Against the backdrop of the University's new welcome center, Bethany Hall, the College of Arts and Sciences held its annual alumni signature event on Wednesday, April 25. An evening of entertainment, the event included a scotch tasting, live music and hors d'oeuvres.
During the event, three distinguished alumni were recognized with awards for their outstanding achievements both within and outside the College. After welcoming the attendees, Dean Peter Shoemaker introduced each honoree.
The Friend of the College of Arts and Sciences Award, which recognizes a person who has demonstrated exceptional support of the College, was given to Victor Ricci '17. An alumnus of the University's marketing program, Ricci already has more than five years of experience in social media and digital marketing at the young age of 23. As a teenager, he explored different areas of technology and business to find his true passion. During this process, he started a half dozen web companies before founding Trend Pie, a platform that offers affordable user acquisition for apps, from his college dorm room. A social media personality, he began taking the medium even more seriously after his Vine account, @QuickLifeHacks, amassed more than 1.4 million followers.
Ricci has given presentations about his experiences, successes and lessons learned to current Arts and Sciences upperclassmen through the College's Business Boot Camp, a unique opportunity for these students to develop transferable skills and build their portfolios before they step into the real world. "I gave talks about what I did and how I started doing it. The focus was basically to do what you want and to follow what makes you happy," said Ricci. He added, "It's super validating (to receive this award). I've worked every day since I was 18, and I enjoy doing what I'm doing. To get this type of validation, and to be able to give back to the school, is worth more than any amount of money."
The Good and Faithful Servant Award recognizes an Arts and Sciences alum who has demonstrated exceptional contributions of time and talents to the College community and a commitment to the College's core values. This year's recipient was Craig McGraw '05. The national sales director for Trans American Trucking in South Plainfield, NJ, McGraw oversees the lower 48 states and Canada, ensuring positive and productive meetings with current and prospective customers. He also maintains the company's website, social media and marketing materials. In 2015, McGraw was named one of NJBIZ's Forty Under 40 award winners and in 2018 was accepted to the Forbes Business Development Council, where he contributes to a number of forums regarding sales and marketing topics. In addition to being a member of the President's Advisory Group at Seton Hall, McGraw also serves on the Board of Directors for Team Walker in Jersey City, NJ, a nonprofit founded by Seton Hall basketball legend Jerry Walker whose mission is to provide inner city children with safe alternatives to the streets, as well as the Board of Directors for the YMCA of Western Monmouth County.
From left to right: Craig McGraw, Peter Ahr, Dean Peter Shoemaker, Victor Ricci.
"It's an honor to receive this award," said McGraw, who majored in criminal justice. "It's just great to show that people in Arts and Sciences who have these majors can also go on and do other things." Like Ricci, McGraw has also participated in the College's Business Boot Camp, doing mock interviews with the students to better prepare them for real interviews. Additionally, he arranged a trip for the students to the Facebook offices in New York City, where they met a few of the employees and took a tour of the facility.
The Fahy Award recognizes a Seton Hall faculty member who, throughout his/her career at the College of Arts and Sciences, has made significant scholarly contributions to his/her discipline and has displayed extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching and to the University. This year, the College honored Peter Ahr '62, Ph.D., associate professor of religion. A member of the faculty of the Department of Religion since 1964, Ahr served as assistant dean and associate dean of the College from 1972 to 1987, as dean of Freshman Studies from 1987 to 1996, as interim dean of the College in 1997, and as interim provost in 1997-98. He has also been part of the University Honors Program since 1987 and has served as the Thomas and Ruth Sharkey Professor of Humanities. While his research and teaching interests lie especially in the area of the early development of Christianity, Ahr is also heavily involved in the University's efforts to develop information technology and in finding new ways of incorporating it into the University's teaching methods.
"I'm honored to receive an award in the name of Father Tom Fahy," said Ahr, in reference to the former Seton Hall president, as well as Ahr's Greek teacher years ago. "Fahy is the name of a building, but to me and to many of us here, Fahy is the name of a wonderful guy who I was honored to call a friend." He continued on to say that Monsignor Fahy "probably had more of an influence on the rest of my career than any other person I can point to. He was the most wonderful teacher I've ever had. Not only did he know his subject, but he also shared himself with his students. He shared not only what he knew, but why he knew it and why he was doing it. And that's what a good teacher does." As Ahr concluded, he stated, "I'm delighted to receive this honor in the name of a guy who was perhaps one of the greatest leaders we've ever had, who's kind of been forgotten except as the name on a building, but he's a name in my heart."
Brenda Delgadillo-Mera discusses how her Unanue scholarship helped make her Seton Hall education possible.
As the formal program drew to a close, Dean Shoemaker introduced Brenda Delgadillo-Mera, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in English literature and minoring in political science. As Dean Shoemaker stated, she is not only an exceptional student, but also volunteers as a buddy to international students at Seton Hall. Upon graduation, she will be working full time as a human resources officer. A recipient of the Joseph and Carmen Ana Unanue Student Scholarship, Delgadillo-Mera specifically thanked all the donors in attendance, saying, "My scholarship has impacted my life in ways I cannot put into words. As a first-generation future college graduate, I appreciate all the time and money that has been invested in my education. Because of your donations, countless students like myself are able to pursue an education in the field of their interest at a university like Seton Hall."