President's Report 2018-2019 - Page 13

T he late Joan Chermack Brown '74 was a woman ahead of her time. She graduated from Gwynedd Mercy University with a bachelor’s degree in math and entered the workforce as a computer systems analyst for the United States Navy; she and a female colleague were just two women among more than 100 men. Joan married Dave Brown, a Naval pilot, and made another atypical move. “At the time, Navy wives working was not the norm,” said Dave of his late wife. “She also decided she wanted to hyphenate her last name to make it Chermack-Brown. We went to a lawyer at the Naval base who wouldn’t do it, so Joan had her middle name legally changed to Chermack.” Joan and Dave both went back to school in 1985 to earn master’s degrees in computer science. Joan spent about 15 years working for Shared Medical Systems (now Siemens Medical Solutions) as a senior analyst/senior programmer analyst. She also pursued advanced technical certifications and took on various volunteer roles, ncluding several for her alma mater, GMercyU. In 2008, she joined GMercyU’s Alumni Futures Bylaws Sub-Committee and served on the Alumni Association Board. In 2010, she joined the Planned Giving Advisory Council and helped promote GMercyU’s Mother Mary Bernard Graham Society, which recognizes estate gifts. She also joined an Alumni Board Governance Committee and the Service/Outreach Committee, which supports spring break service trips. With her husband, Joan also created something powerful and positive for future female professionals –the Joan Chermack Brown Scholarship Fund at GMercyU. The memorial fund will be awarded annually to full-time female students with a demonstrated financial need. “It was her way of paying it forward,” Dave explained. “She was the oldest of four girls and came from a background without much means to attend college, but her life goal was to attend; she wanted a career. During her senior year in high school (Bishop Kenrick of Norristown, Pa.) she was vying for salutatorian with other students. A nun asked her where she planned to go to college, but she hadn’t worked it out yet. The nun eventually came back to her and said, ‘I’ve got you a work/study scholarship at Gwynedd-Mercy College.’” Joan passed away on August 1, 2011 of a rare form of ovarian cancer known as Carcinosarcoma. She was only 58 years old. Joan and Dave had loved to spend their free time walking and hiking, and after she passed, Dave embarked on a cross-country walk to honor the love of his life and raise awareness for ovarian cancer. He started in February 2013 in Atlantic City and planned to walk to San Francisco, following U.S. Route 40 and U.S. Route 50. He walked for a remarkable 89 days, making it all the way to Kansas. “By then, I was wearing out,” he said. Dave’s efforts on behalf of ovarian cancer awareness and the couple’s support of GMercyU keep Joan’s memory very much alive. PRESIDENT’S REPORT 11