Wednesday, August 16, 2017

STU President, US Bishops condemn Virginia violence

“As President of St. Thomas University, I stand with the University community and the United States Catholic Bishops and all peoples of good will in denouncing violence in any shape and form that stands in contrast to the message of the Gospel as well as the principles of a just and peaceful society.”
- Msgr. Franklyn Casale


USCCB president and domestic justice chairman call for prayer and unity in response to deadly Charlottesville attack

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, are calling on all people of goodwill to join in prayer and unity today in response to this weekend’s violent protest and deadly attack in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Full statement follows:
"As we learn more about the horrible events of [this weekend], our prayer turns today, on the Lord's Day, to the people of Charlottesville who offered a counter example to the hate marching in the streets. Let us unite ourselves in the spirit of hope offered by the clergy, people of faith, and all people of good will who peacefully defended their city and country.

We stand against the evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-nazism. We stand with our sisters and brothers united in the sacrifice of Jesus, by which love's victory over every form of evil is assured. At Mass, let us offer a special prayer of gratitude for the brave souls who sought to protect us from the violent ideology displayed yesterday. Let us especially remember those who lost their lives. Let us join their witness and stand against every form of oppression."

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

STU Alumni Spotlight: Ana Eberhard ’88

Ana Eberhard ’88
B.A. in Communication Arts
Vice President, Member Experience | AvMed
1. How did your experience at St. Thomas University shape you into the leader you are today?
It gave me confidence to believe that whatever I set my mind to do, I can achieve. Having that mindset, combined with discipline, hard work, and time management skills, any challenge can be broken down into smaller actionable steps.

2. What is your most memorable experience from when you were a student at STU?
I had many; from the euphoria and excitement shared with the law students when the law school received its accreditation, to the various cultural events featuring excellent ethnic foods and music (the Jamaican heritage events were some of my favorites.) Being a Catholic institution, I always felt surrounded by people with similar values, but also open to new and diverse cultures and beliefs. The honors seminar classes, in which I was fortunate enough to have participated, led to the most exciting, thought-provoking and interesting discussions.

3. Our motto is “Leaders for Life,” how do you think our university molds students into Leaders for Life?
It establishes a sense of community and helps develop an appreciation for the fellowship of others. I believe this is foundational to developing a “Leader for Life.”

4. What advice would you give STU students or young alumni interested in pursuing a career in marketing, communications, and public relations?
Expose yourself to what interests you about the field you are pursuing, get to know the companies you aspire to work for, follow their clients, and familiarize yourself with their bodies of work. Use your time at St. Thomas to refine the skills those employers are looking for, and don’t ever think it is too early to start making connections with the folks that work there. Seek them out. Impress them with your knowledge and passion for what they do. When you are ready to graduate, those initial contacts and relationships will serve you well, and make you stand out as a job candidate. 

5. How did you first start down your career path?
Soon after I started at St. Thomas, I realized that what I had planned as a major was not really what I wanted to do. Luckily, I had a great guidance counselor in the Humanities Department, Dr. James Conley, who suggested focusing on the core requirements to give myself time to figure out my passion. Once I had done that, I had ruled out some fields that did not interest me, but was no closer to figuring out what did. I went back to Dr. Conley and, after discussing my interests in art, he suggested exploring a communications major which exposed students to various tracts across advertising, journalism, etc. The first class I took in advertising was with Mr. Stan Flax, and that is all it took to know this was my calling.

6. What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
Though I have worked on advertising campaigns for fantastic global brands from Nestle to BMW, I must admit, the work I am doing at AvMed gives me the most pride. That’s not just because of the work itself, but more importantly, because of the impact we are having on the health and well-being of people in the great communities we serve.

7. What do you find most rewarding about your job at AvMed?
Being able to make a difference in the company, as well as in the community, is what I find most rewarding. During my time at AvMed, I have been involved in exciting work around developing our brand purpose as “transforming lives to create a WELLfluentTM World” (a world of people who have made it their purpose to lead a balanced life, rich in what matters most – health and happiness), leading the development of award-winning advertising campaigns, leading the launch of our redesigned corporate website,, and developing programs like the AvMed Mobile Pantry in conjunction with Feed South Florida to bring healthy food alternatives to areas in our community that are “food deserts,” void of healthy food options.

8. In your 28+ years working with top brands on the advertising agency side, what attracted you to a career on “the other side of the desk” in healthcare?
Working on the client/brand side allows me to make the decisions about which efforts deserve support. With ownership comes accountability, it was the right time in my career to take on this responsibility.

9. In your opinion, what are some future trends in marketing, communications, and public relations?
Shiny objects will continue to drive marketers to test new tactics – whether it’s virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, you name it. Chat bots and artificial intelligence/machine learning will be embedded in the marketing engine of everything we do. The digital space and the technology that enables it will continue to play an increasing role in marketing and communications. Programmatic buying and marketing automation are here to stay. Brands will continue to be drawn to it, given continued focus on ROI, and the need to personalize messaging and approach. Increasingly, companies will drive demand for more data and transparency to ensure working dollars are maximized. But, while the need for science in quantifying results and the tools to access consumers will continue to drive marketers to these solutions, true success will come from those brands that don’t lose sight of the need to develop “love marks” and tell compelling stories built on human insights.

10. Are you involved in any volunteer projects or hobbies outside of work? If so, what?
I try to volunteer as much as my schedule permits. I am lucky in that, through the work at AvMed, volunteering is made easy as programs such as the AvMed Mobile Pantry allow me to deliver healthy food to those in need. In the past I have also volunteered at my church, at the Broward Pantry, YMCA, and for the City of Miami.

I am a bit of a gym rat, and I consider a killer Orange Theory workout one of my energy-boosting hobbies, but I am also an avid reader. I have a passion for the outdoors – biking, walking, or hiking and, when I need to connect with the energy that drives us all, my go-to hobby is yoga.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Curbing Human Trafficking through education, research and outreach

Florida has seen a 35 percent increase in reported human trafficking cases, ranking third in the United States for the most reported cases in 2016, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Last year, the state reported 550 cases, which includes 401 cases of sex trafficking and 92 cases of labor trafficking. In 2015, 407 cases were reported.
St. Thomas University School of Law has been a pioneering educational institution in addressing this growing problem. In order to build the necessary human resource infrastructure to effectively confront human trafficking, St. Thomas University will host its annual Human Trafficking Academy, July 31 – August 4, 2017.
“The dignity of every human being should be the guiding light of all law and policy; and the Catholic social teaching demands us to protect the dignity of all, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable amongst us,” said Roza Pati, STU law professor, and founder and director of the Human Trafficking Academy. “We designed this summer’s academy with a clear vision to empower participants to be a meaningful part of our great nation’s efforts to eradicate human trafficking while providing dignified care to victims and survivors.”
The academy offers 15 intensive and interactive courses, taught by top-level experts, academics and practitioners, to empower attendees with knowledge, skills and tools to address the many aspects of human trafficking.
Speakers include: 
  • Barbara Martinez, Chief, Special Prosecutions Section, U.S. DOJ, Miami U.S. Attorney's Office
  • Janet Basilan, Survivor of human trafficking and Vice Chairperson of GABRIELA USA
  • Greg H. Bristol, President, The Human Trafficking Investigations & Training Institute (Former FBI Special Agent)
  • Sean Sellers, Director of Strategic Partnerships, National Economic & Social Rights Initiative, Sarasota, Florida 
  • Brenda Mezick, Chief, Human Trafficking Unit, Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office
Upon completion of the training, participants will be awarded a certificate by St. Thomas University School of Law.

Registration deadline for the academy is July 21. To register, please visit

For more information, visit the Human Trafficking Academy website here, or email

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

STU Students Intern at Midway Ford

From left to right: Marcos Castillo '16; graduate student Jesus Callejo; Juan Dominguez, Midway Ford's marketing manager and internship supervisor; and Alex Villamañán '95, attorney at Midway Ford. 
Marcos Castillo '16 (BBA, International Business) and graduate student Jesus Callejo (MBA) were two of our students selected to work at Midway Ford this summer as part of our unique “Automobile Dealership Operations, Sales and Marketing Internship Program. Marcos was fundamental in creating a salesmen training program for the dealership, and Jesus had hands-on experience by assisting with dealership events, blogging and social media.

Alex Villamañán (JD '95, BA '91,) Attorney at Midway Ford, said, "The talent pool of students was extraordinary. The students were very professional. It was such a tough choice, we ended up selecting two instead of one intern.”

Alumni interested in hiring our students for internships, part-time or full-time positions at their companies can contact Cristina Lopez at, 305-628-6577, or click here for more information.

Monday, June 26, 2017

STU students receive hands-on experience, help Carol City Middle School students propel

STU graduate student Cristina Soulavy has always known she’s wanted to make a difference in her community, so when the opportunity to help at-risk students at a neighboring middle school presented itself she was both excited and apprehensive about the journey she was about to take.
As part of her group therapy class, Cristina, a mother of three, and several other STU mental health counseling graduate students participated in the Success Academy, a program that helps students with behavioral issues.
“I was a little nervous,” said Cristina. “Up to that point all my experience came from text books and lectures, and now I was stepping into the real world, helping kids with real problems.”
The Success Academy is part of STU’s newly formed partnership with Carol City Middle School. In February 2015, St. Thomas University and Carol City Middle School established the STU-Carol City Middle School Community Educational Partnership (STU-CCMS CEP), a partnership to improve education in Miami Gardens.
This five-year partnership connects the community, schools, students and parents with university expertise, resources and research-based intervention programs to address the pressing educational and social needs of students at CCMS, a school in one of the most challenged communities in Florida.
The STU-CCMS partnership is a long-term initiative that integrates a variety of university engagement elements, from volunteer activities to internships, to courses in different disciplines, all with one goal – student success. Specifically, the partnership is aimed at improving student attendance, behavior, course grades and standardized test scores.
“Many times we think that you can improve schools simply by offering more tutoring. But the truth is that it’s much more complicated than that,” said Anthony Vinciguerra, coordinator for STU’s Center for Community Engagement. “We’ve been lucky to bring STU faculty together with an incredible team at CCMS to support not only students’ academic challenges, but also their behavioral issues and social services needs as well.”
The program, based on the national Diplomas Now initiative, collects data during quarterly “Report Card Reviews” where STU students are matched with CCMS students to evaluate their grades, and collect information on their challenges inside and outside of the classroom. The data is compiled and analyzed by students in courses such as applied psychology and psychological statistics to provide a birds-eye view to the CCMS administration on student challenges, and support them in formulating a plan for improvement. The information gathered helps determine which students need tutoring in specific subjects, counselling, and/or social services.
Professors Judith Bachay and Jeffrey Pickens, both long-time participants in the program, agree the partnership is a transformative one that allows STU students and CCMS students to learn and grow from each other.
“Working in the STU-CCMS partnership allows STU students to apply what they are learning in a context that makes a difference,” said Bachay, counseling professor and director of STU’s graduate program.
The program has even inspired recent graduates like Segane Robinson, STU’s new Americorp-VISTA member, to continue volunteering at the school.
“I love working at CCMS,” Robinson said. “I grew up in the same environment as these kids, so I understand and can relate to what a lot of them are going through. I want them to know that despite the challenges, they can still succeed.”
After five years of “F” status, CCMS is on the move. In 2016, the school saw 38 percent of its students improve their English language arts scores, 31 percent improve their math scores, and there was a 57% decrease in suspensions.
As the 2016-17 year comes to an end, Vinciguerra is hopeful.
“This is not just about St. Thomas. This is truly a community effort,” he said. It takes all of us: St. Thomas faculty and students, our community partners, and most importantly the incredible teachers and administrators of Carol City Middle School. It takes all of us all working together to make a difference.”
Carol City Middle School’s results for the 2016/17 school year will be available mid-July.
Other elements of the partnership include:
  • STU-CCMS Community-Engaged Leader Corp Tutors: Facilitated by the STU Center for Community Engagement and the Office of Financial Aid, STU students are able to work under a CCMS teacher’s supervision to provide in-class reading and math support while earning federal work-study dollars. 
  • STU First Year Orientation “Bobcats Serve” Days: Every year during orientation, all of STU’s incoming first-year students spend a full day working on beautification efforts at CCMS. The event exposes STU students to the importance of service in the community, while providing CCMS with thousands of dollars in painting and landscaping. 
  • STU-CCMS College is Cool Days: In collaboration with the Center for Community Engagement and STU’s Office of Student Affairs, STU students organize college awareness events that provide CCMS eight graders with an introduction to campus life, college athletics, college faculty guest lecturers, as well as a college application workshop.

For more information on the STU/Carol City Middle School Community Educational Partnership, and STU’s other engaged learning activities in the community, contact the STU Center for Community Engagement:

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

STU President Honored by Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

From left to right, Felipe Basulto, SFLHCC chairman; Liliam Lopez '88, SFLHCC president and CEO; and Msgr. Franklyn Casale. 

St. Thomas University President Msgr. Franklyn Casale was honored by the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce during its annual installation gala Friday, May 19.

Casale presented with the Golden Eagle Award in recognition of his more than 22 years of leadership and service at STU. The Golden Eagle Award is the chamber’s most prestigious award.

Casale became President of STU in April 1994. Prior to joining STU, he was the vicar general, chancellor and moderator of the Curia of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, where he also served as a member of the Board of Trustees at Seton Hall University and as a member of the Board of Trustees and executive committee at Bloomfield College.

His leadership positions in higher education associations include the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges, where he served as vice chair; Governing Board, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities; President’s Council of Independent Colleges & Universities of Florida; Florida Association of Colleges & Universities; and Haiti-Tech, an organization he helped found that organizes and maintains a vocational/technical school in Haiti and educates over 700 students yearly. And he is currently chair of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU).

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bernard Graham Foundation Recognizes STU Student Leader

On Thursday, May 11, the Bernard F. Graham Scholastic Award in Finance and Accounting recognized the finance student with the highest grade point average, Luciano Cucinotta, and awarded him with a $10,000 check.

Pictured above from left to right, Dean Som Bhattacharya, award recipient Luciano Cucinotta, and Paul Bodin, director at Carlsen & Company and director of The Bernard Graham Foundation.

The Bernard F. Graham Scholastic Award in Finance and Accounting is provided by the Bernard F. Graham Charitable Foundation. This generous monetary award is intended to recognize student dedication and commitment to the study of finance and accounting – a passion of Mr. Graham.