“We have so much success to celebrate, “ said Katia Passerini, the current dean of the Honors College. “The college has grown physically -- we have a beautiful new building and home -- and quantitatively: We started in 1995 with 230 students and now have 700 students and 2,500 alumni. Our students receive an outstanding education that shows in our alumni’s myriad accomplishments.”
Passerini said the success of the Honors College is a result of its educational offerings -- a unique mix of honors classes, seminars and colloquia and leadership training as well as community service, research opportunities, accelerated professional programs and generous scholarships. With this education, the graduates have found top jobs in major corporations and been accepted at leading professional and graduate schools. They now work as doctors, dentists and lawyers, as well as engineers, scientists, architects, programmers and business managers.
The four alumni who will speak during the ceremony are indicative of the kind of graduates the college produces:
Paulo Pinho, who graduated in 1996, belonged to the college’s accelerated BS-MD medical program. He attended Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (then called UMDNJ), and now owns a pediatric and internal medical practice in Millburn, N.J. He lives in Union.
Jennifer Guevara, of Willingboro, graduated from the college in 2004 with a degree in computer science and math. Guevara entered the Honors College needing help. She had attended an inner city high school and grew up in a single-mother home. The college gave her the help she needed and now she has a top job -- program manager -- at one of the nation’s top companies: Lockheed Martin.
Karen Cilento, who graduated in 2012 with a degree in architecture, now works as an architectural designer for Marvel Architects in New York. As one of her projects, Cilento, of Staten Island, is helping to restore a graceful old building on the NJIT campus: the Central King Building (which was once Newark’s Central High School).
Kathleen Uske, also from Staten Island, graduated in 2014 with a degree in biomedical engineering and now has a job working as a senior associate at UnitedHealth Group.
During the ceremony, the college will also recognize two members of its Board of Visitors: Stephen Cordes, of Westfield, a 1972 graduate of NJIT who is a former managing director of Clarion Partners, and Roberta Renard, of Summit, the former publisher of Diversity/Careers Magazine.
Guevara, the alumna at Lockheed Martin, said she’ll speak about how her scholarships helped her get a degree, then a foothold in corporate America. As a student, she had held the Gil Glass scholarship. Glass recently died and endowed the college with $1 million for student scholarships. And she is grateful to donors like Glass who support the Honors College.
“I came from a humble background and the college gave me generous financial aid without which I could not have afforded tuition,” said Guevara, who now serves on the college’s Board of Visitors.
“The scholarships I received,” she continued, “covered all my educational expenses and allowed me to fulfill my dream of being the first in my family to graduate from college. The College offers its students so many opportunities to grow intellectually and professionally. It offers great colloquiums, where professionals talk about various topics and careers. Honors students also take special seminars, which are small and rigorous. The College broadened my educational horizons and now I have a great career. If not for the College, I would not be where I am today.”