Student and alumni spotlight

cas_eng_websterName: Stephanie Webster '14
Undergrad/grad Degree (plus any area of concentration): Double major in Psychology and English with a concentration in Teacher Education, and an Education minor.
Current hometown: Oakville, CT
Name of employer: Southington Board of Education
Job title & brief description of duties: I am an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapist.  I work with preschoolers and elementary-age students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other unique learning needs.  As an ABA Therapist, I implement behavior analytic techniques to teach a wide range of skills to the students.

 How and why did you select your major/minor? And how did that contribute to your professional and personal life?
I always loved English and I applied to Fairfield as an English major.  I took General Psych during my Freshman year and fell in love with the discipline, leading to my choice to double major.  After taking an Education class for my Residential College in my Sophomore year, I decided to continue studying Education through my English Concentration and as a minor.  I feel that my career path is a perfect marriage of psychology and education.  Applied Behavior Analysis began as a psychological concept that grew into its own scientific discipline - one that is frequently used in the education of individuals with autism.  

How did you come to work in your current career field and what inspires you about your work?
During my senior year I did an internship at an autism and ABA center in Wilton, CT, The Center for Growth and Development.  Within my first few minutes at the Center I fell in love with ABA and I knew that I had found the right path for me.  I began spending over twenty hours a week at the Center learning as much as I can from the amazing people who work there.  I’m currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, CT, while working as an ABA Therapist at a public school.  My work and studies show me everyday that all people are teachable, at their own pace and in their own way.  Behavior is something that can be figured out, defined, and changed in order to teach new skills or reduce problematic behaviors.  Everyday I am so appreciative of the opportunity to help students grow and learn, and to take part in the fascinating discipline of ABA.  

How did Fairfield’s Jesuit education (courses, core curriculum, extracurricular, internships, research, community, service learning, etc.) prepare you for your future?Without the outstanding education and opportunities I had as a Fairfield student, I don’t believe I would have found this career path.  I really grew to understand and love the Jesuit values as I learned more about them in my education classes, and I continue to use them as guiding factors in my life.  Fairfield helped instill in me the belief that helping others in any and all ways possible is the most important thing a person could do.  I struggled towards the end of my time at Fairfield about what I would do next, but with my amazing internship, supportive professors, and diverse courses of study, I found a career that is challenging, fulfilling, meaningful, and gives me the opportunity to help other people every day. 

Ali Famigletti '14, Master's in Italian with Middlebury College Language Schools

cas_famiglettiName: Ali Famigletti '14
Undergrad Degree: English (concentration in teacher education) and Italian
Hometown: Lynbrook, New York
Extracurricular Activities: RA for Gonzaga; Peer Mediation Club Leadership Member; Studied abroad in Florence, Italy
Honors and Awards: Magis Scholarship, Alpha Mu Gamma: Foreign Language Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta: International English Honor Society, English Department Award in Creative Non-Fiction 2013
Currently: Enrolled for a Master's in Italian with Middlebury College Language Schools. The program features a 6 week intensive summer session in Oakland, California on Mills College Campus and an academic year abroad in Florence, Italy

Why did you choose to study your major at Fairfield University?
I came into Fairfield with a declared major in English. I chose to study English because it was (and is) my passion. Fairfield’s wide variety of course offerings in English challenged me to engage with ideas I never considered before. They also enhanced my reading, writing, and oral skills which have become crucial to my progress in and out of the classroom. My grasp of the English language and my passion for sharing the human experience developed profoundly with the inspirational guidance of my amazing professors.

 In my second semester as a first-year student, I added Italian as my double major because it was (and is), my second passion. I chose to take classes in Italian as part of the core-language requirement. These classes showed me that studying a second language would be imperative to my success after college and to my growth as an individual through cultural enrichment. I achieved an advanced level of facility in the Italian language and deepened my immense appreciation for what I consider to be one of the most authentic and resonant cultures in the world.  

How have you been inspired in pursuit of your academic interests?  
The members of the English and Italian departments at Fairfield have been essential to my success as a student and my personal growth these past four years.  When I expressed that I wanted to study abroad in Florence, Italy during the spring semester of my junior year, my multiple advisors were extremely supportive and encouraged me to do something outside of my comfort zone. With their guidance, I opted to partake in an academic internship as an ELTA (English Language Teaching Assistant) in two elementary schools outside of Florence. As an ELTA, I used my English major skills to help 3rd and 5th grade Italian students learn English. As a student of Italian language and culture, I used my Italian major skills to navigate around the city of Florence the country of Italy. This experience was the ultimate fusion of my academic interests and personal goals. I was completely inspired to continue working in both of these fields after experiencing them first hand last spring. After graduation, I will return to Florence to work for Fairfield University as the Program Assistant for the Fairfield Florence program. Four years ago, I would never have dreamed that this opportunity was possible. Today, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.


Kate Hoffman '14, New York City Department of Education

cas_eng_hoffmanName: Kate Hoffman '14
Undergrad Degree: English
Hometown: Queens, New York
Name of employer: New York City Department of Education (High school special education teacher, currently teaching 10th and 11th grade English)

How did Fairfield’s liberal arts education prepare you for your future?
The diversity of Fairfield’s liberal arts education has helped me throughout my career immensely. As a teacher I wear many hats, some expected and others often unexpected. It wasn’t until I began teaching that I realized how valuable my liberal arts education was. Being able to have a concrete foundation in an array of areas (English; sociology; communication; women, gender, & sexuality studies (WGS)) has been a lifesaver during some of my lessons. 

Describe the ways that the university’s Jesuit mission and identity had a positive influence on your life
The courses I took during at Fairfield particularly in the English Department and WGS program aided in the solidification of my beliefs. I was able to discover, explore and question the bigger picture while being based in the four Jesuit values. When I first came to Fairfield I had never heard of the Jesuit values but during my time at Fairfield I found myself trying to live out each value. As I have moved on I notice myself trying to practice the values daily, particularly men and women for others. As a special education teacher, I have chosen to spend the rest of my career carrying out these values personally. 

Laura Johnson '14, Substitute Teacher for Bristol Public Schools

cas_eng_student4Name: Laura Johnson '14
Undergrad Degree: English (Literature & Cultural Studies and Teacher Education), Spanish minor
Hometown: Bristol, CT
Extracurricular Activities: As a Fairfield undergrad: Service Learning Associate, Spanish Peer Tutor, Mercy Learning Center Volunteer, Ignatian Residential College Alumni Mentor, Lector in Campus Ministry;
Professional: Substitute Teacher for Bristol Public Schools, Volunteer for the Literacy Volunteers of Central CT & Central CT Family Literacy Center, Waitress at Confetti Restaurant in Plainville; Personal: Playing the Piano, Writing, Reading, & taking Zumba classes 

Describe a project done through the English program of which you are particularly proud
A project that I am particularly proud of accomplishing as an undergraduate at Fairfield was an Independent Study that doubled as my Senior Honors Project for the university’s Honors Program. Entitled “Educate a woman…Educate a family: A Case Study of Early Childhood Education at Mercy Learning Center”, referencing the organization’s motto, the project started with a literature review covering the topics of adult literacy, family literacy, and early childhood education, including research either specific to Bridgeport and the Connecticut area or applicable given the demographic of Mercy Learning Center’s population. This portion led up to a case study including observational data of Mercy Learning Center’s Early Childhood Education program and data gathered from personal interviews of staff from the Child Care, Family Literacy, and Volunteer Enrichment sectors of the program. As someone who is very passionate about the issue of adult literacy and the importance of giving all children the same access to education, it was very fulfilling to compose a thesis paper on the subject that conveyed its importance in our society and to be able to showcase such an extraordinary model for achieving family literacy as Mercy Learning Center. It was also incredibly beneficial for me to gain experience conducting research in the field of English and learning how it could be woven into a research article. I was privileged to complete this project under the guidance and supervision of Dr. Betsy Bowen and had a chance to present the findings at the university’s Research and Creative Arts Symposium this past April. At Dr. Bowen’s suggestion, I also just recently submitted a shorter version of the paper to the Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning and Community-Based Research for possible publication.  

Alan Pelaez Lopez '15, major in English (professional writing) and Sociology

cas_eng_student5Name: Alan Pelaez Lopez '15
Undergrad Degree: English (professional writing) and Sociology
Hometown: Atizapan de Zaragoza, MX
Extracurricular Activities: Students for Social Justice, Spanish American Latino Student Association, Muslim Student Association 

Describe a project done through the English program of which you are particularly proud
As an English major, I had the most wonderful experience when I was accepted to attend UC Berkeley for the summer of 2014 to be a part of Voices of Our Nation, the only multi-genre writing workshop for people of color. I was one of 140 that were accepted with an application pool of over 600. The faculty included Randall Kenan, Junot Diaz, Staceyann Chin, etc. I was able to workshop my poetry with other writers, and gain skills to ultimately publish my own selection of poems. Each day, we read about 50 pages of each other’s work and shared critical comments, experiences, and a lot of heart.  

Describe the ways that the university’s Jesuit mission and identity had a positive influence in your academic and personal experience while at Fairfield
My first day at Fairfield, I had no idea what a Jesuit was, but as I spent more time on campus and with friends, I was able to see the mission as one of social justice. The mission has helped my personal experience as it has allowed me to share my story and heal with others. For the past two years, I have been able to attend the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s Family Teach in, where I have met other activist that focus on international human rights, poverty eradication, Palestinian solidarity, etc. Without these experiences, I don’t think I would have enjoyed Fairfield as I do now.

Maria Mazzaro '14, Editorial assistant at OPERA NEWS Magazine

‌‌cas_eng_mazzaroName: Maria Mazzaro '14
Undergrad Degree: English and Music
Hometown: New York City, NY
Extracurricular Activities: Writing, singing, reading 
Job Title: Editorial assistant at OPERA NEWS Magazine

How did you select your major/minor?
While at Fairfield, I pursued a double major in English (with a concentration in Creative Writing) and Classical Music. These were my two passions, and, when I was applying to schools, I had trouble deciding on field I should pursue. Thanks to Fairfield, I didn’t have to choose. 

Now, I currently work as the editorial assistant at OPERA NEWS Magazine, a division of The Metropolitan Opera Guild in Lincoln Center, New York City. This is the perfect marriage of my academic areas of study. One of my favorite tasks of my job is generating the content for my own section of the monthly publication, but I also love working with the elite of today’s opera and classical music artists. 

Describe the ways that the university’s Jesuit mission and identity had a positive influence in your academic and personal experience while at Fairfield
Fairfield and its Jesuit, liberal arts values helped me as an undergraduate cultivate both my crafts: opera and writing. Now, I have both of my passions united into one ideal career around perhaps the most prestigious opera house in the world. I truly believe that I could not have achieved this dream without Fairfield - especially not without the dedication and guidance I received from the English and Music faculty, who were beside me every single step of the way.

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