Eberly College of Business and
Information Technology’s Phi Gamma Nu (PGN) Business Fraternity sent 34 members
to Charlotte, N.C. for their third annual fall professional development trip on
Thursday, November 5.
During this three-day trip PGN visited corporate offices,
met with seven IUP alumni and several
local business professionals and toured local Charlotte attractions.
On Thursday, the day of arrival, PGN
divided into two groups to visit two insurance companies just outside of Uptown
Charlotte. One group met with 1995 IUP graduate Michelle O’Connor and her
associates at her independently owned company, O’Connor Insurance Associates
(OIA). The other group visited the Charlotte office of Erie Insurance, one of
the companies OIA represents. The members
at Erie Insurance met with vice president and branch manager Teresa Young,
district sales manager Jacob Jaskiewicz and vice president and IUP graduate George
Rhea. Both companies discussed the insurance industry and potential growth for
new college graduates in the industry while recent college graduate Jacob
Jaskiewicz provided the members with insight about the transition from college
to the professional work environment.
PGN then traveled together to the Bank
of America headquarters-building plaza in Uptown Charlotte where senior
financial advisor for Merrill Lynch and IUP graduate Michael Lanphier joined
the PGN members. Lanphier directed the members to the 28th floor of
the Merrill Lynch building where he presented them with a beautiful view of the
city and glimpse of what a corporate office looks like. Lanphier gave the members
a brief tour of the floor and provided a background presentation about his
success and information on the financial industry as well as opportunities for
“It was a great experience touring the Bank of
America building in Charlotte,” said a senior PGN member Brett Roberts. “Mr.
Lanphier gave us great insight and shared his professional experiences that will
be truly beneficial to us in the future.”
The first day of the trip ended with an
alumni dinner in Uptown Charlotte’s EpiCentre at Vida Cantina. Four IUP alumni
joined the group for dinner including 2009 graduates Brian and Karen Barefoot,
2008 graduate Davena Monstrola and 1999 graduate Amy Lombard. Charlotte school
district teacher and real estate agent Brian Barefoot discussed the importance
of networking when moving to a new city. Karen Barefoot, also a Charlotte
school district teacher, spoke primarily about Charlotte’s growth as she recommended
Charlotte as a great up-and-coming city for recent college graduates. Amy
Lombard, IUP Eberly Development Officer, stressed the importance of connections
with alumni, and Davena Monstrola, marketing manager at Lowe’s corporate
headquarters in Mooresville, NC answered questions about searching for jobs in
the Charlotte area, especially in marketing.
“Meeting alumni was the highlight of my
trip,” said PGN member Natalie Kinderman. “It was very helpful learning first-hand
about each of their unique job experiences that led them to their success
today. They had great advice and recommendations that we all could use in our
own job search.”
On Friday the members were given the
opportunity to tour Charlotte’s local attractions and popular surrounding
neighborhoods. Many members visited the NASCAR Hall of Fame, toured the Bank of
America football stadium where the Charlotte Panthers play and visited the Bechtler
Museum of Modern Art. Other members traveled outside of the city to various
cafes and retail shops in new up-and-coming neighborhoods such as Noda and
Before returning to IUP’s campus the
organization visited Charlotte’s iconic Lake Norman, the largest manmade body
of water in the state. The members enjoyed lunch at Eddie’s Seafood which
offered delicious menu items and a venue overlooking the lake.
Overall, the trip was extremely
successful and proved to be exceedingly beneficial for the members that attended.
The members expressed appreciation for the opportunity to travel, network and see
possibilities for their careers after college.
“Visiting Charlotte was a great experience
that I will never forget,” said senior PGN member Jen Giotto. “I really enjoyed
exploring the city, bonding with the other members and networking with the
— Bethany Barefoot, PGN President