Alumni Panel Ponders “What Should Matter to Me?”

The recent Ursinus graduates discussed their work addressing inequalities and how they came to realize its significance during a special presentation in Olin Auditorium on Sept. 25.

Sharon Hansen, director of career and post-graduate development at Ursinus, said the event aimed “to have students examine, through the eyes of Ursinus alumni, how one can work to mitigate unjust disparities in the nation and the world at large.” 

With varied backgrounds and unique paths to their current careers, the alumni clearly had one thing in common: their time at Ursinus allowed them to explore how their interests and academic pursuits were only a part of what they were meant to do.

Leslie Kearney ’03, who was a biology major at Ursinus, found her way to being a pastor. Kearney supervises the Let’s Circle Up restorative justice program at the new Phoenix State Correctional Institution at Graterford. As the spiritual leader for Olivet-Schwenkfelder United Church of Christ, she has a unique perspective on the journey. Her advice to students included the lessons that she learned along the way and the importance of accepting the plurality of others.

“We don’t have to like everyone, but we need to love them,” she said.

Ralph Aurora ’14 is now a health educator with AREUFIT Health Services and the Eagles Eye Charitable Foundation, where he made more than 200 pairs of glasses for students in the Philadelphia School District last year.

“It is mind-boggling what these students go through just 30 minutes from Collegeville,” he said, explaining that he sees value in his role assisting young parents. “Many of these parents are your age.” 

He helps to give them an “understanding the importance of eye care and health care in general.”

Tracie Johnson ’13 is a 2018 Equal Justice Work Fellow working at Community Legal Services. During her time at Ursinus, Tracie was a Bonner leader and provided GED tutoring in a women’s prison. Her volunteer and social justice experiences as an undergraduate led to a life of public service and social justice law.

Rodolfo Coplin Jr. is the operations manager a high school in Camden, N.J.

“We get so focused and driven that sometimes we forget about where someone else may be at the same place in their timeline,” he said. “We need to have a positive mindset.”

He urged students to take advantage of the opportunities they have at Ursinus that they would not have at many other schools.

“You have the opportunity to work side-by-side with experts; to build relationships with staff and faculty, even if you don’t have them for a class. Reach out, stop by, get to know the people here. They are very interested in you and helping you to build your future.”

The event was collaboration of the Ursinus Office of Career and Post-graduate Development, the Office of Student Affairs and the Parlee Center for Science and Common Good. –By Monique Kelly