News

University Honors Three Alumni at Hearts & Minds: The Saint Peter’s University Scholarship Celebration

On May 2, alumni and friends of Saint Peter’s University gathered in The Duncan Family Sky Room for Hearts & Minds: The Saint Peter’s University Scholarship Celebration to pay tribute to three individuals who illustrate what makes Saint Peter’s alumni unique – Aileen Grace P. Arriola M.D., ’07, Robert A. Cutro ’75 and Charles J. Vickers ’47. Throughout Saint Peter’s illustrious history, the University’s alumni have been, and continue to be, the epitome of drive, dedication and perseverance – values that reflect the mission of Saint Peter’s University.  While the night’s honorees exemplify these qualities, through their generosity and commitment to serving others, they also live the Jesuit principle of Magis every single day.

Dr. Arriola was honored with the Rising Star Award. She graduated summa cum laude from Saint Peter’s with a degree in biology. In the year following her graduation from Saint Peter’s, Dr. Arriola dedicated her time to the Charles J. Vickers ’47 and Anne B. Vickers Tissue Culture Facility. She went on to attend UMDNJ – Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, where she earned an M.D. in 2012. She currently serves as a resident in pathology for the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. In the past, Arriola served as a research assistant in the pediatrics department for the Robert Wood Johnson AIDS Program, where she assisted in data collection and entry for various research projects in the department of infectious disease, and performed chart reviews for HIV documentation in the post-partum and newborn units.

“A few months ago when I heard I was receiving this award, I was shocked, awed and humbled,” said Dr. Arriola. “My college experience was more than I could ask for. Without the generosity of benefactors, such as those who are in attendance tonight, I would have never been able to attend college.”

Cutro was honored with the Professional Achievement Award. He was an executive floor official member of New York Stock Exchange Euronext Inc. and NYSE floor broker for Barclays Capital Inc. After 40 years of service in the finance industry, he retired in 2009. Cutro previously worked as managing director of NYSE floor operations for Lehman Brothers, as well as for his own private company in the years preceding. He also served as a NYSE governor from 1996 to 2002. He is a member of the Saint Peter’s University Board of Trustees and Alumni in Finance Host Committee, volunteers as a mentor and lecturer for Year Up and is a member of The Buttonwood Club.  Cutro received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Saint Peter’s.

“Throughout my career on Wall Street, we were asked to address interns, visitors and students from colleges,” said Cutro. Every so often, one would ask a personal question, such as ‘What do you think is your greatest accomplishment?’ The answer to that is easy: May 24, 1975, when I marched into Roosevelt Stadium to get me degree from Saint Peter’s. But I couldn’t tell you at the time it was my best moment. I learned that as time progressed and my career moved forward.”

He added, “When I think of what this institution did for me and what scholarships do for students, that is what it’s all about.”

Vickers was honored with the Loyalty to Alma Mater Award. After working for companies such as Allied Chemical, Sheffield Chemical, Schauffer Chemical and Geigy, he started his own pharmaceutical chemical distribution company, Orbichem Inc. Vickers is a loyal supporter of alma mater, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. The Vickers Organic Chemistry Lab and The Charles J. Vickers ’47 and Anne B. Vickers Tissue Culture Facility at Saint Peter’s have been the training grounds for future scientists and medical professionals, such as with fellow awardee Arriola, who, along with Professor Leonard Sciorra, Ph.D., participated in groundbreaking research that led to the University’s first-ever patent. Vickers’ generous support of the Mac Mahon Student Center is also recognized in the Student Activities’ Publications Office.

“I am humbled to know that through my loyalty to this fine institution, I have made a difference,” said Vickers during his acceptance speech. “Similarly, Saint Peter’s has made a tremendous difference in my life, and for this I am eternally grateful.  That is in essence why I have been so loyal. The choice to attend Saint Peter’s was an obvious one in 1941. In fact, I never even visited other schools. I matriculated with a major in chemistry thinking it would qualify me for a career in chemicals.”

He continued, “I ended up in 1947 with a major in chemistry. I remember fondly the influence of the impressive professors who taught me – people like Richard Nevin in the English department, Fred Jacques in the chemistry department and Fr. Schuh in the biology department. All these disciplines raised my cultural level and confidence, and enabled me to have an interesting and rewarding career and private life.”

When asked about his generosity to Saint Peter’s over the years, Vickers said, “I pondered the question.  And all of what I just shared with you flooded into my mind. Saint Peter’s played a tremendous role in my formation. The least I could do is give back to help the University grow and to help current and future generations of students have a challenging opportunity like I had more than 60 years ago.”

Because of the accomplishments of alumni such as Dr. Arriola, Cutro and Vickers, Saint Peter’s continues to move boldly forward. But there is one issue the University is facing to which Saint Peter’s is not immune – student educational debt. It is a national crisis. Proceeds from Hearts & Minds support of the General Scholarship Fund, one of the ways Saint Peter’s is standing up to this issue. The General Scholarship Fund provides much-needed support to deserving students.

One of these students is Shambree Bonner ’15. Through her full tuition scholarship, she is able to attend Saint Peter’s as a political science major.

“I am a first generation college student,” Bonner said. My parents aren’t the wealthiest, so scholarships were a big part of why I had the opportunity to go to Saint Peter’s.”

To those contemplating on making a gift to the General Scholarship Fund, Bonner would say, “They were once in our shoes and maybe they had someone to help them out. This is a way to give back to your school.”

Fellow scholarship recipient Christian Ugaz ’16, a biochemistry major, agrees. He said, “Contributing money to the scholarship fund is like investing in the future. We are the future of this country, and your help makes a tremendous difference.”

“Our Jesuit mission calls us to go to great lengths to open up a world of possibilities for our students,” said Saint Peter’s University President Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D.  “And we take that responsibility very seriously.  In fact, our endowment at $32 million may be among the more modest endowments in our sector, but nearly 100 percent of it is earmarked for scholarships.”

He added, “Our students are strivers. They often come from humble beginnings. Many of our students are the first in their families to pursue a college education and they often must work to put themselves through school.  I’m sure that sounds familiar to many of you, right? The main difference, of course, is that it costs a lot more these days. That’s why support like yours is critical to enable us to close that tuition gap and make those dreams and aspirations a reality for thousands of students each year.”

To learn more about the scholarships offered at Saint Peter’s University, visit saintpeters.edu/enrollment-services/student-financial-aid/scholarships. To make a contribution to the General Scholarship Fund, contact Moira Sullivan-Renke at (201) 761-6112 or msullivanrenke@saintpeters.edu.

 Check out the video that was played at this year’s event and learn what makes Saint Peter’s different than other private institutions in New Jersey.