My Experience as a GA at SHU by: Dewayne Scott
I am the graduate assistant of Multicultural Affairs here at Sacred Heart University. In this role, I manage the work-study students and maintain the Multicultural Center’s daily operations.
During social justice week, I will take the time and opportunity to reflect on my experience in this position thus far while circling back to its relevance to social justice week at the university.
Being a part of the Multicultural Center has made my short time at Sacred Heart meaningful and enjoyable. Working with a very supportive staff and a diverse range of students has bettered me both professionally and personally. Doing DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) work has certain connotations attached to it; however, it is complicated and challenging, especially in a predominately white institution where you are part of the minority.
With that said, you find yourself in specific conversations that may feel very uncomfortable having but are necessary; necessary for not just myself, students, and the SHU community but as a society.
Race, class, and gender are just a few things that are not easy to talk about in a public or intimate setting.
To provide more context, the Multicultural Center was established at Sacred Heart after the George Floyd incident to give underrepresented students a place of comfort, but most importantly, provide education and knowledge of how to navigate through your journey before and after graduation as a minority within society.
Even as a graduate student and first-year student at SHU as a black male, I find myself gaining the same experience. Much of what I have learned and taken in is hugely accredited to the mentorship and guidance from Maurice Nelson, Robert Johnson, and Ana Mendieta, but the students play just as big a factor in it.
I have been placed in an environment that exposes me to dialogues and discussions that forces me to wrap my mind to be more open-minded and more aware of my place and influence in the environments in which I am placed.
DEIB work is a gradual upward battle for college institutions and the world. The first step in promoting a more diverse and inclusive environment is being more open-minded and aware of others from different places and backgrounds.
Alejandro Ramos, Collin Moura, & Isabella Fabbo
Spotlight Editor, Photography, Assistant Photography Editor
Pioneers Being Pioneers depicts some of our community members living up to our school’s mission and core values:
“Promotion of the common good of society.”
“Recognition of the dignity and worth of every human being.”
*All photos contributed by the Sacred Heart University photo shelter*
Jill Pusateri: O Captain! My Captain! by: Alejandro Ramos; Spotlight Editor
Jillian Pusateri is a senior political science major from Franklin Square, New York. At Sacred Heart University, she is best known for being captain of the Swim and Dive Team.
When asked why Pusateri was chosen as team captain, John Spadafina, Head Swimming Coach said, “she exemplifies the team core values and shows leadership characteristics.”
Pusateri, 21, has swam for the past 17 years. “I don’t remember life before swimming to be honest. Well, my parents threw me into swim lessons. Then I did a summer team and I fell in love with it.”
For a brief time during her career Pusateri was not the only one of the same last name swimming with a SHU cap on. Her older sister, Julia, was on the team in her senior year when Jillian started her freshman year.
“I’ve always looked up to her. It was kind of cool to have my big sister be a big dog on the team when I first came in,” said Pusateri.
In Spadafina’s tenure with the swim team, he has seen four sets of sisters complete the program.
“Jill and Julia are total opposites, but we endorse the family atmosphere and the siblings that come through the program. The Pusateri’s, in my tenure, are the second set of sisters to come through,” said Spadafina.
During the meet season, August to February, the swim and dive team practices from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Saturday. They then have a one-hour team lift session twice a week. Their home base is located at the McCann Natatorium in Milford, Conn.
In the off season, the team gets a day off with practices running from Monday to Friday. In lieu of a practice, the team has three one-hour team lift sessions.
“Swim has become a part of my life,” said Pusateri. “It has taught me so much, time management, patience, and motivation. Aside from the lessons, it has given me lifelong friends.”
Pusateri’s events for meets are the 100 breaststroke, 500 freestyle stroke, and the mile. Her favorite event is the breaststroke.
She has been supported in her career by loved ones. “My parents are my driving force. They have never missed a meet,” Pusateri said.
Michael and Diana Pusateri were recognized at this year’s senior day festivities. “We all are a family,” said Spadafina.
Other SHU athletic team captains recognize the work that she put into everything. “I would describe Jill as diligent,” said Alexa Setteducati captain of the SHU equestrian team and Pusateri’s housemate.
“She puts 110% into everything she does whether it’s her academics, swimming, or friendships. She is so hardworking and keeps herself busy by not only being a full-time student athlete as a Captain, but she also tutors in the Pitt [Center] and works,” Setteducati said.
Pusateri is off to Hofstra Law School when she graduates this year from SHU. For her this is a bitter-sweet ending, but she already has retirement plans.
Pusateri said, “My retirement will be spent competing in triathlons. Triathlons plus law school… that should keep me busy.”
Todd Gibbs: Engaging Alumni by: Alejandro Ramos; Spotlight Editor
Todd Gibbs, Executive Director for Alumni Relations, has been with Sacred Heart University for almost a decade.
Gibbs had a brief stint at SHU from 2008 to 2009 as the Executive Director of Development, working in University Advancement.
“I was here in 2008-09. At that moment in time, I felt like Sacred Heart was in the early stages of positive growth and I really felt a sense of connection to the kind of vision, values, and the mission of Sacred Heart. That everyone mattered,” said Gibbs.
In 2009, he departed SHU during a period of change when he was presented with an opportunity to lead a non-profit organization.
“I was presented an opportunity to follow a passion and to lead it,” said Gibbs. I led an organization that had a direct benefit to loved ones, and helped redefine and reshape it.”
The organization, Pegasus Therapeutic Riding, works with children, veterans, and first responders. Their mission reads as follows, “We are here to enhance the lives of individuals who have disabilities and challenges through equine-assisted activities and education.” More information about the organization can be found at pegasustr.org
Although he wasn’t actively searching for the next step, Gibbs’ next opportunity came when he received a call from SHU to return in some capacity.
Gibbs returned to Sacred Heart in 2014.
“I kind of always felt like I had unfinished business here,” said Gibbs.
Although his title gives him a leadership role in the school’s alumni engagement channels, Gibbs is adaptable to the many roles in institutional advancement.
In his eight years since being back he has touched upon the many functions of an advancement office; annual funds, giving campaigns, scholarship funds, major gifts, stewardship, and data services.
“Under the leadership of our Senior Vice President Paul Sutera, who joined us about 18 months ago, he’s organized the office in a way that clearly delineates alumni engagement as its own pillar and so I lead that alumni engagement channel,” said Gibbs.
One of his pillars’ responsibilities is alumni relations, engagement, and involvement. A physical event that brings alumni back to SHU is homecoming. Over the years, this weekend has grown in popularity.
When interviewed in October 2022, for a Spectrum article titled ‘Welcome Back, Alumni!’ Gibbs said, “Eight years ago, we had 250 students attend homecoming, with less than five events. Last year, we welcomed back 1,300, and this year we hosted over 2,000 alumni over the course of the weekend.”
Sacred Heart has 53,000 living alumni residing in all 50 states and coming from a total of 64 countries. These alumni give back in many ways; presence, promoting SHU in their community, mentoring students, and job/internship opportunities.
One-third of these students have graduated under President John Petillo’s 12-year presidency at the university. At other higher education institutions, young alumni who have graduated within 10 years are called G.O.L.D.: “Graduates of the Last Decade.” At SHU, they are called Petillo’s Kids.
There are currently eight alumni chapters based on geographic location in the United States. By June 2024, Gibbs hopes to grow that number to 20. The activities and engagement of these chapters were severely impacted by COVID-19. Aside from alumni chapters there is also affinity groups and alumni societies.
Alumni Engagement alongside the Center for Career & Professional Development have established a new platform. “Pioneers Connect” which works like LinkedIn but accessible only to SHU students has had a successful launch. Within the first week of launching, the platform has over 500 users.
“Pioneers Connect” allows for interactions between alumni and students alike. Whether you are connecting with a current or former classmate, potential employer, or looking for a mentor this platform has you covered.
Gibbs stressed that work in University Advancement (UA) is only possible through collaboration and coordination. These include the pillars within the UA framework as well as campus and community partners.
This year they assisted SHU’s Student Government with their 11th annual Turkey Drive. Without the support from alumni and donors the goal would not have been met. Student Government Senator Bella Neves sits on the board of Community and Inclusion that was responsible for putting together the turkey drive.
“Mr. Gibbs played a significant role in making both our November and December Turkey Drives so successful. Any time we hit a bump in the road, he was always there to help,” said Neves. “As a student here at Sacred Heart, it is so great to see a staff member who is so willing and happy to help others!”
When asked about vision and the future Gibbs mentioned building class identity. “While we have not had a class identity, we want to start building that,” said Gibbs. “We will have a 25 and 50 at homecoming. Over time we will start to introduce other class reunions.”
Aside from class reunions, there are plans to unite SHU’s affinity groups. “What we will continue to do is build reunions driven by affinity. It can be orientation leaders, which we have done in the past, members of the band, and groups even within Spectrum,” said Gibbs.
Many of these ideas are born within different departments in the community and are brought to Alumni Engagement to facilitate them.
On June 10 the Alumni Association Board in collaboration with the university will be hosting the very first Distinguished Alumni Awards Program. “It’s truly a chance to recognize alumni for significant professional and community accomplishments and the work that they are doing in the different phases of their career trajectories,” said Gibbs.
Spotlight Section Introduction
Welcome to the newest addition to The Spectrum, The Spotlight! This newly added section of The Spectrum will serve many purposes to our community. We had a few minor changes to the structure of the paper, as you can tell if you’re an avid reader, Perspectives is no longer a section.
My name is Alejandro Ramos, and I am the editor for this new section. Just last semester I was a staff writer, writing for the features section. My favorite assignments were covering members of this campus in a life profile.
This section will be able to cover our campus’ “Unsung Heros” with profiles and allow the community to contribute. I am hoping that this section will encourage our SHU community to interact with us in a more reciprocal manner.
You can scan the QR code to submit a form to recommend a member of this campus to be our next spotlight. A member can be anyone from a student to an administrator and anywhere in between.
If you would like to submit something to this section please email me, Alejandro, at (email@example.com).
Looking forward to serving the community this semester in this capacity.
All my best,