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Celebrating 60 Years: See what Trocaire has planned for its 60th anniversary n PAGE 3

The magazine for alumni, students and supporters of Trocaire College


LEADING THE CHARGE Colleen Perryman ’75, RN, is ensuring staff voices are heard during Sisters of Charity Hospital NICU expansion n PAGE 8

A LIVING LEGACY: Practical Nursing students interview Sisters of Mercy and discover unexpected connections: n PAGE 4 HAPPY GRADUATES: Our newest 2016-2017 Trocaire alumni celebrate at their Commencement ceremonies: n PAGE 12



our voice

A Message from the President


s we begin the 2017-2018 academic year, I want to take a moment to thank you for the support you have given Trocaire College and our students over the past year. Our work as an opportunity college cannot be complete without our friends, benefactors, and community supporters.


Colleen Perryman ’75, RN, checks on one of her patients in the Sisters of Charity Hospital neonatal intensive care unit. The Trocaire Trailblazer is for alumni and friends of Trocaire College, a private, career-oriented Catholic institution that strives to empower students toward careers of achievement and lives of purpose through our supportive environment and hands-on programs in healthcare, business, hospitality and technology. It is published once a year by the Office of Communications within Institutional Advancement. For more information, email or call 716-827-4340. EDITOR Kristy Kibler Holfoth ART DIRECTOR/DESIGNER Julie Cioccio STAFF Lindsey Dotson Pamela Jablonicky Solomon Nelson, Ph.D. Emily Burns Perryman Deanna Rusek Pamela Witter

In 2016, the Board of Trustees affirmed the legacy of the Sisters of Mercy, that Trocaire College remains a place where individuals from the Western New York community can pursue higher education and positively change the trajectory of their lives. On April 27, 2018, we will mark 60 years of existence with a new event that celebrates our past, present and future. We hope you will make a special effort to join us—more details are on the following page. As this publication goes to print, we are reminded again and again by national events that our society needs engaged citizens. At Trocaire, preparing our students for service in the universal community has always been one of our pillars. We want to keep offering that opportunity to anyone who wants to pursue higher education at Trocaire. Meeting the unmet need is a core part of our Mercy heritage, and we will continue to find ways to offer a helping hand and supportive environment to any student willing to put in the hard work and determination needed to pursue a brighter future. In the spirit of that commitment to opportunity, I wish to bring to your attention a couple of items that we believe are game changers and will continue to elevate the perspective of Trocaire in the Western New York higher education ecosystem. Trocaire was an early adopter of the New York State Enhanced Tuition Award program. This is the private college approach to addressing the Excelsior Scholarship program the state is providing for individuals to attend public higher education. We feel strongly that our students deserve all of the financial support we can provide. This program requires Trocaire to match the state’s grant dollar for dollar for a total of $6,000 per student. Another example of our efforts to continue to make Trocaire affordable and ensure student success is a recently awarded $1.8 million federal Nursing Workforce Diversity grant. This money will be used over the next four years to engage our faculty in professional development to meet the needs of the growing diverse student population in our community. The grant also provides scholarships dollars and student support to ensure success and begin to change the makeup of the population that works in the Western New York healthcare industry to meet the changing demographics of our community. As you can see, access, affordability, opportunity, and success are not just words in our strategic plan or in our marketing and enrollment materials. These are commitments we make every day with your support to our new and continuing students, and we expect them to respond by doing their best in their chosen field of study and fulfill our mutual goal of transforming lives. Here’s to another year of strengthening those commitments and allowing our students to pursue careers of achievement and lives of purpose.

Bassam M. Deeb, Ph.D. Trocaire College President 2017 ALUMNI BOARD OF DIRECTORS Bonnie Kane Lockwood ’75 Karen Camacho ’96 John Anderson, Jr. ’99, MS, RN Danielle Fox ’11 Dee Bellanti ’13




2017 BOARD OF TRUSTEES Siobhan C. Smith, Chair Sharon Prise Azurin, Esq., Vice Chair Teresa Lawrence, Ph.D., Corp. Secretary Montique V. Williams, Treasurer LaVonne E. Ansari, Ph.D. Sr. Mary Jeanne Thomas Danahy, RSM ’67 Bassam M. Deeb, Ph.D. Thomas J. Gamble, Ph.D. Brian A. Gould Sr. Diane Matje, RSM

Tracey A. Maw ’94 James Notaro, Ph.D. William A. Paladino Sr. Patricia Prinzing, RSM Thomas J. Quatroche, Jr., Ph.D. Nancy J. Sheehan, Esq. ’84 Jonathan T. Swiatkowski, CPA Alicia J. Thompson Thomas H. Waring, Jr.


upcoming events



is now the

ark your calendars and join us on April 27, 2018 at The Westin Buffalo for Trocaire College’s Spring Soirée: Celebrating 60. In celebration of Trocaire’s 60th anniversary, our long-standing annual fundraiser, Reflections, will be transformed into an elegant evening full of delicious food, tastings from local wineries, breweries and distilleries, a fabulous silent auction, and live entertainment. In recognition of Trocaire College’s past, present and future, the event will also feature a presentation of the Distinguished Alumni Award and President’s Distinguished Service Award, as well as recognition of an outstanding student. More information will be announced soon. For details on tickets and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Director of Development Lindsey Dotson at 716-827-4349. We look forward to seeing you at the Spring Soirée! n

THE PHONATHON RETURNS TO TROCAIRE This past spring, student and alumni volunteers made nearly 1,000 phone calls in an effort to connect with Trocaire grads and update their information. Over the course of three evenings, callers swapped stories of their time at the college with our volunteers, caught up on our many campus improvements and exciting developments, and updated their information so Trocaire could continue to stay in contact with them. This fall and spring, we will be calling once again! Current students, alumni, and Alumni Board members, as well as a few staff members, will be reaching out to our alumni to reconnect. If you haven’t updated your contact information recently, please do so by visiting the Stay Connected page on the Alumni tab of If you are interested in becoming a Phonathon volunteer, please contact Development Coordinator Deanna Rusek at 716-827-4342.






e all have a unique story, whether our lives were ones of quiet contentment, big acts of advocacy or somewhere in between. Trocaire Practical Nursing students learned just that during their Spring 2017 service learning projects, which involved interviewing Sisters of Mercy and recording their biographies. Service Learning Coordinator Pam Jablonicky got the idea for the project from an AARP video that flipped the perspectives of young people on what it means to be “old.”

Following a pilot semester at a local nursing home, the project evolved to unite students with Trocaire’s own founding Sisters of Mercy, many of whom live across the street from the college campus at the Mercy Center. Jablonicky said the original idea was to foster connection between the sisters and the college and increase student knowledge of Trocaire’s heritage, but it turned into much more. “Every student who participated in this project shared positive impressions in their

years, said he was amazed at the selflessness of his interviewee, Sister Margaret Gorman, RSM (who led service learning at Trocaire for many years). “I couldn’t imagine a veteran and a Sister of Mercy having much in common ... that couldn’t be further from the truth. I believe [we] both find purpose and joy living in servitude toward others,” he said in his reflection paper. “Through our talks, we discussed what it means to serve others and be part of something bigger than just yourself.”

I couldn’t imagine a veteran and a Sister of Mercy having much in common . . . that couldn’t be further from the truth. I believe [we] both find purpose and joy living in servitude toward others.


“Students who graduate from the PN program traditionally go on to work as LPNs in adult nursing facilities, so my thought was, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could help students challenge stereotypes they might harbor of older generations?’” she said.

reflection papers, and some in person, with tears,” she said. “Many stopped in to tell me how ‘their Sister’ helped them not only academically or professionally, but personally, by giving advice and guidance when needed.”

She brainstormed with PN Assistant Professor Dr. Cynthia Leffel, and they formulated a project in which students would be paired up with an older person and interview them based on a pre-assigned template with outlined learning outcomes, create a biography based on the interview, and write a reflection paper discussing their observations, thoughts and takeaways.

Jablonicky said she compiled the biographies into a book to leave at the Mercy Center for all to enjoy. The project was so successful that the Sisters have agreed to continue partnering with the LPN students again into 2018.



Philip Patricola, an LPN student who previously served in the US Army for 13

Barka Abdulaziz with Sister Mary Eugenia Vastola. Above is Philip Patricola and Sister Margaret Gorman.

“One of the things I was most fascinated to learn was that the work of the Sisters involves much more than spreading the word of God,” wrote another student, Angela Heilemann, of her interviewee, Sister Margaret O’Donnell, RSM. “Sisters are teachers, nurses, along with many other professions guiding people on how to be the best people they can be … my Sister explained that becoming a Sister was a calling. I was able to relate in my desire to become a nurse.” n


ou might not know Ky Ly’s name, but if you were at Trocaire’s Spring 2017 Commencement, you certainly know his story. Ky, who graduated that night with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Health Information Technology (HIT), served as the evening’s student speaker. He spoke about leaving Vietnam with his mother as a toddler and moving to Buffalo as a refugee, neither of them speaking a single word of English. “Growing up I watched my mother work tirelessly to ensure that her child never went hungry and that the lights were on at home,” Ky said in his remarks. “She rode the bus from our home on the East Side of Buffalo to her job clear across town to make it to work that day. She would leave at 5 in the morning and come home at 8 at night.” His mother was in the audience at commencement, and when Ky thanked her for all she and his step-father have done for him, and revealed that she is now a proud American citizen who owns her own home, the crowd went wild. Ky said it was a privilege to recognize her in such a public way.

“She was out there smiling the whole time,” he said. Ky’s journey to Trocaire, once he was in Buffalo, was a surprisingly direct one. He visited campus as a junior in high school and toured one of the nursing simulation labs. From that moment, his decision for his future was made. “This was the only place I wanted to go to school,” he said. “It might sound like a cliché, but that’s the truth.” After graduating from Hutchinson Central Technical High School in 2013, Ky enrolled in Trocaire’s Registered Nursing program, a career path he saw as perfectly fitting his desire to help others and make a difference. However, though he loved interacting with the patients at his clinical rotations, he realized quickly that the hands-on care aspect wasn’t for him. Ky worked with Trocaire’s Advisement and Career Services offices to find a program of

study that fit his goals, and he discovered HIT, which involves organizing, analyzing and protecting medical information to ensure quality patient care. The way Ky sees it, his role is still that of a helper: making sure data is kept accurate, secure and available to other providers and insurance companies who need it, so patients can heal rather than worry about their medical bills. “I don’t mind being behind the scenes, as long as it’s helping people,” he said. He interned at Erie County Medical Center and gained experience in medical coding—a crucial element of HIT—and Roswell Park Cancer Institute, his time at the latter turning into a parttime job as a medical records clerk. He credits Director of Health Information Management Deborah Shelvay as well as instructors Gabriela Jenica and Robin Gollwitzer for helping him make the most of his education. “That’s what I really love about Trocaire,” Ky said. “The professors really go the extra mile to make sure that you’re taken care of, that you’re doing what you have to do to succeed.” Now, Ky is looking to pursue an MBA from SUNY University at Buffalo, and describes himself as an aspiring philanthropist with big plans for the future. He wants to eventually be able to give back to the city that has given him so much, and is grateful for his start at Trocaire. “People always say, ‘why did you go to such a small school?’ I tell them: because you get that personal relationship with your classmates and your professors,” he said. “Coming out of high school, I never wanted to be just a number. I wanted to be unique and stand out, and Trocaire helped me do that.” n







ach year, Trocaire College honors its faculty and staff members for their dedication to supporting and educating our students, both in and out of the classroom. Thank you for all you do! Patricia A. Lavender Distinguished Educator Jennifer Blickwedehl, Ph.D., Professor of Natural Sciences Innovative Educator of the Year Daniel Nickolai, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology Part-time Educator of the Year Caryn Hufford, Adjunct Instructor, Nutrition & Dietetics Kevin Wise Legacy Award* Inaugural award presented to Dr. Wise’s wife, Celeste Wise

Dr. Jennifer Blickwedehl, Dr. Bassam Deeb and Dr. Daniel Nickolai

Staff Excellence Award Peg Babcock, MS, Student Service Advisor Staff Appreciation Award Sister Marian Mullen, RSM, Student Service Advisor *This award honors the memory of the late Kevin Wise, Ph.D., who served at Trocaire as a Professor of Natural Sciences before he passed away in 2016. In the future, the award will be given to a faculty member who has made an enduring, transformation to Trocaire College. Peg Babcock

Sister Marian Mullen



s a member of the WNY Service Learning Coalition, Trocaire is one of six local institutions participating this year in a grant opportunity titled “Dialogue for Change: A Coalition’s Approach to Civic and Community Engagement.” The grant was awarded to SUNY Buffalo State College on behalf of the coalition through Bringing Theory to Practice, whose mission is to support and encourage liberal education in linking the learning, civic development, and well-being of students. In addition to Trocaire, participants include teams from Buffalo State College, Hilbert College, Erie Community College, Daemen College, and Niagara University. The 31 awarded grants, chosen from more than 230 proposals, will provide support for one-year projects to take place during 2017, based around a set of thematically integrated gatherings or “dialogues” involving a core group of diverse campus constituents. “While the designs of the proposed dialogues and the rosters of participants reflect each institution’s unique campus culture and attentiveness to current issues, ultimately these projects will facilitate the greater purposes of higher education: learning and discovery, well-being, civic engagement and preparation for




living meaningfully in the world,” explained Pam Jablonicky, Trocaire’s coordinator of Service Learning.

Service learning has proven to be a powerful instrument in the classroom, as well as bringing the Mercy mission alive to our students and community. A team of eight has been assembled to represent Trocaire College: Jablonicky; Linda Kerwin, dean of Health Professions; Nicole Klem, director of Nutrition &

Dietetics; Heather Thompson, director of Medical Assisting; Solomon Nelson, Ph.D., English faculty; nursing student Joel Lines; nursing alumna Taraneh Jacobs ‘17; and Demi Walsh, volunteer & Red Kettle coordinator from the Salvation Army. The first three dialogues have already taken place, with three more scheduled for fall. Trocaire will host the group in October at its Transit Road location. The dialogues so far have generated so much enthusiasm among Trocaire’s participants that the team evolved into an on-campus “advisory team,” in which regular discussions continue to bring about service learning awareness and education to the broader community. Several on-campus initiatives have been discussed and will be brought to fruition in the fall semester. Trocaire has been a member of the coalition since fall 2006, when service learning was first introduced to the college through the Nursing program. “Since then, service learning has proven to be a powerful instrument in the classroom, as well as bringing the Mercy mission alive to our students and community— so much so that service learning is now required for all students attending Trocaire,” Jablonicky said. n

AN INVESTMENT IN NURSING DIVERSITY $1.8 million HRSA grant and unique training looks to support a move into the future


n the workplace, diversity is commonly referred to as the inclusion of individuals representing more than one gender, origin, race, religion, socioeconomic position or sexual orientation. Now however, the definition of diversity is broader, including life experiences and choices, opinions and philosophies.

As the meaning of diversity changes, healthcare educators and the healthcare industry itself must adjust and evolve as well. “With demographics and social policies of the country changing rapidly, healthcare leadership and the workforce providing care are not currently reflecting the patients they serve,” explained Dr. Catherine Griswold, dean of Trocaire College’s Catherine McAuley School of Nursing. Trocaire’s nursing leadership team recognizes these challenges and has executed several robust initiatives to propel the program into the future, graduating a diverse body of students who are well prepared for the experiences they will face on the job. Nursing Workforce Diversity Grant In July 2017, the college was awarded the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Nursing Workforce Diversity Grant. The grant will fund an

Trocaire has a B.S. in Nursing

estimated $1.8 million over four years for the college and its community partners to recruit, support, retain and graduate diverse nursing professionals to power the local healthcare workforce. Funded by the grant, Trocaire’s “Pathways to Nursing Success” nursing workforce diversity program aims to increase nursing education opportunities for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, including ethnic and racial minorities who are underrepresented among registered nurses. Participating nursing students will receive financial, academic and social support, and grant partners Community Health Centers of Buffalo and Erie Niagara Area Health Education Center will each assist in providing mentoring and vocational training for students. “We feel that improving program outcomes and graduating more clinically competent nurses is a crucial service to both our students and the Western New York community,” Griswold said. Cultural Sensitivity The curriculums for all three of Trocaire’s Nursing programs—LPN, RN and BS, Nursing—have also adjusted to meet the changing needs of patients. While each level already offered rigorous coursework and hands-on clinical experiences at the major healthcare sites across Western New York, Trocaire is also now prioritizing cultural sensitivity education that keeps up with the unique

needs of patients of all kinds. The rationale for proposing the integration of cultural competence in nursing education, according to the Institute of Medicine, is “to support the development of patient-centered care which identifies, respects and addresses differences in patients’ values, preferences and expressed needs.” “Cultural competency is an essential skill in today’s healthcare practices,” Griswold explained. “Our job is to teach students to care for patients who may be from a culture that is very different from them. Students need to know how care is similar and dissimilar from varying cultures, and how to respect cultural preferences and beliefs of the clients they care for. We are trying to eliminate stereotyping and understand the health care disparities that occur within cultural groups.” The newly designed curriculum includes cultural, ethnic, and socially diverse concepts, and may also include experiences from regional, national, or global perspectives. This new approach is being implemented into simulations and labs, and there is also course content on this topic. “We are excited about this investment in diversity efforts and what’s to come, but we also need to do more work in this area,” Griswold said. “It is all working toward a more diverse and competent workforce to successfully treat and care for patients of all kinds.” n

visit for more information 2017





Trocaire alumna Perryman helping Sisters Hospital NICU team transition into expanded, state-of-the-art unit neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can be a tough place to work, even for a seasoned nurse. When the patients are so small—sometimes weighing just a pound—and the stakes are so high, every action and decision is magnified. Emotions of parents run high, and sometimes, the unthinkably tragic occurs: a life is lost shortly after it begins.

But other times—most times—the nurses working in a NICU see miracles occur. They see tiny infants with tiny chances of survival leave and come back to visit years later as healthy, rambunctious toddlers. They see families get stronger and learn that yes—they can do this. They will make it through this. Colleen Perryman, RN, a Trocaire graduate of the class 1975, has worked in a NICU setting for all of her 42 years of nursing, and at the Sisters of Charity Hospital NICU in Buffalo since 1983. A “leader without the title,” as one colleague calls her, she helped transition the NICU from a 12-bed unit to a 20-bed unit in 2001 and is now leading the charge on making staff voices heard as it prepares to again double in size. Colleen heads a staff committee called DONUT—Designing Our New Unit Together— that has been instrumental in shaping the state-of-the-art NICU unit that’s scheduled to open at Sisters Hospital in early 2018. Although retirement could be in the near future, she said she just had to see her unit and the team of more than 100 nurses through this latest transition. “When parents are going through the scariest time of their life—having a premature baby—during what should have been the best time of their life, we want this place to be as comforting and nurturing as possible,” she said. “I also want the people




I work with to have a beautiful space that they’re proud of. That’s why I stayed, and that’s why I wanted to get involved. I need to know that when I leave, this place is in a good place.” “I was meant to do this” Colleen has always loved babies, but the idea to become a nurse didn’t strike her until high school, when she worked as a ward secretary at Sisters Hospital one summer. As she contemplated the future during her last semester at Trocaire, she realized her passion wasn’t with adult nursing. When the chance for a job at Children’s Hospital arose, she jumped at the opportunity, thinking pediatrics might be the right fit. It turned out the opening was for neonatal care instead. “I started there right after graduation and had nightmares for six months of all the monitors going off,” Colleen said. “When you first start, it’s scary. As a nurse, it’s so different than what you’re used to—it’s not

Above, Colleen shows off her 1972 Trocaire College student ID card. In top photo, Perryman and new mother Alise Dixon look at little LyricDanyel’le, who was a NICU resident for more than four months. These nurses have become our family,” Dixon said.

like patients who can tell you what hurts or what’s going on with them. Observational skills are essential—you have to be really, really good at knowing what normal and abnormal looks like.”

windows and sound control to provide a more soothing atmosphere. Colleen said the new set-up will increase the level of patient care, but also not allow for a nurse to always be present in every single pod. To counteract that, nurses’ patient alarms will show up on every monitor when they go off, so nurses can monitor each baby even if not directly near it. Alarms will also go off via cell phones each nurse will have on their person. In addition, electronic charting stations are located throughout the units, situated so the nurses can see into multiple pods at a time. Just a few of the Trocaire alumni who work in the NICU at Sisters of Charity Hospital in Buffalo. From left are Lisa Farrell-Coughlin ’88, BSN, RN; Caitlin Nyitrai ’15, ’16, BSN, RN; Lisa Shriver ’86, RN; Colleen Perryman ’75, RN; and Kelly Kennelly ’08, BSN, RN.

She said her favorite part of working the NICU is helping parents move through fear and worry to bond with their babies. “When you can help those parents connect with their baby who is so small and so sick, whether through skin-to-skin time or even something as seemingly simple as changing a tiny diaper . . . when you see the mother’s face when she is holding her baby for the first time, when they don’t even necessarily know if the baby will make it . . . it’s a feeling you really can’t explain,” she said. Colleen said she’s had parents months down the road say, ‘you let me hold my baby for the first time, and I’ll never forget that.’ “That’s what we do as nurses: we touch people’s lives, and they never forget us,” she said. “One little kind thing you did for them—they will remember their whole lives.” Though NICU patients obviously require intensive care, Colleen said their parents are also part of the nursing staff’s day-today care. Education on how to care for the newest member of their family begins the first day they’re in the unit. “They’re scared to death in the beginning, but it’s amazing how quickly they get confident and develop trust,” she said. “They know you’re right there and you’re not going to let anything happen.” Building the Future Making the NICU even more familycentered and attuned to the needs of parents and patients has been top of mind as Colleen facilitates the DONUT committee. “Colleen’s commitment and passion for providing the very best in patient care goes well beyond her day-to-day duties,” said Jean Cauley, Sisters Hospital NICU nurse manager. “Recognizing this as an

opportunity to improve the excellent care we deliver, she has been gathering best practices, and her motto of ‘This is our house, we need to build it together’ has rallied her colleagues to action to do the same.” The current 20-bed NICU unit is divided into two-bed and four-bed rooms (called pods), with one large group pod. The new 21,000-square-foot, 40-pod unit will feature single and double-bed pods, with a nine-bed area for babies whose mothers are still admitted to the hospital and thus, don’t need a separate room at the NICU as well. These “transitional” babies will only be there for a few days, freeing up the more private rooms for babies who will be admitted for weeks or even months.

“It will be a huge change, especially for us older nurses,” Colleen said. “That’s one of the reasons I wanted to be involved in the new unit—I wanted to convey that if I can do it, anyone can.” Through DONUT—which has grown from a few participants to dozens—Colleen has worked with hospital administration to make sure NICU staff opinions are heard as they build the new unit. She praised Cauley as being very encouraging of involvement from all members of the unit’s dedicated team.

The new pods will allow for babies and their families a calmer, quieter environment and provide space for the parents to sleep, so they can stay with their little ones as much as they want. Colleen said the more spacious unit will also allow the nurses and support staff to do their jobs more effectively. As a Level III NICU, Sisters is equipped to care for babies delivered as young as 23 weeks, as well as full-term infants with special needs. The need for the larger unit is a result of several factors, including an increase in births in general and in issues such as maternal drug dependency, fertility treatments, and gestational diabetes. These factors can result in multiple births, low birth weight, and premature delivery, all of which require special care. In addition, babies who arrive at 34-37 weeks, who used to be sent right home, are now admitted for observation, which also increases the need for more beds. The new NICU will allow these babies and their families the space and privacy they need as the infants grow stronger, or, as sometimes happens, to grieve. There will be adjustable lighting, large

The staff DONUT Committee, led by Colleen, regularly tours the new NICU to see the committee’s suggestions in action.

They have weighed in on details as small as what type of bathing sinks to use and as big as the layout. Thanks to the committee’s input, the unit will feature devices to quickly de-germ objects like car keys, cell phones and staff badges before entering, and ones that completely wash and sanitize hands in 12 seconds—anything “to make our jobs easier and keep our babies safe,” Colleen said. “Whoever wants to have a voice in making our unit great has that chance,” she said. “We’re on the front lines of care, so we know what the needs are.” n





Your gift is essential to the success of Trocaire students!

Please make a gift to the Trocaire College Annual Fund today. Each gift to the Annual Fund provides tuition assistance to Trocaire students. Simply fill out and submit the enclosed envelope to make your donation today.

Since 1958, the faculty and staff at Trocaire College, with the foundational and ongoing support of the Sisters of Mercy, have worked to provide Trocaire students an affordable, career-focused, private education. During the 2016-2017 academic year, Trocaire graduated 359 students, and more than 93% received financial assistance in the form of grants and scholarships. This support—funded in part by donors like you—gives students the opportunity to realize their goals, improve their circumstances, and become caring service professionals throughout the Western New York community. Every dollar helps a student in need—it’s as simple as that. Thanks to donations to our Annual Fund, Trocaire College is able to provide access to a college education to students who otherwise may not attend due to financial restraints.

Trocaire College Annual Fund




DONATE ONLINE To make a gift online, visit and click on


or scan this QR code to visit our secure online form and make your donation today! Otherwise please fill out the enclosed envelope, and along with your credit card information or check made payable to Trocaire College, mail to:

Trocaire College Office of Institutional Advancement 360 Choate Avenue Buffalo, NY 14220



rocaire alumni are busy people, and commitments to work, family and other priorities can sometimes prevent them from attending events hosted by their alma mater. A new initiative by the college’s Institutional Advancement Office, “Trocaire Travels” offers grads an opportunity to reconnect with Trocaire at a convenient time and place. To do so, members of the Trocaire College community are meeting our alumni where they’re at: work! With the support of local employers, Trocaire Travels hosts mini alumni reunions on site at workplaces that employ Trocaire graduates, with the goal of catching up and celebrating postgraduation achievements. The first Trocaire Travels event took place in July at Erie County Medical Center. Trocaire staff, faculty and Alumni Board members—armed with delicious food, goodie bags and information about alumni

Karen Ziemanski, RN, MS; Shonda Cleckley ’00, RN; Susan Fallis ’93, RN; and Dawn Walters ’90, RN were a few of the proud Trocaire graduates/ECMC leaders who stopped by to chat.

benefits—met with alumni on both first and second shift and shared a quick break, career updates and good conversation. We encourage our alumni who work with fellow Trocaire grads to reach out to

Development Coordinator Deanna Rusek at—perhaps your employer can be the next stop for the Trocaire Travels team! n



rocaire’s Alumni Office has had one goal this past year: breathing new life into the way the college interacts and connects with its alumni base. One way of fostering those relationships has been working to create pipelines of support and channels of engagement between graduates and current students. “Our alumni represent to the world what a Trocaire education stands for and what a positive and worthwhile achievement it is, while current students are the impetus for the college’s goals and drive its priorities,” explained Development Coordinator Deanna Rusek. Monthly student/alumni dinners have lit a spark to this effort. Each evening highlights a different Trocaire academic program, as students, alumni, program directors and Alumni Board members sit down to a meal together at a local restaurant and get to know one another. As dinner is served and conversation flows, students have the opportunity to hear from graduates working in the very field they’re studying. Discussions abound as alumni share their career paths, talk

Students, alumni and administration from Trocaire’s Health Information Technology program pose for a photo at a Student/Alumni Dinner held in spring 2017.

about changing industry tides and new opportunities and certifications, and offer invaluable insight into the modern workplace. Students raise questions about career options, networking recommendations, resume building tips, and more. “It has really been a unique opportunity for both groups,” said Karen Camacho ’96, president of the Trocaire Alumni Board of Directors.

The 2016-2017 academic year saw four student/alumni dinners take place, each drawing an intimate crowd of 10-20 people that allowed for more genuine interactions between attendees. Participating programs included Surgical Technology, Human Resource Management, Hospitality Management and Health Information Technology. More are planned for the upcoming year. n











ore than 10,000 alumni have received a degree from Trocaire College. But achieving four Trocaire degrees? That puts AndRitá Brudige-Gainey ’15, ’17 in a category all her own.

AndRitá earned Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degrees in both Computer Network Administration and Healthcare Informatics in 2015. This year, she went on to earn an AAS in Human Resources Management and a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Informatics. She currently works with the Department of Veterans Affairs and has plans to obtain a master’s degree in health administration informatics. “So far, I’m on the right path,” she said. “All my degrees are connecting together and making me a stronger candidate for whatever I choose to do.”

A WINDING PATH BACK TO BUFFALO AndRitá graduated from Buffalo’s Leonardo Da Vinci High School in 1995. She headed into the workforce after high school, and the birth of her son eventually took her to South Carolina to be closer to family. She joined the US Navy in 2001. The military took AndRitá all over the country, from boot camp in Illinois, training in Florida and Arizona and finally a post in Maryland at the National Security Administration. Though she was interested in training in the medical field, the wait list was prohibitive. Instead, the single mother took a job in technology. AndRitá returned to Buffalo in 2007 following her

enlistment and got the healthcare career she had been craving as a cardiology technician at Erie County Medical Center, after obtaining a certificate from Trocaire. After one year, she became the lead tech in her department.

TAKING THE NEXT STEP Though AndRitá liked her position at ECMC, there was no room to grow. Back to Trocaire she went, looking to capitalize on her Navy training by enrolling in the Computer Network Administration program. She soon learned about Trocaire’s fledgling Healthcare Informatics program, which combines healthcare and technology and prepares students to handle the management, analysis and reporting of health data. Her interest piqued, AndRitá decided to take on both two-year programs, obtaining her degrees in just over three years.

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: ANDRITÁ BRUDIGE-GAINEY ’15, ’17 VETERAN, SINGLE MOM MAKES TROCAIRE HISTORY “When I started at Trocaire part-time, I couldn’t believe a classmate who was taking a full course load. I just couldn’t understand how he did it,” she said. “But just a few years later, that was me—all while working full-time and raising my teenage son.” ONWARD AND UPWARD But she didn’t stop there. Sensing that a bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Informatics would better serve her future, AndRitá plunged back into classes at Trocaire the very next semester. She threw in another two-year degree in Human Resources Management as well, reasoning that a more diverse skillset could only increase her employability. AndRitá said she had a great experience in her advanced Healthcare Informatics studies, working with Director of Health Information Management Deborah Shelvay to carve out relevant internship experiences and learn about how to make this career choice work for her. “Deb was a blessing,” AndRitá said. “She is so approachable, and she really expanded the program and the opportunities it offers.”




During this time, she took a new position at the VA Medical Center as an advanced medical support assistant. She has since been promoted to veteran service representative with the Veteran’s Business Administration. AndRitá never expected to be the proud recipient of four degrees, heading toward a fifth. She remembers talking with a friend from high school when she was in the Navy, about how far behind she felt as her friends graduated with bachelor’s degrees. “I had my son, I was serving in the military— but I still felt under-accomplished because I did not have that piece of paper.” Now? “I feel a little bit better,” she said with a laugh.” n



Several Trocaire students and employees took a culinary tour of Northern Italy this spring, experiencing all the gastronomic highlights and history the beautiful region has to offer through a trip organized by EF College Study Tours. Over 10 days in May, the Trocaire travelers teamed up with a group from Erie Community College and made their way through some of Italy’s most loved cities, including Milan, Bologna and Florence. They experienced pasta-making lessons, a vineyard tour, a farm-to-table event, and visits to the University of Gastronomic Sciences and tourist attractions like the Statue of David and the Ponte Vecchio. Trocaire Hospitality Management student Stephen Munschauer recorded the group’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram. To see all the beautiful photos, just search for @TasteofItaly2017.







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Alumni News and Notes

Marian Kreutzer ’74 served as grand marshal of the 78th annual Pulaski Day Parade in Cheektowaga in July 2016. She manages a skin care center and plastic surgery office. Colleen Perryman ’75 was recognized by March of Dimes as the 2016 NICU Nurse of Distinction for her decades of service as a neonatal intensive care nurse at Sisters of Charity Hospital in Buffalo. Maria L. Eagen ’77, BSN, RN, was featured in Worldwide Leaders of Healthcare and joined the International Nurses Association in January 2017. She currently works as a nurse paralegal at Feldman Kieffer LLP in Buffalo. Kathleen Murphy-Villafranca ’87, RN, was named assistant director of nursing and resident care services at Schofield Residence Nursing Facility in Buffalo in October 2017. In her new role, she is responsible for oversight of all the facility’s nurses, nursing assistants and hospitality aides. Tiffany Frialde ’90, BSN, RN, was chosen as the recipient of the 2017 Palmetto Gold Award, which recognizes nurses who exemplify excellence in practice and commitment to the nursing profession. She works as nurse manager for the William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center’s Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Anderson, South Carolina. Susan McClure ’92, BSN, RN, was appointed senior clinical advisor for Kenmore Mercy Hospital’s Emergency Department in summer 2016. Catherine M. Retskin ’94, DNP, RN-ACM, was featured in Worldwide Leaders of Healthcare and joined the International Nurses Association in January 2017. She is currently working as a clinical quality data specialist for the Care Management Department within Mission Health System in Asheville, North Carolina.


Amber Slichta ’94 was appointed vice president of programs at the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation. She was previously vice president and interim president for the Health Foundation for Western & Central New York. Carrie Meyer ’97, executive director of the Independent Health Foundation, was named one of Buffalo Business First’s 2017 Healthcare Champions. Traci M. Lewis ’99, RN, was featured in Worldwide Leaders of Healthcare and joined the International Nurses Association in November 2016. She currently works as a travel nurse in Phoenix, Arizona. Anne Marie Smith ’02, was promoted to director of human resources at The McGuire Group, which operates five healthcare and rehabilitation facilities in Western New York, in March 2017. She is a member of Trocaire’s Human Resources Management advisory board and is a member of the Society of Human Resources Management. Dr. Linda Kerwin ’07, Ed.D., CST, RN, MA, MSN, dean of health professions at Trocaire College, was named one of Buffalo Business First’s 2017 Healthcare Champions. She is also the director of the college’s Surgical Technology program. Deborah Micholas ’08, BSN, RN, ONC, was appointed Patient Care Services supervisor for the 2 East and 2 South wings of Kenmore Mercy Hospital in summer 2016. Katherine Murphy ’10, BSN, RN, was named corporate nurse educator at Kenmore Mercy Hospital in January 2017. In her new role, she instructs the nursing staff on new policies or changes to current ones. She teaches at both Kenmore Mercy and at Catholic Health’s Regional Training Center.



Jay Langfelder ’11 is opened a restaurant in Kenmore in September 2017. Jay’s Artisan Pizzeria is located at 2872 Delaware Avenue. The restaurant will replace Langfelder’s O.G. Wood Fire Pizza Truck, which has been serving up wood-fired, Neapolitan-style pizzas all over Buffalo for two years. Nicholas Macaione ’14, LPN, celebrated his five-year employment anniversary with The McGuire Group’s Seneca Health Care Center in West Seneca in December 2016. He works there as a LPN clinical instructor. Kari Gable ’15, RN, took a position on the nursing staff at CaroMont Regional Medical Center in North Carolina following her graduation and is pursuing a RN-to-BSN program at University of North Carolina. Kellee Kibler ’16, RN, was hired to the nursing team at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo in January 2017. Marissa Martinez ’16, RN, was hired to the nursing team at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo in January 2017. Ky Ly ’17 received the New York Health Information Management Association (NYHIMA)’s 2017 Outstanding Achievement Award. He was selected by Trocaire Health Information Technology faculty for his superior scholarship, integrity, initiative, enthusiasm and demonstrated professional potential.

CALLING ALL ALUMNI Are you looking to get involved and make an impact? Consider joining the Alumni Board of Directors! If interested, please contact Deanna Rusek at



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2017 Trailblazer Magazine  

The magazine for alumni, students and supporters of Trocaire College.