William Paterson’s Best Kept Secret To Success


Courtesy of Pesce Family Mentoring Institute

Christin Rodriguez, Staff Writer

College forces every student to confront the question “what’s next?” It often makes students worry about whether they’re in the right major, or whether college is right for them at all. But William Paterson’s Pesce Family Mentoring Institute might serve as a source of comfort for anxious students.

The program, developed in 2014 by William J. Pesce, retired president and CEO of John Wiley & Sons Inc. and William Paterson alumnus, gives students an opportunity to grow by pairing them with a mentor to help them get a headstart on their careers. 

Pesce created the institute in the hopes of helping students build authentic relationships with professionals in their field of interest—a place where they could feel more confident thinking about and planning their post-graduate futures. 

“From my perspective, it’s all about community, a wonderful opportunity for professionals and students to connect, to learn from each other, and to build enduring relationships,” Pesce said. “I embrace the leadership philosophy of human beings first, professionals second.” 

This thread of personal interaction and mentorship is woven into the fabric of the program. 

Mentors of the Pesce Family Mentoring Institute aren’t just anyone. They’re local WPU alumni, adjunct professors at WPU and WPU business partners. Mentors meet with their mentees at least once a month, either face to face or by phone.

Together, mentors and mentees set attainable short-term goals to help keep students on track for career development. 

William Paterson University President Richard J. Helldobler hopes that the Pesce Family Mentoring Institute will help students bridge the gap between their classes and careers. 

“One of the many wonderful things about the Pesce Family Mentoring Institute is that it expands opportunities for our mentors to invest their time and their talents into our treasures, William Paterson and our deserving students,” he said. 

The program aims to make sure this investment isn’t wasted. Anyone of sophomore, junior or senior status can apply. Students are then chosen by Program Specialist Deborah Feingold and Director Sharon Rosengart and matched with a mentor in their field of interest. 

Mentor Lossie Whitaker spoke about her experience mentoring Erika Fureal. 

She said Fureal came to her in tears about a difficult professor and the professor’s most recent assignment. Whitaker was willing to sit down with Fureal and take the time to go through the requirements as a friend and mentor.

Together they picked a topic for the assignment that Fureal was both passionate about and that fulfilled the requirements for the class. Fureal successfully passed the class. 

“If someone knows how much you care about them, I think it makes a world of a difference,” said Whitaker.