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Posts tagged ‘Robert Morris’

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 Internship Spotlight – Mallory Ross, WNBA’s Washington Mystics

Mallory RossName: Mallory Ross
Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
Major: Sport management
Year of Graduation: 2016
Internships: Washington Mystics of the WNBA (Summer 2013); Pittsburgh Penguins (Spring 2014)

Mallory Ross is well on her way to a promising career in professional basketball. A member of Robert Morris University’s Sport Management Association, the sophomore hopes to land a position in NBA league development following graduation. By doing so she’ll be continuing her family’s tradition in the league: her father, Bob Ross, played for the Chicago Bulls 73-76; her great uncle, Josh Grider, was one of the Harlem Globetrotters.

How did you find out about the internship?
RMU has a great alumni system for sport management. Murray Cohn ’88, vice president for NBA team ticket sales, is actually a family friend. Last February at the Mt. Union Sports Sales Workshop in Cleveland, he introduced me to Danita Johnson, the director of sales with the Mystics.

What was your typical day like?
Each day was different, but mostly I helped with Mystics fan events, player events, and worked all the home games, too. I actually created a couple events myself during the summer. One was Women’s Inspire Night, which brought women entrepreneurs together to network. Another was Camp Day, where we invited local children’s camps to a Mystics day game.

What was the best thing you took away from the internship?
The knowledge I learned about the corporate world. You can only learn so much in school. When you get out in the real world, things are definitely different. You realize the importance of building strong relationships.

Do you play basketball too?
Yes. I’ve been playing since I was a kid. I also took a post-grad year at the IMG academy in Bradenton, Florida where I got to learn from NBA greats like Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat) and Glen Davis (Orlando Magic), and I even got to train with Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

What do you hope to do with your major?
I’d love to work in the league office, helping with domestic and international growth, particularly the NBA’s transition program, which helps players have productive lives after their careers are over.

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).

RMU Grad Working to Make NHL Dream Come True

Levine hockeyLast March when I interviewed then RMU senior and goaltending phenom Eric Levine ’13, he told me his dream was to one day play in the NHL. And now he’s one step closer to making that dream a reality.

This past summer Levine, a graduate of RMU’s psychology program, signed an amateur tryout contract with the American Hockey League’s Syracuse Crunch. The former Colonials goaltender, who had an average save percentage of .921 and a goals-against average of 2.89 at RMU, helped the Crunch reach the Calder Cup finals before eventually losing to the Grand Rapids Griffin. But his time with the team served as a valuable learning experience.

“My two months in Syracuse were extremely beneficial because I got a taste of what professional hockey was like,” he says. “Seeing how hard they prepared for practice and games taught me a lot. And being on the ice with such talented players really raised my level of play.”

While there, Levine got to work with Tampa Bay goalie coach Frantz Jean on a daily basis. “It was simply amazing. He taught me a lot about what it takes to be a professional goalie and the type of work you have to put into the little details of the game in order to be successful.”

Less than a week after his time with the Crunch ended, Levine received a call to attend the New York Rangers development camp. “I got the call Saturday night and flew out Sunday morning,” he says. “That’s how quickly things happen in professional hockey.” In New York he scrimmaged with the team for four straight days and even got a chance to work with goalie coach Benoit Allaire. “He showed me a few things about my game I needed to work on in order to make the jump from college to pro. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I think I did pretty well.”

After returning home to Chicago, Levine was promoted to assistant director of the Midwest Goalie School, overseeing their four camps that run for just over a month, five days a week, nine hours a day. “It’s a good thing I enjoy being at ice rinks,” he says, “because I spent an awful lot of time there.”

He was then invited to participate in training camp for the Nashville Predators. “That was a life-changing experience that taught me a lot about my game,” says Levine. “Any and every weakness you have as a goalie is exposed at the NHL level. They’re all so unbelievably talented. Even the so-called ‘fourth liners’ have skill and can shoot the puck harder than I have ever seen.”

While in Nashville, Levine was on a team with Predators’ goaltender Pekka Rinne. “Getting a chance to watch him and how he practices taught me a lot. He is easily the most talented and hardest working goalie I have been on the ice with, not to mention the nicest guy imaginable. He would spend time after practice answering my hundreds of questions about everything it takes to be an NHL goalie. He’s an example of what I can accomplish if I just put in the hard work and never quit on my dreams.”

Levine also had the opportunity to work with Nashville goalie coach Mitch Korn, who he admits was a little tough on him. But that’s a good thing. “Coach Korn knows how difficult it is to be an NHL goalie, and he was trying to acclimate me to that level. For that I am eternally grateful.”

Even though he didn’t sign a contract with Nashville, Levine says it was a life-changing experience that gave him a taste of what might be possible with a little determination and hard work.

“I learned that pro hockey is a business, one that is very tough to crack, especially as an undrafted goalie because with so few spots available. It’s a numbers game. But my agent and I are confident something will materialize soon.”

Written by Valentine J. Brkich

RMU Leading the Way in Enterprise Systems

In a world of smartphones, laptops, and tablets, it is surprising to learn that many businesses still rely on large mainframe computers. More than 70 percent of the world’s financial transactions are processed on IBM mainframe enterprise systems, says John Turchek, head of the Department of Computer and Information Systems at Robert Morris University.

In fact, “much of the data we use everyday is run through some sort of mainframe,” says RMU alumnus Michael Mihalchik, IT manager for Local 66 Combined Funds Inc., which handles benefits for members of the Operating Engineers union in Pittsburgh. Mihalchik holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from RMU, in business information systems and computer information systems respectively.

Unfortunately, many colleges and universities stopped teaching students how to manage mainframe systems 20 years ago, leaving many industries with a graying IT workforce. More than half could retire within the next four to eight years, according to Turchek. “I will let you imagine the consequences if these systems do not operate,” he said.

Enter RMU. The university revived its enterprise systems courses at the behest of local employers including Highmark, PNC, and BNY Mellon. A concentration in enterprise systems is available in all five of RMU’s undergraduate computing programs and in three of its five master’s programs.

IBM has called Robert Morris a model for others to follow and has provided the university with free use of mainframe systems for RMU students. Support from IBM has been critical to the early success of RMU’s enterprise systems program, given the expensive hardware required to teach mainframe skills. RMU has also done well to follow the advice of experts like Mihalchik, who is part of an industry advisory board that has informed the university’s enterprise systems coursework.

“We can see that Robert Morris is providing its students a solid, hands-on curriculum in mainframe instruction,” said David Brown, chief systems architect for the client service and partner technology group at BNY Mellon.

Brown suspects that within the next five years, other universities may begin providing similar training, but by then it may be too late to overtake RMU’s early action in this space. BNY Mellon is well aware of the challenge it faces in finding entry-level employees capable of managing mainframe-supported applications, so the corporation has plans to launch a mentoring program for IT workers that likely would include RMU.

Said Brown, “It’s not just BNY Mellon; it’s most of the larger, more technology-driven companies. You’re talking about the key businesses in Pittsburgh who are going to have this need.”

Staying Connected – RMU Homecoming 2013 and Alumni Gatherings

WarnerGreetings Alums,

What a wonderful time of year in western PA! Here on campus we are getting psyched for THE BIG GAME versus cross-town rival Duquesne, as well as all the other exciting activities at Homecoming 2013 on Saturday, October 19. We’d really love to see you here. Don’t forget to let us know you’re coming back—register online today!

I also wanted to let you know about some of your former classmates who have been attending recent RMU alumni events. In case you didn’t know, we hold several events each year in and around the Pittsburgh area, as well as in other cities like Cleveland, Erie, Philadelphia, Washington (D.C.), Harrisburg, Tampa, and Orlando, to name a few.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Back in September, we hosted a happy hour networking reception for 50 alumni and friends at Harry Buffalo’s restaurant just before the Cleveland Indians game where they clinched the wild card. Laura Murray C’94, RMU’s second all-time women’s basketball scorer, was there, and she got to reconnect with her old friend Phillip Bryan C’85 from Akron. The two of them hadn’t seen each other in over 20 years, even though they live less than half an hour from each other! Former track teammates Courtney Heil C’96 and Hadie Bartholomew C’98, and former football players Greg McBride C’99 and Jack Whaley C’99, were there, too. It was really a great time.
  • We recently held a Pittsburgh downtown networking lunch at Easy Street’s in Oxford Center. BNY Mellon was well-represented by employees and RMU alums Sharon Genser C’88, Holly Diamond C’97Jennifer Walker C’97, and Robert Stampfle C’04Anne Scully C’75Kenneth Presutti C’04Douglas Beassock C’06, and Mary Kapetanovich-Warren C’85, all from PNC, were there, too.
  • Our western area/Robinson lunch at Ditka’s restaurant attracted Colonial Couples Dave C’08 and Kate Toole C’08 and coworkers Jon Feyen C’10,Jamie Dwyer C’13, and Brian Lang C’01 from Hill, Bart & Kelly LLC in Wexford.
  •  The Greek Alumni luncheon held at the Pittsburgh Grille turned into a mini reunion for a group of graduates from the classes of 1983 and 1984, such as Pamela Horvitz C’83Denise Rickenbrode C’83Lisa Ciaccia C’84Jill Palmer C’84, and Bernard Bernie Horvitz C’84. In total we had about 20 or so alumni in attendance.

We’d really love to see you and help you reconnect with your old friends and classmates. So if you hear of an RMU Alumni gathering in your neck of the woods, please do your best to join us. For a complete listing of events, visit the RMU Alumni Events Calendar.

Hey, you never know who you might run into!

—Warner Johnson, RMU Alumni Director

Don’t forget: Register for Homecoming 2013 today at