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Lakers Helping Lakers – Admissions and Career Development

Alberta 1

Alberta at a college fair!

It’s that time of year – high school seniors are making their decisions of where they will spend the next four year – we all remember the feeling – and we know that the smart ones with make the right choice and attend Mercyhurst (wink wink).

While for many of us it was quite easy to realize that Mercyhurst was the perfect fit, some students need a bit more convincing which is why we’re lucky enough to have a wonderful admissions staff here at the ‘Hurst along with several volunteers – our Alumni Ambassadors!

This March we have had a couple alumni out there spreading the word about Mercyhurst – Alberta Jobczynski ’58, Jeffrey Best ’77 and Rosemary Durkin ’77 have all represented MU at college fairs in their areas. This is a big help for our admissions staff as they are able to have representation by those who know MU so well – our alumni – in areas that they cannot always get to!

Jeffrey Best at a college fair

Jeffrey Best at a college fair

Alumni Ambassadors are also able to make phone calls to prospective students – sometimes if a student has their decision narrowed down to two schools, a call from a Mercyhurst alum could help sway them to attend Mercyhurst as our alumni tell fun stories and memories and of how their Mercyhurst education has helped them beyond the gates. If you are interested in representing Mercyhurst and helping students learn more about Mercyhurst, please sign up online to become an Alumni Ambassador, check our site for college fairs in your area, or let us know if there’s one near by that you’d like to attend! Our admissions representative will get you hooked up with great materials and information and you’ll be all set to share your love of the ‘Hurst with others and hopefully help students decide to come to MU!


In addition to recruiting initiatives, several alumni joined in on the Lakers Helping Lakers fun by attending the Alumni and Student Career Networking Night, a Lakers Helping Lakers event this past February. Alumni were joined by over 80 students who were looking to gain networking experience and practiced their skills with alumni who were willing to share their professional stories and advice.

The Career Development Center is always looking for alumni to help other Lakers through career advice, mentoring, and networking, and internship opportunities. Check out the video below for a recap of the night!

You can sign up for Lakers Helping Laker – Career Development opportunities online as well!

Dr. Lena Surzhko-Harned Speaks at Cornell, Reunites with Mercyhurst Alumna

Last weekend was a big weekend for the Mercyhurst Lakers at Cornell University. For one, the women’s hockey team earned an exciting victory over the Cornell Big Red LSH1and secured a Frozen Four berth.

For Caitlin Handerhan, a ‘13 political science alumnus currently pursuing graduate studies at Cornell, the weekend also brought a wonderful reunion. Handerhan serves as the Communications Director of the Cornell International Affairs Forum and organized an academic event to address the crisis in Ukraine. One of her first tasks was to invite her Mercyhurst mentor, assistant professor Dr. Lena Surzhko-Harned, to campus to participate in a panel discussion titled “Ukraine, Putin and the New Cold War.” Dr. Surzhko-Harned is an authoritative voice on the ongoing crisis and an expert in Russian and Ukrainian studies.

“I was honored that Dr. Surzhko-Harned accepted the invitation to speak on campus. During my time at Mercyhurst, I had a really special connection to Dr. Surzhko-Harned and she was an excellent mentor to me” said Handerhan. “From working as a research assistant, to co-authoring a conference paper, I learned so much from her, and really feel that her tutelage is the reason I was able to go to Cornell. She is and was such a formative figure in my academic career – to be able to welcome her to Cornell was a really special experience.”

Dr. Surzhko-Harned & Caitlin Handerhan '13

Dr. Surzhko-Harned & Caitlin Handerhan ’13

A Mercer, Penn. Native, Handerhan completed numerous classes with Dr. Surzhko-Harned while studying political science and  international relations at Mercyhurst and also participated in two organizations that Surzhko-Harned oversees – the Model International Organizations team and the Mercyhurst Equality of Women (MEOW) club.Following the successful panel discussion, Handerhan invited Dr. Surzhko-Harned to join a group of Cornell students and faculty to continue discussing the Ukraine situation over dinner.

“When she is presenting, whether it is a classroom lecture or in an auditorium in front of 300 people, as she did at Friday’s event, she has this gift of speaking in a way that engages the audience. Her charisma made her something of a celebrity after the panel, with many in the audience clamoring to speak with her – I was honored to be able to say that I studied under her at Mercyhurst,” Handerhan added.

Handerhan is quick to point to Mercyhurst’s liberal arts tradition and the rigors and personal attention of the political science department as key foundations of her success in Cornell’s interdisciplinary graduate program. When her studies are complete, she will earn a Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in Human Rights and Social Justice.

“A goal of any teacher is to help the students develop and learn the tools they will need to achieve their professional and intellectual goals,” said Dr. Surzhko-Harned. “To see Caitlin thrive as she pursues her Master’s degree is very rewarding.”

March in Erie – by Mary McKenna ’90

Guest blogger Mary McKenna ’90 is a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors – Mary tells of St. Patrick’s Day in Erie and invites everyone to share their St.  Luck to be a LakerPatrick’s Day memories from their time at Mercyhurst!

March in Erie…  By this time the amazement and shock of how much snow is ‘dumped’ in Erie has long past and we were anxiously awaiting spring.  What I remember about March in Erie, was St. Patrick’s Day.  In the 80’s I think most of our soccer team was from Ireland.  There are probably more Irish students at the ‘Hurst than any other school in the area.  In any event – EVERYONE IS IRISH ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY.  Everyone would put on all the green gear they could find and head over to the Townhouses, Briggs, or Sesler apartments for a few green beverages before walking through the streets of Erie to Sullivan’s to carry on with the rest of Erie.

20+ years later I celebrate St. Patty’s Day the Saturday before with the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Pittsburgh.  I get decked out in all the ‘HURST green gear I can find I head into town on the trolley, meet up with some friends and family on Grant street watch the parade, then head to Market Square for some more socializing.  In the evening we head to Dunnings in Regent Square to hook up with some high school friends for some long standing traditions.

Share your favorite Hurst St Patty’s Day memories, or your current ones.


Softball Alumni Gathering

The softball alumni had a gathering in January and are glad to share their photos from the event! SoftballGathering 2-14

They had a good time getting together and remembering fun times on the team – some recent graduates attended the gathering and they were happy to have an alumna from the class of 1975 attend too!

These softball alumni remain close and had a great time together and visiting with the team.

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Are you having a ‘Hurst gathering? Let us know, we’d love to share!!


All Hallows Eve and Alumni Association Updates – Matthew Robaszkiewicz ’88

As we celebrate All Hallows Eve (Halloween) and move into the celebration of All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day, and Dia de Los Muertos, it is fitting that we recall those that have come before us and on whose shoulders we stand.

The Sisters of Mercy, university administration, faculty and staff, and countless alumni over the years who have given of themselves to further the mission and influence of Mercyhurst University.  It is because of their dedication, sacrifices, and efforts that the Mercyhurst community has evolved into a first-rate institution with an international reputation.

So, in the coming days, take a moment to reflect with prayer gratitude upon our heritage and those who made possible the present and future of Mercyhurst.  Give thanks for them and endeavor to follow in their footsteps in preserving and enhancing the legacy for future generations.


Alumni Association Updates

Your alumni association board of directors met twice during the month of October; during Homecoming Weekend and last weekend.  Here is a highlight of our discussions and planning:

  • The alumni association will be joining forces with the Student Alumni Association to provide opportunities and resources for networking and socialization.
  • An update to the association bylaws was approved.
  • The events committee is looking at ways to enhance the annual Alumni Golf Outing.
  • The advancement committee is researching affinity programs and ways in which to enhance alumni giving to the annual fund.
  • The networking committee is looking at ways to better connect alumni to university events through social media platforms.
  • The board of directors is exploring ways to reestablish alumni chapters in major cities and regions of the country.
  • The board of directors is endeavoring to connect with other Mercy colleges and universities for a joint service day in March 2014.
  • The awards committee is accepting nominations for the annual Distinguished Alumni Awards.


All alumni are invited to participate in the planning and work of the Mercyhurst Alumni Association.  Contact any board member, or the Alumni Relations Office, for more information.


Matthew Robaszkiewicz ’88, president

Mercyhurst University National Alumni Association / #202-636-3825

Mercyhurst University – Graduates and Alumni and Reunions

Congratulations to the 2013 Mercyhurst University graduates – and welcome to our newest alumni!

As a member of the Board of Trustees of Mercyhurst University, I find it a privilege and a pleasure to participate in the annual commencement ceremonies of the university.  This past weekend, during graduation exercises at the North East Campus as well as those held at the Bayfront Convention Center, I joined the entire community in celebrating the accomplishments of the 1,021 graduates of Mercyhurst University.

Pins for our newest alumni!

Pins for our newest alumni!

During a Saturday evening reception, I joined with other members of the Alumni Association, and the staff of the Alumni Relations Office, in welcoming our newest alums into the Mercyhurst University National Alumni Association.  In addition to an alumni t-shirt and a desk clock, the graduates were presented with their official Mercyhurst University Alumni Pin (see photo).

The ‘college on the hill’ has certainly come a long way since the first graduating class of eleven over eighty years ago!  We now number more than 20,000 alums representing Mercyhurst University throughout the country and internationally!

Visit the MU Commencement 2013 website for additional information, photos, and videos from the weekend!


 A major goal of the National Alumni Association is keeping alumni connected to the Mercyhurst community beyond graduation.  One way of doing this is through a summer gathering of reunion classes and affinity groups.

This year, Reunion Weekend is scheduled for May 31-June 2, and highlights alumni from the reunion classes of 1953, 1958, 1963, 1968, 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 2003, and 2008.  Additionally, graduates of various degree programs and several sports teams are hosting gatherings during the weekend.  Visit the Reunion Weekend website for a tentative schedule, for registration information, and to see who else is attending.  To see some of what is in store, check out the photos from past Reunion Weekends!

One of the highlights of the weekend is the presentation of the Distinguished Alumni Awards on Saturday afternoon.  This year, the Alumni Association honors Dr. Alexis Walker ’74, Hon. Pierre Priestley ’81, Dr. Nicholas Potter ’02, Hon. Robert E. Merski ’99, and Dr. Cassandra Kuba ’97.

If you have not already registered for the weekend, there is still plenty of time to do so.  We have a great schedule of events in store, including dinners and receptions, alumni college courses, alumni games, brunch, and much more.  You do not want to miss out on a great weekend back at the ‘Hurst!

The Alumni Association Board of Directors looks forward to welcoming all attendees of Reunion Weekend – especially those alums celebrating their fiftieth and twenty-fifth reunions!


Matthew Robaszkiewicz ’88, president

Mercyhurst University National Alumni Association / #202-636-3825

Thomas More College Announces New President- Dave Armstrong ’86

We offer our congratulations to Mercyhurst alum Dave Armstrong ’86, a loyal supporter of the ‘Hurst.

David Armstrong

David Armstrong

It was recently announced that Dave will become the 14th president of Thomas More College, located in Crestview Hills, Ky.The Presidential Search Committee Chair states that “Dave possesses the experience and skill set to serve successfully as president of Thomas More College. He will bring enthusiasm, passion and energy to the position.” Read the full story here.

We are thrilled for Dave’s great accomplishment and wish him the best of luck on this endeavor. It is always exciting to hear that our alumni are so successful and reaching new achievements in their lives after Mercyhurst!

Social Work Students Meet Alum Hope Randall ’07

Recently twelve social work majors and Associate Professor Dr. Peggy Black traveled to Washington, DC in order to experience and learn about various advocacy efforts related to social justice efforts.  The students had the opportunity to meet with Marianne Comfort, an education coordinator with the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.  Ms. Comfort shared the lobbying and advocacy efforts currently being addressed through Congressional meetings and testimony provided by the Sisters of Mercy, specifically illegal immigration laws and gun violence issues.

MU students with Hope Randall '07

MU students with Hope Randall ’07

We were excited to hear that the students visited PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health) and met with Hope Randall ’07 who has been a Child Health Communications Associate with PATH for four years.  Students learned about her work in maternal/child global health initiatives and potential NGO job opportunities in Washington DC. The students also enjoyed some sightseeing opportunities which  included the Holocaust Museum, as well as Arlington Cemetery and the various monuments that are hallmark of Washington DC.We’re glad the students had such a great time and we are always grateful when our alumni share their talents and take the time to interact with our students!

Mercy Month Women of Mercy: Sr. Carolyn Herrmann and Dolores Huerta

During March, which is both Mercy Month and Women’s History Month, the Women of Mercy series will profile Sisters of Mercy, prominent historical figures, and Mercyhurst graduates.

Sister Carolyn Herrmann

Sister Carolyn Herrmann

Sister Carolyn Herrmann, RSM, Ph.D., was the first full-time Sister-President of Mercyhurst (1963-72). Before that, sisters who were superiors of the congregation also served ex officio as presidents of Mercyhurst. Sr. Carolyn is fondly remembered by many for her incredible teaching in the classroom and her pioneering administration. Her legacies were reflected in college transitions: guiding the college from Sister-advisors to a lay Board of Trustees, creating the first public relations and development offices, and overseeing the monumental change of Mercyhurst from a women’s college to a coeducational institution in 1969. The student union on the Erie campus is named in her honor.

Dolores Huerta

Dolores Huerta

Dolores Huerta (1930-living) has worked to improve social and economic conditions for farm workers and to fight discrimination.
To further her cause, she created the Agricultural Workers Association (AWA) in 1960 and co-founded what would become the United Farm Workers (UFW). Huerta stepped down from the UFW in 1999, but she continues her work to improve the lives of workers, immigrants and women.

“We can’t let people drive wedges between us…because there’s only one human race.”

Mercy Month Women of Mercy: Mother Borgia Egan and Rachel Carson

During March, which is both Mercy Month and Women’s History Month, the Women of Mercy series will profile Sisters of Mercy, prominent historical figures, and Mercyhurst graduates. Here are the most recent women:

Mother Borgia Egan

Mother Borgia Egan

Catherine Egan, later known as Mother Borgia, was born in 1876 on the Feast of Saint Benedict, the patron saint of students. A leader in education, she insured that Catholic schools taught by the Sisters of Mercy were certified by the state; St. Catherine School, DuBois, Pa., was first in the commonwealth to receive PDE certification.An advocate for the higher education of women, she realized her dream of opening a college for women, which she did by enlisting her “pioneer” Sisters of Mercy in fundraising, seeking the aid of benefactors, purchasing 75 acres of land in southeastern Erie, and building Mercyhurst College and Seminary. Now two separate schools, Mercyhurst University and Mercyhurst Preparatory School opened in 1926. Mother Borgia led the college until 1959.


Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson (1907-1964) conducted research into the effects of pesticides on the food chain, published in her most influential work, Silent Spring (1962), which condemned the indiscriminate use of pesticides, especially DDT (later banned). The book led to a presidential commission that largely endorsed her findings, and helped shape a growing environmental consciousness.”Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.”

– Rachel Carson


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