From Students to Alumni: Alumni Board Welcomes Newest Members

In three days, the graduating seniors of Saint Peter’s College will assemble at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J., for commencement. Clothed in ceremonial attire, each graduate will partake in a procession to “Pomp and Circumstance,” a walk that will begin the journey to the rest of their professional lives.

By tradition, once each graduate is conferred their degree, the tassel that dangles from their cap will be switched from the right side to the left – a symbol of their official transition from students to alumni. As a pre-introduction into this new phase of their lives, the Class of 2012 convened with the College’s past graduates and members of the Alumni Board at the John J. Delaney ’50 Alumni Reception on May 17 in McIntyre Lounge.

Many graduates at the event were excited by the opportunity to network with alumni. Ashley Romero ’12, who will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communication and minor in business management, attended the Delaney Reception for this very reason. She said, “My friend, who is also a senior and a communication major, told me about it. Staying in contact with alumni, faculty and staff would really help with my future endeavors. It’s a good foundation to start from.”

Romero plans to keep a connection to the College after graduation, even coming back to her alma mater in the fall. “[Lecturer of Communications] Professor [Ernabel] Demillo asked me to come back next semester and tell her class about how my internship picked me up.” Romero became employed as a public relations professional at a political firm in Jersey City that represents candidates for office in New Jersey.

In addition to providing the first opportunity for alumni to welcome the Class of 2012 as its newest members, the event also honors two members of the graduating class and a member of the faculty with awards to commemorate their outstanding contributions to the College community.

The James J. Damiano ’53 Award – named after a dedicated member of the Alumni Board from the Class of 1953 – is presented to two members of the graduating class. These students, one representing the day session and one from the evening program, have demonstrated leadership and scholarship during their time at Saint Peter’s College.

Elizabeth Noel ’12 received the award for the day session. Noel attributes this success to the presence of God in her life, and the people who have made her four years at Saint Peter’s an unforgettable experience. She said, “I am amazed that I have been granted such a prestigious award. I am simply one of the many who have made major contributions to the Saint Peter’s community. I could not have been where I am now if it was not for the support I received from faculty, friends and staff.”

Fellow graduate Kristi Orlowski ’12 garnered the honor for the evening session. Orlowski will utilize the bachelor’s degree in business management she receives to advance her career as a negotiator in the Properties and Commercial Development Division at Newark Liberty International Airport. She is pleased about winning the award, saying, "I am extremely honored to have been chosen as the Evening School recipient of the James J. Damiano ’53 Award because it validates my commitment, hard work and the sacrifices made as I learned to juggle my family life, career and school work. It makes it all worthwhile."

As an alumna, she plans to remain tied to the College in a variety of ways, including as a liaison between the College and airport employees interested in pursuing their education at Saint Peter’s. However, one reason is very personal. “I will remain connected to Saint Peter’s through my daughter, who will pursue her B.S. in nursing in the very near future,” she said.

Eugenia M. Palmegiano, Ph.D., J.D., a professor of history at Saint Peter’s since 1977, was named the George F. Johnson, S.J. Faculty Award recipient due to her excellence in teaching and success in leading students to greater knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.

Dr. Palmegiano was chosen by her peers for this honor. “People of caliber [vote on] this, and they are often winners themselves of the Johnson Award,” she said. “That to me is really being admitted into a group that knows what teaching is about. If they won it and they say you’re okay, then you’re okay.”

It’s no surprise that the College’s faculty chose her for this award, as she is a scholarly individual with a genuine devotion to students. Dr. Palmegiano says she has learned much throughout her career at Saint Peter’s, from both her colleagues and students. “The most important thing I have learned is that education [requires] a community of learners. It’s not my pouring ideas into somebody’s head. It’s a community of learners, students and teachers. There are only two requirements to get into that community – humility and respect for each other. Then you will learn, and then will you grow.”  

As a cap-off to the night’s festivities, Senior Class Gift Advancement Ambassador Alexandrea Keddie ’12 took to the podium and shared stories about the group of friends she made at the College, whom she called the “Peacock Flock.” Hung behind her was the white iBelieve banner for the Class of 2012, with the handwritten signatures of more than 200 students who contributed to the Senior Class Gift scattered on its tarp. Ambassadors took to the stage and presented College President Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., with a check for $3,183.12 as a donation to Saint Peter’s from the senior class.   
The Delaney Reception, hosted by the Saint Peter’s College Office of Alumni Relations and the Alumni Board, serves as a starting point for every member of the graduating class in remaining an integral part of the College family. During the event, the Class of 2012 discovered that commencement doesn’t mark the end of their relationship with Saint Peter’s. It is only the beginning of a lifelong friendship amongst more than 30,000 living alumni who remain personally connected to their alma mater.  

Part of these graduates from years past constitute the Alumni Board, a committee that develops a liaison between Saint Peter’s College and its graduates to maintain and foster relationships with alumni through social, professional, spiritual and community service related activities. The Board also provides guidance on events and program selections, and volunteers to support the Office of Alumni Relations on site at events, such as the yearly Delaney Reception.

President of the Alumni Board Stephen P. Ellerman ’74 expressed that events such as the Delaney Reception are important outlets for graduates to stay intertwined with alumni, people who could possibly help them one day in their careers. “It’s in their long term interest,” he said.

“Right now, they’re focusing on Monday,” Ellerman added. “Then after that, it’s probably trying to find a job. But hopefully at some point in time, they’ll think about Saint Peter’s again. Maybe they’ll remember this event and [the discussions] about some of the things that they can get involved in, and it will perk their interest.”

It’s that sentiment many seniors departed the affair with – a feeling that no matter where life takes them, Saint Peter’s will always be home, and they will forever be part of this family.