Class of 2022 Twins Nikki and Shawn Gaffney Earn High Marks for Campus Leadership

Nikki (at left) and Shawn Gaffney with Pio

Nikki (at right) celebrates being named Outstanding Senior with Shawn (left) and Alumni Association President Michele Garcia '15 (center)

Twins Nikki Gaffney and Shawn Gaffney of Freehold, N.J. are graduating together this May 2022 from William Paterson University. While the siblings chose their own distinctive academic paths, both are Honors College students and each boasts an extraordinary resume filled with activities and awards for taking positions of leadership on campus.

Named the 2022 “Outstanding Senior” by the William Paterson University Alumni Association, Nikki will graduate with a bachelor of science in biology from the College of Science and Health and a minor in art studio and ethics. Presented annually since 1962, the Outstanding Senior award recognizes a graduating senior with strong involvement in extracurricular activities, service to the University and community, demonstrated leadership ability, and high academic standing. In her freshman year, Nikki became president of the Bioethics Club. Other activities include working as lab technician and greenhouse manager in the science building and holding a variety of positions with the Political Science Club. She served as senator of academic affairs, Science and Health Department, for the Student Government Association and helped to spread awareness about the MaCS Scholars Program for computer science majors.

Shawn will graduate with a bachelor of arts in economics from the Cotsakos College of Business and a bachelor of arts in geography from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. As a Center for Diversity and Inclusion Student Ambassador, Shawn has conducted public panels on social justice issues and helped promote and manage the Center’s events. Other activities include representing the student body as senator and vice president of the Student Government Association and serving as president of the Political Science Club.

Following graduation, Nikki plans to take a year-long break and hopes to achieve her lifelong wish of visiting family in Scotland. Long term, her goal is to earn a PhD in ecological mapping software.

Shawn plans to serve on Americorp for a year or two, exploring various nonprofits that are aligned with community development, disaster relief, and residential organization. Afterwards, Shawn plans to pursue a dual master’s degree in public policy and urban planning and ultimately become involved in city government, oversee a nonprofit organization or maybe even run for congressional office.

What advice do the Gaffney twins offer incoming students? Get involved on campus, they say. “You only have four years to make your platform to professional life,” says Shawn. “Finding your niche and mission is pivotal for your future as a world-changing person!”

“Talk to as many people as you can,” adds Nikki. “There are a lot of opportunities. If you want something, ask. If WP does not have it, they will offer it or  you will have the lovely experience of making it happen yourself. That is what being a Pioneer is all about!”