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With grace and love in her heart, Sarah Markwardt has traveled to Hekima Place, a sanctuary for orphaned girls in Kenya, for one month of every year since 2008. In that time, the girls who call Hekima Place home have grown to cherish their time with the woman who always promises to return.

 

Since graduating from Waynesburg University in May, the Biblical and Ministry Studies (BMS) alumna from Ohio Pyle, Pa., has taken on a new, full-time role within Hekima Place. Dedicating her entire mind, heart and spirit to their mission, Sarah conducts a training program for new volunteers to prepare them for cross-cultural exchange and completes various financial and fundraising tasks in a job created specifically for her.

 

“International service has the potential to be extremely fulfilling to all who participate,” Sarah said. “My goal is to prepare new volunteers to work and travel with open minds, ears and hearts while keeping them informed about politics and other cultural realities in Kenya.”

 

The mission of Hekima Place, to serve the needs of Kenyan girls who are orphaned, primarily by HIV/AIDS, by providing a safe, faith-based, loving home that supports excellence in education and empowerment for their futures, is a mission Sarah has wholeheartedly supported since the moment she met the girls who wanted to love and be loved.

 

Working from her U.S. home to keep her Kenyan home running smoothly, Sarah serves Hekima Place through PULSE, the Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience. PULSE, committed to cultivating a community of young servant leaders to transform Pittsburgh, mentors a new generation of urban leaders who understand and appreciate the importance of the city for the world's future. Sarah lives with a cohort of other PULSE participants working to make positive change in Pittsburgh and beyond.

 

“My first trip, I didn't know what to expect,” she said. “Of course, half way across the world, there were plenty of things that were different. But I was struck more by how much was the same. Giggling girls who wanted to be loved, moms working hard, men trying to decide what it means to be a man. Kenyan culture is very different from our own, but people are somehow the same, no matter where they are. So I loved them.”


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After posting the top overall record in the Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) at 9-1 and winning a share of the 2012 PAC title, the Waynesburg University football team took up 17 slots on the 2012 PAC All-Conference Teams. The Yellow Jackets, who finished 7-1 in conference play, boasted a league-high eight first-team honorees, including three on offense, three on defense and two of the three special team spots. Leading the offensive trio was three-time first-team All-PAC honoree Adam Moses at tight end. Joining Moses as first-team offensive picks were junior offensive lineman Rob Kingerski and junior running back Bertrand Ngampa. Waynesburg's threesome of first-team defensive selections featured three-time first-team safety Bryan Gary, a junior. Defensive linemen Matt Krause, a senior, and Brandon Fedorka, a junior, were also lauded as first-team picks. The Jackets nearly swept the three first-team special teams selections as senior punter Zack Rogers and senior kick returner Christian Jackson were given the nod at their respective positions.

 

Along with Waynesburg's eight first-team nods, three Yellow Jackets were named second-team picks. Those laurels went to senior offensive lineman Conor Brinkhoff, senior linebacker Jordan Helmick and junior kicker Alex Henry.

 

Six honorable mention selections – Jackson, this time at wide receiver, senior running back Dominic Moore, junior linebacker Ronnie Skinner, sophomore linebacker John Skiora, senior defensive back LaVance Turnage, Jr. and junior defensive back Logan McAnany – completed Waynesburg's awards haul.

 

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Gracious Shavers

When Waynesburg University sophomore Gracious Shavers was a high school student at Zion Christian Academy in Okinawa, Japan, she often recited a Bible verse at night.

 

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”— Matthew 5:14-16
This verse, central to her goals of being a servant to others and bringing glory to the Lord's kingdom, inspired Gracious to act as a light to those in need.

 

“I will go wherever God calls me,” Gracious said. “I want to love those who aren't loved, care for those who others ignore and bring hope to people who need it the most.”
Gracious, a human services (education) major and international studies minor, dedicated her summer to volunteering with the United Services Organization (USO) in Okinawa, Japan, where she was born and raised.

 

USO's mission and Gracious' mission were one and the same: to provide a home away from home for U.S. troops and to keep them connected to the families they left behind. The USO's work to support U.S. troops is close to Gracious' heart, as she can recall stopping by the USO's Kadena base with her own family when her father was in the Air Force.
Gracious' personal experience living in Okinawa enabled her to share the island's culture with U.S. troops, having the unique perspective of both a local resident and a past beneficiary of the organization. She worked at the USO's front desk, assisted at social events and put together care packages for deployed soldiers.

 

As a Bonner Scholar at Waynesburg University, Gracious completes 140 hours of service each semester. She has volunteered with various organizations, including the Eva K. Bowlby Public Library, the Discovery Club, Laughlin Chapel, Produce to People, St. Ann Catholic Church, The Pittsburgh Project, World Vision and Youth in Action.

 

“The Bonner Program has given me the opportunity to serve in many ways that I would have never had the chance to experience back home in Okinawa,” she said, reflecting on her desire to be a servant to others.

 

The decision to embark on a new journey at Waynesburg University, separated from her family and everything else she knew, came to Gracious one day before she received her official acceptance into the Bonner Program.

 

The adjustment to life on another continent has left Gracious stronger in her faith, and her experiences at Waynesburg University have left her more sure of her goals than ever before.

 

“Out of faith, I picked Waynesburg,” Gracious said. “I had no idea what the school looked like, but somehow I felt as if God wanted me there.”


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Waynesburg University By the Numbers

To get more information about Waynesburg Unversity download our Campus Profile Packet.

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Mike Maleski came to Waynesburg more than twenty years ago with dreams of being Bob Costas in the sports announcing booth. Searching for a hands-on education, he left Cleveland, Ohio, and found a new dream as a communication major at Waynesburg University.

 

Now, as vice president of Digital Sales, Marketing and Operations for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Maleski works with the online revenue stream. Joining the team in 2008, he has made the Cavaliers a top five staple in the National Basketball Association for fan engagement, traffic and revenue. His work has created best practices models that other teams in the NBA have duplicated.

 

Maleski attributes his adaptability and success to his education.

 

“Waynesburg prepared me well for the real world,” Maleski said. “The University gave me the know-how to adjust and adapt. Waynesburg helped me to strive for more, and it gave me the experiences I needed to develop a strong set of personal and professional values.”

 

With a personal goal of being the best at whatever he did, Maleski's career reflects his determination and drive. He began his career with Douthit Communications in 1991 and by 1999 was the general manager of WeST LIFE newspaper. Continuing his professional ascension, Maleski joined the Great Lakes Publishing sales staff in 2002 and became the Inside Business magazine publisher in 2003, where his influence allowed sales growth and numerous awards. During his time with Cleveland.com, the website achieved growth in traffic, as well as site expansion, mobile platforms and new email, among others.


“Most would say I've achieved quite a bit since leaving Waynesburg 21 years ago and perhaps that's true,” Maleski said. “I still see much, much more to do still. I learn something new every day, especially in the field of digital innovation.”

 

In a career featuring a plethora of success, Maleski can identify two of his greatest accomplishments, both dealing with his position with the Cavaliers. For a number of years, he has led the NBA in new media partnership solutions and has been recognized for his work. Additionally, he was named one of the NBA's top new creative executives by Sports Business Journal for the 2009 season, just a year after the organization hired him.

 

Despite his professional achievement, Maleski still believes that attending Waynesburg helped him find what he needed to succeed.

 

“Waynesburg is a big part of who I am today,” Maleski said. “The friends I made there are my friends for life, and it was Waynesburg University that brought us together. My success is attributable to the way I was raised by my parents and the strong relationship I've had with my brothers and friends.”

 

Drawing from his extensive and exciting professional life, Maleski can impart wisdom on students preparing to enter the workforce. He believes in valuing everyone he meets, because one can never be sure when they might reenter your life and have the ability to help you advance in some way. He strives to return every phone call within 24 hours and treat everyone he encounters with courtesy.

 

“Be willing to roll up your sleeves and work hard in order to move up within the corporate environment. Take risks. Be yourself. Stand up for yourself and your opinions…and align yourself with organizations that value the same things you do.”


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