Greetings from Mercyhurst University -

We're glad to bring you February's Alumni Newsletter, filled with virtual events, ways to connect with Mercyhurst, and news from alumni near and far.

Taking place right now is our 2021 Alumni Engagement Survey. Please check your email for your personalized link to complete the survey - your responses will help us with our planning for the coming months. Please complete the survey by Feb. 10 for a chance to win a $200 VISA gift card!

Carpe Diem,

-Your friends in the Alumni Office
The search has begun for the 13th President of Mercyhurst University! Recently the Alumni Board of Directors met with the search firm and chairs of the search committee as representatives of all Mercyhurst alumni. The board shared their wishes and hopes for the qualities and qualifications that our next President should have. As the search continues, we will provide updates with the next steps!

The Alumni Office has once again partnered with the Education Department to bring together 50 alumni mentors to connect with students who are completing their student teaching. Mentors connect with mentees all throughout the semester to offer advice to our Laker students. The students also received a booklet titled "Words of Encouragement" that Education alumni submitted messages for our students. Alumni who would like to receive a copy can request a booklet, email us at

Mercyhurst students were excited to hear from alumni professionals during a career panel last month. A big thank you to Emilee Ballaro Despagni '05, Ryan Gibson '05, Kyle Hinsdale '00, and Mary Kate DeMeo Wallace '04 for parting words of wisdom and career advice to our students who tuned in during their winter break!

MIAC is pleased to bring British vocal octet Voces8 to Mercyhurst University guests next week on Wednesday, Feb. 10 with a FREE virtual performance. For more information, and to register, please visit

The first cohort of alumni to complete the Mercy Emissary Program is underway with 12 members. The program was created 6 years ago originally for employees and has since grown to include students and now alumni! The Mercy Emissary Program began in response to our clear sense that the future of the Mercy charism at our University will increasingly depend on employees and students, and friends of the university who are not Sisters, but still care about and know the Mercy tradition. Alumni who are interested in joining during the next opening or to simply learn more, email us at
For a limited time with your contribution to the Mercyhurst Annual Fund and Student Scholarship Program, you will receive our 2021 Mercyhurst T-shirt! 

Make sure to represent your alma mater in style with our latest design. T-shirts will be sent in time for Saint Patrick’s Day! Learn more at
Check out our virtual events coming up!
Visit to learn more and register or click any of the images below to register for individual events!
Missing campus a little extra these days? We cannot wait to welcome you back to campus but until then, join us via Zoom for a virtual campus tour - led by the Alumni Office, and all former Hurst Ambassador tour guides!

Wednesday, Feb. 17
2 p.m.
The Mercyhurst Education Alumni and Student Networking Night is a “teacher talk” night for Mercyhurst education majors and Mercyhurst alumni who are current or retired educators. The evening will give alumni teachers and future teachers a chance to connect over their shared passion for education.

Wednesday, Feb. 24
6 p.m.
Join the Alumni Office and fellow alumni for an evening of virtual bingo - don't miss out on a fun Zoom filled with great prize options for the winners!

Tuesday, March 2
7 p.m.
Join LIVE for a kickoff celebration of one of our favorite holidays: St. Patrick’s Day! We will be live from The Roost with special guests and giveaways. For additional ways to win prizes during St. Patrick's day week, share you best throwback photos of St. Patrick's Days past from your time at the Hurst. Photos can be sent to for a chance to win!

Monday, March 3
4 p.m.
Alumni are invited to attend with their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews for our first ever Bedtime Story Reading on Zoom! Guests will hear from alumna Kristin (Peterson) Pierce ’08, author and founder of Inner Compass Books and Inner Compass Academy. Kristin will share two of her children’s books, Mayva O’Meere, Creationeer and The Sweet Dreams Express.

Tuesday, March 23
7 p.m.
Tune in!
The Mercyhurst Made podcast is the official podcast of Mercyhurst University! This podcast will share stories from our students, alumni, faculty, staff and others to discuss how Mercyhurst impacted their lives. Our guests will come from different generations, locations, and backgrounds - but we all share one thing in common - we are all Mercyhurst Made!
DID YOU KNOW? Our beloved Sisters of Mercy are always there for us - you can submit a prayer request directly to the sisters who are always ready to add your special intentions to their prayer list!

Click below to check out any of the available benefits for all Mercyhurst alumni:

Application Opening Soon!
Are you interested in serving on the Alumni Board of Directors?

A couple spots on the board have opened up and applications will be accepted starting March 10.

Interested alumni can contact Lindsay Frank '12, director of alumni engagement at to receive the application link!
Connect with Lakers near and far!

Alumni Chapters are available all over the country and are continuing to gather and form. Take a look at the full list to the right for an Alumni Chapter in your area.

To submit a Class Note, please visit to have your news featured here and in the next Mercyhurst Magazine!

Career News

Mary Bennaton '08 and César Torres '08 are overseeing the "Honduras Hurricane ETA - Rebuild Homes Fundraiser" Honduran friends and former classmates, inspired by our Sisters of, Mercy education, have come together to start this fundraiser to help Honduran families to rebuild their homes after the recent hurricanes, that hit our country. This fundraiser via FOOD FOR THE POOR and CEPUDO is dedicated to help affected communities in Honduras from the devastating effects of two consecutive hurricanes ETA and IOTA that struck Honduras in November, 2020. Learn more and support the efforts here.

An editorial in The Arts in Psychotherapy marked the 40th anniversary of the journal’s longtime cover art image, which was created by Will Ursprung '76 in 1980. The cover incorporated various forms of artistic expression and was inspired by Rorschach ink blots. Now legally blind, Ursprung has retired from actively practicing art therapy but continues to focus on his art, participating in artist residencies and showcasing his work. 

Ricardo A. Aguirre, Jr. '05 interviewed fellow Mercyhurst alum Rob Keefe '03 as part of his COVID-19 interview series. Ricardo is currently a documentarian and produces online media while Rob is the head coach and President of Football Operations for the Arena Football League's Albany Empire. They discuss their experiences with COVID-19, the affects of the pandemic on sports and athletes specifically the AFL, and athletes speaking out. The music in the interview was done by Mercyhurst alum Anthony Fakey '05.
View the documentary here!

Awards & Accomplishments

JP Ratajczak '02 '04 was inducted to the Council of Competitive Intelligence Fellows at their Annual Meeting in October. The CI Fellows are a group of professionals who have been recognized by their peers for leadership in the discipline of competitive intelligence and who are steadfast in their support of the advancement of the, discipline. In August, Mr. Ratajczak was also awarded the Profound Impact Leader Award by the Competitive Intelligence Community of the Special, Libraries Association (SLA). Mr. Ratajczak leads the competitive intelligence team for Nationwide's, retirement plan business in Columbus, Ohio.

Crystal (Milhollen) Ratkovsky '07 and Ryan Ratkovsky '07 welcomed baby boy Paxton Lee Ratkovsky on Oct. 28, 2020.

Danielle Kaiser '10 and Nick Kaiser '09 welcomed Caden Anthony Kaiser on Jan. 15. Danielle is the administrative assistant in the dance department at Mercyhurst and head coach for the dance team. Nick is a quality control manager for Sachs Electric, currently working on the new launchpad facility for SpaceX on Cape Canaveral.

Marriages and Engagements

Caitlin O'Neill '14 married Josh Arbogast on Oct. 10, 2020 in Brunswick, Ohio. Bridesmaids included Hannah (Micsky) Cianci '13, Heather (Mills) Dudek '14, and Chelsea Urlich '14.

Erin Jenkins '19 and Vince Marrazzo '19 got engaged on Nov. 24, 2020. Vince proposed to Erin on the roof of the O'Neill Tower where they had a beautiful view of campus and Lake Erie. Erin is currently pursuing a masters degree in counseling at Edinboro University and Vince is pursuing a law degree at Notre Dame.

Alumni Deaths

M. Christine (Haughton) Loftus '56
Agnes Seneway '66
James Rinderle '75
Joseph Dolan '76
Debi (D'Alessandris) Parisi '76
Karen (Wilmer) Waldo '76
Jeffery Roberts '79
Rebecca (Fairchild) Costello '82
Malinda (Coleman) Gavins '82
Larry Jones '82
Barbara Mazzone '85
Karen (Stahl) Kieffer '93
Kurt Cummings '03
Emily Bostwick '04


Jeanne (Bricher) Bender '67 on the death of her husband, Harold Bender

Laura (Junker) Hillwig '03 on the death of her father James Junker

Anita (Harvey) Meyer '91 on the death of her father Allen Harvey

Peggy (Anibaldi) Patrick '68 on the death of her husband, Guy Patrick, Mercyhurst campus minister throughout the 1970s

Friends and family of Bob Potalivo, former faculty member
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