The son of a Lock Haven University (LHU) professor, who first stepped foot on campus when he was just 5 years old, John Newcomer graduated from LHU with a degree in psychology in 1984. A Jersey girl, referred to The Haven by her father’s cousin – a U.S. Olympics trainer who was impressed by multiple LHU health science graduates he had hired and worked with – Michele Charmello graduated with a degree in early childhood education in 1991.
Two alumni who previously had never met, and now, through the power of the LHU alumni network, more than three decades after graduating, each of them has come “Home to The Haven” to volunteer their time and talents as members of the LHU Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Newcomer and Charmello became acquainted during a virtual wine pairing event hosted through Zoom by the LHU Alumni Association in February. Less than a month later, they reconnected when they returned to campus with 10 other alumni to participate in an Accepted Students Day event hosted by the LHU Admissions Office.
The night before that event, Newcomer, who joined the Alumni Association board of directors in June of 2021, met with Charmello and her husband, Joe Scanlan, at Stella A’s.
During dinner, Newcomer noticed two alumni passersby, Joe and Terri (Wise) Koehler. Terri ’85, a current Alumni Association board member, and Joe ‘84, who currently serves as an LHU Foundation board member, joined the trio as they discussed ideas on how Charmello could get more involved.
The following day, all four alumni participated during Accepted Students Day where they staffed an Alumni Association booth and interacted with prospective students and their parents to provide guidance on what they could expect upon becoming members of The Haven Family.
Charmello returned to campus for another Accepted Students Day event the first week of April, this time bringing her longtime alumna friend Amy (Allen) Collins ’91, who she met as a student when they pledged the sorority Sigma Sigma Sigma.
On April 11, Charmello was officially voted in as the newest member of the LHU Alumni Association Board of Directors.
“I’ve always felt like it’s important to give back,” Charmello said. “From what I understand a lot of students at LHU are first generation. What better place to give back than a university that is going to produce our future leaders.”
“I never felt like a number at LHU, my professors always cared, and LHU gave me such a great foundation for career success,” she added. “I want kids to know that you can get a great college experience and get a great job, and you can do it at a great small school like Lock Haven University.”
Charmello has enjoyed a rewarding career where she has served in teaching, administrative and consultative positions. She began her career as an early childhood educator, teaching for 10 years before transitioning to education advocacy work, a passion that was spawned by her professors at LHU. She also spent a portion of her career teaching early childhood education as an adjunct professor. Today, she is the Intellectual Disabilities Director at Transitional Services Inc. in Pittsburgh.
Newcomer retired in 2013 after serving 30 years as a commissioned officer and pilot in the U.S. Army, reaching the rank of full colonel. Post retirement, he spent more than seven years as a defense contractor making several trips to the Middle East.
In 2020, when COVID was surging, Newcomer decided to fully retire so he could spend more time with his parents. That was when he applied to become a member of the Alumni Association board.
Since joining the board, aside from attending all board meetings in person, and alumni events like the Homecoming Alumni Classic Golf Tournament, the marching band’s annual summer alumni reunion and the aforementioned wine pairing and Accepted Students Day, he also returned to campus in August 2021 to represent the Alumni Association at Move-In Day where met and greeted LHU students and parents returning to campus for the start of the semester.
“I serve at the pleasure of the board, the university and the commonwealth,” Newcomer said. I’ve been involved with organizational change at the highest level with the pentagon and other organizations. I’m excited to draw from my many personal and job-related experiences over the years to help make LHU’s integration with Bloomsburg and Mansfield successful, while also helping make sure that alumni stakeholders feel heard and considered throughout the process.”
“Lock Haven gave me a solid foundation for which later in life I could continue to succeed in my academic career,” he added. “My father, Chuck Newcomer was a professor [at LHU] for 31 years and I have great relationships and connections to the university to this day. It’s only right that I give back to the place that gave me such a great foundation for my graduate studies and other professional successes.”
Newcomer and Charmello both said they are interested in doing anything they can to help Lock Haven University and LHU students succeed, and that they are eager to work with the rest of the alumni board to identify new and exciting ways in which they can do so.
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