March represents Women’s History Month and the Department of Women and Gender Studies at Youngstown State University would like to recognize a few amazing female alumnae. YSU would like to honor the accomplishments of seven alumnae who were selected to be featured in our annual display entitled “Penguin Women on the Move.” As the narratives will show, these women have gone above and beyond with their personal, professional, academic and/or philanthropic endeavors. We would like to highlight these alumnae for truly being “Y and Proud.”
Janet L. Gbur, Ph.D., 2008, BE; 2011, MSE Perseverance and determination are the foundation of Janet Gbur’s academic and professional journey. She received her BS in Biology/Pre-medicine from Kent State University, and from YSU received a BE in Materials Engineering and MSE in Mechanical Engineering. While at YSU, she served as a Student Trustee, Homecoming Chair, ZTA officer, and Majorette Co-Captain. Gbur went on to obtain her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). Her research is focused on using advanced characterization techniques to understand structure at relevant size and length scales with correlation to long-term behavior and developing techniques to better understand how implanted devices move in vivo to inform reliability testing and standards development. Also committed to developing the next generation of engineers and scientists, Gbur serves as a project mentor for undergraduate research at CWRU and as an instructor in the Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering Department at YSU. An active member in her professional community, she holds numerous leadership roles, including service on the ASM International’s Women in Materials Engineering Committee, and as a Trustee for the Microscopy Society of Northeastern Ohio.
Kelly S. Mehalco, 2012, BSAS
Kelly Mehalco graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2012 with a bachelor of science in applied science in Fashion Merchandising from the BitonteCollege of Health and Human Services. She is looking forward to starting YSU’s Master of Business Administration Online Program in Fall 2019. Mehalco currently works as the Retail Buyer for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York, NY, overseeing the Retail Operations of the Museum Store, Plaza Carts and Ecommerce Website and leading the department to their best year ever in 2018. Mehalco got her start in Retail by volunteering in the Gift Shop of The Butler Institute of American Art during her college years. During this time, she fell in love with volunteerism and has since joined Pete’s Pride, New York Cares, and the Best Friends Animal Society. Other passions of hers include spending time with her family and friends, exploring New York City, which she has deemed her home away from home, and kickboxing. Mehalcodefinitely comes from a Penguin family: her mother and two brothers also are YSU graduates!
Staff Sgt. Rachel L. Minto, 2014, BME
Pittsburgh native Rachel Minto graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Dana School of Music with a bachelor of music in Education. While at Dana, Minto was a drum major in the Marching Pride, principal flutist in the Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra, and winner of the Youngstown Music Teacher’s Association Scholarship competition. Additionally, she was the recipient of the Rudieand WealthiePrince Scholarship and Presidential Scholarship. Minto went on to Arizona State University, where she earned a master of music in Flute Performance in 2016. Currently, Staff Sergeant Minto serves as a fifer and flutist in The United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, one of the Army’s premier bands. Band members perform using musical instruments and wearing uniforms similar to those used by military musicians of the Continental Army during the American Revolution. She is stationed at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia and resides in Alexandria, VA. Outside of the Army, Minto enjoys reading, CrossFit, and photography. She is a proud second generation Penguin, following her father’s footsteps.
Kaitlin Rohrs-Cordes, 2013, BSBA
Kaitlin Rohrs-Cordesreceived a full scholarship to play basketball with the YSU Penguins, but an illness and injury meant she would never play in a YSU game. She was diagnosed with Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome in both legs and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which ended her basketball career early. After graduating from YSU in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing Management, she went on to earn a master’s degree in Sport Administration from Bowling Green State University in 2015. She currently works as an academic advisor at Northwest State Community College in Archbold, Ohio and coaches at two nearby high schools. Most recently, Rohrs-Cordes learned that two of her research studies from her graduate program have been accepted for publication. Both papers investigate current policies and procedures for student athletes who experience injuries that terminate their athletic careers. One is published in the Journal for the Study of Sports and Athletes in Education; and the second article will appear in the International Journal of Sport Management. The results from both studies suggest the need for more supportive resources to improve the well-being of college athletes who suffer career-ending injuries and need to transition out of collegiate sports.
Dina Novak Ruden, 1980, BA
A native of Campbell, Dina Rudenis Senior Vice President of Communications and Public Relations for Travel Leaders Group, North America’s largest and fastest-growing retail travel company with more than 4,000 employees and sales of over $20 billion. She leads the organization’s brand reputation and oversees internal and external communications for the company, which provides corporate, luxury, leisure, meetings and entertainment travel services. Ruden holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from YSU and a master’s degree in Communications from the University of Hawaii. At YSU, Rudenpursued her degree and a career in journalism at the same time, working a split shift at the Youngstown Vindicator in her last two years. She also worked on The Jambar and was a member of the Women’s Gymnastics team. After graduating from YSU, Ruden moved to Honolulu where she developed her lifelong interest in Hawaiian culture. She studied hula for more than a decade and currently performs with a Hawaiian dance troupe in New York. Her journalism career included 10 years as a reporter and editor covering the travel industry – taking her around the world. Other positions included Director, Public Relations and Communications, with the National Treasury Employees Union in Washington D.C.; Director, Communications & Public Affairs for American Express Consumer Travel Network; and Senior Vice President, Communications at the American Society of Travel Agents. She and her husband, Paul Ruden, live in Manhattan near Lincoln Center, where they are frequent visitors to dance and theater performances.
Stephanie Shaw, 1992, BA
A Warren City School graduate, Stephanie Shaw received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from Youngstown State University and a Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication from Northeastern University. She also holds a Financial Management Certification from eCornellUniversity and is currently pursuing a certification in Holistic Nutrition from American Fitness Professionals & Associates. In her current role, she serves as the Executive Director of Eastern Ohio Education Partnership. Recently, she was instrumental in helping launch Valley STEM, a Science Technology Engineering Math high school located at the Mahoning County Educational Service Center. She serves on Northeast Ohio Adoption Services’ Board and is a founding member of the Howland Community Scholarship committee. Shaw also serves on the board of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley. Her service to the community has garnered her several awards and recognitions including: Top Five MVP of the Top Forty Most Influential People Under Forty (Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley); Top Twenty-Five Most Influential Women in Trumbull County (Tribune Chronicle); she was also a YSU Alumni of the Month and a two-time ATHENA nominee. Shaw is an active member at Believers Church. There she helps with special projects and teaches interest-based small groups such as the Holy Spirit, Women in the Bible, and vegan cooking. She and her husband have three adult sons. The family resides in Howland.
Carmella Marie Williams, 2005, BSBA
Carmella Williams earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at YSU in 2005, and received a master’s degree in Public Administration from Cleveland State University in 2008. She spent the first 11 years of her career working at YSU as Assistant Director of Associate Degree and Tech Prep programs until beginning a position at the Youngstown Business Incubator last year. At the YBI, Williams serves as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion. She also manages the Women in Entrepreneurship program, aimed at aiding women-owned businesses and helping them grow. She speaks from experience as the developer of her own business: Calling herself a “kitchen chemist,” Williams began experimenting with ingredients like honey, banana, avocado, coconut and olive oils to create a natural shampoo and conditioner. Her hair care line, Carmella Marie, has grown to 14 hair and skin care products. For five years now, Williams also has organized a conference at YSU called “Let’s Talk Hair” that centers around various types of wellness. This fall she welcomed more than a dozen vendors, doctors and other experts who shared knowledge with the 200 women in attendance. Topics included natural products, financial health, nutrition and more. Her advice to women: “Don’t let fear stop you from implementing your dreams.”