Guardian Angel Society Puts Catholic School Students On Track for Success

| January 20, 2011

By Claudia Mathis

Melanie George and Lawrence Denson have many things in common, but the most important factor is that their success has been determined by the high quality Catholic education they have received in the Diocese of Syracuse. Both were educated in Syracuse Catholic schools and benefited from scholarships provided by the Guardian Angel Society.

“Catholic education has played a great part in my success,” said George. “It set my core foundation of life and personal skills.”

George’s and Denson’s commonalities include having successful careers in the world of finance in New York City and starting their education at the former Cathedral School. They also both live in Brooklyn, NY, and graduated from high school and college at the same time.

Melanie George

Melanie George

Born in White Plains, NY, George moved to Syracuse with her mother when she was 7 years old. After attending Syracuse’s Franklin Elementary School for one year, George was able to transfer to Cathedral School because she received a scholarship from Fr. Champlin’s Guardian Angel Society.

Founded by the late Msgr. Joseph Champlin, the Guardian Angel Society helps educate children of diverse cultural, religious and economic backgrounds in the Diocese of Syracuse through tuition assistance. When the Guardian Angel Society began, it benefitted students at the former Cathedral School. Today, that support goes to students and alumni from the Cathedral Academy at Pompei (CAP) on the city’s North side.

George continued to receive tuition assistance from Guardian Angel while in high school. After graduating in 2004, George attended Georgetown University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in finance in 2008.

Soon after, George began to work at Citibank in New York City as a financial analyst, the position she holds today. She said she really enjoys her job. “I love the business aspect of it,” George said. “Every day is different and I’m constantly learning because the economy has changed drastically.”

George said that she initially wanted to become a lawyer. While in high school she was interested in politics and served as senior class president. She liked to debate issues. “I liked to pursue a point,” George said. But when George was a college sophomore, her career aspiration took a turn toward finance. She had enrolled in an economics course, which she enjoyed very much. “I liked the quantitative aspect of business,” she said.

George said that the care shown to her by her teachers as she progressed through the Catholic school system greatly influenced the way she interacts with people today. “I’m always wanting to help people — especially on the job,” she explained.

She credits Champlin for playing a major role in her
upbringing. In addition to helping her throughout elementary and high school, he purchased George’s textbooks for her during her first year at Georgetown University.

Both George and Denson kept in touch with Champlin by telephone while attending college, and they met for dinner with him whenever they travelled back to Syracuse.

Lawrence Denson

Lawrence Denson

Denson’s path in life has also led to success. He has worked as a credit derivative analyst at Goldman Sachs in New York City since 2008. Denson also owns a part-time business that provides employee benefits to companies’ employees, particularly in the field of will preparation.

Denson truly enjoys his job at Goldman Sachs. He described the atmosphere as fast-paced and competitive. “I love it — there’s always something to do,” he said. “It’s very challenging because there’s a level of excellence that you have to work toward every day.”

Working hard is something that Denson has done from an early age. His father emphasized the importance of discipline in the attainment of his goals. “He always said, ‘Give it all that you’ve got,’” said Denson.

Even when he attended Cathedral School, he was encouraged to work hard. As a 4th grader, he was instructed to write “effort brings success” across the top of each of his papers.

Denson believes that several characteristics of Catholic education have contributed to his success. The first is the discipline of wearing a uniform to school every day. “I have to do that now,” he said. “I dress for success.” The second one is the close interaction between teachers and students. “I felt that they cared about me and my education,” Denson said.

Denson graduated in 2008 from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in finance. Today, he feels extremely grateful for the scholarships he received from the Guardian Angel Society throughout his school years, and he intends to help others receive the kind of help he was given.

“My goal for the future is to be active in the non-profit organizations that have helped me out in the past — places like the Guardian Angel Society, the NAACP and On Point for College,” said Denson. l

Claudia Mathis is a staff writer for the Catholic Sun.

Category: Featured, Quality

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