Inspire Future Generations
We thank all of our St. Clare Society members for creating and inspiring future generations of Alvernia Students to be leaders in our community who will do well and do good.
Here are some of their stories, and the stories of the students whose lives were changed forever because of their generous support.
Tom Minick '98; M '10 and Jamie (Brogan) Minick '98
"From when we met at freshman orientation in the fall of 1994 until today, Alvernia University has had, and continues to have, a profound impact on our lives. As first-generation college students, we had no idea the impact graduating from college would have on our future. For both of us, individuals such as Gwen Williams, Yogi Lutz, Judy Warchal, Sandy Slabik and Beth DeMeo guided us through our academic and athletic journeys and provided opportunities to grow intellectually. Our Alvernia education provided us the foundation to have successful careers, and we want to give the same opportunity to future Alvernia University students."
Meggan (Hannigan) Kerber '96; M '01
Just as Tom and Jamie Minick want to "pay it forward" and provide future Alvernia students with opportunities to succeed as they did, Meggan Kerber made a planned gift to Alvernia to support one of her favorite nonprofits. "No matter what age you are, you want to think about ways to give during and after your lifetime. What makes the most sense financially? A life insurance policy naming Alvernia as your beneficiary or assets from your 401(k)? You can still provide for your loved ones and support the programs you are most passionate about at Alvernia in your estate plan. By planning ahead, you decide how your assets are going to be distributed, and you are making an impact on Alvernia students for generations to come."
We often refer to our planned giving donors as true visionaries who create legacies for our students. A recent estate gift from a devoted donor and friend, Jess Cwiklinski, did just that.
Jess, an Alvernia University Trustee Emerita, found her love for Alvernia as a high school student who lived in the Alvernia orphanage in Francis Hall. Upon graduation, she attended St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing and married Edward Cwiklinski, a Reading police officer. For many years, Jess practiced nursing at St. Joe's, a perfect vocation for someone with her compassion and dedication to helping others.
While working at St. Joe's, Jess earned a bachelor's degree in nursing at Kutztown State Teachers College and became a public school nurse in the Reading School District. She eventually earned her master's degree in education with a specialization in social studies.
Jess enjoyed a long career at Reading Senior High School. In addition to teaching social studies, Jess served as vice principal as well as the advisor to the United Nations Club. As their advisor, she mentored many students who are now leaders in the communities and organizations they serve.
The importance of education was paramount in Jess's decision to include Alvernia University in her estate plan. With her planned gift, Alvernia can provide financial support to the Reading Collegiate Scholars Program (RCSP).
If you would like to learn more about including Alvernia in your estate plan, like Jess did, please contact Camille Faust at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610.796.5505 today.
Decreasing the impact of electronic waste on the environment is the goal of Alvernia chemistry major Michael Ulrich. Michael is building upon professor Joshua Smith’s research by looking toward new techniques to extract rare metals from electronic waste, such as LCD and LED screens. Once perfected, the technique, which uses silica-coated magnetic nanoparticles to attract the metal from the waste, will more than double the amount of metals extracted prior to waste disposal.
“When I started, I was weary about what I was working with. I didn’t understand how the particles interact with each other, and I didn’t understand what they were made of and why they look the way they do. Three months later, I’m still figuring it out. But I have a way better understanding of what’s going on,” says Michael.
Michael’s research is funded through the Alvernia Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship (S.U.R.F.) program, which awards students up to $3,000 and free housing with a kitchen for 10 weeks over the summer.
According to Michael, S.U.R.F. research has improved his understanding of the scientific method. “When you really dive into a specific idea and you blow it up over the span of weeks or months, it definitely changes your perspective on the process itself and the subject,” Michael explains.
Born in Russia and adopted by American parents at age 3, Michael has flourished in the Alvernia chemistry program. “My situation gives me a better appreciation for the opportunities I am given and have been given. Not a day goes by where I forget where I came from,” says Michael.
Tom and Helen Flynn
Tom and Helen Flynn know the importance of ensuring that Alvernia continues to be a place of educational opportunity and excellence for deserving students of all backgrounds. The Flynns have already made two planned gifts to Alvernia University and anticipate further support. “We recognize the importance of helping ensure that essential program support is guaranteed in perpetuity,” explains Tom.
One of the gifts will expand the endowment for the Reading Collegiate Scholars Program, and the second gift will support faculty excellence, both important to the success of the University. The latter gift, known as the Flynn-Sheimo Faculty Excellence Endowment, has been established to honor Helen’s late parents and Tom’s late mother, all of whom were teachers.
Under Tom’s transformative leadership, Alvernia’s endowment has more than doubled, while gifts to the University, including the Alvernia Fund, grants and restricted gifts have all grown exponentially. Tom and Helen remind us that “young schools like Alvernia need alumni, parents, friends, faculty and even former presidents” to make an impact on future students and faculty members.
Alvernia University is blessed to have forward-thinking benefactors like Tom and Helen, and other members of our St. Clare Society, who have created a legacy of student and faculty opportunity and excellence for generations. Their gifts, as Tom emphasizes, “make it possible for students of all economic backgrounds to attend and flourish at Alvernia.”
Make a Difference
You too can create a legacy like Tom and Helen Flynn and make a difference for Alvernia students, now and in the future. Contact Camille Faust at 610.796.5505 or email@example.com to learn more.
Student-athlete Justin Gibbs learned a lot about himself and how to work under pressure while playing two sports at Alvernia (volleyball and tennis) and succeeding in the classroom—achieving his first 4.0 GPA while taking all 400-level classes.
But, his college journey was not an easy one, as he attended several other colleges before choosing to transfer here in 2017.
In his senior year, Justin received the Donna J. Klinikowski Scholarship, which provided the funding he needed to graduate from Alvernia. Donna, an English and Communications professor at Alvernia, and her late husband, Ronald, established the scholarship through her estate plan prior to her passing in 2006.
"The reason why the scholarship was so important is because the school became my home away from home. I was finally proud of a school and felt like it was where I belonged. The scholarship made me feel like Alvernia was investing in me, saying 'we got your back,' which helped me focus in school," Justin says.
"I can also say, without the scholarship, I would not be where I am today—a first-generation college graduate who accomplished something for my family as well. The biggest reward I got from Alvernia are the relationships I have made with my peers, but even more importantly the relationships I have made with faculty and staff, who are first class and always available to help me academically."
You too can make a difference for students like Justin. Contact Camille Faust at 610.796.5505 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Steve Keiser '80
Steve Keiser never planned on attending college. He had studied to be an electrician at vo-tech, and was content with that career until a down turn in the economy forced him to consider other options, including college. It took just one visit to Alvernia for Steve to realize that this was the place for him. "I was so impressed with how giving the nuns were," he said. "I had never experienced that before, and they were just awesome, really cool people."
Steve's experience at Alvernia is one he treasures to this day, and he contends that "It's not just a school you go to, it is a place you belong. The quality of education and the staff are exceptional, but even better, there is a feeling of family."
A successful local businessman, Steve had a great desire to "give back" by making a difference at the University. "I was so touched by the benevolence of the Sisters and Alvernia means so much to me, I had to do something to show my gratitude." Steve chose to include his alma mater in his estate plans, naming Alvernia as a beneficiary in his will. In fact, he made that decision decades ago, making him one of the first in the history of the institution to do so.
"Education is so important, and it is not something you can give to someone," he says. "You can provide the opportunity, but it requires their effort. I want to make sure that Alvernia continues to provide that opportunity, and my bequest is evidence of my continued appreciation for the University."
A passionate advocate for Alvernia, Steve currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees. "It is a wonderful school with so many wonderful people, and that hasn't changed over the years," he contends. "Even now, if I'm having a bad day, a visit to campus always makes me feel better. It's hard not to be happy when you're at Alvernia!"
Dr. Richard and Gloria Law
When Dr. Richard A. Law retired from the State System Of Higher Education as an English professor, he thought his days of full-time teaching were over. However, God had a different plan in mind.
Alvernia was looking for an additional adjunct instructor in the English Department, and Dr. Law applied and was invited to join the faculty. He was so impressive in the classroom and his students were so enthralled by his talents that when a full-time position opened, the then-College asked him to apply. He was hired immediately, and has, in total, spent the last 20 years teaching at Alvernia.
In that time, he has developed a deep appreciation of the University. "Alvernia is a friendly, caring community," he states, "and there is such harmony within the English Department, between faculty and students, and with the faculty and administration. In addition, I truly value the openness we have to express our Christian faith. It is one of the joys of being at Alvernia."
Dr. Law's devotion to Catholic education goes back to his childhood. He reveals that, "Of all my education, what I cherish most is my grade school experience with the Sisters of St. Joseph in Philadelphia. My life has now come full circle in an educational institution with wonderful nuns who are devoted to the Church. The presence of the Bernardine Sisters has always given me great joy."
Richard has been married to the love of his life, Gloria, for over a half century, and his face lights up at the mention of her name. The ultimate team, Mrs. Law's feelings for the University mirror those of her husband. "We appreciate Alvernia so much," he says. "Alvernia gave me a second chance at my career. I had retired from a state institution when my enthusiasm for teaching was beginning to wane, but Alvernia reenergized my career. Gloria has been very happy I am here."
Looking for a way to make their admiration of Alvernia tangible, the Laws began investigating planned giving options. They chose to purchase a Charitable Gift Annuity which pays them guaranteed income for life, a portion of which is tax-free. According to Dr. Law, "Gloria and I decided on the gift annuity because we can do something for the school while we benefit, year after year, as well. There is a mutual benefit. We appreciate Alvernia so much, and we are in a position to make this kind of gift as an expression of our gratitude."
In retrospect, how do the Laws feel about their decision about the Charitable Gift Annuity? "We love it!" he says. In fact, the ability to secure the University's future through a planned gift while receiving yearly income has resonated with the couple, especially with Gloria. In fact, less than six months after they purchased the first annuity, Dr. Law approached the University about purchasing a second one as a surprise birthday gift for his wife.
When it was mentioned that annuities are not your typical birthday gift, Dr. Law responded, "Gloria appreciated the first one, and she was pleased to see our names on the St. Clare Society print that Alvernia presented us when we made our planned gift. Her delight with the first annuity will be redoubled with the second, so it serves as the perfect birthday gift."
A gift that benefits both the donor and Alvernia? That's the beauty of a Charitable Gift Annuity. It is just about "perfect."
Information contained herein was accurate at the time of posting. The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in any examples are for illustrative purposes only. References to tax rates include federal taxes only and are subject to change. State law may further impact your individual results. Annuities are subject to regulation by the State of California. Payments under such agreements, however, are not protected or otherwise guaranteed by any government agency or the California Life and Health Insurance Guarantee Association. A charitable gift annuity is not regulated by the Oklahoma Insurance Department and is not protected by a guaranty association affiliated with the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Charitable gift annuities are not regulated by and are not under the jurisdiction of the South Dakota Division of Insurance.