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When Jennifer Armstrong, a 2002 Waynesburg University alumna, thinks back to her time as an athletic training major, she remembers the friendly atmosphere. With only 15 people in her class, Armstrong said strong friendships were formed through clinic hours, travelling with different sports teams, studying and spending time together outside of class. But even more than that, Armstrong remembers how the Athletic Training Program prepared her for success in the professional world.

“Our faculty pushed us and prepared us for what a career in athletic training would really be like,” said Armstrong. “It’s a behind-the-scenes, thankless job, but it is so rewarding. I’m so thankful for my time at [Waynesburg University] and all of my amazing experiences.”

Today, Armstrong is the head athletic trainer/teacher at E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg, Virginia; and in the past three months, she has been recognized by numerous professional bodies for her stellar work.

In early January, she received the Virginia Athletic Trainer’s Association Vito Perriello Secondary School Athletic Trainer of the Year, which is given annually to a trainer in a secondary school setting.

Later that same month, Armstrong won the Gatorade Secondary School Athletic Trainer Award. After being nominated by a colleague, Armstrong was recognized for making “outstanding contributions in furthering her high school’s athletic care program or the overall profession of secondary school education.” Only 10 athletic trainers in the nation receive this award; Armstrong is representing Maryland, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Then, in March, Armstrong was awarded the National Athletic Training Association Servant’s Heart Award, which recognizes secondary school trainers in each district for service to the profession, schools and communities.

“I feel very humbled and blessed that people think so highly of me as an [athletic trainer] that they would nominate me for these amazing awards,” Armstrong said. “I am so happy to be one of the people who can help bring awareness to the athletic training profession, as well as represent E.C. Glass and my community nationally.”

On a typical day at E.C. Glass, Armstrong is responsible for the first aid and emergency response, evaluation of injuries, rehabilitation, concussion management and other needs of approximately 750 athletes. She attends the practices and games of all sports, working with both athletes and coaches. She also teaches athletic training courses to approximately 50 junior and senior students.

Outside of school, Armstrong is a CPR instructor for the American Heart Association and an adjunct instructor at Central Virginia Community College. She is chair of the Virginia Athletic Trainer’s Association Secondary Schools Athletic Trainer’s Committee, and a preceptor for athletic training students at Liberty University and Lynchburg College.

Armstrong said it is challenging to achieve a balance with so many responsibilities, but her career field is so rewarding.

“My favorite part about being an [athletic trainer] is the relationships that I am able to form with student-athletes, parents, coaches, and administrators,” she said. “I am always striving to be the difference in someone’s life through my career…this profession allows me to impact so many young people’s lives.”

Armstrong said that being a health care professional means putting others’ needs first—something she is looking forward to for the rest of her career. She loves where her career path has led her, and she wants to continue advancing the profession as a whole.

“I am always trying to advocate for the profession,” she said. “I want to continue to educate high schools locally, statewide, regionally and nationally that having an [athletic trainer] is not a luxury but a necessity.”

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b2ap3_thumbnail_JD-Lydic-2.JPGRecent sports broadcasting and sports information graduate, J.D. Lydic, has uprooted to Erie, Pennsylvania, to start his career in the news industry.

Lydic is currently a multimedia journalist for WICU and WSEE of Erie News Now, an NBC affiliated television station. He is responsible for coming in to work each day with multiple stories, and his news director chooses which stories are classified as newsworthy.

In a single day, Lydic goes out into the community to record video and conduct interviews. He then returns to the studio to edit his footage into a short news package that is accompanied by a script he prepares after the video editing is complete. Complete packages are then posted onto the station’s website with a written story.

When Lydic thinks back to his time at Waynesburg, he recounts how he was prepared for the workforce.

“Waynesburg allowed me to get on-air experience in television,” he said. “I was taught how to be part of the community and what makes a good news story.”

Lydic attributes professors Lanny Frattare, Melinda Roeder, Brandon Szuminsky and Bill Molzon for helping him become a great broadcaster with a wide skill set that made him more marketable when searching for his first job out of college.

Thus far, Lydic has learned that it is a busy world in news and the deadlines come quickly, as he is responsible for all aspects of creating a story.

“I have learned that it takes a lot of work and the starting things young reporters are asked to do can be many,” he said. “You must work through it all to become successful.”

Lydic also noted that Waynesburg’s mission taught him how to be a servant in the community by using his talents as a voice for the public.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Ashley-Franczyk.JPGWith a passion for clinical medicine, recent graduate Ashley Franczyk is now attending Marietta College’s Physician Assistant Program, where she will earn her Master of Science in physician assistant studies.

Franczyk began her program in June 2016 in Marietta, Ohio, where she is striving toward her ultimate goal of becoming a pediatric oncology physician assistant.

“My future goal is to not only become an excellent healthcare professional, but to impact and educate my patients to live healthy lives,” said Franczyk.

Looking back at her time at Waynesburg, Franczyk credits the Department of Biology, Environmental Science and Athletic Training, along with the challenging courses for preparing her for graduate school. Additionally, she speaks highly of the influence faculty and staff at Waynesburg have had on her.

“Dr. Hamilton was a tremendous influence on me; his human physiology course allowed me to discover my passion for medicine, the human body and the physiological responses of the body to disease,” said Franczyk. “Jane Owen was also not only an excellent mentor to me throughout my four years at Waynesburg, but also a great friend to me. Without her support, I would not be as successful as I am today.”

Waynesburg’s mission of faith, learning and serving helped guide Franczyk’s undergraduate experience. After she participated in medical study abroad trips to Mexico and the Dominican Republic, she came to the realization that patient care and clinical medicine was the path she wanted to take.

“Throughout my career and life, I will always practice these values and remember where they were instilled in me, which was at Waynesburg University,” said Franczyk.

Franczyk said she was challenged and that allowed her to push herself academically in ways she never experienced prior to attending Waynesburg. She noted that challenging courses made her an extremely dedicated and hard worker in her academics pursuits.

“Physician Assistant school is tremendously rigorous, and the education I received at Waynesburg has prepared me for this next chapter of my education,” said Franczyk. “I am so blessed and honored to have attended Waynesburg University and I will always remember the faith and service I have learned there and will apply it to my profession throughout my life.”

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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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