About Students First
The Campaign for FDU Students
Students First boldly seeks to engage thousands of individuals to transform the lives of students. Personalized educational experiences that unlock each student’s potential provide students the opportunity to see and experience a world beyond their own, opening doors to opportunities for upward social mobility that they would never have achieved, but for their experiences at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
For many students, the greatest obstacle to fulfilling this dream is affordability. For others, the burdens of navigating college (including social, emotional and mental-health challenges) create barriers to staying enrolled and persisting toward the completion of a degree. As a result, far too many students are losing the opportunity to take advantage of what a college degree can provide for their future.
Students First will provide access and opportunity for students to become leaders and changemakers in arts, business, engineering, education, government, healthcare, science and technology, to name a few. Your investment in Students First provides critical support for student scholarships and fellowships to ensure all FDU students have the financial means to pursue their education. Your generosity helps to shape a holistic approach to education — an educational journey that focuses on overall student emotional and mental health, combined with curricular and experiential experiences that will shape and prepare our future leaders.
Students First is about our future beyond the four campuses of FDU. It is about preparing our students to seize the moment to transform their lives, as they transform themselves and others, to strengthen and make a difference in our world.
FDU continues to be a transformational place for our students because of our supportive community of individuals who are committed to seeing students succeed.
Michael J. Avaltroni, Ph.D
Key Elements of Students First
Make an FDU degree more affordable and attainable by:
- Increasing the number ofavailable student scholarships.
- Meeting students where they areto support a diverse populationof learners.
- Supporting our students who participate in intercollegiateathletics as the gateway intocollege and a career beyond.
Provide holistic student support to ensure student success by:
- Establishing a hardship fundfor students.
- Investing in partnerships and services to address student emotional and mental health.
- Closing access and equity gapsin higher education by 2030.
Develop mutually beneficial partnerships to support new student-centered initiatives by:
- Building interprofessional programming to create anew generation of healthcare workforce.
- Establishing a comprehensive workforce curriculum to focus on New Jersey’s underserved populations and veterans.
Create pathways for students to the future and advanced opportunities by:
- Establishing scholarships for students in accelerated graduate programs and for transfer students.
Ways to Give
Your gift can change a life
Kindly make checks payable to Fairleigh Dickinson University and mail to:
Fairleigh Dickinson University
1000 River Road, H-DH3-12
Teaneck, NJ 07766
Including FDU in your will, a bequest, a charitable gift annuity or as a retirement plan beneficiary are just some of the ways that a planned gift won’t impact your finances today, and will have a lasting impact at FDU.
Donor Stories — Thanks Marye
Aunt Marye’s generosity is about opening doors
Known to family and friends lovingly as Aunt Marye, Marye (Trinkle) Ruzila, who graduated from FDU’s Rutherford Campus in 1958, generously gifted $1.1 million to FDU. Her gift was endowed to the Career Development Center and the Silberman College of Business.
The gift to the Career Development Center provides grants to cover part of the the costs of transportation, wardrobe and lost wages for students completing unpaid internships. In honor of her generosity, the Career Development Center on the Florham Campus was named the John Robert Ruzila and Marye Trinkle Ruzila Career Development Center. John Robert Ruzila, an alumnus himself, graduated from FDU’s Rutherford Campus in 1956.
Aunt Marye’s experience as one of the first few women to receive a B.S. in business management inspired her to establish the John Robert and Marye Trinkle Ruzila Endowed Scholarship in the Silberman College of Business. Rosemary Trinkle Baran, BS’83, also a graduate of FDU’s Rutherford Campus, noted, “Though Aunt Marye and Uncle John didn’t live to see the full impact of their gift, their spirit of altruism lives on in many FDU students.”
One of the best things about this award is accessibility. This grant is open to all students regardless of year, major, financial-aid status, or citizenship.
University Director, FDU Career Development Center
Donor stories — Thanks Andrea & Anthony
A gift to support student mental health
A transformational gift from Andrea and Anthony Melchiorre, FDU parents, will focus on student mental health and well-being. The Melchiorre gift establishes the “Transforming College Campuses” initiative, which provides fellowship opportunities to FDU graduate and undergraduate students. “We are proud to partner with FDU on this transformational project. We are confident that this innovative program will provide FDU students with unparalleled support in mental health and well-being as well as the guidance to develop the personal skills for young adults to successfully navigate college life and beyond,” noted Andrea Melchiorre.
The Transforming College Campus initiative will support the mental health needs of FDU undergraduate students, and fosters a pipeline for students to pursue professions key to student well-being and success (e.g., clinicians and student affairs professionals). The project embeds graduate students in a required course for first-year students, “Transition to University Life.” The graduate student will remain paired with the students in the course for their first two years at FDU. The goal of this initiative will be to provide an environment of caring, support and ongoing mentorship during the critical years of a college education.
We are confident that this innovative program will provide FDU students with unparalleled support in mental health and well-being...
FDU graduate student, parent, and benefactor
Student Stories — Meet Valentina Loiero
Inspired by compassion, driven to make a difference: Valentina’s path towards caring for others
After seeing how the physician assistants cared for her sick Nonno during the last months of his battle with stage IV colon cancer, sophomore biology student Valentina Loiero knew medicine was her path. Valentina’s mind is set on becoming a physician assistant to positively impact the world.
Thanks to the generous support of scholarship donors, Valentina is afforded the opportunity to prioritize her classes while actively participating in campus life. This enables her to forge valuable connections, network and take full advantage of the multitude of opportunities offered by FDU. Valentina is a member of the pre-health society, volunteers her time with the Devils Care Food Pantry and is a member of Zeta Tau Alpha. As part of ZTA, Valentina helps raise funds for important causes, such as breast cancer awareness.
My personal goal is to just help people as much as possible. I know every single interaction that I have with someone can change the course of their life. I would love to make a positive impact on the world and make people smile.
Student Stories — Meet Suhaib Jawad
From introvert to advocate: A journey to public service
Sophomore Suhaib Jawad’s burning desire for public service led him to pursue a degree in government and politics at FDU. As an American-Pakistani coming from a lower-middle-class family, his goal is to work in government, public policy or even Congress to help pass bills and legislation to support underserved communities.
The scholarships Suhaib receives from FDU make it possible for him to pursue his college degree. “Getting the scholarships to go to FDU was so freeing — it freed up my responsibilities and helped me be able to put more time and energy towards my actual studies, which is the reason why us students come to college,” noted Suhaib.
Motivated by advice he received at orientation, “college is what you make of it,” Suhaib is turning the tables, going from an introvert to putting himself out there to get involved with student clubs and organizations, such as the Student Government Association. Suhaib credits that advice from orientation to helping shape who he is today.
When he thinks about his scholarship support, he remembers what his grandmother said, “small droplets make an ocean.” That is, no matter the amount of donations for scholarships, those small amounts add up, and it’s that much less money out-of-pocket for your college education. For Suhaib, it has been such a relief to receive extra financial support from donors.
Small droplets make an ocean.
Hispanic Center: Four Programs, One Mission
For 20 years, FDU has dedicated itself to serving Hispanic students through innovative and engaging academic programming. The Hispanic Center brings together four programs under one roof: Latino Promise, for English speakers with Latino roots and for emergent bilingual students; Puerta al Futuro, for adult learners; HACER (Hispanics Achieving College Education Recognition), for traditional college-aged students; and Avanza, for dually enrolled high-school students.
Irene Oujo, executive director of the Hispanic Center, is a first-generation Latin American whose parents came to the U.S. in the early 1970s. “It was a drastic change in terms of the culture, the language and the geography, moving from a rural area to an urban one,” she says. Her parents prioritized their children’s education. But when it came time to apply to college, she, like so many first-generation students, didn’t know how the process worked.
That sense of uncertainty is something she wants students and their families to avoid, and instead to feel at home when they come to campus, both before and after application and acceptance.
FDU has been recognized as a Fulbright Hispanic Serving Institution Leader and is a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. The Latino Promise and HACER programs have been recognized as Examples of Excelencia by the nation’s premier authority on accelerating Latino student success in higher education, Excelencia in Education. “The University’s strategy is to meet learners where they are academically and culturally,” says President Michael Avaltroni. “Along with the University as a whole, the Hispanic Center focuses on providing educational opportunities that create a path for social mobility and on creating communities of belonging for our students.”
We strive to educate as many people as we possibly can, certainly those who are interested in improving their lives, expanding their perspectives, getting college degrees and moving forward.
Executive Director, Hispanic Center
Each of FDU's nearly 11,000 students across our four campuses holds the potential to achieve remarkable accomplishments.
As an institution, we recognize the importance of supporting our students through scholarships that enable them to unlock their full capabilities. These scholarships not only empower individual students but also contribute to the collective growth and success of our university community. Will you help us put Students First?