School of Arts and Sciences

Political Science, Environmental Studies Leads Alumna Down the Path of Trail Development

Monday, October 17, 2016

Pictured is Courtney Mahronich, political science and M.S. environmental studies alumna who is now director of trail development for Friends of the Riverfront. | Photo by Olivia Ruk

Meet Courtney Mahronich

Job title: Director of Trail Development
Employer: Friends of the Riverfront
Degrees earned: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, 2011, and Master of Science in Environmental Studies, 2012, both from Point Park University
Scholarship from Point Park: Graduate Assistantship
Hometown: Cheswick, Pa.
High school: Springdale Junior-Senior High School
Now living in: Oakmont, Pa.
Hobbies/interests: Reading, bicycling and cooking
LinkedIn: Courtney Mahronich

"Courtney has learned to communicate with a vast array of personalities and understands the dynamic challenges and opportunities our region faces socially, economically and environmentally. These are the traits necessary to succeed and they were nurtured at Point Park."

-- Thomas E. Baxter, IV, Executive Director, Friends of the Riverfront


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"I am thankful for the education and experience I gained at Point Park University, which has prepared and helped me achieve so much in my career."

-- Courtney Mahronich


What inspired your passion for environmental protection?

Like many kids, I had a favorite animal. Mine was the polar bear. As I grew older and learned more about polar bears, I learned about how climate change was impacting their environment and it was upsetting. Going to high school in Springdale, Pa., it was natural that I would learn of Rachel Carson and the work she did. As I learned of the impact that humans can make on the environment and nature, I wanted to find a way I could make an impact on protecting the environment for current and future generations of people.

My parents also inspired my passion for environmental protection. They always encourage me to be outside and enjoy the outdoors. Some of my fondest memories are of visiting national parks. The parks are so amazing and are worth protecting and conserving. Those trips inspired me to want to be a part of the conservation efforts of our natural resources and find ways for others to enjoy them as well.

Tell us about the work you do as director of trail development for Friends of the Riverfront.

In this position, I work with municipalities along the Allegheny River to further trail development. My responsibilities include working collaboratively with the municipalities, Allegheny County and other local organizations on the identified trail alignment up the Allegheny River. As the trail continues to expand, I am responsible for managing the construction of the project. 

The aspect of trails I enjoy and love the most is the connections that they make. Trails can connect people to nature for them to enjoy and explore. Trails can also connect communities and people together. Communities that once may have only been connected by roads are now connected by trails, which encourage people to stop and discover communities outside of their own. There are so many beautiful trails in western Pennsylvania including the Three Rivers Heritage Trail that runs along the riverfronts.

How have your political science and M.S. in environmental studies classes helped you in this role?

My studies at Point Park have helped me greatly in this role. My classes in political science have helped me with working with municipalities, county government and state agencies. All of my professors had life experiences to share with their students.

Also, having a background in environmental studies has helped me with understanding the environmental benefits of trails and the importance of revitalizing our riverfronts. The Environmental Communication class I took has helped me with being able to communicate goals, impacts and progress of projects with communities and partners.

What are your favorite Point Park memories?

Some of my favorite memories of Point Park would be classes with Professors Firestone, Meena, Homayoonfar, Kudlac, O’Gara, and Representative Paul Costa.

Final thoughts?

I am very grateful for the opportunity to be able to work on trails, connecting communities together and people to nature. Also, I am thankful for the education and experience I gained at Point Park University, which has prepared and helped me achieve so much in my career. 

Photo by Olivia Ruk, a senior mass communication major 

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