Knowledge Joined With Love

By Carey Manzolillo ’06, M’07 & Ryan Shannon ’16

The ideal of “knowledge joined with love” is at the core of Alvernia University’s mission. It is a concept developed by Saint Bonaventure that inspires members of the Franciscan community, regardless of their academic discipline or field of study, to use what they know and learn to transform the world and the lives of the people around them. Over time, students who are drawn to the idea are often drawn to each other, as well. 


Time and again, Alvernia alumni tell us they fell in love at the university. During the fall, several of them returned to campus to tell their stories for Alvernia Magazine.

Troy and Elizabeth Schlappich '01

“I first noticed Troy when I was moving into the dorm my freshman year,” says Elizabeth Schlappich. A sophomore, Troy had his nickname, Slappy, written on the back of his orientation aide T-shirt. “He was adorable!” remembers Elizabeth. A day or two later, the competitive pair played volleyball at a freshmen orientation pool party and became fast friends. Quickly becoming inseparable, the two got engaged on Alvernia’s campus. “Troy asked me to marry him on a walk through the paths behind Francis Hall,” says Elizabeth. “We graduated together in December 2001 and were married in August 2002. We now have 9-year-old twins and celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary in August!”

RichardsSteve '96 and Diana Richards '97

“I came to Alvernia in 1993, and my husband and I crossed paths several times over the next three years,” says Diana Richards, pointing out a 1994 yearbook picture where the two are separated by only a few people. “I don’t recall him being there that day, but we later discovered that picture.” Over the next few years, there were many other times when Diana and Steve had near misses — bus trips, school functions, club gatherings and others. “We could have met and definitely saw each other, but it wasn’t the right time just yet,” says Diana. “I was actually in attendance when he graduated in 1996, and a year later he was at my graduation, too.” The two went on a dinner and movie date on Halloween weekend 1996, when a mutual friend, Kristen, canceled plans to see “Romeo & Juliet” with Diana. “Kristen was one of my bridesmaids when we got married on June 23, 2001,” says Diana. “Steve and I think about our time at Alvernia and know that it was the right school for us. We made many wonderful friends that we are still in touch with today, and we’re grateful for all the opportunities provided to us during our time at the Vern.”

EisenhauersRobyne '88 and Robert Eisenhauer '87 — Ben '13 and Emily (Bieber) Eisenhauer '13

Robyne and Robert Eisenhauer met in Veronica Hall’s laundry room while pursuing associate degrees in nursing in the late 1980s. Though she remembers an immediate interest in Rob, “Things were a little different back then,” says Robyne. “We were studying constantly, and I, like many other girls, was raised to let the boys take the first step.” Promising that she’d iron her roommate’s uniform if the roommate would accompany Robyne to a campus movie night didn’t immediately make an impact. “Rob didn’t seem to notice me during the movie,” says Robyne. But as she ironed the uniform afterward, Rob appeared in the laundry room — and the rest is history. Robyne, who now runs Alvernia’s nursing simulation laboratory, says it was a special feeling to return to campus as a faculty member in 2008. 

More than 20 years later, Robyne and Rob’s son Ben came to study at Alvernia. He too, met his significant other on campus. “Both Ben and Emily (Bieber) were studying nursing, too,” says Robyne. Though Ben began his college career as a Pittsburgh engineering major and Emily began hers as an occupational therapy major, the two found their way to nursing at the same time. They served as president and vice president of the Student Nursing Association and attended state and national conventions as friends before becoming a couple in their senior year. “In reality, their best man, Joe Zappulla ’13, played matchmaker for both Ben and Emily — and for himself. He married a Class of 2012 graduate, Lauren Mance,” laughs Robyne.

McCormacksRob '82 and Theresa (Gillichbauer) McCormack '83

Though they sat on opposite sides of the room, student-athletes Rob (a sophomore) and Theresa (a freshman) met in Sister Rosemary’s Literature of the Bible class. “I remember he was wearing a red Phillies jacket, as he was the groundskeeper for the Reading Phillies,” says Theresa. The pair got to know each other better as teammates, helping Beverly Chick establish Alvernia’s first tennis program. By the time Theresa and Rob graduated, they had both made names for themselves as the KAC men and women tennis champions, NAIA District 11 champions and National qualifiers.

But their year-long relationship was put on hold when Theresa seriously considered entering religious life. “I will never forget that Rob said to me, ‘I lost out to a better man’ — meaning Jesus,” she recalls. After much prayer and discernment, Theresa decided not to enter the convent and wrote Rob a letter to see if he still had feelings for her. “He told me he kept that letter for years because he was so grateful to have had another opportunity with us,” says Theresa. “The Bernardine Franciscan Sisters always told us that ‘God makes straight with crooked lines.’ How true that was!” The couple celebrated their marriage on October 13, 1984, with best man John Wanner ’82, maid of honor Kathy (Smith) Lynn ’86, matron of honor Liz (Mosca) Dowd ’82, bridesmaid Afsheen Shah ’84 and groomsmen John McCormack ’84 and Larry Zerbe ’88. “Whenever we return to Alvernia, we are connected to our college days and the beginning of a love that I truly believe was orchestrated by God,” says Theresa. “Alvernia has always been laced throughout our marriage.”

wedding goersDwayne '01, M'08 and Stephanie (Garcia) Walker '07

Last summer, Dan Hartzman, M’06 counted more than a dozen Alvernia admissions alumni — most of them now couples — at a co-worker’s wedding. Among them were Dwayne and Stephanie Walker, who met at Alvernia in 2006 as adults pursuing graduate degrees. At the time, Stephanie worked as a graduate assistant in the Admissions Department, where she regularly saw Dwayne — a fellow admissions team member and an assistant men’s basketball coach. WalkersWhile they didn’t start dating right away, both vividly remember getting to know one another at the second annual Margaritavern event in 2007. Though they initially started dating privately, the couple’s secret came out when attending the wedding of co-workers and fellow alumni Paul Sadaphal ’06 and Sonia (Topiaz) ’07. Years later, Dwayne and Stephanie returned to take their engagement photos in Francis Hall’s Miller Gallery and were married in 2012, in the university’s Sacred Heart Chapel. They now live with their two toddlers in Warminster, Pa. Dwayne is associate vice president of enrollment management at Delaware Valley University and Stephanie is the director of admissions at Manor College. “Alvernia will always have a special place in our hearts,” says Dwayne. “Go Golden Wolves!” 

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