Seniors to dance the night away at DOVE’s prom

For over 15 years Seton Hall students have participated in DOVE’s “Adopt-A-Grandparent” program, traveling to nursing homes and realizing the importance of building relationships with the elderly.

This year DOVE is extending the program in a new way and inviting elderly neighbors of South Orange to come to campus for a SHU-hosted prom.

Ritzie Lespinas, a SHU senior, is looking forward to attending the event and connecting with the elderly.

“Some of them are not fortunate enough to have family contact or visit them,” said Lespinas. “It makes me happy to know that they appreciate me simply being present and engaging with them.”

Every year DOVE hosts a senior prom in the fall at the Whitehouse Nursing Home for the residents there. This event will branch out further and be hosted in the Chancellor’s Suite for any elderly neighbors of Seton Hall to attend.

Michelle Peterson, director of DOVE, said they are planning on having approximately 100 people attend the prom.

“The Seniors Prom is an exciting way for seniors to gather, listen to music from the ‘40s and ‘50s, socialize and enjoy an afternoon on campus,” Peterson said.

Freshman Jaquelin Rivas-Tejada is hoping that everyone enjoys the event.

“I’m really excited to see all the seniors dressed up and ready to hit the dance floor,” Rivas-Tejada said. “I think it’ll be a perfect environment to engage with them and get to know new people.”

Peterson emphasized the importance for students to engage and learn from the elderly.

“Senior citizens carry so much knowledge, love and experience,” Peterson said. “It is important for us to show them how much we care about them and how much they have to offer our students.”

The “Adopt-a-Grandparent” program which takes students to the local nursing home is one of DOVE’s most successful weekly programs. The relationships built there are ones that help both the seniors and the students.

“Relationships with our elders are important because they have lived through a lot and we can always learn something, whether it’s big or small,” Rivas-Tejada said.

The event will be held on Sunday, April 12 in the Chancellor’s Suite.

Siobhan McGirl can be reached at

Author: Siobhan McGirl

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