Honorable Mentions

Bruce Albright, Alumnus

In January 1974, I had a life changing event because of my liberal arts education. I participated in study abroad in the then Contemporary Soviet Culture course at Muhlenberg College.  The attached article sets out the basis of how a liberal arts education has changed my life, illustrating how I as a college student was willing, even against great odds in a totalitarian country, to persevere and not give up.  Meeting an individual who had been persecuted by his government, and was still courageously able to keep his values and risk imprisonment, served as a lesson to me in my future endeavors, including my career as a civil servant as an attorney in the US Government.


Robert Ashton, Alumnus

Comforting a dying patient is a privilege. Knowing a decision I made led to her death is ineffable. Preserving life is a foundational principle in medicine. It was ingrained in my brain during medical training. Medical question are simple. What is the best treatment plan? Questions about life are complex. Why should I have the ability to affect another person's life? I have lived with the knowledge that my decisions impacted many other lives. My medical training taught me how to take care of the body. Thankfully, my liberal arts education taught me how to take care of the soul.


Laura Baehr, Alumna

My liberal arts education at Muhlenberg College gave me confidence to pursue my dreams. My passion for dance and science is fueled by curiosity for the human condition. Many people scoffed at my pursuit of a dual degree in dance and neuroscience, calling it an "odd combination," but Muhlenberg believed in that goal. My education allowed me to vigorously hone my dance technique, strengthen my research skills, and discover that I could spend my life pursuing both. Today I perform professionally, research dementia, and share the joy of dance with individuals with neurological conditions because of my Muhlenberg education.


Joseph Bardinelli, Alumnus

Our lives are like novels, adding chapters through the years. When I entered Muhlenberg some 40 years ago, my novel was short, few chapters to read. Now thanks to my Liberal Arts Education at Muhlenberg, my novel is full of meaningful, profound chapters of life's experiences over the years, enhanced by my Muhlenberg foundation. It is a novel I am proud of and my life has been very satisfying as I continue the journey.


Lauren Barry, Alumna

I came into college thinking I would maybe join a theater club, run track and study psychology, nothing more. I left college certified to teach elementary education, with a psych major, and a Spanish minor. I played rugby, joined a sorority, became a tour guide, led community service events, co-chaired orientation, traveled to Costa Rica, and much more. The liberal arts exposed me to things I love but never even knew existed. I have been teaching since I left the Berg and am currently pursuing my administration certification with the hope of becoming a building principal someday. Muhlenberg made me believe I can do that.


Hope Blecher, Parent

Liberal arts are the roots of a school district's program reflecting the rebirth and resilience experienced in the days, months and years of a post-September 11 life. Our program included fifth graders sewing quilts for veterans, 7th graders graphing an American flag the size of our bleachers, 8th graders using American Sign Language to perform the “Star Spangled Banner,” and Sociology students having their motto engraved in stone on a monument. With half the residents being immigrants, we pay it forward by acting in ways that demonstrate an awareness of the past and a respect for our collective future.


Ed Bonekemper, Alumnus

Muhlenberg’s liberal arts education changed my life. It converted me from a naïve small-town boy into a thinker prepared to do whatever I wanted in life. Knowledge and skills in areas of history, writing, accounting, mathematics, art and others made it possible for me to enjoy life as a law student, a private attorney, a Coast Guard lawyer, a federal hazardous materials transportation lawyer, and finally a Civil War author, speaker and book reviewer. A liberal arts education opens as many doors for as many years as its beneficiary desires.


Molly Brown, Staff

I thought I found my escape from a Math requirement through a Philosophy course. It even sounded more interesting than Calculus could ever be: "The Politics of Religion." The professor was stoic and his reading list: 14 books! What have I done?! Toughest course ever, but through the magic of a Liberal Arts Education: empowering. My mind opened to a new way of reading, thinking, retaining. Additionally, I was forced to bloom the required time-management skills to support the extra hours this course demanded. Even the end was memorable: Our final class was held in a local cemetery!


David Budnick, Student

I switched from the sciences to art solely because of the feelings I get when I take photos. I get so entranced in what I'm doing that time passes by so quickly- and I don't really mind it. I put my heart into every image I take. It captures the good times and helps me cope with the bad times. Putting real life situations into my work helps others feel what I feel. I seek to evoke an emotion from someone with every picture. Photography is not just a passion or an interest - it is a way of life.


Drew Burns, Parent

I often remind my students that I do not teach high school chemistry and physics solely for the sake of those disciplines.  To me, these disciplines are vehicles for teaching my students how to think clearly, to make cogent arguments, to write in an articulate and persuasive manner, to solve problems concisely and to develop an appreciation for scientific inquiry.  At Williams, I learned from some extraordinary people who were equally passionate about their disciplines and the art of teaching.  I teach because of what I learned from them and carry their passion for education with me to this day.


Keri Burrows, Alumna

Question: What's a girl to do when she scores 788 verbal and 732 math on her 1967 SATs? Answer: Attend a co-ed liberal arts college (I decided on Muhlenberg when I was in third grade) so the two sides of her brain can spend four years arguing about which of them is really superior! In the end, it was still a virtual tie – I became an analytical chemist whose first love has been teaching, and who is rarely stumped by esoteric crossword clues.


Joe Caracappa, Student

Liberal arts gave me my sight back. Having aniridia is very isolating. It took away my voice. Every time someone asked why my eyes were black I felt sick. For years I felt I was defined by my disability. When I entered filmmaking I saw that my disability tempered me. With a film lens, I could finally see the world and capture life from my perspective. Muhlenberg gave me a voice in a world that wouldn't have blinked twice to take it away. No matter what I went through, even that my future children might inherit it, I was stronger.


Tim Carroll, Student

The Liberal Arts has taught me that I do not need to erect a Berlin Wall between my loves of writing and science. Before I came to Muhlenberg, people were shocked that I, a neuroscience major, wanted to be a writer when I grew up. "Like a textbook writer?" they sometimes asked. In response I changed the subject. But since coming to Muhlenberg I've met professors who are happy to mix art and science, and they have inspired me with a new goal: To write a book that teaches the world about collective consciousness better than any textbook ever could.


Melinda Clemmer, Alumna

I'm sure my liberal arts education began before I can remember, but my strongest recollections of rounded conversations center around the dinner table. During home-cooked meals, my parents, brothers, and I often agreed, but we never echoed each other thoughtlessly. My mother and father's pointed questions and musings taught us to taste the world's philosophies and conundrums. A life based on well-rounded knowledge pushed me to study beyond my passions at Muhlenberg. It drives me to build relationships with those who aren't like me, but who can teach me. It is what grows my curiosity and feeds it.


Jacqueline Copeland, Alumna

Art History at Muhlenberg College changed my life! Entering Muhlenberg as a freshman in 1965, I was the only African American female student. Although I had always had an interest in art history, rather than studio art, I had no real knowledge of careers available to me.  That is, until I took my first Art History course. I knew right away that this was my passion.  I took every art history course Muhlenberg offered, declared it as a minor, received a scholarship to graduate school and have now worked in senior leadership at art museums for 25 years!


Michael D'Annucci, Alumnus

With our wilderness vanishing, my environmental career was terminated. As legs carried me away from employment and onto roads and trails with all possessions stowed in backpack, a mobile lifestyle akin to Neanderthals resulted. Leaving the standardized, new experiences and emerging possibilities force a leaning towards my liberal arts knowledge base used to survive an America prioritizing fenced stationary lifestyles. When conflict arises from confusing societal rules, my learned questions yield peaceful solutions. Acceptance from the current society is not sought. Money is a minor afterthought. Instead, my mind is consumed with applying Neanderthal motivations to America’s environmentally compromised existence.


David Deakin, Alumnus

Once upon a time there was a shy young man in search of wisdom. He found it to be difficult to look for such a thing. No one ever mentioned it. He had read about it here and there, like the wisdom of Solomon in the Bible, but passages about it were rare. Being an introvert he was reticent to ask and feared such questions would confirm the oddness he felt. By chance he encountered a liberal arts education which gave him a set of handy tools with which to frame his mind as he quietly carried out his search.


Larry DeFranco, Alumnus

At 22, I founded a company merging political science with technology.   Selling the concept inside Fortune 500 board rooms inevitably led to discussions around global events, history, and music.  My expertise?  Muhlenberg and The Economist.  My two kids grew up sharing my library and my piano -- both are now liberal arts graduates.  At 22, my son began a communications company in NYC -- his employees include a Muhlenberg graduate.  My daughter is completing a Masters in Dance at NYU Tisch School of the Arts.  We don’t know the future.  Lost business?  Dance injury?  Today, we live our passions.


Cyndi Detwiler, Alumna

Taking voice lessons from Jeremy Slavin opened so many doors for me! A few years after graduation, I auditioned for and was accepted into Singing City Choir of Philadelphia. As a member of this choir, I experienced the thrill of singing under the baton of such notable conductors as Eugene Ormandy, Riccardo Muti, and Zubin Mehta, and in such places as the Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center--and in front of the Sphinx! I’m quite sure I could never have been a member of Singing City if I hadn't had such excellent vocal training at Muhlenberg.


Angel Diaz, Student

Identity Quest: In my short time at Muhlenberg College as a transfer student I have been determined to identify more about myself, but I never thought that liberal arts was going to be so influential in this recent quest in my life. As a Business Administration major I never imagined myself being able to take courses such as Sex, Beauty, and the Body in Brazil/Caribbean where I've been learning so much about a culture that tracks down to my Latino roots. This exposure has helped me better understand my ethnicity and has given my life so much more meaning.


Judith Diehl, Friend

In the mid-1940's a woman contemplating education beyond high school had few options.  College was considered unnecessary and even frivolous.  Career opportunities were limited to teaching and nursing.  So, as an English major, I stumbled upon Language in Action by S. I. Hayakawa, a book on Semantics, the meaning of words.  Words took us to war:  WMD's terrorists, freedom.  Words shape our identity: female, wife, mother.  Words reveal our attitudes:  women nag, men give advice.  Words manipulate: Take back our country! (from whom?)  Words reinforce our biases; welfare or economic helping hand.  The continuing abuse of language that shapes our world has made more aware and vigilant throughout my life.


John Dunne, Alumnus

At Muhlenberg I read histories, philosophies, psychological studies and works of literature that ignited my curiosity while I learned to read people, situations and audiences that inspired a confidence to be whatever I was determined to be. Mine has been a life of learning from playing fields to board rooms from college campuses to industry conventions. Crafting tales woven with values of teamwork, perseverance, humility and humor it has been my fortune to impart my enthusiasm for a well-rounded life to family, students, associates and friends. My story is simple: listen, ask, read and you'll be lifted by lifting others.


John Dunne, Alumnus

In the entrails of the library stacks

I crammed to fill my cerebral racks

Almanacs and journals, papers and books

gave me comfort in those lonely nooks

Conservative measures piloted vertical careers –

accountant, doctor, attorney, some drawing sneers

Having an education so liberal to choose

I expended my cognizance as I had nothing to lose

The Liberal Arts did not culminate in a degree

it was the substance of a life of intellectual curiosity


Robert Egolf, Alumnus

Upon graduating from high school, I became a printer. Although I was successful, my routine job lacked intellectual stimulation. Subsequently, I enrolled in an evening course at Muhlenberg and continued taking evening courses until I exhausted the offerings. The sheer depth and breadth of the courses enticed me to continue. My professors' expertise and excitement demonstrated the power and challenges of the liberal arts. Taking a different printing position and courses during the day allowed me to matriculate. I became an English teacher, determined to share my love of the liberal arts with my students. And I did!


Nicole Esposito, Student

There was a point during my junior year of high school where I felt stuck. I had been singing my whole life and after not performing for a year due to vocal injury, I was hesitant to start into that lifestyle again. On a whim, I auditioned for a show and ended up getting in, only to meet some of the greatest people I have ever met. These people introduced me to Muhlenberg College, and helped me push myself to become the person I am today succeeding and loving my life as a student at this wonderful liberal arts college.


Patrick Fligge, Staff

My Muhlenberg liberal arts education sharpened my critical thinking skills into my finest strength. This crystallized for me when I compared my First Year Seminar to my Senior Seminar, both taught by Dr. Schick in the Muhlenberg Scholars Program. During freshman year, my FYS, "How to Think About Weird Things" challenged me to understand, dissect, and respond to tough philosophical questions. I agonized over assignments, taking days to work through them. Senior year, while working on more difficult material, understanding an argument, breaking it down, and building my own was second-nature. Now I use this skill every day.


Pete Ganbarg, Parent

I entered University as a 17-year-old student hungry for knowledge but not sure what path it would take. I attended Wesleyan; the options were infinite. Not just in the classroom. The opportunities that a Liberal Arts school offers extend beyond that. So even though I studied English and Education, the philosophy engendered by the school was one of encouragement to try new things and to immerse oneself in the unknown. This was the norm. My unknown was music. I entered the radio station first day, managed the campus bands, and booked the concerts. When I graduated, instead of pursuing English or Education, I pursued music. 25 years later, I run the talent department as Head of A&R at Atlantic Records. But I’m always teaching. The Liberal Arts minds know this. We can enter one door and come out the other, but were utilizing everything we’ve learned along the way.


David Gaskill, Alumnus

Language! Ideas! Diversity! What more could an English major ask from a liberal arts education? Especially as a foundation for my 37 years in journalism (mostly as a copy editor). The humanities put a bee in my old, gray bonnet and opened Pun-dora’s box for tons of linguistic fun. Oh, what captivating captions emerged! Oh, what headlines saw the morning sun! From Pollocks tangles to Wyeths plain (art) from Dickinson’s spare to cummings’ wry (poetry) from Conrad’s heart to Shakespeare’s mighty range (literature) from botanic roots to cultural paradigms (science, religion, history), thanks, Muhlenberg, for all the ... Language! Ideas! Diversity!


Paul Geisler, Parent

By forgetting to register for second semester my freshman year, this math/physics guy stumbled into the Liberal Arts. As an extra late registrant, I found English classes full. My advisor suggested a business course, but no chairs were left. He suggested psychology: You’ll have to take something like that sooner or later. I completed a double major in Mathematics and Psychology, then went on to ordination and advanced seminary degrees. That freshman stumble dropped me into the fascinating world of never-ending exploration. Now I compose sermons, balance equations, and write my own blues tunes - and enjoy it all!


Wendy Gipp, Alumna

Pinball Wizard Propelled by the ideals and imagery of the Great Poets, and loaded with knowledge provided by professors in those "other disciplines", I sprang from the red doors of Muhlenberg. My aim: to continue my quest for knowledge and creative expression as an actively engaged, citizen of the world. My trajectory hints of Homer's Odyssey: Madison Avenue. Hollywood. Marriage. Midwest. Motherhood. East Coast. Divorce. Bollywood? Life has taught me that every bumper has a cushion, every flipper provides an opportunity and the glass ceiling is real. The Liberal Arts prepared me for Life. The ball is still in play.


Mitch Goldblatt, Alumnus

A Liberal Arts education provided me with the opportunity to view the world differently than I ever had before, or would again. While pursuing a political science degree, I not only gained an appreciation for the fine arts, humanities, and music, but gained considerable knowledge about the fundamentals of biology, psychology, sociology, and religion. Much of my personal and professional success in life is due to the liberal arts education I received from Muhlenberg College, where I developed the skills to write clearly, speak eloquently, think critically, and care for others.


Ed Greenawald, Alumnus

"We had to make a scheduling change, and you will be teaching Oral English this semester." It was 50 years ago this past September 5th that these words shook my proverbial mathematics boots!! They were spoken by the principal of a Chinese School in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, upon my arrival for a three-year teaching assignment after just graduating from Muhlenberg as a math major! While the following semesters I did teach math, thank goodness I was prepared to be successful!! This lesson of flexibility, straight out of the chute, would not have happened without my Muhlenberg liberal arts education.


Simon Gribben, Alumnus

Flunked 12th grade English (conduct unbecoming), graduated college as an English Major.  Raised by bookless outlaws a block from Muhlenberg (campus paperboy).  Turned down football scholarship for acting before theater department existed. Ended winning several Emmys as a News/Sports TV Producer, nominated for writing. Published poet who created football ballet and “The Football Follies” for NFL Films.  Dr. Bill Kinter, the English Professor who brought Beat poets to Muhlenberg and oversaw the Experimental Theater that became the theater department, assigned himself as my MENTOR and made me the Muhlenberg Christian Association’s spiritual theater director.  I’ve become an ordained Sufi Reverend.


Wilson Gum, Alumnus

A chemistry set given by his parents for his 10th birthday and becoming a Boy Scout on his 11th led this young man, who grew up on a Pennsylvania dairy farm, to Muhlenberg College, marriage and a career in chemistry and service to his community, church and college. I was guided toward Muhlenberg by the pastor of our Lutheran Church along with my father's enthusiastic support and encouragement. Because of my interest in chemistry and having attended a small high school, I instantly felt like the Muhlenberg campus was just right for me. The close contact with outstanding and supportive faculty, excellent varsity/intramural athletic programs and a strong Greek fraternity system provided exactly the college environment I was looking for. My experience in the Boy Scouts exposed me to the value of diverse thinking, community service and leadership and let me experience a world beyond a PA dairy farm. Muhlenberg grounded me in the sciences but also further developed and refined the skills to think and speak constructively in the arts, humanities and religion. Muhlenberg was pivotal to my success in graduate school, my career in the chemical industry and my life-long commitment to the communities, organizations and churches in which my family lived, belonged to and attended.


Tom Hadzor, Alumnus

No one grows up aspiring to be a fundraiser.  Including me.  But non-profits are a sixth of our economy, and that important work has formed the basis of my entire career.  How have the liberal arts helped?  My development career has involved work at two independent schools, a college, a law school, a cancer center, and a library.  I've moved among the disparate disciplines with ease.  The liberal arts are for those who are interested in many things and such an education makes it easier to exercise a curiosity about the world.  In my case, the world of work.


John Heil, Parent

I drove my psychology major headlong into a professional career, thinking I left art and interdisciplinary studies behind. But I would discover that all came along for the ride. Art has served a creative spark igniting ideas, like organizing an art show to raise awareness for chronic pain, and creating a series on art and emotion in a pain medicine publication. I am most pleased to have helped two patients find successful careers as artists after being devastated by illness. Presenting at a gallery opening for billy bob beamer, then as now, I extolled the virtues of the liberal arts.


George Heitmann, Faculty

Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Liberal Arts.  You may laugh; I do now, not then. From first remembered childhood, with steadfast determination, I wanted to be a plumber; my dream to replace all the lead pipes of Brooklyn with copper. Then I met the gracefully blooming Thalia, soon to become my muse. Perhaps Shakespeare, certainly not copper piping, was the way to her heart. She insisted on more. I made quick with the trivium, sprinted through the quadrivium. Can anyone claim greater change through encounter with the liberal arts? Alas, fair Thalia succumbed to an electrician’s assistant from, can you believe, Staten Island!  How comedic!


Lawrence Husick, Alumnus

As a chemistry major, other institutions closed their doors to my wish to compete in intercollegiate speech and debate, declaring these activities restricted to English and drama departments. At Muhlenberg, the liberal arts philosophy meant that I had the full support of the college in pursuing this interest, as well as many others. My experience as president of the forensics team led directly to my being awarded the Trial Advocacy Award in law school and to my career as a litigating patent attorney.


Cindee Ivker, Parent

Our daughter was born 3 months premature and weighed less than a pound and a half.  From the day she was born, we were filled with doubt.  Would she ever come home? Would she ever walk? Certainly, farthest from our minds was would she ever attend college?  And then the time came and she fell in love with Muhlenberg College.  While she has been learning academically, we have been learning as her parents.  We have seen her grow and thrive and develop a sense of who she is both academically and socially.  Her liberal arts education has allowed her to express her opinion yet back it up with sound facts learned in the classroom.  And we have learned from her that we should never doubt her ability to succeed. 


Michael Kasten, Parent

College attended: Macalester College, B.S. 1985. The computer programming class I stumbled across helped set me apart in my first job as a Budget Analyst for the City of St. Paul MN. I developed a computer program that was useful to the City for analyzing budget and policy priorities. I majored in economics, but the gratification of creating a computer program piqued my interest and opened doors. I then became a budget and policy analyst for OMB in Washington reporting to the director of OMB on international policy priorities. Now I am a corporate attorney with the ability to represent High Tech companies. Computer programming enriched my life.


Forrest Kentwell, Student

The R (religion) requirement at Muhlenberg College changed my life, because it encouraged me to take "Religions of America" with Dr. Cooperman. The course was so fantastic that I took "Theory and Method" afterwards with Dr. Gruen. I am now a Religion Studies major looking to become a professor in the field. The humanities at our college provide, Students with a variety of lenses in which to analyze the world around us. Our Greek system has also given me a wonderfully transformative process that helped me develop into a stronger, more confident individual. ATO changed my life for the best.


Barbara Kehr, Alumna

As assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in one of Pennsylvania's 500 school districts, I was responsible for leading, observing, and providing supportive feedback to K-12 teachers in all subject areas. My liberal arts education and humanities major at Muhlenberg College helped me to transition from my role as an elementary classroom teacher to that of a credible leader at the middle and high school levels. Courses in history, literature, philosophy, religion, and music appreciation provided me with the broad knowledge based I needed to interact confidently and knowledgeably as I helped other teachers grow and develop into master educators.


Trevor Knox, Faculty

How the Liberal Arts Changed my Life Or, Shakespeare Must Have Been An Accountant. A French major at a liberal arts college, I spent junior year abroad in Montpellier. Courses included "Shakespearean Comedies" at the local university and "17th-Century French Literature," taught by a resident-advisor from the home institution. Eager to integrate my learning, I poured my heart into a French lit paper that compared themes in Molière and Shakespeare. The "liberal arts" professor awarded me a "C for effort," explaining that she was unfamiliar with Shakespeare and couldn't evaluate my work. Crushed, I withdrew from the course and declared a major in economics by airmail. Economics led to accounting. And here I am!


Jennifer Kuhn, Alumna

At Muhlenberg I was able to pursue my passion of Spanish language and culture, and had an amazing study abroad experience in Spain. I also had the opportunity to take many classes that interested me that I had never before been exposed to; however, it was Introduction to Psychology that changed everything. Through dedicated professors and interesting classes, I knew that Psych was the career path for me. I’m grateful to Berg for the numerous opportunities to learn and explore new things. My liberal arts education allowed me to cultivate my interests and grow as an individual.


Clif Kussmaul, Faculty

I have varied interests – STEM, music, writing.  At Swarthmore, I majored in engineering and music managed computers and the concert hall, and met life-long friends (and a wife) with other interests. I earned graduate degrees in electro-acoustic music and (eventually) CS, did EEG, PET, and fMRI research, played early music, gamelan, and djembe and prepared for teaching. I've consulted with tech companies, businesses, and non-profits and led workshops across the US and India. My classes are also interdisciplinary – new product development, communication skills, guided inquiry, and musical instruments. Throughout my life, I've interacted with diverse people and problems. What's next?


Ben Liebov, Alumnus

Muhlenberg College allowed me to earn my BS in chemistry and BA in English in an unexpected juxtaposition only seen in a liberal arts setting. Although I had learned reading/writing techniques and scientific principles earlier, Muhlenberg was where I explored both in depth and learned how the two subjects complemented each other. I was able to learn steadfast principles of the chemical world and how to think scientifically while simultaneously studying writers who were unafraid to break convention. A liberal arts education enabled me to think critically about the world we live in and be unafraid to try something novel.


Monty Lo Sasso, Student

I chose Muhlenberg on a whim, hoping to begin a new chapter in my life. The red doors that opened themselves to me offered more opportunities than I could fathom. My Journey took me from the classroom to the operating theatre, to Scotland for a year to study everything from archaeology and literature to surgery and quantum physics, through the capitals of Europe, and back home to enact positive change in my community. Thanks to my liberal arts education I am ready, eager, and willing not only to enter the world, but to change it for the better.


Dawn Longsinger, Faculty

I come from a large working class family: my father a janitor, my mother a factory worker, and five siblings. No one I knew had been to college. I spent much of my childhood sweeping car dealership showrooms with my father. By all accounts, I should not be who I am today: a published poet, a scholar, a mentor, an editor, and a professor. A liberal arts education wholly widened my world, and revealed to me that through the creative one could protect, enhance, and transform our shared world from the inside out, one reader or student at a time.


Angela Lucci, Alumna

From the first time I stepped foot on campus, I knew Muhlenberg would change my life. It quickly became my home away from home and a safe place to grow into the woman I have become today. I gained more confidence because its environment let me be my true self without hiding behind any sort of façade. Without even trying, I found groups I easily fit into. I became a better leader through my work as an RA, by serving on Student Council, and as a sister of Phi Mu. Attending Berg was the best decision of my life.


Deborah Mager Rickner, Alumna

I am an elementary school art teacher. I have never attended a true "Arts College," and I have never regretted this. Through Muhlenberg, I learned subjects far beyond the arts. The Arts cannot be taught in a void, and I am able to design awesome lessons based on science, history, math and literature because I have a strong background in all those areas. While visiting Muhlenberg during my children's college searches I realized that my personal teaching philosophy is based on what I had learned at Muhlenberg, even though I did not take education courses there. Muhlenberg encourages students to stretch far beyond their focus even Biology/ Dance double majors are not unheard of. This kind of strong liberal arts education is what creates well-rounded adults who are ready to take on the world.


Fern Mann, Alumna

It could take me a million words to describe how the liberal arts at Muhlenberg changed my life but, thanks to my liberal arts education at Muhlenberg, I have learned how to define the question, focus my thinking and edit, edit, edit. With those three skills, I have lived and will continue to live a life full of responsibility, discovery and wonder. And I can record it all in 75 words or less!


David Miller, Alumnus

I recall with pleasure how my favorite professors helped open my mind.  Stenger, Kinter, Erskine, Johnson…gentle giants, brilliant and unerringly kind.  My ‘aged’ textbooks still reside on their shelf of honor, softly calling me to come re-read and thus rekindle their wonder and their majesty.  Later, I learned my craft with other firms, then, breathing deeply, struck out on my own, first locally, then internationally.  To date, I’ve published magazines, one history, two novels and so much more.  Thanks to you, Muhlenberg, my soul has become far richer than before.


Tom Miller, Friend

After early retirement from a successful banking career, I stumbled on the over-60 Senior Scholar Program at Muhlenberg College in 1988 and my life has never been the same.  What a joy it was to study the Iliad and the Odyssey for the first time in my 60's, attend a course in Modern Poetry, and study the Constitution for a year.  But, my first love is history and after auditing fourteen courses in that discipline - so far - I know that I will be teaching college history in my next life.  The professors have been so helpful in my quest.


Nicholas Minnich, Alumnus

The value of liberal arts in not always immediately clear. In hindsight, it is everything. The following is an excerpt from my cover letter, which secured me a dream job in September 2013. "When I graduated from Muhlenberg College in 2010, Kathryn Fuller, former president of World Wildlife Fund, delivered the commencement speech. I had a surreal feeling that one day I would work for WWF." It is fitting that I now work as a marketer for a science-based organization. Muhlenberg was a perfect place to explore Media & Communication while having the sciences and arts on the periphery. Thanks, Muhlenberg.


Susan Minnich, Parent

I work part-time (on campus). If I were to write a book about liberal arts, this would be my story: Chapter I: Empty Nest: My eldest goes to Albright. My youngest becomes a Mule! Berg transforms my Mule into a Panda – he works for World Wildlife Fund. My husband? A Moravian graduate torn on who to root for at football games. Chapter II: Student-workers teach me to think differently and creatively. They inspire me to return to college to complete my degree. Liberal arts have not changed my life. It is emphatically changing it. I await future chapters.


Dustin Nash, Faculty

As a student at a small liberal arts college, I failed my Spanish placement test. As a result, I decided to try something different: Hebrew. In two months I was the course tutor. In two years I was at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In three years I was at Harvard Divinity School receiving my MTS in Hebrew Bible and headed to Cornell for my PhD. Twelve years out, I am Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion Studies here at Muhlenberg College. My life was forever changed by a language requirement – but I still don't know Spanish.


Evelyn Neuber, Alumna

Bowling! When I tell people that I took bowling in college, sometimes they are jealous, sometimes they laugh, but mostly it leads to some very interesting conversation after that. My work as a scientist is based on a lot of topic-specific studying, but my ability to feel comfortable in most social settings is a direct result of the liberal arts education I was fortunate enough to receive at Muhlenberg College. I can't remember what my high score was, but I do remember that a late-10 is better than no strike at all.


John O'Connell, Parent

I grew up in a house where my parents listened to big band jazz. It was my soundtrack from first grade through high school. It resulted in me joining a stage band in grade school playing traditional jazz while developing an appreciation for 60s and 70s rock, fusion, reggae, gospel, blues and soul. I feel privileged to have had the exposure having lived with and met mentors that nurtured my interests in profound ways. I in turn have done what I can to pass on this appreciation to my family and friends while supporting the artists that speak to my soul.


Owen Faut, Alumnus

After graduation from Muhlenberg, I attended MIT for graduate school.  When I arrived in Cambridge my first goal was to attend a live performance of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Symphony Hall.  I purchased tickets for the balcony because they were the cheapest seats.  I was told I would probably have to race little old ladies up to these unreserved seats for the concert.  I did.


Megan O'Leary, Alumna

Definitively, my personal and professional passion for city and environmental planning began with enrollment in Dr. Gambino's Politics and Public Space. It led me to Belfast, months of field research and a thesis entitled, "Urban Revitalization: A Mechanism for Deconstructing the Divided City." The thesis opened doors into a graduate program and a career that leverages the liberal arts education I received at Muhlenberg. My work in public service, as a city planner, demands the skills of a generalist: sociology, demography, economics, statistics, environmental science, architecture, art, history and communications a continuing education in the liberal arts.


Maryruth Olshefski, Staff

I came from a working class family; I didn’t expect my parents to help me out.  I worked part-time and went to school full-time.  I learned how to persevere despite many distractions during that time.   I learned how to be responsible for my actions, keep myself organized and be receptive to differing opinions.  Liberal Arts taught me to be curious, to ask questions, offer an opinion, be patient, organized, and not be that cog in the wheel.


Martin Paley, Parent

Informing my hard driving construction engineer father of my desire to study Philosophy didn't go well. He seriously questioned why he was sending his son to college just to navel-gaze. Studying Philosophy taught me how to think and analyze a situation from different points of view. Philosophy helped me reflect about my place on earth and what I was going to do with my life. A liberal arts education is not a trade school, but teaches an important tool: how to think. I am proud that my daughter is studying liberal arts at Muhlenberg; it will serve her well.


Kyhm Penfil, Parent

I began college pre-med. When selecting classes for first semester, my father (a doctor) suggested I take one "fun" class, and I chose Introduction to Art History. I became an Art and Architectural History major, spent my junior year studying abroad in Italy, worked as an art historian in New York for five years after graduation and eventually went to law school to practice copyright law. And, along the way, I met my husband who had come to my hometown to for his own undergraduate studies.


Thomas Petro, Alumnus

All that I am, I owe to God and to my wonderful parents.  All that I have academically garnered, I owe to my Muhlenberg liberal arts education.  Although I have degrees in history, science and education, my liberal arts degree provided an excellent foundation for my life's endeavors.  My careers as an Air Force officer and subsequently as a labor relations person were greatly ameliorated because my academic knowledge was so diverse.  If knowledge is power, then Muhlenberg's liberal arts curriculum was the generator.  I truly feel like a "Renaissance Man," and I owe that to Muhlenberg.  Cogita, ergo sum.


Kelly Pisano, Alumna

In going to college I believed I was shaping my life story and that choosing Muhlenberg, a liberal arts college, was simply the setting to the tale. However, as a Religion Studies major I learned the stories of many other cultures. As a student worker I learned the college's story, and as a friend I enjoyed the stories we built together. Liberal Arts Colleges don't become part of your story, they show you that you are part of a larger story, shared by the world, and give you the power and passion to shape that story every day.


Laura Pitioniak, Alumna

I was hired to work for Domestic Relations, the place I remember standing in line wanting to be a part of. I worked the front counter for 10 years and wanted to do more. I saw an article with Muhlenberg College advertising open house and attended. That happened on a Friday and the following Monday, I was enrolled in classes. My goal was to be a Domestic Relations Officer so that I could hear cases and help people to work together. Muhlenberg’s Liberal Arts program made this goal possible, changing my life and also the lives of each case I handle.


Thomas Poppe, Parent

Yours truly: Taxi driver in Germany in the 80s, English minor. Devouring my favorite author's newest book. What!? Three bloopers on a single page! Blunders - raping the meaning! Today's date? YES! Frankfurt Book Fair is on! Grabbed a bag, hopped a taxi, jumped the train from Munich to Frankfurt, rushed to the Fair, ran to the publisher's booth – and tipped a suit on the shoulder. "You responsible for THIS?" I asked. "Oh, indeed I am!"  Friendly eyes. "I see," he said after verifying my breathlessly voiced claim. "Why don't YOU translate his next book?" That's how it all started!


Gary Puzzella, Alumnus

I was 48 years and wondering if my dreams to become a teacher were over until I met Pricilla Howard. We talked one day and she changed my life. I was convinced I still could do the same and become a teacher. The rigorous liberal arts program at Muhlenberg College challenged and inspired me. My reward was the support and tools to help me realize my full potential. I am a teacher, I can change lives, I can challenge and inspire, and my opportunities are endless, thanks to the Muhlenberg College, Faculty and, Staff family forever. Thank You.


Jill Robinson, Alumna

Oprah Winfrey calls it the "A-ha moment," when suddenly an individual is filled with a profound sense of understanding. That epiphany, or series of connections, that one experiences throughout their life, is enmeshed in a Liberal Arts education. Somewhere in the midst of performing horribly in Chemistry and equally as wretched in Calculus, I was introduced to the novel, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig, enticing me to pursue a career that fostered communication, language, interpersonal relationships, reading and a vocabulary that is continually challenged in Scrabble. I am and celebrate the Liberal Arts!


Sarah Rosenthal, Alumna

My choice to attend Muhlenberg has made me who I am today. The opportunity to explore new fields such as sociology, communication, and Judaic studies were instrumental in how I developed as a student leader from choosing to study abroad in South Africa in order to experience a new culture to eventually working to obtain a Masters in Higher Education. Being exposed to the liberal arts allowed me to grow, explore, and question who I am and my role in society, something I hope to eventually teach the students I will work with as a college administrator.


Michelle Rossi, Alumna

I grumbled and complained about having to take my “Behavior” requirement (because every student has a GAR that they dread). But there I was, a second semester overachieving senior, petitioning to earn it in a 400-level psychology class, “Music Perception.” I was aiming to earn a dual degree in Biology & Music and I knew this class would be perfect. The petition passed—I took the course as a “B.” It was one of the most challenging and influential courses I took, thanks to engaging professors and classmates. I learned how to express myself as a scientist and a musician.


Samara Roth, Alumna

Interpreting for therapists who worked with Spanish-speaking families in service-learning classes enabled me to combine disparate fields of study in the community. The placement allowed me to intertwine the development of psychological disorders from one class and language interpreting skills from Spanish class. Today, I work in a bilingual setting, reaching out to an impoverished Latino community in Washington, D.C. in the mental health field. Liberal arts in college encouraged me to pursue distinctive passions that I blend daily. It may not taste as good as a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, but the benefits are forever, and not fattening.


Marisa Rubin, Student

Applying to college is scary, but even scarier, finding the right college. I came here with the intentions to pursue my dreams of becoming an actress but with such a range of classes, I found what I truly want to do and declared a media and communications major. Liberal arts are unlike any other, you get such a broad education that you wouldn't get anywhere else. I've learned that I really like learning about social media and learned that I love music history. With such a difference between those classes, it just shows what liberal arts colleges have to offer.


Kelly Rush, Alumna

My liberal arts education at Muhlenberg College changed my life by giving me self-confidence. Growing up, my family moved frequently and I attended many schools, including three different high schools. I became accustomed to fitting in, and never let myself shine. At Muhlenberg, the small class sizes, broad liberal arts curriculum, and attentive professors gave me the opportunity to explore my interests and realize my goals. My Senior Sociology Seminar allowed me to develop confidence in my academic and personal strengths, which carried me on to Columbia University and into my career as a clinical Social Worker.


Brian Rutter, Parent

A liberal arts education changed the entire course of my life. It opened my eyes to all the possibilities life had to offer - educationally, spiritually, socially. I am a better man, husband, father and member of the global community because I understand the world that was, the world that is, and what the world can be. The constant emphasis on critical thinking still is applicable, still invaluable each and every day. This is why my daughter goes to a school such as Muhlenberg. I want her to feel equally enriched and empowered, energized to embrace new ideas, new ways of thinking.


Peter Saenger, Staff

While taking an ornithology class in 1980, we were required to keep a field notebook, structured around strict guidelines establish by Joseph Grinnell in the early part of the 1900's. The notebook work was intended to teach us a systematic method to note keeping, as well as to pay attention to detail. The lessons learned in this exercise have rewarded me throughout my life since that course, because it taught me great attention to detail and that has helped me excel in the various professional positions I have held in my adult life both in corporate and academic arenas.


Erik Santiago, Student

Through my cluster course, I worked with the HYPE program on campus and created a documentary with local high school students to improve the education system in the Lehigh Valley. Ever since, community service has been my calling. Growing up with little opportunity myself, being from an inner city similar to Allentown, I know how much it means for someone to believe in you. I am tracking my life to travel across this nation extending my hand to any child in need of a voice.


Art Schmidt, Alumnus

I entered Muhlenberg's Freshman class 1943 at the age of 16.  I was young, shy, sort of an introvert, asking others to speak for me.  The V-12 and 90 of us non-military made up the student body.  It was the faculty of great tenured professors (not instructors) with their varied views that changed me into an extrovert prior to entering the service halfway through my sophomore year.  After the war I returned to Muhlenberg a much changed person and graduated class of '49.  My professors:  Kellar, Everitt, Deck, Boyer, Shankweiler, Johnson, Wright, Barba, Fritch, Marks, Koehler, etc., were responsible.


Paul Schmier, Alumnus

Liberal arts education taught me how to think, not in black or white but in shades of grey. When I hear someone expouse on some off-the-wall theory on whatever subject they may be talking about, I think of how it is off-the-wall. Some subject may be political, some scientific. But being able to think on my own I can tell the difference between fact or fiction. Knowing this, I can live with myself


Lou Schroeter, Alumnus

A common question I often get when I share my background and experiences focuses on the unusual combination of having a degree with a double major of Accounting and German. Maybe the inquiry comes from a curiosity of what led to my major choices and the path I took at while Muhlenberg. My answer without hesitation always gives tribute to how a liberal arts education shaped my choices in the classroom, in the workforce and in daily life. Prior to college my goal was to obtain an accounting degree, work for Big 6, move into industry and work way through rank and file of finance to a position of leadership. Boy, was I off! The journey has been: declare accounting major, become inspired and challenged to learn a language, have an internship in East Germany, work in Big 6, move into industry for Fortune 500 company in internal audit, assume role in IT, hold positions in business units, to being accepted into MBA program (liberal arts college) with focus on healthcare management. The liberal arts empowered me to take chances for everything in between with that constant desire to learn and adapt whatever situation was presented, even if it did not follow the path I planned for. The diversity and wealth of skills/knowledge the liberal arts have provided me has been invaluable.


Harvey Schwartz, Alumnus

I took a Muhlenberg art history class as a diversion from my Natural Science major. Dr. Iacovella looked in my eyes and said, “You are not a dentist!” I knew that she was right.  Thus began a cascading waterfall of events. I went to Woodstock, joined a hippie commune, and had a nine thousand mile hitch hiking adventure which dropped me off on the west coast. After a short teaching career an inner voice said, “You are not a teacher.”  I was confident enough to pitch a tipi and ask the universe for direction. It answered in spades!


Frederick Sherman, Alumnus

The liberal arts gave me a frame of reference for inquiry and evaluation that has benefited me in myriad ways throughout the decades since I completed my studies at Muhlenberg.  The framework has been extended, modified and updated, but the liberal arts remain at the core. To paraphrase President Helm, liberal arts prepared me for life.


Michael Simendinger, Parent

Taxes & Thoreau, Finance & Faulkner: Sounds strange, but as a CPA who majored in Accounting, and minored in English, I am grateful for the worldliness this unconventional pairing continues to give me in my professional career. With a profession as technical as accounting, my English minor helps me comfortably and effectively communicate with my clients. My Liberal Arts background taught me to be more personable as a financial advisor and more persuasive in written and oral communication. 


Georgina Simon, Student

Pursuing a liberal arts education changed my life. As an incoming student, I thought that acting was all I wanted to do. After taking a religion studies course as an academic requirement, I realized that my interests did not have to be limited to a single major. A passion was inspired within me, and I added my second major upon realizing that. I am now curious about the intersection between religion studies and theatre, and plan to explore this intersection in my career. A liberal arts education expanded my horizon. I still love performing and continue to do so, but I know that my future is unlimited.


Eileen Snyder, Parent

As the graduate of a small liberal arts college, I am now the parent of a Muhlenberg freshman (class of 2018) just starting her journey. Quite simply put, a liberal arts education shaped me as a whole person by encouraging me to take courses outside my major (biology) and minor (chemistry). That broad holistic foundation continues to support my 30-year consulting career which has required flexibility and an ability to create value by re-engineering products and services for new markets. It supports an open-mindedness toward life’s challenges and anticipation over how to spend my future retirement. In short, it shaped how I navigate the world and how I see my role in it. That rich set of common experiences continue to be recognizable in others and provides a broad spectrum lenses thru which I and others see the world. That time on campus felt like time stopped to enable me to become me. Today I continue to draw on the wellspring of that oasis to find balance and to maintain my sense of self while existing in the hectic, changing world we live in. Thank you for preserving the liberal arts tradition.


Andrew Stahlhut, Faculty

I'm an adjunct, Faculty member finishing my PhD in history at Lehigh, and I feel fulfilled to study the humanities because I realize that ideas are more valuable and rewarding than money. I started out as pre-law in college, but due to a very influential history professor I switched over and haven't looked back since. She made me realize that new ideas are more satisfying than a lawyer's paycheck, and it's that excitement that I share with my students every semester.  In an era of increasingly-commodified education, the liberal arts still have the most intrinsic worth.


Jay Stempel, Alumnus

I received a wonderful education at Muhlenberg, especially from the math department, but I can't say it changed my life. My life was completely changed by further degrees from NY Law School (LLD), and business (MBA from UNH).


Susan Williams, Friend

Independent thinkers we are. Writing about that, with a career spanning almost 40 years (but who's counting), all of it based on liberal arts degrees with a fine arts background, offers a moment for reflection on what's important in life. In today's world of specificity and experts, I have experienced life with two arms, two legs and one very open mind, creatively speaking. To be a liberal arts major and to embrace the liberal arts way of living starts with confidence and trusting my instincts. I live with the assumption that the world is humane (or should be) and full of grace. To fail is to live. Luckily, I haven't failed much and my crayon employer and my ribbon employer and my startup advertising agency were just the training grounds for going out on my own. Twenty years later, I can tell you that sustaining my career through consulting in marketing and communication has been rewarding in many ways, not just monetary. The people and the purpose of my enterprising clients have been the difference between doing a good job and a great job, especially during the past 14 years, when the economic challenges have created huge burdens on them.


David Woods, Student

I'm a Muhlenberg finance major stuck in the quagmire of a liberal arts education. Drawing's my art requirement. After one day, I'd rather have been cleaning my dorm with a toothbrush then have gone back to class. But today I'm at synagogue. There's a little boy drawing an elephant on a pad, almost crying. "I can't get the nose right." "Noses are hard," I say. I cover his hand, and together we draw what might charitably be called an elephant's trunk. He smiles. So do I.  By the way, quagmire's a word I picked up in my writing seminar.


Joseph Yelencsics, Alumnus

A week doesn't go by that I don't refer to something learned during my time at Muhlenberg. I cannot, however, pinpoint a specific incident that changed my life. I feel enriched by the diversity of courses required during my undergraduate days. How else could I know that the Interstate Highway System began as the National Defense Highway Act (Urban and Metropolitan Analysis, Dr. Wenger), that a critical eye is essential to understanding life (Photography, Mr. Sternal), that History is the core of the curriculum (Dr. Baldridge) or tell my children why the sky is blue (A.B. Physics, Dr. Loy)?


Caroline Yost Dunleavy, Alumna

When I read about this contest, I laughed. I immediately knew I had to enter so I could share just one sentence about Muhlenberg from my 2009 admissions essay for The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, "The liberal arts were really for me!" At 43, I decided to pursue my second Master's degree, a Master of Arts in Religion (MAR). I am glad to report that, five years of part-time study later, I graduated, in May 2014. My interdisciplinary thesis demonstrates my continued love of liberal arts, fostered by Muhlenberg: Looking at Louis Comfort Tiffany through a Spiritual Lens.