Alumni Spotlight: Michael Moore ’08
Michael Moore graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 2008 with a BS in Business Management. Read more about his life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … its proximity to Pittsburgh and the small campus.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg … was how very friendly everyone was and that the students seemed to have great relationships with the faculty.
My favorite thing as a student was … meeting new friends and developing relationships that I still have today.
The faculty member who had the greatest influence on me was … Pamela Ondeck. I struggled at the beginning of my accounting course. I spent some time with her and, after a couple sessions, I was able to fully grasp the concept. Accounting became one of my favorite courses.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … work for BNY Mellon as a trade specialist, then to Liberty Mutual Insurance as a sales representative. Currently, I am with Henderson Brothers where I sell personal insurance specializing in high net worth and affluent families.
In my spare time, I like to … golf, cook, and read.
My reason for becoming active with the alumni association is … to give back to the University that gave me so much. I want to do what I can to help the students be stronger candidates for the workforce.
Tell us something about your recent experience as an alumni volunteer … Participating in Mock Interview Night was an amazing experience. It was exciting to meet and discuss the goals of the students. It was great to be back on campus. It brought back great memories, and it was nice to see everything that has changed.
Alumni Spotlight: Bryan McCarthy '02
Bryan McCarthy graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 2002 with a BA in Humanities. Read more about his life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The things that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg were … the need for a place that was both affordable and close to home and work. Since I had to pay for tuition myself and couldn’t get any financial aid, I was working two jobs to make it happen. (I’m now recalling some funny memories of changing into work clothes while driving that are almost as bad as texting while driving, a problem the world didn’t have then.) Living on campus somewhere just wouldn’t have fit into that picture.
I also wanted very badly to be a writer and Pitt-Greensburg had the best programme in the area; I think it still does. That’s what decided the question amongst the cheaper local schools.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg was … it was like a writer’s retreat centre—pretty and quiet. I’ve always been a sucker for beauty, so I liked the trees and the stream. And, I loved Lynch Hall.
My fondest memory as a student was … talking to professors in their offices. The chats burned into my memory are those with Dr. William Rued about religion, with Prof. Stephen Murabito about jazz and music in general, and with Dr. Richard Blevins (who’s now retired) about God-knows-what crazy topic.
The faculty members who had the greatest influence on me were … the three mentioned in the previous question, but I’d also have to add Dr. Nancy Estrada. I was really sad when she died. I was living out of the country at the time and wished I’d gotten to see her more recently. She was incredible: an indefatigable optimist, a joy to be around, fantastic at explaining things, and a tireless champion of student talent.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … a lot of things. I travelled internationally, went to grad school (two master’s degrees—M.Div. and S.T.M.—at Yale and my D.Phil. is from Oxford), learned to tango, joined a yoga school. There are so many great things to do in life; it’s sad that we can’t do more of them.
My reason for staying connected to the University is … I’m on the faculty.
In my spare time, I like to … explore Asian philosophies and practice, so I devote quite a bit of time to that. And, I try to read everything I can get my hands on, plus go to the cinema and listen to music.
My family members/friends are … conversation partners. Conversing is a pleasure that never gets old and at which you can never get too adept. I never feel closer to my friends and family than when I’m having one of those sparkling conversations with them.
Tell us something we didn’t ask … I’m reading Don Quixote at the moment. I think it’s going to become my favourite book.
Alumni Spotlight: Jennifer (Beaver) ’01 and Bill ’99 Viola Jr.
Jennifer (Beaver) Viola graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 2001 with a BS in Business Management. Bill Viola Jr. graduated summa cum laude in 1999 with a BS in Political Science and Sociology minor.
Recently celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary, Bill and Jenn met while students at Pitt-Greensburg. Bill said that meeting Jenn was his fondest memory on campus, along with the Spring Flings and school trips to New York City. Jenn added that the wedding party photos were taken in front of the campus’ fountain.
Both Jenn and Bill were working when they were drawn to Pitt-Greensburg. Jenn said she had a “great job” as a manager at Comtel Communications, so she wanted to stay close to home. Bill was teaching martial arts full-time. He said the campus was “the perfect fit in proximity while offering me solid pre-law options.”
Bill said the campus had a “hometown feel.” His first impression was the friendliness, as he saw a lot of familiar faces from the Norwin and Hempfield areas that made the transition very easy. Jenn agreed that the campus was welcoming and “not overwhelming.”
Ecology of the Rocky Mountains—a weeklong field study—with Dr. Tim Savisky was one of Jenn’s favorite memories as a Pitt-Greensburg student, which she was able to share with some of her closest friends, including now-husband Bill, Addie (Viola) Krisfalusy ’01, and Jenna (Reamer) O’Shell ’02. She also enjoyed her time in Japanese class with “Sensei” Vitaly: “He encouraged me to take a leadership role in the Bushido Club where I became president.”
“Without a doubt,” Bill recalled Dr. Carl Poke as the faculty member who had the greatest influence on him. “He inspired me to be a better student and set me up as an intern with Federal Congressman Ron Klink of the Pennsylvania 4th District in North Huntingdon,” Bill said. “Dr. Poke was a great mentor and advisor who helped me realize my potential.” He added that “you had to respect a man who could rock the bow tie like Dr. Poke!”
Immediately after graduation, Bill established his own production company, Kumite Classic Entertainment Corp. Under its umbrella, he produces fitness expos and martial arts events, publishes magazines and books, and offers talent management services in the Pittsburgh region. He earned membership into SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) and has had the distinction of being an Amazon-bestselling author. To this day, he still teaches at the same karate school (Allegheny Shotokan) that his father established in 1969 and loves being Sensei. He recently launched a life-skills based curriculum called Sensei Says.
Bill said that these days his biggest inspiration is his daughter, Gabriella (Gabby) Capri Viola: “She just started kindergarten and is active in karate, swimming, and piano.” Gabby inspired Jenn to start her own business, 123 Mommy and Me, a child-parent bonding class. Following graduation, Jenn continued her education and received a master’s degree in Elementary Education. Today, she teaches children social skills through music, movement, and art. And, in her spare time, she likes to stay active, stating, “I love working out and keeping up with the latest trends in fitness and nutrition.”
In his spare time, Bill likes to write. He said, “I have a new self-help book series in development called CommonSensei that offers advice to young people who are ready to take on the world. I also enjoy staying active in the film industry both as a writer, consultant, and producer. My most recent work is Tough Guys (2017), which was inspired by my book Godfathers of MMA.”
As to why Bill and Jenn are interested in staying connected to Pitt-Greensburg, Bill said, “The University represents my roots. I love Western Pennsylvania and the opportunities this region has given me. I own and operate Pittsburgh’s largest multi-sport convention and fitness expo, but few people know that my first Kumite Classic event was hosted at Pitt-Greensburg in the gymnasium. Pitt-Greensburg was my springboard.”
Alumni Spotlight: Huong Vo ’14
Huong Vo graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 2014 with a BS in Natural Sciences. Read more about her life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The things that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg were … the academic programs and extracurricular activities offered—and the location of the campus. The campus was located close enough for me to drive home but also far enough to live on campus for the full college experience. I transferred to Pitt-Greensburg my sophomore year of college after realizing that another school for not the right one for me.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg … was the beautiful campus and the change from living in the city. While Pitt Oakland is just minutes away from home, it was not my first choice.
My fondest memory as a student was … attending the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge spring break trips. It was such a great experience to be able to travel to different states (North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee) to volunteer with their Habitat for Humanity Chapter in building affordable homes for low-income families.
The Pitt person who had the greatest influence on me was … Brian Root. Brian helped me grow as a leader of different student organizations on campus, and he continues to be my mentor even after graduating.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … Robert Morris University for a degree in nursing. I am currently enrolled in an EMT course at MRTSA through CCAC and work as a full-time office assistant at MedExpress.
My reason for becoming active with the alumni association is … to give back to the campus and community, and to stay connected with my friends and other alumni.
In my spare time, I like to … go shopping and spend time with my friends and family.
My family members/friends … also enjoy Pitt-Greensburg as much as I did. With the wonderful experience I had, my brother, Quoc Vo, also transferred to Pitt-Greensburg his sophomore year. He is currently a senior majoring in criminal justice—and involved in Habitat for Humanity. My roommates and friends from Pitt-Greensburg are still my best friends today!
Tell us something we didn’t ask … While at Pitt-Greensburg, I was on the executive board for the Student Government Association, Habitat for Humanity, Village Senate, Resident Student Council, in addition to being an International Student Mentor.
Alumni Spotlight: Kathleen (Crouse) Ruper ’96
Kathleen (Crouse) Ruper graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 1996 with a BS in Management-Accounting. Read more about her life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … that I needed to commute from my home in Connellsville. I went back to college later in life – 12 years after obtaining an associate's degree in business administration. I was married and had a full-time job. My younger brother was attending Pitt-Greensburg at the time, and he spoke highly of the campus and the accounting curriculum. The campus was only 30 minutes away, so it was a good fit in all respects.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg … was that it was very appealing. The first time I drove to Pitt-Greensburg, I was very impressed with the location and thought it was a beautiful campus. I liked that it was nestled in a rural setting and not in the city proper. The surroundings made me feel comfortable and cozy. I loved the smaller classes where the instructor could get to know each student and you weren't just a number.
My fondest memory as a student was … the camaraderie and feeling of teamwork I had with several of my classmates, even though I was a non-traditional student who took mainly evening classes. Whether it was meeting for a study group, being in class together, or going to dinner together afterward, I always had a feeling of belonging to a special group of people. In fact, after graduation, I carpooled with two of my fellow classmates to the Becker review course for the CPA exam in Pittsburgh.
The faculty member who had the greatest influence on me was … my accounting professor, Pamela Ondeck. She was an amazing instructor. She was tough but fair, and she made me want to be the best that I could be. Her passion for teaching and her knowledge of accounting were inspiring. She recommended me as a part-time adjunct accounting instructor a few years after I graduated. I have been teaching Financial Accounting at Pitt-Greensburg since 1999. Mrs. Ondeck and I are friends to this day.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I … worked at a small public accounting firm right after graduation and while I was studying for the CPA exam. After I passed the exam and acquired the requisite number of hours to be a CPA, I got a job offer from Supervalu. I had a friend who worked there, and she had asked me to send her my resume. I had actually forgotten about it until I received a call for an interview. I worked there for 10 years until I was one of many who lost their jobs due to downsizing. I then took a job in the business office of the Connellsville Area School District, where I currently work.
My reason for staying connected to the University is … that I will always be grateful for the quality education I received and the opportunities that it provided. I have been connected to the University through my teaching at Pitt-Greensburg and have stayed in touch with a couple of my instructors from my days as a student.
In my spare time, I … enjoy reading and love to travel. My husband and I always talk about all of the places we would like to visit when we retire.
My family members … have always been a source of strength and support for me over the course of my education and work career. As previously mentioned, my brother is a Pitt-Greensburg graduate, and we actually took two classes together. We still sometimes reminisce about the time we spent at the campus and the teachers that we had in common during our time there.
Tell us something we didn’t ask … I believe in the importance of giving back to those who have helped you in the past. That's why my husband and I make a donation every year to the University. Pitt contributed to my success, and my goal is to ensure the success of future graduates.
Alumni Spotlight: Zachary M. Weisner ’13
Zachary M. Weisner ’13, otherwise known as Zach or “Scrat,” is pursuing his dream of becoming a doctor after majoring in Biological Sciences and Chemistry with a minor in Psychology here at Pitt-Greensburg.
He also is a Class Agent for the 2013 graduating class.
Weisner believes staying involved with the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) allows him to remain connected to Pitt-Greensburg. “I want to help future generations of students coming through Pitt-Greensburg recognize their potential,” he explained.
Drawn to Pitt-Greensburg by the small class sizes, he felt it allowed for better discussion and therefore better understanding. “As a scientist, it’s incredibly important to have a strong understanding for detailed and complex topics,” Weisner said. “My professors were always willing to help.”
Recalling how friendly everyone was, he said those who had the greatest influence on him were Barbara Barnhart, instructor in Biology and his Academic advisor; Olivia Long, PhD, assistant professor of Biochemistry and his Biology Research advisor; Mark Stauffer, PhD, associate professor of Chemistry and his Chemistry Research advisor; Diane Cheek, instructor in Biology and advisor of Beta Beta Beta National Biological Honor Society, for which Weisner served as president for two years; and Dorothy Zilic, assistant director of Career Services.
“While there were many other faculty members who played a key role in my development as a student and as a person, these professors went above and beyond to help me succeed,” Weisner said.
As a junior, he had the opportunity to work at the Pittsburgh campus with Cecelia Lo, PhD, a developmental biologist who has been mapping the genes responsible for congenital heart defects.
“During my time with her, I analyzed genetic material and conducted studies on mutant mice to better understand heart disorders,” Weisner said.
As a freshman, sophomore, and junior, Weisner served as a resident assistant. He especially enjoyed building community. “One of the biggest programs I planned was a Halloween party in Apollo. Leading up to the party, I had my residents help decorate the hall. We covered the walls in garbage bags, made bloody handprints, and put up red Christmas lights. This was a great opportunity to get to know everyone and have a really good time.”
After Pitt-Greensburg, Weisner worked as a paramedic in Monroeville for a year. “It’s a true honor to serve and represent my community, and I’m very proud of that.” He then went on to earn a master’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Georgetown University. During that time, he pursued a research project at the National Institutes of Health where he developed a 3D, high-resolution protocol to study pentalogy of Cantrell, specifically cases in which the heart is positioned outside of the chest.
Currently, he is in the process of applying to medical school. “My hope is to pursue a career as a physician with the US Navy and travel the world,” Weisner said, adding that he loves to cook and travel, and recently returned from a trip to Ireland.
As a Class Agent, Weisner hopes to keep the Class of 2013 connected and to help all members of the Pitt-Greensburg alumni network. He understands the importance of having a strong support system. “I have a very large family. There are about 70 of us—aunts, uncles, and cousins on my mom’s side,” he said. “My friends and family have always supported me in my endeavors, and I am forever grateful for that.”
Alumni Spotlight: Roxanne Liebermann ’87
Roxanne Liebermann, CISSP-ISSEP, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 1987 with a BS in Applied Mathematics and a minor in Computer Science. Read more about her life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … the location and not having to drive to Pittsburgh since I was a night student.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg … that the campus was small, there was plenty of parking, and the classes were personable. Since 1987, the campus has really grown.
My favorite thing/fondest memory as a student was … going to the computer lab till 11 p.m. most nights. We did not have PCs yet. I used a keypunch machine to type my FORTRAN code and a dumb terminal for COBOL code. Now, I do cloud computing.
The faculty member who had the greatest influence on me was … Dr. Mary Grace O’Donnell. She taught all my calculus courses. We still exchange Christmas cards. She prepared me for my first job at the U.S. Census Bureau in Washington, D.C.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I … accepted a computer programmer job at the U.S. Census Bureau. I worked there for 10 years on economic indicator surveys. In 1996, I became an adjunct instructor at University of Maryland University College (UMUC) in the Information Systems Department. And, I am still an adjunct there. I left the Census Bureau in 1997 to be a computer analyst for the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI). I worked there three years. I left ONI in 2000 to work at the National Security Agency (NSA) as an information systems security engineer. I also had many other career roles at the agency: executive staff officer, system engineer, cryptographic designer, engineering leader of operation researchers, and my current job as a computer security manager.
I did two joint duty assignments for the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon and at the Defense Information Systems Agency.
My reason for becoming active with the alumni association/staying connected to the University is … that I remember where I came from and where I received a great education.
In my spare time, I … am finishing my Doctorate in Information Assurance. Who knows … I may end up working for Pitt-Greensburg! I also keep up on the Pittsburgh sports teams: college, NFL, NHL, and MLB.
My family members … have degrees from Pitt. My aunt received a degree in medicine, in addition to my three cousins who received degrees in teaching, computer science, and psychology. My nephew received a degree in communications and political science.
Tell us something we didn’t ask … I believe very strongly in the importance of education. In addition to my Pitt degree, I earned an MS in computer science (1994 from UMUC), an MS in business (2008 from UMUC), and an ME in systems engineering (2014 from Stevens Institute in Technology), and, as mentioned earlier, I am working on a DSc at the University of Fairfax.
I believe that education can give you opportunities that you never anticipated. Hail to Pitt!
Alumni Spotlight: Timothy Fetter ’02
Dr. Timothy Fetter graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 2002 with a BS in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. Read more about his life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … I grew up in Greensburg and always liked the campus. I even played soccer there as a kid. I knew that I wanted to go to graduate school, so I wanted a big campus name. But, at age 18, I wasn’t interested in living in a city or being on a huge campus. Pitt-Greensburg was a perfect fit. I got to have the big campus/city experience later when I worked on my master’s degree.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg … was being a place where I would be comfortable. Studying for me is a solitary activity, and there are many places on campus where you can sit alone and think without dealing with too much noise or distractions. It was great for me to have quiet spots available with some trees and scenery to study. I spent a good bit of time in the woods behind the sport’s fields.
My favorite thing as a student was … that the faculty was very accessible to the students. I’m not sure if it was the class size or the general atmosphere and culture, but I always enjoyed being able to have after-class conversations with the professors. Those conversations made learning very enjoyable and the material more applicable. Also, I met some of my best friends with whom I’m still very close with today at Pitt-Greensburg.
The faculty member who had the greatest influence on me was … Dr. Daniel Milberg who was a psychology faculty member, now an associate professor emeritus, approached me during my freshman Intro to Psychology course to be his teaching assistant (TA). From my sophomore to senior year, I was his TA for four psychology courses. This not only allowed me to immerse myself in my major but also helped me gain teaching and course writing skills that would come in handy later as I started teaching at Pitt-Greensburg after completing my master’s degree. It also allowed me to become closer to other psychology faculty, like Dr. Diane Marsh and Dr. Randi Koeske who offered me research opportunities with them during my senior year.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I … moved to Pittsburgh to earn my Master of Social Work degree from the Pittsburgh campus. Upon my completion, I returned to Pitt-Greensburg to teach Introduction to Social Psychology for three semesters while working as a psychotherapist full time. During this time, I decided to change career paths and attend chiropractic school. I moved to Davenport, Iowa, and attended Palmer College of Chiropractic. I graduated with a Doctor of Chiropractic degree in 2011. I then returned to Greensburg and opened my own practice, Trifecta Chiropractic and Wellness Center, LLC in 2012. My practice focuses heavily on neurological and stress-related conditions, in addition to musculoskeletal conditions and wellness lifestyle management. While starting my practice, I returned to psychotherapy and teaching psychology again at Pitt-Greensburg. So, even though I switched gears, my prior education was a tremendous help to me.
Currently I split my time between my practice and working for a company that teaches lifestyle management telephonically to people who are in chronic pain. While I don’t have time to teach at Pitt-Greensburg anymore, I speak on campus approximately once a year to current and prospective students. I try to use my diverse background to show that not all paths are linear upon graduation and there are many exciting twists and turns in your future.
My reason for becoming active with the alumni association is … I feel connected to the University in a way that I’m not sure that I ever would have if I had lost contact after graduation. The campus has changed so much since I started in 1998. I find it exciting to see the campus grow in size, including new majors and the development of research centers. As a business owner in Greensburg, I am interested in the economic viability of this community, and I believe that Pitt-Greensburg is an invaluable part of the local economy and culture. The alumni association has many activities every year, and I love seeing some old faces and meeting new people.
In my spare time, I like to … spend as much time in the woods and exercising outdoors as possible. One of the driving forces behind me living here is the Laurel Highlands. I spend a lot of time in the woods—hiking, running, mountain biking, and just enjoying the scenery. Beyond that, I stay busy with karate, strength training, yoga, reading, and weekly campfires.
My family … is very active. I am very lucky to have married the love of my life and best friend, Gina Moon. I have two stepchildren and an Australian shepherd. An Aussie is a great investment if you want to ensure that you never fall out of shape or are looking for an excuse to start running.
Tell us something we didn’t ask … I was recently told that I’m middle aged. Although this is mathematically true since I’m half the average life expectancy for an American male, this shocked me because I don’t feel that way mentally or physically. So, I will share my two new favorite quotes.
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”
“Aging is inevitable, growing old is optional”
-Unknown, on a Buddhist temple in China
Alumni Spotlight: Andrew Reese ’13
Andrew Reese graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 2013 with a BS in Business Management. Read more about his life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … the distinction of being “military friendly.” Being a non-traditional student transitioning from the military, I was looking for a place that provided a challenge academically, allowed me to have work/study balance, and permitted me to commute back and forth easily. I scheduled an admissions visit. After the meeting with the staff, I realized it was a perfect fit.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg … was the cleanliness and commuter friendliness of the campus. I was impressed with how accommodating and welcoming the staff were, from registrar to admissions to academic advising to professors. It made for an easy transition which allowed me to focus on balancing work/life and put me on a path for success.
My favorite thing as a student/fondest memories were … meeting new friends and receiving the guidance that I was able to get over the course of my studies. I was really able to develop great relationships with so many people because of the close-knit community. I was able to develop more than I had ever imagined, both personally and academically, and it has carried over into my professional career.
Also, being a food guy, I can’t forget how surprisingly good the meals were—especially the breakfast, as I was a morning commuter!
The faculty members who had the greatest influence on me were … numerous. There were so many great professors—Dr. Rudnicka, Professora Contreras, Dr. Vallano, Mrs. Jones, Dr. Rechter, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Kimball, Dr. Krisner, Mr. Gaal, and Dr. Vollmer, who tremendously helped me through emails and the time spent during advising.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I … took an opportunity with HJ Heinz as senior analyst within their North American Supply Chain and continued my military career as an operations manager through the US Air Force at the 911th Airlift Wing within the Civil Engineering Squadron as a reservist. After about a year in my role at HJ Heinz, I was selected to manage the merger and acquisition, as well the overall accountability, of the HJ Heinz and Kraft Foods Global Military Accounts. Post-merger, I transitioned to senior manager of the Supply and Operations Planning for the KraftHeinz North America Food Service Distribution and Supply Chain.
My reason for becoming active with the alumni association is … the incredible experiences that I was able to accrue over my time at Pitt-Greensburg. It was this experience that helped me find my passions and develop myself. I hope to support and continue to help bridge the next group of future leaders who find themselves in a position similar to me.
With that, I hope to bring some professional experiences and leadership back to help foster continued success and improvement within the University, as well as, the community.
In my spare time, I like to … volunteer with a variety of veteran’s initiatives and local community organizations, in addition to golf, run, travel, watch Pittsburgh sports, and eat out at great local restaurants—I’m open to suggestions!
|Fred Charles '72||Carlyle Carter||Bernie Cobetto '73||Tom Jollie '72|
Alumni Spotlight: Men's Basketball Alumni Club
What started as a four-game exploratory schedule in 1968 met with such great response that the fourth game had to be moved to a bigger gym to accommodate the number of fans who wanted to get in. The next academic year—fall of 1969—marked the official start of the Pitt-Greensburg men’s basketball program.
These beginnings are one of the reasons that Bernard “Bernie” Cobetto ’73, Carlyle Carter, Thomas “Tom” M. Jollie ’72, and Fredrick “Fred” E. Charles, Esq., ’72 formed the Pitt-Greensburg Men’s Basketball Alumni Club (MBAC), in coordination with Harry Bowser ’72, also a member of that first team as well as a past assistant coach and now a volunteer character coach for the team, and the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association.
Bernie Cobetto, a new grandfather, feels that being a part of that first team is part of his legacy. “I am a Pitt man in a Pitt family,” Bernie said. His brother, son, daughter, and father—Bernard H. Cobetto, MD, ’47 who established the annual Cobetto Lecture on Contemporary Ethics here—all went to Pitt. Bernie completed a bachelor’s degree in political science at the Oakland campus, followed by a master’s degree in health administration. He also met his wife of 40-plus years while a student at Pitt-Greensburg. “I got a solid education and played basketball for a great coach,” Bernie said of his time at Pitt-Greensburg.
Carlyle Carter came to campus after Bernie and the team’s first coach, John Hunter, attended the Fayette-Westmoreland County All-Star Game. “Son of a single-parent family, no one in our family had completed college,” Carlyle said. “I loved the idea of continuing to play basketball, and Pitt-Greensburg gave me that opportunity.”
Currently the CEO/president of the California Community College Athletic Association, Carlyle acknowledged, “While I ultimately didn’t complete my education at Pitt, I don’t believe I would have gotten to where I am without the foundation laid at Pitt-Greensburg.” One of his career distinctions was being hired as the first commissioner of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. “According to the NCAA, it was the first hiring of a minority commissioner of an athletic conference comprising non-historically black colleges and universities of any NCAA athletic conference,” Carlyle said.
Tom Jollie felt drawn to the Greensburg campus by the opportunity to continue working while pursuing a Pitt degree. He reflected on Dr. Norman McWhinney and how the English instructor mixed learning and laughter. Tom said one of his fondest memories at Pitt-Greensburg was that “there was always someone willing to engage in a philosophical discussion about anything.”
Tom, who has two sisters and a brother with Pitt degrees, served in the United States Army before returning to Pitt, this time the Oakland campus, to finish his degree. He went on to a long career in the insurance business.
Fred Charles attended law school after completing his bachelor’s degree in Oakland. After opening his own law practice, he was named chief public defender of Lehigh County, followed by serving as director of the Pennsylvania State Defenders Association. He was then named solicitor for Lehigh County and is the only attorney in the history of Lehigh County to have held both positions. Fred has also served as special counsel to the National Football League, legal counsel to professional athletes/broadcasters, and legal counsel to a national professional wrestling corporation. He has been married for over 35 years to his college sweetheart, Denise Albert Charles, who was also a student at Pitt-Greensburg.
When asked about their spare time these days, Fred responded, “What spare time?” He further shared, though, that he is devoted to his church, family, and friends. Tom golfs, and Carlyle said “barbecue, barbecue, barbecue” in addition to enjoying his grandsons, working on his vinyl record collection, participating in drum circles, and bicycling. Bernie keeps busy with babysitting his grandson, maintaining rental properties, word-working, restoring furniture, and painting—“I love recycling and re-purposing junk to a treasure.”
Fred, Bernie, and Carlyle all named Dr. Carl F. Poke, professor of political science and director of academic affairs, as a faculty member who had a great influence on them. Carlyle said, “His lectures and later his personal attention with me, not as a basketball player but as a student, made a real impression on me.”
Now, these many years later, bringing the past, the present, and the future together is what MBAC strives to do. “Fellowship and camaraderie among the past and current players, and support of Pitt-Greensburg by the basketball alumni family are the ultimate goals,” said Fred, who serves as the MBAC president. “The club is the nexus between now and then,” and Fred believes the alumni will “be proud of what Pitt-Greensburg is now, and Pitt-Greensburg can be proud of who came through its program.”
Desiring to develop MBAC as a social and fellowship club, the officers are collecting contact information as they prepare to send out their first newsletter. Bernie, MBAC secretary, said that he is surprised by the response for the club, with former players responding from as far away as Alaska, Rhode Island, Florida, and California.
“Some of my fondest memories are my times with my teammates at Pitt-Greensburg,” said Carlyle, MBAC vice president. “Even though we have not communicated much over the years, I know our bonds are still strong as teammates.”
Tom, treasurer of MBAC, agreed, saying that he’s involved to get reacquainted with friends and teammates—and to remember those times.
Reflecting on his fondest memory as a student, Fred recalls participating in the first basketball game, a win at Pitt-Titusville, and their first home game, an overtime win against Penn State-New Kensington. “We didn’t think at the time that this was something historic,” Fred said. “We were thinking about winning.”
Alumni Spotlight: Roberta Gebrosky Chunko ’78
Roberta Gebrosky Chunko studied for two years at Pitt-Greensburg before relocating to the Pittsburgh campus. She holds three degrees from the University of Pittsburgh: B.A., Education-Comprehensive Social Studies (1978); M.Ed., Social Studies Education (1983); and Ed.D., Social Studies Education and Teacher Development (2000). Read more about her life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … a recommendation from my high school counselor. During my junior year meeting with my counselor, I was asked what I would like to do when I graduate from Franklin Regional High School. I said I wanted to become a teacher but had no idea where to go to college. Also, I would need to work my way through school and should live at home to save money. After noting that my grades and test scores were very good, she suggested Pitt-Greensburg. The rest is history! I could not be more pleased with this choice. I became the first in my family to graduate from college.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg … was the location. Greensburg was “the big city” to me. My first classes were downtown. I learned to maneuver through city streets and parallel park. I was so impressed with the country setting of the Greensburg campus and the beauty of Lynch Hall.
My favorite thing as a student/fondest memory was … the sunny days “studying” on the grounds near the stream that runs through campus.
The faculty member who had the greatest influence on me was … Dr. Nancy Washington. She opened my eyes to the world of psychology. Her enthusiasm and teaching techniques were impressive. I minored in psychology and continue studying psychology today. Currently, I teach high school psychology.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … finish my degree at the Pittsburgh campus. When I graduated in 1978, teaching jobs were difficult to acquire. Fortunately, my first year after graduating I was hired to teach social studies in the Wilkinsburg School District. The next year I taught at Churchill Area High School which then merged with four other districts to become the Woodland Hills School District. After a time as a stay-at-home mom, I was employed by the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education. I have been employed by the Franklin Regional School District since 1996.
My reason for staying connected to the University is … that I am very thankful for the opportunities Pitt-Greensburg provided. In particular, I am especially thankful for the scholarship provided by Pitt-Greensburg my freshman and sophomore years. My husband and I support various aspects the Greensburg and Pittsburgh campuses, especially those dealing with education.
In my spare time, I … go on “adventures” and experience new things. I view every experience as an opportunity to learn how to live a better life and serve others. Adventures large and small occur at unexpected moments and are most often with my family and friends.
My family members are … Pitt alumni. My husband, sister, brother, both daughters and their husbands, and three cousins are Pitt grads. And, three of my family members work for Pitt or UPMC.
Tell us something we didn’t ask … I believe very strongly in the importance of education and believe that education can make “dreams come true.” I share with my students that “I am living the dream” because of my education. Thanks, Pitt, for enabling dreams to come true!
Alumni Spotlight: Jeff Bigi ’89
Jeff Bigi graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 1989. He studied applied mathematics and computer science. Read more about his life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … the campus, and the professors were recommended by a very good friend and Pitt-Greensburg alum. Also, since I am from the area, Pitt-Greensburg afforded me the opportunity to work the night shift at UPS New Stanton while completing my degree.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg … was the size of the campus—smaller than expected with only a couple of buildings, when I started in the summer of 1986. Although small, this was the environment I was looking for, since I was starting my post-secondary education eight years after high school.
My favorite thing as a student/fondest memory was … the mentoring, support, and one-on-one time the professors offered and provided during my first year at Pitt-Greensburg. Since I took a non-traditional path to college, getting back into a classroom and learning environment were key to keeping a forward focus while working to get my degree.
The faculty members who had the greatest influence on me were … Dr. Mary Grace O'Donnell, Dr. Estela Llinas, and Dr. Ted Zaleskiewicz. They devised inspiring lectures for the difficult subjects of mathematics and physics. Their ability to promote discussion and teach and illustrate with real world examples showed students application along with a work ethic that had you go further and make a difference. A couple years ago, I was sorry to hear of the passing of Dr. "Z". Over the past 27 years, I have used the teaching disciplines and sayings of all three. I know how to work on and provide successful "recipes" or drive change. After all, "failure to change is a measure of a small mind." May God bless, and rest in peace, Dr. Z.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I … was afforded a UPS management opportunity in the industrial engineering department. I have parlayed my Pitt-Greensburg mathematics degree into a 30-year career with UPS. Over these years, my Pitt-Greensburg experience was used to support engineering opportunities for sort facilities, ground transportation networks, and air division networks.
My reason for staying connected to the University is … at a minimum, to always remember to give back and support Pitt-Greensburg's continuing effort to educate, mentor, and move forward the next generation of professionals who will change the world.
In my spare time, I … catch up on home projects. Also, I spend quality time with my wife Anna Marie and our two daughters, Cassandra and Nicole.
Alumni Spotlight: Gina Lauffer ’04
Gina Lauffer graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 2004 with a communication major and a psychology minor. Read more about her life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … the option of obtaining a University of Pittsburgh degree close to home. Attending Pitt-Greensburg allowed me to save money while still receiving the recognition that comes with being a University of Pittsburgh graduate.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg was … that I felt instantly at home on the campus. The campus is beautiful but not intimidating.
My favorite thing as a student/fondest memory was … working on the student newspaper, which gave me a chance to meet people and to expand my writing skills. Seeing my articles in print gave me confidence, and I also had a lot of fun.
The faculty/staff members who had the greatest influence on me were … Professor Lillian Beeson and Beth Tiedemann, director of Career Services.
Professor Beeson taught several of the courses required for my communication major, and she became a mentor to me. Looking back, so much of what Professor Beeson taught has stayed with me and helped me become successful. Along with Professor Beeson, Beth Tiedemann encouraged me to pursue my dream of becoming a lawyer, even though the process and cost of attending law school seemed to make that dream impossible at the time. Having these two amazing educators believe in me and encourage me made me start to believe that my dream could become a reality. Once I finally believed it, I started taking steps to make it a reality!
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … work as a paralegal at a law firm in Pittsburgh for four years. During that time, I gained experience in the legal field and it solidified my determination to apply to law school. I applied to Widener University School of Law in Harrisburg, PA, in 2007, and I attended that school as a part-time evening student from 2008-2012. As a student, I worked during the day and attended classes in the evening. My schedule was not easy, but it helped me develop the grit that has made it possible for me to succeed.
After graduating from law school, I worked as a litigator at a small private law firm in Harrisburg. As a new lawyer, I handled many types of cases, ranging from divorce and custody cases to real estate contract disputes. The skills taught in my communication courses at Pitt-Greensburg proved invaluable as I began my legal career, because effectively communicating with clients, other attorneys, and with judges is an essential part of advocacy. By September of 2014, I accepted a position as a prosecutor in the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement. My current job has been both challenging and rewarding, but I can honestly say that it’s a great fit for me.
My reason for staying connected to the University is … that I realize how much I benefitted from attending college at Pitt-Greensburg, and I want others to have the same great opportunities that were provided to me.
In my spare time, I like to … take spinning and kickboxing classes at my gym. I also love to spend time with my friends and family, to travel, and to participate in the activities and volunteer opportunities available at my local bar association.
My family/friends are … big Pitt fans! My brother, Chad Lauffer, and two of my best friends, Kristin Snyder and Ali Bach, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, and my fiancé, Ryan Miller, is a huge Pitt football fan.
Tell us something we didn’t ask … On October 22, 2016, I am getting married at the Pitt-Johnstown campus. Although I’m a proud Pitt-Greensburg alum, Ryan is from Johnstown, so we met in the middle and decided on UPJ. We are both extremely excited to incorporate Pitt into our big day, and our wedding colors are navy blue and gold.
Alumni Spotlight: Pamela Park Price ’86
Pamela Park Price graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 1986 with a political science major and an economics minor. Read more about her life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … that the campus was close to home and allowed me to also work 48 hours per week while completing my degree.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg was … that it was a small campus—just two buildings in the ’80s but still offered many degrees. I was also offered some great internship opportunities working with a United States congressman and a member of the House of Commons in Great Britain.
My favorite thing as a student/fondest memory was … being a part of the Pitt community in a setting that was more interactive with one-on-one attention.
The faculty member who had the greatest influence on me was … Dr. Carl Poke. He was very influential in my transfer decision to Pitt and was one of the best professors in engaging his students to love the major of political science.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … begin a career in banking that I have grown to love. Even though it’s not my field of study, the skills I learned about politics apply to the business world when dealing with individuals at all levels in a company.
My reason for staying connected to the University is … to try to help graduating students understand the job market they are about to enter and help promote the campus.
In my spare time, I … am a Pirates season ticket holder, so my summer home is PNC Park. I also watch whatever hockey game is available to me, although the Pens are my favorite.
My family is … the most important to me. I have two children who are the most caring, mature and supportive young adults I know. They keep me grounded and focused.
Tell us something we didn’t ask … Before coming to Pitt as a transfer student, I was a sportscaster and enjoy announcing to this day.
Alumni Spotlight: Jennifer Paul ’11
Jennifer Paul graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 2011 with a biology major and a chemistry minor. Read more about her life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … the value. I originally toured the Pitt Oakland campus with my father as a senior in high school. Although I was impressed by the visit, the expense of living in the dorms wasn’t something that appealed to us (sorry, Litchfield Towers!). My dad suggested Pitt-Greensburg, if I was still interested in attending a more affordable Pitt campus. I did; I really enjoyed the idea of being closer to home but still having the prestige and legacy of Pitt attached to my degree.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg was … that it was a beautiful campus. It literally is “Greens”burg.
My favorite thing as a student/fondest memory was … Science Seminar. During my first year at Pitt-Greensburg, I was a member of the “Science Learning Community” and enrolled in a science-majors only freshmen seminar (which still exists today). This course allowed me to truly get to know others in my major and the professors who really made an impact on me. Assigned to the course was a “Peer Leader” who attended the class as a teaching assistant and organized outside class projects. At the end of the course we were asked if anyone was interested in applying to become a “Peer Leader,” and I did so thinking it would be an appropriate way to give back to a course that provided so much to me. I credit the seminar for my involvement on campus as a sophomore, junior, and senior and the reason I didn’t transfer to any other Pitt campus.
The faculty members who had the greatest influence on me were … Barbara Barnhart and Kristina Pazehoski.
When I returned as a “Peer Leader” the following year I was assigned to a class taught by Barbara Barnhart. Over the course of four years at Pitt-Greensburg, I believe I have taken 6 (Seminar (first time), Seminar (second time), Biology 1 Lab, Biology 2 Lab, Embryology Lab, Senior Capstone) courses with Barb. She’s a wonderful instructor who really cares about her students, not just academically but personally. Her hope for me succeeding made me feel like I couldn’t disappoint her and motivated me to put forth more effort.
As a senior, I took on an independent capstone project with Kristina Pazehoski (Dr. Paz). She helped me understand the application of science in terms of graduate schools, conferences, and research presentations. Dr. Paz showed me the more professional aspects of earning a degree. Like Barb, I knew I could go to her for any issue whether science-related or not and that meant a lot to me.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … obtain my Masters of Science in biology from Chatham University. When I graduated in 2013, I applied for a faculty position at Pitt-Greensburg and received it. I’ve been here since 2013!
My reason for staying connected to the University is … to give back to a University that has provided so much to me.
In my spare time, I like to … hang out with my corgi (Reggie), find foodie activities, discuss Game of Thrones in all forms, visit with my family, and cheer on the Pens, Buccos, and the Pitt Panthers!
My family/friends are … the most important part of my life. They are always there to support me, and I am so grateful.
Tell us something we didn’t ask … College is truly what you make of it. It doesn’t have to be all about the end-game of receiving a degree and moving onto the next milestone in your life. I think that the best way to experience it is to get involved on campus!
Alumni Spotlight: Scott W. Smith ’05
Scott W. Smith graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 2005. He majored in criminal justice and minored in psychology. Read more about his life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … the small and welcoming campus. I wanted to go to a smaller university since I graduated from a small private high school with 19 other students.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg … was the beautiful campus.
My favorite thing as a student/fondest memory was … building great relationships with several fellow classmates who I am still very close to this day.
The faculty members who had the greatest influence on me were … Elizabeth M. Marciniak, Ph.D., and Franklin David Wilson, Ph.D.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … work for Buckeye International, Inc. Buckeye International, Inc. is a chemical manufacturer that makes floor finishes, cleaners, degreasers, hand soaps and hand sanitizers. I have been with the company for nine years now. I started as a sales representative then worked my way up to the manufacturer’s representative for the Pittsburgh, northern West Virginia, and central Pennsylvania territory. Four years ago, I was promoted to my current position of general manager for the Buckeye Cleaning Center of Pittsburgh located in Export, PA.
My reason for staying connected to the University is … I have fond memories of the faculty members and my classmates. All of the staff were extremely helpful in molding my career. I could see that they were there to not only teach but to help us become successful in whatever career our futures held.
In my spare time, I … travel and play golf. I have travelled to many different countries throughout the Caribbean.
Tell us something we didn’t ask … Gaining my bachelor’s degree was extremely important to my success with Buckeye International, Inc. Even though I do not work in the field in which I graduated, without having my degree, I could not work for Buckeye International. Buckeye does not hire anyone without a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. So my advice to any student, especially those who are close to graduation, who may have a change of heart on the degree they have chosen or the field they want to work in—Do Not Worry. A degree shows that you have determination and that you can complete difficult goals and that is exactly what graduating shows employers.
Alumni Spotlight: Barbara Lynn (Smirga) Smith ’94
Barbara Lynn (Smirga) Smith graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1994 with a BA in legal studies. Prior to that she studied criminal justice at the Pitt-Greensburg campus. Read more about her life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … being able to attend a smaller campus while still having the prestige of the University of Pittsburgh title. Another contributing factor was the student-to-teacher ratio which ensured more personal attention and support.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg was … how beautiful the campus was. It had a peaceful and serene feeling. As the year went on, I saw that every season at Pitt-Greensburg could have been pictured on a postcard.
My fondest memory is … the fall between classes. I would go sit outside to do homework, study, and enjoy how pretty the leaves and surroundings were.
The faculty member who had the greatest influence on me was … Professor Mike Rubinoff. It was my first year in college, and I was somewhat apprehensive to speak out or ask questions. Professor Rubinoff was straightforward and outspoken, but he always made me feel like any question was a good question. A few times after class he would ask me to stick around, and I can clearly remember him saying to me, “I saw that puzzled look on your face, do you completely understand the point I was trying to make and why?” He would then take the time to go over it again until he was certain I understood. In all the years since then, I have never forgotten him and how he would go above and beyond for his students. He was a brilliant man who loved to share his knowledge and passion for the law.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … complete a degree in legal studies at the Oakland campus. After that, I was fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home wife and mom for ten years. When I re-entered the workforce, it was at an out-of-state juvenile correction center for male felony offenders ages 11-18. While that was a very challenging job, it was also very satisfying just knowing that I played a part in some of those young men being released with an education and with problem-solving skills that gave them a chance of not becoming a repeat offender. I currently work for the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute in the Fiscal Compliance Department. I handle the accounts of patients who are participating in clinical trials. I review their accounts and charges to ensure that nothing is billed to them that the clinical trial should be covering.
My reason for staying connected to the University is … not only am I an alumni and employee of the University, but I am also the parent of a child attending Pitt-Greensburg. My daughter Danielle “Bella” Smith is in her second year at Pitt-Greensburg majoring in business management. I am extremely proud that she chose Pitt for her education.
In my spare time, I like … reading, hockey, Pitt sports, music, and spending time with my family.
My family is … quite large. My mom is one of nine kids, and I am the oldest of 18 grandkids and four great grandkids. All of my life my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles were always my biggest encouragers and supporters. (They still are today!) I was the first in my family to go to college and graduate with a four-year degree. I am the oldest of three children, and we all attended Penn-Trafford High School. I am blessed to be married 21 years to Jim Smith, the kindest, most hardworking man I know. I have known him since we were little kids. When I was 15, I told my family that “he was the guy I was going to marry.” Bella is an amazing daughter who continues making our job as parents very easy. She is my biggest blessing and with every milestone she surpasses, I am even more proud of her.
Tell us something we didn’t ask … A couple of strange things about me is that I collect hockey cards and have them all listed alphabetically and categorized on an Excel spreadsheet. I am also a fan of One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer—due largely in part to having a teenage daughter that plays boy band music over and over again. We attended both of those concerts this past summer. I do enjoy normal music too!
Alumni Spotlight: Vincent Ferrari ’78
Vincent Ferrari graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy in 1978. Read more about his life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … the proximity to home, familiarity with Greensburg, and that is was a nice, small campus.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg … came during freshman orientation day in the summer of 1973. I was able to see Lynch Hall and the beautiful campus grounds for the first time. My impression was that it was a very pleasant and friendly place. My impressions on my first day of class that September were a little different! My first college class was to be a required physical education course. The location was the old armory in downtown Greensburg, as there were no other facilities yet on the Greensburg campus. I also had classes in the old Vogle Building on Maple Street in downtown Greensburg. I soon learned that despite the outward appearance and location of this building, inside were excellent instructors, great classmates, and a wonderful learning environment.
My favorite thing as a student/fondest memory was … Lynch Hall and the surrounding grounds.
The faculty member who had the greatest influence on me was … Dr. Kenneth Bell, my biology professor. He was a wonderful teacher as well as a great role model. Sadly, he passed away not long after I left Pitt-Greensburg, but his memory lives on in the nature trail that he sometimes took his class out on, and which today bears his name.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … the School of Pharmacy at the Oakland campus. After graduating in 1978, I moved to Maryland in the suburban Washington, DC, area where I got my first job. In November of that year, I got married and have lived in Bowie, Maryland, for over 30 years. For the past 12 years, I have worked as supervisor of the Employee Pharmacy at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Maryland.
My reason for staying connected to the University is … to give back in a small way for all that Pitt-Greensburg did for me in my short academic time on campus.
In my spare time, I … am an enthusiastic photographer, and, in recent years, I have become somewhat accomplished at my art. My work has been entered in several shows, including some solo exhibits. And, I am the editor of the newsletter for the Bowie-Crofton Camera Club. In addition to photography, I also enjoy hiking and traveling with my wife.
My family is … my wife Leslie (NUR '78), who I met at the University of Pittsburgh and have been married to for more than 36 years, and our daughter Christina.
Tell us something we didn’t ask … I wish more students from the time I went to Pitt-Greensburg were active as alumni. It would be great to get in touch with some of them again.
Alumni Spotlight: Charles ’90 and Laura (Wagner) ’91 Aftosmis
Charles G. Aftosmis ’90 grew up in a military family and traveled the world before completing the requirements of a two-year institution and transferring to a nearby four-year school. Laura (Wagner) Aftosmis ’91 lived in a neighboring Greensburg development. They both wanted to receive a degree from an established university but preferred a small campus and low student-teacher ratio.
Both chose to attend the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg—and that is where they met. Laura and Charles were introduced by a mutual friend—and according to Charles, they just “clicked together.” Their relationship developed as they both pursued business management degrees.
They agree that meeting one another, study groups, and graduating are their fondest memories as students. A special memory of Laura’s is having her mother, Gladys S. Wagner, who served as an Advisory Board member for Pitt-Greensburg, onstage in cap and gown during the Commencement ceremony.
Laura feels as if she followed in her parents’ footsteps, as she recently started her third term as an Advisory Board member. Her father, W. R. Wagner, had earned a Pitt degree from the Oakland campus in 1943. The family’s philanthropy is visible on campus through the Wagner Dining Hall dedicated in memory of her father, the Gladys S. Wagner Endowed Scholarship Fund that is open to any business major, and support of campus events such as Blue & Gold Weekend.
Charles and Laura have enjoyed watching the campus grow—both in buildings and programs. What hasn’t changed is the personal involvement and genuine interest the faculty have in the students—“There’s a relationship. You’re not just a number,” Charles said.
Both Charles and Laura fondly remember Professor Robert J. A. Pratt and Dr. Margaret Rechter. They described Prof. Pratt as quite unique: “You had to learn,” they agreed commenting that his method made you think. They added that his teaching wasn’t textbook and you were constantly thinking outside of the box. That’s what they really liked about him: “It was real-world application,” Laura said.
Dr. Rechter became a favorite for her teaching style and how she made each student feel. Charles and Laura both agree: “She really took an interest in the students.”
Charles and Laura wed in 1994. Before joining the family business in 1997, Charles started an advertising/graphic design company. Today, he and Laura own and operate Revest Properties, as well as Northpointe Development Group and a few other real estate management companies based in Greensburg that operate assets including hotels, multi-family housing, office and retail space, and billboards.
Although they don’t see themselves living anywhere other than Greensburg, the couple and their dog, Oliver, travel to a new destination each year. They have driven to all but four states plus Canada’s western provinces—and try to visit a national park on each trip.
Laura describes her parents as mentors who instilled a strong work ethic and community-minded attitude to give back where you live, work, and play. In addition to their support of Pitt-Greensburg, both Charles and Laura serve as board members for the Animal Care & Assistance Fund. Laura also serves on the finance committee at their church and is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Colonists.
Charles is a “car guy” who attended Bertil Roos Racing School to learn how to drive race cars. Earlier this year, he was in a NASCAR Charger at Daytona International Speedway driving 175 miles per hour. He’s hoping that the weather cooperates so that he and Laura can make a “Pitt” stop at the Blue & Gold Weekend Car Cruise in October.
Alumni Spotlight: Jana (Giallonardo) Valentine ’01
Jana (Giallonardo) Valentine graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 2001 with a BA in communication. Read more about her life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … the feeling of community on campus. The faculty and staff were always so friendly. You were more than just a number at an institution; you were an individual.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg was … that it was a beautiful campus, but I originally wanted to go to Oakland. After the end of my first semester, I no longer wanted to transfer. I had gotten involved on campus, and I loved the community. I commuted to campus for my first two years before I became a resident assistant. It was great to experience both commuter and residence life.
My favorite thing as a student/fondest memory was … difficult to choose—there are so many great memories from being a student. But, one of my greatest memories was during my junior year and my first year as an RA in Rossetti International House. Dr. Estrada had arranged for a dance group from Guanajuato, Mexico, to perform on campus. She had also brought back costumes from her travels to Mexico. The Spanish Club and residents of the International Academic Village were able to dress up in authentic clothing to host the event. Afterward, the members of the dance group stayed in Rossetti International House with the residents. We were able to practice speaking Spanish and engage in another culture.
The faculty members who had the greatest influence on me were … from the Communication program. Dr. Whatule, Dr. Beeson, and Dr. Waxwood challenged me to think more critically and to do my best work. Through their feedback, I became a better presenter and writer. They encouraged me to apply to graduate school, and I continue to use the presentation skills and communication theories that they taught in my career and in life. Furthermore, Dr. Estrada had a significant impact on me as well. Not only did she teach me in the classroom, but she encouraged my leadership development as the first RA in the International Village (originally housed in Rossetti House). Her ability to link classroom learning with co-curricular opportunities was second to none. The way she approached advising students has inspired the way that I work with students today.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … attend Indiana University of Pennsylvania for my master’s degree in student affairs in higher education. My first professional position after graduate school was at the University of Pittsburgh (Oakland campus) as a resident director. I then returned to Pitt-Greensburg from 2006-2010 as the director of campus activities and Academic Village advisor. I left Pitt-Greensburg in 2010 to become the director of residence life at Chatham University, and I’m now at Providence College as the director of residence life.
I greatly enjoyed my time working at Pitt-Greensburg in campus activities. The Student Services staff lead by Rick Fogle is a talented team of professionals that truly have student development as the focus in all that they do. When I think back to my freshman year during the fall of 1997, I’m amazed at how much Student Services has grown over the years and how the department continues to advance.
My reason for staying connected to the University is … that Pitt-Greensburg helped me find my passion in life. Before serving as a work study in the Office of Student Services, I did not know that student affairs even existed as a profession. Ginny Kemerer, who was formerly an administrative coordinator in Student Services, encouraged me to get involved on campus which made me step outside of my comfort zone. If the Student Services staff would not have encouraged me to join the Spanish Club, Presidential Ambassadors, and Lambda Pi Eta, or apply for the orientation leader and resident assistant positions, I would not have entered the field of student affairs. My goal is to provide the same support to the students that I work with that the Pitt-Greensburg Student Services staff did for me. I like to stay involved because it is a small way of saying thank you. Since I’m no longer local, I’m also excited about the new opportunities that the PGAA provides for keeping those of us who are out of state connected.
In my spare time, I like to … volunteer for the Rhode Island Family Literacy Initiative by assisting adults in preparing for the citizenship test. A fun fact is that I kept my old Spanish book from Dr. Estrada’s class, and I occasionally refer to it as I prepare for citizenship class.
My family/friends are … my sister, Gina Coppula, who is also a Pitt-Greensburg alum!
Tell us something we didn’t ask … When I reflect on my experience as a student and former staff member at Pitt-Greensburg, I think about all of the wonderful individuals who make a difference. From the staff in the dining hall, to the physical plant workers who keep the campus beautiful, to those in academic advising, etc., etc., etc. Pitt-Greensburg has wonderful people who make the campus a great community to be a part of.
Alumni Spotlight: Harry P. Bowser ’72
Harry P. Bowser graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1972 after majoring in secondary education and history. He studied at the Greensburg campus from January 1968 through April 1970. Read more about his life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … the name and that I could commute.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg was … that is was really small. My high school was bigger.
My favorite thing as a student/fondest memories were … the friendships developed and the closeness of the people on campus.
The faculty members who had the greatest influence on me were … Mrs. Karen Scanlon—always encouraging and helpful; Dr. Norman McWhinney—funny, brilliant, approachable; Dr. Guy Rossetti—young, mature, trustworthy; and John Hunter—a coach that gave me a chance. I can’t remember one faculty member from the Oakland campus.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … finish my degree at the Oakland campus. I was in the Pennsylvania National Guard and had to delay my student teaching. When I returned, I was hired at Southmoreland, where I spent my entire 35-year teaching career.
My reason for becoming active with the alumni association is … that I am grateful for the opportunities given to me in life by my education at Pitt, and I wanted to give something back. Coaching brought me back on campus. I’m working through the PGAA to set up a men’s basketball alumni club to tie alumni back to the basketball program.
In my spare time, I like to … work around my house and yard and travel when possible. And, I enjoy spending time with my granddaughters Alexis and Mikayla.
My family/friends are … the most important part of my life, along with my faith in God. My son, Adam, played basketball for and graduated from Pitt-Greensburg and is currently the director of the Somerset Education Center at Pennsylvania Highlands Community College. My wife Karon and I have another son, Ryan, who is a manager at MAX Environmental.
Tell us something we didn’t ask … I’ve been in-and-out of the Pitt-Greensburg basketball program since I played on its first basketball team. I was an assistant coach under John Hunter for two years before leaving to coach at Southmoreland High School. I started as an assistant basketball coach for a number of years before becoming head coach for seven years. I then returned to Pitt-Greensburg as assistant coach under Matt Furjanic and was part of the championship team. I continued as an assistant for coaches Karl Radday and Marcus Kahn. I returned once again to Southmoreland as the head coach for another six years before retiring. After overcoming some health problems, I helped start up an elementary basketball program. Then in 2014 after being approached by Coach Sean Strickland, I was able to return to Pitt-Greensburg to serve as a character coach. And, I’ll continue to do what I can to help the basketball players and Pitt-Greensburg.
Alumni Spotlight: Benjamin Vasunda ’10
Benjamin Vasunda graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 2010 with a BS in management/accounting. Read more about his life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … the easy commute to campus. Initially I had only planned on staying at Pitt-Greensburg for a semester or two, then transferring to the Oakland campus. I had such a great experience my first semester that I decided not to leave.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg was … how easy it was to approach the professors outside of class, and I loved the community feel of the campus.
My favorite thing as a student/fondest memory was … free food week at Chick-fil-A. I think our Intermediate Accounting class went there each day.
The faculty member who had the greatest influence on me was … Professor Pamela Ondeck. I credit her with helping me get to where I am today. She pushed me to do my best each semester and left me very well prepared for life after college.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … Washington, DC, and spent almost five years in public accounting working with a variety of not-for-profit organizations and employee benefit funds. In January, I moved on to a role with Marriott International on their financial reporting team.
My reason for becoming active with the alumni association is … to stay up-to-date with the future plans of the University and, if possible, to help create a better experience for current and future students.
In my spare time, I like to … get outside as much as possible, whether that’s golfing, playing softball, running, or just walking around my town. When time permits, I also like to travel and explore new places.
My family/friends are … the most important part of my life. Even though I’ve moved out of the area, I try to get back as often as possible to see my family.
Alumni Spotlight: Kristin (Klocek) Guynn ’06
Kristin (Klocek) Guynn graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 2006 with a BA in communication. Read more about her life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … growing up in Mt. Pleasant, PA, I always knew about Pitt-Greensburg and frequently passed the beautiful fountain. But, I decided to travel a little further for school and attended Pitt-Johnstown for my freshman year. Over my first year there, I found that I wasn’t completely happy. A few friends of mine attended Pitt-Greensburg, so I was able to visit them and see the campus. The campus was beautiful, the people were friendly, and it just felt right … felt like home.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg was … the beauty of campus. It was also a perfect size – both the campus and the class sizes. I was also able to live in the Villages on campus. The Villages are such a beautiful residence hall unlike anything I had seen in colleges at that time. Then, once at the University, you realize how much the people care. The faculty and staff are all there to help you and guide you in the right direction through your college career. As I started my sophomore year, I realized that this place that once was considered “too close to home” was actually the perfect place to help me flourish as an individual and as a student.
My favorite thing as a student/fondest memory was … the time spent, adventures had, and relationships made with my roommates and friends. I have great memories of living in the Villages at both Athena and Apollo houses and late night trips to the Coffeehouse, especially for cold coffees. I also enjoyed my time as president of Lambda Pi Eta and working together with some amazing communication majors to plan a few great events on campus, in particular the Battle of the Bands and Art Show. Last, but certainly not least, having the first ever graduation to be held outdoors.
The faculty members who had the greatest influence on me were … the communication faculty. They constantly strived to go above and beyond to ensure that we were prepared for our future in the field. Dr. Lillian Beeson was truly my mentor. She pushed me to be the best I could be. I feel that she helped me flourish as a student and kept me engaged in the classroom from day one. She also stressed the importance of acting as a professional and preparing quality papers and presentations. She truly wanted her students to succeed and also celebrated our successes. She encouraged me to pursue my internship and showed interest every step of the way.
Also, Dr. Anne Czerwinski was a great mentor both in the classroom and with Lambda Pi Eta, the communication studies honor society. Her Image Restoration course was by far my favorite class, and she was integral in helping me hone my analytical and writing skills. I am so grateful that I was able to have so many positive experiences in the classroom and for the faculty who pushed me to work hard to reach and see my potential.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … 84 Lumber Company to work in the marketing and promotions department. I then worked at Point Park University in public relations and also began my graduate studies. I obtained my MBA from Point Park in June 2009. In July 2009, I was blessed with the opportunity to work at Pitt-Greensburg as the on-line communications and development specialist where I helped to prepare, launch, and manage the website that you see today. I also worked on many of the social media platforms, on-line payments, and on-line fundraising. In September 2014, I began working as a sales manager at 1480 WCNS AM radio in Latrobe, PA. Then, in April, I transitioned to the station’s parent company, Laurel Highland Total Communications (LHTC), to work as a marketing and promotions specialist. I work on marketing, social media, website updates, and special events for both 1480 WCNS and LHTC.
My reason for becoming active with the alumni association is … to not only give back, but what I gained at Pitt-Greensburg both as a student and past staff member is invaluable and I want to also share that sentiment with prospective students, current students, fellow alumni, and the community. It brings me great joy to come back to campus and participate in various events that make Pitt-Greensburg the special place that it is. I think it is important to stay engaged and to give back to the place that gave me so much.
In my spare time, I like to … sing, typically at church for my parish in Mt. Pleasant, but I also sing for weddings. I enjoy photography. I love taking pictures of my daughter and family. I am also a senior independent Thirty-One gifts consultant, and I enjoy hosting parties and selling product. Most of all, I enjoy time spent with family and friends.
My family/friends are … my everything! My husband Brian, 3-year-old daughter Gia, and my dachshund Rusty are my happiness in life. They certainly make my world go round. There is nothing better than experiencing life through the eyes of your child. Maybe she will even be a future Bobcat! I feel very blessed and am deeply grateful for the support and love from my parents, family, and friends!
Tell us something we didn’t ask … To students, enjoy every second of your time at Pitt-Greensburg. Respect and listen to your professors and take in as much information as you can. Don’t be afraid to get involved. Pitt-Greensburg is a great place to flourish and grow. To alumni, stay involved after graduation. It is very rewarding to return back “home” and to work alongside fellow alumni and help impact young student lives as well. I’m so grateful that I was able to receive a college education and that I had such great experiences at Pitt-Greensburg. The experiences I had both in and out of the classroom helped make me who I am today.
Alumni Spotlight: Julia (Cleary) Sefcheck ’99
Julia (Cleary) Sefcheck graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 1999 with an English writing major. Read more about her life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … I really wanted to go to Pitt, and Pitt-Greensburg was basically in my backyard. (We could sit on our back porch and watch the fireworks that marked the beginning of the new fall semester). The campus offered both English writing and English literature degrees. It also provided me with the option to transfer to the Oakland campus. I originally planned on going to Oakland. I had applied and been accepted. I had gone to small schools up to that point, and I loved the idea of being in the city and anonymous—lost and exploring a larger world. I was in love with that idea until I saw the freshman dorms. Sharing a room AND a bathroom with a floor of strangers held no appeal for me. Pitt-Greensburg ended up being a great choice for me. The campus was beautiful, and everything seemed new and fresh! I had four great years at Pitt-Greensburg!
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg was … possibilities! I was excited to be attending a university. I was excited at all of the possibilities in front of me! I couldn't wait to tackle all of my new classes and be challenged. Everything seemed bright—new and clean. The campus was gorgeous, and I was struck by how green and lush it was. I always get a thrill when things are aesthetically pretty and charming, and that's how I felt about the little picturesque bridges that span Slate Run Creek. Powers Hall was under construction at the time, and I remember trying to find my first class. It was like a maze, and the rooms weren't marked. Luckily, I found the right classroom. I also remember being impressed with the library. I spent a lot of time there my first year studying and reading in between classes.
My favorite thing as a student/fondest memory was … the four years I spent on the UPG Press, especially the years I was editor. It took a lot of time and effort, but I enjoyed being on the staff and directing the staff. There isn't one specific memory, but there was an overall feeling of camaraderie, and we were always laughing and having fun. I know I'll forget a good many of the people on the staff, but I have to thank Kate, Fred, Jeremy, Steve, Tracey, Jen, and all the others who made entering the Press Room every day a great experience!
The faculty members who had the greatest influence on me were … Dr. Sayre Greenfield, Dr. Anthony Boldurian, Dr. Marybeth Spore, and Mr. David Guo.
I thoroughly enjoyed every course I had with Dr. Sayre Greenfield. I think I tried to take at least one of his courses a semester. I really appreciated his enthusiasm and passion for what he was teaching. During my senior year, a few of us held a Renaissance event on campus, and he dressed as William Shakespeare, and I was the queen. I still have a picture of us dressed as these characters on my piano.
I took a handful of archaeology classes. Dr. Anthony Boldurian is another faculty member I appreciated for his passion and enthusiasm. His classes were never dull. Another highlight of my time at Pitt-Greensburg was the field trip the class took to the dig site in Greene County. I still have an appreciation and interest in archaeology.
Dr. Marybeth Spore was the faculty advisor for the UPG Press. She helped me develop professionally, encouraged me to apply for editorial positions, and recommended other opportunities on campus. She's been a great reference for me over the years.
Mr. David Guo worked for the Post-Gazette and taught journalism classes. He helped me in attaining an internship with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … work at my family’s store while I worked as a freelance writer. I wrote articles for The Catholic Accent and The Herald Standard. I worked for a short time as a reporter for The Gateway Press. My journalism career was short-lived. I attended St. Vincent College and earned a Pennsylvania Teaching Certificate in Secondary English. I worked as a substitute teacher for a few years. From 2005 until 2014, I was employed with the Private Industry Council of Westmoreland/Fayette, Inc. (PIC). I started as a youth specialist working with both in- and out-of-school youth. I became the youth supervisor and managed the youth staff and all youth programs including their after-school programs and summer work experience. During my employment with PIC, I worked with youth ages 5 to 21 in a variety of programming which encouraged education, STEM, literacy, and employment. I left PIC last year to pursue some entrepreneurial options, and I am currently working to grow a store online at Etsy.
My reason for becoming active with the alumni association is … not a straight path. I could have just volunteered because I fully believe in the education and experiences offered at Pitt-Greensburg. That option would have been too easy. My friend and current Pitt-Greensburg staff member Courtney DeCarlucci has been inviting me to events. Last year, I ran into Sean O'Donnell at the annual croquet event. He was president of the PGAA Board at the time. We began talking, and I said I would like to become involved. Halfway through this year, I became a member of the Board. I hope to be able to contribute more time in the future.
In my spare time, I like to … play with my dog, read (I'm working through a list of the Top 100 novels of the 20th century), paint/draw, be creative (whatever that entails—cooking/baking, building, sewing), write (I'm still hoping to write a best-selling novel someday), and plan and host themed dinner parties. I like to be challenged and learn new things (wherever my whims take me).
My family/friends are … very important to me and are the biggest supporters of all of my crazy ideas/plans!
Tell us something we didn’t ask … I was very privileged to be involved in many things while at Pitt-Greensburg and many firsts. I was a member of Sigma Tau Delta, and took part in READ for Lifelong Learning. I was in the first group of Presidential Ambassadors and inductees of the Senior Honor Society. I really appreciate all of these opportunities as well as the others that Pitt-Greensburg afforded me.
Alumni Spotlight: David M. Kitch ’66
David M. Kitch studied engineering at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg from 1964-1966 before relocating to the University of Pittsburgh. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1968 and a master’s degree in industrial engineering in 1981. Read more about his life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … the close proximity to my home (12 miles) and lower tuition cost for Westmoreland County residents.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg was … that it was a small campus. I was the second class to enroll at Pitt-Greensburg, and the campus was one building located in downtown Greensburg.
My favorite thing as a student/fondest memory was … that the classes were very small, some consisting of only five students. I developed friendships with other students from all parts of Pennsylvania. Fond memories were of eating lunch together and occasionally visiting each other’s homes.
The faculty member who had the greatest influence on me was … Ted Zaleskiewicz who taught me four classes of physics. I wanted to be a mechanical engineer, and physics is the framework of mechanical engineering.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … attend the Oakland campus. I carpooled with fellow engineering students from the area. I graduated with a BS in mechanical engineering (BSME) in 1968. I found course work at the main campus to be easier and less competitive since class sizes were much bigger. As a student, I joined the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). I remained active in ASME and served as a local chapter chairman, served on several ASME Design Committees, and was awarded a lifetime membership after my retirement.
My first job was at Elliott Co., located in Jeannette, and was as a compressor aerodynamic development engineer. Elliott provided me a good first step for my remaining career. I left Elliott in 1973 for a senior engineer position at Westinghouse Electric Nuclear Energy Systems (NES). During my 25 years at Westinghouse, I worked for NES in Monroeville and for the Electromechanical Div. (EMD) in Cheswick. I worked as a principal design engineer, fluid systems engineer, and marketing and project engineer. I served as a Westinghouse representative to ASME, Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). I traveled extensively (both domestic and international) to equipment supplier factories, nuclear power plants, and numerous conferences. I published many technical papers and have a patent. I attended graduate school at night and earned a MS in industrial engineering (MSIE) in 1981 from Pitt. Steve Tritch, the present Pitt Chairman of the Board, became the Westinghouse Nuclear VP while I worked at Westinghouse.
I retired from Westinghouse in 1998 but almost immediately went back to work for Westinghouse as a consulting engineer for EMD. I worked there until 2007 after which I returned to Westinghouse Nuclear and continued to work as a design consultant on the new model nuclear plant, AP-1000, for almost five years. During this time I had the opportunity to mentor and train several new engineering hires. I developed a close working relationship with one who happened to be a Pitt graduate. We remain close friends.
My reason for becoming staying connected to the University is … that the campus is local and it gave me a start in my engineering career. I am interested in helping Westmoreland County get properly recognized, and I think the Pitt-Greensburg campus boosts the image of the county. I am a member of the Pitt Alumni Association and Golden Panthers, and I regularly attend homecoming celebrations and other events.
In my spare time, I like to … serve on the Pitt Mechanical Engineering and Material Science (MEMS) Board of Visitors. I’ve served in this capacity for almost 20 years. This gives me the opportunity to see and help improve the quality of our department, students, and the Swanson School of Engineering.
My wife Bridget and I like to spend time with our four grandchildren who range in age from 12-15 years old. We take them to dinner, on interesting field trips, and on a one- to two-day vacation every summer and during Christmas vacation.
I am a serious Chevrolet Corvette enthusiast. Coming from an auto repair family, I do almost all my own auto repair work. I own three Corvettes and restored a 1966 Convertible from basically a rough-looking driver to national award prominence. I belong to several local Corvette clubs and judge Corvettes on a national level. I also like to golf, attend my grandson’s ice hockey games, watch Pitt sports and Penguin hockey, and travel.
My family/friends are … My wife Bridget: “Dave is my best friend. We’ve enjoyed each other’s company for over 50 years, traveling, sharing time with our grandchildren, attending work related, Pitt related, car related and even gardening related activities. He continues to endorse his university and encourages alumni to come back home to see its growth and change”.
Bernie Fedak, retired USS VP Engineering: “I've known Dave Kitch since 1967 first as a fellow student at Pitt and then as a colleague in the Pittsburgh professional community. Dave worked as an engineer at Westinghouse and I worked in the steel industry. Dave and I also have participated on the Pitt main campus school of engineering - mechanical engineering visiting committee for many years. Dave is a die-hard Pitt grad. He promotes the school of engineering whenever he can and wherever he goes. He is obviously very proud of his alma mater. His participation on the visiting committee has been enthusiastic and his input has been valuable. Dave values his Pitt education and considers it to be a vital part of his successful career. He constantly gives back to Pitt as he has made promotion of the university a way of life.”
Dr. Mingking Chyu, Chairman, MEMS Dept. Swanson School of Engineering: “Dave Kitch is a renowned engineer and a great mentor to many young engineers. As a long-term employee at Westinghouse Electric Company, he has made enormous contributions in various aspects of nuclear power. While the nuclear industry in the US has been short of workforce, Dave has helped to recruit and train numerous engineers of nonnuclear background to become viable contributors in today's nuclear engineering industry. Dave’s passion towards engineering goes beyond nuclear power. He is an avid automobile engineer and an accomplished expert in restoration of Corvettes. On this front, Dave has been volunteering his time and energy to promote broad based participation, particularly the younger generation. In summary, Dave is an extremely deserving individual to receive the notoriety that Pitt-Greensburg has bestowed upon him.”
Kyle Noel, Sr. Engineer, Westinghouse Electric Co.: “Dave has been an incredible mentor in my early professional career. His willingness to pass along knowledge and experiences gained throughout his career has played an important role to my development as a young engineer. In addition to being a valuable mentor, Dave has also been a great friend and our personal relationship has grown alongside our professional relationship. Overall, Dave is a caring, honest, trustworthy, and respectable person who loves to stay busy and spend time with his family and friends, and is extremely passionate with his interests such as music, Corvettes, and the University of Pittsburgh. Hail to Pitt!
Tell us something we didn’t ask … My wife and I just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. My wife is very involved in volunteer work. I wear my Pitt engineering cap that gets attention in all parts of the US and Europe. I worked on two professional sports car race teams and helped one win a national championship in 1997. I attended the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in Phoenix, where I drove a new Corvette Z06 on the Firebird Raceway. I love to drive all three of my Corvettes. My two sons both are entrepreneurs.
Alumni Spotlight: Casey Stanton ’12
Casey Stanton graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 2012 with a BA in communication. Read more about her life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … the location of the school, class size, and the athletic program. I wanted to attend a university that was known for its academic excellence while having smaller class sizes and a city close with a lot of potential opportunities after graduation.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg was … great! I felt as if I was part of something bigger than myself, and I would have the ability to make a difference. I had met with both the basketball and soccer coaches/teams and instantly knew this was the place to which I needed to transfer. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly. I knew this would soon be my home for the next three years.
My favorite thing as a student/fondest memory was … whether a practice or a game, on the court with my teammates!
The Pitt person who had the greatest influence on me was … my coach of two years, Erin Eaton. Basketball and being part of a team taught me so much both on and off the court. Erin pushed and challenged me in ways that I had never been. She really grew into my biggest mentor.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … a career in the financial services industry in Pittsburgh. I started with Northwestern Mutual in October of 2012 as a recruiter and am now the director of recruitment for our South Hills District Office. I have recently taken on the role of associate financial representative for our managing director, as well. I owe a lot of my professional success to my experiences on the court and in the classroom at Pitt-Greensburg.
My reason for becoming active with the alumni association/staying connected to the University is … to share my past experiences with potential students and to give back to the establishment that gave so much to me.
In my spare time, I like to … be active around the city, play PSL sports, and spend time with my fiancé Phil and dog, Kemba.
My family/friends are … extremely important to me. Although we are all over the East Coast, we are very close. My brother just graduated from LaSalle University, and now lives in Philadelphia, and my sister just accepted an athletic scholarship to play D1 soccer at the University of Hartford.
Tell us something we didn’t ask … In May, I will be running my first half marathon in honor of my godmother and the American Cancer Society.
Alumni Spotlight: Ronna (Sarsfield) Colland ’87
What started out as a desire to stay close to home while studying accounting has come full circle for Ronna (Sarsfield) Colland ’87. A work-study student in the business office at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, Colland completed a BS in management then returned to campus 10 years later as its director of business affairs. She recalled declaring in her interview that it was her “dream job” and upon being hired said it was like “coming home.” That was 17 years ago.
A commuter student, Colland was very active on campus with the Student Government Association (SGA) and made many friends with other work-study students, besides the study groups with other business management and accounting students. She said she enjoyed all her classes but remembered Professor Bob Pratt doing a lot with the students, including a business honor society, and Dr. Jim DeFloria for his willingness to explain and guide students in their accounting study.
Colland reminisced how she was included in the 200th anniversary Pitt celebration at the Greensburg Country Club due to her student involvement. And, there was a favorite memory in the Student Union. “It was the middle of winter … they cleared out the furniture, SGA put sand in McKenna Hall, and we had a beach party. That was a lot of fun!” Colland added, “I’m not sure how they got that past administration?”
Besides taking a couple summer classes on the Oakland campus, Colland completed her degree requirements at Pitt-Greensburg and finished a semester early just missing the start of Pitt-Greensburg conferring degrees.
A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Colland said her accounting courses at Pitt-Greensburg gave her the required educational credits to take the CPA exam and her work-study experience provided “really great skills” and practical training.
During her senior year, Colland gave up her work-study job because of a financial aid situation, “That’s probably why I give to the Staff Association’s Resource Fund. … It’s directed toward helping students’ expenses.” She said, “There were people that I worked with in the Business Office at that time who had an impact on me. Most faculty and staff here sincerely care about the students and want them to succeed. That is, foremost, Pitt-Greensburg.”
In addition to participating in the internal giving campaign, Colland concerns herself and her staff with helping the students understand their bills and what they need to do to cover their tuition. “We try to steer them in the right direction, because we want them to succeed and continue in their studies.”
Outside of work, Colland keeps busy with her husband, daughter—whom she hopes will someday be a Pitt alum, and volunteer work. “I would like alumni to come back and visit … it’s a dynamic place. It’s a special place.”
Alumni Spotlight: Troy Ross ’99
Troy Ross graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 1999 with a double major in political science and anthropology. Read more about his life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … the size. I grew up in a small coal mining town named Whitsett, which is in Fayette County along the Youghiogheny River. It was the type of community where everybody knew everyone and looked out for one another’s children. It felt right to me to be in a place that could still offer an environment where people knew each other by name, and I felt I could get that at Pitt-Greensburg.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg was … friendliness. One of the first people I met on campus was Officer Simeon McClain, and he made my friend and I feel so welcomed. Since then, I’ve met so many terrific people that have made Pitt-Greensburg feel like home.
My favorite thing as a student/fondest memory was … my entire freshman year! Looking back 20 years later, I still smile at that time in my life and how special it was. It was the first time I lived away from home, and I learned so much about myself that year. I also lived with some of my closest friends that year who made every day exciting. It was perhaps the best eight months of my life!
The faculty members who had the greatest influence on me were … Dr. Anthony Boldurian and Dr. Kerry Manning.
One of my first classes as a freshman was with Dr. Boldurian, and, to be honest, he scared me to death! I actually considered dropping the class, but I’m so glad that I didn’t because he was so passionate and an incredible teacher! He challenged me to do my best or suffer the consequences, and I’m thankful for that!
Unlike Dr. Boldurian, Dr. Manning made me feel comfortable and relaxed from day one! He made learning fun and immediately engaged classes in lively conversations on current topics. His classes made me examine my own worldviews and be prepared to express them confidently. Many years later, Kerry and I have become friends, and he is still teaching me new things ... usually on the golf course!
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … work at Pitt-Greensburg. I spent some time in the Admissions Office before being hired in the Office of Housing & Residence Life. I’m currently the director of housing and residence life. I also went back into the classroom to obtain my masters in higher education management at Pitt’s Oakland campus.
My reason for becoming active with the alumni association is … to connect with old friends and help out Pitt-Greensburg whenever I can, but what is even more satisfying is catching up with a student that I had the opportunity to help at some point during his/her college career. There’s nothing like the feeling of someone telling you about the positive impact that you made in his/her life!
In my spare time, I like to … golf, when the weather permits. Now that I’m not reading textbooks, I always have a book on the nightstand that I’m working on. I also enjoy geocaching, which is a GPS-based scavenger hunt. If you’ve never tried it, it’s a wonderful activity for enjoying nature, getting some exercise, and spending time with family. Next time you’re at Pitt-Greensburg, see if you can find one of the many hidden on campus!
My family/friends are … always so supportive and encouraging. I couldn’t have lasted this long without them. My family helped make me who I am today by instilling values that help guide me every day. My friends are like another family to me, and I wouldn’t have made it through college and beyond without their help. Finally, my wife, Jessie, is the kindest, sweetest person I know, and I thank her for accepting me, corny jokes and all!
Tell us something we didn’t ask … Each year, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk to Cure is held on campus. It’s a great chance for alumni to visit the campus to see all the exciting changes that have occurred. Also, it’s a terrific organization you’d be supporting. This year’s walk is Saturday, September 26, 2015, and I hope to see you there!
Alumni Spotlight: Melissa (Brandt) Marion ’05
Melissa (Brandt) Marion graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 2005 with a history major and a secondary education minor. Read more about her life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … the beautiful campus and that I had older friends who enjoyed attending Pitt-Greensburg.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg was … nervousness. I didn’t enjoy my living situation at all and didn’t feel connected. I made it a priority to meet other people and become involved. Eventually, I moved into a new living arrangement, which was much better—one of those roommates became one of my lifelong best friends. I quickly became involved, made many other friends, and felt “at home.” I think many freshman students encounter this their first few weeks. It’s important to encourage students to give it some time and find a way to become connected.
My favorite thing as a student/fondest memory was … my involvement with student activities. These are some of my favorite memories and the friendships from that are forever. Playing soccer (even though I wasn’t very good) was one of the best things I could have done. I met my best friends and my husband through soccer. I was president of the Student Athletic Advisory Council for two years, and we created a pen-pal program with fifth graders that culminated with a field trip to our campus for a whole day of activities based around teamwork and athletics. I felt like that was one way we could give back to the community. I also loved being a part of the Student Government Association, movies on the lawn, sporting events, Village activities, and eating brunch on the weekends with friends.
The faculty member(s) who had the greatest influence on me were … Dr. David Nichols, Dr. Pilar Herr, and Dr. Melissa Marks.
I absolutely loved Dr. Nick and his American history classes. Dr. Herr was phenomenal, as well, and I enjoyed learning so much about Latin American history. Lastly, Dr. Marks was and still is a great role model—her education classes were some of my favorites.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … obtain my secondary teaching certificate at St. Vincent College and student taught at Greensburg-Salem Middle School. While attending school, I worked part-time at the Greensburg YMCA, which I loved. When I graduated, I was offered a full-time job at my hometown YMCA in Cranberry Twp., PA, and worked there as the youth and family director for over seven years. During my time there, I fell in love with nonprofit work and fundraising. After I completed my master’s degree in community leadership at Duquesne University, I was happy to take a position at Monongahela Valley Hospital as the director of fund development. My husband, Brett (’05), and I now live in South Park, PA, with our 2-year-old daughter, Mila.
My reason for becoming active with the alumni association is … to give back. When I think about the leadership skills and confidence I have, it is because of the person I became while at Pitt-Greensburg. I am so thankful for the opportunities I had in college, the lessons I learned, and the friendships I made. I am hoping I can give back to the school that helped make me the person I am today.
In my spare time, I like to … travel. My husband and I have been to various cities in Europe, Africa, Mexico, Latin America, Canada, and the United States. I want to see the entire world one place at a time. I also like to host parties and enjoy time with friends and family. And, I’d like to think I’m pretty crafty.
My family/friends are … my everything. I’m thankful every day for my family and friends. My husband is always supportive, and we always have so much fun together. My mom is amazing. She has and will always be there for me. She has taught me how to be a compassionate person, how to think about others before myself, and to work hard. She and I have the best time together, and she is the best grandma to Mila. Brett and I love spending time with friends—whether it’s traveling, holiday parties, or getting together for our kids’ birthday parties. We always enjoy time with friends.
Tell us something we didn’t ask … During one year at Pitt-Greensburg, I was actually asked to be the announcer for the basketball games! I knew very little about basketball, and it was definitely something that put me outside of my comfort zone. It taught me, though, to have confidence in myself and that I could do anything if I had to. I certainly was not the best announcer Pitt-Greensburg has ever heard (maybe even the worst), but I did make it through several games and had a few laughs about it!
Alumni Spotlight: John McCune ’95
John McCune was a nontraditional student working full time while attending the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in the evenings. John graduated in 1995 with a BS in Management. Read more about his life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … taking classes at a major university that was practically in my backyard.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg was … scared! The first night I drove to class, I was scared to death to walk through that door!
My favorite thing as a student/fondest memory was the beauty of the campus. I have been on many university campuses, and I would put Pitt-Greensburg at the very top.
The faculty member who had the greatest influence on me was … without a doubt, Professor Robert J. A. Pratt. He was one-of-a-kind. The man was brilliant. He was really tough, but you DID learn. I still have my t-shirt that says “I survived Professor Pratt” with his caricature on it. If you could make it through a Pratt class, you could do anything.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … receive graduate degrees from both Duquesne University and Carnegie Mellon. I worked at Allegheny Energy during my time at Pitt-Greensburg. I currently work as a business consultant with Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services performing work for American Express, Talisman Energy, Symantec, and many others.
My reason for becoming active with the alumni association is … my enjoyment of staying in contact with young people. I volunteered to help evaluate student resumes and look forward to helping with mock interviews.
In my spare time, I like to … TRAVEL!
Tell us something we didn’t ask … My son, Matt McCune, is a junior at Pitt-Greensburg. I look forward to handing him his diploma next year!
Alumni Spotlight: Larry Helkowski ’74
A nontraditional student—married and just out of the military—Lawrence J. (Larry) Helkowski ’74 returned to western Pennsylvania to go to Pitt. “I was down in Georgia and just couldn’t wait to get here.” He had grown up in Scottdale, PA, and always wanted to go to Pitt. “Just always been a fan—a believer in the Pitt system.” Helkowski returned to Westmoreland County in November 1969 and began classes at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg two months later.
Pitt-Greensburg was not yet granting four-year degrees, so after three years of study, Helkowski relocated to the Oakland campus to complete his education, earning a bachelor’s of science degree in Management.
To this day, though, Helkowski remembers the beautiful setting of Lynch Hall and fondly recalls his professors at Pitt-Greensburg. Norman McWhinney, PhD, was one of the instructors who stands out to him. “He was one of the best teachers I ever had,” Helkowski said. “He made you so relaxed. We were night students, and he realized that. . . He understood that we worked. He made it a pleasure to come to class.”
Another member of the campus community who made a lasting impression on Helkowski was Guy Rossetti, PhD, saying, “Dr. Rossetti and I were good friends. It was an honor to know him. His passion, enthusiasm, devotion, and vision for Pitt-Greensburg, the students, the faculty, staff, and the community was a great source of inspiration for me. I learned a lot about leadership and life just from being around him.”
While pursuing his degree, Helkowski worked for People’s Gas. He started as a clerk, then moved into credit collection. After graduation, Helkowski worked in sales and marketing, in addition to running the credit union, and ultimately worked with builders and developers to deliver gas economically on residential lot plans. He won salesman of the year for three consecutive years because of the Seven Springs expansion.
Additionally, during his time at People’s, Helkowski served as account executive for the United Way. Getting connected with nonprofit organizations through United Way led him to serve as chairman of the board at Westmoreland County Community College and, after 33 years with the gas company, to a new career path. Due to his experience with contracts, he was approached about applying for the president/CEO position at the Westmoreland County Blind Association (WCBA). “It is an amazing business. It is a complicated business,” Helkowski said in reference to the manufacturing process he had to learn with the new position.
When he started with WCBA, Helkowski signed a one-year contract to see if he could turn things around at the nearly bankrupt organization. Twelve years later, WCBA is not only providing meaningful job opportunities for those who may otherwise not be employed, but is also serving the community.
Seventy-five percent of the WCBA workforce is visually impaired or multiply challenged. WCBA contracts with the federal government to sew essential items for the men and women of the United States Armed Services. WCBA also provides 150 to 200 customers a month with shredding service. In 2013, 77 workers shredded over one million pounds of paper. “We are probably going to do 1.2 or 1.3 million this year,” Helkowski said enthusiastically. “And that is stuff that is not going into the landfills. It is being recycled to make toilet paper, paper napkins, tissues. . . . It is a win-win-win-win.”
Additionally, WCBA employs a case worker and low-vision doctor, and supports a blindness prevention program. “When I leave work, I [know] did something. I helped somebody today,” Helkowski said of his second career. “It’s an altogether different feeling.”
A second generation of the family also graduated from Pitt. His son, Lawrence S. Helkowski, earned a degree from the University of Pittsburgh's School of General Studies (now the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences) in 1992 and went on to earn a juris doctorate from Ohio Northern University and an MBA from Ohio State University. He works as an assistant attorney general in the Columbus, OH, office of the Attorney General. His specialty is environmental law.
“We’ve been probably 40 years a part of Pitt,” said Helkowski, who resides in Irwin with his wife Jacqualine. They have one grandson.
Helkowski, whose cellphone ringtone is the Pitt Fight Song, has been a Pitt season ticket holder in football and basketball since the 1970s. When he was a clerk in the gas company, he couldn’t afford seats, and he met some Pitt alumni who helped him get tickets. When talking about Pitt alumni, he said, “It is meeting people who care.” He encourages young alumni to get involved in the programs: “If you don’t get involved, you’re never going to have that allegiance. You gotta have spirit.”
Reflecting on the care of the faculty and the value of the small classroom experience at Pitt-Greensburg, plus his “love affair” with Pitt athletics, Helkowski said, “It has been a wonderful part of my life.”
Alumni Spotlight: David Tintera ‘05
David Tintera graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 2005 with an applied mathematics major and a computer science minor. Read more about his life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … the more personal class sizes, the chance to continue to play soccer, and that my brother was currently there.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg was … beautiful campus with very nice faculty and staff.
My favorite thing as a student/fondest memory was … meeting my wife Meghan (Ferris ’05), playing soccer, and the informal study abroad trip to Scotland in the spring of 2004.
The faculty member(s) who had the greatest influence on me were … Dr. Mary Grace O’Donnell and Dr. Dean Nelson.
Dr. O’Donnell happened to be the faculty member I met with when I took a tour of the campus, and then she continued to guide me throughout my four years there. She recommended me for a tutoring job at the Learning Resources Center, helped me get an internship, and then she played a part in me choosing my senior research project.
Another faculty member that had a great influence on me was Dr. Nelson. His statistics class was very beneficial to me for the career path I was hoping to take. Then after the class, I was able to take advantage of an internship opportunity analyzing data with Dr. Nelson and put to use the information I had just learned. Overall, the internship was a great experience.
After Pitt-Greensburg, I went on to … work at Westinghouse Electric Company as an electrical engineering aide in the fall of 2005. I remained there for about five years while still working towards my dream career, which is an actuary. I studied on my own and passed two of the actuarial exams. In 2007, I met with an actuary who owns the Hawley Consulting Group. I started doing little projects for him on the side, so I could learn the business and gain some experience for future job prospects. Then, in February of 2011, he offered me a full-time job, and I have been working there ever since. I am so grateful for the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg for expanding my knowledge in mathematics, which allowed me to pursue my dream career.
My reason for becoming active with the alumni association is … to support the University that helped me get to this point in my life, so that it can continue to provide a quality education to current and future students.
In my spare time, I like to … spend time with my family, play soccer (still with most of the guys I played with at Pitt-Greensburg), golf, and, and get together with my Pitt-Greensburg friends for various parties, although they are mostly our children’s parties now.
My family/friends are … the best part of my life. I wouldn’t be where I am today without everyone in my life. My parents have supported my soccer “habit” since I started playing at the age of four, and now I have the added support of my wife and daughter.
All of my family and friends are also willing to lend a hand. This is especially true right now since my wife, daughter, and I are in the process of moving into a new house, and we were able to count on our family and friends for help.
Tell us something we didn’t ask … Being at Pitt-Greensburg was four of the best years of my life. I think that there are several benefits of being a student on a smaller campus. I think the smaller class sizes help to provide a better education because there is more interaction between faculty and students. I also think a small campus provided an opportunity for me to meet and become friends with a lot more people. Because of the closeness that it provides, I am still friends with most of them today.
Alumni Spotlight: Dominick Domasky ‘00
Dominick Domasky graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in 2000 with a business management degree. Read more about his life during and after Pitt-Greensburg.
The thing that drew me to Pitt-Greensburg was … the strength of the business program, a sense of community, and the fact my sister who was a few years older attended Pitt-Greensburg and could be my tutor.
My first impression of Pitt-Greensburg was … beautiful campus with great people.
My favorite thing as a student/fondest memory was … without a doubt, hanging out with my friends, cramming for tests, and eating tiny pizzas at the Panther Paws.
The faculty members who had the greatest influence on me were … Dr. Manning and Mrs. Kromer. Not only were they great teachers, but they took a personal interest in me. I can look back and admit I wasn’t always the best student, but Dr. Manning and Mrs. Kromer always supported and encouraged me when I needed it most.
After Pitt-Greensburg … I’m proud to say I’ve had a variety of careers. I started off working as a kitchen manager with the aspirations of owning my own restaurant. After some time learning how to be a business owner at my father’s landscape company, I took those lessons and my formal education and opened my very own restaurant.
That being said, I should have taken better notes. My restaurant closed after three years and that’s when I started a career in sales. For nearly a decade I’ve been in commercial insurance sales, and I love working with passionate business owners to make sure their businesses continue to thrive.
My journey, my failures, my successes, and the lessons I learned from those who encouraged me, led me to pen my first inspirational book, Don’t Double Bread the Fish, in 2013. Now, along with discussing proper insurance coverage with business owners, I can be found on the radio and television and speaking at special events about failure, persistence, and finding success.
My reason for becoming active with the alumni association is … my love for my school and my hometown. I am proud to have been born, raised, and educated in Greensburg. I know the students at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg have so much to offer the community, and I’m energized to be a part of it.
In my spare time … I enjoy working on my daughter’s jump shot (she’s five) or playing sports and watching wrestling with my son. My wife and I took up golf for when we are not busy with the kids, which is never, so we also enjoy late nights watching recorded episodes of Seinfeld and Jeopardy.
My family and friends are … the most supportive bunch. My family and friends are my rocks, and I can call any of them anytime and they’d drop everything to lend an ear or help me out if I was in need. My wife Liz (Atkison ‘00) doesn’t get enough credit for all she does and has made me smile every day since before we walked the campus of Pitt Greensburg as students. Liz is the backbone of my family, and I’m honored and fortunate that she has stood by me and up for me through every decision I’ve made in the last eighteen years, good or bad.
Tell us something we didn’t ask … I’m additionally thankful to University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg for allowing JDRF to use its beautiful location for their annual fundraising walk. This means a lot to me because my son, Cameron, has been a Type-1 diabetic since he was three years old. I’d give anything to help my son and the little ones like him find a cure for Type 1. My gratitude for the University of Pittsburgh is unmatched because with support like theirs that dream will soon become a reality.