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Catching Up With ...
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2020-04-14

Cindy Nester

 

            Cindy Nester has always displayed a performative streak. In between playing

Cindy Nester

three sports in high school, she anonymously entertained the crowd at football games. While working as a pharmacist, she wrote and performed a jingle for a leadership retreat and started a DJ business.  "I've always been into music," Nester said.

            In between gigs, the Richmond, Va. resident developed an impressive career in pharmacology. Over 15 years, she worked in a division of HCA Healthcare, which is comprised of more than 180 hospitals and 2,000 sites of care in 21 states and the United Kingdom.

            At the John Randolph Medical Center, located 30 miles south of Richmond, Nester advanced from a clinical pharmacy manager to the director of pharmacy. She then took a similar position at Henrico Doctors' Hospital, a 340-bed community hospital in Richmond.

            According to Nester, the chief nursing officier asked her to write and perform a jingle for a leadship retreat. She performed it again for a group of pharmaceutical directors at a similar summit.

            She also founded a professional music and audio production service aimed at getting people moving, laughing and motivated. Nester said the motivation to create Get On Up Productions came after she served as the disc jockey for a retirement party for her parents. Initially, she provided the musical entertainment for HCA work events.

            Eventually, Nester booked additional parties and picnics. She worked the annual Pink Ribbon Tea & Fashion Show -- which celebrated the lives of people who have battled cancer and remembers those who have died of breast cancer -- for multiple years.

           At Upper Perkiomen High School, Nester starred in field hockey, basketball and lacrosse. As a senior, she earned first-team honors in the Pioneer Athletic Conference in field hockey and lacrosse and was named honorable mention in basketball. In 12th grade, she was named the Outstanding Female Athlete at the annual Blue and Gold Sports Banquet.

            However, Nester claims soccer was her best sport. During her high school years, the Pennsburg native played for Valley Soccer because the Indians did not have a girls team.  "I liked best whatever sport I was playing," Nester said.

            As a senior, Nester also entertained the crowd at home football games while dressed as the school mascot. The previous year, she substituted for Sue Johnson Jarrett.  "I really enjoyed it," Nester said.

            She continued her athletic career at the University of Maryland, played field hockey and lacrosse as a recruited walk-on. During her sophomore season, in the spring of 1991, the lacrosse team reached the NCAA national championship game.  "Those were some of the best years," Nester said of her time at the College Park campus.

            Though concussions forced her to stop playing, she continued to work in the athletic department. As a member of the sports marketing department, Nester again dressed up as her school's mascot. During an event to promote Maryland football, she appeared as Testudo, a Diamondback terrapin.

            Nester also dressed as a Hershey Bar for a basketball game at Cole Field House. She and several other mascots danced around during warm ups, then played at halftime.

 

Matt Duka

            After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with an English degree,

Matt Duka

Matt Duka wanted to do something creative. He discovered that outlet at an advertising agency in Reading.  Back then, the internet was novel. According to Duka, several clients considered it a passing fancy.

            "At that point, no one understood the technology," he said. "No one knew where it was going to go."

            After graduation, the Pennsburg native was hired as the creative director and vice president of eMedia with Montgomery & Partners, Inc. He stayed with the company for nearly eight years, until May of 1999, and dealt with commutes to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

            "I was enthralled with the problem-solving portion of the job," Duka said. "We were working with clients who never had a website company. I knew it was the new frontier."

            Since 2004, the Green Lane resident has worked as the director of marketing and communications for Linx-AS, an internet technology consulting firm based in Blue Bell. The firm advises its clients – which include multiple Fortune 500 companies – on how to be more efficient, according to Duka.

            He enrolled at Penn after graduating from Upper Perkiomen in 1985. He decided to play football for the Quakers following a stellar career as a high school running back and helped them capture the Ivy League championship in 1986.

            Playing for his father in high school, Mike, Duka emerged as one of the top running backs in the Bux-Mont League. As a senior in 1984, he averaged 4.6 yards a carry, ran for 1,083 yards and scored 17 touchdowns. Besides being named the Tribe's offensive most valuable player, he earned first-team all-league honors and participated in the 28th annual Montgomery County All-Star game the following June at Grigg Memorial Field in Pottstown.

            Duka played two seasons for the Quakers at a new position, wide receiver. He said he made the decision to go there at the last minute because, in part, they were winning titles and he wanted to play at Franklin Field.

            In terms of continuing his athletic career, football was his top priority. Duka said he was recruited by Penn, Princeton, Harvard, Lehigh and Colgate for the sport.

            Duka said he probably could have played college baseball and did explore the possibility of playing both sports at Harvard. At Upper Perkiomen, he was a standout pitcher and shortstop and was named the team's Most Valuable Player as a senior. Later, he pitched and played second base for the Upper Perk Chiefs.

            On the basketball court, Duka described himself as a decent scorer who "made his bones" playing defense.

            He said a core of dedicated, savvy players who stuck together through all three seasons helped make his high school athletic experience enjoyable. According to Duka, his coaches displayed a significant level of concern for their players on and off and the field.

            "Our group of guys were really successful and close knit," said Duka, who currently lives in Green Lane. "They made it fun to play whatever sport was in season."


 

 

 

 

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