May 6, 2024
Diagnosis of rare genetic disease prompts Josephine Falcicchio of Sandyston, NJ, to enroll at Centenary to earn a Bachelor of Social Work in preparation for new career.

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ, May 6, 2024 — Several years ago, Josephine Falcicchio was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease that causes progressive vision and hearing loss. The Sandyston, NJ, resident had been an administrator for a therapy practice for licensed clinical social workers, but needed to reevaluate her career options. At age 60, Falcicchio graduated from Centenary University on Saturday, May 4, with the Class of 2024, earning a Bachelor of Social Work.

A graduate of Teaneck High School, Falcicchio studied surgical technology at Bergen County College; in 2022, she graduated from Sussex County Community College with two degrees, an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts with a psychology option and an Associate of Science in Human Services. Falcicchio’s diagnosis, called Usher syndrome type 2A, and her status as a nontraditional student, prompted her to look for a college with a strong social work program that provides extra support for students.

Falcicchio found both at Centenary University, where she was accepted to the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), which provides academic, social, and financial support to underserved students. “Centenary helps students to succeed by providing many resources to make college a positive and rewarding experience,” Falcicchio explained. “The University sets students up for success. Any time I needed help—from my professors, the EOP, or disability services—everyone I came across was compassionate, caring, and empathetic. My fellow students were just as helpful.”

Once enrolled, Falcicchio was only on campus one day a week. Yet, her professors and administrators at the University ensured that she stayed connected with her courses and other programs that advance student success. “I have attended several colleges since graduating high school, and Centenary University is the first that made me feel that my success was as important to them as it is to me,” Falcicchio said. “Although I was on campus just once per week, Eunice Boyd, associate director of the EOP, knew who I was and my situation. Eunice has helped me in several important areas, including finding a solution to fund my college costs.”

In addition, Falcicchio noted that a number of Centenary professors in her major field of study provided extraordinary support. Now, she’s well prepared to launch her new career: “The knowledge and experience I gained while attending Centenary University have helped me discover different ways of approaching issues and creating solutions. These are tools I can use with my clients in the social work field.”

A Dean’s List student, Falcicchio was inducted into four honor societies—Phi Alpha, Tri Alpha, Delta Alpha Phi, and the Gamma Beta Chapter of Chi Alpha Epsilon—and was awarded the Distinguished Scholar Award by the State of New Jersey.


Centenary University offers extraordinary learning opportunities that empower students to develop intellectually, emotionally, and interculturally—keys to career and personal success. Under the leadership of President Dale Caldwell, Ed.D., the University aspires to advance its reputation as a world class institution offering innovative programs, including the world’s first Master of Arts in Happiness Studies, to lift the future for our students and local communities.


Kristen Volkland
Erbach Communications Group
(201) 960-3102

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