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Sharing Pitt Memories

Life-Long Friendships and the Courage to Achieve My Goals


Joan Snyder Kuhl (BUS '01):

There are two very important gifts that the University of Pittsburgh gave me: life-long friendships and the courage to achieve my goals. Growing up in a small town in Eastern Pennsylvania, I dreamed about attending Pitt and having the city as my campus. I set my sights on Pitt in eighth grade when my parents visited the city in hopes of transferring in their jobs as air traffic controllers. Even though we never moved, I knew Pitt would be the only school I would every apply to!  

Every day, I am reminded of a fond memory: my Spanish class in the Cathedral, late nights in the Student Government Board (SGB) office in the William Pitt Union, 7 a.m. Blue and Gold Meetings at the old office on Craig Street, half-price deals at Mad Mex and Fuel and Fuddle at 11 p.m., the 1997 game against Miami in Pitt Stadium when we stormed the field, driving the homecoming car during halftime of the very last time Pitt played (shutout!) Penn State to the day I received my degree in Mellon Arena alongside my family and friends.

My experiences living in the freshman towers, being a student in the College of Business Administration, and serving as a student leader across campus organizations afforded me the opportunity to grow a diverse group of friendships. A defining moment in my student life came as I ran for SGB president. I never dreamed I would have the support to win. It forever changed my self-confidence along with the memories I have of the incredible friends who stood out in the cold passing flyers and urging voters for support. On election day, I remember seeing advertisements in the Pitt News from many diverse organizations declaring their support for me, including the Black Action Society, Asian Students Association, Rainbow Alliance, Campus Women's Organization, College of Business Administration, fraternities, and sororities. My roommates, friends, and many classmates were all with me when the last vote was counted and I was named SGB President in 2000.   

Chancellor Mark Nordenberg had a profound influence on me as someone who I felt encouraged my confidence, conviction, and leadership style. The chancellor along with the many gracious alumni, faculty and administrators who took an interest in my future, inspired me to achieve my potential inside and outside of the classroom.

I've been given so many gifts from Pitt, but in the last couple years I did lose one. My friend Margarita Sarmiento, who was President of the Asian Student Alliance, was one of my most loyal friends on campus. She inspired all of us who knew her to approach life without fear, welcome new friends without judgement, and live every day louder than the day before. In memory of Margarita, my friends and I started a scholarship at Pitt in her name and I hope the students it supports will carry her spirit of inclusivity and generosity. I also hope more alumni will contribute to this gift to the University in honor of her life.

(To donate, visit Pitt's online giving form, go to page 2, and choose the Margarita Sarmiento Asian Student Alliance Fund.)