Be true to your school

August 19, 1998

College AlumniBy TERI JOHNSON / Staff Writer

photo: YVETTE MAY / staff photographer [enlarge]

Swept up by the excitement of another football season, many college alumni are feeling renewed enthusiasm for their alma maters.

However, being true to your school runs much deeper than tailgate parties and homecoming games.

--cont. from lifestyle--

It's wanting to give something back to the university that gave you so much, says attorney Rick Pill of Martinsburg, W.Va.

Pill, 46, has been a member of West Virginia University Alumni Association since he completed his undergraduate studies in 1973. He graduated from the university's law school in 1977.


"I got a real good education for a real good price. My life wouldn't be anything like it is today if it weren't for WVU," Pill says.

When a family member helps you, you want to help them back, and the same principle applies to a university, he says.

His brother and co-owner in Pill and Pill, Dave Pill, also is a WVU graduate.

Rick Pill, a member of the national WVU Alumni Association board as well as its Eastern Panhandle chapter, said the association helps in three ways: job placement, social activities and recruitment and assistance of current and future students.

"If I'm looking to hire someone, I look to WVU first," he says.

John Massimilla of Chambersburg, Pa., says he always has felt an allegiance to Penn State.

Massimilla, president of Franklin County chapter of Pennsylvania State University Alumni Association, graduated in 1978.

The vice president at The Chambersburg Hospital says he joined the alumni association right away because he wanted to continue to be part of a great university.

"It's something you can take a lot of pride in," he says.

Penn State's alumni association, the largest dues-paying organization in the country, has more than 140,000 members.

The local chapter's primary goal is to support a scholarship fund to benefit needy students in Franklin County, Massimilla says.

He says he doesn't flaunt the fact he is a Penn Stater, but his closet tells a different story.

"I wear blue and white a lot," he says.

His wife, Kelle, also is a Penn State graduate. His two brothers and his wife's sister also went to Penn State.

Massimilla, 41, said his children, Kristin, 14, and Brian and Sara, 10, also are interested in attending Penn State.

Renewing ties

Alumni associations are a good way for students who have left the area to reconnect with the school, says Rick Wachtel, a 1968 graduate of Shepherd College.

Wachtel, president and general manager of radio station WRNR in Martinsburg, joined the alumni association at Shepherd about 10 years after graduation.

The association also gives students the chance to stay involved by making donations to a specific department or to the general alumni fund, says Wachtel, 52, of Martinsburg.

A good example of what alumni can do when they work together is the amphitheater under construction at Hagerstown Community College, says Lisa Stewart, coordinator of HCC Alumni Association.

"It's a monument to the love the students have for this institution," Stewart says.

One who has taken a major role is David Dull, president of Robinwood Encore Players, a theater group at HCC that is a standing committee of the alumni association.

Dull, a 1990 graduate of the college, was awake for 42 hours straight during the two-day run of "Charlotte's Web" earlier this month.

During show times he often spends 15 to 20 hours a week on the productions.

Robinwood Encore Players' four presentations so far have raised more than $12,000 to benefit the amphitheater project, Dull says.

Dull, a producer and computer animator at Antietam Cable Television in Hagers-town, also is a part-time instructor in TV production and computer graphics at HCC.

Dull, 30, cites a number of reasons for his commitment to HCC. They include working with new people as well as the friends he's known for 20 years and the enjoyment of doing theater.

"It's the chance to give back to the college and to give something back to the community," says Dull, a Hagerstown resident.

Stewart, a 1979 graduate, says the college has given her a bond with many people in the community.

"It's hard to find anyone in Washington County who hasn't been connected to Hagers- town Community College," Stewart says.

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