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Class Notes

1960s

Joseph R. Kasprzyk (COM 1968) has retired from fulltime employment after 45 years in newspaper work. Between September 1996 and May 2013, he worked as editorial writer for the Butler Eagle. Prior to moving to the Eagle, he worked for 27 years at the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat. He currently is doing freelance editorial writing for the Altoona Mirror.

1970s

Sharon Anne Klingler  (A&S 1974) is the author of Power Words, released by Hay House. She previously authored the bestseller Secrets of Success (with her sister Sandra Taylor) and Intuition & Beyond (Random House, London). Known as a leading intuitive, Klingler has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Network; Discovery; NBC, ABC, and CBS affiliates; ITV London; BBC London; BBC Scotland; Vision TV Canada; and on major outlets in Sydney, New York, Los Angeles, England, and throughout the United States.  She has also been featured in The London Daily Express and in publications throughout Australia, Europe and the United States. In her private practice in metaphysical disciplines, she serves many high profile clients and has presented workshops in Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, New York, London, Australia and New Zealand. Klingler lectures annually at The Lily Dale Assembly, a spiritualist center and community in New York. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Point Park.

Walt Smith (A&S 1974) was recently honored as Teacher of the Year by Twin Towers Consulting firm. Smith was the first Ohio teacher to receive this award from the company. A resident of Cleveland, Smith earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Point Park.

1980s

Rob Ashford (COPA 1983, HON ’10) made his debut with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, directing Rossini's Barber of Seville. According to the Chicago Tribune, “Ashford brings to his Lyric debut a packed resume as both a dancer and choreographer with eight Tony Award and five Olivier Award nominations to his credit, along with Emmy, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards on his shelf. He's presently collaborating as co-director with Kenneth Branagh on a highly anticipated production of Shakespeare's Macbeth, starring the British actor-director, that's scheduled to move from Manchester, England (where it had an acclaimed opening last summer), to New York's Park Avenue Armory in June. And Lyric announced …that Ashford will direct a new production of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel to conclude the company's diamond anniversary season in April 2015. With Broadway and the Bard securely under his belt, not to mention NBC's recent The Sound of Music Live!, which Ashford directed, Barber of Seville should be a cakewalk, right? Yes and no. It seems that Rossini's greatest hit will be the first opera [Ashford] has ever directed…” Read the article in the Chicago Tribune.

Robert Needham (A&S 1981) is the author of Mystery Mountain: A Walk With God, published by Christian publisher Xulon Press. The book traces the story of a ninth grade science class that receives an anonymous invitation to take a field trip to Mt. Ararat in Turkey. On their hike to and from the summit, the teacher and students encounter some of the world’s greatest scientific minds. What they discover is that these same scientists lead them in a direct pathway to God’s Kingdom. “This book unravels the mysteries of God for the adventure-seeker in search of answers to man’s most confounding questions about the world we live in,” according to Needham. “It will help the reader to unleash the hidden ties that keep us from being all we can be, and ‘enter in’ to God’s world, as seen through the eyes of some of the greatest minds.” Needham, who earned his degree in mechanical and civil engineering technology degree at Point Park, has more than 40 years of experience in product design. An avid backpacker and hiker, he says, “I owe the inspiration and storyline of this book to the Lord’s leadership in my life, every day of the three and a half years that I sat down to write it. …A testament to what one can do if they are willing to walk out of their ‘comfort zone.’” The book is available online through xulonpress.com/bookstore, amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. See a video trailer.

Sherri (Scarvace) Hertzog (COPA 1987), who earned her degree in dance at Point Park, has made a career change and is now a licensed massage therapist (and has appointments available). A resident of West Mifflin, Pa., she can be contacted through Facebook. Editor’s note: Sherri’s graduation year and hometown were incorrectly reported in the winter 2014 issue. The Point regrets the error.

1990s

Adam Bernstein (COPA 1998) has been named executive director of The New Group. According to Broadway World, Bernstein joined The New Group last February “after eleven years with New York City's Signature Theatre, where he was promoted twice before becoming its general manager in 2006. He played an integral role in Signature's transition to The Pershing Square Signature Center, its Frank Gehry-designed home on 42nd Street and its growth from a $3 million producing theater to a $12 million institution. Leading up to the opening of the Center in 2012, he helped to lead Signature's efforts to plan and manage its $70 million capital budget including securing over $10 million in project financing.” According to Bernstein, "I am honored and thrilled to have been selected as executive director of The New Group, which is such a vital force in contemporary American theater." Read the article at Broadway World.

Dave Pinchot (COM 1997) is now a photo manager at Lifetouch photography.

Mary Ann Bradley (COPA 1997) was named one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" for 2014. Currently in her ninth season with Zenon Dance Company of Minneapolis, she is a two time recipient of the McKnight Fellowship for Dancers. The magazine notes: “Bradley gives Zenon Dance Company’s eclectic repertory both elegance and pizzazz: Her innate musicality can transform ballroom dance moves into kinetic storytelling, while her goofy, off-kilter glamour inspires choreographers like Andrea Miller and Danny Buraczeski. In a recent solo created for her by Jennifer Arave for Walker Art Center’s Momentum series, Bradley ricocheted around a small raised platform, sawing an electric guitar in two like a woman possessed. A native of Dayton, OH, Bradley began her training at the Dayton Ballet School, and performed with local pre-professional companies Dance Theatre Dayton and Dayton Contemporary Dance II. Since moving to Minnesota she has danced with numerous Twin Cities–based companies and choreographers and is currently in her ninth season with Zenon.” Read the article in Dance Magazine.

2000s

Jeffrey Jones (COM ’00) spoke to Point Park students on campus last February about his work with Havas Public Relations and the firm’s leadership of the global campaign for One Young World, an event that brings together young people from countries throughout the world to debate and expand involvement in critical social issues. Jones earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications at Point Park.

Sukarta Fuadin AS (BUS ’07) has moved from Jakarta, Indonesia to accept a position as an operations manager and pilot with a corporate jet company based in Singapore. Sukarta, who earned an M.B.A. at Point Park in 2007, writes to express appreciation for the education and guidance provided by Dimitris Kraniou, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Global Management and Organization at Point Park.

Kelly Beth Clawson (COM ’07), is the owner/operator of Magni CrossFit in Fairfax, Va. Opened in December 2013, the studio offers a full range of functional fitness and yoga classes. Clawson earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications at Point Park in 2007, and she is a former member of the University’s Alumni Relations office team.

Caroline Shannon-Karasik (COM ’05) is the author of The Gluten-Free Revolution: A Balanced Guide to a Gluten-Free Lifestyle through Healthy Recipes, Green Smoothies, Yoga, Pilates and Easy Desserts, published by Skyhorse Publishing. She is a writer, certified health coach, and author of the popular gluten-free blog Sincerely Caroline. Her writing and recipe development have been featured in several publications, including Redbook, Kiwi and VegNews. She has been a long-distance runner for more than 15 years and certified Pilates instructor for more than a decade. She and her husband Dan live in Pittsburgh. Read more about Caroline Shannon-Karasik.

Shanna VanDerwerker (COPA ’00) is the dance captain for the First National Tour of Wicked, a position she has held since 2009. In an article in the Sacramento Press, she talked about her work with the blockbuster musical Wicked: “VanDerwerker, who married fellow cast member Justin Brill (Boq) in October 2010, joined the show’s first national tour … following a long run in the Broadway cast. A graduate of Pittsburgh’s Point Park University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in dance, VanDerwerker’s credits include stints with: Theater Under the Stars in Houston, Texas; The Walden Company in New York; the Fireside Dinner Theatre in Fort Atkinson, Wis.; and the New York-based dre.dance company. Stressing that roles aren’t necessarily assigned to the best technical dancers, but to those who interpret their role’s choreography through nuanced gestures and facial expressions, VanDerwerker said, ‘storytelling is the most important thing a dancer should keep in mind.’ Read the article in the Sacramento Press.

Shane Portman (COPA’02) writes to say, “I just finished writing for the first season of Tumbleaf, a stop motion animated series for preschoolers, created by Kelli Bixler and the Emmy Award-winning Drew Hodges at Bix Pix Studios. It was one of the first five original series to be greenlit for production through Amazon.com and will debut later this year. Learn more about Tumbleaf. Portman lives in Los Angeles.

Margie (Trax) Netzel (COM ’02) is now the copywriter and social media manager for the national retailer Things Remembered in Cleveland. She previously spent 10 years as reporter/photographer for the Ashtabula Star Beacon. Netzel earned her undergraduate degree in journalism at Point Park and now lives in the heart of Ohio's wine country with her husband Andrew and their two children.

Daina Michelle Griffith (COPA ’03) was named the 2013 Post-Gazette Performer of the Year. According to the Post-Gazette, the award “…goes to a Norwegian seductress, a vengeful Irish wife, a butch lesbian, a youthful musical protester, an Ohioan whose fiance died in World War II, several hallucinated Nazis, and a couple of fictional writers, each creating the play she is in. And thanks to the wonder of theater, all these were played with invention and skill during 2013 by one person, Daina Michelle Griffith….Several roles had the heft and distinction worthy of the award on their own, but above all we honor her combination of excellence with versatility — not to mention energy. Griffith’s 2013 roles were for Quantum Theatre, Playhouse Rep, No Name Players, barebones productions and, in three plays, Off the Wall Productions in Carnegie, perhaps our region’s least-known professional company but a comer. In Griffith’s 10 years on Pittsburgh professional stages (2002-13, minus two years she spent in New York), she has also acted for Pittsburgh Public Theater, City Theatre, Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre, Pittsburgh CLO, Pittsburgh Musical Theater, Prime Stage, Jewish Theater, you name it.” Read the article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Heather Morici Shepler (A&S ’02) writes, “I was married in Las Vegas on Feb. 9, 2014 to Bryan Shepler. We are the proud parents of Riley and Eva.

Philip Spicuzza (A&S ’09), was promoted to sergeant at the Allegheny County Jail in December 2013. He earned his degree in criminal justice in 2009.

2010s

Justin Wojtkowski (BUS ’12) and Ryan Strength (COM ’12) were married on Feb. 28, 2014 in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Ryan works as a home loan closer for Ryland Homes, and Justin is a student support specialist with Arizona State University. The couple lives in Phoenix but is planning a move back to Pittsburgh in 2014.

Jonathan Freeland (COPA ’13) is playing the role of male jet/shark swing in the North American tour of West Side Story. He returned to campus in March 2014 to teach a master class to Point Park students. According to Freeland, “I approached teaching the song ("Cool" from West Side Story) in nearly the same way I learned it during the audition process. Because the piece I taught is just as driven by the acting as it is by the movement, I wanted to make sure that the students understood the meaning behind each piece of choreography. The class wasn't just about learning steps, but really about being able to apply the training the students receive in their acting classes, just as much as the technical training they receive in their dance classes. The class was great!”

Gabriella Sorrentino (COPA ’12) was a contestant on the television quiz show Wheel of Fortune, in an episode that appeared on March 3.

Kevin Drobish (A&S ’10) is a licensed embalmer, funeral director and forensic autopsy specialist at Cyril H. Wecht Pathology and Associates. Drobish is also a restorative art instructor at the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science  and has been appointed a member of the Funeral Director/Coroner Task Force with the Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE).

Connor Russell (COPA ’12) was nominated for an International Academy of Web Television Award (IAWTA) in the category of best male performance in a drama for the web series The Hinterlands. Other actors nominated in the same category included David Arquette and Milo Ventimiglia. According to Sheila McKenna, professor of theatre at Point Park, “if you have not yet seen it, I recommend The Hinterlands — [Connor] is truly wonderful in his role and the series is so well made.” Learn more about The Hinterlands.

Alyssa Zagorac and Kyle Southerlin (both COPA ’11) were married in Pittsburgh on October 26, 2013. Fellow alums Justin Fortunato (COPA ’11) and Meghan Ginley (COPA ’12) served as best man and bridesmaid, respectively. Alyssa earned her bachelor’s degree in theatre and currently runs the Creative Arts program at Propel EAST Charter School in the Pittsburgh suburb of Turtle Creek. Kyle also earned his bachelor’s degree in theatre and serves as the assistant general manager of the Home2 Suites by Hilton in McCandless, Pa. The couple honeymooned in Cancun, Mexico before returning home to Robinson, where they currently reside with their pitbull mix, Bruiser.

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