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Jason Velante ’00

Before graduating, this proud Red Hawk would have never imagined spending the next 17 years as an educator, where he would accomplish many milestones he never even believed before.

Posted in: Alumni Profiles


“Living on a Red Hawk campus means that you don’t just cherish one memorable moment. There’s a whole nest out there to keep,” says Jason Velante ’00, reminiscing about his time at Montclair State. Velante graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and a minor in International Studies, and is an ESL teacher at P.S. #21 in Paterson, N.J. However, before graduating, he would have never imagined spending the next 17 years as an educator. Unsure if the profession was for him, Velante spent his senior year debating whether to pursue teaching after graduation. Against all odds, he decided to return to his love of teaching once he received word of a teaching opportunity at his former high school.

Over the years, Velante has been able to accomplish many milestones as an educator. His recent accomplishment has been that of co-authoring a book with his bilingual elementary students. The book, titled Home of the Soaring Eagles: The Struggle of Strangers in a Strange Land, details their struggles as English Language Learners (ELLs). The project, which proved to be a success, was quickly published and placed in the Paterson Public Library and Paterson Museum for display. Velante’s eyes were full of pride as he watched his students read their testimonies aloud to a room full of people.

Velante, like many other students, struggled in finding the “right” career path. “It was not until I assumed various leaderships positions on campus that I retained the confidence and know-how to put things into motion,” says Velante. He describes soliciting, promoting, and introducing the keynote speaker for the Hispanic Association for Higher Education (HAHE) Symposium as the highlight of his undergraduate career.

Velante, who is of Filipino descent, always had a strong interest in the Latin American culture. He was an active member of the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) and Lambda Theta Phi, a multicultural fraternity. For two summers, he studied abroad at Universidad de Guadalajara in Mexico through the Centro de Educaccion Para Extranjeros (CEPE) Program. Nevertheless, in present day, Spanish comes in handy when teaching English in a bilingual setting.

When reminiscing about those who left an impact on his undergraduate career, three people come to mind. “I’m fortunate to have had fantastic mentors, including two former SGA Presidents, to guide me,” says Velante. Former SGA Presidents, Julio Marenco and Francois Sauder, often offered words of encouragement when facing academic roadblocks. For Velante, Dr. Barbara Nagle was instrumental in equipping him with the tools needed for his educational trade. “The same mediation and ice-breaker techniques used in her class still serve me today,” says Velante. “She saw a skill-set in me and set me off in a path, even when I was hesitant on following it.”

One piece of advice to undergraduates? “Travel, travel, travel,” says Velante. Thanks to study abroad programs, he was able to leave Montclair State as a bilingual powerhouse. As he puts it, “I didn’t get a formal internship as an undergraduate. I did, however, find my own path through study abroad programs and picked up another gold-star to polish off a resume when I graduated.”