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Posts tagged ‘RMU’

RMU Alumna’s Stay-cation Leads to New Business Opportunity

Miranda with daughter Ava at the Pittsburgh Children's Museum

Miranda with daughter Ava at the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum

About five summers ago Miranda Bauer M’08 and her husband, Josh, decided to take a week’s “stay-cation”. Like many Pittsburghers, although they had grown up in the city, there was still so much they had never seen or done before. So they decided to spend the week like tourists.

“It was one of the most enjoyable vacations I’ve ever had,” says Miranda, a 2008 graduate of RMU’s integrated communications and information systems program. “We visited Kennywood, went on the Just Ducky Tour, strolled through the zoo…a bunch of things someone from out of town might do. We had a blast.”

Three years later Miranda became a mother, and an even newer Pittsburgh world opened up to her. “All of the sudden, I was a stay-at-home mom visiting places like the Children’s Museum, Sandcastle, and the Carnegie Science Center,” she says. “That’s when I got the idea for PittsburghPass.”

Geared toward families with young children, offers a Pittsburgh activities package that includes one admission each to Kennywood, Sandcastle, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Carnegie Science Center, and The Children’s Museum – all for just $83.99 (a savings of up to $143 for a family of four). There’s also an option geared toward singles and couples for $65.99.

“Basically, anybody looking for fun things to do in Pittsburgh at a discounted rate will enjoy a PittsburghPass,” says Miranda.

An only child, Miranda was the first member of her family to attend college. After graduating, she landed a job with a local self-storage company and worked as their marketing manager over the next five years. She says RMU’s focus on communication skills played a big part in her success right out of school. “The focus on public speaking was really important. It was one of the key things that helped me excel in my first job.”

Today Miranda spends most of her time caring for her two young daughters, ages 2 years and 6 months; however, she also works part-time as an adjunct faculty member for RMU’s School of Communications and Information Systems, teaching business and professional communications.

“RMU gave me the confidence to go out and start my own business,” she says. “Now I’m hoping I can do the same for my own students.” ~

PittsburghPass ticket packages are on sale only until June 7. For more information, visit


Written by Valentine J. Brkich

RMU Student Profile – Gary Horstmann

Gary Horstmann1

YEAR: Senior
MAJOR: Media Arts
INTERNSHIPS: International Images Ltd.
AWARDS: Franklin Award of Excellence, Graphic Arts Association (April 2013); RMU Graphic Design Award (March 2013)

I was born in Inglewood, CA, but I’ve lived in Pittsburgh since kindergarten.

I belong to the Gallery Club, Photo Club, and RMU’s AIGA Student Group.

I chose RMU for two reasons: one, to be close to my family in Moon; two, schools that offer my degree are limited and expensive. Robert Morris was the perfect fit for me.

I hope to rid the world of thoughtless design!

I took part in the 2012 Ireland trip, which inspired me to go to Japan on my own. I also went on the Navajo Nation trip in 2013, which was amazing. Few people get to perform the service and become invested in a culture like we did with the Navajo.

The faculty members of the Media Arts program have experience beyond the lessons. Their views into the real world helped keep me focused on my goals and on the right path for me.

I really must take my hat off to Jim Vincent. I met him in Ireland during our trip, and I’ve been a fan ever since. Jim has a way of just looking at a human being, seeing beyond their first impressions, and knowing what’s at that person’s core. He makes you feel instantly accepted and justified in who you are and who you wish to be.

The more I became involved on campus, the more my Student Engagement Transcript credit filled up. Seeing this activity altogether on one transcript that helps you outside of college really inspired me to get involved.

The one thing I stress to students throughout their life at RMU is to get out of the classroom and start engaging in your field. If you start surrounding yourself with what you wish to be, you will slowly find yourself becoming what you’ve always wanted. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s through our failures when we learn the most.

(Some of Gary’s travel photography)
Horstmann_Navajo nation

Not Just Another Pretty Face – Alissa Dorman and N9NE Athletics

Alissa Dorman

When Alissa Dorman ’10 M’12 was a starting forward and co-captain of Robert Morris University’s Women’s Ice Hockey team, she would put on mascara and straighten her hair before every game. When the opposing players saw her, they would try to get under her skin by calling her “beauty queen.” But that just made her laugh.

“I’ve been called worse,” she says.

Dorman, who studied advertising, sport management, and organizational leadership at Robert Morris, is the face behind N9NE Athletics, an up-and-coming online women’s athletics fashions retailer with a powerful message for female athletes.

“N9NE is designed to represent any female who puts her game face on,” says Dorman. “It’s about being confident in being a female; being strong and tough and not apologizing for it.”

During her time at RMU, Dorman wanted to find a way to promote girls’ athletics and to show that you could be both tough and feminine at the same time. “To me it wasn’t about looking a certain way,” she says, “but more about putting my game face on. And I knew I wasn’t the only female athlete who did this. So I created a Facebook group and started gaining a following. My brother Scott and I kicked around some ideas of what we could do with this vision, and ultimately we decided to start a line of statement tees that would shed some light on femininity in sport, with a little edge.”

Originally from Madison, Wisc., Dorman started playing when she was just four years old and was often the only girl on the team. “Growing up, people were always surprised that I played hockey,” she says. “I used to come home from school and play Barbies until hockey practice.” She came to RMU after being recruited for the women’s hockey program, which was started in 2005. “I remember coming for my visit, and I fell in love with the city. That August I packed my car and drove from Madison to Pittsburgh by myself. I was nervous about leaving home, but I quickly found a family in my team and ended up staying for seven years.”

In 2009, Dorman served has class vice president and was the recipient of the university’s Outstanding Senior Award. After graduation, she worked as a marketing coordinator for American Eagle Outfitters while pursuing her M.S. in organizational leadership from RMU. After that she worked as a social media coordinator for Lululemon Athletica in Columbus, Ohio, before landing her current role as an account coordinator for GMR Marketing in Milwaukee.

Dorman says having been a student athlete has definitely helped her in her career, whether it’s been getting her in the door for an interview or networking with people. “One of the biggest things RMU taught me is how to be a leader and how to work with people,” she says. “Being an athlete, you quickly learn the importance of working together. I have noticed that is one thing employers will look for. At Robert Morris, that same lesson was carried over into the classroom.”

Alissa DormanN9NE launched its first statement tee (“My Game Face Includes Mascara”) in September, and Dorman says they hope to unveil two more in the early part of next year. “We’re a new company, and staying on brand is very important to us. We want to make sure we do it the right way.”

Down the road she hopes N9NE Athletics will be a household name, with the retailer’s fashions in every Dick’s Sporting Goods store across the country. “There is a lot of work to be done and we need to catch a few breaks along the way, but we really feel the potential is there to make this something big.” ~

Written by Valentine J. Brkich

Twitter: @n9neathletics

Good Wine and Good Friends – Notes from the 2013 RMU Alumni Wine Tasting

Dave Toole ’08 with wife Kate (Queen) Toole ’08

In case you missed it, we held our second annual wine tasting event a week ago, Nov. 7, at the Allegheny Harvard-Yale-Princeton Club in downtown Pittsburgh. It was a spectacular evening featuring four different wine tastings accompanied by fine cuisine.

More than 70 Robert Morris alumni and guests joined us for the event, covering a class range of six decades. Some of the guests included a grandmother (Thelma Spells ’85) and her granddaughter (Amber Spells ’06); Ann (Cibulas) Puskaric M’81, daughter, and Marianne Cibulas ’75, daughter-in-law, of former RMU professor Dorothy Cibulus; two roommates who hadn’t seen each other in over 30 years; a recent alumna graduate who drove in from Cleveland; and a group of sorority sisters, too.

These types of connections are why we hold such a variety of events in locations in and around Pittsburgh. We believe strongly in keeping our alumni engaged, because you never know when you’ll reconnect with an old friend, meet a new one, or network your way into a new job. Those are the kinds of things that happen at our alumni events.

The wine tasting was yet another wonderful RMU alumni event. Please check the alumni webpage and the alumni Facebook page for pictures and comments from the event.

And we hope to see YOU soon at an RMU alumni event!

WarnerWarner Johnson
Director of Alumni Relations

Homecoming 2013 Wrap-Up

WarnerHey Colonials!

If you weren’t able to make it to HOMECOMING 2013, you missed another great showing of proud alumni and students engaging and interacting with one another. In total we had over 900 alums, students, and friends attend one or more of our scheduled weekend events, including the Reunion Years Reception, where we welcomed alumni from the 3’s and 8’s. (Next year is your year, 4’s and 9’s. We hope to see you here!)

(Click HERE to see a special Homecoming THANK YOU video)

If you or any of your friends are interested in helping us organize a good time for you and your classmates at Homecoming 2014, please reach out to us at the alumni office. We’re looking for letter signers, phone callers, etc. These are just a few ways you can personally encourage your fellow classmates to get active and stay connected to RMU.

By the way, here are a few other upcoming events you might want to check out:

Events like these are a great way to connect with fellow alums, network, and meet new people. They’re also a lot of fun, too.

Hope to catch you at an RMU alumni event soon!

Warner Johnson
RMU Director of Alumni

RMU’s ‘Star Child’ — Stephanie Keyes ’99

Stephanie KeyesWhen she was a young girl, most of Stephanie Keyes’ female classmates were reading things like Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High. But Keyes didn’t really get excited about reading until she discovered T.H. White’s Arthurian fantasy The Once and Future King.

“When I picked it up for the first time,” says Keyes, “I was like, wow—this is magic! I mean, the romance of it all…the magical world…I just fell in love with it. I was hooked.”

Today readers all around the world are getting hooked on Keyes’ The Star Child series, a YA fantasy trilogy which includes The Star Child (Sept. 2012), The Fallen Stars (April 2013), and the third and final installment, The Star Catcher, which hits bookshelves on November 10.

“Not bad for a girl who got a ‘C’ in literature,” she says.

Keyes (formerly Hoffman), a 1999 graduate of Robert Morris University’s business program, focused on computers while in school, taking classes in RMU’s information systems track. “It was kind of a new thing back then,” she says. “This was before the big Internet boom.”

After graduating, she got a job with Crown Castle in Pittsburgh, where she stayed for several years doing software training and employee development. Every once in a while they would throw her some basic graphic design assignments, too. “I caught on pretty quick,” she says. “I taught myself Captivate and Photoshop…it was my favorite aspect of the job.”

But although she enjoyed the techie side of it, Keyes felt that the computer field just didn’t provide the creative outlet she needed. So like so many people out there, she thought she’d take a stab at the “great American novel.” But it wasn’t as easy as she’d imagined. “I took several stabs at it,” she says, “but I just couldn’t come up with a character I connected with.” That is until she conjured up Kellen St. James, a 17-year-old prodigy caught up in a magical Celtic underworld filled with faeries, demons, angels, and gods. “Writing from a male prospective just fit. Suddenly the words started pouring out.”

stephanie-keyes-the-star-catcher-v4-finalKeyes self-published her first book, The Star Child, in 2011. Eventually she pitched it to some small presses, including Inkspell Publishing. A week and a half later, Inkspell requested a partial sample. Then they asked for a full. “I kept thinking, there’s no way this is going to happen,” says Keyes. “They’re not going to want to publish my book.”

When she received the request at work for the book contract, Keyes was so excited her coworkers thought she was having a seizure. “Next thing I know there are 25 people jumping up and down inside my cubicle. I just wanted someone to validate my work, and now they had. It was incredible.”

Then Inkspell asked Keyes what her plans were for the other two books in the series. “I didn’t have any plans,” she admits. “But I didn’t tell them that.”

Keyes’ writing has opened a lot of doors for her and has had her traveling all over the country. She spoke at the Love a Happy Ending Summer Audience, last year in the U.K., and she’s held several writing workshops throughout the Greater Pittsburgh Area. In November she’ll be speaking at the Peters Township Public Library, as well as the Society For Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Western Pennsylvania fall conference.

When she’s not writing, Keyes still works as a freelance instructional and graphic designer, while raising her two boys, ages 6 and 2. She enjoys spending time with her best friend, husband, and fellow alum, Aaron Weis ’00, a Software Specialist for U.S. Bank, who also majored in business with a focus on information systems. “And he got an ‘A’ in literature,” says Keyes. “Go figure.”

Keyes is also a self-proclaimed music addict and says the book she’s working on now is more “music-driven.” She even plays the clarinet and saxophone, and even does a little singing.

“Life’s too short to not try things,” she says. “You have to always look for something new—a new challenge, a new direction to go in.”

–Written by Valentine J. Brkich

Visit Stephanie online at

The Star Catcher

Magick and destiny intertwine as he fights to save his kingdom and the goddess he loves.

Her kiss…the feel of her skin…the beat of her heart…For seventeen-year-old Kellen St. James, each memory is marred by a single sentence on a lone strip of paper.

Cali has been taken…

Armed with an amulet that channels the ultimate power of Faerie, Kellen searches for his love. However, control of the amulet’s energy comes with a price, and Kellen soon learns that Cali’s captor has plans for the stone. With the threat of the Star Catcher’s evil looming above Kellen and his kingdom, he’ll have to free the Heart of Faerie and break the curse the binds the Children of Danu to the darkness. But before that, he has to find his real father, the king. No pressure, right?

Kellen and Cali will battle bewitched armies and unknown foes as they fight to stay together. Will Kellen embrace his immortal destiny? Or will his world, and the man he is fated to become, be destroyed by The Star Catcher?

RMU Hosting ZumBOOthon to Benefit Local Women’s Shelter

ZumBOOthon flyerZumBOOthon: A Day of Fitness will be held at Robert Morris University’s Gus Krop Gym on Sunday, November 3, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Halloween-themed event will feature an afternoon of various fitness classes, planned by students in Dr. Ann Jabro’s Communication Seminar course. The cost to participate is $5, and all proceeds will be donated to the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.

ZumBOOthon will provide an opportunity for the RMU campus community, as well as the local Moon Township, Robinson, and Coraopolis communities, to have fun and be active together. Costumes are encouraged but not required. Participants will have the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win one of five prize baskets.

More information about the shelter can be found online at Event information may be found on the ZumBOOthon Facebook page, as well as on Twitter (@RMUZumBOOthon).