Students share their perspectives with President Olian during campus stroll

August 28, 2018

Olian walks and gestures with Gardoza and Cuttitta.

The quad is brimming today with excited students and faculty experiencing that yearly sense of renewal that comes with the start of classes. Two weeks ago, the brick paths connecting our academic buildings were less traveled, presenting a perfect opportunity for President Judy Olian to see the university through the eyes of two seniors who accompanied her on a tour of the Mount Carmel Campus.

Shannon Cardoza ’19 and Ryan Cuttitta ’19 had the opportunity to spend a morning with their new president. They conversed candidly about Quinnipiac, sharing their experiences and highlighting issues important to them. Getting to know members of the community and to experience Quinnipiac’s culture is important to Olian.

For nearly two hours, Olian and the two students strolled across the quad and through the Carl Hansen Student Center, with stops at the Piazza, the bookstore, Tator Hall, the Center for Communications and Engineering, the Commons Bridge and the Arnold Bernhard Library.

Cuttitta is double majoring in biomedical sciences and communications/media studies and commutes from rural Morris, Connecticut. He believes that the experiences and the education he is receiving here are well worth the drive. Cuttitta serves as an orientation leader and a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board for the School of Health Sciences. Olian listened intently as Cuttitta spoke.

Cardoza is a nursing major from Westport, Connecticut. She also serves as an orientation leader and is a member of the Student Nursing Club.

"Quinnipiac is a very safe place in which students can experiment with, and grow into leadership roles — just say yes,” Olian said. “Take advantage of all the opportunities you have here. You will be glad you did.”

A native of Jamaica, Cardoza is enrolled as a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals student. “My mom was working here in the U.S., and she chose to bring me here when I was about 7 years old,” Cardoza said. “She was also in the same boat as I was in the sense that she was an undocumented immigrant as well. That changed recently about a year ago — she’s now a permanent resident of the United States, but I’m still under DACA.”

Olian, an advocate of diversity, opportunity and global awareness, asked Cardoza if she knew how many DACA students attend Quinnipiac. “No, and I think that’s a really great thing,” Cardoza said. “I’ve spoken with university officials and they said, ‘We don’t know who you are unless you come tell us.’” Cardoza mentioned that the School of Law is involved in advocacy work for undocumented immigrants.

The conversation on the tour was a blend of honesty and insights, with moments of laughter, levity and a group photo at the pond next to the Center for Communications and Engineering.

As Olian remarked about the plume of the fountain and the backdrop of Sleeping Giant State Park, Cardoza and Cuttitta took out their phones and asked her if she would pose with them for a photo.

“Of course,” Olian said. “Would you mind taking one with my phone, too?” Olian seemed delighted to add this snapshot in time to her phone’s photo gallery.

Building relationships with students, faculty and staff is essential to her mission, and she has established regular office hours to meet as many people as possible.

As they toured the Mount Carmel Dining Hall, Cardoza and Cuttitta told her they often opt for a later lunchtime to avoid the hungry midday crowds. Cardoza even pointed out a particular table in the corner where she and her friends enjoy gathering. Olian dictated a voice memo to herself about cafeteria seating.

Seniors often say their last year whirls by in a bittersweet blur. Olian wished them a successful year. She’ll be seeing them before they know it, as she hands them their diplomas next May, sharing yet another memorable Quinnipiac experience with them.

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