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Recent biology graduate Andrya Durr knew that she wanted to pursue a career in biology from the time she was in seventh grade.

With a passion for medicine, Durr wants to dedicate her life to helping people with their health issues because of what she has experienced in her own life.

“My mother has a combination of Addison’s disease and Fibromyalgia,” she said. “My long-term goal is to find an effective, steroid-free treatment for Addison’s patients.”

Accepted into the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program at West Virginia University for the fall of 2016, she will be conducting research in four-week lab rotations that will expose her to different types of experiments, ultimately selecting a specific lab and research project for her program.

As a student at Waynesburg, Durr said she was prepared with the knowledge that she needed to further her education in biology. Durr credits the research requirement for allowing her to prepare and run her own experiments. She also recognizes her professors for helping her decide what she wanted to pursue after completing her undergraduate degree.

Dr. Chad Sethman was Durr’s mentor throughout her four years at Waynesburg and was always available to answer questions and provide assistance. Durr’s research mentor was Dr. Wayne Rossiter, whom she speaks very highly of as well.

“When I started my research project, I was preparing for medical school, but once I completed my first semester with [Dr. Rossiter], I cancelled my Medical College Admission Test, signed up for the Graduate Record Examinations and applied to the research program at West Virginia University,” said Durr.

In the research field, it is of utmost importance to work with integrity, which Durr said she learned at Waynesburg.

“My education at Waynesburg has made me more honest and humble as a person,” said Durr. “It has always been difficult for people to combine faith and science, but Waynesburg helped me to do it perfectly.”

Durr said that she has wanted to create positive change for people her entire life, and through the biomedical sciences program, she is going to have a career she is proud of, but most importantly, she will be doing work that serves others.

“Waynesburg shaped me as a person by encouraging me to explore and to never be afraid of taking chances,” said Durr. “If you always do what makes you comfortable, you’ll never see your full potential.”

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Recent graduate Hanna Megna’s next step is to further her education in the nation’s capital.

On Aug. 29, 2016, Megna will begin earning her Master of Arts degree in contemporary English literature at George Washington University in Washington District of Columbia.

Excited and ready for her next level of study, Megna is looking forward to examining literature on a theoretical level with her professors. As she reflects back on her time at Waynesburg, Megna praises the value of the education she received at the university.

“The classes Dr. Jamie Dessart offers on theory have given me a really great base of knowledge,” said Megna. “I will be able to go into my graduate level classes with a working knowledge of concepts that my peers will only just be starting to acknowledge.”

Dr. Dessart encouraged Megna to submit a research paper to the National Pop Culture and American Culture Association’s annual conference. Megna said that the research for the paper was “both exhausting and exhilarating.” After submitting the paper, Megna was accepted to present her work in Seattle, which gave her the confirmation that this was part of God’s plan for her life. Additionally, she knew that pursuing her master’s degree was the next step in His plan.

During her time at Waynesburg, Megna said that she was able to grow because of the people that surrounded her. She was able to be independent in an environment that cared about her well-being.

“I was living on my own, but the faculty around me cared about me as a person and were always there when I needed advice,” said Megna. “I was making my own choices, but I had the input of those who had years of wisdom and knowledge.”

Megna worked at the Writing Center on campus with Jill Sunday and had independent study courses with Dr. Dessart that helped her not only gain knowledge, but also an understanding of how to apply her knowledge to both her class texts and everyday life. Megna said that she would not be where she is in her life without those two extraordinary women.

Megna furthered her knowledge outside of the classroom by being the treasurer and the president of Sigma Tau Delta during her time at Waynesburg. She credits the honor society as a great chance to be around like-minded individuals and be able to plan events that incorporated the entire department.

Looking into the future, Megna’s goal is to teach creative writing and contemporary literature at the collegiate level.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Zachary-DiBeradin.jpgWhen Zachary DiBeradin graduated from Waynesburg University in 2015, the interactive design major pictured himself putting his skills to work for a design firm or a photography studio, even a marketing firm. However, after landing a job in a completely different niche within his field, he is happily employed at Dick’s Sporting Goods in a way unlike he ever imagined.

DiBeradin is a learning media designer for Dick’s, where he works with a team of instructional designers, subject matter experts, vendors and management teams to provide learning solutions for the company. Many of their projects include electronic components, such as video series, where others are simply in-person trainings.

“My main role is to support the instructional designers with research and provide a solution to the need or demand,” said DiBeradin. “I primarily work on creating media that looks good and is also functional for the end user.”

Additionally, DiBeradin is a freelance designer and photographer in the Pittsburgh region.

He credits his Waynesburg University education and professors for all of his current professional opportunities.

“I am extremely grateful for the amount of exposure and portfolio building opportunities I received during my time at Waynesburg,” said DiBeradin. “I would like to thank all of my professors that have prepared me by giving me relevant knowledge from people who have first-hand experience in the industry.”

DiBeradin was most influenced by Dr. Chad Sherman, assistant professor of communication, Kristine Schiffbauer, instructor of communication, and Richard Krause, assistant professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communication.

“They gave me opportunities that I wouldn’t have been able to find anywhere else,” he said. “They taught me how to further my knowledge by pushing myself to be better at everything I do; to challenge myself and to always be open to new things.”

Since entering the workforce, DiBeradin has learned that his work can make a difference in the lives of others. He takes pride in the fact that his work can directly help people, as well as an entire company, develop.

“I’m always happy that I can make a difference in the way someone learns,” said DiBeradin. “It is always rewarding to be able to challenge people and make them think about different situations through media.”

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b2ap3_thumbnail_7-11-ACS-Regional-Mtg-JK.jpgIn a few short weeks, Jelena Kyle, recent forensic science alumna, will be continuing her education across the Atlantic Ocean. Kyle will be pursuing a master’s degree in forensic science at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom.

Kyle first learned of Northumbria through Dr. Evonne Balduaff, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Forensic Science, who, at the time, was exploring a future study abroad program with the school.

“We would always joke that I was going to go there for graduate school, but I don’t think either of us thought that one day I actually would,” said Kyle.

Baldauff and Michael Cipoletti, assistant professor of forensic science, once visited Northumbria and upon their return, shared how amazing it was as a school. This was when Kyle made a decision that Northumbria was where she wanted to continue her education.

Kyle’s professors at Waynesburg have helped shape her into the person she has become today. In addition to Baldauff and Cipoletti, Kelly Wilczynski, chemical hygiene officer and safety coordinator, and Faith Musko, instructor of forensic science, have become personal and academic influencers to Kyle.

In addition to being her professor, Baldauff was her research advisor and saw firsthand the amount of time and dedication that Kyle devoted to her studies in the chemistry lab.

“I am surprised that she didn’t get sick of me for how much time I spent up there on the fifth floor of Stewart Hall,” said Kyle. “The joke was that I was either going to become the mascot or that I should just bring my mattress and move in.”

Musko was Kyle’s biggest cheerleader and the one who pushed her harder every day to do her best. Another friend and Kyle coined the phrase, “Musko Wednesdays,” which became a time when they held conversations with Musko in her office about anything from school to politics to TV.

“It might not seem like much, but it was honestly one of the biggest stress relievers for me,” said Kyle.

Kyle credits the structure of Waynesburg’s forensic science curriculum for helping her with choosing a career. At Waynesburg, students experience all disciplines in the forensic science field rather than being forced to choose a specific discipline from the start.

“Not many colleges other than Waynesburg offer this,” said Kyle. “I was able to study a little bit of every division so I would be better suited to then pick what it was I wanted to do as a career.”

Indeed, that is how Kyle decided that she wanted to become a latent fingerprint examiner and work for the counterfeiting division of the Secret Service.

In September, Kyle will begin her coursework at Northumbria, and she is very eager to do so.

“I think I am most excited about going to a different country for my degree,” said Kyle. “I am going to learn so much over there, not just from my new professors, but from the culture and area.”

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Mary-Hoffman.jpgEnglish (secondary education, creative writing) alumna, Mary Hoffman, is headed to Dayton, Ohio, to pursue her passion for teaching and learning. Hoffman was accepted to the University of Dayton’s Lalanne Program, a two-year graduate program with a tuition-free master’s degree, accompanied with two years of teaching in an urban Catholic school.

Over the next two years, Hoffman will teach sixth and seventh-grade students and engage in research.

“I am excited to continue my passion for research by conducting a two-part action research for my graduate degree,” said Hoffman, whose research will examine the effects of daily writing on seventh-grade classroom reading levels. “The research will be part of my teaching experience, so I can apply what I am learning in my courses directly toward my career.”

The support that Hoffman received from the faculty in Waynesburg’s Department of English and Foreign Languages and Department of Education encouraged her career choice in education and research.

“My professors were encouraging and supportive at Waynesburg and always had my best interest at heart,” she said. “I’m confident that Waynesburg has fully prepared me for both my first year of teaching and the coursework at University of Dayton.”

Additionally, Hoffman worked at the Writing Center and helped both undergraduate and graduate students with their papers; this where she learned the best practices to teach writing to others. Jill Moyer Sunday, director of the Writing Center, helped further Hoffman’s interest in research by encouraging her to present at the International Writing Centers Association Conference.

Stepping out of her comfort zone, Hoffman was a copy editor for the student-run newspaper, The Yellow Jacket, for one year, which exposed her to a different style of writing. She was also a member of the orientation board as an orientation leader, the senior class gift committee and the Student Activities Board.

Waynesburg’s mission of faith, learning and serving had a profound impact on Hoffman during her time at the University.

“Waynesburg’s mission shaped my classroom experience, therefore, shaping my career, even as a graduate student,” she said. “The professors at Waynesburg incorporated faith, learning and serving into their everyday lives, something I hope to do for my students, as well."

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