In the spirit of Alumni Weekend, among the crisp air, free coffee samples and fond memories, a few Alums were asked to share their current life stories and how Juniata guided them in their journey.
Kate O. Gildea ’79 Center Valley, Pa.
I transferred to Juniata in my sophomore year. I chose the college because I was able to develop my own curriculum. My career choice was to become a Physical Therapist. I was not forced to take a pre-med path, but was able to incorporate classes that I felt best prepared me for the work I wanted to do with disabled children. It took me a while to come back full circle to Physical Therapy, but what I learned at Juniata prepared me to be successful in my first career at AT&T, my dalliance in education, and gave me the foundation I needed to complete my degree to become a Physical Therapist Assistant.
For me, Juniata was important and remains an integral part of my life because it helped develop my social conscience and my sense of self. Juniata has always, in my mind, been special because it reflected and embodied the liberal social conscience of the Church of the Brethren.
Bill Messersmith ’79 Kutztown, Pa.
I am a dentist practicing in Kutztown Pa. Currently, my practice is undergoing an expansion in staffing and hours serving the public. I am married to Linda Baker, who graduated from Juniata with me in 1979. We have two sons. Matthew a junior at Lehigh University and Aaron, a freshman here at Juniata. Juniata encourages people to learn how to think and exposes you to the breadth of human knowledge. When I think about my classmates I realize what an impact we have had through our lives and careers. My Juniata classmates are physicians, chemists, veterinarians and professors at major colleges, universities and medical schools. Some of my classmates own large businesses with hundreds of employees. Several are experts in various aspects of social work and some are educators in the public school systems.
Kassie Markel ’11 Pittsburgh, Pa.
I was a business and art studies major at Juniata and currently I’m a manager at Panera Bread. Juniata helped me get my job because people know the college. The networking is amazing. When I was applying for jobs, countless employers knew the school and the professors. The Juniata alumni community and career services are also very willing to help you find a job.
Stewart McHenry ’10 Chambersburg, Pa.
I am a supported living case manager at New Visions which is a rehabilitation center that helps people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia and other mental health disorders transition from state hospitals to self-sufficiency. I work with people who have not been able to maintain an occupation because of their sickness. At Juniata, I was always the person in the clubs who made people do things they didn’t necessarily want to do and now that’s my job and it’s a really rewarding experience. We just had somebody find a job after 10 years of being in a state hospital.
My POE was Human Interaction and French. Though I haven’t had to use French for my current job, I was an Eagles Abroad fellow and my experience abroad helped prepare me for living independently. My involvement in clubs and student government helped me view people as people, which is tantamount to my job now. I don’t just label a schizophrenic as a schizophrenic. I see a person who happens to have an illness.
-Hannah Jeffery ’16 Juniata Online Journalist