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Posts tagged ‘Robert Morris University’

A Change for the Better

Andrew with his girlfriend, Danielle

Andrew with his girlfriend, Danielle

Back in 2010 Andrew Hornyak was working as an investment specialist for a major bank in downtown Pittsburgh when he decided he needed a change.

“I knew I wanted to go back for my master’s degree,” says Hornyak, who earned his undergraduate degree in accounting from Grove City College in 2008. “I just wasn’t sure where to go or what to specialize in.”

Through a friend, he heard about RMU’s Competitive Intelligence Systems (CIS) degree program,
which teaches business and information systems professionals the concepts, activities, and issues related to business intelligence systems. This December he’ll be graduating from the program.

“What attracted me to RMU’s CIS program was how the degree would complement my accounting degree,” he says. “I knew it would give me a background in information systems that would enhance my accounting and strategic decision-making skills. It was the perfect fit for me.”

Last spring Hornyak approached David Wood, Ph.D., associate dean of RMU’s School of Communications and Information Sciences, about potential job opportunities on how to improve his resume. “Dr. Wood helped lead me to my new job, and now I’m working in business analytics for an IBM Premier Business Partner and learning so much on a daily basis. Without RMU I would still be trying to figure out what to do and where I am going.”

Hornyak, whose girlfriend, Danielle Kayser, is also graduating from RMU in December with a degree in English studies, says that RMU’s professors really made a difference throughout the program. “They were engaging and there for us, 24/7. They are extremely knowledgeable and informative, and they were always there to assist us. They didn’t just teach us from the texts; they applied real-world scenarios as well.

“Robert Morris University is a wonderful establishment with great individuals and a vast amount of resources,” Hornyak adds. “The faculty was able to provide me with the skills and establishing myself in a new, exciting, up-and-coming career.”


Your Story – Michael Anderson, MBA’08

Anderson is V.P. of Human Resources
at UPMC East

How did you end up choosing RMU’s MBA program?
I was born and raised in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. I left to attend undergrad at John Carroll University in Cleveland and stayed for around six years after I graduated. However, I always knew that my heart and family were in Pittsburgh. As they say…all good Pittsburghers come back at some point in their life, and I did so seven years ago. I had already begun my MBA when I moved back. I was looking to transfer into a program that was conveniently located, offered master’s level MBA electives in human resources and international business, and had a diverse population of students with varying professional and personal backgrounds. After visiting all of the major universities in Pittsburgh, RMU seemed to be the best fit for me.

What was your RMU experience like?
I enjoyed my time at Robert Morris. I attended some classes at the main campus and others at off-campus locations. The professors had real-world experience, were engaged, and were truly subject-matter experts. The workload was challenging but not overwhelming, and I feel that I received a well-rounded education.

What did you like best about RMU’s MBA program?
I found that it offered a great mix of management concepts and practical application. And the group work was an excellent way to build professional contacts and learn from individuals that work in varying fields and concentrations.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Anyone that works in human resources will tell you that their main challenge is trying to maintain their scheduled meetings and projects while trying to balance the day’s priorities. Since you can’t predict employee relations issues, sometimes you just have to go with the flow and adjust accordingly.

How has your MBA helped you in your current role?
In addition to human resources, I am responsible for other operational functions, such as security, parking, and our coffee and gift shops. In this role, and as part of the executive team of the hospital, I need to understand the fundamentals of all classes covered in the MBA: management, finance, accounting, marketing, and information systems. I feel as though the MBA has made me a well-rounded professional who can contribute to cross-functional projects and decisions.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to keep busy. I have been fortunate enough to be part of opening a brand new hospital this past July, so my last couple years have been consumed by a lot of work leading up to the opening. We also recently moved to a new house, so I have plenty of projects to keep me occupied. I spend a lot of time with my fiancé, travel, play golf when I can, and also play softball in the Pittsburgh Sports League. Generally, I don’t sit still much!

Who do you think can benefit the most from RMU’s MBA program?
I am a firm believer that students get the most out of an advanced degree once they have some experience in the workforce and gain some new perspective on the materials and concepts. So, I think that individuals that have a few years of experience under their belt may benefit the most from the RMU MBA program. Further, since I learned a significant amount from my classmates in my time at Robert Morris, those who have the ability to easily interact and partner with their colleagues can benefit most from the experience.

RMU Alum Uncovers a Sticky Situation

Looks like the San Diego Chargers like to play “old school” football—as in pre-1981 football. That’s the year the NFL banned the use of Stickum and other sticky substances to aid in catching the ball.

During Monday night’s catastrophic collapse to the Denver Broncos, Line judge and Robert Morris University alum Jeff Bergman ’77 caught the Chargers sticky-handed, so to speak.

Bergman, who has refereed for more than four decades, including 21 years in the NFL, caught a San Diego equipment manager concealing clear tape inside of the team’s hand towels. If it’s proven that the Chargers were cheating, they could be fined and even lose a draft pick.

But we’ll have to see if they can make the charges (ahem) stick.

>>Read Jeff Bergman’s feature in the Summer 2011 issue of Foundations Magazine

RMU is Right at Home in Downtown Pittsburgh

Is there a better place to be right now than Pittsburgh? (Tropical islands not included in this discussion.)

Seriously though…what an exciting time to be in the Burgh!

As recent news shows that more and more young people are coming to and staying in Pittsburgh, today marks the first day of the One Young World Summit, where delegates from more than 180 countries will gather downtown to discuss global issues, ideas, and solutions.

RMU is a corporate sponsor of the summit and is also sponsoring three delegates, Sara Meier, a 2011 graduate and current student in the university’s MBA program; 2012 graduate Besart Stavileci, a native of Kosovo who works as an assistant actuarial analyst at Sun Life Financial in Boston; and Sean Callahan M’10, a counselor in RMU’s Center For Student Success. Another alumna, Katie Kirkpatrick ’08, who will represent Bayer Corp. as a One Young World ambassador, attended the One Young World Summit last year as a delegate in Switzerland.

And how about National Geographic Traveler magazine naming Pittsburgh as one of its “Best of the World 2012” global destinations, right up there with places like New Zealand, Greece, Croatia, and Thailand!

Just more reasons why we were so proud to have opened our brand new RMU Downtown location earlier this year in the Heinz 57 Center on Sixth Avenue.

Way to go Pittsburgh!

Changing Lives Update – Lee Folk ’10

(click image for a video update on Lee)

Back in September of 2010, Robert Morris University unveiled its “Change A Life” ad campaign. Through six TV commercials, 24 radio spots, and 38 billboards across the Pittsburgh region, the campaign featured stories of how RMU changes our students’ lives, and how they change the lives of others.

One of those stories was that of David Lee Folk ’10.

Lee studied nursing at RMU, graduating with honors in 2010. That year he also received the Presidential Transformational Award, the university’s highest undergraduate honor, given annually to a graduating student who has been transformed by his or her experience at Robert Morris and has also contributed to the transformation of the university in a meaningful way. He was also the inaugural winner of RMU’s Rising Star Award, given to a graduating senior who demonstrates academic success, individuality, determination, passion and potential in his or her field of study.

In the summer of 2009, Lee traveled to Nicaragua as part of a collaboration between RMU and the Polytechnic University of Nicaragua (UPOLI), led by University Professor Carl Ross, Ph.D., wherein students and faculty provide basic medical care to residents in the barrios of Managua.

“The people of Nicaragua touched my heart in ways I couldn’t have imagined,” he said. “To be honest, it’s still hard to look through the pictures without getting teary-eyed.” An avid and talented writer and photographer, Lee documented his experiences in a series of blog posts that portray, in searing detail, the deprivation of the Nicaraguans as well as the emotional toll that working with them sometimes exacts on the students and faculty.

One of these stories, “David and His Trumpet“, documented a Nicaraguan boy’s beloved trumpet, how it was stolen, how it was replaced thanks to Lee, and what it meant in the boy’s life.

Lee says being featured in RMU’s Change A Life campaign was a high point in his life, both personally and academically.

“It was humbling to be a visual part of such a large movement by the university to implement community service into student life,” he says. “I really enjoyed the whole process of creating the campaign, and it’s been such a thrill to see the ripple effects that it has had throughout the community.”

Following graduation, Lee spent a year at WVU’s Ruby Memorial Hospital, before joining the nursing team at St. Clair Hospital in Pittsburgh’s South Hills. He also started back to school at RMU this past fall, where he’s pursuing his Doctorate of Nursing Practice to become a family nurse practitioner.

Lee believes the “Changing Lives” theme connected with so many people, particularly with the Pittsburgh public, because of the kind of people who populate this area.

“We take community very seriously, and it made people proud to see a local university cultivating that spirit of goodwill in its students. That translates to strong character in the future workforce as well as stronger communities. All in all, it gives everyone a great feeling about working together for the greater good, and a campaign that can translate that message is bound to be successful.”


Written by Valentine J. Brkich

Watch this behind the scenes video for more on Lee and what he’s up to today.

Robert Morris launched the Change A Life advertising campaign in September 2010. The Change A Life TV commercials won a Gold ADDY Award from the Pittsburgh Advertising Federation, which gave a Silver ADDY to the Change A Life web site. The campaign won a silver medal for advertising campaigns in the national Circle of Excellence Awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. RMU also won a Silver Medal for video PSAs and commercial spots for the Change A Life ads. The web site also won a Silver CUPPIE in the category of electronic media/web site from the College and University Public Relations Association of Pennsylvania (CUPRAP) and a Golden Quill Award from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania for creative use of technology in storytelling.

Opening Eyes Through Her Stories – Getrude Matshe

Photo by Richard Brown (Wellington, NZ)

When Getrude Matshe was a young girl in the village of Wedza, Zimbabwe, she and her sister had an important early-morning job. After gathering as many rocks as they could, they would stand on a wooden platform at the edge of the field and throw the rocks at incoming baboons to keep them from decimating the vital crop.

“When they came, we were ready,” she says in her book Born on the Continent – Ubuntu, a compelling narrative about her life.

Later in the day, she and her sister would go off and catch grasshoppers, locusts, and sometimes field mice, which they would then roast over a fire for lunch. 

It was a humble beginning for Matshe, whose life has been one marked by providence, opportunity, and compassion.

“Your starting point doesn’t dictate where you end up,” says Matshe, who is on campus through mid-December as Robert Morris University’s Fall 2012 Rooney International Visiting Scholar. It’s a unique opportunity for RMU’s students to learn from someone who Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of the Chicken Soup of the Soul series, has called “an amazing woman”, “a light bulb for good in the world”, and “a woman of deep profound spiritual essence.”

Matshe is the founder and CEO of three successful organizations in New Zealand, where she lives with her husband and three children. She also travels the world as an inspirational speaker, storyteller, poet, artist, and published author. She ended up at RMU thanks to Shellie Hipsky, Ed.D., associate professor of education.

“RMU is so fortunate to have this leader, entrepreneur and humanitarian on campus bonding with students, storytelling, and teaching,” says Hipsky, author of Ordinary People Extraordinary Planet. “I have been blessed by her friendship and moved by co-teaching with her, as I see first-hand the gifts she is imparting on our students.”

In the short time she’s been here, Matshe has already made a lasting impact on students across campus. She has given lectures subjects such as HIV and AIDS, her career in information technology, poetry and creative writing, positive deviance, effective listening, differentiated learning, oral history, and sustainable technology, to name a few. Most important, she says she is giving RMU students the “gift of contrast” by showing them what life is like for the rest of the world.

“I hope that, through my stories, I’m opening their eyes.”

Back in 2004 you might say that Matshe’s own eyes were opened when Oprah Winfrey visited South Africa. Standing on a soccer field alongside 50,000 AIDS orphans, Winfrey said on her television program, “This is the lost generation of Africa.” It was a breakthrough moment for Matshe. “I knew right then that it was my life’s purpose to help the children in my country, Zimbabwe.”

Matshe went on to found the Africa Alive Education Foundation, which works to provide safe homes and education for AIDS orphans. Across Africa there are over 17 million AIDS orphans; Matshe’s own brother died of the disease in 2009.

Through a grassroots training program that empowers the community with critical life skills, Africa Alive participants learn things like basic farming techniques and how to sew school uniforms and clothing for the children. They also help them build their own houses. Funded by $50 micro-loans, participants purchase bags of cement to make 1000 bricks, which the foundation then buys back for $250. The villagers then have $200 to invest back into the community. It’s a king’s ransom in a place where the average person lives on $0.20 a month.

Matshe personally supports 360 children in her husband’s home village of Mazivisa in Shurugwi (Zimbabwe), raising money for their education, food, medication, and clothes.

“By giving these children a safe home and providing them with food, water, and education, we are giving them something they didn’t have before—a chance,” she says. “It is my hope that we are raising the future Nelson Mandela or maybe even the future scientist who will find the cure for AIDS.”

Currently Matshe is writing a screenplay about the AIDS story in Zimbabwe, which she is certain will become a blockbuster. “I have made a conscious decision to be the first African person to write, direct, and produce her own Oscar-winning movie.” She’s so confident, in fact, that she’s even written her acceptance speech and committed it to memory.

In September, RMU students along with Hipsky (center), Matshe and her oldest son, Simba, joined Elliven Spa and Treasure House Fashions at Adagio Health Start House in Duquesne, a local shelter for homeless mothers, to perform makeovers and paint a jungle mural for the children.                                                                       (Photo credit: Gail Lace)

In addition to her writing, she is also painting a series of portraits of the people who have inspired her throughout her life; people like Mandela, Ghandi, and Martin Luther King, to name a few. She plans to auction off the paintings and give a large sum of the proceeds to RMU. The remaining funds will go to establish a medical center in Mazivisa to provide HIV medication and education.

She’s also started a Facebook group called the “International Student Army“, through which she hopes to inspire ideas among young people and spread the philosophy of Ubuntu (“I am because you are.”), i.e., the connectedness of all humanity.

“Kids don’t see limitations,”she says. “I want to start a global tribe where we all can depend on one another. We live in an abundant universe. We’ve forgotten that. There’s enough in this universe to go around.”


Written by Valentine J. Brkich

Matshe will give a presentation titled “Zimbabwe: The Crucible that Forged Me”, from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 17, in the International Suite of the Sewall Center. She will present “Born on the Continent: Ubuntu”, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 6, in the Rogal Family Chapel. RSVP to Rick Moslen at 412.397.2151 or 

On Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m., Matshe will share her amazing life story on Hipsky’s talk show, “Inspiring Lives with Dr. Shellie”. 

For more about Getrude Matshe and the Africa Alive Education Foundation, visit

Changing Lives Update – Kristen Graziano ’11

(click image for a video update on Kristen)

Back in September of 2010, Robert Morris University unveiled its “Change A Life” ad campaign. Through six TV commercials, 24 radio spots, and 38 billboards across the Pittsburgh region, the campaign featured stories of how RMU changes our students’ lives, and how they change the lives of others.

One of those stories was that of Kristen Graziano ‘11.

Kristen, who at the time was studying for her bachelor of science in nursing, spent two weeks in Washington, D.C., with several other RMU students helping the homeless. One day she was standing on a street corner trying to sell copies of “Street Sense“, a bi-weekly newspaper largely written by the homeless.

“I’m standing there on the corner,” said Kristen, “and some lady comes up to me, says, ‘Get a job.’ And for the first time in my life, I knew what it was like to actually be homeless.”

It was an eye-opening experience for her, and it helped her decide on a capstone project topic for her doctoral work at RMU, where she’s working toward her Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) degree in the Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track. Doing most of her research at Light of Life Ministries in Pittsburgh, Kristen is conducting a qualitative study looking at the cultural meaning of mental well-being among homeless men. She also teaches part-time as a clinical instructor and a graduate assistant for the School of Nursing.

“I really enjoy it. Teaching is a huge passion of mine. I am also the TA for the undergraduate students, which also involves a lot of teaching. So it is a lot of fun.”

Most recently she was chosen for the Jonas Salk Fellowship, an educational program of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation that brings together graduate students from multiple health care disciplines for discussion and education.

When she’s not working toward her D.N.P., Kristen still works part-time at Allegheny General Hospital in the Neuro ICU, where she serves as the TA for the undergraduate professors. “It is an amazing experience. I will also be a clinical instructor for one of the undergraduate courses at AGH in the fall term.”

Kristen thinks RMU’s “Changing Lives” theme connects with so many people because it gives them the opportunity to stop and take a look at some of the things that go on in the world. “From the homeless issue to the multiple issues in Nicaragua, it makes people realize that you can do something so small and change someone’s life in a very big way.”

She says that being featured in the Change A Life campaign gave her the opportunity to share her story.

“When people inquired about the campaign,” she says, “I had the chance to tell them about my work with the homeless. On more than one occasion, this sparked a deeper conversation. Who knows—maybe I changed a few lives that way too?”

In the future she hopes to open a psychiatric clinic for people on the street.

“I am a busy girl, but I enjoy every bit of it!”

Written by Valentine J. Brkich