All in the Family: Rutgers–Camden “Golden Raptor” Will Walk with Granddaughters at Commencement

Fifty years after she graduated from Rutgers University–Camden, Geraldine Sloan Suleta will walk in the 2016 commencement ceremony for the Rutgers–Camden College of Arts and Sciences.

This time, it will be a family affair.

George Suleta CCAS'61 and Gerrie Suleta CCAS'66 at a recent Rutgers-Camden alumni event.

George Suleta CCAS’61 and Gerrie Suleta CCAS’66 at a recent Rutgers-Camden alumni event.

Suleta — known to her family and friends as “Gerrie” — is being honored as one of Rutgers–Camden’s “Golden Raptors,” an annual distinction bestowed upon members of an alumni class celebrating its 50th reunion.

Some of this year’s Golden Raptors will walk with the Class of 2016 during commencement on May 19 and Suleta will be joined by her two granddaughters, Colleen Morris and Sarah Morris, who are both graduating from Rutgers–Camden this year.

“I’m thrilled to see them graduate from Rutgers,” says Suleta, a Sarasota, Fla. resident. “They’ve both done very well. We’re so proud of what they’ve accomplished and contributed in the four years they’ve been at Rutgers–Camden. It’s exciting to be able to walk with them on May 19. It will be emotional. I hope I don’t get too teary-eyed.”

Of course, no one will judge Suleta for the happy tears to be shed that day. After all, it’s a day to celebrate.

Suleta graduated from Rutgers–Camden with a degree in the humanities in 1966 and later earned her master’s degree in reading education from Glassboro State College — now Rowan University — and enjoyed a career as a reading specialist. Her husband, George Suleta, graduated from Rutgers–Camden in 1961 and was a New Jersey Education Association field representative.

Although their time at Rutgers–Camden didn’t overlap, the couple met in Ocean City during the summer after Gerrie’s sophomore year at Rutgers–Camden.

Gerrie Suleta (center) with granddaughters Sarah Morris (left) and Colleen Morris (right).

Gerrie Suleta (center) with granddaughters Sarah Morris (left) and Colleen Morris (right).

“I was waitressing for the summer,” explains Suleta, who grew up in Moorestown and Willingboro. “George just got out of the Marine Corps. He came down to the shore for a day with a friend who happened to be dating a very close friend of mine. We were introduced and the rest is history, of course.”

It’s a history that now includes multiple generations of Rutgers–Camden graduates. The Suletas’ youngest son, Michael Suleta, graduated from Rutgers Law School in 2007, and Colleen and Sarah Morris will earn their bachelor’s degrees in health sciences and biology, respectively, this year.

“Rutgers has provided George and me with the kind of background where we’ve both been able to be reasonably successful as we moved through life with our family and our careers,” Suleta says. “I do believe that Rutgers has also helped shape both Colleen and Sarah into the efficient, competent, and assertive women that they are today, ready to find both success and happiness in this world.”

Colleen and Sarah Morris, both of Cherry Hill, are two of Gerrie and George Suleta’s 10 grandchildren. Both Rutgers–Camden students say they are proud to share the commencement stage with their grandmother this year.

“Our grandparents have always been an important part of our lives and to have her there is going to be an emotional moment,” Sarah Morris says. “It’s a privilege to walk in their footsteps and continue their legacy.”

There’s never a shortage of Rutgers–Camden stories among the family members, especially surrounding philanthropic activities through Greek life.

Colleen Morris says, “They were both involved in Greek life and we are, too, so we’ve made that connection and strengthened that bond.”

In the five decades since they graduated, Gerrie and George Suleta have made it a point to stay involved in Rutgers–Camden activities, and often come back to campus to visit, stopping over at their Cape May home during their stay. In December, they toured the new Alumni House, currently under construction on Cooper Street, and recently made the trip from Florida to participate in Alumni Weekend activities in April.

“We’ve seen tremendous changes take place on campus, beginning with the residence halls, and we were here when the new law school building was being built,” Suleta says. “When I was here, it was nothing like it is now. It’s grown so much and it really is beautiful.”

Fortunately for Rutgers–Camden, Gerrie Suleta’s family has always been a part of its history.

Posted in: Scarlet Pride

Comments are closed.