2022 Young Alumni Achievement Award Recipients

Mary Kate Lowe '09

Mary Kate Lowe

A native to Orange County, NY, Mary Kate Lowe has dedicated her professional development to building a more positive environment for the youth and families that reside in her community. Mary Kate has a bachelor's degree in social work from Millersville University (2009) and a Master of Social Work from Adelphi University (2012). In 2020, Mary Kate completed a Volunteer Management Certification.

From 2012 to 2017, Mary Kate worked as a Mentoring Manager with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County, NY. Through this work, she felt a deep connection to the preventative mentoring model and found a love for nonprofit work. From 2018-2021, Mary Kate transitioned to being a Foster Care Clinician providing parenting education to birth parents who lost custody of their children. This challenging work left her yearning for something more uplifting and transformative, leading her to gain a master's degree in nonprofit management from Grace College and Theological Seminary (2021). Soon after, Mary Kate was personally invited to consider the Executive Directors position at Big Brothers Big Sisters, thus beginning a great new professional adventure in January 2022. Mary Kate is looking forward to advocating for a mission that allows youth facing adversity opportunities to achieve their potential through one-to-one mentoring relationships.

At an early age, Mary Kate’s involvement with her church and experiences of volunteering for mission trips, peer focused retreats and the completion of an AmeriCorps service year (2009-2010) ignited the curiosity of the what it means to be of service to others and set the foundation for her social work career. In her personal life, Mary Kate is an Associate Minister for the Sisters of the Presentation where she collaborates with religious sisters and community partners to bring resources to the families that are facing adversity in her community. She also volunteers with Towns 4 Troops, a family run nonprofit that provides services to active-duty military members and their families to assist in their social and emotional well-being.


Tara L. o'rourke '06, o.D. 

Tara O'Rourke

Dr. Tara L. O’Rourke graduated from Millersville University in 2006, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree under an accelerated program with an optometry focus in three years. During her undergraduate years, she had the opportunity to work with Dr. Shawn Gallagher on clinical research, which further developed her interest in eye care. Following her time at Millersville, she earned a Doctor of Optometry degree from Pennsylvania College of Optometry (aka Salus University) in May 2010, graduating summa cum laude. O’Rourke then advanced her optometric training, focusing on primary eye care and ocular disease during her residency year at the Salem, Virginia, VA Medical Center.

O’Rourke currently works at the Penn State Eye Center at the Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania. She specializes in ocular disease management, specialty contact lens fitting and primary care. In addition, she co-manages with multiple ophthalmologists for consultations on patients ranging from oculoplastic, glaucoma, pediatrics and neuro ophthalmology. O’Rourke actively works with corneal specialists on post-op cataract care, research, and management with scleral contact lens fittings, among others, specialty contact lenses, for keratoconus and other corneal conditions. She is an assistant professor of ophthalmology, in which her role includes teaching lecture series for ophthalmology residents based on ophthalmic and clinical optics. 

She enjoys her time serving as a preceptor for a local high school program known as the Health Care Exploration Program (HCEP). This program allows high school students the chance to interact with healthcare providers in a real-world environment and explore a variety of health care career options. O’Rourke had the opportunity to lead several students who have been accepted or are currently at Salus University.

Currently, O’Rourke is vice president for the Central PA Optometric Society and serves on the Diabetic Eye Health Alliance committee to educate patients on the importance of diabetic eye care.

Outside of her profession, she loves spending time with her family, including her husband, Danny, and three daughters, Caleigh, Harper and Reese.