The Quad 10 is similar to Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list, but on a Manhattan College-scale. The ten following members of the graduating class of 2021 were chosen by the executive board of The Quadrangle as some of the best and brightest seniors MC has to offer.
Interviews compiled by: Anna Woods, Jilleen Barrett, Megan LaCreta, Colleen McNamara, Kyla Guilfoil, Lauren Raziano, & Maria Thomas
If you’re a proud Jasper, chances are you have heard Ireland Twiggs’ name.
Twiggs’ involvement spans from Student Government, where she was twice elected President of her class, to the Sigma Delta Tau sorority, where she was elected Vice President of Philanthropy, and later, President. Twiggs also lead LOVE service trips and the Kairos retreat, and is actively involved in the Lasallian Women and Gender Resource Center, and the Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center.
In her time at Manhattan College, Twiggs majored in both Peace and Justice Studies, as well as Religious Studies. She also completed a minor in Arabic.
Twiggs reflected on the lessons she learned during her time at Manhattan.“Manhattan really showed me what it means to fight for what I believe in, and to fight for change,” Twiggs said.
In the fall, Twiggs plans to attend Queen’s University Belfast to pursue her Masters in Conflict Transformation and Social Justice. While her future is bright, Twiggs stays grounded in the ideas that have carried her through her Manhattan career.
“An inspiring force for me is definitely gratitude,” said Twiggs. “I think in our society we think we always need more, and we need to keep moving, and so gratitude really is a force that grounds me to just take a moment and be thankful for everything I do have and how much I have done.”
Known as the mayor of Manhattan College and king of LinkedIn, Matt Sweeney made his mark on the campus in many ways. His love for the school began during the application process, when he decided to apply because a friend from high school had family members who attended MC.
In his time at Manhattan College, Sweeney majored in Civil Engineering, and completed a minor in Environmental Engineering.
One of the first major organizations Sweeney got involved in was the Manhattan chapter of the New York Water Environment Association, where he was able to significantly influence the direction of the club as he rose to the position of vice president during his junior year. In addition to that, he participated in WRCM, student government, L.O.V.E Flint, The Quadrangle, two mentorship programs – one for high school students and one for lowerclassmen at the college – as well as interning with the Van Cortlandt Park alliance and serving as Neighborhood Relations Committee chairman.
Due to his dedication to his field and the community as a whole, Sweeney is often referred to as the mayor of Manhattan College. On sunny days, he can often be found talking with his fellow students on the quadrangle. He spoke about how it feels to be so highly regarded amongst his classmates.
“It warms my heart,” Sweeney said. “You know, I’m glad to know that people appreciate me, and people like me talking all the time… sometimes I just like to talk, but I like to know that what I’m doing is making a difference and I guess I’m not really interested in being a politician, but I’d like to think people see in me some of the better aspects of that.”
Nadia Itani is graduating with a degree in civil engineering, but she learned so much more than that during her time at Manhattan College. Between serving on student government, being a member of the Muslim Student Association, participating in Campus Ministry and Social Action, working as a student success mentor, being a resident assistant and an actively volunteering, Itani did everything that could be squeezed into four years, some of which were in the middle of a pandemic.
“So [the pass/fail policy] was something that we spearheaded almost,” Itani said. “So like myself and Provost Clyde, we pretty much wrote out this policy, presented it to the board and then rolled it out for everyone to actually be able to use, which I think was like super helpful for a lot of people especially since we were sent home.”
Itani managed to influence student life as the school shut down, and the entire student body has her influence as VP of Academic Affairs to thank for the pass/fail policy that was enforced as the pandemic began.
She found that at Manhattan College, she was able to grow into her own and become more confident in the identity she wanted to embody as opposed to the types of people she was surrounded by. Finally, she found herself embracing her role as a woman in STEM.
“I would say being like a woman in STEM … and being like a POC woman in STEM, was always just interesting because as someone who came in freshman year at least very insecure with myself and who I was … It was really intimidating to come into a way Catholic campus where the engineering department is predominantly male,” she said.
Jenn Bueti is a jack-of-all trades in the world of performing arts at Manhattan College. She is the president of the acapella group “Performing Hearts”, has been cast in countless productions for the theatre department, plays trumpet for the jazz band, participates in singers, and is on the improv team “Scatterbomb”. She is so musically talented that she is one of the few students at MC who was awarded the performing arts scholarship for her hard work and dedication.
In her time at Manhattan College, Bueti majored in Adolescent Education, alongside a minor in Theatre. She recalls auditioning for the scholarship on accepted students day, and imagining what her life would be like as a jasper.
“On accepted students day I actually grabbed a copy of The Quadrangle on my way out of the audition thinking, ‘it went really well, and if I went here maybe this would be something I’d read.’ I knew I loved it here.”
All these years later, Jenn is receiving recognition in The Quadrangle for the mark she has made on the Manhattan College community. Something Jenn is proud of from her life as a student at MC is her involvement with Scatterbomb.
“I was into comedy growing up but I never thought I could do it outside of a casual setting. I joined Scatterbomb freshman year and it brought me out of my shell. I didn’t realize how much it affected my self-esteem and who I am as a person until this year. I’m most proud of doing something I really love with a lot of people.”
Jenn has plans to teach English to high school students in New York City. She brings creativity and positivity to everything she does, both inside and out of the classroom, and Manhattan College has been lucky to have her.
Samantha Walla is leaving Manhattan College in a much different world than when she entered it. She Graduates with a major in Communications, with a concentraion in Public Relations.
The pandemic brought great change for Walla – throughout much of college and high school, Walla focused on building her resume and following in the footsteps of the involved upperclassmen she saw, however once the pandemic hit, Walla watched as the world paused in its normality, and the things that she had been so accustomed to doing disappeared from her life. This experience led Walla to reexamine herself and who she was without her busy schedule.
“I was like, ‘Alright who am I if I’m not these things that I have written down that I do?’” Walla said. “Ever since then it’s kind of just like you’re still a valid person obviously, but really trying to separate my identity from these things that I worked so hard on, and realize that the time spent in my body and in my mind are not directly proportional to my output and my product, which is something that I think that a lot of people have had to unlearn. As much as everything sucks and I wish I was on campus right now and doing everything normal, having those cancelled gave me a greater sense of self, which I think was desperately needed.”
Through this, Walla will now graduate with much more than an impressive resume. Walla has served as the Production Editor and Production Manager for The Quadrangle, before retiring to Senior Writer this semester, as well as secretary for the college’s sorority, Sigma Delta Tau, and as a Gender Justice Advocate for the Lasallian Women and Gender Resource Center since her sophomore year.
Her most cherished extracurriculars, however, have been through the WRCM as general manager, the college’s radio station, and Lotus Magazine as co-editor-in-chief alongside Deirdre Heavey. “The reason that [these are my favorites] is that we got the chance to mold things,” said Walla. “Like, WRCM didn’t really exist before, at least not for a good amount of years, and then Lotus Magazine, which we were the second editors of, so we didn’t really have too much involvement with the faculty advisors, we really got to just do whatever we wanted. And those were the passion projects that were very separate from trying to get resume builders, it was just like we want to do this and have a good time and put something together that we’re proud of.”
Walla will take this sense of creativity and passion with her, focusing on a summer of living in the moment before diving into her career. Walla’s “Summer of Sam” will allow her to enjoy the day to day things before rushing into the next phase of life, in which she certainly has a lot to offer.
Courtney Warley, influenced the 2021 class through her incredible athletic and academic achievements. Warley has been MAAC All-Academic Team twice for Women’s basketball and was inducted into the Epsilon Sigma Pi honor society.
In her time at Manhattan College, Bueti majored in Finance and Management, alongside a minor in Psychology.
Warley is looking forward to returning to Manhattan College for a fifth year to continue to dominate on the court.
“When the NCAA came out that players were granted an extra year, the decision to stay was actually a very easy one. The chance to play one more year with this team was reason enough, and the opportunity to get my masters is an added bonus” Warley wrote through an interview conducted via email.
Beyond the wonderful team atmosphere, Warley’s family will be able to support her and cheer her on in-person, something that was missing this 2020-21 season.
“I’m glad that my family will actually be able to watch me play in person for now my last season,” Warley wrote.
Specifically, Warley is thrilled to have another year since that is another opportunity to compete for the MAAC title.
“We are still going to have a very strong team next year, so I am most excited at getting another shot at a MAAC championship. I’m thankful that I will be able to end my college experience on and off the court a little more ’normal’ in terms of COVID restrictions, which will be nice” Warley wrote.
It is easy to say that Shannon Gleba has made her mark here at Manhattan College. Originally hailing from New Jersey, Gleba comes from a long line of Jaspers. During her time here Gleba has been a dedicated writer for The Quadrangle. Additionally, she has served as a captain of the women’s rowing team, a writing consultant for the Center of Academic Success and was elected President of the Student Government Association.
When reflecting upon her past four years here, Gleba noted how grateful she is for the doors that MC has opened for her,
“Manhattan College was the perfect place for me to grow up over the past four years,” Gleba wrote. “Being part of such a small community allowed me to become more confident in myself and as a leader … Manhattan College has opened so many doors for my future. I am so grateful for the friendships I have made and the connections I have on a professional level.”
Gleba encourages ever yone to enjoy their time at MC.
“I am most going to miss my friends and the community I have here at MC. I have been so comfortable and welcomed here, and I can only hope to make similar connections in my future. Manhattan College has been the greatest college experience I could have ever asked for. I encourage everyone to get involved and make the most of their time in Riverdale,” Gleba wrote.
After graduation, Gleba will be attending law school at the University of Notre Dame in hopes of becoming a family attorney.
Rachel Roca is graduating with a degree in mathematics and a deepened love for social justice. The co-president of Just Peace, Roca spoke about directing the organization during a pandemic.
“I’m co-president and with that, I am also an intern for the Peace Action New York State which is our mother organization,” Roca said. “And so we’ve just been trying really hard this year to be as engaged as possible with the pandemic and so we’ve covered a whole range of issues … we just try to hit as many things as our members are interested in and provide a safe place where people can practice activism and passion for doing good in the world.”
Roca spoke about her interest in math, which stems from when she was young.
“So I’ve always been interested in STEM,” she said. “I never went through the ‘I want to be a movie star/singer’ phase. I think the first job I wanted was an archaeologist, and then a meteorologist. And so in high school I was really into astrophysics … but during my junior and senior years I kind of fell more in love with math and I found it more general. And so during orientation, I switched to math and I never looked back and it’s just been more and more amazing.”
Roca had the opportunity to do research in Michigan during the summer of 2019 as well as study abroad in Budapest, Hungary where she was located as the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“It was kind of hard because you have people from California to China … so there is a big learning process of how to like coordinate time zones with that,” Roca said. “But it was really bad. It worked out, I passed all my classes and I was happy with that.”
After graduating, Roca will be pursuing a doctoral degree in computational math science and engineering at Michigan State University.
“I’m hoping to continue doing research in applied mathematics with social good, so voting theory stuff,” Roca said. “I’d love to apply it to network science – so pretty much applying to social situations and how you can make a difference with that is my goal.”
Matt Padre contributed to the class of 2021 both on the Baseball field and in the classroom. As an athletic achievement, Padre was presented 2019 All MAAC first team honors. From an academic standpoint, Padre is involved with the Beta Gamma Sigma National Honor Society and Epsilon Sigma Pi.
Padre is currently in his fifth year at MC, pursuing an MBA in professional accounting. He was thrilled to have another opportunity to compete with his teammates.
“Luckily, regardless of an extra year of eligibility or not, I was coming back to finish my fifth year BS/MBA program in professional accounting. It just so happens that I get an extra year back and again, hopefully I can hit some career milestones and goals that I personally want to reach. And of course, it’s an extra opportunity to hopefully win a conference championship” Padre wrote.
Given the complexities of Padre’s baseball season and academic experience the past months, he speaks on behalf of most of the 2021 class when he wrote,
“This year has created some challenges for all of us, and for most of us 2020 and 2021 grads we feel almost cheated out of our last experience before ‘real life’ starts”.
By the end of the next 2022 season, Padre plans to have his performance on and off the field be his legacy.
“I like to stay quiet and let my actions speak for me. I want my legacy to be someone who works hard, puts his head down, and someone that can be relied upon. I feel that I have done that and I am happy with what I’ve done” Padre wrote.
Alexander Nieves, a Business Analytics and Computer Information Systems Manager major, is originally from Georgia. During his time at Manhattan College his extracurricular activities ranged from Student Body Vice President of Finance to the Assistant Dean of Business. He was also involved in the music sphere of campus, being the Technical Director of WRCM, the Sound Technician for Music Ministry for four years, and a part of the Manhattan College Singers club.
Coming to Manhattan College was a transition for Nieves but he learned to be independent and how to live life.
“When I came to college I became a whole lot more productive and did things because I loved myself which was really great. Overall, college has taught me as well how to live life, you always wonder, ‘am I gonna make it?’ like being able to feed myself three times a day, which I still have trouble doing, but you know, it’s definitely a fun process, and it’s ever growing. It just makes me excited for the next step.” Nieves said.
Nieves plans to continue his education for a fifth year at MC to get his MBA while having a graduate assistantship on campus.
After that, Nieves plans to continue in family’s footsteps, “Since day one of college I’ve always wanted to be actually exactly what my mom is, which is an Information Systems consultant. Our whole family is a bunch of tech whizzes and computers and fun fact, my grandmother is one of the first programmers in Puerto Rico.” Nieves said.
One of the things Nieves said he will miss most about Manhattan is the Quadrangle atmosphere and the conversations that would happen on the steps.
“One of my favorite activities that I do is in between classes, I would just sit out on the steps of the quad and just wait. And as you get to know people you’ll eventually find someone that you know, and then they might stick with you. You could spend hours doing that and then you just have conversations with people and get to know them and then sometimes we’ll make a plan and that starts your weekend and, that’s just the best for me.” Nieves said.
His piece of advice for incoming jaspers is, “It’s the duty of every single Jasper to jump into everything headfirst. Just putting your toe in the water is insulting the opportunities we have here. I think that four years is not enough to ease yourself in.” Nieves said. “There’s just not enough time, if there’s something that you’re mildly interested in, just take the leap of faith. Go for it.”