Fourth Annual Alumni Achievement Awards

June 17, 2016

Alumni Achievement Awards 2016

By David Henne

For Susan Somerville '90, graduating from St. Joseph's College was the beginning of an unexpected journey in health care management. Somerville began her career as a registered nurse more than two decades ago, and is now president of Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan. During her turn June 16 as the keynote speaker at SJC Long Island's 4th Annual Alumni Achievement Awards in Health Care and Human Services, Somerville explained some of the secrets to her success. Her address, Buckle Your Seatbelt — Career Adventures and Being Ready, included the winding trajectory of her career in management/supervision.

"People ask me if I'm still a nurse," Somerville said. "I'll always be a nurse. When I'm 98 in an assisted care facility, if a nurse asks me if I was a nurse, I'll still be a nurse.'"

Somerville emphasized the importance of taking on intimidating challenges and managerial positions, all while continuing to learn new skills. This year's six Alumni Achievement Award honorees listened intently, nodding along to Somerville's directives to "not box yourself in" and "never become 'too important' to do your job.'"

"If you're not terrified every two years, you might be getting lazy," Somerville said, explaining how the evolution of one's workplace can seem too intimidating to progress, and result in a career lull.

Now working as directors, educators and managers, SJC's six honorees are the epitome of what SJC's health and human services programs hope to produce. Each had risen from their ranks through hard work and perseverance — prime examples of Somerville's examples of success through dedication.

“This event celebrates and recognizes outstanding St. Joseph’s individuals who have contributed significantly in their professional endeavors,” said Paige Napoli Carbone ’02, director of alumni engagement at SJC. “Among this year’s honorees are alumni who have made great impacts in their chosen fields. We are so proud of all of them.”

The honorees were Michael Giuffrida ’08 and ’13, associate director at Long Island Coalition for the Homeless; Margaret La Giudice ’93 and ’12, clinical nurse educator at St. Charles Hospital; Marcelle Leis ’12, program director at the Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Project; Maria Sanchez ’13, patient-centered medical home manager at RR Health Strategies; Althea Williams ’08 and ’13, senior manager for provider/community engagement at the Office of Population Health and Florence Jerdan, Ph.D., A.N.P., R.N., C.N.E., former director of SJC's Department of Nursing.

Before each honoree was recognized, Christopher Frost, Ph.D., St. Joseph's senior vice president for academic affairs, spoke of the state of the College. While tenuous matters concerned other colleges in the area, he was pleased to report SJCs' enrollment was growing — especially in health and human services areas, including nursing, where next fall's classes were filling up at a record pace. With such esteemed alumni present praising the quality of education they received, it was easy to see why.

Alumni Achievement Awards

Susan Somerville at the Alumni Awards ceremony

Christopher Frost at the Alumni Awards ceremony