For four years, Steph Mazzarella took the train to New York to the Teachers College at Columbia University in order to pursue a degree in higher education. Much of her time was spent underground, taking the subway to and from the city, and cramming in last minute readings before class. By day, Mazzarella worked full time at Drew University in the Student Accounts office through her graduation in 2009, joining the Student Activities team in 2012.
COURTESY OF STEPH MAZARELLA
Mazzarella grew up in South Orange, N.J. in a traditional Italian family. For her undergraduate degree in English, she attended Drew University from 1998 to 2002. She was not very involved on campus and only lived on campus during her freshman and senior years. The legacy she left behind at Drew as a student was the event entitled “The Vagina Monologues,” which she helped plan and run during her senior year. Little did she know that just 10 years later, she would be overseeing and running all the clubs and activities at her alma mater.
Mazzarella has worked as the Director of Student Engagement at Drew University since 2018, previously serving as Program Coordinator. Before working in the Student Engagement Office, organizing activities and trips for students, Mazzarella worked in the Office of student accounts since her graduation from the University in 2002. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Mazzarella said. “But I needed a job and the Student Accounts office was hiring.”
The main motivation for her to change jobs was being able to work more with students. Often times, students would go to the Student Accounts Office and there was not much Mazzarella could do to help them, so she went back to school to get her masters in higher education. “I always had to say no to students, [but] in this job, I get to say yes,” said Mazzarella.
Mazzarella is committed to the students at Drew. “She will reply to emails late at night, and early in the morning,” said Kyle Gniazdowski, (’20), “She is always in a good mood, and makes everyone’s day brighter.” Mazzarella’s office is also a reflection of how people describe her. The walls of her office are filled with sports memorabilia, while the border of her desk is lined with table top backyard games like ladder ball and, often times, corn-hole. Mazzarella wants students to be comfortable when they come to talk to her. The desk games are usually a good icebreaker she said, and if they don’t work, there is always a bowl of candy nearby for the taking.
“I feel like anyone who doesn’t know who she is here at Drew lives under a rock,” said Nina Campli (’21), “Steph stands out. Period. But in a good way. She is a gravitational force.”
Steph is also admired greatly by her coworkers. “I was new to Drew and attended my first Employee Appreciation Luncheon. At the luncheon, Steph was awarded Employee of the Year. When her name was announced, everyone in the room (in various departments), was on their feet clapping and cheering for Steph,” said Suzanne Rocco, who began to work as Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Student Engagement in 2012. “I thought to myself - who is this person that everyone enjoys working with this much!”
Mazzarella, a woman known for her sense of style, often wearing bowties or dressing to the theme of an event, has a passion for her job at Drew University. Her goals as a director have been to create a place for students to grow, be supported and feel connected. She hopes to be remembered as someone that has helped many individuals.