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Hurst Happenings

Celebrate the End of 2016!

As 2016 comes to a close, celebrate the AWESOME year we’ve had! Show your Laker support to Mercyhurst by making a gift by midnight on December 31. Gifts can be made online at or checks should be received by December 31 (checks can be made to Mercyhurst University).

Check out our year in review video below…we cannot wait to see what 2017 has in store for us at the Hurst!

HUMANS OF MERCYHURST: Kellie Wendell `14

kellie3From glamorous weddings and rehearsal dinners to work expos and intimate parties, Kellie Wendell `14 plans it all as the Event Coordinator for White Lodging Services at the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel and Courtyard Erie Bayfront. As the Event Coordinator, Kellie is in charge of every organizing and planning facet, from conception to clean up, of meetings and events for third parties at the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel and Courtyard Erie Bayfront locations. She meets with clients to work out event details, budget, food, entertainment, staff and cleanup. Kellie also makes sure the events run smoothly, efficiently and handles any issues that arise. Each day is different and exciting, as is each event and client.

Mercyhurst University played a major role in preparing Kellie for the position of Event Coordinator, in addition to helping her secure a position in the Erie area at the Sheraton and Courtyard through an alumni connection! Kellie graduated from Mercyhurst in 2014 with a unique Business Contract Major in Event Management and Promotions. Such a major was constructed by Kellie and professors in the hospitality and business departments to accurately prepare her for the career path she so desired. Kellie notes Ryan Johnson, a Hospitality Management professor, and Daryl Georger, Hospitality Management Chair, as key role models throughout her Mercyhurst experience. Kellie says the hospitality introductory course helped her greatly due to the exposer it gave her to every function within the industry, from engineering to cooking. An events coordinator must know all functions within the industry and Kellie is very grateful for the fundamentals taught in the introductory course that built such a swendell2trong foundation for her. Kellie also notes how Mercyhurst prepared her through cultivating skills such as organization, good communication, professionalism, and problem-solving.

It wasn’t, however, all class and no play during Kellie’s time at Mercyhurst. Kellie exemplifies what it means to make the most of the college experience through balancing both academics and social activities. Throughout her undergraduate career, Kellie was active on campus through ambassador club, ROTC, snowboard crew, intermural teams, leadership development programs, senior gift committee, and the Ireland study abroad program. Kellie notes herwendell1 semester studying in Ireland was one of her greatest Mercyhurst experiences. Kellie’s senior year highlight was being on Homecoming court, which she states felt like a culmination of everything she did and participated in over her four years at Mercyhurst being recognized. Other Mercyhurst memories Kellie cherishes include meeting her boyfriend at the Stone and spring break spent with fellow Lakers.

Kellie plans to leave the Erie area eventually, but hopes to stay in event coordination and the hospitality field because it makes her happy. Her advice to those wishing to pursue a role like hers is to stay positive and focus on the good. She also believes in the mantra “the customer is always right”- a hard saying to live by, at times, when she has multiple brides and conference organizers emailing her on a daily basis! Kellie truly exemplifies what success looks like beyond the gates of Mercyhurst and the alumni department is proud to call her a Laker alum.


Thank you, Class of 2016!


The Senior Class Gift 2016 is officially on campus and installed! Located near the Hirt Academic Center, the Mercyhurst anchor has brought a fun spirit to campus, thanks to the Class of 2016.

Check it out and read the “Legend of the Anchor” as well as the top donors from the class who made the gift possible.

Thank you, Class of 2016!


`65 Mercyhurst Alum Receives Women’s Initiative of Central Massachusetts Award

grayEach year the Women’s Initiative of Central Massachusetts honors two local women that embody the leadership and values of its co-founders Lois Green and Meridith Wesby and whose deep commitment and dedication make a meaningful difference in the community. The awards are presented at the Stepping Up for Girls event.

This year’s recipient of the Lois B. Green award was Mercyhurst alum Maureen Gray`65.  Maureen holds a lifelong dedication to motivating young people to learn and achieve, to community service and to financial empowerment for women and girls.

Maureen earned her BA from Mercyhurst University and went on for a Master’s from Assumption College in French and Education. She then launched a 21-year career as a teacher and administrator at Bancroft School, teaching foreign languages and English. During her time there, she co-authored the textbook, The Phenomenon of Language, an exploratory language skills program for Middle School students. At her retirement from Bancroft, she was awarded the school’s Carpe Diem Award for excellence in teaching.

In 1990, Maureen prepared to pursue a second career in financial planning. For the last 26 years, she has advised clients on investments, retirement savings, insurance and budgeting in her profession as Senior Wealth Strategist for the Gray Group at UBS Financial Services in downtown Worcester.

Maureen has served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations, including Seven Hills Foundation, Junior League, Worcester Historical Museum and Girls Inc. She is a Trustee of Seven Hills, a Corporator of the Worcester Art Museum and a member of the Financial Literacy Committee for the Women’s Initiative. She has enjoyed speaking at conferences and events designed to teach young women about finance, careers in finance, fundraising and governance.

For these and other efforts, she was awarded the Robert W. Stoddard Award for Outstanding Community Service by Bancroft School in 2015.

Maureen is known as someone who works behind the scenes connecting people to organizations to help make the community thrive. In her mind so many have latent leadership talent and are ripe for mentoring in order to be effective on boards and committees. She has a personal and professional mission to help others make well-informed financial and philanthropic decisions.

Maureen lives in Worcester with her husband, Bob Gray, and is the mother of three sons and the grandmother of seven, six girls and a boy.

Congratulations Maureen!

Reunion by the Sea III

reunion-by-sea-iii-groupA group from the Class of ’65 had another get-together in Maine this September.  They dubbed it Reunion by the Sea III.  Once again, the gang enjoyed the hospitality of Maureen Gray and her son Rob at their summer homes in Cape Porpoise. The days were spent catching up, sightseeing, going to the beach, and eating great seafood, but mostly reminiscing about their years together at the Hurst.  A special treat was having Mary Ann Finnerty Belladonna and Nancy Ferraro Santola join the ladies, as they had not seen them since graduation, 51 years ago.

The group also raised over $300 for the Class of 1965 Scholarship by raffling off a beautiful painting of a Cape Porpoise harbor scene done by a classmate Barb Kramer Brozich.  Barb had sketched the scene on a previous trip to Maine and generously donated a giclee print of the resulting painting for the fundraiser.

The fourteen ladies who attended Reunion by the Sea III include: Maureen Aleci Gray, Carol Klein, Maryce Jaeger Cunningham, Liz Cicholski Vargo, Anne Ledoux Erwin, Ann Kleindinst Abbate, Bonnie Morris Gerace, Mary Ann Finnerty Belladonna, Kathie Mahaney Baumeister, Nancy Ferraro Santola, Ann Sheridan Kreider, Peggy Hock Heetmann, Ginny Gorsak Degironimo, and Sue Smith Beidler.


Crowdfunding effort spurs four new projects

Rowing_CoverURLExperience_CoverURLMercyhurst University, through its advancement office, launched an inaugural crowdfunding platform ( last month to raise money for four mission-driven and university-supported projects. The takeaway: each was fully funded and then some!

“Our office saw this as a way we could help our faculty, staff and students bring important projects to fruition,” said Caleb Pifer, vice president for external affairs and advancement. “Research has shown us that Millennials are more likely to support specific causes and projects than they are to support a general non-specific donation.”MakerBot_CoverURL4thVow_CoverURL
Thirty-eight donors contributed $4,500 to purchase a MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer for the graphic design department. Their goal was $4,000. Another over-the-top fundraising effort was achieved by the rowing team, which raised $5,375 toward the purchase of a wakeless training boat to replace the old aluminum boat currently used by coaches. That project was funded at 107 percent of its $5,000 goal, thanks to contributions from 41 donors.

read the full article at

HUMANS OF MERCYHURST: Katlyn & Hank’s Homecoming Engagement

engagementHomecoming 2016 was a fun-filled weekend. One of the major highlights was a pair of our alums getting engaged during the Saturday alumni baseball game! On their first alumni weekend together, back on Mercyhurst campus where it all began, Hank Morrison `16 asked Katlyn Heitzhaus `15 to marry him. The pair met when Hank was a freshman and Katlyn was a sophomore. Both were Laker athletes- Hank played on the baseball team and Katlyn played field hockey.

Surrounded by friends and family at the alumni game, Katlyn says “it was even more special that it happened here [at Mercyhurst] where it all began…Hank and I always looked forward to being back at school because we knew we’d see each other every day.” The pair is very thankful for their experience at Mercyhurst and it bringing them together, as well as all the people who were there to support them. Katlyn says “Mercyhurst will always hold a very special place in our hearts, and in our relationship as a whole!”

We wish Hank and Katlyn all the best!


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