As a community we can come together to “learn, change and do better.” Amy Lopez-Matthews, executive director for the Center for Student Involvement, said this as keynote speaker for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. prayer luncheon Jan. 20 to address King’s advocacy for peace.
Lopez-Matthews focused her talk on the hardships and forms of prejudice we see in our nation. From Ferguson protests to the attack on Charlie Hebdo, biases in our country exist, explained Lopez-Matthews. It is through acknowledging and challenging the world that we figure out what is right and do it every day.
Lopez-Matthews encouraged her audience to never take for granted ways in which we can help bring the world to a more peaceful place. “We have to stay brave. I wish, though, that it didn’t take bravery to stand up to racism,” Lopez-Matthews said. “Never take for granted peaceful protests, juries or voting.”
After Lopez-Matthews closed her speech, thanking the Office of Student Leadership Programs, Office of Student Affairs and Division of Student Development for coordinating the event, president Daniel Curran addressed the audience.
Curran asked the University community, students and employees alike, to remember there is always something more to do: “What would Martin Luther King think of our campus if he were to walk around today?” The answer is that there is always room for change, including working to become a campus where each individual feels valued, he said.
We first begin by taking small steps. One such step, Lopez-Matthews and Curran pointed out, is through not using the word “ghetto” to describe the south student neighborhood in light of the word’s meaning throughout history. Being advocates for change, they said, we join together in community for the true cause: justice.
The Martin Luther King Celebration of 2015 continues Monday, Jan. 26. Follow the link for details: https://udayton.edu/studev/dean/oma/programs/mlk2015.php
Senior Brian Brentley has a dream — of one day being a civil rights attorney. So, instead of sleeping in on his day off from classes Jan. 19, he marched.
“We held hands while holding posters advocating the dream of Martin Luther King Jr.,” Brentley explained.
Hundreds of community members — including other UD students — joined Brentley for Dayton’s annual MLK march, held downtown.
Junior Adanna Smith noted, “It was powerful to see so many different groups represented and marching together in support of King’s legacy and what he stood for. It really strengthened our community.”
Cheering voices and uplifting songs were all that could be heard throughout the city. Patty Alvarez, assistant dean and director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, was pleased some of her students were able to experience the event.
“This is a reminder of how important it is to get involved in things that have meaning besides ourselves,” she said. “We need to be a part of something that’s bigger than us.”
The projects differed, but the response was the same: they were eye-opening.
In early January, students traveled internationally for the Center for Social Concern’s annual Winter BreakOut trips, building relationships and expanding their knowledge of social issues.
Senior Ann Kyne (pictured at left, with her group) visited an orphanage, the Liberty Children’s Home in Belize, to play with the children and help with facility maintenance. She found the culture to be more laid back than she had expected.
“There wasn’t a lot of labor for us to do, so the workers told us to slow down in our work — that’s such a difference from America,” she said. “Everything here is fast-paced, [working] all the time. In Belize, they wanted us to focus on building relationships.”
Sophomore Peter Evans observed similar values among the farm culture and rainforest conservation efforts in Ecuador. By spending time with farmers, he learned they work 18-hour days regularly but can still find time for what’s really important.
“Work is how they’ll survive, but they’re not so focused on having a lot of money,” he said. “They are more about family and day-to-day celebrations.”
In El Salvador, junior Samuel Brickweg learned about the civil war and its effect on survivors. He visited sacred spaces, including the gravesite of archbishop Óscar Romero who was assassinated in 1980. Brickweg said learning about the war’s history gave a face to the faceless.
“The people had so much resilience and hope despite the pain they endured,” he said. “I learned that solidarity is love, and experiencing their struggle made me realize how interconnected we are.”
Kyne, Evans and Brickweg expressed appreciation for the relationships they formed with the people in each country, along with the bonds formed with their fellow UD students.
“UD has a lot to offer through these trips,” Evans said. “It’s important to keep in touch with the others I traveled with, to connect how the experience we shared is still important and is still impacting us.”
“I found that when it comes to service, one need only be present; God takes care of the rest.”
Junior RJ Schratz shared that thought from Los Angeles, where he is part of the Marianist universities collaboration immersion. Students from UD, Chaminade University in Hawaii and St. Mary’s University in San Antonio are sharing in service, reflection, learning and community. The students are keeping a blog to chronicle their experiences.
Students prepared food with Catholic Workers, talked with women and children at a domestic violence shelter, and helped mend a fence at the Union Rescue Building. At Homeboy Industries, students witnessed founder Father Greg Boyle give his “Thought of the Day” on making the best of our journey in life. (Watch the video, where you can see UD students in the background.)
The LA immersion is one of several opportunities for students to offer service, learn new skills or apply their studies through Winter BreakOuts through Campus Ministry. Other BreakOut trips are happening in El Salvador, Ecuador, Belize, Nicaragua, Chicago, New Orleans, and Tijuana, Mexico.
Junior Emily Prill offered these thoughts on her LA immersion: “The stark disparities of Los Angeles illuminate another, still greater paradox at the heart of the human condition: the deepest, most pure joy is birthed from aching pain. Those still breathing after dancing with despair and flirting with death are filled with a wondrous, encompassing joy. I have witnessed this truth throughout the past few days in the subtlest, yet most profound of ways — through a smile. A shocking flash of white set against the contrast of a hardened, wrinkled face. Dusk fades into dawn. So much beauty in an unlikely place. The purity of love, exposed.”
When asked to pinpoint the “high point of high points” in the 1939 Dayton sports season, veteran Dayton Daily News sports editor Si Burick didn’t pause.
“Without blinking an eye or hesitating a moment, it was the football game in far-away Frisco between Dayton and the Galloping Gaels of St. Mary’s College that stands out from all the rest,” Burick wrote in his Christmas Eve column that year. More than 500 students — including the UD pep band — crowded the Union train station to see the team off. A local news account called it “the noisiest half-hour that many of the people in the station had ever witnessed.”
The Flyers made the 3,000-mile journey to a game where, according to prognosticators, they stood little chance of scoring, let alone winning. California news articles classified the game as “St. Mary’s lone breather,” calling UD “a small school from the middle west that had grabbed up the game just for a chance to cash in on some national publicity if they happened to win — which they have no chance of doing.”
Burick, who accompanied the team out west, noted that some reverse psychology from coach Harry Baujan was in order — he strategically left such newspapers in players’ rooms, inspiring them to defy the odds. The squad held its own, leaving the field with a 6-6 tie.
“That was a football game for you,” Burick continued. “Our little band of Flyers, outweighed and outnumbered, holding those giants of the Pacific to a tie. The thought still prevails that this was the greatest exhibition of raw courage I have ever seen on a football field.”
Shirley Wurstner Padley ’40, wife of the quarterback who led the ’39 team — the late Jack Padley ’40 — remembers the trip well.
“On the way out to San Francisco, when the train would stop, the fellows would get off and exercise a bit. Then, when they got back on and the train started moving, one of the guys would tell Coach Baujan that they couldn’t find Jack — he must still be back on the platform. Poor Harry — I’m sure that’s all he needed! He was a wonderful father figure to those boys,” Padley said.
The trip turned out to be memorable for more than pigskin. On the way home, the team enjoyed a 12-hour stopover in Los Angeles, where film star Tyrone Power — a Cincinnati native who for one year attended St. Mary’s Institute for Boys, UD’s preparatory school — welcomed them at a private party on the Twentieth Century Fox lot in Hollywood. The entourage enjoyed a tour of the studio, a film screening and a meal.
“Having lunch in a room with big movie stars — that was a big deal,” Padley recalled. “I have a picture of Jack giving a football to Power, and it’s something they all talked about for years afterward.” The studio’s press agent later wrote, “From time to time, other football teams have come to Twentieth Century Fox, but never has a better-looking, pleasanter bunch of boys passed our gates. They were first-class ambassadors from your city, and there are rumors from up San Francisco way that they also play football.”
Joan Westendorf Will ’77, whose father, Gene Westendorf ’41, handed down a picture of the team autographed by Power himself, recalls that the film icon wasn’t the trip’s only star. “My dad loved getting to visit Joe DiMaggio’s restaurant, where he even met him,” she said. As a student-athlete on scholarship, Westendorf, a fullback, was required to play all three varsity sports — football, basketball and baseball — eventually serving as quarterback.
As Burick summed up the experience: “If there is really such an item as a moral victory, Dayton’s team earned it in playing the Gaels.”
Read more about Tyrone Power’s UD connection on UDQuickly.
For all students, graduation is a time of great change. But for the young men and women of the Fighting Flyers Battalion of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) at UD, graduation means the continuation of a commitment to serve their country.
Twice a year, ROTC cadets who have completed the program requirements in addition to their bachelor’s degree are assessed into either the active or reserve component of the U.S. Army. Saturday, Dec. 20, two cadets — Joseph Kearney ’14, an electronic and computer engineering technology major, and Jackson Pennie ’14, an exercise science and fitness management major — were commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the U.S. Army.
Father Jim Schimelpfening, S.M., D.Min., administered the invocation at the ceremony, praising the graduates for their commitment to lead the way in the cause of freedom. After each graduate took his Oath of Office, family members assisted in pinning his new rank pin onto his uniform. Master Sgt. Eugene Siler administered the first salute for each graduate.
Lt. Col. Dan Redden says the ceremony symbolizes the culmination of the military and technical education each cadet has garnered during his or her time at UD.
“During the four or five year ROTC program, a cadet is mentored from not knowing anything about the Army into an officer who is able to lead troops in the Army,” Redden said.
Kearney will complete his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and will serve as an Active Duty Engineer Officer. Pennie will complete his basic training at Fort Lee, Virginia, and will begin civilian employment as a law enforcement officer.
When it comes to a University of Dayton Christmas, the holiday spirit spreads far beyond the 937 area code.
Christmas on Campus is celebrated with hundreds of members of the Dayton community every year while alumni chapters across the map celebrate their own Christmas off Campus.
More than 30 communities — Rochester, New York; Dallas; San Diego; and Puerto Rico to name a few — held events this year for families and children in their area.
On Dec. 6, the New York/New Jersey chapter hosted a celebration for single mothers and children. The event was hosted in partnership with the Covenant House, a shelter for homeless, runaway and at-risk youth. Fifty alumni and 60 mothers and children attended to participate in crafts, games and a visit from Santa, Hannah Viertel ’13 said.
Meanwhile, in Charlotte, North Carolina, alumni gathered to celebrate with refugee children and their families, who hail from places like Burma and Bhutan. They have been in the U.S. for less than two years, said Meghan Carey Hinrichs ’96, and are part of an after-school program sponsored by the Charlotte Catholic Diocese.
Thirty-five children enjoyed a pizza lunch supplied by a local alumni’s pizza shop, made ornaments and Christmas cookies, played Bingo and received gifts from Santa.
“Last year, we received handwritten thank-you notes from the children,” Hinrichs said. “They were sweet and all written in different levels of English, so it was really neat to see that.”
In the Washington/Baltimore area, alumni spent Christmas off Campus with wounded warriors and their families, complete with lunch, games, a photo booth, a Christmas story and of course, Santa.
“We’ve heard nothing but positive feedback,” Sharon Byrd Davies ’92 said. “The kids just light up, and it provides the wounded warriors with a way to not think about their disability.”
In San Diego Dec. 4, 180 children of the St. Vincent de Paul Village were treated to a limo ride with Harley-Davidson escorts to La Jolla Cove Suites. Upon arrival, they were greeted with a pizza party, music from a live disc jockey, a magician, games and gifts, Steven Geise ’92 said.
Christmas off Campus offers a chance for alumni to deliver the joy of Christmas on Campus across the country, but families and children aren’t the only ones who feel the holiday spirit.
“You can’t be at this event without feeling the warmth and the love spread,” Geise said. “It’s the best night of the Christmas season.”
Before their final presentations, Intensive English Program students are given the opportunity to practice their skills outside of the classroom.
The program holds the poster presentations for international students five times a year towards the end of each term. This round, students demonstrated their knowledge of a work of art.
Hussin Bousfar chose to study the secret behind the Mona Lisa. “You can tell there are different smiles and the important part is the eyebrows,” Bousfar said. “She has no eyebrows, which hides her emotion.”
Lindsay Kearns says this is an important chance for her students. “This is the last step before the final and makes them feel more integrated in UD,” Kearns said.
“Being an IEP teacher, I see that they don’t often get outside-the-classroom opportunities to speak English and practice a language they are not used to,” Kearns said.
As a chance for international students to interact and learn from domestic students and faculty, everyone was welcome to visit and learn about the art on display.
“Instead of studying The Last Supper or other really old paintings, I wanted to pick something different,” Abdulrahman Alkhaldi said, pointing to his chosen work by Edward Happer, The Nighthawk. “This is different from other paintings because it’s just about a restaurant and not a really important scene.”
Could holding a grudge lead to mental health issues?
Alan Demmitt, associate professor in counselor education and human services, suggests it could. He has researched the nature of forgiveness for the past two years, and discusses the concept in his Integrated Approaches to Clinical Counseling course.
He explained if you Google stages of forgiveness, you might get 3 million hits or more — and that’s just the process of learning how to forgive — but he’s interested to know if there’s more to it.
Pointing to a book on his office shelf, he identified the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that explains how to define and diagnose mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
“Things you won’t see in there are bitterness, resentment or a lack of forgiveness, but there are many people struggling with those issues and it could lead to depression, anxiety or fractured relationships,” he said.
He acknowledged it’s easier to accomplish something than it is to maintain something, and forgiveness is no exception. His main focuses are how people maintain forgiveness in their lives, what they do to prepare for forgiveness and if there are habits and practices they engage in on a regular basis to keep a forgiving spirit.
Demmitt collaborated with Alexandra Hall, a former visiting professor in counselor education and human services, to interview 10 people who are in the habit of forgiveness – like pastors, clergy and priests – and are searching for themes as they transcribe the recordings.
Demmitt hopes to soon interview individuals who don’t have a faith tradition to examine how they cultivate forgiveness in their lives. Beyond that, he said he’s keeping his options open, with the goal of eventually sharing his work with others.
As far as personal goals, he described his research as the perfect intersection of both personal and professional interests.
“I am a Christian, and I think forgiveness is important. I also work in mental health, so I see the need for people’s mental health to be able to forgive other people, and not hold on to grudges.”
In early December, 18 current Lalanne teachers gathered from their communities in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana at the Bergamo Retreat Center in Dayton for their annual retreat.
Lalanne teachers participate in the retreat as a way to unwind from, and reflect upon, their experiences in under-resourced Catholic schools and as residents of a faith-based community with fellow teachers.
Teachers expressed their excitement to reconnect with members from other communities; to continue friendships established during the summer of their master’s classes at UD; and lean on each other for support for some of the challenges teaching can bring.
“Lalanne is supposed to be faith-based first, and people join because they want to be in Catholic education,” Casey Munn said. “It’s easy to lose sight of in our day-to-day jobs, so being able to refocus on that is beneficial.
Andrew Genco hoped to reflect on original goals, but also wanted to gain a fresh perspective.
“I wanted to reflect on our original mission statement with members of my community and discover how we can improve, but also connect with other communities to see what they’re doing faith-wise to help them grow and bond together,” he said.
The first night, the teachers were welcomed to the retreat with various games and activities. The following day, each community conversed about faith, teaching and “Advent Wait Watchers:” awaiting the coming of Christ, getting a healthy diet of Christ and prayer, with forgiveness as the exercise. The weekend retreat concluded with Mass on Sunday.
One of the biggest takeaways for teachers was the connection they made and the conversations they had — about life, faith, teaching and everything in between.
“It’s nice to know other people have been going through the same things and having similar struggles,” Munn said. “And it’s fun to share some of the successes we’ve had.”
Daniel Eiser was reminded of his purpose in Lalanne — to be a faith-filled educator and serve his students. “Retreat centers you on that faith component and allows you to be rejuvenated with God’s grace,” he said.
Colleen Federici found comfort in the simple things, like staying up until early hours of the morning playing Balderdash and The Game of Things.
“Laughing so hard you cry with people you love is life-affirming,” she said. “Live. Laugh. Love. Lalanne.”