her third year as an undergraduate at CNR, Akimie took a leave of absence to have a bone marrow transplant. "The teachers at CNR were so understanding and great about getting my work to me that I was able to graduate shortly after my leave in the pediatric unit," noted Akimie. Her CNR undergraduate art solo show which focused on the human condition and included medical, cultural and human interest images was "in a way my connecting back to life from turmoil."

By 2011 with a toolbox of coping skills and a CNR degree in fine art, Akimie began the Art Therapy Graduate Program at CNR. Highly aware of what triggers her attacks (such as food, light, temperature, weather, stress) and having transitioned her care to an adult medical team, she feels better equipped to manage her disease. She has developed a graduate art therapy thesis project centered on a population of the Sickle Cell community that is often overlooked. Her project will support adolescents aged 16-22 who have Sickle Cell in participating more fully in caring for themselves as they transition from their pediatric teams to adult teams.

"Using art therapy as an intervention with Sickle Cell is not a typical approach. While alternative therapies are currently being adapted for many disease states, they have not penetrated the Sickle Cell communities who rely primarily on medical options to cope with their chronic illness," Akimie explained. "Art has helped me, it might help someone else. I want to put it out there and take a first step towards offering alternative options to sickle cell patients in addition to pharmaceutical options."


Tazmin Uddin

Public Administration
Graduate School

"Campus Ministry is my CNR family," says Tazmin Uddin SAS'13 GS'15. Then she quickly corrects herself. "But I've been here so long, CNR is my CNR family."

Uddin is completing her Master's in Public Administration this May, and as she prepares to leave a place where she's spent half a dozen years, she realizes that she's come full circle.

The Hunger Banquet, an event meant to drive home a deeper understanding of the inequalities of the world, was her first event after joining Campus Ministry. The banquet held last November was her last. "I love the events," said the Queens native and Honors student who majored in English, minored in religious studies, and earned a certificate in legal studies as an undergraduate.

Recently, Uddin was able to take part in another signature Campus Ministry activity for the first time – the Plunge. "It just fell into place," she said. She even served as team leader – making sure all the participants from CNR were where they needed to be during their week in Camden, New Jersey.

"The people we met were amazing," Uddin said. "Very faith-filled, very hopeful, very positive."

"The Plunge taught me that serving is about serving the individual and bringing those stories back to the community," Uddin said. She recalled one volunteer cook at a soup kitchen who really put her heart into the food she made. "So much love and so much care – she made everything just how her kids liked it."

While the 2015 Plunge was her first, Uddin is hardly a novice when it comes to community service. As a high school student, she interned at Turning Point, a nonprofit in Queens that serves Muslim women and children who are victims of domestic violence. She returned as an intern again while in graduate school, helping facilitate the children's group.

Uddin said the most difficult part was not being able to hug, or receive hugs, from the kids. But she remembers fondly one girl who was withdrawn, but creative and mature for her age. "She got along better with adults," Uddin said. By the end of her time there, Uddin could see she was interacting more with her fellow children.

Uddin has been involved with Campus Ministry – now the Office of Mission and Ministry – since her freshman year, but officially joined as a sophomore. As a peer minister, she has raised awareness on numerous social justice issues beyond hunger.

Uddin says she is firm enough in her Muslim faith that attending a Catholic school was never an issue. In fact, the all-girls dorms helped sell the College to her parents, she said. Wanting to major in English, she serendipitously met two people who also did the same at CNR – the daughters of a secretary and a teacher at her high school.

Uddin has also explored her faith off-campus. Her affiliation with the Islamic Center of NYU led to her taking part in a Fastathon to raise money and awareness for water scarcity in Africa, women facing extreme hardship, and for rebuilding Gaza.

She became involved with the Islamic Center after she started at CNR. Uddin's great uncle had passed away, prompting her to reconnect with her Muslim faith. She found the center, listened to two years' worth of their podcasts, attended one Friday, and "fell in love with the community there." She appreciates that they welcome all, regardless of their degree of religiosity.

She's gone every Friday since January 2010. "I have the time. It's a way of giving back – that community has given me so much."

Uddin's community efforts earned her one of four Ursuline Student Service Recognition Awards given this January.

She's looking to find a position in higher education, a natural fit given her MPA and her work in the Office of Career Development as a graduate assistant.

"I am definitely going to miss the campus," Uddin said. The Rose Garden is a good hideaway, she said, with the wall by Chidwick another of her favorite spots. "It is a home away from home."


Jessica Jawahar

Bachelor of Science in Nursing
School of Nursing

After she graduates with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing this May, Jessica Jawahar SN'15 will be able to look at quite a few of her accomplishments at The College of New Rochelle with pride – although one will literally be more visible than all the others.

As president of the Student Nurses Association this year, Jawahar has led the push for new uniforms for School of Nursing students as they take on their clinicals. "We're bringing it into the 21st century," she said.

The effort was prompted by students, who wanted something more recognizable than a white jacket over a white polo shirt. "The polo shirt had to go," Jawahar said. So with input from students and faculty – who saw the proposed designs via a fashion show – and consultations with vendors, School of Nursing has settled on a cobalt blue scrub top, the same white jacket, and new patches for both.

"It's a different color from other schools and should stand out," Jawahar said.

Jawahar's work with the SNA recently earned her an Ursuline Student Service Recognition Award, which she received this January. As vice president last year, she coordinated the group's participation in the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. She has also helped organize review sessions, taken the lead on "skills parties" that prepare students for their clinical practicum, and matched upperclassmen with younger students they can mentor.

Working part-time at New York – Presbyterian, where she's been for more than a year, leaves Jawahar with little time for many extra-curricular activities. "My hobby is the SNA," she said. She warns new nursing students: "It's not just opening up a book and taking a test – you have to give up your social life, if you're working."

Fortunately, her time as a nursing attendant at a busy hospital and as the leader of her student group dovetails nicely with her aspirations beyond bedside care.

"There are so many paths you can take," said the New Rochelle native. "I want to start in a pediatric unit, then transition into leadership, management, or the political arena." Jawahar recently attended a conference that tackled legislation and lobbying on topics that affect nurse practitioners, and she saw a future as one of those advocates.

She plans on working full-time after graduation, but graduate school is on the horizon. Jawahar has seen first-hand the issues that nurses face – such as proper staffing to protect nurses and patients – and knows she can make a difference by more than hanging IVs or dispensing pills.

"I think that's what the future of nursing is all about," she said.


Claudia Benitez

Business and Economics
School of Arts & Sciences

Business and economics major Claudia Benitez SAS'16 is an Honors student, but she's also demonstrating her financial and marketing acumen outside of the classroom.

The successful enterprise she runs with her mother was sparked by her younger brother, now 11, who once came home from a party sporting face paint that wasn't well-executed. "We thought we could do better," Benitez said.

So she and her artistically inclined mom bought a book on face-painting, watched videos online, bought paint and supplies, then started practicing on her siblings. They volunteered at her brother's school, and soon were being invited to work at parties.

"I made business cards, started building a website," said Benitez. Then customers started asking about balloon art. Following the basic tenets of supply and demand, she bought balloons, and that's been a part of the business since. Benitez leaves the inflatables to her business partner, though: "I hate the squeakiness."

Benitez thought she wanted to be doctor, interning at White Plains Hospital in high school. She enjoyed the work, but found that she gets attached to people really easily. Business and economics turned out to be a natural fit for Benitez. She's always liked math, her dad holds a degree in economics, and her uncles are business owners.

But it's not just about the business of business for Benitez – she puts her skills to use helping others as well. She's president of the Student Government Association; the year before, as calendar coordinator, she helped plan and execute student events. She volunteers for Midnight Runs to bring food and clothing to homeless people in New York City; helped coordinate Special Olympics at CNR on Community Service Day; serves on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee and Strawberry Festival Committee; and welcomes prospective students to campus as a student ambassador for the Office of Admission.

Off-campus, Benitez is an active parishioner at St. Bernard Catholic Church in White Plains, helping organize its annual community fundraiser. She has led religion classes for young children at the church, taking over in her junior year of high school after starting as a teacher's aide. She also volunteers at Mt. Carmel Catholic Church in White Plains for its annual Festa fundraiser.

For her efforts, Benitez received the Serviam Award for outstanding community service last October.

Benitez said she wasn't looking for a Catholic school during her college search, but it ended up being one of the major reasons she chose CNR. She's very much involved in Campus Ministry, helping with Masses and special celebrations.

"I'm very religious, and it's important to me to incorporate that into my education," she said. "It's great to have a spiritual life away from home."


Jessica Marino

Childhood Special Education
Graduate School

Jessica Marino says that thyroid cancer made her stronger. It certainly didn't slow her down.

Marino graduated in May 2014 with a Master of Science in Childhood Special Education, completing all 30 credits in one year, while working a graduate assistantship in the Graduate School's Dean's Office and student-teaching twice a week at P.S. 83 in her native Bronx.

"I didn't know how crazy grad school was going to be," Marino said, who enrolled at The College of New Rochelle after earning her undergraduate degree at Iona. But the experience clearly didn't scare her off, as she's considering coming back for an additional certification in Early Childhood Special Education while teaching, either in Westchester or the Bronx.

Marino was diagnosed with thyroid cancer as an undergrad and has been in remission for two years. But even as she was being treated, "I did not take days off," she said. "I pushed myself." Marino graduated with her class, and some friends didn't even realize she was sick.

"I didn't want to be treated differently," she said. "I didn't want it to shape my life negatively."

A great support system helped. "My mom is my best friend," Marino said. She's also a career inspiration, as a teacher at a private Catholic school in the Bronx, working with children in kindergarten and the first grade.

"I've always been around that environment," Marino said. "I like how kids have that glow in their eyes when they understand something."

"I love being around my mom because she's so creative – using songs, the Smart Board," Marino said. "Things are always changing – you have to use technology because you need to get their attention."

Marino also admires her mother for the relationships she's built with her students. "They remember her," she said. "That's what I want."

Her first class as a student teacher was a little older – 6th graders who were almost as tall as her. She also enjoyed working with 4th graders, even though there's a lot of testing at that age. There's plenty of pressure to perform, Marino said, and teachers can get nervous and pass that on to their students.

Marino has also put her experiences and skills to use in volunteer work, serving as a counselor at a sleepaway camp for children with cancer, called Happiness is Camping. Campers do everything regular kids would do, she said, the big difference being access to medicine.

Her presence there, Marino said, gives campers a success story to aspire to. "They see that you can get better."


Delbra Alexander

School of New Resources

A job loss proved to be a golden opportunity for Delbra Alexander.

After being laid off from her second job in January 2011, she was bored. "I thought, let me go back to school." Then she saw a commercial for the School of New Resources.

"Well, I live right here," said the New Rochelle resident, "and I've heard such great stories about the school. Plus, it has a great spiritual foundation." She called the school, came in and discussed her options, and enrolled in the spring with a concentration in communications.

A graduate of Mount Vernon High School, Alexander is no stranger to higher education. She went to Westchester Community College in the early 1980s, but dropped out a semester before graduation. Marriage, children, and work kept her more than busy, but the layoff gave her the push she needed to head back to campus.

"It was challenging," said Alexander. "It has been challenging – working full-time, doing research, going to the library." Her adult children moved out of the house years ago, making the experience a bit easier.

"I just didn't let anything stop me this time," Alexander said. Not even a statistics class, which she passed the second time around with an A+.

With 28 years of experience in accounts payable, she would like to climb the career ladder at her company. But not having a college degree held her back from applying for a job as a supervisor or in corporate communications. "I've learned that to grow, that piece of paper is very important," she says of her diploma.

It helps that her employer, a pharmaceutical company in Tarrytown, values education and provided tuition reimbursement with an average of B or higher. Alexander proudly notes that she graduated with a GPA of 3.88. She's taking a break from school, but she is considering further studies in public administration or communications.

Either way, completing her undergraduate degree at The College of New Rochelle has already changed her life, she says. "It's a feeling no one can take away from me." One thing she's discovered is that it's never too late to go to school, a lesson she's shared with her children. "Learning is continuous."


Taniqua Mighty

Bachelor of Science in Nursing
School of Nursing

Home is where Taniqua Mighty's heart is, after all.

The Mount Vernon native, a member of the Class of 2016, had high school classmates who went on to The College of New Rochelle. But even though the College offered good scholarships, she wasn't sure a small, all-girls school close to home was for her. I thought, "no way, I'm going away," she remembers.

But after enrolling at a bigger college farther away from home, Mighty decided to give the School of Nursing a second look.

She has no regrets. The College of New Rochelle is such a goal-oriented environment, she says, that there aren't as many distractions. She's changed her mind about the size of the College as well. "I like that it's small – the people that you get to know, you really have a bond with," she said.

One other benefit of staying at home: her mother, a certified nursing assistant who inspired her chosen career and provides plenty of support as she focuses on her studies. Mighty hopes to be a pediatric nurse, then possibly a nurse anesthesiologist when she has more experience.

For now, she's gained valuable experience in the classroom and at an assisted living and rehab facility, where she does tasks as varied as changing beds, checking patients' blood pressure, mixing insulin injections, and providing perineal care. "You really need to be careful with older people," Mighty said. "You need to make sure they are safe and comfortable, and preserve their confidentiality."

That has been followed by clinical assignments in medical surgery, but she's really looking forward to diving into pediatrics in the spring.

"I love little kids," she says. "Their minds are so creative, and they say the funniest things."

Mighty keeps her energy high and stress low with Zumba and physical fitness classes, as well as ballet. She also draws and recently acquired a sewing machine. So far, she's taught herself to make pants and a shirt. She may even make her own scrubs, she says.

She hopes to take on internships and make valuable connections on campus through the Student Nurses' Association. Her personal experience has also given her work study job in the Admissions Office a valuable twist. She now counsels incoming students on the benefits of small campuses and studying close to home.


Katelynn Grim

Art Therapy
Graduate School

Katelynn Grim knows first-hand how therapeutic art can be, and the training and education she's received in the Graduate School is helping her make the same difference in children's lives, at home and abroad.

After a fatal car accident involving close family friends, Grim would go into the studio and paint to work through her feelings. Perhaps that planted a seed, as she would take her first art therapy course a year later while earning her undergraduate degree at Simmons College in Boston.

Grim majored in psychobiology – the study of how biology affects behavior – but took a painting class about halfway through her coursework and ended up with a minor in studio art. "It was nice to use another part of my brain," she said.

Her senior year, she interned at a hospital working with children in an arts and crafts group. After graduation, she logged plenty of experience working with all kinds of populations. Grim worked at Walker, a therapeutic school for children with complex emotional and behavioral challenges for four years. "The first year was really intense," she said.

After that, she spent three years in Cambridge public schools. "I loved it," Grim said. She worked with non-verbal children, but it was clear to see how making art made a difference. "It was very relaxing for them," Grim said. "It really changed their affect. It was great to see them express themselves."

Her experiences solidified her desire to go back to school for her master's degree in Art Therapy / Counseling. A friend who was also applying to The College of New Rochelle introduced her to the school, which won her over with its financial aid – a graduate assistantship which paid for 30 credits for two years.

Fieldwork was a large part of Grim's education at CNR. At Chappaqua Elementary School, she modified lessons for children with autism and other special needs, allowing students to participate in lessons alongside their peers. At All Hallows High School in the Bronx – which has a well-established art therapy program – Grim worked one-on-one with two students.

Her last year at the Graduate School, Grim had a full internship with New York City Children's Center in the Bronx, a psychiatric facility for children 5 to 18. She worked with four groups, as well as individual children. "I knew a hospital setting would be a challenge," Grim said.

The support she received at CNR proved invaluable. Grim specifically cites her supervision class, where she met weekly with a professor and eight students, all bringing their issues and questions from their work in the field. She kept a visual journal throughout the internship, and received feedback from her classmates in an ongoing conversation.

Grim said the Art Therapy program at CNR has furthered her knowledge and education, and given her more confidence in what she has to offer others – employers, and the people she serves. Where elementary school was a comfort zone, working with other populations challenged her to be more aware of herself.

In 2013, Grim and fellow students in the Art Therapy program, along with licensed art therapists, traveled to the Dominican Republic over spring break and worked with a local nonprofit to conduct sessions with children and their parents.

"It really taught me how to be present with the kids we were working with," Grim said, "realizing that I didn't have to fix everything, that it wouldn't necessarily be the best thing to do even if I could."

Grim said she arrived in the Dominican Republic wondering if she was doing it right, but brought home a compelling idea – "to not worry so much about what to say, just to be present and know how powerful that can really be."


Christine Joas

Bachelor of Science in Nursing
School of Nursing

When Christine Joas SN'16 was 13 years old, she auditioned for "America's Got Talent." She was nervous, but the producers of the NBC talent competition were impressed enough to invite her for another round of tryouts.

For reasons that are lost to her now, Joas didn't go back. But that may be the last opportunity she doesn't take advantage of. "I like being busy," said Joas.

The Brooklyn native is a member of the College's chapel and gospel choirs, as well as the Acapellistas, who perform more secular music. Joas also sings at various Seventh Day Adventist churches in Brooklyn and Queens, and is, unsurprisingly, a karaoke enthusiast.

"All my life, ever since I was a kid, I've been singing," said Joas, who led the singing of the National Anthem at CNR's 2014 Commencement.

The singing opportunities were a big draw for Joas, who looked at schools in the area and as far away as Alabama. "Friends from high school said CNR has a great nursing school," Joas said. "I got a great scholarship, got accepted, and it's very convenient."

Rehearsals for the chapel choir alone take up her Sunday mornings and Thursday nights. She's not an athlete, but Joas enjoys watching the Blue Angels sports teams, and regularly singing the National Anthem before games.

Joas originally wanted to major in biology, with an eye toward becoming a pediatrician. Now her goal is to become a nurse practitioner or hands-on psychiatric nurse. The latter is inspired by time spent helping her grandmother, who was schizophrenic, with her medications. Joas sees a lot of fear and stigma around that field, and knows firsthand that she can make a difference.

Joas completed a clinical course in geriatrics last semester, and will be moving on to medical surgery and pediatrics. "I'm looking forward to getting my BSN," she said. Joas is a member of the Student Nursing Association, which recently organized an open house for students, as well as a skills party to demonstrate what they've learned so far.

Also filling Joas' schedule are her duties as a peer minister with Campus Ministry, and as student ambassador -- giving tours to incoming students. "Living on campus is excellent -- I like the camaraderie," she said. Plus, "you can catch teachers on a daily basis and ask them questions."


Rebecca LaFleur

Associate Professor of Psychology
School of Arts & Sciences

Dr. Rebecca LaFleur's path to becoming an associate professor of psychology at The College of New Rochelle has been, for the most part, seemingly smooth and natural.

"I was always interested in psychology, even in high school," said the Ashfield, Massachusetts, native. Her nickname back then was "Dr. Becca," because she was a good listener and offered advice to her peers. "They saw me as a counselor or mentor."

But that journey, 26 years in the making, was nearly derailed before it got started. "I was advised and pressured against studying psychology," LaFleur said, "so I started college as a math major."

While she was always good at math, she realized it wasn't for her after taking her first math course at Smith College, a private liberal arts college for women in Northampton, Mass.

After graduating with a B.A. in psychology, "I didn't think I knew what to do afterwards," LaFleur said. "But I embraced the possibilities of a liberal arts degree."

She decided to keep studying, and entered graduate school at Temple University. "It was a big shift," said LaFleur, who thought she'd become a social psychologist and work in human resources or something similar. But then she got the opportunity to teach as a teaching assistant.

"I taught quite a bit, starting in my second year of graduate school," LaFleur said. "I just like interacting with students." And despite her experiences with math -- or perhaps because of them -- she particularly enjoys teaching statistics, which more than a few students dread.

"I like when you can get them through it and it's not as hard as they thought," said LaFleur. "They appreciate it even more."

LaFleur earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in social psychology over seven years at Temple. For the last three of those years, she was a full-time adjunct instructor at Arcadia University.

"It was a chance to really get my feet wet with full-time teaching," LaFleur said. While co-ed, the school was a small liberal arts college similar to CNR. She taught lab courses, psychology as a science, and helped students design research projects.

After completing her studies, LaFleur went on the job market. She was willing to go anywhere, but the lifelong East Coast resident said she's glad to have stayed on this side of the country, close to family and friends.

LaFleur first visited in the spring, as the College prepared for the annual Strawberry Festival. "I was struck by the campus," she said. "It was also appealing that it was a women's college -- there's something about an all-women environment that I definitely enjoyed."

Fifteen years after joining the College, the quality of students remains strong, LaFleur said, "although juggling a bit more in terms of responsibilities." She said most students enter psychology with the aim of practicing, and this was her own bias as well when she was starting out. "What students don't realize about the field is how big it is," she said. A 1-credit psychology colloquium course opens up these possibilities to new majors. With between 60 to 70 majors, psychology is one of CNR's larger departments, and many of those students are also getting certifications in education.

In addition to her teaching duties, LaFleur has also been director of the Women's Studies Program for the past two years. It's a field she's always been focused on. At Smith, she studied perceptions of stay-at-home mothers vs. fathers. She assisted her graduate school adviser in studies that examined barriers to the reporting of sexual harassment. Her dissertation, "Perceiving and Managing Feminist Identity: An Exploration of Stigma Management," published in 1999, affirmed a reluctance among most people to think of themselves as feminist, as it affects how other people view them.

LaFleur meets with an all-volunteer committee to manage the Women's Studies Program, which has been in existence for four decades and is a popular minor. The committee recently completed an external review of the program, and are looking to make it grow. "It's a nice complement to any major, and we have to do a better job of showing what you can do with it."

One recent and ongoing project has seen LaFleur bring together her interests -- psychology, women's studies, and statistics -- to create original research.

Working with psychology major Katy Baudendistel SAS'16, LaFleur sought to determine whether women who identify as feminists were less likely to speak negatively about the shape and size of their bodies. Their conclusions were surprising enough that LaFleur and Baudendistel have taken the research to academic conferences and will continue to explore new avenues of inquiry.

Not only are self-identified feminists just as likely to disparage their physical appearance as the general population – the study also found that "women who endorsed radical feminist perspective were actually more likely to engage in fat talk."

In addition to finding little difference in fat talk between feminists and non-feminists, LaFleur and Baudendistal discovered that black women were significantly less likely to engage in negative body talk, or compare their body negatively to others, than white and Hispanic women.

While LaFleur and Baudendistel are looking to expand the parameters of their study and publish their results, the research has also helped LaFleur in the classroom. "It has energized me and the students," LaFleur said.


Andrea Fobbs


"I love the person that I'm still becoming," says Andrea Fobbs SNR'13, GS'15. "That's my personal motto."

The Master of Public Administration student has taken advantage of as many opportunities before her as she can, constantly learning, honing her skills, and zeroing in on her goals, all with an eye toward helping others.

One recent life-altering experience was a trip to Cape Town, South Africa, in January 2014 for an MPA course. "As a kid, I was always reminded of where we came from," said Fobbs, whose great-grandmother hailed from Ethiopia. "Forty-seven years later, going to South Africa was enlightening, spiritual. It was on my bucket list for years."

That 10-day trip over spring break "confirmed for me my purpose," said Fobbs, who already performs a lot of volunteer work at CNR and in her community. Seeing first-hand South Africa's struggles in providing for its citizens' basic needs gave her plenty to think about in her desire to establish a nonprofit foundation.

"It would need to be global," she said. "It should invite and affect everyone." The trip also intensified the soft spot she has in her heart for women and children in need. "I will empower them," she said.

The trip was only the latest in a series of new beginnings for Fobbs, who has lived in Mount Vernon for 20 years. Nearly three decades ago, she was an art major, ready to explore "the mysticism of art and statues and stories," when she became pregnant and opted out of school.

But in the years until she returned to the classroom, Fobbs never forgot the value of an education, citing the values imparted by her mother, a graduate of the College's John Cardinal O'Connor Campus in the Bronx in 1979. "All mom talked about was CNR," Fobbs said, "so it was the first place I called when I decided to go back to school."

After signing up for classes in 2010, Fobbs called her adult children, sat on a bench outside the school, and cried. She earned her bachelor's degree in 2013, after 112 credits, and spoke at her campus' hooding ceremony. "I want to send a beacon, to bring a new light, not just to myself, but to inspire others," she said.

And Fobbs lived up to her words. She still volunteers at the library for AmeriCorps, tutors students working on their GED, helps classmates with financial aid, and tries to help them readjust to the classroom after so many years away. "It's my social responsibility," she said.

In her GED classes, she seeks to inspire students beyond just facts and figures. She asks them, "What does the GED mean to you? Don't forget your purpose."

After graduating from SNR, she took a week off, then visited the Graduate School. She went back and forth for a while, then decided to apply and was accepted into the MPA program. Fobbs continues a long line of CNR students, as the eighth person in her family to graduate from the school. Her daughter also received her graduate degree from CNR this past May.

"CNR has given me so much more," Fobbs said. "I ate up the message of 'Wisdom for Life' -- I talk about the school all of the time."

Which explains why Fobbs thinks CNR might not want to let her leave after she gets her master's degree. "I would love to teach at SNR," she said. "I'm open to leaving, but I would love to stay home."

In addition to her long-term plans for a foundation, Fobbs also hopes to travel more. "I would love to do work in Africa," she said, citing programs bringing clean water and sneakers there. She's also interested in efforts to empower women and girls in Pakistan.

Regardless of the outlet, Fobbs will focus her energy on making a difference. "Times are changing," she said. "I'm a part of it."


David Goewey

Instructional Staff, Letters
School of New Resources
New Rochelle Campus

Sing Sing Correctional Facility and the town of Ossining loom large in the imagination of David Goewey.

The School of New Resources instructor grew up in the Westchester County town, where his grandfather, father, and brother would all work for the notorious maximum security prison, which opened in 1826. "It was the big industry," said Goewey, although now it's almost hard to find.

For much of the 1990s, Goewey lived in Los Angeles, earning a bachelor of arts degree in English at California State University in Northridge. But his hometown followed him all the way across the country. In 2000, his brother, who had retired from Sing Sing, sent him a packet of material about a 1941 escape from the prison.

"He thought it would be a good screenplay," Goewey said. He also tried to make a go of it as a novel, but that wasn't working out. He mentioned the idea to a writer friend, who introduced him to an agent. With the help of that agent, Goewey shaped his material into a nonfictional, historical true crime book that blends in the history of New York City, Irish immigrants, and holdup men.

Crash Out: The True Tale of a Hell's Kitchen Kid and the Bloodiest Escape in Sing Sing History, tells the story of immigrant kids who pulled off big heists before being sent up the river, where they plotted a daring escape that killed four men and ruined the reputation of the country's most famous warden. The gripping historical epic was published in 2005 to rave reviews.

Goewey had moved back to New York by then, earning a master of fine arts degree in fiction writing from the New School, and in a happy, fortuitous coincidence, ended up living just around the corner from where his main character once lived in Manhattan.

Goewey has returned to Sing Sing since then, in writing and physically. A practicing Buddhist, Goewey wrote a story for the magazine tricycle about a handful of inmates who practice Zen meditation every afternoon. That piece occasioned an all-day tour of the facility, which has a population of 2,400. "It's an amazing place," Goewey said, "with two of the largest cell blocks in the world."

These days, teaching full-time keeps Goewey plenty occupied. He first taught at SNR as an adjunct in 2006, then full-time at Co-op City and Brooklyn before moving to the New Rochelle campus. Before that, he was an adjunct at LaGuardia Community College, where he taught writing and English as a second language. "This place keeps you busy," Goewey said, especially with SNR's renewed emphasis on improving student writing.

"It's always great to find the student who is inspired by the readings and takes the coaching to heart," Goewey said. "That's the best part about the job."

Also filling Goewey's schedule is an 18th-century Colonial home in Connecticut his wife inherited, which they are restoring. "It was the reason we came back from L.A.," Goewey said. The property has its own literary history, having been the setting of the Stillmeadow books, a series of stories by Goewey's wife's grandmother, Gladys Taber, about city folks buying a house in the country. The couple also have their hands full with a 5-year-old daughter.

But Goewey says he's got at least one more book in him, and that one will be set in his hometown, even though he hasn't visited in recent years and doesn't have family there anymore. "A Faulknerian take on the whole place," he muses. "There's a gothic strain to it -- an old, old town, with old places from when the Dutch arrived."


Geraldine Valencia-Go

Associate Professor
School of Nursing

Dr. Geraldine Valencia-Go has been with the School of Nursing since 1989. And in those 25 years, save for a couple of semesters on sabbatical and a few years as chair of the undergraduate nursing program, she has taught a bedrock course in the education of every CNR nurse: NUR 209, Foundations of Nursing Practice.

"They all have to go through me," Valencia-Go said with a laugh. It's the first clinical course in the program, and where students learn 90 percent of the skills they will use as nurses, she said.

Just from teaching that course, Valencia-Go has had a close-up look at the changes in education, the nursing profession, and society in general. When she first arrived at CNR, the majority of students were middle class or upper middle class, she said. There were very few minorities, no transfers, no men, and no students pursuing nursing as a second degree.

Today's School of Nursing has a much different population. Now, "there is no typical nursing student," Valencia-Go said. There are students of all ages, from those fresh out of high school to grandmothers. Some have children, or are taking care of aging parents. There are students from all over Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia. This diversity is a strength, Valencia-Go said. "We have to be culturally competent. We have to be able to take care of people who are different from us."

Born in the Philippines, Valencia-Go first came to the United States as a high school graduate, brought here by an uncle who was a doctor in Pennsylvania. She attended nursing school in Harrisburg, and in her second year knew she wanted a baccalaureate degree. She found out that if she worked at NYU Medical Center, she could earn a BS at NYU for free.

So after graduating from school on a Thursday, Valencia-Go took a bus to New York City for an interview Saturday, was hired on the spot because of her surgical skills, and started work Monday. She stayed there for eight years, earning her degree part-time. Her skills were actually a detriment, as increasing responsibilities at work made it difficult to find time to study. So she quit her job and lived off her savings for a year and earned a master's degree from NYU in three semesters.

During that time, she occasionally taught at Long Island University. After graduating, she accepted a full-time position and worked there for eight years. There she met Dr. Marie Santiago, now a fellow associate professor in nursing at CNR.

Valencia-Go would also teach at Lehman College, City College, and Hunter College, making her a veteran of nursing education in New York City. During this time she also served in the Army Reserves for two years. But after becoming the first Asian to receive a doctorate in nursing from Adelphi University, she was in search of a place to truly call home. She received offers from many schools downstate, but ultimately went with CNR after being approached by Dr. Connie Vance, then-dean and currently a professor in the School of Nursing, for a faculty position.

"As soon as I visited the campus, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up," Valencia-Go said. "I just had a feeling that this is the place where I could belong." It was a nice change from Manhattan, she said, although the Queens resident finally had to learn how to drive.

Valencia-Go also continues to learn as a nurse. She maintains a certification in advanced practice in gerontological nursing, a field that is more relevant as lifespans grow. She also has post-doctoral certificates in leadership and management and in research, earned during semester-long sabbaticals. Learning inspires her teaching.

"I still love what I do," Valencia-Go said. "Education is such a satisfying profession -- seeing that light bulb switch on in their heads." She feels that she's remained creative, constantly trying new ways of making learning interesting for her students.

Valencia-Go also educates via her writing, having contributed chapters to textbooks over the years. She is currently working on her own book, "Research Success: A critical thinking approach." She started writing in March 2013, and is looking at a publishing date later this year.

Given her connection to the field, it is not surprising that Valencia-Go's daughter is a nurse practitioner specializing in cardiology. But, the proud mother notes, "she did it all on her own," never needing help with her studies.

One of the issues the School of Nursing will have to address is the fact that many of its doctorally prepared faculty are nearing retirement age, Valencia-Go said, though she's not planning on retiring soon. Her roots run deep at CNR, having been here through three buildings and four deans, bringing in grants, and serving on every committee save food services.

"I grew up here, so to speak."


Michelle Goyke

Communication Arts
School of Arts & Sciences

There are so many opportunities at The College of New Rochelle that Michelle Goyke SAS'16 can't help but take advantage of them.

That's one of the advantages of attending a smaller school, says the Communication Arts major and Honors student, but that doesn't mean it's easy. And Goyke knows about putting in the hard work.

She was a member of New Rochelle High School's renowned choir when it was invited to perform at the Olympic Village during the 2012 Games in London, the summer of her senior year. Goyke raised the $3,300 cost of the two-week trip, which included performances in France, a dollar at a time, selling candy at school. That determination led to her being interviewed by NBC.

During her first semester at CNR, a friend approached her and said, "I need you to write something for The Tatler." From that start as a contributor, she soon became a staff writer, and this fall will be the student newspaper's editor in chief. Much of the staff is graduating, so Goyke needs to recruit more writers, but that's just part of the equation.

"I'm trying to make it a lot more than it is right now," Goyke said. She plans to organize an event with faculty, to tie different clubs, disciplines, and students of all majors to the publication. "This is where you go to find information -- I want that to be the focus of Tatler," she said.

Goyke is also taking the helm of Femmes d'Esprit, the magazine of the College's Honors Program. Published four times a year, it provides an outlet for creative and scholarly writing, as well as art work.

The Honors Program has afforded Goyke other opportunities as well. She leapt at the chance to take part in the Northeast Regional Honors Council's annual conference in April of this year, held in Niagara Falls. Goyke and fellow Honors student Catherine Baudendistel led a roundtable discussion on "The Borders of Sanity: Do We Really Need that Xanax?" The presentation tackled the overprescription of mental health medication, and came out of the fall Honors seminar American Anxieties.

The trip was not only her first conference -- it also gave Goyke her first opportunity to cross the border into Canada. She's looking to travel more and is working on an intersession trip to Australia.

Goyke also uses her skills to help fellow students one-on-one, as a tutor for the Writing Center. She is in her second year of proofreading papers and providing pointers on grammar. She served as secretary of her sophomore class, and will be her junior class' vice president. She also gives tours of the campus as a student ambassador, and takes part in events for incoming freshmen.

Outside of school, Goyke has participated in New Rochelle's Relay for Life for every year since losing her mother to cancer just before graduating from high school. Her team, Dee's Dynamite, raises more than $1,000 a year, and do so again this May, for the third year.

After graduation, Goyke hopes to put her communication skills to use for an animal rescue, or a place like the Bronx Zoo. The cat-owner has previously volunteered at the New Rochelle Humane Society, and at one point owned about a dozen hamsters. She'll further her experience in marketing and public relations this summer as an intern for Anonymous Alerts in White Plains, a system that allows students to report bullying, family programs, and other issues to school officials anonymously.

Goyke also plans to go to graduate school. "I love to learn," she said. The first-generation college student has shown that by earning mostly A's at CNR -- one B being the memorable exception. "Even if I had a million dollars right now I would still be in college, because I really love learning."

She said The College of New Rochelle has provided a great environment for learning. The faculty alter their teaching to better fit their students, she said. "The professors hear you out."


Anissa Figueroa

Communication Arts
School of Arts & Sciences

Unlike most people, Anissa Figueroa SAS'16 actually enjoys public speaking.

"You can put me in front of people and I'll be fine," she says, which in part explains why she made the switch from pre-med her freshman year to Communication Arts, with a minor in English.

Figueroa likes to write and is always looking to improve her skills and prepare herself for a career in public relations. To that end, she's undertaken her first internship, with the College Relations department on campus.

She's also constantly searching for ways to express herself creatively, Figueroa says. When an idea resonates with her in class, she'll make a point of writing about it later, usually something freeform.

Figueroa also seeks opportunities for expression in three-dimensional space, occasionally allowing herself to dream of dancing on Broadway. She's taken hip-hop dance and classical ballet classes at The College of New Rochelle. "I like movement, but I want to be technically trained," she said. These days she's looking online for instruction, as well.

Another outlet for movement is the Blue Angels Cheerleaders, which has seen a resurgence in recent semesters. Figueroa credits the current coach, and the group is hoping to generate more interest among students -- enough to hold a cheer camp over the summer to learn gymnastic-type routines. Figueroa notes that attitude and involvement are the most important characteristics in cheerleading.

But Figueroa does more than cheer from the sidelines -- she's also a member of the College's cross country team, and was named to the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference 2013 Fall All-Academic Team.

It's fitting, since her running route as a high school student at the nearby Ursuline School took her through the CNR campus. As she learned more about the College, "I knew the professors would be able to fulfill my needs," she says.

Figueroa enjoys visiting New York City, but has really immersed herself in the culture of the campus. She's also treasurer of the Latin American Women's Society, a peer minister, member of the Christian fellowship, and a student ambassador.

She's working on studying in England for the spring semester, and hopes to do more traveling after her time in school. "I don't know where the world's going to take me," she says, "but I'm going to embrace it."


Michael A. Gilliam

Assistant Professor of Mathematics
School of Arts & Sciences

Michael A. Gilliam's route to becoming a professor of mathematics at The College of New Rochelle was far from straightforward, requiring stops in California and Montana, studies in kinesiology and nutrition, even a job designing irrigation systems. Now, with his first full-time teaching position, he wants to help students find their "scientific voice," like he eventually did.

"I was a late-bloomer," Gilliam says. "I didn't start my undergrad until I was 25."

In high school, his interest in chess and detail-oriented projects merely hinted at a career in math. After graduating, the California native designed irrigation systems for vineyards and custom homes, which required a knowledge of geometry.

"I didn't know I was going to college," he says, but he felt the desire to teach and work with children of all ages. He also noticed that he had hit the career ceiling for someone with just a high school diploma. "I started reflecting: How else can I satisfy that desire to teach and increase my paycheck?"

Gilliam began taking kinesiology and nutritional courses at a community college with an eye toward teaching nutritional science. After a semester or two, he found he was focusing more on the theoretical aspects of his studies, which encouraged him to try mathematics.

"I was unfamiliar with the field as a whole," he says. He was still taking courses in nutrition even as he applied to the math program at the University of California at Berkeley. After that, the desire for something different, more rural, led to earning his Master's and Ph.D. from the University of Montana at Missoula.

"It was amazing, breathtaking," Gilliam says. "A great experience on many sensory levels. I saw nature, wildlife, and I got to experience just a different way of life that I couldn't get in L.A. and San Francisco."

A new experience awaited him when he joined The College of New Rochelle in the Fall of 2011. He notes that the cost of living is really low, compared to the West Coast, "and culturally people here are a lot more direct."

"It's been a great education for me — I'm learning a lot," Gilliam says. Half of his time is spent on "service courses" — math for students of all stripes. The other half is aimed more for math majors: courses in calculus, algebra, real analysis, and abstract algebra. His specialty is complex manifold theory.

Gilliam says his focus is on reaching out to students. "I want to go out of my way so I can better serve the students and promote student-centeredness on the campus." He also wants to encourage coordination between departments. He says one way to do that is to have math majors tutor their fellow students, "not just embrace the major, but promote and share the things they learn.

The students at CNR have been "very receptive, very warm and welcoming, which has been awesome," Gilliam says, who adds that their initiative has been impressive. "I'm having a great time in the Math Department."


Erica Olson-Bang

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
School of Arts & Sciences

Erica Olson-Bang has lived in a lot of places. She grew up in Minnesota, and her pastor father moved from town to town establishing evangelical churches. After attending college in California, she lived in Ecuador for nearly a decade.

So it's a bit ironic that her first full-time teaching job is just a stone's throw away from Fordham University, where she earned her Ph.D. in Theology.

Olson-Bang joined The College of New Rochelle just before the Fall 2012 semester, and "got thrown into the fire," she said. She quickly had to prepare five new classes while still getting acclimated to her new surroundings.

"I felt like a freshman," Olson-Bang said. "I didn't know where to find things." Her second year has proven to be much easier, especially as she's gotten more of a sense of the students.

"I feel like we have a lot of people from different religious backgrounds," Olson-Bang said. "Many are strongly religious, and they're interested in religious traditions — that's a fun thing about teaching religion here. I feel I belong here."

Olson-Bang comes from a very religious background — her grandfather was a professor of the New Testament — but she hadn't thought of it as a career. She graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a B.A. in history and economics, and was interested in religion-affiliated international nonprofit work. "I wanted to do social justice," said Olson-Bang, to that end working at a school in Ecuador for two years.

"But I ended up enjoying the academic side of things," Olson-Bang said. She also found her voice earning her Master's in teaching from Bethel University. "I was a shy person — I never talked in college," Olson-Bang said. But at Bethel, If there was something I was passionate about, I wasn't going to let my commect go unsaid." She brings that appreciation for dialogue to her classes at CNR.

"Teaching is a lot of fun for me when I'm discussing with students and hearing their experiences — when we're having a good talk, when there's more conversation."

The all-women School of Arts & Sciences also attracted Olson-Bang to CNR. "I'm very interested in women in Christianity, women in religion in general," she said. One of her research interests is the Biblical figure of Eve, and how she is understood in the Abrahamic religions, and whether she is "more to blame" for humankind's fall from grace. "I don't think that's fair," she said. She's also interested in environmental ethics, and the idea of hospitality — the ordinary life of a home — as a model for Christian theology and practice.

Olson-Bang teaches many of the core religious studies courses, including Introduction to the Bible; Foundations of Christianity; Morality and Sexuality; Women and Religion; and Spirituality and the Environment. She enjoys the fact that she gets to know pretty much every student that comes through CNR.

As she's adjusted to full-time teaching, Olson-Bang can spare attention for more projects — she's working on a possible class on religion in Latin America, another of her research interests.

Outside of class, Olson-Bang enjoys cooking, and cycling.


Steven Hobbs

Instructional Staff, Letters
School of New Resources
Co-op City Campus

In a way, Steven Hobbs' academic and literary pursuits parallel the mission of the School of New Resources — that is, to bring higher education to adult learners in a manner that fits into their everyday lives.

"I'm interested in writers who, in some way, gesture toward mystery or religious, spiritual experience — moments of grace or revelation for their characters," says Hobbs, an instructor of letters at the Co-op City Campus. These epiphanies can take place in a church, but more often than not, the stories transform the secular into the sacred, whether it's a tacky living room with the TV on, or a dark jazz club while someone sings the blues.

These post-war American writers of short fiction, such as Raymond Carver and James Baldwin, are the subjects of his research, and also feed his own writing.

"The classes I teach are generative to my own work," he says. "Canonical masterworks of short fiction provide me with inspiration." Hobbs is currently revising a manuscript of his short fiction, some of which has been published in a journal out of Yale.

Hobbs received an MFA in creative writing, with a focus on fiction, from the New School. He earned a master of arts in religion and literature from Yale, where he taught a course on religious themes in postwar American short fiction as a graduate student with his mentor, Peter Hawkins. While there, Hobbs was offered an adjunct position by David Goewey, a member of the SNR instructional staff in New Rochelle, to teach a course on religious art in New York City museums.

"It was of interest to students," Hobbs said. "They were interested in religion, and spirituality in general." The following semester, he taught a course called Modes of Analysis, which shows students ways of understanding works of literature. "The students were really into it, and the class evolved" to include more discussion of spirituality. "It's part of the reason I wanted to be at SNR."

Hobbs joined the instructional staff full-time last fall and currently teaches Modes of Analysis, The Short Story, and Journal Writing.

"I love teaching," Hobbs says, who taught ninth-grade English at a religious high school for three years. "That's why I wanted to be here, working with students in a classroom to read texts closely and critically, slowly, learning how to unfold a metaphor and be moved."

Hobbs says he enjoys how alive and dynamic student discussions are, with students of different ages and experiences, some of whom haven't been in the classroom for a while. Teaching full-time also has the added benefit of being able to work closely with students, particularly with papers — translating in-class discussions to the written form. "It's very rewarding when they pull it off."

Down the road, Hobbs is also interested in writing about J.F. Powers, a Catholic writer of fiction who has been a big influence on his work. Powers wrote about priests with great humor, Hobbs says, showing them to be "so human in their pettiness and envy, but so committed to the Church — very human tics that we all have." He also hopes to develop a course that looks at James Baldwin as a religious writer.

With a year of full-time teaching under his belt, Hobbs has seen some of the students come through his classroom again. "It's great to see how they've changed, in a beautiful way. They know where they're going, they're more confident. Their feet are more firmly planted, and I see improvement in their writing as well."

Hobbs also serves on the general committee, and as chair of the fiction committee, of the PEN Prison Writing Program's annual contest. The program encourages the creation of literature by those who are incarcerated, and the contest involves reading hundreds of entries. Hobbs lives in the West Village with his wife, Abigail, and, when time and the weather allows, goes surfing in Far Rockaway.


Shenelle Brooks

Communication Arts
School of Arts & Sciences

"It's second nature for me to dive right in," says Shenelle Brooks SAS'14, a Communications Arts major specializing in public relations.

Need proof? The senior is the president of the Student Government Association, an RA, manager of the basketball team, and a student orientation staff leader. Brooks also works at the Bursar's Office, and is a member of the Strawberry Festival and Women's History Month committees.

"I try to show my face at everything -- volleyball games, movie nights, open mic," Brooks says. Earlier this semester, she had been selling tickets to a back-to-school part, and "people were probably getting sick of me going door-to-door."

In between all of those activities, she's an intern at the Remington Boys & Girls Club in New Rochelle, where she works with facility directors to publicize events, spread awareness of the benefits of the club, and solicit help from the community. "It's pretty fun, especially because I like to work with kids."

Brooks grew up in the Bronx, but her family moved to suburban New Jersey as she entered high school. "It was culture shock," she says, and at first she wasn't enthusiastic about participating in school. "But once I got in volved in student government, dance teams, I thought ... maybe this won't be so bad. And I decided to make the best of my opportunities."

That drive to jump in continued from her very first year at The College of New Rochelle. She joined the Emerging Leaders group as a freshman, was program coordinator for her sophomore class, and served as SGA vice president last year. Running for president this year was a simple decision, Brooks says. "Why not? One last hurrah!"

In a way, attending CNR is a homecoming for Brooks, but it's only part of the reason she decided to attend the school. "When I saw the campus I instantly fell in love with it," she says. CNR also offered her the most financial aid, but it also helped that the college didn't make her feel "like just another number. I felt like I could really reach my full potential here."

It seems that inkling four years ago has become reality. "I've done a lot of growing up since freshman year, and I'm more equipped to go out into the world and be a success."

The hands-on learning in the Communication Arts department has been great, says Brooks, with TV production being one of her favorite classes. "I love making movies and direction," she says, while public relations classes have gotten her accustomed to writing a lot.

Brooks plans to go to graduate school, maybe for public administration, maybe here in New York or out in California. "There's nothing holding me back," she says, and she'll carry the attitude her mother has instilled in her. "She always says, 'Never let anybody tell you that you're learning too much.'"

Before she takes off, though, she wants to leave a legacy of student leadership that others will continue. She likes being one of the first faces that incoming freshmen get to see, as a member of the Student Orientation Staff. "It's rewarding to see them want to learn so much from us."


Tayler Fisher

Communication Arts with Teacher Certification
School of Arts & Sciences

It's not surprising to learn that Tayler Fisher SAS'16 is the fastest runner on the cross country team -- she needs that speed to accomplish everything on her schedule.

In addition to being cross country co-captain, Fisher also plays outfield for the softball squad, works at the Wellness Center, serves as sophomore class treasurer and student ambassador, and, this winter, will be diving into the pool for the swimming team.

She's even helped launch a new club -- Blue Angel Productions -- for students interested in TV and media, and will train to be a minister of hospitality. That's all on top of her coursework as a communication arts major in pursuit of an education certification and Spanish minor.

One of Fisher's goals right now is to improve her running -- leading the Blue Angels isn't good enough. "I want to be the fastest in the conference," she says. Fisher is currently 15th in the conference championships this year and wants to finish in the top 10, even without going all out in the summer. Next year's target is No. 1, and that's the main reason she's hitting the pool. "Cross country ends in October, and swimming during the winter will really keep me in shape," she says. "Everything I do I want to perform well and try my hardest."

Fisher has come a long way from her junior year in high school. She had been a dancer, cheerleader, and gymnast, but she wanted to try a sport. "When I first heard of cross country, I thought, 'oh, it can't be that hard,'" Fisher says. "I couldn't even run 800 yards without stopping." But with perseverance, she was the fastest on her team at the end of the year.

That talent is what brought Fisher to The College of New Rochelle -- she was recruited by the cross country coach Cheryl Clark, and liked what she saw when she came to visit. "It's a beautiful campus," she says. "I like that it's a small, all-girls private school, and it has a really good education program."

"I really liked the atmosphere, the environment, and I thought I would receive a really good education."

Fisher wants to teach elementary school, and work with children with disabilities in particular. "I feel empathy and I really want to help," she says. "I like making people feel good about themselves."

The Wilmington, Delaware, native -- if you haven't figured out by now -- also likes being busy. "I feel better knowing I'm doing productive things with my time," she says. "Get involved," she tells fellow students, "and you will be having fun."


Genesis McGrew

Communication Arts with Teacher Certification in Early Childhood, Childhood, and Special Education
School of Arts & Sciences

You have to be a special person to be a teacher," says Genesis McGrew SAS'13, a Communication Arts major who is also earning her certification in early childhood, childhood, and special education.

It also takes encouragement and support from mentors, a great academic program, even social experiences outside of the academic field. But actually teaching in a classroom, in front of real students, on a regular basis, is where it all comes together, McGrew says.

"It reminds me of baking a cake," she says. "You're gathering all the ingredients together in your classes. Student teaching is when you're putting it all in the oven."

While most education classes include fieldwork, student teaching is total immersion, McGrew says. It means teaching as many as four lessons in a day.

This semester, McGrew has been working every day at schools in New Rochelle, teaching a special education class of fourth- and fifth-graders, and a second-grade general education class. "It's been a growth experience," she says, noting that her supervising teacher noticed she had changed a lot from the start of the year. "I was nervous about being in front of a class," McGrew says.

The range of experiences she's had as a student teacher has bolstered her "teaching tool box," says McGrew. She has worked with bilingual classes, applied behavioral classes, autistic students, and more. "You teach all different subjects, and you get to be creative," she says. "You're prepared for whatever happens. You can tell yourself, 'I can do this. I have the skills, I have the content.'"

"It's very rewarding to give students different strategies and watch them do things they weren't able to do before."

McGrew knows now that she's always wanted to be a teacher, but she didn't always acknowledge it. "I ran away from it for a while," she says, exploring other options such as forensic science.

She looks back fondly on some of her fourth-grade teachers, but McGrew's first brush with the idea of being an educator happened in high school in New Rochelle. One of her classes was held near a preschool, where the teacher would often ask her and her friends to volunteer. They took part in activities with the children, and McGrew would eventually take on more responsibilities.

She is also a teaching assistant at her church's Sunday school, where she also provides dance instruction.

Professors at The College of New Rochelle continued to encourage McGrew to greater heights. "The Education Department is amazing," she says. "They give you so many different opportunities, and they push you." McGrew had only wanted to be certified in early childhood education, but her professors wouldn't have it. "They told me to do this, go to this class, and so on."

"They see what you probably can't see -- the potential that you have," McGrew says. The faculty also "know their stuff," keeping up with best practices, such as through the recent literacy symposium for educators at the campus center.

Extra-curricular activities will also play a part in McGrew's success as a teacher. She's been a resident assistant and student ambassador, was the vice president of her sophomore class, and has been a member of the step team, praise dance team, and choir. "It's very important, even for freshmen, to be involved," she says. "It has helped me to be strong and confident, enhanced my leadership skills, even helped me deal with parents and families."

McGrew hopes to land a teaching position after graduation while working toward a graduate degree at The College of New Rochelle, which is a second home to her. Her mom is also working on a master's degree in education and has worked in the Bursar's Office for many years.

McGrew wants to focus on literacy, the development of reading skills, particularly during early childhood. "That's when they're learning so fast. It's very rewarding."


Malcolm Oliver

Assistant Professor of Public Administration and Program Chair
Graduate School

Dr. Malcolm Oliver has just begun work at his position as the Chair of the newly created Master of Public Administration program at The College of New Rochelle. His office is sparse; the only decoration is an image of President John F. Kennedy and a quote, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

"This is a brand new program," Dr. Oliver said, "we want to become a community resource, not only a center for education, and we want to become more international. We live in a globalized environment, and the challenges of the 21st century can't be solved in our own small world."

Dr. Oliver would know. He was a non-traditional student and enrolled in (Mt. San Antonio College) Community College before being accepted into the Honors Program at the University of California Riverside. He lived in Capetown, South Africa, for one year and cultivated an academic interest in local government management. He continued this pursuit and received an MPA from Cal Poly Pomona and then a Ph.D. in Public and Urban Administration from University of Texas Arlington.

"In the 1960s it was incredibly cool to want to help," he said. "In the 1980s, government was viewed as a problem. Now, we have so many challenges — war, homelessness, poverty, education, environment — and as a society we need to find creative ways to adapt to the changing external environment and keep our standard of living as high as it's been. The public sector can't force it; the public has to want it."

"Just like me, these students all started with the desire to be responsive to the needs of society, the desire to make a difference in the world or their communities. Our first cohort of students bring a lot of energy; they work in public and non-profit agencies, and school districts. We are already recruiting the second cohort, and reaching out to local non-profit agencies to diversify the type of students we have. The more diversity, the better learning environment is created."

While Dr. Oliver's academic experience has been in big public universities, he's enjoyed the opportunity to work in a smaller environment at CNR. He remarked that he was happily surprised that, new to campus, he knew all of the MPA students and CNR administrators by name.

"New York City is a big place, but CNR is a nice island in a busy place, where things slow down for you to think and consider issues. I know all my students by their first name and I know all the administrators. It's a personal environment. My teaching philosophy is an exchange, and in this environment we can develop a symbiotic relationship which is very valuable to both professor and student."


Hilary Caraballo

Art Therapy
School of Arts & Sciences

For Hilary Caraballo SAS'13, studying at The College of New Rochelle has been all about family.

She graduates this May with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Art Therapy, and she says the Art Department has been a home away from home. "We have really great professors, it's really close-knit."

Caraballo says feedback on her art from faculty and fellow students has been valuable in her studies. "You can bounce ideas off each other."

But she has found more than one avenue of expression at The College of New Rochelle. "CNR Drama is another artistic outlet, and also a second family." Caraballo has worked as a stage manager and filled other roles for the long-running theater group at The College of New Rochelle.

Caraballo says that after taking art classes, and because of her interest in psychology, an aptitude test in high school recommended a career in art therapy. So far it has been a good fit.

In addition to the encouraging environment of the Art Department, CNR's proximity to New York City "makes it convenient to get inspiration from professional artists," Caraballo says.

Caraballo recently interned with the Rockland Living Museum, at the Rockland Psychiatric Center. She worked with adults with psychological issues, including schizophrenia and substance abuse. Many were lifelong or long-term residents.

"It's satisfying just being able to communicate with clients through their work, things that they wouldn't be able to express otherwise," she said. "It's great to see them improve."

She's taking a year off after graduation, but plans after that to pursue an MFA in Art Therapy.

Of course, Caraballo also dedicates time to her own art work. She recently completed her solo senior show, "Illuminating Undulation," on display on the second floor of the Mooney Center.

Caraballo proposed the show in the spring, started preparations in the summer, then worked nonstop on the pieces during the fall.

The line drawings, she says, "look just like the name implies," whorling their way all over paper and canvas, some bold and colorful, others fine and delicate. None of the pieces are framed, suspended instead with just nails and thread, "so it's also an installation."

"It's been a lot of work, and I think it shows in the pieces," Caraballo says.


Christopher Foye

School of New Resources
Brooklyn Campus

Christopher Foye first attended the School of New Resources in 1998, but soon had to stop due to circumstances beyond his control. He resumed his studies in 2011, but the break didn't affect him too much.

"I'm into information," says the Brooklyn resident, who is on pace to graduate with a concentration in communications next May. "I do a lot of self-study, so it was kind of easy to make the transition," he says.

His mother graduated from the School of New Resources in 1988. She brought him and his brother to the Brooklyn Campus while she attended class. "I always had my eye on college because of that. I feel so connected to the school."

But Foye is also very busy off campus. In 2009, he founded the Chris S. Owens Foundation in honor of his son, who was killed by a stray bullet on April 26 of that year. He was 13 years old. For that and his other efforts in reducing gun violence, he was one of four recipients of the 2013 Serviam Awards.

This February, Foye attended congressional hearings on gun violence, meeting First Lady Michelle Obama and New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and watching the State of the Union Address with other advocates in Washington, D.C.

This year, he's planning a memorial scholarship awards dinner for his foundation, a basketball tournament organized with other nonprofits, and a holiday toy drive in partnership with The College of New Rochelle. Also in the works is a program called The First Responders, which seeks to help communities dealing with incidents of gun violence.

Foye says his studies dovetail nicely with his nonprofit efforts, both in the skills he develops and the connection he is making with CNR. "I always want to partner with the school, whenever I can," he says.

Pursuing graduate education with The College of New Rochelle is also a possibility. "I've enjoyed the experience," he said, "being involved and hands-on, meeting new people."


Elaine Llanos

Master of Science in Nurse Education
School of Nursing

Elaine Llanos' only regret about pursuing a master's degree as a nurse educator is that she didn't do it sooner.

The full-time oncology nurse at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan has been in the profession since 1981. "I've always wanted to teach," Llanos says, but she also wants to give back.

"Nursing has been very good to me," she said. "I've never been unemployed in 30 years." That commitment led to her being awarded the New York State Sen. Patricia K. McGee Nursing Faculty Scholarship, which requires her to teach nursing in the state for at least four years.

Llanos now has just weeks left in her studies, three and a half years after enrolling in the program. Two things inspired her to make the leap back then, she said: A CNR recruiter who visited where she works ("she was a nurse, so she got it"), and a daughter who had just started nursing school. Her daughter's excitement in learning was contagious, and now mother and daughter work together in the same hospital unit.

In a way, Llanos was already prepared to go back to school. "Nurses teach and learn all the time," she says, even when they're working or just interacting with colleagues. But she still had to make some adjustments -- conducting research online, finding library books without using the Dewey Decimal System, and new formats for citations. "Thank God I have good writing skills," she said.

Llanos also had to get used to being the oldest person in her classes. She recalled her first semester, when she had two classes with an hour break in between, and was the only student who brought snacks. Her classmates soon figured out who to go to for some sustenance. "I became the mom of the class," Llanos says. She says the CNR community has been welcoming. "Everyone's been really good," she says.

Her employer has also been supportive of her return to school, and has provided some schedule flexibility, "but it's a good thing I don't need a lot of sleep." It doesn't help that Llanos has become hooked on discovering new developments in nursing. "I've definitely got the bug of learning."

"I've learned a lot," she says, about her time at The College of New Rochelle. "I feel I'm keeping up more with technology, what's out there, and I have a more worldly view. It makes me feel younger."

Llanos' immediate plans after completing her studies include some travel. "I have a passport with zero stamps on it," she says, and will seek a part-time teaching position in the fall. "I need to get on it," she says, and doesn't expect too difficult a transition. "It's just a matter of getting the lay of the land."


Lee Warren

Assistant Professor of Chemistry
School of Arts & Sciences

Lee Warren's office is in one corner of a maze of rooms in Rogick Hall, but that doesn't mean he's walled off from the rest of The College of New Rochelle community.

In fact, one of the things the Assistant Professor of Chemistry likes most about CNR is the ease with which he can connect with his fellow educators, in the sciences and beyond. "It's important to talk to people outside of your discipline," he says.

That interest in the intersection of different fields of study has been present throughout Warren's academic career. As an undergraduate at Newberry College in South Carolina, he majored in both chemistry and mathematics. "I kind of wanted to be an engineer," he says.

But after his junior year, he conducted a research project at Clemson University and became interested in computational chemistry, the branch of chemistry that uses computers to help solve chemical problems. "The area that I teach is really physics, just physics for very small things, things that we can put together in models," he says.

As he pursued a Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee, his interest in teaching grew alongside his passion for research as opportunities for classroom experience presented themselves. "I found it very rewarding," he says.

Warren's ongoing research involves looking at algorithms that allow calculations to run faster on parallel computers. For that, he's working with a colleague whose background is in electrical and computer engineering. "It's very interdisciplinary," he says.

So while Warren would like to increase the number of chemistry majors, it's not surprising that he also wants to engage students of all kinds. "Chemistry is often called the central science," he says, since its important to nursing students and other science disciplines. "On a personal level, I really like to get students excited about chemistry and the sciences, not just science majors but also through the general education program."

One of the advantages of The College of New Rochelle's chemistry department, Warren says, is its ability to adapt quickly "in ways larger schools can't do because they're locked into their methods."

"Plus, we can talk to our students," he says. "There's a lot of opportunity for really helping students develop their opportunities."

Before joining CNR, Warren was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Yeshiva University for three years. He says he really likes the atmosphere at The College of New Rochelle. "The students are excited and very eager to learn," he says. "They're very open to a lot of different possibilities, and I think that's great."


Jorge Medina

Assistant Professor of Economics
School of Arts & Sciences

In just a little over a year at The College of New Rochelle, Jorge Medina is already reaping plenty of rewards in his work with students.

The Assistant Professor of Economics tells of a recent School of Arts & Sciences graduate who took one of his classes last fall. He helped her prepare for the job market by looking at her resume and conducting a mock interview, and she recently let him know she had been hired.

"I felt I contributed with my little grain of sand in her success," Medina said.

Being able to see his efforts bear fruit is one of the benefits of being at CNR, Medina said. "CNR's sincere sense of community and great emphasis on student centeredness allowed me to build strong professional relationships with some students from the beginning," he said. This is a rare experience at the larger institutions where he has taught, including the City College of New York and Brooklyn College.

Medina's first experience in teaching came while he was an undergraduate at Rutgers University, tutoring international students from a preparatory school in Newark, NJ. "I found that extremely valuable and rewarding," he said, and set him on the path toward a career in education instead of joining the private sector.

In addition to a B.A. from Rutgers, Medina also holds a Master's from Queens College, and a Master of Philosophy degree and Ph.D. from the City University of New York.

Medina has taught a range of courses, including introductory ones such as principles of microeconomics and macroeconomics, to international trade, statistics for business and economics, money and banking, and environmental economics. He has also given recitations for a master's level course at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and he is currently teaching a graduate health economics course at New York University Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

Medina's research interests revolve around health economics, behavioral economics and development economics. He's also interested in the role immigration plays in those fields, having come to the U.S. from Lima, Peru as a student. In fact, he'll be discussing the economic causes and effects of Hispanic immigration in the U.S. at noon on October 11, in the Iselin Room of the Sweeny Student Center.

"Economics is essentially the study of the decision-making process of individuals," said Medina. His talk will seek to explain the incentives, either self-created or imposed by others, that motivate Hispanic immigration of all kinds, as well as some of the economic impacts of these decisions.

Longer term, Medina is excited about meeting new students and continuing to share his knowledge and experience to positively affect their education.

"The first year flew by," Medina said. "It's been incredibly good -- everybody has been extremely friendly and welcoming."


Ramya Bharathi

School of Arts & Sciences

Her mother is a clinical research manager at Mount Sinai Medical Center, while her father conducts pharmaceutical research, so perhaps it's not surprising that Ramya Bharathi SAS'15 is a biology major with plans to attend medical school.

Bharathi hopes to become a cardiovascular surgeon, and she ticks off Johns Hopkins, Brown University or Harvard as the schools she'd most like to attend, although a return to her native Canada is also a possibility.

With that goal in mind, the sophomore spent about 20 hours a week this summer working in the cardiac research group at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, led by Dr. Emad F. Aziz.

Bharathi and about a dozen other volunteers -- most of whom were doctors -- compiled data and spoke to patients up to two years removed from their hospital visit. The information they collect will help treat patients more efficiently, sending them where they need to go according to their symptoms.

"I've always been fascinated by research," Bharathi says. "I've learned a lot of information about heart diseases, the different symptoms of different medical conditions." She's also excited about seeing her name published in the paper resulting from the study.

But while she will continue to volunteer once a week at St. Luke's during the school year, and again next summer, Bharathi says she prefers to pursue a career that requires more interaction with patients.

Being in the hospital setting was a thrill. "You know how you see those shows on TV and the movies? It's just like that," she said. Doctors and staff would be bantering with each other, then swiftly turn serious when patients arrive.

"The doctors talk so well with their patients," she said. "It's all about patient interaction. It's very nice to be in that setting because I want to be like that, too."

The fun environment was a bit of a surprise, as well. "I thought it would be very strict and that we couldn't do anything," but that wasn't the case, she said.

Bharathi, who is carrying 21 credits this semester, says managing her time is important. She's also the sophomore class president, a member of the Science and Math Society and tutors fellow students in biology and math.

Earlier this year, she was one of 10 local students recognized by the Westchester section of the American Chemical Society for outstanding performance in her first year chemistry coursework.

Bharathi was a student orientation staffer, so "I check up on my freshmen every now and then," she says. She's also an honor student, and is working on a research project to catalog the wildlife on main campus and find out what conditions make them thrive here.

Bharathi has no questions about why students thrive at The College of New Rochelle. She says she chose CNR for its welcoming atmosphere. "I love the faculty; all my teachers are amazing." She says the school is "very student-centered. You're not just one of the students, you really matter in this school."