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Young Alumni to Know

Congratulations to the Class of 2018, our newest alumni! Each and every graduate has a special story and live lives of passion, purpose and service. Here are six of our recent graduates who were highlighted during Commencement for their extraordinary accomplishments and promising futures! 

Lola Hasanovic, from Belgrade, Serbia, graduated with a Master of Science in Business Leadership. Lola chose Concordia for its location in peaceful, beautiful Bronxville, so close to New York City. Lola told us she loves that at our small school she can express her ideas in class – and get personalized attention from our faculty and staff. It was a challenge for her to live so far away from home: the first time she was separated from friends and family for an extended period. So she made herself a new home, in the residence hall with students from all over the world – people of different backgrounds and experiences who ended up creating a community of their own by sharing the experience Concordia.  

Lola’s longtime dream was to earn a Masters, and she is grateful for both the challenges and encouragement given to her by Dean Salva and Dr. Rothman. She was on the Dean’s List each semester and recently finished working as an advisor for the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Serbia to the United Nations. She will apply her ethics-infused education to owning her own business one day and giving back to those who are in need, as she is passionate about improving the education in her home country, Serbia. 

Fernando Blanco, from the Dominican Republic, graduated with two Masters degrees: one in Early Childhood Education and one in Special Education. Fernando chose Concordia for its recognized program in Education and its Christian identity. He says that as soon as he heard the phone line say “transforming lives in the Christian tradition” he was sold! His father is a minister, and faith has always been a part of his family. 

Fernando has always enjoyed music, whether it was singing in church or in concert: he has mastered singing in six languages. For the past twenty years, Fernando has been working as a theater manager and substitute music teacher. Fernando believes being in the classroom part-time has given him the enthusiasm to continually learn about children’s psychological behavior and ways to enhance his educational techniques. He says he knew it would be tough going back to school after not being a student in the classroom since 1988. He is thankful for the attentive faculty members, especially Professor Deschapelle, who challenged and inspired him in the classroom.

Fernando is the first in his family to earn a Master’s, and looks forward to working in education, developing children’s abilities and self-confidence to help them succeed in life. 

Kendra Williams is an exemplary graduate who graduated with a Master’s in Early Childhood Special Education today. Kendra works as an Early Childhood Educator in the Yonkers School District, where her students call her Ms. Williams. Kendra chose Concordia on the advice of her best friend. She told us that accommodating all the demands of life – personal, professional and academic – was easier thanks to all the personalized attention from faculty and staff she found here at Concordia.  

Kendra connects with children outside of her own classrooms. She spends time giving back to the community at the Eastchester Community Action Partnership, where she prepares meals and purchases food for the young people in the program. She also donates school supplies and children’s clothing to local youth organizations. A faithful member of Resurrection Deliverance Church International, Kendra believes that God keeps her going and will guide her in the next steps. She says, “He will never put you through anything you can’t handle!”

After graduating, Kendra looks forward to working in the Special Education field and giving these students the challenge and attention they deserve. In addition to all the young people she serves in and out of the classroom, Kendra is a loving mother of five of her own.  

Alessandro Evangelisti is from Latina, Italy, a city near Rome. He graduated with a Bachelor’s in Biology. Alessandro chose Concordia because it was a school where he could study biology and play tennis at an elite level. During his time on the Tennis team, he won the 2017 ITA East Regional Doubles Championship and was key to the 2018 Sweet 16 run. This year, he was also named CACC Player of the year and First Team All-Conference. 

In addition to being a leader on the court, he is a champion in the classroom – a Concordia Fellow with a stellar academic record, including a pair of internships at the Harvard Medical School. His research aimed to refine the protocol for the development of cardiomyocytes from pluripotent stem cells. The biology professors gave it to me in laymen’s terms: these cells refer to adult stem cells that can be manipulated into forming just about any other cell type under the right conditions.

Alessandro says that he was driven to medicine after his grandfather was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He is passionate about studying and challenging traditional research for Parkinson’s disease and has begun this work with his senior capstone. Alessandro says he wasn’t originally thinking about a medical career, but has grown passionate about this field. After graduation, he is going to Stanford University to work in a research lab, as he applies for medical schools to eventually become a neurosurgeon.

Franccesca Morales is from Peru and lives in Larchmont, New York with her husband Cesar. Francesca thought her purpose was accounting. She came from a family of accountants so that’s what she did too. She had worked as an accountant for four years when her mother was stricken with cancer. Seeing the care and compassion the nurses gave her mother, she knew she wanted to be a nurse, too. 

Franccesca says her mother encouraged her to pursue this calling, so she enrolled in Concordia, drawn to a campus with students from all over the world and a faculty who would know her name. During her first month of study, sadly, her mother’s cancer spread to her brain and she passed away.

The comfort and care her mom received compelled Franccesca to continue on with Concordia’s challenging nursing program. A memorable experience came with her Community Rotation – for which she travelled to India. She spent time in rural communities, providing basic healthcare and screenings. She gave care to tsunami victims. She even spent time in a community of people suffering from leprosy. She did her month-long intensive preceptorship at White Plains Hospital. Even before graduating, Franccesca received an offer to work at White Plains Hospital full time. That’s where she fulfills her purpose now, giving cancer patients and their families on the oncology medical surgical floor the same care and compassion nurses gave her mom.   

Lawrence Alston from New Rochelle, NY, graduates today with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He chose Concordia after learning how the Accelerated Degree program is designed to accommodate the demands of personal, professional, and academic life. Lawrence had been working with Pop Warner Football and the New Rochelle Youth Tackle League programs and always encouraged his players to get an education, because talent could only get them so far. After some strong encouragement from his own daughter, Shanna, he needed to complete his degree to back up his words.

Lawrence has worked diligently in and outside of the classroom. In addition to being on the Dean’s List several times, he was inducted into the Alpha Sigma Lambda honor society for adult students. He is a member at St. Catherine African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, where he shares his story of faith as a traveling minister. Lawrence says, “I know what it’s like to be on the bottom with absolutely nothing, and feel like there is nowhere else to go, but trusting in God, knowing that God is good, has given me the drive to pursue more.” Lawrence looks forward to continuing working for the City of New Rochelle as a Plans Examiner for the Bureau of Buildings and inspiring youth – including his own five children – to continue their education.