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Students, alumni making important connections at annual Professional Networking Symposium

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Posted on Tuesday, September 7, 2021

For college students who will one day enter the workforce, it's never too early to start developing a network of professionals and industry experts. And Westminster College’s Professional Development Center and the Office of Alumni Engagement hope that students will do just that by making connections with experienced alumni at the annual Professional Networking Symposium.

This year’s symposium, which will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10, on Westminster’s campus and online, will give Westminster undergraduates—as well as alumni seeking networking opportunities—from all disciplines a better understanding of potential paths after graduation, including career and graduate school options.

The day will feature a career fair, breakout panels and networking opportunities with alumni and experienced professionals. Sessions are designed to address specific topics and interests for students in all majors, include participants with directly relevant experience, and are moderated by experienced professionals.

Junior English major Lauren Millhorn from Rogers, Ohio, has attended the past two symposiums and is looking forward to networking more at this year’s event.

“My professional network expanded exponentially as a result of the Professional Networking Symposium,” said Millhorn. “I have made phenomenal connections with people I still speak with on a regular basis, and those connections have led me to awards, interviews and internships. Our alumni are willing to give as much guidance as possible, and this symposium is a true testament to that.”

A keynote session, scheduled for 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. in the Mueller Lecture Hall of McKelvey Campus Center, will close out the day’s events. “Before You Swipe Left” is an open forum for alumni and students to discuss workplace environments, challenges and professional growth.
Panelists for the keynote session include:
•    Tony Brown ’84, chief talent officer for Fisher Phillips LLP and Westminster Board of Trustees member
•    Lisa Peters, retired senior executive vice president and chief human resources officer for BNY Mellon and Westminster Board of Trustees member
•    Dr. Jamie McMinn, Westminster vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College
•    Gina Vance, Westminster vice president for student affairs and dean of students
•    Kim Christofferson ’81, Westminster director of human resources

President and CEO of the Boston-based EurekaConnect and 1987 Westminster alumnus Curtis Sprouse will moderate the speed session “Developing Your Network and Job Skills in the Real World.” With experience in the high-tech, healthcare, pharmaceutical and finance industries and founder of Boston Market Strategies, Inc., Sprouse has worked with over 150 organizations including many Fortune 500 companies across many sectors and has advised on business development, sales, marketing and clinical strategy. Participants can join this session virtually or in-person from 11:50 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. EST.

Some of the businesses represented at this year’s career fair include: 31st Street Studios; Aston Carter; BNY Mellon; Bittel & Company Insurance; Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc.; Cohen & Company; Coliseum Medical Center; Duquesne University School of Pharmacy; Event ID; Excela Health; HD Davis CPAs; Highmark Health; Hill, Barth and King LLC; JFS Wealth Advisors; the Pennsylvania State Police; SoftWriters; and Widener University Commonwealth Law School.

All participating alumni are welcome to a casual post-event reception from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Hop Asylum, 138 S. Market St., New Wilmington.

The Professional Networking Symposium was founded by Dr. Daniel Fischmar, professor of economics emeritus at Westminster College, and alumni Dr. Christie Nelson '06, assistant research professor at Rutgers University and researcher with the Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence ( at Rutgers University and member of the Westminster College Alumni Council, and Benjamin Nelson ’06, vice president and senior credit officer at Moody’s Investors Services and member of the Westminster College Board of Trustees.

Students attending the symposium will qualify to earn a Student Networking Award, given to outstanding students who demonstrate success in networking at the Professional Networking Symposium and follow up with contacts following the event. The endowed Networking Success Fund was established by Dr. Christie Nelson and Benjamin Nelson. In order to qualify, students must register for the symposium in advance.

This year, Westminster College earned two gold awards in the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District II Accolades Awards, including one for events. In the Events on a Shoestring category, CASE judges praised Westminster’s Professional Networking Symposium and its commitment to students and alumni.

For more about the Professional Networking Symposium, please visit or contact Kara Montgomery at 724-946-7363 or