SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. - The Seton Hall Athletics Pen Pal Program culminated with a campus visit on the afternoon of Friday, April 17 as participating student-athletes hosted fifth and sixth graders from the St. Francis Xavier School in Newark.
The Pen Pal Program was introduced by SHU Athletics Hall of Famer and former Director of Academic Support Services Robin Cunningham in 1994 and is now in its 21styear of existence. 2014-15 marked the third consecutive year that the Pirates have partnered with St. Francis Xavier for this initiative and the 38 student-athletes who were selected following the application process collectively represented all 14 of Seton Hall's varsity squads while ranging in class year from freshmen to juniors.
"The Pen Pal Program has been an annual staple and over two decades after it was introduced, there is never a shortage of student-athletes looking to participate," saidRoberto Sasso, Assistant Athletic Director/Student-Athlete Development & Leadership who directs theHelping Athletes Learn to be Leaders (H.A.L.L.) Program. "St. Francis Xavier is an ideal partner for this initiative given its proximity and the direct correlation between the core values of our respective institutions. Our student-athletes receive an opportunity to make an impact on a child from the surrounding area and I think they are often pleasantly surprised by how much they learn from the experience as well."
Over the course of the program; the selected student-athletes and students from St. Francis Xavier exchanged correspondence every two weeks. Friday's event included a meet-and-greet inside the newly renovated Richie Regan Field House where the pen pals participated in a variety of athletic activities, campus tours and a group lunch that was supplied by the Academic Support staff.
"I didn't know I was going to enjoy this as much as I did," said men's basketball freshman Khadeen Carrington. "I didn't have anything like this when I was growing up. For us, it was a great chance to meet our pen pal and get to talk to them face-to-face but hopefully it will have a positive impact that lasts for the kids too."
"As student-athletes here at Seton Hall, we have a lot of opportunities to give back either in the community or through the church," added Marisa Quevedo, a freshman on the women's tennis squad. "The Pen Pal Program has been especially enjoyable because it goes beyond a few hours and we have been able to develop lasting relationships that I think end up being beneficial for both sides."