Approximately 8,000 miles from Seton Hall University, Dominique Fortes reminisces on how her life motto guided her to teach in Taiwan: “why not?”
Fortes, a ’17 SHU graduate from the Stillman School of Business, followed this motto throughout her time at Seton Hall, pushing herself to take advantage of various opportunities on campus and beyond.
Because of this, she had a decision to make: attend the University of Oxford for graduate school, take a job at Ernst and Young, or accept a Fulbright award for the English Teaching Assistant (ETA) program.
Fortes now teaches English to Taiwanese students from grades 3 to 6 as part of the Fulbright ETA program. However, she did not have to sacrifice too much as part of her decision.
Next fall, she plans to attend Oxford because the university allowed her to defer her acceptance. It has not been a straightforward path for her though. Despite all her accomplishments in recent years, she says that her personal successes are what she values most.
“I think there were definitely people who I thought were smarter than me,” Fortes said. “I think that a lot of my success is due to the fact that I put in a lot of work in college-for my jobs, my internships, my clubs, and my academics. I think hard work is what can make one stand apart. The times you turn down going to an event because you have to study really makes a difference.”
Despite wishing she could have met more people during her time at Seton Hall, Fortes believes that the people she did meet and the mentors who helped guide her couldn’t have been better.
Being a part of Seton Hall’s Ethics Bowl Team and working her way up to executive editor of The Stillman Exchange also helped Fortes grow as a person. These groups ended up being little families within the larger Seton Hall community, Fortes said.
“What really made my time at Seton Hall was getting involved with only a few things,” Fortes said. “Not a little bit involved in a lot of clubs, but just get very involved with a couple. I devoted my heart and soul to both of those for the entirety of college.”
One of her mentors was Michael Reuter, the director of the Gerald P. Buccino ’63 Center for Leadership Development. During her time with The Stillman Exhange, Reuter served as faculty adviser where he was able to watch her grow, according to Reuter, into a result-oriented and purpose driven individual.
“There is a beautiful and relentless intensity in her work – always dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s, and after that continuously looking for ways to build on and improve herself,” Reuter said. “She is not hesitant to push herself out of her comfort zone, not seeing limitations, only possibilities for something more, something greater.”
John Shannon, an associate professor of legal studies, has worked with Fortes since her first year when she was in his Legal Foundations of Business course. Shannon shares the same praise for Fortes that Reuter boasts about and believes that Seton Hall allowed her to develop into the leader that is across the world right now.
“Seton Hall provides all of its students with a remarkable range of opportunities,” Shannon said. “Dominique has taken full advantage of those opportunities and has grown into a very successful person with an exceptionally bright future. She is a great role model for anyone else seeking to engage with learning environments that allow our students to invest in their future.”
Whether she was studying abroad in Beijing, teaching in Taiwan or fending off bullies in high school, Fortes’ motto is what has remained constant. A few years back while in high school, Fortes said that it was difficult to imagine applying for a Fulbright scholarship or to Oxford. Yet, she knew that she could try and she encourages students to follow in her shoes.
“Why not? It can’t hurt,” Fortes said. “You might be surprised by the results.”
Nicholas Mariano can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.