Vincentian Academy Celebrating Alumni

By Janice Lane Palko 

I think the success of any school can be measured by the contribution the alumni make to our national life – John F. Kennedy 

A school may possess state-of-the art facilities, highly qualified staff, a rigorous curriculum and the most sought-after extracurricular activities and award-winning sports teams, but if that school does not graduate students who go on to lead moral, productive lives, then all those school features are for naught. Vincentian Academy (VA) has all those qualities, and it delivers on molding graduates who are prepared to make a difference in the world.   

Vincentian Academy has a longstanding tradition of educating the “whole” student. Though we are very diligent in making certain that our students have the most rigorous academic preparation possible, we understand that the spiritual formation and character development is what is needed most in our society. Vincentian Academy prides itself on producing outstanding global citizens,” said Rita Canton, Principal and Head of School, Vincentian Academy. 

Located in McCandless Township, Vincentian Academy, a co-ed Catholic high school, is in its 87th year of educating students and preparing them to be tomorrow’s leaders. Vis a ministry of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, and as such the students at VA also follow the example set by those sisters by making the most of their God-given talents and strive to bring the love of Christ into the world.  

Below are the biographies of just some of the Vincentian Academy graduates making their mark in the world.  

Margaret Gambol Bash 
Class of 1963
R
egistered Nurse & Volunteer 
Project Hope & VA Hospital 

 After earning a BSN from The Ohio State University, Margaret served as a nurse in Cleveland, Phoenix, and Chicago while also serving two tours of duty with Project HOPE on the Good Ship HOPE at Kingston, Jamaica, and Natal, Brazil. She obtained a master’s degree in Education from Ashland College and became a school nurse and continued her dedication to volunteering. Among her many endeavors was traveling with Rotary International for the Children of the Dump project in Nicaragua and helping the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in Belize to build “Pittsburgh House.” Now retired, Margaret continues to volunteer, developing an intensive program to stimulate brain-injured and physically incapacitated veterans at Carl Stokes VA Hospital in Cleveland. The program was recognized by the Ohio Veterans’ Administration for its “Best Practices.” 

 Niceta Bradburn, M.D. 
Class of 1967 
Medical Director, Women & Children Service Lines 
St. Vincent Health  

Niceta received her undergraduate degree from Butler University and a Doctor of Medicine from the Indiana University School of Medicine. For the last 30 years, she has served in an ever-growing role at St. Vincent Health in Indianapolis, where she is currently the Medical Director for the Women and Children Services Line at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital, part of the St. Vincent Health System. She has been honored numerous times for her work including receiving the Irving Rosenbaum Award, which recognizes individual contributions to the welfare of children in Indiana as well as the Patient Safety Hero Award from the Indianapolis Coalition for Patient Safety.  

Dr. Mary Joan Willard
Class of 1968 
Executive Director 
National Telecommuting Institute, Inc.   

Trained and educated as a clinical psychologist, M.J. has three projects that have captured her talent and passion. The first, Helping Hands is a nonprofit she founded which trains capuchin monkeys to serve as aides for people who are quadriplegics. This project was the subject of a 60 Minutes story. The second is the National Telecommuting Institute, another nonprofit that trains and places people with physical disabilities into tele-work jobs. NTI places 500 people a year in customer service or tech support jobs, enabling them to work from their homes. Lastly, TakeCharge is an organization that provides people with severe disabilities a subsidized path for returning to work. TakeCharge is used by more than 15,000 people with disabilities to help them become financially independent.  

 

Dr. Bridget Chufo 
Class of 1970 
President & Owner – Dr. Chufo’s Weight Loss & Wellness Center  

For more than 30 years, Bridget Chufo, PhD, RN, has been a leader in the nutrition and weight-loss industry. For her efforts, she was recognized as one of Pennsylvania’s Top 50 Women in Business in 2002 and was named Woman of the Year by The American Biological Institute and its Board of International Research in 2005. She also received the Pittsburgh Business Times Ethics Award in the Small Company Category in 2006 and is listed in the Top 2,000 Notable American Women in the Second Edition of the American Biographical Institute. She began her career as a cardiac care nurse and continues to care for the community taking an active role with the DePaul School for Hearing and Speech and The Hearing Center of Children’s Hospital. She has also worked with The American Liver Foundation and is on the Board of Regents at La Roche University. 

 
Lori Cardille Rogal 
Class of 1972 
Actress  

An award-winning actress, Lori earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University and among her many acting credits, she appeared on Broadway with Jessica Tandy and Glenda Jackson in Rose. She also played recurring roles on The Edge of Night and Ryan’s Hope. For her work in George Romero’s classic Day of the Dead, she received the best actress award from France’s Cinema du Fantastique and Spain’s Sitges Film Festival. She is the author of the book, I’m Going to Tell, which helps people to understand the trauma of child sexual abuse and how to heal from it. For her work to remove the stigma attached to depression, she was nominated for the St. Francis Hospital Courage to Come Back Award. She has also worked with Forbes Hospice and is an accomplished photographer.  

 Mike Geiger
Class of 1995
Owner – Big Plan Group  

After graduating from Duquesne University, Mike relocated to Florida to develop and sell products in the mobile phone industry. He eventually came back to Pittsburgh where he and fellow alum John Iaquinta founded Big Plan Group, which has opened seven Moe’s Southwest Grills in the Pittsburgh area, creating more than 200 jobs in the region. In 2015, the company committed to partnering with North Huntington based Beverly’s Birthdays to supply all the food needed to serve over 5,000 people annually in the nonprofit’s mission of providing a birthday party for the children in our region who are experiencing homelessness and a family crisis.  

 John Iaquinta
Class of 1996 
Owner – Big Plan Group  

After graduating from Vincentian, John attended the PA Culinary Institute, capitalizing on his interest in food, which began when he was 14 and worked as a dishwasher in a restaurant. After working in some of the most respected kitchens in Pittsburgh, he was named an Executive Chef at the age of 23. In 2005, he opened his first Moe’s Southwest Grill in Cranberry Township. Today, he and his business partner, Mike Geiger, also a Vincentian Academy alumnus, operate seven Moe’s location in the area as well as owning/managing their Commercial Real Estate company, Double Down Real Estate.  Together they partner with Beverly’s Birthdays, an organization that provides birthday celebrations for children experiencing homelessness. 

 Lance Chimka 
Class of 1998 
Director – Allegheny County Economic Development 

 Lance currently serves as Allegheny County’s Economic Development Director, where his mission is to ensure regional economic competitiveness and build vibrant neighborhoods. He works with community leaders, elected officials, businesses, nonprofits and philanthropies, marshaling resources to finance business expansion, upgrade infrastructure, conduct land use and transportation planning, develop commercial and industrial real estate, redevelop brownfields and build affordable housing in Allegheny County. He holds a B.S. in Business Administration and Finance from The Catholic University of American and an M.S. in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University. Halso served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Turkmenistan from 2002-2005. 

 Marissa Muth  
Class of 2016 
2020 Wolstein Society Inductee 
Case Western Reserve University  

Marissa was recently inducted into the Wolstein Society at Case Western Reserve University, which recognizes outstanding undergraduate students in their senior year who represent the spirit of enterprise as demonstrated by leadership, scholarship, community service and professional will. She is a senior accounting and finance double major who will graduate in May and will receive her Master of Accountancy in December 2020. She has received a job offer from PricewaterhouseCoopers. 

 To learn more about Vincentian Academy, visit the website at: www.vincentianacademy.org.