At the fifth annual College of Education and Human Services Spring Alumni Reception & Awards ceremony on March 14, The College of Education and Human Services and the Department of Alumni Relations honored Donnell Pierre, graduate of the Psychological Studies program and Dr. Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj, associate professor and director of the Center for College Readiness in the Department of Education Leadership, Management and Policy.
The SHU alumnus and Irvington native was one of the last people to exit the building in the infamous Boland Hall fire in January 2000.
“The fire department saw us after I kicked the screen door in our room down and told us to stay calm, as they would come to get us,” Pierre said. “We had to crawl out and I remember the floor being scorching hot due to the fact that the fire started in our lounge. I know we were one of the last people out because one of the EOP directors had a checklist – we happened to be one of the last names checked off.
Along with being one of the survivors of the lethal fire, Pierre confronted obstacles when he decided to take a two year hiatus from school.
Pierre only applied to Seton Hall and fell in love with the university when he visited for a six-month program during high school.
Pierre recalls parking cars as a valet and working at the South Mountain YMCA in order to make some money.
Pierre is also the founder of an emergent group on campus, GOLD Standard.
“GOLD Standard is an umbrella that includes Black Men of Standard and Gentlemen of Leadership and Distinction,” Pierre said. “GOLD was founded two years ago and deals with EOP students, whereas BMS is open to everyone but focuses on the retention and graduation of men of color. It is not just me, we have a whole team that includes Winston Roberts, Michelle Bell, John Cardoza, Daniel Schnieder and Brandon Larmore to name a few.”
Pierre was honored to receive the Hansbury Mission Award after working at EOP for over a decade. He even had a sentimental moment holding the award with his mom who raised him as a single parent.
Dr. Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj has been a tremendous influence in her field and through her students. Sattin-Bajaj helped many of her graduate students write dissertations, appeared in a variety of academic journals when she examined issues of educational access and equity for immigrant-origin youth.
“It is not surprising that I ended up being a professor and studying education for immigrants due meaningful experiences like my travels abroad to places like Argentina and Italy, along with an internship in the Office of Student Financial Assistance for the US Department of Education,” Sattin-Bajaj said. “It was unexpected but gratifying to be nominated as the worthy recipient of the Screitmueller award this year because I think it is supposed to be given to someone who invested in the college community. There are a lot of people around me doing great things to place run and I did not necessarily see myself doing anything above and beyond.”
One student, Ligia Alberto, whom Sattin-Bajaj mentored for her dissertation, believes that it would not be possible for her to stand on the podium this spring without the guidance of Sattin-Bajaj.
“Words cannot express the admiration and gratitude I have for Dr. Sattin-Bajaj for all the effort, love and unconditional commitment she put to help me complete my dissertation,” Alberto said. “She exceeded my expectations as a dissertation mentor as she went above and beyond every time by providing me with guidance and support each step of the way understanding my needs and how to ease my anxiety during this process. She is a role model for women as a mother, wife, researcher, college professor, and excellent human being.”
Evando Thompson can be reached at email@example.com.