SRU Alumni Association honors young alumni, SRU students


2017 alumni awards art

April 10, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - The Slippery Rock University Alumni Association will add four names to its Young Alumni Award recipient list at its 5 p.m., April 22, annual recognition and awards banquet at the Russell Wright Alumni House. The association will also honor a number of students with awards and scholarships.

Timothy Samec, a physics major from Drums, and Monica Traggiai, an education and dance major from Sarver, will be awarded the Outstanding Senior Man Award and the Outstanding Senior Woman Award during the ceremony.

The Past President's Service Award will be presented to Bob and Jody McCafferty of North Country Brewing Co., and Pearl Shaffer, who earned a bachelor's degree in business management (1991) and a master's degree in physical education (1993).

Young alumni being recognized this year are:

  • Andrea Byrd, a 2014 business administration graduate;
  • Stephanie Cicero, a 2012 music education (K-120 graduate;
  • Sandra Ihlenfeld. A 2010 exercise science graduate; and
  • Atticus Ranck, a 2012 creative writing graduate

The awards were created in 2005 by the SRU Alumni Association to recognize alumni that have demonstrated professional and personal accomplishments. Alumni are nominated by alumni, faculty and staff.

Those nominated for the honor must be a graduate of SRU with a bachelor's, master's or doctorate degree, and who have graduated within 10 years of the award's presentation.

Andrea Byrd


Byrd is an assurance senior at Ernest and Young, overseeing the planning, execution and reporting of reviews and audits of publicly traded companies in the Pittsburgh area. Since graduating, she has given back to the University by participating and organizing alumni panels and other professional events for the Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity and the Student Accounting Society. She has also participated in the Alumni Association's "Backpacks to Briefcases" event. Through these events, Byrd has provided insight to her job, other career options in her field and described her life after college to SRU students who are preparing to graduate. She has also volunteered her time to a variety of nonprofit organizations, including: Best of the Batch Foundation, Tree Pittsburgh and the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh.

Stephanie Cicero


Cicero has spent the past five years with the Titusville Area School District where she serves in a variety of roles, including: general music teacher for first through fifth graders; instrumental music teacher for fifth grade; planning coordinator for the winter and spring music concerts and elementary school talent show; musical director for the middle school; and as the assistant director for the high school marching band. A member of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, Cicero is a volunteer percussionist for many orchestras and concert bands, including the Butler County Symphony Orchestra. While at SRU, she established the "Music Major for A Day" program for high school students considering a music degree.

Cicero recently earned a master's degree in music education with a focus on general and instrumental music from Kent State University and has enrolled in SRU's Teaching Music Online certification program.

Sandra Ihlenfeld


Ihlenfeld is the vice president of healthy living and community outreach for the Butler County Family YMCA. In that position, she is tasked with providing leadership and strategic direction of healthy living departments located within two diverse YMCA units. She recently created a proposal that will allow a local company with 1,700 employees the opportunity to have access to on-site exercise programs, weekly health emails and a new wellness center. Ihlenfeld has made several trips to Taipei to train other YMCA exercise instructors and serves on the SRU Exercise Science Advisory Board. She has received numerous awards, including the American Council on Exercise & Life Fitness Personal Trainers to Watch Award; the Association of YMCA Professionals William G. Schmeider Award; the Association of YMCA Professionals Member of the Year Award; and the Association of YMCA Professionals Rookie of the Year Award.

She earned a master's degree in disease prevention and health promotion from the University of Pittsburgh.

Atticus Ranck


Ranck is the coordinator of sexuality and gender diversity at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. In that role, Ranck coordinates events and activities to promote the safety, inclusion and validation of LGBTQA+ identified students, staff and faculty. He is also the facilitator and advisor to all of the university's LGBTQA+ student groups. After graduating from SRU, Ranck worked as a transgender services intern at the SunServe Social Service Agency in Wilton Manners, Florida, assisting transgender individuals with their legal name changes. Three years later, he was named the agency's director of transgender services. In that role, he provided assistance to transgender individuals by referring them for jobs, healthcare, housing and much more. He developed educational, social programs and events to raise awareness on a multitude of issues. During his time at SunServe, he was the founder or co-founder of three different support groups and peer-facilitated six different support groups for people who are transgender or loved ones of people who are transgender.

He earned a master's degree in women, gender and sexuality studies from Florida Atlantic University in 2015.

Samec will receive the Outstanding Senior Man Award for "excelling in the classroom and in extracurricular activities."

While maintaining a 3.58 overall GPA as a physics and computational biophysics major, Samec has served in a variety of leadership roles as the founder and president of the Triathlon Club at SRU and president of the Physics and Engineering Club at SRU. He is a tutor in the subjects of genetics, elements of physics, general physics, modern physics and quantum mechanics, and also works as a FYRST seminar peer leader.

Samec has also been heavily involved in undergraduate research for the past four years, traveling across the country to present at prestigious national research conferences. He is a three-time USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championship qualifier and a two-time member of the U.S. National Triathlon Team, where he competed at the International Triathlon Union Age Group World Championship events in Chicago, Illinois (2015) and Cozumel, Mexico (2016).

He was named SRU's 2017 nominee for the Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education Syed Ali-Zaidi Award; a nominee for the Barry Goldwater Scholarship; and was awarded SRU's Norton Undergraduate Research Scholarship.

After graduation, Samec will attend Clemson University, where he will pursue a doctoral degree in bioengineering.

Traggiai will receive the Outstanding Senior Woman Award after "creating an educational path unique to her" and pursuing her goal of integrating arts into academic curriculum.

During her four years at SRU, she has been named to the dean's list every semester; is a two-time Presidential Scholar; and a recipient of several scholarships. Passionate about her education and that of others, Traggiai has created a pair of arts-integrated geography lessons which she student-taught at Slippery Rock Middle School.

She has participated in the SRU Dance Theatre as a performer and choreographer; been selected to work with several faculty and guest artists; and presented original works at many University concerts.

She traveled to the University of Michigan to adjudicate her self-choreographed solo piece, "Predetermined Corridors," at the American College Dance Association.

Traggiai serves her Dance Department peers as a student director for the Rock Dance Company; is a member of the departmental dance advisory board; works in the Dance Department office; is the philanthropy chair of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts; and serves as a member of SRU's council of trustees.

MEDIA CONTACT: Robb King | 724.738.2199 |