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Spring Break 2012, Bolivia! 141 resized 600

In 2009, Esteban Saldi boarded a plane and traveled approximately 6,500 miles to Waynesburg, Pa., with a plan. Saldi, a Waynesburg University sophomore at the time, never imagined that just three years later his plan would actually become a reality.

A 2012 human services alumnus, Saldi recently led a Waynesburg University mission service trip to his native La Paz, Bolivia. This past March, Saldi, joined by Dave Calvario, director of the Center for Service Leadership at Waynesburg University, and six additional Waynesburg students, strengthened his personal partnership with Samaritan's Purse when he returned home to work on a project close to his heart.

For more than 40 years, Samaritan's Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization, has worked to bring assistance in the name of Jesus Christ to those hurting around the world. Inspired by the organization's mission and after his work on a well digging project during the summer of his freshman year, Saldi felt called to rejoin Samaritan's Purse.

With the longing in his heart, Saldi approached Dave Calvario, dean of students and director of the Center for Service Leadership, to discuss the possibility of a university trip. During their spring break this past March, Calvario, Saldi, and six other Waynesburg University students created a University “first” while breathing life into Saldi's 3-year-old dream.

Partnering with Samaritan's Purse for the first time, the mission service team was given the opportunity to directly connect faith, learning and serving while making a difference in a fellow classmate's native country. Saldi's mentor and peers came away from the trip humbled by the experience.

“Most of us take for granted on a daily basis that, when I turn on a faucet in America, clean drinkable water will come out,” Calvario said. “This is not the case in many countries.”

The experience was all that Saldi had hoped for, and at times, he said, seemed dreamlike.

“At moments it seemed unreal that Waynesburg students were having lunch at my house and spending time with my family,” he said.

Saldi, according to Calvario, added to the richness of the trip, Calvario said.

Also a Bonner Scholar, Saldi, spent more than 140 hours each semester serving others while personifying the mission of Waynesburg. Through his Waynesburg University mission service trip experiences and his work with Habitat for Humanity, St. Ann's Soup Kitchen and World Vision, his focus in life developed and changed.

“Service has become more than just volunteer work, it is a lifestyle,” Saldi said. “I serve not only because of the abilities I have, but because of the needs of the people around me.”

Described as a quiet, shy individual as a freshman, Calvario said he knew the University had gained “a diamond in the rough.”

“During his time at Waynesburg and being part of the Bonner Scholar Program, I witnessed a tremendous amount of growth in Esteban. He has truly become a servant leader,” Calvario said.

To describe Saldi and the depth of his kindheartedness, Calvario summarizes Luke 5: 12-13, where Jesus, filled with compassion, reaches out His hand, touches a man with leprosy and immediately the leprosy leaves the man.

“I have witnessed Esteban time and time again filled with compassion, reaching out his hand to help and love others,” Calvario said.

Saldi's willingness to take action and his desire to make a difference would eventually bring about Saldi's involvement in eight mission service trips, both domestic and international, through his eight semesters at Waynesburg University. Placing substantial meaning on the phrase, “saving the best for last,” Saldi's undergraduate career culminated with perhaps one of his most memorable service experiences to date.

Above all, Saldi recognizes the role faith and service has played in his growth. He plans to further expand that growth through his position as a Work Site Liaison for the Pittsburgh Project.

Saldi's personal commitment to making a difference has left a profound impact on Waynesburg University.

“Esteban has truly left his fingerprints at Waynesburg University and around the globe,” Calvario said.


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Pennsylvania's Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis recently announced that Ryan Devlin, a 2007 Waynesburg University secondary English education alumnus, is one of the 12 finalists for Pennsylvania's 2013 “Teacher of the Year.”

“These finalists for Teacher of the Year, and many of the professionals in our schools, are dedicated to improving the learning environment for every student and inspiring students to reach for excellence,” Tomalis said. “Teachers play a crucial role in the lives of their students and, as such, they have the responsibility of preparing students for a successful future, both academically and personally.”

The finalists must also be prepared to effectively carry out the duties of the state's Teacher of the Year, which includes being the Pennsylvania's nominee for National Teacher of the Year.

“I truly believe that many of our nation's most passionate and innovative educators are working in Pennsylvania schools,” Tomalis said. “The teachers who have been chosen as finalists for Teacher of the Year are proof of that.”

Devlin is the youngest educator to have been nominated for this award, which comes as no surprise considering the fact that Devlin has known since the age of 8 what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.

“I spent a lot of my childhood and adolescent years daydreaming about the type of teacher I wanted to become,” he said. “Teaching seemed like the perfect outlet for my creativity, and I wanted to do something that would enable me to make a difference in the world.”

After graduating from Waynesburg, Devlin was hired as an English teacher at Brockway Area High School in his hometown of Brockway, Pa. Devlin teaches British Literature, Creative Writing, Digital Media and Computer Science. He also serves as the advisor to the senior high gifted program.

In 2009, Devlin completed his master's degree in Education at California University of Pennsylvania. The following year he was hired as the chair of the English Department at Brockway Area School District. On top of teaching and coaching cross country (a program he created at Brockway in 2008), he now oversees the curriculum, plans professional development and analyzes student data for the English Department.

He also plays an active role in introducing new technology to both students and staff at Brockway. Devlin strives to develop 21st century learning skills through creating a classroom environment that fosters creativity, collaboration, communication, innovation, critical thinking and problem solving. As a result, Devlin received the 2009 and 2012 Pennsylvania State Education Association's Innovative Teaching Grant.

The 12 finalists for Pennsylvania's 2013 “Teacher of the Year” were nominated by students, parents, their colleagues and members of their community who wished to recognize their achievements in and outside the classroom. The winner will be announced in December.


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Second lieutenant Courtney Parker, motivated by her parents' sacrifices and devotion, embarks on a journey to serve God and her country.

Fulfilling her duties as both a patriot and a Christian means everything to Waynesburg University alumna Courtney Parker.

A second lieutenant in the United States Army from Columbus, Ga., Parker was inspired to serve in the military by her parents, both once active duty soldiers. Parker's goals of honoring their sacrifices, emulating their devotion to America and continuing a legacy of pride motivated her throughout her demanding training and continue to drive her as she embarks on her military career.

Parker and other Waynesburg University students interested in pursuing careers in the military are eligible to participate in Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program at West Virginia University (WVU) through an agreement between the two universities.

“The almost daily commute between Waynesburg and WVU, the insanely early morning wake ups, all the nights spent training in the mountains, all the hard work… I'm glad I did it. I am so proud to finally be an officer and a soldier,” said Parker, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in sociology (pre-law) in 2012.

Sworn in on May 11, Parker is currently serving as Camp Cadre at Fort Lewis, Wash., with the Leadership Development and Assessment Course, which is a one month ROTC camp every cadet must attend prior to commissioning. In her role of Camp Cadre, Parker is evaluating cadets in their third year of ROTC.

In September, Parker will move to Fort Lee, Va., where she will participate in a Basic Officer Leadership Course for five months, after which she will take on her first duty assignment with the 108th Air Defense Artillery DBE at Fort Bragg, N.C., in February 2013.

“I have no doubt that Courtney will be successful as an officer in the U.S. Army,” said John McIlwain, instructor of criminal justice at Waynesburg University. “I have the upmost respect for her.”

McIlwain said Parker successfully balanced academics and her commitment to ROTC, demonstrating a notable ability to excel at both.

She was also active in the Pre-Law Society, the Stover Scholars Program and participated in several service mission trips during her time at Waynesburg.

“In these past four years, I have traveled to a foreign country, jumped out of airplanes, met with some of the highest ranking officials, became a United States Army Officer, made lifelong friends, completed a Bachelor of Arts degree and discovered more about myself than I could imagine,” Parker said.

As for the nature of her personal discoveries – they cover a broad spectrum.

“I can accomplish great things,” Parker said. “I can be strong. I can excel in academics. I can navigate an airport all by myself. I can tour a new city. I can learn a new language. I can talk to strangers. I can fall in love with God every day. I can have gigantic dreams. I can.”


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On February 15, the Waynesburg University community was blessed with the presence of a Waynesburg alumna, Anne Bannister. Since graduating in 2009, Banister has committed her life to serving the world around her by applying the skills she gained at Waynesburg University. She spoke to faculty and students in McCance Auditorium about her life after graduation through a lecture titled “Mountains Between Us: Educate, Equip, Empower.”

During her time at Waynesburg University, Banister pursued a degree in communications with a minor in service leadership. Originally, she was unsure of attending a small school, but after visiting Waynesburg University for the first time, she got a sensation that something bigger was going on and that God was present on campus. She soon found that her academic experience would extend much further than the classroom.

“In the fall of 2006, one of my friends invited me to attend a viewing of Invisible Children during Waynesburg's ‘Who's Your Neighbor Week,'” Banister said. “I was absolutely shocked by the genocide in the 20 year war. This really sparked my interest in picking up my minor in service leadership and my interest in helping those in need.”

The staff and faculty at Waynesburg University pushed her to work harder and to achieve more. Before graduating, Anne produced four documentaries for four nonprofit organizations, including the West Waynesburg Jesus Distributor, PeaceWorks, World Vision and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“The faculty at Waynesburg University really did encourage me to be the best that I could be,” Banister said. “The hands on, real world application along with the leadership aspect that Waynesburg focuses on pushed me out of my comfort zone and has really given me more than adequate preparation for what I am doing now.”

Since graduation, Banister has been working with organizations in the small country of Nepal. Located South of China, Nepal is a developing country that suffers from poor health, social inequality and a lack of government support.

“A lot of people are required to fend for themselves,” Banister said. “The country consists of a lot of farming; it's a physically demanding environment there.”

Banister has been fighting for equal rights in Nepal through working with the charity the Edge of Seven, an organization that invests in projects that further alleviate women in developing countries of social inequalities, along with giving them education, health and economic opportunities.

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Two Waynesburg University alumna have made an impact and gained attention for their dedication to maintaining the University's mission of faith, service and learning after their graduation dates.

Margaret Graham, a 2010 public relations and sociology graduate, and Sarah Spicuzza, a 2011 communications and advertising graduate, have continued life after college with Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience (PULSE).

PULSE, an organization committed to cultivating a community of young servant leaders to transform Pittsburgh, places individuals in nonprofit organizations throughout the city to perform volunteer service for 35 hours a week.

Both Graham and Spicuzza work directly with the skill sets they learned at Waynesburg University, such as social media, newsletter writing and annual report writing for the nonprofit organizations to which they are assigned. Spicuzza serves as an executive assistant at Serving Leaders, and Graham serves as the communication coordinator at East Liberty Development Inc.

“PULSE provides a great opportunity to explore vocation and calling while receiving the support of a community and the hands-on experience in a potential career field,” Graham said. 

Both women have been recognized for their service by an online, higher education magazine, and Graham was recently named one of Western Pennsylvania's 2012 "Rising Stars," by Get Involved!, Inc. These awards are presented annually to 21 local young professionals ages 21-29 in the nonprofit, business and governmental sectors who dedicate their time and talent to community organizations and who are making a positive difference.

As Graham and Spicuzza near the end of their leadership experience with PULSE, they remember fondly their accomplishments at both Waynesburg University and with the PULSE program and look forward to a lifetime of service.

"PULSE is an extension of the great things that Waynesburg was able to offer me. Graduating from PULSE is like graduating college all over again,” Spicuzza said. “I am excited to see what God has in store for me.”


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