Meet the Lions
Meet the Lions
So many of our students have had positive experiences at Bryn Athyn College—from furthering their career aspirations, learning new skills, developing talents previously hidden, or furthering understanding of the world around us.
I went from super nervous to ready to play, pretty quickly, and that was because of all the support I had around me.
In 2018, during the beginning of her sophomore year at Bryn Athyn College, athlete Peyton Gormley suffered a serious knee injury. When all sports shut down due to the pandemic, Gormley used the extra time to rehab her torn ACL and meniscus.
In her return to lacrosse in the Spring of 2021, Peyton scored 23 goals, tied for best in conference, and registered 32 points for the Lions. She was twice the Colonial States Athletic Conference Player of the Week and at the end of the season, was named the CSAC Player of the Year and a First-Team All-CSAC selection.
“The first few practices, I wasn’t sure if I could do it,” Gormley said. “Then we had our first game and I felt great. I went from super nervous to ready to play pretty quickly, and that was because I had all the support around me.”
By spring 2022, Peyton is on track to graduate with a degree in elementary education and a minor in special education. Peyton says, “I was never a kid who liked school. I want to be a teacher who makes kids who don’t like school, like it again.” Peyton’s younger sister, Shea Gormley, also plans to enroll at the College this fall and play lacrosse. Peyton says, “I’m super excited she’s coming, and I’m happy I’ll have a year to play with her.”
Looking back on her experiences with the knee injury, and coming back strong Peyton says, “Recovering from the surgery was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’m so grateful for all the support from those around me.”
The 4+1 nursing program gave me the flexibility I wanted. I was able take my time and get a biology degree first.
Christine Daum (BS ’20) is enrolled at Jefferson Nursing Program through Bryn Athyn College’s 4+1 pre-nursing program.
“It’s exciting,” says Christine, who looks forward to helping people in an immediate way. After having spent some time during her teen years as a hospital patient, she saw how the nurses got to interface with the patients, explaining procedures and doing the hands-on care. Christine envisions herself doing the same one day.
After enrolling in Bryn Athyn College, Christine considered utilizing Bryn Athyn's 2+2 program, a four-year path leading to a nursing degree. However, after spending some time at BAC, Christine appreciated the environment, small classes, and great teachers. She says, “I really liked it, and decided I wanted to stay for all four years.” Christine’s acquaintance, Rosemary Fuller (BS ’18) had enrolled in the College’s 4+1 program and had taken her fifth year at Jefferson.
Christine decided to do the same, and she's glad she did. She says, “The 4+1 gave me the flexibility I wanted. I could take my time and get a biology degree first.” This option also allowed Christine to choose her own classes, and keep her part-time job, all while working towards a nursing degree.
During her four years at the College, Christine picked up a mathematics minor, which she believes she never would have chosen if not for the prodding of calculus professor, Caira Bongers. Christine feels grateful that in her Calculus 2 class she ended up becoming study buddies with—and then great friends with—some of her classmates.
I want to be able to help those who’ve felt the way I’ve felt.
Talia Brown chose Bryn Athyn College because of the small class sizes, the proximity to her home in Chester County, PA, and the opportunity for closer relationships with professors. She also had a strong interest in psychology, and knew she wanted to work in the field. Now having graduated with her BA in psychology after only 2 and a half years, Brown says, “I can say for sure I was right about the small school size allowing for more connection. I’ve met some really great people at the College. The professors are very easy to talk to. Even the deans are very invested in everyone, and it’s easy to get a more personal relationship. They will sit with you, and help you.”
In October of 2019, Talia began a rewarding experience working as a research assistant for her neuroscience professor, Fernando Cavallo. They collaborated with researchers from the Brain Power team at MIT on a new study related to using Google Glass for students with autism. During her internship, Brown collected feedback from students with autism, used the Google Glass, took notes about what worked and what didn’t, and sent the notes off to the Brain Power team at MIT, trouble-shooting various tech issues directly with the team’s researchers. Having begun the internship with no knowledge of neuropsychology, Brown expressed gratitude for the support she received along the way.
When COVID-19 hit, the research had to be postponed. Despite the letdown, Brown appreciated the care offered by Bryn Athyn College during this time. She remarked, “Even when we were sent home due to the coronavirus, Dean Nelson personally reached out to check in and ask how we were doing. I thought, ‘Wow, that’s amazing.'”
In August of 2020, Talia was invited to present her research at a 3-day virtual conference held by the International Organization of Social Sciences and Behavioral Research, where she shared her work with various other professors, students, and scholars from around the world. She has also chosen to present her research as her senior capstone project for the College.
While Brown found the internship with Dr. Cavallo “super rewarding,” she feels drawn to the counseling side of psychology. Brown is eager to make a positive difference in others’ lives. She says, “After having been diagnosed a few years ago with depression and Bipolar II, I began to gradually feel better because of support from friendships here at the College, from speaking with the College counselor, and from medication. I want to be able to help those who’d felt the way I’ve felt.”
In my nearest future, my goal is to be able to change the lives of those who cannot afford a place of their own to live.”
By the time he arrived on Bryn Athyn College’s campus, senior Roy Aharonovich (BA’ 21) had already embarked on a life of adventure. At age 16, he had moved from his hometown of Rishon Le Zion, Israel, to attend school and play ice hockey in the U.S. After high school, Roy traveled around the U.S. playing semi-pro ice hockey, and was recruited to play in the NCAA. Because of this, the Israeli army granted him “elite athlete status,” allowing him a partial exemption from full service in the army. He was then assigned to a unit in the Israel Defense Force, where he attended a 6-week basic training camp overseas before coming back to the U.S. to begin his freshman year at Bryn Athyn College. He says, “It was my duty to give back to my country.”
At the College, Roy continued to play hockey, while pursuing his dream of working in real estate. He's majored in buisness finance, with a minor in data analytics, and spent his summers pursuing internships in the field. Taking advantage of these experiential opportunities, Roy has worked as an intern at SBG Management Real Estate, Allied Mortgage Group headquarters, PRDC Properties in Philadelphia first as a corporate intern, and DIG Holdings.
Roy appreciates how Bryn Athyn College supported him in growing both personally and professionally. He says, “Coming to a small school, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I have found it to be a huge benefit to be in this small community. I’ve been able to have personal relationship with all my professors, I know most of the students on campus, and I’ve been able to network with many successful individuals.”
It seems that Roy’s laser-sharp focus is paying off. In September of 2021, Roy will begin pursuing his MBA in Real Estate Development and Management at Drexel University. This next step will hopefully continue to launch Roy closer to his dreams. He says, “My vision is to offer high quality housing for affordable prices. I believe high quality housing for affordable prices is a concept that the economy in the city of Philadelphia truly needs in order to achieve prosperity. This is very exciting for me because I get to change people’s lives while learning along the way.”
Roy is grateful for the both the challenges and opportunities that have come his way since he first came to the U.S. as a teenager. He says, “My move to the U.S., my time in the army, and my experiences at Bryn Athyn College have helped me to grow as an individual in many different ways. Without this journey, I wouldn’t be the individual I am today.”
Our new coach is taking our team to new heights. We focus more on our connections with each other and the community. That makes our chemistry better.
Haybert has always loved creativity, science and adventure. He enjoyed drawing and even wrote some poetry growing up in the Pocono mountains. But of all things, computers most captured his imagination. He spent hours playing video games, curious about the technology behind the magic. He dreamed of one day working in the field, creating imaginative new action/adventure games. In addition to his creative streak, Haybert’s athletic abilities earned him a top spot with his basketball team at Pocono Mountain West high school.
During senior year, his assistant basketball coach connected with Bryn Athyn college’s coach, who then invited Haybert for a campus tour. Haybert drove down to the campus with his best friend Nasir, and both of them liked the campus right away. Haybert says, “I remember walking into the Brickman Center and seeing the vast ceilings and beautiful woodwork. I already knew that I wanted a college that was small and focused on personal connections. Right then I was ready to sign up. I knew it was the place for me.”
Now a junior at the College, Haybert reflects on his experience here. He has been able to nurture his interest in math and computer science, and has especially enjoyed classes with Professor Caira Bongers. He says, “She’s very personable, and makes herself available after class for tutoring. She’s also just really good at teaching. She’s very in tune with students and knows how to pace her lessons.” He also enjoys religion classes with Rev. Ray Silverman, who “is a great guy and also a great teacher who loves to hear from students. In a class where there could be a lot of controversy, he keeps it relaxed by always staying open to hear what students have to say.”
Although the pandemic hit the college social life hard, Haybert has been able to connect with his close friends and basketball teammates. He’s grateful for the teamwork emphasis: “We have a new coach, who’s taking the team to new heights. We focus more on our connections with each other and the community. That makes our chemistry better.” Haybert also loved getting to move into the suites with his friends during his sophomore year, and ranks his experience of living there a “ten out of ten.”
Overall, Haybert thinks more students should know about the College. He says, “Bryn Athyn is a very underrated school, especially for people who like a quiet, calm town with a close and personal environment. I think it needs more recognition. If that’s what you’re looking for, this school is for you.”
It was really valuable for me to witness the range of things doctors do in their everyday jobs.
While studying biology at Bryn Athyn College, Jessica Philipp knew she had interest in the field of health care. But it wasn’t until she applied for and got accepted for an exciting pre-med internship with Atlantis Project, that this passion become a reality. During her four-week summer ‘18 internship in Genoa, Italy, Jessica shadowed doctors, observed surgeries, and witnessed first-hand the daily life of a healthcare professional.
Jessica first learned about the fellowship program while a junior at Bryn Athyn. She had been enjoying her science classes and felt excited by the opportunity to get real-life exposure to the practice of medicine, while also traveling and immersing herself in another culture. As she explains, “After arriving in Italy, we met our site manager, got settled in our rooms, and got a tour of the city of Genoa. Then we got our whitecoats and a hospital orientation.” After this whirlwind tour, it was time to get to work.
Jessica spent her first week in general surgery shadowing an Italian neurosurgeon, Dr. Papadia. She says, “I got to see the ICU, the operating theater, and the outpatient clinic where we observed scheduling and vitals testing. It was really valuable for me to witness the range of things doctors do in their everyday jobs.”
For her second week, Jessica spent time in the neurosurgery department, watching brain and spinal cord surgeries. Jessica says, “I was amazed at how precise and capable the doctors were, and I was in awe of the whole department. It is such intense work, and they have all honed their skills so masterfully, working beautifully together.”
Things got even more intense on week three, where Jessica spent time in the vascular surgery department, seeing cases of gangrene, watching the removal of varicose veins, seeing an aneurism get clipped, and more. She then shadowed the medical team as they checked in on patients’ recoveries over the next few days.
Finally, Jessica shadowed the oncology department, and again was impressed by the comprehensive treatment of cancer patients, and how the medical staff all worked together to apply their specific area of expertise to the patient’s healing.
Upon returning to Bryn Athyn College for her senior year, Jessica got a job (which she still holds today) working part-time as a medical scribe for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Toward the end of her senior year, just before graduating, Jessica struggled with her own medical issues. Though stressful, this experience increased her eagerness to study medicine and help others. She feels very grateful to the support of the College, particularly her four-year-long advisor, Dr. Higgins. She says, “Dr. Higgins was there for literally everything.” Jessica is currently working toward her BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) at Thomas Jefferson University, and plans to become a pediatric nurse practitioner.
I’m branching out because the faculty makes things so interesting.
Danaja Overton has been dancing for as long as she can remember. But she also dreams of attending medical school in hopes of becoming a pediatrician. When it came time to choose a college, Danaja was torn—should she follow her passion for dance or pursue her medical school ambitions?
Thanks to the interdisciplinary (ID) major at Bryn Athyn College, Danaja doesn’t have to choose. The ID major lets students combine two interests into one major that works for them. This means that Danaja can major in biology and dance.
Bryn Athyn College also values hands-on learning. Danaja’s teachers have helped her create internships that support her dual focus.
“The teachers here know you by name and know your goals,” says Danaja. “They make internships specifically for you to do what you want. I don’t think I would’ve gotten that at a big school.”
Through an internship with Scribe America, Danaja shadows doctors during rounds. And not only does she perform in Bryn Athyn College’s dance concerts, she also teaches dance at two local studios.
“I love learning,” says Danaja. “I’m like a sponge—I soak up everything.”
Danaja chose Bryn Athyn College so she could major in biology and dance. But over time, her interests have expanded to include psychology and history. “I’m branching out because the faculty makes things so interesting.”
Danaja’s favorite history classes are held in Glencairn Museum, the historic castle right across the street from the college campus. “It’s really cool to have so much history in one place and know that I’m a part of it.”
Between her classes, her internships, and her performances, Danaja definitely has her hands full. But she’s loving every minute of it.
“I didn’t expect to have opportunity after opportunity,” she says. “We get the experience of a lifetime here.”
Bryn Athyn College’s focus on each student’s success is what makes these experiences possible.
Danaja says this small college has made a big impact on her life. “I was always told in high school, when you go to college, they won’t really care about you.’ Now I can go back and say, ‘That’s not true. My school cares about me.’”
Being involved on campus is what made my college experience what it was.
Maia Wyncoll grew up in small town Pennsylvania. Her faith is important to her. So she came to Bryn Athyn College to continue her New Church education.
As a way to make friends on campus, Maia got involved in several student life activities.
Student life at Bryn Athyn College is more than joining clubs and organizing social events (even though we do that, too!)
FeelGood is a national nonprofit that aims to end extreme poverty by 2030. Simply by making grilled cheese sandwiches, FeelGood has been mobilizing students across the country since 2005.
A leader on campus, Maia soon became president of the Bryn Athyn College FeelGood chapter. She says that her involvement in FeelGood not only created a new community of friends but also expanded her worldview. “Every individual has their own journey,” says Maia. “Through education about the world’s struggles, FeelGood made me a more compassionate human being.”
Maia’s campus involvement didn’t stop with FeelGood. She also served on student government, held two campus internships, and worked as an RA. “Being involved on campus is what made my college experience what it was.”
Maia graduated in May 2019 with a B.A. in business and a minor in communications. Her career goals are unconventional, but they’ve definitely been shaped by her experience at Bryn Athyn College: “Work hard and be kind.”
The teachers and coaches really care about me and how I do. That’s what’s going to make me successful.
What do hockey and history have in common? Eric Higgins excels at both.
Eric transferred to Bryn Athyn College as a junior so he could play for the college’s NCAA D-III team. But he’s also a history buff who loves exploring primary source documents.
“I like creating my own narrative,” Eric says. “If you explore cause and effect relationships, you can find a deeper meaning and connect with history on a personal level.”
Eric’s a human society major. His favorite history course, “Reacting to the Past,” uses role-play to explore important historical events. “It makes history so much more than people, dates, and times,” he says. Eric also participated in a week-long educational conference in Colonial Williamsburg. The continued education seminars he attended count toward future graduate credit.
“I’m becoming well-rounded,” says Eric. “That’s the best thing about my education.”
At Bryn Athyn College, our athletes are leaders on campus. We want them to succeed in their sports, in the classroom, and in their lives. “The athletic program is always adding new opportunities for the athletes, getting them involved on campus, and making sure they succeed in the classroom, too,” says Eric. “Hockey’s more than a sport. It’s a lifestyle.”
Bryn Athyn College Athletics also partners with Athletes Helping Athletes (AHA). AHA connects student-athletes with local special needs athletes through on-campus sporting events. These events aim to promote friendship, compassion, and mutual respect.
Eric says that the AHA partnership encourages student-athletes to think outside of themselves. “When you consider others and the situations that they’re going through, it really opens your eyes to the bigger picture,” he says. “This school has helped me create connections with people I didn’t think I would connect with.”
Eric hopes to combine his two passions as a high school history teacher and hockey coach. “The teachers and coaches really care about me and how I do,” he says. “That’s what’s going to make me successful.”
I don’t want to be a ghost writer for my life. I want to write my own story.
“I value helping others,” says psychology major Chantal Farmer. “When I help someone else, it makes them feel good, and that makes me feel good.”
Despite this positive attitude, Chantal is no stranger to adversity. Growing up in the city, she experienced many hardships, including the death of her father. But she didn’t let these experiences change her outlook on life. Instead, she decided to make a difference.
“I was surrounded by trauma,” says Chantal. “I wanted to do something to make it better.”
At Bryn Athyn College, we believe that living life for others leads to true and lasting happiness. In fact, service learning is so important to us that it’s part of our curriculum. Whether students join one of our student-led service organizations or volunteer at a community service event, they are gaining valuable experiential education and making an impact on the world.
Chantal is passionate about lacrosse. She felt that teaching the sport to inner city kids could provide them a healthy outlet and a place to escape challenging life circumstances.
In 2018, Chantal hosted an inner-city lacrosse camp for kids ages 6-14. This required a year of planning and fundraising, including a grant from Charity Works. Charity Works is a New Church organization dedicated to supporting young adults who want to use their talents in service to others.
Many of Chantal’s campers had only ever played basketball or run track. They appreciated the opportunity to try a new sport and looked forward to coming back the following summer. Says Chantal, “The amount of enthusiasm that the kids had for coming back to play lacrosse was great.”
Chantal says that she’s always loved helping others. She’s shown this through her on-campus roles as an RA, a Financial Aid Advocate, and a Peer Advising Leader (PAL). As a PAL, Chantal helps incoming freshmen navigate their transition into college.
As a psychology major, Chantal appreciates the wide variety of classes offered at Bryn Athyn College. “Psychology and Spirituality, which you aren’t going to find at many schools, broadened my knowledge,” says Chantal. “I’ve definitely become a more spiritual person.”
Chantal’s future goals, which include a graduate degree in clinical counseling, focus on improving the lives of others. “One of the things that I really want to do is work with people who have experienced trauma,” she says.
Chantal says her experiences at Bryn Athyn College have supported her driven mindset and positive attitude. Even when life presents challenges, she chooses to focus on what she can do to improve her circumstances and make the world a better place. “I’ve become more of who I am here,” Chantal says. “I don’t want to be a ghost writer for my life. I want to write my own story.”