Tuesday, September 26, 2017

St. Thomas University Offers Free Room and Board to College Students Affected by Hurricanes


St. Thomas University will offer free room and board through the Spring of 2018 for up to 100 college students in Puerto Rico and affected islands in the Caribbean who wish to continue their studies at STU following Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

“Our prayers are with all those impacted by the recent hurricanes in Puerto Rico and throughout the Caribbean,” said Monsignor Franklyn Casale, President of St. Thomas University.  “We are committed to helping college students who were affected by the storms continue their education with as much ease and comfort as possible.  ”

College students affected by the hurricanes will receive free room and board on a first-come, first-serve basis upon continuing their studies at St. Thomas University. A free meal plan compliments of Metz Culinary Management will be provided for the first 100 students enrolled in the special program.

Through October 14, the University’s application process has been shortened and expedited for eligible students from Puerto Rico and other affected islands in the Caribbean. Scholarships are available.

St. Thomas University will also work with the leadership of its sister institutions in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean to support in any way possible.

Interested students should call the Registrar’s Office at (305) 628-6612 or go to www.stu.edu/support to apply.



About St. Thomas University: 
The only Catholic Archdiocesan-sponsored University in Florida, St. Thomas University (www.stu.edu) was initially founded in Havana, Cuba in 1946 by American Augustinians, and re-opened in north Miami-Dade in 1961 following the confiscation of the school and forced exile of the Augustinians in 1961 by the Castro government. The University places an institutional emphasis on social justice and ethical behavior, and provides its globally diverse student body with a personalized, private education that offers low student/teacher ratios and is designed to graduate “Leaders for Life.” The university offers more than 45 undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate degrees at its 144-acre campus in Miami Gardens, Fla., and through distance learning, including one of the oldest (and highly ranked) undergraduate programs in Sports Administration in the country. Approximately 90 percent of its faculty hold the highest degree in their fields. 

About Metz Culinary Management:
Metz Culinary Management provides dining and environmental management services for clients in a variety of settings, including hospitals, public and independent schools, colleges, long-term care facilities, corporate offices and manufacturing facilities. Metz is a family-driven company that collaborates with its clients to deliver restaurant-inspired hospitality to each and every guest. In 2011, Food Management Magazine named Metz one of the Top 20 Management Companies in the U.S. and one of the Top 5 Firms to Watch. For more information on Metz Culinary Management, visit www.metzculinary.com 

Friday, September 15, 2017

President Msgr. Casale's post Hurricane Irma message

Dear St. Thomas University Community:

I hope you and your families are well and recovering from the effects of Hurricane Irma. Hurricanes create very difficult circumstances for many, but also seem to bring out the best in people who pull together to help one another.

Our campus was fortunate not to have severe damage. Structurally our buildings are still intact, but as you can imagine with all the foliage on campus there was quite a bit to clean up after Irma passed by. As usual, our Physical Plant crew, with its great leadership was superb at restoring order to the campus, cleaning up as much as possible before we open.

As we communicated to you before, we were able to open the campus at noon on Thursday, since our electricity had been restored the day before. The teamwork among the members of our campus, especially the members of our Emergency Management group, enabled us to make proper decisions and communicate them in a timely fashion. I thank everyone who worked so hard, especially the Office of Emergency Management and the Office of Communication.

Our resident students who were not able to evacuate, received hospitality at FIU. I am deeply grateful to President Mark Rosenberg for his kindness to us. The students are now back on campus.

We are ready to begin classes on Monday. Our Provost is meeting with the deans to arrange the schedule for the rest of the academic year to accommodate the missed classes.

Mass will be offered Sunday, September 17th in the Chapel of St. Anthony at 7pm. Our thoughts continue for those who are not as fortunate as we in avoiding devastation. May God help them recover as quickly as possible.

I look forward to seeing you on Monday.

Sincerely,

Msgr. Casale

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hurricane Irma Update

Advisory #9: Wednesday, Sept. 13 @ 4:00 p.m.

We are happy to report that power has been fully restored at St. Thomas University. The following is a list of dates and times specific facilities/services on campus will be reopening.

  • All classes have been canceled through Friday, Sept. 15, and will resume Monday, Sept. 18. A make-up plan for lost instructional time will be developed.
  • Residential students can begin returning to their residence halls at 12 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 14
  • All faculty and staff also have the option of returning to campus at 12 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 14. Since most schools remain closed, you may bring your child(ren) to work, as long as they are supervised by you.
  • The Fernandez Family Center will open at 12 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 14, and Friday, Sept. 15. 
  • Dining Hours: The cafeteria will be open Thursday through Friday for brunch, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and for dinner, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
  • The Main University Library will open:
       - Thursday, 9/14, from 12 to 5 p.m.          
       - Friday, 9/15, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
       - Saturday, 9/16, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
       - Sunday, 9/17, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Counseling Services available on campus. We realize the psychological stress and anxiety natural disasters like Hurricane Irma have on individuals. STU will have a counselor on campus tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 14, and Friday, Sept. 15, from noon to 4 p.m., in the Student Affairs Office located in the Student Center. Please call 305.628.6695 if you wish to speak with a counselor, or schedule an appointment.
  • Although there was no structural damage, our campus grounds were adversely affected. We urge everyone on campus to exercise caution when traveling through campus, as clean-up efforts continue.
  •  All local curfews should be observed.
Please continue to closely monitor the STU website, STU Alert! Notifications, and STU social media for further updates and reminders.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as STU’s Emergency Management Team works through this situation. The safety and interests of the STU community are of the utmost importance.

We extend our thoughts and prayers to everyone who has been impacted by this storm.
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Advisory #8: Tuesday, Sept. 12 @ 4:45 p.m.

St. Thomas University Emergency Management Team is aiming to get our campus up and running as soon as possible. After today's 3 p.m. call, the team has decided the following:
  • All classes have been canceled through Friday, Sept. 15, and will resume Monday, Sept. 18. A make-up plan for lost instructional time will be developed.
  • Residential students can begin returning to their residence halls at 12 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 14*
  • All faculty and staff also have the option of returning to campus at 12 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 14.* Since most schools remain closed, you may bring your child(ren) to work, as long as they are supervised by you.
  • The Fernandez Family Center will open at 12 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 14.* 
  • Although there was no structural damage, our campus grounds were adversely affected. We urge everyone on campus to exercise caution when traveling through campus, as clean-up efforts continue.
  • Dining Hours: The cafeteria will be open Thursday through Friday for brunch, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and for dinner, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.*
  • All local curfews should be observed.
*If power is not restored in time, the Thursday reopening will be postponed. In which case, we will send out an STU Alert! Wednesday afternoon.

Please continue to closely monitor the STU website, STU Alert! Notifications, and STU social media for further updates and instructions.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as STU’s Emergency Management Team continues to assess and work through this situation. The safety and interests of the STU community are of the utmost importance.

We extend our thoughts and prayers to everyone who has been impacted by this storm.
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Advisory #7: Monday, Sept. 11 @ 3:30 p.m.

St. Thomas University Emergency Management Team is aiming to get our campus up and running as soon as possible. Damage assessments are underway, as well as the clearing of debris from campus roads and sidewalks. After today's 3 p.m. call, the team has decided that it will likely take a few more days to reopen the university.

As of today at 3:30 p.m., St. Thomas University will remain closed through Wednesday, Sept. 13.

STU students and employees are asked NOT to return to campus until further notice. An all clear will be sent out about the reopening of campus. Please continue to closely monitor the STU website, STU Alert! Notifications, and STU social media for further updates and instructions.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as STU’s Emergency Management Team continues to assess and work through this situation. The safety and interests of the STU community are of the utmost importance.

We extend our thoughts and prayers to everyone who has been impacted by this storm.

***********************************************
Advisory #6: Monday, Sept. 11 @ 10:15 a.m.

STU’s Emergency Management Team held a conference call at 9:30 this morning. Fortunately, the university did not sustain any structural damage, but trees are down and power is out throughout campus.

St. Thomas University will remain closed through Tuesday, Sept. 12.

STU students and employees are asked NOT to return to campus until further notice. An all clear will be sent out about the reopening of campus. Please continue to closely monitor the STU website, STU Alert! Notifications, and STU social media for further updates and instructions.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as STU’s Emergency Management Team continues to assess and work through this situation. The safety and interests of the STU community are of the utmost importance.

We extend our thoughts and prayers to everyone who has been impacted by this storm.
***********************************************
Advisory #5: Sunday, Sept. 10 @ 7 p.m.

Due to power outages, and the inability to inspect and make repairs to campus buildings that may have sustained damage from Hurricane Irma, St. Thomas University will remain closed through Tuesday, Sept. 12.

STU students and employees are asked NOT to return to campus until further notice. An all clear will be sent out about the reopening of campus. Please continue to closely monitor the STU website, STU Alert! Notifications, and STU social media for further updates and instructions.
We appreciate your patience and understanding as STU’s Emergency Management Team continues to work through this complex situation. The safety and interests of the STU community are of the utmost importance. 
We extend our thoughts and prayers to everyone who has been impacted by this storm.
***********************************************
Advisory #4: Thursday, Sept. 7 @ 4 p.m.
St. Thomas University continues to closely monitor Hurricane Irma, which is currently located approximately 700 miles from Miami-Dade County. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for South Florida.

With the latest track, officials predict the storm could impact Florida as early as Saturday, with most of the state feeling the effects by Sunday. Because of this new information, the Emergency Management Team has decided to close campus on Monday, Sept. 11.

STU students and employees are asked NOT to return to campus until the university sends an all-clear alert.

We urge students, faculty, and staff to continue monitoring TV reports, www.stu.edu, or STU’s Facebook page for further updates and instructions.


STU’s Emergency Management Team will continue to monitor the storm’s progress and provide updates and instructions, as needed.
***********************************************
Advisory #3: Wednesday, Sept. 6 @ 11:30 a.m.

St. Thomas University is closely monitoring Hurricane Irma, which is currently located approximately 1,200 miles east-southeast of Miami-Dade County. The potential for impacts to South Florida are increasing and plans are being rapidly implemented to ensure the safety of our university community and facilities. The earliest time South Florida would experience impacts is Friday evening.

All classes, programs, and events for both the Main University and Law School are cancelled effective at 3 p.m. today, Wednesday, Sept. 6. Administrative offices and the library will also close at 3 p.m. The university will remain closed tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 7, through the weekend.

The safety and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff is of utmost concern. As of today, the university is issuing a mandatory evacuation of all student residents. If you live on campus, please contact your Resident Advisor (R.A.) IMMEDIATELY. We are strongly encouraging all residential students to rapidly implement evacuation plans and communicate them with their R.A., or with Richard McNabb. For students without a place to go, STU will be providing you with transportation to a safe, designated shelter.

We urge students, faculty, and staff to continue monitoring TV reports, www.stu.edu, or STU’s Facebook page for further updates and instructions.

Please review the 2017 Weather Emergency Guide to familiarize yourself with preparations. It can be found here.

The STU Emergency Management Team will meet again today, and another communication will be issued this afternoon.

For students with questions or concerns regarding their Comprehensive Health Insurance, please send an email to either: carbos@aisstudentinsurance.com, or mailto:orablack@academicinsurancesolutions.com
***********************************************
Advisory #2: Tuesday, Sept. 5 @ 6:30 p.m.

The University’s Emergency Management Team has been closely monitoring the progress of Hurricane Irma and any potential impact to our area. At this time, there are no plans to evacuate residential students, but we strongly encourage them to find alternative places to stay. For students with no alternative shelter, the county will be providing a list of nearby shelters, and we will share that list as soon as it becomes available. More information will be provided to residential students via Student Affairs.

We urge students, faculty, and staff to review the 2017 Weather Emergency Guide to familiarize themselves with preparations. It can be found here.

The next STU Advisory will be sent tomorrow at approximately 10:30 a.m., after the Emergency Management Team meets.

We urge you to continue monitoring TV reports, www.stu.edu, or STU’s Facebook page for further updates and instructions.
***********************************************
Advisory #1: Tuesday, Sept. 5 @ 3:45 p.m.

As Hurricane Irma continues to travel west and closer to Florida, St. Thomas University’s Emergency Management Team is closely monitoring the developments and will be providing the university community with updates as information becomes available. The team has made the following decisions and regarding class cancellations:

All Main University and Law School classes and programs are cancelled from Thursday, Sept. 7, through the weekend. Administrative offices, online classes, and the Library will also close.

Residential students are strongly encouraged to seek shelter off campus. The Emergency Management Team will make a decision on mandatory evacuations tomorrow, and will notify you promptly. In the meantime, please begin planning and storm proofing your rooms. Please make sure to notify your RAs if you are planning on weathering the storm off campus.

Students, faculty and staff should continue monitoring local media and paying attention to updates from the National Hurricane Center. This is a good time to review and finalize personal hurricane plans and make personal and family preparations at home.

For more information on hurricane preparation and tips, please visit please visit STU’s Weather Emergency Guide or Miami-Dade County’s Hurricane Guide.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A letter to Bobcat Parents: Hurricane Irma

Dear Parents,

St. Thomas University is closely monitoring Hurricane Irma. The potential for impacts to South Florida are increasing and plans are being rapidly implemented to ensure the safety of our university community and facilities. The earliest time South Florida would experience impacts is Friday evening.

Living with the threat of hurricanes is part of living in South Florida. Because the University’s first concern is for the safety of its students and employees, we have emergency plans and teams in place, ready to act, when a storm approaches. We are continually making improvements to our emergency plans and procedures to ensure an effective and well-managed response.

To give the University community ample time to prepare for Hurricane Irma, we cancelled all classes, programs, and events for both the Main University and Law School effective at 3 p.m. today, Wednesday, Sept. 6. The university will remain closed tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 7, through the weekend.

The safety and wellbeing of our students is of utmost concern, and due to the potential severity of Hurricane Irma, we have issued a mandatory evacuation of all student residents. Rest assured that your son/daughter are in good hands. For students without a place to go, STU is providing them with transportation to a safe, designated shelter.

We urge you to monitor TV reports, www.stu.edu, or STU’s Facebook page for further updates.

Kind Regards,


Msgr. Franklyn Casale
President

Friday, September 1, 2017

Donor Spotlight: Wini and Joe Amaturo

Central to St. Thomas University is its chapel, the Chapel of Saint Anthony, and it’s hard to believe it hasn’t always been there. The chapel’s doors first opened 13 years ago in February 2004, thanks to philanthropists Winifred “Wini” and Joseph “Joe” Amaturo.

Joe and Wini have been involved with St. Thomas for over two decades, and it started with a chance meeting with STU President Monsignor Casale through a mutual friend, David Lawrence, then Miami Herald publisher. Since then, their generosity has touched many STU and non-STU students.

The Amaturo’s first gift to STU helped build a vocational school in Haiti – Haiti Tec. And when they heard of Msgr. Casale’s dream of having a chapel on campus, they didn’t think twice about donating the funds needed to build it.

“We believe in the strong academic and ethical values taught in Catholic institutions, especially at St. Thomas,” said Wini. “So when we heard of the opportunity to help support St. Thomas, we were more than happy to do so. Especially with the building of the chapel, every Catholic university should have one; it’s the essence of the university.”

Over the years, the Amaturos have also funded STU’s Winifred and Joseph Amaturo Lecture Series that has brought several well-known speakers to campus to inform, educate and enlighten the community about several topics ranging from religion to autism.

“St. Thomas is a wonderfully well-rounded university, and it’s steadily growing. Knowing that its students are instilled with the skills and values to become leaders in our community is reason enough to support St. Thomas. Its students not only learn, but thrive.”

Wini is president of their foundation, The Amaturo Family Foundation, as well as serving on St. Thomas’ Board of Trustees making her and Joe regulars on campus.

“Just giving financially, isn’t as satisfying as actually seeing what you’re investing in. What always strikes me when I’m on campus is the feeling of comradery among everyone, a sense of family. We always feel welcomed in this tight-knit community.”

One of Wini’s favorite events to attend on campus is commencement.

“We love the various events at St. Thomas, but graduations are my favorite. Seeing many first generation college students proudly walk across the stage to receive their diploma and hearing their friends and family cheer for them is a very beautiful moment to watch.”

Joe, who holds an MBA from Harvard, is a prominent entrepreneur having owned and managed 22 radio and television stations and served as chairman of MUVICO Theaters, Inc. Wini attended NYU and worked in an advertising agency in New York City up until she married in 1956.

Committed to making their community a better place, both Joe and Wini remain active in, and generously support many local organizations including the United Way of Broward, The Salvation Army, and the YMCA. They are most enthusiastic about the excellent results of the ACCELERATED READING PROGRAM in 16 Catholic schools in Broward County, which they have underwritten for 13 years. Today, more than 6,000 students participate, and each student reads an average of 35 to 40 books per school year. Wini and Joe are also blessed with five children and seven grandchildren.

To learn more about supporting St. Thomas University, click here.

Donor Spotlight: Mario Trueba ’80

Most college-bound students want to leave their hometown and go away for college, but that wasn’t the case for Mario Trueba. After moving to South Florida from Philadelphia in the eighth grade, he knew he’d always want sand in his shoes.

Cuban-born Mario wanted a small values-based environment, and Biscayne College fit the bill. He started his college career in the fall of 1976.

“What I loved most about St. Thomas was the connection we had with the professors, and the comradery between students,” said Mario, CEO of Sabadell United Bank.* “We were all from working-class families, and working our way through college.”

He said many of STU endearing characteristics that made it unique then are still present today. Not many schools can offer individualized attention, the “personalized” touch that STU offers.

“When I was a freshman, a very good friend of mine from high school was going through some tough medical issues, and it was hard for him to physically get to classes. The staff and faculty at Biscayne College took notice, and rearranged his schedule so that I could help him. St. Thomas adds a personal touch to higher education, and everyone on campus feels it.”

Mario graduated in 1980 with a degree in psychology and secondary education, although he went on to receive a master’s degree in business administration, he credits his undergraduate studies as the foundation of what he does every day.

“My undergraduate studies help me every day in my business role – I learned about public speaking, how to write well, and how to insightfully research and ask questions.”

Giving back to the community, especially to St. Thomas, is very important to Mario, who in addition to serving different committees and boards in South Florida, also serves on the university’s Board of Trustees.

“It’s important to give to organizations that impact the community, organizations you believe in,” he said. “When I was asked to join the Board of Trustees, it was an easy ‘yes.’ When I give financially, it’s also an easy ‘yes.’ I believe in St. Thomas’ mission, in its future, and it was really good to me, so the least I can do is give back.”

Mario and his wife, Susana, are long-term supporters of St. Thomas University, their gifts have helped established the student travel fund which support study aboard programs.

To learn more about supporting St. Thomas University, click here.

*In February 2017 IBERIABANK Corporation announced its acquiring Miami-based Sabadell United Bank, and as of July 31, Mario’s new role is South Florida President of IBERIABANK.

Donor Spotlight: Don Dresback ’69

In 1965, college-bound, 18-year-old Don Dresback searched for the southern-most Catholic school he could find, and came across St. Thomas University, known then as Biscayne College. He didn’t know much about the college other than the address and phone number, but he knew it had to be warmer than his hometown of Erie, Pa. Don applied, received an acceptance letter, and before he knew it, he was on his way to the Sunshine State to become the first in his family to earn a college degree.

In the four years he spent at STU, his most memorable moments came from living in the dormitories, developing lifelong friendships, and going to socials at nearby colleges like Barry and Marymount College, now Lynn University.

“Many of us were out-of-state students looking to get into adventures, and we became a very close-knit group,” he said. “I am very grateful for the friendships I developed; and almost 50 years later, several of us still communicate by email and meet up for lunch or dinner when possible. Of the 40 or so graduates in 1969, about 10 of us are still regularly in touch.”

One friendship in particular proved to be the most endearing and impactful – the friendship between him and his wife, Patricia, which started over a game of bridge.

“The biggest highlight of my Biscayne College life was meeting my wife Pat in 1969 at Barry College. I was the president of the STU bridge club, and she was the president of Barry’s bridge club. We met over a bridge table, and the rest is history. In October we will be celebrating 48 years of marriage!”

After graduating in 1969 with a bachelor’s of science, Don pursued his master’s degree at Indiana University where he also worked as a math graduate assistant. Afterward, he and his wife moved to Baltimore where he continued to teach math, but at inner city public schools.

During this time, the Vietnam War was in full swing, and Don joined the Maryland National Guard. He served for six years in a MASH unit as an operating room surgical assistant. In 1972, Don started his insurance career in Annapolis, Md.

Yearning for the year-round summer weather of South Florida, Don and his family relocated to Boca Raton, where he met his business partner of 38 years. Together, in 1979, they established The Beacon Group, Inc., an independent insurance agency serving the South Florida tri county area.

Throughout the years Don has been very busy growing his business and his family – he has three daughters and four grandchildren – but he always made time for STU. For the last 35 years he’s been active with the university in some way or another. He’s currently the chair of the President’s Board of Advisors, and aside from contributing his time, he also contributes to student scholarships.

“It’s important for people to understand the impact individual contributions, big or small, have on a university and its students. I’m fortunate to be able to contribute my time and to contribute financially. I know from personal experience how straining college expenses can be on students. When I was a student, I worked in the cafeteria and as a dorm counselor, and I also had loans.”

Many STU students today, like many Biscayne College students in the 60’s and 70’s, are the firsts in their families to go to college, and scholarship gifts help these students achieve their dreams of becoming college graduates. In turn, donors like Dresback hope these first-generation graduates become leaders, give back and inspire other students.

“And it’s not all about the dollar amount, but the participation and time you invest. For me, it’s important to give back to an institution that has academically and personally helped me achieve success, and I want to offer that opportunity to others who are struggling like we were in the 60’s. Someone needs to help them along the way and make sure they get a quality education. That’s why I give.”

To learn more about supporting St. Thomas University, click here.

Donor Spotlight: Margee Martinez ’06

During her undergraduate years at St. Thomas University, Margee Martinez ’06 was learning life lessons on the field and in the classroom. She came to STU for the opportunity to play soccer, and she was given an athletics’ scholarship. After three years of amazing leadership, wins, and losses her coach left St. Thomas, and Margee was devastated, so much so that she quit the soccer team. But soon afterward she changed her mind.

“When I saw my teammates training and heard them talking about the upcoming season, I wanted back in,” she said. “I realized made a hasty decision without giving the new coach [Michelle] a chance. And she turned out to me one of my favorite coaches.”

Since Margee missed pre-season training, it wasn’t going to be easy getting back on the team. Coach Michelle made sure she, like the rest of her teammates, went through pre-season training, which entailed waking up every day before the sun was out and afternoon sessions as well.

“It took a lot of discipline and hard work, but it paid off. That season was my best season, and Coach Michelle turned out to be a phenomenal coach.”

The discipline Margee, a sales manager for Mass Mutual Miami, learned at STU has also paid off in her career in the financial industry.

“When I was first promoted, my boss said, ‘you come in the earliest and leave the latest, and it shows.’ I received a quality, personalized education at STU that taught me good work ethic, values, and provided a solid foundation and understanding of the business industry.”

In addition to her work at Mass Mutual, Margee also holds financial seminars aptly named “Women and the F word,” in which the F word stands for: family, fitness, friends, and finances. Suffice it to say, the seminars are void of anything run-of-the-mill.

“Education, especially financial education is powerful and empowering. And I realized shortly after beginning my career that young women starting out in their careers need to know that everything they want is within their reach if they are willing to work hard for it. I want to equip young women to become the leaders of tomorrow.”

Although Margee had an athletics scholarship, it didn’t cover 100 percent of her tuition, so she was left to figure out how she was going to come up with the extra money needed to pay tuition.

“I had to come up with $2,000 each semester, which is more like a million dollars to a teenager. I told my coach about my predicament, and she gave me a list of donor scholarships for several denominations, and I applied to all of them.”

Margee ended up receiving the financial aid she needed because of the generosity of others, and now she gives back to STU to pay it forward.

“I was there before, I was one of the students who needed financial aid. And now, I am able to help someone like me reach their dreams. Giving to STU scholarships is my way of giving back to the university that shaped me as a person and kick-started my career in the financial arena.”

Margee graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in business, sports administration.

To learn more about supporting St. Thomas University scholarships, click here.

Donor Spotlight: The Santistebans

Carlos and Christyne Santisteban met as law students in 2009, and it didn’t take them long to make a connection. They were quick to become friends, began dating soon after graduating, married in 2015, and in turn, STU got two devoted alumni who have made a habit of sharing their time and generosity with the university that launched their life together.

“St. Thomas University has always been very important to us,” said the Santistebans. “Not only because it’s where we first met and fell in love, but it’s where we were given the tools to achieve our dreams and be successful in our careers. If it weren’t for St. Thomas, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we have in our careers. We thrived then, and thrive today because of the caring faculty and the one-on-one attention that was given to us.”

Both Carlos and Christyne share the same humble beginnings – they are both first generation college graduates with immigrant parents who fled Cuba in hopes of a better life.

“It’s important to us to be examples of what you can accomplish regardless of your background, and your financial situation,” they said. “That’s why we’ve stayed active in the law school, we want to give back and create opportunities for students like us.”

The most visible example of the couple's generosity can be seen in the endowed scholarship they established in their names. The Santisteban Family Scholarship is specifically for law students of Cuban descent with demonstrated good character and in financial need who reside in South Florida. “It’s geared toward someone with aspirations of going to law school, but has financial obstacles.”

With their gift, they are paying it forward to the next generation of Hispanic lawyers.

“I look at the time and money I give to St. Thomas as an investment, and I have a vested interest to see that investment do well,” said Carlos. I also want to be part of the school’s future, and ensure that it keeps prospering, which is another important reason why I invest my time.”

In addition to financial contributions to the university, the Santistebans also contribute their time. Carlos sits on the Law School’s Board of Advisor’s, and they have both participated in STU panels and lectures.

In October of 2016, the Santistebans welcomed their first child, Michaela, who was later baptized at St. Thomas in the Chapel of Saint Anthony.

Carlos received his bachelor of arts in political science from STU in 2005, then went on to law school and graduated in 2009. Christyne is completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Central Florida, and received her juris doctorate’s degree from STU in 2011.

To make a gift to the STU Law School, please click here.

Donor Spotlight: Patrick Cordero ’87

Attorney Patrick Cordero, a 1987 graduate of the St. Thomas University School of Law, is helping others pursue the education they need to enter the profession that gave him a successful career.
“I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude toward St. Thomas University Law,” said Patrick, who was part of the first graduating law school class. “STU took a chance on me, gave me an opportunity to achieve my career goals, and I want others to have the same opportunities.”

Patrick is a managing partner of his law firm, which concentrates on consumer bankruptcy law. The law firm employs more than 45 staff members, eight of whom are STU Law graduates or current law students.

“I love hiring STU graduates,” he said. “They stand out because they go beyond what is expected of them. They have grit, a hard-working ethic, and character. I have so much faith in STU law graduates, that two of my six children are attending the law school, one is entering his third year, and the other is entering his first year of law school.”

Although three decades have passed since Patrick graduated, the core of STU and its law school hasn’t changed – its diverse student body from strong, working-class families.

“Watching the university grow, and its academic visions unfold and come to fruition definitely makes me proud. It is a one-of-a-kind campus (then and now) with a one-of-a-kind student population, and it gets better every year.”

Patrick, whose firm is the largest in consumer bankruptcy in Florida, and third largest in the United States, was born in the Bronx, New York, and raised in Miami. He started his higher education at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis.; and in 1983, he completed his bachelor’s degree. Shortly thereafter, he began his law studies at St. Thomas University. At the time, there was no law building, and he and other law students would sometimes have class in the cafeteria, and on occasion, sharing space with the Miami Dolphins football team.*

Law school is a challenging endeavor both financially and intellectually, but with the support and encouragement from donors like Patrick, students are motivated to face the challenges head on.

Throughout the years, Patrick has provided leadership as a member of the law school’s board of advisors, as well as in several religious and community organizations. In addition to the time he invests in the university and community, he also contributes financially.

“Giving back in any way you can, big or small, shows your appreciation. By giving back I’m investing in our community’s future, in education, and in the legacy of my graduating class.”

His gratitude toward STU has also led him to help families in need. Every year he has personally sponsored and held a Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway in Little Havana, in which he hands out 1,500 turkeys. He also gifts more than 1,200 backpacks to children prior to the start of the school year.

 To learn more about making a gift to the STU Law School, please click here.

*The Dolphins held their training camp on the campus of St. Thomas University from 1970 – 1992.

Donor Spotlight: Col. Jacquelin Kelly ’87

Before Col. Jacquelin Kelly passed away from cancer in 2014, she bequeathed a generous gift to STU’s Athletic Program. Jacquelin, a lifelong athlete and coach, held a strong belief that women should participate in competitive sports and pursue higher education, and in recognition of her gift, the university dedicated “The Col. Jacquelin Kelly Field” at the St. Thomas Softball Complex.

Jacqueline led an adventurous, unconventional life. In 1960, she joined the army and was stationed in the Middle East and the Far East working in military intelligence. Jacquelin, who received her bachelors from St. Elizabeth College, served in the army for 21 years, 12 of them at the Pentagon, where she was the highest ranking woman at that time, having achieved the rank of colonel.

In the mid-1980s, Jacquelin moved to South Florida where she continued her education by pursuing a master’s in sports administration at STU and graduated in 1987 at the age of 56 - in total, she earned four master’s degrees, including one in Chinese.

"This generous donation to our athletics department not only allows us to upgrade our facilities, but also gives us the opportunity to honor an amazing female, a champion of character,” said Laura Courtley-Todd, STU director of athletics. “Jacquelin was a phenomenal role model, and will remain so through the naming of the softball complex."

Donor Spotlight: Joe Cooney ’68

1964 was a year of many firsts – The Rolling Stones released their first album, the first Ford Mustang was manufactured, Martin Luther King received the Nobel Peace Prize, and Joseph “Joe” Cooney, alongside eight other young men, arrived at St. Thomas University, then called Biscayne College, for their first day of class.

They lived in temporary dorm rooms located in a Miami Beach hotel, and according to Joe it wasn’t the posh, high-rises you see today, “the Kimberly Motel looked like an ugly concrete box.” And although having the beach as their backyard had its perks, the early-morning bus ride to campus was a difficult routine to keep up, so they were happy to move in to Cassia Hall when it opened three months later.

“We had such a good time. We were the first resident class, so we were the first to do many things. We were young and dumb, and sorta had free reign,” said Joe, between bouts of laughter.

Joe, originally from Philadelphia, said it was hard to pin down his most memorable moment at St. Thomas. He credits his class for starting STU’s first student-run newspaper, intramural sports, and for hosting STU’s first basketball game against the Jamaican National team. Intertwined with dances and socials at Marymount College (now Lynn University) and Barry College (now Barry University), STU students were also hitting the books, and the professors made sure of it.

“There was nowhere to hide at St. Thomas. If a professor thought you were cutting class, he’d have a classmate come get you out of bed.”

It was a different world in the 1960s, but what made St. Thomas special then, still makes it special today. Students then and now had one-on-one relationships with professors, class sizes were small creating a strong comradery, and a vibrant, caring, close-knit university community.

It’s been 50 years since graduating from St. Thomas, and Joe still visits campus, meets for lunch with professor Richard Raleigh, and plays golf with other ’68 graduates during STU’s annual Fore the Love of Education Golf and Tennis Tournament. Currently, he is spearheading their 50-year class reunion.

Shortly after graduating in 1968 with a bachelor’s of arts degree in English, Joe was drafted into the United States Army and sent to Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division. After the war, he went to graduate school, married, and held various jobs ranging from teaching grade schoolers to working in human resources. He eventually settled in the human resource department at the University of Pennsylvania where he worked for 24 years.

Over the years, Joe and his wife, Mary, now both retired, have contributed significantly to STU – both financially and with their time. Joe says he enjoys the relationship he has with STU now, juest as much as he enjoyed it when he was a student. When he visits he still sees familiar faces, and has the opportunity to meet new ones.

“Having been a university employee myself, I know the importance of higher education and the impact gifts have to a university,” said Joe. “I feel an obligation to higher education and how it transforms people’s lives, specifically St. Thomas. I was a mischievous teenager with average grades, and St. Thomas took a chance on me, and gave me the foundation to begin a career.”

There’s a sense of pride when I see what St. Thomas has become. We give because we want to see St. Thomas continue to grow and thrive. We’ve had a good life, we’ve done well for ourselves, and we want to share whatever we can.”

To learn more about giving to St. Thomas University, click here [LINK PENDING].