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Alumni & Giving

Fall 2016 | Ventures

Date: Aug 2016

Megan Lanasa

Megan Lanasa '09 (front row, second from left) and her BricknFire Pizza Co. staff welcomed customers into the company's first brick-and-mortar restaurant in July 2016.

Thinking Outside the Diploma

From a young age, Megan Lanasa ’09 admired the entrepreneurial spirit of her parents, who own The Breadery in Catonsville, Md., and it sparked her interest in owning a business. She attended Stevenson University to pursue a degree in business communication. Thanks to the tough love and constant consideration of Stevenson faculty, she says her college experience became one to remember.

Armed with a bachelor’s degree and familiarity with the restaurant industry, Lanasa wanted to start something of her own. “Why work so hard and not reap the benefits?”

At 27, she embarked on her first business venture to launch BricknFire Pizza Co., a mobile brick oven food truck. For months, she made appearances at farmers’ markets and special events, delivering wood-fire pizza and growing the BricknFire brand.

Lanasa has never shied away from opportunities to promote her company. “It’s amazing that we willingly put ourselves in the position to do things that scare us,” she says.

In June 2015, BricknFire entered the Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor’s Canvas competition, a contest for entrepreneurs to submit business proposals to be evaluated by a committee of local restaurant and hotel owners, industry experts, and foodies. Upon her selection as a finalist, she participated in day-long competition that included rapid-fire questioning in true “Shark Tank” fashion.

Lanasa won the competition, giving her the opportunity to work with a panel of mentors as she designed the company’s first brick-and-mortar space in the hotel’s location near Camden Yards. Turning the food truck reins over to her Mobile Operations Manager gave Lanasa time to focus on generating interest in the restaurant and leading her growing staff of 15.

She also finds time to return to campus, sharing her story with Stevenson students interested in starting their own businesses. Lanasa recently served as a panel member during Adulting 101: Thinking Outside the Diploma, an event sponsored by the Senior Class Council.

“Without my decision to attend Stevenson University, and the skills I developed while I was there, I might not be where I am today,” Lanasa notes.

Alumni Awards

Left to right: tammy Schneider '98, Lauren Humphries '08, and Fran Gunshol '67.

Distinguished Alumni Award

This award honors alumni who demonstrate the Stevenson tradition of excellence through personal accomplishment, professional achievement, and humanitarian service.

Tammy Schneider '98

Since her graduation from Villa Julie College, Tammy Schneider has worked in public accounting for 20 years, rising to the principal level. In January 2016 she started her own firm, Taurus CPA Solutions, a boutique tax and accounting firm. Throughout her career, Schneider’s accomplishments have been recognized in publications such as The Daily Record, The Baltimore Business Journal, and most recently, Smart CEO Magazine. She is dedicated to increasing the role of women in business and has demonstrated her commitment to the greater community by serving on various local and national boards.

Schneider views Stevenson University as a strong institution and looks forward to seeing the continued commitment to students, to education, and to the community.

Alumni Loyalty Award

This award is presented to alumni who continually demonstrate loyalty and commitment to the Stevenson University community by devoting their time and talent to enhance the overall success of the University.

Fran Gunshol '67

Fran Gunshol’s decision to attend Villa Julie College was encouraged by her family. She was involved in various extracurricular activities and looks fondly upon her student experience, noting that her professors and the sisters affirmed her abilities and gave her great confidence. Throughout her career, Gunshol has been responsible for moving organizations forward, raising funds and friends for non-profits, and connecting people and projects. She returned to campus where she thrived in her role as the Director of Alumni Relations, serving as part of the team behind many major achievements for the University.

Gunshol is impressed with the growth of Stevenson and hopes that the University will continue to adapt, grow, and stay loyal to its mission as it has faithfully done since the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur founded VJC in 1947.

Young Alumni Award

This award recognizes graduates from the past 10 years who have achieved success while remaining engaged with the University.

Lauren Humphries '08

While attending VJC, Lauren Humphries was an accomplished and active student-athlete. As a graduating senior, she was the recipient of the Elizabeth McWethy Award, the Fighting Heart Award, and the NCAA Woman of the Year Award.

As a marketing professional, Humphries recognizes that the skills she acquired as a business communication major have served her well professionally and in her volunteer efforts. At the request of her college mentor, Chip Rouse, Associate Professor, Business Communication, and other faculty and staff, she has visited campus several times post-graduation to participate in panel discussions and networking events with current students.

Humphries has inspired others through her personal accomplishments. In 2015, she modeled in the first fashion show featuring women with dwarfism during New York Fashion Week and was the first person with dwarfism to run the Chicago Marathon.

Humphries appreciates the opportunities that Stevenson has created to engage alumni and values the importance of supporting future generations of Stevenson students.

School of Sciences

The female faculty and staff of the School of the Sciences have been honored with Insight Into Diversity magazine’s 2016 Inspiring Women in STEM Award. This recognizes remarkable women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professions who make a significant difference and inspire others through teaching and mentoring, research, and other initiatives.

The School of the Sciences has a long history of engaging diverse students at all levels from elementary school through college in hands-on learning, original scientific research, and STEM career exploration. Previous Dean Susan T. Gorman, Ph.D., established many of the current initiatives for which the School is being recognized and oversaw tremendous growth in the sciences in the last several years. Current Dean Meredith C. Durmowicz, Ph.D., says, “These faculty and staff are strong, confident, smart, and accomplished women who are living, breathing examples to others that it is possible to be a woman and be successful in a STEM career. They are role models for all those who interact with them, including male students and colleagues.”

Read more about this story or check out a list of programs within the School of the Sciences and learn more, inquire, or apply.

John Buettner

Stevenson is pleased to announce the appointment of John Buettner as Vice President of Marketing and Digital Communications, effective since July 1, 2016. Buettner brings a wide range of expertise to the leadership responsibilities of his new role, which he served in an interim capacity for four months. Previously, Buettner was the University’s Associate Vice President for Digital Communications, overseeing the web team, the SU Now Portal, media relations, the video production team, and emergency digital communications. He originally joined the Office of Marketing and Digital Communications in February 2009 as the Assistant Vice President of Public Relations.

Buettner holds a bachelor’s from Washington College and a master’s from Villanova University. He has more than 20 years of experience in journalism, public relations, and marketing, with 16 of those years spent in higher education. He previously served as the Director of Media Relations for Washington College (2000-2006) and the Media Relations and Web Manager for the University System of Maryland Chancellor’s Office (2006-2009).

Emily Haas

For the second consecutive season, Stevenson women’s golf junior Emily Haas was the recipient of the Elite 90 award for the 2016 NCAA Division III Women’s Golf Championship. The award is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative gradepoint average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s championships. A fashion merchandising major, Hass carried a 4.0 GPA. She was presented the award during the championship banquet prior to the opening round. Haas finished tied for second at the MAC Championship, carding a two-day total of 176 to help lead the Mustangs to their second straight conference title and second straight NCAA appearance. She was the recipient of last year’s then-Elite 89 Award at the 2015 NCAA Championship as Stevenson made its first appearance in the women’s golf championship. Haas posted 11 top-10 finishes during the 2015-2016 season, including four finished in the top five.

Dick Watts Hall of Fame

Eight individuals and one team will comprise the 2016 induction class into the Dick Watts Athletics Hall of Fame. President Kevin J. Manning, Ph.D., will be the first to be inducted in the Emeritus category. Field hockey and women’s lacrosse player Tracey (Whetstone) Cantabene ’95, men’s lacrosse player Peter Nee ’96, field hockey player Holly Chattin-Smith ’00, women’s soccer player Adrienne (Justis) Tamanini ’03, men’s basketball players Wade Henninger ’05 and Anthony Fitzgerald ’06 and longtime athletic department administrative assistant Fran Fidler will be inducted on Saturday, Oct. 22 at the Hall of Fame banquet during Homecoming and Family Weekend. In addition, the Hall of Fame will also recognize the 2005-2006 men’s basketball team as a Team of Tradition.

Including this year’s class, the Dick Watts Stevenson Athletics Hall of Fame, founded in 2014 as the University celebrated the 20th anniversary of the start of NCAA Division III athletics in 1994, consists of 24 individuals and four Teams of Tradition. Nominees for this year’s class include those who graduated from Stevenson (formerly Villa Julie College) in 2006 or earlier.

Visit to learn more about this year's class.


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Ventures, Fall 2016
Ventures, Fall 2016
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