Montclair State University Magazine - Spring 2013
Montclair State University Magazine - Spring 2013.
MONTCLAIR The magazine of Montclair State University SPRING 2013 ABOVE & BEYOND Helping Student Veterans Succeed Faculty Filmmakers Spotlight DEVO Alumnae Reaching the Top Finding Climate Secrets in Ice Pay it Forward by Giving Back The time you spent at Montclair State is a big part of who you are today. The lessons you learned, the faculty who inspired you and the great friends you made all helped shape your future and success. We now invite you to now "pay it forward" by making a financial contribution to the Annual Fund. Your gift will provide today's students with the opportunity to access the same quality education you enjoyed. Give today at montclair.edu/giving and be part of our studentsâ€™ success for generations to come. MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY ANNUAL FUND montclair.edu/giving CONTENTS z Spring 2013 FEATURES 4 12 14 16 22 26 Rewind 18 A look back at 2012-13 in pictures Sandyâ€™s Wake Students, University step up in stormâ€™s aftermath Next Acts Students find success on Broadway and beyond Whipping It Filmmaking professors and students capture DEVO in upcoming documentary GFOC Chef Guy Fieri heats up dining options on campus 30 Frozen in Time Researchers engage in climate studies in Antarctica Reaching the Top Alumnae shatter glass ceiling in unexpected fields Forward March University helps students transition from combat to the classroom and campus life On the cover: Sailor and student Marc Last is one of 221 undergraduates who are veterans or active military attending Montclair State. DEPARTMENTS 3 Feedback 6 Headlines 35 Athletics 39 Alumni News 45 54 55 64 Class Notes In Memoriam Honor Roll of Donors Lasting Lessons FROM THE PRESIDENT I n just three words—Above and Beyond— the theme of our spring issue captures the very spirit of Montclair State University and the many talented individuals who make our institution the great and wonderful place it is: a drive to do more than what is merely expected, a commitment to achieving both individual and collective success and a focus on excellence in the classroom and elsewhere. The magazine of Montclair State University MONTCLAIR President Susan A. Cole Vice President for University Advancement John T. Shannon Associate Vice President for University Advancement Carol Blazejowski ’78 Executive Director Strategic Communications Deborah Gaines Executive Director Alumni Relations Jeanne Marano Editor Laura Griffin Design Director Randi Rosh Contributing Writers Stacy Albanese ’08 Robert Gano Lindsay Kramer ’12 Kristin Lau, intern ’13 Amy Wagner Designers Ann Fairlie Samantha Spitaletta ’97 Photographer Mike Peters MONTCLAIR is published by University Communications. By always going above and beyond the norm, Montclair State continues to realize its immense potential for New Jersey as we foster and support the talents and aspirations of our students, faculty and alumni. A case in point: our nationally top-ranked programs and services for veterans, which help servicemen and women to transition from the fierce battlegrounds of Iraq and Afghanistan to academic studies on our beautiful campus, supporting their success in the classroom and their preparation for success after graduation. Another example of this above and beyond spirit are the countless students, faculty and staff who volunteered their time, resources and muscle to help their neighbors in getting back on their feet after Superstorm Sandy wreaked such havoc upon our state last fall. Above and beyond aptly describes our accomplished graduates who are making important and valuable contributions not only here in New Jersey but across the globe. Above and beyond is embodied by our scholar athletes who are achieving excellence both on the playing field and in the classroom. Above and beyond is represented by the generosity of the alumni, friends and supporters who made gifts to the University this past year. To those who contributed to the Annual Fund during FY 2012, I want to extend my deep gratitude on behalf of our entire campus community. You have provided a wonderful model for others to emulate with your philanthropy. Even more importantly, your gifts make a critically important difference for our students and enable them to access educational opportunities that would not have been available to them without your support. In true Montclair State fashion, you have gone above and beyond! Views within these pages do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or official policies of the University. No materials (articles, photographs, illustrations, etc.) may be reproduced in whole or in part without consent of the editor. Address changes: Send the mailing label from this issue, along with your new address, to: Montclair State University, Office of Advancement Services, CO-311B, 1 Normal Ave., Montclair, NJ 07043 or fax to 973-655-3441. Letters to the editor may be sent to email@example.com or to the address below: Montclair State University University Communications 1 Normal Avenue Montclair, NJ 07043 Please recycle. © 2013 Montclair State University montclair.edu 2 The magazine of Montclair State University FEEDBACK Enjoy the magazine? Have a story idea for us? We want to hear from you. Friend us on Facebook, tweet about us on Twitter, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. (We reserve the right to edit letters.) Our favorite tweets @Montclair State Saturday Night Live Writer and Comedian Seth Meyers tweeted to his 1.7 million followers on March 21: Lasting Lessons I really enjoyed reading your article on Murray Present. I was a music minor in piano from 1954-58. Mr. Present was very kind and patient. Although I was not one of his best students, he helped me improve my skills and was always supportive, especially when I was preparing for a recital. Thank you for renewing a pleasant memory for me. Joan Carlson ’58 Seth Meyers @sethmeyers21 I’m going to be at Montclair State University tonight with @TheColinJost. We are going to be telling jokes—ON A STAGE!!! Celebrity Chef Guy Fieri tweeted to his more than 870,000 followers on October 19: Reunited The Athletics spread in the spring and fall issues were great reads. It’s nice to see that alumni from different teams reunite years later. As a former member of the Montclair State baseball team, I was especially thrilled to see that the 1987 Baseball National Championship team was honored back at campus. Eric Fiedler ’09 Guy Fieri @GuyFieri GFOC (Guy Fieri On Campus) lookin’ good at Montclair State U in NJ...Go Red Hawks! #GFOC pic.twitter.com/ ypgPAzwj Mark Herzlich, linebacker for the New York Giants, tweeted on January 16 to his more than 94,000 followers about student Evan Ruggiero (featured on page 15 of this issue): Sustainability What Montclair State University is doing for its energy production is great news. As a Montclair alumna, what I believe would be even better news is if Montclair State University divested its money from all fossil fuel companies. It is my hope that Montclair State University will support plans and strategies that get us off of fossil fuels, and the first step would be to divest from these polluting industries. Please protect our environment for all future graduating classes. Editor’s Note: Retired Piano Professor Murray Present featured in “Lasting Lessons” in the fall issue, died on Dec. 5, 2012, leaving behind a devoted fan club of former students and friends. As part of his legacy, his estate will establish a scholarship fund at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State. Mark Herzlich @MarkHerzich Shout out to fellow #Sarcoma survivor who put it all out there on #americanidol and local #montclairstate guy Thank you, Gina Garcia ’85 Residential Greening Program Director Sustainable Works Spring 2013 3 F E AT U R E S z Rewind REWIND 2012â€“13 I tâ€™s hard to believe another school year is almost over. Montclair State students have achieved academic success and had fun along the way. Here, we look back at the year that was. n 1 2 1. Dancers study with choreographer Bill T. Jones (photo by Robert Cooper) 2. Students clean up for community service 3. For many students, November was the first time they voted 4. Political science students visit the statehouse in Trenton 5. Sportscasters Bruce Beck and Ian Eagle were honored with the Allen B. DuMont Broadcaster of the Year Award 5 4 3 4 The magazine of Montclair State University 8 » 6. WMSC-FM’s new home in Schmitt Hall 7. Students perform in Carousel 8. Senior Ken Spooner rides a camel in Jordan, where he worked on a documentary (photo courtesy of Steve McCarthy) 9. Melissa Tobie goes in for a lay-up 10. Kate Pierson of the B-52s visits campus 11. Snow! 12. Red Hawks defeat the College of New Jersey 24-14 at Homecoming 13. Rock climbing at Homecoming 14. Jaws plays at the Student Recreation Center’s Dive-in movies 15. Musicians serenade the annual Pancake Breakfast 16. Celebrity Chef Guy Fieri autographs his cookbook during a visit to campus 6 7 9 16 15 10 14 13 12 11 Spring 2013 5 HEADLINES z News Headlines During his tenure at Verizon New Jersey, Bone transformed the company from a voice-driven telecommunications company into a robust voice, data and video company. “Under Dennis’ able leadership, entrepreneurship will become an integral component of the management education experience for the University’s students, and I expect the Dennis M. Bone Former Verizon New Jersey CEO Heads New Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship Mimi and Edwin Feliciano ’82. “The Center will play a pivotal role in furnishing Montclair State students with the tools and skills they need to succeed as entrepreneurs in today’s rapidly evolving world market,” Bone said. “I look forward to positioning the University as a leader in market-centered entrepreneurial education and new venture creation.” n Feliciano Center will become an invaluable resource not just for the University community, but also for the state and the region,” said University President Susan A. Cole. With his appointment in January, Bone became the inaugural director of the center, which was funded by a $1 million gift from D ennis M. Bone, former president and CEO of Verizon New Jersey, now heads the University’s Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship at the School of Business. Teaching Financial Literacy to Middle School Students T hrough a public/private partnership between Montclair State University’s Service-Learning and Community Engagement Program and Capital One Bank, University students are helping prepare low-income middle school students for the future by teaching them about money management, budgeting, credit, debt and other important financial literacy concepts. Since September 2011, the Financial Education Corps (FEC)— comprised of students in the Bonner Leader AmeriCorps program— have gone out in teams to middle schools throughout the Orange School District to teach students about money matters. As of fall 2012, close to 600 middle schoolers had gone through the FEC program. “I am glad to know that we are touching on a subject that most students do not get to hear about,” says Montclair State student Ashley Pizzuti. “This has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change kids’ lives.” Montclair State students teach middle schoolers in Orange, N.J. about managing money Following the Junior Achievement Economics for Success middle school curriculum, the FEC uses games and other hands-on activities to help the middle school students learn about financial concepts and also about college, career and life choices. The lessons seem to be sinking in. After completing the program, one sixth grader wrote: “When I get older, I will have a good education, money, a good credit score, a good job and also not be in debt.” n 6 The magazine of Montclair State University Award-winning Actress to Speak at Commencement E mmy Award-winning actress S. Epatha Merkerson, best known for her 16-year role as the lieutenant on the popular television series Law & Order, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Commencement exercises on May 24. Merkerson’s role as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren earned her two NAACP Image Awards; she received an Emmy Award for her work in the 2005 HBO film Lackawanna Blues and Tony Award nominations for The Piano Lesson in 1991 and Come Back, Little Sheba in 2008. She has appeared in the films Navy Seals, Jacob’s Ladder, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Radio, Black Snake Moan and Lincoln. She directed the 2012 documentary The Contradictions of Fair Hope about the Fair Hope Benevolent Society. Merkerson is also a committed advocate for lung cancer prevention and actively works with children to spread awareness about the dangers of smoking. Commencement begins at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 24, at the IZOD Center in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, N.J. Pre-commencement Convocation ceremonies, which celebrate students’ individual achievements within their colleges, will be held from May 19 to May 21. For more information about these ceremonies, visit montclair.edu/commencement. n Audiology Center to Offer Free Hearing Screenings D o you often ask people to repeat themselves, feel that others seem to mumble or have trouble hearing if there is background noise? If so, you may be one of the more than 35 million Americans who suffer from hearing loss, and Montclair State University’s Center for Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology can help. In celebration of Better Hearing and Speech Month, the Center will offer free hearing screenings to the public May 14-24. Open to all ages, the Center will offer the screenings Monday through Friday by appointment at its off-campus clinic at 1515 Broad Street in Bloomfield, N.J. All testing is administered by one of the University’s audiology doctoral students under the supervision of a licensed, certified doctor of audiology. The Center for Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology serves the University and surrounding communities and provides clinical training for students in the doctoral program in audiology, the only one of its kind in New Jersey. To schedule an appointment, call 973-655-3934. n Get Ready for Some Football! T he first outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl will be held right here in New Jersey. Super Bowl XLVIII will be played on Feb. 2, 2014 at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands. More than 15,000 volunteers in New Jersey and New York City are needed to welcome visitors and support the weeklong celebration. Montclair State students, faculty, staff and alumni are encouraged to volunteer to help with the festivities. Volunteers will serve as greeters and guides, providing visitors with information about the region, public transportation and the Super Bowl, and guiding them to sponsored events. Volunteers can sign up as groups or individuals and must be 18 years old by Nov. 1, 2013. Volunteers will receive a uniform and get into some special events; they will not get tickets to the game. Volunteer at nynjsuperbowl.com/volunteer Spring 2013 7 HEADLINES z News University Partners with Montclair Film Festival MFF showed The Breakfast Club at the Amphitheater W Montclair State’s involvement didn’t end there. Last summer, the University hosted the Festival’s pre-release screening of alumna Lorene Scafaria’s film, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley. In September, the 1985 classic The Breakfast Club played at the Amphitheater to end the Summer Movie Festival. Most recently, the Festival screened the Oscar-nominated short films on campus. The Festival also serves as a resource for students in the University’s filmmaking program. “Film students are exposed to new films that we hope will inspire them, have their work showcased and have access to film professionals in seminars with filmmakers and actors,” says Festival Director Thom Powers. On May 3, the Montclair Film Festival will showcase the best short films made by undergraduate students, and on May 4, the University will host the Festival’s annual behind-the-scenes seminar, which will feature panels with film industry professionals. n hen the curtains rise on the second annual Montclair Film Festival (April 29-May 5), the University will again be a key partner, bringing new films and events to campus, including the Opening Night Gala at the Alexander Kasser Theater. While this year’s screenings were not announced by press time, if last year is any indication, plenty of big movies and celebrities will be part of the Festival. In 2012, Montclair State hosted several screenings, including that of The Oranges, starring Hugh Laurie. The Festival also premiered The Perfect Family, written by alumnus Paula Goldberg and starring Kathleen Turner. Turner, along with Michael Moore, Olympia Dukakis and Stephen Colbert were among those in attendance. Montclair State Showcases the Future of Innovation L ooking to stimulate interest—and hopefully investment—10 teams of New Jersey entrepreneurs introduced their tech companies and demonstrated their products to an audience of business advisers, sponsors, investors, professors and technology experts at the Montclair State University Conference Center in November. According to TechLaunch founder and CEO Mario M. Casabona, the 10 portfolio companies presenting were selected from an original pool of 91 companies. Their ultimate goal, he says, is to attract follow-up funding from investors. Among the innovations presented at Demo Day were LivinSport, a social media platform The event, called “Demo Day,” signaled for athletes that connects them with trainers, the culmination of LaunchPad 1, a 12coaches, colleges, pro teams and fans, and The University hosted TechLaunch in the fall. week business boot camp designed to CodeSquare, an offline-to-online mobile help transform innovative concepts into solution for businesses to instantly engage commercially viable business models. and reward customers, connect via social Created by TechLaunch, New Jersey’s new investor-led technology media and lower acquisition costs. accelerator, LaunchPad 1 provided an avenue for some of the state’s most imaginative young entrepreneurs to turn their visions Read more about TechLaunch at montclair.edu/demo-day. n into a reality. 8 The magazine of Montclair State University A Victim of Mistaken Identity Iranian Neda Soltani spent a year on campus as a protected visiting scholar Mario Tama, Getty Images Neda Solta ni Neda Agha-Soltan T he story is a page-turner, and it’s real: “Only twelve days ago, I was a respected university lecturer, head of a college with over twelve hundred students, and my own academic staff. …And now I dare not even show up in my office. Now I have to run for my life.” So begins My Stolen Face: The Story of a Dramatic Mistake, Neda Soltani’s wrenching e-book account of her flight from her native Iran that ultimately ended at Montclair State University, where she was a protected visiting scholar for 13 months, from January 2012 until January 2013. Soltani fled her homeland in 2009 after being mistakenly identified as Neda Agha-Soltan, who was shot by Iranian forces during a post-election protest. In a rush to identify the victim, international media published Soltani’s Facebook photo. Hoping to capitalize on the error, the Iranian secret service pushed Soltani to pretend she was AghaSoltan. When she refused, Soltani, an Islamic Azad University professor of English literature, became a marked woman subject to the death penalty. “I got out of the country with only a backpack, my laptop and an overnight bag,” Soltani says. She traveled first to Turkey and Greece on a visa she had before living as a refugee in Germany. “Marina Cunningham, the executive director of international affairs at Montclair State’s Global Education Center, kindly support. I contacted President Cole, who very much supported our taking Neda.” The IIE provides a partial grant and, as the host university, Montclair State matches at least 50 percent of the funding. “Of course, we also need to have an opening in a department of two classes to teach,” Cunningham adds. “I got out of the country with only a backpack, my laptop and an overnight bag.” – Neda Soltani, protected visiting scholar from Iran During the spring and fall semesters of 2012, Soltani taught World Literature and a Women’s and Gender Studies course on women’s rights in Iran that focused on life under the present regime. Because Germany has granted Soltani asylum and permanent residence, she left Montclair State in early 2013 to live and study there. “Under German law, she must return to Germany in order to maintain that status,” explains Victoria Donoghue, the University’s director of International Services. Soltani values her time at Montclair State: “It is difficult to live the life of a refugee, but I have been lucky to have met great people here and enjoyed some wonderful experiences.” n – Amy Wagner arranged for the University to host me after I received an Institute of International Education (IIE) fellowship,” Soltani says. “The IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund [SRF] contacted us because we have supported scholars in the past and Neda needed immediate placement,” Cunningham says. “We have another scholar from Iran, so they were asking for additional Montclair State has supported refugee scholars from Rwanda and Iraq in the past and was recognized by the IIE for its consistent support of the Scholar Rescue Fund program. “SRF recently asked if we would be interested in taking scholars from Syria displaced by the civil war,” says Cunningham. “Dr. Cole came to the rescue and has agreed for us to take a scholar as well as two students on full scholarship.” Spring 2013 9 HEADLINES z News George Segal Gallery Becomes Permanent Home of Art Gift Wilson Jaffe includes drawings, collages, sculptures and paintings and is the largest art gift ever made to the University. “Art from the Ben and Evelyn Wilson estate is an impressive addition to Montclair State’s significant collection of contemporary American art,” says President Susan A. Cole. “With this remarkable gift, Joanne Wilson Jaffe has recognized the University’s deep, ongoing commitment to the arts.” While working with her parents’ estate, Jaffe began looking for a permanent home for the Ben and Evelyn Wilson collection and she appreciated Montclair State’s dedication to the visual arts. A critically acclaimed abstract expressionist painter, Ben Wilson had the first of numerous one-man shows in 1946. Evelyn was a noted sculptor, as well as a cosmetics executive. Their work is part of numerous collections, including those at MIT, Brandeis, Princeton and Rutgers universities, as well as the New Jersey State Museum and the Newark Museum of Art. Joanne Wilson Jaffe M L ontclair State is now home to a collection of more than 200 works of art by New Jersey artists Ben and Evelyn Wilson. The multi-million dollar gift by their daughter Joanne Jaffe is also selling her parents’ Blairstown, N.J., home and the proceeds will establish an endowment to promote, preserve and steward the collection. “My parents felt strongly about having their work available to the public,” says Jaffe. “Montclair State is the perfect home for the collection.” n Former Army Officer Keynotes Day of Unity t. Dan Choi, a former U.S. Army infantry officer, combat veteran and gay rights activist, encouraged students to fight for equality in his keynote address at Montclair State’s second annual Day of Unity. “His courage to be true to himself despite great odds is a lesson for all of us,” said Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life Karen L. Pennington, who invited Choi because of his fight against the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. After Choi came out on The Rachel Maddow Show in 2009, the Army discharged him, despite the fact that he speaks Arabic and was an asset to his unit. Choi’s protests led to several arrests—including one for handcuffing himself to the White House fence. He stressed the importance of activism in igniting social change. Lt. Dan Choi “It reminded us once again that we are part of a supportive, united community here at MSU and that we have a voice and a responsibility to speak out against hate and injustice,” said Brian Edwards, program coordinator for the LGBT Center. Veteran and junior Ferdinando Palumbo said, “He sacrificed a lot and really encouraged me to stand up for what’s right.” n 10 The magazine of Montclair State University William Thomas in Papua New Guinea Montclair State Explorer Receives Prestigious Lowell Thomas Award N ew Jersey School of Conservation Director William Thomas joined an elite group of scientists and explorers when he received the Lowell Thomas Award from the Explorers Club of New York City last fall. With this award, Thomas joins the ranks of astronaut Buzz Aldrin, explorer Sir Edmund Hillary and popular astrophysicist Carl Sagan. The award was named for the American writer, traveler and radio broadcaster who brought the world the story of T.E. Lawrence of Lawrence of Arabia fame. “The Lowell Thomas Award is especially gratifying because the exploits of members of the Explorer’s Club are the stuff of legends,” Thomas says. “After years of working in obscurity, to be mentioned in the same breath as Edmund Hillary or Buzz Aldrin is both humbling and exciting.” The 2012 Lowell Thomas Awards specifically celebrated explorers who “exhibited an extraordinary capacity to transcend traditional comfort zones to undertake expeditions that benefit us all.” Thomas’ honor came after 25 years of working with the Hewa people, an isolated population of 2,000 in a largely unexplored region of Papua New Guinea, where he is helping them preserve their knowledge of the land while combining it with western science to preserve the region and its environment. “A Lowell Thomas Award means that a jury of the world’s finest explorers has voted me to their all-star team,” Thomas says. “Hopefully my life and work will serve as testament that I am worthy of such an honor.” n “To be mentioned in the same breath as Edmund Hillary or Buzz Aldrin is both humbling and exciting.” – William Thomas Spring 2013 11 Photo Courtesy of William Thomas F E AT U R E S z Stepping up in Sandy’s Wake “The outreach has been amazing. It restores your faith in humanity and in America as a whole.” – Krystal Woolston Stepping up in Sandy’s Wake By Lindsay Kramer ’12 F or the Montclair State community, Superstorm Sandy was more than a breaking news story. Despite being closed for an unprecedented week in the devastating wake of the October storm, the University soon found itself involved in both on-campus and statewide recovery efforts. Relief for students and staff Sandy’s trail of destruction in New Jersey left dozens dead, millions without power, impassably flooded roads, massive shoreline erosion and a gasoline shortage. 12 The magazine of Montclair State University Months after Superstorm Sandy, Sea Bright still has a long road to recovery. community get the semester back on track. As a follow-up, the College of Education and Human Services offered free counseling sessions for faculty, staff and their families to share their feelings about the storm and its aftermath. Helping New Jersey rebuild Broader relief efforts were spearheaded by the University’s Center for Student Involvement and the Service-Learning and Community Engagement Program. “I grew up in North Middletown and Keyport and spent summers in Sea Bright, which were all impacted by the storm,” says Krystal Woolston, assistant director of ServiceLearning and Community Engagement. “This storm has allowed us to grow stronger as communities and really lend a helping hand to strangers and turn them into neighbors.” In late November, three dozen students, faculty and staff members helped with cleanup in Sea Bright—one of the hardest hit communities on the Jersey Shore. Much of their work involved shoveling sand piled as high as four feet out of houses. It was a labor of love for volunteers like junior Danielle Knoeppel, who worked on the beach for seven summers. “It’s definitely the place I wanted to help out,” she says. “Everyone was really thankful for what we did.” Woolston was also part of the team. “It was heartbreaking,” she recalls. “The bay shore that I knew and loved has been forever changed.” Other campus groups did their part. The Center for Child Advocacy held a bake sale and toy drive to benefit families affected by Sandy. The toys, which were donated to the children of P.S. 52 on Staten Island, N.Y., helped make the holidays a little brighter for families whose homes and property had been destroyed. In early December, Service-Learning and Community Engagement sponsored a program that took in donations of gift Montclair State students helped with clean up in Sea Bright after Superstorm Sandy. Sandy left homes destroyed and full of sand. It will cost at least $37 billion to repair the damage, state officials say. The University’s response to the storm was swift. The Department of Residential Education offered spare residence hall rooms—free of charge—to commuter students and staff members who were adversely affected by the storm. “I was so thankful the school offered housing for the week,” says Kaitlyn Scrudato, a junior from Whiting, N.J. “It was really a big help.” Access to University services, hot showers and fresh food also helped the University cards for grocery and home improvement stores. The cards were then given to Restore the Shore, Sea Bright Rising, Rebuild Monmouth County and Rebuild Ocean County for people struggling to rebuild homes and lives shattered by Sandy. As part of the larger New Jersey community, Montclair State has proved itself to be truly “Jersey Strong.” For Woolston, the outpouring of support has been heartwarming and inspiring. “The outreach has been amazing,” she says. “It restores your faith in humanity and in America as a whole.” n Spring 2013 13 Photo Courtesy of Krystal Woolston Photo Courtesy of Krystal Woolston Next Acts F E AT U R E S z Next Acts By Lindsay Kramer ‘12 Montclair State Musical Theatre students find success on Broadway and beyond R ob McClure, who just finished a run on Broadway in the title role of Chaplin, is the latest of many former Montclair State Musical Theatre students to make his way to the Great White Way. McClure received great reviews for his performance, with The New York Times saying he played the role with “heartbreaking grace” and New York magazine calling him a “relativeunknown who won’t be for much longer.” That came as no surprise to Dance Professor Clay James, the coordinator of the Musical Theatre program. McClure, he says, like most of the students who study in the highly competitive and selective program, was talented then as well as now. Tara Tagliaferro ’10 and Josh Dela Cruz ’10 are among many working on Broadway or touring with national companies. Tagliaferro fondly recalls the influence of her professors. “I am grateful for having such gifted teachers as the backbone of my training,” she says. “I truly felt prepared to face the real world—a confidence I did not have upon entering the BFA Musical Theatre program.” As an undergrad, she worked with James to hone her dancing skills. She has toured nationally with The Glass Menagerie and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. “I came to Montclair State so raw and eager, and I left with the strong foundation I need for success.” Photo © 2012 Joan Marcus Rob McClure starred in the title role in the Broadway musical Chaplin. The campus’ close proximity to New York City “He was awe-inspiring as allows students to immerse Charlie Chaplin, and many themselves in the theater Tara Tagliaferro ’10 (top) and Josh Dela Cruz ’10 (bottom) have of our current musical scene and to audition for both toured nationally in musicals. theatre students got to roles. Classes consist of witness his performance. hands-on workshops where He never failed to engage students can see their with them personally after the show and strengths and weaknesses in an objective always shared thoughtful conversation and setting and work to improve their skills. posed for photographs.” Strong, who starred in Montclair State’s The Musical Theatre program is so selective 2010 production of Sweeney Todd: The that only about 3 percent of first-year Demon Barber of Fleet Street, made students who apply get in. A conservatoryher Broadway debut the year before in a derived performance program, talented and revival of Bye Bye Birdie. After her stint on motivated students are guided by Broadway, she returned to school to finish musical theater professionals. her BFA. She’s since gone on to appear in Mama Mia! “Even after Bye Bye Birdie, Besides McClure, other former Musical I couldn’t imagine completing my BFA Theatre students Allison Strong ’11, anywhere else,” Strong says. 14 The magazine of Montclair State University Inspiring Dancer Taps Inner Strength A By Kristin Lau danced with a peg leg after an amputation, Ruggiero asked his doctor about getting one for himself. “Let me start tapping again and let’s see what happens,” he recalls saying. He began with basic steps, and before he knew it, he was tap dancing as frequently as he did before his diagnosis. He could still pursue his passion for performing. In the past two years, Ruggiero has performed with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, the St. Louis Tap Festival, the LA Tap Fest and the Jersey Tap Fest. Recently, he gained national attention for auditioning on the Fox Network’s American Idol where he sang, played guitar and shared his story with a national audience. tap dancer since he was five, Evan Ruggiero has always aspired to perform on Broadway. His drive and talent led him to Montclair State and helped him land a role in Crazy For You in the fall of his freshman year, when first-year students are rarely allowed to perform in productions. After losing his leg to cancer, Evan Ruggiero was inspired to keep dancing by tapper Clayton “Peg Leg” Bates. Dela Cruz, who toured nationally for more than a year with The King and I, also gives props to his alma mater. “The Musical Theatre program challenged me to grow as a performer, and more importantly, as a professional.” While a student at the University, McClure starred in Fiddler on the Roof, Parade, and The Skin of Our Teeth and was part of the crew on multiple shows. “[Musical Theatre Department Chair and Professor] Eric Diamond’s passion for theater was truly infectious,” McClure says. “I am lucky to have spent time in Life Hall.” Part of the program’s success derives from having so many faculty members who also work as professionals. “Knowing that our students are expertly trained and prepared to enter the professional workplace, even before they graduate, is very fulfilling,” says James. “Opening a Playbill and seeing them credit Montclair State University/BFA Musical Theatre for their education and training is about as good as it can get.” n Ruggiero’s dreams almost ended in November 2009, when he was just 19 years old. He suffered pain in his right leg and, after a biopsy, found out he had osteosarcoma, a bone cancer. His first reaction to the news was fear: “No one ever prepares you for being told you have cancer.” Although he did not make it to the next In order to focus on round of American Evan Ruggiero gained national attention for an treating the cancer, Idol, he has kept audition on American Idol. he took a leave of busy, performing with absence from school. the New Jersey Tap He underwent eight different surgeries and Ensemble, with which he has danced since yet, in May 2010, he was told that the he was 10 years old. He performs at schools cancer had recurred. The only way to remove in his hometown of Old Bridge, N.J., and it was to amputate his leg above the knee. talks to children at schools and hospitals, Though shocked and upset, Ruggiero was reminding them that “No matter what life determined to conquer the challenge. After a throws at you, you can overcome anything.” long conversation with his doctor, he said, “I promise you, I’ll tap dance again.” He still attends Montclair State and has a role in an upcoming production of The After the amputation, he started chemotherapy. “One way that I got through all of it is I started to go back to Montclair State.” With the help of devoted friends and supportive professors, he managed to continue his education and to return to a normal routine, he says. “I would set myself short goals for the week, and it would make me push a lot harder,” he says. By December 2010, Ruggiero’s cancer was in remission and he was more determined than ever to keep dancing. Inspired by Clayton “Peg Leg” Bates, a tap dancer who Wild Party in May. In his spare time, he serves as the spokesperson for Cycle for Survival, an organization that raises money for cancer research. Ruggiero will graduate in December 2013 and plans to pursue a career in the arts. Despite his experiences, he stays positive and encourages others to “keep going, there’s so much out there in the world.” “There’s nothing stopping you,” he says. “Everyone has the potential to achieve greatness and really reach for their dreams.” n Evan Ruggiero Spring 2013 15 F E AT U R E S z Celebrity Chef on Campus Celebrity Chef on Campus H undreds of Montclair State students cheered on celebrity chef Guy Fieri as he dished up his famous Big Bite Burgers with Donkey Sauce and Vegas Fries at the grand opening of his first campus restaurant in the country, aptly named GFOC (Guy Fieri on Campus). “I’m totally psyched about Guy Fieri on Campus, especially since I was personally involved in developing these recipes,” Fieri said during his October visit to the University. “I’m serving the stuff I love to eat and