Colleen Finnigan

Meet Colleen Finnigan

Monmouth University has a knack for hiring inspiring and caring people who grace the various offices around campus. One department known for this is the Curriculum and Instruction office within the School of Education, where you will find the Office Coordinator Colleen Finnigan—the poster woman for outstanding employees.

Finnigan has been working at MU for a total of 12 years: five in Student Affairs and seven in the School of Education. No matter who you are, her smile and kindness will overwhelm you as soon as you walk through the door. Not only is she a wonderful woman, but her hard work seeps into her student workers and fellow employees, making anyone working for the School of Education all-around more diligent.

Finnigan has been a role model to everyone surrounding her throughout the years, including Christa Rapaglia, a graduate student of social work who worked for the school of education for almost three years.

Rapaglia said, “Colleen is one of those rare people in the world who manages to be both wildly smart and genuinely caring. Her creativity, eye for beauty and design, street smarts, and willingness to connect to others have truly touched my life in the years I’ve worked with her.”

Student employees are so welcomed by this wonderful woman that they feel as if the office is another home, somewhere they are safe and accepted on campus.

 Rapaglia continued, “As a supervisor, she sees her employees as family, giving me the gift of feeling safe to transition in the workplace.” Colleen’s open, loving arms have led so many students down the path of success, determination, and positivity.

Alyssa Crookhorn, a senior business marketing management student, has been a student worker in the School of Education since her freshman year.

She said, “From the minute I started, Colleen has been someone I can go to with any sort of problem whether it be schoolrelated or personal. She is so understanding, gives the best advice, and is always making herself available to myself and all of the other student workers. In addition to Colleen being so selfless, she has such an amazing work ethic that I aspire to have in my career.”

Having a mothering effect on her student workers has not only given them the strength to persevere through challenges, but to also learn to love and live in the amazing moments life can give you. Being a college student can be so stressful at times, but Finnigan has a way of melting the stress away, teaching her students to look at the positives.

Not only do students adore her, but her co-workers do as well. Many professors walk into the Curriculum and Instruction office with stress and panic on their faces, but once Finnigan’s warm greeting rings through the room, they immediately flip their frowns into glowing smiles.

John Henning Ph.D., Dean of the School of Education, said, “What is great about Colleen is her eye for space and her talent for decorating. She redesigned and decorated two of our departmental offices, redesigned the space in the Dean’s office, she selected the exhibition case for our research display, she is the mastermind behind our Student Awards Ceremony and our Academic Welcome, she suggested and initiated our reception at commencement (now a tradition), and she has organized the posters on our walls. Anything Finnigan touches looks better after she is done. She is a multi-talented individual who adds color and beauty to the lives of the people around her.”

Finnigan always finds a way to express how much she loves working for and being a part of the MU family.

She said, “My favorite part of working for the School of Education is the teamwork between the members of the support staff (and the amazing dedication of my Office Assistants). We meet, we discuss what needs to be done and we do it.  If one of us has a problem, or a shortfall, there are five other staff members who are there to come to your rescue.”

Showing her appreciation for her team and her workers is always a number one priority for Finnigan, adding such a home-like essence to the School of Education.

To fully capture Finnigan’s essence, one should imagine a pristine morning shore at sunrise. As the sun continues to hug the shore with its brightness and warmth, the ocean is calming and peaceful. The seashells may be tossed and chipped, but their beauty is always admired by young children to aging elders. Even when there is fog and wind, making the beach chilly and eerie, the view is still breathtaking.

Finnigan is rarely ever frazzled and ensures that people always breathe and stay calm because, as she would say, “What’s the point of freaking out when it just makes things worse?”

Although Finnigan encounters rough moments in life, she carries herself with such beauty and love that no one thinks twice about whether her chips are what make her.

Crookhorn summed up Finnigan when she said, “[Finnigan] has become more than a boss for me—she is a mentor, a resource, and a dear friend. I just love her to pieces, and she deserves the world and more.”

PHOTO COURTESY of Mary Kate Kane