Photo of Brianna Sargent

Brianna Sargent
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Class of 2020 graduate, attending the University of Pennsylvania for a master's in social work

Brianna's Duquesne journey has taken her from her native Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, Ghana and now back to the City of Brotherly Love. While the coronavirus forced her home early, the senior psychology major will be pursuing a master's degree in social work at the University of Pennsylvania this fall.
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Joe'l Kane
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
President of Ebony Women for Social Change, Class of 2020 graduate

After four years at Duquesne University marked by personal growth, friendships and service to the Pittsburgh community and her fellow students, Joe'l is ready to take the next step. She will be attending Temple University for an M.S. in Education in Applied Behavior Analysis. "My main goal is to integrate mental health education and K-12 curriculum nationwide," Joe'l said.
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Judith Solé
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
An aspiring professional filmmaker and producer from Spain

Judith is a fan of award-winning producer, writer and author Shonda Rhimes, who includes among her many credits, Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. "She always has a woman as the lead character and it's usually a woman of color. It's really powerful to me," says Solé speaking of Rhimes' work.
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Rebecca Bulgarelli
John G. Rangos, Sr. School of Health Sciences
Developed an assistive communication device for a patient with speech language issues

Compassionate, forward thinking, driven. These are some of the words one might use to describe Rebecca after any brief conversation with her.

As Rebecca reached middle and high school she knew she wanted to pursue a career that would allow her to work with children with special needs. Now in the professional phase of the Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) program at Duquesne she is doing just that. Rebecca is working at an externship at the Pathfinder School in Bethel Park, where she provides individual and group therapy for 12-21-year olds who have intellectual disabilities.

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Janelle Gans
John G. Rangos, Sr. School of Health Sciences
Student Government Association Senator, Best Buddies mentor and hockey fan

"I felt like Duquesne was where I wanted to be," says Janelle Gans, a second-year Speech-Language Pathology major and Special Education minor. She discovered Duquesne when she was looking for a program that would offer her a master's degree and give her the best campus experience.

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Christopher Morrow
Palumbo-Donahue School of Business
MBA candidate who was offered a new job during his first year

Something more. When Christopher was looking to get an MBA he wanted to find a place that would give him something more - the skills and experience he needed to further his career. He had spent several years prior working for a military contractor, assisting the families of fallen soldiers with their financial planning. He wanted to investigate a career in the emerging data analytics field. "Ultimately I wanted to transition to a new job. I found that a lot of the ones I was looking for required an advanced degree." He went on to that that, "You're at the point in your life where you say, I can take two years and look back and have a degree. If you're willing to make the extra commitment that it's worth it."

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Gabrielle Solarczyk-Wallace
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
English major who has battled back from several autoimmune diseases

Even after the most brief conversation with Gabrielle you can't help but feel her determination and purpose. She was diagnosed with lupus when she was 14 years old. Gabrielle also manages other autoimmune diseases. "I've dealt with it pretty much all my life. I've had health issues since I was born actually. My body doesn't recognize the good cells from the bad cells." Courage seems to be part of her DNA and she's demonstrated that most recently with her time working towards her degree in English with a concentration in writing and a minor in psychology.

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Esmeralda Wang
John G. Rangos, Sr. School of Health Sciences
Shanghai native and the first person in her family to earn a doctorate

From Shanghai to Pittsburgh. Yinao or "Esme" as she likes to be called, landed on Duquesne's campus to study for a master's as part of the University's collaboration with the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine through the China Linkage Program (CLP). It provides a means for exchanging faculty and master's and doctoral students. Students coming to Duquesne can earn master's degrees in occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology. To date, 87 students from China have graduated from the program and now work in the country's major hospitals and medical institutes. Emse continued on for the Doctorate in Occupational Therapy (OTD) program.

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Elizabeth Morris
School of Education
Member of the cross country team and future middle school teacher

With a family background in teaching the importance of education has helped to define Elizabeth Morris's career path. Both Elizabeth's mother and grandmother were teachers. "Education is very valued in my family. I went to a very good school district and always going to school was critical," the Central Bucks East graduate noted. She grew up in Doylestown, Pa.

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David Berdik
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Computer Science major who landed a job at General Dynamics

After walking across the Commencement stage this Friday, David will begin a new chapter as a software developer for General Dynamics (GD). While he will be working in the company's Pittsburgh office David will also be working to complete his master's in computer science at Duquesne. "I'm really excited," he said. There are several other graduates from Duquesne's Mathematics and Computer Science Department who also work at GD. This desire to start a career and study towards his master's grows out of his interest to always be learning.

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Taylor Boggs
John G. Rangos, Sr. School of Health Sciences
Doctorate in Occupational Therapy, developed an online training module for medical staff and parents

"One of the children that I was working with had no language in December and then I saw him in May and he was talking in full sentences and was able to sign and communicate and tell you his needs. I just think it's so amazing to be able to see that and help them do that." It is moments like this that reinforce for Taylor why she wanted to pursue a career in the health field.

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Megan Toomer
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Student Commencement speaker pursuing a career in civil rights law

Megan's goal of graduating Summa Cum Laude is about to be fulfilled. Another noteworthy honor will also be bestowed on her, commencement speaker. This Friday Megan will be the student commencement speaker at the liberal arts graduation ceremony. About her drive she remarked that, "I was just always in my books. Anytime we'd go out anywhere I'd have a book with me," she says.

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Bella Guzzi
School of Education
Social justice advocate and resident assistant (RA) in St. Martin's Hall

A passion for social justice was nurtured here at Duquesne through several key experiences. In 2018-19 Bella was a Community Engagement Scholar with the Center for the Center for Community-Engaged Teaching and Research (CETR). In this role she worked at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Hill District branch, teaching reading skills to young children as a "reading buddy." It was "probably one of my best experiences at Duquesne," she said. "You build a relationship with the community partner as well as the people at the library and the kids, which was amazing." Bella goes on to say that, "I think the mission of CETR and for the community engagement scholars was to make sure the relationship was sustainable. It wasn't something that you're just popping in and then leaving. It was a real authentic relationship."

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PJ Winters
Mary Pappert School of Music
Classically Trained Musician and Passionate Mentor

PJ had originally planned to be a performance major in piano at Duquesne but decided the day of his audition to change to music education. "I entered the program on the leap of faith," he said. He is not the first member of his family to attend Duquesne as his father Paul is a graduate of the School of Business. "Duquesne is a small-knit community," he said. "I feel like the professors here genuinely want you to succeed, and will make sure that you do succeed. I'm glad I chose to be here."

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Joshua Furlong
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
13-year Army veteran, President of Duquesne's Student Veterans of America chapter

On Sept. 11, 2001 Joshua heard the phone ring while at his grandparents house and it was his grandfather calling his grandmother. "She said, "They're bombing New York," and I was like you're crazy. I turned on the TV and I saw the second plane hit and I was like, wow. And I knew my life was gonna change at that point. It was just a matter of when," he said.

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Madelyn Hoying
Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences and John G. Rangos, Sr. School of Health Sciences
Duquesne Swim & Dive team member

"I want to be an astronaut. I want to go to space. Everything I'm doing is working towards that," she says with confidence. The Groselle, Michigan native is one of three siblings and the first in her family to pursue a degree in physics and biomedical engineering.

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Joseph Leckenby
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
A passion for law and competing in crew

Joseph brought a curious mind and a deep interest in law and politics to Duquesne. He was born and raised in Mt. Lebanon and attended Bishop Canevin High School. "Here you can stimulate your thinking more than at other schools. Also coming from a Catholic school I've been used to theological questions, so in that way I'm more comfortable. I feel like it's the best fit for me."

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Kelly Slipek
School of Pharmacy
Pharm.D. candidate focused on patient care

After earning her undergraduate degree in biology, a master's in teaching, and working for several years, Kelly decided to enroll in School's the Post-Bac Pathway Program. Interestingly, while working towards her degree she also taught undergraduate biology labs and some of her students are now in the pharmacy program.

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Julianne Pfendt
School of Nursing
Member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority

As a full-time student who is completing clinical rotations, working as a patient care technician at UPMC Presbyterian and as a waitress at the Red Ring Bar & Grille as well as an active member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, Julianne is always busy. "I like taking on a lot of things in my life. I feel like that makes me a well-rounded student," says the Upstate New York native.

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Erin Gorse
School of Pharmacy
Novo Nordisk Innovation in Action Case Competition Winner

Aside from all that Erin has been able to do and achieve at Duquesne, she has enjoyed being able to regularly see her dad on campus. "It's been a really important part of my experience here to make time with him. We've had a standing weekly lunch date where we just try to reconnect."

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Daniel Smolsky
Palumbo-Donahue School of Business
Director of Duquesne's award-winning Orientation program

"The Orientation program isn't for me. It's not for my chairpersons. It's not for anyone else at the university. It's for the new students and their families. We want to make the events about them and ensure that they want to come to them and not feel obligated. This year specifically I'm trying to do a lot more for the parents. Sending your kid away to a new school is very sad and it can be hard to leave them and we want them to know that their new student is going to be OK."

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Muhammed Al Jaffal
School of Education
First DU recipient of a Ph.D. in Special Education with a focus in Autism/Behavior

"Duquesne gave me something special. It's not just a school. It is more than this actually. It is a home for me. It's a place that I belong to," says Mohammed, who will be the first person to graduate from the School of Education's Ph.D. in Special Education with a focus in Autism/Behavior with certification.

Photo of Christopher Collins

Christopher Collins
School of Nursing
Active member of Best Buddies

Christopher's grandmother was a nurse and helped to spark his interest in the nursing profession. He is also a first-generation college student. Despite some of the difficulties first-generation students face, Christopher has thrived at Duquesne. In addition to his classes, he has been working at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital for the last two years and is an active member of Best Buddies at Duquesne.

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Valerie Umana-Anderson
School of Education
Aspiring teacher from Honduras

"When I looked up the program on the website, I got so excited and kind of overwhelmed because it was exactly what I've been dreaming of for years." Valerie will be beginning her sophomore year at the School of Education this fall.

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Olivia Erickson
School of Pharmacy
Passionate leader with Pure Thirst

Service and a commitment to Spiritan values have been defining characteristics of Olivia's tenure on the Bluff.

She has had leadership positions with Pure Thirst, Duquesne University SGA and was a Resident Assistant. "I really enjoyed working as a member of Pure Thirst. It's a unique organization and our focus was largely on community engagement, both in our Duquesne community and in Olkokola, Tanzania. We do a lot of work year-round to raise awareness about the world water crisis and finding ways to address the specific needs for the community of Olkokola. Spending a few weeks in Tanzania was a wonderful cultural experience and showed me the importance of our Spiritan traditions and values. It put it all into perspective."


Photo of David Maher

David Maher
John G. Rangos, Sr. School of Health Sciences
Co-developed a pediatric exoskeleton

David, who graduated in May, is already working towards his Master's in Bioengineering Innovation and Design at Johns Hopkins University (Cbid At Johns Hopkins). "I take pride (in going to Johns Hopkins) because I feel like being one of the first Duquesne engineers to go out into the world I want to be out ahead and prove that yes, you can come here to the Duquesne BME program and go to the best graduate schools, work at the biggest companies and you can go to the best medical schools because you started here."

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Morgan Gray
School of Law
Co-creator of a law enforcement app

This Friday Morgan will become the first member of his family to get a law degree. His path to Duquesne started with an interest in criminal law and technology and a double major in political science and criminal justice at Thiel College. He in fact graduated ahead of schedule and immediately began working towards his J.D. at the School of Law.

Photo of Alexandra Gvozdik

Alexandra Gvozdik
School of Law
Russian law student

Not only did Alexandra have to learn an entirely new legal system in coming to the United States and Pittsburgh, she navigated a new cultural and professional environment too. "It was overwhelming but exciting." Despite these obstacles she has excelled in law school.

Photo of Lalah Ali

Lalah Ali
School of Pharmacy
Recipient of the 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Award

Lalah's time at Duquesne has been marked by her years of service to incoming students through the Office of Diversity & Inclusion at Duquesne University's Pre-Orientation Program and learning about all the pharmacy profession has to offer.

Photo of Kim Stafford

Kim Stafford
John G. Rangos, Sr. School of Health Sciences and School of Nursing
Cofounder of the DU Society of Women Engineers

Kim will be the first person graduating with the biomedical engineering/nursing dual degree. She graduated with her degree in Biomedical Engineering in May and will from the School of Nursing in August. "I feel like it's been such a long journey. 2014 feels like so long ago but it does go by so fast. I've learned and grown so much." She also said she appreciates being able to have mentors in both schools who helped to "fuel her fire."

Courtney Battles

Courtney Battles
John G. Rangos, Sr. School of Health Sciences
DU Lacrosse team captain

After an internship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) working on metabolic diseases, Courtney will be heading back there for a job after graduation. "The whole environment at the NIH was something that really sparked my attention and my interest in medicine. It led me to want to come back." In the long term she wants to go to medical school and ultimately work to bridge the gap between clinicians and scientists.

Photo of Christian Campbell

Christian Campbell
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Published poet

"Ever since I can remember I was kind of like the therapist of my group of friends. People would come to me with their problems. I always like trying to help people solve their issues."

Photo of Abner Jairo Ortiz Garcia

Abner Jairo Ortiz Garcia
Mary Pappert School of Music
City Music Foundation's Mexican International Scholar

Jairo grew up in Morelia, in the Mexican state of Michoacán. In 2018 while at Duquesne he was selected as the City Music Foundation's Mexican International Scholar and traveled around Europe to attend workshops, receive lessons from renowned cellists and perform.

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Jhoser Salazar Ramirez
Mary Pappert School of Music
Aspiring professional clarinet player and teacher

After receiving an undergraduate and master's degree in his home country of Colombia, and attending the Conservatoire Jean-Philippe Rameau in Paris, Jhoser enrolled at Duquesne for a very specific reason. "I wanted to focus all of my energies on performance," he says. School of Music clarinet adjunct professor Ron Samuels, who is also a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, was the big draw for Jhoser. They actually met five years ago in Colombia. "He's phenomenal. I thought to myself, if I go abroad, that's the guy I want to study with. And that didn't change. I always wanted to come here (to Duquesne). He means a lot for me now and I know he will in the future."

Photo of Brazitte Poole

Brazitte Poole
School of Law
Cofounder of Invest in Her

The challenge of law school has shown Brazitte Poole just how hard she can work and how much she can accomplish. "You push yourself to impossible limits and now to be able to get that prize I feel really good about that."

Photo of Eric Linder

Eric Linder
John G. Rangos, Sr. School of Health Sciences
Landed a job for a medical startup before graduation

Seeing his mother battle breast cancer when he was in fourth grade shaped Eric Linder's career path. He was initially going to go to medical school but decided that he could make a difference in the biomedical engineering field.