2019 STORY CONTEST:
Supportive Cabrini People
Winner: Erica Abbott (’16)
I’ll get right to the point: I was very shy in high school. So before starting my new journey at Cabrini, I made a promise to myself that I would become as involved as possible in college. Fast forward to freshman year in fall 2012 and that was put into action—but I could only imagine then where that promise would one day lead.
As a communication major, there was a plethora of opportunities to become involved. The then-department chair, Dr. Jerry Zurek encouraged all students to say “yes” to every opportunity and that’s exactly what I set out to do. Over the course of my four years as an undergraduate student, I immersed myself in campus life and various internships, pushed myself outside of my comfort zone more times than I ever expected, and said “yes” when opportunities presented themselves.
One such time was when, as a rising senior, I attended a presentation on inbound marketing and SEO at Stream Companies with fellow communication students. I’m so thankful that I attended that event because, while I didn’t realize it at the time, it acted as a catalyst for future success. That very first introduction to Stream was nearly four years ago and I’m now currently seven months into working there full-time as a Digital Content Poster. My Cabrini experience not only helped me “do something extraordinary” then but led to the opportunity to “do the ordinary extraordinarily well” now.
Athena Bolden ('20)
April 6th. 2017. 2pm. The plug was pulled. She died in the most silent manner. I had to witness the eternal silence of my grandmother via FaceTime since I was in my freshmen year of college.
All I can hear were my wails penetrating that oh so good silence.
I had collapsed onto the floor. My roommate having just came back from class had no idea what happened. All she knew is that something disrupted my usual silence. She held me like a mother holds her child. Hours upon hours she had held me. She held me until I was finally able to be silent again. Finally, with a voice that sounds like I had walked the desert without a supply of water for weeks, I said “she’s gone.”
She didn’t want me to go to work that night as a Desk Assistant, but she prepared me. I tried to call out, told people my grandmother had died earlier that day. All I heard on the other side of the phone was crippling silence. I had to sit desk.
Thanks to my roommate I was able do what I had to. I sat at the desk in complete and utter silence.
Without my roommate I would have sat in my room in depressing silence for the rest of the night.
The only thing me and my grandmother had in common is that we were both better at being silent.
Stephen Brown (’84)
Father Jack McDowell was our campus priest while I was at Cabrini. I immediately took to Father Jack like he was a good friend. He often played pickup games of basketball with us and we always had an open invitation to visit campus residence.
Father Jack was a bigger music freak than I and had an entire walk in closet and crawl space lined with nothing but albums. His favorite band was the same as mine; The Beatles. I can’t tell you how many times I hung out at that gate house listening to music and chowing down on roast beef, which was always in his Crock Pot.
December 8th, 1980 was no different in that respect. A gang of us were hanging out that night, listening to music, eating roast beef, and watching Monday Night Football. But this night did turn out to be different. It was during that game that we learned of the tragic shooting of John Lennon.
We all sat and stared at the TV in disbelief.
We sat and talked and listened and played every single Beatles and Lennon recording that we could get our hands on. It was just one of those nights that will always be remembered. I am so glad that I was where I was when this news broke. Jack had a wonderful way of facilitating the healing process and pulling the pieces together as a friend, as a fan, and yes, as a priest.
Christina Cimmino (’09)
When I was a freshman in my first few weeks at Cabrini, I was on campus for the 4th 9/11 anniversary. As one of the few New Yorker’s on campus at the time, it was the first time I was away from my family on the anniversary where I lost my cousin Firefighter Thomas J. Foley in Tower 2. I was feeling down, homesick and sad and found myself sitting in the chapel on campus when Father Michael Bielecki came in about 20 minutes later and sat down next to me. I started to tear up when I told him why I was there, and he sat and talked and prayed with me for a while. An hour later, mass was starting, and he dedicated the mass to the memory of my cousin. I will never be able to repay this small act of kindness that was bestowed on me and it was one of the most pivotal moments of my life. When I think of Cabrini, I think that I was taught how small acts of giving and kindness embodies who we are- being on the receiving end of this, I really understood what a special place I chose to get an education and how small acts can have a very large impact on another person.
Dawn Gillingham (’10)
I originally went to Cabrini knowing I wanted to major in a field that would allow me to help children. So I started as an early childhood education major to become a kindergarten teacher. I pictured how I would setup my classroom, and all the fun things I would do with my kids, and all the ways I would help them. It wasn’t until I started in my coursework that I realized, as important as teachers are, teaching just wasn’t for me.
I met with Dr. Laura Groves who was so kind to take a significant portion of time out of her day to explain social work to me. After meeting with her and realizing all the opportunities there were in social work I immediately signed up with the department, was accepted and started my studies. I was nervous to make the transition but she assured me that she would be there along side of me every step of the way.
I’ve worked over the last 10 years in social work primarily focusing on children & families in urban settings. I currently work as a graduate support coordinator in the city of Camden NJ, helping high school age youth make the transition into college. I’m lucky enough to even accompany some on their college tours. I am truly grateful to Dr. Groves for not only working with me to help find a perfect career fit, but being so unbelievably supportive to me throughout my college years.
Maureen R. Nichols (’83)
Some people see you on the outside, while others see your soul. That’s the Cabrini difference. One person highlighted that for me, helping me to decide who I wanted to become, not the job or the career, but a humanitarian whose thoughts of others ultimately supersede what the world tells us is important. He is a person who embodies the idea that education should make you more human, not less so.
That individual is Dr. Jerry Zurek, the professor who was a tremendous influence on a young and restless teenager who had intelligence, a bad attitude, and a lot to learn. I began my journey in English Comp Class in freshman year. This class was engaging, social, and more importantly, an outlet for thoughts, feelings, and opinions. My “Prof”, with a weird upstate New York accent encouraged me; I was hooked. I never thought about writing and the love of language despite composing poems and writing plays from my earliest memories. English Comp touched a part of me that I hadn’t realized was important, yet existed.
Because of this man, I became involved in the Loquitor and continued my love of language and writing. I did not become a newspaper columnist or a famous writer. Rather, I became the person I was meant to be, someone who brings the gift of language to the poorest of the poor, those who have been denied access to “the American Dream”.
I am a teacher.
Rosie Robb ('13)
Advice given from her, both sought and unsought, is truly invaluable. The life lessons I have learned from her are cherished. Her spirit and whole being have singlehandedly increased the love I have for myself and others tenfold. I genuinely am a better citizen, educator, and friend because of her. Dr. Susan Pierson has impacted my life greatly. I am immensely thankful for her kind words, remarkable teaching, and guidance. I have been a constant student at Cabrini for the past 9 years. I have had Dr. Pierson for both undergraduate and graduate school. In all honesty, I really do feel blessed to have crossed paths with Susan. She is everything I hope to be as an educator and human being. She has demonstrated empathy when I was dealing with problems in my home life. She has offered me advice on how to reach set goals as an educator. Most importantly, she has taught and modeled for me how to love all people and advocate for those with no voice. Susan goes above beyond to reach students as a whole, and not just in the classroom. It is a wonderful feeling to experience faith being restored in you by a role model. I have felt down on myself, unhappy with my profession, and angry as a person. Dr. Pierson has instilled in me the tools I need to overcome any obstacle I meet. Thank you, Dr. Pierson, for everything. You will forever remain a role model in my life.