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Class Notes


Beulah Moody (A&S 1968), who earned her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education at Point Park in 1968, recently celebrated her 100th birthday. According to an article by Kevin Kirkland in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “She was the oldest of three children born to Gurney and Nellie Coleman on July 4, 1916, near Grantsville, Md. Growing up on a farm, she exchanged her black travel shoes for white school shoes every morning when she arrived at a one-room schoolhouse. She skipped second grade because she was so smart…Mr. Moody was working for a newspaper in Cumberland, Md., when he met her at the dentist’s office. They married in 1946 and moved to Pittsburgh, where he worked for the Associated Press before becoming a labor writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. They lived in Bethel Park for 61 years and had one son, John of Ridgewood, N.J. At age 52, Mrs. Moody earned a bachelor’s degree from Point Park … and six years later, received a master’s in education from the University of Pittsburgh. She taught in the Easter Seals school system, which provides special education to severely physically and mentally disadvantaged children. She eventually became Easter Seals executive director in Allegheny County, retiring in 1986. ‘My husband and I both worked until we were 70. I think the secret of a good long life is to keep busy and stay aware of what is going on in the world,” she said. After retiring, the Moodys traveled the world, visiting their son as he worked as a journalist in Moscow, Bonn, Germany, Vienna, Paris, Mexico City, Costa Rica and Rome. He is now executive vice president and executive editor of Fox News. … Mrs. Moody handles her own finances, files her own taxes (grudgingly), and reads The New York Times daily, completing the crossword puzzle in ink. She leads a monthly book group, takes a pottery class and is a member of a society dedicated to helping the less advantaged. ... 'I was born during the First World War, waited four years during World War II for the man I married and worried about my son during the Vietnam War,' she said. 'There have been a few bumps and bruises along the way, but now, under the care of my loving son, his beautiful wife and my precious grandchildren, I would say it has been a beautiful life, and still is.'” Read the entire Post-Gazette article.


Joseph Walker (COM 1973) writes, “After a 41-year career in journalism and public relations, I am now enjoying retirement in The Villages, Fla. But I have not fully abandoned the skills I learned at Point Park University. For example, I produce a quarterly e-newsletter for members of my high school class. And until recently, I produced a monthly e-newsletter for the Village of Piedmont, where my wife and I live in The Villages. We also were privileged to attend the recent alumni luncheon in Tampa. It was great to reminisce with other alums about our years and professors who guided us at Point Park, and to hear from President Paul Hennigan about all the wonderful developments at our alma mater. Special mention was made of the late, great J&C professor Vin LaBarbera, who was a mentor and inspiration to many of us. We miss him to this day.”


Rev. John Zingaro (COM 1976) is remembered by his friend and fellow alum Helen Fallon (COM 1975), director of Point Park’s Honors Program and a professor in the School of Communication, who wrote the following:

Journalist, volunteer, world traveler, minister. Those words aptly describe the Rev. John Zingaro, a 1976 journalism and communications graduate. Alumni from that era remember him as intelligent, compassionate and hard-working. John lived his life dedicated to making a difference until he died of cancer July 14 at age 62. John came to Point Park with sports writing and photography experience at the Ellwood City Ledger, and he served as sports information director from 1974-76. In the 1980s he wrote freelance articles for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and other publications. But volunteering for Vista and working as the Pittsburgh Neighborhood Alliance executive director led him to become a Presbyterian minister. He earned a master’s degree at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 1993 and took courses at several European and American universities. He served as a missionary in Tanzania and East Africa, then as pastor to churches in Wisconsin, New Jersey and Illinois. When he returned to Pittsburgh, John served as a supply pastor, preaching just nine days before he died. Always adventurous, he lived in and rode his bicycle through 13 countries and spoke Swahili, German and French. He wrote six books. And John never lost his love of sports. He was a regular Pirates fantasy baseball camps attendee and loved being a soccer, field hockey, softball, and baseball referee and umpire.


Susan Gribble Ryberg (COM 1971) died on May 26 in Goldsboro, N.C. She was 66. A native of Pennsylvania, Ryberg was retired from the Moye Library on the campus of the University of Mount Olive. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications at Point Park in 1971 and later pursued graduate studies in both musical theatre and communications. She was also a librarian for 25 years at the University’s Helen-Jean Moore Library, and taught courses in both social sciences and journalism at Point Park. She is survived by her husband, alumnus Allen E. Ryberg (COM 1988) and her son, former Point Park student Stuart A. Kushon. Read the entire obituary.


Samuel J. Cordes (COM 1980 and 1985), principal of the western Pennsylvania-based labor and employment law firm Samuel J. Cordes & Associates, has been named the Best Lawyers 2017 Employment Law “Lawyer of the Year.” Only a single lawyer in each practice area and community is honored with a “Lawyer of the Year” award. Cordes has also been listed as among only 10 Pittsburgh area attorneys on the Super Lawyers Pennsylvania Top 100 list for 2016.

Michael P. Mauer (COM 1984) has been honored with a National VFW Writing Award. The A Point Park graduate and life member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 914 Intrepid West Mifflin earned the VFW’s top honors for feature writing in 2016. Mauer, an Army veteran of Operation Desert Storm, won the grand award for best feature article in the VFW National Publications Contest. The article, “Post with No Home Earns All State Honors,” was published in the August/September 2015 edition of the Pennsylvania VFW News. Mauer’s entry bested a field of articles submitted from more three dozen VFW departments across the United States and around the world. The judges’ panel was comprised of professional journalists not affiliated with the VFW. An active free-lance writer for more than 35 years, Mauer won the Army’s highest journalism honor, the Keith L. Ware award, in 1991. He was also awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal by Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf for his actions as a military reporter in Operation Desert Storm. In 1984, Mauer earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications from Point Park University. He has been married for more than 30 years to Marsey Mauer, also a 1984 graduate.


Celia Wexler (COM 1996) has published her second book, Catholic Women Confront Their Church: Stories of Hurt and Hope, published September 28. The book tells the stories of ten exceptional Catholic women who have struggled with the question: Can you be both a Catholic and a feminist? Wexler received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, which praised the book for its "thought-provoking profiles" that "brim with hope and concern for the future of the Catholic Church." Wexler earned her master’s degree in journalism at Point Park.

Karen Ferrick-Roman (COM 1991) has been named the inaugural director of communications and education at Village Theater Company in Sewickley. The nonprofit’s art house theater and film-based educational center will open this spring, bringing new educational and entertainment options to regions northwest of Pittsburgh. She continues to serve as director of university and student relations for the Pittsburgh Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators and recently joined the board of the Merrick Art Gallery in New Brighton, Pa. She earned her master’s degree in journalism and communications, graduating summa cum laude, in 1991 at Point Park.


Daniel Allman (COM ’08) has joined CNN in Washington, D.C. as an assignment editor. His responsibilities include coverage of the 2016 election season. A native of Lower Burrell, Pa., Allman joined WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh as an associate producer after earning his degree in broadcasting from Point Park. He later became an assignment editor position at WMAR-TV in Baltimore, where he covered the city’s riots and unrest in spring 2015.

Melissa Meighan (BUS ’08, ’09) writes, “I'm proud to represent Point Park University as a financial analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury in Washington, D.C. I love being able to put Point Park on the map and to promote the City of Pittsburgh!” Meighan earned her undergraduate degree in business management and her M.B.A. at Point Park.


Cody McDevitt (COM ’13) writes, “I was recently offered a book deal from Arcadia Publishing for a book about the history of Pittsburgh's nightlife. The book will feature recipes from the city's top barkeeps and chefs. It will be released in early 2017.”

Olivia Ciotoli (COM’14) writes, “I am a co-owner of The Black Cat Market, which will be Pittsburgh's first cat cafe. We launched a kickstarter to help fund the cafe on May 3 and we are already over halfway to our goal. Check out www.blackcatmarket.com for more info.” She earned her degree in photojournalism at Point Park.

Rich Venezia (COPA ’11), an avid genealogist since childhood, started Rich Roots Genealogy in 2014. He specializes in Italian, Irish, and other immigrant ancestry, as well as Pittsburgh research. He just celebrated his second season as a researcher on Genealogy Roadshow (PBS), and also recently worked as a consultant on Follow Your Past (Travel Channel). Learn more.

Alyssa Knierim (A&S ’14) writes, “I, along with fellow alumni Joe Rittenhouse (COPA ’14), Linda Kanyarusoke (COPA ’14), Steve Faber (COPA ’12) and Anthony Gullikson (COPA ’16), participated in the 2016 Mongol Rally, a 10,000 mile charity road trip from England to Mongolia in support of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The adventure took us through 17 different countries, several mountain ranges, and three deserts. We posted updates of our journey on social media and recorded the entire experience for a documentary." Learn more.

Bethany Winchester (COPA ’16) writes, “I was a part of the new M.F.A. [Writing for Screen and Stage] program at Point Park and my class was the first ever to graduate from this program. During my second year of the M.F.A. program, I earned an internship at A Smith & Co. Productions in Los Angeles. My internship was located right next to Universal Studios in the heart of Studio City. I got to work on many different shows during my time there, including the new NBC show Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge. From my internship, I earned a job in the casting department, and got selected to cast for the NBC show American Ninja Warrior Season 8, which aired in June. I am now working on a new show called, Team Ninja Warrior: College Edition. I am not sure where my career will take me, but I am glad Point Park helped me get where I needed to be.”

Perris Drew (COPA ’16) “recently experienced a budding actor’s dream gig when he worked as a stand-in and understudy for the Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington,” according to an article in the New Pittsburgh Courier. “Drew, who earned his degree in theater arts (with a concentration in acting) in May, 2016, “spent three weeks last April acting as a stand-in and understudy for Washington when the actor was in [Pittsburgh] to rehearse his planned production of 10 August Wilson plays over the next decade for HBO. Drew said landing the acting job with Washington happened very quickly and was the result of efforts by his agent Jarod Pascoe of the Docherty Agency. ‘He told me Denzel was coming to Pittsburgh and had the idea to cast a couple young actors from the city to be understudies and stand-ins during rehearsals.’ His agent recommended Drew update his resume, which he quickly did and 48 hours later, he was hired. Drew was the understudy for the character of ‘Jim Bono’ who is Troy Maxson’s (played by Denzel Washington in the recent production of Fences on Broadway) best friend. ‘The experience felt like a three-week acting intensive. Having the chance to play opposite Denzel, and for him to share his experience and wisdom in such an intimate setting was truly life-changing,’ said Drew.” Read entire article in the New Pittsburgh Courier.

Dominic Rodriguez (COPA ’13) writes, “I concentrated in directing in the Cinema and Digital Arts program. For my final Production IV film, I made a documentary about furries with Olivia Vaughn, Christine Meyer, Jordan Serra, and JP Pelc. The 12-minute short was called Fursonas. We continued working on the project after graduating, hoping to expand it into a feature-length film. Four years later, Fursonas has premiered at a major film festival, Slamdance, where it won the Spirit of Slamdance Award. Subsequently, the film acquired distribution from Gravitas Ventures and is currently available on Video On Demand on platforms such as iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play. The film has received positive reviews from sources such as The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, and the story of how it came to be made has appeared in dozens of articles from Esquire to Glamour.

Michael Suppa (A&S ’10) was selected to be a member of the inaugural class of “40 under 40” honorees in Alexandria, Va. He was also appointed to chair the Alexandria City Council's Child, Youth and Families Collaborative Commission. Suppa, who earned his degree in elementary education at Point Park, now works for the Alexandria City Public Schools. The organization chose Suppa to record segments of his lessons for its professional learning web site and professional development across the division. According to Suppa, “In selecting me they noted the thoroughness of my plans - something that I credit Point Park for holding me to a very high bar from the start.”

Kevin Gallagher and Justin Karter, both graduates of Point Park’s master’s program in clinical-community psychology, have been named editors of the American Psychological Association's Society for Humanistic Psychology Newsletter. In the article "From the new editors: Les Temps Modernes, Karter, Gallagher and fellow editor Andrew Bland, Ph.D.  wrote: "We, the new editors, recognize that recent developments in social and political events call on humanistically trained academics and practitioners to redouble their engagement with the world … we seek to renew this position, and we want to encourage members to draw on their unique philosophical and psychological training and turn their minds and pens toward the world According to Professor Brent Robbins, "They are very smart and socially conscientious individuals with an incredible depth of knowledge in their areas of interest. They really make me proud."

Alyssa Taglia (COPA ’14), a native of Wolcott, Conn., was crowned Miss Connecticut 2016 on June 18. Taglia represented the Nutmeg State at the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, with finals televised on Sept. 11. According to the Hartford Courant, “During her year of service as Miss Connecticut, Taglia said she hopes to continue to spread her platform, Smiles For Seniors: Enriching the Lives of Seniors Across America – a cause she has championed since age 12. Taglia is also eager to work with the Miss America Organization's National Platform – Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Funds raised by the Miss Connecticut organization's titleholders help Connecticut Children's Medical Center. Taglia earned the pageant's Miracle Maker award, having raised more funds than any other contestant for the cause. "I think that's one of the more important jobs of Miss Connecticut, and I can't wait to embrace it," she said.

Philip Lewis (COPA ’11), played the lead role of the villain in the independent film Rising Fear about a fictional terrorist bombing in downtown Pittsburgh. According to the filmmaker and star Tom Getty, the movie was honored at the GI Film Festival, was screened at a festival in Los Angeles, and is available on DVD on Amazon.com. Lewis studied cinema arts at Point Park. See the trailer.

Nick Moran (A&S ’15) writes, “I just got amazing news that I will be interning at Mount Sinai West! While I am there for the next year I will have the opportunity to work with the Crystal Clear project at the Addictions Institute under the supervision of Dr. Joseph Ruggiero. I am excited about this because I will get to work with the LGBTQ population for those individuals who have substance use issues and additional mental health issues.” Moran earned his degree in psychology at Point Park 

Courtney Mahronich (A&S ’11, ’12) has been named director of trail development for Friends of the Riverfront in Allegheny County. Mahronich will be responsible for implementing the trail vision outlined in the 2015-2018 Friends of the Riverfront Strategic Plan, which includes extending the Three Rivers Heritage Trail along the Allegheny River corridor in Allegheny County. She will work with public and private property owners, as well as partnering organizations, to make sure the trail building process moves forward smoothly. Her duties will include community outreach working with Allegheny County and municipalities along the Allegheny River.

Angela (Goodwin) Sexton (COM ’10) is the registration coordinator in the Office of the University Registrar at Point Park. She earned her degree in broadcasting in 2010 and is currently studying for her master’s degree at the University. She and Shaun Sexton were recently married in Baldwin, Pa.

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