SJC Long Island’s Class of 2021 speakers Yicel Moreno and Michael DeCicco understand the true meaning of service.
Despite a pandemic, they still made it their mission to help others and give back to their local and national communities. And they’ve prepared motivating messages for their graduating classmates to inspire them to do the same.
“To serve, you only need a listening ear, a heart full of kindness, and a spirit created by love,” wrote Moreno, who is set to graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in child study with a concentration in speech.
Moreno Making a Difference
Throughout her four years at St. Joseph’s, Moreno’s gone above and beyond in embodying the College’s pillar of service.
Moreno continually sought opportunities to get involved and give back to the local and national communities while studying at SJC Long Island, from volunteering at soup kitchens and preparing meals for homeless shelters to participating in the Pumpkin Pie Bake-a-thons and Christmas Gift Drives, helping at Special Olympics, serving as a volunteer teacher at the Patchogue-Medford Library and planting vegetation at the St. Joseph the Worker garden in East Patchogue. She also participated in the 2019 Alternative Winter Break trip to Camden, New Jersey.
“I love to help people, especially when there is a language barrier,” said Moreno, an East Patchogue native who grew up speaking English and Spanish.
Moreno served in the Students Taking an Active Role in Society (STARS) — a student-run campus organization dedicated to serving those in need — as the club vice president from 2018 to 2020. She’s also served as secretary of the Hospitality and Tourism Management Club, and as a member of the American Sign Language Club.
In addition to her extracurricular activities, Moreno excelled in the classroom, earning placement on the Dean’s List in addition to membership in the Gamma Tau Delta Honor Society, Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education and Delta Epsilon Sigma National Honor Society. She also had the opportunity to study abroad in Romania, where her desire to serve others grew into what it is today.
“It does not matter our gender, our ethnic or religious background, or our social status; anyone can change the world,” Moreno wrote in her essay. “Living a life rooted in the act of service is a significant characteristic of a St. Joseph’s graduate, and the significance we bring to our service is that which is lasting.”
DeCicco Daring to Do Better
DeCicco works as an employee relations specialist for Northwell Health. He’ll graduate this spring with an MBA in Health Care Management. In 2018, he earned a bachelor’s from SJC Long Island in hospitality and tourism management with a concentration in health care.
“I believed that I could make even more of an impact by working non-clinically with the patients directly,” DeCicco said in 2017, after serving in Northwell Health’s first-ever hospitality in health care internship. “I have zero regrets about deciding to pursue a degree in hospitality in healthcare.”
DeCicco was honored by the College in 2018 for his work at Northwell Health, receiving an Alumni Achievement Award in Health Care and Human Services. In 2017, he was named a Leader on the Horizon.
“This experience has taught me the true definition of service and the importance of incorporating this into my everyday life as a son, brother, friend, boyfriend, co-worker and leader,” DeCicco said of his work with Huntington Hospital throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
During both his undergraduate and graduate years at St. Joseph’s, DeCicco became extremely involved in service-related activities, specifically ones that dealt with people’s health and wellbeing.
He served as a member and eventually on the executive board of the SJC Long Island chapter of Project Sunshine, where he helped put together care packages for children at Good Samaritan Hospital and visited monthly with pediatric patients. He also participated in Relay for Life, helping to fundraise and host the College’s annual event that raised money for the American Cancer Society. Lastly, he was a brother and executive board member of the fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon, with whom he regularly attended and hosted charity events at SJC Long Island.
“While we all may have different career aspirations, we share the same end-goal of helping others in one way or another,” DeCicco wrote in his speech to his fellow graduates of the Class of 2021. “This shared goal is what unites us in making a difference in the 21st century. This is our opportunity to leave our mark and lead by example through service.”