Independent Public Mission Schools

College of Saint Elizabeth Senior Starting Non-Profit Organization Benefiting Children in Jamaica

Julia Davidson with children in Jamaica

Julia Davidson, a Foods and Nutrition major in the class of 2018, is developing a nonprofit organization, Positive Roots, with the goal of improving education in rural communities of Jamaica.

Davidson, who transferred to CSE from Bergen Community College in 2015, is very involved at CSE as President of the Nutrition and Wellness Club and a Student Ambassador.

Her idea for the nonprofit came after spending time volunteering in a Jamaican basic school and rural community this summer. It was there that she saw the lack of quality education children are receiving, leaving students without several basic skills. This trip enabled Davidson to realize the true value of education.

She says, “Educating communities, especially those living in high-risk environments, provides the tools to combat poverty, malnutrition, and to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.”

Prior to her trip, Davidson spent months collecting 140 pounds of school supplies for the children.

To read more stories about the College of Saint Elizabeth, scroll down:

CSE’s Education Has Transformational Impact on International Religious Sisters
CSE Graduate Becomes Chief of Police for Morris Township Police Department
National Award Recognizes Partnership Improving Schools

“There’s 25 kids per classroom and many don’t even have pens, pencils or paper,” says Davidson. “I just want to help improve their educational experience.”

Davidson’s goal for the future is to expand her service by raising $7,000 to construct a primary school in Roaring River, Jamaica.

“This community only has a basic school for children aged 3-6,” explains Davidson. “The kids have to travel three miles to another town to go to primary school (aged 6-12) and, as a result, many kids end up missing school.”

Davidson is developing a business plan and meeting with a non-profit, pro bono law firm to attain 501(c)(3) status for Positive Roots. In the meantime, she’s started another drive for school supplies which she hopes to take to Jamaica during winter break.

“I’m really grateful for CSE because it’s gotten me involved in so many service opportunities,” says Davidson, whose mother received a BSN and MSN at the College. “Coming here made me realize that I need to help others. I honestly feel that if those who have more would share, the world would be totally different.”

After Davidson graduates, she plans on pursing her master’s in nutrition and public health at CSE.

Cesilia Martinez-Zoto with orphaned children in Guatemala

College of Saint Elizabeth’s Education Has Transformational Impact on International Religious Sisters

A CSE education has been transformational in the lives of four international religious sisters. These women, of several different Catholic orders, left their native countries to pursue degrees at CSE that will enhance their ability to serve those in need.

Through the International Sisters Program at CSE, Sisters are encouraged to apply for admission at a special tuition rate and, if accepted, may request housing from the Sisters of Charity’s at the Mother House adjacent to campus.

The Sisters currently in the program are: Sister Marie-Prudencia Ahanonu, ’19, of Nigeria, Sister Cesilia Martinez-Zoto, ’18, originally of El Salvador, Sister Anna Loan Nguygen, ’18, of Vietnam and Sister Maria Tram Phan, ’17, of Vietnam.

“The plan is to take everything I’m learning here to develop my country,” says Sister Ahanonu.

Both Sister Ahanonu and Sister Martinez-Zoto recognized that their CSE education will help them be more efficient and effective in their efforts in their home countries.

As a member of the Holy Family Sisters of the Needy, Sister Ahanonu works directly with orphans, unwed mothers and those with disabilities. She’s double majoring in both health administration and psychology to better under the physical and mental needs of her patients.

“In Nigeria, the planning and management of health is quite different than the U.S.,” says Sister Ahanonu. “I’ve seen the difference between my ideology before, and after my education here. I now know the failures in the communication system that exist between orphanages, hospitals and clinics and know how to improve it.”

Ideally, Sister Ahanonu will continue to earn her master’s in health administration and
set up her own clinic to benefit children when she returns to Nigeria.

After studying psychology at CSE, Sister Martinez-Zoto also recognizes the value a CSE education will make in her efforts to assist orphans, abandoned youth and the elderly in Guatemala.

“When you don’t have the knowledge, you can make mistakes by treating people improperly,” says Sister Martinez-Zoto. “Studying abnormal psychology really helped me. When you are able to realize what specific behaviors actually mean, then you can look for better treatment options.”

Her newfound knowledge of psychology enabled her to analyze the errors made in the orphanages and attain the skills necessary to rectify them. Sister Martinez-Zoto ultimately hopes to earn her master’s in psychology and use her education to work as a psychologist in a Guatemalan school or orphanage.

While Sister Ahanonu and Sister Martinez-Zoto both intend to improve specific functions within
orphanages, schools or clinics, Sister Phan and Sister Nguyen have a broader mission: simply to serve the people of Vietnam.

Prior to studying at CSE, Sister Phan worked as a kindergarten teacher in Vietnam. However, her Superior, in the Daughters of Our Lady of Visitation, told her, “go get your education because it will help you further your mission.”

Shortly after, she applied to CSE’s theology program and began learning how to deepen her relationship with God and further her ability to connect with people who don’t identify as Catholic.

“I don’t talk about God when I meet non-Catholics,” says Sister Phan. “I talk about my life, how we serve, the way we love and allow people to see God through our actions.”

Sister Phan believes that strengthening her understanding of theology will better equip her for spreading the message of Christ and establishing a common ground with all people. After graduating with her bachelor’s, Sister Phan hopes to earn her master’s in theology before returning to Vietnam.

Sister Nguygen, a member of The Love of The Holy Cross, also intends on using her CSE degree to foster relationships with the disadvantaged in Vietnam. She believes her sociology degree will be instrumental in preparing her to serve the poor in the countryside and encourage young females to join a religious vocation.

“I will teach the people how to interact with other people, not just within the same community, but different communities and cultures,” says Sister Nguyen. “We have to treat all people the same because all people are the image of God and deserve dignity.”

She believes that encouraging young women to join religious life will help empower them and strengthen a community dedicated to serving the poor.

All four Sisters will graduate from the College of Saint Elizabeth with the knowledge to make real, lasting changes in their native countries. Their degrees are helping them physically save lives, bring comfort to the mentally anguished, guide the spiritually broken and above all, spread the message of Christ.

College of Saint Elizabeth Graduate Becomes Chief of Police for Morris Township Police Department

“The College of Saint Elizabeth is an extremely reputable, convenient, law-enforcement friendly and cost effective institution,” says Mark DiCarlo, chief of police for Morris Township Police Department.

In 2015, DiCarlo earned his master’s degree in justice administration and public service at CSE. This September, he was promoted to chief of police for Morris Township Police Department and firmly believes his CSE education was vital to this achievement.

Mark DiCarlo

“Law Enforcement is extremely competitive these days and opportunities for advancement are even more competitive,” says DiCarlo. “This job has changed dramatically over the years and is more complex and technological. A great, current education is imperative.”

“As a graduate student, Mark was always leading the way in our critical thinking exercises and practical application of criminal justice case studies,” says Dr. Jim Ford, an associate criminal justice professor at CSE and former lieutenant for the Chatham Township Police Department.

As the 12th chief of police for Morris Township, DiCarlo will lead the police force in serving the public, elected officials and his co-workers.

During his swearing-in ceremony, DiCarlo pledged to make the Morris Township Police Department even more inclusive.

“Our community is diverse and I will continue to improve the diversity in our police department,” said DiCarlo. “I truly believe that public trust is gained when the police force mirrors the diversity of the community which it serves.”

Learn more about CSE’s criminal justice program here:

Initiative’s co-directors Liz Warner of United Way of Northern New Jersey and Patricia Heindel, Ph.D., of College of Saint Elizabeth

National Award Recognizes Partnership Improving Schools

For the second time, a national organization has applauded the work being done by the College of Saint Elizabeth and United Way of Northern New Jersey to help New Jersey’s K-12 students learn and succeed by improving the climate and culture in local schools.

The American Psychological Association awarded its John Kalafat Community Program Award to the two organizations for their partnership on the School Culture and Climate Initiative which is involved in 40 schools across the region serving 17,000 students. The Initiative is considered one of the most comprehensive in New Jersey for both improving school climates and promoting students’ health and wellness from kindergarten through 12th grade.

The Association chose to recognize the Initiative as it exemplifies the work of former Rutgers University professor and psychologist John Kalafat, Ph.D., in building bridges between research and improving the world, creating a positive impact on communities and excellence in crisis intervention, according to the award committee.

Across northern New Jersey, schools have turned to this Initiative to help address what leading experts, the most respected studies and New Jersey’s anti-bullying law say is the foundation for all learning – a healthy school climate.

United Way and CSE work with schools to evaluate their culture and climate, uncover the conditions contributing to the environment and collaborate to create a roadmap toward sustainable improvement.

“Any district or building principal who wishes for their organization to ascend to new heights should partner up,” said the principal of one local school that has benefited from the project.

The Initiative has also been awarded a national Promising Practice award by the Washington, D.C.-based

In addition, both organizations individually offer complementary programs that expand beyond the Initiative to reach an even wider network of school professionals. United Way’s School Support Network provides free training and networking opportunities for educators across the region to learn and share best practices in creating a positive school climate.

The Center for Human and Social Development at CSE, in partnership with Rutgers University, offers an online professional certificate program and virtual professional learning community for social emotional learning and character development in schools ( The Center also houses a school culture and climate assessment lab which provides a school climate survey and data assessment support to schools.