Growing up Cabrini


By Brooke Protesto
May 6, 2024

"Take your kid to work" day activities, including planting a tree near Grace Hall. Photo by Chris Protesto.
"Take your kid to work" day activities, including planting a tree near Grace Hall. Photo by Chris Protesto.

Some of my fondest memories growing up take place at Cabrini University. Thanks to my dad, Chris Protesto, Cabrini’s assistant director of facilities and head softball coach, I was able to be a part of the unique Cabrini community ever since I was a child. 

But now, Cabrini, The King’s College, The College of Saint Rose, Goddard College, and many other small, independent institutions have one thing in common: They are all closing their doors for good. 

Navigating the enrollment cliff

In 2023, 14 nonprofit colleges and universities announced their closure,  including Cabrini. Many of these schools were faced with low enrollment numbers, and financial struggles.

This phenomenon is called the “enrollment cliff.” In a 2024 Forbes article, “The Cliffs Of Higher Ed: Who’s Going Over And Why?” its author, David Rosowsky, said, “The enrollment cliff refers to significant predicted (and in some cases precipitous) declines in the number of college-going students in a state or region of the country.” 

There are many factors that worsen the enrollment cliff in higher education. Rosowsky wrote, “These drops may be functions of birth rates resulting in lower high school graduation rates, decline in the number of high school graduates choosing to attend college whether due to cost or inclination, or student trends to leave the state for college farther from home (for weather, setting, offerings, net cost, or other reasons).”

When the unfortunate event of a university closure occurs, educational opportunities are lost. Cabrini was renowned for its excellence in teaching students about the importance of social justice. There is a loss of community as well, with no campus to call home. Alumni, faculty, staff, and students lose their sense of community. Cabrini has a historical element as well: in 2009, Woodcrest Mansion, which now houses administrative offices, was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Cherished Cabrini memories

Every year, Cabrini hosted a “Take Your Kid to Work” day. They would have many activities planned out for all the kids. These included cooking lessons from the dining hall staff, planting trees, and to end the day, swimming in the Dixon Center pool. 

Representing Cabrini since day one. Photo by Teri Protesto.

Cabrini’s hospitality to faculty and staff children always stood out to me. The staff that ran “Take Your Kid to Work” day was always so welcoming. They created an atmosphere that got me excited about going to college. All of this left a lasting impression on me at such a young age. 

But over the years, “Take Your Kid to Work” day has slowly become less organized and has become a more casual event on campus. 

The closure of Cabrini did not come to my dad and me easily. There were many unanswered questions at the time, but we were also going to lose the place that provided us so many opportunities. Cabrini is home to many of our memories as well. 

My last year here has been the most difficult, but also most rewarding. During my time at Cabrini, I found my home in the communications department. I have been so lucky to get to work with and befriend the students and faculty within the department. The lessons I learned from them are priceless, their lasting impact on the students within the department will resonate with them for years to come. 

But the best part of this year was on the softball field. I was able to be a part of the Cavalier softball team for this last season, with my dad as the coach. He will be the first and last softball coach I will ever be with. Spending time with him on the field again has been one of the best experiences I could ever ask for during my time at Cabrini.  

Cabrini has always been a big factor in my life. It will forever hold a special place in my heart, as it does for many other Cavaliers.

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Brooke Protesto

Brooke Protesto is a Junior at Cabrini University. She’s a Communications Major with a Leadership Studies Minor. Cabrini was a big part of her childhood, her father is a part of Facilities and Athletics. “Take your kid to work” day was her favorite time of the year! It was only natural for her to enroll at Cabrini. Brooke spends her time playing softball, is a Resident Assistant on campus, DJs for Cavalier Radio, and is a reporter for the Loquitur. For her last year at Cabrini, she plans to make the most of it.

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