With Honors

Harry Hairston '77

Harry, retired senior investigative reporter for NBC10 Philadelphia, spent his career harnessing the power of reporting to give voices to the voiceless.

The first in his family to attend college, Hairston said he felt terrified as an incoming freshman but determined to take advantage of all Gannon had to offer.

Harry Hairston

Watch Harry Hairston's Commencement remarks

“Gannon University offered an extraordinary education,” Hairston said of his experience. “It gave me the opportunity to grow and develop while at the same time challenging my intellect.”

After graduating, Hairston became a weather anchor in Erie, despite friends doubting his abilities.

“That’s when I learned what Gannon University had instilled in me: never doubt yourself. Always believe in yourself and question those who find a need to doubt you,” Hairston said.

This mentality led Hairston to a position with WICU- TV in Erie, before advancing to become a crime reporter in Tampa Bay, and later an investigative reporter and anchor in Detroit.

In 2004, he took a position doing local reports with NBC10 Philadelphia and reports for MSNBC and the Today Show and was promoted to investigative reporter.

During his career with NBC10, Hairston covered some of the city's biggest stories. He was the first to report on the sexual misconduct allegations against Bill Cosby in 2015. His reporting also heavily influenced New Jersey’s anti-swatting laws, led to stronger accountability in Philadelphia’s City Hall following tax corruption, and resulted in conviction of culprits in a candy box scam. He also led an investigative unit called NBC Responds that helped viewers with consumer issues gain back more than $1 million.

"Gannon gave me, as it has given you, the foundation needed to enter the world as a productive individual...more importantly, I learned how to learn, how to adapt, to think quickly, and how to apply myself to whatever I wanted to do with confidence. Never doubt yourself. Never quit on yourself. Just be true to yourself and tackle life and your future with passion." -Harry Hairston ’77

Hairston received several Mid-Atlantic Emmy® awards and was named “Journalist of the Year” by the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists in 2011.

A Pittsburgh native, Hairston participates in community causes around heart disease, cancer research, mental health research and education, diversity and community improvement, and support of first responders. His hobbies include golfing, tennis and riding motorcycles.

Hairston shared a lesson he learned in his career that he said is valuable for graduating students.

“There are no small tasks. There are no small jobs, only people with small minds. Think big about everything you do and stay positive. Find your passion and you will never, ever work a day in your life,” he said.

Julie Kleber ’11BSN, RN, BMTCN

Julie, has navigated a successful 10-year career as an oncology nurse at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center through her passion to serve others.

“I’ve known since I was 16 that I wanted to be a nurse,” Kleber said. “My mom, who is also a nurse, and my grandmother, who was a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, emphasized the importance of serving others through their actions. I would accompany my grandmother to numerous volunteer endeavors and saw how genuine she was.”

Julie Kleber

Watch Julie Kleber's Commencement remarks

Those experiences and a love for science drew Kleber to Gannon, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2011. Kleber said her time at Gannon only reinforced that spirit of caring.

 "Take a look back down the road of graduate school to where you’re seated now. Showing up today was the easy part. Showing up every day during graduate school was the difficult part. Showing up to learn each day in a pandemic and adapting to all that came with it – that is the mentality future employers...will be blessed to be on the receiving end of." -Julie Kleber ’11BSN, RN, BMTCN

“Gannon gave me a supportive community,” Kleber said. “You need people in your corner that will lift you up when challenges arise and celebrate your accomplishments with you. I strive to lead by example with this mindset and do the same for my team.”

Following graduation, Kleber became an oncology nurse on the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City in 2011. In 2013, she was one of the nurses who treated “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts in the Bone Marrow Unit, appearing in a special broadcast as Roberts returned to work and thanked her nursing team.

Kleber also played an essential role in coordinating her unit’s COVID-19 response while continuing to care for cancer patients. She shared these experiences with Gannon students and nursing faculty during the virtual Villa Maria School of Nursing Distinguished Alumni Lecture Series in a presentation titled “Lessons from the Bedside: Adaptability and Intentionality.”

Kleber is pursuing her master’s in nursing leadership and healthcare systems from the University of Colorado and is a proud member of the Gannon University National Alumni Board of Directors since 2017.

In her free time, Kleber enjoys traveling, pursuing health and wellness, and sampling delicious varieties of cheese.

Kleber shared her advice to students, saying that “it is important to put yourself in new situations. Gannon ... is your training ground for life, and there are many uncomfortable situations that will happen post-graduation. This will help inspire and fuel you while also allowing you to develop the habits that will cement your your foundation of life."

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