Helping students become involved in campus organizations and immersing themselves in other cultures through global education is what motivates Office of Global Education Director Jenny Cataldi.
Cataldi has always been very involved on campus. During her time as a student at Franklin College, she was president of the Delta Delta Delta chapter, president of Habitat for Humanity, a mentor, and a member of the Student Foundation and different honors societies.
Cataldi works in Johnson Center for Fine Arts as the director of the office of global education and center for exploration. She is in charge of all off-campus and international studies for academic credit.
Senior Grace Esterline, accounting and Spanish majors, said Cataldi is always willing to address any concerns and help make arrangements for time abroad go smoothly.
“Whenever we meet she’s always sure to let me know if I need any help at all that I can reach out to her,” Esterline said. “She is very detailed and will also go above and beyond to ensure a safe, educational, and positive experience for anyone studying abroad or even in the country at other locations.”
Cataldi is also the faculty advisor for Franklin College Dance Marathon. She says being the FC Dance Marathon advisor is a unique experience because she has the opportunity to help the organization stay on track and see student leaders take control and shape the organization.
She said her job is mainly “maintaining the organization's profile on our campus so that as students leave hopefully Dance Marathon continues on.”
Cataldi said she is glad she gets to be involved with the group because the students are so passionate and it’s a great organization for a good cause.
Esterline, president of FC Dance Marathon, works closely with Cataldi on ideas and projects for the organization.
“She is always very attentive and encouraging,” Esterline said. “She really cares about all the students and organizations she’s involved with. She’s helped me stay positive and keep working towards our goals as an organization, despite the challenges of COVID. She is always, always willing to help.”
For the fall 2020 semester, Cataldi was the Launch advocate for the Psychology of Star Wars first-year seminar class taught by Dr. Bill Eiler. Launch advocates lead weekly lessons, during the first semester of students’ first-year, alongside Launch student mentors on topics such as academic success, self-advocating, and communicating professionally.
Sophomore elementary education major Yajaira Quezada, joined her for sessions each Thursday as the class’s launch mentor.
“Working with Jenny last semester was the most wonderful experience,” Quezada said. “She is by far one of the kindest individuals I’ve ever met. She’s passionate in everything she does and I think we’re extremely lucky to have her here at Franklin. I hope I’ll get to work with her again in the future!”
Cataldi says this is another role in students’ lives she loves to be a part of.
“It's such a unique opportunity to get to work with freshmen who have never been away from home and to help them navigate some of the small stuff and the big stuff that they may struggle with, in the transition from college,” Cataldi said.
She said students’ connections to staff throughout their four years are a very integral part of the Franklin College experience but most faculty don’t get to interact with freshmen until they have their footing on campus and know who they really are. Being a launch advocate gives her the chance to get to know the freshmen on a more personal level.
“To have the privilege to get to work with students when they're still figuring [college life] out is really something that I enjoy doing,” Cataldi said. “It's just an opportunity to connect with students.”
Cataldi has played a large part in freshman Morgan Nelson’s college experience, acting as her academic advisor, Launch advocate, and administrator for the Intercultural Honors Experience course this semester.
Nelson said Cataldi encouraged her to step out of her comfort zone to apply for IHE, and thanked her for helping her make “one of the best decisions that I have made at Franklin.”
“Jenny Cataldi is easily one of the most caring people that I have ever met,” Nelson said. “She truly cares about the well-being of her advisees and students, and she helped foster a welcoming environment at Franklin. She has taught me a lot about college and life. One of the greatest lessons that I learned from her was how to take a step back and relax.”
Cataldi expressed her love for all of her roles on campus but said being a mother is the best career.
She has a 7-year-old son whom she and her husband adopted four years ago, and now she is expecting another boy in June.
“Being a mom is the biggest blessing — it's the greatest adventure I've ever had. I continue to be challenged and the amount of love that I have and receive back is more than I have ever imagined.”