William Paterson Staff and Family Receive Degrees

William Paterson's Class of 2013 included many happy faculty, staff and family members who earned their degrees.

As part of our annual commencement report, we are continuing our tradition of featuring faculty and staff and their families who have earned their degrees from William Paterson University. Below are graduates who earned their degrees last week.

Daniel Baker, a counselor in the University’s undergraduate admissions office for the past three years, has earned a master’s degree in professional communication.  For his master’s thesis project, he chose to integrate his job responsibilities with his  research—he investigated the role of campus tours in the college decision-making process. Baker credits his success with the project to Pixy Ferris, associate professor, communication, his thesis advisor.

Silvia Barrera, office manager, Counseling, Health, and Wellness Center since 2007, has earned a degree in sociology. She plans to continue her education and pursue a graduate degree. To complete her degree, she had to juggle a full-time job with school and raising a family. She appreciates the advice and support her colleagues gave her while she was in school.

Michelle R. DeMartino, assistant director in the University’s undergraduate admissions office, has worked on campus for five years. Four of those years were spent earning  the master of fine arts degree in professional and creative writing offered by the English Department. The process taught her how to manage her time most efficiently to be her “best self.” She earned a bachelor’s degree in general biology from William Paterson in 2008.

Aaron S. Garfinkel, a counselor in the financial aid office for more than eight years, has earned a master’s degree in public policy and international affairs, capping the bachelor’s degree he earned on campus in communication in 2008. His thesis topic was higher education policy.



Trulya Scott, program assistant, student accounts, has earned a master’s degree in applied sociology and a certificate in assessment/ evaluation research. On staff for more than thirteen years, she also earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology/criminal justice and a minor in Afro, Afro-American/Caribbean Studies from the University in 2007.  As part of her studies, she completed an internship at Eva’s Village in Paterson.  She is grateful to several faculty members and colleagues at William Paterson who have assisted in the completion of this degree.

Christina Vella, assistant director in the University’s undergraduate admissions office, has earned a master’s degree in applied sociology. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University in 2005. She plans to stay in higher education because she “enjoys working with students, particularly transfer students.” She appreciates the mentoring provided by Sheetal Ranjan, associate professor, sociology. “She’s played a big role in why I’m graduating.”

Perseverance paid off for Debra Wilson-Brown, an administrative assistant in the Department of Sociology since 1990. After sixteen years of classes, she has earned a master’s degree in English. This fall, she’ll be teaching as an adjunct at the University, and working to get her thesis story, “From the Plantation to Lowbottom,” published.

Family Graduates

Mukbil Aktan, the husband of Nadine Aktan, who works as a professor of nursing, has earned a master of fine arts degree in art.

Aileen Bogdon, a daughter of Len Bogdon, who retired as chief information officer after forty years at the University, has earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Having overcome some obstacles in life, she sent the following quote from Booker T. Washington with her graduation card: "I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed."

Megan Bowersox, the daughter of Scott Bowersox, supervisor of facilities, repairs, and operations, has earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. She is a currently working as an intern, photographing fashions in New York City’s garment district. “She’s very talented and has quite an artistic eye,” says her father.

Kaila DeRonde, the grandaughter of Naomi Horsky, secretarial assistant to the chairperson of the nursing department, has graduated with a degree in psychology. While on campus, she worked in hospitality services as a media tech. “I’m very proud of her,” Naomi says. Kaila is the great-niece of Pam Fueshko, director, technology services.

Kaitlyn MacFarlane, the daughter of Capt. Robert MacFarlane, now retired after thirty years with the University’s department of public safety, has earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. She plans to pursue a career as a tattoo artist. Her father admires her perseverance. “She has the patience to create,” he says.

Stephen Dotto, the son of Jean Strone, principal clerk typist in the office of the dean of the arts and communication, is the third in his family to earn a degree from William Paterson. This Navy veteran, who just earned a degree in psychology, wants to counsel other veterans.

05/20/13