‘This I Believe’ inspires new Founder’s Day format

By Elizabeth Krupka
February 22, 2010

Each year in February Cabrini College designates a celebration that commemorates birthday of the college’s founder, Sister Ursula Infante.  Founder’s Day was instituted during Dr. Iadarola’s time as president at Cabrini. The celebration used to be a large birthday party, but over the years it has grown into much more.

“Every year a different social justice topic is chosen for Founder’s Day.  This year, as opposed to choosing a social justice issue, we decided to actively incorporate the faculty and students.  We consulted with the ECG teachers and they thought it was a positive way to enforce what the students are now learning in their ECG classes,” Dr. Mary Laver, director of international partnerships, said.

The new format of Founder’s Day touches upon varies aspects of the curriculum.  The faculty really wanted to play into the idea of “education of the heart.”  Instead of telling the students to go and listen to a speaker, the faculty decided that it would be better if Founder’s Day would be more interactive. This is why the professors decided on the “This I Believe” essay.

“The idea to use the ‘This I Believe’ format for Founder’s Day seemed to be a fitting tribute to the founder of our college, whose beliefs led her to educate students in issues of social justice.  It was decided by a group of faculty in an ECG meeting who thought that this would encourage students to more actively participate in Founder’s Day,” Amy Persichetti, instructor of English, said.

The main way that Founder’s Day is different this year is that the faculty cut the idea of having a keynote speaker come. This way, as opposed to having only one topic be discussed, students will be able to hear about various different topics through the “This I Believe” essays.

“We felt this way we could highlight ourselves as the keynote speakers of the night. Various students and faculty can then feel as though they helped make Founder’s Day unique,” Dr. Laver said.

The “This I Believe” essay branched off from an idea instituted by a 1950’s American journalist named Edward R. Murrow. He interviewed average Americans about their core values and their beliefs.  Then National Public Radio instituted a popular nationwide radio series called “Story Corps.”

Cabrini faculty took this idea and morphed it into a project that the campus community would be excited to be a part of. Students and faculty who wanted to participate in the Founder’s Day program could write an essay about what they believe most. The catch is for students to delve deeper and not only write about what they believe, but to challenge why they believe it.

“The faculty and staff are looking forward to celebrating the amazing teachers and learners. If people miss the event I hope that they at least come then to read the essays that the participants worked so hard on. The faculty is not sure if this is a format will continue for future Founder’s Day celebrations. Dr. George is currently trying to decide what she hopes to see for the Founder’s Day celebration in the coming years.” Dr. Laver said.

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Elizabeth Krupka

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