Mercyhurst Magazine Summer 2015

Zach Pekor ‘09 “After graduating from Mercyhurst, I wanted to take what I learned and apply it to the real world and really give back to those who might not have the same resources and opportunities that I did,” says Zach Pekor. A 2009 graduate in environmental intelligence studies, he joined the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), an AmeriCorps program. He worked primarily in Louisiana and Mississippi, where he and his team built two houses. He also worked as a teacher's assistant in a Title I school in St. Tammany Parish outside New Orleans. The experience transformed him, he says. “I learned so much about myself, how I view larger social issues and how I interact with others, that I can honestly say I am not the same person as when I frst started my year of service.” Once certain he wanted to earn a Ph.D. and teach at a university, he changed course after his NCCC year. Now he wants to ensure that more underrepresented students have the opportunity to go to college. Today he’s a project director for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, working with a Baltimore City school to increase STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. He runs an after- school STEM program for 1st-4th graders and writes grants for other STEM education projects.

Patrick Scherer ‘11 From his frst overseas trip with Chinese professor Dr. Daliang Wang, international business major Patrick Scherer knew he wanted to live and work abroad. He chose a two-year assignment with the Peace Corps because it would allow him to use his skills to impact the lives of others. He worked with Lyamujungu (Liya-moo-JUNE-goo) Cooperative Financial Services Limited, a large savings and credit cooperative in rural Kabale, Uganda. He wrote a grant application that earned $200,000 to establish an agricultural cooperative for more than 10,000 cofee farmers. Co-op members can now borrow needed funds using their harvests as collateral. And, by pooling their harvests, they can increase their bargaining power and share the risks and expenses of packaging and storing their harvests. Patrick also directed a youth camp called Camp BUILD (Boys of Uganda In Leadership and Development) & GLOW (Girls Leading Our World). The camp educated more than 200 young men and women in entrepreneurship, confict resolution, leadership, HIV/ AIDS prevention and testing, malaria prevention, and life skills. He calls his service in Uganda the most challenging and eye-opening experience of his life. “For the frst time in my life, I was looked to for answers and I had to provide them because my coworkers and village depended on me,” he refects. “I think I will be able to draw upon those experiences when faced with any type of challenge in my life going forward to help me really see the big picture and put things into perspective and to not sweat the small stuf." Patrick stays in touch with fellow students and professors from his time at Mercyhurst. “It’s nice knowing that I can go halfway around the world and I can still count on them for guidance and support. I think that's what makes Mercyhurst unique: it really is a family.” He’s now pursuing an MBA with a concentration in marketing and data analytics at Wake Forest University. He hopes to remain in Charlotte as a brand manager and to one day travel and work overseas again.

“Mercyhurst helped foster an environment in which service in all forms was celebrated and encouraged.” – Lisa Sirois ‘14


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