The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) Volunteer Excellence Award was established in 2009 to recognize alumni who volunteer their time to the PGAA and the University. When designating an alumnus or alumna as a particular year’s Volunteer of Excellence, his or her award certificate indicates that they have been designated as such, “For outstanding service to the Alumni Association and the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.” This PGAA award honors alumni who have dedicated a significant amount of personal time to attending alumni meetings and events, working on special projects, and contributing to the overall success of both the alumni association and the University it represents.
|2020||Huong Vo '14|
|2019||Thomas M. Jollie '72|
|2018||James R. Smith '75|
|2017||Scott Szypulski '14|
|2016||Harry P. Bowser '72|
|2015||Brian Root '04|
|2014||Mary Lynn Yothers '80|
|2012||Robert Merda '85|
|2011||Jason P. Gongaware '87|
|2010||Brian Moreland '98|
Huong Vo '14
The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) will present its Volunteer of Excellence award to Huong Vo '14 at the Alumni Awards Virtual Celebration at noon on Saturday, October 3, as part of the Blue & Gold Celebration 2020.
In addition to working full-time and attending graduate school, Vo serves as a member of the PGAA board where she chairs the Events Committee. Bringing a bright and positive energy to the PGAA activities that she plans, she is frequently found, cell phone in hand, sharing video of an event via social media when it is possible to hold events in person. She also is bringing new ideas to the virtual realm, contributing a range of activities that are bringing Pitt-Greensburg alumni together from across the nation and the globe.
Vo transferred to Pitt-Greensburg in 2011 and graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in Natural Science. Her contributions to the campus and community were recognized with the 2013 John Ridilla Leadership Award Scholarship and the 2014 PGAA Award for Community Service.
Active with the Student Government Association (SGA), Vo served as secretary, Campus Spirit and Community Involvement chair, and Senate President. The SGA plays an important role in campus life as a student group that seeks to make improvements to the campus, plans and organizes large and small events to engage the campus, and oversees all of the clubs and organizations on campus.
A member of the Pitt-Greensburg Campus Chapter of Habitat for Humanity (HFH), Vo served as secretary and fundraising chair. She attended and helped in facilitating three HFH Alternative Spring Break trips, volunteered for the Central Westmoreland Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and attended the 2013 Habitat for Humanity Leadership Conference in Washington, DC.
Vo also served as secretary of the Academic Village Senate where she collaborated in creating programs and events and served as an International Student Mentor.
After graduation, Vo worked at MedExpress Urgent Care as a medical assistant, earned an EMT license, and enrolled in nursing school. She graduated from the Shadyside School of Nursing in 2019 and now works as a nurse at UPMC East in the Stepdown Unit. Vo is currently working on her master’s degree at Carlow University with plans to become a family or pediatric nurse practitioner. Vo received UPMC East’s first-ever Daisy Award, an award that recognizes nurses who provide extraordinary compassionate care.
The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) presented its Volunteer of Excellence award to Thomas M. Jollie '72 at the Alumni Celebration Dinner on Saturday, October 25, at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg as part of Blue & Gold Weekend: Homecoming 2019.
Jollie, a native of Irwin who resides in Greensburg with his wife, Sharon, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BS in mathematics. At Pitt-Greensburg, he was a member of the campus’ first official men’s basketball team. Today, he is a founding member of the Men’s Basketball Alumni Club (MBAC), serving as its treasurer, and was the driving force behind an MBAC project that resulted in the purchase of a shooting machine for the basketball teams.
A member of the PGAA Board of Directors, Jollie sits on the events committee and regularly volunteers at PGAA events like Blue & Gold Celebration events and Mock Interview Night. An avid golfer and Pitt sports booster, he also has served on the committee for the Annual Pitt-Greensburg Golf Outing.
Jollie credits Pitt-Greensburg for his success, as well as it being a launching pad for his sister, a prosecuting attorney in Greensburg, and his brother, an insurance business owner in Irwin.
While a student in the Pitt system, Jollie volunteered, in 1971, with the Army National Guard, and served six months of active duty, which delayed his graduation until 1972. He then served six years as a member of the military police. His service centered on efforts across the state, including flood duty in Johnstown and Scranton. After graduation, he entered the insurance business in the same company as his father, but in a different town. Forty-seven years later, the T M Jollie Insurance Agency, Inc. (Mt. Pleasant) and its owner have been the recipient of numerous awards for sales and travel. Jollie also expanded his business into real estate. He designed and guided the construction of his office complex as well as buying and renting properties. He and his wife, Sharon, enjoy spending time at their second home, too.
The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) presented its Volunteer of Excellence award to James R. Smith '75 at the Alumni Celebration Dinner on Saturday, October 20, at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg as part of Blue & Gold Weekend: Homecoming 2018.
James R. Smith graduated in 1975 from Pitt-Greensburg with a bachelor’s of science degree in business and earned his master’s degree in business administration from the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz School of Business in 1984. Smith, who is now retired, has had a career that has taken him from Pittsburgh to Germany to New York to Ohio and to the Rocky Mountains.
After graduating from Pitt, Smith joined D'Appolonia Consulting Engineers in Pittsburgh as a staff accountant. Several year later, he moved to Vesuvius Crucible Company as an international accountant and was transferred to their plant in Germany. From there, he joined Hewlett-Packard GmbH and, after a few years, was transferred to the field organization in the United States. He stayed with the company for more than 20 years. From 2005 to 2010, he was the board treasurer for the non-profit organization Christmas Unlimited and worked as director of finance and administration for Ecumenical Social Ministries. In 2011, he became director of finance and operations for Sunrise Methodist Church. He also served as a lecturer for the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs School of Public Affairs, instructing a course on nonprofit financial management.
Smith became involved with the PGAA when he moved back to the Greensburg area and joined the PGAA board of directors in 2014. Currently in his second term, he was elected president in 2015. His responsibilities include serving on the Pitt Alumni Association’s (PAA) Student, Colleges and Regional School Committee (SCR) and working to forge bonds among the campuses. He also sits on the Pitt-Greensburg Advisory Board as an ex-officio member. The board liaison for the PGAA Professional Development Committee, he volunteers at admissions events, and is actively involved with all PGAA events.
A native of Ligonier, Smith and his wife, Kim, reside in Greensburg. He has three children: his oldest, Emily, works for Amazon Corporation in Seattle; his middle son, Aaron, works in Silicon Valley; and his youngest son, Stephen, is pursuing his undergraduate degree in secondary education.
Scott Szypulski ’14, of Irwin, PA, was the recipient of the PGAA Volunteer Excellence Award.
Scott Szypulski graduated in 2014 with a BS in Management-Accounting and minors in Actuarial Science and Theatre. While a student, he was a member of the Student Activities Board, Habitat for Humanity, Judicial Board, Peer Leader Program, and Phi Eta Sigma. A Community Assistant (CA) and campus leader, Szypulski was named 2014 CA of the Year and served as president of the Student Government Association, Resident Student Council, and the Presidential Ambassadors program. He also was named Senior of the Year and was the recipient of the Dean’s Leadership Award and the PGAA Community Service Award.
Upon graduating, Szypulski was employed as a Financial Assistant in the Department of Critical Care for the University of Pittsburgh. In 2016, he was promoted to Financial Research Administrator there. As a member of the Staff Association Council since 2015, he has been active in multiple activities, including assisting in the establishment of the Frisch Fund Scholarship and serving as chair of the 2017 Kennywood Committee for Pitt Day at Kennywood, which sold out of the allocated 2,000 tickets. In addition to these responsibilities, he is pursuing his MBA at the Oakland campus.
Since 2014, Szypulski has been actively involved with the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) and is currently the PGAA Treasurer and Executive Committee liaison for the events committee. He has been directly involved in the organization of alumni events including the Holiday Wine Tasting, Welcome Back Picnic, and Pitt Greensburg at PNC Park. He also remains involved as a volunteer with the campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity (HFH) and served as a chaperone for the 2017 HFH Alternate Spring Break Collegiate Challenge trip to Tucker, Georgia.
Harry P. Bowser is the recipient of the 2016 PGAA Volunteer Excellence Award. Bowser attended Pitt-Greensburg for two years prior to transferring to the Oakland campus. He graduated in 1972 with a BA in secondary education. After graduation, he completed his term of service with the Pennsylvania National Guard and was hired by the Southmoreland School District. There he taught social studies, served as head of the Social Studies Department, and was active in athletics, coaching baseball, football, and basketball.
Bowser has been associated with the Pitt-Greensburg’s Men’s Basketball Program from the start as a member of its inaugural team. His service as a volunteer and paid coach has spanned the decades starting as an assistant coach for the 1972-1973 Pitt-Greensburg Men’s Basketball Team through today as a volunteer character coach through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He holds “character sessions” that provide team members with an outlet to share their goals, frustrations, and friendship in a way that has a positive effect on both the team and the individuals.
Bowser currently serves on the board of the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) and is a founding member of the PGAA Men’s Basketball Alumni Club.
“Harry’s determination to connect his former teammates with the current student athletes has helped us to create a model for developing other alumni communities within the PGAA,” said Sheila Kudrick, Pitt-Greensburg alumni coordinator. “His enthusiasm and ability to bring people together stand out as distinguishing qualities in his success. We look forward to building on the foundation that he has helped us to put in place.”
Bowser’s work continues in the community, as well. Past service includes establishing an elementary-age basketball program and coaching Southmoreland girls’ basketball. He currently volunteers with the Fairview Church of God in its Soup Kitchen and doing lawn work. He also volunteers with the Buchanan Church of God Soup Kitchen.
He and his wife, Karon, have two sons, Adam ’03 and Ryan, and two granddaughters, Alexis and Mikayla.
Brian Root ’04 is the recipient of the 2015 PGAA Volunteer Excellence Award.
Root has been active with the PGAA since graduating from Pitt-Greensburg. He is one of the 2004 Class Agents and has served stints as the PGAA Secretary and Vice President. He is currently serving as chair of the PGAA Events committee, which is responsible for planning activities for the alumni body.
“Brian attends every PGAA event, and he’s always willing to help,” said Sheila Kudrick, alumni coordinator at Pitt-Greensburg. “He’s reliable, resourceful, and energetic. He has a great passion for Pitt-Greensburg and all that it is, and he desires to see it continue to grow.”
An active local Kiwanian with the Kiwanis Club of Greensburg where he has served twice as club president, Root is also one of the campus co-chairs for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) One Walk, which brings hundreds of people to Pitt-Greensburg’s campus to support JDRF.
“This is certainly ‘Brian Root Year’ for he received the Chancellor’s Award for service by staff and is now being acknowledged here for his extraordinary contributions to our alumni association,” said President Smith. “One of the most important roles of a state-assisted university is to provide service to the community. Brian personifies that role: he makes this area a better place through the service he gives.”
Root graduated from Pitt-Greensburg with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in English Writing. He went on to earn a master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2006 and returned to Pitt-Greensburg serve as Resident Director from 2006 to 2009. After a year away from the campus, he returned in the summer of 2010 as the assistant director of Housing and Residence Life.
In addition to his responsibilities in Housing & Residence Life, Root serves as the director of the Outdoor Adventure & Community Service (OACS) living community, as well as the advisor to the Circle K Club and the campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity, where he leads the campus’ primary Alternative Spring Break Trip. Root is Pitt-Greensburg’s Employee Campaign Coordinator for the United Way Campaign and has been a long-time member of the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association’s (PGAA) Board.
This past spring, he was the recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Staff Excellence in Service to the University and to the Community. He also received the 2014 President’s Distinguished Service Award for Staff at Pitt-Greensburg.
A native of Transfer, PA, who lives in Greensburg, he is the son of Diane Heckman and Stan Root, both of Mercer County, PA. He is the proud uncle of three who enjoys playing card and board games, volunteering in the community, going to Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games, geocaching, and exploring social media in his free time.
Mary Lynn Yothers ’80, DC, is the recipient of the 2014 PGAA Volunteer Excellence Award. Yothers earned this recognition because of her commitment to and activity with the PGAA. PGAA president from 2009 through 2011, she returned as interim PGAA president to complete the 2012-2013 term. She regularly participates in Admissions events, Pitt Day in Harrisburg, National Pitt Networking Day, as well as Student Alumni Association (SAA) events and activities. Yothers’ ability to recognize new alumni and her warm welcome helps to keep them connected to the PGAA. She also actively recruits PGAA board members, helping to diversify the skill set and strengths of the group. Her contributions to the PGAA include assisting in expanding alumni communications through the use of social media, initiating conversations that resulted in an annual alumni weekend tradition being established, and proposing that the Alumnus of Distinction award presentation become part of the annual alumni weekend. These changes in when and how the award is presented helped to establish an Alumni Dinner, which allows more focus to be placed on the recipient and his or her family, as well as providing an event that brings alumni together to celebrate.
Robert Merda ’85 is the recipient of the 2012 PGAA Volunteer Excellence Award. An active member of the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) Board, Merda’s loyalty to his Alma Mater is evidenced by his participation in PGAA events and as a member of the Pitt-Greensburg Golf Outing Committee. Merda, who earned an MBA from Waynesburg University in 2005, serves as a Project Controls Engineer at Westinghouse. A resident of North Huntingdon for more than 30 years, he serves as an Emergency Management Team member, as well as having served seven years as a Township Commissioner and more than 10 years as a Planning Commission member. He and his wife, Martha, have one daughter, Mallory, who is a sophomore Sports Communications major at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
Jason P. Gongaware ’97 is the recipient of the PGAA Volunteer Excellence Award. The president of the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association from 2002 to 2005 and chair of the Pitt Alumni Association (PAA) scholarship committee, he receives this award posthumously. His primary focus as president of the PGAA was identifying ways the alumni association and scholarship program could be used to increase the number of qualified students applying to the University. He also served on the Pitt-Greensburg Advisory Board as part of his duties as PGAA president and then as a representative of Chapel Hill Investment Analysts, his employer. His legacy of service lives on through the PGAA Executive Board members who reference him as the reason they became involved in the organization. He is survived by his wife Sheri Campbell Gongaware and two sons, William Campbell and Joseph Elliott, who accept the award on his behalf.
Brian Moreland '98
The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) is pleased to announce that Brian Moreland ’98, DC, is the first recipient of its newly established Volunteer Excellence Award. The award was created to showcase and reward a member of the PGAA Board of Directors for his or her outstanding service to the board and to the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.
“While president of the PGAA, Brian was instrumental in strengthening the PGAA’s relationship with the Pitt Alumni Association in Oakland, increasing scholarship dollars available to incoming Pitt-Greensburg students, and advocating for the needs of the University.” said Mary Lynn Yothers ’80, DC, president of the PGAA.
Dr. Moreland, owner of Back in Motion Chiropractic in Latrobe, graduated with a BS in psychology from Pitt-Greensburg. He continued his education at Logan College of Chiropractic, earning a BS in Life Science in addition to his Doctor of Chiropractic degree. Moreland has attained Board certification as a Diplomate in Chiropractic Rehabilitation and serves as an associate clinical instructor in the Activator Methods Chiropractic Technique. Moreland served his profession as the secretary/treasurer of the Pennsylvania Chiropractic Educational and Charitable Foundation. He also has been published in peer-reviewed journals and is scheduled to begin a National Institute of Health-funded research study through the University of Pittsburgh to compare the results of the Activator Chiropractic Technique to a manual adjusting technique on lower-back pain patients this upcoming year.
“I am very thankful for the success I have achieved as a chiropractor, which is why I desire to give back to my profession and to my alma mater. The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg is a focal point of this community, and it is exciting and rewarding to be a part of an institution that is advancing many new programs and to serve on an alumni association that is so passionate about helping students achieve their goals and dreams,” explained Moreland.
A Life Member and winner of the 2008 Pitt Alumni Association Volunteer Excellence Award, Moreland recently completed a third term as the Pitt-Greensburg delegate to the PAA board of directors where he served on the legislative and membership committees. Moreland continues to serve as a member of the Alumni Legislative Network and Pitt Career Network for the University, as well as providing internship opportunities to Pitt-Greensburg students at his chiropractic office in Latrobe.
Moreland’s service to the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg includes serving on the board of directors of the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association as treasurer, vice president, president, and now, immediate past president. Moreland also served in an ex-officio role on the University’s Advisory Board.