Diverse Student Experiences at USJ

Founded on a commitment to women, the University of Saint Joseph remains dedicated to empowering students, supporting them, and helping them realize their full potential. Whether undergraduate students attend the University as a traditional four-year student, a transfer student, or an adult learner, their time at USJ often proves transformational.

For Kaneen Gomez-Hixson ’17, the University provided athletic opportunities on campus, helping her not only graduate with significant academic accomplishments, but Cross Country accolades as well.

“Being able to be successful in athletics and academics is my proudest moment,” she explained. “I came to college for academics, not to be an athlete, so being able to balance coursework and be GNAC runner of the year twice was really great. USJ emphasizes the importance of academics and being student athletes. Even when I started out in the athletics department, they said academics come first. I always took that with me every year.”

With a focus on academics, USJ faculty and staff work diligently to help their students accomplish their goals, supporting them through any obstacle that may arise.

Melina Dezhbod ’17, whose older sister Monika graduated from USJ in 2015, began her college career in the MERCY Bridge program the summer before her freshman year. By taking courses, living in the residence halls, and getting acclimated to life on a college campus, Melina felt prepared to start her first year. That support didn’t stop once her first semester began; it only strengthened.

“USJ provided a safe environment to explore myself – not only academically, but as a woman, a professional, and a leader,” Melina stated. “Tami Fagan, Ed.D., assistant provost for student success and retention, and the Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) gave me confidence and saw my potential when I did not.”

Kathia Maitre ’17, one of Melina’s MERCY Bridge classmates, also experienced this support. As a young mother, the head of her household, and a commuter with an hour drive to campus, Kathia’s determination to earn her degree helped her overcome every obstacle she encountered over the past four years.

“My family emigrated from Haiti, so the first challenge was improving my written and oral English skills,” Kathia recalled. “English is my third language and the difference between a high school assignment and a college assignment was overwhelming for me at first. By working with Tami Fagan and the CAE, I was able to get the help and support I needed all four years at USJ. All of that work, and the assistance I received, helped me make dean’s list and win the Political Science Undergraduate Award my junior year.”

USJ’s commitment to women extends beyond academics as well; Student Affairs ensures graduates leave the University with the leadership skills and self-confidence that will help them succeed in their careers.

Lauren Arnold ’17, who came to USJ as a transfer student, found herself through her involvement in Student Affairs and her three years as a resident assistant.

“USJ gave me the leadership skills and the college experience I was looking for, while preparing me for my chosen profession – nursing,” Lauren remarked. “By having the opportunity to become a leader on campus, I found my voice.”

Monika Dezhbod Moore ’15 also gained these leadership skills during her undergraduate career.

“USJ helped boost my confidence as a leader,” Monika said. “Prior to USJ, even though I was involved in activities in high school, I didn’t have strong leadership skills. The leadership opportunities available on campus, with the guidance from Student Affairs staff, propelled me into leadership roles on campus.”

Monika watched her sister grow during her time at USJ as well. Melina took the initiative to begin the True Beauty Celebration, an annual event dedicated to recognizing the beauty every individual holds.

“I was able to see how USJ impacted Melina’s growth,” Monika explained. “It is difficult to see growth when you are in the middle of the experience, but I saw her grow from a more shy, insecure person into a bold, confident woman.”

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