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b2ap3_thumbnail_szuminsky.pngBrandon Szuminsky (’05, '09)
Instructor of Communication and Advisor of The Yellow Jacket student newspaper

Brandon is the faculty lead for the journalism program in the Department of Communication, where he also teaches media studies and research courses. He works with students to produce the award-winning student newspaper and advises the campus chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He can usually be found in his office at 413 Buhl Hall or the newspaper office.

How did you end up at Waynesburg University?

I came to campus as a Communication major in fall of 2001 because I was blown away by the quality of the COM programs. While I was here I fell in love with journalism and led the student newspaper for a few years. I also met the woman of my dreams (in a COM class no less!). After graduation, I spent several years working for local newspapers before returning in 2008 when I had a chance to try out a night class in the English Department. Teaching was never something I had intended on doing but I immediately fell in love. Shortly thereafter, I started working on my PhD and was lucky enough to be hired full-time in the Department of Communication, giving me a chance to again be a part of the programs that helped shape my life.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

I should say the newspaper office, or my classrooms… but I’ll be sappy and say the classroom Buhl 316, because that’s where, during freshman year, I first met my future wife.

What’s your favorite fun fact about WU?

The student newspaper was called The Yellow Jacket before many of the sports teams had the moniker.  When Prexie Stewart became president the college paper was renamed The Yellow Jacket (from The Collegian) and then the name was adopted by all the teams.

What’s your most memorable WU moment?

Helping lead the Guatemala service trip for the first time. It was my first experience with international service and it profoundly changed my worldview. 

What’s your favorite annual event?

Nothing beats Thanksgiving Dinner. It’s just so enjoyable to see so much of the campus community in one place and get a chance to flip the roles a bit and serve the students. Plus, turkey and stuffing!

BONUS: What’s your biggest challenge?

Trying to get freshmen to spell my last name correctly!

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Ferd Dolfi ('84)
Data Processor for Institutional Advancement

Ferd has been employed by Waynesburg University going on 33 years, as he was hired as a WU senior on April 23, 1984. You can find him on the second floor of Miller Hall (Room 201) in the Office of Institutional Advancement, where he maintains the database for all alumni, friends and donors of WU while reporting data for events and gatherings.

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What’s your favorite spot on campus? 

I love the aerial view from the 3rd floor balcony in Stover [Campus Center] and the way you can overlook the entire campus.

What’s your favorite annual WU event?

Homecoming! Everybody comes back and I get to see people I haven’t seen in a long time – it’s such a fun day!

What’s your most memorable WU moment?

When I was asked to play the piano at the Robert’s Chapel Dedication – it was such an honor!

What makes WU a special place to work?

All the different mixes of people and different cultures coming together at the University in such a small town is so interesting to me. 

What do you consider the most special or unique part of your job? 

I really enjoy researching old alumni information and the history of the University. I remember when they found the time capsule when Stewart Science Hall was being renovated – I could really relate to some of the things they found because I knew the history behind them.

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In April 2015, Mackenna Drazich, a sophomore public relations major, attended a health fair at Waynesburg University, not knowing that it would forever change both her life and someone else’s.

At the fair, which was held in conjunction with the football team’s annual “Be the Match” event, Drazich signed up for the National Bone Marrow Registry. The hope is to find a match for patients that are in need of a bone marrow transplant.

Several months after joining the registry, Drazich received a phone call saying she was a potential match. After receiving the news, Drazich went through further testing, and was soon notified that she was indeed a match.

“I had mixed feelings about having some pain and having surgery for the first time in my life, but it was still the easiest decision of my life,” Drazich said. “I was going to save this person’s life.”

Drazich went through a number of tests to ensure that she was the best match for the recipient. The bone marrow was extracted from the hipbones through the lower back.

“The surgery went great,” said Drazich. “I walked around very slowly for the next couple of days and got tired easily.”

In a month’s time, Drazich’s bone marrow will regenerate, and she said she felt about 75 percent of her normal self at ten-days post surgery.

“I am forever changed and humbled to be chosen to do such a thing,” added Drazich. “I give credit to my mom for instilling me with a love to do God’s work in serving others.”

The recipient is a woman with Leukemia, and after she receives the bone marrow, she and Drazich will essentially have identical immune systems. The recipient will undergo intense chemotherapy, in hopes that her body will accept Drazich’s bone marrow.

This was the second annual Be the Match drive hosted by Waynesburg University football team. Be the Match On Campus is a national program that encourages college- age students to have recruitment drives for the National Marrow Donor Program. The event educates students on Be the Match’s mission to help patients get the transplant they need to save their life.

The football team’s event successfully registered 163 students.

Visit bethematch.org for more information or to sign up for the National Marrow Donor Program.

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As a general rule of thumb, every semester of college is busier than the last. Responsibilities, obligations, jobs, homework and activities grow until, by junior and senior year, finding time to take a deep breath seems unlikely. And every time you seem to get caught up on your work for a moment, the grown-up voice in the back of your head whispers (or, more likely, shouts), “Now, what are you going to do after you graduate?”

Enter the rapidly increasing sense of panic.

You only have to glance at my planner to know I’m feeling it. Three part-time jobs, five classes worth of homework and projects (not to mention classes themselves), five organizations that meet regularly, the internship hunt, friends, family, keeping up with life’s responsibilities, and running a newspaper that needs hours of my time every day. Sound a little like your life? I figured. College students everywhere have a lot on their plates.

But one of the great things about being a college student at Waynesburg University is that my fellow students are some of the most special people I will ever have the joy of meeting. The more time I spend with them, the more I realize I couldn’t make it through one day without them. Here’s why:

1.      Waynesburg isn’t just a campus – it’s a community.
With such a small student body, I know upwards of half the people I pass on the sidewalk every day. And I even have a kinship with the ones I don’t know. Something as simple as having a door held open for me (there’s a lot of that around here) reminds me that we’re all going through this college experience together, and there’s support around every corner.

2.      This is where you find your people.
It’s one thing to find a close group of friends (also an easy task at WU), but it’s a whole other thing to find your people. I’m lucky enough to have two sets of people: my roommates, three girls whose personalities click so perfectly with mine that it seems too good to be true, and my staff at the Yellow Jacket newspaper, who have truly become a family. Together, all of my people make my days infinitely brighter, pick me up every time I fall and remind me why I’m here at Waynesburg. They’re my friends, sure, but it’s more than that – they’re the very foundation of the life I’m building in college.
It’s the Waynesburg culture that will allow you to find groups like mine that light your path and make it possible for you to have the best college experience imaginable.

3.      Everyone’s busy – which is why we all take the time to help each other out.
I know that doesn’t seem to make much sense, but somehow, it’s the reality on our campus. Maybe it’s the fact that we all know how it feels, or that we sometimes seek an escape from our own responsibilities. Either way, you’re never alone when you’re stuck in the middle of a hectic day or week. There is always someone willing to lighten the load. And in my case, my friends have only to look at my face to know when I’m overwhelmed, and they come to the rescue without me saying a word.

4.      These students are unlike any others.
Every college and university boasts this about their students – but at Waynesburg, it’s the real deal. This statement is the culmination of all of the points above. You’d be hard-pressed to find a campus more filled with empathy, love and community, and the students prove it every day. When a 20-something thinks to text me and let me know the sidewalk he knows I’ll be walking on is icy, when finding encouraging notes on my desk becomes a regular occurrence, when my cell phone is flooded with ‘good luck’ messages on the day everyone knows I have a big interview – those are the moments I know for sure why I was called here: the people.

There are so many wonderful things about Waynesburg University, but in my opinion, my fellow students are by far the best. My friends and classmates really are something special, and I’m grateful beyond words to have them in my life. No matter how much college-induced stress comes crashing down on me, I know I’ll always find my way back to the top thanks to my Waynesburg family.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_student-in-lab-for-academics-blog.jpgAt Waynesburg University, academic excellence extends far beyond the walls of a classroom. Top-notch instruction—that which also weaves the principles of faith, ethics and moral leadership into the course work—is bolstered by a robust array of hands-on learning opportunities, from Nursing Simulation and Marine Biology Labs to a remote TV production truck and Lasershot Firearms Simulator.

As a result of these facilities, co-curricular organizations possess the opportunity to grow and flourish, preparing students professionally. For example, the University’s American Chemical Society student chapter recently received the “Outstanding Chapter Award” for the fifth consecutive year. Additionally, the University’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America achieved Star Chapter status for the third-straight year, and President Megan Bayles, a senior, earned PRSSA’s National Gold Key Award, the organization’s highest individual honor.

The University now also has agreements with multiple professional schools, affording students benefits ranging from expedited application reviews to guaranteed admission interviews, among others. These professional schools include the:

  • West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
  • West Virginia University School of Medicine
  • Chatham University Master of Occupational Therapy Program
  • Chatham University Doctor of Physical Therapy Program
  • Chatham University Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program
  • Alderson Broaddus University Physician Assistant Studies Program

These types of opportunities and experiences provide Waynesburg students a distinct advantage upon graduation. Utilizing the knowledge imparted by committed faculty members, graduates regularly achieve 100% pass rates on national exams in fields such as Nursing and Athletic Training. Furthermore, the Class of 2014 achieved a 95% placement rate, which means 95% of responding students were either working full-time, in graduate/professional school or in the military within one of year of graduation.

Alumni such as Dr. Autumn Lemley, D.O. (’09) and Ryan Devlin (’07) reach new heights in their educational and professional careers as a result of their Waynesburg education. Lemley went on to graduate from West Virginia’s School of Osteopathic Medicine and now practices at Cornerstone Care and Monongalia General Hospital as a Family Medicine Resident. Devlin was named the 2013 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year and became the first person ever from the state to be one of the three finalists for National Teacher of the Year.

Stories like those of Autumn and Ryan abound among Waynesburg graduates, and so many attribute their success in large part to their time at Waynesburg. To learn more about what alumni are doing and where students are interning, visit waynesburg.edu/outcomes.

For more numbers on academics at Waynesburg, see the bulleted list below:

  • 70+ major concentrations
  • 3 five-year integrated bachelor’s to master’s programs
  • 18 students in an average class
  • 13:1 student/faculty ratio
  • 100% of academic departments offering hands-on learning, research and/or internship opportunities
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