Junior Sisterhood Experience Introduces Students to Careers in Professional Sports

Fall 2022 was a particularly good season for Philadelphia sports teams. Both the Phillies and the Union advanced to their respective championships and the Eagles started the year on an 8-0 run. The success of our hometown teams made this year’s Junior Sisterhood Experience Day, November 10, 2022, all the more exciting as the girls visited Lincoln Financial Field and heard from women in sports leadership. All Merion Mercy students were treated to a preview earlier that day when alumna Molly Mita McEndy ‘07, senior communications director for the Philadelphia 76ers, spoke during Weekly Reset. 

In sharing her career journey, McEndy reflected on the role Merion Mercy played in her success. She said, “I found a community that supported, encouraged, and uplifted me, giving me the confidence to pursue my career dreams.” She told the students that as MMA graduates they will be exceptionally well-prepared for college, and that they will possess the communication and writing skills required by today’s employers. Noting the value of relationships, McEndy encouraged the girls to keep up with their Merion connections beyond graduation, as this was pivotal in her career growth. She also emphasized the importance of faith formation and thanking God each day "in the place where you are." Exhibiting the typical graciousness of Merion Mercy alumnae, McEndy concluded her presentation by inviting students to reach out to her personally with their questions. 

Following Weekly Reset, all juniors left school for Lincoln Financial Field where their visit began with a 90-minute tour that included the player tunnel, locker room, field, press conference room, sensory room, press box, and broadcast box. That experience was followed by a Women in Leadership panel featuring:

  • Shelby Carr, Eagles cheerleader, historian and author who is pursuing her PhD at Temple University

  • Jessica Cashin, Eagles Marketing Manager 

  • Tina D’Orazio, Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff, Office of the Chairman/CEO

  • Ariana Dunbar, Eagles cheerleader and International Program Operations Specialist at Operation Smile

  • Lauren Gress, Senior Manager, Event Operations 

  • Ryan Hammond, Executive Director of the Eagles Autism Foundation 

  • Carly Pennacchia, Community Relations Manager 

Their message was consistent—women have a place in all aspects of professional sports. They credited team owner Jeffrey Lurie for creating a supportive organizational climate and culture that promoted their advancement.

All speakers also emphasized the need for mentorship and networking among women in their professions. They talked about shared experiences and how they were able to manage both their professional and personal lives.  

Lauren Elguicze ‘24 said, “The Junior Experience Day was amazing from start to finish. The most impactful part of the day was hearing from the female leaders about their experiences working within the organization.”

Reflecting on the speakers, Dean of Students Paul Clementi noted, “I was particularly impressed with Ryan Hammond who started the Autism Foundation. What struck me was the connection it has to Mercy values; they use their platform of professional sports to address a significant public need. It is both mercy and justice.”

Other chaperones on the trip were equally pleased with the experience. Development Associate Kate Hinkle remarked on the work of Ariana Dunbar, the cheerleader who works for Operation Smile. “I think it was good for the girls to hear you can have a job you love and do things you are passionate about.” She added, “The topic of succeeding in a male driven industry and being able to balance being a mom and having a career definitely hit home. I heard one of our students describe it as ‘the best day ever!’”

Social Studies teacher Michael Rash said, “These experiences give our young ladies insight into non-traditional career choices in fields they may not have thought of. I think that the girls learned quite a bit regarding what opportunities there are in sports and perhaps some may go on to pursue these fields.”

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