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Program Manager at Best Buddies Pennsylvania Branch
Andrew Harbaugh '20 started his journey at GMercyU as a transfer student coming from Montgomery County Community College. He first heard of GMercyU from a friend, who is a fellow GMercyU graduate, as he was looking for schools with transfer evaluations.
What really sold Andrew was meeting the professors and students here at GMercyU. He distinctively remembers being put in contact with faculty immediately, namely Mary Jo Pierantozzi.
"Mercy is an attitude that embraces," Andrew said.
Though he did not know it at the time, Mercy would be the guiding factor through his time at GMercyU and beyond. Andrew learned the importance of embracing every opportunity that presents itself.
Andrew was a highly involved individual within the GMercyU community, which was unplanned. It was his peers and friends who invited him to become invovled which grew his involvement from there. He started as a member of the Special Education Club and Campus Ministry where he focused on service and self-care. He also became involved with Best Buddies and rose to be the Chapter President of GMercyU's chapter, where he helped coordinate and plan events for the organization's members. Andrew is still matched with his buddy, Lisa, today.
One of his most notable experiences at GMercyU was getting involved with the Student Government Association (SGA). He went on to serve as the Recording Secretary and Vice President in the following year. What he enjoyed most about SGA at GMercyU was that it served as a platform for students to share their concerns, and the University offered resources and funds to help students improve the campus and serve student interests. Being involved in SGA also provided the opportunity to lead trainings and attend national and regional conferences, experiences that resonate with him to this day.
When asked what his favorite part of GMercyU is, Andrew remarked, "The Mercy mission. The Mercy aspect of a GMercyU education leads students to become part of something bigger than just themselves and allows them to enter field that embrace societal changes."
Since graduating from GMercyU, Andrew has landed a job at the Pennsylvania branch of Best Buddies where he serves as a Program Manager. The Best Buddies mission is to "end the social, physical, and economic isolation of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities," Andrew said. The organization is striving to make more inclusive communities for this disability community.
Andrew's focus is on the one-to-one friendship pillar, where he oversees school and adult programs for individuals with and without disabilities. His favorite part of the job is the opportunity to address a need in society. In December 2021, Andrew was nominated by his colleages to be named Program Manager of the Year.
Today, Andrew is proud to serve on the Alumni Board and will always be proud to be known as a Distinctive Mercy Graduate.