Alumna reflects on lessons, values taught by Gannon University


“And the winner of Gannon University’s 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award for the School of Engineering and Business is (drum roll)…Almitra Clemente Clerkin, Class of 1985!” (Thunderous applause; orchestra plays the Gannon alma mater as Almi approaches the stage to accept her award from the Hemsworth brothers).
“Thank you! Thank you all!” (as applause finally recedes…) “Wow, (with emotion), I can’t believe it! It is such an honor to be nominated for this prestigious award. I would like to thank the university, my loving family and friends, my fellow nominees, and all those who…” (Riiiiiiinnnngggg! Almi awakes from her second snooze alarm.)
We have all dreamed of receiving accolades for an honor we believe we deserve. Being recognized for Gannon University’s 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award for the School of Engineering and Business is nothing like that.
My parents, Alex Clemente ’62 and Jean, were exemplary in their work ethic and were faith-filled. They taught my brothers, Sal and Paul, and me to have a passion for whatever we chose to do, trusting in our talents and watching them grow. Whether it was school, hockey, music, cheerleading, writing, soccer or theater, the three of us dove in head first, spending our non-school, waking hours enjoying our work and hobbies; that was reward enough.
Each of us had a wonderful education at St. Peter’s Cathedral School, Mercyhurst Prep, Cathedral Prep and Villa Maria Academy, as well as our college and professional experiences. We approached our studies and work in our own way, but we know now what we learned and how we learned it was the foundation for our future; that was reward enough.
As we grew and continued to experience what our unique lives would offer, we learned how important developing trusting relationships would be. We have a supportive family, colleagues and life-long friends; that was reward enough.
This all may sound familiar to you. That’s because every Gannon graduate has the possibility to be rewarded. We have been taught to make the most of our experiences while at school, taking every opportunity presented to us and making it our own.
We have witnessed exemplary actions from Gannon faculty, staff and administration that encourage us to meet every challenge head on. We are inspired by God to treat others as we would like to be treated and our family and friends support and encourage us along our life-long journey.
If there were some words of wisdom I could impart on you, it would be to trust in your talents and remember you are never alone. Also, a good yoga class that reminds you to take deep breaths and a perfect Sara’s orange/vanilla twist are not bad either.
I am honored to receive this award. I do thank Gannon for believing in me as a representative of the university. I am grateful to my loving family and friends. And, I am proud to be among the ranks of this year’s distinguished alumni honorees. My life has been blessed because I chose Gannon University over 35 years ago. What I have learned then continues to pervade my daily work and life today. I am truly grateful.

[email protected]