Hats off to our Recent Grads & Rising Stars

Summer 2017 Issue

Feature Story

Hats off to our Recent Grads & Rising Stars

Our newest graduates and incoming seniors are ready to embrace their futures.

by Stockton Now Staff

Story Photo


Bright Scholar: Jade Fleming ’17

Jade FlemingJade Fleming earned her B.A. in Literature from the School of Arts & Humanities. In April 2017, she was awarded a grant from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, one of the academic world’s most prestigious awards. Fleming has received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship and will be teaching English in Malaysia for one year beginning in January 2018.

Fleming said several members of the Stockton community have provided support and guidance throughout her career here, including Gail Rosenthal, director of the Sam & Sara Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center; Judy Copeland, associate professor of Writing; David Roessel, professor of Greek Language and Literature; Ciara Barrick, fellow Stockton student and Fulbright Scholar; and family friend Susan Lang.

“This wasn’t just a chance I’ve been given, but an opportunity that I didn’t back away from,” Fleming said. “It could have been easy for me to say there’s no way that a black kid like me from Pleasantville, from North Lauderdale, from A.C. High, could be qualified for something as big as a Fulbright. And yet, I went for it anyway. Now, I’m a Fulbright Scholar who gets to teach English in Malaysia.”

–Samantha Cary ’13

World Traveler: Angelo Bechara ’17

Angelo BecharaWhen Angelo Bechara was eight years old, his world got a lot bigger.

In an effort to introduce Bechara and his brother to their Lebanese heritage, their mother moved them from their home in Galloway, N.J., to live in Beirut, Lebanon for eight years. Bechara’s parents had immigrated to the United States, and offering this experience for their children came at the cost of them having to live apart, as Bechara’s father stayed in the United States during that time. While in Lebanon, Bechara not only learned about his family’s culture, but of the benefits of the United States and its impacts and contributions on a global scale. “That was the best thing my parents have ever done for me,” said Bechara about the experience, adding that his success “is my way of repaying the sacrifice my parents made all those years.”

Bechara’s journey for success and applying his worldview to his work reached new levels while at Stockton. Thanks to an inspiring on-campus visit from a speaker for the U.S. Foreign Services, and with guidance from Assistant Professor of Political Science Tina Zappile, Bechara began pursuing a dual major in Political Science and French. He went on to co-found Stockton’s Model UN and served as assistant director of the Economic and Social Council for the National Model UN. Beginning in Fall of 2017, Bechara will attend George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs’ Middle East Studies M.A. program, with aspirations of becoming a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State.

–Kevin Coopersmith ’12, MBA ’15

Team Player: Joseph Huntenburg ’17

Joseph HuntenburgStockton gave Joseph Huntenburg the opportunity to turn his passion into a career through the Hospitality & Tourism Management Studies program. With support from Associate Professor of Hospitality & Tourism Management Studies Donna Albano, Huntenburg was able to attend the Meeting Professionals International conference in Atlantic City. It was that conference that led him to an internship with Meet AC, a resort destination sales and marketing organization in Atlantic City. And that internship eventually turned into a part-time position.

As Meet AC’s marketing services coordinator, Huntenburg assists the organization with budgets, media buys, advertising, digital and print marketing, as well as networking with other organizations as a liaison for the company. “I lend a helping hand wherever I can [in the company],” he said. As a graduating senior, Huntenburg hopes to continue his work with Meet AC. “Atlantic City is on the rise,” he said. “Students can embrace it, and the city can offer them a lot of opportunities.”

–Kevin Coopersmith ’12, MBA ’15

Health Advocate: Joseph McMonagle ’16

Joseph McMonagleWhen Joseph McMonagle transferred to Stockton, he was already gaining experience on the frontlines of an emergency room as an EMT for Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Mercer County, N.J. He chose to major in Public Health with a concentration in Health Administration in order to advance his career at the hospital.

McMonagle, who completed his Stockton degree in December 2016, achieved his goal when he landed a full-time job with AmeriHealth in less than three months after graduation. He said the recruiters were impressed by the experience he gained last fall during his Public Health internship as a mobile integrated health provider for Capital Health Hospital.

“The Community Health Navigator program is brand new at AmeriHealth. The mission is the same as my internship,” he explained. “My role is to improve the health care of Medicare and Medicaid members in Pennsylvania who have certain illnesses. The goal is to decrease re-admissions and ER visits to the hospital by helping members create a care plan on how they can stay healthy."

—Meaghan Haugh Resta

Math Teacher: Valerie Hirschfeld ’17

Valerie HirschfeldValerie Hirschfeld first came to Stockton as a child, attending the annual Science Fair with her mother, a science teacher. “I loved the comfortable feel of the school, fell in love with the Math and Education departments before my arrival, and just could not see myself calling anywhere else home for those few, important years,” she said of choosing Stockton to pursue her B.A. in Mathematics, with a concentration in Education K-12 and a minor in Childhood Studies.

As president of the Math Club, one of Hirschfeld’s favorite days was spent running Math Mayhem, an annual math competition held at Stockton for local high school students. “It was a day where I got to share my love of math, teaching, and Stockton all at the same time,” she said.

Starting in September, Hirschfeld will be teaching mathematics full time at Manalapan High School in Freehold, N.J. She is most looking forward to working with her students and helping them appreciate the mathematics in front of them.

“At Stockton, I have learned that all things are achievable with passion and effort. I have been given all of the tools I need to be prepared for the field of education and for possible future educational goals.”

–Samantha Cary ’13

Mind Reader: Naheel Naber ’16

Naheel NaberWhile studying at Stockton, Naheel Naber had the chance to think outside of the box. Naber, who graduated in December 2016 with a B.A. in Liberal Arts and minors in Behavioral Neuroscience and Writing, crafted her own degree plan based on the skills and educational opportunities she deemed necessary for a true liberal arts education.

She worked on a research team led by Associate Professor of Psychology Jessica Fleck and Professor of Psychology Marcello Spinella in the electroencephalography lab to collect and analyze data looking at the relationship between brain activity and specific areas of mindfulness. “It has provided me with incredible hands-on experience in the field of research,” Naber said. She presented the results from this research at Stockton’s annual Psi Chi Conference and at the Annual Association for Psychological Science Conference in Boston in May 2017.

Since graduation, Naber has been substitute teaching, enjoying time with friends and family, and continuing work on her undergraduate neuroscience research. Starting in Fall 2017, she will begin the Master of Arts in Counseling in Educational Settings program at Rowan University.

–Samantha Cary ’13

Sustainable Leader: Courtney Klecha ’17

Courtney KlechaAs the daughter of a mechanic shop owner, Courtney Klecha was exposed to every automotive equipment and technology possible. Klecha said the hands-on experience she gained assisting her father with projects around the house influenced her decision to pursue a career in the sciences.

At Stockton, Klecha studied Sustainability with a concentration in Energy. Fieldwork opportunities, such as assembling the solar array system at the University’s farm and completing an energy audit of a local high school, enabled her to gain a greater understanding of the planet and interconnection between people, the environment and economics. She also held an internship at Fossil Environmental Affairs for PSEG Fossil LLC. In the future, Klecha hopes to work in renewable energy or green building.

Klecha advises young women to not be afraid of being the minority gender, being wrong or learning on the job, “Be proud of being a female in a male-dominated career path. And have the ability to encourage other females to join you on your journey.”

—Meaghan Haugh Resta

Rising Star:  Alejandra Londoño ’18

Alejandra Londono“Take every opportunity you can get, because so many people don’t,” advises Alejandra Londoño, who has led by example. Londoño emigrated from Medellin, Colombia when she was six years old, and her experience has given her mindfulness to the vast opportunities and privileges of life in the United States.

Londoño has indeed taken every opportunity she can get while at Stockton; she is currently a double major (Sociology & Anthropology and Spanish Language & Culture Studies) and triple minor (Political Science, Latin American & Caribbean Studies, and Global Studies). She serves as president of Stockton’s Model United Nations, teaches Naturalization classes in Atlantic City through the Stockton Center for Community Engagement, and assists with voter registration efforts as part of her Board of Trustees Distinguished Student Fellowship. Londoño also co-owns ComunicandoAC.com, an online newspaper for Hispanics in the area to provide educational resources to the community.

Under the mentorship of Jessie Finch, assistant professor of Sociology, Londoño has conducted independent research, while also holding an internship for the Second Congressional District’s Constituent Service Office under Frank LoBiondo, and participated in the Semester at Sea program visiting the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and beyond. This summer, Londoño, a senior, will travel with Finch to Montreal to present her research at the American Sociological Association’s Undergraduate Honors Program annual meeting.

–Kevin Coopersmith ’12, MBA ’15

Rising Star:  Jodie Davis ’18

Jodie DavisJodie Davis, a Public Health major and Chemistry minor, has earned a fully funded scholarship from United Planet to travel to Ghana for eight weeks this summer to work on global health service projects. In Ghana, Davis will work at a teaching hospital, rotating through different areas, including the ER department, pediatrics and surgery.
Davis was the only student in the nation to be fully funded in this competitive educational scholarship opportunity, which was made possible through the Bonner Foundation national network and her work as an AmeriCorps Bonner Leader in Stockton’s Office of Service-Learning.

Davis, an Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) student, is also a recipient of the Board of Trustee Fellowship and the 2017 Newman Civic Fellow for Campus Compact. She will graduate next spring.

“I’m involved with public health because of my community and upbringing,” Davis said. “Growing up in Jersey City, N.J., I’ve seen the best and worst of people. Many families were forced to skip out on paying bills for months in order to buy their prescriptions. Even after buying their prescriptions, I noticed that my community still didn’t have the appropriate health care resources for better treatment.”

–Maryjane Briant