Mercyhurst alumni shine in Erie Reader’s 40 Under 40

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Stephani Klassen; Curtis Waidley; Yvan Vladimir TchoungaMercyhurst congratulates three local alumni featured in the Erie Reader’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2023: Stephani Klassen ’12, Curtis Waidley ’19, and Yvan Vladimir Tchounga ’22.

Stephani Klassen ’12, owner of Give a Crepe, La CrepErie LLC, came to Mercyhurst in 2009 to earn her Bachelor of Arts in Hospitality Management with a concentration in food and beverage management. Besides her studies, Klassen was caring for two children and managing a French bistro, where she first discovered her love of crepes. Give a Crepe started as a pop-up shop in 2016 and, after much success, Klassen opened a permanent location at 2431 Peach St. She said she thoroughly enjoyed her time at Mercyhurst, especially under the tutelage of Chip Magalhaes, who taught her favorite and most useful class, International Food. When considering her time at Mercyhurst, Klassen said, “I am truly happy with my courses and outcome.”

Curtis Waidley ’19, an Erie native, works remotely as a graphic designer at the American Stage Theatre Company in St. Petersburg, Florida. He also runs his own retail website called Natural States Collective, where he sells prints and apparel inspired by the national parks and donates 10% of the proceeds to the National Park Foundation. His website is based on his senior thesis, in which he created posters based on national parks. Waidley never intended to be a graphic designer. In fact, he started college as an Integrated Marketing major. It was Professor Jodi Staniunas Hopper who saw the artist in him and urged him to consider the switch to graphic design. “That’s my favorite moment because it really was the turning point; that was the moment I was put on the path I needed to be on,” he said. Waidley believes the difference between Mercyhurst and other universities is all in the faculty. The way students and professors can become friends is very special, he said.

Yvan Vladimir Tchounga ’22 came to Mercyhurst from Yaounde, Cameroon, to earn his master’s in Data Science. He is now a video editor and data analyst for WQLN. When he still lived in Yaounde, he created a nonprofit called Helping Hands, which raised money for orphanages in Cameroon. He also hosts a podcast called “International Student Experience” where he talks about the pros and cons of studying abroad. His fondest memory of the international program at Mercyhurst was the Erie food tour, where he and his peers got to try different restaurants in the city. Many in the Mercyhurst community will remember him as a friendly face at the IT desk during his time as a student. “Working at the help desk with Hannah Cox, Chris Walker, and other staff was my favorite time at Mercyhurst,” Tchounga said.

These alumni are proud to call Mercyhurst home, and Mercyhurst is proud to call them alumni. Carpe Diem!

PHOTO: (L-R) Curtis Waidley ’19, Stephani Klassen ’12, and Yvan Vladimir Tchounga ’22. (Photos courtesy of Jessica Hunter/Erie Reader)