This campaign highlights the efforts of our talented faculty, staff, administrators, students and alumni who, wherever they are, continue to bring to life the Lasallian Catholic mission of Manhattan College in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
#JaspersOnAMission aptly begins in April, a time when Manhattan College celebrates the life and legacy of Saint John Baptist de La Salle. During Mission Month, we call to mind the value of the Lasallian charism today so that we might be even more mindful of all the good works happening around us.
All actions during these challenging and uncertain times—both large and small—are positively impacting our world. Here we seek to highlight a few of them.
Together, we are #JaspersOnAMission.
Ellen Farrelly ’20 Collects Personal Protective Equipment for Area Healthcare Workers
The engineering student transported five boxes of facemasks and 50 boxes of disposable gloves from Manhattan College to St. John’s Riverside Hospital in Yonkers, Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx and other locations in need.
Katherine Uffer ’23 Assists with Virtual Stations of the Cross
Within her home parish at Donovan Catholic High School in Toms River, New Jersey, Katherine Uffer ’23 came together with a campus ministry group and edited a virtual Stations of the Cross for children that focuses on the challenges presented by COVID-19.
While away from campus, Manhattan students are continuing to work with the College’s community partners. Environmental studies major Gina Lauria ’22 and economics and global business major Jessica Gonzalez Matute ’20 are part of a research team led by Dart Westphal, director of environmental studies, that’s collaborating with the nonprofit Bronx River Alliance.
From Lauria’s home in Kinnelon, New Jersey, and Matute’s home in the Bronx, they’re preparing to test the environmental impacts of Bronx River House, a new eco-friendly structure that houses the Alliance offices. The building features permeable pavers and surfaces that collect rainwater, as well as solar panels and a geothermal heating and cooling system.
“We’re trying to see if that kind of building is going to actually have a positive impact on the environment,” Lauria explains. “It’s net-zero energy and water, or at least very close to net zero.” On-site work was scheduled to begin after spring break, but the team’s tasks have taken a different form now that students are studying at home.
“We’ve been developing protocols,” Lauria says. “We do a weekly conference call to talk about what measures we’re going to use, what toolkits we’re going to try and invest in. We’ve also been looking at comparable sustainable building projects to see what they’re looking for around their buildings and how they’re developing protocols.”
Gonzalez Matute is focused on conducting an economic analysis of heating and cooling systems. She’s enjoying the opportunity to work with classmates from varied academic backgrounds. “I know my work along with my group members will make a difference, and hopefully more people will realize that the growth of the economy depends on the environmental resources we use,” she says. “Sooner or later we’ll have to transition from fossil fuels to renewable resources for the greater good of the Earth.”
Lauria also has benefited from working with a cross-disciplinary group. “I’ve definitely been learning more about the scientific side of things,” she says. “I’ve been learning about test kits that we have to use, certain chemicals we’re going to test for, such as fecal chloroform in the water. Data collection is new to me, so I’ve been learning a lot about that.”
“While Covid 19 has been disruptive to many of our plans, we have found ways to adapt our work with Manhattan College students to continue to help us remotely,” says Jonah Garnick, Greenway manager for the Bronx River Alliance. “The team of students working to evaluate the environmental impacts of Bronx River House have continued work virtually by developing our testing methodology so we can hit the ground running as soon as it's safe to collect data in person.”
Though Lauria would prefer to meet her fellow team members in person, she’s making the best use of this unique time.
“It’s definitely preparing us more than we would have been, just because we have a lot of time to work on it,” she says. “I think as a whole, what we’re doing will help the project as we go ahead.”
At least $1,000 worth of diapers were delivered to the HopeLine Resource for Community Development, an organization in the South Bronx.
Clare Farrelly '22 made the delivery in April after she and four students in the Beta Alpha Psi business honor society raised money for a fundraiser that was scheduled for the end of March at Manhattan College. Donations to the cancelled event came from friends, family, students, faculty and alumni, and were reallocated to the cause.
"Given that we were not able to hold the event this year, we decided to use some of the money, search and find diapers to buy for the program so they could distribute the diapers now," Clare says.
The Hopeline has remained open to the community through the pandemic and has been serving the community with their food bank and diaper distribution. With the pandemic going on there is even a greater need for diapers for the families in the community.
Keurline Infante ’20 and her daughter Alina recently made 20 greeting cards for the elderly residents at Fieldston Lodge Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The cardmaking was part of a larger effort within their apartment co-op community in the Bronx that produced and distributed 75 cards in total. Each evening at 7 p.m., Keurline and Alina also join their neighbors in the city-wide tradition of clapping for essential workers.
The Quadrangle, Manhattan’s student-run newspaper, has opted to continue to report on campus current events, with all of its members working remotely.
Led by editor-in-chief Gabrielle DePinho ’21, TheQuadranglehas also opted to take to their Instagram, where members are actively sharing snippets of their daily life while in self-quarantine.
"We have a really great and involved staff, so even though we’re not meeting, people are still sharing ideas with section editors," DePinho says.
To address the deficit in PPE, some faculty in the Mechanical Engineering department are using their 3D-printing facility to manufacture parts for protective face masks needed in local hospitals.
The capacity of the facility can produce up to 10 masks per week. In combination with other institutions in the area, who are participating in the same program, the joint effort will help alleviate the shortage in PPE supplies in the New York City area.
"Kerri Mulqueen, Ph.D., is the field placement coordinator in the School of Education and Health. When students had just begun to visit their schools, our lives were turned upside-down by COVID-19. We have since been trying to figure out the seemingly impossible task of giving our students the experience they need remotely. This has been done at odd hours, as Dr. Mulqueen is also known as Mom at her house. In addition to being such a great asset for us, she is also responsible for maintaining a sense of normalcy for her two small children (7 and 2!) and meeting their educational needs as well. She is amazingly dedicated to both roles and, to me, exemplifies the mission to serve and lead regardless of the challenges we face."
-Panagiota Kapanika, adjunct professor of Education
Giving back is a family affair for alumnus Maxwell Pietrzak ’16 and his younger brother Harrison ’20, who spent last weekend assembling 98 scrapbook kits for children in hospitals who are isolated during COVID-19.
The scrapbook kits, which are distributed by the nonprofit Project Sunshine, include a journal, magic markers, stickers, and an inspirational art poster. They will be sent to children in hospitals that are currently unable to go to common play spaces due to the ongoing pandemic. Maxwell, a former business student at the College, now works for Apollo Global Management, Inc., which partnered with Project Sunshine during the crisis.
Harrison is a graduating senior at Manhattan College.
Bill Tramontano '76, who is serving as interim president of Queens College (CUNY), is working with others in the public university system to provide students with the digital resources they need to learn remotely. After making the switch to remote learning during COVID-19, many CUNY students lacked the proper equipment (i.e. laptops, etc.) to work from home.
CUNY purchased 50,000 devices that were loaned out to students.
Calling it a big issue, Tramontano said at the time, "I feel like I am in the Army doing logistics and supply chain management. I am blessed to have a great team with me."
Queens College has also been housing many CUNY residential students from other campuses whose dorms became repurposed by New York State for the city's healthcare needs. We are now dorming students from City College, Hunter, Staten Island and John Jay, Tramontano says.
A former professor at Manhattan College, Tramontano concludes, I look at my Distinguished Lasallian Educator plaque each day and offer up a prayer to Founder [John Baptist de La Salle] to help get us through this.
Fun fact: this Jasper has friends in high places.
"One of my last acts a few years ago at Brooklyn College (where I was Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs) was to give my friend Tony [Anthony] Fauci an honorary doctorate."
Anthony Fauci, M.D., is the nation's top infectious diseases expert and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH).
"He is another Dyker Heights kid like me, but was fully educated by the Jesuits. He went to Regis High School to play basketball while I went to Brooklyn Prep for football. His dad ran the pharmacy across from my parish in Brooklyn, The Shrine Church of St. Bernadette."
Niall Henry ’02, a graduate of the O'Malley School of Business, owns several restaurants in New York City.
Through his Washington Heights restaurant, Niall and his partners launched the program Broadway Slice Loves NYC Hospitals/NYPD/FDNY, which matches every pizza pie purchased with one donated to first responders. So far, deliveries have been made to the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), along with these and other hospitals: New York Presbyterian, Columbia University Medical Center, and Memorial Sloan Kettering. Funds to expand the effort also are being raised through a GoFundMe page, which includes a necessary reminder to New Yorkers.
"We are NEW YORK TOUGH, we are all in this together, and we will ALL come out of this stronger by sticking together as New Yorkers do."
Ryan Quattromani ’18 is a product developer in the Active Cosmetics Division (ACD) at the L’Oreal Group. During COVID-19, he is part of the L’Oreal team that is actively supporting the design and production of hand sanitizer. A process that would otherwise take months to achieve took nearly five weeks to develop and start production of units for donation and sale, he says.