Alumni Awards

Alumni Spotlight

Meet ESU graduate Nicole Giovagnoli

Gymnastics Reunion

Nicole Santerangelo Giovagnoli graduated with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood and elementary education in 1996 and is a proud ESU Legacy Family member. Her teaching career began in 2002 as a fifth-grade teacher in the Mid Valley (Pa.) school district, where she continues to inspire young minds.

Giovagnoli considers her time at ESU to be some of her best years. Lasting friendships and memorable experiences helped shape her into the person she is today. A proud member of an ESU Legacy Family, Giovagnoli’s daughter, Emma, is a current student, majoring in communications sciences and disorders.

In her spare time, Giovagnoli likes to spend time with family and watch her children in their many extracurricular activities.

Karen Harte-Schito

It’s been nearly 28 years since Karen Harte-Schito graduated from East Stroudsburg University with her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. During a nearly three-decade career she has had an immeasurable impact on the lives of her students and the schools she has led as principal. Harte-Schito’s first ten years were spent in the Pocono Mountain School District teaching English/Language Arts and Social Studies. She went on to earn her master’s degree in Elementary Education and an Administrative Certificate from ESU in 1999.

A lifelong learner, Harte-Schito received her Superintendent’s Letter of Eligibility from the University of Scranton. During the next 12 years, she worked as a vice-principal in various grade configurations within the Pocono Mountain School District. In 2017, Harte-Schito and husband Sal moved with their three sons from Stroudsburg to Louisville, Tenn., for her new role as a Pre-K to 3rd-grade Principal at Foothills Elementary, in the Maryville City School system. The school is located in the most spectacular setting, nestled in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains. Under her guidance, the school was designated a National Blue Ribbon School in 2019. The state of Tennessee recognized Foothills Elementary as a Reward School for academic excellence for the past six years, an incredible feat!

As a public-school employee, Harte-Schito works amongst many entities in the area. She was recently nominated to participate in Leadership Blount, an organization that brings local community leaders together to share their expertise and solve regional issues. This year marks the 31st leadership class held, and she is looking forward to learning from and collaborating with leaders from her district and surrounding communities.

Harte-Schito fondly remembers ESU professors Dr. Jesse Moore and Dr. McLaughlin for training her how to teach children to love reading. She is a Phi Sigma Sigma sister and still actively keeps in touch with her sorority. The friendships made in her four years on campus are ones she still holds dear to her heart today. ESU helped her meet new people with different mindsets and to experience growth as an individual, which she is so grateful for. Her advice to current Warriors is to step out of their comfort zones and to get involved on campus. Harte-Schito encourages teachers in training to take part in daily reflection on all they learn and advises ESU students to remain positive and optimistic about their studies, knowing that adverse situations will always be somewhat constructive will help them grow. As a teacher and now an administrator, Harte-Schito believes there is no greater servant work when one can change the trajectory of a child’s life.

ESU Alumnus Celebrated in Rose Bowl Parade

Bruno Klaus

A life-long outdoorsman, Tyler Rodimer ’18 spent much of his time in the woods or on a stream. He earned his Eagle Scout award in 2014 and, after graduating from ESU with a degree in criminal justice, Tyler worked at Hudson Farms, a private year-round sportsman’s club in Andover, N.J. His favorite outdoor activity was fly fishing, and he enjoyed sharing his knowledge with club members.

On his way to work in February 2019, Tyler was in a serious car accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. His parents, Lorie and Richard Rodimer, spent countless hours waiting for their only child to recover. As a high school student, Tyler had selflessly checked the organ donor box on his brand-new driver’s license. Faced with an agonizing decision, the Rodimers accepted Tyler’s last act of kindness and consented to organ donation.

The day Tyler Rodimer passed, his kidneys and liver saved three lives. Since then, people with genetic disorders have been helped by Tyler’s heart valves and 16 people, 12 of whom were women recovering from mastectomies, benefitted from tissue and skin donations.

Sadly, Richard Rodimer passed away in 2020. Lorie Rodimer continues to share the importance of organ donation. Since Tyler’s passing, she has grown a team of friends and family who participate in the NJ Sharing Network’s annual 5K. Her team, “Tyler’s Tight Lines,” has raised over $34,000 to support organ donation. “I feel so proud when someone says they signed up to be an organ donor because of me, but really, we all know it’s ultimately about Tyler,” she said.

In 2022, Lorie received word that Tyler would be honored in the 2023 Rose Bowl Parade with a floragraph on the Donate Life float. Sponsored by Dignity Memorial, the float, “Lifting Each Other Up,” honored 44 organ donors and recipients with realistic floral representations that celebrate life. In early December, Hudson Farms hosted more than 100 friends and family members for the unveiling of Tyler’s floragraph. Members of Tyler’s immediate family, Lorie Rodimer, Dr. Robert Hosko, and Tracy and Ronald Hosko ’80, were flown to Pasadena by Dignity Memorial where they helped complete the float before watching the parade in person. The emotional and unforgettable experience highlighted the importance of organ donation and the impact one decision can have on others.

Tyler Rodimer’s spirit lives on through the lives of the grateful recipients of his selfless act. “Organ donation decisions usually revolve around tragedy,” said Lorie Rodimer. “As hard as it is, it is the most beautiful gift to give, the gift of life.”

For information about organ and tissue donation, visit NJ Sharing Network. To register for one of the New Jersey 5K walks, click here.

Warriors Helping Warriors

Submitted by Frank Johnson ’74

In late September, Hurricane Ian caused massive destruction in Southwest Florida, especially a swath between the Fort Meyers area and south of Venice. One community that was savagely hit was Englewood, home of the Florida Suncoast Chapter of ESU Alumni. Many people completely lost their homes or were so badly damaged, they will need to be demolished. Those that were deemed salvageable will require years to approach their pre-hurricane condition. Volunteers from all over Florida and many other states helped to provide aid to those affected by Ian. Food, shelter, equipment, manpower—anything that could provide comfort and literally survival to the overwhelmed population of Englewood.

One such story involved a number of ESSC/ESU alumni who rushed to the aid of a fellow Warrior. The details are probably common to the many who survived this life-changing event but this one is all about the bonds of friendship that were forged many years ago on the third floor of Shawnee Hall.

Sarah and I did not know what to expect when we arrived at our home in Lemon Bay Isles, Englewood, Florida, five days after Ian blew into town. Due to the flooding, wind damage, power lines down, and incredible amounts of debris, we had to wait until we were allowed to enter our community. The house was still standing but had absorbed a terrible beating. The carport, lanai, and attached shed were gone, all that remained was a pile of debris. The sunroom porch roof had been ripped off, along with a large portion of the sunroom’s roof, leaving it and the great room exposed. Ceilings had collapsed, insulation was everywhere, windows were blown out, and wind and rain had soaked every inch of carpet. Water damage to the sheetrock was evident in several rooms. The county had placed an orange sticker on the door, declaring the structure unsafe and uninhabitable.

Then came assistance from the ESU connection. Dave Hair ’76 and Moi Hair ’77 arrived from the east coast of Florida with their trailer to provide a place to stay. They brought tools, food and a great big dose of hope with them. They immediately pitched in to begin the massive cleanup job to salvage what could be saved. The emotional support from the Hairs was immeasurable. Local volunteers arrived to aid in the removal of carpeting, sheetrock and destroyed furniture. In a few days, things looked a little bit better, and it was determined that the house could be saved.

With that determination came another wave of Warriors. John Helgesen ’74 and Frank Newby ’75 drove all the way from Philadelphia in a van full of materials, tools, generator, nail gun, ladders, etc., to begin the process of rebuilding and restoring the roof. The power was back but the house was far from watertight, and it would take a herculean effort to get the job done. John is an accomplished carpenter, Frank has experience with construction and, flying down a few days later from central Pennsylvania, was Dean Gardner ’74, a retired contractor, to complete the team. Working ten-to-twelve-hour days on the roof and in the heat, the transformation was unbelievable. Rafters, sheathing, shingles, fascia, windows, a laundry shed—they kept at it until the job was done. Evenings were spent reminiscing about those “college days” and cheering on the Phillies. And then they packed up and returned home to their families, taking for granted the incredible transformation they were responsible for.

Bottom line, we were lucky and got to keep our house. It will take years to return it completely to pre-hurricane condition, but we were able to hang on to our “little slice of paradise” in Englewood. But more importantly, is how lucky we are to have lifelong friends who embody everything that is good in this world. And to forever cherish the strength of the bonds and ties that have lasted over fifty years, and that were born on Third Floor Shawnee. 

Kristin Ellis ’09

Kristin Ellis graduated from ESU in May 2009 with a bachelor's degree in Speech Language Pathology and earned her master’s degree In May 2011. She is a former member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Opening her mobile private practice for speech therapy, Time 2 Talk Therapy Services, LLC, in July 2020 was the silver lining out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of her clients weren't comfortable going to crowded health clinics to receive their speech therapy services, and her caseload built quickly. By the end of 2021, the mobile practice was servicing clients in Carbon, Monroe, Luzerne, Lackawanna, Northampton, and Lehigh Counties. In January 2022, Ellis hired a second Speech Language Pathologist and began looking for a physical space that could be turned into a speech therapy clinic for her growing client list.

Ellis officially signed a five-year lease on a building in her hometown of Lehighton, Pa., and added another clinician in the summer of 2022. They now run the only summer camp in Northeastern Pennsylvania that focuses on utilizing Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC) for elementary-aged kids. "Everyone Deserves a Voice AAC Camp," is a state-of-the art facility with therapy rooms, conference room, offices, and a large sensory room.

“I want all current and past ESU students to know that hard work really does pay off and leads to your dreams becoming reality!” Ellis says. She owes a huge thank you to ESU and all the organizations that she was a part of as an undergraduate and graduate student as well as an alumna.

Conner Bayer ’14

Conner Bayer graduated from East Stroudsburg University in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and history. Living in East Stroudsburg his entire life, he began researching other locations while substitute teaching after graduation. After attending a job fair in Raleigh, N.C., in 2015, he began teaching with the Wake County Public School system at Athens Drive Magnet High School.

Bayer teaches history to high school students with courses in AP World History, American History II, and an elective course on the Vietnam War to juniors and seniors. For the Vietnam War classes, he invites a group of veterans to speak about their experiences to the students.

In addition to teaching, Bayer is a coach, leading the varsity girl’s volleyball team for four years. He also spent two years coaching JV baseball and a year with the football team. The past year has been rough for the young volleyball team. Wake County is a very competitive county for volleyball, having crowned the state champ the last four years running.

Bayer was named School Teacher of the Year, 2019-2020, by his peers and was a semi-finalist in the Wake County Public School System competition for that award. Teaching runs in the Bayer family, his brother Kyle graduated from ESU in 2012 and teaches in the same county at a different high school.

Always a big fan of history, Bayers credits ESU history professors Dr. Gray and Dr. O’Donnell with sharpening his interest and shaping his career. Dr. Lare’s course in education impacted his choice to become a high school teacher. Along with many memories of ESU basketball games and flag football, Bayer remembers the friends who helped advance his education. “My time at ESU was well spent,” he said.

Michele Lapchak Gresh

Michele Lapchak Gresh graduated from ESU in 2001 with a B.S. in Recreation and Leisure Services Management and a concentration in therapeutic recreation. She shares her post-ESU career below.

After graduating from ESU, I accepted a position as a creative therapist in adolescent psychiatry for Northeast Counseling Services in Nanticoke, Pa., as part of their inpatient and outpatient programs. I married Jeremy Gresh ’02 in 2002 and we moved to the Philadelphia area. I spent the next 10 years in the subacute rehabilitation unit at the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, working as a recreational therapist specializing in neurological rehabilitation as part of the brain injury team.

My love of neurological rehabilitation later led me to work as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) for ReMed Recovery Centers in Paoli, Pa., on both inpatient and outpatient levels, doing community reintegration with traumatic brain injury. In 2016 I accepted my first managerial role as a CTRS with Fox Subacute, a ventilator-dependent nursing home in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., as their Recreational Therapy Director. That same year, I discovered I was pregnant with our daughter, Henley. After a very difficult pregnancy, I decided to take a step back from my career and focus on being a mother.

During my years at ESU, I struggled with obesity and developed a genuine love and passion for fitness and wellness. Having directed myself through a weight loss journey and overcoming the battle of postpartum recovery, I decided to take a turn with my career. In 2018 I became a certified personal trainer.

While continuing as a CTRS on a per diem basis, I accepted a part-time position as the group fitness coordinator at our local community center in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. When Covid 19 hit and the world shut down, I made it my mission to help people continue to stay both mentally and physically healthy. For nine straight weeks, I went live every day on social media, offering free fitness classes.

Realizing the lockdowns weren’t about to end anytime soon and receiving the news that I had lost my job, I took the biggest chance of my life. The fitness classes I started had a solid following and they developed into my own virtual fitness program called G-Fit. This online fitness community now has over 400 members across the country many of whom are ESU grads. More than 1,600 pounds have been lost within the group since the start of the pandemic.

I am still able to tie my love for fitness and recreation into my career and thanks to Brad Seid and his commercial recreation classes at ESU, I had the tools I needed to start my very own business. From a therapeutic standpoint, it was Angela Vaute, who gave me the knowledge that it takes to confidently accommodate people with underlying conditions into my wellness program. I am forever grateful to East Stroudsburg University for helping me become who I am today—a successful CTRS, a business owner and, most importantly, an influencer within the community.