Turning Hobbies and Passions into Careers and Outlets

Written by April Hall
Published on September 5, 2013

Getting a degree from University of the Sciences does not relegate one to a life solely revolving around healthcare or pharmacy. For many alumni, their education is the background upon which they paint a vibrant and diverse life, whether it’s as a principal dancer for the Pennsylvania Ballet as RIOLAMA LORENZO HS’06 was before retiring in 2012, an accomplished actor of stage and screen like PETER MARK RICHMAN P’51, or a combination of the two like MAYANK AMIN PharmD’09, an actor and dancer who was most recently a featured extra in The Last Airbender.


ferkoIn Philadelphia, it doesn’t get much bigger than the Mummers. This New Year’s Day parade has been a staple on Broad Street for more than 100 years, and the late USciences graduate JOSEPH A. FERKO PharmD’1916 got involved early on in the tradition.

While working at the pharmacy of Dr. John J. Fralinger, Ferko asked him to sponsor a string band. Fralinger agreed and Ferko took the reins as leader of the group founded in 1915. Ferko couldn’t play a note of music, yet he found his spot out front with his well-known bentknee strut. Ferko led the Fralinger band until he opened his own pharmacy in North Philadelphia and started his own band in 1921. He would only miss two parades in 50 years.

In 58 appearances, the Joseph A. Ferko String Band placed in the top five bands of the parade a historic 55 times, several times winning the top prize. Despite Ferko’s death in 1964, both the Fralinger String Band and the Joseph A. Ferko String Band continue to march in the Mummer’s Parade every New Year’s Day.


smithgallThe USciences rifle team has fostered alumni hobbies and passions that sound more like a cannon’s boom, rather than a banjo’s ping. CHARLES W. SMITHGALL P’68 started participating in Civil War reenactments while he was still in high school. When he got to college, he joined the rifle team and honed his skill in target shooting, even winning the club championship. A few months after graduation, the pharmacist moved into the big guns and bought his first cannon.

In the 45 years since, Smithgall has won shooting competitions with both rifles and cannons, served as a leader of Civil War reenactment groups (he is still a live shooter in reenactments), and even been mayor of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he lives (he is running again this year). His cannon collection has grown—he now owns more than 30.

But at this point, they’re paying for themselves. Smithgall’s heavy artillery has been featured in holiday celebrations, symphonic performances, and fictional and nonfictional television shows and films.

Most recently, Smithgall’s collection was featured on the Emmy-nominated series House of Cards and the Academy Award– winningLincoln. Smithgall described the latter experience: “[Steven] Spielberg is different [than other directors]. He approves everything the day of the shoot. So I took 12 guns down there, but you didn’t see them all.”


sandsJENNIFER TREBINO-SANDS P’89 is a proud part of her Brick, New Jersey, community. She’s worked at a local pharmacy there for 24 years. Her customers have witnessed the wonderful and horrible circumstances that have come her way. Some of them were there when she married her husband, Jim. And some were at Jim’s funeral when he was killed during the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center in New York City.

“A lot of our customers are like family to us,” Trebino-Sands said. “They saw the shell of a person I was and the hope I have now.”

After her husband died, Trebino-Sands suffered until she found faith. After an editor who published Jim’s SCUBA photos in a magazine became a book publisher, he asked Trebino-Sands if she would be willing to write a book about her experience. She said the book on finding faith and hope in the throes of mourning came easily, just poured from her fingers.

“I was always a good writer in school but never thought about doing it as a career,” she said. “It was cathartic, very healing, but, of course, painful at first because you really do have to think about what happened that day.”

The results became a trilogy: A Tempered Faith, A Teachable Faith, and A Treasured Faith, which she wrote after battling breast cancer. These days she makes her living more from speaking engagements than her work at the pharmacy. She’s only at the local drug store a few hours a week.

“Some customers will come in just to talk to me, to talk to someone who’s been through the fire,” said Trebino- Sands. “A lot of them are older, alone, scared. It’s kind of a ministry in itself, which is why I stay in pharmacy.”


BILL SALVATORE BS’03 also continues to give back. While he is an adjunct microbiology professor at Manor College, his full-time job is running a recreation center in Philadelphia. “I started working part-time as a camp counselor in high school and I never left,” said the Roxborough native. “The city has a really good program.” After graduation, Salvatore said he worked full-time teaching and stayed on at the rec center part-time. When the recreation leader in Roxborough retired, Salvatore took over. “These centers are all over the city,” Salvatore said. “I couldn’t be more proud of being a part of the city this way.”


PETER DALIDOWICZGrowing up in Indiana, PETER DALIDOWICZ C’90 was a Boy Scout and learned how to shoot a rifle. Not much of a basketball or football player, the USciences rifle team was a great way for him to compete in the NCAA.

After he earned his PhD at Ohio State University, Dr. Dalidowicz moved to New Jersey and went to work for Henkel Adhesives (then National Starch). Though he was more than an hour away from Philadelphia, he returned to USciences as assistant coach of the rifle team.

Dr. Dalidowicz took over as head coach for the team when Paul Klimitas moved to the athletic director position at USciences two years ago. He has a routine: He goes to work early, about 6 a.m., staying until 4 p.m. He heads home to Califon, New Jersey, picks up his dog, and drives down to Philadelphia. He gets to the city by 6 p.m. for practice, which ends about 9 p.m., and drives home again. He drives back down for matches on the weekends.


The Secret Life of Ivor Griffith?

By Dan Flanagan

hatUp until the time he became PCP president in 1941, IVOR GRIFFITH PD’1912 maintained a parallel career at the Stetson Hat Company. He started working in the Stetson hospital pharmacy right after he graduated in 1912 and quickly rose through the ranks. By 1925, Griffith served as the company’s director of research (specializing in color control) and as the hospital’s director of laboratories—not only that but by 1930 he was chairing the hospital’s Training School for Nurses, where he also lectured on chemistry and bacteriology. By way of contrast, he started teaching at PCP in 1916 as an instructor in pharmaceutical arithmetic.

The Stetson hat factory was like a small town unto itself in North Philadelphia. They packed 25 towering buildings onto nine acres of land and had over 5,000 employees. Their benefits included free healthcare at the company’s full-fledged chartered hospital, which opened in 1905 (the Training School for Nurses graduated its first class two years later.) For nearly a century, Stetson’s eight-story clock tower stood as a North Philadelphia landmark. Today there’s no sign that the place ever existed.

Stetson started his business in Philadelphia soon after the Civil War ended and moved the factory to 4th and Montgomery—on the outskirts of town—in 1874. Business peaked and then entered a long period of steady decline after WWI. The reduced plant finally shut down in 1971, and arsonists torched what was left of it in 1980.

Amazingly, despite the fact that he’s one of the most photographed people in PCP history, there is NOT a single picture of Ivor Griffith wearing a hat!


Categories: The Bulletin, Alumni, Proven Everywhere, Mayes College, Misher College, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Samson College, USciences

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