CALDWELL –The conclusion of a year-long comprehensive academic research effort will be celebrated as Mount St. Dominic Academy (MSDA) hosts the Senior Capstone Academic Symposium and Reception on Tuesday, May 1.

The Capstone Symposium is open to Mount students, faculty and staff. It will take place in the MSDA Athletic Center during school hours. The Capstone Reception is open to the broader Mount community and general public. The evening reception will take place in the Athletic Center from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Local students Aleah Colon-Alfonso ’18 of Caldwell and Nell Marootian ’18 of Essex Fells are included in the symposium.

A yearlong investigation addresses a research question

The course is the brainchild of MSDA Library Media Specialist and Curriculum Coordinator Marissa Muoio ’08 and MSDA Curriculum Coordinator Kristen Zosche. The Senior Capstone in Directed Research was introduced for the 2017-18 school year.

The new course, which must be applied for in a student’s junior year, allowed seniors to deeply explore an academic topic, problem, issue or idea of interest to them. This exploration has potential to be tied to a future major or career path. The students then design, plan, and implement a yearlong investigation to address a research question. The course culminates with an academic paper and panel presentation, part of the day-long symposium on May 1.

Alumnae mentors

As part of the program, the 14 students were each paired with a Mount St. Dominic Academy alumnae mentor with expertise in a relevant field. The mentors worked with the students to help guide them in their specific areas of inquiry.

“Through Capstone, I focused on the topic of campus sexual assault. I feel that as a young woman about to enter college, it is a subject that really needs to be brought to the forefront,” said Marootian. “I am so glad I participated in the Senior Capstone, it’s been an amazing experience.” Marootian partnered with MSDA alumnae mentor Rebecca Gehman, class of 2008, who is account director at Development Counsellors International.

Giving back and providing insight and support

For the 2017 – 2018 school year, 14 MSDA alumnae took on the role of mentor, with several other alumnae serving as advisors as well. In addition to providing the students with a professional mentor, the Capstone program gives alumnae of the Mount a way to give back to the school. The also provide insight and support to a graduating senior. 

“The Capstone Program teaches students to think critically, ask questions, and test hypothesis, translational tools that will help students succeed in any discipline,” said Jennifer Fragale, Fellow at the Aston-Jones Lab in the Brain Health Institute of Rutgers University. “Through the Capstone Program, I have had the opportunity to give back to the Mount St. Dominic community by sharing my expertise and helping to support a new generation of empowered young women.”

Fragale worked with Mount senior Olivia Matts ’18 with a research focus on various therapies and their impact on alleviating the symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome and other disorders

More information

For more information about the MSDA Capstone in Directed Research program, please contact Marissa Muoio or Kate Sullivan, director of alumnae relations, at

See The Progress article.