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Class of 2020 Stories

Our 2020 graduates achieved so much while at Manhattan College. Below, we look back at few of their college experiences and discover why they chose our campus:

Undergraduate

  • Taylor Aloisio
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    Name: Taylor Aloisio ’20

    Hometown: East Rockaway, NY

    Major/minor: Childhood/special education with a concentration in English

    Future plans: Will be returning to Manhattan College for a fifth year as part of the five-year education master’s program

    Why did you choose Manhattan College?

    The first time I visited campus for a tour, I instantly got that feeling that this was where I belonged. The campus was beautiful, and it was the perfect distance from home. I wanted a small school that had a tight-knit community, and that is exactly what Manhattan College is. They also had a great Education department and a five-year program, which was a big requirement of mine when looking at schools. I have also been dancing since I was 3 years old, and I did not want to stop in college. The Manhattan College dance team was another big selling point for me.

    Describe your Manhattan College experience:

    Being a Jasper Dancer has been one of the most incredible experiences I have had in my life. The dance team has brought me some of my best friends that I know I can always count on and will be there for me through everything. 

    Student teaching this past fall was definitely the most challenging, yet the most rewarding thing I have done academically in college. At times it became very overwhelming, but the relationships that I formed with my students and my cooperating teachers and the experiences I had in the classroom every single day, made all of the stress and hectic day-to-day life worth it. I feel more than prepared to have my own classroom from this experience.

    Is there a professor or faculty member who has impacted you?

    It's hard to choose just one professor that has had a large impact on my experience at Manhattan College, but a few professors who have really helped me to get to where I am today are Dr. Peter McCarthy, Dr. Lisa Rizopoulos, Dr. Tracy Lahey and the late Brother Raymond Meagher, FSC. 

    They are all so passionate  and knowledgeable about teaching that I tried to soak in every bit of information they had to give me. They have all been extremely helpful over the years and have helped mold me into the person that I am today. I know that if I am half the teacher that they all are, I am going to be successful in the classroom. 

    What does being a Jasper mean to you?

    Being a Jasper means being a team player and doing everything you can to help the people around you. Jaspers do not walk alone in anything that they do and they know that there will always be someone right there ready to help them every step of the way. Being a Jasper is an honor and a name that everyone carries proudly as they move on to all of the different stages in their lives.

    What advice would you offer incoming freshmen at Manhattan College?

    As cliche as it sounds, your time in college flies by, so don’t take any moment for granted. This school exposes you to so many new opportunities and helps you to discover who you are and who you want to be. 

    Live for the long nights in the library, the hours stressing over a paper or test,

    sitting in class with some of your best friends, all of it, because one day, you’ll be fondly looking back on all of those memories and realizing that those four years in college were really something special. 

    Hometown: Closter, NJ

    Major/minor: Political Science and International Studies with a concentration in Global Issues

    Future plans: I am currently a finalist for two extremely prestigious fellowships! The first is the Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship in Washington DC, which focuses on research and advocacy in issues related to international peace and security. The second is the NYC Urban Fellows Program, where I’d be matched with a city agency and get the chance to work in city government & implement programs to improve the lives of New Yorkers. Ultimately, I hope to pursue a career in international affairs and law. 

    How did you become interested in leadership, law, etc?: The first time I became interested in law was when I took a constitutional law course in high school, but I never followed up on it because I also excelled in math and science courses. When I made the decision to join the Manhattan College community, I was initially a civil engineering major but realized that my voice was needed elsewhere. I took a Race & Resistance course during my freshman year and decided to switch to the School of Liberal Arts, majoring in political science and international studies. From there, I’d say that joining Model United Nations was the best thing I could have done in undergrad. I’ve always been active in roles of leadership, but Model UN taught me to be a better public speaker, a better debater, and how to remain professional and diplomatic when placed in tough situations. Those are skills that have shaped me into the leader I am today, and how I will carry myself in my professional career and life overall. 

    Why did you choose Manhattan College?: I chose MC because it had everything I wanted in a college: the fact that it was located in New York City, its tight-knit community, the beautiful campus, the amazing internship opportunities, and that I’d be more than just a number. These aspects couldn’t have been more true, and are the reasons MC will always have a special place in my heart. 

    What are some of your more memorable experiences at Manhattan College?: One of my most memorable experiences was serving as Student Body President during my last year, and seeing how much change I could make as a student to improve the lives of every Jasper on campus. I enjoyed connecting with faculty, staff, administration, fellow student leaders, and prospective students/parents to show them how much MC means to me. I’d definitely have to say another memorable experience was going on Kairos, which is a retreat centered on self-reflection offered every semester through the Office of Campus Ministry & Social Action. A third memorable moment was getting the chance to travel to France to participate in a two-week long conference with other Lasallian Universities across the world to connect with one another, gain leadership skills, and talk about why it is so important to be a Lasallian school committed to social justice. But beyond those big moments, I’ll miss the daily interactions I had with my classmates, faculty, and staff on campus the most. I’ll miss laughing with my friends in Cornerstone while ordering Jasper Deli (J-Del) iced coffee at 2am in order to help me finish a paper. I’ll miss saying hello and catching up with the O’Malley librarians and friendly custodian workers who would always check up on me when I had a late night in the library. I’ll miss knocking on my professor’s office door to rant about my personal life and talk about post-grad plans. And I’ll miss laying on the Quad or the Smith steps to watch people play frisbee and have fun the second the weather was nice outside. 

    What advice would you offer incoming freshmen at Manhattan College?: Take care of yourself, take care of others, don’t be afraid to ask for help or give help, take a subway ride to the city as much as you can, grow into the person you always wished you could’ve become, and last but certainly not least -- try everything & have fun! College is one of the best experiences you will ever go through in your life, and I wouldn’t trade a thing I have gone through these past few years for anything in the world. And if you’re a Stranger Things fan like myself, you’ll appreciate this quote from Jim Hopper: “Make mistakes, learn from them and when life hurts you – because it will – remember the hurt. The hurt is good.” So, no matter how rough and tough college may get, assure yourself you are exactly where you need to be.

  • Kaylyn Atkins
    photo of kaylyn atkins

    Name: Kaylyn Atkins

    Hometown: Closter, NJ

    Major/minor: Political Science and International Studies with a concentration in Global Issues

    Future plans: Kaylyn is a finalist for the Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship in Washington, D.C., which focuses on research and advocacy in issues related to international peace and security. She’s also a finalist for the NYC Urban Fellows, where she’d get the chance to work in government and implement programs to improve the lives of New Yorkers. Ultimately, she hopes to pursue a career in international affairs and law. 

    How did you become interested in leadership, law, etc?: I had taken a constitutional law course in high school, but never followed up on it because I also excelled in math and science courses. When I made the decision to join the Manhattan College community, I was initially a civil engineering major but realized that my voice was needed elsewhere. I took a Race and Resistance course during my freshman year and decided to switch to majoring in political science and international studies. From there, I’d say that joining Model UN was the best thing I could have done in undergrad. I’ve always been active in roles of leadership, but Model UN taught me to be a better public speaker, a better debater, and how to remain professional and diplomatic when placed in tough situations. Those are skills that have shaped me into the leader I am today, and how I will carry myself in my professional career and life overall. 

    Why did you choose Manhattan College?: I chose MC because it had everything I wanted in a college it was located in New York City, had a tight-knit community, the beautiful campus, the amazing internship opportunities, and that I’d be more than just a number. These aspects couldn’t have been more true, and are the reasons MC will always have a special place in my heart. 

    What are some of your more memorable experiences at Manhattan College?: One of my most memorable experiences was serving as student body president this year, and seeing how much change I could make as a student to improve the lives of every Jasper on campus. I enjoyed connecting with faculty, staff, the administration, fellow student leaders and prospective students/parents to show them how much MC means to me. Another memorable experience was going on the Kairos retreat, which is centered on self-reflection and is offered through the office of Campus Ministry and Social Action. A third memorable moment was getting the chance to travel to France to participate in a two-week long conference with other Lasallian Catholic universities across the world to connect with one another, gain leadership skills and talk about why it is so important to be committed to social justice. But beyond those big moments, I’ll miss the daily interactions I had with my classmates, faculty and staff on campus the most. I’ll miss laughing with my friends in Cornerstone while ordering Jasper Deli (J-Del) iced coffee in order to help me finish a paper. I’ll miss saying hello and catching up with the O’Malley Library librarians and friendly custodian workers who would always check up on me when I had a late night in the library. I’ll miss knocking on my professor’s office door to rant about my personal life and talk about postgraduate plans. And I’ll miss laying on the Quad or the Smith steps to watch people play frisbee and have fun the second the weather was nice outside. 

    What advice would you offer incoming freshmen at Manhattan College?: Take care of yourself, take care of others, don’t be afraid to ask for help or give help, take a subway ride to the city as much as you can, grow into the person you always wished you could’ve become, and last but certainly not least — try everything and have fun! College is one of the best experiences you will ever go through in your life, and I wouldn’t trade a thing I have gone through these past few years for anything in the world. And if you’re a Stranger Things fan like myself, you’ll appreciate this quote from Jim Hopper: “Make mistakes, learn from them and when life hurts you — because it will – remember the hurt. The hurt is good.” So, no matter how rough and tough college may get, assure yourself you are exactly where you need to be.

  • Kerry Cavanagh
    kerry cavanagh wearing flowered shirt standing in front of manhattan college campus

    Name: Kerry Cavanagh

    Hometown: Briarcliff Manor, NY

    Major/minor: Chemical engineering

    Future plans: Starting a full-time position as a process engineer at Shell Chemicals in Geismar, Louisiana

    Why did you choose Manhattan College?

    My mom, Susan Rice ’84, graduated from Manhattan College, so I was initially against coming to Manhattan for that reason; I wanted to be different! But between my junior and senior years of high school, I attended the Women & Minority Summer Engineering program, led by Dr. Walter Saukin. Little did I know how much those six days would impact my life. I loved what I saw and decided I would shift my search to include colleges with engineering programs, specifically those with an option for chemical engineering. I’m so grateful I chose Manhattan College, as I have treasured my last four years.

    Describe your Manhattan College experience:

    One of my favorite opportunities that I’ve had during my time at Manhattan was attending the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) National Conference twice, the first to Minneapolis, MN, and this year to Anaheim, CA. SWE's chapter at Manhattan College has been such a great outlet for me since my freshman year, and I’m honored to be serving as the current Vice President of SWE. 

    Another fond memory for me was being chosen as the student speaker at the 2019 De La Salle Medal Dinner, which was attended by more than 800 people --including my most supportive Jasper, my mom!

    Where have you interned? 

    After my sophomore year, I interned with an industrial gas company, Air Products, working on their materials engineering and technology team. During summer 2019, I interned with the Process Automation & Control Optimization team at Shell in Louisiana, which ultimately led to a full-time job offer that I accepted in August. I loved being on site, as no two days were the same, and we were tasked with thinking quickly and acting effectively.

    During the fall semester of my senior year, I interned at Tarte Cosmetics with their production team and focused on quality, retains, and streamlining data before product launches.

    Is there a professor or faculty member that’s impacted you? 

    The top two mentors I’ve had are chemical engineering professor Richard Carbonaro, Ph.D., and Conor Reidy. 

    Dr. Carbonaro taught my Process Safety and Senior Design courses. He’s brilliant and has a great way of encouraging students to participate in class and ask questions that they’re interested in asking without fear. He believes in every student and is our biggest advocate. 

    Conor Reidy, who serves as campus minister in the office of Campus Ministry & Social Action (CMSA) is such a gift to the Manhattan College community. I first met Conor in the Fall of 2016, when I attended the New Student Retreat. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of spending countless hours with Conor planning Kairos retreats, both in my sophomore and junior years. Conor has taught me so much about life, and about what it means to be a good citizen. He goes above and beyond in his role to make sure students find their home at Manhattan College. I can confidently say he’s made such an impact on me, and feel as though he has played a major role in my growth as a Jasper.

    What does being a Jasper mean to you?

    It means being a team player and seeking out opportunities to help those around you, whether it's holding the door for someone, helping a classmate, or recruiting younger students to get involved in extracurriculars. It’s being a leader, and seeking out opportunities to train the next generation of leaders.

    What advice would you offer incoming freshmen at Manhattan College?

    Get involved! Being involved on campus has given me such a sense of belonging in this very special Jasper community we have. 

  • Philip Dombrovskiy
    photo of phillip dombrovskiy

    Name: Phillip Dombrovskiy 

    Hometown: Palisades Park, NJ

    Major/Minor: Major in biology and minor in chemistry

    Future plans: I will be attending the Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine in August. I plan on fulfilling my degree in dentistry and then matriculating into a postgraduate program to become an oral maxillofacial surgeon.

    How did you become interested in math and science? 

    I had been a part of an accelerated math and science track during high school, so naturally I grew with the different STEM classes. The sciences were the avenue I had decided to pursue because at the time I had been fond of volunteering in my local community hospital. Healthcare intrigued me the most, and biology is integral to the study of the human anatomy or physiology. Advancing such knowledge would allow for scientists to better serve the health of local and global communities at large.

    Why did you choose Manhattan College? 

    The close-knit community at Manhattan College appealed to me the most. In small class sizes, I feel that education can be more personalized and effective. The College was also located within the major cultural hub that is New York City, so there were great opportunities and experiences to look forward to.

    What made you want to attend college? 

    My parents were both teachers in Ukraine prior to moving to the U.S. I believe that due to their influences as teachers in their home country, I likewise wanted to pursue a college education. Due to the values that my parents have instilled in me, I hope to be able to give back one day through educating others.

    What are some of your memorable experiences at Manhattan College? 

    My more memorable experiences include being a part of the Jasper Summer Research Scholars program, participating in intramural sports with my fellow classmates, and preparing myself for graduate school with the help and guidance of wonderful professors. I am also thankful for my role as tutor within the Center for Academic Success, which has helped shape my future.

    What advice would you offer to incoming freshmen?

    Seize opportunities by networking and consulting with your professors and advisers early into your undergraduate education. Creating a timeline for ambitions well ahead of the ultimate goal makes for a more efficient and rewarding journey.

  • Gregory Urena
    gregory urena wearing glasses and red tie

    Name: Gregory Ureña

    Hometown: Bronx, NY

    Major/minor: Computer information systems and business analytics

    Future plans:

    I’m planning to pursue an MBA and continue my work in Manhattan College’s office of Institutional Research. I’d like to work in IT management in the future.

    How did you get interested in tech?

    My dad does everything – he does plumbing, he does electrical work. I always saw him working around the house in the Dominican Republic. One time when I was about four years old, my friend threw his GameBoy and broke it. I picked it up, pushed it back together, pressed a couple buttons and it turned on. So I saw that happened and after that I became fascinated with computers. My parents started buying me video game systems and computers. And I started figuring out everything in it and how it works. After a while, I would buy repair kits and do repairs on the side to make money.

    Why did you choose Manhattan College?

    One of my teachers [at Cardinal Hayes High School] suggested I look at Manhattan College, the college she went to. And one of my mentors, Father Joseph Franco, also went here. I have met so many great friends and mentors here that have pushed me to be who I am today. 

    What made you want to attend college?

    My parents wanted me to go to college. One of the reasons they brought me to the U.S. was to get a future and build a family. In my senior year, there was so much happening and I didn’t know if college was still a fun thing to do. I was researching if college was worth it – is it worth investing so much money? Eventually, after talking to so many people, I figured out it was a good thing to do. I had to work a lot and work side gigs to pay tuition. And I helped my parents pay for some of the tuition and for their own bills too. I definitely think it was worth it. I wouldn't change anything.

    What are some of your more memorable experiences at Manhattan College?

    Being in Beta Alpha Psi and Motivational Outreach. Beta Alpha Psi does a lot of community service and a lot of professional events. I love doing community service, and adding the professional aspect where I met people from Chase and Microsoft.

    In Motivational Outreach, we help underprivileged high school students see what college is like because a lot of kids don't know what to do with their lives after they graduate. We’re there to show them, there are different tools to get you to college. I empathized with them because I was at their stage when I was graduating from high school. I didn't know if I wanted to go into the military or go into a trade field.

    What advice would you offer incoming freshmen at Manhattan College? 

    Join any clubs, groups, teams you find interesting and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. You’ll learn and become a better person from them, by the time you graduate you’ll see how much you’ve changed!

  • Leon Wu
    leon wu wearing military uniform

    Name: Leon Wu 

    Hometown: Shenzhen, China

    Major: Computer Science

    Future plans: I will be attending the Air Force Institute of Technology where I will pursue a master’s degree in software engineering.

    Why did you choose Manhattan College?

    I was looking into North Carolina State University and Duke University when a previous Manhattan College alumnus mentioned how great the College is for veterans. The College has a great Air Force ROTC program and they do a good job of taking care of their veterans. Also, the opportunities offered by being in New York City appealed to me as well.

    What are some of your more memorable experiences at Manhattan College? During my sophomore year, I was inspired by the camaraderie in our Athletics department and broke out my camera to take pictures of our sports teams in action. I remember taking photos for the women’s soccer game against New Jersey Institute of Technology and something just clicked. I was documenting life and I enjoyed the teamwork, an aspect that reminded me of my time in the military. The athletes’ mindset of hard work also motivated me to strive to be the best version of myself.

    What jobs or internships have you had? I served for four years in the Air Force before applying to colleges. I had a real desire to serve the United States and had been deployed to the United Arab Emirates and the whole experience broadened my eyes. When I came back to the United States, I had a lot more appreciation for the freedom and the opportunities that this country offered to its citizens, which is why I want to continue serving as an officer in the Air Force.

    Is there anyone you would like to thank for your experience here? 

    I would like to thank my friends, the faculty and the professors on campus. The College is unique with such huge opportunities. I have always wanted to give back to what they have given me.

Camino Program

  • Isaias Rivas
    Isaias Rivas wearing army fatigues

    Name: Isaias Rivas 

    Hometown: Raised in the Dominican Republic and graduated high school in Yonkers, NY 

    Major/Minor: Associate degree in General Studies (Camino program)

    Future plans: Isaias is currently stationed in Virginia at Fort Lee, where he is doing basic training and is serving as a cook in the U.S. Army. He plans to enroll in the U.S. Army Airborne School, so he can serve as a paratrooper. 

    How did you become interested in joining the Army?

    I always wanted to join the armed forces, whether it was here or or in the Dominican Republic. I was 8 or 9 years old when I realized that I wanted to fly. 

    Why did you choose the Camino program at Manhattan College?

    I attended Lincoln High School in Yonkers, New York. My best friend, Nicole [Mármol] also went through the Camino program. I remember walking down the hallway to my guidance counselor’s office and Nicole came out from his office. She started talking to me about Manhattan College and the Camino program, and that convinced me. [The program] is a great opportunity for people who speak English as their second language and want to improve, and to be around people 24/7 who are speaking the language.

    What made you want to attend college?

    I’ve always wanted to go to college and to further my education. Since I was 10 or 11 years old, I started thinking about college. I always wanted to be big. I had this hunger to hustle, to better myself, and that was it. I was convinced.

    What are some of your more memorable memories at Manhattan College?

    What I remember the most about Manhattan College is that we loved to stay after classes at the O’Malley Library so we could do our work and just chill. That was one of my favorite places to go because of the grand piano, which is on the second floor. 

    What advice would you offer to incoming freshmen?

    Don’t be afraid to speak your mind and don't be afraid of meeting new people. isaias-rivas-285-x-205.jpg