As a first-year student in her Common Intellectual Experience (CIE) class, Mary Barbagallo-Stranix ’13, a Spanish and Anthropology double-major, was required to explore the larger questions of the world, think outside the box and challenge norms.
Barbagallo-Stranix credits her Ursinus experience with providing the opportunity to acquire the relevant skills that have carried over to the workplace, extending well beyond a bachelor’s degree. She recalls, “Through my time at Ursinus, I developed meaningful relationships built on respect and trust along with how to effectively manage the activities that I wanted to partake in, all while carrying a heavy course load. As a result, each one of these involvements have benefited me in my current role as a project manager. Thanks to Ursinus and the way they build a well-rounded individual, I successfully juggle it all.”
As time passes, her appreciation for Ursinus continues to grow stronger. Barbagallo-Stranix felt inclined to get involved with the college while an undergrad and continues to do so as an alumna. She has volunteered her time through her participation with her Class Reunion Committee as well as the Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) Council. Barbagallo-Stranix served the latter as the co-chair of the Outreach Committee, working in tandem with members of the advancement office with the goal of engaging recent graduates. She explains, “The GOLD Council has provided me the platform to stay connected in a really meaningful way. I love that the group is so passionate about keeping our peers connected to the school from as early as six months post-graduation to 10 years out. It’s a great way to continue to meet new people from graduating years before and after you, as well as continuing to be part of the Ursinus community.”
Along with generously giving her time, both Barbagallo-Stranix and her husband (Ron Stranix ’12) feel drawn to support the college philanthropically. They are both considered “perfect donors”, which means they’ve made a gift every year since graduating. Barbagallo-Stranix says, “It is so important to me to give back to the college. It’s my second home and has provided me with so many wonderful things including meeting my husband and the majority of my closest friends”. She continues, “Ursinus is such a special place for those who attend and I think it’s only fair to give what I can so those who want to be part of our wonderful history have the opportunity.”
Aside from her volunteer efforts, Barbagallo-Stranix has managed to stay connected with fellow UC Bears through various UC social media outlets as well as networking and alumni events. She even discovered her current position at Merck & Co. through an alumni tie. She states, “The Ursinus alumni network is unbelievably vast and completely approachable. I’m lucky enough to have my current job due to my UC connections. Through these outlets, I am able to meet new alumni, build connections with older alumni and even host interns in my current role. I truly enjoy all the events that the school continues to hold.”
Barbagallo-Stranix remains adamant that one of Ursinus’s greatest strengths is the ability to take individuals from different backgrounds and bring them together. She elaborates, “The size of the campus and the environment that both students and faculty cultivate are at the heart of Ursinus’s magic. It is one of the few places I have ever truly felt like myself and I flourished. In the end people usually aren’t all that different from each other and Ursinus does a great job of focusing on those commonalities rather than our differences.”