Nursing Program Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary

Division of Nursing administrators and faculty toasted each other to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Program.

The Dominican College Nursing Program celebrated its 40th Anniversary on Thursday, June 8, with a gathering of alumni, students, Nursing faculty, and College administrators at the Granito Center.  During the reception, everyone raised their champagne glasses as Dr. Nancy DiDona, Director of the Division of Nursing, gave the toast.  In part, she said, “May we continue to nurture, heal, and enlighten the mind, body, and spirit of those we meet.  As nurses, may we keep in mind that it does not matter that no one remembers our names or our faces, but that they remember how we made them feel.”

The Honorary Speaker at the reception was Sr. Kathleen Sullivan, O.P., Chancellor of External Affairs. Sr. Kathleen spoke about how the nursing program was developed by visionary and creative women in response to local needs.  “It is my great pleasure at this significant moment in the history of the program and in the history of the College to acknowledge their magnificent, generous, and inspirational work – work that has helped to define the Dominican Difference not only for our nursing students, but for the community that we serve,”  she said. 

Sr. Kathleen continued, “The graduates of the Dominican College Nursing Program have attained a reputation of excellence within their profession and within the institutions in which they serve and have brought the stature of the College as a responsive institution achieving its commitment to Excellence, Leadership, and Service, to new levels of recognition in our community and among our peers. “

The Celebration Reception was hosted by the Department of Alumni Relations.

 

 

 

Three New Inductees Enter Alumni Hall of Achievement

John Damiao, Dr. Edward Mihelcic, and Dr. Alison Hales, (shown left to right) were inducted into the Alumni Hall of Achievement on Saturday, April 29.

The Occupational Therapy Program celebrated its 30-year anniversary on Saturday, April 29, 2017 with the induction of three OT alumni into the Alumni Hall of Achievement. The new inductees are: John Damiao, MS, OTR/L, ATP/SMS, ’09, for Leadership; Dr. Edward Mihelcic, Ph.D., OTR/L, ’89, for Excellence; and Dr. Alison, M. Hales, OTD, OTR/L, ’04, for Service.

John Damiao works at the Center for Discovery in Harris, New York, where he is the Director of Power Mobility Assessment. He is also an adjunct professor at Dominican College. Professor Damiao specializes in evaluating and treating individuals with autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, and various genetic disorders.  He worked with a team at the Center for Discovery to develop the IndiGo device, which affordably turns a manual wheelchair into a powered wheelchair.  Google has awarded the Center for Discovery a grant of $125 million to improve the device and get it on the market. 

Dr. Edward Mihelcic is the Occupational Therapy Program Chair at St. Francis University in Pennsylvania, where he also teaches. In addition, he maintains a clinical practice with the Center for Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Indiana, PA and the DiSepio Institute at St. Francis University. Dr. Mihelcic has presented at numerous conferences and workshops.  He is currently a Grant Reviewer for The National Institute of Health and serves on the Pennsylvania State Licensure Board for Occupational Therapy. 

Dr. Alison Hales works in the Warren Township Public Schools and is co-owner of the company, Hands First for Learning. She co-developed and co-authored the Hands First Fine Motor Skills Curriculum, which is a four-month fine motor program, designed to promote confidence and competence in preschoolers and kindergarteners.  Over the past 10 years, Dr. Alison Hales has been an active and involved supporter of the Occupational Therapy Program, mentoring numerous OT students. 

The photos of the new inductees will be placed on the wall in the lobby of the Prumack Center, along with other members of the Alumni Hall of Achievement.

 

Alumni Happenings: Andrew Pugliese, Class of 2011

Like a number of other young adults today, Andrew Pugliese graduated from high school with no clear career plans or long-term educational goals. Based on the advice of his North Rockland High School guidance counselor, Andrew enrolled at Rockland Community College in the fall of 2006 but lacked the motivation to finish the semester. After flunking out, Andrew decided to take his life in a new direction by joining the U.S. Air Force in May 2007. Trained as a Communication and Navigation Specialist, Andrew was stationed at bases in Mississippi and Texas before being assigned to Little Rock Air Force Base (AFB) in Arkansas where he maintained and modified C-130 aircraft for international and domestic missions.

Seeking an opportunity to go back to school full-time, Andrew transferred to the New York Air National Guard at Stewart AFB in Newburgh and enrolled at Dominican College in August 2009 with a renewed sense of purpose. As a Psychology major he took courses in Research Methods, Psychological Statistics, and Psychological Testing and quickly discovered that he had a passion and talent for quantitative psychological research.

Upon graduation, Andrew enrolled as a graduate Psychology student at Hofstra University. Because of the preparation he received at Dominican College, Andrew excelled in his Industrial/Organizational Psychology major and soon converted an internship position with Metro-North Railroad into a full-time position with the company as a Human Resources Testing Analyst. Among other duties, he developed and validated personality tests.

In May of 2016, Andrew took a new job with the City and County of Denver as an Assessment Development and Validation Analyst where, among other responsibilities, he works to redesign the City’s performance test processes while also validating different selection and promotional assessments. He plans to further use the statistics skills he first learned from his Psychology professors at Dominican College as his employer moves to a more strategic-based decision-making system that relies heavily on analytics and big data.

Favorite DC Memory: First moment stepping into class realizing my future lay ahead

Students and Donors Honored at Scholarship Recognition Dinner

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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

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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. 

 

Alumni Christopher Berlingieri, Esq., Class of 2011

Christopher Berlingieri grew up in Suffolk County, Long Island and was an accomplished athlete who played varsity football and lacrosse at Sachem East High School.  It was his love for lacrosse which drew Chris to attend Dominican College in 2007, but after taking two of Dr. Anthony Troncone’s history classes in the Spring of 2008, Chris developed a passion to become a History major.  It was particularly through the history courses taught by Dr. Troncone and Dr. Christopher Libertini that he honed his critical thinking and writing skills, which proved crucial to his future studies in law school and then as a lawyer.  Chris quickly excelled in his undergraduate program, earning membership in Phi Alpha Theta, which is the National History Honor Society.

After graduating Dominican College in 2011, Chris attended Pace University Law School in White Plains, New York.  While there Chris held a judicial internship in Manhattan with a distinguished judge, competed at national moot court competitions, and worked at three different law firms as a law clerk.  After graduating from Pace with a Juris Doctor degree in 2014, he passed the New York and Connecticut State bar exams, both on his first attempt, and took a position at a New York City employment law firm.  Working as an associate, he often litigated cases in federal court.  In June 2015, Chris started his own firm, Berlingieri Law, PLLC, to better serve his clients’ needs.

Inspired by the values rooted in his Dominican College education, Chris has a particular dedication to provide underrepresented litigants and minority victims of wage-theft, discrimination/harassment, and workplace retaliation access to justice.  Chris regularly represents clients on a contingency fee and pro-bono basis, thereby providing people who could not otherwise pay legal fees access to high quality legal services.

Favorite DC Memory: Deciding to become a History major.

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 Google.org 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.

 

 

New Members Inducted into Alumni Hall of Achievement

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Edward Astorino, Melissa Lucido, and Clare Mc Clarnon Steward were inducted into the Alumni Hall of Achievement on Saturday, May 7, 2016.

Three new members were inducted into the Alumni Hall of Achievement on Saturday, May 7, 2016, during the Annual Alumni Reunion. Melissa Lucido, ’95, Edward Astorino, ’98, and Clare McClarnon Steward, ’99, were honored for Excellence, Leadership and Service after a cocktail reception on the Granito Center patio.  All of the honorees were active in the Aquin Players, Dominican College’s theater group, when they were students at the College. 

Melissa Lucido, for Excellence

Lucido said she was honored to be chosen for the award for Excellence. “I thank Dominican College for always giving me the opportunity to develop my leadership, to step out of the box, to learn what it means to make a difference in the world,” she said. 

After deciding that she was better suited to a career in education, Lucido left her job in sales and marketing and went back to college to get her teaching certificate and later her Masters of Science in Education from Walden University. She now teaches kindergarten and first grade students at the Anne Blanche Smith School in Hillsdale, N.J.  Lucido was named 2016 Teacher of the Year in her school district and was nominated four times for the New Jersey State Teacher of the Year.  Since 2001, she has been coming back to Dominican College to serve as a co-director and choreographer of the College’s spring musical. 

Edward Astorino,  for Leadership

At Dominican College, Astorino served as Class President, president of the Student Government Association, and president of the Aquin Players. He was the recipient of four Leadership Awards as well.  Upon graduation, Astorino used those leadership skills to rise in business from a help desk support representative to an ITT Project Manager, running projects worth millions of dollars. 

Astorino has never forgotten his friends at Dominican College. “I’ve always been coming back.  Years have gone by where I haven’t been able to come back because of travel,” he said.  “But I know that I could always walk through that door and feel like I never left.” Recently, Astorino has been helping out as a production assistant with the Dominican College spring musical. 

Clare McClarnon Steward, for Service

Steward often volunteers her time playing the bagpipes, including at Dominican College’s graduation ceremony. She is an active member of two bagpipe bands, serves as a Cub Scout Den Leader and is involved in the choir and the religious education program at St. Margaret’s Church in Pearl River.  She is a past recipient of the Veritas Medal at Dominican College and has been honored by the Rockland County Ancient Order of the Hibernians and received a certificate of recognition from the Marine Corps League.  Steward said she is very humbled and honored by her induction into the Alumni Hall of Achievement.

“I’m not looking for an honor or a recognition of what I do. I just do what I do because it’s who I am.  It’s who Dominican has taught me to be,” she said.

A photo of the honorees will be placed in the Alumni Hall of Achievement in the lobby of Prusmack Center.

 

Dominican College Alumna Appointed Bankruptcy Judge

Mary Kay Vyscocil

Mary Kay Vyscocil, ’80, has been appointed to serve as a bankruptcy judge in the Southern District of New York.

Mary Kay Vyskocil, ’80, has been sworn in as a United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Southern District of New York. Vyskocil, who was a partner in the New York law firm of Simpson, Thacher& Bartlett LLP, was appointed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. 

“Mary Kay is a widely respected trial lawyer who has been a valued colleague and a leader of our Insurance Litigation Practice,” said Bill Dougherty.  Chairman of Simpson Thacher’s Executive Committee.  “We are proud of all that she has achieved and congratulate her on this distinguished appointment.”

During her 33-year career at Simpson Thacher, Vyskocil litigated some of the most significant insurance and reinsurance cases, representing major domestic and foreign insurers in numerous arbitrations, jury trials and appellate arguments. She represented Swiss RE Ltd. In litigation arising from the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and has also represented JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Travelers Cos. Inc.

Second Circuit Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann said , “ With her substantial experience in complex and sophisticated commercial litigation matters, Mary Kay Vyskocil joins a distinguished Southern District bankruptcy bench.”

Vyscocil graduated summa cum laude from Dominican College and was Valedictorian. She attended St. John’s University Law School. She has stayed active at Dominican College, serving on the College Board of Trustees for more than 25 years.   

Former Charger Basketball Star Signed to Professional Team

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Former Dominican College men’s basketball star Nick Smith has signed a professional contract with the Solna Vikings Basketball Club in Sweden.

While at Dominican College, the 2015 graduate was named the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Co-Player of the Year and was a member of Dominican College’s 1000 Point Club. Among his many accomplishments, Smith was a member of the first men’s basketball team in College history to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA East Regional in 2013.

“I am very appreciative that the Solna Vikings Basketball Club believe in me and are giving me the opportunity to play professional basketball. I am going to continue to keep growing and never settle for anything less than my absolute best,” said Smith. “Also, there are many people who have been there for me along this long and tough journey. They all played a huge part in my growth as both a person and a player and to them I am truly thankful.”

Chargers Head Coach Joseph Clinton described Smith as an extremely talented young man. “The entire College wishes him only the best moving forward,” he said.

Nick will be travelling to Solna, Sweden to begin training with his new coaches and teammates for the upcoming season.