Young Alumni Achievement Award

Click here to learn about this year's recipients.


The Young Alumni Achievement Award recognizes Millersville University graduates who are outstanding in their profession.

The Young Alumni Achievement Award was created in 2012 to recognize Millersville University baccalaureate graduates identified as being outstanding in their professions and to present such alumni to current Millersville University students as examples of exemplar achievement. All baccalaureate graduates of Millersville University, within the past 5-20 years at time of nomination, who have recorded notable accomplishments in their chosen professions are eligible for this award. The recipients may be invited to hold seminars, presentations and/or panel discussions on topics related to their professions.

Who Is Eligible

Those who have graduated from Millersville University with a baccalaureate degree within the past 5-20 years who have recorded notable accomplishments in their chosen professions are eligible. To nominate an alumnus/na, complete the Young Alumni Achievement Award nomination form.

Nomination Criteria

Please list applicable information in each of the following categories and attach 2-3 letters of recommendation in addition to the nominator's summary. Please follow the nomination format closely. Additional attachments of information other than those requested below will not be considered during the selection process.

  1. Nominator's summary explaining why this person should be chosen for this award and the professional and community service achievements that qualify the candidate for this award.
  2. Relevant employment positions held.
  3. Awards, honors or recognition related to their profession or community service.
  4. Local, state, national or international activities.

How Are Alumni Chosen

All nomination materials should be submitted via the online form. Nomination deadline is March 15.


The recipients of these awards may be asked to speak to classes within their respective undergraduate schools and possibly a “Meet the Young Alumni Achievers Reception” will be open to all members of the University Community who are interested in meeting the accomplished alum.

Formal recognition to take place at an appropriate university and/or Alumni Association function.

Questions? Please contact the Office of Alumni Engagement at 717-871-7551 or

Click here to see past recipients of the Young Alumni Achievement Award 



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 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.