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Winter/Spring 2017

INSIDE On Campus

President’s awards SURF research Historical hockey season

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Faculty making a difference 



Reflections  Fired up for football The fixer: Chris Ciabarra Top cops Riding the orphan train Trevor’s travels Reluctant hero

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Alumni Class Notes




Alvernia University Magazine


Humility – the ultimate leadership trait? Too often humility is trivialized … but many scholars believe humility in leadership is rooted in the principles of servant leadership.

Thomas F. Flynn President

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The same commentators who badly misunderstood the American electorate have now scrambled to tell us the countless ways we are divided as a people. There is some truth in this, of course. We seek very different characteristics in our political leaders, with all of us understandably valuing some traits far more than others. But one polling result would yield 100 percent agreement: we do not associate humility with strong leadership, nor do we consider this virtue essential for highly effective leadership. Strong, effective leaders are generally portrayed in the media as hard driving, authoritative, aggressive (or at least assertive) and supremely confident. Even today, signs of gentleness or vulnerability (for readers of my generation, cue Ed Muskie’s tears!) cause doubts about the leader’s resolve, sense of self and capacity to inspire others. Yet as Alvernia emerges as a university increasingly known for its leadership programs, faculty and students alike are crafting an approach shaped by Franciscan values with a much-needed emphasis on ethics, informed by Catholic social thought. With emphasis on “real-world learning” experiences both on and beyond the campus — including projects that draw on the resources of our external communities — the O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership, and Public Service is coordinating our efforts to prepare students at all levels with the skills, competencies and values that organizations seek in future employees. From our well-established Ph.D. program in Leadership Studies to our undergraduate co-curricular efforts to newer initiatives in the undergraduate and graduate curricula, Alvernia is delivering on the promise of our Mission Statement: to develop “ethical leaders with moral courage.” And that promise includes understanding the central importance of humility in leadership. All Alvernians can easily remember that service and peacemaking are among our core values. But we talk much less about our core value of “humility.” This is not surprising. Too often humility is trivialized

by being equated with a lack of confidence or with merely a refusal to gloat when we are triumphant. Yet there are deeper lessons of humility when we fail or fall short or are proven wrong. And at a university filled with bright, articulate people, we are called to exercise humility in our daily lives. As we express our views, positive we are right, are we really listening and being open to the views of others? Are we ready to engage with those different from us in background, experience and points of views? Do we believe we can learn also from those beyond our campus, including those less formally educated? We may be on to something important. Humility is gaining popularity far outside the boundaries of Mount Alvernia, not just as an important element of leadership, but as the key quality of leadership. This may seem counterintuitive given our assumptions about CEOs or other prominent leaders. But according to recent research studies, it’s true. Jim Kouzes, who spoke in October to students and faculty on campus and to community leaders in downtown Reading, believes all effective leaders must have a profound sense of humility about their own skills and abilities. Legendary leadership guru Jim Collins, goes a step further: he says the x-factor of great leadership is not personality. It’s humility. For him, Level 5 leaders are those who are humble with pronounced ambitions, not simply for themselves, but for the organization’s mission. Many scholars believe humility in leadership is


rooted in the principles of servant leadership, which one finds throughout the New Testament in the teachings (and behavior) of Christ. Secular and religious scholars alike cite other notable servant leaders, ranging from Buddha to Gandhi to Mother Teresa. At Alvernia, we have countless examples and exemplars of humble, other-centered servant leadership. It is often evident in the the good work of alumni, like the leaders featured in this issue’s Top Cops article, charged with serving and protecting our cities and neighborhoods. Their thoughts about service reflect values that are modeled by Alvernia faculty and staff. For almost three decades, Professor Polly Mathys has led the annual Turkey Drive, assisted only by an informal team of volunteers but supported by countless donors making contributions, large and small. Trustee Elsayed Elmarzouky and his family have closed their local restaurant for eight years in order to host the People First event. This year, with indispensable, behindthe-scenes (humble) assistance from the staff of our Holleran Center for Community Engagement, approximately 1,500 needy residents received a free meal. The Holleran Center, along with the O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership, and Public Service, has helped establish Alvernia as a model of servant-leadership not only in the state but across the country, as evidenced by the university’s several national awards. Undergraduates alone contribute more than 32,000 hours each year through our four University Days of Service and countless other activities, with 100 percent of our graduates participating. Small wonder 76 percent of our alumni report they are still active in community service. The concept of servant-leadership also provides an invaluable lesson: leaders need not be in positions of high status; they can lead, sometimes quietly by humble example, from anywhere in an organization or a community. As I tell the extraordinarily diverse group of several dozen students whom Helen and I host each May at Cedar Hill at the Senior Leaders Dinner, leaders come in all shapes and sizes and styles. They need humility along with confidence, a drive to be excellent themselves matched by a commitment to bring out the best in others, a desire to be virtuous as well as successful, and a passion for service. Prepared in this way, they will join our thousands of alumni ready “To Do Well and To Do Good.” Peace and All Good,

Go to for more.

On Campus LEADERS AND INNOVATORS Jim Kouzes, author of national bestseller “The Leadership Challenge,” headlined an Alvernia-sponsored event as part of the university’s Leaders, Entrepreneurs and Innovators Series. Held at the Doubletree Hotel

President’s Awards Dinner

Interfaith excellence, corporate

community service spotlighted

in downtown Reading, this program attracted more than 250 area executives, offering them insight on developing and applying leadership skills in the workplace. The program focused on the effective practices of exemplary leadership in the workplace. “Love ’em and lead ’em,” Kouzes explained. “Say thank you at least once a day for what they do. People will be more engaged in the organization.” Faculty and students benefited from a smaller group session with Kouzes on campus, during which he provided personal insights on leadership skills and spent time with students and faculty to answer their questions.


Rabbi Brian Michelson, Elsayed Elmarzouky and Rev. Philip Rodgers

Alvernia is one of only three institutions in the state to receive a highly competitive federal grant from the vices Administration (HRSA). The $550,000 grant is renewable for four years and would potentially provide $2.2 million during the life of the award, allowing the university to offer more than 30 new scholarships to disadvantaged students who wish to pursue a career in nursing. Funding from the federal HRSA Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students Program is effective immediately, and will help provide financial resources to recruit and retain disadvantaged students, and support their progression through completion of a nursing degree and into employment in underserved communities.

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National Recognition Lauds Service Alvernia has been honored for its work in three separate categories of the President’s Community Service Honor Roll Award this year: Education, General Community Service and Interfaith Community Service. The university was one of only two schools in Pennsylvania to earn honor roll designation “with Distinction” in all three categories. The Presidential Honor Roll award, established in 2006, is the highest federal recognition an institution can receive for its commitment to community, service-learning and civic engagement. It recognizes institutions of higher education that support exemplary community service programs and raise the visibility of effective practices in campus community partnerships. “Alvernia has received honor roll recognition every year since the award’s inception in 2006,” said President Thomas F. Flynn, Ph.D. “While I’m confident that our efforts in academics, service and interfaith dialogue are top notch, it’s always validating when others recognize it as well.”


U.S. Health Resources and Ser-

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Alvernia President Thomas F. Flynn bestowed several awards at the annual President’s Dinner this fall. Honorees included Pro Urbe Award recipient East Penn Manufacturing Company and the trio of Elsayed Elmarzouky, Rabbi Brian Michelson and Rev. Philip Rodgers, who received the Franciscan Award, the university’s top honor. The Franciscan Award honors individuals who selflessly give of East Penn President Dan Langdon with their time, talents and resources Alvernia President for the betterment of others, Tom Flynn. and is presented for exceptional service to the university, the community and the individual’s profession. Elmarzouky, Michelson and Rodgers earned the 2016 award for their work in founding “A Common Heart.” St. Benedict’s Roman Catholic Church, the Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom and the Islamic Center of Reading established “A Common Heart” to celebrate the similarities of each faith while respecting differences. “Together, these three men work to foster meaningful relationships among community members of differing faiths and backgrounds — something that is truly integrated into Alvernia’s mission,” said President Flynn. The Pro Urbe Award is presented to an organization that performs significant community service and contributes to a higher standard of living in Berks County and surrounding communities. This year’s recipient was East Penn Manufacturing, which celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2016. The company continues to grow through continuous investment in its people, their families and the local organizations that help support them.

FRANCIS FACTOR IN ACTION Internationally known Vatican expert John Allen, Jr., delivered this fall’s Founders Day Lecture as part of the university’s ongoing Francis Factor series. An overflow crowd was on hand at the McGlinn Conference Center to hear Allen speak about “Mercy for a Troubled World.” One of the top Catholic journalists in the world, Allen serves as editor of the website “Crux: Taking the Catholic Pulse,” specializing in news about the Catholic Church in partnership with the Catholic fraternal organization, the Knights of Columbus. He has also authored more than 10 books on the Vatican and Catholic affairs. “Through Francis Factor lectures, we hope to continue developing a deeper understanding of Alvernia’s Catholic heritage and Franciscan identity,” said Sister Roberta A. McKelvie, OSF, Ph.D., special assistant to the president for mission, who oversees the Francis Factor series. The “Francis Factor: Past, Present, Future” series launched in 2016, and is sponsored by Alvernia’s Mission Integration Office.

PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION Gallery goers were treated to a visual plethora this past fall as The Miller Gallery hosted a series of compelling art exhibits. Exhibitions featured an array of artists, political cartoonists and of course the much celebrated Alvernia student art show.


Spring promises to be equally pro-

Chloe Gletow, Alexa Cerulli and Nicole Procopio joined hundreds of other Alvernia students taking part in the annual St. Francis Day of Service at Angora Fruit Farm this fall. As part of a group initiative, all 22 Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) schools participated in service projects this fall.

vocative, with the gallery spotlighting Elaine Soltis, a contemporary mixed media artist who has ties to the Berks County community with her studio located at GoggleWorks in Reading. Also scheduled for this spring is Nellie Toll, whose watercolors, created in her youth in German-occupied Poland, will be featured and accompanied by a lecture titled “Imagining a Better World.” As a farewell to the spring semester, the Alvernia student art show will complete the season. Visit the events calendar online at

Alvernia University Magazine


On Campus EXPERIENCE THAT COUNTS Professor Eric Recktenwald (left) studies neural visual recognition in frogs with students Jose Gabriel and Isaiah Fabian.

Nearly 50 students have been given awards this fall to explore unique real-world learning experiences. The awards are provided through the university’s newly launched Real-World Experience Award program, which is geared to expand students’ access to experiential learning opportunities in all academic areas. Awards are helping fund immediate research projects, distance internships, mission trips and Washington Center experiences. And 24 award recipients will be using the awards to pursue global study experiences this spring. Applicants can receive up to $2,000 for participation in a variety of opportunities and experiences, and are evaluated on a variety of criteria that includes academic performance, and the degrees to which the experiences help students fulfill Alvernia’s mission in becoming broadly educated, life-long learners, reflective professionals, engaged citizens and ethical leaders with moral courage. Importantly, Real-World Experience Awards do not reduce the amount of financial aid students already receive. Visit

SURF program advances research

ing to apply or learn more.

ARTS IN ACTION Alvernia’s Arts & Culture Series continues this spring, featuring celebrated opera soprano and Broadway veteran Sherry Boone, as well as Grammy winner Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks. Boone’s performance, slated for Thursday, Feb. 9, at 7:30 p.m., will consist of an all-star lineup of Broadway classics, including Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sondheim and Berlin. Giordano will return to Alvernia’s stage in partnership with the 27th Annual Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest on Wednesday, March 15, at 7:30 p.m. For more information on arts events, visit

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With a growing body of evidence demonstrating the importance of realworld experiences to college students’ future success, hands-on research programs have never been more important. But for many, financial barriers keep research projects out of reach. To break down those barriers for Alvernia undergraduate students, the Student Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF) program was developed, thanks to support from former Alvernia board chair Joanne Judge and her husband, Rick Oppenheimer, along with Trustee Steve Najarian and his wife, Helen. The program provides opportunities for students to experience scholarship, research and creative process develop­

ment in collaboration with accomplished faculty members. The collaboration offers career development opportunities for student fellows through workshops, and supports opportunities to experience realworld learning. In addition, student fellows receive a $3,000 stipend and free housing during the 10-week May-August summer program. Since the SURF program’s inception in 2015, many students from a range of backgrounds and majors have taken advantage of related summer research projects. Students are encouraged to apply by early February for consideration in the summer 2017 program. For more information, search for SURF on

For more news, visit

DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI HONORED Alumnus Kevin P. DeAcosta ’00 (pictured above) was recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award, given to alumni who demonstrate valuable contributions to their professions, community and nation. Currently president of the Highlands of Wyomissing, DeAcosta serves on the boards of directors for Dayspring Home, Inc., and the Muhlenberg Soccer Association. He also volunteers as a tutor for the United Way of Berks County’s “Ready. Set. Read!” program. The 2016 Ellen Frei Gruber Award recipient, Mary Lou Kline ’81 (pictured below) was honored for outstanding service and support of the university’s mission, through a long history of volunteerism with the Alvernia Alumni Association and a number of com-


munity organizations.

Alvernia University Magazine


On Campus HALL OF FAMERS INDUCTED Alvernia inducted its ninth class into the Athletic Hall of Fame this fall, honoring the athletic accomplishments of past graduates. The Hall of Fame Class of 2016 included baseball players Eric Bonds ’06 and Anthony Recker ’05, field hockey’s Carey (Douglass) Manzolillo ’06, M’07, men’s basketball players Deotis Carolina ’01 and Zach Straining ’06, and the 1983 men’s golf team. Bonds was a four-time All-Pennsylvania Athletic Conference performer, still holding the Alvernia records for runs scored (245), hits (259) and triples (17). Recker was drafted by the Oakland A’s in 2005, and played professionally with the Athletics, Mets and Cubs before signing with the Atlanta Braves this season. Manzolillo ’06, M’07 led Alvernia field hockey’s first championship team as a three-time All-PAC goaltender. She currently holds team records for career saves (653), career shutouts

Francis Hall’s new Welcome Center is centrally located between the arrival court, theater and Miller Gallery.

(24), save percentage (.852) and goals against average (1.27), and capped her senior year by becoming the first CoSida Academic All-American in school history. Carolina was a three-time All-PAC men’s basketball performer and a member of the 1,000 point scorer’s club. He ranks third in field goal per(670). He started at center during his junior year, as the team earned Alvernia’s first PAC Championship. Also a 1,000 point club member, Straining was a two-time All-PAC player ranking among the top 10 in seven different categories of the team’s alltime record book, including third in rebounds (684). The 1983 men’s golf team was the fifth athletics team inducted into Alvernia’s Hall of Fame. Only three years after golf debuted at Alvernia, the 1983 team claimed the university’s first team championship, winning NAIA District 19.

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PLEX plans bring Glory Days to AU With Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” blaring in the background, news that Alvernia’s Board of Trustees approved plans for an innovative Recreation, Wellness and Health Sciences Complex (“The PLEX”), as the highlight of a new East Campus, drew loud cheers from hundreds of first-year students on hand for the announcement at Freshman Orientation Day in August. The expansion is the largest, most ambitious in university history, adding more than 100,000 square feet of academic and recreation space and 15 acres to Alvernia’s campus. “Never has the university cast such a bold vision in providing our students with best-in-class academic and recreation facilities to catalyze their future success,” said Alvernia President Thomas F. Flynn. The PLEX will include indoor practice space for student-athletes and provide indoor recreation opportunities for the Reading community, complementing existing outdoor recreational facilities in nearby Angelica Park and elsewhere on Alvernia’s main campus. “While students will enjoy the building’s generous academic and recreation spaces, area residents will be able to use the athletic facilities during designated times,” said Flynn. The PLEX and East Campus will be located off St. Bernardine Street on a parcel of land that borders Angelica Park. It is adjacent to the school’s existing Reading location and sits directly across from its newly opened campus entrance, arrival court and Welcome Center.


centage (.614) and fourth in rebounds

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New center welcomes visitors Alvernia opened its new arrival court and Welcome Center early last fall, creating a new main entryway to campus directly off St. Bernardine Street. The scenic boulevard also leads to the founding Bernardine Franciscan Sisters’ convent. The boulevard winds to an impressive new arrival court in front of Francis Hall that features generous parking to accommodate visitors, with the university’s seal emblazoned in the center of the court. An extraordinary new Welcome Center has been created for visitors seeking information or directions to any campus department or university event. The new center also serves as an official starting point for students and families visiting campus. Tours end in the admissions office, located in the Student Center.

CATASTROPHIC CHOICES Student Zachary Foose ’18 is the focus of an independent film released this November in conjunction with Reading FilmFest. The documentary “Catastrophic Choices” is a true, life-changing story that follows Foose through the difficult period that stemmed from his decision to get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated. Directed and produced by filmmaker Andrew Valentino, the film is a live action and animated documentary filmed in Fleetwood, Pa., where Foose and Valentino attended high school. Foose tells his own story in this film, described as “a moving, cautionary tale that affords the audience an opportunity to understand true ramifications of choices that Foose made and to experience the series of consequences with him.” Foose frequently shares his story with others, particularly with students. A graduate of Reading Area Community College, he is currently studying addiction studies/counseling at Alvernia.

MARSHALL NAMED ALL-AMERICAN As the men’s basketball team geared up for its latest championship run, the team received an unexpected vote of confidence. Senior Marquis Marshall was named Preseason All-America Honorable Mention. Marshall is one of three MAC Commonwealth players to receive preseason recognition. He was named All-MAC Commonwealth First Team a season ago in his first year at Alvernia. The transfer drained 339 points last season with a team-high .496 field goal percentage. Marshall led the Crusaders in rebounds (147) and blocks (34). He averaged 18.8 points per game. The senior ranked in the top five in scoring, rebounding, blocks and field goal percentage in the conference a season ago.

Alvernia University Magazine


On Campus LIT FEST MARKS 10 YEARS For the past decade, communication professor Sue Guay has organized Alvernia’s annual Literary Festival bringing a wide range of awardwinning authors to campus, and providing students, faculty and community members with extraordinary access to some of the top authors in the world. Festival attendees have opportunities to meet authors, ask questions during small group sessions and participate in formal lectures. This year’s Tenth Anniversary Fest featured several nationally acclaimed authors including: Christina Baker Kline, author of five novels, with her most recent work, “Orphan Train,” on the New York Times bestseller list for more

Christina Baker Kline Michael Weisskopf, whose book “Blood Brothers” depicts his firsthand account of what he saw and experienced through 18 months in an Army hospital amputee wing. Nicholas Kristof, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, co-authors of “Half the Sky,” dedicated to making a difference for women worldwide suffering from oppression. Cole C. Kingseed, author of “Conversations with Major Dick Winters,” who spoke on the life of the decorated Army officer whose courageous leadership during World War II helped the Allied victory. Visit for upcoming spring events.

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Field hockey team savors historic season Alvernia’s field hockey team recorded a season for the ages this fall, logging one of the best finishes in school history. With an 18-1 record, the team closed the regular season ranked No. 18 in the nation in the Division III Coaches Poll. In the process, Head Coach Laura Gingrich notched an incredible milestone, her 200th career win at Alvernia, making her the most successful field hockey coach in school history. The results were good enough to move Alvernia into the No. 2 slot of the MAC Commonwealth Tournament, where the team defeated third-seeded Arcadia 2-1 in the semifinal before falling to Messiah in the final. Ranked No. 1 nationally, Messiah was the only team to beat Alvernia during the regular season. However, Alvernia’s performance was good enough to earn the No. 1 seed in the ECAC Championships, played at Alvernia. Postseason MAC Commonwealth awards recognized several Alvernia standouts, including Margaret Wentzel and Rebecca Brosious, who were named Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year. Andrea

Wysocki joined the duo on the First Team, while Alexis Krall and Erica Groves collected Second Team accolades. A COACH TO REMEMBER For Coach Laura Gingrich, the season improved her record to an impressive 200-124 (.617) in her 16th year as head coach. She has led Alvernia to two conference titles in the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference, two ECAC MidAtlantic Region titles and three NCAA appearances. She was named PAC Coach of the Year in 2007, and Commonwealth Coach of the Year in 2011. In 15 prior seasons she coached four NFHCA All-Americans and 13 All-Region selections. In the classroom, Gingrich’s teams have earned NFHCA Team Academic Awards for 12 straight seasons. “It was a pretty amazing season,” Gingrich said. “The girls all meshed together. They just play so well together when they’re on. We played hard at the beginning of the season. I never thought that we would be 18-1.”


than two years.

Periscope Alvernia’s faculty making a difference


Kimberly Stoudt, Ed.D.

Eric Recktenwald, Ph.D.






Dr. Kimberly Stoudt and Dr. Dolores Bertoti collaborated on the research paper “Peer-Driven Learning in Undergraduate Senior Capstone Courses: An Investigation into the Processes and Value.” Dr. Stoudt presented the paper at the Conference of the International Journal of Arts and Sciences in Munich. Travis Berger, Ph.D. ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF BUSINESS MASTER’S IN ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP COORDINATOR


Travis Berger earned his Ph.D. in administration and leadership studies from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

In collaboration with colleagues from Temple, Penn State and Rutgers, Dr. Recktenwald published “Representation of the visual field in the anterior thalamus of the leopard frog, Rana pipiens” in a peer-reviewed neuroscience journal, “Neuroscience Letters.” Raymond Melcher, Jr., ’78 INSTRUCTOR OF BUSINESS

In addition to serving as a speaker at the national Graphic Arts Association conference this fall, Ray Melcher, Alvernia instructor and president/ CEO of Marathon Capital Advisors, offered three different training webinars for business leaders. Topics included considerations relative to buying a business, business worth and strategic alternatives for business success.

Dr. Seok presented work at three separate institutions in South Korea. He presented “Neuroaesthetics of Musical Pleasure: Purposeful Purposelessness of Musical Chills” at the International Congress of Aesthetics, offered a lecture on mindfulness meditation, titled “Neuroscience of Mindfulness Meditation” at the Institute for Cognitive Science, Seoul National University, and lectured on “Neurodaimonia and Mindfulness Meditation” at the Institute of Philosophy, Korea University. Janae Sholtz, Ph.D. ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY

Dr. Sholtz presented a lecture titled “Creative Resistance and the Spectacle of Violence” at Rowan University, N.J. The topic explores the role that art plays through the proliferation of images of violence and injustice, generated through media and photography.

Ann Kriebel-Gasparro, DrNP, FNP, GNP

Mark Kaufman, Ph.D.




Dr. Kriebel-Gasparro presented “Primary Care of the Parkinson’s Disease Patient” and “Integrating Palliative Care into an NP-DNP Program” at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners Conference. Caroline Fitzpatrick, Ph.D. ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF COMMUNICATION & ENGLISH

Dr. Fitzpatrick presented a teaching strategies workshop on digital literacy, online writing and impression management at the Diverse Literacies Conference for Language as a Resource Toward Revaluing Diverse Learners, in Macungie, Pa.


Dr. Kaufman delivered a paper titled “An Incident in Hyde Park: Sir Basil Thomson, Scotland Yard, and Wakean Coincidence” at the International James Joyce Symposium at the University of London, and presented “Le Morte d’Arthur: Allegory and Ideology in Graham Greene’s The Human Factor” at the Conference of the European Network for AvantGarde and Modernism Studies at the University of Rennes, France.

FACULTY EXCELLENCE GRANTS Fall Faculty Excellence Grant recipients include Josh Hayes for his work on “An Aristotelian Approach to Animal Welfare and a Politics to Come,” Ondra Kielbasa for her work on “Examining the Role of Myospryn in Muscle Differentiation” and Donna Yarri, in support of her work on “Creative Writing in Ethics.”

Alvernia University Magazine



Last June, I joined Dr. Di You and Professor Mary Ellen Wells from Alvernia’s Business Department as Visiting Scholars at Beifang University of the Nationalities in Yinchuan City, Xixia District in Ningzia Hui Autonomous Region in China. With the very capable Dr. You translating, we had the honor of teaching several undergraduate classes. We also spoke with key administrators from the university’s business department about developing a student exchange program with Alvernia. One of the first things that struck us on our visit to the university was the diversity of its student body. Beifang’s mission is centered on becoming an inclusive environment (much like Alvernia), and the school proudly promotes that its students include members of over 50 different ethnic groups. In fact, there are monuments to celebrate each of the ethnic groups represented on campus. This inclusive environment contributes to a wonderful atmosphere for students who are interested in an educational and cultural experience — including ours. Conversely, Beifang students we spoke with were very interested in study-abroad experiences including those that featured Alvernia. We talked to a large number of students (some through our translator, Dr. You) who discussed the importance of having an international experience as part of their education. Many on campus are the first in their families to attend college and were

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strongly encouraged by parents to gain exposure to other cultures, making them ideal candidates for an exchange program with Alvernia. Throughout our visit, we were exposed to a wide range of Chinese culture and history. We visited a number of significant historical sites and grew to appreciate a country with a history that spans millennia. We saw artifacts that were thousands of years old, learned of the extensive range of Chinese traditions and enjoyed foods of many of the groups in the region. As a confirmed coffee drinker, I grew to appreciate the subtleties of the many fine varieties of tea (and learned that with great teas, the second and third steepings are the most flavorful!) Tea tasting in China is not unlike the American experience of tasting fine wine. We also had the opportunity to spend a few days in Beijing, with a highlight of going to the Great Wall. Walking on the wall provided an indescribable experience. The vistas were amazing! Seeing the landscape with mile after mile of the wall is a vision I will never forget. Although I’ve seen many iconic landmarks worldwide, it has to be the most impressive sight I have ever experienced. Until one visits China, it is difficult to appreciate the vast history, culture and lifestyle of the country. It is my hope that as many Alvernia students as possible have the opportunity to be exposed to this amazing experience.



As I hung up the phone I sobbed. My heart was broken. For the first time in my life I did not know what to do. I could not believe someone took a gun and murdered my child. Later that afternoon, I received a phone call from Detective Bass from the Philadelphia Homicide Division, who said he had some leads on who may have killed my daughter. I didn’t know how to feel, so I sobbed. That was four years ago. Today, I know my daughter, Tanisha Marie Finch, would be proud that her mother continued her education despite the obstacles I faced. Now I am a proud senior at Alvernia’s Philadelphia campus and look forward to graduation. I’ve learned to remain focused and never let situations keep me down no matter how tragic they are, even in the face of my only daughter’s death. That’s because she will walk across that stage at graduation this December with me in love and spirit, for I am a true survivor. Happily, I remember searching in April 2012 for a university whose program would accommodate my educational needs as well as my work schedule. As I sat on my bed, I began to search the internet for universities with evening hours. I came across an Alvernia ad. I viewed the page and noticed the school colors, which I loved, and also noticed the location was just 10 minutes from my home and 40 minutes from my job. I was so elated! Before I knew it, I was an Alvernia student! However, I was soon in for the shock of my life, and not prepared for what would both shatter my heart and give me courage. With great joy, I can recollect receiving my first schedule, reading: Behavioral Health, Monday and Wednesday from 5:30-7:50 p.m. As I read the schedule, Tanisha called and said, “Guess what, mommy, I began classes at Alvernia on Tuesday, and I have class tomorrow.” I screamed, “Thank you, Lord; now tell me what your major is.” Tanisha replied, “Behavioral Health.” We both screamed with joy. I told her, “I’m happy for you and proud of you.” She said, “I’m proud of you too, mom, for attempting to achieve your goals.” I began to cry with tears of joy. My daughter said, “Mommy, don’t cry. This is huge for us because we can study together. You can teach me and I can teach you!” We laughed as we were both motivated and happy. The funny thing is later that evening we saw each other while driving down a street near my home. We waved to each other and blew kisses, then quickly sang out loud a

Turning loss … into gain Krystal Finch ’16 SENIOR BEHAVIORAL HEALTH MAJOR

REFLECTIONS Continued on page 58

Alvernia University Magazine



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As I boarded my plane to Orlando last June, I had doubts. “I don’t own a business and I certainly don’t call myself an entrepreneur… so why am I going to a ‘student entrepreneur’ program?” I thought. I had applied to attend the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council’s (WBENC) National Conference on a sheer whim. I had ideas, passion and a love for free trips to tropical locations. However, that accidental internet stumble onto the WBENC home page turned out to be a mindset-altering leap into the professional world. WBENC is the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled and operated by women in the United States. This 501(c) (3) non-profit operates with the understanding that diversity often promotes innovation, revenue growth and the building of strong networks. With a love for women entrepreneurs and the students who hope to follow in their footsteps, WBENC developed the Student Entrepreneur Program. This unique experience brought a group of over 20 passionate students together for a week of professional development and intense networking that coincided with WBENC’s larger event. The result was what those of us in the program referred to as “Business Women Summer Camp.” In Orlando, we were each partnered with a Women Business Enterprise (WBE) representative and a corporate sponsor. After discussing my interest in communication law and the private sector, I was matched with Cindy Towers, the president and CEO of JURISolutions in Philadelphia. She acted as my key contact for the week, providing tips and tricks for large networking events like this one. Those tips came in handy when we were released onto the convention center floor to shake hands with over 150 rows of WBEs and corporate sponsors. With a well-practiced elevator pitch detailing my dream of opening a boutique law firm that defends struggling artists and inventors, I walked from table to table, introducing myself to presidents, CEOs and diversity supplier specialists from some of the largest corporations in the nation. It was equivalent to a shopping mall of business cards and informational pamphlets, except that the currency was a confident smile and a sales pitch detailing how you could benefit each company. Some of the other student entrepreneurs and I developed a successful repartee, where one would discuss her app or product idea, and I would jump in with a swift “And I want to represent people like her at my firm.” Entrepreneurship is often thought of as an independent, selfdriven creation of a business. However, entrepreneurs are not alone in their endeavors. WBENC believes in mutually beneficial relationships, which it fosters through membership and annual events. Once connected to the WBENC family, there is an endless line of successful business owners looking to guide those of the next generation. I am lucky to say that I am now one of them.


Red Zone Into the

NCAA football to debut at the Vern in 2018 Students and faculty crammed the sidewalks, road and courtyards between Alvernia’s Campus Commons and Physical Education Center on a hot September afternoon to hear the news. Yes, it was true. With a thrust of an official NCAA ball into the air over his head, President Tom Flynn made it official. Football is coming to Alvernia! The announcement affirmed what the university’s Board of Trustees had voted unanimously on just days earlier: to develop a varsity football program that will play its first game in the fall of 2018. Alvernia’s team will compete at the NCAA Division III level, within the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC), playing against the likes of Lebanon Valley College, Stevenson, and yes, cross-town rival Albright. “During the past five years, we’ve made large investments to hire and support additional faculty and expand our undergraduate and graduate programs, while enhancing teaching and learning facilities and residential life,” Flynn said. “Our launch of football now is part of a logical evolution for the university at a time when we are well situated to expand athletic and recreational opportunities for our students.” According to Flynn, Alvernia is ideally positioned academically to accommodate the enrollment growth forecasted to accompany the addition of a football program. National data shows that the top programs currently studied by student athletes playing football include athletic training, business, criminal justice and sport management — all areas in which Alvernia has well-established, successful academic programs. The university also anticipates increased interest in its liberal arts fields,

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“As a student, it’s exciting to see so many great things happening at Alvernia. Football is something so many of us are looking forward to… going to the game, hanging out with friends, enjoying all the sights and sounds. It will only add to what is already a great college environment.” Macy Storm ’17

“Our launch of football now is part of a logical evolution for the university at a time when we are well situated to expand athletic and recreational opportunities for our students.” Tom Flynn, president

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“Alvernia has an extraordinary athletics culture, and we fully expect our football program will continue to enhance that tradition.” Bill Stiles, athletic director


such as communication, history, political science and psychology — complementing its already high-profile healthcare sciences programs. The decision to launch a football program followed a comprehensive study that engaged members of the entire Alvernia community and included rigorous assessment by both campus and trustee task forces. The study also incorporated research with a number of similar-sized colleges that recently introduced football. “Alvernia’s athletics culture is already very strong,” said Alvernia Athletic Director Bill Stiles. “We don’t need football to come in and fix it. We need football to enhance and build on what is already a strong culture here.” Within the MAC conference in which Alvernia teams compete, the university’s athletes consistently rank at or near the top for academic performance, with both men’s and women’s athletes regularly receiving the conference’s top scholar-athlete awards. In addition, Alvernia student-athletes perform more community service, maintain higher grade point averages and graduate at higher rates than nonathletes. Many are also part of a special leadership program for student-athletes. A national search for Alvernia’s first head football coach is already underway. “It’s a rare opportunity

for a football coach to build a top NCAA program from the ground up,” said Stiles. “Alvernia’s athletes are top performers both on and off the field, and we fully expect that our football program will make that tradition a priority.” In preparation for kickoff in 2018, beginning next summer the university plans significant additions to turf seating and renovations to the school’s Physical Education Center, not only to prepare for football but also to enhance support for other sports that will share the venues. Included are significant upgrades to locker rooms, along with a new press box and hospitality suite. Earlier this fall, Alvernia shared plans for its largestever expansion with creation of a 100,000-squarefoot academic and Recreation, Wellness and Health Sciences Complex, called “The PLEX,” as the highlight of a new East Campus. The PLEX includes a 70,000-square-foot field house that will support student recreation and varsity athletics programs and be available to the community. It also features a 35,000-square-foot academic wing to house leading-edge interprofessional education in the health sciences, an area for which the university has developed a reputation for excellence within the region.

President Flynn announces football to kickoff fall 2018.

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he raccoons had no idea who they were dealing with. Shortly after moving into his home in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris Ciabarra ’00, M’04 — co-founder and chief technology officer of Revel Systems — discovered that the annoying nocturnal scavengers were making nightly forays into his yard, toppling trash cans and scaring his dog. Confronted with a fairly common problem, which has a range of fairly common solutions from calling a professional pest control service to using non-lethal traps and repellents, Ciabarra came up with a decidedly uncommon approach, one inspired by the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT). “Being an IoT enthusiast,” Ciabarra recounted in an essay for, “I decided to create a device to secure my yard. The result was a motion-detecting squirt gun, capable of sensing and scaring off the invaders.” It worked, and the raccoons quickly moved on to yards where the Internet of Things — the concept of connecting a wide range of devices over the internet so they can talk to each other, apps, and us — isn’t such a thing. “A lot of people call me the problem solver,” Ciabarra says. “I have the reputation of being

By Jack


the mad scientist at the office. I’m always out there to fix the problem. It’s the way my brain works. I see a problem and I fix it.” That approach has made Ciabarra highly successful in the ultra-competitive tech world, where he saw a common problem for businesses both large and small — pointof-sale — and came up with an innovative and game-changing fix: turning the iPad into a powerful and secure cash register for restaurants and retail stores. Along with co-founder and CEO Lisa Falzone, Ciabarra launched Revel Systems in 2010 as an ordering app, but quickly pivoted in response to customers telling the startup that point-of-sale was their biggest problem. “If you look at what was out in the day before the iPad, point-of-sale was basically a computer with a monitor, and all kinds of problems were associated with those point-ofsales units,” Ciabarra says. Where others saw the iPad as primarily a consumer tablet at the time, Ciabarra saw a potentially powerful business tool, especially for the challenging restaurant environment. The iPad has a closed platform, making it more secure than other tablets that are open, Ciabarra says. It doesn’t have a fan or vents, so grease can’t get in to gum up the works. The screen is made of acrylic glass, not plastic, so it’s far more durable than many other tablet screens. “It’s made for business,” he says. “They didn’t look at it that way, but that’s the way we looked at it.” The Revel system uses iPads to replace credit card swipe machines. “We set out to build the most secure platform that history has ever seen,” says Ciabarra, a renowned antihacker and data security expert. “The way we do our payments is different than every other vendor in the world has done them in the past. “Revel doesn’t take the risk of a credit card number in the system. We actually encrypt it on the swipe, and we don’t unencrypt it on our cloud, and we don’t unencrypt it on the pointof-sale. Nor do we have the key to unencrypt it. “So we pass that all the way through to the processors. And what that means is it’s impossible for a credit card number to get stolen off the Revel platform.” Those who know Ciabarra, who has a self described passion for all things security related, probably don’t find Revel’s fanaticism with security unusual. “We designed Revel with

The Chris Ciabarra is one of the tech industry’s fastest-rising stars. As co-founder and chief technology officer at Revel Systems, Inc., he’s also a data security expert and inventor. Despite his success, he has never forgotten his roots or the lessons he’s learned along the way.

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Tips for young entrepreneurs

When offering advice to budding entrepreneurs, Ciabarra hews closely to what has clearly worked for him. “Number one, always do what you love. Number two, if you’re looking to start a business and become an entrepreneur, ask yourself the question: What does your product fix? What’s the problem? If you don’t have a problem that you’re fixing, you’re not going to be successful, most likely.” Ciabarra says he draws on all of his experiences and everything he has learned throughout his life to come up with solutions to the problems he faces. “If I didn’t do the job over at First Energy/GPU, I wouldn’t have learned security; I wouldn’t have learned all the things I learned. I think every job you take, you’re learning. In the end, whether it’s a question or it’s a company you’re building or it’s a problem, whatever that is, your experience is what gives you those answers. In an interview for the Forbes Technology Council, Ciabarra said everything he learned from his previous roles has been integrated into Revel Systems. “The knowledge I learned and challenges I faced along the way contributed to its multinational success, including an acquisition of over $100 million in fundraising and the successful implementation of more than 25,000 point-of-sale terminals around the world.” For those interested in the tech space, he chides, “Constantly reinvent yourself. If you can’t keep up, you won’t be in the technology space for much longer.”

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security being top of mind, and its core features, like the ability to function without Wi-Fi, makes Revel point-of-sale a valuable tool even in one of the world’s most highly secure locations,” he wrote in a recent blog post. He explained that security is a large concern for many Revel clients, especially those with powerful brands. “If a data breach were to happen, it would compromise the integrity of the brands involved,” Ciabarra said. His customers couldn’t agree more. “Keeping customer information safe and having the ability to manage [sales] performance is key to any restaurant’s success,” said Chef Robert Irvine, the man behind one of the Food Network’s highest-rated shows, “Restaurant: Impossible,” in Ciabarra’s blog. Today, Revel has more than 700 employees, has raised more than $100 million in venture funding, and is valued at more than $500 million by investors. Its revolutionary pointof-sale system recently landed the gasoline giant Shell, which has 43,000 retail locations in the United States and internationally, as its largest client, joining Focus Brands, which owns Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s food chains, and Goodwill Industries, as well as smaller independent restaurants and retailers who subscribe to Revel’s software service. Ciabarra, who grew up in Cheltenham, Pa., got his first computer when he was in middle school. It was a Franklin Ace 1000, an early 1980s clone of the Apple II that eventually was shut down by Apple for patent infringement. His parents sent him to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia for computer programming and

robotics classes, and Ciabarra was hooked. After a semester at Kutztown University, Ciabarra left school and went to work at GPU, now FirstEnergy, the electric utility in Reading. He started in IT in 1997, and over the next eight years moved into data communications and then security. While working at GPU, he earned his degree in computer science going to night school at Alvernia, and when the position he was in required him to get an MBA, GPU paid for his graduate education at Alvernia. As a student at Alvernia, Ciabarra ran cross country, sparking a passion for running that endures to this day. “I think what running gave me was determination,” he says. “You don’t fail until you give up. That’s my thought process. When you’re doing a business, you’re going to make a mistake. But if you’re determined to get it done, then you’re going to get it done.” His interest in data security can be traced to his time at GPU, and when the company’s electricity distribution system was hacked in 2005, Ciabarra’s entrepreneurial instincts were awakened. He left GPU about a month later, and started his own security company, and he has been identifying problems and finding solutions ever since. Revel Systems has now reached the stage where its success has made it the subject of sale rumors. Ciabarra simply says: “Revel’s goal from the beginning was to be an independent company, and our goal is definitely still to be an independent company and go IPO in the future. That’s definitely the direction we want to go.”

UNMITIGATED, FULLYLITIGATED, JETSETTING PRO For Donna Miller ’85, traveling the world, heading up the legal department for global powerhouse Olympus Corporation and making her mark as one of the organization’s top leaders are all in a day’s work.

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By Julia


Donna Miller ’85 serves as global general counsel for Olympus Corporation. With more than 33,000 employees around the world, the corporation is based in Tokyo.

counsel in 2008, and soon after her responsibilities expanded to include the role of ethics compliance officer. Later she assumed the role of vice president and general counsel, where she furthered the legal department’s risk identification and mitigation initiatives, supporting Olympus subsidiaries and affiliates throughout the Americas. So when the Tokyo-based endoscope maker announced at the end of April that Miller would take over as its new global general counsel, reporting to Kiichi Hirata, chief administrative officer at the corporation’s headquarters in Japan, it didn’t come as any surprise to those who had followed her career. Or to any of those on Reading’s Mount Alvernia who fondly recalled the focused criminal justice major who made her mark while on then Alvernia College’s campus before earning her Juris Doctorate from Temple University’s Beasley School of Law. TRAVELING THE WORLD, MAKING AN IMPACT While its cameras are a household name, Olympus also is a world leader in the development, design and



ast March, Olympus Corporation of the Americas (OCA) entered into civil, criminal and administrative settlements with the United States in connection with the sales and marketing of certain OCA products, agreeing to pay $612 million plus interest to resolve allegations of violating the U.S. Anti-Kickback Statute and, by extension, the U.S. False Claims Act. It was the largest amount paid in U.S. history for violations involving the Anti-Kickback Statute by a medical device company. It was a challenging time for the perennial powerhouse brand, which does business around the world. Less than two months later, the Japanese company reached into its own ranks to fill key roles that would strengthen its operations. And it didn’t need to look far for its new corporate head of legal operations and global general counsel. Donna Miller ’85 had already established herself as a top performer for the international medical device and precision technology corporation since joining the organization in 2006 as director of human resources. Miller was quickly promoted to deputy general

manufacture of sophisticated medical products that minimize invasive surgery and enable screening, such as gastrointestinal endoscopes, as well as powerful microscopes that reveal the mysteries of our genes. In her new position, Miller touches all parts of the organization. “I partner with the people running OCA (Olympus Corporation of the Americas) on a day-today basis, helping them achieve the company’s strategic goals and comply with the law and the company’s values,” says Miller. Now with global accountability, these same responsibilities extend to Japan, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, China and Asia Pacific. In the process, Miller leads a team of about 75 professionals, who are scattered all over the world. Not too surprisingly, Miller spends more than half her time traveling, both domestically and internationally. On one recent 30-day expedition, she spent a week in Tokyo, the week after that in Dallas and split yet another week between Washington, D.C., and Chicago. “Then I went to Germany,” she says. More recently, she traveled to China for a week and then flew to Japan for another two weeks. You’d think Miller would have to be a polyglot, knowing and speaking several languages. Not true — “thankfully, nearly everyone speaks English,” she says. “In many of these countries, it’s common for people

to speak two or three languages. That’s not the case in the States. So often, someone apologizes to me for their imperfect English. I always respond, ‘Your English is better than my Japanese or my Chinese.’” While language barriers are easily surmounted, adjusting to a dizzying array of cultures can be a bit trickier, says Miller. “The body language, the seating order in a room, where you should sit, the seat you’re offered…all are meaningful,” she says. “I’m appreciating that how I’ve done things for the last 27 years of my practice may not work for me now. Depending on where I am in the world, I need to recalibrate my thinking and take stock of what I’m negotiating.” For example, in some cultures, saying “okay” actually can mean no — and that’s for Miller to decode. Further, silence conveys different meanings in different parts of the world. “In some cultures, silence is tantamount to praise,” Miller says. “But in this culture, it can be awkward.” Since assuming her new position in April, Miller has learned a thing or two about world travel. Her words of wisdom: Be a perpetual student of cultures. “Learn from those whose home country you’re visiting,” she says. “Instead of trying to fit other cultures into your own home country’s frame of reference, open your mind to try to understand and appreciate the differences.”

Alvernia University Magazine


Top Cops By Susan

Andres Dominguez, Jr.



ccording to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are about 1,117 law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania, employing more than 27,000 sworn police officers. And it’s fair to say that graduates of Alvernia’s criminal justice program are well represented among them. In fact, five of those Pennsylvania law enforcement agencies are headed by proud and talented Alvernia graduates. Alvernia sounded the call early on for law enforcement specialists to be educated and professionally trained. When the late Sister Mary Pacelli Staskiel, a beloved Alvernia icon, was charged with instituting a major in criminal justice, she stepped up to the task. The degree program was put into place in 1974, a time when there were only a handful of similar programs in the country. Sister Pacelli, as she was affectionately known to colleagues, staff

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and students, was the only woman (and only nun) in America to run one of those programs. More than 200 students, nearly all male, joined the program, transforming the small women’s school that had been Alvernia College into a co-ed institution. Those male students became known as “Pacelli’s boys,” and they revered her. Over the years Alvernia’s criminal justice program has become widely recognized and highly regarded, boasting hundreds of success stories. Five of them are told here. ANDRES DOMINGUEZ, JR. POLICE CHIEF CITY OF READING Andres Dominguez, Jr., who recently returned to his home town to serve as Reading’s police chief, keeps a picture of St. Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of police officers,


Alvernia’s success in training outstanding criminal justice professionals is well known by many, none more so than those graduates who serve as senior leaders for cities throughout Eastern Pennsylvania.

hanging over the desk in his office in City Hall. Given to him by the priest of his home church, St. Peter’s in Reading, the picture is a constant reminder of the chief’s commitment to service. That commitment, he said, was instilled in him at home and in the Catholic schools he attended as a youth, and reinforced by instructors at Alvernia, where Dominguez, 55, earned a criminal justice degree in 1982. “Alvernia’s Franciscan tradition has always supported its criminal justice program because it’s all tied into service and helping others,” Dominguez said. One of “Pacelli’s boys,” Dominguez credited the Sister and other Alvernia faculty members for helping him manage a hectic schedule. During college he worked in the same factory where his father was employed. Full-time factory work while studying was difficult, he said, but he is grateful for the support he received. “It’s hard to get through college when you’re working full time to pay for it,” the chief said. “But with Sister Pacelli’s help and

a lot of understanding from others, I made it through.” Prior to being named Reading’s police chief, Dominguez was a Pennsylvania State Police officer and completed a 28-year career with the U.S. Secret Service. KEITH SADLER, CHIEF LANCASTER BUREAU OF POLICE It’s all about education for Keith Sadler, the City of Lancaster’s police chief who earned a bachelor’s degree from Alvernia University in 2004 and a master’s in 2006. “I went back to school late, but once I did, I didn’t want to stop,” said Sadler, 57, who also has completed the course work for a doctorate degree in community leadership and has served as an adjunct professor for Alvernia

As criminal justice professionals well know, the field is experiencing ongoing, constant change. Technology continues to evolve. Policing methods change. Laws and court decisions are altered. Keeping a criminal justice curriculum updated to reflect all these changes is difficult, requiring constant input from those who are actively involved with various aspects of the system to ensure that graduates are ready to make an impact in the real world. To that end, the criminal justice department at Alvernia University has formed a criminal justice advisory committee to advise faculty members in keeping the program relevant and in line with the latest trends in the field. The committee, which will meet twice a year, held its first meeting in September. Developing a curriculum that reflects current and relevant knowledge is necessary in order for students to be immediately ready to join the workforce upon graduation, explained Barry Harvey, chair of the criminal justice department and a former state police officer. “We’re looking at what we can do to help our students better prepare for entry-level jobs in the criminal justice field,” Harvey said. “The idea is to give them a leg up once they graduate.” Keeping the curriculum current also is beneficial for criminal justice students who plan to continue their studies in a graduate program. The committee includes members representing law enforcement, the courts, corrections and the private sector. “It’s vital that we get good representation involved,” Harvey said. “We want this committee to drive changes in the criminal justice department here.” In addition to making recommendations for courses necessary to reflect the current needs and best practices of the profession, committee members will keep Alvernia faculty members informed about potential field placements and job opportunities for students. They also will apprise the department of needs within the community related to the area of criminal justice. Criminal justice advisory members include John Adams, Berks County district attorney; Tim Daley, executive director, Berks Habitat for Humanity; Andres Dominguez, Reading chief of police; Steve Kristovensky, director of security, Hershey Lodge; Tom McDaniel, director of campus safety, Friends’ Central School; Janine Quigley, warden, Berks County jail; Capt. Kristal Turner-Childs, commanding officer, PSP Troop L – Reading; Eric Weaknecht, Berks County sheriff; Robert Williams, chief, Berks County probation department and Nancy Xavious, PA Commission on Sentencing.

and Harrisburg Area Community College. Sadler, who grew up in Philadelphia, was working full time for the Philadelphia Police Department when he decided that he should have a college degree. He earned an associate degree from the Community College of Philadelphia, and was referred by teachers there to Alvernia. He enrolled at Alvernia’s Philadelphia campus, earning 48 credits in one year while working full time as the chief inspector of the Philadelphia police department’s narcotic unit. For his master’s degree, Sadler commuted from Philadelphia to Alvernia’s main campus. “It was a hectic time, to be sure,” Sadler said. “But I was determined to earn the degrees, so I just made it work.” As Lancaster’s top cop for eight years, Sadler has a reputation for fostering community policing and being involved with the community. Within his term as chief he has initiated a citizen police academy, a cadet program in city schools and a Police Athletic League. Sadler said that Alvernia’s Franciscan philosophy has stayed with him and is instrumental in his work as chief. “I just like the spirituality and the whole Franciscan philosophy,” he said. “My work is about service, and that’s reflective of what I learned at Alvernia.” While Sadler loves his job, he realizes that one day, he’ll need to look past police work. “For 35 years I’ve loved to go to work,” he said. “But, I know that as much as you love something, you can’t do it forever,” When Sadler retires from police work, he hopes to continue contributing to the field by instructing others in criminal justice. “Teaching is something that I’d like to pursue,” he said. “That would be a happy place for me.”


CJ advisory board created


DR. BRANVILLE G. BARD, JR. CHIEF OF POLICE PHILADELPHIA HOUSING AUTHORITY Dr. Branville G. Bard, Jr. possesses an impressive list of credentials, including a variety of degrees and certifications. It’s all about learning with a purpose,” he explained. “I got all of my education between the ages of 32 and 46, and all of that education has directly contributed to the work that I do.” As chief and director of safety for the Philadelphia Housing Authority’s Police Department, Bard said he has the education and training necessary to run a large, public agency. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Bard, 46, earned an associate degree from the Community College of Philadelphia, and then, while working full time as a captain with the Philadelphia Police Department, attended the Philadelphia Campus of Alvernia University. “Alvernia just stood out to me,” Bard said. “It offered eight-week classes, and that really allowed me to maximize my time.” After earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Alvernia in 2005, Bard earned a master’s degree from St. Joseph University in Philadelphia and a doctorate in public administration from Valdosta State University in Georgia. Bard said his studies at Alvernia helped him to develop a keen sense of social awareness, which has been invaluable in his work. “Alvernia really put me on the road to social awareness, and I’m very grateful for that,” Bard said. “I think a sense of that was already in me, but it was really brought out and developed while I was at Alvernia.” Recently a finalist for the position of chief of police in Memphis, Tennessee, Bard said he enjoys the challenges of public police work. While the job has become increasingly complex and scrutinized, he said he works every day to promote professionalism among police and foster trust between police and the community. “We are facing some difficult issues, but they’re not insurmountable ones,” Bard said. “We need to keep working on them and

make sure that 50 years from now we’re not still talking about the need to make positive change.” CHRISTOPHER NEIDERT, POLICE CHIEF EXETER TOWNSHIP, PA. Christopher Neidert is the chief of the police department of Exeter Township in Berks County, but his community involvement extends far past his job. Neidert serves on the board of the Red Cross of Berks County, is a member of the Berks County Mental Health Advisory Board and was named to the Hamburg Center board of trustees. In addition, he commands the Berks County Emergency Response Team, a highly trained group of law enforcement agents. “I think it’s really important for police to get involved with their communities,” said Neidert, 52. “It’s all about developing a working knowledge of the community and its needs.” An Air Force veteran, Neidert earned a degree in business management from Alvernia in 1999, and a Master in Business Administration in 2005. While attending college he worked full time as a patrolman in Exeter Township and with his wife raised a young family. “I did a mix of traditional and continuing education,” he explained. “Some days I’d change from my uniform, go to class and then go back to work. It was always of matter of just piecing things together.” Neidert plans to retire from police work in 2018 and start a career in business. “That’s why I took the business courses at Alvernia,” he said. “I knew I’d be looking for a different career when I retire from police work.” His business degrees also have helped him with managing his department, which operates on a $5.5 million budget. “It’s good to have the work experience, but you also need to have the rounding out that a college education gives you,” Neidert said. “I was born and raised in Catholic schools, and I’m grateful for the experience I had at

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Alvernia. What I learned there has meshed well with my work and community service.” JEFFREY T. STONE POLICE CHIEF HEIDELBERG TOWNSHIP Jeffrey T. Stone retired from the Reading Police Department as a sergeant in 2015, only to be back on the job a year later as police chief of Heidelberg Township in Berks County. Stone, 44, earned a degree in criminal justice administration from Alvernia in 2014. The road to police work was not a straight one for Stone, who

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enrolled as a student in Penn State University’s marketing program in 1997 after serving for six years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He worked in a marketing job after graduating, but found it wasn’t to his liking. Instead, he got a job in 2003 with the Reading Police Department, where he stayed for 12 years. While he learned policing on the job, his Alvernia education took his work to a different level, Stone said. “I learned a lot of criminal justice theory, and I learned a lot of about the criminal justice system outside of police work,” he said. “It really enhanced my knowledge and made me a better police officer.” His new job as chief of police blends well with the lesson of service he learned while attending Alvernia, Stone said. “You get a totally different perspective on serving the public from Alvernia University,” he said. “It’s all based on service, and that really bleeds through into your work.”


Andres Dominguez, Jr. talks with Acting Captain Richard Tornielli ’00, at Reading Police Department headquarters.


lvernia will soon be home to a beautiful and consecrated Memorial Prayer Garden and Columbarium. Located just down the hill from historic Francis Hall, not far from the St. Joseph Villa, the tranquil location offers families a spiritual setting that may best fit their family plans. The Franciscan ethos of inclusivity welcomes family members of all denominations to be interred in the Alvernia Columbarium. Recently, the Vatican approved cremation as an appropriate direction for families mourning the loss of a loved one. The Catholic Church strongly recommends that the resting place for these final ashes should be a sacred place such as a columbarium — a consecrated area reserved for the interment of cremated remains. The Alvernia Columbarium provides a limited number of economical and environmentally friendly niches to help family members eternally rest in peace. Each niche can hold up to two urns. Twelve of the fifty-one niches have already been reserved. Construction on the Alvernia Columbarium is slated to begin in 2018.

The cost of a niche that can accommodate two urns at the Alvernia Columbarium is $5,000. Memorial engraving/plaque inscription is not covered in the cost of the niche. For more information, please contact Marlene Schutz in the Department of Institutional Advancement at or 610.796.8259.

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Orphan Train Last fall, author Christina Baker Kline brought her wrenching historical account to Alvernia of how more than a quarter million individuals became part of the largest migration of children in American

By Erin


history. For many of those youngsters, the odyssey became a one-way ticket into slave labor and an extended sentence into indentured servanthood.

Alvernia University Magazine


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lecture at Alvernia this past October. On campus, she talked about her writing, research and what she learned about these forgotten orphan trains. “It was the largest migration of children in our nation’s history, and for many of them it was essentially slave labor,” Kline said before her talk. Able-bodied children, aged 2 through 14, were corralled onto trains, having no idea what was happening or where they were going. Stripped of their possessions and identities, they were given new clothing and a small suitcase, and told to never speak of their personal pasts. “Your life begins the moment you’re chosen,” the children were told. With the abolishment of slave labor in 1865, farms across the country needed cheap workers. “It was an indentured service program,” said Kline. “They were indentured or contracted until the ages of 18 or 21 and had no rights. It’s an interesting story for that reason.” The orphan train was Charles Loring Brace’s idea to deal with the some 30,000 children living on the streets in New York City. Around 1850, there were no social programs or foster care, and no child welfare or labor laws. Brace opened an orphanage, Children’s Aid Society, and then suggested sending children to the Midwest. His idea wasn’t pure altruism, Kline said. “If we can get these heathen children, these Catholic, Jewish, God knows what, children off the streets and into good, solid Protestant, preferably Methodist homes, maybe they would have a chance,” she said, explaining Brace’s motives. Siblings were intentionally split up and placed on different trains. And when the trains stopped, the children — only about 30 percent of whom were actually orphans — were lined up by height to be chosen by the


rphans and trains have played big roles in Alvernia University’s history. It was an unintended train ride that first brought the Bernardine Sisters to Reading, Pa. Once here, as part of their ministry, they established an orphanage in the building now known on campus as Francis Hall. Christina Baker Kline knows a thing or two about trains and orphans too, but for much different reasons. Her best-selling novel “Orphan Train” chronicles a dark period in American history about which few have ever heard. Her book grew out of a moment of desperation in a long blizzard. She and her family were visiting relatives in North Dakota. After three days indoors with her young sons, she pulled a book off the shelf. There was an article inside with a description: “They called it orphan train and it proved there was a home for many children on the prairie.” Although her father was featured in the story, Kline’s mother-in-law had never heard of orphan trains. Intrigued, Kline searched for more and discovered a chapter of America’s history hidden in plain sight. She dug deeper and found that, beginning in the mid-19th century, a quarter million children were sent across the country to new homes, where they were indentured until they turned 18 or 21. It was a servitude that many train-riders never spoke about — even later in life — and Kline wanted to know why. Her book “Orphan Train: A Novel” has sold more than 3 million copies in 40 countries. It’s also been selected for more than a hundred community and campus reads and was optioned as a soon-to-be-produced Hollywood movie. The author spoke at a special 10th anniversary Literary Festival

“If we can get these heathen children, these Catholic, Jewish, God knows what, children off the streets and into good, solid Protestant, preferably Methodist homes, maybe they would have a chance.”

locals. A few children became part of their new families, but many others were treated like the help or worse. And because they had no rights, and there were no child welfare laws, anyone could pick up children from the train stations. For centuries, policymakers have responded to social problems by attempting to remove or relocate the groups viewed as ‘the problem,’” says John Lichtenwalner, Ph.D., assistant professor of social work at Alvernia. “These vulnerable groups repeatedly get exploited and marginalized in the process, from children to those involved in human trafficking to individuals struggling with addiction.” Train companies financed the orphan trains beginning in 1854, eager to populate remote areas reached by new railways. The practice ended in 1929 after the stock market crash. “Essentially, the railroad companies stopped subsidizing the children’s travel,” Kline said. “They had built their last depot in the Midwest and they didn’t need the bodies any more.” When Kline discovered the orphan train history, she wondered how this could have happened, and why she’d not heard of it before. She interviewed several surviving orphans who were becoming part of the

quickly disappearing world of the final generation of train riders. In fact, when she started the book there were more than 150 surviving orphan train riders. Today there are fewer than five still living, and all are aged 100 or older. By interviewing the orphans and their families, Kline learned the children shared a resilience. Many carried their secrets for their entire lives, until the next generation of family members began exploring and questioning family trees. “One said to me: ‘We have a survivor’s spirit. That’s what’s enabled us to persevere,’” Kline said. “To live through abject poverty, being alone and then being put on an orphan train and often being mistreated and making your way in the world requires a kind of grit and stamina. His perspective was these surviving train riders all had that and more.” The orphan train riders were immigrants, usually relocating to homogeneous communities in the Midwest. Their different backgrounds and often different religions made them stand out, making it easier to take the advice to forget the past and start anew. Later in life, the riders on the orphan trains embraced their legacy, and their proud families have helped to keep the stories alive. Continued on page 59

Trevor’s Travels “Jan. 22, 2016 was life changing for me,” says Trevor DeHaas ’12. After three and a half years of grinding out a living at a mortgage investment company in King of Prussia, Pa., the ambitious Alvernia sport management major traded in his cubicle for a camera and fired up his Ford Escape for the road trip of a lifetime. DeHaas embarked on an epic cross-country journey, sharing the adventure with his sidekick, Kahlua, a twoyear-old Catahoula Leopard Dog. By mid-February, he was on the open road, with just seven days to travel 2,200 miles and reach his first destination — The Wave in Arizona, where he had nabbed an almost impossible-to-get reservation to access the visually stunning site. But he was taking with him a secret known only to those closest to him until now — his battle with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy at age 10, DeHaas’ condition has progressed to stage III, leaving him with a future that is punctuated with either daily dialysis or a kidney transplant. “There is no known cause of the disease,” he says. “And unfortunately there is also no cure.” Imagine knowing that in five, 10 or 15 years you wouldn’t be able to do what you love. Would you keep living the same life or would you change it? DeHaas’ choice — to live fully, and encourage others to do the same. The result — a stunning collection of images that will take your breath away, and a personal story that is inspiring.

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The Trek DeHaas’ breathtaking photography, which was featured in Alvernia’s Miller Gallery in November, has caught the eyes of many who have flocked to his Instagram account, where he is chronicling his trek. At the same time, his young pup has become a bit of an internet sensation, dubbed the most traveled pooch in the world!

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The Wave The Wave (right) is a sandstone rock formation located in Arizona, near the northern Utah border. It’s well known to hikers and photographers, but is difficult to reach. And because the formation is considered fragile by the Bureau of Land Management, only a handful of permits are offered for people to see The Wave each day. DeHaas was one of the few to win a daily online lottery to visit the formation.

Interest builds Only one month into his journey, DeHaas had traveled more than 5,000 miles, and visited the Bonneville Salt Flats, Diamond Fork Hot Springs, Buckskin Gulch and Zebra Canyon. And he was beginning to receive inquiries from local and national news, as well as people overseas who were interested in his excursion.

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A milestone By May of 2016, DeHaas had traveled more than 10,000 miles and had been featured on The Weather Channel and in the Daily Mail. And one of his photos of Kahlua was made into a Red Bull dog feature, which earned him some spending money. In August, though he was far from done, DeHaas celebrated six months on the road by posting his favorite 25 photos of the trip on Facebook.

Follow Trevor’s Travels “To me, photography is a way of communication. It’s one of the only languages understood anywhere on earth,” says Trevor DeHaas ’12. And he’s a man who has put his money where his mouth is, spending the past 11 months living out of his car with Kahlua, his dog, taking pictures of some of the most visually stunning locations this nation has to offer. You can follow his travels at He’s also set up a crowdfunding account at for anyone interested in supporting his efforts. “My biggest travel expenses are food, gas and shelter. I don’t live lavishly, I don’t eat out a lot and I sleep in a tent or in my car six out of seven days. I’ll get a hotel once a week so I can shower, do laundry and sleep on a real bed. Any of the money you donate will be used for one of those three expenses,” he said.


HEN TIME MAGAZINE REPORTER MICHAEL WEISSKOPF WAS STILL IN THE “LAND OF 10 FINGERS AND 10 TOES,” HE HAD NO IDEA WHAT OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS DID ON A DAILY BASIS. UNFORTUNATELY, HE WAS ABOUT TO FIND OUT IN THE WORST WAY. bevy of wounded warriors. (He also was an outpatient for another five months.) Those experiences formed the basis for his book. No longer carrying a pen for a living, the now 70-year-old Weisskopf lives in Washington, D.C., and works in real estate. He attributes much of his success to the occupational therapist (OT) who worked with him more than a dozen years ago. At first, the woman in a white coat who introduced herself as his OT puzzled him. “Was something wrong with my reporting?” Weisskopf said he wondered. The audience of a dozen fifth-year OT students taking the course “Advanced Interventions: Care of the Wounded Warrior” and others laughed. But Captain Katie became “a lifesaver in the end,” continued Weisskopf, who was wearing a prosthesis with a metal hook. Within days of his injury, he was learning to write with his left hand. “She was crucial to my re-entry and adjustment,” he said. “I can’t think of a better field to go into. What’s really important is bridging moments of despair with moments

By Lini


48 Alvernia University Magazine


On Dec. 10, 2003, the then 58-year-old journalist, embedded with a platoon of the First Armored Division, was riding in an Army Humvee on patrol in Baghdad. A black, oval object landed near his feet. Instinctively, Weisskopf picked it up. It was a blazing hot grenade primed to explode. “I could feel the flesh of my palm liquefying,” the author of the 2006 book “Blood Brothers: Among the Soldiers of Ward 57” said during a visit to Alvernia in September. Weisskopf hurled the deadly device into the air. Then, he says, everything went black. By all accounts, his actions saved the lives of the four soldiers and a photojournalist in the Humvee, and made Weisskopf an instant, if reluctant, hero. It also cost him his right hand — the hand he used to take notes for his stories, type on a computer, cut a steak, shake a hand or make PB&J sandwiches for his two children. Weisskopf would spend a month at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s famed Ward 57, regaining his life alongside a

Hero Re luc t a nt

specialties available to OTs. They most often work in traditional rehab settings, helping children to older adults regain independence. The growing recognition of autism, as well as more people living with chronic conditions, has increased the need for OTs. So have recent wars. In the last two decades, three graduates of Alvernia — Capt. Ashley Welsh ’10, First Lt. Erin Stone ’13 and First Lt. Chelsea Truax ’14 — have become Army OTs. At Alvernia, OT is a popular major. In the 2016-17 academic year, 261 students were studying in the five-year OT program — a 36 percent increase since 2011. An additional 66 students are enrolled in the entry-level OT master’s program. Cameron wanted her students to hear Weisskopf’s story because, she said, “it’s important for future occupational therapists to see the whole picture. The person had a past before they were injured.”


of hope. It’s so important. You have the power to do that.”  Occupational therapy is among the hottest professions. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association in Bethesda, Md., OT jobs are expected to grow 27 percent by 2024, based on projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The outlook for OT assistants is even rosier. Those positions are expected to skyrocket by 40 percent over the same time period. “It’s a tremendously growing field,” said Karen Ann Cameron, Ph.D., an associate professor of occupational therapy at Alvernia who helped bring Weisskopf to campus. (The Literary Festival committee, the university’s OT Department and the Student Veterans Club, which Cameron advises, also sponsored the visit.) One reason is the many different

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When it comes to people with amputations, the Iraq war stands out for one reason. At the time of Weisskopf’s injury, 3 percent of the 2,230 wounded in action had lost at least one limb, twice the rate of all previous wars except Vietnam, he wrote in his book. In other words, soldiers who would have died from traumatic injuries were now surviving, due in large part to Kevlar vests and quicker and more advanced treatment on the field. Certainly, that was the case for those on Ward 57, the so-called Amputee Alley, where almost all these traumatically injured bodies landed. Weisskopf was an anomaly as a civilian. Professional and family connections, he said, got him admitted to the Army’s then-flagship medical center. (The original Walter Reed closed in 2011, and services are now provided at a new Walter Reed facility in Bethesda, Md.) “The greatest blessing of Walter Reed was being in a community of amputees,” he said. As Weisskopf talked with OT students, he offered a unique perspective — the journalist outsider as well as the injured blood brother. Sebastian Collazo, 22, of Hamilton, N.J., said Weisskopf’s talk was “eyeopening” and made him realize that seemingly small details matter. Consider shaking hands. Most of us extend a right hand, but that forces Weisskopf to reach around awkwardly with his left hand. Offering a left hand is more thoughtful, Weisskopf said. “I have never experienced working with a person who had an amputation,” Collazo said, “but he gave good insight on how to approach and treat them as normally as possible.” Occupational therapy’s biggest value, perhaps, is its pragmatic approach, Weisskopf said. Adaptive equipment and tricks abound to help people with amputations do everyday tasks. Elastic shoelaces help the one-armed tie their shoes. Teeth aid in hanging up a Continued on page 58

Alvernia University Magazine



hether you’re Amazon or Alvernia, doing business today successfully means doing it digitally. Online marketing efforts that integrate content marketing, search engine optimization, social media and pay-perclick programs have long replaced efforts that once were dominated by trade shows, print ads, billboards and radio jingles. With that transition — and it has been a huge shift for professionals in the field — has come a tidal wave of interest from companies that need to navigate the new world order of digital marketing in ways that can grow their businesses. That’s where pros like David McDowell ’16 step in. As a search engine optimization consultant, he helps clients develop integrated solutions that produce trackable sales leads and new customers. McDowell arrived at Alvernia as a communication major. The flexibility of the program exposed him to options such as public relations, graphic design and broadcasting. And by getting to experience a little bit of everything, McDowell found he had a passion for marketing and advertising. His search for real-world experience to complement his classroom efforts led him to an internship with Reading-based DaBrian Marketing, a full-service digital marketing agency with a roster of top national and regional clients. “Other agencies around here didn’t really have any positions I was interested in,” McDowell said. “Although I had heard very little about DaBrian before interning here, I liked what I saw and so I took a shot.”

52 Alvernia University Magazine

By Macy



Searching for Optimization


David McDowell ’16

Soon he was interviewing with DaBrian CEO Daniel Laws, Jr., a conversation that sparked his further interest in the firm. “I was impressed with his knowledge and leadership style,” said McDowell. After meeting with the full agency team, he knew he had found a home. But before beginning his internship, McDowell was tasked with gaining important skills that would help him analyze traffic to websites, and work to increase website traffic through algorithms and key words. So he needed certifications in Google Analytics and SEO platforms like Moz and Distilled. Not long afterward, McDowell was off and running, developing and optimizing content, as well as handling local list management. And it didn’t take Laws long to spot the potential in McDowell’s skills and work ethic. That led him to offer McDowell a full-time position after graduation. Now as a full-time SEO consultant, McDowell spends his time using tracking and reporting tools to monitor clients’ websites. “I flag any issues I see, whether that’s an abnormal fluctuation in traffic or ranking position, crawling issues with the site, or off-site issues such as local listings or social network accounts,” McDowell said. And speed is of the utmost importance. The minute he finds an issue, he works to develop a fix for his clients. Once issues are resolved, he continues SEO work so that clients’ websites are found in web searches more frequently and offer valuable experiences for visitors. McDowell consistently works on improving DaBrian’s website SEO efforts, too — a process he has been able to perfect by treating DaBrian as a client. His work has improved the company’s reach and created more visibility for its website. “Keeping the customer and their audiences in focus, developing goals and the right market positioning are the keys to any successful company,” said McDowell, who notes the importance of SEO is transferable to any industry. “Since SEO focuses heavily on the user’s experience, it’s a valuable tool to have when trying to reach any audience. It makes websites as marketable and customer-friendly as possible.” And the magic that originally attracted McDowell to DaBrian has not faded. “The atmosphere here is fun and relaxed, contrary to the standard view of a big company,” he says. “The team here is more like a family... my opinion is valuable here.”

“Keeping the customer and their audiences in focus, developing goals and the right market positioning are the keys to any successful company.” David McDowell ’16



Alvernia University Magazine


Andres Dominguez, Jr., ’82 was

Sr. Marie Clare Whitely, OSF ’86

named the chief of police for the City of Reading, Pa., following a 28-year career in the Secret Service. Andres was a Pennsylvania state trooper for seven years before joining the Secret Service.

passed away on Oct. 9, 2016.

on May 30, 2016.

Raymond Melcher ’78 was elected to the board of directors of the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.


away on June 12, 2016.

Catholic chaplain at Kutztown University and Albright College, has been certified by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops by way of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association (CCMA), a national professional association for campus ministers. As Catholic chaplain to two institutions, Father Brensinger works daily to bring the Catholic faith to the students in Word and Sacrament.

Margaret Hadden ’79 passed away on Feb. 10, 2016.

Blanche (Horine) Clouser ’82 passed

Rigmor Anke ’83 passed away on Aug. 8, 2016.

Anthony Davis ’85 passed

away on June 4, 2016.

Andrew Stellhorn ’85 retired after 30 years of teaching social studies at Rising Sun High School, Cecil County Public Schools, Md. He currently runs an

56 Alvernia University Magazine

John Nelka ’87 received his Master of Library Science degree from Clarion University.

Jeffrey Doelp ’89 was named director of safe schools for the Fleetwood Area School District. This spring, Lori (Mc-

Intosh) DiGuardi ’90 will be offering a TEDx Tucson talk, titled “Anger 101: The Healthy Approach to Being a Bitch.” Her goal is to change the bad perception of anger by presenting the function of the healthy emotional energy

Susan Heffner ’91 passed away on Aug. 9, 2016.

Sheila Boyer ’93 was appointed director of nursing for Phoebe Berks Health Care Center in Wernersville, Pa. She is responsible for managing and organizing the clinical operations of the nursing department and ensuring the department’s compliance with policies and regulatory requirements.

Stacy Helms ’93 is the project coordinator for Egan Sign.

Sue (Davis) Powers ’94 passed away on Aug. 16, 2016.

April (Wynkoop) Knerr ’99 and her husband had a baby boy in Sept. 2016, named Declan.

Melissa (Kachel) Oley ’99 was appointed director of admissions for Phoebe Berks. She will be responsible for census management, which includes admissions and marketing for the Phoebe Berks Health

Tim Ahlquist ’11 and Megan McCafferty ’12 were married July 3, 2016, at Normandy Farms, Blue Bell, Pa. Both work for the State of New Jersey and reside in Millville, N.J. Care Center, short-term rehab, personal care, personal care memory support and the Adult Day Center.

Susan (Kreisher) Swoyer ’02 passed

Christopher Ciabarra ’00, M’04 married Jessica Strickland. Their wedding took place on Oct. 1, 2016, at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. Chris recently joined the Forbes Technology Council. A short story titled “Vagabond Blades,” by

Jason Prugar ’01, is to be published in the Pro Se Press “Pulse Fiction,” Volume 2.


Father Richard Brensinger ’86,


Sr. Mary Innocentia Spaniak, OSF ’73 passed away



online vintage auto parts store where the proceeds are donated to charity.

of anger in our lives, the role and blessings of the suffragettes, and the importance of connecting with and honoring the wisdom of our inner truth. Lori is an associate certified coach through the International Coach Federation.

Roberto Sanchez ’01 was featured in a Reading Eagle article about young professional bankers dealing with a changing industry. Roberto is a branch manager for Wells Fargo in Reading, Pa.

Dr. Alan Futrick M’02 was named superintendent for the Schuylkill Valley School District beginning in 2017.

away on May 13, 2016. She is survived by her husband, Andrew, and daughter, Elizabeth.

Zelva Sample ’03 passed away on July 6, 2013.

Teri Wagner ’03, M’08 has joined Weichert Realtors Neighborhood One, Spring Township, as a Realtor. She received her real estate license in July 2016.

Barry Houck ’04 passed away on June 21, 2016.

Kasey (Geissler) Kantner ’04 passed away on July 30, 2016.

Jillian Nicole Mullen ’04, M’05 received her Doctorate of Education in educational leadership, higher education administration from Wilkes University in May 2016. Her dissertation was entitled “A Comparative Analysis of Nontraditional Students’ Perceptions of Mattering in Small Private Catholic

Travis Berger M’05 completed his

Police Group (CID).

Erin Stone M’13 is

Ph.D. in administration and leadership studies at The Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

featured in the Reading Eagle’s “In Our Schools” section for her work as a sixth grade teacher in the Wyomissing Area School District.

Dr. George Fiore ’06 was named superintendent of the Kutztown Area School District.

Conor Delaney ’07, president of Good Life Financial, received the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Entrepreneurial Excellence Award.

Justine Sanders M’07 passed away in July 2012.

Megan Weaver ’07 passed away on Oct. 16, 2016.

ementary in the Governor Mifflin School District.

Kevin Daly ’08 and Natalie Elliott got engaged on May 14, 2016.

Mary (Gergits) Reynolds ’08 and her husband, Mark, welcomed Lily Margaret into the world on July 1, 2016. Lily joins big sister Charlotte.

Mallory (Bressler) Sweitzer ’08 and her husband, Brad, welcomed Khloe Marie into the world on Sept. 7, 2016. Khloe weighed six pounds, nine ounces and was 19 inches long.

Leslie Wetzel M’08 passed away on July 7, 2016.

Bronson Sadowskas ’09 passed away on Sept. 7, 2016.

Harvey C. Boyd, Jr ’08 passed away in

Brandy (Lorah) Cahill M’10 passed away

February 2014.

on Aug. 5, 2016.

Betsy Charnoff ’08 was featured in the

Courtney (Renshaw) Christman ’11 and her husband,

Reading Eagle’s “In Our Schools” section for her work as a first grade teacher at Brecknock El-

Joshua, welcomed their first child, Nolan into the world on Sept. 15, 2015.

Jill Pate ’14 and Richard Tawney ’12 were married on July 22, 2016, in N.J. Jill is a third grade teacher and Richie is a 911 dispatcher and an EMT in Maryland. After nine years of dating, Veronica Keselica ’11, M’12 got engaged on Aug. 7, 2016, to Anthony Furillo. The pair met at Alvernia during their freshman year. Anthony proposed to Veronica on campus as they walked through the quad to see all the new campus renovations.

Marissa DeLucia ’12 is an alumni relations associate at Seton Hill University. Alvernia elementary education alumna Kath-

erine Reimert ’12 was named “Instructional Support Para-Professional of the Year” by the Pennsylvania Association of Career and Technical Education. Katherine is an instructional support para-professional for Berks Career & Technology Center. The award recognizes an individual

who has made outstanding contributions for at least one year in a career-technical school program and has made significant contributions to the principles of career and technical education.

Tiffany (Barndt) Smith ’12, and hr husband, Eric Smith, welcomed their second child, Caleb Matthew Smith, on Feb. 16, 2016, at 9:03 p.m. He weighed seven pounds, three ounces and was 19 inches long, and joins big sister Elise.


Kami (Border) Fecho ’06 was

serving as an occupational therapist as part of the U.S. Army’s Combat Stress Team in Kuwait.

First Lieutenant Leon I. Geiger ’13 deployed June 5, 2016, to the Middle East for a one-year tour of duty. Leon is an active duty military police officer stationed at Hunter Army Airfield, Savannah, Ga. He will be assisting

Jessica Weiss ’14 and Justin Fritz were married on Oct. 10, 2015, at Stoltzfus Homestead and Gardens.

Christian Bencie ’16 and Dan Ardekani ’16 are cofounders of Onatah Outfitters, an e-commerce clothing company, which is built around philanthropy. Every month, Onatah donates 15 percent of its profits to six different non-profit organizations. Onatah, which means “of the earth,” has created six pillars around the business, in which each non-profit is represented. The pillars are: fresh water, forest preservation, hunger, wildlife preservation, ocean preservation and energy creation. In addition, Matt Pyne ’16 is the social media accounts manager for Onatah Outfitters.


with the rule of law and investigations in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq as part of the Third Military

Four-Year Academic Institutions.”

Ryan Shannon ’16 has taken a job at Centre College in Danville, Ky., running digital media content for the athletic communications office.

Alvernia University Magazine


TURNING LOSS … INTO GAIN | Cont. from page 17 television theme song by Carol Burnett, “I’m so glad we had this time together.” We shouted in laughter as we passed each other. (I sang that song to her as a child when I had to leave her to go to work, and she remembered the words into adulthood.) As nighttime approached, I remember feeling tired, so I went to bed early. I texted my daughter, “Good night.” Sometime that evening I received a call with the news: my only daughter had been shot. Her father, her brother and I raced to the hospital to be by her side. I spoke with the doctor, who described Tanisha’s injury in great detail. I thought I was going to die. Everything in me went numb. I could not believe what the doctor was saying to us. I recall saying, “No, no, no, you are mistaken.” I walked away and told them to stop talking to me. The funny thing is in my heart I knew what the doctor was saying about the injuries was true. I kept hearing

the doctor’s voice over and over. He said, “You have to make the decision whether you want to keep her on the ventilator.” After hours of pacing, crying, moaning and yelling, I gave the okay to turn off the life support systems that were keeping her alive. I know my baby would not have wanted to live that way. She was full of life and loved to smile, dance and help people. I remember later speaking with Christina Dennis, Tracey Marino and my instructors at Alvernia. I recall saying, “My daughter was murdered yesterday and I won’t be able to make it to class.” Their first response was, “I’m sorry for your loss, and please let us know what we can do for you.” I said, “Just give me some time and I will be there. I need to complete my degree. My daughter is proud of me and I’m raising the two children she left behind.” They appeared amazed and agreed to let me work at my own pace while dealing with this life-altering tragedy.

Everyone around me had comforting words. However, no one really knew how much pain I was in. I thought to myself how my life would be without my only daughter. I began the first stage of grief (denial). After the week of her funeral I received another phone call from Detective Bass, affirming that he and his team caught the man who went on a shooting spree and murdered Tanisha. The next thing I had to do was to prepare for a pre-trial then a trial while attending class. The man who murdered my daughter received two life sentences with no chance of parole. The jurors took two days to reach a verdict, and I later learned that one of the jurors was named Tanisha. I returned to class the next week. While my pain has not lessened, I find comfort in knowing my daughter would be proud of my perseverance, despite the obstacles I faced. And yes, I am on track to graduate in December 2016.

RELUCTANT HERO | Continued from page 51 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 Sam Bradley; Jack Croft; Brad Drexler; Krystal Finch ’16; Dr. Thomas F. Flynn; Anne Heck ’17; Shannon Homa ’16; Lini Kadaba; Carey Manzolillo ’06, M’07; Erin Negley; Susan Shelly; Macy Storm ’17; Julia VanTine Contributing Photographers Theo Anderson; Emily Butz; Ed Kopicki; Christian Svizzero Alvernia Magazine is a publication of Alvernia University. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. Correspondence should be addressed to 540 Upland Avenue, Reading, PA 19611, or email:

58 Alvernia University Magazine

jacket. But some things can prove impossible. Weisskopf’s wife still has to cut up his steak. “OT gave you hope,” he said, “because they came up with effective strategies.” Besides his traumatic injury, Weisskopf also struggled with the label of hero. “I had always wanted to be a hero, the guy who defended the weak or drove in the game-winning run,” he wrote in “Blood Brothers.” But Weisskopf was ambivalent about his actions in Iraq. “I continued to be haunted by the question of intent. Did I act out of pure reflex or purposely grab the grenade to protect everyone?” Unlike many of the soldiers, he found no solace in sacrifice. Weisskopf said he questioned the purpose of the war when Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction failed to materialize. He wasn’t fighting for a patriotic cause. But in the end, Weisskopf said he came to realize that the reason for his actions mattered less than the result: Lives were saved. “It’s a rare privilege to point to people that you saved, whatever motivated me to do that,” he said. For U.S. Navy veteran and Alvernia freshman Matthew James Walsh, 26, of Reading, Weisskopf is without a doubt a hero, but for another reason. “I find the true measure of his courage in his ability to continue on in spite of losing his hand,” said Walsh, who is studying business management after serving two tours of duty in Asia. “His actions in the Humvee were laudable. But his courage to persevere in his rehabilitation and to give voice to the unheard are what earned him my respect. The latter actions are those that I would deem heroic.” Lini S. Kadaba, a journalist based in Newtown Square, Pa., is a frequent contributor to Alvernia Magazine.

ORPHAN TRAIN | Cont. from page 41 Writing a novel allowed Kline to explore the more troubling moments of these trains, which were last resorts for children who were already traumatized and dealing with loss before they even stepped onto the trains. She wove many facts from her research into the story: how the train riders often were moved to several homes, how they changed their names in their new lives, how one boy was traded by his new family for a pig. “The orphan trains are an overlooked aspect of our shared history that remind us of the resiliency of the human spirit,” said Lichtenwalner. “These stories reinforce my belief in the dignity and worth of the individual.” Kline’s book tells the story of a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan train rider. In modern times, a teen in foster care discovers the woman’s history, which is revealed in flashbacks. The book, with its themes of family, friendship, identity and the meaning of home, has resonated with readers of all ages. The theme of immigration is especially timely. During the age of the orphan trains, immigration rules were different. While the groups immigrating have changed, some things remain the same today. “It speaks to current-day politics about immigration,” Kline said before her talk. “Who’s allowed in and why, who they are and what we like and don’t like, fear and don’t fear about having people who don’t look or talk like us come to America.” Since the book was published in 2013, Kline has been on the road talking about orphan trains. She was in Park City, Utah, before coming to Alvernia and then went on to the University of Kentucky. A new edition of the book will be released in January. Kline is adding a scene to answer the question she’s asked about most (spoiler: it’s about Vivian’s child). Another version of the book, “Orphan Train Girl,” written for ages 8 to 12, will be released in April. “It’s fascinating to me still,” Kline said. “There’s still more to learn about this story, because every human’s experience is unique.”

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Alvernia Magazine Winter 2017  

Alvernia Magazine Winter 2017

Alvernia Magazine Winter 2017  

Alvernia Magazine Winter 2017