Students and Donors Honored at Scholarship Recognition Dinner


Former Kaplan Scholar Carolyn Monroe, ’02, spoke at the Scholarship Recognition Dinner on October 19.

The top students at Dominican College were honored during the Scholarship Recognition Dinner on Wednesday, October 19, 2016. This year, 87 scholarships were awarded to 83 students.   Among the students honored was freshman Rebecca Birmingham, who received a BLISS scholarship for academically-talented students studying biology.

Rebecca said she is pleased that she decided to attend Dominican College. “I feel like I fit right in,“  she said.  “Everybody is so welcoming and the staff is so accommodating, especially for freshman.” Rebecca had a 1720 SAT score and a 3.7 GPA at John Burke High School.

Former Kaplen scholar Carolyn Monroe, ’02, who graduated with a B.S. in Nursing, addressed the scholars. “It’s not just getting the scholarship and what you do with it, it’s keeping your connection with Dominican and knowing that they are always there for you.”  Monroe received the Badami Outstanding Alumni Award in 2011 and is included in the top 100 Alumni of Distinction.

The Scholarship Recognition Dinner is held every year, not only  to honor the scholarship recipients and their families, but also to thank the generous benefactors who make the scholarships possible.


Five New Members Inducted into Athletic Hall of Fame


The new members of the Athletic Hall of Fame are: Melissa Lazaro Bastone, Cara Piasecki, Chad Jeffries, Sr. Kathleen Sullivan, O.P., and John Fitzsimmons. (Shown left to right.)

The Dominican College Athletic Hall of Fame welcomed five new members during an Induction Ceremony on Saturday, October 1, 2016. The five new members are:  Sr. Kathleen Sullivan, O.P.; Chad Jeffries, ’99; John Fitzsimmons, ’01; Cara Piasecki, ’10; and Melissa Lazaro Bastone, ’02.  The new inductees enjoyed a champagne toast in the Badami Room before heading to the Granito Center for the official ceremony where they received medals and plaques.  Photos of the inductees will be hung alongside past honorees on the first floor of the Hennessy Center. 

Sr. Kathleen Sullivan, O.P., Service – In her acceptance speech, Sr. Kathleen joked, “My father would never believe that I would be elected to a Hall of Fame in Athletics.  Never.”  Sr. Kathleen, who is a familiar face at basketball, baseball, and softball games, was honored for her service. Athletic Director Joseph Clinton said,  “She is our guiding light for our athletic programs.“  He called her the “Energizer Bunny” and pointed out that although she is currently Chancellor of External Affairs, her past positions at Dominican College have included Assistant Professor Of French, Director of Admissions, Academic Dean, and President. Sr. Kathleen has also served on the Board of Trustees for Malloy College and the Board of Directors for the Rockland Business Association, Good Samaritan Hospital, and United Way.  “I don’t know where she gets the stamina and energy, but it is amazing,” said Clinton.   

Chad Jeffries, ’99, Baseball – Baseball Coach Rick Giannetti remembers Jeffries as a phenomenal, complete baseball player, who during his junior year had 191 at bats, 87 hits, 78 runs scored, 84 RBIs, 18 doubles, 8 triples, 8 homeruns, and 25 stolen bases.  “I can honestly say that was probably the best individual season anyone has ever had,” said Giannetti. “I’ve never had a player with that power, speed, and baseball knowledge.” Jeffries led the team to the College World Series.

Jefferies stressed that everything in life happens for a reason. He said he originally planned to attend college in Texas, but when his scholarship fell through, he ended up attending Dominican College.  ”I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world,” he said. “Dominican is my second home.” 

John Fitzsimmons, ’01, Basketball – When he was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame, Fitzsimmons recalled his years as a student.  “I had an amazing time at Dominican.  It was four of the best years of my life.  I love coming back here.”  Coach Clinton described Fitsimmons as a “true gentleman” and said he will go down in Dominican College history, “as one of the best – if not the best – shooters of all time.”  Fitzsimmons accumulated many honors during his Dominican College career including 2001 CACC Player of the Year and Honorable Mention All-American.  He accumulated 1299 career points and was 1st in all-time games played at 125.

Cara Piasecki, ’10, Softball – At the induction ceremony, Piasecki said she could take credit only for about 50 percent of her success as an athlete.  “The other 50 percent was my family, my friends, my teammates, and my coaches who have supported me when I didn’t believe in myself.”

Piasecki is the all-time career leader in home runs (31) and base on balls (86).  She is 3rd all-time in runs scored (149) and RBIs (137).  She was the captain of the 2009 and 2010 softball teams.  Those teams made the first NCAA regional appearances in school history for softball.  The 2009 team was the CACC regular season campions, and the 2010 team captured the regular season and the Post season CACC championships. Piasecki has been a part-time assistant coach at Dominican College since her playing days ended.  Coach Joe Burbridge credited her with helping to create the winning culture that is still present today. 

Melissa Lazaro Bastone, ’02, Volleyball – Bastone is the first volleyball player ever to be inducted into the Dominican College Athletic Hall of Fame.  While the statistics are incomplete, she had more than 600 kills and 975 digs in just her last two years on the team. Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students John Burke described Bastone as passionate, tremendously skilled, a great teammate, and a hard worker.  He also pointed out that although she stands at only 5’3”, she is an amazing jumper who competed against much taller athletes.  “She is the best overall complete volleyball player that Dominican has ever had,” said Burke.  

Bastone said she has great memories of playing volleyball at Dominican College. “I just love competing and the comradery of the team, “she said. 


College Celebrates 800-Year Jubilee of Dominican Order


Sr. Barbara Reid, O.P., Ph.D., spoke about Seeking Truth in the Year of Mercy during Founders Week.

The annual Founders Week activities at Dominican College had special significance this year because the Dominican Order is celebrating the 800-year anniversary of the founding of the Order. In honor of the Jubilee, several renowned and accomplished Dominican Sisters spoke at the College.  Throughout the week, the focus was on the Dominican pillars of study, community, spirituality, and service.  

Founder’s Week kicked off on Monday, September 19, with a keynote presentation from Sr. Kathleen McManus, O.P., Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Portland. Sr. Kathleen reviewed important Dominicans throughout the 800-year history of the Order and focused on St. Catherine of Siena’s famous quote, “If you are who you are meant to be, who will set the world on fire.”  She reached out to students and brought the age-old history of the Order of Preachers into the present by asking, “How do know who you are meant to be?”

Sr. Kathleen encouraged the students to be touched by the needs and suffering of our world, to study, and to contemplate to find the answer to that question. She concluded her speech by telling the students, “When – not if, but when – you are who you are meant to be, you will set the world on fire because you are all about the Dominican difference. “   

Throughout the day on Monday, the Sisters of the Blauvelt congregation, as “Itinerant Preachers,” visited classes to explain the mission of the Dominican Order. The Sisters also spoke with students and faculty about the meaning and significance of the Jubilee celebration.

Monday evening, Sr. Barbara Reid, O.P., V.P. and Academic Dean of the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, addressed a crowd of Dominican Sisters, Board members, administrators, faculty, and staff about Seeking Truth in a Year of Mercy. She talked about seeking the truth about God, seeking the truth about ourselves, and seeking the truth about others.  “If the truth about God is that God is mercy and seeks to be with us, then it is incumbent on us who are made in God’s image to be the bridge to God’s mercy and to one another,” she said. Sr. Barbara added that while it may be easy to be a bridge of mercy to our beloved family and friends, a greater challenge is building bridges of mercy to our enemies and accepting mercy from them as well. 

The Living the Legacy speech, delivered each year by a Dominican College graduate, was given on Tuesday, September 20, by Sr. Mary Doris, O.P., ’63, the Foundress and Director of Siena House in the Bronx, which provides shelter to pregnant women and women with children under the age of three.  Sr. Mary urged the students to get involved.   “Whatever way – whatever small or big way – you can reach out in your neighborhood or wherever you live, there are people who need your help.  So whatever decision you are making in your life choices, please think about making a difference in the lives of children,” she said. 

Two students, Brianna Torres, ’18, , and Christine Ditzel, ‘19, spoke to fellow students on Wednesday, September 21, about their trip to Fanjeaux, France,  in June  to walk in the footsteps of St. Dominic with students and staff from Dominican colleges across the United States.  Each year, two students are chosen to go on the trip, which is partially paid for by the College.  Brianna said this Founders Week was more meaningful to her because of what she learned.  “Now I fully understand how the Dominican Order began, the work that was put into it, and the spirit of St. Dominic,” she said. 

The Dominican College community and the Dominican Sisters gathered on Thursday, September 22 in the Convent Chapel for a Dominican Jubilee Liturgy. Father Kenneth Letoile, O.P. said in his sermon that he was educated by the Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt and credited the Sisters with his decision to become a priest.  He then asked all the Sisters to stand and thanked them for helping us be who we are meant to be.  The sisters were thanked by everyone in attendance with a hearty round of applause. 

Dominican College students practiced what they had learned during the week with Preaching in Action activities on Friday, September 23. More than 30 students traveled to Goshen, NY, to volunteer at the House on the Hill and Harmony Farm.  The House on the Hill, which is run by the Sisters of St. Dominic, provides daycare to the children of migrant farm workers.  In addition to helping to care for the children, the students worked with the migrant workers in the farm and did heavy landscaping and clean up on the property to make the grotto usable again. 

Founders Week concluded with the 66th Annual Dominican Sisters Festival.  Dominican College students volunteered at the Festival, where local residents enjoyed food,  games, and pony rides.


A Cappella Group Performs National Anthem at Mets Game


Singers from Dominican College shown on the Jumbotron at Citi Field performing the National Anthem on September 3, 2016.

Dominican College’s a cappella group Pitches and Cream performed the National Anthem at the Mets game at Citi Field on Saturday, September 3, 2016.

“What an incredible, indescribable experience,” said Musical Director of Pitches and Cream Lydia Maynard, Ph.D. “To have the honor of singing the National Anthem in front of 36,000 people, hearing the crowd erupt in applause during our final notes, having two Mets players walk by us as we rehearsed near the tunnel, and most importantly, representing Dominican College – none of us will ever forget this experience.”

Students, faculty, and administrators traveled by bus to the Mets game to support Pitches and Cream and cheer the singers on from the stands. Pitches and Cream was formed three years ago by Maynard who is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the College. 



Watch their performance here:



College Offers Biology Research Workshop for High School Students


Dominican College is offering a Biology research workshop for high school students on weekends. The workshop will be held on five consecutive Saturdays, beginning on October 29, 2016, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Students participating in the program will have the opportunity to perform original biological research. The workshop series is open to any high school student who has completed their life science course and has a demonstrated interest in completing a research project. A total of 10 spots are available and there is no charge for the workshop. 

Interested students should contact Dr. Bernadette Connors at or 845-848-6020 prior to October 15, 2016.




Construction Begins on $5 Million Expansion of Hennessy Center


Dominican College administrators and representatives from Holt Construction attended a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of construction on an expansion of the Hennessy Center.

Construction has begun on a $5 million expansion of the Hennessy Center. The Hennessy Center is Dominican College’s Athletic Center and is also home to community concerts and events. 

The Hennessy Center expansion will include a new, regulation-size NCAA gym on the same level as the current gym, with batting cages that can be lowered from the ceiling. A new lower level will have a fitness center, dance studio, weight room, and coaches’ offices. Plans call for the current exercise room to become an Athletic Training Lab for students in the Athletic Training academic program.  Construction is expected to be completed in less than a year. 

“With this expansion, Dominican College will meet the needs of a growing student population and be able to attract and train more student athletes.” said College President Sr. Mary Eileen O’Brien, O.P., Ph.D. ”The Hennessy Center will continue to serve the community by hosting summer camps, concerts, job fairs, programs for people with disabilities, and community events.  In addition, nearby residents will also be able to use the new fitness center for a reasonable membership fee.”

More than half of the money needed for the expansion has been raised. The College recently launched a new fundraising campaign to raise the remainder of the funds.  If you are interested in donating, or would like to learn more about the Hennessy Center project, please contact Dorothy Filoramo at



Biology Professor Placed on Fulbright Specialist Roster

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Bernadette Connors, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology, has been placed on the Fulbright Specialist Roster.

A Dominican College biology instructor has been selected to be placed on the Fulbright Specialist Roster by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and the Institute of International Education’s Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES).

The Roster is a list of all candidates who are eligible to be matched with overseas academic institutions needing expertise from Fulbright Specialists in a particular area of study.

Bernadette Connors, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology, said she was delighted when she received the email stating that she would be placed on the Roster. “I was beyond excited at the opportunity to represent Dominican College as well as the United States,” said Dr. Connors.  “Having the unique experience of teaching biology at a small school might be valuable to another institution similar to our own overseas.  That is what is most exciting about it.”

Dr. Connors can remain on the Roster for up to five years. She is eligible for consideration for two to six-week grant opportunities through the Specialist Program. While Dr. Connors said she would consider traveling anywhere in the world as a Fulbright Specialist, her top choices are England and China. 




The Class of 2020 Moves Into Residence Halls

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Freshman Gianluca Barecchia said he decided that Dominican College was the right school for him because it was “welcoming and homey.”

The Class of 2020 moved into their residence halls during Move-In Day on Thursday, August 25, 2016. The freshmen come from 13 states across the country.  Almost 26 percent of the incoming freshmen plan to study nursing. The other top majors that freshmen have expressed interest in are athletic training, psychology, biology, and management. 

Freshman Gianluca Barecchia said it just took one visit to Dominican College for him to decide this was the place for him. “It seemed very welcoming and homey,” he said. “It felt like a home away from home.”

Barecchia was also impressed with Dominican College’s commitment to service. Barecchia is an EMT in North Branford, CT and has accumulated 800 hours of community service working for the volunteer ambulance corp, in a children’s hospital, at a church, and in a pantry for the needy. 

Freshmen attend several days of orientation activities before starting class on Monday, August 29.

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College Kicks Off 2016-2017 School Year

Dominican College administrators, faculty, and staff have welcomed students for the 2016-2017 school year.   Christine Dilts, Assistant Dean of Students, said that freshmen were busy with activities during a three-day Orientation from Thursday, August 25  through Saturday, August 28. 

“Our objectives for Orientation are that the students coming in feel welcome and they feel like they belong, which means that they are going to make friends and become a part of the Dominican family.  We also want them to be familiar with their surroundings so that they know where to go for class on Monday morning.  And we want them to have a sense of the resources that are available to them,” said Dilts. 

Student leaders have been trained as Orientation Leaders and have been helping freshmen with the transition to college. During Orientation, freshmen attend a number of activities and informational sessions to help them make friends and become comfortable at Dominican College.


Alumnus Invention Wins $1.125 Million Grant

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John Damiao demonstrates how his indieGo invention converts a typical wheelchair into a power wheelchair.

Alumnus and Adjunct Professor John Damiao ’09 calls his invention which turns an ordinary wheelchair into a power wheelchair for about $1,000 a “game-changer”  It’s called indieGo and has awarded  Damiao and his team at the Center for Discovery with a $1.125 million grant to develop it and get it on the market.  Damiao is an Adjunct Professor at Dominican College teaching Kinesiology. 

The indieGo is a small, lightweight device that you can roll any wheelchair on to in order to convert it to a power wheelchair. Damiao is an occupational therapist who works with individuals with Cerebral Palsy who are unable to control their own wheelchair.  His team in Hurleyville, NY, at the Center for Discovery is experimenting with a variety of controls, from joysticks to touch buttons to allow any patient with impaired mobility to drive.  Typical wheelchairs for these individuals can cost $10,000 to $15,000.

Damiao said it was nice that Google recognized the tremendous impact that this device can have and was not looking only at funding high-tech or flashy projects. “We felt great and excited that Google recognized the importance of trying to bring mobility to as many people as possible.  They are this big tech giant company and this device is very basic and simple,” he said. 

Google awarded 29 grantees with $20 million in grants to help address accessibility challenges all over the world and is helping bring the projects to life.



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