Morristown, N.J. (December 6, 2015) – The Mother Xavier Award was given to Dr. Antoinette Anastasia, class of 1951, during the Founder's Day celebration and luncheon on December 6, 2015 in Annunciation Center.
The Mother Xavier Award, named for the founder of the College of Saint Elizabeth, Mother Mary Xavier Mehagan, is given to an alumna who has best exemplified the values of the College in her life and has walked a similar path of the founder with vision, faith and courage. This award is the most prestigious award conferred to alumnae.
Antoinette M. Anastasia, or Ann to her friends, graduated in 1951 with a degree in biology. She began her career as a research assistant, first at Schering Plough and then with Merck & Company. She taught human anatomy and physiology at a local hospital's school of nursing.
Antoinette earned her M.A. and Ed.D. from Columbia University and was the only female in many of her graduate classes. She was recommended by one of her classmates for a position at Fairleigh Dickinson University where she continues to teach the sciences today.
At Fairleigh, she developed the undergraduate and graduate programs in biology, chaired the biology department and was the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Additionally, she was the associate director and is now director of advising for the School of Natural Sciences. Her students recognized her as Outstanding Teacher of the Year and the university awarded her the Presidential Citation for her excellence in teaching.
Sister Rosemary Moynihan, S.C. '67, board chair and general superior of the Sisters of Charity, talked about Antoinette as the recipient of this award. Quoting from St. Vincent de Paul, she said, "Charity, known as love, is the cement that binds persons to God and us to one another. CSE is built with that symbolic cement and Antoinette has the passion to spread the love of God through her actions." Sr. Rosemary continued: "She has earned the respect of her students and she has been an avid supporter of CSE as an alumna. We are grateful for her."
Dr. Helen Streubert, president of CSE, also offered words of praise. "Dr. Anastasia has a lifetime of accomplishments and has not only contributed to CSE, but to her students and society."
Upon accepting her award, Dr. Anastasia spent some time regaling the attendees with stories of her time on campus, when according to her, "We called it St. E's, not CSE!"
Her walk down memory lane elicited several outbursts of laughter as she recounted how different things are and remembers with clarity her very first day on campus.
"My 'big sister', a junior, was waiting for me at the top of the stairs when I arrived," she recalls. "I was then informed that there were not enough beds to house all of the resident students. Fortunately, my room was big enough to house four. I was the only one of the four that came back the following year."
She also remembered the faculty and how caring they were for the students.
"That is what makes CSE so special," she says. "The faculty had very high standards and demanded our very best, but all along, you knew that they cared about you as a person. That is the reason for my success."