Director Looks to Improve Campus Life, Increase Funding
By Victoria Manzo
This spring, Dr. Cheryl Craddock became the Associate Director of the Verrazano Honors School at CSI. She intends to enrich students’ college experiences with new ideas and enthusiasm.
With Katie Gerschwendt’s departure, Craddock is now the new advisor and mentor of 245 active Verrazano School students.
“What was compelling to me about Verrazano was working with a specific group of students and getting to know them,” said Craddock. “Right now, my only plans for Verrazano are not to break anything.”
Despite her claim, Craddock has a lot in mind for the program. After working for The Center for Advising and Academic Success as an advisor for the last three years, she brings a great deal of experience to the table.
She went to New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico and obtained degrees in Biology and English.
As the Associate Director of Verrazano, she stresses to provide an environment where it’s easy to become engaged and have fun.
“I had a great time in college and I want students to have as good an experience as I did,” Craddock expressed. “Verrazano offers me that chance, to help develop enriched experiences for students.”
Undergraduates in the program must complete ten hours of community service and attend two Verrazano Extracurricular Learning Activities (VELA) every year. According to the Verrazano School’s website, “VELA events enrich the undergraduate experience through academic, social, and cultureal learning opportunities outside the classroom.”
Craddock hopes to have students collaborate to design and run their own VELA events. She also plans to have VELA events featuring food.
Craddock has begun sending routine emails to her students about opportunities for community service, internships, jobs, and other programs, hoping to open their minds to new ideas. She often includes jokes in her emails, aspiring to make her students feel happy and comfortable.
“I am a playful person. I think it’s important not to confuse being serious about what you do, and being serious,” said Craddock. “If I make everyone laugh, that will be good.”
She is looking to get students more involved in campus life and find more funding for the Verrazano program, realizing that in a commuter school this is often a difficulty.
Her idea is to organize an event in which students team up to break a Guinness World Record on campus, noticing that the world’s largest game of Ninja has yet to be documented.
Gerschwendt’s departure left Verrazano with many concerns about the future, including who would step in and what that person would change. Cynthia Palumbo, Verrazano’s office assistant, didn’t know who she’d be working with or what to expect.
“I was anxious when Katie announced that she was leaving. You worry about work dynamics and the program itself,” said Palumbo, “but it’s been nice, a really smooth transition.”
Craddock and Palumbo are now working closely together to familiarize themselves with a new computer database that condenses student files, allowing them to access information quickly and efficiently.
With registration for the fall semester quickly approaching, Craddock will be busy advising and attending to many responsibilities in her new role. Despite this, her door remains wide open.
“I get so much energy from working with students that are so bright, capable, and funny,” said Craddock. “I get to live vicariously and absorb everyone’s enthusiasm. I’m so happy to be here, so thrilled.”