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Growing Up


Winter/Spring 2015

Alvernia students enjoy the season outside Francis Hall.

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This page: Theo Anderson; On the cover: art by Ken Fallin


Upgrades at Angelica Park Veterans Center Opens President’s Honor Roll

Features 6 8 10


Faculty Making a Difference 

Spy Games 14 Growing Up Updike 20 Lucky 13: Our Best & Brightest 25

Alumni Notes 12

Alumni Director Named 

50 54

Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness “For universities like ours … the impact is clear: communitybased learning and civic engagement opportunities foster student engagement and experiential learning …”

Thomas F. Flynn President

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Every generation of college students faces a new raft of challenges unique to its time and embedded in the culture of the period. And so it is no surprise that today’s graduates are confronting issues unimaginable by their parents in their younger years. Beheadings in Syria. Ebola in Liberia. Drone attacks in Iraq. Closer to home, we now expect unprecedented airport safety measures and wrestle with government access to personal information contained in cell phone conversations and text messages, all in the name of national security (see p. 14.) These are not their parents’ issues, nor were they David Updike’s when he grew up as the son of his famed Pulitzer Prize-winning father (see p. 20). Yet while much has changed for college students, much has remained the same, like their motivation for the much-coveted sheepskin: a quest for the Great American Dream and those familiar national ideals of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” All of which makes the findings of a recent Gallup/Purdue University study, “Great Jobs, Great Lives,” even more compelling. According to this recent survey of 30,000 college graduates, the most important factors determining future well-being, happiness and success have little to do with where students go to college. As it turns out, the critical factor is whether or not students get engaged, and we are not talking about the kind of engagement that leads them soon to the altar and wedded bliss! The poll points instead to a very different kind of engagement: active involvement in academic and social clubs, campus leadership roles, internships, academic research, community service and athletics, among other activities. So forget about focusing on pricey elite schools with big brand names. The national study makes it clear that more than a school’s selectivity or sticker price or ranking in U.S. News, what students do on campus, and how they experience their education, play the greatest role in contributing to a better life after graduation. This is good news for Alvernia students and alums alike! For when it comes to student engagement, Alvernia stands out. One hundred percent of our undergraduates participate in community service, with 98 percent involved in at least one real-world learning opportunity, 86 percent active in a co-/ extracurricular organization or athletic team and 70 percent active in two or more. The Gallup report also indicates that engaged students become engaged employees who are highly involved and enthusiastic about their work and on track to be high performers. There is also ample evidence to go one step further: engaged students and engaged employees are more likely to become engaged citizens, working to make their communities better too. The data suggests this is especially true for students who earn degrees at

one of the religiously affiliated universities across the country that embrace the responsibility to shape women and men of character and conscience, the kind of committed, values-based citizens essential for a free democracy — what we at Alvernia refer to as “ethical leaders with moral courage.” At Alvernia, the proof is all around us. Just look at Hugh Organ ’93 (p. 42), who — as associate executive director of the Covenant House in Philadelphia — is having a positive impact daily on the lives of young adults in need. Or consider recent graduate Captain Ashley Welsh ’10 (p. 38), a student whom I remember well, who works on the front lines in Afghanistan helping wounded warriors recover. Or senior healthcare science major Terry Harrington (p. 28), who goes the extra mile to put a smile on the faces of hospitalized children. These and many other alums model the Franciscan ideal of “knowledge joined with love.” At a time when the national conversation seems preoccupied with the financial “return on investment” of a college degree, here is an even more appealing bottom line: active involvement in engaged learning during students’ college years pays dividends long after they turn their tassels and toss their mortarboards. For universities like ours that are committed to serving the common good as well as fostering individual success, the impact is clear: communitybased learning and civic engagement opportunities foster student engagement and experiential learning, which in turn benefit not only our students but also their communities. And students who connect personal virtues and strengths with community needs and civic engagement stay committed to those causes. We couldn’t be prouder of the 75 percent of our alumni who remain actively involved in community service many years after they leave their alma mater. So I suppose we owe a note of gratitude to the folks at Gallup and Purdue for providing the proof positive of something we have been espousing for years — doing well and doing good go hand in hand. Peace and all good,

Tom Flynn

Introducing Learning made easy

Online certification & degree programs

On Campus Flynn at CIC Alvernia President Thomas F. Flynn is among a distinguished panel of respected college presidents participating in a special plenary session at the 2015 Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) Presidents Institute. At this largest annual meeting of college and university presidents, Flynn will join three other higher education leaders in addressing

A walk in the park Thanks to a recently approved state grant from the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Finance Authority, nearby Angelica Park will undergo a multimillion-dollar makeover that will

how institutional

dramatically improve road safety, increase accessibility and

presidents can

enhance its appeal. Alvernia is committing resources to sup-

improve governance, adapt to trustees’ changing expectations and

port the park project as well. A favorite recreation and study spot for students, the park

strengthen the effectiveness of college

will see upgrades to St. Bernardine Street, replacing a bridge

boards. Flynn was also named last fall

and installing pedestrian walkways, bike paths and street

to a CIC steering committee focused on exploring the future of independent liberal arts colleges and encouraging

lighting. While additional funds are needed to move the project forward, approval of the state grant funding represents

independent schools to revitalize their

a significant step forward to enhance access to the park for

missions and business models.

pedestrian traffic, as well as to allow for bus access, which


has been prohibited because of roadway limitations. “The park’s growing popularity with students and area

To provide Alvernia’s growing adult stu-

residents makes improving running and cycling trails and

dent population with more learning op-

ensuring safety an important initiative,” said Alvernia Presi-

tions to address their busy schedules,

dent Thomas F. Flynn. “It’s also vital for the Environmental

a new approach that delivers degree and certification programs fully online

Exploration Center located in the park, and the Berks County

is launching. Beginning in January

Conservancy, which has plans to relocate its new headquar-

2015, Alvernia Online will begin offering

ters there in the future.”

Angelica Park is slated for a multimillion-dollar makeover in the future that will add walkways, bike paths and street lighting to the green space that is a main entry point to Alvernia’s campus. At right, students Andy Kaucher and Maryssa Smith enjoy the park’s scenic stream.

RN-to-BSN and MBA degree programs as well as a graduate certification in special education, with more programs to follow in the coming months.

Alvernia’s O’Pake Institute is leading an effort to develop a health center that will serve the Oakbrook Public Housing neighborhood and surrounding areas in Reading. Through a consortium of institutions (St. Joseph’s Medical Center, Reading Health System, Reading Housing Authority, Berks County Community Clinic and the Easter Seals Society,) the initiative hopes to provide health services for low-income residents and become a setting for Alvernia students to get real-world experience.

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New board members named Alvernia continues to attract outstanding community leaders to serve on its Board of Trustees. Recently named board members include Steven Banco, M.D., founding partner at Surgical Institute of Reading; Charles Flynn, Ph.D., president of the College of Mount Saint Vincent; Sr. David Ann Niski, OSF, executive director of the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters Foundation; Peter Rye, president of Brentwood Industries, Inc.; Gregg Shemanski, president and founder of Custom Processing Services and
Andy Ziolkowski, senior vice president, Carpenter Technology. Jeffrey Rush, regional president for the Great Valley Division of Fulton Bank and Patrick Shields, CEO of Fromuth Tennis, were also appointed to the board last spring. “We continue to be blessed with trustees who have a passion for our mission and a deep commitment to our community,” said Alvernia President Thomas F. Flynn. “Their talents, leadership and insights are having a tremendous impact on our work to make Alvernia a distinctive Franciscan university.”

top left: Theo Anderson

Oakbrook Initiative

For more news, visit

FOLLOW THE LEADER Alvernia has been recognized by NASPA, the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education organization, as one of 10 lead institutions on civic learning and democratic engagement. “Being named as a national leader in this field is a reflection of the quality of our current efforts,” said Joe Cicala, vice president for university life and dean of students. “We are committed to inspiring students to challenge themselves through leadership and service roles and will continue to encourage civic development through community partnerships, engaging leadership opportunities and democratic participation.”

FAST-TRACKING YOUR MBA Busy professionals interested in earning their Alvernia MBA just got great news: students in the program can earn their degrees at an accelerated pace in just 12 months. Designed for busy professionals, the program can now be completed in as little as one year, with online and on-campus options available for seamless course instruction. “Working professionals continue to be time starved,” said Scott Ballantyne, business department chair. “The accelerated MBA program format is ideal for these individuals, allowing greater flexibility and the ability to achieve a degree at a much faster

above: John Shetron

pace that can open the door to

Sweet dreams — Sandy Solmon (right), nationally recognized founder, president and CEO of Sweet Street Desserts, was awarded with an honorary doctorate of humane letters at Alvernia’s December commencement ceremony, where she was also the keynote speaker. More than 30 years after she started baking cookies in her garage, Sweet Street has evolved into the largest manufacturer of frozen gourmet desserts in North America and boasts a long list of clients with recognizable names, such as P.F. Chang’s, Olive Garden, Barnes & Noble and Starbucks. Solmon offered graduates words of wisdom based on her business success.

future advancement.”

LIFELONG LEARNING Thanks to a unique new partnership with Alvernia, residents of The Highlands at Wyomissing are going back to college! The nonprofit retirement community that works to enrich the lives of senior adults through highquality care now offers its residents the ability to attend all Seniors College classes at the university. Additional classes are also offered onsite at the Highlands.

Alvernia University Magazine


On Campus Military friendly… still! For the third consecutive year, G.I. Jobs magazine awarded Alvernia its Military Friendly distinction. The designation is held by only the top 15 percent of universities, colleges and trade schools in the nation that have gone above and beyond to provide transitioning veterans the best possible experience in higher education. It also recognizes the university’s commitment to supporting the continuing education needs of American military personnel.

Top scholar Alvernia’s Tracey Brown was selected as one of 85 doctoral students nationwide to receive a $15,000 award from the Philanthropic Educational Organization Sisterhood. The P.E.O. Scholar Awards support study and research by women who will make significant contributions in their varied fields of endeavor. Brown’s work focuses on the environment and sustainability issues. She was also selected as the P.E.O. Presidential Endowed Scholar

Alvernia’s Miller Gallery will feature the works of a range of outstanding artists this spring including Zan Lambardo (Jan. 20 – Feb. 11); Suzanne Fellows (Feb. 16 - March 11) and Jerry Holleran (March 16 - April 10). The popular Spring Student Art Show will be held April 20 - May 13. Above, trustees and students enjoy a recent show in the gallery.

in honor of International President

Tracey Brown

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Veterans center opens Veterans, students on active or reserve military duty and their friends have a new place to gather on campus. The Alvernia Veterans Center officially opened last fall as a resource center staffed by work-study students and Veterans Club volunteers. Located in Bernardine Hall, the center will act as a hub for activities and programs for the growing student veteran population. A generous donation from Trustee Carl Anderson (third from left) and his wife Debbie provided a two-year start-up fund to launch the center.

bottom left: Theo Anderson; bottom right: Carey Manzolillo

Maria Baseggio.

For more news, visit

Spring arts events ‘impressive’ For more than 50 years, Alvernia has been providing a dynamic environment for students and community members to experience arts and cultural events. That tradition continues this spring through the university’s Performing Arts Series that will showcase a range of outstanding performers, talented entertainers and accomplished artists. World-renowned pianist Leon Bates is scheduled to take the Francis Hall stage in February, alongside soprano Louise Toppin and baritone Robert Sims. Together, they will be performing the music of one of America’s favorite composers, George Gershwin. According to Bates, the music of Gershwin is made up of “beautiful, romantic melodies” that people will recognize and that are “singable, danceable and listenable.” In an interview with the Manitowoc, Wis., Herald Times, he described brothers George and Ira Gershwin as “… a slice of American life. They tapped into their own background … .” On March 18, accomplished jazz vocalist Cyrille Aimée headlines a special preview of the 25th Annual Berks Jazz Fest on Alvernia’s campus. The award-winning jazz vocalist has been described as one of “the most promising jazz singers of our generation.” For more information about all events and tickets, visit

Joseph FireCrow

Grammy Time Renowned Native American flutist Joseph FireCrow delighted an appreciative Alvernia audience with his signature storytelling performance, which was a mix of artistry and music. A multiple award-winning artist, FireCrow has been honored with a Grammy as well as six American Music Awards, including Songwriter of the Year and the prestigious Artist of the Year.

HALL OF FAMERS Four new members were recently inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame during a ceremony held in the Physical Education Center. The class of 2014 included Ray Strickland ’04 (men’s basketball), Mike Pence ’98 (baseball), Sandra Slabik (former athletics director) and Mandy (Davis) McClune ’96 (field

top center: John Shetron

Women’s basketball coach named Former Alvernia player and assistant coach Jen Sawyer (pictured left during her playing days) has been appointed the interim women’s basketball head coach. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” said Sawyer. “This season holds a lot of potential and I’m excited to get started.” Donning the uniform for the maroon and gold from 2000 to 2004, Sawyer finished her career ninth in scoring with 1,079 points and helped lead the team to two Pennsylvania Athletic Conference Championships and an ECAC South Region appearance. She replaces Kevin Calabria, who coached the Lady Crusaders from 1989 to 2013, and achieved a win-loss record of 433-249.

hockey and softball).

Hot off the press Spencer Stober, professor of biology and leadership studies at Alvernia, has added another published book to his long list of credits. The well-traveled environmental scholar co-authored “Transitions to Sustainability: Theoretical Debates for a Changing Planet,” with David Humphreys. The book explores the need to find new and innovative responses to global environmental degradation and the pressing theoretical and conceptual challenges for both practitioners and scholars of sustainability. It’s available online at commongroundpublishing. com.

Alvernia University Magazine


On Campus National recognition Alvernia has once again been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, with Distinction, by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Education. The annual award recognizes higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service to achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities. Alvernia has earned a place on the honor roll every year since the award’s inception in 2006.

Engaging Alvernia A recent Gallup poll makes it clear: it’s not where you go to college that counts most, it is how you do it. Engagement on campus in clubs, leadership roles, internships, academic research, community service, athletics and the arts is what makes the biggest difference when preparing lives. And when it comes to student engagement, Alvernia stands out! One hundred percent of our graduates participate in service work, with 98 percent involved in at least one real-world learning opportunity, 86 percent active in a co-/extracurricular organization or athletic team and 70 percent active in two or more. “Alvernia students have always been an active and engaged group,” said Joe Cicala, vice president for university life and dean of students. “The recent Gallup poll serves to underscore the importance of curricular and co-/extracurricular activities for students’ success during their college years and well beyond.”

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Life in the fast lane For more than 50 years, Maple Grove Raceway has been attracting thousands of hot rod enthusiasts to witness some of the country’s top fuel dragsters, jet-powered vehicles and street-legal grudge racing. Known as the fastest drag strip in the nation, top drivers at the Mohnton, Pa., track have been clocked at over 320 miles per hour (and to think some complain that Alvernia students drive too fast!) The popular speedway recently partnered with another fast mover, Alvernia’s O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Public Service, to study the economic impact of the annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) National Championships event held in October. Led by Dave Myers, director of the O’Pake Institute, with Dr. Tufan Tiglioglu, associate professor of finance and international business, the study is examining the direct, indirect and induced economic impact of the Nationals event on the local and regional economies in and around Berks County.

Above: Theo Anderson

students for happy and successful

For more news, visit

Albert and Eunice Boscov with Alvernia President Thomas Flynn.

TOP HONORS AWARDED Alvernia hosted its annual President’s Dinner in October, honoring organizations and individuals who have made significant impact on the university and its surrounding community. The Pro Urbe Award, literally meaning “for the city,” was presented to Carpenter Technology. The Franciscan Award, presented to Albert and Eunice Boscov, honors those who selflessly give their time, talents and resources for the betterment of others.

Safe travels for seniors Older Americans are often the safest drivers because they are most likely to wear seat belts, and less likely to speed or drink and drive. However, they are also more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a crash.

Legendary NHRA driver Tony Schumacher visited Alvernia’s campus last fall with his top fuel dragster. Among those on hand to admire the fast-moving racer were students in Assistant Professor of Business Dr. Woosoon Kim’s sport management class (pictured above). Kim is in discussions with Maple Grove Raceway management to further engage Alvernia sport management students in track events on a number of fronts.

Research suggests the number of car accidents involving older adults can be reduced by recommendations that improve vision and joint mobility. To that end, a group of enthusiastic Alvernia occupational therapy students got some hands-on experience

top right: ed Kopicki

at the AAA Wyomissing, participating

“Maple Grove is a world-class facility and one of the top attractions in our region,” said Myers. “Getting a better idea of the economic impact of major events held there is valuable for the track and for others in the region who want to understand the potential of the area to attract visitors and generate tourism spending.” Under Myers’ leadership, the O’Pake Institute has evolved into an effective catalyst for creating community partnerships that support the broader community and promote dialogue on important civic issues while fostering public engagement. “We continue to view the institute’s role as core to establishing Alvernia as a leader in community-based learning and research,” said Myers. “Our work with Maple Grove Raceway and other organizations is critical to achieving that goal while at the same time providing opportunities for our faculty and students to become involved in projects through scholarly activities. Both are very consistent with our mission to serve the greater region and its citizens.” Maple Grove Raceway is centered on a quarter-mile straight racetrack that features NHRA drag racing as well as specialized automotive-oriented events every weekend from April to November. The track will host the 2015 NHRA Nationals Oct. 1–4.

in the national CarFit program. Developed with the American Occupational Therapy Association, CarFit helps mature drivers “fit” well in their vehicles. Alvernia’s Geriatric Performance students involved with the program worked with older adults to educate them on simple but very effective practices to ensure maximum comfort and safety while driving. “Some of the suggestions are basic, like sitting farther than 10 inches from the steering wheel, knowing how to properly adjust mirrors and practicing good foot positioning on the gas and brake pedals,” said Assistant Professor Kayla Reigel. “But they can save lives and that’s what we are here for.”

Alvernia University Magazine


Scott Batz

Robyne Eisenhauer, MSN, RN

Instructor of Nursing

Nursing Resource Center Lab Director

Greg Chown, OTD, OTR/L


Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy

Suzanne Mader, MSN



Assistant Professor of Nursing

John Lichtenwalner, MSW Instructor & Social Work Field Coordinator

Left to right, Chown, Batz, Lichtenwalner, Mader and Eisenhauer are using an Alvernia Innovation Grant for an inter-professional lab simulation between nursing, social work and occupational therapy.

Thomas Porrazzo, Ph.D., LAT, ATC Associate Professor of Athletic Training

Alicia Sprow, Ph.D. Environmental Sustainability Coordinator

Porrazzo and Sprow received an Alvernia Innovation Grant to explore creation of a minor in outdoor adventure leadership.

For more news, visit

Alvernia scholars remain highly visible on the national scene. Five Ph.D. candidates (Sibel Ahi, Tracey L. Brown, Sean J. Cullen,

Brian Petersen and Abby Wells) and six faculty and staff members (Travis Berger, Tim Blessing, David Myers, Alicia Sprow, Spencer Stober and Tufan Tiglioglu) presented at the International Leadership Association’s conference in San Diego. “Nature-Centered Leadership,” authored by Stober, Brown and Cullen, was a finalist for the conference’s outstanding book.

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Carey Manzolillo (2)

 Notable

Periscope Alvernia’s faculty making a difference

Bongrae Seok, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Philosophy

Seok presented a series of papers: “Cultural Evolution of Shame” at the International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Language, Culture and Reality (University of Penn.); “Theories of Space and Emptiness: Ancient Atomism, Mozi and Dedekind” at the Second Singapore Workshop on Integrated History and Philosophy of Science Practice (Nayang Technological University, Singapore); and “The Moral Psychology of Buddhist Meditation” at the Conference for the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy (SUNY, Binghamton).

Chris Wise, DPT Associate Professor of Physical Therapy

Robin Zappin, Ed.D., PT Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy

Theo Anderson (4)

Wise explored “Orthopedic manual physical therapy: From art to evidence” and Zappin developed a professional behaviors assessment tool with recently awarded Faculty Excellence Grants.

q My Turn

Valuing Our Veterans

As a Vietnam combat veteran, I have a tremendous respect for military veterans. The citizens of the United States owe a debt of gratitude to these men and women. Unless you have walked in their shoes, you may not fully understand the sacrifices they have made to ensure the freedoms we enjoy in our country. Providing a venue for veterans to receive a Edgar J. college education is the Hartung, least we can do for these M.A., JD patriotic Americans. Criminal Justice Veterans, as a whole, are Department a more mature group of Chair students and, as such, are dedicated to receiving an education. They are excellent students. However, we must be mindful that combat veterans bring with them memories of terrible events, including the loss of comrades in battle, the sacrifices of their families and issues of readjusting to civilian life. We need to be mindful of their experiences when we have them in our classes. Student Heather Foreman, former third class petty officer in the U.S. Navy, explains, “For me the Veterans Club means being around individuals who have had similar experiences. The military has its own language, its own training and its own way of life that becomes very ingrained from the moment that your feet touch down on the soil at whichever boot camp you are assigned. There are still many commonalities that civilians, friends and family members may not understand. The Veterans Center is a private and secure location to talk to others who share similar military experiences. It is also a communal area to share issues or problems, such as VA care and benefits, GI Bill information and other topics. The center and Veterans Club represent an extension of that military community that we are no longer actively a part of but still have a connection to. It also gives us capabilities to give back to other veterans and active military personnel.” Please take time out of your busy schedule and contemplate what these men and women have sacrificed for your freedom by supporting our Alvernia University Veterans Club. Alvernia University Magazine


SPY GAMES The scope of the U.S. government’s reach into our lives in the name of fighting crime and protecting security is having a chilling effect on the nation.

By Ernest Beck

Alvernia University Magazine


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ales of Apple’s new iPhone 6 series got off to a roaring start in September, after a launch that featured all the drama and fanfare for which Apple’s marketing machine is rightly famous.

The phones, with their beautiful design, larger screen and other bells and whistles, were catnip to consumers seeking the latest Apple technology and some 10 million units were sold over the first weekend. One new feature on the phone, however, caught some people by surprise: Apple had quietly embedded technology that encrypts emails, photos and contacts based on a complex mathematical algorithm that uses a code unique to the owner. In other words, Apple had empowered iPhone 6 owners with greater privacy protections to help subvert snooping and surveillance. As The New York Times noted, if asked by law enforcement or intelligence agencies to provide iPhone 6 content, the company will only be able to hand over “gibberish.” Breaking the code, Apple noted in a technical guide, could take “more than five and a half years.”

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Apple is notoriously reluctant to disclose information about its consumer or marketing research, or its corporate decision-making process concerning new products and technologies. But it is difficult not to connect the dots between placing encryption technology in a mega-selling phone and the cascading series of revelations over the past year about the extent of government surveillance of phone calls, email and activities of American citizens, as revealed by the former National Security Agency (N.S.A.) contractor Edward Snowden, who stole and released highly classified documents. Such revelations have prompted controversy and concern about threats to our privacy and civil liberties. The legality and scope of the government’s reach into our daily lives in the name of fighting crime, terrorism and protecting national security has come into question, as have larger issues about who is seeing, controlling and possibly misusing the massive amounts of data we generate. Reactions to the Apple encryption technology were swift, reflecting the broader debate about government access to data in the age of connectivity and global social media networks. FBI Director James Comey said at a press conference, “What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to hold themselves above the law,” citing kidnapping cases as an example when blocking phones would hinder police efforts. “The notion that someone would market a closet that could never be opened — even if it involves a case involving a child kidnapper and a court order — to me does not make any sense,” he added. But for those who question unfettered government accessibility, phones and other devices are the back door to discovering everything about us, and therefore require stronger safeguards. “They want access to any information and to have nothing beyond their reach,” explains Peter Maass, a journalist who covers national security issues for The

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TIM BLESSING professor of history

“They want to understand the larger implication, because if you miss data as Bush may have done (concerning 9/11), you’ve got problems.” Intercept, an online publication that is part of the nonprofit First Look media organization. “If nothing is beyond their functional reach, then you don’t have any privacy,” he adds. “Anything we write or type or any number we punch into a phone can be logged and seen by the government, and that to me is really scary.” The actual scope of data collection by the N.S.A. is staggering, according to classified documents taken by Snowden and released by journalist Glenn Green, whose book “No Place to Hide” is based on an actual N.S.A. strategy guideline. In a one-month period, for example, the N.S.A.’s Global Access Operations unit collected 97 billion emails and 124 billion phone calls from around the world, 3 billion of which passed through the U.S. Meanwhile, the N.S.A. has been tracking down the private email and Facebook accounts of systems administrators — those who keep computer systems in order — to create “an international hit list” to target, wrote Maass in a posting for the Intercept website. At the same time, the N.S.A. is secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies with a Google-like search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cell phone locations and Internet chats, according to classified documents published by Ryan Gallagher, another journalist covering security issues for The Intercept.

Theo Anderson

History lessons More than 60 years ago, as the U.S. was fighting enemies in Europe and the Pacific during WWII, the mindset was very different. The need for extreme secrecy and covert government activities was respected as part of the war effort, and everyone took responsibility

for this endeavor, which included keeping secrets about their role in building ships or planes, enriching uranium or readying the first atomic bombs for detonation. “There was a sense of duty and doing something for the war effort, and that meant a lot to people,” says Denise Kiernan, author of the book “The Girls of Atomic City,” which chronicles the story of women from across the country who were recruited to work in Oak Ridge, Tenn., at what became a secret city engaged in helping the Manhattan Project create the first atomic bomb. The vast majority of people working at Oak Ridge did not know exactly what the ultimate goal of their work was, but they didn’t ask, and the secret of Oak Ridge was largely kept until the bombs exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As one woman in the book, 24-yearold Celia, puts it: “Secrets were secrets for a reason. She had to believe that. If there was a need for her to know something critical, she would be told when the time was right.” Kiernan, who came to Alvernia in October to speak about her book, says it’s hard to imagine people having a similar attitude today and lining up to maintain the same secrecy measures. “There was a real sense of camaraderie at the time,” she says, reflecting on the many interviews she conducted for the book. “The feeling was that ‘we’re all in the same boat.’ Everyone was impacted by the war every day, and knew someone who was fighting or someone who had lost their life. There were songs, movies and even cartoons about the war — it was everywhere, a continuous presence of war and it was incredibly unifying.” Part of that personal connection was based on a real and imminent threat, Kiernan adds. The closest comparison to that all-in-one-boat attitude was after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when there was more support for expanded government information gathering and giving up some privacy rights in order to fight the bigger war against terrorism. Today, the mood is much different: In a survey published last January in the Washington Post, roughly 70 percent of those polled said they were concerned about the threat to their privacy from social networks, cell phone providers, websites “such as Google, Amazon or eBay” and the N.S.A. Still, trying to achieve a similar level of secrecy to what existed during the WWII era would be nearly impossible, requiring a total lockdown of everyone’s digital footprint. Snooping, surveillance and secrecy carried out by the federal government have a long history in the U.S., according to Tim Blessing, a professor of history at Alvernia. During the  Alvernia University Magazine


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Carrie Fitzpatrick associate professor of communication

“… information they thought was private really isn’t, and that just because you identify people on Facebook and limit access doesn’t mean the information might not come out later.” For the most part, though, Blessing says presidents don’t look at data and wonder where it came from. “They want to understand the larger implication, because if you miss data as Bush may have done (concerning 9/11), you’ve got problems.” There are measures in place

18 Alvernia University Magazine

through Congress and the courts to approve this type of surveillance and data-gathering, but presidents acting as commander in chief are always testing the limits, Blessing believes, in a way that puts them in “a very murky area” about the constitutionality of these activities.

Personal data & the N.S.A. Critics of N.S.A. activities are concerned that the government’s bulk collection and aggregation of metadata from ordinary citizens will lead to conclusions about who you are and what you do, which are based on false inferences. “The Patriot Act lets the government collect every phone record of every individual in America, and that means the government knows who you call and when and how long, and that is very sensitive information,” says Jake Laperruque, a fellow on privacy, surveillance and security at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit that advocates for stronger legal controls on government surveillance and protecting the privacy of Internet users. “You reveal a lot about yourself when you book a hotel at midnight, call your psychiatrist or make a political donation on a hotline. It’s a pretty serious invasion of privacy.” Maass, the journalist at The Intercept, agrees. “People are targeted and harmed and put on watch lists and listened to and surveyed who have done nothing wrong,” he says. “It makes you cautious about who you call and how long you speak and what websites you visit. There is a chilling effect.” We live in a dangerous and troubled world, however, and terrorism and drug cartels and crime are unfortunately very real threats. George Rice, who graduated from Alvernia in 1985 with a degree in criminal justice administration, says that some secrecy is needed for large-scale drug investigations and the intelligence gathering process, because it helps provide for a firewall between publicly available information and what is happening with undercover operations. “If any information is released or the drug traffickers are made aware of it, the investigative process would break down and be unsuccessful,” says Rice, who worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration for over a decade. He has “some level of comfort” with the government digging into records randomly to paint an overall picture of trends and what’s going on, especially when there’s a specific threat under way or if they have uncovered suspicious activity. “At that point, the court system kicks in and you should have to prove it and show probable

Carey Manzolillo

Civil War, for example, Lincoln ordered mail to be opened, seized the presses and even threw an ex-congressman out of the country to ensure there weren’t any leaks to jeopardize the war effort. “It’s sometimes called the Lincoln Dictatorship,” Blessing points out, describing how the president tried to control suspicious characters and information to help win the war. These measures were largely dismantled after Lincoln’s time, however, until President Woodrow Wilson’s tenure during WWI. In some ways, Blessing says, Wilson was like Lincoln in that he wanted “to keep track of who was saying what and possible subversives who were potentially not so pro-war.” Our most recent presidents — George W. Bush and Barack Obama — live in a very different world, of course, than Lincoln or Wilson. We now have the technological capability to collect vast amounts of data with a few keyboard clicks. We can eavesdrop with ease, monitor from above with drones and track, trace and observe the most seemingly banal activities — making a phone call, sending an email, purchasing something online. And as social media users, we are more than ready to divulge information about ourselves — from the mundane to the most private — on any number of sites, with full knowledge that there are few if any protections from further dissemination or misuse.

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Teaching by the book Leading by example

above: Steven Rosenbaum/Getty Images; Top right: Steve Woit

Famed whistleblower Eric Snowden revealed documents that showed the N.S.A. broke federal privacy laws or exceeded its authority thousands of times per year, all in the name of protecting national security.

cause before you go ahead,” he adds. As far as human intelligence is concerned, “the public doesn’t need to know” because it could endanger assets in the field and operations. Rice, who is now executive director of the Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies, iCERT, says he maintains no social media presence. He also asks that friends and family refrain from referring to his whereabouts or activities, as a precaution against the possibility that people he helped put in jail through undercover work might seek out him and his family once they are released from prison.

Whistleblowing As the debate continues about the extent and legality of government surveillance, the N.S.A. whistleblower Snowden remains

holed up in Moscow. He faces extradition proceedings and charges in the U.S. under the Espionage Act involving unauthorized communication of classified information, and a charge of theft of government property. He is seen by some as a hero and branded by others as a traitor. It’s not the first time the federal government has been caught spying on Americans — recall the Vietnam War and civil-rights protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s — but his revelations have pulled back the curtain on N.S.A. activities, exposing the mass collection of phone and Internet data on a scale never before imagined. According to the Times, the Snowden revelations showed that the N.S.A. broke federal privacy laws or exceeded its authority Continued on page 60

Three decades go by in a hurry. Just ask Assistant Professor of English and Communication Sue Guay. She’s logged more than 30 years as a teacher, many of them at Alvernia, helping thousands of students reach their full potential. While her impact on students is remarkable, Guay’s influence on the university as lead organizer of some of the school’s most important literary events is equally impressive. This fall, she served Sue Guay brings best-selling authors as site director for the to Alvernia. John Updike Society International Conference that attracted scholars to Alvernia from nine countries and 19 states. She also worked to bring top authors — like New York Times best seller Denise Keirnan — to campus for the annual Literary Festival. And that’s just in her spare time! In between she advises undeclared students and teaches in the English and communication departments. If that sounds like a lot of work, it is. But when Guay sees a chance to shed light on important topics, she can’t say no. She was instrumental in bringing the first Updike Conference to Alvernia in 2010, which led to an influx of archival Updike donations that are now housed by the university and visited by scholars from all over the world. “John Updike, who grew up in nearby Shillington, wrote so much about the Berks County area and people who lived here,” said Guay. “In a time when so much has been torn down or forgotten, highlighting Updike’s contribution is definitely something we shouldn’t overlook or forget.” And for the last eight years, Guay has been luring headlining authors to the university for Literary Festival lectures. Though Guay’s efforts for the festival are impressive, they are not surprising. She is a reader. In addition to devouring all kinds of novels, she is known to read four newspapers and a number of magazines every day. Last year, Jessica Buchanan, aid worker and subject of a best-selling novel, Continued on page 60

Alvernia University Magazine


By David Updike

Right: Theo Anderson; Left: Antonin Kratochvil/VII/corbis


couple of months ago, in early June, I attended a retirement party for a neighborhood couple, here in Cambridge, Mass. I met a pleasant couple there, both psychiatrists, and after we had spoken for a while they asked me what my full name was, as I had introduced myself, as is my habit, only as David. “Updike,” I added, reluctantly, and they looked at me quizzically for a minute before asking the inevitable “Any relation?” “Oh, well, yes.” I confessed, and after a pause added, “Direct relation.” “Really?” one asked, eyes twinkling, doing the math, then guessed. “Father?” “Yes, it’s true,” I said. “Really?” the woman asked, studying me, as if for genetic verification. “I’m afraid so,” I said. “Now that you mention it, there is a resemblance — it must be true!” My wife was there to buffer the revelation, and after some more chitchat the lady of the couple offered, “That must have been very hard, growing up.” This, too, is a common assumption. “Especially, as an English teacher who also writes!” I put up some mild resistance, suggested it was not so difficult, that he was a good, loving father, most people had it far worse, and managed to shift the topic onto their children, who all lived in faraway states. But she was still chewing over my paternity. “You do look like him, now that you mention it,” she said. I still felt the impulse to defend myself from their worry, but eventually I drifted away into safer social waters. But in the days to follow, I mulled

Growing Up

Updike over their question, and wondered if this was a very modern, post-Freudian idea — that the sons and daughters of the famous and successful must necessarily be burdened, or overshadowed, in some basic, Oedipal way. And if this is true, why am I reluctant to accept it — the obvious fact of my difficult childhood, and psychological torment thereafter? As children, we grew up with the clickand-clackety sound of his typewriter — a battleship gray, Olympia manual — in our ears, and a gathering sense of his success, then growing fame. By the time I was seven he had published “Rabbit, Run,” then won the national book award from “The Centaur,” and moved his office from our house to a larger space in a modest, somewhat run-down office building downtown that he shared with a dentist, accountants and other such small businesses. There, on a side table, lay “The Centaur,” with a picture of a half horse, half man. At night, he sat in a chair, reading proofs — long, scroll-like pieces of paper, on which he made small adjustments with a pencil. One fall, my grandparents arrived from Pennsylvania, with a basketful of fruit and a skittish dog, to look after us while my parents went to Russia for a month on a state department tour. His picture began to appear in magazines, and he was even sometimes on TV. A year or two later, Russians visited us, bearing gifts, and we took them for a lively walk on the beach, dogs and children included. Perhaps only with the publication of “Couples” in 1968, and the news from my friends that my father wrote a “dirty book,” did I feel a twinge of unease, tempered by 

David Updike, son of acclaimed author John Updike and current John Updike Scholar in Residence at Alvernia University, takes a cerebral trip back to Reading with his family as he recalls fondly the toils, troubles and travesties of growing up Updike.

Alvernia University Magazine


22 Alvernia University Magazine

But by the time we reached the Delaware, and crossed it — celebrated with the inane song “Here comes David floating down the Delaware, chewing on his underwear, hope he has another pair” — the end seemed in sight. The wastelands of New Jersey gave way to the dense green throat of the Pennsylvania turnpike, occasional fields of corn, and this seemed to be where a part of real America began. We began our watch for the first sighting of the smokestack of the Bethlehem steel plant, at Morgantown, our final exit to the farm. Then off we turned, paid the toll, and rose and fell through the familiar last turns, then turned at the Amishman’s farm, onto the red, dusty road

Theo Anderson

the knowledge he would be paid $400,000 for the movie rights! For soon we were on a boat, crossing the ocean in my new gray flannel pants, to spend the year in England attending a fancy American school and making side trips to Amsterdam, Austria for skiing, and then Morocco in April, to get some warmth and sun. Then by June, we flew back to America. My parents were still very young, in their thirties, and by my estimation the bestlooking couple in their groups of friends — my father certainly the cleverest and most famous, my mother surely the most beautiful. But as a child my father had psoriasis, and asthma, and so shied away from organized sports, and even, I believe, felt inferior to the sports stars at Shillington High — the Harry Angstroms of his class. My mother had played field hockey in high school, and was “He took us to see an excellent ice skater, and they took us for long skating his old house in expeditions up the Ipswich River, back when it still froze Shillington, but was solid. They played volleyball on Sunday afternoons, and then too shy to knock all migrated to someone else’s and ask to go in, so house, for “cocktails.” They learned to play tennis, and ski, walked us back to the and we all went on Pleasant Mountain in February, where playing field, and the they had renamed the beginners “Rabbit Run,” after his shelter where he used slope best-known novel. In tennis and skiing, they to play roof ball.” both became what I might David Updike call elegant intermediates. My father played kickball with us in the backyard, wheeling around the bases on long, loose legs while we frantically tried to retrieve the ball in some distant bushes. In the fall, there was touch football with the men, and in spring, before volleyball, half-court basketball, where he played shirtless and had a reliable, baby sky hook. But he was not from here, Massachusetts, we were well aware: every summer, toward the middle of July, my parents packed us all into their blue or green station wagon of the time, left the cats and dog in the care of a neighbor, and off we would go, on a long, eight-hour drive to Pennsylvania, in the heat of the summer. None of our cars had air conditioning, so the miles went by in a rush and whirl of wind let in through the open windows. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut — Cross Bronx Expressway, then over the George Washington Bridge. There was a sort of wondrous awfulness to New Jersey — the smell, the power plants, the vast, murky marshes — and in the car patience and alliances were beginning to break down; skirmishes erupted which my father would try to regulate, with long, halfhearted swipes of his arm.

up to the farm, rumbling between two fields of corn, the smell of pigs, as swirling cones of red dust settled behind us. We passed the barn, rocked over a drainage ditch, then rolled onto the yard where my grandfather was sitting on a green bench, next to a walnut tree, shucking corn. Out we spilled, road weary and barefooted, into the rich fragrant air of Pennsylvania. The grass was cool with the first touch of dew. All around, pats on the back, half hugs, my father and his father shaking hands, holding on for a moment, and my grandmother emerging from the house from cooking, trying to contain two scary collies, Teddy and Laddie, one of whom had an inclination, to use my grandmother’s

words, to ‘nip’ at people. How did we spend our summer week, here in Pennsylvania? We took these same dogs for walks, up the dirt road to the corner of Weaver Road, as it sloped down to the Weavers’ house. We played croquet on the thick, sometimes prickly lawn, and contracted poison ivy on the bottoms of our feet, and between our toes. We played quoits with my grandfather — always in a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up — and visited the barn, its vast, sweet-smelling reverent spaces, where my grandfather slept on a tiny cot, with the pigeons and the shuffling horse, George, below. Once or twice, I believe, I slept there with  Alvernia University Magazine


him, on a cot of my own. My father took us to the Maple Grove swimming pool to cool off and have some fun, where the music played the compelling hit of that summer, and the addictive, decrescendo refrain, “red rubber ball… .” He took us to see his old house in Shillington, but was too shy to knock and ask to go in, so walked us back to the playing field, and the shelter where he used to play roof ball. Even at an early age I could sense his disappointment that we seemed to underappreciate these places which, for him, held such sweet, emotional weight — the memory of childhood, of his being seven, or so, and sprinting out of the side door of his house to join his friends in the Pennsylvania twilight, to play a final game of roof ball. My grandfather took us to the drag races, now and then, where he found the sight of these cars “comical,” and on errands to get dog food, or milk or a bottle of wine for my parents, and there was always a vague sense of adventure about being out in the car with him, as though something unexpected could happen, or we would meet someone he considered wonderful or amusing. But by the end of the week, my poison ivy between my toes had gotten worse; I had hay fever, and some mornings I woke up with my eyes glued shut by my own effluvia, which had to be steamed off with a hot washcloth, my hay fever no better. Plus, we were saltwater kids, my mother and grandmother didn’t have the easiest of relationships, and so one dewy

24 Alvernia University Magazine

morning, as the Pennsylvania heat was rising up from the hazy fields, we would pack up the car, and head back north, where these same grandparents would join us for Thanksgiving. It must have been a surprise to my parents, as it was to me, when I started to write short stories, and then odder still, had them accepted by The New Yorker. Photography, not writing, had been my preferred medium, and I knew well that my father had toiled for a decade or so — sending off countless cartoons, and spots, and light verse — before his first poems were accepted by The New Yorker. I knew that my own success was somehow unjustified — unearned. I need not have worried, for in my mid-twenties things got more difficult, and I was languishing in New York, where I had moved for no very good reason, and every couple of months I would call my grandmother in Plowville, and tell her I would be on my way. Her husband had died in 1972, and so she had been living alone on the farm for more than a decade. She would be waiting, there at the Bieber bus terminal in Reading, in the familiar white car. We would stop at the Reading diner for lunch, then drive out to the farm. I would spend a couple of days there, helping her with errands, doing a few chores around the house, taking walks by myself, wondering what I should do with the rest of my life. I found these visits reassuring, somehow, calming, and I would return to the city with a somewhat renewed Continued on page 59

Photo Courtesy of David Updike

Playing cards with my dad at Martha’s Vineyard, circa mid-1970s.








Photography by Theo Anderson




Alvernia’s community is composed of an amazing array of individuals who are leaving their mark and making a difference. Called by our mission to foster moral leadership and service to others in the interest of peace and justice, Alvernians are compelled to promote civic engagement and learning as lifelong pursuits in every career and life path chosen. Our university motto, “To Learn, To Love, To Serve,” is amplified in the lives, actions and livelihoods of alumni and students, faculty and friends who are involved in professional endeavors that are having an impact. These are often opportunities that provide our people with valuable experiences, but also plant seeds of social awareness in their hearts. What follow are the stories of several who stand out, a baker’s dozen we call the Lucky 13. We hope you find them as inspiring as we do!



I A’S B E ST & B R

Cost accountant, Boston Beer Company

Class of 2004


13 NI





Don’t worry, be

HOPPY By Karen L. Miller

Life is funny. Just ask Jonathan Nied. He’s living out every man’s dream working at one of the nation’s top craft breweries. But it wasn’t that long ago that he was a mere novice when it came to malt beverages. “When I first started working for the Boston Beer Co., (Sam Adams), I

making beer.” It’s something that comes with the territory in his role with the country’s leading brewer of handcrafted, full-flavored beers. Working on the finance and accounting side of the business, Nied has learned a thing or two about malt and hops but more importantly it has allowed him to hone his trade to the next level. “I absolutely love it,” Nied said. “Accounting is far more than just crunching numbers,” said the native of Tafton, Pike County. “You really need to understand what drives business growth and the related

thought all beer was the same,” says Nied who graduated from Alvernia

challenges.” Nied started with accounting firms Beard Miller, now Baker

in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in sport management and later earned

Tilly and Faren, Garcia and Garman before switching to cost accounting

an accounting degree in 2006. However times have changed.

at AmeriGas and later joining Boston Beer.

“A year later, I’ve grown to appreciate all the ingredients that go into

26 Alvernia University Magazine

It’s a future that was much different than he imagined as a young

college student. “Sports were always a big thing for me,” Nied said. “I wanted to play baseball when I grew up. But then I realized I was not going to make it to the pros, even though some of the players I played with did. “So I went into sport management, and I got a sport-management internship, which I highly recommend. I saw there were no jobs that

In every move, Nied has fallen back on the strength he found in professors Drs. Scott Ballantyne and Tufan Tiglioglu. “They have been invaluable to me,” Nied said. “The people who taught you, know you the most, know your struggles and try to lead you to make your weaknesses seem not that big.” Jonathan and wife Jennifer Nied M’11, a human-resources analyst

were decently paying in sport management until you get into the upper

for Penn National Gaming, balance full careers while raising daughters

echelons.” The internship was a reality check.

Samantha, 2, and Madison, 7 months old.

For Nied the accounting “light” went on when he overheard roommate

And unlike many, this busy couple has learned to juggle family life with

Steven Koons tutoring a student. “I know that answer,” Nied said after

professional demands, and even savor the occasions when Jonathan

answering accounting questions meant for the student. “That clicked.

has to bring his work home with him. Nostrovia!

That’s how I got into accounting.” Alvernia University Magazine


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As a nerdy but outgoing college student who learned that “with great power there must also come great responsibility,” Peter Parker made a name for himself, better known to fans as Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man. The superhero developed a reputation for his friendly manner and helping those in need. Alvernia student Terry Harrington can relate. He caught the arachnid bug his junior year and has never looked

back. Today, he can be found spinning webs, and smiles, as Spider-Man at hospitals and fundraising events throughout the region, sporting the familiar brilliant blue-and-red ensemble of the superhero and brightening the lives of young children. Harrington’s spider senses first started tingling last spring when he hatched the idea to cultivate an alter ego as Spider-Man. “I first planned to morph into Spider-Man during the CURESader Club’s annual walk for pediatric cancer, just to make a fun, visual impact,” says Harrington. But fate had other plans for the senior healthcare science major that day and his Spider-Man debut was postponed, only to bloom much brighter in a way never imagined.

Engaged and involved Getting involved is nothing new for the Dean’s List student, who dabbles in French and Latin. His list of current and past roles shows a history of participation in anything that isn’t bolted to the floor. Currently, he serves as a peer mentor, student financial planning project manager and resident assistant. In his free time he serves as vice president of both the university Student Science Association and Pre-Health Club, is president of the National Residence Hall Honorary and is an active member of both the Environmental Club and CURESader Club. And when the poster child for student engagement isn’t involved on campus, he’s out on the town volunteering at The Highlands Center and helping out at St. Joseph’s Medical Hospital. But the Philadelphia native is most passionate about his time in the famed blue-and-red suit. “It is the single thing I am most proud of,” Harrington says. “I have made so many children and families happy because of the positive and enthusiastic atmosphere that gets created when I show up as Spider-Man.”

Friendly neighborhood Spider-Man It was a role that almost never was. “I felt bad about missing the CURESader walk, so I decided to make up for it by suiting up as Spidey and going to a hospital for a one-time appearance with pediatric patients,” he says. Unsure about how to make that happen, he approached Alvernia’s Holleran Center for Community Engagement for some ideas. The center referred him to the Reading Hospital, where staff and volunteers just happened to be preparing for the hospital’s annual two-day Garden Party. Before he knew it, Harrington was on the hook for the doubleheader. “They asked me if I would come over for both days,” Harrington recalled. “I wandered around and talked to people, and it wasn’t just kids. SpiderContinued on page 58

XX Alvernia University Magazine

Terry Harrington AKA Spider-Man.

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Class of 2015


Major: Healthcare Science V AL











SUPERHERO By Susan Shelly Alvernia AlverniaUniversity UniversityMagazine Magazine

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I A’S B E ST & B R

Assistant Professor of Philosophy

College of Arts & Sciences


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WORLD of possibilities

By Elizabeth Shimer Bowers

XX Alvernia University Magazine

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Conflict in the Ukraine. War in Iraq. Global warming. We live in a world frequently dominated by troubling news. For even the most optimistic college students, it can paint a bleak future. But Janae Sholtz is bringing a more enlightened perspective to the times. The Alvernia assistant professor of philosophy aims to give her

budding scholars tools to see a world that is really full of possibility. “And that’s where the benefits of philosophic thinking come in,” says Sholtz. “Above all, I try to arm students with more ways to cope with an ambiguous and complicated global society,” she says. “Philosophy is perfectly fitted for this in that it celebrates and actively pursues the renewal of questioning and affirms the path of continually seeking beyond that which is already known.” Teaching by example, Sholtz has built an impressive resume since she arrived at Alvernia in 2010, writing five article-length book reviews, six articles and a book — all while conducting research, attending conferences and maintaining a powerful presence in her classroom. All of which made her an ideal candidate for the university’s top Janae Sholtz

distinction for scholarship and teaching, the Neag Professorship, which she was awarded last spring.

Power in philosophic thinking Known for her animated and dynamic teaching style, Sholtz walks into the classroom armed with a genuine love of philosophy. During a recent lecture, Sholtz had an “a-ha” moment. “I used the phrase ‘intellectually and philosophically breathtaking’ to describe the conversation we were having, and I realized I had put my finger on what inspires me to be the best teacher and thinker I can be — to make the world a place we collectively acknowledge as provocative, breathtaking and beautiful,” she says. Sholtz also talks about the flexibility of philosophy in her book “The Invention of a People,” which explores the residual relationship between the philosophies of Martin Heidegger and Gilles Deleuze — focusing on the parallels between their emphasis on the connection of earth, art and a people-to-come. Through Deleuzian concepts, the book provides a new framework for thinking about the complexity of social and political problems such as exclusion, oppression and homogenization. “In the book, I argue that to become worthy of the events that befall us, philosophy must move from a static understanding of the world and being to an understanding of the fluidity of existence,” she says. “In order to begin to comprehend this rapid movement, we must think about how effects motivate and even guide our decisions and activities.”

Understanding human nature A key motivator for all that Sholtz does is the central question about how different forms of expression and activity generate new modes of thinking. “I’m also interested in exploring how development of new concepts, new ideas and new ways of thinking can become catalysts for transforming our understanding of human nature, the position of the human vis-à-vis nature and non-human beings,” she says. As such, Sholtz has a strong interest in aesthetic practices, both in the art world and everyday life, and she studies how results of these practices contribute to a new ethos that can be shared and transmitted on social and political terms. Alvernia AlverniaUniversity UniversityMagazine Magazine

XX 31

Drugs. Guns. Illegal aliens. Throw in a few weapons of mass destruction and it’s a scene torn from Headline News. But for Katie Griffith, this type of life on the edge is just another day on the job, tending range on the nation’s perimeter as a United States Border Patrol agent. Her perspective usually comes sitting atop a mount, something that is old hat to the Alvernia criminal justice alumna. Growing up in York, Pa., Griffith always rode horses. And since graduating in 2005, the only thing that has changed is the scenery — and the weapon strapped to her side. Griffith knew that she wanted to work for the government right out of college, but wasn’t sure exactly which agency was right for her. “I heard about Border Patrol on a radio commercial,” Griffith says. “I applied, and in the summer of 2006, was offered a station location in San Diego.” Griffith accepted the position and spent the next five months at an academy in Artesia, New Mexico, a fitting preamble to her career as a Border Patrol agent. Little did she know what was in store. An average patrol day can run well beyond a 10-hour shift, depending on what the day brings: drugs, illegal aliens, assisting state or local law enforcement agencies. And there was certainly nothing average about pursuing a group of four Mexican nationals trying to cross the border illegally through “the swamp.” That’s where Griffith found herself on one particular afternoon. “Vegetation is thick. The ground is muddy and radio communications are weak because of the leafy canopy above,” she explained. “I was alone and pursued the men into dense brush. Although I was

Katie Griffith

continuously calling for backup, my radio couldn’t reach communications. “I was able to track them by their footprints and followed them through the mud.”

By Carey Manzolillo

Finally discovering the group, Griffith commanded them to show their hands. When they didn’t comply, she asked them again. But it took a third time, and a show of force for them to obey. “I knew I was on my own and outnumbered with no backup, so I drew my weapon and asked again to see their hands,” she explained. “Once they saw my gun, they knew I meant business.” After five years in San Diego, Griffith went north, spending three years patrolling the Canadian border from her post at Massena Station in upstate New York. There, she gathered intelligence through community interaction and mobile surveillance. “Agents are interested in illegal drugs, contraband, aliens or weapons of mass destruction,” says Griffith. So northern agents patrol local areas regularly, and learn to recognize anything out of place. And they also keep an eye on waterways like the Saint Lawrence River that are often But the idyllic southern California climate soon called Griffith back to San Diego, where she is again riding the California countryside overlooking the swamp — and planning a September 2015 wedding. “Border Patrol offers a great range of exciting opportunities from SWAT, search and rescue and marine operations, to ATVs, horse patrol, even undercover work,” says Griffith. You name, it, Border Patrol has it. But, there is one catch. “You must be willing to live a life — on the border.”

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avenues for drug and alien smuggling.

Class of 2005


United State Border Patrol Agent V AL










On the


Alvernia University Magazine




I A’S B E ST & B R

Chief Coffee Roaster at the Peddler Coffee Company

Class of 2011


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Good to the last


Richard Kessler never imagined he’d end up as a bean counter, let alone one in the coffee business. But much as a well-crafted cup of java ignites the senses and draws you in sip by sip, the co-founder and chief coffee roaster at the Peddler Coffee Company was captivated by a deep and rich experience he had in a local coffee shop. Soon after moving to Philadelphia in 2013, Kessler happened upon a specialty coffee shop in his neighborhood. The shop, he says, was beautifully constructed, with large windows surrounding the entire face of the building, and completely dressed in reclaimed wood. “Walking in for the first time, I felt a level of intimidation,” says Kessler, who grew up in Reading and graduated from Alvernia with his business degree in 2011. The menu was layered in difficult-to-read words describing coffees from small regions of Ethiopia, Kenya and Central America. Kessler believes he ordered coffee from somewhere in East Africa; he doesn’t remember exactly. But what he can’t forget is the indelible impression the experience made on him.

By Kevin Gray

“My mind was blown,” he says. “I had never experienced coffee as it is intended to be. The delicate, floral aromas, raspberry, lemon, sweet and delicious all the way to the bottom of the cup. I was mesmerized by how incredible this coffee was. It was an absolute awakening. I knew then and there that I wanted to get involved in the coffee industry.” Kessler teamed with friend Zachary James Urbanski to launch Peddler Coffee, a nano-scale roasting company that features small-lot, singleorigin coffees from across the globe. Instead of jumping into the crowded Philly coffee market, elbows out and swinging, Peddler politely delivers on its promise to provide quality coffee using ethical practices. Peddler Coffee was originally conceived on a mobile business model. The coffee is peddled by pedal on the streets of Philadelphia, served from the company’s custom-made tricycles that feature hand pumps to dispense coffee. But Peddler Coffee has since opened a shop in the city’s Bella Vista neighborhood. What separates Peddler Coffee is its focus on quality and its strong infusion of ethics into its business practices, even in a business where the product is increasingly commoditized to reap greater profits. Kessler cites the strong correlation between the quality of the coffee and the ethics with which it was produced. “Our craft goes beyond the roasting process,” he says. “We strive to promote quality throughout the entire supply chain, from the farm to the brewing process. Paying a premium to the farmers for the hard work they put in to produce excellent coffee is of utmost importance to us. “Our philosophy is that while ‘fair trade’ and other certifications are great for the wholesale improvement of the coffee industry, it is an emphasis on smallholder farmers striving for quality rather than quantity that truly yields the greatest economic and environmental improvements for everyone. These farmers need a skilled labor force, which in turn demands a decent living wage,” Kessler says. Peddler Coffee works with two direct trade importers who build relationships with cooperatives and farmers around the world. Its coffee selections always rotate with the harvest seasons. Currently, the

Richard Kessler

company is offering coffees from Ethiopia, Costa Rica and Colombia. Continued on page 56

Alvernia University Magazine


Under the sea, pressure kills. Last summer a steel-hulled robotic diving drone imploded, compressed by hydrostatic pressure estimated at 16,000 pounds per square inch, bursting the vehicle at the seams. Submarine commanders face a different kind of underwater pressure. But it can be no less lethal. Curt Stevens knows first-hand. Guiding one of the most technologically advanced machines ever created at depths in excess of 750 feet comes with a fair amount of stress. So does leading a team of men and women locked beneath the surface of the ocean in a 30-foot-wide, 300-foot-long nuclear powered naval vessel, armed with enough weapons of mass destruction to level several city blocks. “It takes skill, knowledge, personal discipline and teamwork,” Stevens says about commanding a submarine. “Over 100 crew members work and live together for months at a stretch without seeing the light of day, all to defend their country. It’s an honor to serve with people like that.” For Stevens, his time under the sea provided a defining experience that helped forge a leader who has served his nation as a naval officer for almost three decades. And his background would make any patriot proud. A nuclear engineering major who went to Penn State on an NROTC scholarship, Stevens entered the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarine program upon graduation in 1982. For the next 20 years, he was a submarine officer, either at sea or on a submarine waterfront. He served on five submarines, rising to commanding officer of the USS William H. Bates in 1999, which he led on its final overseas deployment to the Western Pacific. He then took the vessel to the Navy shipyard at Pearl Harbor for its shipyard inactivation period, reactor plant defueling and decommissioning. He also worked in Washington, first in the Chief of Naval Operations’ office in the Pentagon and then in the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. These days you’ll find the submariner supreme landlocked in Reading, Pa., studying at Alvernia, where he is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership degree and spending time in the school’s new Veterans Center that he helped get up and running in the fall of 2014. “Curtis is an excellent doctoral student and true leader,” says Dr. Tufan Tiglioglu, director of Alvernia’s Ph.D. program. “He has the natural intellectual curiosity to excel as an outstanding scholar.” It may seem like an unlikely match for someone whose sea legs have served him so well. But Stevens says he caught the academic bug when he was chosen for a fellowship at Boston University during the 1997–98 academic year to study the former Soviet Union. “It was an interesting chance to not wear a uniform for a year and go to lectures at MIT and at the Kennedy School at Harvard and immerse myself in something that was not engineering and not submarines,” says Stevens, who previously earned a master’s in political science from Auburn University Montgomery while at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala. “It opened my eyes up to academia. I never dreamed I would be back in Boston 10 years after that.” But he was. In 2008, Stevens returned as commanding officer of the Continued on page 56

36 Alvernia University Magazine

Curt Stevens


CURT STEVENS Class of 2018 (Ph.D.)


Captain (retired), United States Navy V AL







Run silent, run

By Jack Croft


Alvernia University Magazine





I A’S B E ST & B R

Captain, United States Army

Class of 2010


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By Jack Croft




38 Alvernia University Magazine

Ashley Welsh is flanked by Major Eden — the 528th Combat Operational Stress Control Unit’s therapy dog. Major Eden is the only therapy dog in Afghanistan. Her job is to boost morale and decrease stress for service members.

Speaking by phone from a small, cement building at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Capt. Ashley Welsh ’10 tries to explain why she fought to be deployed as an occupational therapist to the nation’s longestrunning war at a time when troops were starting to come home. “We all know we’re going home soon. I’m going to be the last occupational therapist in theater during this conflict,” Welsh says. “This is the last shot I had. A lot of civilians don’t understand that, but if you join the Army, a lot of us want to deploy.” The reason, Welsh says, is the special bond shared by those who choose to serve in the military. “In my world here, we’re all wearing the same uniform,” she says. “I know this sounds strange, and I never really got it before I joined the Army, but there’s definitely a sense of family. You signed up for this voluntary Army as well. You wear the same uniform as me, so I feel closer to you. And my patients feel like I understand more, I understand some of the things they’re going through because I’m also in that same Army.” Welsh got her first glimpse of that world as a junior at Alvernia, during a trip to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., for a daylong symposium. The trip was led by her professor and mentor, Dr. Karen Cameron, associate professor of occupational therapy, and it changed Welsh’s life. While visiting the hospital’s occupational therapy (OT) facilities, Welsh was struck by how motivated the wounded soldiers were to get back to what they do and how hard they worked. “It was very liberating to me,” Welsh recalls. As soon as she got back to Alvernia, she began researching what it would take to be an Army OT. Along with her classmates, she went back to Walter Reed three or four more times with Dr. Cameron, and also went down a couple of times on her own to shadow Army OTs to get a real sense of what they do. After graduating from Alvernia’s five-year OT program with her master’s degree, Welsh — with recommendations and support from Dr. Cameron and other Alvernia faculty and staff — was one of just 10 applicants accepted into the highly competitive U.S. Army Doctor of Science in Occupational Therapy Program created by the Army at Baylor University. The active duty program has a heavy research component and focuses on areas of importance to the Army, including amputee care, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Welsh was commissioned into the Army when she entered the program in March 2011, and graduated with her doctorate 18 months later at the age of 25. She was deployed first to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and put in for deployment to Afghanistan the following year. At Bagram Airfield, Welsh is a member of the combat occupational stress unit, which also includes a social worker, psychologist and psychiatrist. “What we do here is work with soldiers or service members Continued on page 56

Alvernia University Magazine


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What do a world-renowned actor, a Grammywinning singer and a former NFL All-Pro fullback have in common? They’re leading a charge to protect the environment and are a focus of new research exploring the power of celebrities in nature-centered leadership.

By Susan Shelly

Leo DiCaprio first stole the hearts of teenage girls across the globe as Jack Dawson in “Titanic,” one of the biggest films of all time, and he’s never looked back. Sheryl Crow had the whole world thinking that if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad, and on the way earned a Grammy award as the world’s top female vocalist. Ovie Mughelli made a living out of steamrolling over 300-pound linemen, and was named an all-pro fullback for the Baltimore Ravens in the process. The talented trio has no shortage of fans around the world. But instead of basking in the limelight, they’ve decided to harness their star power for the greener good. Indeed, there’s no doubt that celebrities like DiCaprio, Crow and Mughelli attract a lot of attention. They entertain us with their talents, and sometimes appall us with their words and actions. They speak out for gender equality, raise millions of dollars for victims of natural disasters and fund schools in some of the world’s poorest countries. But sometimes they also get arraigned on drug charges, jailed for domestic violence or put on trial for homicide. With a sound understanding of the complexities of celebrity behavior, Alvernia graduate

Sheryl Crow has worked to raise awareness of issues affecting the environment and was honored by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

student Nicole C. Kantor decided to focus her recent research work on the actions of some celebrities who are deeply involved in efforts to benefit the environment. Working with doctoral student Sean J. Cullen, Kantor co-authored a research paper titled “Celebrities as Nature-Centered Leaders,” and was invited to present at the 25th annual meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association in Baltimore. A nature-centered leader, Kantor explained, is one who works to protect the environment by acting on the behalf of nature in various ways

Nicole Kantor

through his or her chosen profession. The paper focuses on DiCaprio, Crow and Mughelli as role models for those who have used their celebrity to make significant contributions in raising awareness about pressing environmental issues. “The research looks at how celebrities are working to save the planet and influence our society in a way that views the environment as a with a Master of Business Administration degree in December. Cullen approached Kantor about working with him in 2014 because of her passion and interest in pop culture. “I’ve always been a bit fascinated by all things ‘celebrity,’” Kantor says. “I like all of the trimmings that go with the culture.” In calling attention to the positive efforts of an actor, a musician and a sports figure, Kantor and Cullen hope to expand the influence of the celebrities and look at how that influence affects our culture. “We want to hold them up as examples of individuals who are doing Continued on page 57

XX Alvernia 40 AlverniaUniversity UniversityMagazine Magazine


valued resource that must be protected,” says Kantor, who graduated


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GREENING of Hollywood

Leo DiCaprio established a foundation in 1998 dedicated to protecting wild places and fostering harmony between humans and nature.


Major: Communication V AL





NICOLE KANTOR Class of 2008 (M’14)




Alvernia University Magazine





I A’S B E ST & B R

Associate Executive Director at Covenant House

Class of 1994


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Special covenant,

SAFE HARBOR By Peggy Landers For more than five decades, every kid with a sweet tooth in Northwest Philly knew about the Asher buildings on East Armat Street. Their reputation for pumping out some of the best chocolate on the East Coast was almost legendary. And so the irony is that today every homeless, runaway or trafficked young adult who finds his or her way to the former Asher candy factory in the city’s Germantown section still finds respite, but of a much different kind.

42 Alvernia University Magazine

“Absolute respect and unconditional love,” that’s what they get, according to Hugh Organ. Organ is a straight-talking Alvernia alum, class of ’94, who helps operate the Covenant House located in the former confectioner’s plant. He exudes welcome and warmth, but also the no-nonsense demeanor of the Philly cop he thought he would be. Armed with a degree in criminal justice and a near-perfect test score for the police academy, Organ thought he would wait out a police department hiring freeze when he took his first job after college at a teen residential treatment facility. Twenty years later he is the associate executive director at Covenant House, the state arm of an international organization that provides shelter, food, clothing, job training, education, transportation and medical and mental health services for homeless

Hugh Organ

youth who are under 21. Many of them have aged out of social service welfare programs that stop providing care at age 18. Covenant House is the largest private child welfare agency in the Delaware Valley and is the largest provider of services to runaway and homeless youth in Philadelphia. It also chairs the Philadelphia Anti-

filled carnival-like night on campus. His advocacy work at Covenant House “is very rewarding,” he says. “It can be depressing at times because not all our kids make it. But we have a lot of successes.” Organ helps oversee everything from street outreach programs,

Trafficking Coalition, a network of social service, government and law

where Covenant employees pack vans with peanut butter and jelly

enforcement agencies that work to abolish human trafficking and provide

lunches, scarves, gloves and coats and hand them out — along with

services to its victims.

Covenant hotline and toll-free phone numbers — to homeless youth

Organ loves his job and is grateful for that unplanned career

wandering near the city’s most notorious drug corners. They also give

divergence right after graduation. He always liked helping young

law enforcement officers and teachers tutorials on spotting the signs of

people, even as a student at Alvernia. When he was student

human trafficking victims.

government president, he helped create the Christmas on Campus program, which pairs inner-city Reading youth with students for a fun-

Part of Organ’s job is to raise money. Eighty-five percent of the Continued on page 57

Alvernia University Magazine


Journalism is a vocation that gets into the blood of those lucky enough to cover the news for a living. Its lure can be infectious, as can the accompanying adrenaline rush. Monica Echeverri knows that all too well. “I was always fascinated with news issues, politics and what was going on in foreign countries,” she explains, recalling that her interest began at an unusually young age. “It feeds off my curiosity of world history.” These days, the junior communication major at Alvernia is working to

dream a reality. After enrolling in Alvernia’s Washington Center program, she paid a visit to the Associated Press Washington, D.C. bureau (whose director of news operations and finance teaches her communications law class.) She was even able to make an impression on one of her news idols, CNN news anchor Candy Crowley. She met Crowley at the Washington Center’s annual gala where Crowley invited her to visit CNN and to explore a possible internship. “I’ve even gotten into acting with the Alvernia theater,” she says, noting that stage skills can transfer to the small screen for broadcast television. With a father who hails from Colombia and mother who is a Peruvian native, growing up as a first-generation American has had some

turn her lifelong fascination with news and world politics into a career as

surprising advantages for Echeverri. She speaks fluent English and

a foreign correspondent or news anchor at a major television outlet.

Spanish, learned some French in high school, studied Italian at Alvernia

And Echeverri is using every tool available to make her ambitious

and is currently working to teach herself Mandarin and Korean.




I A’S B E ST & B R

Major: Communication

Class of 2016







Caught in the


Monica Echeverri ’16 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

44 Alvernia University Magazine

“I adapt easily and really embrace different people and different customs,” says Echeverri. Last semester, Echeverri put her cultural skills to the test during a two-

with FP1 from a long list of possibilities, and landed the job, where she focuses on creating and measuring digital advertising. And true to form, Echeverri didn’t pick FP1 because it was easy. “I’m

week trip to China, serving as a program ambassador for the Alvernia

not well versed enough in politics, so I want to learn more,” she explains.

Alpha Group initiative. She and fellow student Kyle Covington were the

“I’m also not tech savvy enough, and it has become necessary for the

first participants in the program, which aims to attract Chinese students

journalism field — so I’m trying to broaden my skills as much as possible.”

to study in the United States, and allows American students and faculty the opportunity to explore scholarship in China. After her Far East excursion, Echeverri headed straight to an internship at FP1 Strategies, a top Washington-based consulting firm that helps local, regional and national political candidates manage their campaigns for office — from websites and ads to film and social media. To secure the role, Echeverri worked through the Washington Center, which paired her with a number of organizations. She chose to interview

And once again, her language skills are being put to the test. “We try to reach out to as many people as possible through social media, so it’s been neat to see how translating messaging into Spanish can make an impact,” she says. Her experiences in China inspired her to study abroad next semester. She is considering South Korea or Spain, where, she says, she will brush up on her language skills, possibly film a research documentary and immerse herself in yet another culture!

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I A’S B E ST & B R

Police Officers, Reading Police Department

Class of 2005


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George and Christian Morar


BLUES XX Alvernia University Magazine

By Susan Shelly

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George and Christian Morar look alike, act alike and often even think alike. So perhaps it was no surprise they both opted to attend the same university and ended up in the same profession, in the same town wearing the same uniform for the same law enforcement agency! Today, the 31-year-old Romanian-American fraternal twins are on the

For one pair of Reading, Pa., cops, their connection goes far deeper than the blue uniforms they share.

move, working to make Reading, Pa., a safer and better place to live as full-time patrolmen for the Reading Police Department. While each shift brings new challenges for the brothers, who graduated from Alvernia in 2005, both say police work has been an invaluable teaching experience. They aspire to join a distinguished list of Alvernia alums who found their calling in the law, including longtime Berks County Judge Linda Ludgate and Charles Broad, former Reading police chief, who now is executive director of the Reading Downtown Improvement District. George, who typically works a 3 – 11 p.m. shift, enjoys interacting with Reading kids as they head home from school and travel throughout the city. Outgoing and personable, he feels a connection with young people and wants to be a positive influence in their lives. “Chris and I had spent time with troubled kids in the past,” George says referring to their work with CONCERN — a Berks County–based nonprofit child welfare agency. “We learned a lot about kids and their families, and the problems that many of them faced. I think that kind of understanding helps me to relate to kids on the street.” Christian’s work experience is different. Assigned to the overnight shift, “I see more violence than George does because of the hours I work,” he says. “It can be pretty intense.” Still, Christian says, it’s a good feeling to be able to help people who are affected by crime. “It’s very rewarding when I can make an arrest and help a victim to get some closure,” he says. “That’s a part of my work that I really like.” He also enjoys meeting people from many different backgrounds. “Reading has a diverse population,” Christian says. “You’ve got to keep that in mind when responding to a call.” It may be that their personal experiences makes both Christian and George more sensitive to cultural diversity. The twins moved to Berks County from Romania at age 12 with their parents, Mike and Mary Morar, and older brother, Alex. Their father was granted a visa through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery, a congressionally mandated program that provides up to 55,000 visas each year for qualified applicants. When they arrived, they spoke no English and knew only a few people other than their parents and brother, who was 18. And, while they quickly learned the language of their new country, and gained acceptance in their environment through school, sports and church, the experience of starting out in an unknown place in eighth grade was sobering. “I guess maybe it helped us to identify with people whose situations are different,” Christian says. “You understand that people have very different lives.” While working in law enforcement had been Christian’s plan since high Continued on page 58

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XX 47

Sam Bradley has spent a lifetime navigating electronic data interconnection and telecommunications for some of the world’s largest manufacturers. He has traveled the globe developing new products, promotional packages and private label programs for photonics and electronics players that serve Fortune 100 clients.

“It’s exciting,” says the Alvernia assistant professor of business, who has tracked technological trends and written portfolio analyses for CEOs and board of directors at a range of corporations. “One of the products I helped develop even won the Fiber New Product of the Year Award from Optic Product News,” he says. Today, the accomplished marketer who turned his passport in for a lesson planner, and traded his suit and tie for comfy khakis, is focused on helping eager Alvernia students understand how global business works in the real world. During his 25 years in industry, Bradley learned many lessons he instills in his students. “I know business occurs in an ever-changing environment, so I want to give students firsthand experience solving problems based on real examples, not textbook pages,” he says.






Assistant Professor of Business College of Professional Programs

Plugging in to


48 Alvernia University Magazine






“Many of today’s business leaders work on a global stage, and students must learn to be open to and respectful of different cultures. I always emphasize that there is no right and wrong — only different,” Bradley says. But Bradley doesn’t just set out to help his students become the next Carl Icahn or Steve Jobs, he grooms them to become engaged citizens who are interested in making a difference in their communities and the world around them. “Success in business — and in life — is about serving others,” says

he’s worked with include Hay Creek Historical Association, Reading Aquaponics, Dayspring Homes and the St. Francis Hospice. “With these clients, students act as a consulting group for the community partner, developing targeted marketing plans tailored for their organizations so they can actually be put to use,” he says. “For example, with the St. Francis Hospice, our focus for the marketing plan was to develop a demographic profile of families that would typically need this service, determine communications strategies to inform the target market and develop fundraising programs,” Bradley


says. His students work independently in three to four different teams to

Dress rehearsal One way Bradley helps students accomplish both is by partnering with nonprofits in need of marketing support. Some of the organizations

come up with individual proposals. “Students learn real-world problems do not have perfect solutions, Continued on page 57

By Elizabeth Shimer Bowers Samuel Bradley

Alumni Class Notes 1960s

Sr. Jude Ellen Golumbieski ’65 was elected to the congregational leadership team of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. She is linked with the contemplative sisters in 13 countries and is responsible for journeying with them. Elena (Wajda) Strout ’69 has been retired from teaching elementary school for two years. She spends time volunteering, relaxing and working part time as a products displayer.


Eleanor (Zarnisky) Albright ’72 was featured in the Reading Eagle’s In Our Schools section as a fourth-grade teacher at St. Catherine’s of Siena School in Mt. Penn, Pa.

Elaine Schalck ’76 passed away in September 2014. She was a proud Alvernia alumna from the college’s earliest years and a prize student of one of Alvernia’s legendary faculty members, Sister Alodia. An assistant professor of chemistry at Alvernia since 1977, she helped create the O’Pake Science Center, a distinctive forensic science program and a laboratory health and safety program. She devoted well more than half her life to Alvernia. One of her senior colleagues said it best: Elaine embodied the university’s mission, truly expressing the Franciscan ideal of “knowledge joined with love.”

Sr. Jean Jacobchick ’77 will moderate the first session for a series called Spirit on Tap. The talks, which are intended to encourage theological discussion, explore alternative views and stimulate dialogue around issues of faith and spirituality. Sr. Jean will lead the discussion on “Pope Francis and New Directions in the Roman Catholic Church.”

1980s Ariel Velez ’12 and Tuan Vo ’12 were married on June 14, 2014.

50 Alvernia University Magazine

J. Michael Heim ’81 passed away on Aug. 25, 2014, after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

RoseMarie (Limpus) Winters ’82 received one of the first Nursing Excellence Awards at Alvernia University for her work in the clinical nursing practice. RoseMarie is a wound care nurse consultant. John Nelka ’87 is the new library director for the Sinking Spring Public Library in Sinking Spring, Pa. Melodie (Lubas) Burkey ’88 is an interior designer for M Design Interiors, which she created in 2007. Melodie collects chairs from secondhand stores, yard sales and even trash. She strips chairs, refinishes and reupholsters. Two of her creations were used for charity events. Melodie moved into interior design after decades in accounting and project management. Margaret (Johnson) Impink ’88 is involved with plans for St. Francis Home. This project is a nonprofit residence for terminally ill children and adults located in Cumru Township. Jacqueline (Weise) Robbins ’88 received a master’s degree in education and human development with a focus on curriculum and pedagogy combining secondary science and special education from The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Jeannie (Moran) Savage ’88 graduated from the Leadership Berks program. Jacqueline (Koons) Brown ’89 passed away on Sept. 28, 2014.


Sandra (Miller) Fabian ’92 passed away on June 27, 2014, as a result of an automobile accident. Andrea (DiFransico) Neider ’93 was one of four Berks County juvenile probation drugand-alcohol specialists who were honored with a community service award from the Caron Treatment Center. Cynthia (Storey) Lorady ’94 was featured in the Reading Eagle’s In Our Schools section for being a second-grade teacher at Jacksonwald Elementary, in the Exeter School District. John Binner ’95 passed away on Jan. 19, 2014. Sherri (Mellinger) Hopple ’95, Senior QC Associate at Aesculap Biologics, LLC, Breinigsville, Pa, is now a registrant of the National Registry of Certified Microbiologists. On June 20, 2014, she became certified as a specialist microbiologist in pharmaceutical and medical device microbiology. Kathy (Abraham) Wolfe ’98, ’01 was named vice president and human resource manager at Tompkins VIST Bank, Spring Township, Pa. Kathy is responsible for directing the company’s human resources activities and ensuring compliance with policies and procedures. Debra (Walker) Smolnik ’99,’02, M’05 was promoted to director of human resources at DSS Corp.


Michael J. Luckangelo ’00 passed away on April 10, 2011.

Melissa (Yiengst) Monk ’04 recently gave birth to son Nash Owen Monk.

Michael Murphy ’00, M’04 is the co-founder of Academically InformED, a mobile app for iOS and Android that aims to decrease miscommunication between parents, teachers and students. Using the program, parents can check on their students’ education progress and connect with the educators who teach them. Students can check grades and assignments, and teachers will be able to connect with parents regarding their students’ educational well-being. Robert Goonan M’01 has been promoted to vice president, director of logisitics for Boscov’s Department Store, LLC. In addition, Bob recently celebrated his 20-year anniversary with Boscov’s. Rosemary (Feltenberger) Lamaestra ’01 was elected to the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accounts Council. Anne-Brigitta Bennethum ’02 is engaged to Ian Haneke.

John Scolastico, Jr. ’02 was one of the participants in Alvernia University’s presentation on “Gangs in Berks County.” John is an adult probation officer. Darren Cranford ’03 passed away Dec. 17, 2011. Francis Schodowski M’03 is the associate vice president of advancement at Lebanon Valley College. Lauren Shandor ’03, M’04 and Jonathan Gibas were married on May 2, 2014, at St. Clare of Assisi Roman Catholic Church, Saint Clair, Pa. Dr. David Carlson M’04 was appointed chief physician executive at Hospital Sisters Health System in Springfield, Ill. Melissa (Yiengst) Monk ’04 had a son, Nash Owen Monk, on Jan. 28, 2014.

 Alvernia University Magazine


Justin Blatt ’08 was featured in the Reading Eagle’s In Our Schools Section as a fourth-grade teacher at Jacksonwald Elementary in the Exeter School District. Amanda Fenkner ’08 and Matthew Roy were married on June 7, 2014, at Mountain Valley Golf Course in Barnesville, Pa. Kyle Keller ’08 and Erin (Hoffert) Keller ’10 welcomed a son, Everett Flynn, on Feb. 6, 2014. Everett weighed 7 pounds 11 ounces, and he was four weeks early!

Denise (Kramer) Pouss ’08 married Matthew Pouss last summer.

Bradley Ortenzi ’04 and his wife, Lori are moving to Thailand to work with a nonprofit group that rescues and rehabilitates children who have been sold into slavery. Brad will head a new investigative unit for Zoe International. David Rotenberg M’04 was named executive vice president of treatment at Caron Treatment Centers, Wernersville, Pa. JoAnn (Muzalski) Bechtel ’05 was crowned Ms. Pennsylvania Senior America. After winning the tristate pageant between West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania, JoAnn goes on to compete in a national pageant.

advanced materials technology group for Lockheed Martin MST Owego. Michael is the chemical lab director, certified by the New York State Department of Health for wastewater analysis. He works in failure analysis and new ventures. Michael was married in September 2012 to Laura, and they had their first child, Slade Michael, in May 2013. Krysta Sensbach ’06, M’08 is engaged to Daniel Gassert. A March 2015 wedding is planned. The couple resides in Lancaster, Pa.

Martin Novia ’08 and AnnMarie Cupo ’10 were married July 26, 2014. Denise (Kramer) Pouss ’08 married Matthew Pouss on July 19, 2014, at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church, Lebanon, Pa. The couple now resides in Dillsburg, Pa. Justin Grube ’09 was named director of sports information at Haverford College. Justin will lead the public relations functions for the department and its 23 varsity sports.

Mary Arguelles ’06 recently had a nonfiction essay titled “Mending Petals” published in the Spring 2014 edition of The Bellevue Literary Review, which is published twice yearly by the N.Y.U. School of Medicine.

Ashley Hubbard ’07 graduated in June 2014 from the Metropolitan College of New York with a master’s degree in public administration.

Fredericka (Cope) Haumesser ’09 received the prestigious Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Ohio Teaching Fellow award. The fellowship foundation recruits topquality teacher candidates to teach math and science in high-need Ohio schools. Fellows include both accomplished career changers and outstanding recent college graduates, all with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, math and medicine (STEMM fields).

Michael Kiczek ’06 is currently working in the lab for part of the

Elda Santos ’07 graduated from the Leadership Berks program.

Susan (Hafer) Johnson ’09 retired from the Reading

Susan Martz ’05 is currently a school counselor with the School District of Lancaster.

52 Alvernia University Magazine

Join Alvernia on

Conor Delaney ’07 and his wife, Elizabeth (Gallagher) Delaney ’07 welcomed their son, Rhys Brian Delaney, into the world on Sept. 1, 2014. Rhys weighed 10 pounds 2 ounces and was 23 inches long.

Just another way to stay connected

Hospital on May 30, 2014, and got remarried on Aug. 17, 2014. Ryan Schlegel M’09 and Jennifer Gillman were married on Sept. 27, 2013, at Normandy Farms in Blue Bell, Pa. Stacia (Stasnek) Waren M’09 graduated from the Leadership Berks program.


Justine Fronheiser ’10 and Brad Bauer were married on June 7, 2014. Christy Glass ’10 was named senior vice president and human resources manager for National Penn Bancshares Inc. Christy will be responsible for driving human resource solutions that enable business performance. She will lead a team of professionals in proactively supporting staff in developing and delivering services that attract, develop and retain employees. Her team will focus on activities such as staffing, employee engagement, talent development, performance optimization and change management. Jeffrey Kusniez ’10, M’11 was featured in the Reading Eagle’s In Our Schools section as a social studies teacher and student council adviser at Boyertown High School. Tim Ahlquist ’11 and Megan McCafferty ’12 are engaged. Tim is employed at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Southern New Jersey, and Megan is employed at the New Jersey Memorial Veterans Home in Vineland, N.J. A 2016 wedding is planned. Alyssa Koehler ’11 is a print coordinator at Jetson Specialty Marketing.

Nicole Richards ’11 and Austin Keller ’11 were married on April 12, 2014. Alexandra Stengel ’11 and Kyle Laub were married on June 6, 2014. They moved to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., where Kyle is stationed as a U.S. airman. Rourke O’Donnell ’12 passed away on Aug. 29, 2014. Kaytelin Rhody ’12 is now working for Schuylkill County Children and Youth as a county caseworker. She also coaches softball at Schuylkill Haven High School. Nina Sterling ’12 is engaged to Christian Schlegel ’13. A wedding date has been set for Aug. 29, 2015. Ariel Velez ’12 and Tuan Vo ’12 were married on June 14, 2014.

to a wide variety of consumer, manufacturing and environmental industries. Brenda SkimskiKasprzewski M’13 graduated from the Leadership Berks program. Brian Witkowski ’13 interned at the Reading Fightin’ Phils. Brian said, “The things I have learned are invaluable and the people I work with are there for me every step of the way. It has simply been awesome!” He also helped as a bullpen catcher for the season. He is now a business sales specialist at Staples. Kaitlyn Kozlowski ’14 is currently a registered nurse at Inova Health System. Samantha Wilt ’14 served as a volunteer for the free, weeklong “Project Exploration” Science Institute camp this summer at Alvernia University.

Ashley Vincent ’12 and Jason Hugg ’12 were married on Oct. 18, 2014. Robert Diaz, Jr. ’13 and Katherine Lloyd were married Aug. 30, 2014. Robert received his Certified Recovery Specialist and Certified Intervention Professional certifications from the Pennsylvania Certification Board. Shawn Hinkle M’13 was named an information technology manager of Brentwood Industries in March 2014, overseeing all IT operations, including the infrastructure, help desk and applications teams, which support six domestic and three international locations. Brentwood is headquartered in Reading, Pa., and is a leading provider of thermoformed plastic solutions

Kyle Keller ’08 and Erin (Hoffert) Keller ’10 welcomed a son, Everett Flynn on Feb. 6, 2014.

Distinguished alums honored

Alvernia presented awards to two outstanding alumni during the Annual President’s Dinner in October. The Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes contributions of Alvernia alumni to their professions, communities and the nation, was presented to John McCarthy, Alvernia class of 2006. McCarthy is general manager of GE Healthcare’s Asset Management Professional Services. In his role, John oversees the creation, development, management, business planning and delivery of GE asset management solutions. The Ellen Frei Gruber Award was presented to Meggan Kerber ’96, M ‘01. The

award honors an alum who embraces the institution’s core values and demonstrates exceptional commitment to the university. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and an MBA with an emphasis in community service and economic leadership, Kerber is currently the director of development at Bethany Children’s Home. She is responsible for all development, fundraising and marketing initiatives, including financial ministry services to the Pennsylvania Southeast, Penn Northeast and Penn Central Conference of the United Church of Christ and their respective member churches.

Change a student’s life today

Each year, gifts to the Alvernia Fund change the lives of students as they mature into the next generation of Alvernia graduates. Your gift provides for student scholarships, community service initiatives, alternative break trips, student and faculty research and other life-changing experiences that go beyond the classroom. Please make your gift today online at or by contacting Mark Piekarski, director of annual giving, at 610.790.1901 or On behalf of the students whose lives are changed by your generosity, thank you for your gift!!

54 Alvernia University Magazine

Alumni director named

Julianne Nolan, M’09, has been named director of alumni and parent relations. She joins Alvernia from Lafayette College, where she was the assistant director of development and college relations. In her new role, Nolan will lead efforts to better engage graduates and parents in Alvernia community events and activities. “I am thrilled to be part of the Alvernia community,” said Nolan. “I’ve been so impressed with the spirit of our alumni and the passion they have for their university. I think together we can do some amazing things to help Alvernia continue to make an impact in the lives of others while engaging our graduates in ways they will find valuable.” You can reach her at

Mark Your Calendar!

Seeking amazing alumni Know an Alvernia alumnus who is deserving of exemplary recognition? Well, here’s your opportunity to nominate that special person. We are looking for nominees for the 2015 Ellen Frei Gruber and Distinguished Alumni Awards. The awards honor alumni for selfless contributions to their profession or community as well as their demonstration of Alvernia’s core values and commitment to the university. Congratulations to this year’s award recipients: Ellen Frei Gruber Award – Meggan Kerber ’96, M’01, director of development, Bethany Children’s Home. Distinguished Alumni Award – John McCarthy ’06, general manager and managing principal, General Electric Healthcare. Suggestions for award nominees are highly encouraged. Recipients will be recognized at the President’s Dinner in October, 2015. For more information, please contact Julie Nolan, director of alumni and parent relations, at 610-796-8212 or

January 19 MLK Day of Service

January 26 Interfaith Lecture with Ingrid Mattson

February 27 Gershwin on Broadway with Leon Bates

March 10 Batdorf Lecture

March 18 Berks Jazz Fest with Cyrille Aimée

April 9 Hesburgh Lecture

April 14 Vatican II Lecture

April 11 Earth Day of Service

May 7 Margaritaville

May 16 Commencement

See special alumni events at

Calling all proud Crusaders!

We want YOU! Alvernia’s Undergraduate Admissions Office is looking for proud Alvernia alums to volunteer their time to represent the university at college fairs in the Mid-Atlantic Region. If you are interested in attending a college fair near you, please contact us at or call us at 610.796.8269.

Alvernia University Magazine





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continued ...



healing touch | Continued from page 39 experiencing some sort of stressors that are impeding their work, impeding them in completing their mission,” she says. Welsh runs a four-day program that teaches coping skills, such as stress management, anger management, communications and goalsetting. “My staff and I are doing what we can to make sure they are functionally able to complete their job,” she says. When her Afghanistan deployment ends, Welsh’s duty will continue. She will serve her remaining year and a half of active duty in Germany, likely followed by another three years in the Reserves. But Welsh is focused on her current task, and will explore all of her future options once her commitment concludes. In caring for wounded warriors, Welsh has been able to employ the “holistic approach” — treating a person’s emotional as well as physical needs — that first attracted her to the field of occupational therapy as a

Richard Kessler

high school student. Welsh became Alvernia’s first OT graduate to be commissioned as an Army OT, and recently helped guide Erin Stone ’13 through the process to become the second. And she has remained in close contact with Dr. Cameron over the years. In the fall, Welsh Skyped into Dr. Cameron’s classroom to share her experiences with today’s OT students and help teach the section on treating wounded soldiers. “I definitely attribute all my success up to this point to Alvernia and the OT faculty there, specifically Dr. Cameron,” Welsh says.

run deep | Continued from page 36

Last Drop | Continued from page 35 Earlier this year, it offered coffees from Guatemala, Rwanda and El Salvador. “Coffee is a fruit,” Kessler explains, “and just like any other fruit, it needs to be bought in season, so we rotate our menu with the different origin harvest dates. Excellent coffee always takes great care to produce.” The second aspect of ethical coffee is an environmental focus. He points out that large coffee producers will generally produce coffee — and only coffee — on large plots of land. “Large monoculture farms can completely destroy ecosystems

Boston University–MIT Naval ROTC Consortium. And when Harvard

and can have long-lasting negative effects on entire regions,” Kessler

University ended its ban on ROTC in 2011, Stevens became the

says. “We will only deal with farmers who insist on using their land

school’s first ROTC director in four decades.

properly and have strict and rigorous environmental standards.”

When he retired from the Navy in 2012, Stevens moved back to

A record-setting soccer goalie, Kessler credits Alvernia’s faculty

Pennsylvania to be close to his mother and pursue his doctorate,

and coaching staff for their positive impact on him as a person and

settling in Hershey and choosing Alvernia’s leadership program.

as a professional — particularly business professor Travis Berger,

And while he misses the ocean and the camaraderie of the Navy, this

whose teachings and style helped Kessler develop his ethical,

career nuclear submarine officer has found life above sea level no less

spiritual and philosophical ideologies. Just like the power of Kessler’s

rewarding, and academic life at Alvernia no less challenging. In fact, it

coffee shop experience, his Alvernia experience was equally

has been the perfect fit, blending his love of academe and rigor of study


with his natural inclination for leadership. And Alvernia’s Franciscan roots have special meaning as well. “After my late father retired from the Navy in the early 1970s, he

“I was able to learn extremely valuable life lessons at Alvernia,” he says. “The most important thing that you can get from any schooling is experience. You don’t find experience within textbooks; you find

went to St. Francis in Loretto for the necessary courses to obtain a

it from being surrounded by different people with unique ideas

Pennsylvania teacher certification,” explains Stevens. “There was no

and attitudes toward life, and with different backgrounds and life

Troops to Teachers program at that time, and St. Francis was the only


school that would work with him to obtain certification. So somewhat ironically, here I am 40 years later at another Franciscan institution, learning the theory of what I practiced for 30 years: leadership.”

56 Alvernia University Magazine

“My time at Alvernia gave me the chance to learn how to deal with people,” Kessler adds. “And in the coffee business, people are everything.”

safe harbor | Continued from page 43 nonprofit’s funding is privately raised. One

a Philadelphia police officer. Another sings

of “the most powerful, moving” fundraiser

in the Navy choir. Several have joined the

experiences, he says, is the once-a-year

Armed Forces.

Sleep Out, where CEOs, business leaders

Covenant House has a policy of open

and young professionals pledge a certain

intake, “which means once a person walks

amount of money to spend the night in

through that door we provide shelter, no

the parking lot outside Covenant House

questions asked,” says Organ. “Once our

without a bed and blanket, to get a taste

beds fill up, we have mats we roll out on the

of homeless life. Some of the homeless

floor... normally we are over capacity every

youth helped by Covenant House share their

night of the week.”

stories at the sleepover. “The kids talk about ... how they have

includes getting a job. “As long as you are

in buildings,” Organ says. The participants

working on your goals, we are going to work

learn firsthand how street noises, safety

with you,” Organ says. Although 45 days

concerns and drops in temperature get

is an average stay, the average relationship

amplified at night. “It’s eye-opening. At a

with Covenant House lasts three years.

nothing you can do to warm up.” He has seen a lot of bad things on the job, but he says he has yet to meet a bad kid. “A lot of angry kids. A lot of

which helps them prepare for the transition from college to life in the working world,” Bradley says. At the end of every semester, each team presents its plan to a judging panel consisting of representatives of the nonprofit, and one faculty member.

provided they develop a “goal plan” that

slept out on subway platforms and stairwells

certain point you just get cold and there is

plugging in | Cont. from page 49

Youths can stay as long as they need to,

Organ’s “kids,” most of whom arrive with no way to prove who they are, are taught how to apply for a birth certificate, get a picture ID, land a job, keep a job, save money and pay rent. After they save $300

misunderstood kids. Understandably,”

they can apply to the transitional housing

he says. Their families destroyed by drug

program in Kensington called Rite of

addiction or prison sentences, many are

Passage, which Covenant House also runs.

pushed out of the familial door for being an economic burden. “You expect anger and depression. But they are not bad kids. Given the proper support, these kids flourish.” One transitioned out of the shelter to become

“The thing I like about Covenant House is that some places you go to, you hear about a mission statement at orientation and it’s never mentioned again,” says Organ. “But here the mission is alive and well.” And Organ is proof positive of that.

“The competition is very effective for student motivation, and the community partners receive three or four independently

Greening | Continued from page 40

developed marketing plans,” Bradley says.

well and doing good,” quipped Cullen, citing

effects of our actions as individuals and

In other words, everybody wins.

a favorite phrase Alvernia President Thomas

as a community,” she says. “People don’t

Flynn uses to describe Alvernia graduates.

realize how much one person contributes

Beyond promoting real-world learning, Bradley says one of his main goals is to

DiCaprio established a foundation in

to the demise of our environment and

help students value the benefits of serving

1998 dedicated to protecting wild places

planet. That’s why awareness is so

others and having the courage to do what

and fostering harmony between humans

important. It’s something we all need to be

they know is right, no matter what the

and nature. Crow has worked for years

working on.”

consequences. This is why he became

to raise awareness of issues affecting

involved in Alvernia’s NetVUE project, which

the environment and was honored by the

with a degree in communication, and

enables students to discover and embrace

Natural Resources Defense Council for her

is currently a graduate assistant in the

more deeply what it means to be citizens of

work. Mughelli set up a foundation that

university’s marketing department. She

the world and servants of the needy.

works to educate youth about environmental

plans to begin working on a Doctorate in


Leadership degree at Alvernia next year.

“Students, in some cases, select a career

Kantor graduated from Alvernia in 2008

Learning more about the efforts

Meanwhile, she is continuing her scholarly

says. “Through the NetVUE program,

of these and other celebrities has

work to explore the roles of nature-centered

I advise these students to rethink this

heightened Kantor’s personal awareness

leaders. “It’s the perfect marriage between

decision and instead, to use their God-

of environmental issues and increased her

green and glam,” she says, satisfying

given skills and talents to make the greatest

concerns for the health of the earth.

both her interest in cause célèbre and her

because they want to make money,” Bradley

contribution to society.”

“I think that it’s made me consider the

concern for environmental issues. Alvernia University Magazine





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continued ...



Superhero | Continued from page 28 Man connects with everybody — adults, the mentally disabled and even the elderly.” After that, Harrington decided to take his onespider show on the road. Sometimes he can be found around his home neighborhood in Northeast Philadelphia, providing entertainment for young kids and fodder for fun with older kids who challenge him as a superhero. He’s reprised the Spidey role at several other events as well, including pairing up with fellow student Jennifer Bielecki, a fourth-year occupational therapy major who dressed up as Elsa from Disney’s animated film “Frozen.” The two even supported the Team Laney 5K Fashionista Run, aimed at raising money to fight pediatric cancer. Harrington plans to continue his education and someday hopes to teach at the university level. Until then, he says, “thinking about my time volunteering makes me feel like I am finally giving back to my community and that’s so important for me.” Peter Parker would be proud.

Terry Harrington

BLUES | Continued from page 47 school, George started out as a sport

for them, but it was better than the place

the way. “I really enjoy being out and getting to

management major at Alvernia.

they’d come from.”

know people,” he says. “You need some time

But the pair found common ground after

George signed up with the Army National

graduation, working with troubled youth

Guard in 2006, the same year he began

at CONCERN. Not long afterward, they

working for CONCERN.

both moved on to a boys’ treatment unit in Coatesville, Pa., where they came to better understand the hardships faced by some kids,

In late 2008 he was deployed to Iraq, where he served for nine months. “When I came back from Iraq I felt ready for

on the streets to really learn what’s going on.” And although he recognizes the possibility of danger when responding, George enjoys the challenge of domestic calls, during which he feels he has a chance to defuse a potentially dangerous situation and help resolve conflict. Both brothers are quick to point out that

as well as the societal factors that contribute to

a new challenge,” George says. “My time there

juvenile delinquency.

was rewarding and I made a lot of new friends,

their Alvernia education was about more

but I was glad to get home.”

than earning a degree. “We had a good

Most of the juveniles they worked with had long-standing family problems; many had

After taking time to enjoy some traveling,

experience…,” Christian says. “We got

parents who were unable or unwilling to care

he enrolled in the Reading Police Academy

opportunities that we wouldn’t have had at a

for them.

and was hired by the city police force in 2012,

large school, and we got help that we needed

joining Christian, who had been hired the

along the way.” That, said George, inspires

previous year.

them to give back.

“These kids had no stability at home, or really anyone they could count on,” George says. “Sometimes they’d be up for a weekend pass

As part of his duties, George participates in a

“If there’s somebody who we can help, that’s

to go home and they’d purposely do something

park-and-walk program where he forsakes his

what we’re going to do,” he says. And there

wrong so the pass would be revoked. The

patrol car to take to the streets on foot, making

is no doubt that wherever you’ll find George,

center might not have been the greatest place

personal contact with people he meets along

Christian will not be far away!

58 Alvernia University Magazine

David Updike chats with Alvernia President Tom Flynn.

Growing up updike | Continued from page 24 sense of purpose. She, too, was a writer; she had published in The New Yorker, and her first collection of short stories, “Enchantment,” was published when she was in her 50s. Perhaps she served as a more realistic literary role model than my father, whose fame and productivity were of a level only a fool or a genius could aspire to. There was a quiet dignity she showed me, in doing what you can, writing a story here and there, and being grateful for whatever success came your way. She published a second collection, “The Predator,” the year she died, 1989. I’m not sure my father was thrilled when I decided to go into teaching, like his father. He had witnessed his own father’s travails and torments with “classroom management,” and he had evaded teaching after a single summer class at Harvard, but must have seen that teaching was a more viable way for me to make my way in the world. He had always been very encouraging, and full of praise when I published something, and would ask me, shyly, on the golf course, how “things are going.” He must have seen, too, that I was very

social, needed a place out in the world, people to rub shoulders with, to joust and joke with — a world outside my own head. And so I got a master’s in teaching; my published stories and book helped me get some jobs and now I teach at a community college, an environment that suits me rather well. I write when I can, and feel the urge, which is not every day. Which brings me back to the cheerful psychiatrists and their concerns at a lovely garden party in June: It must have been a “terrible burden” to have such a famous father growing up — and in the same field! Well, I should admit that it could be distracting sometimes when, after toiling for an entire year and I managed to get a single essay or story accepted for publication, to have a thick, heavy manila book envelope arrive on our front doorstep, with my father’s familiar handwriting, and inside, a 486-page volume of collected criticism; a month later, another object of comparable heft would arrive — a novel, this time — in the same year! “Geesh, Dad,” I might have muttered, or thought … “gimme a break already.” That said, I typed the first draft of these

pages on two manual typewriters, one a heavy Olivetti that my father bought in England in 1968 and used for the rest of his life, the other an Olympia manual, almost identical to the one he used in the ’50s and ’60s, and eventually, simply wore out. I enjoy the act of typing, the sound and athletic action required of my fingers, and some of this must go back to childhood — sounds heard as an infant, then boy, the audial cadences of thought. There is also the satisfaction of a nicely turned phrase, of sentence, a pleasant sense of craft, of making something — a story that feels whole, complete, and comes to a mysterious yet satisfying end. And so, to their question I now answer, a couple months later: No, it never felt like too much of a hardship, actually, to have a famous father growing up. We were proud and pleased by his success and fame, and enjoyed a secondary, second-generation glow of celebrity and fame. And if it ever really was a “burden,” from a psychological point of view, it seems to me now it was a slight and not unpleasant one, my privilege and good fortune to bear. Alvernia University Magazine


Spy Games | Continued from page 19 thousands of times per year; broke into major data centers around the world to spy on hundreds of millions of accounts; and systematically undermined the basic encryption systems of the Internet, endangering sensitive banking and medical data. A federal district court judge has ruled that the phonerecords-collection program probably violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, the Times said. There is now general agreement in Congress that the N.S.A. overstepped its bounds, and an effort is now under way to reform the USA FREEDOM Act with stricter safeguards. In general, the reform proposals would not restrict the government’s ability to conduct surveillance abroad or in the battlefield — in Syria, for example, fighting ISIS — but it would restrict the government’s ability to spy on Americans and require it to justify the surveillance.

It is uncertain whether the bill will pass and in what form, considering the upcoming presidential election year. There has been an attempt to seek a balance between legitimate security needs in a dangerous world, and the rights of citizens to maintain their privacy so they are not subject to unwarranted snooping at a time when data is multiplying at a rapid pace and increasingly accessible to all.

Democracy and technology Those who support reform worry about the potential of abuse if agencies like the N.S.A. are not reined in with appropriate safeguards. What would happen, they wonder, if someone like J. Edgar Hoover were in charge of our intelligence agencies? Carrie Fitzpatrick, an associate professor of communication at Alvernia, says that government overreach is already having a negative

President Thomas F. Flynn, Ph.D. Publisher and Editor in Chief Brad Drexler Creative Director Steve Thomas Contributing Editor Carey Manzolillo ’06, M’07 Contributing Writers Ernest Beck; Elizabeth Shimer Bowers; Jack Croft; Dr. Thomas F. Flynn; Kevin Gray; Dr. Edward Hartung; Peggy Landers; Carey Manzolillo ’06, M’07; John McCloskey ’94, M’01; Karen L. Miller; Laurie Muschick; Amy Music; Susan Shelly; David Updike Contributing Photographers Theo Anderson; Ed Kopicki; Carey Manzolillo ’06, M’07; John Shetron; Steve Woit Alvernia Magazine is a publication of Alvernia University. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved. Correspondence should be addressed to 540 Upland Avenue, Reading, PA 19611, or email:

60 Alvernia University Magazine

impact on journalism. “If a journalist is investigating a sensitive subject like the war on terror and is speaking to someone who might be under surveillance, then the journalist will also be under surveillance, and this will create a spiral of silence,” Fitzpatrick says. Because much of the current oversight is self-policing, she would like to see the creation of an outside entity to provide oversight to help restore trust. Fitzpatrick says that students today at Alvernia, who came of age in the tech generation, are generally more accepting of the privacy guarantees presented by social media companies when you sign up for their service. But when she asks the students to read the agreements in detail, they are surprised to learn that “the information they thought was private really isn’t, and that just because you identify people on Facebook and limit access doesn’t mean the information might not come out later.” Many students walk out of class vowing to limit what information they disclose on social media sites. “Unless you actively talk about issues of

privacy and access,” Fitzpatrick adds, “you don’t know whether people are as informed on the topic as they should be.” Democracies require transparency and an open and vigorous public airing of the issues, especially when it concerns privacy and possible government snooping into the lives of citizens. The revelations about government overreach have had a huge impact on how we see the government and what it does in the name of national security, and how we must balance legitimate security needs with personal information safety. In the wake of the Snowden affair and other revelations about government activity, a vibrant debate has begun about the level of monitoring and the surveillance state. “We now have an active discussion that we would not have otherwise had, and we need to have that debate without waiting for the Snowdens of the world to leak everything, to know what the government is and is not allowed to do,” says Laperruque of the Center for Democracy and Technology. “This would help restore faith in the government.”

by the book | Continued from page 19 talked to a Lit Fest audience about her dramatic rescue by SEAL Team 6 from Somali pirates. The previous year, Tess Gerritsen, author of a number of award-winning books (including the Rizzoli & Isles series) talked to a captive audience about her transition from doctor to novel writer. Yet those who really know Guay understand that seeing the lights click in young people is what drives her. Her real passion lies in finding and developing gifts in others. So she advises students who don’t yet know what they want from life. She meets with them and invites them to speak with others who might help them get published, discover their passion or be inspired to pursue an important goal. She teaches students to network, to pay attention to goals and to work hard for what they want. Yes, Guay lights up the world for many students — in classrooms, in lectures and sometimes by just mentoring them as colleagues. And best of all, sometimes, they actually see!

doctor of

Physical Therapy Turn your passion into practice with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree

from Alvernia University. Our program will prepare you for today’s complex healthcare environment.



his is a fish story, although it’s really not about fish. It’s about people helping people. And it’s about courage, the kind displayed by a 5-year-old boy who taught me more about what it means to be courageous than I could have ever imagined. But back to fishing. I love to fish. I’ve been doing it since I can remember, since my dad first taught me how to bait a hook. So when I got word about a trip being organized last August to Kentucky’s Taylorsville Lake State Park, it didn’t take long for me to sign up. But this wasn’t the usual angling excursion with family or buddies. In fact, it was with a group I had never even met before we gathered that hot August afternoon. But it was a fishing trip I will remember forever, and not for the one that got away.

Special family, special occasion On Feb. 9, 2012, 3-year-old Jackson Mitchum was diagnosed with a rare, incurable pediatric brain cancer called pilomyxoid astrocytoma. On the very next day, he underwent emergency surgery to remove 75 percent of his tumor. By April it had grown back. He started chemo that May. For the next two years, Jackson endured seven different therapies. His family and grandparents dropped everything and moved to Kentucky to be closer to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where Jackson is receiving treatment. Although Jackson has lost sight in one eye and has only partial vision in the other, he hasn’t lost his resilient spirit or instinctual playfulness. Nor has his 8-year-old brother, Caleb who is battling his own health issues, including Tourette’s syndrome and ADHD. But he’s still Jackson’s big brother and plays the role to perfection. For sure, the two young boys have dealt with their share of challenges. Yet they still have dreams and wishes, and in August, thanks to the One Wish Foundation (OWF), the pair’s hopes of going fishing, swimming and camping with their family became a joyfilled reality with the trip to Taylorsville Lake State Park.

62 Alvernia University Magazine

As a board member, I’m no stranger to OWF. It was founded in March 2011 by my best friend, Jarrod Renninger, to introduce children with life-altering medical or social conditions to the outdoors by granting “One Wish.” This “One Wish” can be anything associated with the outdoors — fishing, camping, hunting, four-wheeling, rafting or any outdoor-related adventure.

Fishing with good friends By the time Jackson and Caleb got to Taylorsville Lake, their excitement was contagious and their smiles were infectious. Jackson came over and gave me a hug and I knew right then and there this was going to be a special time. I was not to be disappointed. It didn’t take long for the crew to get in gear. The boys were soon in the boat, laughing, catching enough striped bass to fill a cooler. They even threw some back to catch on another day! But I couldn’t help notice that Jackson struggled at times. He didn’t fish as much as he would have liked because he was tired. Sometimes we had to carry him because his legs hurt so bad, a side effect of his cancer treatments. His arms would hurt, too from holding the fishing rod. No matter what we did, he was always uncomfortable. Once on the boat his temperature spiked, another treatment side effect. Our fishing guide, Chino Ross, sat on the boat’s floor, icing Jackson and fanning him until he cooled and fell asleep. Later it dawned on me: Jackson lives every second of every day like that. He doesn’t have any easy days. They are all hard, but he doesn’t ever give in. He fights. He pushes. Sure, the sickness gets to him, but his courage in battling his cancer is something I admire and will remember. Even at age 5, he is a teacher.

Time to reflect I can’t look at Caleb and Jackson without

seeing my own kids — Jack, 15, Ashley, 13, and Luke 9. They’re all happy, healthy and great to be with. Together with my wife, Kelly, we feel so rich and blessed. Most who know or have met my kids comment how wonderful they are, and we beam with pride. Yet we are so much like the Mitchum family. And I think about how easily our two roles could have been reversed. I wonder why them, why not us? I can’t help but feel humbled. I can’t help but wonder how I would deal with what the Mitchums are going through. In my career, I have met many people and many families who don’t have my same life situation and circumstances, whether it is because of an illness, economic hardship or physical abuse. So when I hear about those who are not as fortunate, it pulls at my heart. I am instantly reminded of my dad, Jack and the example he left me. It has led Kelly and me to do whatever we can to help others.

Back to the trip/forever changed That second evening of the trip, the entire group was hosted by Chino Ross and his wife, Karen, at a fish fry that left us all amazed. Country music artist T.J. Bebb was on hand to perform that evening, and we listened to his hit songs as well as a special treat, an original composition, the One Wish song. There wasn’t a dry eye to be found that night, knowing we were celebrating good times together and praying for our new buddy Jackson as he fought cancer. That August journey was a fishing trip to remember and a life-changing weekend for all involved. How could I ever be the same after being part witness, part participant

Hooked By John McCloskey

to such an occasion? In the end, we accomplished our mission: we provided the Mitchum family with a break — time away when they didn’t have to think about disease or hospital and could enjoy time with those they love. For the boys, we provided them with a memory to carry with them forever. Yet I wonder if I am the one who got the gift that weekend. I met a remarkably courageous family during those few days. They are now my friends. If they needed my help, I would be out there tomorrow. As for Jackson, I am hooked. I would do anything for him. His spirit is engrained in me. He is now one of mine. John McCloskey is Alvernia’s vice president of enrollment management. Learn more about the One Wish Foundation at

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LUCKY 13 Check out profiles on a baker’s dozen of Alvernia’s best and brightest beginning on page 25.

Not your average ‘jo’

RICHARD KESSLER ’11 Story begins on page 34

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Alvernia Magazine Winter 2014-2015  

Alvernia Magazine Winter 2014-2015