Mercyhurst Magazine Fall 2014

Mercyhurst: Always close to my heart

By Amy Lombardo

I recall walking into the campus of Mercyhurst as an adult, pushing 40, single mother, recently unemployed and wondering how to improve my career prospects and fulfll a need t o do what I hadn’t done when I graduated from high school many years prior. I was nervous and afraid of what the future would hold; but from the moment I met the staf of the adult c ollege I felt at ease. It was fall, but within weeks I was enrolled and had fnancial aid lined up and w as sitting in my frst classes . What an experience being in classes with students almost 20 years younger - taking algebra of all things! Seriously? It had been 20 years since I had to fgur e out “x.” Anyway, I survived the frst trimester with fying colors and found out I loved college. I got a job, transitioned into MAP (Mercyhurst Accelerated Program) of ered by the adult college and began attending evenings and weekends. The students lovingly called them “marathon” classes - four hours on Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings and Wednesdays. What a great way to get a degree. I could work my day job, attend classes, and study during what seemed like every other waking hour. Since it was a new program, we all were participating in a great experiment. Many professors went well beyond the call of duty, especially during my second year when I literally almost died of a pulmonary embolism within weeks of the end of term. The professors gave me every opportunity to fnish, ev en if it meant dropping of classw ork at my home.

I mentioned this to Mary Ellen Dahlkemper, she suggested the Alumni Board and made a recommendation. That is how I became a member 18 years ago. I still can’t believe it’s been that long. I’ve seen many changes in the board, the administration, and Homecoming in those years. My favorite activity to help with at Homecoming was the “Comfortable Cup of Tea” at the Motherhouse. It was such a warm experience to see the alums visiting the Mercy Sisters, and I know the feeling was mutual. I also had the great honor for many years of welcoming the adult students into the alumni association at a reception prior to graduation. My most heartfelt experience, though, was being able to present the Distinguished Alumni award to Mary Ellen on behalf of the Alumni Board. She had been such a blessing to me and all the adult college non-traditional students. One of the changes on the board is the institution of term limits, so I must bid farewell to the board, but not to the university, which will remain part of me and always be held close to my heart. This retirement coincides with my retirement from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. I’ve come full circle from starting college to a new career to being able to retire. Looking forward to many new opportunities coming my way! To those of you just beginning…. Remember to give it your best and Carpe Diem!

That’s dedication! I had to take one term of , but was back full force the next. Another change of job… Then there was no stopping. I had a mission and a personal goal to do the best I could. Graduated summa cum laude with a degree in risk management and was honored by the college with the Bishop’s Award for Academic Excellence. It was a very special experience to have my parents and my children at my graduation. In fact, my daughter and I graduated with our bachelor’s degrees two weeks apart. I didn’t anticipate how much I’d miss attending classes and learning. When they started the master’s degree in Organizational Leadership, I jumped right in. It started as a certifca te program. It still warms my heart when I hear of new graduates from that program, knowing that my cohorts and I had a hand in the success of the program becoming a permanent part of Mercyhurst. I would like to give a special thank you to Dr. Gamble, who was my thesis mentor. His guidance really made that dreaded experience a success. I can’t say enough good about all the professors I had. I was exposed to many interesting and practical topics, from classical music and English classics to accounting and statistics, and from trying to resolve the issue of brucellosis in bison to fnancial managemen t. In the brief interval between graduating with a B.S. and starting the M.S., I found I missed participating in the college experience. When


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