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Pictured is Gwendolyn Hessom. Photo by Nadia Jones.

Photo by Nadia Jones '25. 

Meet Gwendolyn Hessom '25

Funeral Service
College Activities
Honors Program
Leechburg, Pa.
High School
Kiski Area High School
Dream Job
Fully licensed funeral director, embalmer and certified crematory operator
Hobbies & Interests
Reading, watching movies, going on coffee runs, academia/academic literature/research and spending time with friends

"At Point Park, students discover and engage in their passions. The instructors, degree programs and student organizations provide everyone with the ability to find what they love and immerse themselves in it."

Gwendolyn Hessom '25

What led you to Point Park University?

Point Park’s partnership with the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science (PIMS) interested me, which allows students to earn their funeral service degree by completing three years of study at Point Park and one year at PIMS. I knew this program would be comprehensive, rigorous and diverse while also retaining the benefits of a college experience.

What do you like about Point Park’s funeral service program?

The lines of communication between Point Park and PIMS create so many opportunities for students to gain practical experience, including internships and shadowing at local funeral homes. I was able to shadow a funeral home in my first semester, and it allowed me to feel even more immersed in my degree program. The advisors here at Point Park are extremely helpful and involved with the funeral service program, its development and ways to continuously improve the program for students pursuing careers in mortuary science.

Describe your experience in the Honors Program and how it has enhanced your learning experience. 

Being involved in the Honors Program allowed me to pursue extra research projects outside of the classroom. For someone who has always been an academic at heart, the program gave me the support and space needed to pursue these passion projects. My experiences with the Honors Program have helped me to improve my individual research and learning skills, as well as my literacy in regard to academia and academic literature.

The most recent project I completed as part of the Honors Program was my Funeral Service Capstone thesis, titled, "We are Both the Living and the Dead: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Experiences of Grief, Loss and Bereavement." By combining my interests in research with my field of study, I felt more deeply connected to the funeral service program and my experiences as a mortuary science student.

@pointparku Let Gwen Hessom '25 show you what it's like to study Funeral Services! See what it's like to go to the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science (PIMS) and much more! 📚 👏 #GRWM #GetReadyWithMe #PointParkUniversity #PointParkU #MortuaryScience #MortuaryScienceMajor #FuneralServicesMajor #FuneralServices ♬ original sound - Point Park Univ.

Was there a moment during your Point Park career where you felt everything click or come together?

For me, everything came together when I was able to complete and present at the Honors Spring 2023 Research Symposium and have the space to share my interests with my friends, classmates and professors. In that moment, I felt like I was taking charge of my education in a meaningful way.

What do you like about living and learning in Downtown Pittsburgh?

Downtown Pittsburgh provides fun opportunities to break away from the school routine. I also enjoy the non-traditional campus format. Being embedded within the city of Pittsburgh allows me to feel a greater sense of belonging to the area and all it has to offer.

What are some of your favorite things to do around the city?

My roommates and I love to treat ourselves to mall outings, coffee runs, book and record stores, movies and the occasional dinner at a nice sit-down restaurant. Even if we don’t have any specific plans for a given day, just making the time to decompress and walk around the city is great.

Why would you recommend Point Park to a prospective student?

At Point Park, students discover and engage in their passions. The instructors, degree programs and student organizations provide everyone with the ability to find what they love and immerse themselves in it.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

One of my favorite quotes is by the poet Charles Bukowski: "If something burns your soul with purpose and desire, it's your duty to be reduced to ashes by it. Any other form of existence will be yet another dull book in the library of life."

More About: School of Arts and Sciences, Kiski Area High School, funeral service, Honors Program, Get Career-Ready, Pittsburgh, success story, student presentations, Downtown Pittsburgh, faculty, research