Thursday, November 10, 2011
After three weeks of meetings, service projects, interviews and competitions, Loni Chasar ’12, an Elementary Education and Psychology dual major, was crowned the 2011 Cranberry Queen on November 5 during Rider’s Family Weekend. Upon hearing her name, Chasar put both hands on her cheeks, her eyes brimming with tears. She had been dreaming of this moment since her freshman year.
Chasar always knew that she would attend Rider, and remembers standing on the sidelines of the men’s basketball games as a “little Rider cheerleader,” with her parents, Gregory Chasar M.A. ’78 and Kathleen Scott ’93. At the age of 5, Chasar decided that she would one day return to Rider as a cheerleader, unaware that future back injuries, and leg surgery would leave her unable to participate in anything physical. Nevertheless, Chasar pursued her dream of attending Rider.
Even as a commuter from her home in Ewing, Chasar immediately became an active member of the Lawrenceville campus. She began working as an office assistant for the men’s basketball team working alongside head coach Tommy Dempsey. Then she joined the Bonner Leaders in the Rider Bonner Community Scholars program. Since then, she has served more than 1,300 hours of community service, as a Community Impact intern, Trenton After School Program tutor, and a Enable, Inc., volunteer. At Enable, Chasar planned and administered the Saturday Respite Program for individuals with disabilities.
In her address to the audience during the Cranberry Queen competition’s finale on November 5, Chasar described how the individuals she met at Enable changed her and helped her grow tremendously.
“One specific family that has helped me grow is the Crum family. Ashley is 23 years old and has epilepsy, but she also has a cognitive disability due to her seizures. She is the strongest person I know,” she said. “Even though I am positioned to be her mentor, she has become my mentor in so many ways. Her parents I also admire and they have taught me a great deal about the resilient nature of love.”
In addition to the Bonner Program, Chasar has held a variety of leadership positions at Rider. During the summer of 2009, she was a member of the Orientation staff. She has also served as a Freshman Seminar Class mentor and on a number of committees. She is currently the president of Rider’s Pi Rho chapter of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, a Senior Admissions representative for the Office of Admissions and the Relay for Life Survivorship Chair.
“Rider helped me become a better person mentally and physically through service, leadership, education and employment. Rider is everything to me; it’s my past, my parents’ past, and my present. I know it will be part of my future,” Chasar said. “I do bleed cranberry.”
A dean’s list student, Chasar is also pursuing a dual minor in Special Education and Early Childhood, and has emerged as a leader beyond campus as a student teacher. She is conducting her Senior Year Professional Experience for Early Childhood at the UNOW Nursery School in Princeton. In the spring, she plans to student teach at the Chapin School in Princeton and New Grange School in Hamilton.
“You will not find a better representative of what Rider is all about than Ms. Chasar, as she is an exceptionally talented leader with strong communicative abilities and is among the premier students at Rider University,” said Don Harnum, director of Athletics. “Known for her thoughtfulness and attention to detail, Loni’s passion and school pride has definitely helped benefit the campus culture of Rider University, and the Department of Athletics significantly.”
The Cranberry Queen competition included a day of service, interviews, a Rider trivia/spirit competition, a costume competition, a voting of the candidates’ vignette boards and a non-perishable food collection. The finale took place in the BLC Theater and consisted of a self-expression and final question. The finalists wowed the crowd with their speaking, singing and dancing abilities.
The rest of the Cranberry Queen Court included Shannon Donahue ’12, a Communication major with a concentration in TV/Radio; Meryl Krotowski ’12, an Elementary Education and Psychology dual major; Amanda Lerch ’12, a Communication major with a concentration in Public Relations; and Brittany Shaykevich ’12, a Psychology major.
Meg Tierney, a M.B.A. student and residence director, was a member of the Cranberry Queen competition committee.
“The competition was very close and all of the girls worked extremely hard to represent their respective organizations on campus,” Tierney said. “These girls truly were the ideal representation of Rider University and its values.”