Featured Students and Alumni

Rachel Cordasco '16, Physical Therapy

Hometown: East Brunswick, NJ
Major: Psychology, Physical Therapy Program

As soon as I arrived on campus for my personal visit, I knew my decision just became a lot easier. From the second I walked through the doors of Mercy Hall, I was greeted by at least three people and I felt at home. Everyone holds doors, everyone says, “thank you”--Misericordia is home to some of the nicest people you will ever meet.

The Health Science labs at Passan Hall greatly influenced my decision to come to Misericordia; other schools just couldn't compare. The labs are extremely modern and up-to-date, they mimic a qualified work place which will make the transition into the professional phase that much easier. The 6 1/2 year doctorate of physical therapy program guarantees that I am going to school for exactly what I want without having to reapply to graduate school. Although the Physical Therapy program is a challenging one, I know in the end it will all be worth it when I am prepared to enter the professional field.

Being a part of the Physical Therapy Club has already given me so much experience. It will not only help open doors for me, but it makes my future occupation seem that much more real.

I am extremely happy with my decision to come to Misericordia; my experience thus far could not have been more perfect and I am looking forward to what these upcoming years have to offer.

Tori Dziedziak ‘16, Psychology

Hometown: Shenandoah, PA
Major: Psychology

Since my first year as an MU student, I have had the opportunity to experience many different extracurricular activities. I have been part of Student Government, Peer Advocates, the Highlander staff, Mercy Leadership program, SOUL, History Club, SEARCH, Physical Therapy Club and the Women's Volleyball Team. During the summer, I assist with the coordination of Misericordia's first-year student orientation program.

I try to live out Misericordia's charisms of mercy, service, justice and hospitality as often as possible. I was involved in Misericordia's Mercy Leadership: Lead to Serve program and was chosen to represent MU at a Mercy International Leadership Conference in Ireland in August 2014. Some of my past service experiences include volunteering with the Sisters of Mercy on a farm in Benson, Vermont and working with the City Mission in Schenectady, New York. I am an active member of Student Government and giving the student body a voice. I live hospitality by trying my best to always make people feel welcome on campus.

Kayleigh Morein '17, Medical Science (Pre-Physician Assistant Studies)

Hometown: East Meadow, NY
Major: Medical Science (Pre-Physician Assistant Studies)

When I first started looking at colleges, I knew exactly what I wanted: a small liberal arts institution with a good academic reputation and a wide array of clubs and organizations. I found all of these things and so much more at Misericordia.

I am currently in my third year of study in Medical Science, the undergraduate program that leads to a master's degree in Physician Assistant Studies. Although the Medical Science Program is extremely rigorous, the professors are very supportive, friendly, and willing to go above and beyond to help you succeed. I have grown so much since coming to Misericordia and I believe much of this can be attributed to my professors who have challenged me to work to my potential, encouraging me every step of the way.

Misericordia also offered many extra curricular opportunities. During my first two years here, I have participated in the Women's Track and Field Team, Adopt-A-Grandparent, SOUL Bible Study, Blue Chip Farms Animal Rescue Ministry, Habitat for Humanity, Student Government Association Concert Committee, and Core Committee as the Student Representative. Misericordia has given me a chance to give back on many levels. I have had the opportunity to travel to Vermont, Guyana, and South America on service trips. These experiences have taught me more than I could have ever imagined. Having a global perspective is so crucial in today's world and I am so thankful that I have been able to witness life in many different places.

Aside from all of the great opportunities for involvement and wonderful academic programs, I chose Misericordia because of the feeling I got when I first came to campus. I knew in the first few minutes of being on campus that this is where I belonged.

Jonathan Brassington ‘95, Mathematics and Computer Science

Degree: B.S. Mathematics and Computer Science

Jonathan Brassington ’95 is the chief executive officer and founding partner of LiquidHub, a system integrator and technology consultancy with offices in Philadelphia, Boston and Hyderabad, India. He manages consulting operations, finance and personnel development, and participates as a strategic consultant for clients in a wide range of industries, including insurance, life sciences and financial services.

Brassington received his bachelor's degree in computer science and mathematics from Misericordia and went on to obtain a cross-disciplinary master's degree in telecommunications and operations strategy from the University of Pennsylvania.

"Everything that I've become started at Misericordia," said Brassington. "I grew up in Guyana, one of the poorer countries in South America. For my brothers and sister and me, going to Misericordia was a huge opportunity to get our lives in order, to create the basis for a successful career."

Under Brassington's leadership, LiquidHub was awarded a job creation grant from the Governor's action team for creating 100 jobs in the state of Pennsylvania. What's more, LiquidHub was the ETC Technology Startup Company of the Year in 2003.

LiquidHub has also been recognized as one of the fastest-growing, privately-held companies in the ten-county Greater Philadelphia Region.

"What you learn at Misericordia is a way of life," said Brassington. "When I founded my company, one of the first things we did was define a set of core values, and they reflect my experience at the University. We look for people with integrity, passion, and humility, who show respect for others."

Misericordia University recognized Brassington in 2004 with the Young Alumni Award for his demonstrated leadership and community service. Brassington was appointed to the Misericordia board of trustees in 2005. He is also a trustee of the LiquidHub Charitable Endowment program, a fund established to provide charitable donations to humanitarian organizations.

Tariq Adwan, Ph.D. '05, Biology

Degree: B.S. Biology

Tariq Adwan, Ph.D. '05 has traveled further than most in search of his dream. About 6,000 miles and a continent away from his home in Bethlehem, Palestine, Adwan began the first leg of his altruistic journey at Misericordia University to help humankind through research and medicine.

“I have always been curious and I have always loved science," says Dr. Adwan, who received his Ph.D. in molecular, cellular and developmental biology from the University of Colorado. “I grew up with a strong sense of social responsibility and science provided an avenue where I can do what I love and enjoy, and at the same time help others."

His research into salivary gland cell death was funded by a prestigious National Institute of Health pre-doctoral fellowship. Since beginning his research in April 2009, he has made significant progress in understanding the molecular mechanism that regulates salivary gland cell death, which can lead to xerostomia or dry mouth in 40,000 people in the United States annually.

A cum laude graduate in biology, Dr. Adwan credits much of his success in research and graduate school to the opportunities he received at Misericordia. He worked with professors DiPino, Asirvatham and Pedersen on biology and chemistry research projects on campus and secured a summer research internship at Thomas Jefferson School of Graduate Studies.

“Through these opportunities, I had an idea of what research was going to be about and I was prepared to face that reality as I started graduate school," says Dr. Adwan. “Misericordia nurtured my desire to help others and my social responsibility towards others in the community," he adds, “all of which made me more committed to my goal of helping others and serving my community."

Erik Raj ‘08, Speech-Language Pathology

Degree: M.S. Speech-Language Pathology

Erik X. Raj ‘08, is a speech-language pathologist and award-winning children's author who loves nothing more than seeing smiles on the faces of the children he works with every day.

Raj currently works for the Hamilton Township School District in New Jersey where he treats school-aged students with speech, language, voice, and fluency disorders. He has provided direct patient care to pediatric, adolescent, and adult clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania treating a broad spectrum of communication disorders.

He received his New Jersey State Speech-Language Specialist Certificate and a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Professional Certificate for Teaching Speech to Students with Language Impairments. He also holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and is presently a state licensed practicing speech-language pathologist in New Jersey.

Using books as part of his speech therapies, Raj decided to write his own book that would be both therapeutic and inspirational. “One Seashell, Two Seashell, Flap, Flap, Flap” is the tale of a fish who wants to fly and accomplishes his dream with the help of some unlikely friends. It was named the best children's picture book of the year by Premier Book Awards in September 2010, cited as offering a fun and positive message that all children should be exposed to. He also received the national literary preferred choice award presented by Creative Child Magazine in July 2010 naming it an essential book that aides in raising well-balanced and motivated children.

“The faculty and staff in the Speech-Language Pathology Department have a natural ability to encourage learning and influence students to be interested in new and exciting speech-language therapy techniques. These days, it is not enough to simply have your finger on the pulse – you have to be the pulse if you want to truly make an impact on the field of speech-language pathology. When I first found out about the cutting-edge research that Misericordia University was conducting, I knew I wanted to be a part of that team."

Raj adds, “Through the department's Speech-Language Hearing Center on campus, I was able to gain the practical experience necessary to implement what I had studied. The professors are truly motivating and have become my lifelong mentors. I always felt Misericordia embraced individuality and creativity, which are two things I bring into my professional work as a speech-language pathologist."

Jodi Kozlevcar Gaunt ‘08, Occupational Therapy

Degree: M.S. Occupational Therapy

Jodi Kozlevcar Gaunt '08 found more than a career during her time at Misericordia University. She discovered a passion.

Gaunt currently works as an occupational therapist for the Methacton School District in Eagleville, Pa., near her home in King of Prussia.

While Gaunt's degree from Misericordia landed her a career, the University's passion to help those less fortunate instilled in her a deep commitment for the cause. A year after Gaunt graduated from MU, she volunteered with Operation Christmas Child, a nonprofit organization that delivers shoeboxes filled with gifts to children around the world. The group works with local churches and civic organizations to donate the shoeboxes as a means to “share God's love around the world," Gaunt says.

For Gaunt, Operation Christmas Child was a perfect match.

“It really fits with Misericordia's mission," says Gaunt, who personally collected 236 gift-filled shoeboxes in 2013. “Through the shoeboxes, we can show God's love in a tangible way and we can take it to all areas of the world – 130 countries, regardless of race and religion."

Gaunt experienced that firsthand when she was selected to join a group of volunteers and travel to Ndola, Zambia to distribute the gift-filled shoeboxes. Gaunt spent a week in Zambia and said it was a life-changing experience.

“One day we went to a children's hospital where every patient is being treated for AIDS or HIV. That was very humbling," says Gaunt, “It makes you realize how blessed we are."

Each box is filled with school supplies, hygiene items and toys. For many of the children, it represents their first gift – ever, according to Gaunt.

The Zambia trip was not the first time Gaunt has traveled far from home to help others. While at Misericordia, she joined a group of classmates in Gulfport, Miss., and assisted in the cleanup efforts from Hurricane Katrina.

“After you graduate and leave Misericordia, you establish what you want to do for a job, but you also find yourself wanting to do something in terms of volunteering," Gaunt believes. “I found Operation Christmas Child and it is something that fits right in with the University's mission. I truly love it."

Mario Oliveri ‘10, Sport Management

Degree: B.S. Sport Management

Taking batting practice in Yankee Stadium is just one of the perks of the job for Misericordia alumnus, Mario J. Oliveri '10 who is living a dream as a member of the staff of the New York Yankees. The sport management graduate began his career as an intern in the summer of 2010 and today is responsible for cultivating Fortune 500 companies in the team's Premium Sales office. He works with fellow MU alumnus, Al Santasiere '01, the Yankee's director of publications, in corporate offices located inside the landmark stadium.

As an intern, Oliveri made his mark as an account executive, making sales calls and helping provide customer service to 3,000 of the team's season ticket holders. His appointment as a ticket sales representative in the Inside Sales office in October 2010 was soon followed by a promotion to account executive for Season Tickets Sales and Service,a two-fold position where he managed an account base worth approximately $10 million, and was charged with fulfilling a new business goal of over one million dollars. He was recognized for leading a team of 16 with the highest revenue generated for the 2012 season.

A lifelong Yankees fan, his job includes attending almost every game and hosting events for clients such as press conferences and Question and Answer sessions with players.

“I am very proud to work for an organization that prides itself with championship status on and off the field," Oliveri says. “I am very passionate about my work and continue to put myself in the best position to succeed.”

While a Misericordia student, Oliveri volunteered with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins AHL ice hockey team, who he thanks for giving him his first sport management experience. He is among an impressive list of successful Sport Management alumni who are working for professional sports organizations including the Wilkes-Barre Scranton RailRiders, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Penguins, the Pocono Raceway and Little League International.

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