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Alumni Stories

Thiel College’s success stems from combining tradition with innovation. This is best reflected by what our students are able to do after graduation and who they become.

Thiel College is a small school with a big impact thanks to our 15,000+ alumni! Being an alumnus enables you to keep connected and engaged in the lifelong learning process that began when you first marched up Brother Martin's Walk.


Everyday Tomcats with Exceptional Stories

Damon Dohar ’92 graduated from Thiel with a Bachelor's degree in international business and Spanish. While at Thiel he was a member of the football team as well as the Phi Theta Phi fraternity. He worked on the philanthropy portion of the student government, and he participated in Thiel College’s theater.

After graduating from Thiel he went on to be a student at the University of Toledo School of Law in 1994 and at Ashland University where he earned a Master of Arts in Education Administration. He’s also studied at University of Seville in Seville, Spain and University of Madrid in Madrid, Spain. Damon currently works as Superintendent of Schools in Weathersfield Local Schools in Mineral Ridge, OH. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for One Health Ohio in Youngstown, OH, and is one of the creators of the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference that currently has 16 public school teams in the greater Youngstown Ohio area.

Kathryn Held, Ph.D., M.D ’75 graduated from Thiel in 1975 with a degree in chemistry and went on to earn her Ph.D. in biology from the University of Texas, Austin.

Dr. Held has served on numerous federal agency review panels including the National Institutes of Health, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, as well as other organizations such as the Radiological Society of North America. Dr. Held is an Associate Radiation Biologist in the Department of Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology (Radiation Biology) at Harvard Medical School (HMS). She was elected to Council in 2006 and served on the Board of Directors from 2008 to 2014 and was Scientific Vice President and Co-Chair of Program Area Committee 1 on Basic Criteria, Epidemiology, Radiobiology, and Risk from 2011 to 2016.

Ronald Shadd ’98 graduated from Thiel with a Bachelor's degree in psychology and philosophy. While at Thiel, he participated in basketball, football, cross country and theater.

Shadd is currently a member of the Youngstown City School District Board of Education. He has several years of experience in early childhood education and youth/adult workforce and career training. Shadd works with the Fatherhood Initiative Program and is very involved in his community. Shadd received the 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Alumni Service Award.

Gary Fincke ’67 graduated from Thiel with a degree in English in 1967, received an M.A. in American Literature from Miami University in 1969, and a Ph.D. in Modern American Literature from Kent State University in 1974.

Published in such journals as Harper’s, The Paris Review, and American Scholar as well as having essays and poems broadcast nationally on NPR, he has won seven national book prizes, including the Flannery O’Connor Prize for Short Fiction and the Ohio State University/The Journal Poetry Prize for earlier books. He has recently retired from Susquehanna University as Charles Degenstein Professor Emeritus of English and Creative Writing. While there, he founded and directed, for twenty-one years, the Writers Institute at Susquehanna University, creating a visiting writers series, four annual magazines, and a nationally- recognized major in creative writing that has grown into a program that enrolls 170 majors, finding time to coach the men’s tennis team for twenty-one years, including five league championship seasons, one while his older son, who now is the associate creative director of an advertising agency, played for him. His younger son, a professional musician, played lead guitar for the multi-platinum selling rock band Breaking Benjamin, an experience Gary recounts in his nonfiction book Amp’d (Michigan State, 2004). His daughter is a visual artist who operates her own art school in Los Angeles. He met his wife, Elizabeth Locker ’68 while they were students at Thiel and has been thankful for that good fortune every day for over fifty years.

Kevin Farr ’09 graduated from Thiel with a Bachelor's degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders then went on to get his Master's degree in Speech Language Pathology from Edinboro University.

Farr is the speech-language pathologist at St. Andrew’s Village, a Cross-Continuum Retirement Community, where he evaluates and treats older adults with communicative, voice, swallowing, and cognitive disorders. In 2016, he received the Health Care Worker of the Year Award in recognition of the special care he provides to his patients. To him, the best part about working with older adults is making an inter-generational connection and relating to them through stories, music, laughter, and shared experiences.

Darrin Rubino ’95 earned his Bachelor's of Science degree in Biology and minored in Chemistry. He was a part of the Honors Program. He went on to receive his Masters of Science from Clarion University of Pennsylvania (1997) and his Ph.D. from Ohio University in 2002.

Rubino does research in the field of dendrochronology, the study of tree rings. In 2019, he coauthored a book that focused on how tree rings can be used to date historically-constructed buildings and landscapes. He is a Professor of Biology at Hanover College in Indiana. The college awarded him the Arthur and Ilene Baynham Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2007, 2012 and 2018. He also received the College’s Daryl R. Karns Award for Scholarly and Creative Activity in 2014.

Maggie Giel-Bovaird ’09 is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Thiel College, with undergraduate degrees in Communications Studies and Media Communications, as well as a 2011 Indiana University of Pennsylvania graduate with a Master's degree in School Counseling (K-12).

Maggie was the Class Secretary and a member of the Sigma Kappa sorority where she held positions such as Vice President of Membership and New Member Education. Maggie belonged to numerous honor societies including Order of Omega, Les Lauries, Chi Alpha Epsilon, Lamda Sigma and Lamda Pi Eta. In the spirit of her continued pride, Maggie has been a member of the Thiel College Alumni Council (2012 to present) where she is the Chair of Alumni Activities and Engagement Committee. As part of her duties, Maggie meets with prospective students and their families in the Pittsburgh area to answer questions and discuss her Thiel experiences.

Upon graduation from Thiel, Maggie joined the Marketing Department of Dollar Bank where she assisted in the research of marketing in social media. Upon attainment of her Master's degree, she joined Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh (2012) and has remained there ever since. Maggie has assumed numerous responsibilities, beginning as a Site-Based Enrollment and Match Support Specialist, a role in which she was charged with coordinating one-to-one mentoring programs between various schools in the Pittsburgh area and their respective local corporations. From there, Maggie was promoted to lead and implement a new initiative known as mentor2.0, a program in which high school students at Pittsburgh Brashear High School are matched with community members with the goal being post-secondary success. The program, of which Maggie is currently the Director, now spans freshman through senior classes. Since its inception, Maggie has recruited approximately 400 volunteers.

Most recently, Maggie has undertaken another new, nationally-based initiative known as Bigs in Blue. This one-to-one mentoring program pairs law enforcement officers at the local, state and federal levels with youth in the communities of which they serve. The purpose of this program is to overcome the divide that has emerged between law enforcement and the public. In the very short time that this program has existed, Maggie has recruited and managed nearly 35 volunteers.

Clyde Morgan ’00 was an assistant track coach at Thiel College from 2000-2004 he then became the Head Track and Field Coach from 2004-2008. During this time his teams won two PAC Championships and Morgan was named PAC Coach of the Year twice and Mideast Region Coach on the Year once. Morgan was also an assistant football coach at Thiel from 2000-2008. He is also a member of the Thiel College Athletic Hall of fame Class of 2012.

He is currently in his 12th season at Wabash College and is currently the Director of Track & Field and Cross Country at Wabash College. Between Cross Country and Track and Field Morgan’s teams have won 16 NCAC Championships, Three Regional Championships and Six D3 Indiana State Championships. He has been named NCAC Coach of the Year 12 Times, and Great Lakes Region Coach of the year Eight times. Morgan has coached Four National Champions, Four runner ups, and many Conference Champions and All conference athletes. He is most proud of the 50 Academic All American individuals and All Academic Teams he has coached.

He is the Chairman of the USTFCCCA Track and Field Hall of Fame committee. Morgan also serves on the United States Track and Field Elite Coaching Advisory Committee. He is also a member of the USTFCCCA Board of Directors as treasurer, he is currently the only Division III coach who serves on the national committee.

Joe Nairn, Ph.D. ’79 was a first-generation college student. He attended Thiel College, earning a bachelor's degree in economics. While at Thiel, he developed a transfer admissions application and process, and he worked with many two-year institutions across western Pa.

Dr. Nairn has nearly 40 years of higher education experience in private and public institutions. He began his career at Thiel College as a college admissions counselor before earning a master’s degree in student personnel services in higher education at the University of Vermont. He then spent 25 years at Rochester Institute of Technology, a career oriented private institution in Rochester, New York. In 2008 he moved to Finger Lakes Community College in Canandaigua NY where he served as Executive Assistant to the President and Chief Advancement Officer. In 2014, he completed a Doctor of Management degree in Community College Policy and Administration from the University of Maryland University College.

Nairn became the founding President of the Northern Pennsylvania Regional College in July 2017, just two months after the formal establishment of the college by the Pennsylvania Department of Education on May 25, 2017. Since Dr. Nairn started at NPRC, the college has grown to 28 instructional sites across nine Northwestern Pennsylvania counties, and has added 15 faculty and staff as enrollment has trebled.

Elliot Beach ’15 earned his bachelor's degree in history from Thiel College. He was an active member of the Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity where he held numerous leadership roles and assisted in organizing the chapter's 100th anniversary. In addition, Beach was a member of the international education honor society, Kappa Delta Pi, and the national history honor society, Phi Alpha Theta.

After graduating, Beach went on to work at the Delta Sigma Phi headquarters. He is now pursuing his master's of science in higher education and student affairs at Indiana University of Bloomington, IN.

Frank Newnam ’71 had a Thiel experience filled with great memories. The professors and coaches he had set him up for a successful career. Newnam attributes part of who he is today to being active in the Phi Theta Phi Fraternity. Being a part of a group of young men who shared the same values and the experience of the annual Pittsburgh Children's Hospital Walk-a-thon had a large impact on him.

Newnam has led a successful career in the sales/sales management field for the past 30+ years. He has developed marketing and sales plans, managed nationwide sales and marketing staff, developed new businesses and delivered strategic plans. He has worked in many industries including automotive, pharmaceutical, technology, finance and entertainment. Currently, Newnam resides in California married to his wife of 25 years, Yvette. They had three children who have given them six grandchildren. He feels blessed to have such a rich family life.

Alex Ciepiela ’15 earned his bachelors degree in both business administration and accounting from Thiel College. He was an active member of the men's volleyball program and a brother of the Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity. He had student employment working in the Thiel college Campus Store.

Currently, Ciepiela is employed in Buffalo, NY working for M&T Bank as a Compliance Analyst. He specializes in Residential and Consumer Lending. He is a member of many committees at his workplace including MTBfit - a health and wellness committee - and the Larkin Employee Engagement Committee.

Outside of the workplace, Ciepiela is active in his community through volleyball. He is an active player, referee and coach in the Western New York Area. He is helping to coach the next generation of volleyball players by coaching both high school and club leagues. He always looks forward to coming back for homecoming to reconnect with old friends and reminisce on the place he called home for four years.

Mike McKinney ’02 began working for his alma mater after graduating in 2002. He started his career as a resident director while attending graduate school at Youngstown State University. His original two-year appointment has grown into a 17-year career. McKinney rose to Dean of Students at Thiel College and began serving on the President’s Cabinet by age 29. Four years later, he became Vice President of Student Life.

In his time as vice president, the number of students returning to Thiel College for their second year has increased 10 percent. In addition, he has played an important role in improving Thiel College’s graduation outcomes. Among students reporting, 96.5 percent of Thiel College’s Class of 2014 was employed in their field or accepted to graduate school within six months of graduation. McKinney also led the Thiel College “Great Colleges to Work For” task force the past several years. A national survey completed by employees for the task force last year had scores that were up significantly in every major category. His commitment extends beyond the workplace. He is a Greenville Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors member.

John Hauser ’71 earned his bachelors degree in psychology from Thiel College and was a member of the Phi Theta Phi fraternity. He continues to participate in fraternity evens to this day.

Hauser worked at Thiel from 1971-1986 and served as director of admissions from 1975-1980, director of admissions and financial aid from 1980-1982, and director of alumni affairs from 1982-1986. He served as director of development for the University of Pittsburgh’s College of Arts and Sciences from 1986-1988. In 1988, Hauser became the executive director of development at Franklin College in Franklin, Ind. He helped Franklin raise over $18 million from 1988-1996 and was promoted to Franklin’s vice president for development and public affairs in May 1994. He was named Thiel College’s executive director of development in 1996 and has served as Thiel College’s archivist since his retirement in 2007 after working in higher education for 36 years. Hauser earned his Master of Education degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1985. He became an adviser for the Lambda Sigma National Honor Society when the Thiel College chapter was installed in 1976 and is its national president-elect. Hauser won the Lifetime Service Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education in 2007. He is also vice chair of the Greenville zoning board and chaired the successful $1.2 million capital campaign for the Greenville Area Public Library. He is also a charter member of the board of the Northern Mercer County Community Foundation.

Ronnell Hunt ’15 earned his bachelor’s degree from Thiel College and is studying for a Master’s in Divinity. At Thiel, Hunt was active with the student radio. He served as station manager and in 2015 was voted one of the top five radio station hosts in the country by the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System.

Hunt currently works as a television reporter for WBOY in Clarksburg, West Virginia. He remains an active supporter of the college and received the Alumni Martin Luther King Jr. Award in 2019.

Deborah Weible ’84 earned her B.A. in geology from Thiel College then attended the University of Pittsburgh for her graduate studies. Upon arrival at Pitt, Weible discovered that she took twice as many classes in her field compared to the students from other institutions.

During her time at Thiel, Weible was active in the theater. Weible relished in the fact that she, a female student, still received the same personal attention and interest from professors. It was a sign of the times as many schools did not begin accepting female students until the late 1960s. At Thiel, Weible felt there was no competition among students. Students would get together to study and it really helped solidify concepts.

After graduating, Weible faced adversity in the workforce. There was no place for a woman in the engineering or geology field, so, at the age of 28, Weible started her own drilling company. Today, she is the president of Pittsburgh-based Geo Environmental Drilling, Co. Her company provides a wide range of environmental and geotechnical drilling services throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

Gary Witosky ’79 earned his bachelor’s degree from Thiel College and holds a Master of Accountancy from Stetson University. In addition, he is a certified public accountant and chartered global management accountant. Witosky’s professional experience includes more than 20 years in public accounting and private industry. He concluded his six years in public accounting as an audit supervisor at Ernst & Whinney (now Ernst & Young) in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the first person to be named the David M. Miller ’61 Chair of Accounting. Witosky spoke to Ruth A. Miller Senior Seminar students on Feb. 20.

Laura Pickens, Ph.D. ’06 earned her B.A. from Thiel College and later received her Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Kent State in 2012. Pickens is a Psychology professor at Thiel and is currently the department chair.

As a behavioral neuroscientist she has a broad interest in understanding the interrelationships between biological function and behavior. At the heart of her research interests are the subfields of neurobehavioral teratology and psychopharmacology. Considering these topics of the discipline together, she asks research questions about the impact of early exposure to drugs on the developing brain, and ultimately the behavior of the organism. Dr. Pickens has conducted research at Thiel College, along with students and other faculty as part of the Greenville Neuromodulation Center Faculty/Student Research Institute, to investigate the role of adolescent nicotine exposure on adult cognitive processes.

Dr. Pickens was presented with the Faculty Distinguished Service Award as part of the 2019 Founders' Day ceremony at Thiel College.

Danielle Dwyer ’11 was a very active member of the Thiel community during her time on campus. She was a two-sport athlete, playing volleyball and softball, as well as working in the Sports Information office and with TCTV.

Dwyer went on to graduate school at the prestigious Columbia College in Chicago to continue her communication and sports journalism education. She had internships at stations in both Chicago and Philadelphia, each is a top 10 media market, respectively. Currently, she is working as the sports anchor at WTOL, the CBS affiliate in Toledo, Ohio.

Danielle has earned impressive awards already in her young career. She received a Silver Pillar Award (the Emmy for Students), she's been nominated for an Emmy for Sports Reporting, and she's won the Edward R. Murrow Award for Broadcast Excellence in Sports Broadcasting.

Mark A. Nordenberg, J.D. ’70, H'97 earned his B.A. from Thiel College and later received his his law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1973. His first foray into higher education came in 1977 as a visiting professor in the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Mark has served in many roles at the University of Pittsburgh since then. He served as the Dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and other various administrative positions before becoming interim Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh in 1995, a position which became permanent the following year. He served as the seventeenth Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh until 2014.

He joined the Thiel College Board of Trustees in 1987 and served for 10 years. In early 2019, he was conferred as trustee emeritus of Thiel College. “I’m honored to have been designated as Trustee Emeritus by Thiel College’s Board of Trustees, a dedicated and highly respected group of alumni and community leaders.”

Damen Taylor ’95 graduated from Thiel College with a bachelor's degree in accounting and business administration.

He was a member of the Tomcat football team, secretary and treasurer of the Organization of Black Collegiates and the 1995 Homecoming King. He is the Director of finance and human resources for the Three Rivers Adoption Council, a non-profit organization whose focus is finding families for the children of Pittsburgh and surrounding counties.

Damen serves as the president of the Thiel College Alumni Association, and often returns to campus to interact with students. When he returns to campus, he speaks on the four F’s: focus, faith, family and finish, along with other career and life lessons.

Dr. Antonio Quarterman ’08 earned his B.A. in political science and legal studies from Thiel College and later received his M.S. in education from Youngstown State University and his Ed.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in higher education management.

While a student at Thiel, Antonio was incredibly involved on campus. He was a member of the Tomcat football team and earned second team all-conference honors in 2007, and was on the PAC Academic Honor Roll for three consecutive seasons. He also was a member of the track and field team, was the President of the Organization of Black Collegians, participated in Pi Sigma Alpha political science honorary and Les Lauriers honorary. He also served as Class President and as a resident assistant.

Antonio served as President of the Thiel College Alumni Board for two years, and continues to be an active board member. He was recognized as a Young Alumni Award recipient at Thiel College's 2018 Homecoming celebration.

Kyle Fiedler ’15 earned a B.A. in business administration from Thiel College and also attended Penn State Shenango and the University of Pheonix.

After growing his father’s fencing company to become one of Mercer County’s largest fencing providers, Kyle has become a primary partner in G & J Fencing Custom Lawn Designs for residential, industrial and commercial landscaping. They provide a diversified product line for all landscaping and outdoor living needs.

Kyle is a member of the Reynolds VFW and a veteran of the Marine Corps. He was recognized as a Young Alumni Award recipient at Thiel College's 2018 Homecoming celebration.

Dr. David Fauth ’73 earned his B.A. in Chemistry from Thiel College and later received his Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry at the University of South Carolina-Columbia.

David has more than thirty years of experience in nuclear/radiochemistry areas of radiobioassay, nuclear forensics, and environmental analysis. He is currently certified as Department of Energy Laboratory Accreditation Program assessor and radiological/dosimetry consultant as well. He has been published in numerous radiochemical publications.

David was recognized as a Distinguished Alumni Award recipient at Thiel College's 2018 Homecoming celebration.

Dr. Stephen Rowe ’65 earned a B.A. in English from Thiel College and went on to earn an M.A. from the University of Arkansas, an MLSIS from Louisiana State University and his Ph.D. from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

As a Thiel student, Stephen was active as a member of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity and as a Track and Field athlete. He served as a newspaper columnist for The Thielensian and yearbook editor and received the Elizabeth Stewart Humanities Award. He has served as a professor and administrator for other institutions such as Marshall University, Louisiana State University, Indiana Institute of Technology, West Liberty State College and Concord University.

Stephen was recognized as a Distinguished Alumni Award recipient at Thiel College's 2018 Homecoming celebration.

Dr. Barry Stamm ’70 earned a B.A. in biology from Thiel College and his M.D. from Drexel University College of Medicine (formerly Hahnemann Medical College) in Philadelphia.

Barry practiced ophthalmology in Erie for thirty years under Stamm Cataract and Laser Center, specializing in cataract and lens implant surgery and treatment of glaucoma. Barry retired from active practice in 2008, but continues in business as the owner of Northshore Properties, a real estate investment entity which he and his wife, Carol, established in 1980, investing in commercial real estate and assisted living projects.

Barry has served as the Chair of the Thiel College Board of Trustees, and has served as a trustee since 2011. He, along with his wife, received the 2016 Haller Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Barry was recognized as as a Service to Thiel Award recipient at Thiel College's 2018 Homecoming celebration.

Carol (Yeager) Stamm ’71 earned a B.A. in business administration from Thiel College, and was also a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and sweetheart of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.

Carol worked in the banking industry before taking a leadership role at Stamm Cataract and Laser Surgery, which she co-founded with her husband, Barry. Carol, along with her husband, received the 2016 Haller Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Carol was recognized as a Service to Thiel Award recipient at Thiel College's 2018 Homecoming celebration.

Dr. Chris Shinkman ’62 earned a B.A. in French from Thiel College before earning his M.Ed. in counseling from Westminster College, and his Ph.D. in administration from the University of Pittsburgh.

Chris has enjoyed a successful career in the areas of fundraising, career counseling and human resource management, as well as being an administrator at Cornell University, John Hopkins University, Stanford University and Georgetown University. He also co-authored three books on career development and served in the United States Marine Corps for six years.

While at Thiel, Chris was a four-year letter winner and captain of the tennis team, and was inducted into the Thiel College Athletic Hall of fame in 2013. Chris was recognized as a Service to Thiel Award recipient at Thiel College's 2018 Homecoming celebration.