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TCNJ president and Verona Alumna Speaks to VHS Students

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TCNJ president and Verona Alumna Speaks to VHS Students

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1975 VHS alumna Dr. Kathryn Foster visited her old high school on Dec. 7 to talk to junior and senior students about what she knows best: college.  Dr. Foster is now TCNJ’s 16th president.

December is a critical month for junior and seniors. Seniors are finishing up their college application process while juniors are just starting it. Knowing this, Dr. Foster gave a presentation that eased a lot of children’s minds. She started with her own experience and told the students that even though she did not get accepted into all of her colleges, she still found her perfect match at John Hopkins University.

“I got into a place I really loved. My bias is that I loved college and I spent my all of my career some way in and out of schools.”

Dr. Foster’s presentation was framed through ten questions that everyone asks. A bonus to it is that she reached out to Verona graduates currently attending TCNJ and asked for their input on the questions. The answer to each question she discussed included feedback from current TCNJ students that the VHS juniors and seniors once went to school with. Dr. Foster’s questions ranged from “how is college different than high school?” to “is college worth it?” The question that earned the most attention from her audience was “Will I make friends?” A chorus of no’s and laughter escaped the crowd when it flashed across the screen.

Dr. Foster was not surprised at the response and was able to decipher the nervousness hidden under the laughter. She knew that this question was on every single senior’s mind. She assured each and every one that they will “in fact, make friends” and that that is the last thing they need to worry about. “College is the least cliquey place you will go to, it is a great experience and you will make friends.”

Dr. Foster’s presentation was long enough to make it informative and effective, but short enough to keep the students’ attention. Throughout the whole period she had people clapping and laughing and she even sang a Hillbilly song that used to be an anthem for the school. With ten minutes left of the period, her presentation ended and she headed to a meeting room to meet with the Student Council and some teachers.

Students attending included School President Nicolette Marino, Vice President Keating, Senior Class President Kate Ryan, Senior Class Vice President Brooke Cooney,  and Senior Class Secretary Philip Chivily. Underclassmen officers in attendance included juniors Michael Sluck and Christian Dionisio, sophomores Nia Chesney, and Sarah Cole. Guidance counselor Jennifer Gadaleta provided some general topics for the conversation and the students were able to use these topics to get feedback from Dr. Foster and the Director of Admissions at TCNJ, Grecia Monterro. Mr. Miller and Mr. Merkler, the Curriculum and Instruction Director and Athletic Director, both attended the meeting and are TCNJ graduates. Superintendent Dr. Dionisio and the other three guidance counselors: Jennifer Dasilva, Nicolas Dillman, and Kristen Tarantola were also present.

      This meeting was a more intimate version of the larger scaled one for all of the students. The questions were similar but now the students were able to elaborate and give more personal statements. Dr. Foster wanted to hear the personal side to each question, which allowed her to have a comfortable conversation with each student.

One topic that sparked conversation was about the pressure that is on students to take difficult classes and go to the best schools. Dr. Foster was very understanding when the students stated their struggles and she gave her own experiences while also acknowledging that her college process was a lot different than what teens have to do now.

Dr. Foster’s visit to the high school was a visit that benefitted every student who met her. VHS senior Cecilia Pandiscia thoroughly enjoyed the meeting and found it beneficial.

“It was not the normal college talk. Dr. Foster answered a lot of questions that I was afraid to ask and overall made me feel better about applying and going to school.”

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TCNJ president and Verona Alumna Speaks to VHS Students