Some great stories behind the scenes of Fairfield University's 51st commencement


On Sunday, May 20, at 10 a.m., Fairfield University hold its 51st commencement. Here are some of the great stories behind the scenes:

Student-Professor - West Redding, Conn.
David Steffen of West Redding, Conn., worked with Janet Jackson and Sting, among others, when he was an executive with A&M Records in Hollywood. While working on his first bachelor's degree, which he will receive summa cum laude in American Studies, he has been teaching, since 1998, a graduate-level course about the music industry at New York University and an undergraduate-level course at Fairfield University.

Teaching was an awakening for him. "There's no hiding how good I feel in front of a class," he says. And so he will enter the Ph.D. program at the New School in New York City this fall.

David is also launching a small, music related company, The Fox Run Group, Inc., which specializes in publishing select out-of-print books and releasing select and previously unavailable soundtracks to musical and music documentary films.

Remember that old saying, "You can do anything you set your mind to? Wallingford, Conn.
Goal-setting takes on new meaning when you meet Karen Callahan, of Wallingford, Conn. Seven months pregnant with her fourth child, she knew she wanted to be a nurse in a neonatal care unit. She had always considered it a dream that would be put off until her children were born. Then one day she asked herself, "Why am I going to wait?"

She started her first class when her baby was three weeks old. Four years and a fifth child later, she is graduating - with a 3.83 GPA! She credits a very understanding faculty and helpful, caring students with accommodating her schedule - even pitching in to baby-sit at times.

She would often drive down to Fairfield on weekends with a youngster in tow, all set to keep busy with a bag of activities, so she could study. And that job in the neonatal care unit is hers - she begins this summer at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Challenges are there to be overcome- Bridgeport, Conn.
Dreivys (Dre) Dias was born in Brazil and moved to Connecticut with his family when he was sixteen-and-a-half-years-old. He spoke Portuguese and spent less than a year in the English for Speakers of Other Languages program at Bassick High School before moving on to Platt Regional Vocational School in Milford. His teachers at Platt soon discovered this bright student who met every challenge they put in front of him. When it was time to look at colleges, they told Fairfield University they truly believed Dre was capable of much more difficult challenges.

Dre proved them right. He grasped every opportunity that presented itself, including spending his junior year abroad, studying in his native Brazil and in Tokyo, Japan, where he lived with a Japanese family.

At Fairfield, he volunteered for the Mission Volunteer Program that brought him to work in one of the poorest areas of Ecuador. As a student in an interdisciplinary course on Justice and the Developing World, he traveled this year during spring break to Nicaragua to conduct research. He was a member of the Fairfield team that participated in the Model UN Harvard National Conference in Boston.

Now Fairfield University is singing Dre's praises, just as his teachers did when he left Platt. Once again, Dre has met all his challenges and is ready to move on. After considering offers from some of the top Wall Street firms, Dre will be joining Arthur Andersen.

Discovering the world by degrees - Fairfield, Conn.
After Sunday, Alison O'Shea of Fairfield will hold two degrees from Fairfield University - the bachelor's degree she received in 1993 and the brand new MBA she is receiving. In between she picked up a degree from the Culinary Institute at Hyde Park, N.Y., and this fall she will be off to law school to work on a JD in employment law.

Following her graduation from the Culinary Institute where she specialized in pastry, she worked in San Francisco and Florida before returning to Connecticut as head pastry chef at the Inn at National Hall in Westport.

Alison has been working in the Development Department of Fairfield University while specializing in Human Resources in her MBA studies. Earlier this year she was inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, the highest recognition a student of business anywhere in the world can receive in an undergraduate or master's degree program at a school accredited by AACSB International-The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Husband-and-Wife Team earn MBAs - Milford, Conn.
When Pfizer transferred Carlos Arandia from his native Venezuela to work for Schick in Milford, his wife Maria planned to study for her MBA in the states. They went to Fairfield University to get information, and Carlos got so excited about the program, he decided to enroll as well. On Sunday, May 20, the husband-and-wife team will receive their MBAs.

Last year Carlos was promoted to Production Manager for Assembly and Packaging at Schick and Maria is an Export Analyst with Unilever in Trumbull.

To contact any of these graduates, please call Nancy Habetz, director of media relations, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647. After business hours, (203) 259-1884.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on May 23, 2001

Vol. 33, No. 211