Alumni Profiles

Melissa Andresko, Class of 1998

Public Relations Director, Lutron Electronics

Melissa Andresko is Public Relations Director at Lutron Electronics, the company that has been dimming the lights in homes and movie theaters since 1961. In this role, Andresko oversees all North American public relations and social media activities and serves as the on-camera, company spokesperson, appearing frequently on local and national radio and television programs. A 17-year Lutron veteran, Andresko manages three external public relations and social media agencies. She is responsible for conceptualizing and driving campaigns and programs that help Lutron’s business units achieve their goals, all while protecting and enhancing the company’s coveted 54-year old brand. She also manages celebrity relations, including Hollywood actors and influencers, and serves as Lutron’s corporate liaison throughout the industry.

A Pennsylvania native, Andresko graduated from Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1998, with dual degrees in journalism and political science. A voice for homeless animals, Andresko resides in Whitehall, Pennsylvania, with her partner, Ross, and their dog, Parker, a mixed terrier rescued from a high-kill shelter in Georgia.

James Cudney, Class of 1999

Senior Vice President, Information Technology at The Madison Square Garden Company

When I graduated from Moravian College in 1999, I wasn't exactly sure where I wanted my career to land; however, I was certain that having top notch communication skills would be the most important tool in my toolbox. Whether you run your own business or work in someone else's company, knowing which communication style or medium is the most appropriate is paramount to being successful. Choosing to major in English at Moravian was what I thought would give me the best chance to fine tune my verbal and written skills so that I could achieve whatever goals I set. In the last 15 years, these skills were the primary reason why I have been able to lead and manage technology organizations (... perhaps some technology skills, too!) as well as partner with my business colleagues to help grow and sustain our many brands and operations. In my current role as Senior Vice President, Information Technology at The Madison Square Garden Company, I still rely on the basics that my college professors taught me and am grateful to be part of such an amazing collegiate institution. My best advice to all current and prospective students is to take the time to listen, to be open-minded and to find a mentor who will help you figure out your own path. Every day of your life will include both the status quo and a few surprises... how you choose to react to them and who you choose to guide you through them will determine your success and happiness.

Brittany Garzillo, Class of 2013

Reporter/Producer, WLVT PBS39

I graduated from Moravian in 2013 with a self-designed major in Communications and Media Studies. During my time at Moravian, I started my career in broadcast television as an intern at WFMZ in Allentown, PA, NBC10, in Philadelphia, PA and at PBS39 in Bethlehem, PA. After graduation, I received my first job out of college as a Reporter/Producer for PBS39's Emmy® Award nominated weekly news magazine show, FOCUS. As a Reporter/Producer at the station, I’ve received 7 Emmy® Award nominations from the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for my work on stories which range from topics on health and education to history and public affairs.

What helped me succeed the most at Moravian is undoubtedly the passion and drive professors and alumni had to see students succeed. Professors and alumni believed in me to create my own major. They encouraged me to think out-of-the-box. And in moments when I wasn’t sure if I was going along the right path, they encouraged me to create my own way, while at the same time reminding me that once I made it to inspire future generations to do the same. That commitment is truly at the heart of Moravian and contributes to my success today.

Evan Weller, Class of 2002

English Teacher, Head Boys Soccer Coach – Phillipsburg High School (Phillipsburg, NJ)

I graduated from Moravian in 2002, and I secured a job at Phillipsburg High School. I knew that I wanted to teach in an urban setting, and I knew that I wanted to coach a struggling soccer team. Since those humble beginnings, I have created two classes at Phillipsburg (Reading & Writing in Modern Society and Leadership: A Cultural Revolution). I have received teaching and coaching awards, ushered many students and players to college careers, started my own soccer camp (Advanced Skills Soccer Camp), and married a theatre teacher.

What did I do at Moravian that helped me get where I am today? I modeled the behaviors of my professors. And I got involved. I started coaching while I was still at Moravian, so when I went to Phillipsburg I had an attractive resume. By age 23, I was a head coach. I also started teaching as early as possible (freshman year at Moravian I believe). During my senior year I attended the NCTE convention in Baltimore where I met thousands of other English teachers who were just like me: excited, inspired, motivated. This was probably the most impactful event in my teaching journey because I got to learn from experts in the field. At Moravian, I was blessed to have extraordinary professors who showed me what it meant to teach others. They showed me the impact that one person can have. So I set out to inspire the world the way that they inspired me. And here I am.

Gerard Longo, Class of 2010

P.R. and Marketing Coordinator, PBS 39

I graduated from Moravian as a Writing track English major (and Graphic Design Minor) in May 2010.

I started as a local news contributor for websites across my native New Jersey from 2010 to 2012. Later that year, I found myself with a contract offer to perform internal communications work for the IBM Design Lab in New York City. After my contract with IBM expired at the end of 2013, I took the marketing and communications knowledge gleaned from my time there to build my own independent projects throughout 2014. These included GTL Career Services, a resume creation service, and my internet radio organization, The Quinn Spinn (which originally aired here at Moravian on WRMC).

Those self-made ventures, in addition to all that came before them, gave me plenty of hard-earned, real-world experience that has translated well into my current role as the PR & Marketing Coordinator at PBS39 here in Bethlehem. I love what I do and the people I work with, and I have come full-circle, back into the Lehigh Valley with stories and insight to share.

Jeremy Davidheiser, Class of 2013

Graduate Student, English, Lehigh University

Jeremy DavidheiserI graduated from Moravian in 2009, and have since been continuing my studies at Lehigh University in hopes of becoming a professor. My honors project was incredibly helpful in my aspiration and, I suspect, helped me get into graduate programs. I also think the Medieval and Early Modern Conference is fantastic and superbly run. My presentation there provided experience giving conference presentations, writing appropriately clear and concise papers, etc. For current students, I would encourage reading theory and criticism outside of class in order to inform your understanding of literature studied in class. While it is true we get some coursework with this, it helped my writing tremendously to read academic writing that interested me at my own pace.

Kate Brueningsen Pitts, Class of 2011

M.Ed. program in Globalization and Educational Change, Lehigh University

Kate Brueningsen PittsAfter graduating from Moravian in 2011, I spent one year studying British Literature in Yorkshire, England. I spent an additional year living and working in England before returning to Pennsylvania in 2013. I then joined AmeriCorps as a VISTA volunteer for one year as a Higher Education Network Coordinator, linking high-need public schools with higher-ed service-learning partnerships. I was then accepted to Lehigh's M.Ed. program in Globalization and Educational Change with an expected graduation of 2016. I currently work in the Study Abroad Office at Lehigh and hope to pursue a career in International Service-Learning Administration upon graduation.

I believe that my leadership positions at Moravian helped me succeed the most, especially acting as French Club president and assisting with the Medieval and Early Modern Conference organization. The practical experience with event planning and public speaking that I gained from these positions were invaluable after graduation. For current students- focus on figuring out what you don't want to do before you try to figure out what you do want to do. You might be surprised how many twists and turns life will present you with. Don't be deterred by what you may perceive as a failure; every event is a learning experience and an opportunity to become a stronger, wiser individual.

Tracey Bennett Stanton, Class of 1983

Commercial Product Development, WellPoint, Inc.

Tracey Bennett StantonI currently serve as a Senior Director in Commercial Product Development for WellPoint, Inc., a Fortune 100 health care company based in Indianapolis. I graduated from Moravian in 1983 as a Journalism major, thinking I would conquer the public relations or newspaper (yes, it was the 80s, so newspapers were king) world. But practicality meant I needed a job, and I began my career writing technical bulletins at Blue Cross of New Jersey. I have over 25 years of experience in product development/management, marketing and business development, mostly in the health care sector. I also owned my own business and worked as a freelance editor and marketing consultant for six years while my children were young.

Moravian gave me a solid foundation from which I built a rewarding and successful career, both in the corporate and entrepreneurial worlds. When I moved from Virginia back to Pennsylvania in 2000, I was looking for freelance work that would allow me to spend more time with my three young children. I applied for a freelance editing position with a firm in Bucks County. One of the requirements was passing an editing test – a very daunting proposition since I was 17 years out of college. I passed it with flying colors and got the job. I thank Moravian and my professors for that success. I actually did remember most of what I was taught in those Journalism classes all those years ago! As an English or Journalism major in today’s world, I would recommend working as many internships as possible – the real world experience is invaluable and employers are interested in hiring job-ready workers. If possible, try your hand in several different industries and don’t necessarily go out into the working world with a narrow definition of a successful career. Leave yourself open to possibilities and know that your Moravian education, hard work and dedication will help you find a rewarding and sustainable career path.

Jaclyn Swope Class of 2010

Publisher Account Manager, Nielson Book Research

Jaclyn SwopeI graduated from Moravian in 2010 after following the Writing track of the English major. Post-graduation, I took a couple of years off from school before starting a master’s course in Publishing at Kingston University in 2012. For the past year, I’ve been working as a Publisher Account Manager for Nielsen Book Research in the UK, after starting there as an intern while working on my dissertation. I always credit working at the Writing Center with really helping me to grow as a student at Moravian – beyond making me a better writer, it also influenced my desire to pursue an editorial career in publishing (even if that’s not what I’ve ended up doing!) and greatly improved the communication and analytic skills that are so fundamental to my job now. And in terms of where I’ve ended up physically, studying abroad in London my junior year definitely informed my decision to move back!

For current students, I’m torn between saying know what you want and strongly stick to it, or be open to different things you might not initially think to do. Let’s go with both! I was so sure I wanted to work in publishing that I pursued an advanced degree in it, but that led me to an unexpected job where I mostly work with numbers and data analysis for publishers, which I really enjoy and is quite different from my original editorial aspirations. Either way, take chances! And especially from a publishing perspective, but I’m sure this is applicable to every career, do your research and know what’s going on in the industry – knowledge will show through.

Sarah Becker, Class of 2010

Associate Editor for Custom Projects, Macmillan Publishers

Sarah BeckerAs a graduate of Moravian's class of 2010, I credit my studies in the English department and my involvement in Greek life to my current job success. Immediately upon graduating, I moved to New York City in the hopes of pursuing a job, life experience, anything to avoid moving back in with the rents. Due to the recession, I knew that the reality of gaining employment in a field where I could make use of my English degree was very unlikely. So, I did whatever any crafty English major would do - I got two jobs as a waitress to afford the rent of my overpriced, tiny East Village apartment. In the meantime, I applied to jobs constantly and reached out to my network from Moravian. When one of my sorority sisters found out that I was living in New York trying to pursue a job in publishing, she put me in touch with her brother who worked for Macmillan Publishers. He was very helpful in notifying me of available jobs within the company and confirmed that my education and internships made me an ideal candidate. A few months and several interviews later, I was employed part time as a freelancer with the Bedford, Freeman, and Worth Publishing Group. It wasn't exactly where I wanted to be, but it was a start. I kept my serving jobs and worked A LOT, but after three months, I applied for a job as an Editorial Assistant for the Custom Publishing group and got it. It was a huge relief to finally be employed full time with benefits in a relevant job that had a solid career path. I've been with the Custom team ever since and am now an Associate Editor. Not being afraid to take chances, work hard, and network, helped me a great deal in getting to where I am today.

Meghan Decker, Class of 2008

Marketing and Communications Associate, Moravian Academy

Meghan DeckerI am currently serving as Marketing and Communications Associate for Moravian Academy. Prior to this role, I worked as Editorial Assistant at Lehigh Valley Style magazine, writing and editing a variety of content for the magazine, its website and social media outlets. My first position after graduation was as Development Communications Specialist at Gwynedd Mercy University in suburban Philadelphia, a position that sparked my interest in working in academia. I credit four internships and the time I spent as editor of The Manuscript for giving me the flexibility and attention to detail needed to succeed in the communications field. A bachelor's degree in English/Writing, I believe, provides a solid foundation for a variety of writing-based jobs, and offers graduates many different options as they grow in their careers.

Jessica Jonas, Class of 2009

MFA, Creative Writing & the Publishing Arts, University of Baltimore; Production Editor, Absolute Service, Inc.

Jessica JonasI graduated from Moravian in 2009 with Honors in English and Sociology and earned my MFA in Creative Writing & the Publishing Arts from University of Baltimore last spring. My first book, Room Full of Strangers, was self-published as my graduate thesis. While in grad school, an internship with a literary magazine helped me find my current job as Production Editor at a publishing vendor in Towson, MD. The main thing that sticks out about Moravian is the relationships I had with my professors. Their guidance, advice, and help in creating interesting projects challenged me in the best ways. Dr. Hinnefeld was the first person to encourage me to go for my MFA. I'm excited to talk about grad school and see what is happening in the Moravian English department!

George Wacker, Class of 2003

Communications Manager, Discover Lehigh Valley

George WackerI worked as a reporter at The Express-Times in Easton through 2005 and then edited a weekly newspaper entitled The East Penn News through 2007. In 2008, I made the switch to the public relations field by accepting a position as Public Relations and Marketing Manager at Trans-Bridge Lines in Bethlehem, Pa. In 2012, I accepted my current position at Discover Lehigh Valley. Also, I founded the website in 2008 and continue to own, edit , and provide content for the site. I edited Moravian’s student newspaper, The Comenian, for two years while at school. This provided me with experience not only working on deadline, but also working with other people in a group environment. I also was able to intern at the Eastern PA Business Journal while at Moravian, and conducted a field study working at The Express-Times while still in school. Both were tremendous in allowing me to learn how to be self-sufficient in the workplace and to hit the ground running.


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