Living Her Dreams – A Father’s Legacy
At a time when other people are weighing their retirement options, Debra Borkovich, D.Sc. ’12 is starting a new career.
A government contracts compliance manager for GE Energy in Pittsburgh, Debra recently earned her Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) degree in Information Systems and Communications, specializing in cultural and corporate anthropology. It’s through this new degree that she hopes to launch a whole new career in higher education.
“I am eternally curious and love learning,” says Debra, who is also a part-time faculty member in RMU’s Department of Organizational Leadership, where she taught global and multi-cultural prospectives over the past year. “I was thrilled when Dr. Dan Rota recruited me, and I was grateful to be accepted into the doctoral program by Dr. Fred Kohun and his committee. I have always been interested in multi-disciplinary studies and this program was the perfect forum for my continued education.”
Debra earned a bachelor’s degree music and education from Duquesne University. She also holds a master in music degree from Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C. Prior to her current role with GE Energy, she sang soprano for 10 years with the opera companies of Pittsburgh, Santa Fe, Chautauqua, Youngstown, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Reading, and Cleveland. “Classical music is definitely one of my passions,” she says. “But it’s just one. I have always appreciated a variety of challenges, including business and academic pursuits, as well.”
Debra says the D.Sc. in Information Systems and Communications program embraces inter-disciplinary people like herself. “It helps people like me achieve our dreams,” she says. “My father and mother always encouraged me to do what you love, so that’s what I’m doing.”
And when it comes to living one’s dream, Debra’s father certainly knew what he was talking about.
Born in 1925 in Penn Hills, Andrew Borkovich ’48 developed a love of golf at a young age. At just 12 years old in 1937, he won the Alcoma Country Club (Penn Hills, Pa.) Caddy Champion Tournament. That one victory lit the fuse for what would become a lifelong passion for the game.
After serving as a bomber pilot for the United States Army Air Corps from 1944-1945, Borkovich enrolled in the Robert Morris School of Business (the future Robert Morris University) through the G.I. Bill., where he earned a degree in accountancy in just three years.
While continuing to hone his golf game, Borkovich worked as the assistant golf pro at the Alcoma Country Club from 1949-1954. He then went on to serve as head golf pro at Brackenridge Heights Country Club in Natrona Heights for 29 years, before becoming the head pro for River Forest Country Club, Freeport.
Debra says that her father’s education benefitted him pro shop manager. “A lot of people don’t know this, but the pros had to set-up and run their own shops,” she says. “Whenever people would say something to my dad about not getting to use his degree, he was always quick to point out how Robert Morris taught him how to keep the books and run a business.”
While still working as a pro shop manager, Borkovich was able to earn his pro card and competed in various regional and national tournaments. His Tri-State PGA Tournament wins include the 1964 and 1970 West Penn Open, the 1964 and 1969 Tri-State PGA, and the 1966 Tri-State Match Play. In 1966, 1967, 1969, and 1970, Borkovich received the “Willie McKay Memorial Trophy” for being the all-around low-pro annual winner. He also qualified for and competed in the 1951 U.S. Open (Oakland Hills C.C., Mich.), the 1961 National PGA (Olympic Fields G.C., Chicago, Ill.), the 1965 National PGA (Laurel Valley G.C., Pa.), the 1965 U.S. Open (Olympic G.C., San Francisco, Calif.), the 1966 National PGA (Columbine G.C., Colo.), the 1969 U.S. Open (Champions G.C., Houston, Texas), and the 1970 U.S. Open (Hazeltine G.C., Chaska, Minn.). Later in his career, he competed in the 1982, 1983, and 1984 Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) National PGA Senior Tournaments (now known as the Champions Tour).
Borkovich also held many local country-club records during his life and became known for his monster drives of up to 340 yards. He even developed a friendship with Latrobe native and golfing legend Arnold Palmer, who, in his first book, Going for Broke, actually touted Borkovich’s ability to hit the long ball.
Andy also received various awards and recognitions for his contributions to the game, including the 1967 Dapper Dan Award for Achievement in Golf, the 1975 Dapper Dan Award for Outstanding Contributions in Golf, and the1974 Tri-State PGA Professional of the Year Award. He was also inducted into the Alle-Kiski Sports Hall of Fame (1977), the Penn Hills Sports Hall of Fame (1993), and the Western PA 100 Years in Golf Hall of Fame (1998).
Although her father passed away in 1987 at the age of 62, Debra says that both he and her mother continue to inspire her in every new challenge she takes on. “I’ll always be thankful to both of my parents for their unending inspiration and support by encouraging me to follow my dreams. My mother, Jean, was a local big-band singer, too, but gave up her career to become a wife and mother. My father lived his life by following his dream to play golf, compete, and teach others. I hope to continue to do the same by following my own special path, wherever it may lead.”
Written by Valentine J. Brkich