O'Pake Fellow Farewell 2024

Fellows present final reflections on experience assisting businesses in Berks County

21 O'Pake Fellows graduated as members of Alvernia University's Class of 2024 and presented their final reflections regarding the experiential learning opportunities and professional development gleaned from the O'Pake Fellows Program. The O'Pake Fellows Program provides undergraduate and graduate students with hands-on distinctive experiential learning opportunities. Students of high academic standing from diverse majors and backgrounds work directly with regional entrepreneurs, small business owners, faculty researchers, and industry leaders. 


In alignment with Alvernia's core value of contemplation, O'Pake Graduate Assistant of Student Services Brianna Schnieder took the lead on facilitating the final reflection project with the guidance of Executive Director of Student & Client Services Michelle Conway, MBA, and Student Experiential Learning Specialist Max Horn, MBA.


"We often describe the fellow experience as a metamorphosis; this project aims to bring their experience full circle as fellows transition from one stage to the next," said Schneider. "We hope they can recognize their impact on the community around them while also celebrating their own achievements such as the skills and knowledge they leave the program with. Moving forward, this comprehensive project will help fellows track their impact on the businesses they work with since they might work with up to 40 businesses if they start as first-year students in the program."


Graduating Fellows were able to present highlights and deliverables from their experience, including work they have done for local business owners in and beyond Berks and Schuylkill counties, the training they have engaged in, connections they have made through networking and skills they have built along the way for the resume.

Jack Cossa Presenting at O'Pake Fellow Farewell 2024

John (Jack) Cossa '23, MBA '24 presenting his final reflection at the O'Pake Fellow Farewell. 


"Being a part of the O'Pake Institute has shaped my professional career immensely," said Graduate Assistant of Community Based Campuses, Jack Cossa '23 MBA '24 when reflecting on his experience working with small businesses surrounding Alvernia's Pottsville CollegeTowne. "I have had amazing opportunities throughout my time at O'Pake to be a part of high-level projects helping clients achieve their goals to elevate their business. Without O'Pake, I would not be the young, aspiring professional that I am. The experiential learning you receive through O'Pake is the first class that I would recommend to any professional looking to enhance their professional experience."


The O'Pake Fellows Program encourages Fellows to engage in applied research activity, scholarly travel, and other personal and professional training activities to enhance their experience.Undergraduate Fellows can work with up to 3-5 clients a semester and are exposed to projects that fulfill various needs of businesses in the community.


"Through the various clients I've worked with, I've loved being able to learn about and collaborate with different kinds of personalities, businesses, and passions. It has allowed me to take note of the various challenges and approaches that exist in the media/marketing space, and the importance of being strategic and adaptable." After spending two years working with O'Pake, Maldonado also shares that incoming freshman to the O'Pake Institute should "always be open to new opportunities and challenges, as they will help you grow both personally and professionally."

Yesenia Maldonado Graduation from O'Pake Fellows Program 2024

From left: Michelle Conway, MBA; Yesenia Maldonado and Rodney S. Ridley Sr., Ph.D., RTTP


Full list of honorees:


  • Ian Graiff, O'Pake Fellow of Sport Management
  • Christian Dahl, O'Pake Fellow of Sport Management 
  • Emily Sano, O'Pake Fellow of Digital Media 
  • Adriana Lucia CalderonBonilla, O'Pake Fellow of Marketing 
  • Kyle Schermerhorn, O'Pake Fellow of Accounting  
  • Andrew Deschenes, O'Pake Fellow of Finance 
  • Alaijah Pharr, O'Pake Fellow of Finance  
  • Richard Wall, O'Pake Fellow of Finance  
  • Anthony Portillo, O'Pake Fellow of Finance  
  • Nicholas King, O'Pake Fellow of Human Resources 
  • Yesenia Maldonado, O'Pake Fellow of Communications 
  • Marisol MartinezAlvarez, O'Pake Fellow of Management and Communications
  • Aleksandra Kolesnikova, O'Pake Fellow of Communications  
  • Benjamin Foster, O'Pake Fellow of Communications  
  • Luke Ammarell, O'Pake Fellow of Finance 
  • Jasmine Hughes, O'Pake Fellow of Political Science  
  • Mickenzie McLucas, O'Pake Fellow of Marketing
  • Cora Cox, O'Pake Fellow of Business Management
  • Jamal Dancy, O’Pake Fellow of Community & Government Relations


  • Winnie Gutierrez, MBA Graduate Assistant of Operations
  • Jack Cossa, MBA Graduate Assistant of Community Base Campus- Pottsville 
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