Getting to Know: Dr. Madigan Fichter

Dr. Madigan FichterA new Assistant Professor teaching History in the School of Arts and Sciences, Madigan Fichter, PhD brings vast knowledge about Eastern Europe and the Balkans to the classroom. She sat down with Holy Family University to discuss her background, her struggles with the foreign research archives, and her current taste in music.

HFU: Can you tell me about your background and what brought you to Holy Family University?

MF: “I received my PhD from New York University in History. I specialize in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. I specifically work on the socialist period and I write about 60s counter culture and student protest movements in the Balkans during that time.”

HFU: What sparked your interest in that particular region?

MF: “My interest was first peaked after watching this crazy counter culture movie from the 70s that was made in Yugoslavia. I was really fascinated by the idea that there would be counter culture and student protest movements in the socialist world, not only in the west. The stereotype is that students in Chicago or Paris, including the May 1968 incident in Paris, are the big iconic moments of the global 60s. But this was also happening in the socialist world.”

HFU: Besides studying this era of history, are there any additional areas of history that fascinate you?

MF: “The Balkans is my area of specialization. Generally speaking, I think of myself as somebody who works on Europe, who thinks about Europe in the world. I like to think I study Europe at its largest extent.”

HFU: Students today are used to a fast-paced high-tech learning experience. How can you incorporate some of that into your lessons about history?

MF: “Something I think is really essential to what I do in the classroom is use technology. Sometimes we will watch a small clip of a documentary that will show us the architecture of an Aztec city. Sometimes it’s a whole film. In the course I am currently teaching on social movements, we are watching a film about the Algerian War in the 50s and 60s. The movie itself is a historical source, but it is also a way to have a visual representation of what history looked like. I sometimes try to incorporate music and I try to bring in a lot of primary source documents as something to get a discussion going. These give us more of an inside look of what it meant to be from that period.”

HFU: You’re currently working on a book manuscript titled Balkan Underground: Counterculture and Student Rebellion in Southeastern Europe, 1965-1975. What can you tell me about it?

MF: “My big goal for the summer is to try and hammer out a pretty solid draft to get a book contract going. It’s about the counter culture and student activism in the 1960s. One of the big ideas I’m interested in is trying to use this as a way to argue that the Balkans isn’t this weird outlier that doesn’t quite fit in to Europe—that is somehow out of the normal flow of history. The usual way of perceiving the Balkans is that it’s a bunch of crazy people who want to kill each other and don’t know anything else. However, we see that they are sophisticated counter cultures that are every bit engaged in the world as anyone else. I’m trying to show that the Balkans are part of the world, part of history, and that they’re an important part of European history. The west is not the only way that we can understand counter culture. I’m trying to decentralize the west as the gold standard for how we understand student protest in the 1960s.”

HFU: With such a fascination in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Romania. and Yugoslavia, have you ever had a chance to travel to these locations and what was that experience like?

MF: “I’ve spent a considerable amount of time doing research in the Balkans. It’s always exciting and challenging. They’re not always the easiest countries to do archival research in—for example, ex-socialist secret police archives are not the most straight forward to use. But I also did a lot of oral history, which meant that I went and interviewed a lot of former student protestors. It’s something that I find truly fascinating. At the end of the day, the stories that you find while tracking down documents and finding the right people to talk to is the thing that keeps me excited about what I’m doing.

HFU: Outside of the classroom, what are some of your hobbies?

MF: “I’d say that I am a pretty passionate music fan. I love music. I’m a very big blues fan, so I like the old blues guys. I’ve been on a Billie Holiday kick, so I guess I have some interest in jazz as well. I am very into film, and there is a film festival happening right now that I wish I was at because it combines all of my interests. It is about films from the jazz age, so it would be really cool to check that out if I have the time.”

Carbone’s Passion For Science Burns Bright

Chris Carbone - Holy Family UniversityDr. Chris Carbone commands the attention of his students with a delicate balance between entertainment and knowledge. Teaching is clearly in his blood—but what students may not know is that teaching is also in his lineage. After years of watching his grandfather teach science in the Camden School District in New Jersey, Carbone caught the teaching bug and now uses his passion to educate students at Holy Family University.

“Teaching was more of a culminating experience,” Carbone said as he relaxed in his seat inside of his office. “My grandfather was a science teacher over in Camden. He got me involved very early. I always had a very inquisitive nature and he sort of inflamed that passion. It was more of an influence from him. It started very early in grade school, progressed through high school, and eventually translated into college. I was always fascinated by him.”

Now in his second year at Holy Family University, Carbone teaches classes in Anatomy and Physiology, Cell Biology, Genetics, Immunology, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, and Topics in Scientific Laboratory Research. According to Carbone, his specialty is in basic scientific research and medical biology, two of his favorite areas to bring together.

“I’m primarily a scientific basic researcher, but I also have experience in the medical field,” he said. “I like to combine both the medical profession and basic science research into what I teach to give the students a more well-rounded approach to learning the material.”

With a subject matter as complex and robust as the sciences, Carbone believes that student comprehension and engagement are some of his biggest hurdles facing individuals learning the subject. To combat that, Carbone uses a mixture of entertainment, real-world examples, and key subject terms to make the material stick.

“I kind of give the students a head-fake,” he said. “I like to have fun in the classroom and keep the students entertained, while at the same time, you’re still learning. I like to provide practical, real time examples that take the concepts in the book and relate them to the students personally. I try to break concepts down into the simplest possible form in order for the students to understand them. But first and foremost, you have to keep them entertained.”

As the field of science continues to move in a dynamic path, keeping up-to-date with the most pertinent information is critical to comprehension. Carbone is always looking for ways to discover new information and then relay that to his students in a matter in which they’d understand.

“I’m always looking at primary literature, things in the news to update and improve my lectures every semester,” Carbone said. “I go through and update things that are practical in the news in terms of basic science. I read primary literature to see what new and cutting-edge resources and clinical trials are out there. I’m always trying to discover new and current items that are coming out and then relate them back to the basic scientific principles to show them that what they are learning is practical.”

Students in Carbone’s class receive the necessary information to not only understand the material, but also thrive in an ever-changing field, all in an attempt to light the fire inside of them like Carbone’s grandfather had previously done for him.

“The true test of a good teacher is not the number of questions I ask my students that they can answer, but how many questions I can inspire them to ask me that demonstrates they applied critical thinking skills to the subject material,” he said. “I will work as hard as I possible can to ensure the students get what they need out of my class.”

Andrea Green Teaches Tolerance During Presentation on April 7

Andrea GreenAndrea Green, an award-winning musician, music therapist, composer/playwright, and director of children's musicals will host a public presentation on the topic of using the arts as a vehicle for teaching tolerance, on April 7. The event is sponsored by Holy Family University, in conjunction with the School of Education.

According to Green, “At some point in our lives, many of us have experienced being 'on the other side of the fence.' We may have felt excluded for being different. My work as a music therapist and composer/playwright has the unique ability to entertain, as well as to bring people together with empathy, understanding, acceptance, and respect. I invite you to view On the Other Side of the Fence and learn about my approach to teaching tolerance. I will also performs songs about inclusion, hoping to inspire you to make connections and do your part to help ‘take the fence away.’”

The two-hour presentation will take place in the ETC Auditorium from 7-9 pm.

“Holy Family University and the School of Education are thrilled to welcome Andrea Green,” said Kevin Zook, Dean of the School of Education. “Andrea has a long history of using music to help bring children together, and our education students will have the opportunity to learn from her philosophy and utilization of music and the arts to create classrooms of friendship and acceptance. Andrea has received numerous accolades for her children's musicals, and we are delighted to have an educator of her stature on our campus to share insights with our students, faculty, and friends from the community. Her message of hope and friendship through music will be powerful and inspiring.”

Green, a Philadelphia native, enjoys national acclaim for creating nine classic Broadway-style children's musicals focusing on inclusiveness, providing a uniquely supportive framework that offers every child of every ability level an important part to play, and delivering heartfelt messages of acceptance. Green and her musical have also won the 2015 Mid-Atlantic Emmy Award for best documentary.

For more information about Andrea Green, visit her website,

To register for the event, please click here.

Non-Traditional Student Finds Traditional Path to Success

Adam Lee Price - Holy Family University Class of 2016“I’m going to take over my destiny. There is no stopping me.”

          -       Adam Lee Price 

Adam Lee Price isn’t a traditional student. At 36 years old, the writer, filmmaker, and horror buff has found himself on a winding educational journey. A Pennsylvania-college journeyman, Price now finds his success in the halls of Holy Family University, proving that it’s never too late for a second chance.

After attending and subsequently leaving multiple colleges throughout Pennsylvania and Florida because they weren’t the right fit, Price, a communications major, put his education on the backburner, instead focusing on other passions.

“I really wanted to do film and acting,” Price said. “I did a semester in New York where I shot a movie. I really liked it. I took some time off to act and model, and I was moderately successful.”

After multiple attempts to finish his education that never materialized, Price was left feeling dejected and unsure of where his future would take him.

“I gave up on school,” he said.

However, on his mother’s advice, he decided to enter the working world, using his abilities for good, rather then sit around, waiting for his next opportunity.

“I started bartending and I liked it,” he said. “I was good at it. Then it escalated to me running these bars and nightclubs and making them better.”

Price’s successful track record as a manager and brand rejuvenator spanned throughout multiple popular downtown Philadelphia bars. Combining what he briefly learned in the classroom with what he had taught himself, Price used social media, promotional tactics, and marketing to breathe new life into these bars.

However, the experience left Price searching for his identity.

“I was 29 when I was really getting into it and I gave it up at 32,” he said. “I had no clue who I was anymore, except for the bar scene. I forgot that I could even write. I couldn’t let that happen. I’ve been up and down so many times, and now I forgot what I wanted to do.”

Price took a four-month hiatus where he was able to reevaluate where he was at professionally. He took a job as a foreman at his brother’s construction company and worked in a warehouse with his uncle before deciding to give his education a final shot.

“Finally, after 10 years, I realized that I wanted to go back and I wanted my undergraduate degree, a masters degree, and a PhD. I want to teach and make movies. For a while, I forgot what I wanted to do. You get stuck in the world and that’s it.”

Holy Family University presented itself as an excellent opportunity for Price to get back into the swing of things academically.

“I wanted to go back to school but I didn’t know what direction I was heading in,” he said. “Holy Family was very close to me. I knew they were good for education. Like I said before, I wanted to teach. Even though I’m a writer and I want to make movies, I still want to teach. I’ve been to the biggest, smallest, most exclusive, and religious institutions. I have been everywhere, but I would recommend Holy Family University to anybody.”

When deciding to attend Holy Family, a strong internship program was a must. After getting his feet wet and taking some classes, Price wanted to have the opportunity to do a co-op. He set his sights high, applying to top broadcast companies such as NBC, CBS, and ABC.

“An internship is a backdoor to get into a company,” he said. “I shot for the highest ones. NBC was where I really wanted to be because of Saturday Night Live!—I would love to write for them.”

One of the places that Price wanted to intern at was FANGORIA, a monthly magazine focusing on all things horror. Price, a horror connoisseur and a fan of the magazine since its inception, wanted to be a part of its staff and was determined to make it happen. After a chance encounter on LinkedIn with Cydney Neil, Owner of Rocky Point Haunted House and fellow horror enthusiast, Price was able to get a foot inside the door.

“Cydney was best friends with Tony Timpone, who was the Editor-and-Chief of FANGORIA for 20 years and is now Editor Emeritus,” Price said. “She got me in, and I couldn’t believe it. Push comes to shove; the school helped me connect with this magazine through its co-op program.”

As an intern with FANGORIA, Price has had the opportunity to travel to New York City and interview actors and directors, among other interesting horror pieces.

“I work at FANGORIA because of Holy Family,” Price said. “An internship was a required part of my degree, and that motivated me to seek out an opportunity that I was passionate about. I have read the magazine since I was 13 years old. I’m working with people that I’ve been reading since I was a kid. I interviewed film director Sean Cunningham and I met director West Craven before he died. I’ve been published multiple times through the magazine. It all started here.”

Looking back on his journey, Price knows that Holy Family University was an important piece of his educational puzzle.

“Doors have opened for me because of this school, because of the interactions I’ve had with professors, staff, and faculty,” he said. “Holy Family has surpassed my expectations. Certain people here have really guided me and took the extra time with me. I’m lucky enough to have people who really cared about my success.”

Student and Faculty Present Research During Educational Research Forum

Holy Family University doctoral candidates will present their dissertation research during the Educational Research Forum on Monday, May 2, at 5 pm in the ETC Auditorium. Holy Family faculty will also present their unique research projects. The forum is sponsored by the School of Education.

Dianna Sand | Doctoral Student

Research Title: An Examination of Postsecondary Faculty and the Extent of Critical Reading Taught in 100-Level Introductory Biology and American History Courses in Publicly Funded Two-Year and Four-Year Pennsylvania Institutions

The purpose of this study was to determine to what extent postsecondary faculty teach critical reading in specific 100-level introductory disciplinary courses and to identify significant differences between and among part-time and full-time faculty at two- and four-year institutions in Pennsylvania. This research examined the responses of postsecondary faculty on a critical reading inventory. Full-time and part-time faculty from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and Pennsylvania community colleges participated in this study; faculty taught 100-level introductory biology or American history. The researcher conducted multiple regression analyses using a hierarchical method. Predictor variables included institution type, faculty status, and disciplinary area; criterion variables included the sub-scales of the critical reading inventory. In the field of postsecondary reading, this study helped to establish baseline knowledge of the present extent of critical reading expectations, strategies, and instructional support in postsecondary 100-level introductory courses in two different academic content areas.

Brian Caughie | Doctoral Student

Research Title: The Perceived Impact of the Layered Curriculum Model on Student Engagement

Students at risk of dropping out often cite a lack of engagement in classes as a factor contributing to disconnectedness in school. This study explored the perceived impact of the Layered Curriculum instructional model on student engagement. The participants were secondary teachers implementing Layered Curriculum and their students. The study consisted of two individual case studies and a cross-case analysis. The perceived best practices that teacher participants followed included: setting clear expectations related to the model, decreasing student stress associated with the model, providing meaningful feedback to students, planning independent student work time, and offering assignment choices that attend to diverse learning styles. Participants perceived that the following factors related to Layered Curriculum positively impacted students’ levels of engagement: assignment choice, meaningful homework, and individual attention from teacher. Finally, participants perceived that the following factors related to Layered Curriculum positively impacted students’ performance: clear expectations, assignment choice, student accountability for learning, and feedback from teachers.   

Carol Braunsar | Doctoral Student

Research Title: Fifth and Sixth-Grade Students’ Motivation to Read and Parent or Guardian Involvement

This correlational research study examined how parent or guardian involvement through modeling and social interaction related to fifth and sixth grade students’ motivation to read. Students were surveyed using the Motivation to Read Profile-Revised (MRP-R) by Malloy, Marinak, Gambrell, and Mazzoni (2013), and parents and guardians were surveyed using a researcher-generated involvement survey that mirrored questions featured on the MRP-R. A two-tailed Pearson product-moment coefficient was calculated for each of the correlations under examination. The results of the study revealed that parent or guardian involvement is one variable that is positively related to fifth and sixth grade students’ reading motivation.

Sandra Molden | Doctoral Student

Research Title: Teacher and Parent Perceptions and Preferences Regarding Effective School to Home Communication

Perceptions and preferences of teachers and parents were investigated to understand school-to-home communication. Data were gathered using surveys specifically focusing on the frequency of communication between teachers and parents, modes, field, and tenor of effective school-to-home communication. The study found that teachers and parents were largely in agreement in their perceptions about the importance and value of school-to-home communications. Teachers and parents believe that effective home-to-school communication helps them work together as a team to improve student learning.

Ellie Ingbritsen | Doctoral Student

Research Title: The Impact of Response to Intervention (RtI) on Referrals for Special Education Services in Secondary Schools

Adolescents with literacy deficits struggle academically, socially, and emotionally in secondary settings. However, intervention strategies for students in this setting often result in labeling and exclusion. This study examined how the use of RtI in secondary schools affects the number of secondary students diagnosed with specific learning disabilities. The purpose of the study was to document if Response to Intervention as an early intervening tool is implemented in New Jersey public schools in grades 6-12 and to determine the impact of RtI in these settings as it relates to special education services referrals.

Dr. Roger Gee | Professor, School of Education

Research Title: A Corpus-based Study: Frequency Levels of the Defining Vocabulary Found in Five Online Dictionaries

This study examined the defining vocabulary found in five online dictionaries that were used for target words in the three to five thousand word frequency bands. The target words used for this study come from the 100,000 Word Frequency list developed by Davies (2013). The defining vocabulary corpus was analyzed using AntWordProfiler, once with a reference list of word forms and again with a reference list of word families. A third analysis using lemmas was done with Text Lex Compare. Contrary to what might logically be expected, it was found that a substantial proportion of the defining vocabulary was less frequent than the target words. Assuming that more frequent words are known before less frequent words, this result suggests that the online dictionaries used in this study may not allow for unassisted use by upper intermediate and even many advanced English language students.

Recipe Madness Takes Over Dining Hall on March 14

chefworkingWe’ve all had that moment of food euphoria after laboring over a particular dish—making sure the seasoning is just right—before you give it a taste. The flavors fill your mouth and stomach with a sense of joy. Whether you kicked it up a notch like Emeril Lagasse or took a minimalist approach to your cuisine, now is your chance to share your crave-worthy recipe with the Holy Family community.

Beginning March 14, Holy Family University and Parkhurst Dining will be running “Recipe Madness,” a bracket-based recipe competition.

“The idea behind ‘Recipe Madness’ is to have a competition similar to the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament,” said George Gaines, General Manager of Dining Services. “Students will submit recipes and the first 16 we receive will be placed on the bracket board. Once the brackets are set, Parkhurst Dining will have voting slips for students to select their favorite dish. The recipes that make it to the Elite Eight, Final Four, and Championship rounds will be prepared by Parkhurst Chefs and will be available for sampling. Students will decide the Champion and runner-up, and both will receive a gift card to the University Book Store.”

The final two recipes will also be added into the Parkhurt meal offerings in the Tiger Café.

In its second year of competition, the goal is to take all the recipes submitted and turn them into a Holy Family University cookbook, with proceeds being spread to various clubs and organizations throughout campus, according to Gaines.  

Interested students can submit their recipe to George Gaines (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Vedia Ozkan (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). All recipes must include cooking instructions and a list of ingredients.

Tigers Claim CACC Championship—Host NCAA Division II East Regional

Holy Family Tigers - 2016 CACC Champions - NCAA Division IIThe Holy Family University men's basketball team received the number one seed in the upcoming NCAA Division II Men's Basketball East Regional and will host the eight-team tournament at the Campus Center Gymnasium beginning Saturday, March 12. 
Holy Family, fresh off its first Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Championship, already qualified for the NCAA Tournament after receiving the conference's automatic qualifying bid. The Tigers defeated cross-town rival Philadelphia University, 87-68, to claim this year's title.
This will mark the second trip to the NCAA Tournament for the Tigers and the first since 2008. Holy Family lost to Assumption College, 74-66, in an overtime thriller in its lone appearance.
Holy Family will face Northeast-10 Conference champion and eighth seed Southern New Hampshire University in the first round on Saturday. The winner will advance and face either #4 Stonehill College or #5 Bentley University in the second round on Sunday, March 13.
The other side of the bracket features #2 Saint Anselm College versus #7 Philadelphia University and #3 Southern Connecticut State University vs. #6 St. Thomas Aquinas College.
More information, including game times and ticket information, on the East Regional will be available in the upcoming days.
NCAA Division II East Region Tournament Pairings
1. Holy Family (26-5)
2. Saint Anselm (21-7)
3. So. Connecticut (22-7)
4. Stonehill (21-8)
5. Bentley (21-8)
6. St. Thomas Aquinas (26-4)
7. Philadelphia (23-8)
8. So. New Hampshire (22-10)

The original article publicizing this event can be accessed by clicking here, or by visiting Holy Family University Athletics.

Students Will Crave Literature and Movies—Not Brains—in New Zombie Class

Zombies ClassDr. Robert Ficociello was only half joking when he listed the zombie apocalypse as a natural disaster that the United States wouldn’t be able to stop. After sifting through literature for a journal proposal, the topic of zombies started to become more and more prevalent, showing up in popular books, television shows, and movies. Now, Ficociello is bringing his knowledge of the undead to the classroom, where he will teach Zombie Literature, Film, & TV in the fall.

Ficociello sat down with Holy Family University to discuss his background in Marine Biology, how the zombie narrative intrigued him, and the parallel he sees between zombies and today’s society.

HFU: You have an interesting background. You originally earned your degree in Marine Biology before receiving your MFA in Creative Writing. How did you end up as a professor at Holy Family University?

RF: “I ended up working as a chemist and did a lot of environmental science, analytical chemistry, and organic chemistry. It just wasn’t floating my boat, so to speak. I started doing more reading, including Jack Kerouac’s novel On The Road and thought about travel and travel writing. At the time, I couldn’t do a lot of travel, but I could do a lot of reading, which led me to start writing. I ended up showing my work to someone, and she said, ‘You know, Robert, they have schools for this.’ It was either a compliment or an insult. I choose the compliment because it told me that maybe I had some potential. I managed to get a few things published in small and obscure journals. As a country music song would go, I sold my house, left my woman, left my dog, and moved to New Orleans to go to school. While I was there, I realized I wasn’t going to be a blockbuster novel writer. I really enjoyed teaching though. I applied to schools for a PhD, and I ended up going to SUNY Albany because it was close to where I grew up in Massachusetts.”

HFU: What are some of your favorite areas of literature to explore?

RF: “I completed my dissertation on war literature. I like to look at American literature in the 20th and 21st century. A former colleague of mine, Robert Bell, at Loyola New Orleans is working with me on a book about natural disasters and how they’re represented in the media. This is where the zombie motif fits in. There is a claim that capitalism in America will always have a solution to these natural disaster problems. But what are the ones that are beyond what capitalism can reconstruct? One of them is global warming—eventually it is going to reach a point where we cannot fix it. The zombie apocalypse is another—whereas we won’t just be able to go out and buy stuff to survive that type of event. Traditional commerce won’t exist. Of course it’s hypothetical, but that’s where the zombie research fits into that.”

HFU: How did you come up with the idea for a class about zombies in popular media?

RF: “I got there in a really silly way. I go to the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Conference annually. Once I moved away from New Orleans, Robert and I were trying to find a way to keep in touch and exchange ideas. We decided that we would go to this conference. While we were there, a publisher was taking proposals for journals. We went back to our rooms and discussed how we could come up with a new journal. We went through the publishers catalog and did the research, and there was nothing for how natural disasters were represented in the media. The title of the journal was “Disaster Culture.” They loved the proposal, but it was taking too long, so we did a book proposal instead. We had success in getting some contracts for that work. Robert and I have an argument where I argue that business will survive…he’s a Marxist, so he wants capitalism to crumble sooner or later. I think capitalism is much more resilient, to a fault sometimes, where it can adapt to certain types of things such as wars and smaller natural disasters. Zombies were a part of that discussion.”

HFU: What are some of the main principals students will learn in the Zombie Literature, Film, & TV course?

RF: “I think the essence is learning how to read popular culture—it just happens to be about zombies. It’ll teach them to really analyze TV, become better equipped to analyze film, and study popular literature as well.”

HFU: What are some of the popular works you’ll be exploring throughout the semester, and how did you select these items amidst the plethora of zombie-related material?

RF: “Believe me, I’m no expert yet on zombie material, but I’ve deeply analyzed a number of zombie things. We’ll take a look at the book World War Z. I think most people have seen the movie, but not read the book. We’ll also take a look at The Walking Dead graphic novel series, and read the book Warm Bodies, which was also a popular film. To me, it’s a middle ground between familiarity and seeing where the roots of these items came from.”

HFU: Are you a perpetual zombie fan, and if not, how much reading up on the subject have you done to be able to teach a course about the brain-eating living dead?

RF: “When we started the project I really started looking at The Walking Dead series. It was around season two when I got interested in it, and I’m hooked on it now. Z Nation is another TV show that I follow and the classic George Romero film, Night of the Living Dead, which started a lot of the zombie pop culture. My assumption is that there may be students in the class who have read more zombie material then I have.”

HFU: Has the pop culture phenomenon surrounding zombies been something that our population has always been interested in, or is this a new fascination that is sweeping us up before the new one comes along?

RF: “Zombies have gotten really complex as of late, and humor has been another aspect that has been injected into it. A book like Warm Bodies or the TV show Z Nation has an ironic element to it. We’re also going to look at the movie Zombieland, and that’s from the late 2000s, so the irony and humor is already starting. To me, it’s kind of a natural progression away from the trend. The big questions are ‘Why zombies?’ and ‘Why now?’ Vampires had their day and alien movies are a popular subject. To me, it’s really an extension or hyperbole from American culture about why we like to watch zombies. If you look at when class is let out, everyone grabs their cellphones and walks around like a zombie. The same thing is true with consumerism. If you see videos on Black Friday, it looks like a hoard of zombies going in and trying to get that one warm body, except this time it’s a plasma TV they’re after. Often times with these trends I see a parallel of actual behavior that gets exaggerated in popular culture. That’s the end point to the question, ‘Are we already zombies?’”

March Art Gallery: “A Unified Thread”

March 2016 Art Gallery - A Unified ThreadHoly Family University Art Gallery Presents “A Unified Thread”

Exhibit Dates: March 4 – April 3, 2016

Artist Talk and Reception: Tuesday, March 22, 2016 from 3 pm – 5 pm in the ETC Lower Lobby.

Laura Dobrota will present her work, “A Unified Thread,” on Friday, March 4 as Holy Family University’s March Art Gallery. On Tuesday, March 22, 2016 from 3 pm – 5 pm, Dobrota will be at Holy Family University to speak about her work and its themes.

“A Unified Thread” is a mixed media exhibition created by Dobrota, featuring drawings, sculptures, and fiber art. For additional information, please contact Pamela Flynn, Art Gallery Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

About Laura Dobrota

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Dobrota received her BFA at the University of Cincinnati and received her MFA at Ohio University. In this exhibition, Dobrota invites a rediscovery of our world through unexpected ways. Through mixed media works, this series embodies the physical, as well as the metaphysical associations of birds’ nests. Personalizing and recreating these nests into a synthetic archive, Dobrota uses the nest as a subject within a representational sense, but with a unique poetic language. Her work can also be viewed at

The event will take place at Holy Family University’s Education Technology Center (ETC) in the lobby and art gallery. Parking is available to all in the Campus Center parking lot in the visitor section without restriction.


From the ICU to HFU—Kersey-Matusiak Teaches Pennsylvania’s Newest Nurses


Gloria Kersey-Matusiak“Why are you here? Why nursing?”

Dr. Gloria Kersey-Matusiak raises these two fundamental questions in her first class to a group of bright-eyed new nursing students, looking to turn their education into a blissful career.

These two questions shaped Kersey-Matusiak’s journey from nurse to educator.

Kersey-Matusiak, a nurse for 46 years, has worked in top Philadelphia-based hospitals such as Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Philadelphia General Hospital. Her many years of experience as a nurse have shaped her philosophy on educating the newest nurses looking to break into the field.

“I expect my students to seriously reflect and discuss what is expected of a nurse in today’s world,” Kersey-Matusiak said. “I try hard to de-romanticize their concept of a nurse and instill reality to the students about the demands of the job. I explain from a personal perspective the intrinsic rewards and gratification, but I stress that one needs to want to be a nurse. It can’t be someone else’s decision.”

Kersey-Matusiak made her own decision to become a nurse after working as a candy striper volunteer at Inglis House in Philadelphia. The Inglis House allows individuals with severe disabilities to live independently within the facility. As a volunteer, the experience made Kersey-Matusiak want to pursue nursing even more.

“While in high school, I had been encouraged by a classmate to visit ‘The Home For Incurables,’ where some of my teenaged classmates were serving as volunteers,” Kersey-Matusiak said. “At 16 years old, I went purely out of curiosity, wondering just who ‘incurables’ were. Once entering the facility, I saw numerous individuals with physical disabilities. All were transporting themselves in wheelchairs through what looked like a mini-city. I learned so much about caring there. I learned that the individuals who lived there were born with disabilities but were not handicapped by them. I met a concert level pianist who had severe rheumatoid arthritis that disabled use of all but two fingers, with which he played the most beautiful Chopin melodies.”

The experience left a lasting impression on Kersey-Matusiak, who returned to Inglis House after she became a Registered Nurse.

“I came back to Inglis House as a Registered Nurse several years later and continued to learn from these heroes that being disabled is often more a state of mind then a physical or mental impairment,” she said. “My memory of this place and the residents has inspired me throughout my life to do my best with whatever God-given abilities and talents I may have.”

As a nurse, working in the intensive care unit can change perception of the profession. As a caretaker who only wanted to provide the highest quality care to her patients, she took it upon herself to make sure new nurses were devout to the same principals. To do that, Kersey-Matusiak completed additional years of education and now teaches a plethora of courses in the School of Nursing and Allied Health Professions at Holy Family University.

“My desire to teach came about as I worked as an intensive care nurse with patients who were critically ill and recognized that not all nurses practiced ‘caring’ in the way that really placed the patient at the center,” she said. “Sometimes care was even without real regard for the patient’s needs. Others who shared my feelings became frustrated, as we had no power over those nurses, no power to influence or change their behavior or attitude. I decided that where one has a great deal of influence over nurses’ thinking is in the classroom. I hope I continue to influence nurses in positive ways that ultimately make positive differences in their patients’ lives.”

Kersey-Matusiak has taught Nurse Educator Role and Advanced Clinical Practice; Culture and Health; Global Health; Pathophysiology; Medical Surgical Nursing; Introduction to Professional Nursing; and Transition to Clinical Practice. In her courses, the concept of diversity is one that is weaved throughout the curriculum.

“I emphasize the need for students to be prepared to communicate with patients for whom English may be a second language,” she said. “I warn them during the course that they must also factor in the patients’ cultural values and beliefs to provide care that is meaningful to them. In teaching all of my classes, I try to foster an appreciation of the health care disparities that exist between groups of people in the United States and the need for nurses to involve themselves as the greatest collective of healthcare professionals to address these disparities. When teaching at the RN-BSN level, I go beyond that to discuss global health, but to also encourage the development of cultural competency in all nurses."

Using her own textbook, Delivering Cultural Competency for Nurses, Kersey-Matusiak has developed a model for first-time nurses to perform a self-assessment to monitor ways in which nurses can make an impact in reducing health care disparities and other barriers to quality health care. Named the Staircase Model of Cultural Competency, the assessment helps students to reaffirm their answers to the question, “why are you here, why nursing?”