USJ Alumni Superstars

Hear stories of the strong, inquisitive USJ alumni who have helped shape our world.


rokos-kristin-98x147.jpgKristin A. Rokos ’00

Degree: B.S. Environmental Science
Career: Pilot, American Airlines

After graduating from the University of Saint Joseph in 2000, Kristin Rokos took to the skies. She began her career as a flight instructor in small, single engine aircrafts before flying charters between New York City and Nantucket. Following that, she flew for a regional airline, served as a corporate pilot, and then worked as a Medevac pilot, where she flew human organs to hospitals for lifesaving transplants under time-sensitive constraints. After 15 years of climbing the ladder in her field, Kristin achieved the dream she had held since age 15: to be a pilot for a legacy airline. Flying for American Airlines since 2016, Kristin travels the world and has even flown Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton.

“USJ was a pivotal part of creating an environment that removed any barriers that stood between me and my goals. In an industry where only 5.4% of U.S. airline pilots are women – and even fewer are legacy carrier pilots – USJ helped develop my attitude that there’s no limit to what a woman can accomplish, which has carried me to my goal of flying for American Airlines. As a graduate of USJ, I can say that the sky is truly the limit.”

MacDougall-Eaves-Kimberly-98x147.jpgKimberly MacDougall Eaves, M’16

Degree: M.S. Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis
Career: Board-Certified Behavior Analyst, LEARN Regional Education Service Center

Working closely with professors in the Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) graduate program at USJ, Kimberly MacDougall Eaves, M’16, graduated with more than just her master’s degree, she discovered a love for research. She spent a year conducting in-depth research after proposing that behavior intervention plans for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are affected by staff members’ perceived stress levels and the degree to which they engage in impulsive decision-making. She then presented her conclusions at the 13th annual Connecticut Association for Behavior Analysis Conference in March, winning the Excellence in Experimental Design award, and remains determined to continue her work with guidance from the ABA faculty at USJ.

“I took away from the University of Saint Joseph not only an incredible educational experience, but also wonderful relationships between students in my cohort and faculty members alike,” Kimberly remarked. “The professors in the ABA program consistently pushed me to better myself, and continue to do so having graduated. To date, I have continued to work with my thesis advisor to prepare my research for publication, as well as explore extensions of this research for future projects. I feel confident entering into the field of Behavior Analysis not only because of a sound education from USJ – though the program should certainly be commended for its comprehensiveness – but also because of the knowledge that my professors will continue to support my future endeavors.”

rowland-michelle-200x133.jpgMichelle Rowland ’16

Major: Art History/Business Management minor

Working side-by-side with curators, Michelle Rowland is learning firsthand what goes on behind the scenes at an internationally renowned cultural institution through her internship at the Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum of Art. Provided with the valuable opportunity to apply her rigorous academics in a “real world” setting, Michelle is doing independent research, assisting curators with research, and editing online virtual sources. This internship experience has affirmed her passion and career choice — to spend time researching and being surrounded by art. This fall, Michelle will have the opportunity to delve deeper into the art world as she begins her candidacy in the prestigious Master's Program for Art Business at Sotheby's Institute of Art in New York.

"I am honored to have been accepted into the Master’s Program for Art Business. The University of Saint Joseph has prepared me to excel in my field and has given me the opportunity to continue my education. I aspire to work in the art business field as an art dealer, or work for a museum/non-profit institution in Manhattan, New York."

pascal-alison-200x133.jpgAlison Pascale '16

Major: Art History

A Surprise Ending

Alison’s Pascale’s love of theater and the world of acting reached a new level when, as a member of USJ’s theater group, Queenes Companye, she was asked to write a stage adaptation of the play Return of the Soldier. She accepted and took on the project as her Honors Independent study in the spring of her junior year. When the group selected her play for their fall production, the Art History major unexpectedly discovered a new way to explore her love of art — as a playwright. Alison will pursue her dream this coming fall as a candidate in the MFA Playwriting Program at the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University.

Alison is grateful to her professors and the USJ community for their role in making her time here such a positive and affirming experience and for the many opportunities that she was afforded along the way.

"The arts and humanities at USJ has paved the way for my acceptance to the MFA Playwriting Program. I am so thrilled to be taking this next step in my journey and I will represent USJ proudly on my way — I know I’ll always be better for having come here.”

huong_lam.jpgHuong Lam ’16

Major: Nursing; Chemistry/Biology Minor
Career Goal: To be a nurse

"I appreciate the opportunities that have been provided by USJ throughout my educational career."

The Value of Art and Science

“Recently, I attended the Northeast Regional Honors Conference where I submitted my artwork, “Sanguine Passage: Anticipation in Ambivalence,” for the Student Art Show. It was an honor to receive the Advisor's Choice Award for best artwork as well as having my piece displayed throughout the conference. My picture was also chosen to be included in the 2015 issue of Interpretations, USJ’s literary/art publication.

signore_j.jpgJanine Signore ’15

Major: Nutrition
Career Goal: To become a clinical pediatric dietician; to earn a Ph.D. in Nutrition and teach at the college level

“I love USJ’s caring professors who go the extra mile to help me succeed. They make themselves available for everything from providing extra help in courses to reviewing my resume as I prepare for graduation.”

Favorite Internship

At End Hunger CT: “It was really rewarding to work on the Child Nutrition Programs in the State of Connecticut.”

ligus_k.jpgKaleigh Ligus ’15

Major: Public Health
Career Goal: “To become a research assistant working with the public on various health endeavors and eventually become a professor of Public Health.”

“I love USJ for the sense of independence I gained while pursuing my bachelor's degree. As a student working towards your major, it is imperative to take all that you have learned and develop your own ways of thinking. This school has not only fostered my education, but has led me to be a confident, independent thinker.”

Working in the Field

Kaleigh completed 3 internships, at:

  • Eastern Highlands Health District as an Environmental Health Intern;
  • University of Connecticut Health Center in the Center on Aging Department as research assistant
  • Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection as a Municipal Facilities Intern

“Overall, my favorite internship was the Environmental Health internship at Eastern Highlands Health District, in which I collected water samples over the summer season testing for e.coli bacteria in bathing (swimming) waters. This internship required about 90% independence, which I appreciated because of the responsibility and trust that the Director of Health must have in the intern. I was lucky enough to present the research I did at the Connecticut Public Health Association's annual meeting.”

garcia_j.jpgJenny Garcia ’16

Major: Social Work/Latino Community Practice (LCP)
Career Goal: “To earn a graduate degree, work as a social worker for Department of Children and Families, and someday become the commissioner of DCF.”

“At USJ, my voice is heard as a facilitator for Latina Talk (an event for undergraduate students), in my role as a student worker for the Institute for Latino Community Practice, and as a representative of LOOP, a committee that organizes LCP activities.”

Developing Her Leadership Skills

Jenny is determined to change the world for the better and is honing her leadership skills through her involvement in campus and community organizations:

  • Latina Alliance Student Organization, President
  • Class president, sophomore year
  • Student Government Association, member
  • Intern at the Police Athletic League
  • Member of “Porticus Thinking Team,” a multi-stakeholder group partnering USJ with local churches to enhance skills of Latino youth

ames_a.jpgAudrey Ames ’16

Major: Psychology/Family Studies
Career Goal: To work at a college/university as a member of the student affairs team, overseeing the treatment center for eating disorders and self-harm.

‪"Throughout my undergraduate career, I've had so many different experiences that I don’t think would have been as meaningful at a different university or college — opportunities like working as an orientation leader, a resident assistant, and attending the Student Affairs Leaders of Tomorrow conference this past fall! I love the support from all of the faculty and staff on campus. Because of them, I feel ready and able to take on whatever comes my way after I graduate.”

perez_j.jpgJocelyn Perez ’16

Major: Public Health/Nutrition minor
Career Goal: “To serve as a service member with Food Corps and to continue to advocate for access to healthy foods for all.”

"I love that my professors help me to succeed with my education in order to achieve my goals and dreams. I work with Dr. Katie Martin as a research assistant and help her on a project that she received funding for through the federal government. We are building a collaboration between two state agencies, WIC and Head Start. I send out monthly surveys to the staff, and then analyze the data.”

moran_t.jpgThalia Moran ’16

Major: Nursing
Career Goal: “To work as a Registered Nurse and pursue my education to become a Family Nurse Practitioner.”

“USJ has become my second home. I have made great connections and friendships here that will last a lifetime. USJ has given me the opportunity to become a student leader and develop into the young woman I am now. It not only provided me with a great education, but it taught me how to succeed as a woman in society.”

Lending a Helping Hand

One of Thalia’s favorite USJ activities has been participating in Alternative Spring Break, where she worked with other students and staff to assist Habitat for Humanity with affordable housing.

sciglimpaglia_m.jpgMary Sciglimpaglia ’16

Major: English/Psychology
Career Goal: Writer

“Being surrounded by strong, independent, intelligent women, empowers us to strive for greatness. That's what I love about USJ. Whether it's in the classroom or on the field, I know I have reliable women pushing me to become a better person everyday.”

A Star On and Off the Field

Mary is captain of the USJ softball team. She was named Second Team All-GNAC in 2014 with a .346 batting average, and was second on the team with 24 RBI.

michael-andrews-200x133.jpgMichael Andrews ’16

Major: Nursing
Program: Accelerated Second Degree Program

Michael Andrews, a student in the University of Saint Joseph’s Accelerated Second Degree (ASD) program, will begin his nursing career after he graduates with his Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in August 2016. However, he has already received recognition in the field as a dedicated caregiver who exceeds expectations, winning one of the five scholarships given to nursing students from the Nightingale Awards for Excellence. This program, which works to bring public attention to outstanding nurses and the nursing profession at large, honored Michael for his accomplishments both in the classroom and in the community at a gala in May.

“Being nominated and selected for the Nightingale scholarship was a memorable accomplishment. It was satisfying to have the opportunity to attend the ceremony with several members of the nursing faculty, while recognizing the accomplishments of nurses and fellow nursing students,” said Michael. “The University of Saint Joseph was my first and only choice when selecting an accelerated nursing program for those with a previous bachelor’s degree. I would recommend the ASD program at the University of Saint Joseph to any student who values mentorship, autonomy, and personal accomplishment.”

lindsey-atkins.jpgLindsey Atkins M'16

Major: Early Childhood/Teacher Certification
Career Goal: Teach

As an undergraduate Psychology major, Lindsey Atkins' original goal was to be a child psychologist. Ironically, her internship at the Creative Child Center at UConn Health Center was the catalyst for her change of plans. "One of my students called me 'teacher Lindsey' and at that moment, I knew I had to teach. My experience working with a large group of children at the Center solidified my decision, but at that point, it was too late to change majors. After receiving my B.A. in Psychology, I looked into options for a teacher certification and master's degree program. That is what brought me to USJ."

A Valuable Opportunity

This past summer, Lindsey had the opportunity to work with USJ graduate student, Jaclyn Clarke, and local children's book author, Martha Ritter, who wrote: The Nearly Calamitous Taming of PZ: A Novel. The book, chosen as a Massachusetts Children's Book Award for 2015-2016, will be included in the Massachusetts school curriculum this year. Ritter, who needed to provide teachers with a supplemental guide for the book, reached out to USJ's School of Education for assistance. Lindsey and Jaclyn collaborated with Ritter and developed discussion questions for teachers that align with the Common Core requirements.

Lindsey is grateful for the experience: "I feel more prepared to teach because of my involvement with this project and what I have learned at USJ. This experience will help me come up with relevant lessons and connect with the Common Core."

Lindsey is formatting the supplemental book and both graduate students will be credited in Ritter's acknowledgement. Lindsey is currently student teaching in a second grade classroom.

bugella-nicole.jpgNicole Bugella MSW '16

Major: Social Work

“I am honored and so excited to have been chosen for the Council on Social Work Education Student Travel Scholarship to attend the annual program meeting in Denver, Colorado. I am looking forward to learning outside the classroom and engaging with social work professors and professionals at the conference on their areas of interest within the field. I could not have done it without the support and guidance of Dr. Hardy and the other MSW faculty at USJ. “

jalbert_s.jpgSara Jalbert ’15

Major: Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Career Goal: To become a Licensed Professional Counselor, working with victims of trauma, and to pursue my Ph.D.

“As an undergraduate student at USJ, I accomplished so much and expect to do so again as a graduate student. The amazing and supportive faculty has shown me that I can succeed in so many ways, including: conducting my own research studies and presenting my research at the Eastern Psychological Association Conference. As an undergrad, I was able to intern at a private counseling practice, and at a school with children who have special needs. With that being said, I can’t wait to see what my graduate studies at USJ hold for me! What they don’t tell you in our commercials is that at USJ, you are able to turn ‘I will’ into ‘I am.’ I am fulfilling my dreams because of my experiences here and I could not be more grateful.”

crean-mary-98x147.jpgMary Crean '88

Degree: B.S. Nutrition and Dietetics
Career: Vice President of Marketing and Resource Development, United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut

Mary F. Crean ’88 was recently named vice president of Marketing and Resource Development at United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut. In this role, Crean uses her brand management and development experience to manage the organization’s marketing, resource development, and customer service areas. In addition, she is responsible for increasing donors, contributions, and workforce partnerships, while strengthening United Way’s brand.

Before accepting this role, Crean held the position of chief development and branding officer at Achieve Hartford!, and was integral to the education advocacy organization’s fundraising, branding, and communication success. Crean is recognized for her history of improving development outcomes and producing innovative brand stewardship, especially in her work to establish Hartford Public Library’s first development office and to strengthen the brand identity of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy at Trinity College.

hayes-jahana-98x147.jpgJahana Hayes M’12

Degree: M.A. Curriculum and Instruction
Career: History Teacher - John F. Kennedy High School, Waterbury, CT

Congratulations to USJ alumna Jahana Hayes M’12, one of four finalists for the 2016 National Teacher of the Year (to be announced in April), who was also named the 2016 Connecticut Teacher of the Year. Hayes, a History teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, received her M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from USJ.

Hayes’ decision to become an educator was strongly influenced by her own teachers, who recognized her potential and challenged her to reach beyond her own economic circumstances. Hayes brings this same positivity and commitment to the classroom. She believes that all students, regardless of social inequities, must be given the tools to achieve academic proficiency.

“As a teacher, I strive to facilitate learning in a way that engages students by connecting on a personal level and stimulating academic growth,” Hayes said. “All teachers must be knowledgeable of the population they serve, through personal experiences or research and conversations, and find ways to empower students.”

labarge-wendy-98x147.jpgWENDY LABARGE M'15

Degree: M.A. Education – REACH To Teach – Secondary Education
Career: English Teacher - Newtown High School

When she enrolled at her undergraduate university, Wendy LaBarge was an English Education major. However, as she began her undergraduate career, she changed her path and ultimately earned her bachelor's degree in journalism and photography and worked successfully in marketing for five years. Born and raised in the Sandy Hook community of Newtown, Conn, the events of 12/14 were the catalyst that brought her back to teaching. Immediately following, she began reaching out to universities with accelerated licensure programs. “I selected USJ because of the exceptional REACH to Teach program that offered pedagogy, practice, and philosophy of education courses in a fast 5 semester program that resulted in confidence, competence, a license to teach secondary English, and a master's in Education.”

patricia-grahama.jpgPATRICIA GRAHAM '11

Degree: B.A. Psychology
Career: Caseworker, Family Life Resource Center/Mental Health First Aid Case Coordinator, Behavioral Health Network at The Institute of Living; Chair, Employees Council for Hartford Hospital

Patricia Graham '11 believes that her decision to attend the University of Saint Joseph profoundly affected her life. "The small class sizes allowed my professors to really get to know me and help me discover my passion, leading me to a career in the field of mental health. As a student, I was able to obtain a field study at the Institute of Living, which is very rare, and I worked in various capacities with patients, as well as assisted with a research project for which I was named an author. After graduation, one of my professors advised me to volunteer at the Institute, which led to my current position."

At the Institute, Patricia provides free outpatient services to those in the community who suffer from mental health issues, as well as guides families to available resources; she is one of a few in the state to be trained in Mental Health First Aid — a community-based program aimed at giving people the tools and resources to respond appropriately to mental health sufferers; and she assisted in the development of the Peer Initiative, a suicide prevention program which facilitates support through testimonials from volunteers who share their own struggles and success stories with patients. "I am honored I'm coming in at a time when we are trying to reduce the stigma of mental health and allow people to get help. Working with these amazing people and hearing their stories has pushed me to get my clinical degree."

marrero_Alyssa.jpgAlyssa Marrero M’15

Degree: M.A. School Counseling
Career: School Counselor – Ansonia Elementary Schools

Alyssa, hired shortly after graduation, attributes her success to the faculty in the Counseling program. “Since all my professors previously worked in the field, they were able to bring real-life scenarios and examples into the classroom, which was particularly helpful, especially for practicums, internships, and preparing for the next steps. They motivated and encouraged me to gain hands-on experience, and, by working as a teacher’s assistant with multiple grade levels, I acquired the skills needed to interact with all student populations. USJ prepared me for this job and I am really excited to start my career.”

levine_susan_lang.jpgSusan Lang Levine M’96

Degree: M.S., Pastoral Counseling
Career: Founder/Owner of Women Reshaping Lives, LLC

Susan Lang Levine, MA, LPC, pursued her master’s in Pastoral Counseling at USJ to meet the needs of her congregants at the Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation, Emek Shalom, where she served as Cantor. Following her retirement after 32 years, she sought to reshape her own life and opened a counseling practice, Women Reshaping Lives. “As change occurs throughout our lives, it can be a time of healing, learning and growing,” said Levine. “Through this journey of self-discovery, transformative change and joyful wholehearted living can be achieved.”

bisi_sara.jpgSara Bisi ’04

Degree: B.A., Art History
Career: Collections Care Manager at Harvard Art Museums

Sara Bisi merged her love for science with her love for art and built a career in Art Conservation. She now serves as the collections care manager at the Harvard Art Museums, after earning a master’s in Art Conservation, followed by 2 prestigious post-grad opportunities.

As an undergraduate Art History major (who started in Chemistry), Bisi worked in the USJ Art Gallery and then completed an internship at Yale Center for British Art. “My most valuable experiences at USJ came from hands-on learning in the chemistry labs, especially the career training and education from work-study experiences at USJ Art Gallery. The University also provided a supportive foundation and work experience to qualify for graduate school,” she said. Other highlights of her career include positions at the Williamstown Art Conservation and the University of New Mexico Art Museum, founder of PaperCare Conservation, LLC, and serving as a board member for the USJ Art Gallery and the New England Conservation Association.

szumska_sylwia.jpgSylwia Szumska ’15

Degree: B.S., Nursing
Career: Nurse/Graduate Student

Sylwia Szumska ’15, is working full-time at Hartford Hospital while enrolled in a part-time APRN/Gerontology program at UConn. Szumska, who traveled to Guyana and Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital as part of the Guyana Immersion Experience during her spring break, found the experience both transformative and validating. “I truly became a different person, a better person, and I hope to never lose sight of that. You ‘do’ nursing for the love of life and this opportunity gave me insight and solidified how rewarding this profession is.”

meghan_toth_98x147.jpgMeghan Toth ’15

Degree: B.S., Nursing, Sports Studies, & Biology
Career: Pediatric Nurse

In August, Meghan Toth ’15 will begin working as a pediatric nurse at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center on a long-term Medical/Surgical floor.

valerie_voccio_98x147.jpgValerie Voccio ’15

Degree: B.S., Nursing
Career: Cardiac Nurse at Hartford Hospital

Valerie Voccio ‘15, crowned Miss Southington in 2014, recently competed in the Miss Connecticut Pageant at Mohegan Sun, where she was named third runner-up. Valerie is employed as a Cardiac Unit Nurse at Hartford Hospital.

constance_kaiser_mazzetta_98x147.jpgConstance Kaiser Mazzetta M’91

Degree: M.S., Special Education
Career: Special Education teacher, Hazardville Memorial School; Behavior Analyst, Enfield school district

Congratulations on being named Enfield’s 2015 Teacher of the Year!

“I received a solid graduate level education from Saint Joseph College, now the University of Saint Joseph. My graduate work at USJ prepared me for the challenges and life-enhancing experiences of a career in Special Education and I am proud that the University continues to remain a regional leader in preparing capable practitioners for careers in human services.”

Monika_Dezhbod_98X147.jpgMonika Dezhbod ’15

Degree: B.S., Biology
Career: Research Assistant

Monica is a Research Assistant in the Department of Neuroscience at UConn Health Center.

el-amin-suliman-98X147.jpgSuliman El-Amin M'13

Degree: MS, Biology
Career: Resident Physician, Rochester, MN

"The teaching and instruction I received at USJ helped shape my decision to pursue a career in medicine. While my interest in medicine was strong prior to graduate school, I was unsure if I was adequately prepared for a rigorous curriculum in the medical sciences. After receiving a strong foundation in the basic sciences through the biology master’s program, I felt equipped to take the next step forward by attending medical school. I truly believe that if not for the support and expertise of the faculty and staff at USJ, I would not have been able to pursue my lifelong passion."

kent-caitlin-98x147.jpgCaitlin Kent ’15

Degree: B.S., Chemistry and Biology
Career: Ph.D. Candidate

Caitlin Kent '15 is earning her Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Kansas. She capped off her undergraduate career by serving as the undergraduate student speaker at Commencement.

battistone-nicole-98x147.jpgNicole Battistone ’15

Degree: B.A., Psychology
Career: Graduate student

After graduation, Nicole Battistone '15 completed an internship at Disney College in Orlando, Fla., where she worked as a photographer. When she returned in January 2016, she began the Master's program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at USJ.

wawrzynowksi-lisa-98x147.jpgLisa Wawrzynowski ’15

Degree: B.S., Mathematics
Career: Underwriting Analyst

Lisa Wawrzynowksi '15, who was hired before graduation, is an Underwriting Analyst at Aetna Insurance Co.

cavedon-lauren-98x147.jpgLauren Cavedon ’15

Degree: B.S., Accounting
Career: Graduate student, Intern

Lauren Cavedon '15 is working as a Sales & Use Tax Graduate Intern at United Technologies Corp. and will begin the Master's in Management program at USJ in the fall.

dipinto-marie-98x147.jpgMarie Dipinto ’15

Degree: B.S., Special Education
Career: Special Education Teacher

Marie DiPinto '15, who was hired before graduation, will teach fifth grade Special Education at Achievement First Summit Middle School in Hartford, Conn.

kasprzak_h_98x147.jpgHilary Kasprzak M'15

Degree M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Career: Clinician, Children's Outpatient Program, The Wheeler Clinic, Plainville, Conn.

“My professors supported me through all of my accomplishments. Over the past three years, they encouraged and challenged me as I acquired the knowledge, skills, techniques, and life lessons to help me be successful in my counseling internship at the Wheeler Clinic, where I was hired as a full-time clinician right after graduation.”

While at USJ, Hilary had the opportunity to publish an article in the Tennessee Counseling Association Journal on the use of play therapy with children who have experienced trauma. She also participated in a cultural immersion study-abroad experience, worked as a graduate assistant with professors conducting research, and served as president of the Counseling International Honor Society during its founding year.

carla-correia-98x147.jpgCarla Correia ’13

Degree: B.S. in Biology
Career: Graduate Student

Carla Correia ’13, a Biology major, completed a master’s degree in Biophysics and Physiology from Georgetown University and is currently enrolled in the Naturopathic Medicine program at the University of Bridgeport.

tauheedah-alexander-98x147.jpgTauheedah Alexander ’07, M’11

Degree: B.S. in Psychology, M.S. in Counseling
Career: Residence Life Coordinator

Tauheedah Alexander ’07, M’11 earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Counseling from USJ. She now works as a Residence Life Coordinator at Penn State. Tauheedah got her start at USJ as a student leader and Resident Assistant!

merancia-fils-98x147.jpgMerancia Fils ’13

Degree: B.S. Social Work
Career: Graduate Student

Merancia Fils ’13, a Social Work major, is finishing her graduate school education at Columbia University, School of Social Work. As a student, she participated in internships at the Legislative Office Building and the Attorney General’s Office.

s_mazurick_98x147.jpgShannon Mazurick ’08

Degree: B.A. in English
Career: Author

Shannon K. Mazurick ’08, a children’s author, learned that her three Gemma books were honoree recipients of the Mom’s Choice Award. Gemma: The Search for the Gem, Gemma: The Treasure Hunt With Griffin, and Gemma: The First Day Of School With Honoray are listed among the best in family-friendly media, products, and services.

Mazurick, who says her books are intended to illustrate “how everyone is an individual and everyone has a purpose in life,” views writing as a means of reflection and a way to express herself.

david-slomski-98x147.jpgDavid Slomski, Pharm.D. ’14

Degree: Pharm.D.
Career: Pharmacist, the Healing Corner, Bristol, Conn.

“There’s so much opportunity for pharmacists beyond a community pharmacy, retail store, or hospital … so much of our degree is versatile … I deeply appreciate being granted the opportunity to experience everything I was exposed to at USJ for the past three years. You enabled me to grow as a person and as a future pharmacist more than I ever thought possible. This isn't just a school; it really is an experience, and all of you make it so. I just hope that I can give back to the University of Saint Joseph School of Pharmacy in a way that conveys how impactful this experience has been on me.”

kristie-pisko-98x147.jpgKristie Pisko ’14

Degree: B.A. in Social Work with a concentration in Latino Community Practice
Career: Social Services Director, Cook Willow Health Center, Plymouth, Conn.

At Saint Joe’s, Kristie Pisko, a transfer student who struggled academically in high school and later excelled to earn her associates degree in Human Services, felt she could overcome any odds. She now wants to give back through what she calls her “well-rounded” Social Work education. “It’s such a welcoming program and school… the teachers want to see you succeed.”

crystal-mercado-98x147.jpgCrystal Mercado ’14

Degree: B.A., Nursing
Career: Emergency Room Nurse, Hartford Hospital

Crystal Mercado always knew she wanted to be a nurse, so she was thrilled to be hired into a full-time position before she even graduated — a job that came from her USJ internship. The main lesson Crystal took from USJ’s Nursing Program: “It taught me to never quit and to keep moving forward.”

teresa-dotson-98x147.jpgTeresa Dotson ’88, M ’14

Degree: M.S., Management
Career: Dietitian, SNAP-ED coordinator at USJ, private practice

“USJ’s master’s program appealed to me because it offered the Healthcare Systems certification as part of the program, instead of being completely business focused. There was enough flexibility in the projects that you could incorporate your perspective and real-life experiences and bring it back to the office … It’s a great program.”

shelby-coppola-98x147.jpgShelby Coppola ’14

Degree: B.A., English
Career: Budding film writer

A movie buff and child actor, Shelby Coppola long aspired for a career in the film industry. An English degree from USJ was the perfect program for this future screenwriter. She never expected to miss her graduation, though, for the chance to work at the Cannes Film Festival in France — an opportunity that came to her at the end of her final semester. Although it came as a surprise, Shelby felt fully equipped to act: “My Saint Joe’s experience gave me greater perspective on how not to let people suppress me. Saint Joe’s definitely made me a stronger woman and taught me to go out and get what I want.”

rachel-ferrari-98x147.jpgRachel Ferrari ’02, M’14

Degree: B.A., Psychology and M.A., Special Education with a concentration in Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis
Career: Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Glastonbury Public Schools

"I don’t think I would have made it through that first year if my USJ professors were not so understanding. If one of my kids was sick, I knew I could call a professor. They were really willing to work with me.”

aryana-nunez-98x147.jpgAryana Rae Nunez ’14

Degree: B.A, Management
Career: Central Processor, Beazley Group Insurance Company, Farmington, CT

“I struggled a lot with my academics. Saint Joe’s was able to provide the perfect environment and support to help me succeed as a student. I could praise the faculty all day for their insight and their ability to make me want to learn. To see them so passionate about what they did made me more passionate. If it wasn’t for them, I would not have graduated.”

Jillian_Schiller_98X147.jpgJillian Schiller ’11

Degree: B.A. in Psychology
Career: Associate at Heidrick and Struggles

“When I graduated from Saint Joe's, I was working full time with another search firm. During my interview for that firm, I was told that I carried myself very well, and was very mature for my age. I owe this to the standard I was held to at USJ. I am now one of the youngest associates that Heidrick has hired.”

Gianna_Gurga_98X147.jpgGianna L. Gurga ’11

Degree: B.S. in Family Studies, Family and Consumer Sciences PK-12
Career: Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, City of Waterbury, Zumba Fitness Instructor at University of Saint Joseph

“The training and education I received at USJ thoroughly prepared me for success as an educator, so much so that I was hired immediately after finishing my student teaching experience. I find that since graduating from USJ, I constantly apply the concepts I learned in my Family Studies, Education, and Sports Studies courses to my professional and personal life. Also, professors encouraged me to embrace and utilize the Mercy Values, which made me more aware of the environment I live in

I had a fantastic experience at USJ. As a commuter, I made sure that I was very involved by being an active member of the tennis team and by becoming a student leader.”

Danyale_Johnson_98X147.jpgDanyale Johnson ’07

Degree: B.A. in Psychology
Career: Substance Abuse Counselor, Harlem, NY

“Since graduating from Saint Joe’s, I earned a graduate certificate in Disabilities and a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. I credit my USJ experience with helping me become the woman I am today. It taught me a lot about myself, my relationships with others, the importance of education, and it gave me the drive to succeed. I'm still striving for success and finding new ways to learn and do better.”

Sofia_Bachiashvili_98X147.jpgSofia Bachiashvili ’13

Degree: B.A. in International Studies
Career: Graduate student at St. John’s University; master’s degree in Government and Politics/International Relations

“USJ changed my life. It gave me a strong academic background, but most importantly, it helped me grow into an independent individual. One of the best things about USJ is its focus on student leadership. Any school can give an education, but very few schools can prepare you as a person for the real world. I never felt like I was just a student at USJ. I was a member of the community, where everyone knew me not just by name, but by my story. USJ is my home and a very important part of my story.”

Lana_Mistry_98X147.jpgLana Mistry ’10

Degree: B.S. in Business Administration
Career: Associate at the Student Financial Services Office, University of Bridgeport

“Saint Joe’s gave me the knowledge and skills needed to be successful, both in my academic and professional careers. I’m currently working on my MBA while working full time, and am grateful for what USJ taught me.”

Isabelle_Delgado_98X147.jpgIsabelle Delgado ’11

Degree: Social Work
Career: Domestic Violence Advocacy

“I had incredible Social Work professors like Madeline Perez and others who provided strong mentorship and guidance. Support staff in other offices, such as Michelle Brophy in Academic Advisement and Tamara O' Day-Stevens in Student Affairs, helped me coordinate the best experience possible. I came out of USJ well- rounded and enthusiastic about putting my skills and experience to good use.”

Kelley_McCarthy_98X147.jpgKelley McCarthy ’07

Degree: Psychology
Career: Hall director in Student Affairs at Saint Mary's College

“When I arrived as a first-year student, I was shy, quiet, and lacked self confidence. USJ took a chance on me as much as I took a chance with them. At that time, I didn't understand how much of an impact a woman's education would have on me. Throughout my four years, I learned how to communicate my skill set, how to advocate for myself, I learned the importance of leadership, and lastly, through the relationships I built with faculty and staff, I found the confidence I needed. I am forever thankful to be a women’s college graduate – I earned a master’s degree and entered the field of Student Affairs so I could be an advocate for women's education, as well as a mentor and inspiration to college aged women.”

Courtney_Hebert_98X147.jpgCourtney Hebert ’10

Degree: B.A. in Fine Arts
Career: Group Visit Associate, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

“The job I have is a direct result of having gone to school at USJ. In the spring of my senior year, I interned at the Wadsworth in the Education department, at the encouragement of Professor Dorothy Keller. I was then asked to interview for a Visitor Services position, which I held for two years before being promoted to my current position. One of the perks that made me choose Saint Joe’s was that they offer credit for life experience to returning adult students. I was 25 at the time, and had studied at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. I hadn’t been in a traditional academic setting since high school and expected to struggle. I was very surprised and encouraged when I was recommended to become a tutor and invited to join the Honors classes. It increased my confidence, and definitely helped on my resume when applying for internship and later my job.”

Leia_Bell_98X147.jpgLeia Bell M’11

Degree: M.S. in Management
Career: Dean of Institutional Advancement, Manchester Community College

“USJ showed me the "softer side" of management and how to manage people. Leadership is all about leading people — I learned how to refocus my attention from managing projects and information to working with others toward a common goal.

On a personal note, while I was earning my degree I had two children and two job changes. The faculty was incredibly supportive throughout it all. They always asked about my children and how I was doing. They challenge students at every stage in their academic careers, and incorporate working students' experience into real-life discussions.”

Melissa_Lauretti_98X147.jpgMelissa Lauretti ’12

Degree: B.A., English & Psychology, summa cum laude
Career: Melissa is currently pursuing her J.D., with certificates in Intellectual Property and Tax Studies, at the University of Connecticut School of Law and plans to embark on a career in business, personal injury, intellectual property, or entertainment law.

“The University of Saint Joseph provided me with opportunities to develop as both a leader and a scholar while establishing meaningful connections with faculty, staff, and students. During my undergraduate career, I conducted independent research and presented my findings at conferences, negotiated contracts with agents, entertainers, and vendors on behalf of the University and the Student Programming & Events Council, and served as a mentor to first-year students through the First Year Seminar program. All of these experiences provided me with unparalleled preparation for my post-graduate career and helped to shape me into the person I am today.”

Andrea_Rosenfield_98X147.jpgAndrea L. Rosenfield M’13

Degree: M.A., Elementary Education
Career: Andrea is currently employed in the West Hartford Public School District as a third grade teacher.

“My experience in the graduate program at USJ provided collaborative learning opportunities with innovative faculty from the School of Education who genuinely cared about my success; Dr. Marialice Curran, Dr. Enrique Sepúlveda, and Dr. Judy Arzt – to name a few – were outstanding! Throughout my studies at Saint Joe’s, I was also inspired by my peers who are dedicated educators in the field. What I found most meaningful regarding the coursework, was the intrinsic connection to my professional practice in the classroom. With my focus in Educational Technology, I have been able to directly use the techniques and applications in lesson planning for my third grade students.”

Michael_Carbone_98X147.jpgMichael C. Carbone M’12

Degree: M.A., Education
Career: Michael teaches sixth grade science at the McDonough Expeditionary Learning School in Hartford and plans to pursue his doctorate within the next few years.

“When I began my graduate coursework at the University of Saint Joseph, I had no idea how much more beneficial it would be to attend a small school. Professors know you by your first name; Dean Butler, whom I consider to be a visionary leader, meets with you in person … It’s a distinct gift to have the support of faculty who are always on your side. You come out of USJ with an arsenal – not just a conceptual framework – an arsenal of experiences, connections and friendships that when woven together, truly make you an authentic educator.”