Cynthia Charnetski ’97 has a long history with Wilkes. She grew up on campus. Her father, Carl Charnetski ’70, has been a professor of psychology here for decades. Now an optometrist at Northeastern Eye Institute and the new president of the Alumni Association board of directors, Cindy discusses her goals for the association, and her ideas on engaging alumni.
Do you have a favorite memory of Wilkes from childhood?
I remember when my dad’s office was in Stark Learning Center. Sometimes he would take me in with him on a weekend or holiday and I would use his classroom to pretend I was teaching my own class. Then he’d take me to his experimental lab and let me feed the rats. I loved going there; it was so much fun!
What do you enjoy doing outside of your work with Wilkes?
I start every day with a workout and love being outdoors. My husband and I love to travel and hike. We also have three rescue dogs who keep us busy.
How did Wilkes prepare you for your career as an optometrist?
Wilkes prepared me most importantly by opening the door to go to optometry school. When I went for my interview at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, the dean said, “Wilkes students always do well here.” Wilkes has a wonderful reputation with many medical programs.
What is the best part about being an alumna of Wilkes University?
I currently live in Kingston, so Wilkes is in my backyard. Being an alumna allows me to stay involved in an institution that is part of the community I live in. When I support Wilkes and attend University events, I’m also supporting the community in which I live.
How did you become involved with the Wilkes Alumni Association?
A friend of mine, Rosemary LaFratte’93, MBA ’97, sought me out to become involved and I am very grateful she did!
What has been your favorite project or responsibility as the Alumni Association board president?
I take my role very seriously and feel my biggest responsibility is to engage more alumni. One thing that surprised me as I became more involved with the alumni association is the variety of ways there are to be involved. I have really enjoyed working with the alumni office to help identify these opportunities and make them known to other alumni. Whether you are looking to be involved with current or incoming students, staff or board members, networking and meeting people, community service or attending a sporting event – there is truly something for everyone.
What are your goals as president of the Alumni Association?
I want Wilkes alumni to feel proud of their institution and to be part of this extraordinary group which continues to build it. I believe this starts by just getting back on campus and seeing the changes. The caliber of our students, faculty and staff as well as our beautiful and constantly evolving campus instills such a sense of excitement that I think can ultimately translate into involvement. I want all alumni to get excited about what Wilkes has done and where it’s going.
Where do you see the board in two years under your leadership?
I hope to see a more involved board. Our members are elected based on involvement prior to being a board member. I want to continue to fill these positions with individuals who are ever-present at our events and volunteer opportunities.
Why is it important for graduates to stay connected with Wilkes?
Wilkes is one big family. These are your roots, part of what made you who you are. Don’t forget where you came from.
How would you encourage other alumni to stay involved?
As a younger alumna, I didn’t realize the full importance of giving financially. As I have become more involved, I now understand that tuition pays only a part of your overall expenses. Our institution counts heavily on donations, so I encourage everyone to remember what Wilkes provided for you and to consider helping make that a reality for students. Also, as I mentioned, stop by campus and check out all of the amazing changes. Try just one of our events or volunteer opportunities and I guarantee – you’ll want to keep coming back!
Cindy Charnetski, ’97
B.A., Psychology, Wilkes
B.S., Salus University
Doctor of Optometry, Salus University
Career: Optometrist, Northeastern Eye Institute
Notable: New president of Wilkes University Alumni Association