The values stated in Mercyhurst’s mission have always been an important part of a student’s education, but the impact they make on lives continues long after graduation.
Joe Howard graduated with a degree in sociology in 2003 and received his master’s degree in organizational leadership from Mercyhurst. He currently works as the Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving.
When asked why he decided to stay at the school as an employee after graduation, he said, “My education has blessed my life in numerous ways, and I genuinely enjoy being a part of an institution that is doing the same for today’s students.”
Howard sees the college mission implemented in his daily activities and job in the Alumni Relations Department.
“I have a deep appreciation for our values of mercy, compassion and hospitality. When the temptation to judge another arises, I try to remember Plato’s adage: ‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.’ It is a call to remember each life is complicated and that patience and understanding are worthy responses,” Howard said.
The Alumni Relations Department takes many initiatives to reach out to alumni through a values-driven approach.
One example is in the wake of the Haiti earthquake crisis last year, the department involved alumni in the fundraiser initiated by students and had an incredible turnout.
During his undergraduate years at Mercyhurst, Howard was part of the Ambassador’s Club, which devotes much time to learning the college’s history. He believes this is a big part of maintaining our values.
“We’re actively trying to preserve our legacy for posterity,” he said.
Currently, the Student Alumni Association, led by Ryan Palm, is collecting information about history and traditions of the school to create a book to give to incoming freshmen. This is a project that Howard is very enthusiastic about. He and several of his colleagues are researching alumni, including women who graduated in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, gathering their stories and plan on publishing them online for the public to access.
“We want to make sure that the incoming class knows the impressive legacy they’re joining.”
It is apparent that Howard is actively practicing the values that Mercyhurst instilled in him since his freshman year of college through the work he is currently doing for the school.
“As the first in my family to attend college, Mercyhurst has and continues to be a transformational force in my life,” Howard said.
“My life is markedly different than what would have been possible for me without my education and campus experiences. I’m a better person because of Mercyhurst, and the ‘Hurst has opened up possibilities that I could not have imagined as an 18-year-old. For the most part, I enjoy a blessed and fortunate life. I feel a responsibility to be a part of preserving and fostering that experience for others.”
Faye Clark assisted with this story.