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Climate in Crisis

Is nature-centered leadership the solution?

Rubble. Blood. Devastation. Death.

Is the faith that unites our global society stronger than the hate that often divides us? Eboo Patel and his Interfaith Youth Core think so, and they are energizing college students to join the cause. An Iranian army soldier attends the weekly Friday Muslim prayers at Tehran University in the Iranian capital.

Scenes that emerged in the wake of the September 2013 terrorist attack on a shopping mall in Kenya had a sickening familiarity. By the end of the four-day siege, hundreds were injured and 67 lay dead — the latest innocents slaughtered in the name of God. Video of the massacre even shows at least one terrorist stopping briefly to pray, laying his gun aside to worship before resuming the slaughter. In claiming responsibility for the carnage, a hate-filled audio Twitter message posted by members of the Somali militant group al Shabaab warned Kenyans to “… withdraw from our country, stop meddling in our affairs, set our captives free, and denounce all forms of fighting our religion. If you refuse to do so, you have seen what you will reap ...” It is a now familiar story of killing intertwined with religion, an event happening far too often in far too many corners of the globe: from the Boston Marathon bombing to violence in Northern Ireland, from hate crimes in Europe to upheaval in Egypt. The incidents are too many to count. All have been stained by killing, as Bob Dylan wrote a half century ago, “with God on our side.” Certainty that God has chosen a side is the reason that

“religions give rise to one of the most dangerous forms of ideology, because we claim divine authority for our actions,” says Dr. Catherine E. Clifford, professor of systematic and historical theology at the University of St. Paul, Ottawa — who captivated many during her “Vatican II and Catholic Ecumenical Engagement” lecture at Alvernia this fall. “Religions become violent when we allow them to become distorted and turn them into ideologies,” Clifford says. “I think what we need to do is avoid crossing the line from faith to ideology. To be sure that young people are not drawn into this distorted view of religion, we have to be vigilant in the kind of religious instruction that young people receive.” That same idea crystallized in the mind of Eboo Patel on 9/11. Then 26, Patel had long been active in the interfaith movement, inviting people of all religious and nonreligious beliefs to find common ground, working toward a common good. On the day that the Twin Towers fell, Patel was a graduate student at Oxford University in England, an ocean away from the death and destruction. Amid the chaos, Patel saw one thing clearly: When young people are thirsty, they will accept water from the first person to offer it. The epiphany came as he studied photos of the 19 hijackers. The oldest was 33; the rest, barely in 

Neo-Nazism continues to be an issue confronted globally.

United in Faith

By Julia Van Tine

Divided by hate

16 Alvernia University Magazine

16 | United in faith Eboo Patel’s interfaith journey.

Jessica Buchanan’s kidnapping and eventual rescue

put her through hell. But today she expresses …

By Lini S. Kadaba

“ I dId what I was meant to do.” Jessica Buchanan

NO REGRETS

22 | No regrets Kidnapped in Somalia, rescued by Seal Team 6.

Heroes

Friends “

I ain’t lived forever, but I’ve lived enough And I’ve learned to be gentle, and I’ve learned to be tough I’ve found only two things that last till the end, One is your heroes, the other’s your friends.

e all have heroes. Some are sports stars. Others are business and civic leaders. Some are family members, some spiritual mentors. They’re all individuals who inspire us and often move us to become something more than we were without them. And so when the Values & Vision capital campaign closed in October, the most successful fundraising effort in Alvernia’s history, the real story wasn’t about the money raised. It was about the heroes who made it all possible, and some very good friends. It was five years ago, as Alvernia celebrated its 50th anniversary, that the university announced the public launch of its most aggressive fundraising campaign. The $27 million goal was so much larger than any previous campaign, nearly seven times, that more than a few rolled their eyes. But with a bold vision cast by President Thomas F. Flynn, and a strategic plan in place to drive progress, the need for “fuel” to bring new ideas to life was large. However, it took only a month before the country plunged into the worst financial collapse in almost a century, and the future of the campaign looked bleak. “Our timing was impeccable, wasn’t it?” quipped Flynn discussing the campaign launch. “We were certainly in search of a few heroes at that point because things could have gotten ugly fast.” And then something extraordinary started to happen. Heroes emerged. Friends and board members of the university stepped forward to invest in making Alvernia a truly distinctive Franciscan university. Their names are destined to echo in Alvernia’s hallowed halls for generations: Boscov, Holleran, Neag, Miller, O’Pake. “Carole and Ray Neag’s gift funded our first two endowed professorships. Jerry and Carolyn Holleran were inspired to provide support that made the Holleran Center a reality, and then donated their beautiful home to become the future President’s House at Cedar Hill,” said J. Michael Pressimone, vice president of advancement, who led the historic fundraising campaign. “Marlin and Ginger Miller helped create an art gallery to support

improvements in the fine and performing arts. Shirley, Jim and Cindy Boscov created a scholarship program to attract the ‘best and the brightest’ from Berks County.” Yes, heroes and friends seemed to be everywhere, just when they were needed most. A generous bequest from the late Sen. Michael O’Pake soon made creation of the O’Pake Institute possible. Together with the Holleran Center, the two became signatures of the university’s national reputation for civic engagement. It’s undeniable that Alvernia’s trustees, past and present, stepped up in a huge way, providing more than half of the campaign’s total amount of $31.6 million. “They are the unsung heroes of what has been accomplished in the last five years. Our trustees helped shape the university and campaign priorities, and they provided invaluable guidance and vigilant oversight as Alvernia navigated some turbulent waters,” said Flynn. Faculty and staff rose to the occasion as well, making donations that topped more than $1 million, with alumni providing support, too. Even students and parents played roles, with both providing significant support to help fund the new Campus Commons. Alvernia has come farther and faster than anyone thought possible, due much in part to the success of the Values & Vision campaign. The university is now recognized for strong academic programs, undergraduate and graduate — especially in health care and the human services — as well as for emphases on leadership, ethics and community engagement. A historically commuter school is now home to a large residential community; a predominantly local school now attracts students from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region; a seemingly landlocked school has expanded its campus dramatically. All of this is possible thanks to the energy of a campus, the commitment of a community and the support of people who shared a vision for a once-tiny college to become a thriving university. “It’s been all about heroes,” said Flynn. “Alvernia heroes and some very, very good friends.”

from Randy Travis’ Heroes and Friends

Path to Progress The story of Values & Vision links Alvernia’s Franciscan mission with sound planning, financial stewardship, collegial teamwork and a passionate commitment to the region and community.

July 2005

Thomas F. Flynn is named Alvernia’s sixth president and soon begins the strategic planning process that will guide Alvernia for the next 10 years and beyond.

March 2007

Alvernia’s trustees approve a strategic plan and the $27 million Values & Vision initiative. Jerry and Carolyn Holleran and Carole and Ray Neag, respond quickly with the campaign’s first major pledges. The Holleran Center for Community Engagement is soon born, and awards for the university’s top faculty scholars, the Neag Professorships, are created.

May 2008

Alvernia begins a yearlong celebration of its 50th anniversary; Alvernia College becomes Alvernia University.

August 2012

October 2013

The Campus Commons opens as a beautiful central gathering place. This project catches the attention of a number of students’ parents, who respond to a generous challenge grant from trustee Tom Martell and his wife, Marcia. Not to be outdone, the Student Government Association also makes a significant contribution.

December 2010 Longtime Alvernia trustee Sen. Michael O’Pake dies, leaving a bequest that funds the creation of the O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Public Service.

September 2011

Supported by donations from faculty, staff, students and alumni, Francis Hall is transformed with a new campus side entryway, a renovated theater and recital hall, and expanded space for arts classes. A gift from Ginger and Marlin Miller helps create the Miller Gallery.

With more than $31.6 million, Values & Vision closes, exceeding its goal by more than 20 percent and becoming the most successful fundraising program in the school’s history.

September 2012

Investments by Michael and Susan Fromm and Elsayed and Cathy Elmarzouky deepen the university’s commitment to be a leading community resource for interfaith dialogue. The Fromm Interfaith Award is created to aid students who demonstrate passion for interfaith work.

Beyond 2013: Next Up

Creation of the Reading Collegiate Scholars Program, development of an East Campus, and an addition to the Franco Library to include a learning commons and high-tech classrooms are all anticipated.

26 Alvernia University Magazine 32

32 | Heroes & Friends Historic Values & Vision campaign comes to a close.

Also inside:

‘I cried alone’ Robin Carter ’13 is waging a battle against homelessness in Berks County.

Read more on p. 38.

6 | On Campus News from around Alvernia.

On the cover — A rollercoaster that once sat on the Funtown Pier in Seaside Heights, N.J., rests in the ocean after Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Cover & Page 42: AP Photo/Julio Cortez; Above right: Theo Anderson

12 | P  eriscope Faculty making a difference.

Winter/Spring 2014

42 | Cover story Climate in crisis.

66 | Unbreakable Disease is no barrier for Pam Wagar ’06.

Investing in college success

Thomas F. Flynn President

4 Alvernia University Magazine

Every fall on college campuses, dorm rooms magically refill, bookstores bustle, and yes, the occasional toga party still gets celebrated. And along with the leaves dropping reliably from the trees, media outlets issue their annual college rankings. Even the federal government is now in on the action. Some rankings emphasize financial factors — like graduate earnings and endowment levels; others prioritize influencers like faculty resources, alumni giving rates and SAT scores. Some metrics are helpful to potential students. Others have little relevance for selecting a college. To be fair, no rating system can measure how well a school does what Alvernia promises in our mission statement: to develop “ethical leaders with moral courage.” Our alumni confirm that Alvernia nurtures the spirit and the emotions as well as the intellect. Incoming freshmen and graduating seniors hear my challenge: We expect them “to do well and to do good.” Pope Francis recently said it well: Education not only “broadens your intellectual dimension but also your human one,” so that students become “true champions at the service of others.” Alvernia alumni rise to this challenge: In a recent survey, 76 percent of them reported they are actively involved in their community, compared to the national average of just 42 percent. But besides ignoring such factors, college rating systems — even if unintentionally — reflect the assumption that wealth is a key measure of college success. Are the wealthier schools really best as the rankings imply? More important, how well is higher education serving students who have desire and ability but not the financial means? Recently, some disturbing facts about many “highly selective” schools came to light: They continue to bypass qualified students with lower incomes in order to educate students from wealthier families and more privileged educational backgrounds. Why? Because wealthier students bring in more money and historically achieve higher test scores — thereby boosting college ratings (and helping support fundraising efforts!). Is this a shrewd strategy or an example of misplaced priorities? One university president was quoted in a national story as saying, “To attract top students to your institution, you have to be able to offer them a competitive scholarship package. That’s usually a full-tuition scholarship, that’s a private room sometimes or laptop computer, or a whole bunch of other perks. That’s what schools do. All schools do it.” Well, not all schools; certainly not Alvernia. We’ve never played the rankings game, and we continue to reaffirm our long-standing commitment to being a place of opportunity for students of all backgrounds. This commitment starts in our backyard. Our local, innercity school district struggles to graduate students. Devoted teachers work with kids without stable homes. Most are poor. Some are hungry. Many drop out of school. Some get a year or two of college. A small number even earn an undergraduate degree. A few make it. But far too many

don’t, and the cycle of poverty continues to pull down families and our community. With this in mind, Alvernia recently announced an innovative college success initiative, the new Reading Collegiate Scholars Program (RCSP), a partnership between Alvernia and the Olivet Boys & Girls Club. We believe this unique effort can become a national model for how medium-sized cities can foster college success for local lower-income students by integrating the efforts of education, social services, business and civic leaders. Beginning in ninth grade, inner-city students who are Olivet members will start their path to college graduation together. Our Holleran Center will deploy students and faculty to provide tutoring, mentoring and other support at Olivet locations around the city and at Alvernia. Our goal is for all of these students not only to attend college somewhere, but also to succeed and graduate with a college degree. But there is more. We aim to provide up to 20 of these students annually with full-tuition scholarships to Alvernia. Some will come directly to Alvernia; some will study first at Reading Area Community College, a valued educational partner. The O’Pake Institute will coordinate a program combining faculty and professional mentoring, career exploration and leadership activities throughout their college careers. This is a major undertaking, requiring an investment of more than $10 million over four years. We will seek support from foundations and private donors to supplement current Alvernia funds. The commitment is large, but the potential to change lives is even greater. And the return on investment for our community is unmatchable. We hope to inspire many to join this effort. The great Irish poet William Butler Yeats described education as “not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” The Reading Collegiate Scholars Program is fuel for the coming blaze. May it become that rarest of fires — one we hope spreads widely — serving as a model to other universities and communities. That would be a success story worth the telling! Peace and All Good,

right: ed kopicki

“The commitment is large, but the potential to change lives is even greater. And the return on investment for our community is unmatchable.”

Follow the Crusaders’ return to glory at athletics.alvernia.edu

Team captains Brian Parker and Chris Davis plan to take care of some unfinished business this season.

ALVERNIA UNIVERSITY

Theo Anderson (2)

Game on! Crusader Basketball 2013-2014

On Campus Thumbs up If a recent survey of Alvernia alumni is any indication, our growing university can take pride in a job well done. The national survey of Alvernia graduates found alumni feel extremely satisfied with their education: 90 percent said the school did a good or excellent job preparing them for life after graduation. An impressive 94 percent said they would recommend Alvernia to others, with 76 percent of alumni remaining actively engaged within their communities after graduating, a testament to Alvernia’s Franciscan heritage and emphasis on community service.

Vatican II Lecture Series Alvernia’s lecture series marking the 50th anniversary of formation of the Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II, continued in October with a powerful presentation from Dr. Catherine Clifford from the University of St. Paul, Ottawa. She spoke about the Council’s impact on dialogue among Christian churches around the world. The series continues in fall 2014 with Boston College’s Dr. Richard Gaillardetz, who will address the theology of baptism and its relation to Vatican II. Dr. Massimo Faggioli from the University of St. Thomas will speak in the spring of 2015. The series

Freshman LizMary Mejia-Julio helps Olivet students with their homework.

concludes in the fall of 2015 with a presentation by Dr. Angela Camara of Seton Hall University.

Better together

students joined together to engage in interprofessional education during the fall. Students from both programs worked together in hands-on scenarios and simulations as part of their curricular work. This type of cocurricular professional training and collaborative practice is typically found in medical schools and is helping give Alvernia students a competitive edge in the job market.

6 Alvernia University Magazine

The business of aquaponics The marketing research seminar class, taught by Assistant Professor Samuel Bradley, spent the entire semester developing a detailed marketing plan for a proposed aquaponic food bank as part of a service-learning project. Aquaponics involves a recirculating system that allows both plants and fish to be raised in a self-sustaining process. The proposal for the aquaponic food bank in Greater Reading came through the Alvernia Holleran Center for Community Engagement. Philanthropist Sergei Szortyka, owner of Quaker Maid Meats, is funding the project. Szortyka is interested in creating a nonprofit organization to provide a source of fresh food for those living in the Reading area.

Theo Anderson

Nursing and occupational therapy

For more news, visit alvernia.edu/news

Reading Scholars program aims to transform lives

Partnership attracts new students Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) students are enjoying a few new options for futures in health care, thanks to a partnership with Alvernia. The university is offering its popular RN to BSN completion

Working to give inner-city students an opportunity to rise above poverty, Alvernia, in partnership with the Olivet Boys & Girls Club, has launched a major initiative called the Reading Collegiate Scholars Program (RCSP), aimed at preparing larger numbers of high school students from Reading to attend and succeed at the college of their choice. When fully implemented, the two organizations expect to commit more than $10 million over a four-year period to the program. Support from private donors, foundations and the two organizations will fund the ambitious initiative. “We believe this effort can be a national model for how medium-sized cities foster college success for local, lower-income students,” said Alvernia President Thomas F. Flynn. In the nation’s second poorest city, many Reading high school students are struggling to make a better future for themselves. Slightly more than 60 percent receive diplomas, and many who do have low SAT scores and below basic skills in reading, math and writing. The combination makes it difficult to adjust to a college curriculum. As a result, few graduate from college. “We hope the RCSP program can begin to change that,” said Jay Worrall, director of the Holleran Center.

program, a new Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Science and the Master of Science in Nursing program at MCCC’s University Center in Pottstown. Courses are taught on MCCC’s campus by Alvernia faculty members, giving students there access to programs not previously available at that location.

Inspiration from Al Boscov Al Boscov, chairman and CEO of Boscov’s Department Stores, launched the Leaders, Legends and Visionaries lecture series in the fall. Sponsored by Leadership Berks and the O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Public Service, the lecture series features prominent individuals in an intimate setting for casual, guest-moderated conversations. As the first speaker, Boscov personified the spirit of the series. He shared the wisdom, success and challenges he experienced through more than 50 years in the retail business.

Veterans welcome Veteran enrollment at Alvernia has

Penske program drives ahead Associates at Penske Truck Leasing Company now have a very convenient

worth the effort.” “Through our Pathways Partnership

grown 40 percent since 2008, with more than 60 military veteran students currently enrolled. Alvernia’s efforts to help veterans attain college degrees have been profiled in media nationally, including Stars and Stripes,

way to earn a graduate degree, thanks to

Program we are pioneering alignment of

the official news outlet of the U.S.

a new partnership with Alvernia. The same

education and leadership development,”

military. Not surprisingly, the Guide for

faculty members who teach in the uni-

said Toni Eckert, director, Leadership

Military Friendly Schools recognized

versity’s MBA program are holding classes at Penske Truck

Berks and Business Outreach. “We help employers like Penske

Alvernia, among other top-tier institu-

Leasing headquarters in Reading, Pa.

implement education and training solutions that are effective

tions nationally, for doing the most to

and integrate into busy schedules.”

educate American veterans. To further

“We really believe that partnerships like this are important for professionals in the community,” said Daria LaTorre, Alver-

This is the first time Penske has partnered with a university

veteran support, Alvernia is develop-

nia’s dean of the School of Graduate and Adult Education. “If

to bring classes directly to its associates. Penske associates

ing plans to establish a Veterans

we can make it easier for Penske employees to gain a career

will begin enrolling in Alvernia’s online MBA program beginning

Center on campus.

advantage with minimal impact on their busy lives, then it’s well

in 2014. Visit partnerships@alvernia.edu for more information.

Alvernia University Magazine

7

On Campus Health science wing opens

Jayme Stone

Arts alive The lineup for the spring 2014

Already well poised to train the next generation of professionals for the health care field, Alvernia has given the north wing of Bernardine Hall a makeover, providing additional lab space for nursing and occupational therapy students. The wing includes 16 new offices for occupational therapy and nursing faculty members, three lab spaces, a conference room and a nursing tutor room. The High Technology Lab, Pediatric Lab and Adult/Geriatric Lab contain exercise equipment, ultrasound, hydrocollator, lasers, activity tables and simulation living quarters to give students the ability to gain real-world experience without leaving campus.

Performing Arts Series promises a dynamic offering for all. In January, Jonathan Carney, graduate of The Juilliard School and concertmaster for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, will take the stage in a violin recital that features favorite works by Brahms, the Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto No. 3 and more. In February, award-winning banjo player Jayme Stone will bring a performance inspired by the legacy of famed folklorist and field recording pioneer Alan Lomax. For more event information and tickets, visit alvernia.edu/arts-culture.

One-stop shop Students returned to campus this September to find a newly formed hub cational Planning Center (EPC). Located on the first floor of Bernardine Hall, the center’s team includes professional and administrative staff who helps students address issues related to academic advising, support services, experiential learning, career exploration and job preparation. The team also helps students who are seeking to change their major, learn about international education, the Washington Center program and internships. This one-stop shop is providing students with easy access to all their support service needs.

8 Alvernia University Magazine

Philadelphia Police Partnership In conjunction with Alvernia’s Philadelphia Center, an exciting new partnership with the Philadelphia Police Department has been created. It provides academy graduates with direct access to criminal justice classes taught at the Philadelphia Police Academy by Alvernia criminal justice faculty. “When asked about higher education in the field of law enforcement, I advise with confidence that when it comes to affordability, convenience and overall quality education, Alvernia is the clear choice,” said William T. Maye, captain/commanding officer of recruit training at the Philadelphia Police Academy. The mid-degree program offered at the academy is part of Alvernia’s continued commitment to train law enforcement personnel for career development and advancement.

TOP, Center: Theo Anderson (2)

for support services, known as the Edu-

For more news, visit alvernia.edu/news

Science Association recognized For the second year in a row, Alvernia’s Science Association has been given the Outstanding Chapter Award by the American Chemical Society. It is the highest level of recognition the society bestows on chapters. The Association has also been recognized as a Green Chapter for successfully completing green chemistry activities. The awards are given to student chapters for their programs and activities during the 2012-2013 academic years.

Tater toters

Alvernia students, faculty and staff harvested about 33,600 pounds of potatoes for needy families in the region during St. Francis Day of Service. More than 200 students, faculty and staff participated in the St. Francis Day of Service this fall to harvest potatoes for the Greater Reading Food Bank. The

this page, right: Ed Kopicki; Above right: Carey Manzolillo

Alvernia community harvested 42 bins

Top honors presented

of potatoes weighing roughly 33,600 pounds. It was the largest harvest the Potato Project has ever seen in one day!

Olivet Boys & Girls Club and the Honorable Linda Ludgate ’77 were recipients

The Potato Project is a faith-based

of the university’s highest honors at the

ministry that addresses hunger in the lo-

President’s Dinner held in October. The

cal community. It started in 2009 when

Pro Urbi Award, literally meaning “for

Walt and Linda Zawaski began planting

the city,” was presented to the Olivet

potatoes in the 1.3 acres behind their

Boys & Girls Club of Reading recognizing its significant service to the community. At right, the Franciscan Award, given each year to someone who selflessly gives his or her time, talents and

house to donate them to those in need. Working mainly with local churches, the Potato Project has planted a total of 17.1 acres of potatoes and corn this year to be given to area food banks.

resources for the betterment of others, was presented to Ludgate by Alvernia President Thomas F. Flynn.

Alvernia University Magazine

9

On Campus PEC Face-lift Students arriving for fall semester found the Physical Education Center (PEC) newly renovated and all spiffed up. The building exterior received a new entryway, landscaping and façade enhancements. Inside, the popular Courtside Café was renovated and expanded with more seating and food options. A new sports information space was created to broaden options for Crusader fans to get updates on their favorite teams. Jack McCloskey Court, named after Alvernia’s winningest men’s basketball coach, was also updated and is now emblazoned with the coach’s name.

Top artists showcased The Miller Gallery showcased the works of two impressive artists this fall. Students and guests to campus enjoyed the impressive photographs of Theo Anderson in his exhibit titled Fourteen Photographs. The exhibit included a selection of American social landscapes taken at Pennsylvania locations. The gallery also hosted the work of nationally recognized designer/author and Berks County

Students, faculty, staff and administrators gathered en masse on campus to celebrate the very successful conclusion of the Values & Vision capital campaign. The campaign overachieved its goal by nearly 20 percent on its way to becoming the most successful fundraising event in school history.

native Chip Kidd. Kidd’s work, consisting of well-known book cover and movie poster designs, ran in the Alvernia Literary Festival.

Lit Fest Shines The 2013 Alvernia Literary Festival attracted hundreds to campus in October with more than a dozen events featuring entertainment, award-winning authors and workshops during the annual monthlong festival. Highlights included nationally recognized authors Laura Schroff, Phyllis Kornfeld, Jessica Buchanan and Chip Kidd. The festival ended with the annual Masquerade Bash that included costume contests and an Alumni VIP lounge.

10 Alvernia University Magazine

It’s Miller time for basketball Ever since Michael Miller’s father became the men’s head basketball coach at Alvernia in 2004, he dreamed of wearing the Crusader uniform for his dad’s starting five. Six years ago, that dream took a turn for the worse, when Mike Sr. began a battle with cancer that threatened his life. The elder Miller was diagnosed with cancer in 2007 and spent 35 days in the intensive care unit going through chemotherapy and surgical procedures. Despite losing 50 pounds, he made every game during the 2007-2008 season. In spring of 2008, Miller began to get weaker as doctors determined the cancer was spreading. By that summer, his doctors had performed an

experimental procedure. Unfazed, Miller still coached through the 2008-2009 season. Sheer determination, combined with a love of basketball and ”much guidance and many prayers from the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters,” helped Miller in his fight against cancer. “I’m grateful for the support of my families during that time, both my immediate family and my Alvernia family,” Miller said. The 2012-2013 season was his ninth season as Alvernia’s head coach. He led the Crusaders to a 24-5 record, the Commonwealth Conference title and their first NCAA Division III National Tournament win in 10 years. It was a season

TOP: susan angstadt (2)

conjunction with his lecture during

For more news, visit alvernia.edu/news

A campaign to remember Values & Vision, the institution’s first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign, concluded in October after raising more than $31 million to surpass its $27 million goal! Hundreds celebrated the record-breaking effort during an event on the campus quad. Thanks to the generosity of many, the campaign played a vital role in the transformational growth at Alvernia, an accomplishment for which the entire university and its community can take great pride. Below, Alvernia students enjoy the campus celebration. See Heroes & Friends on page 32 for more.

Athletics Hall of Fame Inductees Alvernia recently inducted four members into the Athletics Hall of Fame during a ceremony held in the Physical Education Center. The class of 2013 included Natalie (Cardone) Durrum ’02 (field hockey/softball), Rolland Green Jr. ’89 (baseball), Kindra Lewis ’08 (volleyball), Wade Miller (baseball) and Tillman Sims Jr. (basketball). Many are career leaders for their sports at Alvernia, and some went on to play professionally.

December grads Alvernia December graduates were treated to an exceptional commencement speaker. Samuel McCullough, a well-known and highly respected business and community leader for more than 40 years, delivered the commencement address. McCullough served as Pennsylvania State Secretary of Community and Economic Development and president and CEO of Meridian Bancorp among several other leadership roles. More than 100 students were presented with diplomas at the event.

Doctor in the house? Students have begun applying to Alvernia’s new doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program in droves. Currently in its precandidacy phase, the DPT program is a clinical postgraduate doctoral degree that is three years in

right: Theo anderson

length. Beginning in fall 2014, and fol-

to celebrate, not only for the victories of his basketball team but for his victory over cancer, with Miller receiving a clean bill of health from Johns Hopkins Hospital. This season is shaping up to be another to celebrate, with the Crusaders ranked as high as ninth in the nation in preseason polls. Adding to the celebration, Crusader fans will see a dream come true when firstyear Alvernia student Michael Miller, aka Miller Light, pulls on the maroon and gold Crusader uniform to play for his dad. It’s sure to create a few double takes as the look-alikes sport unmistakable trademark hairstyles, making Michael Jr. the hair apparent!

lowing achievement of candidacy, the DPT will be offered in a 4+3 year curricular format. Prospective students with a bachelor’s degree may apply. A 3+3 year option will also be available in fall 2014 through which Alvernia undergraduate students who are admitted as freshmen into the Healthcare Science program will begin the professional phase of the curriculum in their senior year. Upon maintaining the required GPA and completion of all requirements, these students are guaranteed admission into the program and can expect to complete their undergraduate training and doctoral degree within six years.

Alvernia University Magazine

11

chemistry

q Rose Chinni, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Forensic Science/Chemistry

Chinni used a Faculty Excellence Grant to write a scholarly manuscript involving the analysis of additives in energy drinks, carbonated beverages and enhanced water.

Greg Chown, OTD, OTR/L Associate Professor of Occupational Therapyq

 Robyn Eisenhauer, MSN, RN

health sciences

Underwritten by an Innovation Grant, Chown and Eisenhauer worked together to design an interdisciplinary simulation in which senior occupational therapy and nursing students can work together to provide care to patients.

Nursing Resource Lab Director

 Notable Theresa Adams, Ph.D., RN, CSN Assistant Professor of Nursing

Vera Brancato, Ed.D. Professor of Nursing

Ann Fink, Ph.D., RN

Assistant Professor of Nursing Adams, Brancato and Fink presented work at the Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Research Congress, in Prague, Czech Republic. Adams presented “The Evaluation of Service Learning as an Innovative Strategy to Enhance BSN Students’ Transcultural Self-efficacy;” Brancato presented “Empowering Teaching Strategies Used by Baccalaureate Nursing Faculty;” and Fink presented “Role of Culture in Primiparous Puerto Rican Women’s Postpartum Infant and Self-care.”

12 Alvernia University Magazine

Kathleen Muzevich, Ed.D. Assistant Professor of Education

“The Handwriting Wars” is a new ebook by Muzevich and published by Universal Publishing. The ebook discusses the merits of teaching handwriting in elementary schools today, as well as the concern about the diminishing importance of this “lost art,” despite research that supports its importance.

Periscope Alvernia’s faculty making a difference

q Ondra M. Kielbasa, Ph.D.

biology

Assistant Professor of Biology

Kielbasa worked to establish an independent scientific research program in cell biology through her Faculty Excellence Grant.

For more news, visit alvernia.edu/news/faculty_scholarship

Carey Manzolillo (1); THEO ANDERSON (5)

q Neag Professors Announced Bongrae Seok, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy, and Janae Sholtz, Ph.D., assistant professor of philosophy, are Alvernia’s newest Neag Professors. Both have outstanding records as teacher-scholars. Seok is a Sholtz Seok distinguished member of the university’s senior faculty. With a background in neuroscience and psychology, he brings interdisciplinary perspectives in his areas of research interest, particularly on moral cognition, moral psychology and Asian philosophy. He will begin his term in January. Sholtz’s research interests rest primarily in 20th century and contemporary continental philosophy. She is currently writing a book on the intersections between ontology, art and the political in Martin Heidegger and Gilles Deleuze. She will begin her term in July. Named for Ray and Carole Neag, the Neag Professorships are awarded to new or continuing faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in their scholarly work and distinction in their teaching. The professorships are part of a comprehensive effort to expand support for the faculty’s teaching excellence as well as scholarly and creative achievement.

q My Turn

Temperature impacts on behavior

Sometimes it’s the small things that matter. Full disclosure: I love science. I love the tools science uses, the process of science, but most of all I love the idea that there are concrete answers to some of the big questions I personally wrestle with and solutions to some of the challenges our society faces. My research focuses on temperature and Adam its impact on aquatic Heinze, microbial life. I spend my Ph.D. best summer days in the Assistant basement — my nose to Professor of Biology the bench discovering new information that no one has known before. It makes my heart beat faster just typing it now. My lab has learned this summer about swimming behavior and how minor changes in temperature, even one degree Celsius, have major impacts on the behavior and distribution of small organisms. Who cares? These microbes we study become fish food, and the world is moving toward fish protein as people become wealthier in the developing world. If there is no fish food, there are fewer fish, and the fish are already in trouble for other reasons. This work is interesting and Adam Heinze topical, but not many people 10 years ago thought it was interesting. But now climate change has become yet another divisive issue in our country, and no one wants to know about discoveries in the lab this summer … everyone wants to know what the

“My agenda is to

leave this earth to my kids in a condition that they can enjoy many of the things I enjoyed and also some new things that didn’t exist when I was around.”

Continued on page 64

Alvernia University Magazine

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What’s hot on our blogosphere

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blog-on! r Kauche Andrew jor

a English m igma Tau Delta S t, n e id Pres

Imagine a world without … … if the inaccurate payscale argument is put aside, most people admit that there are experiences that cannot be quantified or placed inside, heaven forbid, another graph or rubric. There are values other than money, and interestingly, they are the values that keep communities vibrant, and “butts in seats” at universities. Liberal arts majors and programs provide the very services that make a university a Carrie Fitzpatrick, Ph.D. University and a community a Community. Imagine a world without music recitals, theatrical productions, Assistant Professor of creative writing contests, news publications, honors and writing programs. If we aren’t careful, if we English and Communication aren’t vocal, communities and universities could end up looking like emperors without clothes.

Read the full posts and more on our blogs:

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Pastoral Papacy

What Pope Francis I is doing is what his choice of name suggested; he is bringing forward some very Catholic ideas that have been out of the limelight for a while. In so doing, he has set a very different direction for his papacy from the previous two. Francis’ papacy might well be dubbed “The Pastoral Papacy.” The metaphor of the church as a hospital for those with spiritual and other wounds is an old one. The Church is here to bring spiritual fulfillment. That can’t be done when the ones who are to be pastors are caught in “smallminded rules.” This is a man who understands that continual insistence on such rules can be received by its listeners as incessant scolding. People turn away from those who would only point to their possible flaws, and they stop listening altogether, “like a house of cards.” Francis wants to welcome, not reprimand.

Gerald S. Vigna, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Theology

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Waste The Dark Side of the New Coffee Craze Sean J. Cullen ’11 Ph.D. candidate

Our overuse of traditional K-Cups is causing copious amounts of waste! It is hard to not enjoy the quickness and convenience of a coffee pod, particularly in an office where K-Cups are the norm, but the traditional plastic pods are non-recyclable and are piling up. We need to think about the coffee that we purchase and how it may be impacting the laborers, communities, nature and future generations. Personally, I do my best to opt for coffee that is more environmentally friendly, responsibly grown and fair-traded. I recommend Rogers Family when using Keurig coffeemakers (San Francisco Bay: Fog Chaser has been my brew at the office). Dean’s Beans is another coffee company that operates with positive societal and ecological visions.

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An Iranian army soldier attends the weekly Friday Muslim prayers at Tehran University in the Iranian capital.

By Julia Van Tine

16 Alvernia University Magazine

United in

Rubble. Blood. Devastation. Death.

Is the faith that unites our global society stronger than the hate that often divides us? Eboo Patel and his Interfaith Youth Core think so, and they are energizing college students to join the cause.

Scenes that emerged in the wake of the September 2013 terrorist attack on a shopping mall in Kenya had a sickening familiarity. By the end of the four-day siege, hundreds were injured and 67 lay dead — the latest innocents slaughtered in the name of God. Video of the massacre even shows at least one terrorist stopping briefly to pray, laying his gun aside to worship before resuming the slaughter. In claiming responsibility for the carnage, a hate-filled audio Twitter message posted by members of the Somali militant group al Shabaab warned Kenyans to “… withdraw from our country, stop meddling in our affairs, set our captives free, and denounce all forms of fighting our religion. If you refuse to do so, you have seen what you will reap ...” It is a now familiar story of killing intertwined with religion, an event happening far too often in far too many corners of the globe: from the Boston Marathon bombing to violence in Northern Ireland, from hate crimes in Europe to upheaval in Egypt. The incidents are too many to count. All have been stained by killing, as Bob Dylan wrote a half century ago, “with God on our side.” Certainty that God has chosen a side is the reason that

“religions give rise to one of the most dangerous forms of ideology, because we claim divine authority for our actions,” says Dr. Catherine E. Clifford, professor of systematic and historical theology at the University of St. Paul, Ottawa — who captivated many during her “Vatican II and Catholic Ecumenical Engagement” lecture at Alvernia this fall. “Religions become violent when we allow them to become distorted and turn them into ideologies,” Clifford says. “I think what we need to do is avoid crossing the line from faith to ideology. To be sure that young people are not drawn into this distorted view of religion, we have to be vigilant in the kind of religious instruction that young people receive.” That same idea crystallized in the mind of Eboo Patel on 9/11. Then 26, Patel had long been active in the interfaith movement, inviting people of all religious and nonreligious beliefs to find common ground, working toward a common good. On the day that the Twin Towers fell, Patel was a graduate student at Oxford University in England, an ocean away from the death and destruction. Amid the chaos, Patel saw one thing clearly: When young people are thirsty, they will accept water from the first person to offer it. The epiphany came as he studied photos of the 19 hijackers. The oldest was 33; the rest, barely in 

Neo-Nazism continues to be an issue confronted globally.

Faith

Divided by hate

An Israeli soldier prays next to an artillery gun on Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip.

18 Alvernia University Magazine

their 20s. Some didn’t look old enough to grow beards. His mind drifted to other religious terrorists like Yigal Amir, 26, the extremist Jew behind the 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and Benjamin Smith, 21, of the Christian Identity movement, whose 1997 shooting spree across the Midwest targeted Jews, Asians and African-Americans. Patel saw in the smooth, unlined faces of the 9/11 hijackers a tragic truth: Religious extremists invested in terrible, hate-filled youth programs. The fledging movement he’d begun to build in his hometown, Chicago — centered on dialogue and service to promote pluralism — was a counter to this blood-soaked investment. Patel’s faith heroes — Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi and the Aga Khan — were Catholic, Baptist, Hindu and Muslim. Choosing peace and nonviolence to promote social change, these leaders of robust faith attracted followers of all religions and none. And they had been as young as the extremists who’d shed blood in God’s name. If religion was the problem, it was also the solution — and young

people were key. Flashing forward to a decade after 9/11, the wheels of interfaith relations in America are turning, albeit uneasily, in what Patel calls “the deliberate and positive engagement of diversity.” In a world in which sectarian divisions fuel violent confrontations and where extremists of all faiths continue to kill to the soundtrack of prayer, the organization Patel nurtured from across the Atlantic, Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), aims to reach, and teach, young people before the extremists do.

Faith: Roadblock to Bridge The essence of interfaith cooperation is religiously diverse people living together in peace, inspired by their traditions to serve the common good. Patel, who spoke at Alvernia’s Founder’s Day celebration in September, told students that religious pluralism is the social justice issue of the 21st century — the equivalent of race relations in the 20th century. Appointed to President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-based Neighborhood Partnerships, Patel works closely with the President’s Interfaith and Community Service

Left: Getty Images ; TOP: Carey Manzolillo; Previous spread, Left: BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images; right: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Campus Challenge, launched in 2010. The challenge, in which Alvernia participates, invites colleges to take part in a year of on-campus interfaith action and community service. Since 9/11 — and in part because of it — interfaith cooperation in the United States has been on the rise. Research shows a doubling of interfaith groups in America, from 1,000 in 2003 to 2,000 in 2013. And congregations are twice as likely to engage in interfaith worship today than a decade ago — 13.9 percent in 2010 versus 6.8 percent in 2000. “One of the things that turns young people away from organized religion today is the fanatical face of religion,” Clifford says. “I believe that people who are searching for meaning and a way of life that’s worth emulating will be attracted by the practitioners of our Christian faith who are really living the Gospel — charity and justice, and seeking harmony and peace with other people, and trying to be a constructive force of reconciliation in the world. That’s what we’re called to do as Christians. That’s attractive.” Sister Jacinta Respondowska, an Alvernia professor emeritus and

former chair of the philosophy/ theology department, sees hope and opportunity in interfaith dialog. “Contemporary literature shows that humanity is finding itself at the cutting edge of global religious consciousness. Eboo Patel’s inspiring testimony of his journey in faith is but another instance of it,” she said. “God wants us to look beyond the boundaries of our religious persuasions. He wants to be known and loved as the Father of us all. And He wants us to see one another as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, His Son. Because our oneness with each other resides at the core of our being where God dwells and this realm belongs to the province of religion, an interfaith dialogue at all levels of the religious structure can do much to hasten this understanding,” Respondowska said. Since its launch in 2002, IFYC has worked with more than 200 campuses, including Alvernia, to turn interfaith education from academic niche to social norm, nurture the next generation of interfaith leaders, and make interfaith cooperation the standard, rather than the exception, for how people 

“It’s the job of anyone who cares about a healthy world, and young people, to channel their energies in a positive direction.” Eboo Patel

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19

religious cultures in America, and his passion for fostering religious cooperation among young people of diverse religious and nonreligious identities. “It’s the job of anyone who cares about a healthy world, and young people, to channel their energies in a positive direction,” Patel says. That’s why Patel doesn’t dwell on flashpoints of religious strife. Such conflicts are “examples of how those who orient around religion differently within the same society make faith a bomb of destruction,” he says. Patel would rather talk about faith’s potential to build bridges. “Those of us who have a stake in building stable, diverse democracies have to work on the front lines to bring people from different political, theological and spiritual orientations together.”

Alvernia and Interfaith Dialog

“It’s fun to talk to people who disagree with you. That’s how you learn about yourself and other people.” Justin Padinske ’15

20 Alvernia University Magazine

of different faiths interact. In 2012, more than 10,000 students nationwide participated in Better Together, IFYC’s student interfaith action campaign. A self-described “brown kid,” born and raised in a primarily white suburb of Chicago, for years adrift from the Muslim faith he’d been raised in, Patel is a perfect fit to lead the IFYC. As an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, he embarked on a spiritual journey — described in his first book, “Acts of Faith” (2007) — that revealed the richness of his faith and its tradition of service, the equally rich cornucopia of

An essential component of the interfaith movement is the willingness to reexamine personal faith through the eyes of others. “Alvernia is interested in interfaith dialog because we are a Catholic university, not in spite of it,” says Jay Worrall, director of Alvernia’s Holleran Center for Community Engagement. “In particular, St. Francis’s message encourages interfaith work. Our interfaith activities are part of our Catholic and Franciscan identities. “While it’s not the case that people of different faiths view religious history in the same light — obviously they do not — open communication and the idea that there can be common ground between members of different faiths is what Alvernia wants to teach students,” explains Worrall. “Through open discussion, we often find that there is more uniting us than dividing us.” Alvernia junior Justin Padinske ’15, recipient of the 2013 Fromm Interfaith Award, sees great value in open discussions about God and engaging people of diverse faith backgrounds and even atheists in that dialogue. In other words, he’s exactly the kind of young interfaith leader Eboo Patel is looking for. “One

reason I chose Alvernia was to see the other side,” says the 21-yearold, who minors in philosophy. “It’s fun to talk to people who disagree with you. That’s how you learn about yourself and other people.” On the afternoon of Patel’s Founder’s Day lecture, Padinske, with co-host student Jennifer Toledo, led an interfaith panel discussion, the result of an idea he had last spring. “I did not want to listen to a Ph.D., onstage for 40 minutes talking about why God is important to him or why he isn’t,” says Padinske. “I wanted to have people of different faiths, or no faith, discuss why religion is or is not important to them, and try to get people to consider all points of view.”

foster in young people. During a recent Alternative Break spring break trip, the younger Elmarzouky and fellow students volunteered in soup kitchens and food banks in Washington, D.C. As a resident assistant last year, he readily shared his life’s story with others. Raised in Egypt, summering in the United States with his father and family, Zack moved to America at age 19 to attend Alvernia. Zack didn’t want his peers “to have a picture of Aladdin playing in their heads when they talked to me,” he said. “They were openminded and learned a lot about Egypt and Islam. We learned from each other.”

“I wanted people to see a Muslim perspective from a Muslim, and an American perspective from an American Muslim.” Zackeraya Elmarzouky ’15

Theo Anderson (2)

Common Values, Common Good Interfaith cooperation on campus gives students an opportunity to talk about the religious values that motivate their social action — often for the first time. It also helps students see that deeply held principles of their faith are shared by others outside their faith. “There are fruitful dialogues to have on shared values — mercy, service, compassion,” says Patel. And the idea is gaining momentum with college students. When Alvernia’s Ethnic Awareness Society/Black Student Union launched a series of talks about their ethnicity, culture and religion, junior Zackeraya Elmarzouky, 21, immediately signed up. “I wanted people to see a Muslim perspective from a Muslim, and an American perspective from an American Muslim,” he says. The criminal justice major’s interfaith role model, his father Elsayed, is a member of Alvernia’s Board of Trustees, founder and president of the Islamic Center of Reading, chaplain for the Reading Police Department and volunteer clergy for Berks County Prison. The Egypt-born restaurateur has served the Berks County community for almost 35 years and models the faith-inspired service that Eboo Patel strives to

The desire to learn from each other is at the core of the interfaith movement, and is a goal that Clifford says is in harmony with Catholic teaching. “One of the dangers of fundamentalism is believing that one has found the only acceptable path, and that one has nothing to learn from others,” Clifford says. “The message of the Gospel, and certainly also of Catholicism — the teaching of the Second Vatican Council — clearly says to us that we always have something to learn from others, from the world, from the leaders of other faiths, even from atheists. Being a person of faith doesn’t mean living without ambiguity.” Alvernia University Magazine

21

Jessica Buchanan’s kidnapping and eventual rescue

“ I did what I was meant to do.” Jessica Buchanan

NO

put her through hell. But today she expresses ‌

By Lini S. Kadaba

REGRETS

NO REGRETS

n her fifth day in captivity as a hostage of Somali “land pirates,” American aid worker Jessica Buchanan hit the nadir of what turned into a threemonth horrifying ordeal. She realized the AK-47-toting, 11-year-old boy high on the local drug khat was one of the children her Danish nongovernmental organization (NGO) had helped. Abdilahi was wearing a Mine Risk Education bracelet, given to kids who attended classes on avoidance of mines and munitions — classes she had helped organize. In essence, he was the type of child she had hoped to save when she came fresh-faced as a teacher to Africa. Now, the boy was one of two dozen kidnappers. The wild-eyed child-soldier, reputed to have already killed three people, taunted her as he prodded her through the brush with the muzzle of his gun. Once, he threatened her with a butcher’s knife. “This was a kid who could cut your throat for pocket change,” Buchanan, 34, writes in her book “Impossible Odds.” Out since last spring, the New York Times bestseller chronicles her 2011 kidnapping and subsequent rescue by Navy SEALs. She co-wrote it with husband Erik Landemalm, 37, a human rights advocate who specializes in Somalia, and author Anthony Flacco. Buchanan and Landemalm visited Alvernia in October during the university’s annual

24 Alvernia University Magazine

Literary Festival. The pair shared their story of service in one of the poorest, most struggling places in the world and their message of commitment to humanitarian help in places like Somalia, despite the dangers. “You wonder, ‘Am I doing anything that makes any difference?’” Buchanan allows during a telephone interview from Alexandria, Va., where the two, along with their 11-month-old son, have relocated. “That was really hard. He [Abdilahi] knew exactly who I was. He was just empty. Burnt out. He had seen way too much. “Then you think, ‘This is just one. Maybe there’s another one who didn’t touch a land mine and got to keep his arms today,’” she says. Buchanan’s desire to help the most needy among us has garnered admiration. “We make a very conscious effort to incorporate service learning into our teaching,” says Sue Guay, an assistant professor of English and communication at Alvernia. “Jessica has such a desire to help people,” says Guay, who chairs Alvernia’s Literary Festival. “People in this country have a great history of selflessly reaching out to aid those who are less fortunate. “No matter what the need is, Americans are there helping. That’s a very good thing about this country, and Jessica embodies that ideal.” 

top left: getty images; right: Theo anderson; Previous sprEad: United States Naval Special Warfare (SEAL)

A Somali father and his daughter sit with other refugees.

I feel very strongly that for me, the best way that I can live out my

spirituality service. is by

Jessica Buchanan

NO REGRETS

Victoria C. Williams

26 Alvernia University Magazine

captives every day. “I can hardly talk about it without crying,” she says. “I felt so much guilt, even though I didn’t even know them. It was really, really personal for me.” Still, DWB’s withdrawal saddens her. “I still see Somalia as a country that’s badly in need of all that support,” Buchanan says. “I’m an educator. To me, everything is fixed by education. How many times I sat there and thought, ‘If only these guys could have gone to school, maybe they would have other options.’” Says Landemalm: “The kidnappers ended up in that state because of the broken society. But if you leave it even more broken, those problems will spread. They will not be isolated anymore. “You cannot always hide away and say, ‘We will not help other people,’” he adds. “That just won’t do.”

Buchanan, who grew up in rural Ohio outside Cincinnati, was raised in an Evangelical family with deep faith. Giant roadside billboards advertised faith in Jesus. Missionaries often visited her church and school, and she was touched by stories about Africa and its needy children. The book recounts how, when she was 14, Buchanan confessed to her father that she “couldn’t see any life path that made room for her as she wanted to live, in the middle of the world’s struggle to humanize itself.” Once in college, she dropped out after a semester, and in 1999, she married her high school sweetheart. When that marriage failed, she returned to college, attending Valley Forge Christian College in Phoenixville, Pa. There, the path that seemed so uncertain to her as a teen began to take shape. “These were very formative years for me,” she says.

Theo Anderson

“You really are serving the underserved in the world … serving the people no one else sees.”

But the practice of NGOs working in danger zones remains controversial. In several instances, local authorities colluded in or offered tacit approval of attacks. The kidnapping of Buchanan and her Danish colleague, Poul Hagen Thisted, was considered an escalation of threat toward foreign aid workers. When Buchanan told her story on “60 Minutes” last May, many viewers criticized her decision to go to Somalia, given the risks. Recently, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (DWB) decided to pull out of Somalia, where the group had a 22-year history. It had had enough. In December 2011, two staffers were killed in the capital of Mogadishu; earlier, two others were kidnapped and held in captivity for nearly two years. “The situation in the country has created an untenable imbalance between the risks and compromises our staff must make, and our ability to provide assistance to the Somali people,” Unni Karunakara, the group’s international president, says in a statement. While Victoria C. Williams, Ph.D., an associate professor of political science at Alvernia, understands the rationale for DWB’s decision, she also voices concerns over the impact on other NGOs and ultimately the local people. “It’s a really heartbreaking decision,” says Williams, who specializes in international politics and human rights. “Doctors Without Borders is known for being on the front lines of the most dangerous, conflict-ridden places in the entire world. For them to decide it’s not worth it sends a clear message to other NGOs — that nobody else is going to be successful either.” For Buchanan, the whole situation is a no-win. She says she prayed for the Spanish DWB

“I knew I was not meant to go back to Ohio.” Her conviction to serve in Africa blossomed when she read “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver. The 1998 novel, an Oprah Book Club selection, tells the fictional tale of a missionary who moves with his wife and four daughters from Georgia to the Belgian Congo. The ensuing political turmoil of the ’60s is the backdrop as the girls mature and come to understand the complexities of a local culture they initially viewed as savage. “There was something about that book that just resonated with me,” Buchanan says. Another turning point came when she learned about a fledgling nonprofit called Invisible Children, she says. The advocacy group founded in 2004 was raising awareness about the Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa and its leader Joseph Kony, accused of forcing children to serve as soldiers. “It changed my life,” she says. “That’s why I went to Africa.” Buchanan was convinced education could eliminate much of the deprivation on the continent. While she studied to be a teacher, she thought about the children of Africa, she writes, and even earned the nickname “Africa Jess” from classmates. In 2006, Buchanan landed in Nairobi, eventually working for a Christian school. Despite her upbringing and job, she says she was not there to do missionary work, only education. “I feel very strongly that for me, the best way that I can live out my spirituality is by service,” she says. “I felt I could walk out my faith better by doing, rather than talking about it.” Quickly, “Africa Jess” confronted reality. “You get there,” she says, “and you realize it’s so big, so much, so overwhelmingly poor and broken, and there’s really nothing one person can do to fix it.” Progress wasn’t going to happen

overnight, or even over many years. Rather than expect a specific outcome, she realized she had to just do her best — and hope it would make a difference. According to Dr. Williams, many people find this type of service work highly rewarding. “You really are serving the underserved in the world,” she says, “serving the people no one else sees.”

Jessica Buchanan discusses her book with Alvernia students in the McGlinn Conference Center.

 Buchanan met Landemalm in 2007 at a Nairobi nightclub popular with expats. In Sweden, the international politics junkie had worked for the Migration Board, with a focus on Somalia and the Horn of Africa. Landemalm had already spent nearly two years in Somalia, where he offered advice on governmental issues and had a reputation as a workaholic and an expert on local culture. The like-minded spirits married in 2009 on a Kenyan beach, and Buchanan joined Landemalm in Somaliland, the more stable northwest area of the country. Fast-forward to Oct. 25, 2011. Continued on page 60

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2012 Gallup poll found that 5 percent of Americans consider themselves to be vegetarians, while just 2 percent identify as vegans. So when Kate Murray M’03 published her book “A Silent Cure in My Back Yard,” she did so with no illusions about converting the masses. “I don’t expect everyone, or anyone for that matter, to read the book and become a vegan, because it’s not an easy thing,” Murray says. “I just hope I can motivate them to make a couple of healthy changes. And then they’ll see how much better they feel eating grains, beans, nuts and vegetables, including vegetables they haven’t heard of.” For Murray, Alvernia’s MBA program was a kind of organic farm for entrepreneurs. She thanks Scott Ballantyne, chair of the university’s business department, for fertilizing her creative drive. “I gained the resolve to ignite my own passion and purpose, to create a sense of ownership in my own ideas,” she says. Murray aims to make food, and facts about food, more digestible. “Most of the information we get is so convoluted and confusing,” she says. “We’re told that wine is good for us on the morning news, and bad for us on the evening news. How do we make sense of what is really good and what is really not, especially if we don’t have time to read scientific articles?” As a nutritionist with a postgraduate certificate in plant-based nutrition from Cornell University, Murray published her book through her design firm, Vogue Media, located in Shillington, Pa. It includes recipes for living longer with more life, and traces her pilgrimage toward adopting a diet of plant-based whole foods low in saturated fats and high in antioxidants. Her personal trip to wellness began with illness. Murray started

28 Alvernia University Magazine

studying and eating healthier food in 2001, the year her mother, JoAnne Rizzuto, learned she had breast cancer. Murray expanded her dietary research and practice after she gave birth to two children and helped guide her mom toward recovery after receiving a bone marrow transplant in 2007. In “A Silent Cure,” Murray celebrates her mother’s Italian communal feasts. She also criticizes some of her mom’s favorite foods. Citing 20- to 30-year studies, she contends that animal products, including red meat and cow’s milk, can cause heart disease and cancer. She points out that one tablespoon of olive oil, a staple of Mediterranean kitchens and “Steve will eat the star of the much-publicized whatever I cook. It “Mediterranean Diet,” has 14 doesn’t always turn percent saturated fat, more than out great; I’m not a triple the amount chef formally trained in a chicken breast. in France or anything. Murray provides healthy twists on But we laugh about nearly 20 of her mother’s recipes. it and move on.” For a mushroomKate Murray asparagus risotto, she recommends sautéing onions in vegetable broth, wine or Braggs amino acid, a soylike sauce. For her mom’s apricot bar cookies, she suggests replacing white flour with brown-rice flour and white sugar with unsweetened applesauce. Like other nutritionists, Murray recommends supplementing whole foods with holistic exercises: yoga, walking, five-minute meditations through the day. She accelerated her favorite exercise — running — to reduce the stress of caring for her youngsters and her mother, who died in 2008. She’s particularly proud of completing

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A

a marathon in San Francisco that raised money to battle leukemia and lymphoma. Murray personifies the onestop shop. She writes a column for the Reading Eagle and a blog for mindbodygreen.com. Her own website, asilentcure.org, is a lively forum for everything from a primer on protein (lemons contain 16 percent, the highest concentration) to a list of the best smartphone apps for plant-based foods (i.e., vegan cupcakes). Her Facebook giveaway of a week’s full share of vegetables doubled as a promotion for Berks County’s cornucopia of organic farms, and a sweepstakes for a box of locally grown, USDA Certified organic vegetables was a hit. Not one to let dust settle, Murray is currently planning an educational garden for the rooftop of a Berks County elementary school, where she envisions elementary schoolchildren planting seeds in boxes made by high school students, and the older students making meals with vegetables and herbs for the younger students. Also in the works is a children’s book on nutrition tied to a campaign to have kids take Murray’s trademarked Plant Pledge. Her children didn’t have to take the pledge. Carla, 6, and Joe, 5, have never complained about not eating chicken nuggets because they’ve never eaten chicken nuggets. Their father, Steven Murray M’09 hasn’t griped about a meatless diet, despite growing up on grilled hamburgers. An assistant principal at a high school, he knows full well how healthy food helped his wife stay healthy during an unhealthy period. “Steve will eat whatever I cook,” says Murray with a laugh. “It doesn’t always turn out great; I’m not a chef formally trained in France or anything. But we laugh about it and move on.” Sometimes Murray relaxes her rules. Every now and then, she’ll serve cheese with tacos. And summer wouldn’t be summer, she admits, without an occasional ice cream. “The conventional wisdom is: ‘Everything in moderation,’” she says. “Our running joke is: Moderation is a town we bypassed long ago for the town of Excess.”

Vegan Confessions of a

Her own personal trip to wellness began with her mother’s illness. Now, Kate Murray M’03

eats a plantbased diet of whole foods, and has written a book to help others lead healthier and happier lives.

By Geoff Gehman

Character

Theo Anderson

30 Alvernia University Magazine

that

By Larry Keller

Faced with a choice between finishing an equestrian competition and helping an injured bystander, Jennifer Bielecki ’15 didn’t hesitate to take action. Her decision cost her a ribbon, but as it turns out, Bielecki was the real winner that day. She was riding a favorite thoroughbred mare that afternoon, one she had worked diligently with to train for shows. The competition at the Lebanon, Pa., fairgrounds was halfway through, and the May sun was high in the sky. Jennifer Bielecki’s mom, Lisa, stood proudly at the farside rail of the large arena, cheering and reminding Jen to keep her form strong. Then it happened in the blink of an eye. A sudden commotion. A yell for help. A scene of pandemonium. The third-year occupational therapy major was pressed to make a split-second decision. She was in contention for a ribbon in the show, called an “equitation,” where riders are judged on how well they perform as they lead their horses through jumping and Western-style routines. Bielecki was doing well, and she knew it. From the other side of the ring, she heard the screams. “At first I couldn’t pinpoint if it was happy screaming or something bad,” Bielecki recalls. As she got closer, she realized the screams were indeed cries for help. They were hysterical. And they were coming from an equestrian friend who had injured a knee earlier. “I was scared she had reinjured her knee. It’s something I never want to hear again in my life,” Bielecki says. But it quickly dawned on her that it wasn’t her friend who was hurt. “I heard a man groaning. That’s when I realized it was her father.” She had to make a decision in a heartbeat. If Bielecki left the arena and tried to help the injured man during the competition, she would be disqualified. On the other hand, the CPR-certified student had basic first-aid training and was more than able to provide needed assistance. Bielecki chose to help. “I yelled to the judge, ‘I have to help. I’m certified.’ I knew it would disqualify me. But someone’s life was more important to me than a ribbon.” On the other side of the ring, Howard Lloyd was laying on his back. He had been kicked by a horse, and was holding his side. “I can’t breathe,” he moaned. Bielecki suspected broken ribs. She drew on what she learned in the kinesiology class she took from Associate

counts

Continued on page 62

Heroes

Friends “

I ain’t lived forever, but I’ve lived enough And I’ve learned to be gentle, and I’ve learned to be tough I’ve found only two things that last till the end, One is your heroes, the other’s your friends.

from Randy Travis’ Heroes and Friends

Path to Progress The story of Values & Vision links Alvernia’s Franciscan mission with sound planning, financial stewardship, collegial teamwork and a passionate commitment to the region and community.

July 2005

Thomas F. Flynn is named Alvernia’s sixth president and soon begins the strategic planning process that will guide Alvernia for the next 10 years and beyond.

26 Alvernia University Magazine 32

March 2007

Alvernia’s trustees approve a strategic plan and the $27 million Values & Vision initiative. Jerry and Carolyn Holleran and Carole and Ray Neag, respond quickly with the campaign’s first major pledges. The Holleran Center for Community Engagement is soon born, and awards for the university’s top faculty scholars, the Neag Professorships, are created.

May 2008

Alvernia begins a yearlong celebration of its 50th anniversary; Alvernia College becomes Alvernia University.

December 2010 Longtime Alvernia trustee Sen. Michael O’Pake dies, leaving a bequest that funds the creation of the O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Public Service.

e all have heroes. Some are sports stars. Others are business and civic leaders. Some are family members, some spiritual mentors. They’re all individuals who inspire us and often move us to become something more than we were without them. And so when the Values & Vision capital campaign closed in October, the most successful fundraising effort in Alvernia’s history, the real story wasn’t about the money raised. It was about the heroes who made it all possible, and some very good friends. It was five years ago, as Alvernia celebrated its 50th anniversary, that the university announced the public launch of its most aggressive fundraising campaign. The $27 million goal was so much larger than any previous campaign, nearly seven times, that more than a few rolled their eyes. But with a bold vision cast by President Thomas F. Flynn, and a strategic plan in place to drive progress, the need for “fuel” to bring new ideas to life was large. However, it took only a month before the country plunged into the worst financial collapse in almost a century, and the future of the campaign looked bleak. “Our timing was impeccable, wasn’t it?” quipped Flynn discussing the campaign launch. “We were certainly in search of a few heroes at that point because things could have gotten ugly fast.” And then something extraordinary started to happen. Heroes emerged. Friends and board members of the university stepped forward to invest in making Alvernia a truly distinctive Franciscan university. Their names are destined to echo in Alvernia’s hallowed halls for generations: Boscov, Holleran, Neag, Miller, O’Pake. “Carole and Ray Neag’s gift funded our first two endowed professorships. Jerry and Carolyn Holleran were inspired to provide support that made the Holleran Center a reality, and then donated their beautiful home to become the future President’s House at Cedar Hill,” said J. Michael Pressimone, vice president of advancement, who led the historic fundraising campaign. “Marlin and Ginger Miller helped create an art gallery to support

improvements in the fine and performing arts. Shirley, Jim and Cindy Boscov created a scholarship program to attract the ‘best and the brightest’ from Berks County.” Yes, heroes and friends seemed to be everywhere, just when they were needed most. A generous bequest from the late Sen. Michael O’Pake soon made creation of the O’Pake Institute possible. Together with the Holleran Center, the two became signatures of the university’s national reputation for civic engagement. It’s undeniable that Alvernia’s trustees, past and present, stepped up in a huge way, providing more than half of the campaign’s total amount of $31.6 million. “They are the unsung heroes of what has been accomplished in the last five years. Our trustees helped shape the university and campaign priorities, and they provided invaluable guidance and vigilant oversight as Alvernia navigated some turbulent waters,” said Flynn. Faculty and staff rose to the occasion as well, making donations that topped more than $1 million, with alumni providing support, too. Even students and parents played roles, with both providing significant support to help fund the new Campus Commons. Alvernia has come farther and faster than anyone thought possible, due much in part to the success of the Values & Vision campaign. The university is now recognized for strong academic programs, undergraduate and graduate — especially in health care and the human services — as well as for emphases on leadership, ethics and community engagement. A historically commuter school is now home to a large residential community; a predominantly local school now attracts students from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region; a seemingly landlocked school has expanded its campus dramatically. All of this is possible thanks to the energy of a campus, the commitment of a community and the support of people who shared a vision for a once-tiny college to become a thriving university. “It’s been all about heroes,” said Flynn. “Alvernia heroes and some very, very good friends.”

August 2012

October 2013

The Campus Commons opens as a beautiful central gathering place. This project catches the attention of a number of students’ parents, who respond to a generous challenge grant from trustee Tom Martell and his wife, Marcia. Not to be outdone, the Student Government Association also makes a significant contribution.

September 2011

Supported by donations from faculty, staff, students and alumni, Francis Hall is transformed with a new campus side entryway, a renovated theater and recital hall, and expanded space for arts classes. A gift from Ginger and Marlin Miller helps create the Miller Gallery.

Having raised more than $31.6 million Values & Vision closes, exceeding its goal by more than 20 percent and becoming the most successful fundraising program in school history.

September 2012

Investments by Michael and Susan Fromm and Elsayed and Cathy Elmarzouky deepen the university’s commitment to be a leading community resource for interfaith dialogue. The Fromm Interfaith Award is created to aid students who demonstrate passion for interfaith work.

Beyond 2013: Next Up

Creation of the Reading Collegiate Scholars Program, development of an East Campus, and an addition to the Franco Library to include a learning commons and high-tech classrooms are all anticipated.

Impacting lives

By Jack Croft

The success of Values & Vision is not represented by a few projects or milestone events, though Alvernia has had many memorable moments in recent years. Rather, it is embodied in the university’s transformational progress toward its vision to be a “Distinctive Franciscan University” and ultimately in its people. Here are profiles of several Alvernians who have made an impact through the Values & Vision campaign, and whose lives have been forever changed.

As president of the Alvernia Student Council, Taylor Eichelberger ’14 is the picture of confidence, whether speaking in front of an audience of several hundred people or interacting with members of the Board of Trustees. “It’s hard to explain to people who didn’t know me before I came to college, but I was very shy in high school,” says Eichelberger, an occupational therapy major. Her parents, Jim and Karen Eichelberger, have certainly noticed the change as their daughter has honed her leadership skills. “I always use the analogy with Alvernia that it’s like fertile ground,” Jim says. “We planted this seed there, and it’s only because the ground is so fertile that she’s blossomed into the young lady, the leader, that she is.” Through their involvement in the parents’ committee and financial support for the Values & Vision Campaign, Jim says the Eichelbergers hope to ensure that “other parents see their kids blossom like Taylor has blossomed.” Karen says that from their first meetings with Dr. Flynn and university administrators, “As parents, we really felt as though what we had to say was important and that they were truly listening. It wasn’t just lip service.” The Eichelbergers instilled in Taylor, Karen says, the importance of “giving back and paying it forward.” And they see their support of Alvernia the same way. “I think we will be lifelong supporters of Alvernia, long after Taylor graduates,” Jim says. “I just have the sense now that we’ll always feel connected to the school.”

34 Alvernia University Magazine

Theo Anderson (2); Bottom Right; Babar Ramail

Paying It Forward

Opening Doors A Boscov Scholarship made it possible for Andrew Kaucher ’15 to find his passion at Alvernia University. “What I really discovered at Alvernia is the love of what I’m studying,” says Kaucher, an English major. Looking at colleges as a senior at Wyomissing High School, Kaucher says he was “more worried about the financial aspect of it than anything else.” As one of the first group of 13 students to earn the new scholarship — made possible by the generous support of the Boscov family: Shirley Boscov, their son, Jim, and his wife, Cindy — Kaucher was able to focus instead on his education. “It solidified where I was going to go,” Kaucher says of the scholarship, the highest merit award Alvernia offers. “It was such a blessing.” Now in his junior year, Kaucher has taken a leadership role as the current president of the university’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society. He says he hasn’t decided what path to pursue after he graduates from Alvernia, but isn’t concerned about his future. “I know that Alvernia has prepared me to do well in whatever I do,” he says.

Bringing It Back Home For Colleen Woodard ’68, Francis Hall was the center of her Alvernia College experience. She lived there her first two years on campus, before Veronica Hall was built as a dorm. She attended class there, too. Over the decades, new buildings continued to pop up on campus as the college grew, went coed and eventually became a university. A history major, with minors in French and English, Woodard went on to make her career in human resources, working for the federal government in Washington, D.C., into the late 1990s before retiring and starting her own consulting firm, and teaching at Virginia Tech and George Mason universities. When she returned to campus for reunions, she says, “I was proud of it, but I didn’t feel as connected because it was a different institution.” That changed when Woodard first saw the plans for the renovation of Francis Hall as one of the centerpieces of the Values & Vision Campaign. “For me, that new entryway was like connecting the past with the present. I knew the university was valuing where it had come from, as well as where it was going. That was very important to me.” She joined with classmate Valettae Painter Eshbach to organize a fundraising campaign within their small class. As a result, three of the arches in Francis Hall were named: one by Woodard, one by Eshbach, and one by the Class of ’68. Woodard says: “What was unique about this campaign was that it came back home again.” Alvernia University Magazine

35

As a nurse and senior administrator, Marion McGowan has been on the pulse of health care for more than three decades. But the transformational changes underway — driven by health care reform — are causing the Alvernia doctoral student and other savvy leaders to carefully examine how they manage and deliver care as part of the Affordable Care Act.

By Jack Croft

Heartbeat of

Ask most on Main Street

Population health

what an ACO is, and you

management is one of the

are guaranteed to get a

core concepts behind health

combination of funny looks

care reform. It requires both

and questioning comments.

a change in thinking and

But that’s likely to

practice. Instead of thinking

change in the very near

in terms of individual patients

future as Accountable Care

seeking one-time care,

Organizations are popping

providers now must think in

up all over, destined to play

terms of entire populations

a significant role in how Americans access, and pay

over their lifetime. And it Marion McGowan

for, health care in the future.

has fundamentally changed reimbursement to providers,

ACOs bring together doctors, hospitals and other health

who are no longer rewarded for doing more, but for

care providers to offer quality, coordinated care, while

efficiency and quality.

rewarding those organizations for improving outcomes and reducing costs. Marion McGowan knows all about these key

“It moves from a one-time episode of service or one-time interface of service to a life course of service, which is all good for the consumer,” McGowan says.

components of health care reform. In fact, she’s

“It requires a radical change in the foundation of the

president and CEO of one — the Lancaster General

work processes, augmented by technology that is just

Community Care Collaborative in Lancaster, Pa. She’s

now catching up, with electronic medical records and

also executive vice president of Lancaster General

population health intelligence systems. And it requires

Health System. In her spare moments, she serves as

us to have intelligence in a manner which predicts or

chief population health officer for the health system,

anticipates people who may have problems so that

leading efforts to make care and clinical resources more

we can try to intervene before problems exist — and it

coordinated and effective.

becomes very costly.”

Not surprisingly, the Alvernia doctoral student knows

For example, high-risk individuals with four or more

well of the sweeping changes dramatically altering

chronic health conditions represent just 3 to 5 percent

the health care landscape since enactment of the

of those receiving care, McGowan says. But they

Affordable Care Act in 2010. And as the curtain rises

absorb 40 to 50 percent of health care resources.

on “Obamacare,” the related new approaches are challenging health care administrators like nothing else in their lifetimes.

“So we have a lot of challenges ahead trying to figure out how to help people engage in their health Continued on page 64

health care Alvernia University Magazine

37

might be two weeks away from being homeless. But you wouldn’t know because they have a nice home. A nice car. Nice clothes. But that’s the

Photography by Theo Anderson

façade.

‘I cried alone’

Your “ neighbors

38 Alvernia University Magazine

After almost three years of struggling to stay afloat financially, Robin E. Carter M’13 lost her home. She and her four daughters were weeks from homelessness. The fear and hopelessness have never left the determined Oley, Pa., native, who is now pursuing a doctorate in leadership to find ways to bring the community’s knowledge and resources to bear on the problem. The statistics are daunting. According to the latest government estimate, 633,782 people were homeless across the United States. Most, 62 percent, were individuals; 38 percent were families. On any given day, more than 450 people in Berks County, Pa., — 37 percent of them women and children — don’t have a permanent residence, and some don’t know where they’ll sleep at night. The prolonged economic downturn has changed the face of homelessness, both nationally and in the Reading, Pa., area. Increasingly, the face belongs to someone you know. “Your neighbors might be two weeks away from being homeless,” says Carter, a single mother who completed her Master of Arts in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in community leadership in May. “But you wouldn’t know because they have a nice home. A nice car. Nice clothes. But that’s the façade.” Carter, 47, grew up in Oley. The Reading of her childhood, a bustling, confident city with jobs for all, “had an identity and a sense of place,” she says. But the plants and factories packed up, the jobs evaporated — and residents had to leave their homes to find work in other counties. Sometimes, they lost both — their jobs and their homes. Berks County averages 347 evictions a month, Carter’s research shows. Those evictions strain an overburdened emergency shelter system that serves both the chronically homeless, and those who face temporary or episodic bouts of homelessness due to job loss and budget cuts in federal and state safety nets. Carter now has an academic’s grasp of the causes and consequences of homelessness in the city she looked forward to visiting as a child. For her capstone project, she drafted a strategic plan to help the Berks Coalition to End Homelessness (BCEH) — an organization of more than 60 agencies, businesses and community members dedicated to eradicating homelessness in Berks County — pursue its mission for the next five years. The plan, submitted in May of 2013, was 

By Julia Van Tine

Photography by Theo Anderson

adopted after some fine-tuning by the BCEH board in August. This fall, Carter continued her quest by pursuing her doctorate in leadership at Alvernia. She wants to focus her research on the question: How does sense of place affect a community’s well-being, and how might it be used to improve its ability to help those in need? In the past 30 years, Berks County has made tremendous strides in addressing the problem, Carter says. “But since that time, it’s also become more integrated in our community as a result of increased poverty, job loss, economic hardship, addictions and former incarceration in jail or mental health facilities.” More and more people in the community — young and old, working and unemployed, single people and entire families — teeter on the brink. But Carter’s understanding of homelessness is more than academic. In 2010, after almost three years of struggling to stay afloat financially, she lost her home. She and her daughters were weeks from homelessness. “I struggled alone; I cried alone,” she says. “I’m still recovering from that experience.” Carter’s low-paying but full-time job saw her through. She was able to rent a home in Shillington and, incredibly, begin work toward her master’s degree at

I struggled alone; I cried alone. I’m still recovering from that experience. Alvernia, taking classes at night. In fall of 2012, she was presented with an opportunity to use that painful but transformative period in her life to serve others in the community on the brink of homelessness. That chance came when she took a graduate class called “Poverty in America: Culture, Causes and Consequences,” taught by Jay Worrall, director of the Holleran Center for Community Engagement. A former chairman of BCEH, Worrall still serves on its board of directors and planning committee. Developing BCEH’s strategic plan would make a great capstone project, he realized. So he asked his class for volunteers. At first, Carter stayed silent — the terror of nearhomelessness still felt too fresh. But a few weeks later, no one had stepped forward. “I felt it was a sign to get involved,” says Carter. Worrall and Carter submitted the plan to Gerald Vigna, coordinator/director of the program and her academic adviser. Dr. Vigna approved it, and Carter went to work. Meeting regularly with both Worrall and Sharon Parker, BCEH’s executive director, Carter completed the plan in just four months. “We’d struggled with this plan a long time,” Parker says, referring to BCEH’s board of directors. “Most of us are running agencies, working with the homeless, working on policy and regulations. We’re not strategic planners. I dumped this enormous amount of information on Robin, and we had a couple of meetings. When I read her draft, I was blown away. She distilled our scattered ideas and visions and goals and objectives into a format we could work with. We were very impressed.”

In May, Carter presented her draft to BCEH’s board of directors. “I’ve done a couple of these capstones now, and this is the one that was most inclusive of the community,” Worrall says. “Robin did a fantastic job of managing the needs of her academic project and the needs of a nonprofit agency in our community.” With its formal adoption by the board in August, Carter’s plan will now guide BCEH through 2018. Meanwhile, Carter continues to seek solutions. As before, she works by day, attends class at night and manages to care for her daughters, aged 17, 15, 13 and 10. They’re the bright spots in her life. She also is excited by her doctoral research. Many Berks County residents care about homelessness in their community and want to help, but don’t know where to start, she says. Through her research, she hopes to identify ways the community can come together to share its collective wisdom and resources. “Local solutions developed at the local level can lay the foundation for meaningful change,” she says.

Alvernia University Magazine

41

Greenhouse gases building in the atmosphere. Rising sea levels from melting polar ice caps. Searing heat waves. Torrential flooding. Severe droughts. Welcome to planet earth in 2025!

When Superstorm Sandy washed ashore in 2012, it devastated the New Jersey coastline, including the Funtown Pier in Seaside Heights.

By Geoff Gehman 42 Alvernia University Magazine

Climate

xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx

in Crisis

44 Alvernia University Magazine

and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. Alvernia Biology Professor Spencer S. Stober thinks it will need something more: naturecentered leadership. Nature-centered leadership is a term Stober coined to describe an intentional movement toward a healthier balance between nature and human nature. “We need to increasingly subordinate our needs as humans to the needs of the planet to maintain a healthy environment,” Stober said. “And we need more economists to start putting natural capital into the global economic conversation. Some of these ideas may seem radical, but the times call for it.” Through initially sharing stories and knowledge, he hopes to get people to think differently about their relationship with the planet, and more importantly — do something about it. “Nature-centered leaders want a dialogue about people, planet and profit — the triple bottom line,” Stober says. “A naturecentered leader wants to move the planet from last to first at the table. That’s our goal. That’s our imperative.” There are already good examples in action. One can be found in the South American Republic of Ecuador. The Spanish-speaking nation of 15 million, that encompasses the Galápagos Islands, added the rights of Pachamama (or “Mother Nature”) to its constitution in 2008. The move makes it clear that nature “has the right to total respect of its existence and the maintenance and regeneration of its vital cycles, structures, functions and evolutionary processes.” Keeping good on its promise last July, the country refused to extract nearly 1 billion barrels of oil, choosing the reduction of pollution over enormous profits. Leadership practices like that of Ecuador inspired Stober’s latest book, “Nature-centered Leadership: An Aspirational Narrative,” penned with Alvernia doctoral students Tracey Brown and Sean Cullen. The book

Doctoral students Tracey Brown, left, and Sean Cullen, center, co-authored “Nature-centered Leadership: An Aspirational Narrative” with Spencer S. Stober, Ph.D.

This page: Theo Anderson

I

t’s not a pretty picture, but it may be our future if the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is right. Is there time for the “radical change” and the nature-centered leadership that Alvernia Professor Spence Stober is calling for? It may be one of our last hopes. The combined anthropological influence on the planet’s climate system is painfully clear and equally troubling. As a society, we are leaving a “blood” trail that is hard to deny. It’s visible in most every region of our nation and the world. In fact, it’s no stretch to say human impact has been the single most dominant cause of global warming observed since the mid-20th century. That’s what a report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations-sponsored group of scientists, recently concluded. According to Thomas Stocker, professor of climate and environmental physics at the University of Bern, Switzerland, and co-chairman of the IPCC, climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. “In short, it threatens our planet, our only home,” he said in a New York Times interview about the IPCC report. Glaciologist and former director of the China Meteorological Administration Qin Dahe, Stocker’s co-chair on the IPCC report, is more direct. “Our assessment of the science finds that the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, the global mean sea level has risen and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased,” he said. “As the ocean warms, and glaciers and ice sheets reduce, global mean sea level will continue to rise, but at a faster rate than we have experienced over the past 40 years.” Stocker believes continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. “Limiting climate change will require substantial

previous spread: AP Photo/Julio Cortez

features a panoramic plan and a provocative plea for people to start talking about real steps toward ecosystem equality.

Leading by Example Marine biologist Rachel Carson wrote “Silent Spring” in 1962, triggering a national campaign to ban DDT and other synthetic pesticides across the globe. One of her followers, philosophermountaineer Arne Naess, practiced his “deep ecology”

system by chaining himself to waterfall rocks to protest the building of a dam. Naess is often thought of as a founder of the contemporary environmental movement. His personal ecological philosophy, which he called “ecosophy,” was a worldview inspired by the conditions of life in the ecosphere. Under threat of death by mercenary loggers and cattle ranchers, a Brazilian rubber tapper named Chico Mendes 

Are you a nature-centered leader?

In their book, Brown, Cullen and Stober make deliberate attempts to introduce leadership styles that can help encourage dialogue around environmental issues. But what else can be done? They suggest a series of questions to seed reflective thought and spark additional questions that can lead to personal choices and direct actions. Here’s a sampling:  Awareness: Do you understand current ideas on how ecosystems function?  Impact: Could you justify your current consumption (of material and energy) to a child of the future?  Perception: Do humans have the ability to develop technologies that will enable us to live in harmony with the environment for generations to come?  Action: Are you making the best use of your ability to effect change for a sustainable future?

helped preserve the Amazon rainforest by introducing “extractive reserves” as a strategic goal because he believed that the forests could sustain both humans and wildlife without being destroyed. Mendes said that Seringueiras trees could be considered “rubber factories” — remaining both a source of livelihood to people who tap them for latex and a home to countless creatures. And of course, there was St. Francis of Assisi, considered by Stober to be a “nature-centered visionary” who demonstrated that it is possible to influence the way humans view and act with nature. “St. Francis saw wealth

46 Alvernia University Magazine

as already provided to him through Creation. In fact, for him material wealth could be an impediment to a healthy relationship with Nature as God’s Creation,” said Stober. Through his understanding of nature as an extension of the Creator, Francis would act as a servant to creation through preaching and only using what he needed to survive, Stober explained. All of these nature-centered leaders took difficult, sometimes deadly paths — but with lasting results. DDTs are now banned in many countries, including the United States, and extractive reserves have become an accepted and

important environmental management practice. Before his death at the hand of a rancher in 1988, Mendes made his followers promise not to decorate his funeral with rainforest flowers. A year later, Paul McCartney memorialized him with the song “How Many People.” And St. Francis’ impact has been kept alive through religious orders around the world, including Franciscan orders of priests and the Bernardine Franciscan sisters who founded Alvernia.

Actions Speak Louder “Writing the book has definitely made me think more about recycling and

top left: Theo Anderson; right: 2010 Dewhurst Photography

For more information about “Nature-centered Leadership” visit onsustainability.cgpublisher.com.

protecting the planet,” says doctoral student Tracey Brown, one of Stober’s co-authors. “If we continue to have a bad attitude toward nature, we’re going to be in bad shape.” But time has shown that wistfully hoping that “the powers that be” will stop dumping toxins into water supplies or look into alternate fuel options isn’t going to make an impact, or at least — not soon enough. Nature has its limits, and in order to reduce humanity’s ecological footprint on the earth, humans need to take real steps toward managing resources sustainably. There are few good examples of corporations working toward a more sustainable world. Tesla Motors struggled to turn a profit for several years as it worked to create the world’s first allelectric, lithium-ion battery-powered sports car — even as it was honored as a recipient of the Global Green USA Product/Industrial Design Award. But this fall, The Washington Post announced that the idea has caught on, and Tesla’s stock is finally soaring. As a rule, most corporations only

make sustainability changes based on negative feedback. In September, fastfood giant McDonald’s announced its plans to eliminate polystyrene hot beverage cups in the United States. With more than 14,000 restaurants around the country, the decision is huge. As You Sow, a nonprofit group, had been pushing McDonald’s to do away with the plastic cups for some time. That included supporting a shareholder resolution at the company’s 2011 annual meeting that requested the firm examine its beverage containers with an eye toward the environment. But the world is changing, and companies are now beginning to see sustainability as a marketing tool and business imperative. At Nike, the company sees reducing its contributions toward climate change as a primary aim of its sustainability business strategy. “But we know that doesn’t go far enough, so we also work to provide leadership in the business community toward climate stability,” boasts the brand’s website. “Our aim is to drive innovation, collaboration and public

policy advocacy to deliver carbon reductions across the value chain.” Which is music to the ears of Cullen. Researching nature-centered leadership has significantly changed his point of view. He now refuses to buy bottled water, purchases only responsibly grown coffee and eats meat only once a week. Recently engaged, he’s thinking more seriously about being a sustainable parent, and is helping others to see ways to reduce their own waste by thinking about what they’re buying, eating and throwing away. Even Stober has been altered by the nature-centered leadership ideal. “In my heart, I see myself as a “deep ecologist” with a very nature-centered perspective,” said Stober, referring to the term coined by Arne Naess to describe his premise that environmental efforts should be ecocentric rather than anthropocentric. “We don’t want to tell people how to think but ask them to reflect on what they can do,” said Stober. “If nothing else, I want to help people think a little differently about their relationship with Mother Nature.”

Tesla Motors’ all-electric, battery-powered sports car is a step in the right direction toward reducing climate-damaging carbon emissions. And it looks pretty great, too!

Alvernia University Magazine

47

L

And he has not disappointed. The shooting guard for the Crusaders basketball team is thriving in Alvernia’s athletic training program. He’s also serving as an undergraduate representative on the Alvernia Planning Advisory Council and is even starring in a video about the school’s real-world learning focus. “David is an outgoing student with an amazing personality,” said Kimberly Stoudt, director of athletic training, assistant professor and assistant athletic trainer at Alvernia. “He’s extremely positive. What makes him stand out is his ability to build a positive rapport with anyone almost instantaneously.” Currently immersed in his senior year clinical experience, he’s working with a wide range of Alvernia sports teams, including softball, soccer and his own basketball squad, to manage training needs and treat injuries. “I would tape

Theo Anderson

ike Sir Thomas More, for whom the movie A Man for All Seasons is named, David Sloan’s commitment and unwavering persistence have served him well. While attending Huntingdon Area High School (Pa.), Sloan was an all-star athlete, excelling in soccer and basketball, as well as volleyball — a sport that saw him named to the state championship all-tournament team. So when the former student council president found his way to Reading, Pa., and Alvernia, no one expected he would shrink on the scenic university campus.

42 Alvernia University Magazine

myself if I wasn’t so stiff from all the sports injuries I got in high school,” laughs the bearded boy wonder. In fact, it was Sloan’s high school trainer who inspired him to become an athletic trainer. “I was the kid who got injured all the time in high school, so I got to know our trainer well and to have an appreciation for what athletes have to do in rehab,” says Sloan. “I can tell them: ‘Hey, I know what you’re going through. I know what it’s like to recover, physically and mentally, from shoulder separations and concussions.’ I’ve had plenty of hands-on life lessons.” A bullish job market for athletic trainers in the United States is one reason why many like Sloan are attracted to the field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 30 percent increase in the number of jobs for athletic trainers from 2010 to 2020. The projected rise can be attributed to fierce national campaigns to prevent concussions, heat exhaustion and steroid abuse. Last summer, the would-be trainer trekked across the globe to discover what it means to work in the land down under, as part of an international field experience program Alvernia’s athletic training department offers. “Being exposed to other cultures in Australia and their methods of athletic training reinforced my love and interest in the medical field,” said Sloan.

“The experience gave me the deeper understanding of the industry and better prepared me as an athletic trainer,” he explained. While studying abroad, he was able to interact with experts from the Australian National Soccer League and Rugby League at various lectures. Sloan was intrigued by research he learned about — that runners can perform more effectively and safely with shorter, quicker strides. He was also impressed by a cooling vest designed for Australian firemen that he believes could help American football players. His Aussie hosts were surprised by both the complexity and popularity of his future profession back home. In Australia, says Sloan, sports trainers are mainly concerned with hydration, and do not diagnose or treat injuries. That’s very different from their North American counterparts who diagnose, rehab and regularly work with coaches, surgeons, nutritionists and psychologists. “We’re equally concerned with productivity and safety,” said Sloan, who plans to earn an MBA in order to gain a better understanding of the business side of the sports industry, bolstering his career in athletic training. “We’re dealing with heads as well as bodies. How can we keep them (athletes) mentally and physically at their highest levels? How can we keep them in the game?” This man for all season believes he knows!

Man for

ALL SEASONS By Geoff Gehman

For David Sloan ’14, an interest in athletics and a passionate personality have taken him around the world and back.

Alvernia University Magazine

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A

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conducted in summer 2013 by the Alvernia Alumni Association, had more good news. This one showed continued progress with 76 percent of alumni remaining actively involved in community service or volunteerism after graduating. When compared to national data, Alvernia graduates are exceptional; according to a 2012 federal survey, on average 42 percent of college graduates age 25 or older volunteer in the community. Warchal and Ruiz attribute Alvernia’s stellar profile to the university’s integrated approach to experientialbased classes that include service learning. “For many years, college graduates began volunteering in their 30s and 40s, when they felt settled enough to serve their community,” says Ruiz. “Now, thanks to a greater variety of servicelearning opportunities, they’re volunteering earlier, sometimes right after graduation. It’s clear that service-learning participants become leaders. They create projects. They take charge when they see the need.” In addition to studying

its impact on volunteerism among graduates, Ruiz and Warchal teach the practice of developing life skills while developing communities. They supervise a new website devoted to psychology and ethics. And they present papers at service-learning conferences around the world, where they’re highly regarded as a scholarly, personable tag team. Together, Warchal and Ruiz have helped make Alvernia a significant player in a significant movement. According to the National ServiceLearning Clearinghouse, at least a quarter of American institutions of higher learning have educational exchanges with community agencies. Off-campus organizations — AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America, United We Serve — promote systematic, reflective “learning by doing” as a superior way of solving all kinds of problems and dealing with all kinds of people. It’s an approach that has helped earn national recognition for Alvernia, including the prestigious Continued on page 61

The impact of service learning extends far beyond campus for Alvernia graduates. Above, Alyssa Wagner ’14 tutors a young Reading, Pa., student as part of a community service program.

This spread and previous spread: Theo Anderson

na Ruiz and Judith Warchal know each other so well the pair can usually finish each other’s sentences. Working closely together for 20 years, the two academics think alike, talk alike and sometimes even dress alike. They also share an unusual passion — for service learning — that has shaped their relationship and their work to understand its impact on Alvernia students and graduates. The duo conducted their first survey regarding the effects of service learning on employment choices and community engagement among Alvernia graduates in 2004. Results were illuminating, but the pair of psychology professors was surprised only by the modesty of the respondents. Some Alvernia graduates “didn’t think that what they did was community service,” says Warchal, a professor of psychology and counseling, and a licensed psychologist. “They considered it natural to help their school or church because their school or church helped them.” While the number of respondents to that first survey was also modest — just 124 graduates — an impressive 72 percent of them were engaged in volunteering. Seven years later, Ruiz and Warchal expanded their alumni survey. This time they asked more questions on a wider range of topics about types of community service, job satisfaction and voter registration. The 2011 survey received more than 1,000 responses — almost 10 times as many as the 2004 survey. Seven years after the original research, nearly 67 percent of graduates said they were involved in volunteering. A separate survey,

Lasting Impact For two decades, psychology professors Ana Ruiz and Judy Warchal have championed service learning. Their most recent study confirms that the impact of community service throughout an Alvernia education has a lifelasting effect on graduates.

Judy Warchal, left, and Ana Ruiz.

By Geoff Gehman Alvernia University Magazine

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Alumni Class Notes 1960s

Rose (Buczek) Stofko ’65 passed away on June 14, 2013.

1970s

Carol (Ronski) Holbrook ’73 retired in December 2011 after teaching for 38 years. In July 2013, she visited former Alvernia education professor Sister Doris at the Villa of Our Lady Retreat House, Mount Pocono, 40 years after graduation. David B. Wright ’76 retired as a forensic investigator for the Berks County Forensic Services Unit. He was well-known for collecting

and processing evidence for the Reading police and Berks County District Attorney detectives offices. Raymond H. Melcher Jr. ’78, president and co-founder of Marathon Capital Advisors, has been named director of The Jump Start Program: a collaborative initiative between the Berks County Community Foundation and the Kutztown University Small Business Development Center. The Jump Start Program includes the Launch Pad, which assists persons during the prelaunch and developmental phases of a new business with consulting services and office space. Kendall Schwoyer ’79 got the chance for a meet and greet with Alice Cooper at the Santander Arena in Reading.

1980s

Leon Domsic ’80 is retiring as the chief of the Berks County Narcotics Unit after 34 years in law enforcement. He started his career in narcotics doing undercover buys on the streets and concluded by overseeing 10 detectives in the narcotics unit and a countywide drug task force of 80 officers from 38 departments. THE Rev. Stewart Haring ’80 passed away on May 18, 2013.

Sister Doris with Carol (Ronski) Holbrook ’73

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Joseph Swope ’80 was featured in the Reading Eagle’s Faces in the News section. Joe is the communications manager at UGI Utilities, Inc. He considers his job well done when he can strip

away the complexity and mystery of the natural gas industry, and provide the public with a clear understanding of how the energy industry operates. Thomas Rubright ’81 passed away on July 15, 2013, after a long battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife, Andra, and four children. As a result of Carol (Lawlor) Klimas’ ’84 efforts, overall enrollment growth at the Lake Ridge Academy has increased by 12 percent. Inquiries are up 45 percent from the prior year, and applications have increased by 20 percent since last year. Terri (Johnson) Stangeland ’86 passed away on August 10, 2013. Elisabetta (Zampella) DiStravolo ’87 and her husband, Pietro, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They were married on June 2, 1963, in San Clemente, Italy. They have three daughters and three grandchildren. Linda Lysakowski ’88 announced the publication of three new books this year: “Are You Ready for a Capital Campaign Workbook,” “The Nonprofit Consulting Playbook” (co-editor), and “What’s Wrong With Your Fundraising … And How You Can Fix It.” Linda is the author of several other publications geared toward fundraising. She is one of fewer than 100 professionals worldwide to hold the Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive

designation. In her 20 years as a philanthropic consultant, Linda has managed capital campaigns, helped hundreds of nonprofit organizations achieve their development goals and trained more than 25,000 development professionals in Canada, Mexico, Egypt, Bermuda and most of the 50 United States. She also serves as Acquisitions Editor for CharityChannel Press and for the GENIUS Press.

1990s

Ann (Guido) Brooks ’91 held a book signing at the National Centre for Padre Pio in Barto. She wrote “The Bell Ringer: Song of Salvatore,” which recounts her grandfather’s childhood challenges in Sersale, Calabria, Italy, prior to coming to the U.S. The book is available on Amazon or through the Italian-American Cultural Center at Alvernia’s Dr. Frank A. Franco Library Learning Center. Ann resides in Leesport with her husband, David, and their daughter MaryElizabeth.

Rocker Alice Cooper with Kendall Schwoyer ’79

Dr. Melissa Marcario ’93 is a licensed psychologist and has worked in the Pittsburgh Veterans Administration Hospital since 2002. She supervises doctoral psychology interns and fellows at the VA. She was recently the guest speaker at the Alumni/Student Dinner for the Psychology Department at Alvernia.

Michael Carnes ’96 became the principal of Middletown Area High School on July 1, 2013. Mary Ann Heydinger ’97 passed away on March 31, 2013. Khanh C. Hoang ’98 passed away on June 20, 2009. Peter M. Pugliese ’98, M’02 passed away on May 30, 2013. Thomas Minick ’98, M’10 was named associate vice president of advancement at Alvernia University. Debra (Walker) Smolnik ’99, ’02, ’05 is the manager of human resources for Distributed Systems Services, Inc. Debra will be overseeing human resource compliance, employee recruiting and training programs, compensation and performance review, as well as benefits management.

Linda Lysakowski ’88

Erin McCurry ’99 received her master’s in organizational  Alvernia University Magazine

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collect data. Sharon is the vice president of Tweed-Weber, Inc. Chris Daubert ’03, Ryan Yanchocik ’08 and Mark McDevitt are the founders of Reading is Rising, dedicated to improving the quality of life in the city of Reading. Recently, the group held an event giving school supplies to students in the Reading School District. Patrick List ’03 is engaged to Lauren Saul. Thomas Lutz ’03 and Ellen Schiel were married on March 23, 2013, at St. Ignatius Loyola Roman Catholic Church.

leadership from Southern New Hampshire University in May 2013.

2000s

Bernadette Buerke ’00, ’01 and Steve Valko were married September 8, 2012, during a Nuptial Mass at the Shrine of St. Joseph in St. Louis. Bernadette is employed by Supplemental Health Care. Jonathan Encarnacion M’01 was featured in the Reading Eagle’s Faces in the News section for his role as the regional director for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s UPMC For You. The nonprofit branch of the UPMC Health Plan helps guide and assist medical assistance recipients on welfare. As regional director, Jonathan holds a variety of responsibilities, including community outreach for at-risk populations, community relations

54 Alvernia University Magazine

Join Alvernia on

and quality of care assurance. He is also involved in various other groups in Berks County, addressing needs of underserved populations. Michael Rule ’01 and Sarah Boisvert are engaged. Emily Takach ’01 and Kith Solomon were married on October 12, 2012, in Christ Episcopal Church, Pottstown. They reside in Germantown, Md. Emily recently received recognition as the March Hospital Employee of the Month. She has been employed at INOVA Alexandria Hospital for five years. Sharon Danks ’03, M’04 was part of an article in the Reading Eagle discussing data overload. Sharon suggested that sometimes simply talking to customers is the best way to

Sarah Hinzman ’04 successfully defended her Doctorate in Leadership dissertation on May 10, 2013. Sarah’s content focus was in the area of education leadership, specifically urban education. Stephen Howe ’04 is moving back to Pennsylvania to begin teaching special education in the Annville-Cleona School District after teaching for the past nine years in Florida and North Carolina. Dena (Rice) Schall ’04 and her husband, Sam, welcomed their first child, Luke Sebastian, into the world on February 15, 2013.

Just another way to stay connected

top left: theo anderson

Carol (Lawlor) Klimas ’84 — See p. 52.

Eric ’03 and Kristy (Whitmore) Meyer ’99 welcomed their daughter Emerson Lee into the world on July 12, 2012. Eric is the vice president of franchise development for American Driveline Systems, the parent company behind AAMCO and Cottman Transmissions.

Katrina (Sipics) Ziegler ’04 was promoted at Embassy Bank for the Lehigh Valley. She was named assistant treasurer, and has nine years of experience in the finance industry, the past four years with Embassy in the loan operations department.

Susan Colon ’06 and her husband, Gregory, celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary.

Brian Eckroade ’05 was named field supervisor for the distribution department at the Philadelphia Gas Works on March 9, 2013.

Michael Allegra ’07 and Erin Landis ’08 were married on November 10, 2012.

Michael Hoshour ’05 recently got his property and casualty insurance license and started working for Unruh Insurance Agency as a personal lines sales agent. The agency is located in Denver and East Earl. Tracey Marino ’05 was named assistant director of Alvernia University’s Philadelphia Center.

Timothy Dwyer ’06 passed the national examination to become a certified hand therapist in May 2013.

Massimo Grande ’07, along with his sister Tina and brother Benjamin, has decided to open a new restaurant in West Reading called Nonno Alby’s Brick Oven Pizza. The concept for their restaurant grew out of wonderful food memories they had as children visiting their grandparents in Calabria. Lauren Hoodak ’07 was featured in the Reading Eagle for

a summer enrichment program held in the Reading School District. Lauren worked on reading skills with students. The program is designed to help struggling students keep up over summer break by offering courses in reading and math. Kimberly (Zenyuch) Maxwell ’07 and her husband, Jared, welcomed Kaylee Rose Maxwell into the world on June 18, 2013, at 3:08 a.m. Kaylee weighed 7 pounds and was 20 inches long. Dominic Pirrone ’07 recently completed his Master of Education degree in curriculum and instruction technology at Grand Canyon University with a 4.0 grade point average. He recently created and released an education app for the Android and Apple markets, and is excited to share Teacher App by Academically 

Lee Umberger ’05 was featured in the In Our Schools section of the Reading Eagle. Lee is the principal of Governor Mifflin Intermediate School in Shillington. Tony Balistrere ’06, M’07 was featured in the Reading Eagle’s Faces in the News section as the principal at Berks Catholic High School. Jennifer H. Gray ’06, M’07 retired in June from the Norristown Area School District. Jennifer and her husband moved to Colorado to be closer to their children. She is enjoying retirement, and as a friend said, “Every day is Saturday!” Charles Scheetz ’06, ’09 is director of financial aid at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Melissa Marcario ’93 — See p. 53. Alvernia University Magazine

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Thomas Minick ’98, M’10 — See p. 53.

InformED. Teacher App is designed to assist teachers and to increase parental involvement in the classroom. Some features of Teacher App are group messaging, interactive calendar, grade book, attendance logs and more. In a matter of seconds, parents and students can be informed of all important education information that is vital to student success. For more information, visit www. academicallyinformed.com.

away on November 9, 2012. Kristin Moyer ’08 and Ralph Kabakoff were married on August 3, 2013.

Cathy Geissler ’07, ’08, ’12 and Elizabeth (Warhurst) Tomeo ’08, both graduates from the Master in Community Counseling program at Alvernia and currently working for CONCERN Counseling Services in Fleetwood, were recently trained as Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) therapists as part of a research project conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. The study, titled “PCIT Across Pennsylvania,” will compare three different methods for training clinicians to use PCIT, a highly specialized form of therapy aimed at clients from 2 to 7 years old. Tomeo and Geissler were two of only six clinicians in the county to be selected.

Mark Your Calendar!

Benjamin Reifsnyder ’07 and Nicole Humphreys are engaged. Scott Schwartz ’07 was featured in the Reading Eagle’s In Our Schools section. Scott is the associate principal at Governor Mifflin Middle School, Shillington. Andrew Angstadt ’08 led Holy Guardian Angels Regional School in Muhlenberg Township to collect donations for victims of the deadly tornadoes that ripped through Oklahoma City and its suburbs. The school decided to hold a dress-down day and raised $2,100 to donate to the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. Dina Browne ’08 passed

56 Alvernia University Magazine

March 15 Alumni Night at the Reading Royals

May 1 Margaritaville

June 21 Alvernia Night at the Lehigh Valley IronPigs

July 12 Alvernia Day at Knoebel’s

August 15 Alvernia Night at the Reading Fightin’ Phils

Visit Alvernia’s alumni website: alumni.alvernia.edu

Bryan Otruba ’08 is a volunteer for the Ready. Set. Read! program. Bryan helps by tutoring at Lauer’s Park Elementary School. He feels the program allows him to teach and share his love of reading, while he is earning his master’s degree and working.

instrumentation, regulatory affairs and quality control systems. Before joining Chemsil, Andrew spent four years working for John Paul Mitchell Systems as both a quality control manager and a research and development chemist. Alicia Angstadt ’09 is a K-9 deputy for the Berks County sheriff’s department. Alicia and her K-9 Roxy, a Labrador retriever, make routine searches at the county jail for contraband and also serve civil papers throughout the county.

Daniel Laws Jr. ’08 was part of an article in the Reading Eagle on data overload. Daniel talked about reducing costs per acquisition by getting in front of a more targeted audience. He is the principal owner of DaBrian Marketing Group. Catherine Reber ’08 is engaged to Zach Goldberg. They currently live in Evansville, Ind. Andrew Shearer ’08 joined Chemsil Silicones Inc. as director of quality control and regulatory affairs. In his new role, Andrew will develop and maintain methods to ensure the company provides quality products. He has extensive knowledge in laboratory

Ashlee (Wolfe) ’09 and Andrew Bright ’09 welcomed Addelyn Charlotte into the world on January 12, 2013, at 2:38 p.m. Kelsey Drake ’09 and Dan Waldron were married on August 17, 2013. Ashlee Esser ’09 is engaged to Michael Korman. Eric Focht ’09, ’10 got engaged to Allie Wagner on March 29, 2013. Melissa (Masone) ’09 and George Ulmer were married on September 14, 2013, in Wilmington, Del.

Melissa Masone ’09 and husband George Ulmer.

Geena Olshefsky ’09 married Kyle Moyer in July 2011, and welcomed daughter Lilly Michelle to the family on August 13, 2012. Brooke Ramaley ’09 is engaged to Corey Calhoun. 

Calling all proud Crusaders!

We want YOU! Alvernia’s Undergraduate Admissions Office is looking for proud Alvernia alums to volunteer their time to represent the university at college fairs in the Mid-Atlantic Region. If you are interested in attending a college fair near you, please contact admissions counselor Christopher Fake ’10, christopher.fake@alvernia.edu. Follow Alvernia alumni on

twitter.com/Alvernia_Alumni Alvernia University Magazine

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2010s

Danielle Fitzpatrick ’10 got engaged to Mikey Garcia on April 15, 2013, in Newport, R.I. Dane Noecker ’10 and his wife, Tamara, welcomed John William Noecker into the world on August 2, 2013. John weighed 7 pounds. Scott Rodgers ’10 was appointed news editor of the North Augusta Star, a weekly newspaper that is part of Aiken Communications. Denise Elliott ’11, M’12 and Kyle Smith ’11 were married on September 6, 2013. Jeanne Johnston M’11 was featured in the Reading Eagle’s Faces in the News section for her job as Cumru Township manager for which she oversees the day-today operations of the township. Kelly Steber ’11 and Samson Gausch ’09 were married on April 6, 2013, in Allentown. Alexandra Stengel ’11 got engaged to Airman Kyle Laub, USAF on August 30, 2013, at Keesler AFB, Miss. A summer 2014 wedding is planned. Katie DeTurk ’12 and Brett Stefan were married on May 18, 2013. Fanny Flores ’12 is working as a behavioral therapist with adolescents. She is also a consultant at Herd by Herd for Equine Assistant Therapy. Victoria Gooden ’12 works at a special-needs school as an assistant in a kindergarten/firstgrade classroom. She uses her theatre degree whenever there is

58 Alvernia University Magazine

Denise Elliott ’12 and her husband Kyle Smith ’11.

any kind of performance going on at the school. In the afternoons, she is also a nanny for two children. Ashley Vincent ’12 and Jason Hugg ’12 opened a swim shop in Kenhorst and participate in regional triathlons. This year they have started producing events in the Reading area, including the first annual Reading Kids

Triathlon on June 29, 2013. The triathlon took place at Schlegel park pool and boasted 70 participants ages 7 to 15. Ashley said, “Alvernia taught us a lot about giving back to the community, and we are proud that we are able to continue serving our neighborhood.” Kaytelin Rhody ’12 is a full-time blended case manager in the mental health department of

Service Access and Management in Schuylkill County. She is also a high school softball coach for Schuylkill Haven High, where she graduated in 2007. Nicole Swinehart ’12 is engaged to Justin Lane. Nicole is an occupational therapist at the Reading Health Network. A June 2014 wedding is planned. Ashley Dautrich ’13 and Shawn Cieniewicz are engaged. Gina Dierolf ’13 has taken a part-time position with the Olivet Boys and Girls Club of Reading and Berks County. Brian Richardson ’13 is a certified peer support specialist for the Greater Reading Mental Health Alliance in Wyomissing. After a transformational stint in prison, Brian turned to faith and launched a personal turnaround so profound that he has become an inspiration to others. The first of his seven siblings to graduate from a fouryear college, Brian is now working toward a Master in Community Counseling degree.

Will You? In this season of joy and giving, will you help our students achieve their dreams of an Alvernia education? Please make the gift of education by donating to the Alvernia Fund by December 31, 2013. Thank you!

George Rice ’85

Sharon Danks ’03, M’04

Top alumni honored Alvernia presented awards to two outstanding alumni during the Annual President’s Dinner in October. The Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes contributions of Alvernia alumni to their professions, communities and the nation, was presented to George Rice ’85. Rice has been involved in public safety since graduating from Alvernia. Currently, he is the executive director of Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies, an organization that represents the emergency communications industry in the development of technology and infrastructure. During his professional career, Rice has served in a number of roles, including as a licensed private investigator; special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration; associate director for law enforcement relations with the Brady Center and executive director of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials-International. The Ellen Frei Gruber Award was presented to Sharon Danks ’03, M’04. The award honors alumni who embrace the institution’s core values and demonstrate exceptional commitment to the university. Danks is a principal and vice president of Tweed-Weber, Inc., a national consulting firm located in Reading that specializes in research and strategic planning. Deeply committed to serving her community, Danks has been generous with sharing her expertise. For the past 12 years, she has served the United Way of Berks County in numerous capacities, including as a board member. She also has been a board member of the Penn Corridor Initiative, the Family Guidance Counseling Center and the Animal Rescue League. She has served her alma mater faithfully, participating on the Marketing Committee of the Board of Trustees and leading the Alumni Council and Institutional Advancement staff in a strategic planning process.

alumni@alvernia.edu/donations Alvernia University Magazine

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No Regrets | Continued from page 27 was questioning her personal relationship with Buchanan’s NGO asked her to travel south to God before the kidnapping, also sought prayer show solidarity with the locals. She had already and often “talked” to her late mother — the only canceled twice because gangs of young men with way she says she could find a measure of peace. no other opportunities were known to rule the That is a critical message for students to hear, streets with terror tactics. Despite doubts, this Guay says: “Jessica says she always knew what time she felt she had no choice if she wanted to prayer was, but it wasn’t until she was captured keep her job, she says. and tortured and thought she would never see Then, while driving back to the airport, the her loved ones again that she truly embraced the worst happened. Pirates attacked. The local power of prayer.” security had sold out her colleague Hagen By the third month, Buchanan had lost nearly Thisted, then 60. 20 pounds and was in fragile health because of “My blood inches through me like frozen slush,” an untreated urinary tract infection so severe she writes. “If there’s a personal terror more Jessica Buchanan she could barely walk. With her life in imminent extreme, I hope to never feel it. All I can do is danger, President Obama ordered a rescue. On keep silently telling myself I’m too young to die.” Jan. 25, 2012, in the dead of night, 24 Navy SEALs rushed the camp, Over the next three months, she would face the threat of rape and execution, filthy outdoor conditions, starvation and deteriorating health. killed all of the kidnappers and got the hostages out alive. Buchanan and Landemalm, of course, are grateful for the rescue. Meanwhile, Landemalm worked frantically to get Buchanan out. For Buchanan, however, the circumstances — the violence of the The kidnappers wanted a ridiculous ransom of $43 million, under the mission — trouble her. assumption that any Westerner could easily raise that amount. “Oh, man,” she says. “I think when you’re in that kind of situation, the As the FBI and the highest levels of American government got black and white gets gray really fast. I’m still a pacifist at heart. I worked involved, Landemalm used the famed Somali gossip lines that run on arms violence reduction, so it was ironic how we were rescued.” through every level of society and link families together to gather Landemalm is less sympathetic. “We gave these guys all the chances scraps of intel. He also waged a disinformation campaign so that the in the world,” he says, noting that the kidnappers were sent medicine kidnappers could not learn personal details about his wife that might but refused to provide it to his wife. harm negotiations. Buchanan allows that she still has a lot of issues to work through. A course on “Intercultural Communication” that Guay teaches But, she says, she understands better “what other people mean to me is designed to expose students to other cultures and “avoid being and what I mean to them. Erik and I definitely take more time now too ethno-centric.” It was a skill that Landemalm often displayed. for each other.” Buchanan also partly attributes her Within days of her freedom, the couple got pregnant — the miracle survival to efforts to understand baby, she says of son August. At first, the family returned to Africa, her kidnappers. living in Nairobi. “They have taken a lot from us, but they “They both had to cannot take the decision on whether we should live immerse themselves — there or not,” Landemalm says. one by choice, one by After 10 months, however, they resettled to force — in the culture Virginia. “I was afraid,” she says. “I felt like they of Africa,” Guay says. were after me. It all became too much. … It was Both also found time to go home.” comfort in prayer. Now, they’re job hunting, looking for ways Landemalm, who to continue the humanitarian work they love, was raised secular, perhaps even travel abroad for short stints. began to pray with “I don’t have any regrets about the Buchanan’s father. decision I made,” Buchanan says of her Buchanan, service in Somalia. “I did what who I was meant to do. I hope I’ve helped someone along the way.”

“O h, man, I think when you’re in that kind of situation, the black and white gets gray really fast. I’m still a pacifist at heart. I worked on arms violence reduction, so it was ironic how we were rescued.”

Jessica with her husband Erik Landemalm.

60 Alvernia University Magazine

Lini S. Kadaba is a former Philadelphia Inquirer writer who contributes regularly to Alvernia Magazine.

Volunteering and community service are key aspects of the Alvernia experience. Above, students help move food for those in need in Reading, Pa.

Theo Anderson (2)

lasting impact | Continued from page 50 Community Engagement Classification designation by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. In addition, Alvernia has made the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll of the Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Education every year since the award’s inception in 2006.The award recognizes a commitment to bettering communities through service projects and service learning. While Warchal came early to service learning, Ruiz was a late arrival, growing up in Brazil in a family of church volunteers. In that country, college-community partnerships tended to be viewed with skepticism. “Many people there are suspicious when someone offers something for free,” she says. Ruiz quickly plugged into the power of volunteering after arriving at Alvernia, where community service is a cornerstone of the Franciscan foundation. She began collaborating with Warchal in the early 1990s, shortly after both began teaching at Alvernia. They started by evaluating an adoption program run by a Catholic social

agency in Allentown. By the end of the decade, the team had taught a research class in service learning and presented their first joint conference paper on the practice. Following the first survey of graduates they conducted in 2004, Warchal and Ruiz continued to turn Alvernia into a servicelearning hub, on campus and off. They lobbied successfully for the hiring of a service-learning director. Inspired by Sinead Commane ’13, a psychology major, they aligned with an after-school program run by the Salvation Army called mañana. Mañana (tomorrow) is a community partner with a psychology research course, a senior seminar and the Holleran Center for Community Engagement. Undergraduates tutor youngsters in everything from math to English. Psychology and counseling faculty are analyzing the impact of art classes on academic grades and diverse thinking. Ruiz and Warchal co-authored a book “Service-Learning Code of Ethics for Educational Community Partnerships,” in which Warchal stresses the need to respect the privacy of community partners, to serve as ambassadors of good will as well

as good deeds. Ruiz stresses the importance of community agencies as ethical role models. “The goal should be to try to help people figure out how to be more positive,” she says, “rather than just solve problems.” Both Warchal and Ruiz practice what they teach. Ruiz helps direct an advocacy program for gifted students at a Berks County elementary school. Warchal aids the Red Cross by counseling members of military families and disaster victims. Last summer, Ruiz and Warchal took charge again, launching a website devoted to teaching ethics to psychology students. Together, they have spread the word about their projects at conferences from Greece to Italy and China to South Africa, with interest coming from home and abroad to adapt their alumni survey and adopt their code of ethics. More than 20 years after they first joined forces, Ruiz and Warchal still enjoy working together. “We can be very open and very honest with each other,” says Ruiz. “We can put egos aside,” agrees Warchal. And always, they work toward a better mañana. Alvernia University Magazine

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“A lot of people backed away. Jen was there in seconds. She identified herself. She made sure his airway was secure. She was very calm.” Beth Lloyd

Professor Dolores Bertoti, and instructed the injured man to bend his knees in order to elevate his chest slightly and alleviate pressure on the organs near his ribs. “There wasn’t a lot I could do but stabilize him, and keep him from going into shock and fainting on me. I wouldn’t have known what to do to position his body and relieve his pain” had it not been for that kinesiology course, Bielecki says. An EMT stationed at the event soon showed up, and Bielecki gave him an assessment of the situation and what she had done. When he left briefly, she adjusted Lloyd’s oxygen mask to fit more snugly. Then she tried to comfort Lloyd’s daughter, Samantha. “She was very scared. I was there supporting her,” Bielecki says. Lloyd’s injuries were indeed serious, and included three broken ribs, a punctured lung, liver lacerations and a bruised kidney. He recalls Bielecki’s words of encouragement at the time, but not much else. He was focused on trying to breathe. But his wife was also with him and remembers more. “A lot of people backed away,” Beth Lloyd says. “Jen was there in seconds. She identified herself. She made sure his airway was secure. She was very calm. She stayed with him until the ambulance came.” Once it did, Bielecki returned to the ring to finish what was left of the competition. Including Bielecki, there were seven riders. Six ribbons were to be awarded. The final ribbon, Bielecki says, went to a younger, probably less experienced rider than herself. “She and her family were thrilled,” Bielecki recalls. “But that left me in last place. I was okay with that.” Bielecki didn’t make a point of telling people later that she finished last because she was disqualified for aiding an injured man. “I didn’t feel I needed to tell everyone I didn’t win because I was disqualified,” she says. “I’m a good sportsperson.” Bielecki later sent an email to Professor Bertoti thanking her for what she learned from that kinesiology course. And she and her

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mother sent Lloyd a get-well card and kept in touch by email to see how he was doing. Today, he is recuperating nicely. “I’m going to make a full recovery,” he said. Her quiet confidence, as evident in the handling of her horse as it is in her work with people needing help, didn’t come naturally or easily to Bielecki. As a young adult, she struggled to fit in at school and often suffered at the hands of peers whose cruel verbal attacks drove her to the brink of despair. But the persistent Pennsylvanian found her passion, and solace, training horses. And in bonding with the splendid steeds, she found the strength and direction that led her to pursue a career in helping those in need, through occupational therapy. Today, she has resumed visiting the barn where she and other equestrians have a lease arrangement that allows them to ride thoroughbreds that were too slow or too injured to earn money on racetracks. Bielecki trains with a mare named Sangria once a week and competes with her in shows. She has continued to do just that, without the drama in which she played a role last May. She recounts her actions that day as matter-of-factly as if she were describing the rules of an equestrian event. “It all happened so fast,” she says. “It was pretty much instinct.” “Jen surprised me that day,” says her mom. “She told me, ‘This is what I do, what I go to school for. What good are we if we can’t help others.’ And I am very proud of her. Obviously, Alvernia’s teachings have made an impact …” Bielecki hopes to eventually earn a master’s degree and work in pediatrics — preferably with special-needs children. She was a volunteer a couple of years ago in a therapeutic riding program, and something happened there that gets her more animated than recounting her actions at that horse show. “I clicked especially with a young autistic boy who spoke six words,” Bielecki says proudly. “One of them was my name.”

Theo Anderson

Character that counts | Continued from page 31

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health care | Continued from page 37

right course of action is on fracking, or a carbon tax, or coalfired power plant emissions. Clearly, scientists have a role in helping to shape that discussion, but the deck seems stacked when media compresses the issue into a series of sounds bites for the evening news. My agenda is to leave this earth to my kids (and someday grandkids) in a condition that they can enjoy many of the things I enjoyed and also some new things that didn’t exist when I was around. I worry that Americans, and the leaders we elect, can’t make the hard decisions that require some real thought and contemplation. We want clear direction and right answers. This is part of what drew me to science, looking for answers to hard questions that arose. But I now see the imperative to push the hard conversations in my area of expertise, and to make people think about how to proceed in an informed, calm and reasonable way. Our university community has taught me that it is hard to be divisive while in dialogue. The best answers are not always clear and easy. So, if you want to know about temperature and single-celled aquatic organisms, invite me to dinner, and I hope I can fill you in on some of the specific details and potential solutions my data illuminate. I also hope you can help educate me on an area you are passionate about, so together we can make the world a better, more peaceful place. If I don’t make it to your house for dinner, please share those passions with others at the next dinner party you attend. Don’t let the sound bite destroy the science I love or the public discourse in the areas you love either. I am hopeful we can solve these big messy problems for our kids, one dinner party at a time.

proactively,” she says. Under the new model, health care systems are charged with not only identifying potential high-risk individuals “before they get there and try to divert the course, but once they’re there to try to find new and more personalized health systems that will support those high-risk individuals to reduce not only the cost, but also to promote the quality of life.” Despite all of the changes and new responsibilities, McGowan recently took on a couple of new roles — one as chair of the development committee for AllSpire Health Partners, a virtual network of seven health care systems in Pennsylvania and New Jersey working together to improve care and reduce costs. The second new role, as a doctoral student! To better equip her for the professional challenges ahead, she searched for an academically rigorous program rooted in faithbased values. Her final choice, Alvernia’s Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership program. McGowan, who received her nursing degree from Carlow University in Pittsburgh before earning her master’s degree in public management/health administration from CarnegieMellon University, confesses that it was “a little intimidating to get myself back into a classroom, to find a way to balance work with family life and school.” She has taken on increasing responsibilities with Lancaster General Health Systems over the past two decades, including serving as president and CEO of Brandywine Hospital in Chester County, Pa., and president of Lancaster General Hospital. One of the things that spurred McGowan to pursue her Ph.D. in leadership was the realization

President Thomas F. Flynn, Ph.D. Publisher and Editor in Chief Brad Drexler Creative Director Steve Thomas Contributing Editors Carey Manzolillo ’06, M’07 Jack Croft Contributing Writers Elizabeth Shimer Bowers; Jack Croft; Dr. Thomas F. Flynn; Geoff Gehman; Audrey Hoffman ’09, M’10; Lini Kadaba; Larry Keller; Carey Manzolillo ’06, M’07; Laurie Muschick; Julia Van Tine Contributing Photographers Theo Anderson; Ed Kopicki; Carey Manzolillo ’06, M’07; Babar Romail Alvernia Magazine is a publication of Alvernia University. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. Correspondence should be addressed to 540 Upland Avenue, Reading, PA 19611, or email: magazine@alvernia.edu.

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that reliance on “leadership studies and research is lacking” in the health care industry. “I really felt there was a gap, not only in my own ability in terms of continuing to grow as a leader, but also particularly in my knowledge of methods and research,” she says. “I hoped that as I went through this, as I orchestrated this role, which has evolved with the changes in health care reform, that I might be able to better develop my ability in the area not only of leadership in general, but of leadership in terms of research. “I particularly noticed that within the industry, especially in application research but in general leadership research as well, there was a gap, and maybe in some small part I could contribute to strengthening it.” “It is an honor to serve as Marion’s dissertation adviser,” says Spencer S. Stober, professor of biology and educational leadership, who describes McGowan as a visionary leader in the field of health care. Her dissertation is exploring a national sample of mission and vision statements for health care organizations to inform a deeper understanding of visionary leadership. McGowan credits her “wonderfully supportive and understanding family” — husband, Michael, daughter Amanda, and son Michael — with helping her as she pursues her doctorate. She is still working on her dissertation, under the guidance of Stober, who McGowan calls “enormously intelligent but also enormously humble and well-balanced as an individual. It’s that set of characteristics that serves as an inspiration for me.”

Theo Anderson

my turn | Continued from page 13

Get Ahead by Going Back “Obtaining my MBA was a life and career changing experience. It has expanded my capabilities and given me the tools to succeed!” Brandon Woods ’08, M’12 Inside Sales Manager/Human Capital Management Consultant Automatic Data Processing, Inc.

Alvernia’s MBA program is available in two flexible delivery formats — online and on campus — allowing busy professionals access from any location.

www.alvernia.edu/mba Alvernia alumni are eligible for preferred tuition status. Contact Kelly Burr at kelly.burr@alvernia.edu for details.

Spirit An unbreakable

Growing up with “brittle bone disease,” Pam Wagar ’06 didn’t think someone in a wheelchair stood a chance of becoming a medical doctor. Today, having climbed what once seemed like insurmountable mountains that blocked her progress, she’s a physician, completing her residency while pursuing a career in pediatrics. Step on a crack, break your mama’s back. Yes, most folks break a bone or two during their lifetimes and usually the well-worn children’s playground chant plays no role. But for those combating osteogenesis imperfecta — or OI for short — that number can easily climb into the hundreds. And it can seem that fracturing an arm or leg can be trigged by something as easy as, well, stepping on a proverbial crack. According to the OI Foundation, as many as 50,000 Americans have the genetic disorder that is often known as “brittle bone disease.” Pam Wagar ’06 is one of them. She’s suffered more than 200 fractures since she was diagnosed with the disease at age 2. Despite her fragile bones, Wagar’s will is rock solid. She is currently a first-year pediatrics resident at The Children’s Hospital of Georgia in Augusta, pursuing her lifelong dream of becoming a physician and planning to work with special-needs children. “I want to help kids who struggle with chronic medical conditions every day,” Wagar said. “I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was in elementary school, but didn’t think people in wheelchairs went to med school,” Wagar says. “I enrolled at Alvernia with the intention of doing medical illustration, so I majored in biology and minored in art.”

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By her junior year, Wagar’s interest in biology intensified. And with some encouragement from her professors, she began to see her future more clearly. “I did some research online, and I discovered there were physicians in wheelchairs,” she says. From there, it didn’t take long for the idea to catch on. After earning her undergraduate degree from Alvernia in 2006, Wagar enrolled in Penn State Hershey College of Medicine, graduating in 2013. She was soon spending her days at children’s bedsides in Augusta, training to become something that was once unthinkable — a pediatrician. Her residency — an occasion that most able-bodied individuals pursuing medical degrees find challenging — has presented more than a few logistical obstacles. All students receive training on how to examine patients. But in addition to learning the proper way to listen to hearts and look in ears, Wagar must develop unique strategies to grasp door handles to patient rooms, pull down bed rails and reach infants in cribs. “When I am examining patients, I have to constantly remind myself of my limitations,” she says. “Everyone with OI has different weaknesses; for me, it is my upper arms, so I can’t lift certain things or reach out very far. I must hold myself up to stand to examine patients and use my wheelchair footrest to reach over

By Elizabeth Shimer Bowers

Pam Wagar is a first-year pediatrics resident at The Children’s Hospital of Georgia in Augusta.

to a patient’s bed.” These were the realities Wagar needed to keep top of mind while researching residency programs, with climate, city size and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant buildings as factors. “I’m not really comfortable in large cities, and I didn’t think a program would appreciate me saying I couldn’t come in because it was snowing,” she says. Spencer S. Stober, Ph.D., professor of biology and educational leadership studies at Alvernia, remembers Wagar’s unshakable spirit, describing her as capable, industrious, creative and independent. “Pam is brilliant,” he says. “She is motivated, and she has a very strong work ethic. Her self-confidence and respect for the feelings of others enable her to get

along very well with people, and her enthusiasm for life makes her a model for us all to emulate.” Stober served as adviser for her senior honors thesis, which she wrote on the effects of OI on social outcomes. Through her Internet-based survey of the young adult OI community, Wagar uncovered a lack of emotional support for people with OI. Today, Wagar feels she brings a unique ability to the medical field, while paving the way for others. “There aren’t many physicians in wheelchairs, so I feel like a bit of a pioneer,” she says. “And I use it to my advantage. A lot of patients appreciate my background, having been a patient many times myself, and the patients’ parents feel I truly understand what their children are going through.”

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Leap of faith Jennifer Bielecki ’15 had to rely on her Franciscan education and occupational therapy training when events called her into action.

See page 30 for more.


Alvernia Magazine Winter/Spring 2014