Alum of the Month: Tauna Perenovich ‘97

An education specialist for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Tauna helps her coworkers to advance just as she has.

Tauna Perenovich ‘97

Monday through Friday, Tauna Cypher Rafferty Perenovich ’97 is a textbook example of a goal-driven, Type A leader. A training specialist with the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Tauna starts her day at the gym at 5 a.m. and rarely slows down. Her work hard, play hard ethic is how she rose through the secretarial ranks to her current position. Along the way, she’s held various roles — education, information technology, and leadership development — and last year received an award for 35 years of service to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

But on weekends, she’s mending fences and hanging out with the horses, goats, and other animals on her sister’s farm in New Sewickley Township. “One of my favorite hobbies is feeding bananas to the pigs,” she laughs. “It’s so funny to watch them, and so relaxing to be out in the country. It’s a totally different brain activity from work.” 

Tauna began as a VA clerk in 1985 and worked her way up to executive secretary while taking classes at CCAC. In 1995 she enrolled as a full-time student at RMU, powering through courses on Saturdays and evenings while maintaining a full-time job. Juggling college and a 40-hour work week taught her how to set goals and manage time, and she earned her bachelor’s in health services management before going on to get a master’s in professional leadership at Carlow.


Throughout college and her career, Tauna has been just as driven to help others succeed.  “At the VA, our mission is to care for those who served,” she says. “Even though I’m not in direct patient care, I work with employees who are. I love to mentor and help others develop. It’s always been my thing, even when I was a secretary. If someone needed help in the office, I was known as the one to go to.”

One of the most fulfilling parts of her job has been teaching computer basics to veterans. “Helping them conquer their fear of technology was so satisfying,” she says. “Learning those skills made the men and women feel more secure, and in many cases helped them find jobs.” Tauna recently visited her alma mater to tour the RMU Center for Veterans and Military Families with President Chris Howard, who is an Air Force veteran.

Tauna plans to retire next year, and before that she will spend time training (and mentoring) her replacement. To kick off their retirement years, she and her husband Rodney intend to do some traveling; Ireland and Italy are on the list. And when they get back home? There’s a certain farm in Beaver County with some hungry pigs looking for attention.