A Conversation with…

Kevin Celisca, BS'14

Where did you grow up?

My parents immigrated from Haiti to the United States. I grew up in a tough area of Irvington, N.J. Despite the hardships I went through during childhood, my faith in God is what kept me looking forward to better days. 

What were your experiences like at FDU?

I came to FDU through EOF (Educational Opportunity Fund), and I was immediately struck by the feeling of family at the University. Everyone cared about me and my success. I also had incredible opportunities to study abroad. I learned to speak Italian and studied at the University of Bergamo in Northern Italy. FDU’s Wroxton College in England exposed me to the British tutorial system and taught me the value of critical thinking. And I helped teach English in China and the Dominican Republic. 

I also took advantage of FDU’s alternative spring break program, building houses with Habitat for Humanity in West Virginia and providing activities for Navajo children in Arizona.

It was time for me to grow and these experiences gave me exactly what I needed. 

FDU changed my life. There were people at the University like Marjorie Hall (University Coordinator/Director of the EOF Program) who opened a pathway for me, who pushed me when I felt like giving up. Thank you for the opportunity of a lifetime!

What was life like after graduation?

After graduation I worked for Ernst and Young, but there was something missing. I didn’t want to just show up for work each day and go through the motions. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, especially first-generation Americans like me, so I left Ernst and Young to start my own business. My experiences at FDU gave me the courage to do this.

The first business I co-founded was Integrate Tech with fellow alumnus Maxwell Witt. The company is in its early stages, and our services will use technology to help high school teachers manager their classrooms and help students stay organized. The second business I work with is College Lingual, a non-profit co-founded by another FDU alumnus, Jemima Laurent. College Lingual helps first-generation American high school students by assisting them and their families as they go through the college experience. We stay with them until they get their first job offer. My roles with the organization include CFO and business development manager. 

What’s the most important outcome of your experiences in FDU’s Silberman College of Business?

Silberman gave me confidence and taught me how to be a self-starter. I learned how to budget, to set goals and think about the future.

What’s the greatest obstacle you’ve had to face?

The transition from college student to the real world was very difficult for me. But I taught myself the value of reflection. I took it day-by-day and thought about what was good, what went wrong and how I could make it better. If I can get better by one percent each day, I think that’s pretty good.

Who has influenced you the most?

My grandmother. We have first-class problems here in the U.S. and we tend to forget that. My grandma went through a hard time, immigrating from Haiti to America with seven kids. When I feel down I think of her and how she fought to make a better life for her children. I draw power from her strength every day.

About Kevin Celisca

Kevin Celisca earned a BS in accounting from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2014. He currently serves as business development manager and CFO of College Lingual and is co-founder of Integrate Tech. He is a member of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) and the New Jersey Society of CPAs (NJSCPA). While a student at FDU, Celisca received numerous awards and honors including scholarships from Chi Alpha Epsilon National Honor Society, Nu Nu Chapter of Omega Psi Phi, NABA and NJSCPA.