Jordan Hernandez, B.A.'12. M.S.Ed.'18, advises a lunch club that was featured in a mini-documentary that aired during CNN’s “New Year’s Eve Live” broadcast; Shirley Brown Alleyne, ’94, leads a program at the Brooklyn Historical Society that received the nation’s highest honor for youth programs; and Cameron Tinney, an NU senior majoring in supply chain management, was selected to participate in an exclusive two-year leadership program with the world’s largest bakery product manufacturing company. These are just three examples of The Power of a Niagara University education.
Reaching out in the Vincentian Tradition
English teacher Jordan Hernandez, a two-time Niagara University graduate, advises We Dine Together, a lunch club founded by four students at Boca Raton Community High School that endeavors to combat social isolation.
Each day, club members walk around their school’s courtyard, introducing themselves to classmates spotted eating alone during lunchtime. These students are invited to eat pizza, share poetry, talk politics, play games, and plan community service initiatives, gaining a sense of belongingness, which psychologists say is so critical to human development, especially for teens.
Hernandez said that his experiences at one of the country’s three Catholic and Vincentian universities, taught him “.. to serve those in need, the less fortunate.” Hernandez earned a bachelor’s degree in English education and a master’s degree in special education. Estimon, born in Haiti, told MassMutual that the idea for the club was born when he was talking with Hernandez about the social injustice he observed in the cafeteria.
“At Boca High, if you look at the cafeteria from a bird’s eye view, on one side you’ll see more isolated kids, and on the other side you’ll see the football players,” Estimon said. “I told him it shouldn’t be this way. He challenged me to do something about it, and that’s basically what I did.”
More than 60 students have joined We Dine Together since the beginning of the school year.
Prior to CNN, the club was featured in articles by The Huffington Post and the Independent (United Kingdom). They have also fielded calls from People magazine, Fox & Friends, The Steve Harvey Show and Ellen.
Several other schools have now shown interest in starting We Dine Together clubs. Thus, the students at Boca High are hoping to hold a National High School Dining Day this May.
“What’s most important is the mission and that’s about finding those who need to be found,” Hernandez said. “These ideals are deeply grounded in the same ideals that Niagara University believes in.”
Niagara Alum Receives Nation’s Highest Honor
When the Teen Innovators program at the Brooklyn Historical Society received the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the nation’s highest honor for youth programs, Shirley Brown Alleyne, ’94, the BHS’s manager of teaching and learning, couldn’t have been more delighted.
“I was so proud of the students for everything they did, because they worked so hard,” she says. “This program means so much to me and to the students – the award just heightens and strengthens the pride we already have for what they are doing now.”
The Teen Innovators program, a partnership with the Brooklyn Navy Yard, was established in 2012 to fuel an entrepreneurial mindset by providing high school students with opportunities to explore careers while learning about workplace etiquette, professional writing and communication, and the history of work and workers at the yard over the past century. Since it was established, Teen Innovators has served 130 students, all from Title I schools in the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s surrounding communities, students who otherwise would not have been aware of the employment opportunities offered by the BNY.
The TI program has been so well-received by the students that Alleyne developed additional opportunities for them to remain involved. High school students can come back to the program as mentors, leading the teen innovators while working toward their own paid internships, while program alumni who have graduated high school and are enrolled in college can return as a TI fellow.
“The goal is for students to use these tools so they can go out and use them in their own careers, whether it's here in the Navy Yard or not,” Alleyne says.
Taking on Leadership Opportunity with World’s Largest Baking Company
Al Fischer, senior director of supply chain services for Bimbo Bakeries USA, traveled to Niagara University in November to meet with Cameron Tinney, an NU senior majoring in supply chain management, about professional opportunities with the company. The week after Thanksgiving, Fischer phoned Tinney to present the Rochester native with an opportunity to participate in the company’s supply chain leadership and development program, an offer Tinney eagerly accepted.
BBU is part of Grupo Bimbo, the world’s largest baking company, with operations in 24 countries. The company offers its products under household brand names that include Arnold, Brownberry, Thomas, Entenmann’s, Sara Lee, and Stroehmann, among many others.
Commencing early in 2018, at which time Tinney will have graduated from NU, the rigorous two-year leadership program includes four six-month rotations that teach participants the various components of the supply chain operation at BBU: bakery, distribution/operations, transportation, and robotics automation.
Tinney credits his success, in large part, to the mentorship of NU faculty members – an area of distinction across the University as faculty hold students to high standards and often serve as mentors for their careers.
A graduate of Aquinas Institute, a college preparatory Catholic high school in Rochester, Tinney noted that he enrolled at Niagara University because its “supply chain program is the best in the state of New York.”
“I was also attracted to the small class sizes,” he added. “I visited other state schools, and hated the ‘lecture hall’ setting. As you begin to take classes in your major (at NU), you forge relationships with your professors. Those relationships are where you get value out of your education.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the field of supply-chain management to grow by 7 percent between 2016-2026.
“Cameron has the perfect combination of a strong work ethic, inquisitive mind, team-oriented mindset, technological background, and pleasant personality that will help him be very successful in whatever field he chooses to enter,” Dr. Victor Pimentel, member of the NU faculty, said. “Cameron always brings a sparkle to the room when he enters. He works hard and approaches all of life with passion. He is the perfect example of what an NU graduate looks like.”