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UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH AT GREENSBURG ALUMNI ASSOCIATION AWARDS

The 2009 Alumni of Distinction Award is given to Justin Merriman, a 2000 graduate of Pitt-Greensburg with a degree in English Writing. The Greensburg native has worked as a photojournalist since 1999 and has covered stories across the United States and world, including the events of September 11th, the crash of United Flight 93, the Sago mine disaster in Sago, West Virginia, the 2004 and the 2008 U.S. Presidential elections, polio in India, life in Cuba, the 2008 Parliamentary Elections in Pakistan, and the war in Afghanistan. Mr. Merriman's photography has been recognized and honored with local and national awards. His work has appeared in publications including the New York Times, The Washington Post, Popular Science, Time Magazine's "Pictures of the Week," USA Today's "Day in Sports, " MSNBC's "Week in Pictures," Sports Illustrated's SI.com, CBS's CBSSportsline.com, Golfweek Magazine, and newspapers across the country. Mr. Merriman continues his work in photojournalism striving to make images that reveal humanity and document the world around him.

The 2009 PGAA Outstanding Faculty Award is given Dr. Melissa J. Marks, associate professor of education, who was selected for her excellence in the classroom and her devotion to the development of students and programs at Pitt-Greensburg. Dr. Marks is currently working on a proposal for the development of an education major at the University. She is the co-advisor for the University's chapter of the Student Pennsylvania State Education Association, which in 2004-05 was recognized as the most outstanding student chapter for overall professional development opportunities and the most creative and innovating programming in the state of Pennsylvania. Dr. Marks co-created the "Early College Experience" pilot program with Westmoreland Intermediate Unit and local schools. This program is designed to help college-bound high school students with disabilities. She supervises and manages the annual College Day for Pitt-Greensburg students and the Clelian Heights School for Exceptional Children. In addition, she has assisted with a variety of programs for other local schools including Jeannette, Hempfield, and Greater Latrobe.

The 2009 PGAA Community Service Award is given to Ashley Smith, a junior psychology major from Carnegie, Pennsylvania. Ms. Smith volunteers her time to many initiatives in the community and on campus. During the fall semester of her freshman year and continuing throughout her junior year, Ms. Smith served as volunteer tutor for the school-based tutoring program "First Base". She is a volunteer mentor for the Lunch Buddy Program, which matches Pitt-Greensburg students with at-risk children at a local elementary school. She serves as a reading tutor for Pitt-Greensburg's Read for LIFElong Learning Program. She is currently the President of the Student Pennsylvania State Education Association (SPSEA). She also served as elementary chairperson during her freshman and sophomore years and was a member of the House of Delegates and the region's vice-president at the state level of the SPSEA. Other volunteer activities include Bowl for Kids Sake, Into the Streets, and Reading is Fun Night.