Contributors Open Their Hearts So Students Can Open Their Minds

Inscribed on a poster by the entrance of the reception hall at the Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange, N.J., was a quote by brothers and alumni of Saint Peter’s College Mark Kahrer ’83 and Michael Kahrer ’79. It read, “We believe in the mission of the College and in opening up more opportunities for students who are just like we were – the first in our family to attend college.”

Those words served as a message to guests of the annual Hearts & Minds: The Saint Peter’s College Annual Scholarship Dinner on March 29 as to why they had come together for this momentous occasion: not only to pay tribute to Frank D’Amelio ’79 for his professional achievement and to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson and Union Counties for its service to the community, but to also increase support for the College’s General Scholarship Fund.

Molly Rotondo ’12 serves as a living example of how important donor support is in ensuring that deserving students continue to have access to a quality Jesuit education despite financial capability. As a Magis scholarship recipient herself, Rotondo was touched by the outpouring of support she witnessed at the Hearts & Minds event. “I kind of get a little choked up talking about it,” she said. “It’s very important to have these people donate to the school so that intelligent students who want a Jesuit education can attend Saint Peter’s when maybe on their own they couldn’t attend the College.”

This sentiment was shared by the numerous scholarship recipients who attended Hearts & Minds, a number that will continue to grow as future students benefit from the significant amount of proceeds raised for the General Scholarship Fund due to event sponsors such as Pfizer Inc., KPMG and Morgan Stanley, as well as countless individuals who exemplified the College’s Jesuit mission of “Men and Women for Others” with their generous contributions.

Attendees, about 335 in total, gathered within the elegantly rustic walls of the Pleasantdale Chateau for an evening of dinner, drinks, and dancing, and to also pay homage to the night’s honorees: D’Amelio, who received the 2012 Professional Achievement Award; and Carlos Lejnieks H ’11, who accepted the 2012 Service to Community Award on behalf of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson and Union Counties, an organization that praises Saint Peter’s for being a "beacon of hope for many young people" due to its mentoring partnership with BBBS and for the College’s tireless efforts in acquiring funds for scholarship opportunities to help its students.

In his remarks, D’Amelio, the executive vice president, business operations and chief financial officer of Pfizer Inc. who credits his professional success to the education in accounting he received at the College, stressed the importance of scholarship funds to financially challenged students.

“Saint Peter’s must remain a vibrant Jesuit institution so that it will continue to produce more men and women for others,” he said. “Saint Peter’s must continue to provide access to education for deserving students through its financial aid and scholarship programs so that it can continue to create opportunities for first generation students not only from the U.S., but from as far away as South America, the Middle East and Asia.”

1010 WINS Reporter and Master of Ceremonies John Montone ’76 agreed, saying, “The General Scholarship Fund at Saint Peter’s is a critical component of financial support for students, which allows 98 percent of the students who have financial needs to actually receive financial assistance. Contributions to this fund through Hearts & Minds enable the College to provide our students with a quality Jesuit education so that they may go on to fulfill their dreams just as we did.”

More dreams will now be able to come true due to the success of the scholarship dinner, an achievement the College hopes to repeat at Hearts & Minds in 2013.