September 12, 2023
Susquehanna University’s Alumni Association recognized five distinguished alumni during its annual Alumni Awards Banquet.
Awards are presented to outstanding members of the alumni community who exemplify achievement, leadership and service. Service to Susquehanna and Outstanding Recent Alumnus awards are also announced each year.
This year’s recipients are:
Service to Susquehanna
Jennifer Rojek ’98 Barton
Upon graduating, Barton immediately became an active alumna, serving as a longtime member of the university’s alumni board from 1999 to 2012, including a term as president from 2007 to 2009. Barton currently serves as secretary for the university’s Philadelphia Alumni Chapter, a role she’s held since 2012.
Barton often returns to campus as a panelist during Break Through, the university’s annual student-alumni networking conference, and volunteers her time with résumé review, mock interviews, job shadowing and other career preparation services offered by the Career Development Center. Barton is a frequent participant in the university’s Signe S. Gates and Dawn G. Mueller Women’s Leadership Initiative and has hosted several female students during networking treks. She also serves as a mentor to second-year business majors through the Sigmund Weis School of Business Mentorship Program.
Outside of her time spent volunteering with the university, Barton is an associate director for Ernst & Young. She joined EY in 2022, after having served as vice president of clinical services products at Accolade Inc., a consulting company that specializes in healthcare process improvement, healthcare savings, employee engagement and personalized advocacy.
Barton graduated from Susquehanna with a degree in business administration & information systems. She received an MBA in the same emphasis from the University of Scranton in 2001.
Fernando Ramirez ’82
Ramirez has an entrepreneurial spirit rooted in a desire to improve life on Earth for all. He has founded several consulting firms with a focus on energy and water, and wishes to advance the awareness and understanding of sustainability and climate change in the United States and abroad.
Early in his career, Ramirez held several executive positions in the energy sector at Azavea, EnerNOC, Phoenix Energy Technologies, Silicon Energy and Energy Concepts. In 2010, Ramirez became vice president for SCIenergy Inc., which develops cloud-based energy management solutions for global clients. In his role, Ramirez oversaw SCIenergy’s expansion throughout Europe and Asia.
Following his time with SCIenergy, Ramirez founded ClearPath Energy International, which continues to provide energy consulting to end users and to private sector companies seeking to expand or enter international markets. In 2020, Ramirez joined Netherlands-based Hydraloop as its managing director, leading the company’s North American expansion of decentralized water recycling products.
In 2021, Ramirez founded Bridges 2030 International, a developing global nonprofit with a mission to support disadvantaged and forcibly displaced citizens. Bridges 2030 also aims to educate and empower university students about global challenges and the ways in which they can make an impact. The organization’s current projects include assisting recently relocated Ukrainian citizens in Philadelphia.
Ramirez graduated from Susquehanna with a degree in business with a concentration in management in 1982.
Outstanding Recent Alumna
Alysha Melnyk ’14
Melnyk is manager of client implementations and onboarding at ECRI, an independent medical nonprofit committed to improving the safety, quality and cost effectiveness of patient care across all healthcare settings worldwide.
At ECRI, Melnyk is actively involved with the organization’s Culture Committee, serving on their Steering Committee overseeing Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and being a mentor for colleagues through their Odyssey Mentoring Program. Melnyk has received ECRI’s Client Centricity Crystal Award (2022), the John Clarke Award (2021) and the Spirit Award (2020). In 2023, she was the recipient of the Sandra Parker Leadership Scholarship from Professional Women in Healthcare.
Following her graduation from Susquehanna, Melnyk has continued to be an active and engaged alumna. She often participates in Break Through and connects with students in classes and during career fairs. In 2022, she returned to campus for the university’s Signe S. Gates ’71 and Dawn G. Mueller ’68 Women’s Leadership Symposium.
Melnyk has also taken the time to actively coach and mentor Susquehanna students, serving as a National Science Foundation S-STEM Student Mentor and as volunteer vice president of scholarship for Susquehanna’s chapter of the Sigma Kappa sorority. Melnyk also recently accepted a position on Susquehanna’s Alumni Association Executive Board.
Melnyk graduated from Susquehanna with a degree in biology and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public health at Drexel University.
Dr. Taiisha Swinton-Buck ’08, H’22
Swinton-Buck currently serves as the executive director of instructional leadership for Baltimore City Public Schools. She was formerly principal of the district’s Digital Harbor High School.
In 2021, while at Digital Harbor High School, Swinton-Buck was named Principal of the Year by the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals for her success in bonding with students, leading by example on campus and making record-setting impacts in attendance, grade averages and graduation rates. Those results also inspired The TODAY Show’s Al Roker to feature her story on a television segment. She became NBC’s Once in a Lifetime Principal and National Principal of the Year nominee.
During Swinton-Buck’s time at Susquehanna, she was a strong advocate in advancing the university’s efforts in inclusion, equity and justice. She was the founding president of the Rho Theta chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho, a historically African American sorority, and also served as president of the Class of 2008 and the Black Student Union.
Swinton-Buck graduated from Susquehanna with a degree in English and secondary education in 2008. She went on to earn her master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from Drexel University in 2013. She then earned a Doctor of Education in educational leadership and administration from Drexel in 2021. She delivered the keynote address at Susquehanna University’s 164th Commencement in 2022, at which time she also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
William “Bill” Sordoni ’97
Much of Sordoni’s community involvement has focused on the economic and business development of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
From 2006 to 2020, he served as board member – including time as chairman – for the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce. He also served on the board of the Greater Scranton Area Chamber of Commerce. From 2012 to 2016, Sordoni served as board member for Penn’s Northeast, a nonprofit economic development organization.
Also in 2012, he joined the board of directors of The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development, an organization seeking to revitalize the Wilkes-Barre area. In 2022, Sordoni joined the board of directors of the Commonwealth Foundation, which aims to transform free-market ideas into public policies.
An avid outdoorsman, Sordoni currently serves as chairmen of the board of directors for Hunters Sharing the Harvest, a statewide venison donation program that works to distribute nearly 2 million pounds of wild game to Pennsylvania residents experiencing food insecurity.
Sordoni is currently chair of the board of trustees for the Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School, and has served on Susquehanna University’s Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2015, and the boards of directors for Geisinger and the United Way of Wyoming Valley.
In addition to his community roles, Sordoni is chairman of a fourth-generation family business, Sordoni Construction, having formerly served as its chief executive officer from 2010 to 2023.
Sordoni graduated from Susquehanna with a degree in business administration in 1997.