Sacred Heart University has marked a milestone with the selection of its first Parent Council chairs, Ralph and Margaret Mucerino P’19. The two accepted their new positions after being nominated by Kierran Broatch, director of development for Parents & Families.
“Since joining the council a year ago, Ralph and Margaret have taken a keen interest in getting more involved. They bring passion, excitement and leadership experience to the role. They will serve a two-year term and pass on the torch to new chairs in January 2019,” Broatch said.
Sacred Heart’s “family spirit” drew the Mucerinos to the council. Their daughter, Caitlin, attended a reception for accepted students before deciding on the University, and that made all the difference. The Mucerinos said the “personal touch of faculty and staff and their interest in her as a person” led her to choose SHU. The family knows it was the right decision, as Caitlin is now a thriving media studies major concentrating in journalism and deeply involved in student life. “We want to give something back and influence the decisions related to the quality of the student experience,” the council chairs said.
They began to make a difference even before they assumed their posts. “During the reception at our home last summer for committed students, we had a chance to discuss our daughter’s experience as a freshman and reassure parents about the University and environment,” the Mucerinos said. “The receptions hosted by Parent Council members are important in increasing the comfort level of incoming students and their parents. It also is a starting point for networking.”
In addition to serving as SHU ambassadors, Parent Council members act as a vital connection to new students and families through activities such as summer send-offs and welcome calls to celebrate and ease the transition to college for new Pioneers. Council members, who are parents of undergraduate and graduate students, also choose an area of the University about which they are passionate and donate to it annually.
In regards to networking, Broatch said, “Parents can get involved by providing internships, job shadowing and employment opportunities for students and alumni.” They also can lend their expertise to current students by speaking in front of a classroom.
For such a relatively new program, the Parent Council already has had impact at Sacred Heart. “It really took hold last year and, in that short time, membership has grown to 26 SHU families from all over the country,” Broatch noted. With a flexible time commitment and opportunities to be involved no matter how far away they may live, families are finding the Parent Council to be a meaningful way to support their children and Sacred Heart.
During the Mucerinos’ term as chairs, the New Jersey-based couple hopes to focus on “quality of life, housing and the overall student experience. We want to emphasize empathy for students and their challenges.”
Two Parent Council meetings take place each academic year, and the next will be on Saturday, April 22, 2017—the day after SHU’s 28th annual Discovery Gala. Broatch hopes many parents will attend this event, which is the University’s largest fundraiser for student scholarships. The evening’s entertainment will be former New York Yankee and renowned jazz musician Bernie Williams.