RECENT ALUMNI SPOTLIGHTS
Mercyhurst graduates will join a network of more than 20,000 alumni, working in a wide array of industries around the globe. These alumni, including those featured below, are always happy to advise MU students and graduates and connect them with professional opportunities in their fields.
Brittany Warren '19
MU Degree(s): B.A. in Criminal Justice (Pre-Law) and Political Science (International Relations and Diplomacy)
Current Employment: Student-attorney with the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic, Ann Arbor area
Brittany is a J.D. candidate at the University of Michigan School of Law, where she’s a student-attorney with the Michigan Innocence Clinic, which has successfully won the release of 26 men and women who had been wrongfully convicted of crimes since its inception in 2009. She has further served as a law clerk in the university’s Office of General Counsel and as a legal assistant in the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. She graduated summa cum laude from Mercyhurst in 2019, double majoring in Criminal Justice and Political Science, and earning the President’s Award for Excellence from the Ridge College of Intelligence Studies & Applied Sciences. While at Mercyhurst, she was involved in student government, served as president of the International Students Organization, and co-founded Mercyhurst’s chapter of the Student Alliance for Prison Reform (SAPR). She also volunteered as a peer tutor and a polling representative with Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics.
Larry Staub III '20
MU Degree(s): B.A. in Sport Business Management and Marketing
Current Employment: Sales and Service Account Executive at New Orleans Saints & Pelicans, New Orleans area
A native of Rochester, New York, Larry always knew he wanted to work in the NFL or NBA in some capacity. During his studies in the Walker College of Business, Dr. John Parente assisted him in networking with industry professionals, leading Larry to find his professional niche in sports sales. After graduating with a double major in Sport Business Management and Marketing, Larry moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, to work for an organization which supports both the NFL and NBA—the New Orleans Saints & Pelicans. Larry was promoted twice in his first two seasons and is looking forward to continuing his work with the Saints & Pelicans, managing 800 accounts for the Sales and Retention Team.
Lynne Gillott '18
MU Degree(s): B.S. in Sports Medicine (Pre-PT, Pre-OT)
Current Employment: Outpatient Physical Therapist at Excela Health, Pittsburgh area
After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Mercyhurst in 2018 with her Bachelor of Science in Sports Medicine (Pre-PT, Pre-OT), Lynne Gillott received her Doctor of Physical Therapy from Chatham University in 2020. Lynne was passionate about helping others through service projects as she was Mercyhurst’s Student Sports Medicine Association Chair and ESO Chair. A leader on campus, Lynne was an Ambassador, Resident Assistant for freshman and AIM students, Senior Class Gift Committee Chair, and the recipient of the 2018 Frank Barry Leadership Award. Lynne has completed several PT internships at locations such as The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, TEIS Early Intervention, and AHN Jefferson Hospital. Lynne has since passed the NPTE to become a licensed PT. Now working as an outpatient physical therapist, she is looking forward to her wedding!
Daniel Leonard ‘20
MU Degree(s): B.A. in Hospitality Management with a concentration in Event Planning
Current Employment: Events Assistant at Ida Rose Events & Design, Washington, D.C. area
During his time at Mercyhurst, Daniel served on the boards of 3 student clubs, helped start several others, and was elected as a Cultural & Diversity club representative through Mercyhurst Student Government. He was a staff writer for The Merciad for two years and served on the Senior Class Gift Committee. To gain real-world hospitality experience, he completed two internships. He worked at Kensington Park Senior living in their food and beverage department and PanoPlanning virtual tours in their marketing and sales departments. Daniel was proud to become the thirteenth member of his family to graduate from Mercyhurst when he walked the stage with the class of 2020. Daniel has since received a job in the hospitality industry and has begun his journey working as an assistant at Ida Rose Events & Design with hopes of starting his own event planning company.
Libby Goldberg ‘17
MU Degree(s): B.S. in Anthropology/Archaeology
Current Employment: Ph.D. candidate at the University of Alberta, Canada
Hailing from Westlake, Ohio, Libby gravitated toward the field of archaeology at an early age, largely due to its interdisciplinary nature at the nexus between history and science. While pursuing their Anthropology/Archaeology degree at MU, Libby became particularly fascinated by fiber perishable artifacts (a unique class of artifacts which include woven footwear, clothing, bags, and baskets). Libby completed their senior research project analyzing cordage recovered from an archaeological site in Utah, then headed north to the University of Alberta to continue studying archaeology. Libby earned their M.A. in 2020 and are now pursuing their Ph. D. Their dissertation research entails working with the Indigenous peoples of the Northwest Territories to help revitalize the peoples’ proud tradition of sewing and weaving, to be passed on to future generations. Libby has been actively publishing research and organizing museum visits to analyze fiber artifact collections.
Austin Cortopassi '23
MU Degree(s): B.S. in Cyber Security and Data Science
Current Employment: Software Engineer at General Dynamic Mission Systems
Austin Cortopassi graduated in Spring 2023 with a double major in Cyber Security and Data Science, which he completed in just three years. He also received the Presidential Award for Excellence from the Ridge College of Intelligence Studies and Applied Sciences and was named Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year for his performance in the classroom and on the football field. In addition to his academic and athletic achievements, Austin was highly engaged in community service, volunteering with ServErie and hosting charity sports tournaments for the Joey Fabus Childhood Cancer Foundation. He has been accepted into the Engineering Leadership Program at General Dynamic Mission Systems and will begin training in June across multiple offices, including Scottsdale, Arizona, Dedham, Massachusetts, and Pittsburgh.
Samantha Strom ‘23
MU Degree(s): B.A. in Intelligence Studies and Criminal Justice with a concentration in Law Enforcement
Current Employment: Acclaim Technical Services, Washington, D.C.
Samantha was highly involved at MU as an Honors Program scholar, Laker Leader, resident assistant, and member of Phi Eta Sigma, Alpha Phi Sigma, and the Service Honors Society, as well as playing Disc Golf and Ultimate Frisbee. She was president of the Criminal Justice Association and National Security Club and project coordinator for the Anti-Human Trafficking Intelligence Cell, through which she gained real-world experience, particularly in writing victim and trafficker profiles for Brazil, a report that was published and translated in Portuguese for use by 10,000 law enforcement officers. Samantha worked with Mercyhurst’s Center for Intelligence Research, Analysis, and Training (CIRAT), and completed internships for the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Justice, working with the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children program. She graduated with the President’s Award for Excellence from the Ridge College for Intelligence Studies and Applied Sciences.
Mariz Khalaf '23
MU Degree(s): B.A. in Intelligence Studies and Criminal Justice
Current Employment: Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army (commissioned through ROTC)
Born in Sinjar, Iraq, Mariz Khalaf and his family sought asylum in the United States in 2013. His father had been working as a mechanic and translator for the U.S. Army in Iraq when mounting hostilities forced them to leave abruptly. They relocated to Buffalo, New York, and Khalaf embraced his new country with gratitude and enthusiasm. When it came time for college, he sought out Mercyhurst because of its Intelligence Studies program, which aligned closely with his interests. Not only did he excel in his studies, but he discovered ROTC and became a U.S. citizen in 2021. He also served as president of the Criminal Justice Association, vice president of the Law Enforcement Intelligence Club, and was an active member of Alpha Phi Sigma and Phi Eta Sigma. He will volunteer as cadre for Cadet Summer Training in mid-June before heading to Fort Moore in Georgia for his own leadership training in August. He longs to give back to the country that gave him a second chance.
Leah Kern ‘20
MU Degree(s): B.A. in Business Marketing with a minor in Web/Social Media Management
Current Employment: Content Strategist at Team Sports + Curry Brand at Under Armour, Baltimore area
A former captain of the Mercyhurst Women’s Volleyball team, Leah began her journey into the business side of athletics as a social media intern with Hurst Athletics. She served as Student-Athlete Advisory Committee president, chair of the Laker Spirit Committee, Inter-Collegiate Athletic Committee member, and member of the Service Honors Society. Leah held internships with the Erie Otters, Pittsburgh Riverhounds soccer club, an NHL goaltending coach, the WNBA Los Angeles Sparks, Ultimate Fighting Championship, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Following graduation, Leah began her role as Content Strategist - Team Sports + Curry Brand at Under Armour. In this role, she manages all of Under Armour team sports and brand social media accounts, coordinates photoshoots, assists with product launch campaigns, and creates video and graphic content. In addition, Leah works as a freelance graphic designer for various professional athletes and brands.
Justin Hawkins '19
MU Degree(s): B.A. in Sports Business Management with a minor in Spanish
Current Employment: Operational Excellence Development Program Analyst at PNC Financial Services, Pittsburgh area
Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Justin graduated from Mercyhurst in 2019 with his B.A. in Sports Business Management with a minor in Spanish. Although he was inspired to attend Mercyhurst for football, he also served as a game day operation assistant responsible for managing Mercyhurst Athletics social media accounts. He was also involved with all aspects of campus life as he served on the Student Government Executive Board as the Multicultural Activities Council (MAC) Chair and was a Resident Assistant in his senior year. As MAC Chair, he was worked to promote diversity throughout Mercyhurst’s campus through engaging events and keynote speakers to bring students together. In his senior year, Justin was awarded the 2019 Frank Barry Leadership Award. After graduation, Justin worked as a management trainee at Enterprise Rent-a-Car and before accepting his position with PNC Bank in 2020.
Marina Boyle '21
MU Degree(s): B.A. in Business and Competitive Intelligence and Hospitality Management, International Hospitality and Tourism
Current Employment: Financial Crimes Investigator at KeyBank, Cleveland area
Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Marina was drawn to Mercyhurst because of its revered intelligence program and the strength of its mission. Along with completing a double major, Marina was the editor in chief of The Merciad, a member of MSG, an RA, an Ambassador, and the chair of her Senior Class Gift Committee. Marina also completed the first Student Emissary Program and dedicated countless hours of service both on and off campus, particularly with Mercyhurst’s Habitat for Humanity club. Marina also enjoyed being involved in academic endeavors beyond the classroom and won prestigious intelligence competitions and scholarships during her four years. Marina was the 2021 Carpe Diem Award recipient at her graduation. Marina has also been featured on the Mercyhurst Made podcast.
Sam Lioi '17
MU Degree(s): B.A. in Business and Competitive Intelligence and Political Science
Current Employment: Judicial Law Clerk on U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Columbus area
Former Ambassador President and Mercyhurst Student Government Vice President Sam Lioi loved being involved at Mercyhurst. After graduating in 2017, Sam worked at two different law firms and as a professor’s research assistant during his studies at The Ohio State University. Sam also worked pro bono for the Columbus Legal Aid Society, the Grassbaugh Veterans Project, and as a student board member of the Central Ohio Red Cross. Sam graduated from law school in 2020, passed the Ohio bar, and began working for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He has assisted the judge in deciding appeals covering a multitude of civil, criminal, and administrative issues arising from Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Sam has also been featured on the Mercyhurst Made podcast.
Morgan (Wangler) Smith '18
MU Degree(s): B.A. in Early Childhood and Special Education with a minor in French
Current Employment: Kindergarten Teacher, Fairview School District, Erie area
During her four years at Mercyhurst, Morgan was involved in many clubs and organizations to help prepare her for her role as a teacher. As president of Kappa Delta Pi, the education honors society, and a member of the Council for Exceptional Children, she cultivated experiences for teacher candidates to gain real-world experience in the field of education. Along with her involvement in education-related activities, Morgan was also an Ambassador for four years, a Resident Assistant for three years, and a student mentor for the Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst (AIM) program for two years. These experiences helped her refine her leadership skills in a variety of ways. After graduation, Morgan started her dream job as a kindergarten teacher at Fairview Elementary School in Erie, PA — the same school where she completed her student teaching during her time at Mercyhurst!
Meghan Maker '19
MU Degree(s): B.A. in Communication with minors in International Relationships/Diplomacy and Web/Social Media Management
Current Employment: Internal Communications Specialist at Hughes, Washington, D.C. area
During her time at Mercyhurst, Meghan Maker was selected to be the managing editor of The Merciad student newspaper, a Mercyhurst Student Government Senator, and a Laker Leader, as well as successfully graduating from the Leadership Development Program. Meghan used her communications background to complete student internships with the U.S. Forest Service, Special Olympics, and the U.S. Department of State. Meghan also participated in a faculty-led study abroad experience to France and Italy, where she studied international ethics and visited many historical sites. As a senior, she was recognized with the prestigious Ridge College Presidential Award for Excellence for her academic valor, becoming the first ever Communication major to do so.
Mitchell Marsh '20
MU Degree(s): B.A. in Marketing and Hospitality Management with a minor in Web/Social Media Management, Graduate Certificate in Organizational Leadership
Current Employment: Account Manager at EAB, Washington, D.C. area
Mitchell was attracted to Mercyhurst for their hospitality program and served as the Chair of the Senior Class Gift Commitee, a Resident Assistant, a Student Ambassador, and the Advancement Social Media Coordinator. To gain industry experience, he completed internships at the Erie Yacht Club, the Hotel Lenhart, and the Omni Louisville Hotel. Mitchell returned to Mercyhurst as the Director of Annual Giving, where he coordinated campaigns which benefited the Annual Fund and Student Scholarship Program, and led Mercyhurst to one of its most successful Giving Days ever, raising over $130,000 for the university. He now serves as an Account Manager with EAB, a higher education consulting firm, where he works with partner institutions to help them meet their goals for fundraising and campaigns.
Jennifer Hartwell '19
MU Degree(s): B.A. in English
Current Employment: English Teacher, Shane English School, China
Highly dedicated to leadership, Jennifer was elected Vice President of Student Ambassadors and an Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst mentor for three years, as well as completing multiple trips with MU's Habitat for Humanity club, where she served as secretary. To gain real-world marketing and writing experience, Jennifer participated in the Student Communication Team for two years, where she launched the university's Snapchat account and provided content for posts across their social media channels. After graduation, she embarked on the journey of a lifetime to teach English as a foreign language in China, as well as paying visits to Thailand, South Korea, and Taiwan. During the original COVID-19 outbreak in China, Jennifer volunteered to check temperatures and sign community members in to her local apartment complex.
Baylee Burns '18 '20M
MU Degree(s): B.S. in Sports Medicine, MPAS in Physician Assistant Studies
Current Employment: Physician Assistant, Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Center, Cleveland area
After graduating from Mercyhurst's extensive pre-health program, Baylee Burns went on to enroll in MU's distinguished Physician Assistant Program to fulfill her dream of being a healthcare professisonal. While she was an undergraduate student, Baylee was a Laker Leader and was inducted into the Sports Medicine Student Society before graduating with cum laude honors. As part of the real-world experience she gained in PA school, she completed clinical rotations in general surgery, internal medicine, family medicine, OB/GYN, pediatrics, cardiology, psychiatry, and orthopedic surgery. She successfully passed her PANCE exam to become certified as a PA-C, as well as earning certifications in Basic and Advanced Life Support from the American Heart Association.
Austin Winschel '20M
MU Degree(s): M.S. in Data Science
Current Employment: Claims Information Analyst I, Erie Insurance, Erie area
After completing his undergraduate degree in Economics and Statistics at the University of Pittsburgh, Austin Winschel enrolled in Mercyhurst's Data Science master's program to strengthen his computational background and prepare him with the necessary skillset for corporate employment. To support his graduate education, and gain more real-world experience, Austin served as the Head Technology Consultant at the Mercyhurst IT Help Desk, providing support to students and employees with various technical issues. After graduating, he was offered a position with LECOM as a Data Analyst, where he managed COVID-19 reporting and testing. He currently is employed at Erie Insurance as a Claims Information Analyst I, where he creates and supervises reports to inform data-driven decisionmaking for stakeholders across the company.
Cela Veitch-Beck '20 '21M
MU Degree(s): B.A. in Intelligence studies with a minor in Political Science, M.S. in Cyber Security
Current Employment: Activities and Spirit Coordinator, Mercyhurst University
Cela Veitch-Beck chose to attend Mercyhurst so that she could earn both an undergraduate and graduate degree in five years through MU's unique 4+1 program. As a student, she completed internships as a media coordinator at marketing firm Engel O'Neill, a senior analyst for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and a cyber risk analyst for software company CityGrows. She was also employed as a Tier One Level Analyst through the on-campus branch of Cleveland-based cyber security company MCPc. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cela coordinated and led virtual orientation sessions for 650+ new Mercyhurst students, as well as serving as the university's secondary contact tracer. She is now employed as Mercyhurst's Activities and Spirit Coordinator in the Campus Involvement Center.
Carolyn Zaffino ’15 ‘17
MU Degree(s): A.S. in Nursing, B.S. in Nursing
Current Employment: Nursing Instructor at Mercyhurst University
For all the credentials after her name, it’s hard to imagine Carolyn Zaffino, MSN, MBA, RN, PCCN, was a slow starter. Having been disappointed in her first college experience, she wasn’t sure a nursing education was for her. That all changed when she enrolled at Mercyhurst University. “Mercyhurst is a place that lives its mission; it’s not just words on its website,” she said of the university where she earned her ASN and BSN in 2015 and 2017, respectively. She went on to earn her MBA and MSN at Carlow University (prior to Mercyhurst offering an MSN program, which it now does), and returned to Mercyhurst, where today she is an instructor of nursing. She said she is committed to preserving that welcoming, student-centered environment that meant so much to her when she was a student. She also continues a per diem rotation at St. Vincent Hospital, a clinical experience that she believes enhances her teaching and commitment to students.
Amanda Costello ‘21
MU Degree(s): B.A. in Accounting and Finance with a minor in Spanish
Current Employment: Finance Management Rotation Program Analyst at UPMC, Pittsburgh area
Amanda found her current position with UPMC through Mercyhurst’s Finance and Accounting Consortium. She began the three-year rotation with the Finance Management Rotation (FMR) Program with UPMC as a Program Analyst in June 2021. She looks forward to becoming a full-time analyst after completing the program. She is currently pursuing her MBA online from Shippensburg University. At Mercyhurst, Amanda was an active participant in the Walker College of Business as she earned her double major in Accounting and Finance. She held leadership roles in Business Club and Accounting Club, and was a member of the Laker Asset Management Club. Amanda also minored in Spanish and led clubs within Campus Ministry.