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RMU Dance Team Co-Captain Wins University’s Highest Honor

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

As co-captain of Robert Morris University's Dance Team, Gabriella Gasparich knows a thing or two about the rewards of hard work and dedication. Now the senior communication major has capped her collegiate career by winning the 2014 Presidential Transformational Award, RMU’s highest undergraduate honor.

The Presidential Transformational Award is given annually to a graduating student who has been transformed by his or her experience at RMU and was engaged in learning, leadership and community service, therefore transforming Robert Morris in the process.

"I am so extremely honored to be recognized with this award," said Gasparich, a Pittsburgh native and graduate of Norwin Senior High School in North Huntingdon. "Robert Morris University has given me so many opportunities, connections, and resources that have transformed me into a confident young professional, a leader, and a global citizen."

Gasparich, whose father Gregory Gasparich '91 studied finance at RMU, successfully juggled her co-captain role with the dance team, internships at three separate companies, and leading multiple clubs and organizations, all the while making the Dean’s List every semester while maintaining a 4.0 overall GPA.

During her time at RMU, Gasparich has interned at Ten Thousand Villages Pittsburgh, Forum-Nexus Study Abroad, Dimension X Advertising and Marketing, and Chemistry Communications. Recently she accepted a part-time position as a public relations account coordinator for Chemistry Communications in Pittsburgh, an integrated communications agency that offers advertising, design, media and interactive services to Fortune 500 companies. After graduation, she will be transitioning to a full-time position with the company.

In addition to the Transformational Award, Gasparich is the recipient of RMU's Rising Star Award, Woman of Achievement Award, and the School of Communications and Information Systems Endowment Award.

While focusing her studies on public relations and psychology, Gasparich has served as a mentor in RMU's Career Center, a student assistant in the Office of Student Life, and communications coordinator for the Forum-Nexus Study Abroad program, in which she traveled to seven cities in five European countries in 2012. She has also served three years as a Colonial Ambassador in RMU's Admissions Office.

Gasparich is secretary of RMU's Public Relations Club, student representative for the Social Media Subcommittee, and president of the MOSAIC Diversity Awareness Club. She is also a member of Delta Phi Epsilon sorority, the Patriot Yearbook staff, the Student Advisory Council, and the Patriot Scholars/Honors Program.

Whether it's been writing holiday cards for the elderly, sewing pillow cases for Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, or helping to raise money for fellow students in need, giving back to the community has been a major focus of Gasparich's time at RMU.

"I think there is a lot to be learned from other people, especially people in need," said Gasparich. "It's important for university students to help others in need, bring important issues or conditions to the light, and gain another perspective different from their own."

She has volunteered at various foundations and organizations including the Susan B. Komen Foundation, the Coraopolis Cooperative Food Pantry, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, West Hills Health and Rehabilitation Center, ANAD (Anorexia Nervosa & Associated Disorders), Ronald McDonald House Charities, Girls Hope, and the Children's Tumor Foundation.

This past fall she traveled to Nicaragua with RMU nursing students on a faculty-led trip to help provide health care to needy individuals in the Managua barrios. While there, Gasparich conducted research for her Honors thesis and translated Spanish for the nursing students.

"Gabriella is the embodiment of what we mean when we say that Robert Morris University changes lives," said RMU President Gregory G. Dell'Omo. "Her willingness to get involved during her time here and take advantage of every opportunity available to her has not only helped her grow into a strong, confident woman, it has also allowed her to touch the lives of so many others by giving of her time and considerable talents. She is truly deserving of RMU's highest student honor."

Gasparich said the greatest reward from her involvement at RMU has been the meaningful relationships she has made with students, faculty, and staff. "The university has become my second home, and these people have become my second family," she said. "They have taught me so much and provided me with so many wonderful opportunities. I am looking forward to the next chapter of my life following graduation, but I will always hold RMU close to my heart."