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John F. Wiley, the former Waynesburg University football coach who holds the highest career winning percentage in Waynesburg history, was a fundamental member of the Waynesburg community. In 1995, the late Yellow Jacket coach was forever immortalized on Waynesburg's campus when his moniker was used in the naming of John F. Wiley Stadium.

 

The beloved friend of the University passed away Monday, March 25, at the age of 92, leaving behind a legacy that will continue to inspire.

 

“He was one of the most important people in the development of Waynesburg University over the last century,” said Timothy R. Thyreen. “Without John Wiley, Waynesburg University would not be where it is today.”

 

Wiley grew up on a Greene County farm just along the West Virginia border. He attended Waynesburg University, where he played, and would eventually coach, football. During his time on the Yellow Jacket football team, Wiley played in the first-ever televised football game against Fordham University in 1939. That same season, he earned Little All-American Football honors.

 

In that first televised game, which took place at the New York World's Fair, Wiley kick-started his career with the NHL. Though noticed by a New York team, the talented young football player's plans to join the national league were interrupted by World War II.

 

After returning home from the Army, Wiley played tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1946 to 1950 and served as a scout for the team for a year. He traded his black and gold jersey for a black and orange one in 1951 by returning to Waynesburg University as the tenth football coach in program history.

 

As Waynesburg's head coach, Wiley instilled in his players the same values by which he lived his life. He coached with a smile and with an enthusiastic appreciation for the sport, but never let the game derail his sportsmanship or sense of perspective.

 

“He was more interested in the kids' development in academics,” said Thyreen. “All of his thoughts were on doing what was right; he had a profound sense of rightness.”

 

Thyreen remembers Wiley as a “Waynesburg man,” and said Wiley was the type of man that the University's 1849 founders envisioned students becoming upon graduation.

 

“There was no compromise in his integrity,” said Thyreen. “He was just a rock and steady, and yet he was a gracious gentleman. He would do what was right regardless of the consequences.”

 

Wiley compiled a 22-9-1 record in four seasons as head coach and his .710 winning percentage is the best in University history. He was also the first Waynesburg coach to defeat nearby rival Washington & Jefferson and is still one of only three coaches to accomplish that feat.

 

After his success at Waynesburg, Wiley took an opportunity to coach at another regional university, but his departure wasn't the end of his Waynesburg story: he served on the University Board of Trustees and as the Alumni Association president. He also received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University in 1989.

 

Thyreen, whose leadership has transformed Waynesburg University over the last two decades, said that without Wiley, Waynesburg's return to its original mission of 1849 would not have been possible.

 

“When people would want to put the brakes on [Waynesburg's] transformation, he simply said no. He would say, 'This is who we are and what we are – we are going back to 1849.'”

 

Much has transformed at Waynesburg since Wiley was a student and a coach – the stadium, for one, didn't bear his name back then – but he continued feeling a connection to the Waynesburg University community for his entire life.

 

“The college sure has grown, and it's getting bigger than ever – better than ever, too. I'm just so proud,” Wiley said in a 2009 interview. “My whole family went to Waynesburg; we all think of Waynesburg as home.”


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Waynesburg University's Stover Center for Constitutional Studies and Moral Leadership develops leaders to positively impact America's political and social institutions. The Stover Scholars traveled to Washington, D.C. in November 2012 and met six leaders who have had an impact on American society.

 

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, former U.S. Attorney General and Pennsylvania Governor Richard L. Thornburgh, Roman Catholic Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Supreme Court litigators Michael Carvin and Gregory Katsas, and economist Richard Rahn provided insights about leadership, law, economics and ethics to the scholars.

 

Commenting on the D.C. trip, Stover Scholar J.R. Kautz said, "I can honestly say this trip has been one of the most influential and notable experiences of my life. I am proud to be a Stover Scholar."

 

During their meeting with former U.S. Justice Department Officials Gregory Katsas and Michael Carvin at the Washington, D.C. office of the Jones Day Law Firm, the largest law firm in the world, both attorneys described their experience and strategy litigating the National Federation of Independent Business's constitutional challenge to Obamacare.

 

The group then visited Cardinal Donald Wuerl at St. Matthew's Cathedral, where Wuerl expressed hope that the Stover Scholars would be leaders of change in the future and urged them to stay connected to America's traditional values and moral foundations.

 

Later, the Scholars met retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor at the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice O'Connor told the Stover Scholars that she "worked hard to set a good precedent as the first woman Justice, not a bad one."

 

The Stover Scholars then visited former Chamber of Commerce economist Dr. Richard Rahn, Chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth, at the Cato Institute, where he listed the requirements for a prosperous economy.

 

At the National Archives, the Stover Scholars viewed the original Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

 

The Stover Scholars ended their D.C. trip by meeting former U.S. Attorney General and Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh at the Metropolitan Club. Thornburgh's remarks about ethics and law drew upon Micah 6:8: "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God."


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Students from a variety of different departments and academic disciplines apply their coursework to individualized research projects, yielding outstanding results and notable opportunities for professional development.

 

Research opportunities abound at Waynesburg University, where students partner with faculty mentors to perform and present intensive research projects at local, regional and national conferences and workshops.

 

Waynesburg University encourages students to present their work by hosting its own Undergraduate Research Symposium each spring, in which Waynesburg undergraduates actively involved with research projects are eligible to showcase their work by displaying a poster or by giving an oral presentation.

 

“Research is a valuable aspect of scholarship, and communication of research is fundamental to the advancement of knowledge,” said Dr. Chad Sethman, the University's coordinator of undergraduate research and an assistant professor of biology.

 

At each stage of their academic careers, Waynesburg students engage in research opportunities that not only develop their expanding portfolios, but also allow them to identify and hone specific research interests. Along the way, many students take an active role in the University's nationally recognized American Chemical Society (ACS) “Outstanding” Chapter and manage monthly labs for homeschooled students and the Cosmetic Chemistry Program offered to local Girl Scout members, among many others community science initiatives.

 

Many students, such as Adam Roberge, a junior chemical engineering major from Elizabethtown, Pa., dive deeper into their academic passions through prestigious internship placements at companies such as Bayer Corporation, the Mayo Clinic, Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and most recently, Roberge's work with the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN).

 

In the summer 0f 2012, Roberge became one of 80 chosen out of a pool of 800 undergraduate student applicants to conduct research with NNIN, which, in conjunction with the National Science Foundation (NSF), organizes one of the largest and most successful Research for Undergraduate Programs (REU) in nanotechnology. The NNIN REU program affords the opportunity for undergraduate student applicants to perform and gain research experience at one of fourteen nanotechnology facilities across the country each year.

 

With the help of Dr. Evonne Baldauff, assistant professor of chemistry, and Dr. Robert LaCount, professor of chemistry, Roberge claims he was well prepared for the work he conducted in the REU program.

 

“A lot of the chemistry I performed was based on basic principles that Waynesburg's chemistry classes had,” Roberge said.

 

Each student in the program interacted daily with faculty members, graduate assistants and facility staff about his or her individual research project. Roberge's assigned project was to explore the formation of Quantum Dots, or “nanometer sized semiconductors that absorb and emit very specific wavelengths of light,” during a process called aerosol formation.

 

During aerosol formation, a solution is mixed into an atomizer which then sprays the solution into a tube furnace where the quantum dots grow.

 

“My job was twofold: to try and create Quantum Dots of various sizes by altering the temperature of the furnace, and to try and see what would happen to the quantum dots if the ratio of the reactants was altered,” Roberge said.

 

During his time in the REU program, Roberge spent nine weeks at his research site in St. Louis and one week in Washington D.C. for the end of program Research Convocation, where all of the research conducted by interns from the various sites is presented.

 

After graduating from Waynesburg, Roberge plans to attend Washington University of St. Louis to finish his engineering degree. The invaluable opportunity he received in working alongside scientists in their respective fields, he believes, will help him to excel in the completion of his undergraduate degree as well as his future endeavors in graduate school. Ultimately, he hopes to pursue a job where he will have the opportunity to perform corporate research.


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Waynesburg University's students are accustomed to applying classroom concepts to real-world situations and taking learning outside of the classroom. Last month, the University's public relations students took that learning all the way to the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa., for the annual Renaissance Awards.

 

The Awards, sponsored by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Pittsburgh Chapter, showcased top regional public relations talent and awarded practitioners who excelled in the field in 2012. Waynesburg University students worked closely with the chair of the Renaissance Awards to prepare for the notable event.

 

After meeting Dan Ayer, chair of the Renaissance Awards Committee and senior account executive at Gatesman + Dave, at a November 2012 Chapter speaking engagement, Richard Krause, chair of the Department of Communication and Faculty Adviser to the Waynesburg University Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) offered the skills of the Chapter.

 

“I told him that we have great students who aspire to work in public relations and take advantage of any opportunities that come their way,” Krause said. “He quickly took advantage of the offer and now our students have this wonderful opportunity.”

 

Ayer coordinated with the students via email and meetings to delegate tasks and track progress. He is grateful for their “outstanding help” and applauds Waynesburg students for their volunteerism and eagerness to learn.

 

“I've had the opportunity to speak at a number of local colleges and universities across the area, but I have yet to come across a group of students positioning themselves for successful careers better than the students who make up the PRSSA Chapter at Waynesburg University,” Ayer said. “The students jump at every opportunity to learn and have exceeded my expectations every time I have interacted with them.”

 

Students arrived at the venue early to set tables with programs and favors, assemble the registration table and assist Ayer and his team with any public relations activities necessary. Mitch Graham, a senior public relations major from Meadville, Pa., worked closely with Ayer to keep a running spreadsheet of registered event guests during the holidays and managed the registration table at the event.

 

“From learning how to conduct myself in a highly professional manner to being able to talk the jargon of the industry effectively, my education and experience at Waynesburg University fully prepared me for the experience,” Graham said.

 

The Waynesburg University PRSSA Chapter, a pre-professional organization possessing national membership, recently entered its third chartered year and has approximately 20 dues-paying members. Krause is confident that the Chapter will continue to grow and flourish as it continues to volunteer for events such as the Renaissance Awards.

 

Brittany Semco, a junior public relations and interactive design major from Newport, R.I., served as the event photographer's assistant throughout the evening. She helped pose people for photographs and made introductions for the photographer. She communicated her interest in photography to Ayer and received the personalized responsibility as a result.

 

“I immediately volunteered because I knew it would be an invaluable opportunity to meet public relations professionals and strengthen my skills,” Semco said. “I got to network with so many people there.”

 

Students returned from the event with business cards and contact information from respected public relations professionals, and many were encouraged to apply for summer internships by company representatives they met.

 

“Volunteering at the PRSA Pittsburgh Renaissance Awards is an excellent opportunity for students to get an inside look into the world of event planning and public relations,” Ayer said. “My hope is that each student received a positive experience and was inspired to develop the campaigns and work that will be honored at future PRSA award shows.”

 

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Demonstrating a dedication to their calling even before entering the workforce, Cami Abernethy and Alissa Boyle made a decision almost eight months ago that has since left them forever changed.

 

In the morning darkness of February 20, 2012, an SUV came to a stop on its side with its roof facing on-coming traffic, blocking the left lane of I-79S in Perry Township, Pa. A local man had fallen asleep at the wheel and was unable to free himself from the vehicle.

 

Cami and Alissa, along with seven classmates and a professor, stopped at the scene even though they were en route to their clinical nursing studies in Morgantown, W. Va.

 

After pulling the stranger out of his vehicle through a hole in the windshield, the nursing students were assessing his medical condition when an oncoming tractor-trailer came barreling toward them. A few of the students quickly realized the tractor-trailer would be unable to stop, but as a result of the darkness, they did not realize they were on a bridge.

 

In the seconds that followed, the students fled for safety, reacting quickly to the oncoming danger. Cami and Alissa jumped over the cement barrier of the bridge, thinking they would land safely on the other side. Instead, they fell approximately 50 feet to the ground below and looked to their classmates for help in the moments that followed. The paramedics arrived and both women were taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital where they received operations related to their respective injuries.

 

In the weeks before the accident, both women counted down the days to graduation and talked about what the Lord had in store for their lives. In fact, just two days before the accident, on February 18, Alissa said yes to the man of her dreams when he asked for her hand in marriage. Little did they know that their lives would soon be forever changed both physically and spiritually.

 

For Cami, the initial plan was a second surgery six months after the first, to make sure that the rods placed in her back during the first surgery were the appropriate size for her body. That six month date has come and gone, and fortunately for Cami, her doctors determined that the surgery was not necessary at this point. As long as the rods are not causing her pain, Cami will not have to undergo surgery to adapt the size of the rods.

 

Following her first surgery, Cami was encouraged to walk as much as physically possible. So with her father by her side, she did just that.

 

“My father and I went to the park every day. I started with a half lap and worked my way to three laps and bleacher steps,” she said.

 

When her doctor had determined that her back had healed enough to begin physical therapy, Cami embraced the opportunity and spent three months building strength and range of motion.

 

Following the three months of therapy, Cami has continued to progress on her own using techniques introduced through her physical therapy sessions. Her progress slowly blossomed from lifting one gallon to 25 pounds to 50 pounds, where she is today.

 

Although Cami has remained positive and focused through the last eight months, she continues to battle the lasting effects of the day of the accident.

 

“The accident temporarily put my life on hold. I'm now to the place in my life where I should be because I've graduated and I have a career. I have no complaints because I can continue to travel the path I started before the accident,” she said.

 

Unwilling to let the accident further slow her goals, Cami finished school a month and a half ago and received word September 20 that she had passed her boards. She recently accepted a position with Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC in the neonatal intensive care unit and began working October 8.

 

“I'm definitely more motivated to succeed in life because I've received an extraordinary gift, and that's a second chance at life,” she said. “I have realized that February 20th wasn't my time to go and that there's something here on this earth that I need to complete before I leave. I want to make sure I do that, whatever it may be! This experience has driven me to be the best I can be and help as many people as I can during my time here.”

 

Cami said she has “no words to describe the thanks I have for my friends, family and the Waynesburg community.” She is also grateful that her friend Alissa has been by her side through her entire recovery process.

 

“I know she feels the same way. I know it sounds wrong to say, but we both have said we feel blessed to have gone through this together and not alone,” she said.

 

Both women feel grateful to their classmates for the way they responded to their injuries.

 

“My fellow nursing students saved our lives that day and they are my heroes. I wouldn't have wanted anyone else taking care of me that morning.”

 

As for the community, Cami said there was not a day that went by where she did not receive a card, flowers or a phone call.

 

“Knowing that people were praying for me and cared about me, kept me going,” she said. “And of course I owe my family the world for helping me through. Alissa and I are blessed to have all these wonderful people in our lives.”

 

For Alissa, the challenges have been more significant as she has not regained feeling in her lower limbs. Since the accident, Alissa has experienced two surgeries (February 20 and February 29). The first involved the insertion of rods and the use of a piece of bone from her hip to fuse her spine together where burst fractures were located, and the second involved the removal of swelling and bone fragments. After the second surgery, Alissa learned that her spinal cord is bruised and that her injury is one that has unclear outcomes.

 

Undeterred and convinced that she will one day walk again, Alissa has chosen to fight. She continues to have checkups with her neurosurgeon and rehabilitation specialist and also has access to her family physician for any problems related to her spinal cord injury.

 

Twice per week, Alissa experiences hour-long therapy sessions involving electrode pads on her muscles that stimulate her muscles to peddle the bike. With each therapy session, Alissa notices improvements and has had some change in feelings in her legs. Her normal feeling goes halfway down her thigh, and she is able to tell where her therapist is moving her legs (bringing her knee to her chest or pulling her leg in or out). At this point, she is still unable to sense the movement of her foot.

 

“My life has changed a lot,” she said. “There are days that life is really hard, but I know I have to do everything possible to walk again and I can't give up.”

 

According to Alissa, her “amazing support system” will not allow her to give up.

 

“My family and friends have helped me so much. They treat me the same, which is really important to me because sometimes I feel different, especially when people stare.”

 

Although Alissa admits to having days where she wonders, “why me,” she knows that ultimately she wouldn't change a thing.

 

“I do sometimes wonder, ‘why am I going through all this pain,' but then I think it could be worse – that there is someone out there that is suffering worse than I am. I know that God has a plan for me and I just need to leave it in his hands.”

 

Alissa is currently finishing up her Waynesburg University coursework online and plans to continue to work toward her goal of becoming a nurse. After spending four years preparing to be a bedside nurse, Alissa is now thinking about other specialized areas that would allow her to utilize her skills.

 

“I have always enjoyed cardiac or the heart, but after having a spinal cord injury I might do something related to that.”

 

Alissa walks in her braces each day, which allowed her to walk down the aisle in her brother's wedding in July. In the spirit of love, in the middle of the dance floor, her fiancé picked her up to slow dance and assured her that she was still “the same woman he asked to marry him.” Ironically, her trip down the aisle was the perfect practice run for her own wedding set for September 7, 2013.

 

Assisted by Jamie's Dream Team, an organization created in 2005 to lift the spirits of those suffering from, and ease the burden caused by, serious illness, injury, disability or trauma, Alissa has immersed herself in wedding planning.

 

“I am going to work as hard as I can to walk again, but there is only so much I can do, and the rest I have to leave to God and His plan for me,” she said.

 

Unwilling to give up anytime soon, Alissa said she hopes that it is God's will for her to walk again, as she dreams of being an inspiration to those around her, to show others that “nothing is impossible.”

 

Cami also has an upcoming wedding set for May 24, 2013, and Alissa will be by her side as a bridesmaid, another practice walk down the aisle in anticipation of her own wedding. The two know that their journey together, including their upcoming marriages to best friends who met in the Army before the women were even roommates, has created a lifelong friendship.

 

Since the accident, the Waynesburg University community, along with the support of family, friends and complete strangers, has come together to raise more than $35,000 for the Cami and Alissa Fund, created to relieve financial burdens for both families.


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