Page 1


President’s Message

Winter 2009



ever in my wildest dreams as a young woman did I imagine that I would have the opportunity to meet the Pope. What a memorable life event it was last April when Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States and the Catholic University of America to address the presidents of the nation’s 200-plus Catholic colleges and universities.

It was a festive and holy atmosphere in which the Pope delivered his apostolic, scholarly and hospitable remarks, including a message of how the goals of scholarship and education at America’s Catholic colleges and universities are “an especially powerful instrument of hope.” He expressed great appreciation for our nation’s long history and strong tradition of Catholic education and for the “gift of hope these institutions have imparted to generations of immigrants enabling them to rise from poverty and take their place in the mainstream of society.” He described Catholic colleges/universities as “an outstanding apostolate of hope, seeking to address the material, intellectual and spiritual needs” of all the students entrusted to us. Consistent with Pope Benedict’s description, at Gwynedd-Mercy College we seek to educate the whole person –intellectually, spiritually, physically and morally and anticipate that our students will have the determination of hope as they make meaningful contributions to the world beyond our campus borders. For almost 150 years in Philadelphia and more than 60 years in Gwynedd Valley, there’s been a running thread of hope that has given wings to our improbable start and flight to our distinctiveness. At GMC, our students are learning and experiencing, in the Pope’s words, “in what” and “in whom” it is possible to hope while also being inspired to contribute to society in a way that engenders hope in others. As we begin a new semester and a new calendar year, especially at a time of historic political transition in our nation, all of us are hopeful for a bright and better future for our world. We hope for wisdom-filled leaders capable of listening to a cacophony of voices, finding a path that resolves tensions and elicits broad support, and creating a society that values the worth and dignity of all persons. Strengthening and underlying our hope for the future is grounded in the notion of a common good, and a belief that nothing is more important to actualizing our hope for humanity than education. Education gives students the tools and abilities to know what’s possible, as well as the audacity to hope for a better and more just world. As the representative of the College community last April, I was blessed to be in the presence of the Pope and to be reminded of the great gift that hope is to our own lives and to the lives of those we influence. The Pope’s final words about hope are appropriate not only for college presidents but for all of us: “To all I say: bear witness to hope. Nourish your witness with prayer. Account for the hope that characterizes your lives by living the truth which you propose to your students. Help them to know and love the One you have encountered, whose truth and goodness you have experienced with joy.” To all our loyal alumni, friends and benefactors, I thank you for your generous and ongoing support that gives voice to your confidence and hope for our future. I pray also that your life may be blessed with hope.

Kathleen Owens, PhD President

Contents Gwynedd-Mercy College Today is published twice a year for the alumni and friends of the College. Your comments and suggestions are welcome.

Inside Cover

Gerald T. McLaughlin Vice President for Institutional Advancement

Campus News

Charlene DiSarlo Director of Public Relations & Marketing Editor: Megan Gilmore Assistant Editor: Meghan Decker Creative Director and Production Manager: Donna Smyrl Contributors: Meghan Decker Charlene DiSarlo Megan Gilmore Mia McGlynn Chris Panter Willow Wilson

President’s Message


Uncovering the Life of Major Griffith Jones


Developing Our Distinguished Mercy Graduates


Full of Solutions


Face to Face with a Prisoner


Home Is Where the School Is


Student Nurse Gains Leverage


Introducing Gwynedd-Mercy College’s Autism Institute


New Trustees Appointed


The Perfect Match


Fall Season Wrap-Up

Design: Kim Austin Graphic Design Photography: Fernande Davis Charlene DiSarlo Megan Gilmore Lianne Hartman Kimberly Kennedy Mary Klein Lindsey Kulp Evans Lubin Megan McCauley Robert Neroni Peter Olson Chris Panter Jim Roese Donna Smyrl

On the Cover: Hobbit House teacher Nicole Diliberto ’97, ’05 helps one of her autistic students put together a puzzle.

Alumni News 21

Faith in the Face of War


A Passion for Nursing


Breaking Into the Music Industry


New Director of Alumni Relations


Class Notes

e v r o i c n n g U the Life of


Griffith Jones, a Philadelphia native born around 1812, was the eldest son of Amos Jones and Jane Harr. Jones grew up in Perry County, a rural area just west of Harrisburg, where his father owned much property and several businesses. Sometime in the 1830s, he married Mary Bacon (c. 1812-1851), but it is not known where, though the couple was living in Philadelphia in 1850 and in Norristown at the time of Bacon’s death. Jones and Bacon had at least two children together, a daughter named Amelia J. (“Jenny”) (c. 1834-1912) and a son named Francis B. (“Frank”) (c. 1839 - ?). Although age 49 and quite well-to-do, Jones enlisted in Harrisburg on October 3, 1861 as captain of Company A of the Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry. On January 1, 1862 he married again, this time to Josephine Preston Chambers (c. 1831-1896) from Louisville, Kentucky, whom he no doubt met while campaigning in the Western Theatre of the Civil War. They had no children but Chambers acted as a loving stepmother to Frank and Jenny. After serving more than two years in the army (with a promotion to major on January 13, 1863), Jones resigned due to illness/disability on December 2, 1863. Recovering from his compromised health acquired through military service, Jones became quite a prominent businessman. Throughout his long life, Jones accumulated extensive land holdings in both Perry and Montgomery counties and was owner of a grist mill in Duncannon and an iron works in Pottstown. Jones died on February 15, 1888 at age 75 of uremia at his residence in Philadelphia and was buried in Woodlands Cemetery where his wife and daughter eventually joined him.

Left: Major Griffith Jones c.1812-1888

2 Today

Background: Sample page from a letter showing cross-hatched writing.


n the age of Internet search engines like Google and instant data bases like Wikipedia, it is often assumed that whatever information one craves, no matter what subject, it can be found with a few clicks of a button.

In the case of Major Griffith Jones, a member of the Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry during the Civil War, an Internet search simply doesn’t suffice. Major Jones served in the Union Army for more than two years and numerous primary source documents from historical archives in Pennsylvania attest to his distinguished military record and great personal sacrifice. However, no biography exists and the hundreds of letters he wrote before, during and after the war have never been compiled, transcribed, edited or published. Professor Wayne A. Huss, PhD, who teaches history and chairs the Humanities Division at GwyneddMercy College, has access to many of these original letters, the basis for a major research project unraveling the mystery of just who Major Jones was.

ground Railroad (CWUR) Museum of Philadelphia, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the United States Military History Institute in Carlisle, Pa., and the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg, as well as other locations in Philadelphia, Montgomery and Perry counties. The timing of the researchers’ visits to some of these locations was pivotal. The CWUR Museum was in a transitional period when they arrived, preparing to close for two years while it moved to a new location. Only two weeks after the team finished its visits to the museum, all of the needed material and information had been

Dr. Huss and GMC seniors Kimberly Kennedy and Stephen Long set out to research the Civil War letters of Major Jones over a summer-long project in 2008. The opportunity presented itself through the SouthEastern Pennsylvania Consortium for Higher Education (SEPCHE), which established the faculty-student undergraduate research project funded by the Barra Foundation. Dr. Huss served as faculty mentor to Kennedy and Long, both history and secondary education majors.

shipped out of its current location. Because of the looming deadline, the team made four daylong visits in four weeks, in order to maximize the limited time available.

The three-member team visited at least a half dozen historical societies, including the Civil War and Under-

One of the innovative research methods that Dr. Huss and the students employed was using a digital camera

to photograph all important research materials. By photographing the documents rather than trying to transcribe them on site, the team was able to collect nearly 4,000 images, thus bypassing the usual unwieldy methods of research. The team hopes eventually to put together a series of CDs containing all the images that were recorded. “We’re big on technology,” Dr. Huss said. In addition to using modern technology, the research team also engaged in typical “old-fashioned” reading and researching of both primary and

Kimberly Kennedy, Professor Wayne Huss and Stephen Long research old records in Lourdes Library.

secondary sources. Together, the researchers spent many hours examining letters, wills, deeds, church records, as well as official governmental military and pension records, and regimental histories. Through these sources, they were able to compile day-to-day accounts of Major Jones’ regiment on a spreadsheet so Today 3

that they knew exactly where the Ninth Cavalry Regiment was on any given day. This was helpful in verifying some of the dates on the original letters found in the various archival sources. Dr. Huss, Kennedy and Long uncovered interesting personal information about Major Jones, such as his close-knit family. Both his brother and his son served in the war, while his second wife was from Kentucky, a border

nature of what he is writing about and how his views might not always coincide with those of his in-laws.” The letters were challenging for the team to decipher. Some range in length from five to 15 pages with sentences spanning across the pages in several directions, making them difficult to transcribe. The letters are also written in long-hand script used 145 years ago. The amount of time it took to read the

For Dr. Huss and the students, exploring Major Jones and the Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry has been much more than a research project. They gained great personal satisfaction from the experience. “It really felt good to be able to work on a project that mirrored an interest of mine,” Kennedy said. “As a nontraditional student, everything that I do with school always has to counterbalance with my life, and this was an opportunity for me to work on something that I really wanted to do and not something that I had to do.” Long agreed with Kennedy. “I’ve learned so much from this project about going to different places, ways technology can be used with historical research, and making connections at different areas, such as the Pennsylvania Historical Society,” Long said. “I’ve gained knowledge and experience in so many different areas and I’m very grateful for it.”

state. Major Jones would even write two or three versions of his letters, debating which one to send since the war so clearly divided the viewpoints of northern and southern citizens. It became obvious to the research team that although he was passionate about his own personal beliefs, he exhibits sensitivity to his readers, which were normally his wife, her southern relatives, and other family members. The team also found Major Jones’ letters to be extremely loquacious, with a fluid writing style, almost like poetry. “These are letters of a well-written, educated man, who has strong feelings about a lot of things,” Kennedy said. “He is very sensitive to the political 4 Today

letters was consuming. “We almost had to translate the letters, and it’s not always clear what is written in them,” Long said. Another challenge was map coordination. The team had to examine both period and contemporary maps to determine where some locations were that Major Jones mentions. Then they would check the regimental record to confirm the location. “That was very time-consuming in the beginning, but it was a necessary tool,” Dr. Huss said. “It’s something that we needed to create in order to fill in some of the gaps in our research that are only going to be complete once we read all of the letters.”

Dr. Huss saw first-hand the enthusiasm that his students carried throughout the project. “It was a delight professionally and personally to see that what I enjoy and love can be conveyed to somebody else and carried on,” he said. “And I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with.” Although the SEPCHE project officially ended in August, Dr. Huss, Kennedy and Long are attempting to continue their research, despite no longer receiving funding for their work. The team hopes to one day publish a book on their research and educate others about the unknown Major Jones. “Right now it feels like we’ve done a lot, and we’re very happy with what we have, but we want the project to keep growing,” Dr. Huss said. ❂

Developing Our Distinguished Mercy Graduates The General Education curriculum gets a facelift

A well-rounded General Education has always been a hallmark of Gwynedd-Mercy College’s academic curriculum, but has recently been improved upon to continue meeting the demands of a modern education. A new General Education curriculum, which consists of Signature and distribution courses, and a First Year Experience (FYE) program, was adopted in fall 2007. In the near future, the College will incorporate a capstone course during students’ final year of their baccalaureate degree. “Every program currently has a capstone experience,” said Thomas Gilmore, chairperson of the General Education committee. “Rather than duplicating the capstone, it will be infused into General Education.” General Education courses cover six subject areas: religious studies, philosophy, psychology/sociology, technology/science/mathematics, English, and history. Each area is highlighted by a Signature course, in which students learn about modern-day issues as it relates to the subject. “In each of the six areas, we assure that a student has studied at an academically challenging level,

incorporating writing, research and/or lab work, grappling with content and applying it to today’s problems. For example, ethnic cleansing, cloning, global warming, terrorism, abortion, genetic engineering and jihad,” Gilmore said. The curriculum is designed to introduce first-year students to the College through the FYE program, which has recently become popular in colleges and universities. It will help students transition into their new roles as members of the college community. They learn what is expected of them as a student and how to manage those expectations. Students are familiarized with college life through three aspects of the FYE program – academic foundations, student development and Mercy heritage. The academic foundations section focuses on topics such as academic integrity, information literacy and the many resources available to students. The Mercy heritage portion of FYE has students participating in community service while exploring their personal and social responsibilities. The student development segment incorporates co-curricular events such as lectures, films, cultural

Rebecca Signore, coordinator of FYE, instructs her students.

events, and lessons on financial, physical and mental wellness. “We try to engage the students in conversations about topics that will ensure their success and those that can impede their success,” Rebecca Signore, coordinator of FYE, said. When students complete the program, they are better prepared to be successful members of the GwyneddMercy College community, she added. The first year of FYE proved to be a valuable learning experience for students and faculty. Students had the opportunity to assess the program at the completion of each semester. “The students were forthcoming with their feedback and let us know that they wanted more time on some topics and less on others,” Signore said. This information was used by the FYE teaching team to improve the course for future classes. “My intention is to come back to the initial FYE class when they graduate to explore further suggestions,” she said. Together, the FYE, Signature and capstone courses all cultivate “Distinguished Mercy Graduates” who are fully prepared for their futures. ❂ Today 5

The Campbell Solution Center (CSC) launched during the fall semester as a one-stop shop to direct students with questions related to administrative and financial matters. It is located in the newly renovated Campbell Hall building. “The idea was for Gwynedd-Mercy College to offer a concierge service where students could address billing, financial aid, course registration, IDs, parking and auto registration all in one place, rather than going from building to building for assistance,” Cheryl Lynn Horsey, PhD, vice president of Student Services, said. Students have the option of visiting the Center in person or having their questions answered by calling or sending an e-mail to the Campbell Solution Center. Extended hours are also available for students who attend class in the evening.

Full of Solutions

Campbell Solution Center Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. Friday 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. 215-641-5595

Students are assisted by student support specialists, who are crossed-trained in all aspects of service to fully help both students and parents. Most inquiries are about tuition, loan status and registration and 90 percent of the questions are answered on the spot. The Center also makes available two personal computers so that students can complete loan requirements and review their account information or course schedules. “The CSC is running smoothly and I’m excited to see its continued success,” Chet Rispoli, PhD, director of the Campbell Solution Center and Career Services said. “By streamlining processes, we truly created a model that is student focused.” ❂

GMC alumni are welcome to contact the Campbell Solution Center to obtain their transcripts. Alumni may also contact Career Services for job postings or any career-related issues by calling 215-646-7300, ext. 230 or sending an e-mail to The Career Services Web site is

6 Today

Criminal Justice Students Meet Inmate Number AM1732

Sometimes making decisions in a flash is unavoidable – steering a car to dodge a deer or catching a glass vase that was knocked off a table – but sometimes actions are results of quick, poor decisions. Decisions that lead to tragedy. uch was the case for 17-yearold Earl Rice one early morning in 1973. Rice and his friend had been walking home from a party in West Chester, Pa., when they saw an elderly woman stumble out of a bar, holding her purse under her arm. The two friends exchanged agreeing glances, swiftly grabbed the woman’s purse and ran. She spun around, lost her balance and hit her head on the concrete sidewalk as the teenagers took off.

Students in the “Corrections” course of the Criminal Justice program heard Rice’s account firsthand during their visit to Graterford Correctional Facility where he is an inmate. Rice was tried as an adult at the age of 17, while his 16-year-old accomplice was tried as a juvenile, serving only three to four years.

Because of his actions, Rice got not only the $450 that was in the woman’s purse, but also life in prison without parole. The woman had died from the impact of her fall.

Several students were so alarmed by the devastating results of his impulsive crime that they decided Rice’s story needed to be told, especially to high school students.

“It only took nine seconds from the moment we decided to steal her purse

“The teen years are notorious for being the prime time of stupidity and


to the time that she fell to the ground,” Rice said. Those nine seconds changed his life forever.

Today 7

(Above) Student Samantha Skirka (left) was greatly impacted by her visit to the prison. (Left) Students and Criminal Justice Program Director Walter Zdunowski discuss their prior visit with Earl Rice at Graterford Correctional Facility.

recklessness,” sophomore Samantha Skirka said.

things that we wish we could take back,” Zdunowski said.

In order to convey how important it is to think before you act, Criminal Justice Program Director Walter Zdunowski and his students are putting together a documentary with help from film instructor Evans Lubin. They hope to show high school students the documentary to teach them to make smart decisions.

Skirka, Zdunowski, Lubin and senior Jennifer Kozminski had the opportunity for an extended interview with Rice.

“We all have done those little, impulsive

“The whole time, I couldn’t believe that I was sitting across the table from a convicted murderer,” Skirka said. “It’s one thing to read his story in the newspaper clippings, but to be able to sit across from him, shake hands with

“We all have done those little, impulsive things that we wish we could take back.”

8 Today

him, question him and hear him divulge all of the events of his life and of the crime was so edifying.” Skirka also accompanied Zdunowski and Lubin to visit with Rice’s father and brother in Delaware. “Looking into the eyes of family members who have lost their son/brother to jail was so sad,” she said. The students, who are working on the project not for school credit but for personal interest, appreciate that Rice is sharing his story with others as a lesson in doing the right thing. “The Earl Rice project will probably be what I remember most when I look back on my college education,” Skirka said. For more information regarding the Criminal Justice program, visit the School of Arts and Sciences’ web page on and follow the links for criminal justice. ❂

Most students come to Gwynedd-Mercy College from area public or private high schools. But for some students, life before GMC didn’t include catching a bus or going to Homecoming. These students were homeschooled and bring with them a unique and varied background. Willow Wilson is just 18 years old and will be graduating this spring. She recently interned in the public relations office and shared her story with us. We learned about her unique, accelerated education, as well as other fellow students who have a homeschooling background. These students give a glimpse into their lives before GMC and how homeschooling prepared them for the rigors of college life.


Is Where the School Is

When I finished 10th grade at the age of 15, I never imagined that in four short years I would be a senior at Gwynedd-Mercy College. But here I am, majoring in English, planning to graduate in spring 2009 to continue with my educational and career goals. And if it weren’t for homeschooling, I would have missed the amazing time I have had in college. My parents decided to homeschool my four older sisters and me for several reasons. First, they wanted a Christian environment for their children, which they felt that many public schools lacked. Second, they liked the flexible schedule that homeschooling offered. And third, they felt that homeschooling offered room for my sisters and me to pursue subjects that we were interested in and to grow intellectually at our own pace, whether that was slower or faster than the pace set by public schools. A typical day for me was about six to seven hours of school, pursuing the basic required subjects as well as other topics that interested me, such as music, art and literature. My mom was my primary teacher, guiding me through my studies until about seventh grade. At that point, I was mostly able to teach myself, asking for help only with the concepts I found difficult. I think that this really helped prepare me for college because it ingrained in me a good work ethic and the ability to work independently. Participation in sports at the local public school was not an option for homeschoolers at the time that I was being educated at home, though that has fortunately changed. This wasn’t a huge problem for my sisters and me – we could form a decent sports team ourselves. But my parents did

enroll me in extracurricular activities like gymnastics and horseback riding, and my sisters and I would put on amateur plays and do other creative projects. I was never at a loss for a creative outlet. I was often faced with questions or judgments from those outside of homeschooling. Most of the questions were harmless, such as if I was allowed to go to school in my pajamas (I wasn’t!), but sometimes there would be stereotypes. One of the most common stereotypes about homeschoolers is that they are socially inept. I definitely disagree. Although I have met some socially awkward homeschoolers, I have also met just as many socially awkward students from public school. I think that more things than just school determine a child’s social growth. Another stereotype is that all homeschoolers are sheltered and ignorant of the “real world.” Again, I think that depends on the choices that parents have made to allow their children to have wide and varied experiences. I feel that even without a public school education, I was able to have just as much of an idea of the outside world as someone who was not homeschooled. I was in 10th grade when I took the SATs with my older sister, Emera. I subsequently applied and was accepted to Immaculata University in 2005 at the age of 15. I hadn’t planned to start college at such a young age. At first, I felt that maybe it was a bad decision and that I might not like the classes or be able to handle the workload. I soon found out that I really enjoyed learning at the college level and, when I transferred to community college, I discovered my passion for English and literature. With two years of college behind me, I chose to transfer to Gwynedd-Mercy

Today 9

College because I felt that it would offer a quality education, reward hard work, and provide the small classroom environment that worked so well for me at home. I’ve met so many wonderful teachers and fellow students – I’ve actually met more homeschoolers here than I have anywhere else. I didn’t know many homeschoolers outside of my family growing up so it was a nice surprise. I look forward to completing my degree and pursuing my goal of becoming an English professor. I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in the production of The Griffin, GMC’s literary magazine, and The Gwynmercian, the College’s newspaper. I also was an intern in the College’s public relations office and a tutor at the Academic Resource Center. If it weren’t for my parents and their decision to homeschool my sisters and me, I might not have had the opportunity to go to GMC and gain the education and experiences that I have had. ❂

Student Nurse Gains Leverage

Other GMC Homeschoolers John Messina “At first, I wished that I went to public school, but then I realized what benefits I was gaining from homeschooling. I really did like homeschooling because I felt that I learned a lot and it provided me with more of a stable and disciplined work environment which allowed for more retention of knowledge and ultimately helped to prepare me for college,” said Messina, a freshman English major, whose homeschooling curriculum was based on ancient orator education (math, Latin, grammar, theology and philosophy).

Michael Pflueger “Homeschooling gave me self-motivation, time to focus on subjects that I wanted to learn and time to read books that I wanted to read. It gave me experience with taking the initiative to study on my own and learn without a teacher force-feeding me information. However, I do not believe that homeschooling is for everyone. It takes a great deal of parental involvement and some children just perform better in a public school classroom environment. Nevertheless, for children like me, homeschooling can be the best way to approach their education,” said Pflueger, a junior math and secondary education major.

10 Today

Disturbed by the carelessness of the Nigerian hospital where her sister’s newborn died, sophomore Omolola “Lola” Akinmadelo vowed that she would never see these medical mistakes happen again. Shortly after, she began studying for her nursing degree at GwyneddMercy College.


“I left Nigeria a long time ago, but there are still some things that we lack in my country,” Akinmadelo explained. “When my sister had her baby, she went to what was supposed to be one of the best hospitals there.”

“We check that the physicians don’t have stock in the drug company and subsequently push the drug through without adequate testing,” Brother David, an IRB member for five years, said.

Akinmadelo’s interest in nursing was re-affirmed when she and her classmates observed the institutional review board (IRB) of Einstein Hospital, an opportunity offered through her “Morality and Contemporary Health Care” course, taught by Brother David Schultz, FSC, PhD.

Wanting to be an active part of the IRB process, Akinmadelo sent “lots and lots of e-mails” before she was contacted by the board, passed the required online training course and, at age 30, became the first-ever college student to be a member of Einstein Hospital’s IRB.

The IRB reviews doctors’ proposals for new treatments, drugs, surgical procedures and new equipment. They are responsible for staying informed about what doctors are proposing and weighing risks, side effects and benefits of treatments. The IRB also confirms that there is no conflict of interest between the primary physician, principal investigating physician and the drug company, aspects all observed by Brother David’s class.

“I’m the youngest by about 30 years,” Akinmadelo said. “I feel like their daughter or grandchild. But I’m excited to represent my generation of people.” As a member, Akinmadelo gets to be part of a board that is vital to protecting countless medical patients’ well-being. “Being a member of the IRB makes you want to read more about things you see and things we talk about. I’m

going to be a nurse and I’m going to have to make decisions by myself for my patients and some of the things that we’ve talked about have helped me.” In fall 2008, the IRB reviewed three proposals: a new drug for schizophrenia, a new treatment for jaundice in newborns and a new type of diagnostic machine for breast cancer. “It’s not just studying academically in a classroom,” Brother David said. “She’s actually seeing how some of this can apply to real people and real life.” Every year doctors give the IRB a progress report on their experiments and, after three years, the treatment will be reviewed and either rejected or accepted by the FDA for distribution to hospitals nationwide. “Lola will be making life and death decisions for patients suffering from severe illnesses,” Brother David said. ❂ Student Omolola Akinmadelo and assistant professor Brother David Schultz, FSC, PhD, meet with fellow members of the institutional review board at Einstein Hospital.

Today 11


There are more than one million autistic children in America – an epidemic that brings with it countless concerns and issues for the parents and educators who care for the fastestgrowing population of special needs children. Autism, a bio-neurological developmental disability, includes five autism spectrum disorders (ASD) – autism, Aspergers, Rett’s Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified). Gwynedd-Mercy College saw a need for educating our aspiring teachers and community members, thus becoming the driving force behind the creation of the Autism Institute. The Institute, which launched last year, strives to support scientifically research-based best practices for individuals on the autism spectrum by identifying needs, seeking appropriate funding and providing developmental and educational services. Under the supervision of Deborah Schadler, PhD, assistant professor and coordinator of undergraduate education, the Institute (run through GMC’s School of Education) provides essential information for our students majoring in elementary and special education, as well as area teachers and administrators, 12 Today

parents of autistic children and any interested community members, all through a series of workshops. “We want to provide direct service to Gwynedd-Mercy College students and the community,” Dr. Schadler said. Dr. Schadler was inspired to create the Institute by her close work with special needs children over the last 35 years and her completion of a professional certificate in autism from Penn State University’s College of Education two years ago. Workshops (including summer workshops for teachers to earn Act 48 credits), professional development activities and on-site service programs were conducted throughout last year. As a result of these initiatives, a diverse group of area preschools was selected for intensive on-site interventions during the 2008-2009 academic year. The Valie Genuardi Hobbit House of Gwynedd-Mercy College, Bright Beginnings Preschool of McNeil Laboratories in Spring House, Pa., Salford Mennonite Child Care Center in Harleysville, Pa., and Tiferet Bet Israel Preschool in Blue Bell, Pa., are visited weekly by Dr. Schadler, or by a member of TeamWork Wins, a local organization that assists the Institute and serves as a resource for people with “invisible challenges.”

Dr. Schadler visits Hobbit House while the preschool is in session. A handful of more than 100 students enrolled exhibit symptoms of ASD or are already formally diagnosed. “I have inconspicuous interaction with all of the children, noting the strengths and weaknesses of every child. I observe the classroom dynamic and the children’s “appropriate response,” then write a report for Roseanne Pollock, the director, as well as the classroom teachers. This is an informal evaluation that can be shared with the parents (when a child is “at risk” for ASD),” Dr. Schadler said. Every Hobbit House teacher has attended the Institute’s workshops where they all say they learned valuable, new information through the workshop’s hands-on approach. “This is such an important issue. You can never have enough information,” Pollock said. Dr. Schadler’s daughter, Catherine Schadler, MEd, an adjunct professor at GMC and special education teacher at Vernfield Elementary School in Souderton, Pa., also shared her expertise by conducting one of the workshops last year.

Hobbit House teachers acknowledge the many challenges they face caring for children on the autism spectrum. Each child is different, they said, and therefore requires personalized attention to accommodate his/her personality. “These students appear to be of above average intelligence, often brilliant, but they may be having difficulty mastering social skills. Hobbit House is the perfect setting for them to interact with other people,” Patricia Clemmer, a teacher at Hobbit House, said. These are also students who may prefer to be alone and not seek out playmates, but can be very receptive and loving toward teachers, Cynthia Lastowski, another Hobbit House teacher, added. Hobbit House prides itself on being a tolerant and accepting preschool. “Here we accept everyone and celebrate their uniqueness. We all try to be nurturing,” Pollock said. When a teacher suspects that a child is “at risk” for ASD, they objectively observe the child’s symptoms then share these observations with their parents. A child who shows only one specific interest, plays with only one toy everyday, repeats sounds or flaps

Hobbit House teacher Nicole Diliberto ’97, ’05 helps one of her autistic students put together a puzzle.

their arms alerts teachers that they may be on the autism spectrum. The way that parents react to hearing these observations is mixed. “Parents never like to hear that their child is less than typical or normal,” Pollock said. Some parents will ignore the symptoms, while others take the necessary steps towards having their child formally diagnosed. Months of testing by various specialists will usually confirm a teacher’s intuition. Other parents may acknowledge that something is different with their child, but consult with a pediatrician not well-versed in diagnosing autism, who tells them that their child will “grow out of it” and that they are just “quirky.” They are quirky, but that doesn’t mean that they will grow out of it, Pollock said. Students on the autism spectrum learn flexibility and coping skills at Hobbit House which will help them flourish in school and eventually become productive members of society, Tara Nika, preschool teacher said. “The biggest misconception is that these children are intellectually incapacitated. They’re definitely not,” Dr. Schadler said. With a combination of treatment plans, children with ASD can dramatically improve their behavior, especially if treatment is started very early in life, as the Institute strongly supports. Developmental and speech therapy, preschool teaching with detailed daily logs of a child’s activities and behavior are just some of the ways that a child’s symptoms can be addressed.

Today 13

But funding for this issue is minimal. Last January, the Institute received a grant from the Child Development Foundation of Montgomery County and formed the SPECTRUM (Supporting Successful Practices in Early Childhood – Connection, Training, Resources – A Unified Mission) Project which focuses on supporting Montgomery County preschools in identifying and responding appropriately to behaviors of students on the autism spectrum. “This is so important – one in 150 births – so we need to find out why,” said Joseph DiMino, DO, director of health at the Montgomery County Health Department and member of GMC’s President’s Council. “This is costing the United States a lot of time and money. Basically the biggest contributions the Autism Institute can bring are public awareness, parent information and resources, and the education of people.” Gwynedd-Mercy College is “ahead of the curve,” along with being located in a county participating in a very important national autism study, Dr. DiMino noted. “No other local institution is doing what we’re doing. The Federal government

has a national children’s study, a 21-year project following 100,000 people in nine sites, Montgomery County being one of them. The study will recruit pregnant or soon-to-be-pregnant women and study absolutely everything,” Dr. DiMino said. As far as the future of the Institute – the hope is that it will only get bigger. Expanding upon existing programs, providing appropriate therapeutic support from the College’s special education majors, providing an autism certification program, and formalizing short period respite care services for families of children on the autism spectrum, are just some of the plans on the horizon. “We want to continue to identify needs and link the resources of the College to those needs. We want to get better at what we’re doing and continue to support preschools, as we know that identifying a child early is so successful. Community programs such as Story Hours conducted by Gwynedd-Mercy College education students is also something that I would like to see happen. There’s so much that we can do,” Dr. Schadler said. For more information about programs offered by the Autism Institute, visit, “About GMC” link, or contact Deborah Schadler, PhD at, 215-646-7300, ext. 160. ❂ Dr. Deborah Schadler supervises the Autism Institute.

A CLOSER LOOK Communication, patience and trust are key ingredients in the relationship between Megan McCauley and the Smith family.* Megan, a December ’08 graduate with an elementary/ special education degree, and Chris and Liz Smith met during last February’s Autism Institute workshop. The Smiths, of Horsham, have a 4-year-old autistic son and attended the workshop to become better educated about his condition while Megan wanted to build upon what she was learning in her education courses and student teaching. Megan, who baby-sat for 10 families, was the perfect fit for the Smiths who scoped out the attending Gwynedd-Mercy College students to find an experienced baby sitter. The Smiths wasted no time, inviting her over to their house the night after the workshop to baby-sit their four children. “I initially entrusted Megan with my children because not only did she exude responsibility and kindness at the conference, but she has chosen to work with children as her career goal. I also thought Megan had to possess a passion for children and an immense amount of patience to pursue a career dedicated to educating children. I was more than right. Megan is the kind of young woman that you pray your own daughter turns out to be like. I wasn’t aware of how talented she is with special needs children until I saw her interact with my kids. They love her and I can see why. We are blessed that she is in our lives,” Liz said. The feeling is mutual, as Megan enjoys watching the Smith children grow.

14 Today

GMC student and local family connect at Autism Institute workshop Since the workshop, the Smiths have enrolled their son into GwyneddMercy College’s Valie Genuardi Hobbit House because its teachers have all attended the Institute’s workshops and are experienced in working with children on the autism spectrum. Liz and Chris credit the workshop they attended for gaining a better understanding of their son and for connecting with helpful people in the community who work with autism in a variety of ways.

GMC student Megan McCauley, center, with the Smith family.*

“The best part about baby-sitting for the Smiths is the amount of love their children show me. The whole family respects me and it shows that they appreciate me coming over to care for their children. It is also a wonderful experience for me to watch their children grow and see the children’s personalities form,” Megan said. But caring for an autistic child does come with its share of challenges. For Megan, staying on a routine and breaking through any communication barriers proves the most difficult, while for Liz it’s the emotional ups and downs. “The peaks and valleys are so high and so low on this path of autism. The roller coaster ride is challenging, but I would not change a thing about my son. He has taught my husband and me many life lessons. The biggest challenge for us was when we had the “aha” moment and we knew what was wrong. We witnessed him struggle

and miss physical, verbal and social milestones that came so naturally and easily for the typical child. Finally we knew why and could begin working on the problem. Unfortunately, after a diagnosis, parents are left wondering, “Now what?” There was no direction and it felt like we were recreating the wheel we knew already existed but couldn’t find. I would say as a parent, feeling hopeless in this new world of an autism spectrum disorder was the worst feeling. Conversely, being able to reach into our son’s world with something as simple as a picture exchange program felt amazing! Little by little, we educated ourselves, found the services that our son needed and began to see little successes – his first verbal word, his first independent steps, his first time asking to go to a neighbor’s house,” Liz said.

“The workshop that I attended was incredibly informative. With a son on the spectrum, I was already armed with an incredible amount of information regarding ASD, early intervention, screenings, diets and unconventional treatments. I was however, pleasantly surprised by how much I benefited from the day-long workshop. Part of the workshop focused on what it feels like to be a child on the autistic spectrum navigating through sensory overload. There is so much information and support out there. You just need to find it. The workshop gave me direction. I only wish I had attended shortly after my son’s diagnosis. It would have saved me a lot of legwork. It was also very enlightening to hear the perspective of an educator. It brought tears to my eyes witnessing the care and passion that they have for their ASD students whom they desperately try to impact daily. I also gained information just by simply networking with other parents that attended the workshop,” Liz said. ❂

*Name has been changed for confidentiality

Today 15

New Trustees Appointed Gwynedd-Mercy College has appointed two new members to its Board of Trustees.

Helen K. Lafferty, PhD, returns to GwyneddMercy College after previously serving as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1993 to 2002. Dr. Lafferty is currently serving as First College Professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Youngstown State University and her doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Lafferty has also completed post-doctoral studies at the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University and at the University of Pennsylvania. After several years of experience in secondary education, Dr. Lafferty dedicated her career to Villanova University. She started there as an academic counselor, advanced to the assistant and then associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and was appointed to interim vice president for academic affairs. In 1992 she was appointed as university vice president, a position she held until 2008.

Joseph C. Scodari also earned his undergraduate degree from Youngstown State University. Scodari has devoted his entire 34-year career to the pharmaceutical industry. He has served in high ranking positions such as vice president of Strategic Marketing at Sterling Drug Inc., senior vice president and general manager for the Americas at Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and president and CEO of Centocor, Inc. Most recently, Scodari was Worldwide Chairman, Pharmaceuticals, for Johnson & Johnson from 2005 to 2008. Currently Scodari is serving as vicechairman of the board of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and a member of its executive committee. Previously, he has served as a director of BIO and also chairman of the Pennsylvania BIO. Scodari was a member of the board of overseers at Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, director of Pharmacyclics, Inc., and a member of the board of trustees of the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. ❂

GOLF TOURNAMENT On Monday, September 8, Gwynedd-Mercy College held its 22nd Annual Golf Tournament* at Old York Road Country Club in Spring House, Pa. Friends and business partners of the College enjoyed lunch and a beautiful day on the course. The day ended with dinner and an awards ceremony. Proceeds from the golf outing amounted to $79,170 – a record amount for the annual event and an increase of $8,120 from the previous year. This year’s tournament was sponsored by Peter Carlino, Keystone Mercy Health Plan and Turner Construction and organized by committee members Mark Craney and Jay Haenn (co-chairs ), Richard Hubbert, Regina Lowrie, Mia McGlynn, Donna Smyrl and Richard Stys. The winning foursome, Jim McHale, Dave Bisbee, Bobi McHale and Gene Delaney.

16 Today

The 23rd Annual Golf Tournament will be at Manufacturers’ Golf & Country Club on October 12, 2009. *To view photos from the golf tournament please visit the GMC web site at:

The Perfect Match

wynedd-Mercy College’s men’s soccer team helped to grant a birthday wish to Luke Ronco, whom the team “adopted” in August 2008 through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation. Nine-year-old Luke, who has been battling a brain tumor for the last six years, said that he wanted to spend his birthday “with my soccer team.”


Throughout the soccer season, Luke, his parents, Nicole and John, and his three sisters attended many practices and home games. Luke would often bring homemade “Go Griffins” posters, Coach Dave Bontempo said. Luke also participated in the coin toss before games and hung out after games with the team and his sisters. On December 3, Luke and his family (of Whitehall, Pa.) attended the Griffin Madness pep rally where he received many birthday surprises. First, the Roncos had dinner in the cafeteria with the soccer team. Then it was on to the pep rally where Luke received a huge addition to his PEZ dispenser collection, among other gifts.

Coach Bontempo learned about Luke’s love of PEZ before the game and, with help from his wife, daughters and son, collected more than 500 PEZ dispensers to present to Luke. Luke had to earn the PEZ dispensers with a one-time basketball shot made with the help of two GMC basketball players and men’s basketball coach, John Baron. With that shot, Luke’s collection instantly doubled to more than 1,000 PEZ dispensers. Luke was also presented with dozens of birthday cards, a book autographed by Pat Croce, a T-shirt and hat autographed by St. Joseph’s University coach Phil Martelli, a poster autographed by Penn State University’s basketball team and a large birthday cake. For Luke it was “the best birthday ever,” Nicole said. Luke’s presence on the soccer team has touched every teammate, they said, as his shining personality in the face of such a serious disease exemplifies amazing strength and maturity. For teammate Andrew Severns, Luke has made a truly lasting memory.

(Top) The first team photo after Luke Ronco’s induction. (Center) Luke, newly inducted into the soccer team, high fives his teammates.

Today 17

“Luke has become another teammate on our soccer team. He loves cracking jokes with us and we really have enjoyed our time with him,” Severns said. “He is a very smart kid. I have never seen anyone his age hold a conversation as well as he can.”

“As a nursing major, Luke has greatly influenced my future. My interactions with him have helped me to realize that I would like to pursue my nursing career in pediatrics. It is because of him I realize how much I enjoy working with kids.”

Teammate Sean Meehan is also impressed with Luke’s likable disposition.

Both Luke and his family have had an impact on the team, Coach Bontempo said.

“I am pretty sure everyone on the team would agree we are blessed with a very intelligent and fun-loving kid. Luke is far from a shy boy. Since day one he has had no problem interacting with the team at all. He is quick to give us high fives and is always cheering for us at our games. He is also more than willing to teach any of us about PEZ and answer any questions we have. He acts as if he is a part of the team and has known all of us for years. Luke is the most mature and personable 10-year-old I have ever met and he will forever leave a mark on every team member’s heart. We are truly lucky that we are able to have such an amazing young boy as a teammate,” Meehan said. Luke has also helped to solidify Meehan’s career path, he said.

18 Today

“The Roncos have a level of strength that is unable to be measured. They need us, but at the same time they are shining examples to learn from,” he said. Luke’s parents are extremely grateful for the soccer team and their new Gwynedd-Mercy College family.

“Luke probably will never fully appreciate the impact that this relationship has had on our lives, but we will continue to remind him every day,” Nicole said. Coach Bontempo has since collected even more PEZ dispensers for Luke and has arranged for some of his high school friends to send Luke birthday wishes. Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Dennis O’Brien has put together a proclamation for Luke from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to honor his birthday, Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy sent Luke a special birthday greeting and Captain Chris Ferguson, a NASA astronaut who recently returned from a space shuttle mission, sent Luke an autographed birthday card and photograph. Photos from the event and a link to Luke’s Web site can be viewed at ❂ The soccer team looks on as Luke blows out his birthday candles after the Griffin Madness pep rally. Luke shakes M.E.R.V.’s hand as Coach Bontempo prepares to surprise Luke with his birthday presents.

The 2008 fall season was one to remember as two teams brought home championships, two more were runners-up, and two coaches were named Coach of the Year.

FALL SEASON WRAP-UP The women’s tennis team won the first team championship of the Colonial States Athletic Conference under its new name as the Griffins took down Cabrini College in the final, 5-2. With the win the squad will represent the CSAC in the NCAA Division III women’s tennis team tournament come May 2009. The team, who finished with a 15-2 mark and a perfect 10-0 conference record, also captured titles at the CSAC Individual Championships as senior Ashley Bowie won a medal at #5 singles and partnered with freshman Jessica Scarpello to win at #3 doubles. Senior Alana Rumpel was also gold at #2 singles as the team collected eight medals overall. For his efforts, Head Coach Jim Holt was named Women’s Tennis CSAC Coach of the Year. The Griffin cross country teams experienced a great deal of success last fall. The men captured the program’s first-ever conference title in winning the CSAC Championship. The team, by placing five runners in the top 10, was able to defeat Keystone College by a five-point margin. John Watts (third), R.J. Every (fourth), Brendan Sharp (seventh), Dan Geary (ninth), and Matt VanDenHengel (10th) were all named all-conference and will continue to play next season. The men’s squad also captured team titles at the Delaware Valley College Invitational and the Goldey-Beacom Fall Classic.

The women’s cross country team managed a second-place finish at the CSAC Championships by placing four runners on the all-conference team. Erica Matticola (second), Alycia Tranchitella (fourth), Katherine Klinges (fifth), and Regina Sellman (12th) were also all-league and will return. The successes continued at the NCAA Division III Regional Championship as the men posted their first-ever top 20 finish (16th). The accomplishments have not gone unnoticed around the region as Head Coach Mike Werner was named the Cross Country CSAC Coach of the Year. Second-year coach Neil Johnson guided a young women’s soccer team to a late-season run to get the team into the CSAC Championship, finishing with an 11-10 mark and an 8-2 league record. The team’s five-game win streak ended in the league title game, falling at Marywood University, 2-0. This was a big turnaround for the team compared to last season as Johnson recruited 11 new members, all of which made an immediate impact. The league’s Rookie of the Year, Gwen Conte, led the conference in goals scored (14). The team also hosted a semifinal playoff contest, knocking off Centenary College, a team that defeated GMC in the regular season, 1-0. Conte was a first-team all-league pick while seniors MacKenzie Armstrong and Kerrin Doran were second team selections. Today 19

Another second-year coach guided her team to the CSAC playoffs, as Laura-Ann Lane and the GMC field hockey team produced two first-team all-league selections with senior Victoria Geppert and junior Olivia Wilson. On October 4, the squad, in conjunction with the women’s soccer team, hosted a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer Research as “Think Pink” was the theme of the day. The teams wore pink wristbands to mark the occasion. On the field, the team ended 7-12 for the season and 5-4 in conference play to qualify for the CSAC playoffs for the second straight year. The men’s soccer team got off to a rough start, not winning until their seventh game, netting a 1-0 win at Haverford College on September 24. The Griffins earned their first home

win on October 8 in a 3-2 win over Baptist Bible College. The group collected three conference wins, two of which were away games, finishing with a 4-14-1 record. Senior Ed Pratt earned a spot on CSAC’s All-League Second Team while sophomore Matt Meier and freshman Tom Petroski earned spots on the league’s Honorable Mention Team. With seven freshmen this season, the Griffin volleyball team went through the growing pains of a very young team in hopes to build up a league contender for future seasons. Seven freshmen saw quality playing time and the experience will pay dividends down the road. The team persevered to earn a 4-22 overall record and a 3-7 league mark. Junior Jessica Rufe was honored with a spot on the CSAC All-Sportsmanship Team. ❂

NEW CONFERENCE TITLE Last summer the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference (PAC) officially changed its name to the Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC). “This is an exciting time for the conference,” Commissioner Amy Frankenstein-Friedman said. “The new name recognizes that we have member schools that are not in Pennsylvania. And, after years of being confused with other conferences that are similarly named, we will be able to create a new identity and really stand out from the crowd.” As of July 1, 2008, the member institutions of the CSAC are: Baptist Bible College, Cabrini College, Cedar Crest College, Centenary College, College of Notre Dame, Gwynedd-Mercy College, Keystone College, Immaculata University, Marywood University, Neumann College, Rosemont College and Philadelphia Biblical University. 20 Today

Gwynedd-Mercy College alumna and former French teacher recounts her inspiring WWII survival in her compelling memoir and speech.

“People were nervous and fearful. Talk of war was everywhere. Would there be another war? Would Germany invade us again? Would our army be able to stop them? These fears were expressed by everyone I met on the street. Then came that fateful day of May 10, 1940. Sirens screamed through the dawn of our peaceful Andenne. We ran out into the garden and street to stare up at the sky. We saw what we thought was a squadron of the Belgian Air Force approaching, only to be horrorstruck at the sight of swastikas on the tails of the planes. Total panic set in as we ran to the radio to find that, yes, “les Boches” (the derogatory word used to describe the German invaders) had invaded Belgium once more.” This is the dramatic account of war torn Belgium during WWII as told by Fernande “Freddie” Davis, a 1968 graduate of Gwynedd-Mercy College and former French teacher. Davis was just 16 when the Germans invaded her hometown of Montzen, Belgium. She decided to join the underground, a Belgian resistance movement, risking her life for two and a half years to perform clandestine duties including carrying false documents and fallen allied airmen to safety.

As guest speaker at October’s Common Hour (a forum where guest speakers present on a variety of topics for students, faculty and staff), Davis recounted this period in her life as written in her memoir, Girl in the Belgian Resistance: A Wakeful Eye in the Underground. In her speech, she credited her strong faith in God and her family, along with her sheer determination and ability to communicate with the enemy, to her survival. As the third child of eight siblings, Davis helped her parents in a small grocery store that was run out of the bottom floor of their home. Life was simple, but there was always a feeling of uneasy fear that loomed over them ever since WWI. Fears were confirmed May 10, 1940 when Germany declared war on Belgium. Davis’ father knew it was coming, she explained, as he read both French and German newspapers and built a bunker in preparation. Life during the war would change dramatically. Children were forced to leave school at age 14 or 15 to work, something Davis never wanted to do.

Fernande “Freddie” Davis sent this photo of herself to her future husband, Bill, while he was serving in the war. (Top) The lane on which Freddie lived in Montzen, Belgium.

Today 21

Freddie’s false identification card. Freddie (middle) and her family in the garden behind their home in Montzen, Belgium in 1937. The family home in Montzen, Belgium.

“I never got the feeling I was going to stay in school,” she explained in her Common Hour speech. “Whenever I would bring up school to my father he always said “maybe” and left it at that.” The bordering villages were threatened by invasion and danger. Before the war began, Davis left school as her father arranged for her to stay with a friend he knew from his days as a soldier in WWI. Davis set off to live in Andenne, Belgium with her father’s friend and his sister she referred to as “Mademoiselle.” She was sent to keep Mademoiselle company and do chores around the property. Life was uneventful and “boring” for a while – until she heard the planes. “I thought they were Belgian planes practicing,” she said. But they weren’t. They were German planes equipped with bombs, soon followed by the German soldiers’ cannons and war equipment and the Gestapo who patrolled the streets. “The mood of the people was fear. People started running,” she said. Davis knew that she couldn’t run home because she would be traveling further into danger. Few people in Andenne had transportation. They were farmers and working people that used anything they had with wheels to move their possessions, she said. “Thousands of families with horses and wagons, even wheelbarrows, were fleeing. They were stacked with bundles of clothes, pillows, mattresses, cooking

22 Today

utensils and food, leaving space only for the elderly and a few small children to ride. Bicycles and motorcycles too, had meager possessions strapped on, as all headed for safety into France. An unimaginable tableau! We were a mass of humanity bound by the same fear and panic,” she wrote. With two suitcases and her beloved Easter hat from her mother, Davis and Mademoiselle rode their bicycles south to Beauvais, France. German planes shot at evacuees and French troops on the streets for days and Davis and Mademoiselle eventually found a farm equipped with a small bunker. They hid for more than two hours with French civilians, hearing gunshots and debris falling as they waited to escape. “Artillery fire was raging, cannon shells were flying over the rooftops, airborne debris and orders screamed from every direction. On the outer side of the farm compound, the farmer had dug a hole in the ground, deep enough for his family to stand in. It had a few dirt steps to go down and a piece of corrugated aluminum on top, which served as the roof; dirt and stones were piled on top as camouflage,” she wrote.

The battle raged on and the Germans overtook Beauvais. Soldiers eventually caught up with Davis and Mademoiselle as they uncovered the bunker in search of anyone that wasn’t German. Davis emerged and spoke German to the soldiers, convincing them that she was a German visiting relatives hiding in the bunker. Learning German in school saved my life, she explained. “I became a good liar to survive the war,” she said. The soldiers demanded that Davis be a translator for their army. Planning her escape, she convinced them that she was tired and needed a night’s rest before she began. The soldiers planned on returning to pick her up the next morning. That night, she

The villa where Freddie stayed with Mademoiselle in Andenne, Belgium.

Freddie and Bill Davis in a park in Liege, Belgium while they were secretly dating in 1945.

Wedding photo taken of Freddie and Bill Davis on October 27, 1949.

and Mademoiselle began their journey back to Belgium, passing the bodies of dead villagers and animals along the way. Back in Andenne, the estate they shared was vandalized by enemy soldiers.

to allow Davis to deliver false identification cards to a nearby convent to save fallen flyers (British and American fighter pilots) from getting arrested by the Gestapo.

soldier and move abroad. Finally, Bill’s last letter made it into Davis’ hands due to a friend’s efforts. The letter asked for Davis to marry him and she sent back “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

This began Davis’ long journey (alone) across Belgium, which was occupied by Germans now. She walked for three days to Montzen to see her parents and siblings. Her hometown, along with 10 other bordering villages, had been annexed to Germany. She could not stay home so she returned to Andenne until she was drafted in 1942 to work in an ammunition factory in Poland. She reported to the train station for the draft, but when the train wound around a curve headed towards a German-built viaduct, she and three others jumped off and rolled down a hill, escaping their bleak fate. Refusing to work for the “Reich,” she went to her uncle, a priest in Liege, where she obtained a false identification card and false working papers. This made it possible for her to join the underground movement and get involved in its many dangerous and clandestine activities.

By 1945 the Americans arrived to liberate Belgium. This marked Davis’ return to Montzen and emotional reunion with her family.

With her father’s reluctant blessing she left nursing school and married Bill, moving to Doylestown, Pa., in 1949.

Davis remembers the many times she was stopped by German guards and had to pretend to be German. Once, she received orders from a disguised undercover agent traveling with a little boy. The agent instructed her that if she was asked any questions by the guards she should lie and say that she was the boy’s caretaker and that they were on their way to the sanitarium because the boy had tuberculosis. This was a wellplanned but dangerous plot that worked around the boy’s clothes and red kerchief

Then she met Bill Davis, a soldier fighting in the 29th infantry regimen. They fell in love, both knowing that eventually he would leave. Four and a half months later, Bill set off for Germany. “On his departure, he gave me this order: “You will look at the moon every night, send love and kisses, and remember that someday we shall be together.” It was our mutual vow, our secret engagement! Little did we know that those dreams and promises would not come true for five more years. My life had changed so drastically. I was in love and living on hope, and Bill and I had a moonlight rendezvous every night,” she wrote. She kept their engagement a secret from her overprotective father who was the sole provider for her and her younger siblings (Davis’ mother had passed away the previous year). Davis also returned to school, studying at Brügmann University School of Nursing in Brussels. Four years passed without a word from Bill. Unbeknownst to Davis, her father had been receiving and hiding Bill’s love letters, unwilling to accept that his daughter would date an American

Freddie poses with her book after her Common Hour speech in October 2008.

In the United States, Davis returned to college, attending Temple University and subsequently Gwynedd-Mercy College to earn her bachelor’s in French. She went on to teach French at Gwynedd-Mercy Academy Elementary School, then at her alma mater Gwynedd-Mercy College for about five years, finally teaching at Germantown Academy for more than 18 years. Fifty-four years of marriage, two children, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild later, Davis is forever grateful to the American soldiers who liberated her homeland. Now residing at Foulkeways at Gwynedd, a retirement community, Davis reflects on her journey and feels fortunate to have the opportunity to share her story with others. Davis can still be spotted on campus attending weekly mass and as a guest speaker for history classes. Girl in the Belgian Resistance: A Wakeful Eye in the Underground by Fernande Davis is published by Beach Lloyd Publishers and is available for purchase at or call 1-866-218-3253, ext. 8668. ❂

Today 23

A Passion for Nursing The nursing field attracts those who have a passion for helping others when they are most in need. Nurses dedicate their careers to caring for others. For Dr. Mary Ann McGinley-Fitzpatrick, a 1976 Gwynedd-Mercy College alumna who serves as senior vice president for Patient Services and chief nursing officer at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (TJUH) in Philadelphia, this is what nursing is all about. Dr. McGinley-Fitzpatrick was 24 years old and working full-time at TJUH as a registered nurse when she decided to return to school for her bachelor’s degree. As a staff nurse she worked with nursing students from various schools, but was particularly inspired by those from GMC. “I was most impressed with the quality of the Gwynedd-Mercy College students and their expert instructors providing superb patient care,” Dr. McGinley-Fitzpatrick said. A neighbor also served as inspiration and showed her the meaning of selflessly helping others in need. “I have always loved helping people. I’ll never forget my neighbor, Mrs. Elizabeth Ackley, who through her example introduced me to the notion of becoming a nurse. She was a registered nurse and she was always so positive about what she did. She was forever helping people in the neighborhood and at church, all the while exuding an energy that came from her professional commitment to caring for others. She was both excited and encouraging when she heard that I decided to become a nurse,” Dr. McGinley-Fitzpatrick recalled. Initially attracted to the care of the elderly through the GMC curriculum, she studied nursing administration and gerontological nursing for her master’s degree at the University of Maryland, later receiving her doctorate in health education at Temple University. “The best part about what I do is the ability to make a difference when people

24 Today

are most in need. We (nurses) see patients from cradle to grave. I get paid to do what I love most – design and administer innovative models of care and teach. I thrive on it. It’s all very exciting.” Dr. McGinley-Fitzpatrick extends her passion for continued learning and the exchange of new ideas beyond the hospital setting by serving on the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Board of Commissioners. During her tenure on the CCNE Board, she served as chairperson of a nation-wide task force charged with developing accreditation standards for hospital-based nurse residency programs. “It is an opportunity to exchange thoughts with individuals who are committed to education and academics. I like the richness of the exchange of different perspectives with a commitment to improvement and change.” Dr. McGinley-Fitzpatrick, who won the Nursing Excellence National Nurse of the Year Award last year, has since returned to GMC, serving on the Board of Trustees and as chair of the Nursing Advisory Board. “It is an opportunity to contribute in a very special way, having been an alumna of the college that helped form the beliefs I have and provided the foundation for my professional career.” And after more than 30 years away from campus, Dr. McGinley-Fitzpatrick is aware of all of the many changes at her alma mater. “The College has moved forward in so many great ways, from advances in the tools to teach students including a simulation lab within the School of Nursing, to the innovative curriculum of the various programs. At the core of this success is the College’s leadership and selection of exceptional faculty. Finally, a significant improvement is the diversity of the student body and transition from being primarily a commuter college.” ❂

DINNER IMPOSSIBLE COMES TO TJUH Last May, Dr. McGinley-Fitzpatrick and the TJUH staff had the unique opportunity to participate in the Food Network show Dinner Impossible. The show, which aired on October 22, celebrated Nurses Week (the week of May 12), honoring more than 200 nurses with a dinner and reception. Dr. McGinley-Fitzpatrick met the show’s video production assistant, Nicholas Smalarz, when he was a student volunteer at TJUH. Smalarz was looking for a topic for the show in the Philadelphia area when he remembered how nurses were honored annually during National Nurses Week at TJUH. Three former patients were chosen to assist at the event, chosen by their letters of gratitude to the nurses that helped to save their lives. A young medical student studying at TJUH: Jefferson Medical College who survived a brain aneurism, a middleaged mother of four whose tumor went undiagnosed for 10 years before she went to TJUH, and a mother of two who survived a heart attack at the age of 38 all served as sous chefs, along with the show’s host/head chef, Michael Symon and his crew. They prepared a multi-course meal in the hospital’s Dorrance H. Hamilton Education Building under the show’s “impossible” premise of serving a large group of people with limited resources and no planning within a tight time period. Guests dined on carrot soup, olive-cured tuna with fennel salad, roast pork, rib eye steaks, spring vegetable ragoût and banana pudding topped with coffee caramel. While nurses (“the best kept secret” in the health care industry, according to Dr. McGinley-Fitzpatrick) from TJUH were honored that night, Dr. McGinleyFitzpatrick looks ahead to the future of the hospital’s pursuit of Magnet Status, an award given by the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center, an affiliate of the American Nurses Association, to hospitals that satisfy set criteria designed to measure the strength and quality of excellence in nursing care. (Top) Dr. McGinley-Fitzpatrick and a TJUH doctor go behind the scenes to assess the progress of the “impossible” meal.

We caught up with 2008 graduate Lindsey Kulp, a Lansdale, Pa., native and aspiring singer ready to take on the music industry equipped with the business savvy she got from her alma mater. Q: Congratulations on being declared best new countr y talent in Pennsylvania allowing you to compete in the northeast regional round of the Colgate Countr y Showdown in October 2008 (after being nominated by 92.5 FM WXTU in Philadelphia). What was the outcome? A: “Thank you! It was an amazing experience being able to represent the state of Pennsylvania and also 92.5 WXTU. I performed in the regional round on October 25 and gave, what I believe, one of the best performances of my life!” The judges ended up picking a younger male who was more “old school country” as their winner, she explained. “But the trip was definitely worthwhile for me as I was able to network and make some really great connections in the industry.” Q: You were also a contestant in the 2004 American Idol competition. What was the best part of the experience? A: “Being a contestant on Season Three of American Idol was insane! Honestly, to this day, I still can't quite believe that I made it on the show! My favorite part of the experience was definitely getting to know the celebrity judges, Simon Cowell especially,” she said. Cowell was the one who told Kulp to adopt the stage name Lindsey McKay so she sounded more like a star. Meeting fellow contestants was also a high point for Kulp, who befriended such well-known contestants as Jennifer Hudson, George Huff and Diana DeGarmo. “There were 117 people in the country that made it to Hollywood – it was like meeting 117 people just like me. The off-camera moments were truly the best parts of being on American Idol.” Kulp also met Season One runner-up Justin Guarini in 2006 when she won the grand prize in a talent search hosted by Guarini at the Trump Marina Casino in Atlantic City, NJ.

Lindsey Kulp and American Idol host Ryan Seacrest during the first round of auditions.

Today 25

Q: What do you think of past American Idol winners? Does someone like Carrie Underwood inspire your pop countr y career aspirations?

Q: You graduated with a bachelor’s in business administration last year. How has it helped you so far? Overall, how did your GMC education prepare you?

A: “I think it’s incredible what American Idol has done for its contestants. I finished in the top 57 on Season Three and I find it awesome how many doors were opened for me. Carrie Underwood has just exploded in the pop country music scene and that gives me a boost of confidence because I think, “If she can do it, why can’t I?” She has definitely been an inspiration for a lot of people.” Kulp also lists some of her favorite musical artists as Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera.

A: “I want to put that degree to work. As a musician, it’s important to have both a musical and business background in order to pursue a music career. I’m taking everything I've learned in my business classes and applying them to my business as an independent artist. I’m also pursuing a career in business, preferably in a pharmaceutical company,” Kulp said, who currently works in the accounting and administrative department at Independent Research Group, Inc., a company that investigates insurance fraud. Kulp also learned valuable public speaking skills and how to be comfortable speaking to crowds. “The greatest thing about the classes I took at Gwynedd-Mercy College was that I had to give a lot of presentations. Public speaking is something that must be learned and practiced in order to have any success. Gwynedd-Mercy College did an outstanding job in making sure that students learned the skills necessary to be a successful public speaker. This is a skill that makes me shine when compared to other job candidates.”

Q: What are your ultimate goals for your music career? A: “Ultimately, I want either a record deal or a job as a professional songwriter. There are so many avenues when it comes to music and the industry. As long as I can be doing something in the music industry, I’ll be happy,” said Kulp, who writes songs with her manager and mother, Joyce Kulp while working with local music talent Brett Kull. Kulp is focusing on finishing her first album, having completed seven songs already with five more expected to be finished this spring.

Q: Why did you choose GMC? A: “It is such a prestigious school not only in Pennsylvania, but in the country. I wanted a great, private school education that fit my crazy schedule – Gwynedd-Mercy College fit that requirement for me,” Kulp said of her first choice college after graduating from Lansdale Catholic High School. Q: What was your favorite aspect of attending GMC? A: “My favorite part of going to Gwynedd-Mercy College was the intimate classroom setting. The classes were small and each student truly had the opportunity to know the professor on a first-hand basis. I loved walking through the halls and having all the teachers know my name,” Kulp said. Q: What would be your best piece of advice for a new GMC student? A: “First, get to know your professors. They are there to help you succeed. Second, make a lot of friends and a lot of connections – it will come in handy when you’re looking for a job. Third, make the most of your classes!”

Visit to hear her latest single. 26 Today

Alumni News

Winter 2009

Class Notes 1968


Dr. Michele (John) Sabino, of Houston, Texas, celebrated her fifth year as executive director of University Advancement at the University of Houston – Downtown.

Deborah (Manahan) Benick, of Hamilton Square, NJ, is attending the University of Pennsylvania for cat-scan training.

1974 Mar y (Spollen) Skilton, of Jeffersonville, Pa., is a school nurse at St. Katherine of Siena.

1975 Anne Allendorfer, of Johnstown, Pa., is the Director of Surgical Services at UPMC Bedford Memorial Hospital. Karen (Pirolli) Cramer, of Little Egg Harbor, NJ, retired from teaching after 32 years in December 2007. Deborah (Stanek) Reast, of Hatfield, Pa., is president of Yours, Mine and Hours, Inc. personal assistant and concierge services.

1979 Sarah (Charity) Hill, of Willingboro, NJ, is a full-time school nurse in the Camden, NJ, school district, and a part-time psychiatric nurse at Trenton Psychiatric.

1981 Jeannette (Rickner) Eddowes, of Lancaster, Pa., is a nurse practitioner and adjunct professor at Immaculata University. She has been married to husband Geoffrey for 22 years and has three teenage children: Benjamin, Christopher and Emily. Dr. Barbara (Muller) Gavin, of Horsham, Pa., had a son, Robert, graduate from Hatboro Horsham High School in June 2008 and a daughter, Donnell, graduate from Yale University in May 2008 with a BA in English. Sharon (Lynagh) Scanlan, of Perkasie, Pa., graduated with a master’s from La Salle University in December 2008 and is currently working as a social worker at Lutheran Retirement Community.

1982 Mar y Dugan-Jordan, of Havertown, Pa., is proud to announce that her daughter, Genevieve, is currently enrolled in the Cardio Thorostic Technology program at GMC.


Shannon Blacker Shannon Blacker joins the Institutional Advancement staff as the new director of Alumni Relations. Blacker, of Havertown, Pa., began November 10 and will be responsible for providing leadership and direction for alumni programs and activities, recruiting alumni volunteers and planning alumni events and fundraising. “I’m really looking forward to building relationships with Gwynedd-Mercy College’s alumni and forming targeted events that will bring them back to campus,” Blacker said. Her most recent job was as associate director of reunion and student programs in the Alumni Affairs and Annual Giving Office at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where she experienced managing alumni relations, event planning and marketing. Before that, Blacker worked for two years as an administrative assistant in Alumni Affairs at her alma mater, the University of Scranton. Blacker has a bachelor’s in philosophy with a minor in human services and is currently a candidate for the master’s in higher education program at the University of Pennsylvania. Today 27

We want to hear from you! Class Notes Policy Gwynedd-Mercy College welcomes updates from alumni to include in this section of Today magazine. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of this information. If there is an error or omission of any kind, please accept our apology and notify the alumni office of the mistake immediately. Class Notes have been edited for space and clarity. How to Submit Class Notes •Submit the “Update Your Information” form at It may take two issues of Today for your update to appear. If you submitted an update that has not been published after two issues, please call the alumni office to ensure that it will be included in a future issue. There can be a significant time delay between deadlines and the actual appearance of your update. • You may also e-mail your update to Shannon Blacker, Director of Alumni Relations, at or call the alumni office at 215-641-5554. • Photos (digital images preferred) are also welcomed. Photos submitted by mail cannot be returned. Calling for Class Editors! The alumni office is actively recruiting class editors to act as liaisons between the College and classmates. Class editors will maintain contact with classmates through postcards, phone calls and personal notes. They will submit information about their classmates for publication in the Today magazine. Please contact the alumni office if you are interested in learning more about this new opportunity to reconnect with other alumni.



Elizabeth (Cardamone) Bongard, of Hatboro, Pa., recently reconnected with one of her favorite teachers, Sister Jane Streibig, who taught her in 1964.

Ellen (Morton) Pinter, of Springfield, Pa., has been working as a nurse at Bryn Mawr Hospital for 18 years, working in the ER for 13 of those years. Her daughter, Joy, got married to Dr. James Hutchings and has a son, Preston. Her son, Brian, recently married Jessica Alteri.

Bonnie (Bohanek) Goedert, of Shorewood, Ill., has been a nurse for 24 years. Lee Parenti Kenney, of Philadelphia, Pa., retired from her position as a clinical researcher for Roxborough Memorial Hospital.

1985 Lisa (Sweeney) Savini, of North Wales, Pa., has been a product manager at Siemens Medical Solutions for 22 years.

1986 Michelle Boardsley ’84/’86, of Doylestown, Pa., is a Senior Health Physicist for the Nuclear Regulation Commission. She recently published an article in the Journal of Nuclear Medical Technology titled “NRC Inspections: Performance-Based and Risk-Informed.” Joan Gudknecht-Finno ’82/’86, of Perkasie, Pa., graduated with her master’s in nursing from La Salle University last May. She is a nurse practitioner at Hahnemann University Hospital, Department of Emergency Medicine and an adjunct professor of nursing at La Salle University.

1989 Patrice DeMaria, of Warrington, Pa., is busy taking care of her three children: Michael, 7, Katie, 5 and Tommy, 2. Barbara (Mortimer) Thompson, of Lansdale, Pa., is a medical secretary for Dock Woods Community, a clinical supervisor for GMC students in the School of Allied Health’s HIM Program and has a daughter who is a 2001 GMC graduate.

28 Today

Mary Walker ’89/’90, of East Point, Ga., has been a nurse for the past 30 years.

1991 Mary (Smith) Mahr, of Pottstown, Pa., is working as a genetelogic specialist nurse for an independent contractor and as a school nurse at Pottstown Elementary. She has five grandchildren. Letizia (Peloro) Martelli, of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., teaches sixth grade at Our Lady of Victory Regional School. Cynthia Visco-Ludwig, of Glenside, Pa., is busy taking care of her three sons: twins Michael and Mark, 12 and Danny, 10.

1993 Carolyn (Wisniewski) McCrear y, of Perkasie, Pa., was recently named Plumstead’s township manager. Barbara Tournier, of Horsham, Pa., is an adjunct professor of philosophy.

1994 Tawanda (Wilson) Brown, of Philadelphia, Pa., is currently an RN staff/night supervisor at Kindred Hospital. She has four children: Marquise, 14, Makayla, 10, Lamont, 5 and Melody, 3. Joann (Romanelli) Geslak ’87/’94, of Lewiston, Maine, is currently working as Director of Perioperative Services at Central Maine Medical Center. She also recently celebrated her 33rd wedding anniversary to husband, James.

Congratulations! Griffin Babies To Kristin Conley ’06, of Pottstown, Pa., a daughter, Olivia on August 19, 2007.

To Stacey Parsons ’96, of West Palm Beach, Fla., a son, Aidan Christopher on April 20, 2007.

To Bethany and Damian Gaspari ’07, of Collegeville, Pa., a son, Matthew Edward on October 30, 2007.

To Leah Pinto ’04/’06, of Dresher, Pa., a son, Brian in April 2008.

To Christina Grega ’99, of Colmar, Pa., a daughter, Abigail McMullen on November 8, 2007.

To Noelle (Romanzo) and Brian Plajer ’05, of Lansdale, Pa., a daughter, Kylie on March 16, 2008.

To Pamela and Brian Waldron ’06, of Harleysville, Pa., twin daughters, Lily Anneliese and Rose Adelaide on July 21, 2008.

To Shannon Hauser ’03, of Philadelphia, Pa., a son, Donald Logan on March 9, 2007. To Matthew Hoffman ’05, of Philadelphia, Pa., a daughter, Aubrey Rose on December 11, 2007. To Renato and Kathryn Lajara ’02/’08 & ’04/’08, of Lower Gwynedd, Pa., a son, Jaden Alexander on January 6, 2008.

Lily and Rose Waldron

Kylie Plajer

To Dr. Maureen (Rauchet) Sestito ’76, of Lansdale, Pa., a grandson, Joshua on January 9, 2008.

To Jeffrey and Jill (Tarman) Wilkinson ’91 & ’92, of North Wales, Pa., a son, Jacob in March 2008.

Jacob Wilkinson

To Chris and Rachelle Seasholtz ’04, of Lansdale, Pa, a daughter, Paige in April 2008. Jaden Alexander Lajara

To Nicole Nacarelli ’05/’07, of Sanatoga, Pa., a daughter, Ariana on July 20, 2007.

To Kimberly Talley ’02, of Royersford, Pa., a granddaughter, Rella Nicole on February 27, 2008. To Deacon Henr y Tucker ’82/’87, of Perkasie, Pa., a granddaughter, Jessica Marie Burhouser on January 3, 2008.

To Michelle Yager ’05, of Ambler, Pa., a daughter, Jamie Marie on July, 18, 2007. To Adrienne Zeigler ’02, of Kempton, Pa., a son, Alexander on February 27, 2008.

Today 29

Alumni Writers Submit Your Stories for The Griffin The Griffin is a literary journal sponsored and published each year by Gwynedd-Mercy College. Members of the College as well as writers from around the world submit their literary works which are reviewed by GMC faculty and students for consideration in the journal. Poetry, short stories and reflections will be accepted and reviewed for publication. To see stories from the 2008 journal, go to students/clubsorganziations/thegriffin.php. The Web site also lists guidelines for submitting the various genres. Along with your submission, please include a brief biography noting your graduation year and degree from Gwynedd-Mercy College, your occupation, the city and state in which you reside and any literary accomplishments. Additionally, please provide contact information including your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. Also include a self-addressed stamped envelope and we will reply to you letting you know if your entry was accepted for the journal. Entries can be submitted throughout the school year and sent on disk with a corresponding hard copy to: The Griffin c/o Dr. Donna M. Allego Gwynedd-Mercy College 1325 Sumneytown Pike P.O. Box 901 Gwynedd Valley, PA 19437-0901

Ann (Dougherty) Gordon, of Southampton, Pa., opened a holistic treatment center called Angels Walk on Rosebuds in Southampton.

1996 Kristen (Kletzel) Hindley, of Philadelphia, Pa., is a reading intervention teacher in the Norristown Area School District. Katherine (Loos) Major ’94/’96, of Philadelphia, Pa., is a nurse manager for the Venous Access Program at the University of Pennsylvania. She married David Major on October 13, 2007.

1997 Diane Friel, of Perkasie, Pa., is studying for her BSN online at Drexel University. Donna (McCracken) Hyatt, of Ellicott City, Md., is a stay at home mother of three to: James 4, Owen, 3 and Connor, 1. Her husband, Patrick, continues the Mercy tradition at Mercy Medical Center as a gastroenterologist.

1999 Ann (Deasy) Colebaugh, of Chester Springs, Pa., teaches undergraduate pediatric clinical at Villanova University. Lisa Marie (Curr y) Heyward, of Philadelphia, Pa., currently teaches “Introduction to Computers” at Manor College and works at Credential Financial. She received her MBA from Rosemont College in 2006 and plans on receiving her doctorate from Eastern College in 2009.

2000 Karen (Usic) Arakelian, of Laurel, Md., is an accountant at Prince George County Memorial Library System. Denise Edwards, of Willow Grove, Pa., is receiving a doctor of Education (EdD) in educational leadership management

30 Today

and policy at Seton Hall University. She expects to graduate in May. Sandra Gelet, of Spring City, Pa., recently retired from Methacton School District. Robyn (Bodman) Killeen, of Glenside, Pa., has been married to husband Matthew Killeen for eight years and has two sons: Ryan, 3 and Brayden, 1. Eric McCulla, of Horsham, Pa., accepted a position as assistant principal at Delaware Valley Charter High School last October. John Trezise, of West Chester, Pa., was recently appointed principal of Worrall Elementary School.

2001 Nesreen Al Anbar, of Ambler, Pa., is pursuing her doctorate in public health at Drexel University. Donna (Giammarco) Chevoor, of North Wales, Pa., has two children: Luke, 3 and Jemma, 2. Melissa Emmett, of Wellsville, Pa., teaches the ASN nursing program at Harrisburg Community College and has a daughter, Ava, 1 with her husband Brian. Joanne (Epps) Massa, of Lafayette Hill, Pa., has been married for nearly two years to husband Brian Massa. Martha J. Schilling of Dresher, Pa., is the new chair of the Suburban Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. She is also an investment adviser and principal of Schilling Group Advisors, LLC based in Dresher. Jaime (Strawley) Schofield ’99/’01, of Chalfont, Pa., recently graduated from Jefferson Medical Center with her MSN. She is a nurse practitioner (oncology) at the University of Pennsylvania. Kathr yn Strouse, of Doylestown, Pa., was appointed as the first female director of the Middle Bucks Institute of Technology.

2002 Pinhua Harman ’01/’02, of Souderton, Pa., has worked for Allegro in the engineering department for the past 10 years. She also has two children. Christina Iezzi, of Willow Grove, Pa., teaches sixth through eighth grade at Sandy Run Middle School. Paul Staley, of Chesapeake, Va., graduated from Troy University last June with a master’s in business management.

2003 Kimberly Bruno, of Pottstown, Pa., was recently promoted to charge nurse at Phoenixville Hospital. Thomas Burke, of Nazareth, Pa., was recently promoted to assistant principal at Stroudsburg High School. Damian Caggiano, of Philadelphia, Pa., graduated from the police academy last summer. Theresa “Terr y” Capaldi, of Harleysville, Pa., is starting a new business, TLC Consulting. Denise (Harmon) Distel ’00/’03, of Hatboro, Pa., has taught special education at Pennsbury High School for the past eight years and has three children: Kellen, 3, and twins Ian and Erin, 1. Louis Farrell, of Hatfield, Pa., teaches social studies at Upper Perkiomen High School in Pennsburg. Studying for his doctorate in public archeology at Temple University, Louis founded an archeology club at UPHS. Angela Jackson-Case, of North Wales, Pa., received her master’s from the University of Phoenix in 2005 and is an adjunct professor at GMC’s Center for Lifelong Learning. Matthew James, of Philadelphia, Pa., had been a police officer for one year.

Thomas Magdelinskas, of Langhorne, Pa., is the athletic director for Neshaminy High School.

In Memoriam

Danielle Meyer, of Lansdale, Pa., was recently promoted to nurse manager at Abington Memorial Hospital. She is currently enrolled at Immaculata University.

Sister Maria Christi Nawn, RSM

Shellie Peters, of Elkins Park, Pa., is teaching in the Philadelphia School District.

2004 Teresa Carboy, of Royersford, Pa., is an assistant principal for the Spring-Ford Area School District. Sara Cervantes Weber, of Moorestown, NJ, received tenure at Cherry Hill Elementary School where she teaches kindergarten. Deborah Daniels, of Horsham, Pa., was promoted to the director of community care at Evercare in Ambler, Pa. Keisha Liggett-Nichols, of Ponte Vedra, Fla., accepted a job as vice president of operations for Citi Bank. Steven Matakonis, of Abington, Pa., accepted a new position as automation engineer at ABB Automation. Ryan Porter Maxwell, of Lansdale, Pa., graduated from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine last June and will begin his graduate medical education soon. Michele Mullen, of Lansdale, Pa., received a new job as a care manager for COSA, Delaware County Service for the Aging.

Last August, Sister Maria Christi Nawn, RSM, died at the age of 84. She taught for two years in the business department at GwyneddMercy College and continued on as its treasurer from 1958 to 1971. Sister Lois McDonough, RSM, who previously served as vice president of Institutional Advancement at GwyneddMercy College, credits Sister Maria Christi’s role as treasurer for the College’s financial stability and sustained growth. Born Virginia M. Nawn in 1923, she was the youngest of 13 children. She graduated from Lansdowne High School in 1942 and received her bachelor’s degree in humanities from Villanova University in 1961. Sister Maria Christi entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1948 and professed her vows in 1950. Before coming to GwyneddMercy College, her ministries included teaching at several grade schools throughout the Philadelphia area. From 1971 to 1989, Sister Maria Christi served as business manager and treasurer at Merion Mercy Academy as well as treasurer for the local community of the Sisters of Mercy in Merion. Sister Maria Christi held the position of director of physical plant at McAuley Convent in Merion from 1989 to 2000 and continued to serve on the staff at the convent until 2008.

Vita Parisi, of Collegeville, Pa., is an RN for ABC Pediatrics, a member of the Lehigh Valley Physicians Group. She has a daughter, Gisella, 1. Nicole Zappone, of Glenside, Pa., teaches fifth grade at Holy Child School in Philadelphia, Pa.

Today 31



Michael Kennedy, of Hatfield, Pa., recently began teaching for the Philadelphia School District.

Debbiann Allen, of Doylestown, Pa., started her own business “Below Zero Petites” for women smaller than a size zero.

Asia Ali-Hawkins, of Philadelphia, Pa., is assistant principal for the Southeast Delco School District.

Sarah Kensey, of Manheim, Pa., received her master’s in reading and teaches third grade in Lancaster.

Sara Ashnoff, of Southampton, Pa., is currently studying to be a Certified Public Accountant.

Paul Labance, of Levittown, Pa., accepted a new position as lead lab tech at Bristol-Meyers-Squibb.

Robert and Susan (Kramer) Dann ’03/’06, ’04/’07, of Ambler, Pa., have been married for 16 years. He recently received his auctioneering license while she received her real estate license.

Mindy LaBar, of Warrington, Pa., is a RN at Jefferson Hospital. Dana Lanzar-Starkey, of Royersford, Pa., is a fifth grade teacher in the Spring-Ford Area School District.

Jennifer Derstine ’95/’06, of Lansdale, Pa., is a library media specialist for Perkiomen Valley South Elementary School.

Jill Lebieolzinski, of Warminster, Pa., accepted a new job as a sixth grade teacher at St. Alphonsus in Maple Glen, Pa.

Rauchaun Berkley-DuPree, of Philadelphia, Pa., is the dean of students at True Bright Academy Charter School.

Julia Lindell, of Roslyn, Pa., accepted a new job as a fourth grade teacher at McKinley Elementary School in the Abington School District. Her son, Jack, just celebrated his first birthday.

Alison Egitto, of Abington, Pa., is working on her master’s in education at Gratz College in Melrose Park, Pa. Jenee Lee, of Philadelphia, Pa., teaches sixth grade literature and science at Richard Allen Prep School. Tara O’Toole, of Blue Bell, Pa., teaches math at Spring-Ford High School. Thomas Quinn, of Springfield, Pa., is a professor of American history at Philadelphia University and has served as a Democratic committee member for three years, recently running for the 165th District of the PA House of Representatives. Raquel Riad, of Lansdale, Pa., received her master’s in social work from Freemont College in May. She is a behavior specialist for the Friend Foundation. Andrew Ruhf, of Ridley Park, Pa., is the assistant principal at Mastery Charter School in Philadelphia. Ann Szalwinski, of Wyncote, Pa., received her master’s in English from Arcadia University last May.

Marcie (Miller) Evangelist, of Royersford, Pa., is a special education teacher in the Lancaster School District. Geraldine “Geri” Greco ’04/’06, of Blue Bell, Pa., received her Bachelor of Science in May 2006 and is an administrator at Merck and Company. Sarah Greer, of Philadelphia, Pa., is the head lacrosse coach at Kutztown University.

Pamela Veneziale, of Bensalem, Pa., teaches third grade in the Philadelphia School District.

Alima Grier, of Melrose Park, Pa., became chemo certified last January and plans to return to GMC for more classes.

Valerie Ward, of Fort Washington, Pa., teaches fourth grade special education at Colonial Elementary School.

Tiffany Hackshaw, of Yeadon, Pa., is a cardiovascular specialist at Pennsylvania Hospital.

Sharon Washington, of Philadelphia, Pa., has a daughter who recently graduated from the University of Maryland and another daughter who is currently enrolled in culinary school.

Steven Harrell, of Philadelphia, Pa., is an account executive for (locally, Bobbie Kelly, of King of Prussia, Pa., provides autistic support at Friendship Elementary School.

32 Today

Michele Martin ’02/’06, of Scottsdale, Ariz., is teaching at the Culinary Institute in Arizona. Margaret Morris ’01/’06, of Ambler, Pa., accepted a new job as human resources representative at Liberty at Home. James Rugh, of Eagleville, Pa., retired from the Navy in March 2008. Amanda Stewart, of Upper Chichester, Pa., is on a missionary trip to Africa until May. She is a nurse in the intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Lisa Quinn, of Hatboro, Pa., is a teacher and after school director at Rainbow Academy for Little Scholars.

2007 Elaine Alexander ’05/’07, of Harleysville, Pa., is proud to announce that her son, Thomas, graduated from GMC last May.

Janine Reiner ’05/’07, of Collegeville, Pa., works at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Matthew Young, of Newark, Del., has worked for Christiana Care Health System since 2007. He was accepted into the Perioperative Internship Program at CCHS and is continuing his nursing education at Immaculata University.

2008 John Brady ’89/’05/’08, of Phoenixville, Pa., received his master’s in education administration in December 2007. He teaches business education at Norristown Area High School. Dianne (Depew) Brand, of Telford, Pa., is a nurse clinical analyst for Grand View Hospital. Dorthea Kramer ’04/’08, of Hatfield, Pa., received her BS in business administration last May from GMC. Barbara (Tillotson) Townsend ’91/’02/’08, of Horsham, Pa., received a master’s in nursing and is currently a geriatric clinical nurse specialist.

In Memoriam Margaret Ann “Pegge” (Hertzog) Dill ’79, of Williamsport, Pa., passed away on September, 19, 2008 at her home. She is survived by her children, David, Cheryl and Karen, and her granddaughter, Serena.

Congratulations! Engagements, Marriages and Anniversaries Joyce (Buettner) Bacino ’58, of Philadelphia, Pa., celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary last summer. Kelly Blood ’07, of Telford, Pa., married Tom Ardt on February 23, 2008.

Lynn and Paul Haines

Jeannie Campbell ’96/’98, of Philadelphia, Pa., is engaged to David Silvestre. A summer 2009 wedding is planned. Melissa Della Porta ’04/’06, of Ventnor, NJ, is engaged to Michael Tomon. A May 2009 wedding is planned. Melissa DePiano ’97/’99, of King of Prussia, Pa., is engaged to Chris Chinnici. A June 11, 2009 wedding aboard the Explorer of the Seas cruise ship is planned.

Meghan Hansell ’06, of Pennsburg, Pa., is engaged to Timothy Joseph Carr. A September 2009 wedding is planned.

John Dolan ’03, of North Wales, Pa., married Estelle Wynn on September 25, 2008.

Lauran (Dunn) Haywood ’03, of Medford, NJ, married Jared Haywood in April 2008.

Lindsay (Edelman) Effing ’05, of Langhorne, Pa., married Bill Effing on September 13, 2008. Their wedding party included Chris Edelman ’11, Tara Smith-Hughes ’04, Jill McCann ’04, Kelly Kilpatrick ’05, Anna Procaccino ’05 and Brian Schmidt ’05.

Kristen Helker ’05, of Philadelphia, Pa., is engaged to Mike Giorgi. An October 3, 2009 wedding is planned. Tracey Hill ’99, of Ottsville, Pa., married Gary Konefal on July 5, 2008. Stefanie Londo ’05, of Philadelphia, Pa., is engaged to Tom Cirlley. An August 2009 wedding is planned.

Jeremy T. Kircher, Sr. ’99, of Pennsburg, Pa., passed away on September 24, 2008 at his home. He is survived by his wife of three years, Kimberly, and their two sons, Jeremy, Jr. and “Jax.” Anne G. McGinn ’81, of Oreland, Pa., passed away on October 30, 2008 at the age of 60. She is survived by her husband, Melvin E. “Gene” Adams, and her two brothers, Michael and Terrance.

Lynn Haines ’06, of Philadelphia, Pa., married Paul Haines on June 30, 2008.

Marisa Carapucci Lynch ’96, of Churchville, Pa., celebrated her two-year wedding anniversary with husband James on August 5, 2008.

Lindsay Effing’s wedding party

Trisha Melton ’06, of Philadelphia, Pa., is engaged. A June 2009 wedding is planned.

Today 33

Amy Newns ’06, of North Hills, Pa., is engaged to Joseph Ferguson. A July 2009 wedding is planned.

Jennifer Reilley ’05, of Pottstown, Pa., married Charles Kehs on September, 13, 2008.

Janine Thomas ’05, of Nutley, NJ, is engaged to John Macari. A July 2009 wedding is planned.

Davin Orlowski ’05, of Harleysville, Pa., married Stephanie Martin on July 26, 2008.

Erica Ryan ’00/’02, of Laurel Springs, NJ, married William Shaw in November 2008.

Hillar y Tubbs ’07, of Thornton, Pa., is engaged to Jacob Walker of Doylestown, Pa. An April wedding is planned.

Monica (Michetti) Panetta ’07, of Norristown, Pa., married Ryan Panetta on November 14, 2008. They are expecting their first child, a son, in February 2009.

Ieshia (Dolison) Stevenson ’06, of Philadelphia, Pa., married Kevin Stevenson on July 5, 2008.

Colleen Tyler ’05, of Meadowbrook, Pa., married Mark Holmes on September 22, 2008.

Monica and Ryan Panetta

Mar y Sweeney ’56, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary on September 13, 2008 with husband Charles. Sarah Marie (Houwen) Sweeney ’07, of Horsham, Pa., married Thomas Joseph on July 18, 2008. Joanne Deacon ’07 and Alyssa Frank ’08 were bridesmaids. Sarah Sweeney’s wedding party

Sara Welsh ’05, of Lansdale, Pa., got married on October 9, 2008.

Michelle (Costa) Perr y ’00, of King of Prussia, Pa., married Edmund Perry in February 2008. They have three sons: Edmund Jr., 7, Sebastian, 2 and Tristan, 1. Michael Reid ’05, of Philadelphia, Pa., got married in July 2008.

Erin (Bradshaw) Wentz ’06, of Richlandtown, Pa., married Justin Wentz on May 17, 2008 on Captiva Island in Florida. Michelle Perry and family

Save the

Date! All Business and Computer Information Sciences alumni are invited to the Business School Reunion and celebration of Dean Trotter’s 30 years of service at Gwynedd-Mercy College. An evening cocktail party will be held on campus on Saturday, April 25, 2009. Check back for more details at:

Save the Date! Nursing 50th Anniversary Celebration October 16-17, 2009 (Friday and Saturday) at Gwynedd-Mercy College Weekend will include: • Symposium • Breakout Sessions • Alumni Reception • Black Tie Dinner Who is invited: • All nursing alumni • Current and former nursing faculty • Clinical agencies


Mark your calendars now for Homecoming Weekend, which is always celebrated during the last weekend in September as part of Mercy Week.

For updates regarding Homecoming Weekend 2009, continue to visit the GMC alumni page at

Laura Howell knew that she wanted to become a plastic surgeon ever since her days as a high school cheerleader when she injured her nose and had to undergo reconstructive surgery. “Retaining the ability to breathe normally meant so much to me, and I wanted to help other people in the same way,” Howell recalled. With help from dedicated Gwynedd-Mercy College professors, Howell, a sophomore biology major, has been able to begin her long educational journey towards becoming a surgeon. Her advisor in particular, Dr. Felicia Corsaro-Barbieri, has helped her to stay on track. “I have a clear path to follow to meet all the requirements for each of the medical schools I’m considering,” Howell said of the personal attention she credits to her success. As she looks forward to applying for a pre-med program this summer she knows that she will receive the education and guidance needed to prepare her for yet another field experience. “That’s what I love about GMC – everyone here makes me feel like I’m a student that they really take pride in and care about.” While Howell is training to become a physician, Matt Johnson is setting his sights on the world of business and accounting. As the son of a single mother and one of six siblings, Johnson never thought it would be possible to get a college education. His high grades and basketball skills were noticed by large state schools, making the dream of going to college a reality. But it was the small class sizes, strong values and most importantly the financial aid that drew Johnson to GMC. As a successful student, Johnson enjoys passing along the message to other aspiring college students that a degree is within reach. He had the opportunity to do so as a volunteer camp counselor for the Beacon Program at St. Martin de Porres School in his hometown of Philadelphia. “I wanted them to know that there’s money out there for them to go to college, that they’re not on their own,” he said. Johnson hopes to attain an internship this summer and continue to work towards his ultimate goal of working for the FBI. “I know that an accounting degree can help me with many different career fields.”

(Left to right) Laura Howell ’11, Dave Smith ’10 and Matt Johnson ’10.

To give, please call the Office of Institutional Advancement at 215-641-5550, or mail checks payable to Gwynedd-Mercy College, Office of Institutional Advancement.

Dave Smith is following his “true calling,” studying to become triple certified in early childhood, elementary and special education, along with a minor in biology. “I went to another school before I came to GMC and didn’t know what I wanted to do. But then I transferred here and found my niche,” he said. Smith serves as student director for GMC’s Adult Services program, president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and a captain of the men’s basketball team, which also fits into his ultimate career plans. “My future goals are to become an educator for special needs students and a high school basketball coach. Eventually, I would like to move back home and take over the reigns at my alma mater. I began substitute teaching in my home district in South Jersey when I am home, as both a way to earn money and gain experience in the classroom.” While these students have their own unique goals and stories to tell, they all have had their futures brought into focus at GMC. With the help of your generous donation, the College can maintain its reputation of a tradition of academic excellence that comes from our small class sizes, personal attention and family atmosphere that is GMC. Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders and with your donation you can take pride in knowing that you are contributing to GMC’s unparalleled financial assistance that makes a college education a possibility for so many students. ❂

How will you bring your high school teen’s

future into focus? Attend Gwynedd-Mercy College’s Spring Open House Saturday, April 18, 2009 Starting at 9:45 a.m. in the Julia Ball Auditorium. To R.S.V.P. call 1-800-DIAL-GMC or e-mail Gwynedd-Mercy College offers more than 40 academic programs in health care, business, education and the arts and sciences. Our vibrant campus life includes four residence halls, 20 Division III varsity sports, a new turf field and more than 30 student clubs and activities. Students can also take advantage of study abroad, internships and career opportunities.


— bring your career into focus through our master’s programs in education, nursing and business. For more information, visit

Office of Institutional Advancement 1325 Sumneytown Pike P.O. Box 901 Gwynedd Valley, PA 19437-0901

Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Lansdale, PA Permit No. 444

Winter 2009 Today Magazine  
Winter 2009 Today Magazine  

Alumni Magazine