College News  |  Long Read

They Answered the Call

by Angela Daidone  |  Winter 2021

When the news last year reported that Covid-19 had indeed been detected in the United States, it brought a sense of fear and uncertainty. However, many people set aside their anxiety and used their talents to help others in need and maintain some sense of normalcy in their lives. The Ramapo College community was among them. Here are a few stories:  

Alumna used her research skills

Kristen Pascal ’04 is among the research and development specialists working on Covid-19 research for Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, headquartered near Tarrytown, N.Y. Regeneron is just one of the companies now working to identify and reproduce large quantities of antibodies that could prevent or treat Covid-19.

Ramapo alumna doing research in the lab
Japanese lessons connected the community

Izumi Osawa-Minevich, Program Assistant for the Roukema Center for International Education, was among the College staff who kept the community connected this fall through virtual “events” via online portals and webinars. Izumi held a weekly Japanese language lesson, one of Ramapo’s Virtual Language Happy Hour offerings.

Izumi Osawa-Minevich teaching Japanese crafts virtually
Staff helped international students feel at home

Rajesh Adhikari, Associate Director of International Student and Scholar Services, was instrumental in securing a donation of Indian food for the 21 international students remaining in the residence halls. The food was donated by Alpana Shah, CEO of AMTRADE Inc. in NYC. Raj also helped in the distribution of the safely packaged food items. Said one student, “We really enjoyed the food. It was a nice treat. But most of all, we truly appreciated Raj’s effort to make us feel at home.”

Rajesh Adhikari and three students wearing masks showing the food that was collected
Ingenuity at work in the physics lab

Working from the College’s physics lab, Ihor Sydoryk, Engineering Physics Lab Coordinator, Kamil Starczak, Biology Lab Coordinator and Edward Saiff, dean of Ramapo’s School of Theoretical and Applied Science, continue to produce 3D-printed face shield components for protective masks for front-line health care workers. The collaborative project, of which Ramapo is a part, includes 45 schools and small and big businesses combining their efforts. The result was the creation of nearly 5,000 protective medical masks.

Physics Lab with 3D printer, printing face shields
Alumnus gave back

Cory Cannici ’10, owner of Evolve Training & The Parisi Speed School in Franklin Lakes, gives back to the community by offering free online fitness instruction for everyone. More than 1,100 Paterson Boys & Girls Club kids have been using the app to stay healthy during the quarantine.

Four photo collage of Cory Cannici '10 giving back to the community
Student business helped neighbors in need

As the Covid-19 pandemic changed the way many of us live right now, marketing major Joseph Giglio ’22 saw an opportunity to help. “I started this business just because I noticed an untapped service that people were so desperately in need of,” says Giglio about the launch of We Shop for You North Jersey, which provides personal shopping services to residents in North Jersey. Despite being furloughed from his part-time job, his entrepreneurial spirit was not the main reason he began the service. “My sole purpose for this service was doing a positive thing during this pandemic. The money isn’t a huge deal for me but I heard all these stories of people getting ripped off by other delivery services…and decided that something needed to be done.”

Joseph Giglio ’22 with shopping cart full of Trader Joe’s food bags
Faculty fashioned masks

Ramapo Associate Professor of Theater and Costume Design Beba Shamash used fabric from the costume studio on campus to sew masks for the essential workers who continue to do their jobs at the College on a daily basis. Her efforts were contagious. When staff members heard what she was doing, they also did some sewing, creating dozens of masks for the College’s on-campus personnel.

Professor Shamish seated at a sewing machine
Alumnus motivated to change gears

Abdulai Swaray ’17 kept busy during the early months of the pandemic quarantine. Besides finishing his Master Degree in Cyber Security at George Mason University, he taught himself how to sew and created face masks which he donated to friends and family, as well as to local nurses and police. Abdulai said he was motivated by a quote from Mother Teresa: “We are called to do small things with great love.”

Abdulai Swaray '17 holding face masks he made