Mercyhurst Magazine Fall 2014


instrumental in my maturation as a student and a person,” he says. “Their advice, guidance and rigorous courses helped instill in me the confdenc e and knowledge necessary to pursue a law degree.” He earned his law degree from SUNY Bufalo S chool of Law in 1998. He worked as an assistant district attorney prosecuting criminals in Westchester County, New York, through 2003, then relocated to the Bufalo ar ea and practiced in the malpractice feld f or fv e years. Returning to the prosecution side, he joined the Erie County District Attorney’s Ofc e in 2009 and is now assigned to the Financial Crimes Bureau, specializing in white-collar prosecutions. With a job, a wife and four children between the ages of 4 and 11, he doesn’t have much spare time, but does cycle, swim and coach his children’s hockey teams.

Christopher Jurusik ’95 grew up in Elmira, New York, but played hockey and graduated from Bishop Ridely College in St. Catharine’s, Ontario. He says his hockey career didn’t four ish at Mercyhurst – but his academic career did. One of his frst classes , American Government with Dr. Randy Clemons, shifted his focus from the hard sciences to political science. Clemons’

teaching style, he says, encouraged students to participate during his lectures, creating a dialogue and encouraging critical thinking. “I owe a debt of gratitude to both Drs. Clemons and Michael Federici as they were

Alspaugh continues her dance training.

MARY CATHERINE COSGROVE ANDRES Mary Catherine Cosgrove, an undergraduate social work major,

married fellow student Dennis Andres shortly after they graduated in 1972. When the youngest of their three children was about a year old, she went to work as a hospital social worker, frst in Erie and later in Indiana.

JO ALSPAUGH Jo Alspaugh ’08 double-majored in dance and French at Mercyhurst, but found her ultimate career in a much dif erent feld – family la w and litigation. She never abandoned her love of performing, though, dancing professionally with the Albany Berkshire Ballet before deciding on law school, and with the Ballet Theatre of Ohio even as she studied law at Case Western Reserve University. Now, despite a demanding position with Erie’s Quinn Law Firm, she continues to appear with SoMar DanceWorks, the dance troupe led by Mark and Solveig Santillano that’s in residence at Mercyhurst. Jo, who earned her J.D. in 2013, says her Mercyhurst experience more than prepared her for law school because the practice of law draws from so many dif erent skill sets. Both her majors and her core courses helped develop those skills, including reasoning, writing, communicating, and more. She was a teaching assistant for Case Western’s appellate practice program, and a judicial extern in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. She devotes much of her practice to family law issues, including custody, divorce and support. She’s also a trained “collaborative lawyer” who can of er alternative dispute resolution services to interested clients, avoiding costly litigation and multiple court hearings. Active in the Erie County Bar Association, she serves on the Leadership Committee for the women’s division and is involved in mentoring through the Bar Association’s Attorneys and Kids Together program. Besides performing, she also teaches dance at the Erie Dance Conservatory and serves on the boards of the Erie Contemporary Ballet Theatre and the Erie Dance Consortium.

A decade later, she decided it was time to broaden her horizons. A master’s in social work was an option, but she also found herself drawn to the law, perhaps inspired by her dad, who had been a sitting judge throughout her childhood in Bufalo , New York. She started studying part time at Valparaiso University School of Law. When Dennis, who had earned a master’s degree in scene design and technical theatre at Syracuse University, took a position with St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, she enrolled in law school full time. She received her J.D. in 1991 – the same year her oldest son, Dennis Jr., graduated from high school. She says her Mercyhurst education provided a sound foundation for legal study, but adds that the multitasking skills she developed as a working mom were also helpful. Mary Catherine started as a part-time deputy prosecutor, while also maintaining a private practice, focused on family issues. For the past 11 years, she’s been a full-time deputy prosecutor for St. Joseph County, Indiana. Two years ago, she entered the Democratic primary for probate court judge. Though she lost, she says the experience of running was awesome. “Everyone must follow the ethics rules so there isn’t any mudslinging,” she explains. “I enjoyed all the terrifc people I met – and the fact that the whole process was out of my comfort zone so I pushed my envelope.” She also continues to serve her community, frst v olunteering to educate women about domestic violence and legal issues, and more recently providing pro bono service to hospice patients. She’s also a River City Rocker, spending several hours each week rocking infants in the newborn ICU.


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