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Seton Hall University

Katia Passerini, Ph.D. Establishes Endowed Scholarship Fund

Katia Passerini, Ph.D.

Katia Passerini, Ph.D., interim president of Seton Hall University

Seton Hall has long embodied a deep commitment to students and a strong dedication to fostering global perspectives.

This ethos was beautifully exemplified when Katia Passerini, Ph.D., interim president of Seton Hall, and her husband, Arturo Pagan, established the Isabel Pagan-Fraser Endowed Scholarship Fund in 2021. The couple’s generosity underscores their dedication to the University’s mission, as well as the dreams of Seton Hall students.

The scholarship’s inception was rooted in a deeply personal sentiment. Passerini explained: “We established the fund to honor the dreams of my mother-in-law, Isabel Pagan-Fraser, whose life was a testament to family, resilience and cultural diversity.”

The endowment was designed to have a lasting impact on international graduate students, particularly those enrolled in the Stillman School of Business and the School of Diplomacy and International Relations.

“We focused on those schools because that’s how Arturo and I met,” Passerini said. While she attended George Washington University to receive her M.B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the School of Business, Pagan attended the Elliott School of International Affairs to complete a Master of Arts, which started his career in the United Nations.

The couple’s vision for the fund became clear: They aimed to break down financial barriers that international students often face and provide them, instead, with opportunity. While recognizing this need, Passerini and Pagan also understood that there were countless students worldwide who needed support.

While the fund gives preference to international graduate students pursuing business and diplomacy, it also supports any international graduate student in good academic standing who is facing financial challenges. The reason why the focus is on graduate education is because many international students, like Passerini herself, come to the United States to specialize in professional and applied disciplines. The U.S. is known worldwide for an excellent approach to integrating basic research with application knowledge.

Isabel Pagan-Fraser, the fund’s namesake, left a legacy that became the catalyst for this remarkable initiative. Born in Puerto Rico, she left home at a young age to make a new life in New York City.

“That’s where she met Arturo’s dad,” Passerini said.

Isabel, along with her husband, became an integral part of the vibrant Latino culture in the Bronx and Brooklyn. They were active in their church, and they met on a church trip. They treasured the Spanish Mass at St. Augustine in Brooklyn, a tradition they passed on to their children and grandchildren. The parish became a family and a community.

“For us, it was important to recognize that her life was about multiple cultures. That’s why we wanted this scholarship to facilitate students from all over the world,” Passerini said.

For her, the fund is a vital part of Seton Hall’s future. It aligns with the University’s goals of enhancing its international presence, sending more students abroad and inviting a diverse student body from around the world.

“As a University located 16 miles from New York City, we have an outstanding opportunity to attract students from abroad and send our students to many different locations,” Passerini explained. “We already have some students who do that, but even more could seize the opportunity. The main goal is to make Seton Hall more international and make our thinking more globalized.”

The Isabel Pagan-Fraser Endowed Scholarship demonstrates Passerini’s belief in the potential of Seton Hall students to make a positive impact on the world stage, mirroring the values and aspirations of the University itself. As the scholarship continues to shape Seton Hall’s academic landscape in the years to come, students from around the world who benefit from the scholarship will carry forward the legacy of the remarkable woman it represents and the profound support of Katia Passerini and Arturo Pagan.

The couple’s gift will be a reminder to all that Seton Hall is not just an institution of learning; it is a family of supporters, mentors and believers in the potential of every student to shape a better future where knowledge and opportunity know no borders.

Categories: Education, Nation and World

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