Franciscan Way Magazine


My Favorite Staffer

Extras from the Autumn 2013 Issue of Franciscan Way Magazine


Which staff member meant the most to you during your years at Steubie U? Why?


Regina Cepelnik ’09, Theology


Dr. John Bergsma and Fr. Frinsko, as well as Dr. Donohue, definitely had a great impact on me as far as Theology teachers. They were helpful and understanding. In particular, Dr. Bergsma gave me the impression that he made time for all of his students no matter how busy he was.

Dr. John Holmes was one of my English professors and I loved his sense of humor and style of teaching. He also gave me the sense that he made time for his students no matter how busy he was. I always felt comfortable approaching all of these teachers regarding any issues or questions.


Karen (Finnegan) Gallagher ’79, Business


By far, my favorite staff member while I was at The College of Steubenville was Coach Hank Kuzma. I worked with Coach Kuzma in the Athletic Department for one year and learned so much from him, as well as from his secretary Carole Kirkendall. The three of us worked so well together and had a lot of fun while doing so. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor! I’m now in my twenty-eighth year of working for the Pittsburgh Pirates and I’m positive to this day that having worked for Coach helped me get this job. Love him!


Vivian Minto ’13, MA Counseling


I want to tell you how amazing Dr. Crysten Jungers, professor of graduate counseling, is. She is such a great professor and has taught so many people not only how to be effective counselors but also how to be better people. I have had trauma in my past, which is probably why I wanted to become a counselor. I wanted to help others who went through similar things. Dr. Jungers was always supportive and encouraging towards me; she believed in me when I couldn't believe in myself. She gave me the encouragement I needed when I felt like quitting. She notices when you are not in class and becomes concerned if you miss more than one. She is passionate about teaching, counseling, and supporting her students. I admire her for so many reasons and one day I hope to be half the counselor that she is! God Bless you, Dr. Jungers!


Amelia (Heins) Sunday ’03, Education


I had only one class with Dr. Monica Andersen and boy did I struggle. I don’t recall the name of the course but it was something along the lines of intro to performance. I was an education major, barely comfortable with teaching lessons in front of my peers, let alone acting in front of them. Through Dr. Andersen’s coaching, I really came out of my shell during that time. I have never looked back. Since then, I have given many speeches, countless professional development presentations and of course, taught many, many lessons. Thank you Dr. Andersen!


Father Daniel Rogich ’79, Sociology


There was no better person than Father Gerald King, TOR, who lived in Marian Hall in 1975. Even if you just mentioned to someone else you needed something and he overheard you, you’d have what you needed leaning on your door within a short period of time. He was an amazing servant of Christ!


Debbie (Stetts) Pienta ’06, Mental Health and Human Services


I took two classes with Professor Bessler: Anatomy and Physiology my freshman year and Embryology my senior year. His passion for life was invigorating and often left me awestruck over God’s design for our bodies and bringing new life into the world. I have had the blessing of three babies and with each pregnancy I recall the material from my classes with Professor Bessler and use what he taught as a guide for pursuing healthy options for my baby. Seven years later, I have even kept my notes from Embryology. I just couldn’t part with them. I pray Professor Bessler is well and enjoying retirement. As he was an outdoorsman, I like to imagine him climbing mountains, cutting wood and hunting rabbits in his spare time.


Karen Lucke Fonow
 ’73, Sociology


Anyone remember Tom Lambert back in the early 70s? He was a sociology professor, trying hard to figure life out and share it with us. It was evident that he really wanted to still be a student (not so different from many of us after we graduated and moved on). He was so much fun and made class enjoyable. I listened when he spoke and I learned a lot. I’ll never forget that first “anthropology dig” with him and Jack Boyd as our fearless leaders – and we got credits for that!


Fr. Jonathan Reardon ’03, Philosophy


Sharon Christopher from the Admissions Office immediately comes to mind when I think about my favorite staff member. I worked with Sharon for almost 2 years answering phones and giving tours. We became friends and have kept in touch since I left Franciscan. She made work enjoyable and she is just the kindest person you will ever meet! The entire Admissions staff also comes to mind during my years working there. They were a fun bunch with whom to work. I’ll also never forget the time I spent in the emergency room in Florida on the Son-Life mission trip when Carole Brown wheeled herself into my room in a wheelchair and the nurse scolded her for it! It was priceless!


Ray Challis ’67, Political Science


Fr. Antonius Yester—confessor, faculty advisor, confidant, and bridge player— is one of those people at Franciscan that had a profound impact on my life. We walked up the hill to Mass on Sunday, the good Father hearing my confession on the way up, and then me acting as his “altar boy” for the Mass itself. I never felt that closeness to my faith before or since as I did in those moments walking up the hill!

He was my faculty advisor and we often had heated debates about various subjects, books, etc., but he gave me the freedom to explore, and for the first time, I found myself treated as an equal. My opinions, if I could back them up, counted.

We played bridge together in the Student Lounge, and kept an eye on the clock as we both had to attend our next class, he as the professor and me as the student. Those card games, the walks up the hill, etc., gave me the chance to see the “man” that Fr. Antonius was, and to respect him more for it. He could be maddening at times (I’m sure I never was!), but he always allowed me to express my point of view, even when we disagreed!


Georgia (Lentz) Sager ’81, Accounting


My favorite staffers were the bookstore crew: Carmen Barbetta, Marge Ford and Betty Sarno (Carmen’s niece). They were great to work with always willing to adjust for the crazy schedules of college students. If you needed to study, needed extra rest, or had a chance to go the mall, it was fine with them.

Carmen was so generous with not only his student workers, but other students also. Several times he allowed students to work off the cost of their books because their funds were low. You need a $100.00 book, then work X number of hours stocking shelves, pulling orders, etc. to make up the cost of the book. Marge and Betty were like everyone’s mom and big sister, checking up on whether you were eating, sleeping, how classes were going, etc.

Even if we were not scheduled to work we always stopped by the bookstore to say “hi” when passing through the Student Center.


Michael Hernon ’94, Theology, ’00, MBA


Erla was always ready to smile and harass me into signing up for a 365-day rosary novena or something else. She was always someone who would genuinely care about how I was doing and I count her prayers as the reason I got my first job after graduation.


Danielle (Constant) Prince ’07, Education


Dr. Sunyoger meant the most to me during my time at Franciscan. She is one of the most faithful people I have ever met and lived her faith every day. In my three classes with her she was the first professor to ever say that I was a great writer and she encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing a novel. She also inspired me to be a hands-on, caring, and excited educator. Today I still carry into the classroom the lessons she taught me about the true meaning of teaching. She even attended my wedding in 2008! I will never forget her, and I will always be thankful for her encouragement and support.


Teresa Mota ’85, Theology


I fondly remember Dr. Alan Schreck, Fr. Francis Martin, Fr. Michael Scanlon and the wonderful worship at Christ the King Chapel. I also remember the roommates I had along the way. One was a nursing student (which actually sparked a long-lost interest in it for me and I eventually became a nurse!) and the other was from Calgary, Canada. I also went through the Secular Franciscan Order formation there. What beautiful and wonderful memories I have of the University of Steubenville!


Joe Alongi ’75, Accounting


As an accounting major, memories of Dr. John Carrigg are my fondest. During my sophomore year the University started a Humanities Core program that allowed us to fulfill our humanities requirement by combining Art, Theology, History, Literature and Philosophy into one 10 credit course. The final in this program was oral! The class was provided a “study guide” of essays to use as preparation for the final, but we were all lost! We called Dr. Carrigg the evening before the exam expressing our concerns, and he immediately came to a meeting room in the dorm and spent several hours teaching us the material. That was true dedication!


Fred Vella ’83, Political Science


I have fond memories of several staff members. One of these is1st Attorney Tom Wilson, who taught me business law and legislative process. I was able to use the knowledge he shared in my own education career; he was an inspiration.


Susie (Spencer) Weiss ’82, Theology, ’11, MA Counseling


There are many staff members that were nurturing and supportive during my time at Franciscan, but when I arrived in 1978 the first person that I connected with was Fr. Sam Tiesi. He was a new arrival, as I was, and when my parents could not make it to parents’ weekend, he said he would attend with me as my “papa”. From there, he became the advisor for our household, Subtle Lights, and became my mentor in campus ministry. We fried potatoes together at the monastery, went skiing at Seven Springs, and created fond memories leading campus-wide retreats. Father Sam was always a generous, fun-loving friar who “went about the countryside doing good” and reflected the love of the Father to all who knew him. He is greatly missed. Father Sam, pray for us.


Briana Feiler ’08, Theology and Catechetics


The staff person who had the biggest impact on me at Franciscan was Dave Fatula. I had the honor of working for him for four semesters and three summers. We began each and every work shift with the prayer of St. Francis as a reminder that what we do as event staff is not for us, but for each every participant coming to campus. Working events with Dave, no matter if it was a new student orientation, a summer conference, or the Easter Triduum, left me encouraged and even more passionate about taking on Franciscan’s Vision and St. Francis’ call to “rebuild the Church.” Dave taught me to be a servant leader and because of that I was able to be a better student and now am a better catechist, a better Catholic, and a better person working to spread that same mission in Austin, Texas.


Caren (Wendell) LeMark ’93, Theology


Mary Kay Lacke was not only a remarkable Student Life staff person and our advisor for Human Life Concerns, but also a godly woman who personally mentored me in my years at Franciscan University. She took me into her home over the summers so that I could work conferences, but also made sure that my husband to be (years before we knew each other), would be able to afford staying at Franciscan by letting him live off campus in the POP house a year early! We love you, Mary Kay!


Rich May ’03, Theology and Christian Ministry


I never looked at one staff member or another as a favorite. My Franciscan experience was a collection of people who had much to do with my current ministry as I now speak and teach around the nation and on Catholic radio. How do I compare Dr. Minto, who personally coached me and designed a special class for credit, to Dr. Hahn, who helped me in the debate over the required contact time, as I was the first graduate of the FUS Distance Education program? There was also Dr. Schreck’s invaluable class on Vatican II, and my disorganized Mariology reorganized into a teachable format by Dr. Miravalle. My thanks to all of you.


Bob Straface ’68, History


When I signed a basketball scholarship at The College of Steubenville in 1964, my high school, Bishop Donahue in McMechan, West Virginia, had Dr. John Carrigg as the commencement speaker at my graduation. This was my first interaction with Dr. Carrigg. As it turned out, I majored in History and had lots of interaction with the good doctor. His passion for history and the creativity he exhibited in presenting his lectures were “world class”. He was an ardent hoops fan and would always mention how much he enjoyed our games and on occasion compliment how I played. He was a great man, great teacher and a legendary ambassador of the college. I am blessed for crossing paths with this fantastic educator.


Rachel Caron ’07, Theology and Catechetics


The Franciscan University Staff member who meant the most to me during my years at Steubenville was Katie Dubas, the Residence Director in St. Thomas More Hall. Katie was a consistent example of Christian living and a great pastoral leader. She possessed a quiet strength and interior joy which radiated in everything she did. I especially remember our staff meetings when I served as a resident assistant during my senior year, and how she listened with such great interest and attentiveness, and offered wise words of wisdom as she mentored me through that year. Later on I went to work in Residence Life as a graduate student at the University of Notre Dame and it was largely her example that I followed in my ministry with my own residents at Notre Dame!


Thomas Simakis ’03, Finance


Doctor Welker is a very talented professor; he made statistics fun and made it so we could relate stats to everyday problems. It was very rewarding to have him as an instructor. Doctor Maternak was another professor who was very fair and extremely talented. Last but not least was Professor Thomas Kelly. Professor Kelly was an absolute joy to have as an instructor. He too is very talented and I considered having all of these professors a joy and honor. I was an older student in my 40’s so I was allowed to tell younger students my experiences in the work world with what the professors were trying to convey to the students. This was very rewarding for me. I just hope I did not leave anyone out; they all were dedicated and very open to teaching the students.


Chris Blackburn ’97, History


History professor Jack Boyd shaped my educational goals. He was an open, honest and outspoken gentlemen, by far the best professor that any one could ever have. He made you look in directions that you never would have considered traveling. Once you traveled the different road, you were glad that you did.


James Metcalfe ’88, Theology


There were more than a few that were my favorite staffers: Dr. Mark Miravalle (I took classes by him in all four of my last semesters and still have the notes), Fr. Sam Tiesi (he beat me like a dog in tennis!), and Fr. Augustine (a great friend, mentor, and priest that knew when to have fun and when to be serious), But the one I remember the most is Philosophy Professor Dr. James Harold. One evening — I believe it was in the spring semester of 1988 — he invited the pre-Theologate household to his house to view “The Mikado” in his basement and I was included, even though I wasn’t an official member. At some point in the evening, he excused himself. Later I went upstairs and I saw him in one of the kids’ rooms, praying with his children. That impressed me to no end.


Erin (Lyons) Schmitt, ’02, English Writing


Father Dominic Scotto was instrumental in the formation of my Catholic faith. I had been born and raised Protestant, but after attending several Youth Conferences during my high school Summers, I chose Franciscan University as my higher education.

When I first arrived on campus, I had no intention of converting, but that changed quickly, once I let God guide my heart. I was in RCIA my Freshman year, and Father Dominic worked closely with Barbara Morgan and her wonderful team, encouraging and teaching the Catholic faith. He helped explain Eucharistic Adoration, and heard my first confession. I was nineteen when I made my first Sacrament of Reconciliation-- I was literally laying out my lifetime’s worth of sins. But Father Dominic responded only with forgiveness and guidance. What could have been a shameful experience instead became an astonishingly uplifting one.

At the end of RCIA sessions, he would place his hands firmly and gently on our heads as he prayed for us--and afterwards, we’d often say it was the part of the evening we’d look forward to the most. Father Dominic was the first priest I had met that fully embodied the Father’s love for us. I helped with RCIA off and on during the following years, and loved to listen to Father Dominic’s stories and words of encouragement.

During my senior year, my boyfriend (Roger Schmitt, ’02) went to Father Dominic before proposing to me by the grotto behind the port. Eleven years later, I’m still happily wearing the diamond ring blessed by my favorite priest.


Chris Naaden ’99, Computer Information Science


Charles Menk, the administrator of the computer lab in the J.C. Williams Center before the remodel, meant the most to me. He was willing to listen to a know-it-all freshman in the heady days of the mid-late ’90s when email was just starting to make the rounds. I was on lab duty and he asked me to teach some classes to the administration about some basic Microsoft Office tasks. The day before the classes were to begin, I shaved my head in a show of solidarity with another freshman. I got to the class and Mr. Menk’s face lit up when he saw me. He was kind enough, however, to not say anything in public about my ridiculous display. I ended up asking him for personal advice a couple times, which he generously granted. He related lessons to me that I still think of nearly every week that’s gone by since.


Shannon (Desmarais) Federoff ’90, English and Drama


“I’ve got a novena for that!” How many times did I hear Erla say that? She gave everyone a smile as they passed through the Student Center and you knew she was praying for you at every noon mass in the chapel. Mark O’Neil immortalized her in his comic strip. I was blessed that she was my sponsor when I received the Sacrament of Confirmation.


Teresa (Mallett) Dolan ’88, Accounting


My favorite staff member was Angela Thom Wallace (and Dave Skiviat). Dave offered me my first SWOP job in the Admissions office, filling envelopes and sealing them for mailing. From there, I met Angela and was blessed with a job in the Financial Aid Office. She was a delight to work with and became a friend of mine. I am grateful to Dave, Angela and Patty for the job and for making those semesters more enjoyable.


Autumn (Filby) Reese ’13, Social Work


I am incredibly thankful for all of my professors at Franciscan University because each contributed to my education and graduation in some form. There is no doubt I owe most of my growth and success to Dr. Jerry Jo Gilham. Without her guidance, wisdom, and unconditional support I would not be the social worker I am today. Her passion and dedication to the field is inspirational, and her skills surpass all expectations. There isn’t anyone as dedicated and motivating as she is, and Franciscan is so blessed to have her as a leader. I learned so much in four years, and the way it all tied together perfectly in my senior year with field placements is just incredible. Although I’m sad I won’t be reuniting with my class and Dr. Gilham this fall, I feel so prepared and confident in my abilities as a social worker—and that is something not every student can say fresh out of college. I could go on for hours about her character and talent, but I will close my case by assuring you she is one of the best. She is my inspiration, my role model, and I cannot thank her enough for changing my life by giving me the skill set I need to make a difference. You’re the best, Dr. G, I miss you already!


Marcy (Marian) Burke ’88, Education


There were so many favorite staffers, all for different reasons, but Dr. Keenan made a real impact on my life! My roommate Patti Jesko and I slept through one of our education exams in our senior year. We raced up the hill to find the classroom empty and we were greeted by Dr. Keenan with a knowing grin on her face. “OK girls, I wondered where you were.” Needless to say, she let us start and finish the exam. I maintained correspondence with her for several years after graduation; she was forever encouraging me to go for a master’s degree. Good thing I took her advice, it brought me to Halifax where I met my husband and currently reside with our four children.


Alex Reed, ’12, Business Administration


The best professors at Franciscan are Dr. McDonald and Dr. Kelly. They integrated faith aspects into business curriculum and teaching better than I could have ever expected. Both focused on the importance of keeping to the facts and getting things done while having more important things in mind. They were very enjoyable and easily approachable no matter what the situation was. They were willing to sit down with the students, have a good honest conversation, and help anyone with anything. They introduced a necessary level of responsibility that each student was willing to adhere to and follow primarily due to the amount of respect they received from their students. Dr. McDonald and Dr. Kelly are two of the extraordinary professors within the business department at Franciscan that make it so exceptional.


Ed Breaux ’13, MS Education


In working for my Masters of Science in Education, I was really impressed with the caliber of the faculty, and the way that most teachers easily handled students from all background, with different interests and skills. Of all the faculty, however, Dr. Michael Joyce really stood out. He took the time to make his weekly video recordings personally engaging and entertaining. Then, when you asked him a question, you got a detailed answer, directed at your precise concern—even if it went well beyond the scope of the curriculum. I have sequences of three and four detailed exchanges on several points with Dr. Joyce. Dr. Joyce stands out as a premier faculty member, embodying the collegial spirit that pervades Franciscan University. Thank you for all of your insights and wisdom, Dr. Joyce!


Sr. Denise LaRock, D.C., Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, ’90, Education


While at Franciscan I lived in Trinity, which was still for the ladies at that point. Sister Jean Daughtery was my dorm director the entire time I was at Franciscan. I also served as a resident assistant under Sr. Jean. I am very grateful for the influence of her in my life. She taught me a lot about how to be a leader in the dorm and how to deal with sticky situations. Her way was firm, but gentle and compassionate. It was during my senior year that I began serious discernment with the Daughter of Charity—where I have been a member for 21 years now! During that time of discernment at Franciscan, Sr. Jean and I had many conversations about my discernment and how I could go about it. I am so grateful for her support during that time of my discernment and the gift of her wisdom that she willingly shared how to deal with people issues. Thanks, Sr. Jean!


Eddie Plys ’12, Communication Arts


Father Don Frinsko is, hands down, my favorite staffer! I was a transfer student who spent four out of five semesters in Francis Hall. Father Don has lived in Francis Hall now for over ten years serving as chaplain for the dorm and is Spiritual Advisor to Brothers of the Eternal Song household. He also teaches theology and Spanish. I feel that I speak not just for the men of Francis Hall but for most men on campus when I say that Fr. Don is not only a great example of community but also a role model and a friend. Personally, sitting down on the benches outside the hall and getting to know Father Don was one of the best decisions I made in my two and a half years at Franciscan. My grade in Spanish went from a C to an A, and part of that reason, beyond his teaching, was that I didn’t want to disappoint my friend. This also affected my other classes, as Father Don was a firm believer in being a good student, and I wanted to impress him. Father Don’s outside office was always open to all who would come by to talk about how they were doing in his classes or just to chat. Moreover, his “drive through confessional” was always open. Plenty of times, I was taken out to breakfast or lunch on Father’s generosity. Francis Hall and Franciscan University thrive on community and, for me, Father Don had a large part to play in that. When I took classes over summer, I lived with some of my Ahim Adonai brothers off campus and Father Don came over for dinner and a house blessing. When he would see me walking back from working the Youth Conferences he would give me a ride to my house as well. I have so many memories and stories with this amazing man. The best memories were just the regular occurrences of sitting on the benches outside Francis Hall with Father Don and the guys enjoying the evening together.


Allyn Curry ’67, Accounting


There were several people that impacted my life while attending the Franciscan University of Steubenville: Mr. Robert Kloska, Athletic Director; Professor Edward Kelly, chairperson, Accounting Department; Dr. James Salter, professor of Business Statistics; and Ruth Troy, Personnel Management and Labor Relations. I remember the aforementioned because they all gave me profound advice that impacted my life for the better and I have never forgotten them.

One other person that was instrumental in my decision to attend the College of Steubenville was Mr. John Mosblack, Sr., President of the Boosters, and one of the most supportive persons of the athletic program at Franciscan in those days.


Helen Dennehy ’13, Psychology


It’s hard for me to say which staff member had the most impact on my life, but if I had to pick one it would be Dr. Sammut. I had him for his first classes, and grew to respect him more and more with each passing semester. He is one of the most honorable men I’ve met and he will stand up for what he believes to be right. At the same time, he was always welcoming and never made me feel unwanted. Though I only had him for three semesters, I felt comfortable visiting his office just to say hello during the rest of my time at Franciscan. He even invited my roommate, Kimmy D’Alterio, and I over for breakfast at one point. Mrs. Sammut is a fantastic cook.


Jeanne Guerin ’90, Communications and Theology


Al, who was a director of maintenance at Egan Hall while I worked there for a few months, was always so concerned for our safety and well-being. He made sure we were escorted home safely at night, and surprised us with pizza after work—gestures of his kindness and hospitality. He was a devout Christian, and I was also blessed while attending his funeral service at his church. God rest his soul, and may he be rejoicing with our other beloveds (to name a few dear souls I remember with gratitude and forever-fondness): Fr. Sam Tiesi, Fr. Gus Donegan, Elsie Luke, Erla Knowlton, Dr. Carrigg, and our Jewish gentleman-friend, Stanley Ginsburg.


Sr. M. Immaculata, FSGM (formerly Stacey Biskner) ’92, English


I remember “Ro” or Rosemary from the lunch line the best of all. She always treated us as if we were her sons and daughters and made us eggs and pancakes to order! I also remember the woman who used to make pans of homemade granola. The boys would pop their head into her baking kitchen and ask if she was going to make that treat soon, and she would reassure them that it was coming their way!


John McNichol ’92, English


Myron was a coworker with me in the cafeteria when I worked there in 1992. He couldn’t speak and was deaf, and I didn’t know sign language. Yet, using a bunch of improvised hand-gestures and facial expressions, we managed to have many enjoyable conversations about my studies, his social life, and a host of other topics.


Christine (Olimpio) Schoemehl ’03, Theology


My favorite staff member is Dr. Scarneccia. His insights were amazing, his approach for religious and political and non religious/ political alike. He was a proponent of reason, logic, truth and what was best for the individual as well as the whole of society. He was challenging, personable and just amazing. Wish I could take a refresher course!


Catherine Recznik, ’10 Nursing, ’12, MSN


I think many people will agree with me that the Events Office would have never been the same—or had the same attraction—without the charismatic presence of Dave Fatula, so often known for beginning everything with “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace ...” As my first (and very long-lasting) on-campus employer, he made a huge impact on my customer service skills and greatly influenced my knowledge of myself and Christ. I still pray the St. Francis Peace Prayer on a daily basis because of him, and always include him and the Events Office in my list of petitions! Thank you, Dave, for a fantastic Events and Conferences work experience!


Heidi Drury ’11, Theology and Psychology


Dr. Stephen Sammut’s first year was my senior year and I was very sad I only got one year with him! Not only did he convey his infinite knowledge and real-life experiences in psychology classes, but also invited his students into the beauty of his family life. Numerous generous and delicious dinners with his wife and five children left me with a living, beautiful example of holiness. As all educators sacrifice to live their vocation at Franciscan, Dr. Sammut left phenomenal research positions to form my classmates and I. He helped me, and still does help me, authentically and realistically live the Catholic faith in my surroundings.


Jennifer Fitzgerald Armstrong ’90, Nursing


My favorite staffer was Joanne Vecchione who helped me figure out that nursing was for me and most of all, that I could do it! She made me fall in love, not with maternity nursing, but with nursing itself and showed me by example that it is possible to love everyone with the love of Christ. She was down to earth and loved all of her students. What a truly wonderful woman, example, and teacher she was!


Jennifer Elsaesser nee Farrell ’93, Business Administration and Marketing


I worked in the Student Life Offices all four years in my time of study at Franciscan University of Steubenville. I shared the job of receptionist with many other student workers. Diane Landry hired me. As my supervisor, she was a kind and patient teacher who also kept me in line and on task. She helped underscore the importance of professionalism in an office setting, but also cared for me like a second mother. There was one time I had hurt my finger one evening while shooting baskets by myself. I had considered it just jammed, but when I showed up in the office the next day with a swollen, black and blue finger she took one look at it and said she was taking me to the hospital since I didn’t have a car. She not only drove me there but sat with me as I went through the x-ray process. It did end up being fractured, and without her help I may have waited too long to let the finger heal properly.

Another shining example of her generosity and nurturing nature happened in the spring of ‘93. It was Spring Break and I decided to stay and work through the break to make some money. As many of you may remember, that spring we got the blizzard of the century. I was living off-campus and was the only one at the shared duplex who was staying for the break, so I was “home alone”. I had the misfortune at the time of the blizzard of also coming down with a terrible cold or flu. The blizzard happened on a Saturday, and when Monday rolled around the roads were mostly cleared but we were still under a state of emergency. But I didn’t have a car to safely make it into work, and I was also suffering the worst of my cold. When I called in and told her my situation, she could hear how sick I was, and she asked if I had any medicine or food. I had neither. So she drove out in the bad conditions and bought me medicine and food, and then took it to the house and waded through a hip deep snow drift to bring it up to the door.

Her many acts of kindness has stayed with me through the years. In the absence of my mother, Diane filled in with all the love and concern that I would have received from her. I don’t recall a proper goodbye, or giving her a proper thank you for all her kindnesses upon leaving FUS, so perhaps she’ll see this and know that she carried me through some of my most difficult moments at FUS and that I appreciated it then and still recall the beautiful woman who’s kindness touched my heart.


Lucia Gonzalez ’13, Communications and Theology


My favorite staffer is Linda Macpherson from the Admissions Office. I was her student worker for all of my four years at Franciscan. She was the best boss ever! Working for her was fun. She was very kind, helpful and understanding with everyone, and was always ready to give a listening ear to whoever needed it. Plus, she is a very, very hard worker herself. Linda was like a motherly-figure and I am blessed to have learned a lot from her, things about both work and life.


Michelle E. (Van Horn) Jones ’09, Nursing


There are so many professors that come to mind that is hard to narrow it down to one favorite. But I must say Dr. Kevin Harris has had the biggest impact on my life now as a RN. I still remember “funny” acronyms and rhymes that help me through out my work day. Most importantly he instilled faith and reason into the medical world which is so needed today. I am forever grateful for the life skills, knowledge and love for the human person he imprinted on my career. Thank you, Dr. Kevin Harris!


Jeff Elsinger ’08, Communications


Mathew Heaps was my most memorable staff member. He hosted Financial Peace University at Franciscan and he has an amazingly joyful son who became my friend.


John Scancella ’10, Computer Science


My favorite staffer would have to be Allison Paolini. I first met her at the Trinity hall picnic that we have every fall. We got to talking and she asked me why Trinity was so great. Of course I replied that it was because of the community which the other dorms, like Louis-Liz, lacked. I said all of this not knowing that she was the new residence director of Louis-Liz! Well, after sticking my foot into my mouth, I decided it would be a good idea to go to the fieldhouse and watch the movie they were showing (Iron Man, in case you were wondering). On my way there my keys fell out, but Allison was kind enough to notice and yelled to me that I had dropped them. I was about 20 feet in front of her, so I asked her to toss me my keys. As she did, I watched them arc up right into the trees, where they proceeded to wrap themselves around a branch. About 18-20 minutes and two Trinity guys later, we had my keys. Allison was so distressed that she invited me over for dinner as an apology. We have remained close after the “lost keys incident”, and she even helped take care of me when I had pneumonia by letting me hang out with her and watch movies all day on her couch.


Leslie (Heier) Genuis ’87, Theology


Earla Elich, Fr Sam Teisi and Mme. McGraw made an enormous impact on my life. I came in as a freshman not knowing what major to choose, but after one class with Mme McGraw I was convinced I would be a French major. Although I am Canadian, I neither liked studying French nor took it through high school. She gave me a passion to study a language that I had no interest in until that point. I not only acquired an interest in a language, but in every aspect of its culture: the music, the philosophers, French cuisine, architecture, painters, and, of course, the great literature. My love for the arts and every aspect of life took on new meaning for me not only in the French culture, but began to flow over in every aspect life. She gave a fresh new perspective on life and a voracious appetite for learning, especially everything to do with the French language and culture. Thank you, Mme McGraw!


Fr. Jonathan St. Andre, TOR, ’96, Mental Health and Human Services


I would like to speak of Sandy Buccafurni who works in Student Life with the Student Work Opportunity Program. I first met Sandy my freshman year at FUS. I knew that a job on campus would be a necessity to afford the education. In the four years in which I worked various jobs on campus, Sandy was always kind and cheerful and supportive. I realized that I wasn’t only stopping to see her because of SWOP business but even more so because she was so kind and motherly. Our relationship continued even when I left Steubenville and when I returned years later as a friar! Little did I know as a student that I would be working alongside Sandy years down the road, while doing ministry at the University in the Student Life department. I’m happy to say that I still love seeing Sandy and all my friends in Student Life when I visit the University now. In my estimate, Sandy’s kindness and genuine concern for the students is a blessed gift to the University.


Margaret (Boesen) Stastny ’89, Theology, ’99 MA Theology


Mr. Jerry Hickey was the new Admissions Director when I transferred to Franciscan University in ’87. My student work opportunity was to serve as coordinator of campus visitors. Every day Mr. Hickey would visit my desk area, extending a greeting, a smile, a handshake, and offer to buy me a cup of coffee. He was such a positive, energetic, affirming leader. He led the Admissions staff to blockbuster achievements, exceeding their goals for bringing in new students. He led the staff in morning prayer, and the student workers were always invited. Mr. Hickey led by example and made everyone around him feel important and valued as a person. Years later when I was able to visit campus, the first person I went to see was Mr. Hickey. I also learned to like coffee because of him!


Cathy M. Cich ’88, RN, BSN


I would like to commend the Nursing Department Chairperson, Dr. Carolyn Miller. I graduated in 1988. During my years at Franciscan I was blessed in so many ways by Carolyn’s personality and nursing knowledge. She became my mentor as a nurse who worked in Community Health. I remember when people asked me what I was going to do when I graduated, my response was, “I want to be a Community Health Nurse, just like Carolyn Miller. ” I did indeed end up in Community Health, as a hospice nurse.

When I was at the University, I was honored to be a part of the move when the Nursing Dept. re-located from St. Thomas More Hall to it’s current location. I worked with another student, Nina Kay, and what a privilege it was to work side by side for an entire summer in this move. Not only did Carolyn oversee the move, but she also was advising the contractors who were building the rooms where the classes and clinical labs would be. We both were impressed as to how very much Carolyn knew. She is a truly brilliant woman who has my utmost respect. Carolyn may be a Public Health Nurse, but you could put Carolyn in any setting and she could survive. Carolyn knows a little bit about everything. She is a remarkable asset to the University.

We are now colleagues, and it is a true honor for me to return to her classes and teach them about hospice, death and dying, and the journey of the dying process. I am blessed to have her as my mentor, but most of all, I am blessed to call her friend! I love her dearly and would be there at any time for any need she has. Franciscan is blessed to have Dr. Carolyn Miller!


Andre Calabretta ’98, Accounting


Donna Merenda worked in the Financial Aid/Registrar’s office and gave me a great opportunity to work on campus. I was notified of the job by upperclassman Patrick Prescott, who spoke highly of Donna. I spent the next two to three years working there, and enjoyed every moment—especially when I was under-prepared for an exam and Donna would give me the occasional afternoon off to study. Thank you Donna, and hope you are well.


Amy Young ’13, Theology and Catechetics


Courtney Desmond is, hands down, the best Resident Director at Franciscan University. What a woman of virtue and deep prayer she is! Her ministry and work flow from her relationship with Jesus Christ and that's the reason why she is so wonderful at what she does. She was the Resident Director of St. Thomas More Hall for my last year as a Franciscan University student and she’s a big part of the reason why it was the best.


John Shaw ’96, History


My SWOP job supervisor Esther Anderson in the Telemarketing Department meant the most to me. She was pleasant and considerate, always accommodating of schedule changes, and even when I screwed up and I knew she was mad, she treated me kindly in her chastisement. This was all despite the two years of frustration that I’m sure I caused her husband, Professor James Anderson, as I struggled through his Spanish class.


Peter Cole ’92, Theology, '01, MS in Education


As a SWOP worker, I worked as a custodian under the dedicated management and direction of Joe McGurn, Steve Portenlanger and their supervisors: Joe Tysz, Ann Smith, Jeff Harris, and Ron Dubois. All of the supervisors worked hard and were dedicated to providing excellent service. They expected no less from student workers.

If you worked SWOP custodial cleaning in the ‘90s in Egan and Starvaggi, you worked under Ron Dubois. Ron's shift extended from 2:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on the weekdays during the school year. Over the summer, he had two crews: a morning crew which began at 8:00 a.m., and an evening crew that started working 12:30 p.m. Frequent meetings, post-it notes, and keys to just about every room, save for the Ultimate Keys we all hoped for, were part of the job.

I worked with Ron during my time in graduate school, and found him to be hard-working, deeply committed to his faith and family, and extremely organized. When I began with Ron, I asked what shift he had available and he put me on his cardboard shift schedule. The schedule was in pencil, as his workers frequently had to change their schedules.

Ron set a good example for his workers. He was on time, and did not ask us to do anything he would not do himself.

In the summer, our first project was window cleaning, and this involved using a long metal pole, affectionately called a tucker pole. Ron showed us his sense of humor when he called it tucker pole, because "you were always tuckered out when you were done." Ron did joke around with us and we enjoyed a good laugh whether it was at a meeting or while cleaning the halls.

In addition to his work with the Physical Plant department, Ron also taught music as a guitar instructor, focusing on the Suzuki Method. He would occasionally bring in his guitar and play for our crew. Ron once told us that he expected his guitar students to put in a good two hours of practice daily.

As a supervisor, he also was open to other ideas and considerations for handling a job. When a crew member came up with an idea, and if it was reasonable, Ron would go that way.

Ron knew that his workers were only temporary, whether they worked under him for one night or throughout their time of studying at the University. After I left, Ron graciously agreed to be a reference for me. On my visits to Steubenville, Ron and I have always talked about where God is leading me, and Ron still is offering me sound advice. When I mentioned that I was doing work at nights cleaning, he reminded me to wear my gloves! Thanks Ron, and may God bless you, your work, and your family!

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