Zoom fatigue from Virtual Delbarton classes? Not these students!
From June 4 through June 25, 88 rising seniors in the Class of 2021 voluntarily participated in Virtual DelEX 2020, the school’s first externship program conducted entirely through video conferencing platforms. These virtual meetings, typically 1-2 hours in length, were scheduled and hosted by Delbarton alumni and parents who were eager to share their expertise in a wide variety of career fields.
Our young men connected with scientists, attorneys, Wall Street traders and salespeople, entrepreneurs, law enforcement agents, surgeons, and representatives from the United States military. They signed up to learn about cybersecurity, agricultural innovation, real estate and construction, computer science, our local political system, and sports management.
Mike Johnson ‘12 joined DelEX as a host for the first time this year and says, "The DelEX program is a structure that enables students to get exposure and insight into various industries. No longer can a Delbarton graduate say ‘What does an investment banker do?’, ‘What is it like to go to med school?’, or ‘What is the difference between a mechanical and a software engineer? DelEX provides students with a lens into the professional world and how they may fit into it.”
Delbarton externs embraced these opportunities to explore multiple interests, develop professional communication skills, and forge relationships with new mentors and role models. Matt Johnson ‘21 says, “The most important lessons I learned from DelEX are to be open-minded while searching for your career path and to leverage the Delbarton alumni network. Many hosts encouraged us to reach out, ask questions, and let them know if they can help in any way because they want to be there as a resource for us and want to see us succeed.” DelEX 2020 participant and current student body president Quinn Zebrowski ‘21 added: “Our alumni network is stronger at Delbarton than any other place.”
This was DelEX’s fifth year, for the program that was created by faculty member Tom Brady P’23 and co-administered by Major Gifts Officer Matt Campbell ‘08. Both men strongly believe in the value of learning outside the classroom and invest much time and energy into relaunching DelEx for a new class of rising Delbarton seniors each June.
Brady and Campbell were extremely impressed with the levels of interest, respect, and focus from our boys this year, especially considering the challenges that COVID-19 have presented. Mark Pasko ‘91 agrees and says, “My leadership team and I found it very rewarding to share our education and work experiences with the rising seniors. The students were prepared and energized with insightful questions as they ponder their academic and professional paths.” Bruce Sisler ‘90, P ‘25, a returning DelEX host, says proudly, “It is clear to me that our country has a bright future with these young men.”
This year’s program began with a May 26 coaching cession presented to students by career counseling experts Elizabeth Ricciardelli P’19, ‘21 and Michele Biamonte P’22. During the presentation, our boys learned about the importance of personal branding, self-assessment tools, COVID-19 digital citizenship, creating LinkedIn profiles, and networking, all key ingredients in launching a successful career.
According to host Dr. David Cunic ‘97, “Empowering and educating students about the dynamics and importance of networking truly gives them a competitive advantage in the real world.” Alan Rubino P’05, ‘16 adds, “DelEX has created an exceptionally important forum for students to begin a proactive assessment of potential future career pathways. It is brilliant to start this process at the beginning of senior year as it begins a most important conversation towards fostering more self-directed career pathway selection choices.”
Soon after the introductory coaching session, more than 50 unique externship opportunities were revealed to the participating students via the DelEX website, impressive technology that was developed and custom-made for the Green Wave by alumnus Michael Darche ‘10 of Catalyze Marketing and Consulting. Matt Holleran '21 enjoyed the loaded menu of choices: “The sheer number of externships we were allowed to attend made this at-home experience a blessing in disguise.” Over 40 students participated in 5 or more sessions, Jack Geoghegan ‘21 and Joe Udina ‘21 participated in over 15 sessions, and Matt Facchine ‘21 and Trey Sacus ‘21 participated in over 20! Udina says: “I think a recurring theme in each presentation was getting into a line of work that you feel passionate about. Hosts emphasized following your heart, not the money, which is something I feel Delbarton students (including myself) often get confused. Money is obviously important, but I think happiness is more important.”
Denny Collins ‘21 sums his experience up this way: “The most important lessons I learned were from Steve Colello '91, P'24 (who is pictured below hosting a Zoom call) 'always face your biggest fears', from PJ Calello '90, 'keep an open mind, never give up, and think outside of the box', and from Jason Wyatt '98 to 'stay humble and work hard'.” PJ has the distinction of being the only host to participate in DelEX in each of its five years, and says this about the 'long green line' of Delbarton alums: “This is an outstanding way to make a meaningful impact on a Delbarton student by giving him a tangible taste of his future as a member of the Delbarton Alumni Association.”
Former student body president Matt Van Orden ‘08, always one of the boys’ favorite hosts, encourages all community members to participate. “DelEX is one of the most rewarding ways to give back to Delbarton because you share your story and spend some time bonding with upstanding young gentlemen who are looking for guidance,” says Van Orden. Alumni Association Vice President John Ferramosca ‘05 describes DelEX as “a remarkable program that helps Delbarton students get exposure at a young age to professional areas they may be passionate about and might consider pursuing. It is a unique opportunity that enables our students to be that much further ahead of the curve when beginning college and their careers."
Carol Van Den Hende P’21, pictured below hosting a DelEX call, enjoyed working with our young men and says, “DelEX was a great way to engage with students. I love that they came away with insights about work ethic, adaptability and staying true to your passions.”
The future of the program is very bright due to the administrative expertise from Delbarton faculty members Rick Cimino and Neil Murphy ‘06 and the recent influx of young alums offering to host, including Anthony Volpe ‘19, Amaan Chaudhry ‘17, Ryan Teehan ‘14, Francisco Martinez ‘13, JP Campbell ‘13, Andrew Christie ‘12, Jake Feury ‘12, and Chad Heal ‘12. Chaudhry jumped at the chance to give back: “DelEX had a profound impact in guiding my early career exploration and connecting me to mentors and opportunities. It is truly a testament to the power of the Delbarton brotherhood.”
Last year, two Delbarton externs interested in a military career visited the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, courtesy of host Army Captain Alex Thew ‘07. COVID-19 restrictions prohibited any in-person externships this year, but Alex still provided an amazing opportunity for our boys virtually. Says Thew: “DelEX offers a tremendous opportunity to share my path from Delbarton to a career in the U.S. Army. In doing so, I hope to pass along the values to accomplished young men that have guided my career: leadership, citizenship, and resiliency.”
Brady and Campbell are already planning DelEX 2021, which they hope will feature a hybrid structure of virtual sessions and the traditional “on-site” experiences. Owen Hand ‘21 thinks that “doing the virtual sessions in the future for hosts who don't live/work near NJ is a great opportunity. For instance, I thought Brian Heath's (‘08) session, pictured below, was really interesting but it could only be done virtually because he works in Denver and California.”
THANK YOU to the Delbarton alumni and parents who pivoted with us in 2020 to offer a robust DelEX experience to young men in the Class of 2021. We also salute Tom Brady and Matt Campbell for their service and hard work in 2020. Together, they seamlessly transforming DelEX from an in-person to a virtual platform...and created another Succisa Virescit moment in our remarkable Virtual Delbarton story!