Carlow University Names Five Distinguished Alumni as Carlow Laureates

Carlow University has named five distinguished alumni as its 2019 Carlow Laureates for exemplary achievement in their respective fields.

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Highest Honor Given by Carlow Annually to Alumni who Stand Out in Their Fields

Pittsburgh, Pa. –Carlow University has named five distinguished alumni as its 2019 Carlow Laureates, the university’s most prestigious alumni award. The Carlow Laureates will be honored during a special luncheon on Friday, May 10, 2019, at The Oaklander Hotel on Bigelow Blvd. in Oakland.

“Carlow Laureates are alumni whose work, thought, and action demonstrate the highest standards of professional accomplishment and leadership, whether it is in their chosen discipline, in academics, or through community service,” said Suzanne K. Mellon, PhD, president of Carlow University.  “Recipients of this award are lasting tributes to their own professional excellence, the transformational education they received at Carlow, and the dynamic environment which helped to fuel their ambitions and their desire to make a difference in the best ways they can.”

Each year, Carlow University honors five alumni, one of whom is a graduate of the last decade.

The 2019 Carlow Laureates:

Corinne Francis – Class of 1997 is the Senior Vice President for Mission Integration at CommonSpirit Health, a healthcare organization created through the alignment of Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health as a single ministry committed to building health communities covering 21 states. Prior to her role at CommonSpirit Health, she served as Senior Vice President at Dignity Health and the System Vice President for Mission Integration and Community Benefit at Christus Health, a large healthcare institution in Irving , Texas. In her leadership role, Francis is responsible for design, development, implementation and evaluation of programs related to mission, core values, Catholic identity, leadership formation, spiritual care, ethics, and community health grant funding.  She has served two terms as a board member of Catholic Health Association where she chaired the Health Equity and Diversity Committee, and is part of a national think tank with the Ministry Leadership Center Hilton Foundation project and Catholic Relief Services.    She holds a Bachelor of Arts in theology and sociology, graduating Summa Cum Laude from Carlow; a Master of Divinity from the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and a Master of Arts from the School of Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago.  She is also an inaugural Cardinal Bernardin Scholar of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

Ruth Modzelewski – Class of 1985 joined Susan G. Komen Pittsburgh as Mission Director in 2004 and has grown the organization statewide to become Susan G Komen Greater Pennsylvania.  In her role as steward of the research and outreach portfolio, Dr. Modzelewski is a tireless advocate for breast cancer research.  She serves on several boards including as Co-Chair of the Breast Cancer Working Group, Stakeholder Leadership Executive Team of the Pennsylvania Cancer Control Plan, the Northern Appalachia Cancer Network Community Advisory Committee, and the Allegheny County Health Departments Advisory Coalition, Access Group.  She has served as an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Hillman Cancer Institute and as an Adjunct undergraduate faculty at Carlow University.  Dr. Modzelewski earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Carlow and completed a PhD in Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh.

Milagros- Pereyra-Rojas –  Class of 2000 / 2003 is the Executive Director, Latin American Studies Association and Affiliates at the University of Pittsburgh where she has devoted her career to the Latin American academic community.  Serving eighteen years in leadership roles in the Latin American Studies Association, she grew the membership from 4,000 to 16,700, significantly increased annual income and tripled the endowment.  She has been a dedicated advocate, strategist and fundraiser for programs and initiatives that provide educational and cultural opportunities for Latin American scholars. Her relationship to the Sisters of Mercy dates to her childhood in Chimbote, Peru.  Pereyra-Rojas graduated from Carlow University with a triple major and later earned a master’s in management and technology. She earned a master’s in public management from Carnegie Mellon University and earned a PhD in Management from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve.

Shelley Watters – Class of 2001 /2004 is Senior Director of Cultural Excellence, Director of Organizational Development, Nursing Education and Research, and Program Director of Magnet at UPMC Shadyside and has served in numerous leadership roles at UPMC during her career. She was a driving force in earning UPMC Shadyside Hospital a Magnet recognition, a coveted designation held by only 445 hospitals nationwide.  Watters was the originator of UPMC Shadyside Shared Leadership Framework for nurses and continues to be actively involved in this work across the UPMC system, helping UPMC Presbyterian Hospital with their Magnet journey.  She is the recognized leader at UPMC for patient care improvements and outcomes.  Watters earned both an RN and MSN in Nursing Leadership from Carlow University and a DNP from Chatham University.

The Young Carlow Laureate 2019:

Chardaé Jones – Class of 2011 was recently appointed the interim Mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, replacing John Fetterman who was sworn in as Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor in January.  Jones grew up in Braddock spending her time in the Braddock Library where she received her library card before she could write her name.  She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing from Carlow University where she also discovered her passion for serving her community.  During her time at Carlow she launched into advocacy work for the homeless, coordinated toy drives and mentored students from Pittsburgh Carrick High School through Carlow’s Youth Media Advocacy Program.  Following graduation she took her skills as a volunteer to the Americorps mentoring teens in Braddock and helping to launch a summer lunch program.  She continues to mentor students at the Downtown Carnegie Library and has chaired the local Nation Council for Negro Women Luncheon which serves to bridge the communication gap between older and younger women.  As mayor, she plans to inspire, inform and energize young adults to step up and help create a new identity for their community, and open the lines of communication between the community, public safety and council.

In addition to being honored at the luncheon on Friday, the Laureates will be recognized at Carlow University’s Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 11, 2019, at 12:45 p.m. in Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland.


 About Carlow University

Carlow is a private, co-educational, Catholic university located in the heart of Pittsburgh’s “Eds, Meds, and Tech” district. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy, Carlow’s graduates, curricula, and partnerships reflect its strong commitment to social justice; ethical, forward-thinking and responsible leadership; and service to the community that has a meaningful impact. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered in four colleges: Health and Wellness, Leadership and Social Change, Learning and Innovation, and Professional Studies. Carlow graduates are in demand for their professional expertise, in fields ranging from nursing, the sciences, and perfusion technology to counseling, education, and forensic accounting; their entrepreneurial spirit and creative mindset; and their ability to manage change.  Carlow’s 13 athletic teams are known as the Celtics, a reflection of the university’s Irish heritage and roots.

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