Empowering women and minorities at Rowan

New college institute aims to develop business opportunities for them

Joseph Metz/The Sun
The institute is named after Rowan board of trustees member Lita Marcelo Abele, a Filipino immigrant and CEO.

Rowan College of South Jersey hosted the opening ceremony and launch of the Lita Marcelo Abele (LMA) Institute on March 6 at the college’s Gloucester Campus.

The institute was formed with the goal of providing women and minority students with the tools necessary to help empower them, develop their leadership skills and provide professional growth.

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“The vision of the Lita Marcelo Abele Women’s Institute for business at the Rowan College of South Jersey School,” said Rowan Dean of Business Studies Dr. Patricia Claghorn, ” … is to develop leadership skills, foster empowerment and provide professional growth for students through mentorship, speaker series, networking opportunities, skill development and career pathways.”

The institute is named for Abele, a a Filipino immigrant who is now the president and CEO of U.S. Lumber. She was at the launch event and spoke to the crowd.

“The students and their education have always been my passion,” Abele noted. “Through this organization, I hope to share my knowledge and experience with you. My strong determination has brought me here, to be with you today.

“The LMA Institute will provide the pathways and tools to our students so that they develop competence and become successful,” she added. “The institute will serve as the bridge, connector, between all of us who have leadership and professional skills to share with our students.”

Membership in the institute is open to both full- and part-time students, as long as they have completed one semester at either the Gloucester or Cumberland County Rowan campuses and enrolled in programs involving the Rowan division of business.

The ceremony was a way to recognize Abele’s endowment of $10,000 for the institute. The institute is also meant to build bridges between people, which also includes building a relationship with Abele’s former home country, the Phillipines.

Among those in attendance was the Republic of the Philippines Philippine Consulate General in New York, Senan T. Mangalile. He helps represent the interests of the Philippines and its people in the northeastern U.S., from Maine to Delaware.

“It is from this perspective (promoting gender equality) that I express the delight I feel today over this occasion where we witness the establish of this women’s institute for business studies,” Magalile said.

“To me,” he added, “this is a culmination of empowering women with the tool kits necessary to do well in business in the face of the complexities offered by this present context.”

Rowan President Frederick Keating elaborated during his speech on how he hopes to continue the partnership in the future.

“With regard to our relationship that we discussed,” he stated, “to pursue further this institution’s involvement in the promotion of not only women, but our relationship with the Philippine government.”

A document signing was also held at the event to make the institute’s founding and launch official.

“If I can do it, so can you students,” Abele insisted. “Thank you. and this month is Women’s History Month, so women – rah rah.”

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