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75 years of memories Alumni and students share their FDU stories

“Looking back I realized this was the place where I changed from an adolescent to an adult, where the rest of my life was formed. I learned job skills to give me a successful career, learned how to develop interpersonal relationships, and formed lasting friendships. I laughed and cried, struggled, became frustrated, reached, grew and became more of the person I am today. Long live the memories of FDJC.”

— Margaret Hoag Lackner Jensen, AA’46 (Ruth)

“I recall taking an art appreciation class (still have that textbook with black and white illustrations!) in a Castle classroom. Climbing the sandstone steps into the building was quite a different experience from the typing class in a more ‘modern’ building.”

— Mary Ellen Zeitz, AA’56 (Ruth)

“The campus and buildings were beautiful, crowned by a castle. Everything was kept impeccably. The emphasis was on learning, not just in the classroom, but also about the paintings and statues around you in the library and in the other buildings including the Student Union Building. The influence of the Sammartinos was a very positive factor… The other students were friendly, and during my first two years included a sizable number of Korean War veterans. They were older than many of us, but were always helpful and looked out for us…. I had many fine teachers, but the most memorable was Dr. Emil Szebenyi [associate professor of biological sciences]. He normally taught comparative anatomy but when he discovered that a number of us in the botany class he was teaching arrived early to compare notes (we were business majors), he also arrived early. He was an interesting, instructive and caring teacher.”

— Carol Gilligan Sudol, AA’59, BS’71 (Ruth)

“I am just so glad that FDU was there when I could no longer go to college during the day. I was able to finish at night in October 1961. I remember taking an exam in statistics during a blizzard the night before President John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, going to the Madison Campus to play tennis and swim indoors (making use of my student ID!), and inviting all my friends to an Evening College dance!”

— William G. Deehan, AA’59, BS'61 (Ruth)

“When I applied for admission to FDU, I was sailing as a licensed ship's officer on an ocean-going ship, in the United States Merchant Marine. While my ship was loading cargo in Hoboken, N.J., I obtained and filled out an FDU application.

Many weeks later, my ship was docked in Istanbul, Turkey. I took a taxi to the Hilton Hotel in Istanbul and placed a long-distance telephone call to FDU. It took 20 minutes or so for the telephone call to be established. Finally, I picked up the receiver and a female voice at the other end said ‘Hello.’

I told the women that I wanted to find out if I had been accepted to the University and that I was calling from Istanbul.

She said: ‘Istan what?’

‘Madam, I am calling from Istanbul, Turkey, this telephone call is costing me $14 a minute. I want to speak to the dean of admissions.’

A moment of silence, followed by a few telephone clicks, and on the line came a very polished and distinguished female voice that said: ‘This is Sylvia Sammartino, the dean of admissions. May I help?’

‘This is Francis Tepedino, I am calling from Istanbul, Turkey. Many weeks earlier I mailed in my application to the University and want to know if I’ve been accepted.’

Without missing a beat, she said: ‘Mr. Tepedino, anyone calling from Istanbul, Turkey, regarding admission to FDU is automatically admitted. Come to my office when you return to New Jersey.’

What ‘class acts’ she and President Sammartino were.”

— Francis J. Tepedino BS’63, (Metro)

“My memories of attending FDU include gathering in the Student Union cafeteria; the boys being required to wear jackets and ties; freshmen having to park on Carmita Avenue, farthest from the campus in Rutherford, and classes held in Prentiss House and Kingsland House. I remember we played a basketball game against the girls’ team on the campus at Madison and we were thrilled to swim in the indoor pool there.

I graduated with a degree in elementary education and enjoyed a successful teaching career. Fond memories of the days spent at FDU and following graduation remain with me to this day. When I had the opportunity 14 years ago to join the staff at FDU, it seemed very fitting that I would return to the place where it all started.”

— Martha (Cooper) Young, BSEE'64 (Ruth)

“In 1964, James Farmer of CORE [Congress of Racial Equality] visited Teaneck and several of us joined his effort to end red-lining [an attempt to keep whites and blacks in separate neighborhoods] in Bergen County. We visited realtors as white couples, black couples and mixed-race couples and kept careful record of the homes we were shown, the prices, locations, etc. When the data clearly showed that couples were not being given access to all the homes warranted, based on income and education, we visited representatives of the multiple listing program for Bergen County and the realtors organizations to demand an end to red-lining.”

— Ellen Moore, BS'64 (Metro)

“The Rutherford Campus was like a tight family. My absolute favorite memories are of times shared with other bio majors. Antoinette Anastasia [associate professor and chair of biological sciences] and Emil Szebenyi [assistant professor of biological sciences] were two VERY special people who always had their students’ best interests at the heart of their work. The life experiences from those years stood me well through three distinct careers!”

— Alice Wolff Tischio Lull, BS'66 (Ruth)

“More than anything else, I remember ‘Hazing Month.’ I believe I still have the Columbia blue and white lettered beanie we freshmen were forced to wear along with the paper bag we had to carry with us at all times. We were advised not to put anything in the bag because if an upper classman shouted "air raid" we had to stop walking and put the bag over our head! Also, we could only walk on certain walkways during that special month. It was great fun and I had a blast.

I had so many favorite professors! The two who stand out the most were Walter Savage [assistant professor of English] for my freshman English class and Irving Buchen [associate professor of English] for Literary Masterpieces. Those two had such a humorous way of teaching, capturing my interest in literature so much so that I still collect and read the classics (along with Stephen King) to this very day!

Other fond memories were meeting my friends in the cafeteria located in the basement of the mansion (the Student Center had not been built yet). It was amazing how easily we solved the world's problems over a cheeseburger and fries. What FDU taught me more than anything else is that no one has all the answers, hence, education is a lifelong process.”

— Craig Walsh, BS'67 (Flor)

“College life on the Rutherford Campus was memorable for me. It was an oasis in the suburbs with mythical buildings amidst towering trees. The warmth of the college community was apparent as one became familiar with faces very quickly as we scurried from class to class ending with coffee in the cafeteria… our normal meeting place… Dr. Sammartino was a visionary well ahead of his time. He put the spark in my heart and mind that exploring the world was a necessary experience to function in life.”

— Susan Vago Sorokolit, BS’67 (Ruth)

The campus: River Road, Teaneck, Fairleigh Dickinson College

Circa: 1956

Dress code: Jackets and ties for male students, dresses or skirts for the ladies

Buildings: Gymnasium, book store, commons, several classroom buildings, one dorm (We all commuted from home)

“To many of us it was our time and our place! Registration lines were endless. The Commons small and often crowded. The classrooms, packed. The tuition was under $25 a credit for undergraduates and used books were attainable from Barnes & Noble in the city.

Friends made were similar to me. We had worked a year after high school and saved to attend. A great majority were military veterans who received benefits from the Korean conflict.

The fun began when we all found each other. We grinned and beared the endless lectures with prominent people on the Cold War and mediocrity. It was the Beatnik era. The Big Apple was near by. The best pizza was on River Street in Hackensack. The diner was on Cedar Lane. And, of course, our studies. Our lives were full.

For many, like me, the best friend was for a lifetime: a spouse. Raymond, home from Europe and his time in the army, graduated with a degree in economics. I received my BS in elementary education. We only went one year during the day and finished at night, one course at a time and through the summers. I even returned to FDU for my masters in learning disabilities.

Friends from college remained so for decades. Sadly, Raymond passed away three years ago. We owed every successful step to Fairleigh. We were the pioneers. And now look at what FDU has become!”

— Marian (Duffy) Brovero, BS'67 (Metro), MED'77 (Ruth)

In memory of Raymond Brovero, BA’64 (Metro)

“I had an advisor, Dr. Emil Szebenyi, professor and chair of biology, who was also my anatomy professor. When I asked him for a recommendation to medical school he said, in his Hungarian accent, “… is never be doctor. … is not work hard enough.” Forty-four years later and a wonderful career as an OB/GYN, I thank him for challenging me and allowing me to prove him wrong. I loved FDU!”

— Barry Cohen, BS'68 (Ruth)

“My greatest memory follows a conference I had with [late] Prof. Daniel Pliskin, chair of management and marketing, who directed me to study for a marketing degree based on my art background and also to take a radio production course with WFDU-FM. This led to my FCC license, learning about newscasting and running my own control room board for my own classical and progressive rock shows from 1973–76. This started my career in business/sales and communications, giving me a life direction.”

— Dennis Baker, BS'75 (Metro)

“I had arrived from a private college-prep high school, and would go on to law school and a successful 30-year career as a trial lawyer in California.

At the junction of those phases of my life are my years at FDU, 1973-1977, a life-changing, growthful and career-mapping era that was infused by the brilliance of James Shields, associate professor of English. His doctorate was from Columbia University. He was the finest, most exhilarating lecturer I ever had, and in a stroke of luck he was my freshman English teacher.

Through weekly essays and generous editing and coaching, he greatly assisted me in developing a clear writing style that served me well in my legal career.”

— Joseph Costella, BA'77 (Metro)

“Traveling to Wroxton College was my first time abroad without my parents. I couldn't get a direct flight into England, so I flew first to Paris, France, switched airplanes and airports, flew to Heathrow, and spent overnight in Reading before taking the train to Banbury. Quite an adventure for my 22-year-old self!”

— Judith Hess, MA'78 (Metro)

“Dr. A [professor of biological sciences and dean of the Maxwell Becton College of Arts and Sciences] was definitely a force to be reckoned with. She actually made me shake in my pants. I was a nursing student with a triple major and worked very hard. I still can see the large textbook she taught from when I close my eyes. She always took the time to talk with me, and one day sat down and gave me some advice. She told me to take my knowledge from FDU and go into sales. “Dive right in,” because you were born to do it, she said. A stellar career 35 years later proved her right. Bravo, Dr. Anastasia, you most certainly made a difference in my life.”

— Suzanne Levy, BA'82 (Ruth)

“I was lucky enough to receive a soccer scholarship for my undergraduate studies and a fellowship for my MBA. I could not be more grateful to the institution and Dr. Richard Panicucci [professor of quantitative analysis], in particular.

I’m back in Italy now, but I try to go back to FDU whenever I can. I always make sure I read parts of FDU Magazine to my children, in the hope they might choose a similar experience. Participating in the NCAA finals twice (1988 and 1989) was probably the highlight at the time, but the proximity and the cultural integration with New York City is what makes the education here unparalleled.”

— Sandro Moscatelli, AA’88, BA'90, MBA’92 (Metro)

“I very much enjoyed my tenure at FDU, and a highlight was the semester I spent at Wroxton (Spring 1990). Many of the friends I met at FDU I still am friendly with today — Michelle Faith Brown, MA’88 (Metro); Edward Toy, BA’90 (Metro); Nadine Gregoire-Jackson, BA’92 (Metro); Kristine Iversen-Loucopoulos, BS’93 (Metro); Ron Bar-Nadav, BS’90 (Metro); and Imran Riaz. FDU afforded me “the piece of paper” I needed to get that first job and launch a very successful career in marketing research.”

— John Castellano, BS’ 93 (Metro)

“I worked for Hoffmann-La Roche in Nutley, N.J., and attended FDU while working full time. My amazing employer paid for all of my tuition. Because it took me so long to graduate, I did not go to graduation, thinking it anticlimactic. Was I ever wrong! I graduated magna cum laude and the president of Hoffmann-La Roche in Nutley, Patrick Zenner, signed my diploma as he’s the Chair the Board of Trustees for FDU! I treasure that diploma to this day.”

— Christine Green, BA'04 (Metro)

“So happy to call FDU Madison my home for four years! I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren’t for my experiences there.”

— Kevin O'Connell, BS’06 (Flor)

“I attended as an English literature student — I remember painting the rock outside of the mansion, co-hosting shows with my roommate at the radio station, and participating in Student Government Association, Starshine Theatre Company, Scribbles Literary Magazine, Sigma Tau Delta and so many more. And of course, I remember my amazing English and communication professors. To current students: You're so lucky to be at FDU (no matter which campus).”

— Jennifer, “JayJay” Stroup, BA’08 (Flor)

“I am so grateful I chose to attend FDU! It was such a well-rounded college experience — I was in the scholars program, on the basketball team and even studied abroad in Costa Rica y la amé muchisimo. :-)”

— Kym Molaskey, BA’10 (Flor)

“It's hard for me to pick one moment in my FDU career that I cherish the most. I truly feel the entire staff of the Literature, Language, Philosophy and Writing department and my coaches were my mentors in life and in my academics. I was challenged in more ways than I could have imagined and achieved goals I didn't think possible: writing a 25-page thesis in Spanish (not my native language!), studying abroad in Spain, and being a finalist for the student Pinnacle Award. Thanks to FDU, I embrace challenges and strive to achieve more. #myfdu #fdupride”

— Kristen Lefkus, BA’13 (Flor)

“I decided on going to FDU to become a teacher like my mom and graduated in 2014 with my BA. To make this day even more special, as I graduated with my BA in humanities and a minor in English, my mother Debra Palumbo, BA’12, MAT’14 (Metro), graduated from FDU at the same graduation!”

— Priscilla Grover, BA'14 (Metro)

“It's already three years ago that I received my BA in psychology. Time sure flies, and without a doubt, going to Fairleigh Dickinson University was one of the best choices I ever made in my life. Thank you, #fdumetro, for all the memories, and for providing me with the opportunity to receive an education that I am proud of!”

— Kerri Fernley, BA'14 (Metro)

“My mentor was Dr. Kathryn Ado [associate professor of education] in the Peter Sammartino School of Education. She taught me the ins and outs of being a classroom teacher. She was encouraging and helpful and motivated me to become the best teacher I can be! She also taught me how to write the BEST lesson plans! I STILL get compliments on how well-written my lesson plans are, and it's all thanks to Dr. Ado.”

— Joseph Swiderski, BA’16, MAT’17 (Flor)

“Fairleigh Dickinson University helped shape my personality. I now feel I am a global citizen. The opportunity to talk to people from all over the world in every single one of my classes made me realize the importance of communication, an open mind and respect. Thank you, FDU, for providing a space for people from all over the world to get together.”

— Carlos Martell Ayala, BS'17 (Van)

“I'm eternally grateful for professors Cynthia Thole Loewus [clinical assistant professor of musical theater], Stacie Lents [associate professor of theater] and Stephen Hollis [assistant professor of theater]. Their mentorship has made me the actor I am today. They've given me countless opportunities to grow and challenge myself, both in the classroom and out. I've been a teaching assistant for three semesters, I've played roles from ensemble to lead, and I even had the chance to meet veteran actress Rita Moreno [at NJPAC, as part of the New Jersey Speakers Series]. Most importantly, they believe in me and I can feel their support in everything I do.”

— Pamela Shapiro, BA'17 (Flor)

“Studying abroad at Wroxton was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had in my entire life. From the outstanding weekend trips to the friendliest staff I've ever met, I have never felt luckier to attend FDU. The school made such a wonderful, memorable experience so attainable.”

— Angela Guido, Class of 2018 (Flor)

“Only after going to Wroxton in Spring 2016 did I fully understand the “Wroxton Experience” and why everyone says Wroxton is the best thing you will do at FDU. Wroxton was a place where I didn't know I was going to fall in love, but did! Wroxton showed me what it means to fall in love with endless cities, the desire to travel and life itself. It’s a place where we cheered to all the laughs, endless memories, the 41 strangers that turned into a family, and the opportunity of a lifetime. Half of my heart will always be in England. And for that, I will always be eternally grateful to have called Wroxton my home.”

— Kelsey Leibner, Class of 2019 (Flor)

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