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INSPIRING OTHERS THROUGH ART PATRICIA DENNIS, ‘19, was just 13 years old when she received life-altering news: her brother had been shot and was fighting for his life at the hospital. As a resident of Newark, N.J., Dennis was familiar with gang violence but, until that very moment, had been shielded from its realities. While her brother ultimately survived the attack, which rendered him paralyzed from the waist down, it left an indelible mark on Dennis. She became determined to deter others from following in her brother’s footsteps and has since dedicated her life to educating inner-

city children. She hopes that her influence will be enough to steer them away from the streets. “I like to use art in my classroom not only to teach the students, but to heal them as well,” says Dennis, who joined AmeriCorps upon graduating from CSE and works as a reading coach for second graders in Orange, N.J. “Art is a true form of therapy and it gives students a reason to stay in school.” One of Dennis’ initiatives, known as “Art with a Heart,” encourages students to decorate cotton bags with positive messages and imagery. The bags are then filled with beauty supplies and essential health kits for women and children in Haiti. “Every language speaks creativity,” says Dennis. “These women don’t need to understand English to feel the warmth that comes from knowing someone is thinking about them.” “Art with a Heart” not only benefits the women and children in Haiti, but also provides Dennis’ students an opportunity to give back. By giving them a greater purpose, she’s instilling in her students a sense of pride and accomplishment that can never be diluted. “I try to model all my actions after Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton,” explains Dennis. While a student at the College, Dennis became a Seton Associate, or a layperson who engages in ministry by living the charism of charity. “Mother Seton gave up everything to give back to those in need and I want to do the same for others.”

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MOSES AWUAH, ’20, wants to be an inspiration to those in his native country of Ghana. A double major in art and computer software engineering, Awuah left Africa just two years ago to pursue an education in the United States. As a first-generation college student, he relied heavily on the support he received from the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) through CSE. Awuah credits the program with developing both his leadership skills and his ability to speak in public. Upon graduating in 2020, he hopes to return to Ghana and use his education to improve his home country. “There are a lot of people from my country who are motivated to succeed but don’t have the opportunities,” explains Awuah. “I want to help implement programs in Ghana that will provide these opportunities.” Awuah feels particularly passionate about facilitating the growth of art in Ghana. As an exceptionally talented pencil artist, he hopes to encourage others to pursue their dreams. “To me, people have the mentality that being an artist is rough,” says Awuah. “However, I want to show them that being an artist is a gift and something that should be cherished.”

“I see art everywhere. It’s so soothing to the soul,” explains XIOMARA GONZALEZ, ’01, who double majored in art and education at CSE. “I feel a responsibility to pass on art to my students because someone believed in me.” Prior to attending the College of Saint Elizabeth, Gonzalez wasn’t confident in her artistic ability. She always compared herself with more established artists and couldn’t see her own potential. However, upon attending CSE and taking classes with the late Sister Anne Haarer, a beloved former teacher at the College, Gonzalez’s confidence began to soar. “Sister Anne was amazing. She recognized the talent that I couldn’t see in myself and encouraged me to pursue my passion,” explains Gonzalez. “Without her, I would never have discovered my desire to become a full-time art teacher.” While she hasn’t become an art teacher just yet, Gonzalez spends her days incorporating art into every subject she teaches to her pre-K students. In fact, she was recently chosen to create a mural in Jersey City and involved her class every step of the way. “Every weekend, I invited all my students to come down and work on the mural with me. Even students from past years came and helped. It was a great experience,” says Gonzalez. “But it never would have happened if I didn’t study at CSE and develop both the confidence and necessary skill set.”

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Profile for Saint Elizabeth University

College of Saint Elizabeth Magazine - Fall 2019  

Unfolding the future: College of Saint Elizabeth celebrates 120 years

College of Saint Elizabeth Magazine - Fall 2019  

Unfolding the future: College of Saint Elizabeth celebrates 120 years

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