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b2ap3_thumbnail_Cody-Hillberry.jpgThis past summer, Cody Hillberry learned the purest and simplest definition of grace from an unlikely source, a summer internship. Through his time spent interning at Progress Community Corrections Center in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, the sociology alumnus from Waynesburg University learned many invaluable lessons.

The internship allowed Hillberry to work alongside specialists and guards who work with addicts, sex-offenders and parole-violators. Through this, he was able to observe many issues first-hand such as class division, sub-cultures within the facility, the impact of negative stigmas on a person's identity, the effects of addiction and criminal thinking.

Hillberry was presented with unique opportunities like shadowing a security officer and leading a group-session on relapse prevention, which allowed him a glimpse into the hands-on criminology aspect of human behavior studies.

But it was his passion for helping others and spreading the Gospel that helped him to release the preconceived notions of judgment and hopelessness that are often associated with offenders and their crimes, and see the human beings residing beneath these stereotypes.

“I [used to have] an attitude that withheld any kind of hope for them,” he said.  “However, as I was sitting there one day, I realized that they are no [less] worthy of grace than myself.”

Although he admits that this was not easy for him to embrace, it allowed him to see the potential for grace in others.

“We cannot dismiss people from the responsibility of their actions by any means,” said Hillberry, “However, to dismiss them as being any less human than we are is unjust.  As one of the staff at PCCC told me, ‘we’re all a couple bad decisions away from being in the same situation."

In addition to his summer of lessons, Hillberry says he is thankful for his four years at Waynesburg and the challenges his undergraduate experience presented.

“I had to think outside the box, create my own solutions, and figure out my purpose for being at Waynesburg,” he said. “The people I can still call friends, the professors and faculty that took the time to talk to me, my failures and victories, all pushed me forward, and for that I'll always be thankful.”

The Waynesburg graduate is grateful to have had the opportunity that has pointed him to a career involving people, rehabilitation, counseling and redemptive aspect of the Gospel.   Due to his experience at Progress Community Corrections Center, he is actively seeking a position as a Juvenile Probation Officer in hopes of continuing to spread the message of Christ.

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Posted by on in Alumni

Jamie Piotrowski, 2014

Refugee services caseworker at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Jamie Piotrowski has always strived to live a life of purpose.  It was through Waynesburg University that Piotrowski learned to focus her career goals on the purpose of serving others.

“I pursued my degree for the purpose of helping other people,” said Piotrowski. “Now at my job, I work with a purpose of helping those who enter our country with almost nothing but the clothes on their back. I have learned, and I am still learning, to live a purposeful life of Christ.”

A 2014 graduate of Waynesburg University with a degree in sociology (family studies), Piotrowski is a refugee services caseworker at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. While on the job, Piotrowski resettles refugees in the Pittsburgh area and helps them assimilate to the culture and lifestyle of a United States citizen. Her goal is to guide them on the path of self-sufficiency. 

Piotrowski believes Waynesburg University’s mission of faith, serving and learning guided her to be the best possible worker in her chosen career. 

“Waynesburg University has allowed me to recognize and strengthen my relationship with Christ through academics, friendships and service,” said Piotrowski. “I have had many different kinds of opportunities presented to me in my life, but I never would have had them if I did not grow mentally, emotionally or spiritually throughout my time at Waynesburg.” 

 

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Pulse Photo resized 600

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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