Our Year in Review: 2019-2020
By Carolina Silva ’16
We are excited to launch our new initiative called “Our Year in Review” from your Wagner College Alumni Association Board President, Carolina Silva ‘16, to give you an inside view of the events spearheaded by the Alumni Association, led by the Alumni Association Board. Our Year in Review is based off of the academic year, spanning from September 2019 to August 2020.
Reflecting back, the Alumni Association Board kicked off the year with our first board meeting featuring our college president Dr. Joel Martin, where we were able to share our knowledge and passion for Wagner College, and gain insight to Dr. Martin’s vision for Wagner College.
Then, we launched the academic year with Homecoming. Spearheaded by alumni board member Ann Giordano ‘69 M’70, we were able to bring back a homecoming tradition: The Homecoming Float! We had a fabulous time on the Oval, enjoying the best of Staten Island food and reminiscing with our friends and family. The float parade was the highlight of Homecoming, with a special recognition to two championship teams: Women’s Water Polo and Women’s Lacrosse. The first-ever end zone hospitality tent encouraged alumni and friends to cheer on the Seahawks as they took on the Monmouth Hawks, and celebrated with alumni inaugurated into the athletic hall of fame.
Led by alumni board members Levent Bayrasli ’90 and Joanna Ciavarella ’11, the board launched our Thursday Night Live series. Alumni from various industries and professional backgrounds participated in an on-campus panel discussion open to all students on campus. Our alumni panelists offered advice on networking, career paths, and gave insight to how Wagner helped them to where they are today.
The board also hosted our second annual Alumni and Faculty and Staff Appreciation Breakfast, with planning led by alumni board member and adjunct professor Claire Regan ’80. Our annual breakfast celebrates the unique community of alumni who work at Wagner College. We are so proud and thankful of our Seahawks who chose to serve their alma mater.
As a part of our regional programming, we headed down to Washington, D.C, where alumni received a tour of the U.S. Capitol Dome, thanks to alumni board member Christian Rautenstrauch ’13. Our alumni enjoyed extraordinary views at the top of the U.S. Capitol Dome followed by dinner and drinks.
The Alumni Association Board strives to support the advancement initiatives of Wagner College. This year, the school raised $307,672 on Day of Giving, with a 100% participation rate from the Alumni Association Board. Your contribution to the school as an alumni, friend or parent helps us to help current and future generations of Wagner Seahawks.
We concluded our fall semester with our second annual holiday party where we celebrated the holiday season with 70 alumni, spanning from the class of 1965 to 2016, on a private dinner cruise. We enjoyed the beautiful NYC skyline including close up views of the Statue of Liberty - even closer than on a Staten Island Ferry ride.
Embracing Our New Normal: Wagner goes Virtual
We started the Spring semester with our annual alumni events in sunny Florida, including Naples and Boynton Beach. Our Naples event was hosted by Board of Trustee member Andy Cortese ’72 and Natalie Migliare Cortese ‘92. Our Boynton Beach event was hosted by Board of Trustee Kimberly Spiro. The events were a great opportunity to introduce Florida alumni to our newest college president, Dr. Joel W. Martin and Jan Martin. Big thanks to ex-officio board member, Jack Felver ‘65, for organizing and inviting alumni to reunite in Florida.
Shortly after our Florida events, much of our Spring programming was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. During this time, Wagner College proudly saluted and acknowledged our fellow nursing and PA alumni and essential workers on the frontlines. We are beyond grateful for their dedication, hard work and determination during the pandemic. You can read stories about how Wagner College alumni, students, faculty and staff made a difference in the Wagner College newsroom here.
In April, the board hosted a volunteer virtual toast celebrating our most active alumni volunteers. We also teamed up with the Admissions Office for a virtual coffee break with Alumni & Admissions, featuring alumni board member Ken Nilsen ’88. We began to launch videos from alumni congratulating and welcoming the incoming freshmen class of 2024. The Women’s Professional Network hosted a virtual workshop themed Adulting 101 for all graduating seniors led by WPN alumnae co-chair Aurora Brennan ‘13 and were joined by alumni board members Ellen Huffman Mathias ’14 and Alyssa Ahern ’13.
In May, we launched our Alumni Virtual Info Series, which was kicked off by Nicolina Astorina, Director of Alumni Relations, and myself. Our first session covered our initiative for Graduates of the Last Decade, or GOLD, which is co-chaired by alumni board members Ashley Sodipo ’15 and Joanna Ciavarella ’11. We additionally held sessions on our alumni and student affinity groups, including the Women’s Professional Network co-chaired by Aurora Brennan ’13, Black Professional Alliance led by Andrea DeLoney ’10, and OUTWagner co-chaired by alumni board member Dillon Quinn ‘17. We ended our series with an Alumni Association Board information panel featuring current alumni board members Ann Giordano ’69 M’70, Cailin Kelly ’08, and Christian Rautenstrauch ’13.
Unfortunately, our seniors, and newest alumni of the College, were unable to walk at their Commencement this year. While they couldn’t traditionally celebrate the ending of their four years at Wagner, alumni were enlisted in participating in the Class of 2020 Toast. Nicolina Astorina, Director of Alumni Relations, alumni board member Dillon Quinn ’17 and myself, came together to send our warmest congratulations and best wishes to the 2020 graduates. You can watch the video here. Thanks to all alumni who submitted their quotes, photos and videos personally congratulating our newest Seahawks to the alumni association.
We ended the month of May with a Virtual Reunion Weekend, where over 100 alumni joined us for our virtual programming. This weekend included class decade breakout reunions, with the largest showing from the Golden Seahawks class decade hangout. Golden Seahawks, members of any graduating class prior to 1970, welcomed and congratulated the Class of 1970 for their 50th anniversary from Wagner. Alumni brought their favorite Wagner Swag, ranging from t-shirts, hats, pennants, mugs, and more! Alumni board member Ann Giordano ‘69 M’60 showed the Golden Seahawks pin to the Class of 1970’s in honor of the milestone anniversary. Unsurprisingly, alumni brought their spirit and enthusiasm to every event. We had special visits from President Dr. Joel W. Martin and Jan Martin, and even Elvis! Reunion concluded with a virtual Grand Celebration, featuring Joel Richardson '02 (Soul Joel Productions) and Richie Byrne '85 (warm-up comedian for the Dr. Oz show)! Joel and Richie put on a Wagner themed podcast show, featuring special alumni guests: Doug Hanson '14, Jack Irving '69, Vinnie Potestivo '99, Matt and John Drinkwater '19, Andrew (Dru) Hepkins '99, Janine LeManna '88, Jenny Kelly '13, John Gigante '84, and Karen Kalriess '85. You can watch the Facebook video here or on our website.
In June, we showcased the rich diversity of Wagner College alumni through our Juneteenth Celebration featuring alumni board member Olatunde Ogunlana ‘10 M’11, Rebecca Kelly Golfman ‘07, and Kerri Alexander ‘15. Alumni, students, faculty and staff joined Wagner College senior leadership in a powerful discussion about race.
We ended the month of June with an OUTWagner Virtual Pride Celebration emceed by Zach Berteletti ’16 (@CarlostheUberDriver) with performances by Liam Blanchard ’23, Kany Creppy ’18, David Dines ’18, Justin Flores ’20, Darnell Kenney ’16, and Kyle VanZandt ’12. The Spirit Award was given to Linda Barbes Stein ‘69 for her enthusiasm and energy during trivia!
We wrapped up our spring semester programming in July. The Alumni Association Board had our last board meeting of the year where we voted on our new board members. We are pleased to have selected Keith Stith ’87, Stacy Trent ’94, Michael Barrett ’68, Darren Greco ’98, Robert Scalzo ’01 M’03, Adrian Adderley ’09, and Charlie Siedenburg ‘95, as our Faculty Representative.
This was a competitive year of outstanding applicants. Our new board members each bring a unique perspective and experience contributing to the needed diversity. We are excited to work with our new members and to further our work within the Alumni Association Board. You can read more about our newest members here.
What can you expect to see for the upcoming year?
Currently, Wagner College is planning to re-open on August 24. However, for the safety of our Wagner College community, events will continue to be virtual. You can read more about Wagner’s fall restart plan here.
First, we will continue to embrace and evolve our virtual programming and events. The Alumni Relations office is actively planning and preparing for the fall. We’re excited to announce that we will hold our first-ever virtual homecoming! While this is new for all of us, we are certain that with Wagner pride, we can make this Homecoming one to remember. Stay tuned for more information regarding the schedule of events here. We’re also excited to continue our professional development events and socials.
Second, the Alumni Association Board will focus their fall on honoring the alumni of the alumni board. Since the 1990s, alumni have been members of the Alumni Association Board, contributing their time to further the Wagner mission. We’re excited to launch a website soon, dedicated to our past and current leaders of the alumni association.
Third, you can look for ways to get involved with the alumni association. The Office of Alumni Relations has several initiatives that you can be a part of. If you or a fellow alumni you know is looking to get more actively engaged with the College, fill out our interest form. Here are some our initiatives to check out:
We are proud of the great work and resilience of the Alumni Association. We are excited for a new academic year continuing our mission. We hope to see you as we continue to celebrate, honor, reminisce with past, present, and future Seahawks - even if virtually.
Carolina Silva ’16
Alumni Association Board President