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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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