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University of Dayton Magazine

Summer Intern Series: Dani Ondreka

12:59 AM  Jul 3rd, 2015
by Grace Poppe '16

For college students, summer planning and job searching typically means anxiety and confusion. But as soon as pre-physical therapy major Dani Ondreka ‘16 received an email about volunteering at Maple Tree Cancer Alliance, she knew it was the right decision.

“I may have been a bit nervous to start,”  Ondreka admits, “but I knew I wanted to do it.” Now, after working there for several weeks, she says she couldn’t be happier.

Maple Tree is a Christian-based organization that offers fitness classes, physical therapy, nutrition help and spiritual services to outpatients in Dayton.

Ondreka teaches two fitness classes a week, sometimes with co-teacher and UD classmate Morgan Sheets. The classes, called Wellsprings of Hope, involve a range of exercises, like chair exercises or exercises using therabands.

Ondreka decides which exercise and how many to do by going through a deck of cards; the suit dictates the type of exercise and the number on the card dictates how many they do. Her classes are open to all attendees of Maple Tree and have an energetic, encouraging atmosphere.

“One patient in my class currently has breast cancer, and has had a stroke and a heart attack in the past,” Ondreka explains. “But she smiles throughout the entire workout. It’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.”

Of all of the patients who attend Maple Tree, Ondreka says, “They are some of the strongest people I’ve ever met. And I know they have way more spirit than I do at the gym.”

This summer, she is working toward a certification that will allow her to work on physical therapy one-on-one with patients. She will work with people currently going through cancer treatment, or those who have been in remission for up to two years.

When asked if it’s difficult to work with people who have cancer, Ondreka responds, “it’s not the cancer itself that matters here. It’s about the body and the soul.”

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The town of Sibiu, courtesy of Romaniatourism

ROTC cadet learns from teaching overseas

9:07 AM  Jun 30th, 2015
by Erin Frey

Like to travel? Join the Army!

Cadet Michael Wagner ’17 has always loved to travel, and now the UD ROTC program has sent him overseas to teach conversational English in the Cultural Understanding Language Program (CULP).

“CULP is a program designed to allow Army ROTC cadets experience a foreign culture and interact with its people,” Wagner said. “It forces the cadets to overcome language barriers, living conditions, and other various obstacles in order to accomplish an actual military mission.”

Wagner was assigned to Sibiu, Romania, to teach English — along with nine to 10 cadets from various ROTC programs around the U.S. — to Romanian Land Force Academy cadets.

Their typical day consisted of teaching class from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The American cadets developed themes for each day — like sports or holidays — in order to get the Romanian cadets to practice conversation.

Besides teaching, the cadets played soccer and handball at night and were able to explore on the weekends. Their favorite excursion was a trip to the Romanian city of Brașov, where after a tiresome trek up a hill called Mount Tampa, they were rewarded with a “birds-eye view” of the city and countryside.

Wagner was able to see how Romanians view America as a land of opportunity, and it reminded him of why he wants to dedicate his life protecting his country. After his incredible teaching experience and new friendships, Wagner came back to the States with more than just his luggage.

“This experience has helped me realize that words are extremely important to effectively communicate through all languages and cultures,” Wagner said. “I learned that the Romanians, as well as any [people from another] country, are people just like us with the same goals and interests.

“The only difference is that we speak a different language.”

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Mary McDonald

Catholic education: a family of families

8:32 AM  Jun 26th, 2015
by Sarah Spech ’16

Relationships surround us. From birth, we are in a constant relationship with God, as well as with each person we encounter. However, among our earthly relationships, the ones that matter the most are those with our families.

Affirming such relationships in the context of Catholic education was the focus of Tuesday’s Catholic Education Summit, “Listen, Dialogue, Plan, Act: Catholic School Leadership and Family Engagement,” organized by UD’s Center for Catholic Education. Throughout the summit, the 160 educators in attendance discussed how Catholic education could support families and use their unique role to help encourage parents to engage in the spirituality and education of their children.

After decades of work in Memphis, Tenn., Catholic schools, Mary McDonald, CEO and founder of MCD Partners, understands the important role that educators play in the development of a family. “It all begins in family,” she said.

Family is where we learn about ourselves, are able to grow, and find our place in relationship to others. Our family history allows us to understand how we came to be where we are in the present and to guide us as we plan for the future, she said.

But we all also have a place in God’s family. Catholic education is a family made up of families, and educators must treat it as such, she continued. Leaders and teachers within Catholic schools must affirm the families that they serve, especially through supporting the parents as they raise their children. McDonald passed out “A Parent’s Pledge” to the audience, which explicitly grants to parents the right to be a parent and make the necessary decisions free from negative peer pressure.

She explained how each family is unique and communicates in ways that may be different from others. Catholic educators are called to give families the spiritual tools necessary to grow and continue to build strong relationships in their own special way.


–Photo by Grace Poppe ’16

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Kosovo map rom The World factbook

Senior studying peace heads to Kosovo

8:21 AM  
by Erin Frey

Jon Puricelli ’16 recalls playing soccer with Bosnian children when he was growing up. He didn’t know why the kids were in St. Louis.

“A war never came up. I was naïve to the war,” he said.

Purcelli is now less naïve. He chose to come to UD for the human rights program. He’s a political science major minoring in both economics and human rights studies.

And he’s ready to enhance his knowledge of the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s by studying in Kosovo, a new country that was part of Serbia before becoming embroiled in its own ethnic conflict.

Purcelli was just a toddler when the Dayton Peace Accords were negotiated by Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in 1995, so he was surprised to learn that historic event took place so close to UD.

In Kosovo, Purcelli will join students from 50 different countries at the American University to be taught by experts from the U.S. State Department, United Nations, White House, and Kosovoian governmental and nongovernmental organizations.

His program is supported by the University of Dayton Center for International Programs, Honors Program, International Studies and the Human Rights Center.

Many people cannot look back at their lives and gather inspiration from the kids they used to play with or the geographical location of their college.

Puricelli, on the other hand, can. He’s set his sights on peace and determined to have international impact.

Three students from Bosnia and Herzegovina will be studying in Dayton this fall. Learn about the Peace Accord Fellowships here.


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Ashley Campbell Soccer

UD’s Campbell cheers for Canada

10:04 AM  Jun 24th, 2015
by Ryan Wilker

At the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup match between the USA and Nigeria, many fans stood and cheered when Abby Wambach’s volley put the USA ahead 1-0 just seconds before halftime.

Ashley Campbell, a senior on the women’s soccer team, was one of those 52,193 fans at BC Place.

While the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup is a must-watch for any soccer fan, it is especially important for Campbell, who is from Canada, which is hosting this year’s World Cup.

“I’ve watched almost all of the games, and it has been really fun to see all of the countries play. There have been some upsets so far, and that’s always exciting,” Campbell said.

Campbell represented Canada at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. Before the round of 16 started in this year’s tournament, she was hopeful that her country would play well and advance.

“I think they will most definitely make it out of their group into the quarterfinals. Anything after that is up to them. Like any team, they will need to play the best they’ve ever played to go any further,” she said.

Campbell got her wish. Canada defeated Switzerland 1-0 to make the quarterfinals and will play England, Saturday June 27, for a chance to appear in the semifinals.

Fans like Campbell can also see the USA play again in a quarterfinal match Friday, June 26, against China.

Update: Canada has bowed out of the World Cup with a loss to England. The United States will play Monday, June 30, against Germany. The winner of this game will play in the tournament final.

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UD fighting to free today’s slaves

12:42 PM  Jun 16th, 2015
by Judi Hetrick

The chocolate you eat, the coffee you drink, even the tomatoes you buy can all support modern slavery — or help defeat it.

Buying groceries with Fair Trade and Fair Food labels supports freedom and workers’ dignity, University of Dayton human rights professionals told more than 80 adult learners at an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute’s summer seminar.

UD’s human rights work is all about moving from ideas to action, said keynoter Mark Ensalaco.

The program he leads doesn’t just study problems, it also teaches advocacy. “We do it because we’re Catholics and Marianists,” said Ensalaco, associate professor and director of human rights research.

Forced labor is the biggest slavery problem in the world today, and UD’s Human Rights Center has partnered with Catholic Relief Services to fight it in Brazil. That country has taken the offensive against slavery, although it is only one of many nations exporting both coffee and cocoa, two crops often produced by forced labor.

Sex trafficking is main modern slavery problem today in the Miami Valley.

UD faculty member Tony Talbot directs Abolition Ohio: The Rescue and Restore Coalition in the Miami Valley. He told the group that people often think “trafficking” must involve moving people from place to place. It doesn’t. It just means that one person is forcing another into illicit commercial activity, and here that’s usually prostitution.

Progress is being made in the fight, and Talbot credits student lobbying efforts in Columbus for the passage of stronger trafficking laws in 2010.

Ensalaco believes that work with students is crucial to both education and successful human rights projects. “They . . . are helping students learn they can make moral choices while advancing their careers.”

UD students are engaged in meaningful rights research, both on campus and abroad. Seminar speaker Andrew Lightner ’16 told of the work he and others have done in Malawi with a group headed by alumnus Matt Maroon ’06. Lightner’s research involved risk management for farmers trying to move from subsistence production to the marketplace.

Myron Achbach ’58, former UD admissions director, championed the June 3 seminar topic: “Search to Alleviate Human Rights Suffering.”

Achbach is one of many ILL members involved with curriculum choices. He said others asked him, “Will all our members be interested in this?”

His answer: “I don’t know. But they should be.”

Mark Ensalaco

Mark Ensalaco

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Photo by Grace Poppe ’16

Flyers renew marriages and relationships

9:32 AM  
by Sarah Spech ’16 and Grace Poppe ’16

Saturday afternoon, before the Porch Party and the Homecoming dance, UD couples celebrated another type of anniversary: marriage. Couples streamed into Chaminade Chapel, greeted with a red rose and a warm welcome from the well-known Father Burns. “Come on in, we’re waiting for you!” Fr. Burns said. “Make yourselves at home!”

Many of the attendees already knew Fr. Burns, but even those who didn’t wore a smile as they greeted the 92-year old man.

As alumni settled in, Fr. Burns began his sermon on the importance of not just marriage, but all relationships.

“What does it mean to be a friend?” he asked the audience. He said that friends pray together, play together and have togetherness and oneness. “The most important value in your life are the people in your life.”

Fr. Burns instructed everyone in the chapel to stand up for the vow renewal. “Hold your spouse’s hand,” he said, “Or hold your friend’s hand. Or, if you’re by yourself, hold your own hand…look each other in the eyes and repeat after me.”

All around the chapel, couples stood, holding each other’s hands and their bright red roses. They smiled. Eyes glistening with tears flitted back and forth from each other to Fr. Burns.

“Now,” he said, “Let us renew our vows and renew our commitment to friendship.”

As couples filed out after the ceremony, they walked slowly to the sound of the piano. They held hands and gave smiles and “see you later”s to one another before exiting the chapel.

Fr. Burns’ words from earlier still echoed around the room: “The deepest meaning of life is to be found in relationships. That’s what the University of Dayton is all about.”


–Photo by Grace Poppe ’16

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Norman Smith ’65, Dennis Collins ’65 and John Coyle ’65

Fifty years of Flyer friendship

9:01 AM  
by Sarah Spech ’16

In the 1965 class party, the newest Golden Flyers sat in groups around the Kennedy Union Pub, reminiscing and catching up with their classmates and friends.

One group in particular stood out. Norman Smith ’65, John Coyle ’65 and Dennis Collins ’65 sat around laughing heartily and were excited to tell to someone about their story. They said there was a group of four of them, but Robert Wilczek ’65 had passed away and was one of the alumni that had been inducted posthumously into the Golden Flyers Friday night.

All four men attended UD and graduated in 1965. They went on to attend law school at Notre Dame. However, both Coyle and Wilczek were drafted and had to go to Vietnam. Though the two weren’t stationed together, they managed to talk on the phone a few times throughout their deployment.

Smith went on to become a judge in Sidney, Oh; Coyle became a judge in New Jersey; and Collins is a lawyer in Chicago. However, regardless of their prominent stations within their communities, these men don’t take themselves too seriously.

They love to laugh and joke around with each other and the people they meet. They brought a smile to the face of every person they talked to that night. The friends couldn’t help themselves from giving Collins a hard time when they mentioned that he was their class president–you could tell the friendship runs deep.

These four men came to Dayton from all over the United States and dispersed again in the following years, but they never lost the friendship that formed while at the University of Dayton.

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Fr. Burns greets alumni at Marriage Vow Renewal ceremony

Father Burns, a local celebrity

12:42 PM  Jun 15th, 2015
by Sarah Spech ’16

As I wandered through Reunion Weekend events and talked to group after group of alumni, one name seemed to come up more than most: Father Norbert Burns. I even happened to run into the man himself and we were briefly introduced. After Fr. Burns walked away, an alumnus said to me, “You probably don’t even understand who you just met.” I didn’t at the time. But after talking to so many alumni, I have a much better idea.

Michael Killeen ’85 and his wife, Margaret, spoke about Fr. Burns’ Philosophy of Marriage class that Michael took when he was a student. “I want to write him a thank you note!” laughed Margaret in response to many years of successful marriage, for which they thank Fr. Burns.

The couple met and began dating in Long Island before Michael left to study at UD. Margaret remembers talking to him and how he would rave about Fr. Burns and the class he took.

His class was always one of the most popular with students. As Fr. Burns put it, “I must’ve had more students than any other professor at UD!” But that didn’t stop him from remembering every single name, Michael said.

The couple, married six weeks after Margaret’s graduation in 1987, renewed their vows with Fr. Burns at the Blessing and Renewal of Marriage Vow ceremony on Saturday evening. “It was very special,” said Margaret, to have the ceremony with the man who taught her husband’s marriage class.

The pair continued to reminisce about him and his well-known sayings: “Fr. Burns always used to say that UD is unique because it has front porches, not back patios.”


Photo above by Grace Poppe ’16
Photo below by Ryan Wilker ’16

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Homecoming dinner and dance highlighted Saturday's reunion festivities

Alarm can’t extinguish Homecoming fun

2:14 PM  Jun 14th, 2015
by Ryan Wilker '16

The Homecoming Dance and Dinner was filled with conversation, laughter and memories Saturday night.

However, the event got off to a very interesting start. An opening prayer was followed by a fire alarm that caused Kennedy Union to be briefly evacuated.

This interruption allowed many of the people attending the dance to visit and reminisce while waiting outside.

Carol Dull Smith ’65 said that she came back to Reunion Weekend to visit with her roommate.   “We lived together for 4 years starting in 1961 and have been friends ever since.”

Mary Lou McCarthy’ 65, Phil Wagner ‘65 and Joe Kohler ‘65 attended grade school, high school and college together.

Their friend Sigmund Guziak ’65 also attended school with the trio, but he has since passed away.

“Our very first high school teacher was a UD grad,” McCarthy explained. “Out of our graduating class of 68, six came out to UD and four of us graduated.”

During their freshman orientation, McCarthy remembers the speaker saying to each student, “Look to your left; look to your right. Only one of you will graduate.”

“That motivated our group,” McCarthy explained.

After the brief fire alarm, Bill ’65 and Margaret Wagner were one of the first couples out on the dance floor. They danced to “Could I Have This Dance” by Anne Murray, a song they danced to on their wedding night. The couple has been married for 29 years.

“It was very nice seeing old friends,” according to Bill Wagner. “This is only the second time I’ve been back.”

The couple had the opportunity to tour the School of Business and Roesch Library. They enjoyed the Salvador Dali exhibit currently on display at the library.





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  • Students skating through campus by Larry Burgess
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