Each year, the Millersville University Alumni Association celebrates alumni who have stood out in their careers, and made an impact within the Alumni Association through community service, personal and professional achievement and philanthropy. The four awards given each year are the Distinguished Alumni Award, Young Alumni Achievement Award, Honorary Alumnae/na Award and Outstanding Volunteer Service Award. This year’s awards will be presented to the winners at the Honors and Awards Ceremony on Oct. 28.
The following are winners of this year’s awards:
Distinguished Alumni Award
Dr. Duane Hagelgans is the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Hagelgans received his Bachelor of Science in occupational safety and hygiene management from Millersville in 1998. After graduating, Hagelgans worked as a member of the Lancaster City Fire Department and went on to receive his juris doctorate from Widener University. Hagelgans returned to Millersville as a professor in emergency management in 2007 with courses covering disaster management, terrorism and homeland security. In 2015, he received the distinguished Student Ally of the Year award from the International Association of Emergency Managers-USA(IAEM).
Young Alumni Achievement Award
One of the winners of this year’s Young Alumni Achievement Award is 2003 Millersville graduate Erin Baker. Baker graduated with a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from Millersville and went on to earn her master’s degree in corporate communications from Duquesne University. Since graduating, Baker has risen through the ranks to become the vice president and director of PNC’s Line of Business Development Programs and Campus Recruiting. She has also received Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 under 40 award in 2009. Regularly, Baker speaks with groups of young leaders throughout the region and oversees programs and opportunities for all PNC’s young talent.
Dr. Ashlea Rineer-Hershey is a 2003 Millersville graduate and a recipient of this year’s Young Alumni Achievement Award. Rineer-Hershey received a bachelor’s degree with a dual certificate in special and elementary education. She went on to earn her master’s in Special Education with a teaching certificate in English as a Second Language from Eastern Mennonite University in 2006. Rineer-Hershey began her career at Slippery Rock University and returned in 2013 as a full-time tenured faculty member of the Special Education Department. Besides teaching, she has also authored a textbook which focuses on her research in the areas of transition services, inclusive practices, co-teaching and Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Dr. Michael Zdilla, the third winner of this year’s Young Alumni Achievement Award, graduated magna cum laude from Millersville University in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with a biochemistry option. Zdilla went on to be the first chemistry student from Millersville to get admitted to Princeton to earn his Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry. Currently, Zdilla is a Robert L. Smith Early Career Professor and associate professor of chemistry at Temple University. At Temple, he has received numerous awards, published 48 papers and has given over 50 invited talks and presentations to major universities.
Honorary Alumni Award
Since joining the Millersville community in 1999, Dr. John Wright has been an influential leader in the Department of Applied Engineering, Safety & Technology making him this year’s Honorary Alumni Award recipient. After joining the faculty, Wright began the ATMAE Student Chapter, better known as the MU Robotics Team. Since then, Wright has helped the team win more than 35 individual awards including six national championships. In 2015, he co-established a new undergraduate degree at Millersville – the automation and intelligent robotics engineering technology (ARET) degree, which he currently serves as program director. Wright has also been recognized by the ATMAE in 2013 receiving The Charles Keith Award, the association’s highest honor.
Outstanding Volunteer Service Award
This year’s Outstanding Volunteer Service Award recipient is 1991 Millersville graduate Lori Lazarchick Dierolf. She served on the Millersville University’s Alumni Association board of directors from 2007-2017 and has been integral in developing the current board structure and in shaping the future of the association. She has also served on the Alumni Engagement Committee from 2015-2017 and supported the Student Networking Alumni Programs. In 2016, Dierolf combined her professional experience as a human resource specialist and her interest in helping the elderly to launch her own business, “Open Door Training & Development”. The company provides human resource and leadership training for small businesses as well as education on dementia to healthcare facilities and community organizations.