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Seton Hall University

Meet Leon and Donna Barden P’14, P’15, P’16

Pirate Parents Three Times Over

Leon and Donna BardenWhen Leon and Donna Barden's sons began their college search, each had a different objective.

Zachary wanted to choose from a wide array of academic programs. Michael looked for a medium-sized Catholic institution in the New York area. Kevin sought a university that would prepare him for a top law school.

Though their priorities were diverse, each found what he was looking for at Seton Hall.

"This university fits all of their needs," Donna Barden said, "and Seton Hall is big enough that nobody would know their brothers go here unless they mentioned it."

Michael led the family's charge to South Orange. Coming from a Catholic high school, Seton Hall's close-knit campus community felt very familiar.

"He was on the quiet side in high school, but he's much more outgoing here," Donna Barden said. "It's such a good fit for him. I think that helped his brothers decide to come here as well."

Indeed, Zachary—who had enrolled at a college in Rhode Island—soon joined his younger sibling.

Kevin, the youngest Barden, was accepted to several other high-profile institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania and Villanova, before deciding that Seton Hall was right for him.

"He wasn't asking 'What's the most prestigious school?' He wanted to know 'Which school can take me where I want to go?'" Leon Barden said. Because Kevin qualified for Seton Hall's in-state tuition rate, his parents expect that he will attend law school debt-free.

The couple joined the Parents Leadership Council to stay connected to their sons' educations, which they have done consistently since grade school.

"It's not that we want to know what our kids are doing; we want to know where the University is going," Donna Barden said. "We've invested quite a bit of money here and we want to help Seton Hall reach the top level of Catholic colleges."

"The better Seton Hall's reputation is, the more opportunities our sons will have," said Leon Barden, whose main interests include expanding networking between students and alumni.

"Everybody has a sense of pride in where they went to school," he said. "It's an immediate connection. A younger person can meet an older guy like me and we can share something instantly.

"If I can help develop those opportunities at Seton Hall, then that's what I want to do."

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