New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis recently visited the College of Saint Elizabeth to learn about the benefits of attending a small, private school. The Secretary and her team had a lively discussion with representatives of the College, including several current students.
“The purpose of the meeting was to introduce Secretary Smith Ellis and her team to CSE’s students, programs and mission,” said Dr. Helen J. Streubert, president of the College of Saint Elizabeth. “The conversation included our successful and innovative FASTRAK program, National Science Foundation STEM Scholars program and CSE Promise initiative.”
The Secretary was particularly interested in hearing about the students’ backgrounds and why they chose to attend CSE.
“Small schools hold great value. Through the intimate and supportive community, CSE is fostering the growth of students who will go on to change the world,” said Katie Blevins, ’19, who is pursuing degrees in both psychology and religious studies. “I am so grateful for the education that I have received here at CSE.”
Quawntashea Bailey, ’19, agreed that school size was important, but in-state financial aid was the real tipping factor.
“I initially looked outside New Jersey, but in the end, it was financially best for me to stay. It turns out that CSE was the best for me in many ways and has helped shape me into the person I am today,” said Bailey, an English major.
The meeting also gave students the opportunity to ask questions of their own, including what key experiences brought Smith Ellis and her team to their current positions.
“I wanted to be a teacher, but an internship in Washington, D.C., showed me how important it was to be a voice for higher education. That experience was very empowering. You never know where life is going to take you, so it’s important to develop a variety of skill sets,” said Smith Ellis, who served as Senior Advisor for Education at the White House Domestic Policy Council in the Obama administration.
Smith Ellis sparked that feeling of empowerment among the students present, which also included psychology major Daniella DeMoraes, ’21, and communications and business major Taylor Veve, ‘21.
“It was so nice to be in a room with a woman in power who looks like me. Secretary Smith Ellis inspires me as a women of color to continue to change my narrative and live each and every moment of my life, fulfilling my purpose,” added Bailey. “I hope in the future, that policymakers continue to visit CSE so they can hear the stories about the lives of the students affected by their decisions and actions.”
The meeting concluded with a tour of the College’s recently renovated science labs and foods and nutrition lab in Henderson Hall, as well as the critical assessment lab and patient evaluation clinic in the Anastasia Health Sciences Center to be used by the nursing and physician assistant programs.