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Catholic Studies Majors Well-Spent and Well-Loved Summers
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Catholic Studies Students

Connor Carragher
This past summer, I had the unique opportunity of living in Spain for a month with a group of my friends to study Spanish culture and language. One course was actually taught by a Seton Hall professor, while a native Spanish professor led the other. Both courses helped me further develop my foreign language skills and appreciate a different culture from a new perspective. In addition to a phenomenal classroom atmosphere, my trip to Spain gave me the chance to live with a Spanish family and meet with locals in the city of Alicante on the Mediterranean coast. The perfect weather provided a nice backdrop to world-class beaches and absolutely unparalleled nightlife.

Last but certainly not least, my group went to Madrid, Barcelona, Granada, and Pamplona on our free weekends. Whether I was participating in the Running of the Bulls-- I'm still trying to determine how my friends talked me into it --gawking at La Sagrada Familia, or having the time of my life in a cosmopolitan setting, it truly was the trip of a lifetime.

Peter Gallagher
This summer I had the chance to work in a Bayada Home Health Care office in Moorestown, NJ. I inputted data on their database system and made follow up calls to discharged clients across the United States to greet them and see if they were healthy at home. I found my job very pastoral and relating to my future goal of becoming a priest, because I was able to listen to many people who are constrained to their homes and perhaps depressed and set them up with any additional local resources depending on where they lived. Before work every day I served Mass at a local parish; starting my day off in the greatest way we can as Catholics was a blessing and helped me grow in my continued spiritual formation. I enjoyed a week in Sea Isle City with my family on vacation and spent lots of time relaxing with friends!

Brittany Kowalski
I spent this summer back in my hometown of DeKalb, Illinois (60 miles west of Chicago and 90 miles east of Iowa) where I spent time working and with my family. I worked part time as a barista at a Caribou Coffee Shop inside of a Hy-Vee grocery store (both of which are Midwest chains) as well as baby sitting and dog/house sitting. Other than that it was a pretty quiet summer of reading, relaxing and preparing for the school year.

Samantha “Sam” Pettigrew
This summer, I worked in a research lab at Columbia University Medical Center. I was able to study some of the cell signaling cytokines, especially Interleukin-22, that have been implicated in psoriasis but have not been very well characterized. I became proficient in many new lab techniques, including Western Blotting, RNA Isolation, and PCR gene amplification. I had the opportunity to design my project from the ground up, and therefore gained great lab experience that is difficult to attain as an undergraduate student. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity, which was made possible by Seton Hall's Stamer Scholarship for Undergraduate Research.

Nick Sertich
This summer, just as I have done for the past seven summers, I spent most of my time working and volunteering in my parish, Epiphany in Cliffside Park. I was primarily busy with running the Epiphany Community Food Pantry, which I have been the Director of since 2009. This summer, my dedicated volunteers and I worked very hard to meet the increasing demand for food assistance in our community. Over 200 families currently participate in our program, and we served over 500 visits during the summer months. Since taking leadership of the pantry in 2009, I have stressed the point that our program is not welfare, but is a Catholic mission, where we see Christ in the poor and show adoration of God through service to others, and, as such, our driving motto is, "It is in giving that we receive." My leadership position at the Epiphany Community Food Pantry has become a major aspect of my life, and I believe that the work we do continues the centuries-old Catholic tradition of merciful Christian charity in our community.

Over the summer, I was also busy with other happenings at my parish, including volunteering my time as the Chairman of our Annual Beefsteak Dinner and Tricky Tray, and as the head of Epiphany’s Junior RCIA Program. In all, I had a busy, but enjoyable, summer, and I thank God for the grace of a happy and healthy vacation.

Kimberly Topel
Since the semester ended back in May, I had a very busy but productive summer. I started off with a service trip to Oahu, Hawaii with my sorority. I had the unique chance to volunteer with environmental projects, learn about the Polynesian culture, and get to know my sisters from around the country.

When I arrived home in Illinois, I worked for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office as an intern in the Juvenile Justice Department. I assisted the Assistant States Attorneys as they adjudicated juvenile offenders in suburban Cook County. I also worked for a campaign fundraising firm, specifically on the political campaign of Senator Richard J. Durbin among a few others.

Christian Zeron
I can't say I had a particularly difficult or challenging summer. I spent 23 days lounging my way through San Sebastian, Bayonne and Bologna.

In San Sebastian, the beach was the center of attention from sunrise to sunset until the 'pintxos' bars opened for dinner. This little coastal region is probably the food capital of Spain and arguably the world at the moment. So yeah, it was unreal.

If the French are doing it, it's probably unbelievably cool. It's some sort of social law. It seems as if everything you see them do has been carefully tweaked and improved by some Hollywood visual editor, but it hasn't; it's live and it's without care. It's like their goal is to make everyone else look like trash. They drink coffee slower, they ride bikes smoother, they smoke like James Dean, and there nothing we can do about it. A visit to any village or city of France is a seriously humbling experience for all of those not lucky enough to be French.  

Italy is a country of tradition and patience. Whether they’re their braising their pork, upshifting in their Ferraris or bringing you your antipasti, they're taking their time. It's a polar lifestyle to ours, the appreciation of the old instead of the forced invention of the new.

Needless to say, I learned more in the weeks in Europe than I did in 4 years of high school.

For more information please contact:
Dr. Ines Murzaku
(973) 275-5845


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