Recognizing our alumni
The Eleventh Annual Alumni Awards Ceremony, held in Peter Hall Friday, December 2, exemplified the love Moravian graduates hold for their alma mater and the lifelong effect the college—its academics, Greek life, sports, clubs and friendships made here—have on its alumni and those in their lives.
After a dinner reception in Payne Gallery, the guests, including honorees, family and friends, moved next door to witness an elegantly understated ceremony.
Master of ceremonies Brian Corvino ’02 welcomed everyone to what he called his favorite event, “a shining star” on the calendar, prior to introducing President Christopher Thomforde, who declared that Peter Hall and the Alumni awards portrayed the “idea of Moravian” by representing its terrific physical spaces, faculty, students and alumni.
“Moravian has produced so many men and women, intelligent, equipped and ready serve, and we honor our alumni, who have served the Lehigh Valley well,” he began. After listing the number of graduates working in various careers around the region, including education, health care, finance, and in the legal profession, he added, “It would be hard to get sick, go broke, need a teacher or get in trouble, and be unable to find a Moravian alum to care for you.”
|Melissa Straub '12, Anna Whetstone '12, Joseph Powlette '60, Anne McCandless Rampolla '79, Joseph Merola '64, Margaret DeOliveira '13 and Gina Heintzelman '13.
Corvino first introduced the 2011 Alumni Fellows, “active participants in the life of the College and the community,” current students who are recognized for their superior scholastic merit and the outstanding contributions they have made to campus life and to the community. This year’s award winners are Margaret DeOliveira ’13, Gina Heintzelman ’13 and Anna Whetstone ’12. Melissa Straub ’12 received the Honors award.
The winner of this year’s Benigna Education Award for outstanding contributions to the field of education, is Anne McCandless Rampolla ’79. She was introduced by her daughter, Liz, who recognized her mother’s dedication to education, to her students and to her family.
“I am humbled, honored and privileged,” said Anne Rampolla as she accepted the award. Rampolla’s degrees are in Spanish, and she credited her study-abroad experience in Spain with changing her life. Currently an adjunct professor of Spanish at Moravian, she is known by her students as patient, understanding and enthusiastic.
She thanked her professors and advisors for being mentors and excellent educators and examples of the value of a personal approach to education. She also thanked her mother. “She was my first teacher. She made education paramount in the life of our family.”
The second recipient of the 2011 Benigna Education Award is Joseph Powlette ’60 who was introduced by fellow faculty member and alumnus Kelly Krieble ’86. Powlette, a professor of physics and the Louise E. Juley professor of science at Moravian, has been recognized for his outstanding work as an educator, advisor, chair of the physics department, and leader in that department’s growth and stability for more than a decade. He is known as tireless and dedicated, someone whose love of teaching only grows over the years.
“Life is full of defining moments,” said Powlette. “And it’s especially neat when one happens and you know it’s defining.” That’s how he felt about attending college. As the first one in his family to graduate from high school, he forged the way for succeeding generations. He expressed gratitude for his professors and mentors and also for his wife Lenora, who was a fellow student here, calling her “the best part of me.”
|Brian Corvino '02, Candy Barr Heimbach '79, and Betty Adams Roach '43.
The winner of the 2011 Medallion of Merit is Betty Adams Roach ’43 who inspired everyone who heard her that night. Her enthusiasm and love for Moravian College spilled over as she accepted the award from Candy Barr Heimbach ’79, who shared a story about Roach’s late husband Jack, and his deathbed promise to be with his wife of 65 years in spirit, when she received her award.
Roach was honored for her tireless and outstanding service on behalf of Moravian College. She is known for bringing humor, knowledge and leadership to the alumni board, sharing her life lessons in fun, entertaining and joyful ways. The former journalist, who celebrated her 90th birthday recently, opened by recounting a few memories from her years at Moravian—which began in 1939.
The audience in turn laughed, wiped away tears, listened in awe and gave her a standing ovation after she closed with her definition of happiness: “Happiness is not how much money you make or how high on the career ladder you go or how much you know. Happiness is having good relationships with other human beings. All of the Moravian community has contributed to the richness of my life, and I’m very grateful.”
The last award of the night, the Comenius Alumni Award, was presented to Joseph Merola ’64 M.D. by Rev. Douglas Caldwell ’66. Merola received this award for his outstanding achievements in the field of medicine, and as Caldwell noted, also for his support of education. The Alumni Board recognized him particularly for the impact Merola has made on the health and well-being of the Lehigh Valley community, especially of its women and children.
Merola reminisced about singing in the Moravian choir and recalled the last time he was on the stage in Peter Hall, during his senior year. “I accept this award with heartfelt thanks and with true Moravian pride and humility,” he began. Merola told the group about his “devout Italian Moravian family,” all of whom believed he would attend Moravian College. He was so convinced he belonged here, it was the only school to which he applied.
He called his career—caring for women and their newborn babies—“one of the most rewarding things you can do.” And then he talked about his gratitude for having been able to move on to teaching and being part of many changes in healthcare over the years.
Merola closed his remarks by encouraging the audience to support Moravian College. “Support its mission and vision, to help students get where they want to go.”
Read complete biographies of the award winners here.