Alumni Interview Series
Actions, Not Words: Our Voices, Our Paths
Rosemont College is blessed with a mission and values that are rooted in the life and teachings of Cornelia Connelly and exemplified by the Society of the Holy Child Jesus. For more than 100 years, Rosemont has fostered a joyous learning community, inspiring students, faculty, staff, and alumni to serve others to meet the wants and needs of the age.
As part of our Centennial year of celebration, we spoke with nine accomplished and diverse alumni who shared their personal stories of how Rosemont College’s mission and values have shaped their chosen path in life. Please join us in listening to their reflections about Rosemont’s spirit, how they felt seen and heard in a learning community where professors fostered independent thinking and personal growth, and what it has meant to be part of a caring and supportive community imbued with respect for each person while building friendships that have endured long after graduation.
Note that the following interviews were recorded via Zoom during the Centennial year.
Winifred Wolfe, MD '12
- 2012: BS Biology (Major), Biochemistry (Minor), Undergraduate College
- 2017: MD Drexel University College of Medicine
- Psychiatry Resident, University of Virginia
- Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellow, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
Winnie Wolfe notes that the more she learned about Rosemont, the more she knew that it was the place she needed to be and where she belonged. She felt very well-prepared for medical school, reflecting on a collaborative environment, rigor in classes, and excellence in teaching. For Wolfe, Rosemont was very welcoming of all faiths and backgrounds, and fostered a curiosity to learn about who people are and what they value.
“We were able to learn from each other. And I think that kind of positive and collaborative environment made the learning space a positive experience and helped with overcoming certain challenges.”
Waynette Faust '12
- 2012: BS Philosophy and Political Science, Undergraduate College
- 2021: MS Nonprofit Leadership, LaSalle University
- Benefits Analyst, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP
Waynetta Faust knew from her campus tour that Rosemont’s family-like and inclusive environment were evident, that this was the place for her. Joy in learning for Faust meant not only her own learning but sharing that joy through tutoring in Tanzania as part of Rosemont’s Campus Ministry and working in service in two programs that supported middle school students and adults who are homeless in Philadelphia.
“Being among a community of learners helped me to step outside my comfort zone, especially when deciding which courses to take. And for me, being at Rosemont meant a constant cycle of not only learning for myself but also supporting others in their journey of learning.”
Shakira Hansley '11
- 2011: BS Forensic Sociology (Major) and Spanish (Minor), Undergraduate College
- 2017: JD University of the District of Columbia – The David A. Clarke School of Law
- Case Supervisor, CASA Youth Advocates, Inc.
For Shakira Hansley, Rosemont may be small, but it’s definitely powerful as well. The environment was one where she could develop her strengths, notably connecting with people. Her professors fostered joy in learning through their excitement for teaching, their passion for their field, and their love of learning that spilled over to students. Hansley learned that the heart and soul of Catholicism is service, which she lives out everyday as an advocate for children.
“To me, human rights is synonymous with human dignity, and justice means righteousness, equity, being unbiased, and treating everyone with respect.”
Raveen James '08
- 2008: BS Business Management, School of Graduate and Professional Studies
- Clinical Lead, Pfizer
- Founder, Beautiful Blessings
In founding Beautiful Blessings, whose dolls seek to inspire a positive self-image, and through her professional career in pharmaceutical development, Raveen James has been guided by her strong Christian foundation and respect for diverse cultures. At Rosemont, she experienced a learning community of caring relationships grounded in the understanding of and respect for dignity of each person.
“I had professors who really embodied a culture of caring about people. They were kind and wanted you to succeed. It was the camaraderie. You aren’t just a number. You get identity.”
Brianne Wetzel '05
- 2005: BA History, Undergraduate College
- 2007: M.Ed. Democracy, Diversity and Social Justice, Trinity University
- 2013: MA Educational Administration, University of Notre Dame
- Head of School, The Washington School for Girls
Brianne Wetzel strives to have the Holy Child partnership school in Washington, DC that she leads to be the same joyful learning community she experienced at Rosemont - one reflective of the charism of Cornelia Connelly and to bring forth every child’s unique gifts in a safe and joyful space. She credits being “seen and heard” to Rosemont’s small-class environment and professors who believed in each student’s ability to achieve great things. And she feels a responsibility to carry forward the principles of social justice, equity, and fairness that were nurtured at Rosemont.
“The seeds of social justice started to grow in me at Rosemont … what is just, what is right, and what I can do to impact the world. I have the ability to make a difference.”
Parveen S. Vahora, MD, FACOG '96
- 1996: BA Honors Liberal Arts, Undergraduate College
- 2020: MD Drexel University College of Medicine
- Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency, Drexel University
- Laparoscopy and Pelvic Surgery Fellowship, Celebration Health, Florida
To Parveen Vahora, Rosemont was a “hidden gem” that provided students with a wealth of opportunities and the support and encouragement to seize them. Professors demonstrated “Actions, not words” by their ready availability to interact and to give students an encouraging boost. Rosemont lived its value of trust and the dignity of each person by honoring her Muslim faith, and she carries that value of seeing each person as an individual into her medical practice today.
“Rosemont was a great learning laboratory for me. It provided the support for us to grow into our voices and it gave us lots of opportunity and options.”
Kathleen Rotondaro '65
- 1965: BA French, Undergraduate College
- Co-founder and President (retired), Quadel Consulting Corporation
“Actions, not words” resonated with Kathy Rotondaro – calling students to do something in and for the world. Kathy experienced Rosemont as a place where people cared about each other as individuals. That spirit of caring and respect manifested itself in Rotondaro’s career path in affordable housing – providing an avenue to home ownership as the surest of ways for people to feel their own sense of basic human dignity.
“Of all the things that I wanted to do that would help anybody, I felt like housing was a basic need and that, for the dignity of every person, they deserved a place to live.”
David Potter '18 '20
- 2018: BS Criminal Justice, School of Graduate and Professional Studies
- 2020: MA Homeland Security and Emergency Management, School of Graduate and Professional Studies
- Lieutenant, Advanced Training Unit, Philadelphia Police Department
It was Rosemont’s values – second to none in David Potter’s view – and the encouragement of a program director - that brought David to Rosemont to continue his path as a lifelong learner. Jones shares how he became “addicted to learning” with professors who challenged and inspired him to become an independent thinker and to take courses out of his comfort zone. His experience at Rosemont deepened his understanding of what it means to be a leader – to listen and to be open-minded to the experiences of others while finding the good in everyone.
“The staff and faculty at Rosemont College made sure that they pushed you in the right direction. And they maintained a high level of motivation.”
Maureen Rover '65
- 1965: BS Mathematics, Undergraduate College
- Founder, Chairman and President (retired), The Reading Team, Inc., Harlem, NY
- Northeast Regional Sales Manager (retired), Pearson Education
To Maureen Rover, Rosemont’s mission and values were simply “in the air,” along with an expectation that the blessings of a Rosemont education conferred a responsibility to share those blessings with others.
Rover did just that by founding The Reading Team, Inc., an after-school early literacy program for children at high risk of reading failure that has helped open the door for thousands of children to fulfill their aspirations.
“There is nothing better than the Rosemont experience to prepare for the life God has in mind for us.”