STAC Stories

Cassandra Lo smiling wearing flowered shirt
Cassandra Lo, Ed.D
Assistant Professor of Education

In her classes with future middle and high school teachers, Assistant Professor Cassandra Lo emphasizes the importance of looking at lessons from a student’s perspective. “My students are brilliant in so many ways and their contributions to our classes are so impressive,” she says. “I absolutely love working with future teachers, because I know they are going off into the world to make it a better place.” READ MORE

Susan smiling wearing pink shirt and black sweater; willow trees in background
Susan Marell, Ph.D., LMSW
Professor of Psychology

Dr. Susan K. Marell unlocked a passion for education that chartered the course of her career. She has devoted over three decades to teaching psychology as a professor at STAC, and says that the most rewarding aspect of teaching is “helping students build the confidence in themselves to pursue their goals and dreams.” READ MORE

Francesca smiling, wearing glasses and black shirt with necklace
Dr. Francesca Ciotoli
Assistant Professor of Education

Performing before crowds and teaching students in the classroom have much in common, according to Assistant Professor Francesca Ciotoli who, as an undergraduate college student, trained as an opera singer at the Manhattan School of Music. Today, Dr. Ciotoli draws lessons from the stage and her 20-year career in education to prepare the next generation of teachers at St. Thomas Aquinas College.


Paul Dent smiling wearing suit and periodic table of elements themed bowtie
Dr. Paul Dent
Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Exploding pumpkins with hydrogen gas and setting gummy bears ablaze sound like unconventional tasks in any job, but for Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Paul Dent, these are exciting ways to teach the students of St. Thomas Aquinas College about basic chemistry. Dr. Dent’s primary area of expertise is in biomedical technology, which combines engineering and technology to diagnose and treat various diseases.  READ MORE

Evan Matthews
Evan Matthews Ed.D.
Associate Professor of Music

Dr. Evan Matthews loves working at STAC for many reasons. One being the opportunity to get to know his students well and also work with students and faculty across disciplines. READ MORE

Craig outside of Borelli Hall smiling
Dr. Craig Martin
Professor of Religious Studies

One of the many reasons Dr. Martin thrives at STAC is because of the connection he has with his students. His favorite way to end class is have his students leave the classroom thinking with a new perspective about the discussion held. READ MORE

Tracy smiling outside with green and yellow leaves on bushes in background
Dr. Tracy Tully
Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice

Dr. Tully looks forward to her teaching every day because STAC is truly student-focused. It’s rare for a college to have the family-like feel that STAC has. “What I value most, is working with colleagues who are kind and thoughtful on top of being experts in their fields.” READ MORE

Dr. Finnegan smiling wearing coat and scarf outside with Costello Hall building in background. Snow on the ground.
Dr. Elizabeth Finnegan
Professor of Education & Director of Graduate Education

There are countless reasons Dr. Finnegan loves her job at STAC, a few being the ability to influence and effect change that positively affects children with disabilities through preparing teachers, advocating for funding, or promoting best practices through research. 


Nina smiling wearing gray jacket, trees in background
Nina Bellisio
Associate Professor of Visual Communications

Nina leaves an immense impact on her students by inspiring and motivating them to dream big. “Professor Bellisio is the kind of advisor I hope everyone has when they are in college. Having her in my corner these past few years, especially during a pandemic, has helped me feel prepared and stay focused on my goals” says STAC student, Jadealexis Westhoven.


Neerja smiling outside of Borelli Hall on campus. Green grass in background
Dr. Neerja Chaturvedi
Professor of History

“Immigrants in America” is one of Neerja Chaturvedi’s favorite courses to teach at St. Thomas Aquinas College because it offers students from different ethnic and racial backgrounds the chance to discover themselves, learn about their family history, and better understand one another.


Angela McDonnell black and white photo, smiling, horizontal striped shirt
Professor Angela McDonnell
Coordinator, Hospitality Management and Instructor, School of Business

Angela McDonnell’s keen sense of adventure took her from a dairy farm on Ireland’s countryside to destinations around the globe where she worked in the hospitality industry alongside celebrities like Michelin-star chefs, Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay.


Meghan smiling, headshot photo. Trees and white picket fence in background
Dr. Meghan DeWitt
Associate Professor of Mathematics

Science of Superheroes is Meghan DeWitt’s favorite class to teach: “We study quantum mechanics with Kitty Pryde, genetic modification with Wolverine, gravity with Superman, convection and heat flow with Storm, and electromagnetism with Magneto."


Dr. Chayet smiling, hair in braids; outside greenery in background
Dr. Ellen Chayet
Professor of Criminal Justice

“Teaching criminal justice at the college level has always been my dream career,” says Ellen, who has since been sharing her years of research and field experience in criminal justice along with her education in sociology and social policy with students. At STAC, she values her colleagues with whom she collaborates not only academically on course and program development, but also to ensure the best overall college experience for students. READ MORE

Jessica smiling; green trees in background
Dr. Jessica Berrios
Assistant Professor in Exercise Science & Biology

Coming from a background of teaching at larger universities, Jessica truly enjoys the supportive environment and the sense of community that STAC provides. Being able to get to know her students and their stories truly enriches her teaching experience. READ MORE

bianca smiling
Bianca Wentzell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology

Dr. Wentzell teaches courses such as General Biology, Plant Biology, and Literature Research in the Biological Sciences. She says that her work at the College has been rewarding. “Not only do I get to be a lifelong student as I continue my quest for knowledge about wetlands, but I also get to teach students about how life works and help answer their questions as they investigate the world around them."


Rossen Trendafilov
Dr. Rossen Trendafilov
Assistant Professor of Finance

Finance and Economics are both fields of study that require a great amount of analysis, attention to detail, and overall understanding of the world around us. “I try to establish a personal relationship with my students in order to better understand their current needs and their future goals. Further, I strive to help the students develop critical and independent thinking skills...


Monica Wendel outside, smiling; grass and field in background
Monica Wendel
Associate Professor of Composition and Creative Writing

Monica joined the faculty at St. Thomas Aquinas College as an adjunct in 2010 and has been teaching English, creative writing, and poetry ever since. Now, as an associate professor, she values the College’s community and the close bonds students have with their professors and students’ commitment to service.


Dr. Engels smiling; cream colored wall in background
Deirdre-Noel Engels, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Marketing

“In my classes, I encourage students to develop practical skills that will enable them to hit the ground running at their first job. There are so many budding young entrepreneurs on campus; I hope that my classes will inspire them and provide them with the tools necessary to bring their ideas to life."


Linda Levine-Madori head shot photo; smiling yellow and pink solid background
Linda Levine-Madori, PhD
Professor of Therapeutic Recreation

For the past 30 years, Linda has devoted her career to research, practice, education, and the the benefits this therapy offers people with cognitive disabilities. Her research on Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive functioning, and psycho-social well-being was the basis for the TTAP Method...


Meghan Mihal portrait photo outside on campus
Meghan Mihal, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics

One of the most rewarding things about teaching economics is showing students that they really can do it, especially when they think they can’t ... READ MORE

Christine Cahill
Christine Cahill, JD
Assistant Dean and Associate Professor of Business Administration

Before she joined the Business School faculty at St. Thomas Aquinas College... READ MORE

Ryan Wynne in biology lab
Ryan D. Wynne, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology and Honors Program Director

Dr. Ryan Wynne says that after having a horrible chemistry teacher in 11th grade, he vowed that he’d never take another chemistry class in his lifetime...


Staci Shultz with bookcase in the background
Staci Shultz, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of English, Writing Program Director

Literature rooted in pop culture such as fan fiction is a genre that scholars like Dr. Staci Shultz find intriguing partly because, in the past, it has been dismissed as frivolous, Staci says. Today, “acafans” or academics who study fan practices... READ MORE

Ben Wagner
Ben Wagner, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychology

Why do some people seek out and enjoy taking personality surveys more than others? This is the subject of a yearlong research project Dr. Benjamin Wagner, assistant professor of psychology at St. Thomas Aquinas College, is working on with honors student Melissa Etter ’22... READ MORE

Kathryn Cambrea smiling outside with tree in background
Kathryn Cambrea '21
Communication Arts Major, Creative Writing Minor

As Kathryn prepares to make a difference in her own career as a journalist, the Communication Arts major at St. Thomas Aquinas College has pursued many opportunities to build her portfolio and resume. In addition to publishing her editorial work, Kathryn enjoys writing creatively and co-edits STAC’s literary magazine, The Voyager. READ MORE

Sloane smiling wearing blue dress and white jacket; hotel scene in background
Sloane Carucci Peterson '22
Hospitality Management Major

Sloane appreciates how her day-to-day work connects directly with what she’s learned as a student in the Hospitality Management program at STAC, as well as special opportunities that working in the industry makes possible to give back to the community. “I will embrace every opportunity I am given, and I know I will be prepared thanks to my education at STAC.” READ MORE

Mark smiling; indoor restaurant seating in background
Mark Keegan '22
Communication Arts Major

Aspiring filmmaker Mark Keegan has had many opportunities to hone his craft and get hands-on experience in the field during his years at St. Thomas Aquinas College. Throughout his college years, Mark has been supported and challenged by professors, advisors, and administrators, and has even created content for STAC's Campus Communications office for various projects. READ MORE

Dante smiling wearing STAC athletic jacket
Dante Brown '23
Sports Management / Business Administration

As an athlete, Dante Brown knows what it means to be part of a team. When he’s not out on the field, Dante applies his teamwork mindset to different roles on campus. Dante joined STAC’s Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) as a student mentor. He is also part of the Social Justice & Equity (SJE) Forum where administrators, staff, and students work to bring awareness to STAC’s diverse student body. READ MORE

Paolo Bruzzesi smiling
Paolo Bruzzesi ‘23
Marketing Major, Social Media Minor

Paolo Bruzzesi defines the characteristics of what a Spartan represents. As a rising junior studying Marketing and Social Media at STAC, Paolo already has impressive accomplishments under his belt. READ MORE

Juliana smiling wearing STAC long sleeve shirt
Juliana Mannine '23
Mathematics Major, Concentration in Actuarial Science, Finance Minor

Juliana has several favorite aspects to her experience at STAC. She appreciates the attention that students receive from their professors, and experiences teamwork between classmates in small class sizes.


George smiling; in art studio holding paintbrush up to a canvas; color wheels on wall in background
George Nkrumah Meizah ’21
Art Therapy Major; Communication Arts Minor

George says that he was attracted to STAC for multiple reasons, one of which being the attention that students receive from their professors. He also attributes his decision to being enrolled in STAC’s Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP).


Shaniya smiling, wearing glasses and gold colored blazer, seated.
Shaniya Warren '23
Psychology Major; Education Minor

From the moment she stepped on campus, Shaniya Warren knew STAC was the right place for her. “I chose St. Thomas Aquinas College because I instantly felt welcomed when I visited the campus. The staff and faculty members made it easy for me to adjust to the college environment, and it is a home away from home.”


Anabel smiling, wearing Residence Life maroon t-shirt
Anabel Garcia '21
Psychology Major; Business Minor

After deciding to transfer to STAC, Anabel was not entirely sure what she wanted to study. Learning about STAC’s Psychology and Business programs, she knew the combination of knowledge from these programs would lead her to success. Her advice for incoming students: never lose sight of your goals and the person you are working towards becoming.


Jason smiling, wearing black rimmed glasses and red and blue flannel. Barn, green grass, and trees in background
Jason Enriquez '21
Marketing Major

Jason’s favorite course, digital marketing, has given him the opportunity to take part in a hands-on digital marketing simulation: “We did a project that allowed us to evaluate a brand and suggest improvements. This class was incredibly hands-on, and the material was enjoyable to learn." READ MORE

Taylor Trinidad in a red phone booth in London; smiling
Taylor Trinidad '21
Accounting Major

"I chose St. Thomas Aquinas College because it has a beautiful "homey" feeling to it. The School of Business makes being a business major so exciting, they give you a taste of all flavors of the business industry and the various avenues of where the degree can take us, as long as we work hard at it."


Jisa smiling, headshot photo
Jisa Jose ‘21
Computer Science, Minor: Visual Arts

Jisa's growing interest in computer science inspired her to major in it at St. Thomas Aquinas College. “Computers are an integral part of everything we do,” she says. “The idea of using technology to solve problems always fascinates me.” READ MORE

Sean smiling; sunset with river and trees in background
Sean Leiper ’22
Biology Major

Working in the medical field has been Sean’s dream since he can remember. When he was in sixth grade his dream was to be a surgeon. Sean knew that he needed to find a school with “smaller class sizes, a great biology program, and the ability to gain real world skills and knowledge.” Sean immediately took to STAC's community-like atmosphere on campus and truly enjoyed “being able to develop and build relationships with professors.” 


Walter smiling in front of Sullivan Theatre
Walter Ahlf '22
Computer Science Major, Performing Arts Minor

Now a junior at STAC, Walter says that gaming, and specifically his favorite series “Legends of Zelda: The Wind Waker,” inspired his interests in both computer science and the performing arts. READ MORE

Abagaile smiling, wearing sun hat
Abagaile Kimbrell ’21
Natural Sciences Major (Physics Specialization)

In the fall of her junior year, Abagaile decided she would pursue a degree in education, to teach high school physics. “Seeing my professors like Dr. Emanuel for example, be so passionate about learning was very eye-opening. She makes it fun and that really inspired me to want to provide the same feeling to students of my own one day,” she says.


Isabella smiles outside green trees in background
Isabella Szklany ’21
Communication Arts Major

Before she took the class Content Development for Public Relations, Isabella Szklany ’21 didn’t imagine herself baking cookies and handling PR for a local nonprofit that sends children with life threatening and/or terminal illnesses and their families on an all-expense paid vacation to ALL the theme parks in Orlando, Florida.


Timothy smiling; blue suit jacket and red tie; outside fence and trees blurred in background
Timothy Henion '21
Finance Major

Timothy is an Honors Program student who hopes to work for a bank or financial firm in New York City upon graduation. Timothy shares, “I always take advantage of events going on around campus, from resume workshops to networking events. You never know where something could lead, but you have to show up and put yourself out there.”


Melissa smiling, green grass, tree, sunshine in background
Melissa Mounier ’20
English and Creative Writing Double Major

“Ever since I was twelve, I have been writing stories." Melissa sees herself working as an editor for a literary magazine or publishing house. “STAC helped me to consider the different career options within my field of study, and really helped me decide what field within the writing industry I wanted to pursue.”


Suzanne Clarke athletics head shot; smiling light green and pink background
Suzanne Clarke ’21
Accounting Major

Suzanne knew when she arrived at St. Thomas Aquinas College that she wanted a career that involved travel. Because of her international experiences and with the guidance of her professors in the School of Business, she decided to complement her Accounting major with a minor in International Business...


Gianna Galu portrait photo, smiling
Gianna Galu '21
Biology Major

During Spring 2019, Gianna Galu ’21 and three other students spent seven days in the Dominican Republic on a medical mission ... READ MORE

Aliza Deen
Aliza Deen ’20
Psychology and English Double Major

Aliza Deen loves anime, so when her English professor suggested making it the focus of a joint project, she jumped right in. ...  READ MORE

Luke Taplin
Luke Taplin
Finance Major, Economics Minor

Luke Taplin ’20 grew up playing tennis in Auckland, New Zealand. In fact, it’s the sport that brought Luke to the states after he was recruited to play it at St. Thomas Aquinas College...


Tyiana Nunez on sport field wearing STAC Triathlon T-Shirt
Tyiana Nunez
Criminal Justice Major; Forensic Psychology Minor

From the time she was in sixth grade, Tyiana Nunez knew she wanted to be an FBI agent. Since then, the Criminal Justice major has had many opportunities to see what her future career is like in real-time. She has investigated... READ MORE

Americo Acevedo
Americo Acevedo
Accounting Major

Americo Acevedo got a taste of what it’s like to work at a Big Four accounting firm courtesy of the Deloitte Pioneer Internship he landed during the summer of his freshmen year. For six weeks, he worked alongside partners and staff in Deloitte’s offices at New York City’s iconic Rockefeller Plaza and... READ MORE

Kevan smiling wearing STAC WSTK radio shirt
Kevan Ottochian '07
Social Studies Teacher, Grades 7-12

One of Kevan’s favorite aspects of his job is the element of unpredictability, despite the detailed day-to-day lesson plans he prepares for his classes. He encourages students to share their opinions and insights and, in discussions about current events, he challenges them to think critically, something he learned at his alma mater.


Brittany smiling, long hair, river scene in background
Brittany Barrow '13
Elementary and Special Education Teacher

Sixth-grade special education teacher Brittany Barrow says that one of the greatest rewards of teaching is the valuable lessons she learns from her students every day. Brittany creates lesson plans and teaches every subject at Kakiat STEAM Academy in the East Ramapo Central School District.“ No matter what, always persevere, even when things seem impossible." READ MORE

Doris smiling outside of Borelli Hall
Doris Osei '20
STAC Student Success and HEOP Counselor

The warm and welcoming community is among the reasons Doris chose to study at St. Thomas Aquinas College. While working toward her bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts, she made her own contribution to fostering STAC’s warm family environment. Doris discovered that working with students is a perfect fit for her so she assumed the title and duties of a Student Success and HEOP Counselor at STAC. READ MORE

Matthew Dybus wearing back suit and tie smiling; gray plain background
Matthew Dybus '15
Senior Underwriter for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company

Matthew studied finance and economics at STAC’s School of Business, a path that set the foundation for his current role as a senior underwriter for Liberty Mutual. He was also active on campus, serving as a Student Ambassador and a Career Ambassador. “STAC has provided a tremendous, treasured opportunity of receiving a college education.” READ MORE

Garvenchy Nicolas sporting one of his clothes collections
Garvenchy Nicolas ‘14
Project Manager, Blue World Incorporated and Executive Director, Synergy Today

Garvenchy began his career as a personal banker and relationship manager for two leading banking institutions, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America...


Jonathan smiling
Jonathan Clark '04
Executive Producer at CBS News Radio

Starting out as a student at STAC, Jonathan was unsure of what career path he wanted to pursue. However, it wasn’t until he took his first communications course he realized that two of the things he loved, news and radio, could be a career. READ MORE

Morghan smiling; wearing white sweater and black shirt
Morghan Sonzogni '18
Elementary Special Education Teacher, Honiss School

“I chose St. Thomas Aquinas College because I fell in love with the Education Program. I enjoyed having the 5 year accelerated Master’s program as an option, and am overjoyed that I was able to take part in it."


Javier smiling, wearing lilac colored shirt, muted painting in background
Javier Muñoz Laguna, BS '17
Chiropractic Clerk, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Javier’s experiences indicate his affinity for helping others. “Being able to rotate through an integrated setting with many healthcare providers while having the honor to treat those who served our country" has been a highlight in Javier's career thus far.


Savannah smiling, wearing glasses and flannel shirt
Savannah Finver, BA ’16
Teacher’s Assistant and Doctoral Student, Ohio State University

Savannah Finver BA ’16 arrived at St. Thomas Aquinas College with a plan to earn her degree in childhood and special education and become an elementary school teacher. But when she discovered a new intellectual curiosity in her English and religious studies classes, her focus shifted to higher education.


Jules smiling, wearing Spartans Men's Basketball jersey. Gray solid background
Jules de Courtenay ‘18
Cloud Data Specialist, Capgemini

“Each unique influence from fellow students and faculty, combined with its small-college compassion makes STAC stand far above other schools. I have found tremendous value in STAC’s ability to both broaden my mind and instill key values that allowed me to be successful and prepared for the workforce.”


Alyssa Hamilton smiling, library bookshelf and doorway in background
Alyssa Hamilton, BA ’16
Adjunct faculty at STAC

It didn’t take long for Alyssa Hamilton to return to the place that felt like home during her undergraduate years. In 2019, she came back to campus, not as a student, but as an adjunct lecturer in STAC’s English Department, teaching courses such as Writing About American Literature and Advanced Fiction Workshop.


Heather smiling, headshot photo
Heather Palmer, BS ’16
Senior Actuarial Manager, Equitable Life

Heather's interest in math evolved from her major in actuarial science—a discipline that applies mathematical and statistical methods to assess risks in fields like insurance and finance, which led her to a senior management position at Equitable Life.


Bill smiling headshot photo gray shirt, beige wall background
William E. Wrightson 5th, ’16
High School English Teacher

Bill models the examples set by his professors in the classroom and credits the time he spent as an RA at STAC for developing other skills that have proven useful in his career, including an immediate comfort level standing up before a class to teach: “Dr. Shultz, Dr. Rothschild, Professor Golland, Dr. Murray, and Dr. O’Neill had a lasting impact on my love of English. I found their love and knowledge infectious and hope to instill that same spark in my students now.” READ MORE

Angela standing with left arm on hip. Wearing pink dress.
Angela Santoro ’16
Special Education Teacher

“I decided to pursue education because I wanted to teach children that learning can be fun and that they can do anything they set their minds to,” she says. “Once I took the first few education classes at St. Thomas Aquinas College, I knew that this was the right school and the right career for me.” READ MORE

Alumnae, Amanda Iacobellis
Amanda Iacobellis '16
ELA Teacher at St. Leo’s School

Amanda credits her professors in the English Department at STAC for reaffirming her career plans, holding students to a high standard, and for introducing her to new genres and authors. “Some of the most rewarding moments in my career have been when my students become sincerely invested in the piece of literature we are reading in class,” she says. 


Jerone smiling professional photo
Dr. Jerone Dunbar ’09
Senior User Experience Research Lead at Honda

As the lead of future in-car technology UX research for both mainstream and luxury cars, Jerone’s role as the User Experience Research Lead at Honda allows him to spearhead design and conduct evaluative research for future vehicle infotainment systems. READ MORE

Courtney smiling; black long sleeve; bookshelf behind her full of various texts
Courtney Gerver '17
Teaching Assistant and Cognitive Neuroscientist at Penn State University

When it came time for Courtney to pick a school, what drew her to STAC was the smaller class sizes, the ability to get to know the professors, and the Honors Program. During her first semester, Courtney immediately found her passion when she took her Introduction to Psychology class. READ MORE

Kat Baumgartner smiling with green mountain-scape in background
Kathryn Baumgartner '15
Children’s Librarian within the Great Neck Library System

For Kathryn Baumgartner, teaching was always a desired industry, and English was a field that greatly interested her. However, it was not until later on in her professional and academic career that she would realize a career as a Librarian would be the perfect fit.


Caitlin Zungoli smiling; outdoors
Caitlin Zungoli '15
Financial Services Analyst at ConEdison/Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc.

While Caitlin wishes she had more time for volunteering, she always has time for her alma mater: “I will give the school as much time and talent as I can so that other students can have the same exceptional experiences I did..."


Melissa Castillo
Melissa Urena Castillo ’17
Recreation Therapist at Helen Hayes Hospital

"The most rewarding thing about my career is seeing the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits Recreation Therapy has for my patients" ... READ MORE

Sarah Jo Montello
Sarah Montello, BA ’16
8th Grade ELA Teacher, Durham Public Schools, Durham, NC

Imagine researching 19th-century literature in one of the oldest libraries in Europe .... READ MORE

Ariana Carpentieri at Macmillan Publishers
Ariana Carpentieri, BA ’18
Assistant to the Associate Publisher/Vice President of Marketing & Publicity for Books, Macmillan Publishers

Watching big ideas transform into manuscripts and ultimately bound volumes that land on bookstore shelves .... READ MORE

Nicki LiTrenta sitting in front of a fountain
Nicki LiTrenta
Accounting Operations Representative at Bloomberg LP '18

Nicki LiTrenta knew she wanted to work at Bloomberg from the moment she visited the organization’s New York City’s headquarters with the STAC Business Club last year. While it took some serious perseverance, she has since made... READ MORE

Alexa Fox
Alexa Fox, BS ’13

Alexa Fox discovered her passion for optometry while shadowing professionals in the field as an honors student at St. Thomas Aquinas College. “I was pretty certain I wanted to pursue a career as an eye care physician and that decision was solidified after shadowing professionals in the field... READ MORE