While her love for music was instilled at an early age by her father, who was an excellent musician and teacher, Cynthia Loreti Cullen ’77 believes Shenandoah ultimately gave her the experience to be successful in the workforce after graduation.
“I loved my years at Shenandoah,” said Cullen. “SU gave me many tools that I would lean on later in life, in every career! We had excellent professors at Shenandoah, who were passionate about music and teaching. They truly cared about the students and that was very influential to me and carried through all my years of teaching.”
Cullen received a Bachelor of Music in Performance (Flute) from Shenandoah in 1977. After graduation, she spent the next several years substitute teaching and started a flute studio in Summit, New Jersey. She also played in and around the Central New Jersey area. Then, Cullen moved to California, where she continued to play and teach in the Monterey Bay area. She sold pianos and organs for the Baldwin Music Company as well.
In 1985, Cullen began her next career as a claims management specialist for Selective Insurance Company in Trenton, New Jersey. She found her years at Selective Insurance very rewarding, earning multiple designations such as certified insurance service representative, certified insurance counselor and associate in claims. Cullen loved being able to help people as a claims management specialist.
“For some people, their entire lives would be wiped out by a fire. I can remember sitting with a family for hours, sifting through burned out china, family heirlooms, trying to recall and piece their lives back together. While the money at that point was insignificant, having your insurance representative show empathy and hold your hand through the process meant so much to so many people who I dealt with over the the years.”
After 20 years in the insurance field, she decided to retire and now works with her husband, Michael Cullen, at his family-owned business, Mechanical Precision in Flemington, New Jersey. Cullen is a controller, but is also the bookkeeper, account manager, office manager and human resources director.
Cullen has a son, Alex Lawton, who currently lives in Sarasota, Florida, selling airplanes. She also has two stepchildren, Kerry and Josh Cullen. Kerry is a graduate of Columbia University in New York, New York, is an assistant editor at Henry Holt & Co., and will publish her first book soon. Josh is a graduate of Towson University in Towson, Maryland, and serves as director of operations at University Recruiters in Baltimore, Maryland.
Cullen feels it is important to give back to Shenandoah University, because it is a crucial time in a young person’s life and we should all be invested in the future of our youth.
“Today, when I see the growth of Shenandoah I am so proud. We could not be where we are today without the generous support of time and money from our alumni.”
She is also involved with the university because she loves connecting with other alumni and equally loves talking to potential students about Shenandoah.
In her free time, Cullen is a distributor for Young Living essential oils and is an event planner for MILFORD ALIVE!, a street festival in Milford, New Jersey. In addition, she started a new music ministry at her church, called SUNDAY NIGHT ALIVE!