Mater Dei Prep Hosts Career Day Expo for Students

Over 40 professionals offered advice, answered questions

Choosing a career path can be a daunting task, but guidance and advice from experienced professionals can make that decision easier. Mater Dei Prep gave its students an opportunity to get that guidance from over 40 professionals from nearly a dozen different fields during its inaugural Career Day Expo Wednesday, March 4.

The half-day event for the entire student body was sponsored by the Mater Dei Prep Women’s Leadership Initiative. Kathy McLaughlin (MD ’72), Chair of the Initiative, developed the event as a way to help students “map their paths forward” with the help of an extensive list of “prominent community and political leaders, professionals and business owners, many of whom are Mater Dei alumni,” she said. McLaughlin hopes the career day expo will become an annual event and lead to other specialized programs and internships for Mater Dei students.

The day was kicked off by keynote speaker, DonnaLyn Giegerich, CEO of DLG Consulting, who was also a featured member of a panel on entrepreneurship, and was introduced by Mater Dei Prep senior Summer Schiappacasse. Summer is currently enrolled in a public speaking class taught by Giegerich at Brookdale Community College and said she was “honored” to introduce her professor that morning. “Being able to make my professor proud and show what I have learned in her class was truly rewarding”, Summer said.

Giegerich advised students, no matter their chosen career path, to learn to be great communicators, to take risks and to invest in self-care. She believes we need leaders that are willing to go outside of their comfort zone and do things that will help them grow. She was impressed with the student engagement in both the keynote speech and the panel sections. With this event, she said, “Mater Dei Prep students are on their way to great success.”

Students could choose to attend two of the 10 career panels offered during the event. Guest panelists interacted with students at panels that included business and entrepreneurship; government and politics; criminal law; private practice law; law enforcement; journalism and new media; finance; health and wellness; sports and sports marketing; and music and performing arts. Freshman Emma DeBiase attended a law panel and the government and politics panel and said both provided great experiences to “meet people in the field I want to go into. They demonstrated to me that when you put your mind to it, anything is possible.”

Sue Kiley (MD ’72), a member of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Women’s Leadership Initiative, moderated the government and politics panel which included – among others – Middletown Mayor Tony Perry, Freeholder Tom Arnone and Senator Declan O’Scanlon Jr. “It was a great day overall by focusing on educating the students on what the various levels of government do,” Kiley said. She said several students asked for advice on “how they go from this point forward to prepare for their interest in public service.”

Regina Donohue (P ’21 and ’23) moderated the law enforcement panel. “The professionals were so gracious about sharing their stories and willing to help the students understand what it takes to pursue a career,” she said. “I am grateful that the Women’s Leadership Initiative is providing these types of opportunities for our students where they can learn firsthand about the different careers that are available nowadays and interact with those individuals.”

Selma Morris (P ’21), executive assistant in the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, attended with Sheriff Shaun  Golden. Morris said the law enforcement panel gave students “a wealth of institutional knowledge, from multiple agencies, various disciplines and diverse perspectives.” She believed it was “a home run for those considering a career in law enforcement.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by the moderators and professionals on the other panels. “The world of entrepreneurship is thriving at Mater Dei Prep,” said Ed “Skip” McLaughlin (MD ’74) after meeting students during the business and entrepreneurship panel. He said he encouraged the students to build a business around their particular skills and passions, in order to increase the chance of success.

Kathy McLaughlin also led a session on sports marketing, featuring Dylan Wanagiel (MD ’89), Senior Director for Sports Events at Madison Square Garden. Dylan shared his experiences in developing and producing major  porting events including Amateur Wrestling, Mixed Martial Arts and WWE. Using his experiences, he also provided valuable guidance about future careerbuilding through networking and internships.

Dorothea Zando Laux (P ’17, ’19), also a member of the Women’s Leadership Initiative, moderated the music and performing arts panel which included Joe Rapolla (MD ’79), chair of the music and theatre arts department at Monmouth University, and Rashida Scott-Cruz, a music industry professor at Monmouth University. “I cannot thank the panelists enough,” Laux said. “They did an outstanding job of engaging the students.”

Laux also offered a big thank you to McLaughlin, Kiley, Donohue, Christina Hardman-O’Neal (MD ’89, P ’22) and the Mater Dei Prep faculty and staff for creating and facilitating the successful event.

A picture gallery of the 2020 Career Day Expo may be found on the school’s website at under the Discover MDP tab.

Mater Dei Prep is currently enrolling students for the class of 2024. For more information about the school please visit or contact the admissions office at 732.671.9100 x117.