A community molds a valedictorian

By Jessica Johnson-Petty
May 3, 2013

Cathy Matta, class of 2013 valedictorian, poses proudly at one of her favorite places on campus.
Cathy Matta, class of 2013 valedictorian, poses proudly at one of her favorite places on campus.

“I got accepted on my birthday, and I figured, oh, well that’s a sign if there will eve be one.” – Cathy Matta

 The beginning

It takes a village to raise a child. It took a community to mold a valedictorian.

From a homesick freshmen to Class of 2103 valedictorian, Cathy Matta, senior math major appreciates and understands the strong community that Cabrini College took pride in building and attempts to successfully maintain.

“I will never do good at a big school. I would get lost in the crowd and that is something that I don’t fair well with. The opportunity at Cabrini to create your own community and establish communities is something that is so unique to this school.”

It did not take long for Cathy to realize the unique feel of the school and was able to call this place home.

Traveling across the states from Hartford, Connecticut it was natural for young Cathy to be homesick. Being in the S-3 (service, solidarity, and spirituality) pre-orientation retreat program, connected her to Campus Ministry, and she was able to  quickly cope with the difficulty of getting settled being so far away from home.

“I really just felt a really strong sense of community, right from the beginning, Even though I was really home sick and I was having some trouble getting settled, “ Cathy said, “it was nice to already have people to fall back on and already have people to help me through that.”

She found her place at Cabrini.

Attending Sunday night mass, coming early to assist with set up, Cathy became a veteran to the ways of the Buckram Memorial Chapel.

When a new priest was introduced to the campus, Cathy paid it forward by showing what it was like to be apart of the community and have a support system.

“Cathy is among the first students I met when I got to Cabrini,” Reverend Carl F. Janicki, director of Campus Ministry said,  “She was the student who helped me understand how we celebrate Mass in Chapel on Sunday nights.  Each local worshipping community has its unique customs and I was very pleased to have Cathy introduce me to our community and its norms.”

Both parties benefited from one another’s kind acts as any successful community would.

“He really engaged me. He really got in involved in making sure that I was involved, and making sure I knew what was going on with the program and how my interest and my ideas for campus ministry could be incorporated into the program.”

The balancing act

“My freshmen year I was really focused on making sure my academics were on track so I really didn’t do as much other things that I would’ve like to.”

As Cathy felt her way through her curriculum she held off from doing extra curricular activities, as theater, to focus on her academics. This was the easiest way for her to become accustom to her the work load and gave her the opportunity to prioritize.

“That was a big part of my journey: learning how to prioritize and figuring out what I could spend the most time with, what I wanted to spend the most time with,” Cathy said, “In my junior year I was kind of struggling with, was I doing that.”

Being focused on her studies, she also had to keep in mind to do what she enjoyed.

She knew that she could always have someone to turn to and discuss life issues.

“I talked to Stephanie Salinis, from Campus Ministries and she said, ‘Let’s really think about that because it is really important to make sure that if you’re going to spend hours and hours and all of your energy on a project, you really want to enjoy it.. You really want to make sure that it really something that you want to do.”

This assisted Cathy to refocus and gave her confirmation.

“I think that I already realized that earlier on in my career, but it was nice to hear and realize that wow, that is really important. To make sure that before your four years fly by and you are asking your self, did I enjoy them, and spend as much time as I could making the most of it. And I think I did. “

The journey

Cathy could not stress more that she could not have taken this walk alone and the success of her career is not solely hers, but also one of those who were there for her along the way.

“I have had a strong support system. I definitely look to my parents. I am really close with them and I value there opinions. I really look to them to for advice about what I am doing and how I am doing it.”

As Cathy looks to her parents, they have always believed in their daughter.

After a phone interview with Aileen Matta, Cathy’s mother, she said “What ever she wants to do she will accomplish. She is very hard working, she is a planner, and she can manages her time wisely. I know she will continue her path in that way and that will lead her to success.”

After getting accepted into two graduate programs, her success will come as she has chosen to attend University of New Hampshire for a PHD in math education.

“I am petrified. It will be a good experience. It’s another six years of school. It’s a lot more intense because it is a lot more focused. The first two years will really be a challenge,” Cathy said.

She aspires to one day to become a professor and have a family. She will continuously practice what she has learned in at Cabrini not only in the classroom but also from the community.

As Cathy continues to walk this journey she is not alone.

“While I am doing my work n grad school and in professional career, I am still doing the things that I love and that I will always have time for my family my friends.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Jessica Johnson-Petty

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Special Project

Title IX Redefined Website

Produced by Cabrini Communication
Class of 2024

Listen Up

Season 2, Episode 3: Celebrating Cabrini and Digging into its Past


Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap