Donors Spotlight: Katherine Brady ’37 and Joseph Oliva ’77

April 2024

Katherine Brady graduated from New Jersey State Teachers College, now Kean University, on June 14, 1937. Born in Newark to Irish immigrants, she was the first in her family to attend college. During her career teaching at Newark’s 15th Avenue School, she inspired many others to achieve a college degree, including her students, friends and family members - such as her nephew, Joseph Oliva ’77.

Oliva credits Brady for being “an inspiration to me on my path through life.” He followed in her footsteps by attending Kean. Like Brady, he maximized his college experience, both in the classroom and through extracurricular involvement. She was a class leader, member of the psychology club and dance study club. He served as class president, member of the student council and managing editor of the student newspaper, The Independent. He also found brotherhood and lifelong friendships in his fraternity, Sigma Beta Tau.

A management science major, Oliva’s career journey was different from that of his aunt. Much like his aunt, however, he was a leader, teacher and mentor to others. He served in the military and as a federal civilian employee for more than 50 years. His career included multiple overseas assignments, war zone deployments, three tours as an army inspector general and more than a decade each with the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Postal Service and with the Department of Defense Inspector General. He led multi-disciplinary staffs of auditors, investigators, analysts, technicians and senior military officers on a variety of assignments worldwide and won numerous military and civilian awards and decorations for his service.

After graduating from Kean, Oliva earned his MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University and was a national security research fellow at Harvard University. A certified public accountant and a charter global management accountant, he is also a member and leader of regional, national and military accounting professional societies.

Throughout his career, Oliva lived the Kean motto: Semper Discens, Always Learning. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Field Artillery School, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, U.S. Army Inspector General School, U.S. Army Logistics and Management College, Harvard University’s Executive Program for Senior Officials in National Security and the Federal Executive Institute.

Today, students are experiencing the excellent holistic education Kean provides. Like Brady, more than a third of them are the first in their families to attend college – paving the way for future generations. Others, like Oliva, are “climbing higher” by building upon their ancestors’ educational achievements. The Kean University Foundation is grateful to Oliva and to all in our community who continue the legacy of pioneers like Katherine Brady.