“I don’t have any words to explain it. If there were words: It’s devastating. It’s horrible.”
This is what third-year student Camila Negron-Rodriguez said of the horrific damage done to her home in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
The damage from the hurricane has destroyed her family’s home, which she says is now unrecognizable. She was able to connect with her mother and learned that she and her dogs were safe.
Negron is one of 93 students from Puerto Rico enrolled at the University of Dayton. Some, like Negron, have spent the last few days excruciatingly waiting to connect and hear from family and friends who are still back home.
“The last 24 hours have been very stressful for all of us, since we are so far away from home. Some of our homes suffered a lot of damage and the pictures definitely don’t make justice for what is happening in Puerto Rico right now,” she said.
Social media has allowed students to receive of updates, either from their family or of their hometowns. Through Snapchat, Negron has seen many of her friends helping people who are stuck in their houses escape the floods.
Negron says that she and other UD students do feel guilt that they aren’t able to offer that kind of hands-on help.
“It’s that feeling you get — you just want to get on an airplane and fly there. But, we can’t,” Negron said.
They are doing what they can. About 20 to 30 Puerto Ricans students from campuses across the nation started a group chat that has grown to more than 200 students nearly overnight. The group discusses ways in which they can help with hurricane relief.
Beatriz Roselló, Puerto Rico’s first lady, assisted in the establishment of Unidos Por Puerto Rico, an initiative to assist those affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria. Negron and several of her peers joined the campaign and also created a GoFundMe page where they have raised more than $10,000 of their $15,000 goal in the last 24 hours.
“It has been pretty amazing how much we’ve been able to do in such little time,” Negron said. “We say this is just the beginning because there is so much more to be done. This is just one step forward.”
The ringing of a bagpipe filled the white tent that occupied the Central Mall September 13 as students gathered to celebrate the international student body at the University.
Culture Fest is a celebration of international music, dance, and food representing the diversity found on campus. Plates were piled high with pierogies from Poland, sushi from Japan, kabsa from Saudi Arabia, potatoes from Peru, and churros from Mexico.
“There’s enough food here to feed 2,500,” said Sangita Gosalia, director of campus engagement for the Center for International Programs. According to Gosalia, planning for Culture Fest begins during spring semester because it involves so many different organizations such as Dining Services, Housing and Residence Life, Campus Recreation, SGA, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and more.
After the bagpipes ceased, a graduate student sang songs in three different languages (Bengali English, and Hindi), and students from Puerto Rico taught the audience how to dance the salsa.
“It’s just fun to celebrate with different people,” sophomore Gianna Pou, who lives in the global living learning community, said. “I’m from Puerto Rico but there are students from Germany, South Africa, China and other countries living together. It’s a great way to make friends.”
While people were enjoying their food, Carlos Stewart, assistant director of student development in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, challenged students to get on stage and say where they are from and what they think culture is in exchange for a free T-shirt — the ultimate prize for college students. Answers ranged from getting to know people of other cultures to actually understanding other cultures.
Junior Cheyenne Newman lives with students from China and Japan and says that Culture Fest is her favorite event on campus. “I love when my roommates can show me things from their home,” Newman said. “They get so excited and it’s great to be able to share those experiences with them.”
What do Roesch Library, Marycrest, Fitz Hall and so many other campus locations now have in common with the Heritage Center?
Starting yesterday, they all serve coffee.
The ninth division of the student-operated Flyer Enterprises, Heritage Coffeehouse, opened its doors Wednesday morning, and the line to get coffee is still out the door.
The Heritage Center, originally built in 1903 as a boys’ bathhouse, was most recently a showcase for Flyer history, thanks to the Alumni Association and Division of Advancement, which renovated in 2007 the building known to generations of alumni as the post office. Last year they approached the student business venture to see what use the students might have for the site, with a caveat: It must preserve the spirit of UD’s most faithful alumni, the Golden Flyers.
With two dedicated Flyer Enterprises coffee ventures already on campus, and coffee available at so many more, the students who operate Flyer Enterprises asked, “Why more coffee?”
Peter Hansen, Heritage Coffeehouse director of marketing, answered: “Coffee is a product that has a rich past-time and focus on process. It brings people together.”
And then there’s the unique location, in one of UD’s oldest buildings.
“The ambiance differs from other coffee places on campus,” he said. “It’s more relaxed without being just another restaurant.”
At the opening, alumni John Beran ’74 and Myron Achbach ’52 said a few words on behalf of the Alumni Association and Golden Flyers.
“[H]istory will continue to be shared in this space through the digital screens that give insight to our humble beginnings and our longstanding traditions,” Beran said. Screens in the coffeehouse display moments and photographs from UD’s 167-year history.
While standing in line on the new gray tile flooring, you can tell that this coffeehouse feels different. The baristas, trained onsite at Boston Stoker, grind fresh espresso beans and serve high-quality products.
“It’s so refreshing to be in this environment,” said Allie Rubin ’18 as she sipped her cold brew and shared this simple pleasure of life: “I am able to sit and drink coffee with friends.”
“I didn’t know you would be here,” old friends now reunited exclaimed as they ran across the Central Mall lawn to embrace and introduce each other to their families.
The luncheon cookout Saturday, Sept. 15, was one of several events on the Black Alumni Reunion calendar this past weekend. The reunion, which coincided with the 70th anniversary of Alpha Phi Alpha on the University of Dayton campus, welcomed back more than 200 black alumni.
Tables began to fill with families and friends enjoying burgers and hot dogs, sipping sweet tea and lemonade. There was a strong sense of community as individuals, dressed in Dayton red and blue, enjoyed a meal and memories together.
Rodric Cooper ’89, a fraternity brother of Alpha Phi Alpha, had come from Rochester, New York. He helped organize the fraternity’s 70th anniversary black-tie gala.
“The best part of this weekend has been seeing my brothers again,” said Cooper, who anticipated a sold-out celebration later that evening.
Cooper wasn’t the only Greek member of the crowd. Sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha wore their pink and green letters and laughed and danced together as music played over the loudspeakers under the tent in the Central Mall. Frank Brunson ’80 sat with his fraternity brothers from Phi Beta Sigma as they looked over a photo album.
“Is that David?” Brunson asked his friend, Fred Brownlee ’80. “I just went to his daughter’s wedding.”
Brunson, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, said he has enjoyed seeing how the University has developed throughout the years.
Held every few years, the Black Alumni Reunion seeks to seeks to find a permanent home among a host of University celebrations, said event organizers.
Dozens gathered in the University of Dayton RecPlex, listening to the haunting 911 call made on Wednesday, April 8, 2015, when Sean Ferguson ’15 was struck by lightning. Used to commence the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the hands-only CPR kiosk located just inside the RecPlex, the call detailed the vital moments as Ferguson struggled for his life.
The event on September 15 served as a reminder that knowing CPR in dire situations can save lives. Michelle Lovely, board chair for the American Heart Association of Dayton, reminded the audience that when performed immediately, hands-only CPR can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival.
“Our key goal is to train an army of lifesavers,” said Nicole Aiello Sapio, executive vice president for the American Heart Association Great Rivers Affiliate.
The partnership between UD, the American Heart Association and Dayton Freight Lines, Inc. is an important one. Sponsored by Dayton Freight, the kiosk represents the company’s initiative to servant leadership. According to Mike Cronin, Dayton Freight’s executive vice president, there isn’t a better way to help people than preparing them to save lives.
The University of Dayton is the first university to host a kiosk of this kind on a college campus. With approximately 400,000 visits to the RecPlex per year, according to Eric F. Spina, university president, the kiosk will provide countless opportunities to educate the UD community on how to save lives.
“As a Marianist university, we are called to employ our head, and our heart and our hands in service to others,” Spina said.
A representative of that kind of service is Matt Lickenbrock ’16, the UD student that saved Ferguson’s life by administering CPR. Ferguson was struck by lightning as he was walking across a campus parking lot. Ferguson said the kiosk will give everyone the opportunity to be a superhero “just like Matt.”
Just before the ribbon cutting, Father Jim Fitz, S.M., rector, spoke of the “twofold purpose” the kiosk has. First, it is a gift to “promote the fullness of life,” he said. Second, it is a reminder that, “We, like our God, are to be givers of life.”
That kind of lifegiving skill is still a blessing in Ferguson’s life today.
“Not a day goes by where I don’t stop and pause to be reminded of the gift of life,” Ferguson said. “It’s a great opportunity to reflect back on what a great gift that is.”
It wasn’t just the lure of free lemonade, trays of taco dip or buzz of music that attracted honors students to Humanities Plaza on September 8.
During the Signature Program Showcase, new and old members of the honors program were drawn to the white tent to learn about the variety of opportunities offered to them and to discuss their own experiences.
Liz Gibbons is a sophomore honors student welcome leader who received the Hull Grant to study abroad last year, which she used to travel to Guatemala.
“There are a lot of really cool programs that are available only to honors students – that’s one thing that was really appealing to me last year. Spending time in D.C. or in London or India…it’s just not available anywhere else. I think that’s exciting in itself,” Gibbons said, who is planning on applying to the Global Flyers program this semester.
According to Breana Smith, a graduate assistant who coordinated the event, the showcase was designed as a way to expose students to new honor students’ programs.
“Instead of hosting only formal information sessions, we wanted to give students an opportunity to hear about the programs from students and we wanted to give students that have participated in the programs or opportunities a chance to share their experiences,” Smith said.
Many freshmen came out to ask questions and socialize, and walked away feeling informed.
“I got to meet other honors students and we could ask them questions about the program. Sometimes, I feel like that’s better than a presentation because you get to hear their personal experience,” Alexa Denney, a freshman Discover Science major, said.
Denney appreciated the hands-on nature of the event, mentioning how she would much rather speak to a real person than sit through a lengthy information session.
“You can see all of the options and figure out from them what is best for you,” Denney said of the event.
This fall was the first year the honors program hosted the event and organizers are already hopeful for the next one.
“We are very excited that it was received well by students, so next year is expected to be even better,” Smith said.
It wasn’t being homesick. It wasn’t the culture shock. It wasn’t being on her own in India.
The biggest adjustment Andrea Mott ’18 had to make during her three-month excursion to India this summer as part of the Engineers in Technical Humanitarian Opportunities (ETHOS) program was changing her engineering habits and adjusting to her work environment.
India, according to Mott, presented many engineering challenges: resource availability was limited, power outages halted work for hours, and structure for assignments and project schedules was nowhere to be found.
What Mott did have was a major project to complete and only three months to adapt to a new system.
The goal? To build a six-meter tall, 3-D printer to help construct houses out of clay for the community’s residents.
While Mott and her team did not finish the project, the printer was nearly assembled and remaining tasks planned out when they left — an accomplishment in itself, Mott said.
Problem-solving and adapting to a different culture were some of the learning experiences Mott credits the ETHOS program for teaching her.
“ETHOS combines everything I’m really passionate about, which is engineering, service, adventure, traveling, culture; so it’s a great program,” Mott said.
Immersed in a completely new culture, Mott said she was forced to reflect on her own beliefs in a way she hadn’t before, and answer questions such as “What does it mean to be female?” and “What does it mean to be American?”
“I questioned a lot of things,” Mott said. “Why do I believe what I believe? You learn, don’t just blindly follow things.”
The most rewarding part for Mott? She said, oddly enough, it was leaving. Saying goodbye to all of her new friends was “really hard and really sad” according to Mott, but made her realize how much she gained during her experience.
“I built a life here and really strong relationships here. Those things made it so hard to leave,” Mott said.
DISTINGUISHED ALUMNUS AWARD
Joseph Desch ’29
Bachelor of Science
During World War II, Joseph Desch played a key role in helping U.S. forces decode enemy messages from German U-boats. As an electrical engineer and inventor, Desch was already conducting research regarding the use of tubes and circuitry in counting devices with the hopes of creating high-speed mathematical machines for the National Cash Register Co.
In 1942, the Dayton native’s research in electronic counting helped NCR convince the U.S. Navy that they could decrypt the coded messages being sent by German enemy warships better than the current technology. Desch’s lab became the United States Naval Laboratory.
Over the next 14 months, Desch, his team of 600 WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) and an engineering staff of 24 created 121 top-secret decoding machines called Bombes.
The Bombe was taller than a person and twice as long, with miles of wiring attached to thousands of vacuum tubes. As it worked to find different letter combinations, the noise rose to deafening levels.
Based on some historian accounts, up to 54 U-boats were destroyed because of information received from the Bombe.
Desch was awarded the Medal of Merit by President Harry S. Truman July 16, 1947. Desch continued working at NCR until his retirement in 1972. He died in 1987 before his secret mission was declassified.
SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Bachelor of Arts
Not many people can say they dunked Justin Timberlake in a pool of green slime. And got paid to do it.
But for Jonathan Judge, that’s part of his job. Judge is enjoying a career as a television and film director and producer. He has directed shows that have aired on Nickelodeon, Disney, Comedy Central, CBS and HBO.
“It’s just such a perfect fit for me,” Judge said. “I have the best job in the world. I don’t know what else I’d be doing if it wasn’t this.”
Among his accomplishments, he is the recipient of the 2014 Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Children’s Programs and a winner of a British Academy Award in 2006. He also has been nominated three times for the daytime Emmy Awards.
Judge has directed 12 pilots, 10 of which have gone on to series. He has directed the shows Tosh.0, Blue’s Clues, School of Rock and Life in Pieces, to name a few.
He said the University prepared him to remain inspired and humble always.
“To have a purpose and an intent in life, then work hard for it — those things were instilled and encouraged at Dayton,” Judge said.
SPECIAL SERVICE AWARD
Bachelor of Science
Master of Science
Management Science ’79
John Beran has served the University in just about every way possible. He became involved with volunteering 25 years ago with alumni relations and has remained a constant figure.
He currently is a member of the advisory council at the School of Engineering, where he was an integral part of its strategic visioning process. Previously, he has served on his reunion committee and the Alumni Association board and has been an executive in residence at UD, working on initiatives including the Innovation Center, ETHOS and the Center for Competitive Change.
His passion for the University stems from his own experience as a student when his professors taught him important lessons, both academically and in life.
“My professors were not just going through the motions,” Beran said. “They would meet us anywhere to help us understand a topic. They taught me about the person I wanted to be.”
Currently, Beran is serving on the board of Flyer Enterprises as an expert adviser. He is the retired executive vice president and CIO for Comerica Inc., where he was also a member of the Comerica management policy committee as well the bank’s board of directors. He has had a successful 43-year career in information systems management, marketing and electronic banking. Beran continues to serve on multiple industry and community boards.
CHRISTIAN SERVICE AWARD
Christine Hill ’78
Bachelor of Arts
In Ohio, she is known as Chris Hill. But in Nairobi, Kenya, she is affectionately called “Mama Uji.”
Because of Hill’s relentless and selfless work at an elementary school in the middle of the Mukuru kwa Njenga slum of Nairobi, 2,100 students who would otherwise go without receive breakfast — a maize-based meal called uji.
Hill became involved in 2002 with Our Lady of Nazareth Primary School after a talk with Brother Ray Fitz, S.M. Since then, she has returned twice a year to volunteer, helping the children who live in the slum.
In 2007, Hill realized that most of the children attending school would arrive on empty stomachs. They were not alert in class, and test scores were low. She approached Father Marty Solma, S.M., who was running the school, on how to help these children get nutrition.
After some discussion, it was decided the smaller kids could receive one cup of uji at the start of the day. Hill and her husband, Allen, underwrote the cost to feed the children in kindergarten through fourth grade.
Later, a parish in the UK and PricewaterhouseCoopers in Nairobi joined in and underwrote feeding the remaining fifth through eighth grades. Since then, test scores have risen.
“The gift is in the giving,” Hill said. “The people there celebrate me, but they don’t understand what their happiness and progress does for me. They are giving me the gift. It’s an absolute privilege to be able to do this for them.”
JOE BELLE MEMORIAL YOUNG ALUMNI AWARD
Bachelor of Arts
When John Gravier decided to join Teach for America for service after graduation, he didn’t intend to be an educator for the long haul. In fact, he planned to become a lawyer.
However, after spending time teaching sixth- and eighth-graders math for a few years, Gravier knew that teaching was his calling. In his three years with Teach for America, he contributed to improving the school’s rating from an F to a C and won Teacher of the Year at 24 years old.
“I think teaching is the most important job out there and the hardest job in the world,” Gravier said. “I work with the best kids and am trying to teach them and create the best school in the city. It’s really cool and fun.”
Gravier moved from Florida to New Orleans and is now the school director of Dolores T. Aaron Academy — a role he accepted after being at the school for six years. As director, Gravier has moved his school from an F+ rating to a C within three years.
Gravier admitted that teaching in the city devastated by Hurricane Katrina has been a challenge but also his focus. Every school in the city was damaged, and buildings have only recently been rebuilt.
“Our kids deserve the best education,” he said. “I am very focused and driven to make that mission happen. I can’t see myself doing anything else.”
JOE BELLE MEMORIAL YOUNG ALUMNI AWARD
Bachelor of Arts
Molly MacReady established the nonprofit organization Child Restoration Outreach Support Organization (CROSO) in 2007 to provide post-secondary scholarships to former street children in Uganda.
MacReady envisioned CROSO during her junior year of college when she studied abroad in Uganda. At the end of the semester, MacReady had to write a paper and chose to interview children who were being helped by Child Restoration Outreach where she interned.
“When I interviewed one of the oldest boys (George), I was really surprised to hear he had been accepted to a university but couldn’t go because of a lack of funding. I was struck by the injustice of my friend’s situation. He had lived on the streets as a young boy and had overcome countless obstacles. I couldn’t believe that he was getting stopped now.”
When she returned home, MacReady gave a presentation to her church and included George’s story. A fellow parishioner came up to her and said, “Tell your friend George to start dreaming because I’m going to pay for the rest of his education,” which in Uganda is $2,500 per year.
MacReady then founded CROSO, which has now supported more than 30 former street children in attaining higher education.
“Working for CROSO is one of the ways I have found to acknowledge what’s possible when people are given opportunities, and now my job is to inspire others to see that potential, too,” MacReady said.
This summer, the Marian Library sponsored a special exhibit portraying pieces of artwork honoring Mary, the mother of Christ, from various Asian perspectives.
The exhibit Ex Orient Lux’: Marian Art of Asia features pieces from China, India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Korea. The exhibit includes paintings, sculptures, and nativity scenes, each one crafted in a unique, cultural style.
Michele Devitt, curatorial assistant and volunteer, helps manage the library’s exhibits and says she finds this particular one unique.
“The artwork to me is a lot of clean lines…it’s simple; you can stare at it and see a lot of things, but it’s not too overwhelming. Some art is overwhelming. I think [the art in this exhibit] is very digestable,” she said.
Devitt describes how although each piece is a representation of Mother Mary, it represents her in different ways — as a figure who serves multiple purposes to humanity.
“Some people will see Mary as a queen. Others will see Mary as the common woman, and some would see her as more of a god; someone that they pray to and rely on. I think part of it is our personal need — if we need to relate to somebody as more of a friend, versus somebody who is going to be our source of strength,” she said.
The exhibit has been open to the public since June 26 and is closing Sept. 18.
The Marian Library is open from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.