An unassuming cardboard box, safe after its postal journey up the east coast, sits on a table in the archive room of Stockton’s Library.
“It’s full of gold,” said Tom Kinsella, professor of British Literature and director of the South Jersey Culture and History Center (SJCHC).
The gold is in the form of 19th century tax forms, land deeds, documents, photographs and articles, all from the settlers of North America’s first Jewish settlement, Alliance Colony, in southern New Jersey. The fragile documents are on loan to Stockton from a descendant of the colony for a project to curate an online museum to preserve the colony’s history.
Aurora Landman, an SJCHC intern and a 2017 Literature graduate, spent many hours mining the gold to rediscover stories of a colony that is in danger of being forgotten. She was awarded a Board of Trustees Distinguished Student Fellowship to implement the online museum with rooms focusing on farming, schools, influential people and unique documents.
Madilynn Whittle, a junior Computer Science major, is introducing young girls to computer coding because she knows they have the power to create change. Women who pursue careers in technology have the opportunity to advance science, bridge the gender gap and inspire more women to make a difference using technology as a tool for change.
A high school elective course in programming and design sparked her interest in technology, setting her on a path to help her peers, especially young minority women, to confidently enter a male-dominated field.
“I’m interested in using technology to make people’s lives better. If it were 100 years ago, I would be using different tools, but today, to make change, it is technology,” she said.
Ike Ejikeme likes to push himself and has a fistful of firsts to prove it. He is the first transfer student, first graduate student, and second African American in university history to serve as a student representative on the Board of Trustees.
In 2014, his first year here, he won a seat on the Student Senate as an undergraduate transferring from New Jersey City University. There were 20 people running for four seats and despite his newness, he was the only transfer student elected.
Every day, sunrise to sunset, cameras set up by Nicole Schielzo capture thousands of photos in Stockton’s forest. The 2016 Environmental Science graduate established a time-lapse photography project to tell an important and ongoing story about forest management at Stockton University.
The images, captured as often as every 15 seconds, are documenting the regeneration of a healthy woodland ecosystem and the changes in wildlife composition following a February controlled burn along Delaware Avenue and a variable retention clear cut (where the healthiest trees remain untouched to accelerate recovery), both part of Stockton’s 10-year comprehensive Forest Management Plan. Footage was captured before, during and after the burn and clear cut, and the sped-up visualization illustrates forest growth.
Nicole Schielzo mounts a time-lapse camera to a tree during a controlled burn at Stockton University in February to document the regeneration of the forest ecosystem.
Helping to determine how much carbon the wetlands can store, information that will ultimately be useful in combating damage to Earth’s ozone layer, is not your average summer job.
Arianna Efstatos is not your average summer worker. As she prepares to enter her junior year as an Environmental Science major with minors in Mathematics and Biology, the 19-year-old earned a very select internship with the state Department of Environmental Protection.
“Arianna is one of only seven student interns selected to work on six summer-long projects covering a diverse range of topics from sustainability to the economics and marketing of energy sources,” wrote John Giordano, assistant commissioner, Air Quality, Energy and Sustainability, in the N.J. DEP, in announcing Efstatos’ selection.
Jared Lewis, a Hospitality & Tourism Management major at Stockton University, earned his fourth and fifth All-American titles in only two years of collegiate competition at the 2016 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships. He is one title away from the university record.
Lewis finished eighth in the nation in the long jump with a leap of 7.02 meters, and placed second in the nation with a new personal best of 15.42 meters in the triple jump. In track & field, the All-American honor is awarded to athletes who finish in the top eight at the national championship meet, held this year at Wartburg College’s (Iowa) Walston-Hoover Stadium.
Lewis chose to attend Stockton because the university offered the opportunity to pursue goals both inside the classroom and on the track at the Division III level.
“Stockton felt like the best fit for me to study hospitality and still jump competitively,” he said.
Lidia Martinez graduated in May with a degree in Spanish, and in July she traveled to Miami to receive a national award for her outstanding academic achievements and exemplary involvement in extra-curricular activities related to Spanish.
The Mario Vargas Llosa Award is granted yearly to only one Spanish major or minor in the nation.
Named for the winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature, the award is given by Sigma Delta Pi (the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society) and the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) to an undergraduate who is a member of Sigma Delta Pi.
Martinez, a resident of Egg Harbor Township, N.J., earned her B.A. with program distinction, graduating with a Spanish major and a Latin American and Caribbean Studies minor on May 15. She accepted the award at the AATSP’s annual congress on July 10.
Winning the award “is truly remarkable because there is only one recipient for this most prestigious award,” said Gorica Majstorovic, associate professor of Spanish and coordinator of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, who nominated Martinez. Majstorovic was Martinez’s adviser for the past two years as well as her professor and mentor.
From the moment her father pushed her into her first wave on a surfboard at age 7, Caroline Bowman’s life has revolved around the ocean’s tides, including her academic studies. The Marine Science major spent the spring semester of her sophomore year on SEA Semester’s campus in Woods Hole, Massachusetts and aboard the Corwith Cramer as she sailed through the Caribbean with the SEA program.
Bowman received a scholarship to study her major while living aboard a 134-foot sailing vessel with 22 equally ocean-minded shipmates for six weeks through the SEA Semester’s Colonization to Conservation of the Caribbean program. Prior to setting sail, she prepared for the experience during a shore component on SEA’s campus in Woods Hole by conducting research on conservation and bathymetry (bottom contour of the ocean floor) that she later tested at sea.
Yibin Feng began life in Guangdong, China, and immigrated with his parents to Venezuela before finding a new home at Stockton University.
It was long road that began when he followed one of his sisters to attend college the United States.
“We found Atlantic Cape Community College provided English as a Second Language courses and I went there for English improvement and an associate degree,” he explained. “Atlantic Cape is relatively close to my sister’s old house, I stayed with her at that time.” When it was time to transfer, he was accepted by Rutgers, Stockton and Temple University, and chose Stockton because most of his credits were accepted and fit well in the Computer Science & Information Systems curriculum, he explained.
Tori Heckendorn, a graduate student in Stockton’s Physical Therapy program, uses her PT education to help fundraise and provide health care services in the local community and abroad.
In recognition of her dedication to the well-being of others and her acts of selflessness, Heckendorn was awarded the Distinguished Service Award at Stockton’s 12th Annual MLK Day of Service on Jan. 18, 2016.
Come May 2016, Heckendorn can add three more letters to the end of her name: DPT. Heckendorn will earn a Doctorate of Physical Therapy during Stockton University’s May 12 Doctoral and Master’s Commencement Ceremony. Commencement, however, will just be another step on her physical therapy journey.
“I fell in love with physical therapy after running cross country in high school [when] an injury left me sidelined my senior season,” Heckendorn said. “My physical therapist got me back to my sport in a much shorter timeline than all of my doctors had predicted and I was simply amazed.”