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Guided and influenced by more than seven years of experiences on the campus of Waynesburg University, Alison Chasko has achieved her goal of being a part of something bigger and more meaningful than a successful business.

Chasko currently serves as a Mission Support Analyst for the FBI, reporting directly to the Special Agent in Charge of the Denver Division (the territory covering all of Colorado and Wyoming). Responsible for improving the overall function of the organization, Chasko works to identify, analyze and resolve issues related to the operations of the FBI field offices. Her research and study of inefficiencies ultimately lead to recommendations that result in solutions and measurable improvements within the organization as a whole.

“It’s not about making money for a company, but having a greater purpose,” she said. “The people and the mission of the FBI motivate me to be a better employee. By seeing them risk their lives and devote so much time to doing what they do, I want to be better so I can alleviate administrative burdens to agents and so that I can demonstrate their needs through quantitative evidence and reports back to headquarters.”

For Chasko, teaching science was a possibility, working for a federal agency was a goal, but the opportunity to work specifically for the FBI became her dream.

Living her dream, Chasko, a 2007 forensic science alumna and a 2009 graduate of the University’s Master of Education Program, is grateful to be a part of the reputation and mission of the FBI.

Chasko’s position is one of only six in the Bureau, and is part of a pilot program initiated this spring. Eventually, one mission support analyst will be found in each of the 56 field offices across the nation.
Ironically, her daily responsibilities perfectly mirror some of the most meaningful lessons learned throughout her undergraduate and graduate education at Waynesburg University.

“Both educational experiences provided me with professors and mentors who had high expectations of me. They provided enough guidance, but pushed for me to think critically and analyze a topic, which in the long run, built up my confidence [in my abilities],” she said.

In addition to the confidence and knowledge gained at Waynesburg University, Chasko credits her mentors and criminal justice faculty members for preparing her for the transition to the professional world.

“The Criminal Justice Department’s faculty consisted of some of the best mentors a young adult could ask for,” she said. “Dr. Baer, Detective Jack and Mr. McIlwain truly knew how to inspire and help develop strong work ethic with attention to detail. Each of them had their own teaching style with high standards, but as a student you knew that they cared about your learning. They took the time to make sure you understood the material, helped guide you through your career goals, and really prepared you to transition from college to the workforce.”

Even more important than life lessons including time management, articulating ideas to various audiences and recognizing that everyone doesn’t learn or understand information in the same manner; Chasko said her college experiences such as participating in mission trips and being empowered to be the change in the world by teachers and mentors, truly shaped her as a person.

“As much as college is meant for earning the degree, I think the person I have become is very much related to the experiences I received at Waynesburg University. I could have attended numerous universities and received the same degree, but I would not have received the experiences or mentors that Waynesburg offered.”

Writers Note - Faculty members mentioned above are as follows:

Dr. Dana Baer, professor of criminal justice
Adam Jack, assistant professor of criminal justice and chair, criminal justice and social science
John  McIlwain, retired professor of criminal justice 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_imagerrrr.jpgWaynesburg University’s Criminal Justice Club participated in the Pittsburgh Polar Bear Plunge at Heinz Field Saturday, Dec. 6, to raise money for Special Olympics. 

Approximately 20 students joined Waynesburg University instructor of criminal justice James Tanda in the plunge. The Criminal Justice Club raised more than $1,500 leading up to the event. This was the second year that the club participated. In two years, the club has raised more than $2,500. 

The Pittsburgh Polar Bear Plunge Weekend is Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s largest fundraiser, grossing more than 1 million dollars during the first four years. Individuals and teams, alongside Special Olympics athletes, take the plunge into the Ohio River on Pittsburgh’s North Shore. 

Student representatives from freshmen to seniors gave up their Saturday to join more than 1,800 other plungers in the freezing rain for the cause. This year, the air temperature was 39 degrees and the water temperature was 38 degrees at the time of the plunge.

“Our goal was to follow the University's mission of service to this very needy cause while also connecting our criminal justice and forensic science students to a network of law enforcement, attorneys, federal agencies and others in the profession,” said Tanda.   “This year's donation will be used to help further the mission of Special Olympics Pennsylvania and help support the more than 20,000 athletes served in the commonwealth.”

According to Tanda, half of the money raised by Waynesburg’s Criminal Justice Club will go directly to Greene County's Special Olympics program, which Waynesburg's Criminal Justice Club resurrected last year.

Tanda has plunged every year since the event’s inception - both as an agent with his former federal agency - and now leading Waynesburg's involvement in the service project.

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Ashley Wise, Senior Writer/Editor

724.852.7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu

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Posted by on in Internships

Jessica Lukowich, senior forensic science major

Medical technician intern at UPMC Hamot Medical Laboratory in Erie, Pa. 

Students in laboratory classes at Waynesburg University conduct research and experiments with some of the most advanced science technology and tools available. For Jessica Lukowich, gaining experience in these labs helped her find her passion as well as an internship last summer. 

The senior forensic science major worked at UPMC Hamot Medical Laboratory in Erie, Pa., as a medical technician intern where she observed and assisted in a variety of labs including blood bank, chemistry, coagulation, hematology, histology, phlebotomy and urinalysis. 

In addition, she assisted in an autopsy, prepared slides with patients’ blood samples, prepared tissue samples for analysis, learned to type and screen blood types, loaded samples onto analysis instruments, learned to interpret results and assisted with quality assurance checks. 

While in the lab, Lukowich said she felt like she helped make a difference because doctors relied on the results from her tests to determine the best treatment for their patients. She added that through Waynesburg classes and her internship, she has seen growth in her knowledge as well as her determination to succeed. 

“I want to work in some type of biology or chemistry lab when I graduate from Waynesburg,” said Lukowich. “Having experience with lab procedures in class and seeing how they operate really drew me to this internship.”

 

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Matt.JPGDylan Matt, senior forensic science major 

Academic extern, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation in London, Ohio 

Dylan Matt spent the summer of 2014 answering questions such as “can a person transfer DNA to another person by grabbing his or her wrist?” and “can DNA be transferred during the laundry process?” The senior forensic science major invested many hours in the trace lab of the Ohio Bureau of Criminial Investigation. 

He practiced identifying hairs and fibers using a comparison microscope and was trained to process cases of fracture matches in the way of professional forensic scientists. He helped to search and code a shoe tread database and learned how to collect oral and skin swabbings. Matt also performed a number of extractions and analyses of DNA, including the transfer by laundry and skin. He and a fellow extern co-authored papers outlining the results of the study. 

While at Waynesburg University, Matt has the opportunity to utilize professional instrumentation through experimentations and mock scenarios in his laboratory classes. These state-of-the-art instrumentation and tools include high and low power comparison microscopes, polarized light microscope and scanning electron microscope with energy dispersive spectroscopy, among others. Matt credits his experiences in his Waynesburg classes for preparing him for his internship. 

“I definitely learned a lot at Waynesburg University before going into this internship, and I also learned so much from this internship that will better prepare me for my future career,” Matt said. “I gained valuable knowledge and experience working in the field of forensic science. I also developed friendships and professional colleagues and experience working in a professional environment.”

 

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Posted by on in Alumni

Kelly-Brady.jpgKelly Brady, 2011 Forensic Science 

Forensic technician at the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office in Philadelphia, Pa.

Working a full-time job while earning a master’s degree may be difficult for some, but for Kelly Brady, juggling both came easily.

A 2011 graduate of Waynesburg University, the former forensic science major currently works as a forensic technician at the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office, where she performs autopsies, extracts fluids and organs from decedents for toxicology, takes photographs of decedents and releases them to funeral homes. Just recently, she earned her master’s degree in forensic medicine from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. 

Reflecting on her time at Waynesburg University, the former vice president of Waynesburg’s Gamma Sigma Epsilon, a chemistry honorary society, chapter credits her alma mater for preparing her for life after college.

“Waynesburg University gave me countless opportunities to network with people in my field and to gain as much knowledge as possible,” said Brady. “I feel that all of the coursework and extracurricular activities at Waynesburg were beneficial and prepared me for the workforce because I was able to see what my field was really like.” 

 

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