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Success & Impact

A Legacy of Education

Caroline Frazier’s path was not always clear, but the Saint Joseph’s triple-alumna has found her calling.

A skyline shot of Barbelin Hall at sunset. Barbelin Hall, where Caroline Frazier experienced her moment of clarity.

Written by: A.J. Litchfield

Published: February 28, 2023

Total reading time: 6 minutes

“I remember when I got accepted here, I walked into the courtyard near Barbelin and I was praying,” Caroline Frazier ’08, ’10 (MS), ’14 (EdD) recalls. “‘God, if this is for me, help me and remove all my fears and doubts.’ I can remember that moment so clearly it just seemed like everything was just so crystal clear. I knew that I was supposed to be here.”

It had been a somewhat circuitous path to that moment but in Frazier’s opinion, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Any obstacle, any setback, was nothing more than a building block. After all, it was because of those setbacks that Frazier was able to build something truly remarkable: the creation of a new scholarship.

Frazier had one goal in mind when she started the Terrance L. Furin Scholarship, named after Saint Joseph’s Adjunct Professor Terrance L. Furin, whom Frazier credits with being an excellent educator and mentor. She was determined to ensure that no future students in the Interdisciplinary Doctor of Education Leadership (IDEPEL) program would struggle to pay tuition. She knows firsthand what the immense stress of racing to complete a dissertation before the money runs out can do to a person.

Frazier admits she’s no stranger to adversity. She started her higher education journey as an undergraduate at Pennsylvania State University, where she ended up having to leave before she could graduate. She says her “immature” behavior contributed to a missed opportunity that she still regrets to this day.

It took a monumental change in her life to set her on a new path: She became a mother.

“After I had children, that's when my outlook started to change. You want better for them. You don’t want them to go through what you went through.”

Her shift in perception was part of a 20-year long journey to get back on the trajectory she imagined for herself when she was a student at Penn State. After she had her son, she got a job in the computer lab at the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP), where she began tutoring students on the side. Getting back into the collegiate environment was the impetus for her decision to officially go back to school.

“I was focused,” Frazier says.

She obtained her associate bachelor’s degree from CCP, which had an exchange program with Saint Joseph’s, where she was accepted into the undergraduate criminal justice program. That was in 2006: her moment of clarity in the Barbelin courtyard.

I can remember that moment so clearly it just seemed like everything was just so crystal clear. I knew that I was supposed to be here.

Caroline Frazier ’08, ’10 (MS), ’14 (EdD)

Caroline Frazier on when she knew she belonged at SJU

Having clarity on one’s purpose does not mean that life instantly becomes devoid of challenges, however. As Frazier was finishing up her bachelor’s degree and preparing to start her master’s in criminal justice at St. Joe’s, her son was incarcerated.

“We had a really tumultuous relationship,” Frazier says. That made it all the more conflicting for Frazier when she was approached by Sister Elizabeth Linehan about participating in the Inside-Out Prison Exchange program, which brings college students and incarcerated individuals together for a semester-long course.

The more Frazier considered the program though, the more she felt it was necessary for her to be involved. Her decision to do so had two profound implications on her life. The first was that she realized that her true calling was education.

“I started to think, ‘what's the legacy that I want to leave behind?’,” Frazier recalls. “For me, it really simply is that education changes lives. Because once you know something, you can never unknow it.”

The second was that Frazier was able to mend the relationship with her son.

These experiences all combined to instill within Frazier a deep reverence for education and its transformative potential. As Frazier was finishing up her master’s, she was looking for a way to continue her education and one day teach at the college level or in a public school setting.

She found it in Saint Joseph’s Interdisciplinary Doctor of Education Leadership (IDEPEL) program.

“Teaching was the end goal,” she says. “[Education] changes the way we're able to see each other. Your mind is expanded. And I wanted to share that knowledge that I had gained.”

Frazier is able to accomplish this through her work writing curriculum for the Philadelphia Charter School. She also continues to tutor younger students, ranging from second through eighth grade.

“I am always utilizing those strategies and skills that I acquired in the IDEPEL program,” Frazier explains. “It helps me build bridges and connect with the students.”

Being someone who her students can look up to, a role model for the community and the proof that you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it are all things that Frazier takes immense pride in. She says none of that would have been possible without the IDEPEL program.

“When I was graduating, my hope was that I would be able to do something to give back to the SJU community because I felt like it had given me so much,” Frazier explains.

Thus, the idea of starting a scholarship – which would eventually become the Terrance L. Furin Scholarship – was born. Whenever she could, Frazier would put a little bit of money away. After a few years of saving, she had saved enough to commit $10,000 to starting the scholarship.

When I was graduating, my hope was that I would be able to do something to give back to the SJU community because I felt like it had given me so much.

Caroline Frazier ’08, ’10 (MS), ’14 (EdD)

Caroline Frazier on why she started the Furin Scholarship

“You ever do something and it takes on a life much greater than what you intended?” Frazier asks.

When Frazier made the donation, she assumed that when the money ran out, that would be the end of it. But through conversations with the advancement staff at Saint Joseph’s, the decision was made to open the scholarship to donations.

“[The scholarship’s] openness to contributions is absolutely brilliant. That allows it to be a continuing scholarship and I think that's wonderful,” she says.

Frazier says she wants her legacy to be that education changes lives and it is safe to say that legacy is alive and well. IDEPEL students have gone on to make immeasurable impacts throughout the Philadelphia education system, and that is in part due to Frazier’s generosity. But, as far as she is concerned, she is simply paying it forward.

“I feel so blessed and fortunate to have attended SJU,” Frazier says. She revisits the moment in the Barbelin courtyard that started her time at St. Joe’s: “At that moment, I knew that I was supposed to take this journey. I just didn't know where it would take me and I'm still on the ride.”

You can support the Terrance L. Furin Scholarship by making a gift at