July Alumni Board update – we say farewell to Six Alumni Board members.
“I recall walking in to the campus of Mercyhurst as an adult, pushing 40, single mother, recently unemployed and wondering how to improve my career prospects and fulfill a need that I had to do what I hadn’t done when I graduated from High School many years prior. I was nervous and afraid of what the future would hold; but from the moment I met the staff of the adult college, I felt at ease. It was Fall, but within weeks I was enrolled and had financial aid and student loans lined up and was sitting in my first classes. What an experience being in classes with students almost 20 years younger. Taking Algebra of all things! Seriously? It had been 20 years since I had to figure out “X.” Anyway, I survived the first trimester with flying colors. Found out I loved college. Got a job and transitioned into MAP (Mercyhurst Accelerated Program) offered by Adult College and began attending in evenings and on weekends, in what were lovingly called the ‘marathon’ classes by the students. 4 hours on Saturday a.m. and Sunday eve and Wednesdays. What a great way to get a degree. I could work my day job and attend classes and study during what seemed like every other waking hour.
Even though I was a ‘natural’ at school, I do have to thank all the professors who were willing to give of their times to make these special classes successful. Since it was a new program, we all were participating in a great experiment. Many went well beyond the call of duty, especially during my second year when I literally almost died of a pulmonary embolism within weeks of the end of term. The professors gave me every opportunity to finish, even if it meant dropping off classwork at my home. That’s dedication! I had to take one term off, but was back full force the next… Another change of job… Then there was no stopping. I had a mission and a personal goal to do the best I could. Graduated suma cum laud with a degree in Risk Management and was honored by the college with the Bishops Award for Academic Excellence. It was a very special experience to have my parents and my children at my graduation. In fact, my daughter and I graduated with our Bachelor Degrees two weeks apart.
What I didn’t anticipate was missing attending classes and learning. So, of course, when they started the Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership, I jumped right in. What some may not realize is, at that time, it was started as a Certificate program, totally dependent upon the success of the program and the enrollment. We were only promised that if we committed to a year, that we would get a certificate. It turned out that the program was well accepted and Mercyhurst continued us ‘pioneers’ into the full M.S. It still warms my heart when I hear of new graduates to that program, knowing that I and my cohorts had a hand in the success of the program being a permanent part of Mercyhurst.
At this point I would like to give a special thank you to Dr. Gamble, who was my thesis mentor. His guidance really made that dreaded experience a success. I can’t say enough good about all the professors I had. From opening my world to classical music and English classics to accounting and statistics, to trying to resolve the issue of brucellosis in Bison to financial management, I was exposed to many interesting and practical topics.
In the brief interval between graduating with a B.S. and starting the M.S., I found I missed participating in the college experience. When I mentioned this to Mary Ellen Dahlkemper, she suggested the Alumni Board and made a recommendation. That is how I became a member. That was 18 years ago. I still can’t believe it’s been that long. I’ve seen many changes in the board, the administration, and Homecoming in those years. My favorite activity to help with at Homecoming was the ‘Comfortable Cup of Tea’ at the Motherhouse. It was such a warm experience to see the alums visiting the Mercy Sisters, and I know the feeling was mutual on both sides. I also had the great honor for many years of welcoming the Adult Students into the alumni association at a reception prior to graduation. My most heartfelt experience, though, was being able to present the Distinguished Alumni award to Mary Ellen on behalf of the Alumni Board. She had been such a blessing to me and all the Adult College ‘non-traditional’ students.
One of the changes on the Board is the institution of Term Limits, so I must bid farewell to the Board, but not good-bye to the University, which will remain part of me and always be held close to my heart. This retirement coincides with my retirement from the PA Dept of Revenue. So, now I’ve come full circle from starting college, new career, to being able to retire. Looking forward to many new opportunities coming my way! Those of you just beginning…. Remember to give it your best and Carpe Diem!”
By: Amy Lombardo `94, `96, `01
We would also like to say farewell to longtime board member Jeanne Phillips `68, as her final term expires. Jeanne has been a staple at our Erie alumni events and helping us to educate students and recent alumni about the importance of giving back to your beloved alma mater.
In addition, we say goodbye to the always hardworking and creative genius networking team chair and co-chair, JP Ratajczak `02, `04 and Kristen Hudak `05 as they continue to move forward with family, work and life adventures. We also thank Bob Dubik `78, Mary McKenna `90 for their board service, as their terms expired as well.
Thank you for your years of service.