Gannon University honored five alumni for their accomplishments and service to others during the 2016 Homecoming Reunion Weekend. Kicking off the weekend, the Distinguished Alumni induction dinner was attended by over 200 alumni, friends, current students, faculty and staff members. The five recipients of this year’s awards are nothing short of extraordinary in their faith, service and accomplishments to the Erie community and around the globe.
Almitra “Almi” M. (Clemente) Clerkin ’85 received the Distinguished Alumni Award on behalf of the College of Engineering and Business. Clerkin graduated cum laude from Gannon, earning a Bachelor of Science in business management. In 1992, she was hired as the first full-time Erie Playhouse Youtheatre Director, introducing theatre to thousands of kids both on stage and in the classroom. In 2001, she added the duties of development director, and in 2006 was named executive director.
She is still currently the executive director of the Erie Playhouse and also serves various civic organizations such as Erie Arts & Culture. She is a Hamot Health Foundation corporator and a member of the board of directors of St. Mary’s Home of Erie. Clerkin is proudly leading the Erie Playhouse through its 100th season and will then follow a new path. Once again, she has turned to her alma mater, Gannon University, pursuing her Masters in Health Communication with an expected graduation date of December 2017.
John “Jay” W. Alberstadt, Jr. ‘76 received the Distinguished Alumni Award on behalf of the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. Alberstadt received his Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and graduated magna cum laude. He went on to attend the Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, graduating with his juris doctorate degree in 1979. He has served as both a member and president of the boards of Northwestern Legal Services, Catholic Charities Counseling and Adoption Services, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Erie, Housing and Neighborhood Development Services, Early Connections, ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum and the Erie County Bar Foundation.
Alberstadt has also been a director of the John Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation, the Erie County Historical Society, Perseus House and L’Arche of Erie. He served multiple terms as a member of the pastoral council of his former parish, Our Lady of Mercy in Harborcreek. Currently, he is the president-elect of the board of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network in Harrisburg and is a member of the board of trustees of Mercyhurst Preparatory School. Furthering his service to Gannon and the Erie community, he and other members of his family established the Alberstadt Family Endowed Scholarship.
Elisabeth “Betsy” R. (Roeback) Monsalve ‘70VMC received the Distinguished Alumni Award on behalf of the Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences. Monsalve is a graduate of the Villa Maria College School of Nursing. She earned her Masters of Science degree in nursing from Wayne State University. She began her professional career as a member of innovative, multidisciplinary primary care teams in some of the early health maintenance organizations in cities such as Detroit, Philadelphia and San Diego. In 1976, she joined the faculty of Arizona State University College of Nursing to prepare family nurse practitioners. She became one of the first certified nurse practitioners in the country.
Monsalve became an occupational health nurse with Kerr McGee Chemical Corporation, a soda ash and borax refinery in the Mojave Desert. Fascinated by the heavy industrial working conditions and supported by plant engineering colleagues, she was one of a handful of practitioners to transform her nursing background into a five-year retooling process to become a certified industrial hygienist and safety engineer. In hard hat and steel-toed safety cowboy boots, she advocated for worker health and safety and environmental protection in her company during the decade following the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). She currently serves as a director at McManis & Monsalve Associates of Erie. Her volunteer service includes the Erie Rotary Club and the Our West Bayfront neighborhood planning and development organization.
Lt. Cmdr. Adam J. Susmarski, D.O. ’05 is the recipient of the Young Alumni Award. He graduated summa cum laude from Gannon with a degree in sport and exercise science. He went on to Michigan State University where he earned his medical degree and was elected President of the military and neurology student organizations, received service awards for distinguished work in the community and was selected to join the Sigma Sigma Phi Honors Society for both his commitment to volunteering in the community and academic standing of top 25 percent in his class. He completed his internship at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Susmarski’s academic pursuits include work on multiple book chapters, peer reviewed manuscripts, grants and presentations on award-winning research at national and international medical conferences. Additionally, he serves on multiple regional and national committees, as a peer reviewer for several prominent medical journals and as a member of numerous professional organizations. He is currently the chief resident in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Susmarski also serves in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps and has been deployed to Afghanistan, Kuwait, Africa and Europe.
Sister Mary Miller, OSB ‘67 is this year’s recipient of the Monsignor Wilfrid Nash Christian Conduct award. She took her vows in 1964 as a Sister of Saint Joseph of Northwest Pennsylvania. Miller earned her undergraduate degree in elementary education from Villa Maria College in 1967. Following the completion of her undergraduate degree, she attended Boston College for graduate school where she received a Master’s degree in religious education in 1974. She is currently the director of Emmaus Ministries; a position she has held for the past 36 years. Her ministry includes 300 volunteers dedicated to feeding the needy of the Erie region.
Miller is one of the founders behind the Trinity Square Foundation, a non-profit organization that is rehabilitating a neighborhood on Erie’s eastside, the same neighborhood where she resides. In addition to managing the rehabilitation of five homes, she has helped provide a neighborhood garden and a community center for children. For her selfless contributions within the Erie community, Miller has received numerous awards and commendations, including but not limited to the 1993 Erie Times-News Achiever of the Year, 1999 Erie County Community Service Award, 1999 Gannon University Distinguished Pennsylvanian, 2012 Erie Times-News 5 People Who Made a Difference, and 2012 Erie Times-News Her Times Extraordinary Woman.
Nominate a deserving alumnus for next year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards at gannonalumni.org/distinguishedalumni