Mercyhurst Magazine Summer 2016

From left, Patricia Schramm ’72, recipient of the Golden Gates Award, and Distinguished Alumni John Egbert ‘05, Benjamin Bluemle ‘06, Sister Bernadette Bell, RSM ’53, Joseph NeCastro ‘78, Eric Opron ‘88 and Matthew Whelan ’86. Mercyhurst recognizes Distinguished Alumni Mercyhurst University honored six outstanding graduates as Distinguished Alumni during its annual Reunion Weekend, held June 9-12 on the Erie campus.

Opron majored in hospitality management and captained the Laker baseball team. He spent the frst 15 years of his career at Nashville’s Opryland Hotel, rising to the post of director of sales. Today he’s assistant general manager of the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin resort, the largest hotel in Orlando with 2,265 rooms, and the largest Starwood Hotel in North America. Whelan, a former admissions counselor and admissions director at Mercyhurst, is an expert on enrollment management for colleges and universities nationwide. He achieved record numbers in enrollment and net revenue at schools including Hofstra University, St. John’s University and Stony Brook University. He’s been at Stony Brook for the last decade, frst overseeing admissions and fnancial aid, and later as vice president for strategic initiatives and interim vice president for facilities and administration. He holds a master’s degree from William Paterson University and a doctorate in education from Dowling College. Two awards were also presented to Outstanding Young Alumni Benjamin Bluemle ‘06 and John Egbert ‘05. Bluemle excelled on Mercyhurst’s football team and could have played professional football. Instead he entered the real estate business and, at age 27, moved to Savannah and created his own company, Seaport Real Estate Group. Ben has been listed as the top agent in Savannah and is ranked the

206 th broker in the nation. He also remains dedicated to battling ALS, the disease that claimed his mother’s life. He’s been involved in events in Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Erie, including the annual Mercyhurst football “All In for ALS” fundraiser. Egbert, a standout fnance student, worked his way up through several prominent investment frms to his current position as vice president in equity research with Stifel in New York. His research on companies that deliver services through the internet is read, followed and acted on by some of the most sophisticated investors in the world. He has been a key contributor on several major IPOs, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and he has researched and analyzed companies at the forefront of the global economy, including Amazon, Google, Netfix and Yelp. The “Golden Gates Award,” which was inaugurated last year, was given to Patricia Schramm ’72. A sociology major, she completed a master’s degree in psychology at Syracuse University and spent her career counseling troubled students at Bishop Ludden Junior-Senior High School. She received the “Witness to Faith” award last year from the Diocese of Syracuse.

The Sr. Carolyn Herrmann Award was presented to Joseph NeCastro ’78, who went on to earn a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University. He retired earlier this year as chief development ofcer for Scripps Networks Interactive, overseeing the company’s growth through domestic and international acquisitions, joint ventures, investments and partnerships. NeCastro co-chaired last year’s presidential search and now serves as vice-chair of the Mercyhurst Board of Trustees. The award for Outstanding Service to Mercyhurst was presented to Sister Bernadette Bell ’53, who joined the Sisters of Mercy during her senior year and was one of Mercyhurst’s frst two elementary education majors. She has had a distinguished career as a teacher and school administrator and holds a master’s degree and an administration certifcate from Duquesne University. She has served on the leadership team for the Sisters of Mercy in Erie and now is the community’s development coordinator. A former Mercyhurst faculty member, she served on the university Board of Trustees for many years. Awards for Outstanding Achievement in a Chosen Field went to Eric Opron ‘88 and Matthew Whelan ‘86.


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