Mercyhurst Magazine Spring 2014


JOHN HENRY LANGER NAMED TRUSTEE John Henry Langer has been elected to the Mercyhurst board of trustees.

Being in the right place at the right time and remaining calm under pressure earned Jessica Fiden ’11 a prestigious award in 2013. Jessica, a criminal justice graduate, joined the Chesterfeld County Police

Langer, who earned a degree in business marketing from Mercyhurst in 1995, is the president of H. Jack’s Plumbing and Heating Co., serving a wide array of clients in Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania.

Department in Virginia in 2012 and was recently promoted to Ofcer First Class. She was on her way home one evening last year when emergency personnel were called to a severe accident. She was just blocks away and was the third ofcer on scene where an SUV had lodged in a tree and was engulfed in fames with a passenger trapped inside. Ofcers extinguished the fre while Jessica maneuvered into what was left of the SUV to try to free the passenger. She remained in the vehicle to keep the passenger calm and conscious until EMTs arrived – an act that likely saved the passenger’s life, she was later informed. Jessica was, in her own words, “fabbergasted” to learn she would receive the Bronze Medal of Valor, presented by the Retail Merchants Association in recognition of acts involving unusual personal risk beyond what is expected. “I wanted to pursue a career as a police ofcer because I wanted an exciting, challenging career,” she said. “I stayed in the vehicle because I knew that if roles were reversed I wouldn’t want to be alone. Winning this award was something I never expected; it was one of the proudest moments of my life.”

He is a critical thinker, community partner, successful entrepreneur and major donor to his alma mater in the areas of athletics, academics and the arts. Annually he underwrites the Maria J. Langer Film Series at Mercyhurst, which features critically acclaimed independent world movies and documentaries. He was also a key contributor to the building of the Alumni Pavilion on Tullio Field in 2012. The frst former Laker athlete to be elected to the board, he distinguished himself as a star athlete in the ‘90s. For two years he was captain of the football squad and its most valuable player. Langer served a six-year term as a trustee of Lake Erie College before joining the Mercyhurst board.


Raymond Kress ’00 followed his dream of becoming a police ofcer to help people and make a diference in the community. As a SWAT and sniper team leader for the Nevada County (California) Sherif’s Ofce, Sergeant Kress often faced perilous situations. A domestic dispute his unit responded to in September 2011 quickly escalated into a hostage situation, when an armed suspect barricaded himself and a victim in a second-story bedroom. When it was clear that negotiations were unsuccessful, he and

Mike writes, “My wife Olga and I give to Mercyhurst University because, frankly, we feel we owe the university for so much of who we are today. Foremost, Mercyhurst has brought us together, when we would have otherwise been an ocean apart. Ours is a debt of gratitude for shaping us intellectually and instilling in us the ideas of mercy, justice and compassion based on the traditions of the Sisters of Mercy.

his unit were authorized to enter the building from the rooftop via a balcony. Ray was the frst to gain entry, and was able to get the victim to safety. For his bravery in the face of danger, Sergeant Kress was awarded The Medal of Valor on April 20, 2012. Sherif Keith Royal says his department awards the Medal of Valor on rare occasions to recognize exceptional courage and bravery in the line of duty. Ray graduated from Mercyhurst in 2000 with a degree in criminal justice before going on to attend police academies in Salisbury, Md., and Los Angeles, Calif. He now resides in California with his wife, fellow Mercyhurst alum MaryKathryn (Kat Hardes ’00) Kress, and their son, Garrison. The couple came back to Mercyhurst in 2002 to wed in Christ the King Chapel.

“We owe Mercyhurst not only our hands-on skills and unique profession, but also life-long connections and family. We give our time and money to the Hurst because we are proud of being Lakers and want others to have the same experiences that we were lucky enough to have: to meet a diverse group of people from all over the world, befriend faculty in a unique feld of study, enjoy the beautiful campus, and share in the Mercy tradition so uniquely expressed within each campus community.“ Mike (MS ‘07) and Olga Polishchuk Lyden (BA ‘07) were married on campus in 2008 and currently live in Washington, D.C. The Lydens are proud members of the Mercyhurst University Alumni Association and currently serve on its board of directors.


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