SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. - Seton Hall University welcomed its baccalaureate class as the newest group of alumni on May 21, including eight scholars from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Program.

Reverend Forrest Pritchett, director of the program, said, “We create an environment where students can deliver quality programming on campus, as well as design programs for elementary and middle school populations that motivate, give vision and agency to the children's futures. We are pleased that we are producing MLK Scholar graduates that conform to this and other statements of Dr. King's on education. We build hope by developing critical analysis of current rhetoric and we build new paradigms for progress. As Rev. Dr. King stated, ‘To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education.’ ”

The MLK Leadership Program was established in 1970, and is the oldest and most prestigious servant leadership program at Seton Hall University, as well as one of the earliest programs of its kind in the United States. It provides participants with tuition scholarships, leadership and management skills, and opportunities for community service and research involving values and social justice. They also participate in the Martin Luther King Scholarship Association (MLKSA), an award-winning honor society on campus.

Students selected for this program currently maintain a GPA average of 3.5, and work to embody Seton Hall’s mission of service and leadership in their everyday lives.

Jeremy Garriga, an MLKSA graduate from Jersey City, NJ, has a passion for service and has expressed that through the program he started called Soxcess. Soxcess has collected and distributed over 17,000 pairs of socks to people in need over the last seven years and has developed several corporate partnerships. Garriga has been an EMT for six years, working full-time hours while also attending school. He is now working as a field training officer in addition to responding to emergency calls. Garriga plans to attend medical school in the future, and research neurological disorders and environmental factors affecting breast cancer.

“Being an MLK scholar pushed me to improve on my leadership skills ten-fold,” Garriga said. “Interacting with fellow scholars on different projects exposed me to different scenarios and causes I could become passionate about. I also believe there is no greater way in paying your blessings forward than in serving others, and the program gave me limitless opportunities for service.”

Julian Rice, an MLKSA graduate from Bedminster, NJ. Rice will put his education in diplomacy and international relations to use as he begins a job with Cleanwater Action over the summer, helping to spread awareness about the state of water and advocate for sustainable water in New Jersey.

Rice plans to travel to Costa Rica to work with the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Abriendo Mentes. Abriendo Mentes offers education development to children and adults. Rice was inspired to work in the nonprofit sector through his involvement on campus with organizations such as MLKSA and Operation X, a program that allowed him to work with underprivileged students in Newark.

Leo Ricketts graduated in December 2017, but walked in this week’s commencement ceremony. He will be leaving for a sustainability internship in California, and plans to apply for medical school after. He received the MLKSA senior award for the person most like Dr. King, as well as received Seton Hall University’s 2017 Servant Leadership and Community Impact Awards.

“My life’s mission comes from my own life experiences being raised in a poor, urban, single-parent household in Paterson and Newark N.J. I understand the educational and personal challenges attending a low performing and underequipped school in an impoverished community,” Ricketts continued. “I also have experienced the transformative power and importance and education in myself and other young people. Education has become the tool for me to succeed and be of service to other students and community members within my local community and around the world.”



Jeremy Garriga, from Jersey City, NJ, graduated with a B.A. from the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Social and Behavioral Sciences and minoring in Psychology.

Hiyabu Habtemichael, from Saint Louis, MO, graduated from the Stillman School of Business with a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics, double majoring with Sociology, Magna Cum Laude.

Khaliya Inswood, from East Orange, NJ, graduated with a B.S. from the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Biology.

Maria Mangru, from Parsippany, NJ, graduated with a B.S. from the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Biology, Cum Laude, and will continue in the dual degree 3+3 program to receive a D.P.T. in Physical Therapy through the School of Health and Medical Sciences.

Julian Rice, from Bedminster, NJ, graduated from the School of Diplomacy and International Relations, with a B.S. in Diplomacy and International Relations.

Leo Ricketts, from Newark, NJ, graduated with a B.A. from the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in History.

Angelie Tolentino, from Galloway, NJ, graduated with a B.S. from the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Biology, Magna Cum Laude, and will continue in the dual degree 3+3 program to receive a M.S. in Physician Assistant through the School of Health and Medical Sciences.

Christian Veliz, from Fredon, NJ, graduated with a B.A. from the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Social and Behavioral Sciences and minoring in Psychology.


Photo Caption- From Left to Right: Jeremy Garriga, Julian Rice, Kaliyah Inswood, Angie Tolentino, Forrest Pritchett, Maria Mangru , Leo Ricketts, Christian Veliz, Hiyabu Habtemichael



One of the country’s leading Catholic universities, Seton Hall has been developing students in mind, heart and spirit since 1856. Home to nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offering more than 90 rigorous academic programs, Seton Hall’s academic excellence has been singled out for distinction by The Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Seton Hall embraces students of all religions and prepares them to be exemplary servant leaders and global citizens. In recent years, the University has achieved extraordinary success. Since 2009, it has seen record-breaking undergraduate enrollment growth and an impressive 93-point increase in the average SAT scores of incoming freshmen. In the past decade, Seton Hall students and alumni have received 24 Fulbright Scholarships as well as other prestigious academic honors, including Boren Awards, Pickering Fellowships, Udall Scholarships and a Rhodes Scholarship. In the past five years, the University has invested more than $150 million in new campus buildings and renovations. And in 2015, Seton Hall launched a School of Medicine as well as a College of Communication and the Arts. A founding member of the Big East Conference, the Seton Hall Pirates field 14 NCAA Division I varsity sports teams.

The University’s beautiful main campus is located in suburban South Orange, New Jersey, and is only 14 miles from New York City — offering students a wealth of employment, internship, cultural and entertainment opportunities. Seton Hall’s nationally recognized School of Law is prominently located in downtown Newark. The University’s new Interprofessional Health Sciences (IHS) campus in Clifton and Nutley, N.J. will open in the summer of 2018. The IHS campus will house Seton Hall's College of Nursing and School of Health and Medical Sciences as well as the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University.

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