The transition from student to working professional can be daunting, but when you’re a Hound, you hardly need to navigate this next chapter alone. Moravian alumni have long been known to be a tight-knit community that values the mutual benefit of helping a fellow Hound. Across majors and occupations, students and alumni connect in so many ways. From internships and one-day job shadowing to professional networking events or a casual one-on-one meetup, alumni play an integral role in guiding the next generation of Hounds.
Students find a sounding board to discuss career ambitions and aspirations or to learn more about their desired fields. Alumni gain an eager intern or a future colleague to mentor—and often a friend. “It makes them feel proud of their alma mater and its students, and they are happy to support Moravian in this very important way,” says Pat Murray Hanna ’82, assistant director of career development, who helps to connect students and alumni through her role in Moravian’s Center for Career and Civic Engagement.
We caught up with some alumni to learn about how they made meaningful connections that shaped their career paths. From a recent grad learning the ropes at a start-up to a young banker who experienced a fantastic full-circle moment, their words carry a common thread of the bond that extends far beyond our campus.
Bryn Wiragh ’20
BA, business management, specializing in organizational leadership
People operations lead, Fenom Digital
Making a connection: Hound Matt Nesto ’16, G’21, Bryn Wiragh’s phone-a-thon supervisor, recognized that Wiragh’s talents could be useful at his friend’s rapidly growing tech start-up. He introduced her to Dylan Runne ’16, CEO of Fenom Digital, a tech company based in Red Bank, New Jersey. “Matt and I were chatting, and I said that I would love to bring someone on from Moravian,” says Runne. “Bryn is intelligent and driven, so I hired her.”
Working together: Wiragh started out as a many-hats assistant, and over time, Runne encouraged her to create her own human resources position on the team. “There’s so much flexibility and trust,” says Wiragh. “Dylan says, ‘If you see something that can be done and you think you can make an impact, go for it.’ I have learned the business inside and out by being in the office with Dylan, and since I was essentially that ‘everything person,’ I had a lot of exposure to leadership team decisions and how they figure out processes.”
“I found that I really enjoy the psychology and human behavior within organizations,” she adds. “I’m starting an HR analytics certification program with UPenn’s Wharton Business School, and I’m really excited.”
“Bryn knows how to read people and discover what drives them,” says Runne. “She is very organized, and in a start-up business with a lot of chaos, it’s very important to have someone ground things. She knows how to communicate really well. She knows how to make data-driven decisions when it comes to people as well as the emotional decisions, so it’s a little bit of left brain and right brain, which I think is unique.”
Maintaining ties to Moravian: “The university has given me so much throughout my life—friendships and experiences—and I give a lot of credit to Moravian for where I’m at today,” says Runne. “Whether as a spokesperson for the school or giving students the opportunities that I had, it’s my way of being able to give back to the university.”
To keep up with Fenom’s phenomenal growth, Runne launched a remote internship program for the spring 2022 semester. He hopes that this will be the start to a steady stream of Moravian interns and serve as a direct pipeline to employment at Fenom for graduates.
Matt Anderson ’21
Research specialist, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Making a connection: Dalia Omran ’15 is a cancer research specialist at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and serves as vice-chair of the Health Sciences & Medical Career Resource Council. “I’ve known other students who have met Dalia and shadowed her at work,” says neuroscience major Matt Anderson, “so when I was getting ready to find a job, I talked with Pat Hanna about reaching out to her. We had a few video calls, and she told me about what she does in her lab. We kept in contact, and she sent me the job listing for where I work now.”
After talking with Anderson, Omran recognized that he possessed the intellectual curiosity and team-player enthusiasm needed to succeed on the laboratory team led by her mentor, Fiona Simpkins, MD. “Dr. Simpkins had a job opening in her lab,” says Omran. “They have been thrilled with Matt, and they’re frequently thanking me because it can be very difficult to find someone who is really engaged and wants to participate.”
Working together: Omran and Anderson work in adjacent labs. Anderson’s group focuses on preclinical drug development (new drugs to target therapies) and uses tissues produced in Omran’s lab.
“Matt’s a little bit like me,” says Omran. “He’s the one who plans lab happy hours, and when it’s someone’s birthday he makes sure everyone signs a card. He’s very interested in the morale of his coworkers. He definitely works well on a team and wants to make sure everyone succeeds—whether that be in their work or in general—boosting everyone’s mood and making sure that everyone feels recognized.”
Anderson thoroughly enjoys working with Omran and getting to know her. “We have the professional connection—which has helped me out a lot,” says Anderson, “but from that, it has grown into more of a personal connection, so it’s really fulfilling in just about every aspect.”
Maintaining ties to Moravian: Since graduating in 2015, Omran has prioritized serving her alma mater by being a resource for students interested in medical research.
Eric Williams ’20
Associate, Small Business Service Group, RKL LLP
Making a connection: Eric Williams used to think that accounting was more or less about preparing tax returns. That is until Mike Stoudt ’87, managing partner of the Lehigh Valley Region for RKL LLP, took Williams under his wing and gave him a career-shifting internship. Stoudt Associates’ recent merger with RKL LLP and its 500-person team expands opportunities for Williams, who is currently an associate in the Small Business Service Group and is on a path to becoming a CPA.
“I met Eric in the HUB over fries!” says Stoudt. “Dr. [Katie] Desiderio suggested that he meet me and discuss career paths. We had a nice chat and considered some internship options over that upcoming summer. Eric then took one of my classes the next semester and interned for Stoudt Associates for a year. He has really good people skills, and he is very coachable. He supported us by learning QuickBooks Online and performing bookkeeping tasks.”
Working together: “I had never really entertained working in accounting until getting the experience with Mike,” says Williams. “I guess I was really narrow-minded to assume that accounting is just tax returns; that’s not the case at all.” Williams finds the work interesting and enjoyable. “I learn something new almost every day,” he says. He’s also learned that it’s okay to make mistakes, as long as you don’t repeat them again and again. “I get nervous when I get things wrong, but Mike has been really good at letting me know it’s okay and then teaching me how to not get it wrong the next time.”
Stoudt has also benefited from bringing on interns and hiring grads from Moravian. “I’ve learned a lot about what recent grads want from the workplace. It’s a very different time from when I graduated from college and first began working at a Big Four firm,” says Stoudt. “Their feedback has helped make RKL a Best Places to Work firm for the fifth year in a row.”
Maintaining ties to Moravian: From time to time, Stoudt teaches classes in Moravian’s accounting and business department. “It provides me with opportunities to share about career paths and professional life,” he says. “I also meet individually with students—at their request or a suggestion from faculty members—to help them think through their options.” In addition, Stoudt serves on the Moravian Leadership Council, and his family has endowed the Stoudt Family Leadership Development Fund, which provides resources to students and faculty who want to enhance their academic experience with out-of-classroom activities.
“Mike is very philanthropic,” says Williams. “He’s very involved in the Lehigh Valley, which has inspired me to start giving back, specifically to Moravian. I was an Alumni Student Representative as a student, and I maintained those relationships. That led me to join the alumni board, and I recently attended Coffee and Connections with coworker Alex Izzo ’19, G’21.”
Anthony Gaetaniello ’17, G’21
BA, accounting and finance
Assistant vice president, portfolio/special assets manager, American Bank PA
Making a connection: When Josh Dodd ’99, G’11 decided to move from Univest to American Bank PA two years ago to become senior vice president of commercial lending, Anthony Gaetaniello knew that he needed to follow his colleague and mentor. Because what began as a one-day job shadow experience has grown into a friendship—one that Gaetaniello, now an assistant vice president, portfolio/special assets manager at American Bank PA, has come to rely on as he carves out his own career in banking.
“I did a one-day externship with Josh at Univest to see what he does,” says Gaetaniello. They talked about how there are many opportunities in banking outside of working at a bank branch and being a teller. “I’m forever grateful for that because I didn’t know the many opportunities that banking presents.”
Later at an accounting and finance networking event at Moravian, Gaetaniello and Dodd met again. At a Careers in Banking event that Dodd was leading, Gaetaniello went up to ask how everything was going. “He said that he was going to reach out to his HR department to see what opportunities they had for me at Univest.”
Working together: “I appreciate Josh being there for me, understanding that I’m still young and I’m not going to know everything,” says Gaetaniello. “Being able to ask questions and pick his brain is so valuable.” In return, Gaetaniello regularly demonstrates his value. “Anthony effectively communicates the bidding process, project status, and outcomes with our commercial lending team,” says Dodd. “He maintains relationships with our vendors, primarily appraisal and engineering firms, to ensure adherence with banking regulations and deadlines.”
“The benefit for regional employers is that Moravian graduates tend to be quality candidates,” adds Dodd. “In addition to excellent academic qualifications, most are well-rounded individuals with roots within three hours of the campus.”
Maintaining ties to Moravian: Gaetaniello joined the Moravian University Economics & Business Career Resource Council, which arranges events for students, and has taken the reins of the Careers in Banking event. “I led my first one last March,” he says. “It was a full-circle moment. In my senior year at Moravian, I was sitting in the audience, then I was a panelist when Josh ran the event, and come 2021 I’m running the event and had Josh as a panelist.”
“Early in my banking career, I wanted to make a change from retail to the commercial side and reached out to some Moravian connections. Emil Giordano ’82 accepted a lunch invitation and shared a contact that led to an opportunity,” says Dodd. “Many Moravian alumni working in banking have influenced me in a positive way, provided career advice, and recruited me to industry or nonprofit boards.
“Moravian is not just a place—it is a community,” adds Dodd. “While alumni may be separated by class years or generations, our collegiate experiences are similar. And this includes how we collectively serve as a member of our community.”
Meghan Decker Szvetecz ’08 is a freelance writer with a background in higher education communications and lifestyle editorial. She enjoys staying connected to her alma mater and fellow Hounds through her freelance position with Moravian University’s Office of Marketing and Communications.
A multigenerational alumni bond is woven into the family-focused company culture at East Penn Manufacturing Company. The Berks County–based battery manufacturer, founded in 1946 by the late Moravian benefactor DeLight Breidegam Jr. and his father,* has a long history of hiring Moravian alumni who build their career at the company and encourage family members to do the same.
One such alumna is East Penn’s college and university campus recruiter, Nicole Metzger ’17, who followed in the footsteps of her father, Pharon Metzger ’87. Both generations landed at East Penn right after graduation.
When she interviewed for an employment specialist position in East Penn’s personnel office, Metzger was asked about her long-term career goals. “I said that I wanted to work in college admissions,” she says. “They actually took that literally and knew that there was a position for college recruitment.”
Today, Metzger recruits students from Moravian and surrounding schools for internships and jobs in business management, accounting and finance, chemistry, nursing, engineering, sales, and supply chain, just to name a few. Often students don’t realize the opportunities available at a battery manufacturer, Metzger says. “I hired a student as a sales intern, and she ended up being an application engineer. I started in medical and moved to human resources. It’s how we grow people at East Penn.” Metzger estimates that at any given time there are around 20 Moravian alumni across class years and degrees working at the company.
Recruiting the next generation of Moravian employees to join the East Penn family is fulfilling work. “I love knowing I am helping students find a career at a company that truly cares about their employees and the community around them,” Nicole says. “Even though we’re huge—we have more than 10,000 employees—the company is family-oriented; you’re not just a number.” —M.S.