Alumni Spotlight

Alumni Spotlight: Five Questions with Xun “X” Li ’09


While studying at Allegheny, X was a neuroscience and psychology double major. His interests and skills span the entirety of surgical spinal care, from pediatric and adolescent scoliosis, to adult spine tumors, to degenerative spine conditions. X has volunteered as a Reunion Committee member, Class Agent for the Class of 2009, and now as a member of Allegheny’s Alumni Council.

How has Allegheny prepared you for where you are today?

Allegheny nurtured my budding interest in the human nervous system, encouraging me to explore it from both a biological and a psychological perspective with its emphasis on having a major and minor from different concentrations.

Could you identify an individual professor or administrator at Allegheny who was especially influential to you?

Dave Roncolato was the first person I met after arriving on campus. Being a Bonner Scholar in its inaugural class, I would not have been able to accomplish half of what I did during my time at Allegheny without his constant encouragement, optimism, and enthusiasm to see each and every one of us succeed.

Why is it important to you to support Allegheny as a member of the Alumni Council?

I hope my role on the Alumni Council helps to break barriers to higher education. Coming from a middle-class family of first-generation immigrants, higher education was prohibitively expensive. Allegheny was one of the few colleges that worked with me to resolve the financial challenges I faced and gave me the opportunity to attend college.

What about Allegheny today makes you especially excited?

Witnessing the “Our Allegheny: Our Third Century Quest” campaign fulfill its goal last year excites me. I am thrilled to see the transformation Allegheny is poised for over the next 100 years.

Do you have a favorite saying, mantra, or piece of advice you’d be willing to share?

“Fall down seven times, get up eight.”

Alumni Spotlight: Five Questions with Nikki Hawk ’18


While studying at Allegheny, Nikki was a biology major, with minors in Spanish and global health studies. She participated in the health coaching program as well as an experiential learning term in Nicaragua. Nikki now volunteers as a Class Agent representing the class of 2018, encouraging involvement and philanthropic support from her classmates.

How has Allegheny prepared you for where you are today?

Allegheny has prepared me for where I am today by pushing me to work hard and to step outside of my comfort zone. I had amazing professors and friends that would always help me to reach my fullest potential. During my time at Allegheny, I was able to learn so much about science, public health, Spanish, communication, relationship strengthening and building, and so much more. After graduation, I felt very prepared going into the world on my own and tackling grad school. I have lived on my own ever since graduation, and I am currently fulfilling my second graduate program — all thanks to Allegheny for giving me the knowledge, resources, skills, and confidence to accomplish whatever I put my mind to!

What book is on your nightstand today?

A book that is always on my nightstand is Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda. It has so many encouraging words and nuggets of wisdom filled within it, and I highly recommend for everyone to read it! You can read it cover to cover, or you can just open it up to a random page every day for a little pep talk!

Why is it important to you to support Allegheny as a class agent?

Being a class agent is important to me because I am able to help get fellow alumni more involved in Allegheny and its mission to the community and its students. It is exciting to be able to connect with classmates regularly and to be involved in events, such as Gator Give Day and GivingTuesday. I hope to continue spreading the word about Allegheny and get more of my classmates involved with me, whether that be through donations or volunteering their time!

What is one item on your bucket list?

One item on my bucket list would be to travel to Australia to see the Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven wonders of the natural world. I would absolutely love to see all of the beautiful marine life in the world’s largest coral reef.

Do you have a favorite saying, mantra, or piece of advice you’d be willing to share?

A mantra that I always repeat to myself is “just be.” It helps me to refocus and recenter when life gets hectic and busy. A quote that I have always loved since I first saw it on a Dove chocolate wrapper is “You are the star for which all evenings wait.” It just makes me feel so happy and at peace.

Alumni Spotlight: Five Questions with Keith Steiner ’73


While studying at Allegheny, Keith was a history major, a student athlete competing in Track and Cross Country, and a member of Delta Tau Delta and Interfraternity Council. Additionally, he was a sports writer for The Campus Newspaper. Keith has served on Alumni Council, Reunion Committees, and as the campaign chairman for the Delta Tau Delta Sesquicentennial Campaign. Keith now volunteers as a Class Agent representing the class of 1973, encouraging involvement and philanthropic support from his classmates.

Can you identify someone from Allegheny who still influences you today?

History professor “Skipper” Knights led me and advised me through my Senior Comp. His high standards and encouragement pushed me to put in my best effort at Allegheny. My topic was “A History of Alpha Chapter of Delta Tau Delta,” and during the course of research, I had the opportunity to travel and meet personally with many alumni of Allegheny and Delt Chapters of other schools. With Skipper’s guidance, I documented the Allegheny Chapter’s role in the history of the College, as well as the Chapter’s leadership in inclusive membership in all of Delta Tau Delta.

After graduation, my Comp led to twelve years on the Delta Tau Delta Headquarters staff. This experience working with non-profit organizations enabled my subsequent thirty-five year career with UBS advising other fraternities, sororities, charitable and health benefit funds.

Why is it important to you to support Allegheny as a class agent?

Through my service, I hope to help encourage more donations to advance the educational mission of the College.

What about Allegheny today makes you especially excited?

How Bentley Hall has been transformed into a beautiful, useful and carbon neutral building.

What hobbies are you pursuing?

As the world reopens, my wife and I will resume traveling in 2022. Possible destinations include the Panama Canal, Switzerland, Spain and the Baltic countries.

What book is on your nightstand today?

This year’s books include Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr, Sooley: A Novel by John Grisham, 1941: The Year Germany Lost the War by Andrew Nagorski, Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II by Daniel James Brown, The Black Church by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and The Last of the Tin Can Sailors by James D. Hornfischer.

And of course I read Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard by our own Doug Tallamy, Allegheny ’73 and Delt pledge brother!


Alumni Spotlight: Five Questions with Zack Rearick ’10


Zack leads teams within Brian Communication, supporting clients on a variety of strategic communications and public relations needs. In his work, he partners with brands on media relations and integrated marketing, as well as crisis management, stakeholder relations, issue advocacy, and more. Zack started his career in organized labor and political action, and now brings a campaign-style approach to his work. While studying at Allegheny, Zack was a Communication Arts and Political Science double major.

Why is it important to you to support Allegheny as a career resource for students?

There are challenges that come with being a first-generation college student, but I always felt supported at Allegheny. Professors and staff were generous with their time, and alumni were generous in offering guidance and helping to make connections. Supporting current students is a small way to pay it forward and stay active in a community that I love.

Can you identify someone from Allegheny who still influences you today?

So many people at Allegheny have touched my life. I’m grateful for all of them. Professor Ishita Sinha Roy, in particular, has been an important influence. I’m still proud of the comp I wrote under her guidance, and I think often of her mentorship style. For me, she exemplifies the academic rigor and personal care and attention that are hallmarks of the Allegheny experience.

What book is on your nightstand today?

My favorite books this year were All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks; Good Strategy / Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt; All That She Carried by Tiya Miles; and Darryl by Jackie Ess. I am currently re-reading Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits, which is an all-time favorite that I come back to periodically — always finding new layers.

What about Allegheny today makes you especially excited?

The jobs of the future will require a human touch: care, creativity, and insight that can’t be replicated by machines. More critically, the world needs leaders from diverse backgrounds who can work across disciplines to tackle big challenges. I can’t think of better preparation than a liberal arts education, and I truly believe that Allegheny is second to none in cultivating this kind of problem-solver.

What is one item on your bucket list?

Write a novel!


Alumni Spotlight: Five Questions with Afua Osei ’08


Afua is a social impact leader with global experience in securing high value partnerships, developing innovative entrepreneurship programming and leading high achieving teams. As a co-founder of She Leads Africa, Osei built a digital lifestyle platform for millennial multicultural women reaching more than 800,000 women across 100-plus countries. Before becoming a full time entrepreneur, Afua was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, Fulbright Scholar in Malaysia and intern in the office of former First Lady Michelle Obama. Afua was a Political Science and Black Studies double major.

How has Allegheny prepared you for where you are today?

When I went to Allegheny College, I met people who had so many different types of experiences than I did, and it really pushed me to think about a world bigger than myself. To think about others’ backgrounds and life choices, and how those aspects influence why they make the decisions they do and how they show up in the world. It was a really interesting opportunity for me to step outside of myself and see where others are coming from. This has been so powerful to me throughout my career, from being a political consultant and communicating important issues to different constituencies, to being a management consultant and understanding how business decisions could impact different stakeholders, to being an entrepreneur and thinking about how to position products in front of a diverse audience.

Can you identify someone from Allegheny who still influences you today?

There are actually three people who were so impactful to my experience:

  • Dr. Richard Cook, who wrote my recommendation letter for me to become a Fulbright scholar in Malaysia. No one else I knew had a letter from their college president! That was such an incredibly unique thing about my Allegheny experience. The community was so close knit, and I felt deeply connected to Dr. Cook and his wife Terry.
  • Professor Bob Seddig of the political science department, who spoke with such seriousness and thoughtfulness. He held us to such a high standard and expected excellence. I also appreciated that he always emphasized research and critical thinking.
  • Dr. Terrence Mitchell, who was one of the first leaders in diversity and inclusion at Allegheny, and was so supportive of multicultural students. It was really great knowing that there was somebody looking out for us and cared about our wellbeing. I was 6 hours from home, but I knew I was going to be alright because there were people like him looking out for me.

What book is on your nightstand today?

SuperMaker by Jaime Schmidt, the founder of Schmidt’s Naturals. I really like to read about other entrepreneurs. People who had a vision in their minds and decided to turn it into something. It’s so powerful and encouraging because every single thing in the built environment around us came from an idea in someone’s head. It means that what we see right now doesn’t have to be our future; there is a lot more we can do with our skills and talents.

What is one item on your bucket list?

I definitely plan to go to Antarctica. I saw that National Geographic has cruises from South America to Antarctica and when I saw that, I knew I had to go.

What about Allegheny today makes you especially excited?

Two things: Dr. Link and the students. Allegheny is going to benefit tremendously from having Dr. Link as the new president, with all of the energy, vision and creative ideas that she brings from her breadth of experience. And this new generation of students who are concerned about new issues and are thinking about their college experience in a different way. It’s exciting to see how the College continues to evolve and change as the needs of the students continue to change. I am really optimistic about our future.