First Patterson Scholars Graduate from Manhattan College

Recipients of the James Patterson Scholarship take on new challenges with degrees in hand.

On May 19, a group of Manhattan College students graduated with bachelor’s degrees in various disciplines thanks in part to the generosity of award-winning author James Patterson ’69. Having engaged in campus activities, service-learning trips and internships while achieving academic excellence, all recipients are heading for promising careers with the goal of making the world a better place.

Patterson created the scholarship program in 2012 as a way to recognize and reward students who best exemplify hard work, determination and leadership in the classroom and on the campus.

“My hope is that our program will help motivate and stimulate potential leaders at the College who will go on to do great things in their communities,” Patterson said. “Manhattan College will be warmed and illuminated by their glow.”

Giving Back Through Education

Indeed, many of the scholarship recipients plan to apply the College’s Lasallian values by becoming educators, including Clare O’Connell ’13, an elementary education major and member of Kappa Delta Pi. O’Connell accepted a position at De La Salle High School in Minneapolis through the Lasallian Volunteers program. During her time at the College, she was involved with L.O.V.E. (Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience) trips to New Orleans and Montana. L.O.V. E. provides service and social justice travel experiences during school breaks and is based on community, service and social justice, spirituality and cultural immersion. O’Connell served as a copy editor for The Quadrangle student newspaper and a writing center tutor.

With the ultimate goal of becoming educators, three recipients will pursue graduate study, two of whom will continue their journeys at Manhattan. Marianna Belfiore ’13, who earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, will return to the College to complete a master’s in special education, and Walaa K. Abdallah ’13 will pursue a master’s degree in chemical engineering and serve as a teacher’s assistant and a tutor at the College’s Center for Academic Success, which offers students a quiet place to study with a peer tutor, or engage in small group study sessions.

During her undergraduate years, Abdallah became a member of Omega Chi Epsilon, the national chemical engineering honor society, and Gamma Sigma Epsilon, the national chemistry honor society. She was the 2013 ex aequo recipient of the Draddy Medal for General Excellence in Engineering, a nominee for the Donald J. Carty Valedictory Medal, and a recipient of the 2013 Carl F. Prutton ’60 Medal for Chemical Engineering at Manhattan College. She will begin applying to doctoral programs this fall. 

Merging her love of art, science and education, allied health degree recipient Lauren Buckheit ’13 will attend Hofstra University’s master of fine arts education program in fall 2013. A member of the College-wide Epsilon Sigma Pi honor society, she will travel to Europe this summer as part of a study abroad trip to the Mediterranean.

Gaining Real-World Experience

The James Patterson Scholarship also enabled two recipients the freedom to gain real-world experience in their intended fields.

After her first reporting experience as a staff writer and editor for The Quadrangle, communication major Jeanette D. Settembre ’13 completed an internship with the New York Daily News and will continue working for the paper in a paid position. She is a member of Lambda Pi Eta, national communication studies honor society, and the College’s Epsilon Sigma Pi.

Finance and global business studies major Dimitri E. Mezidor ’13 gained insight into the luxury retail industry by completing a spring internship program in the wholesale department of Giorgio Armani. A member of the College’s Epsilon Sigma Pi honor society, Beta Gamma Sigma, international honor society for business, and the Financial Management Association honor society, he is currently interviewing for financial analyst positions in New York City and Stamford, Conn.

Communication major Nicole M. Vacca ’13 graduated magna cum laude with the future goal of following in Patterson’s footsteps as a novelist.

“The scholarship took some financial pressure off me and my family, and I certainly felt honored to be chosen,” Vacca says. “I've always admired [Patterson’s] writing style — he is one of my influences. I am grateful that he chose me for the scholarship.” Vacca is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, international English honor society, and the College’s Epsilon Sigma Pi honor society.

"I am delighted with the success of the Patterson Scholars program in its first year and confident that it will recognize and reward an equally strong and deserving group of juniors and seniors in this coming year,” Richard Emmerson, dean of the School of Arts and chair of the evaluation committee, says. “We are all grateful to Mr. Patterson for his generosity and support of Manhattan College and its students."