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Archive for the 'Alumni' Category

Alumna brings purpose, demonstrates grace to dementia patients

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Relaxing in massage chairs, jamming to tunes on iPods, and going for dips in a private pool may sound like the life of luxury that only the #RichKids of Beverly Hills could pursue. But thanks to Krystal Robinson-Bert, ’10, residents of Messiah Lifeways’ dementia unit are enjoying a life that good.

Growing up as a pastor’s daughter enabled Robinson-Bert to interact with elderly parishioners from an early age.  Service projects at local nursing homes kindled her love for the elderly population.  After graduating with a degree in health and exercise science, concentrating in pre-physical therapy, Robinson-Bert began working at Messiah Lifeways as the Neighborhood Enrichment Specialist for the Asper Special Care Neighborhood. Entering this position in the locked dementia unit with the intention of changing lives, Robinson-Bert says, “The Asper Special Care Neighborhood is often the last place for many residents to reside at Messiah Lifeways before they pass away.  I was determined when I started the job to make each day at the end of their life purposeful and fun!” (more…)

Alumna Kim Lawton `85 shapes PBS’ religion coverage

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

At the Reunion Celebration Banquet during Homecoming Weekend, communication alum Kim Lawton ’85 humbly accepted the Distinguished Alumna Achievement Award. Each year, the office of alumni and parent relations salutes alumni who have made exceptional contributions to society or Messiah College. In particular, the Distinguished Alumna Achievement Award recognizes a lifetime of vocational accomplishment that reflects the mission of the college.

Currently working in Washington, D.C., Lawton serves as managing editor and correspondent for PBS’ “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly,” a news-magazine format show that she helped to start in 1997. “We recognized that there was a need in mainstream media for coverage of religion that was intelligent.” The program, which reaches 275 stations, highlights the importance of religion in politics and people’s lives without advocating a particular religion. (more…)

Messiah alum lands Broadway role

Monday, November 11th, 2013

This fall, Stephanie Fieger Klein ’02 made Messiah College history by securing the role of Harpier in the Broadway production of “Macbeth.” For Klein, the road to Broadway has been both challenging and rewarding as she has spent her time since graduation exploring the world of theatre in New York City and regionally, ultimately in pursuit of realizing her Broadway dream.  Now, as Klein takes the famous stage as the daunting creature Harpier, there is no doubt that her once distant dream has become a remarkable reality.

Arts appreciation

Brought up in a home that always prized the arts, Klein found herself interested in theatre from very early on.  What originally assisted in making the transition from awe-inspired audience member to captivating stage presence was Klein’s visit to her first Broadway-sized show, “Phantom of the Opera,” at age 13.  As she phrased it, “The music, sheer grandiosity, and incredible focus hit me hard, and I knew I had to be a part of it in some way.”  Klein first stepped onto the stage and into the shoes of her first role as Little Eva in “The King and I” in high school and discovered that she had found her niche.


40th anniversary of the covered bridge relocation

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Ken MarkThis year marks the 40th anniversary of the iconic covered bridge that spans the Yellow Breeches Creek.  Ken Mark ’72, now director of the Oakes Museum at Messiah College, was one of two work-study students who assisted with the disassembling, relocating and reconstructing the covered bridge from Bowmansdale, two and a half miles away, to Messiah.

Prior to its relocation, the bridge had fallen into severe disrepair. According to Mark, “The macadam road surface had developed potholes such that you could see straight down to the creek underneath.” Likewise, the original cedar shingles on the roof had been replaced with tin which was also deteriorating rapidly and starting to affect the wood beams underneath. Overall Mark remembered, “The bridge was ugly.” (more…)

Alum’s passion for serving aging adults shines through in career

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Emerson Lesher’s ’74 affinity for helping aging adults began when he was a Messiah College student interning at Messiah Home, a Brethren in Christ-sponsored ministry dedicated to serving older adults.

Eventually, Messiah Home moved from Paxton Street in Harrisburg, to Upper Allen Township and became Messiah Lifeways (formerly Messiah Village), and Lesher, following a successful career as a geropsychologist, moved from student intern to president of the organization.

Prior to his presidency at Messiah Lifeways, Lesher spent years studying counseling and psychology and gaining the skills needed to lead an organization. (more…)

Alums stand at the forefront of Harrisburg’s revival

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

For a core of Messiah graduates—each with varying backgrounds and ambitions—Harrisburg represents a home for innovation. The once-struggling city has welcomed a push for restoration, with several graduates working as pioneers of the revival. Alumni Liz Laribee ’07, Adam Brackbill ’12 and Rebecca Porterfield ’09 stand committed to change.

A neighborhood of urban artists

Laribee, a graduate of English and master of creative design, left her first mark on the city during the summer of 2006, when she co-created the Sycamore House intentional community. Focused on service and outreach, the home immediately caught on with Messiah students, enabling graduates to understand their future vocation while developing a spirit of service. For Laribee, the Sycamore House served as the beginning of an extensive journey.

“Right away, I was in contact with the sort of individuals whose lives are committed to their neighbors, their cities and the work to make things brighter,” she said. “The experience helped me carve a niche for the sort of work I had an interest in carrying out.” (more…)

Alumna receives prestigious Fulbright to study medieval history

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Messiah College alumna“The Chronicles of Narnia” and the King Arthur series provide timeless stories of the medieval worlds, captivating readers with their enchanting tales. For Lucy Barnhouse ’08, these books mean much more than a magical closet and fearless nobles; these stories rooted her love for medieval history. Today, she has pursued in-depth studies of this field and recently won a Fulbright Research Fellowship, the most prestigious award for aspiring scholars, to study in Germany.

As a prospective student, Barnhouse sat underneath a poster of a Cologne, Germany Gothic cathedral in Distinguished Professor of European History Joseph Huffman’s office. This served as a confirmation for Barnhouse to create an individualized major in medieval and renaissance studies. Becoming fluent in Latin, German and French, Barnhouse deepened her knowledge and appreciation for European history.

“Lucy is a person of deep integrity, coupled with a deep joy for living and learning,” says Huffman. “She brought an energy and enthusiasm to everything she did, and thereby was a joy to work with.” (more…)

Family of six travels 10,000 miles across the U.S. via bus

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Embarking on a 115-day, 31-state, 10,000-plus-mile trip across the U. S.,
writer Shawn Smucker ’99, his wife Maile ‘99 and their four young children departed from Lancaster, Pa., Feb. 15, 2012 and began a life-changing journey. Pursuing a dream to live a simpler life was the main motivator for the couple. “We had both always wanted to travel around the United States,” said Shawn Smucker, who began the travel blog “Writing Across America” to document the family’s journey across the country.  (more…)

Alums jumpstart local running club

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Cross country and track and field alum Brian Hager ’06 did not quit running when he graduated from Messiah. As he transitioned from being a student to a coach at Messiah, Hager grew to miss the team atmosphere and the friendships he enjoyed as an athlete. In an attempt to reestablish community in his life, Hager helped launch s.w.i.f.t. racing, a running club for alums in the Messiah area.

In the summer of 2008, Brian Hager, his brother Patrick Hager ’08, along with former teammates Eric Bofinger ’07 and Matthew Hahn ’07 brainstormed ways to cultivate community as post-graduate competitive runners. Deciding to start a running club, the core group ran their first race together in October 2008 at the Gettysburg Cross Country Invitational. After many discussions, Brian Hager landed on the name of the club, leading to a conversation about colors and styles of uniforms. (more…)

From inner-city troublemaker to faith-driven leader

Monday, February 18th, 2013

For alum Nashon Walker ’05, the journey to Messiah College followed a path of uncertainty, unfamiliarity and overwhelming faith. Now eight years later, the grateful alumnus holds onto a stirring testimony.    

A childhood on the streets
As a child, Walker experienced the chaos of Philadelphia’s street scene: he grew up with drug-addicted parents, lived with his grandmother and became a father figure for his four younger siblings. By the time Walker reached high school, he had fully surrendered to a life of crime, lawlessness and irresponsibility, following in the footsteps of those around him.

In late 2001, the police arrested and incarcerated Walker, who joined his biological father in a local prison. The “youngest guy on the prison block” seemed destined for a life of corruption.

“I had to grow up very fast,” Walker said. “I knew I had no hope. My life on the streets drove me down a certain path, one I knew wasn’t right.”