This summer, the Scripps National Spelling Bee set records, with a new high of 516 students from nine different countries participating in the spelling contest. And Jillian Mitchell ’20 was there to help broadcast the competition to the whole world.
Mitchell applied to work at the spelling bee after hearing about the opportunity from a friend in the Cincinnati area, where Scripps, who puts on the competition, is based. She was selected and worked alongside 18 other students from Brown University, Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Notre Dame, among other universities. Although it was her first time, many of her student colleagues were former Bee participants, she said.
Mitchell worked on the social media team, helping create Instagram stories for the event. Local sponsorship manager and Mitchell’s supervisor Nicole Dittoe noted that Mitchell’s work “offered a fun behind-the-scenes look at Bee Week” as well as highlighting some of the other aspects of the event, which “extends beyond just the onstage spelling,” Dittoe said.
Mitchell said that she enjoyed her role, and hopes to go back for the Bee next year as an opportunity to continue to meet new people, saying the connections she made this past time were “immediate and strong.”
Mitchell said she enjoyed “learning how [ESPN] does it,” relishing the chance to see how a major network puts on a national event. She also enjoyed “working behind the scenes,” something she often does not do as a vocal performance major.
But she was most impressed by “how much hard work and dedication you have to put in” to get to that stage, which is comprised of 7-14 year olds.
“It’s inspiring to see kids work so hard just for a shot,” she said.
The 2018 National Spelling Bee winner was 14-year- old Karthik Nemmani from McKinney, Texas.
Editor’s note: The University has a long-held connection with Scripps National Spelling Bee as former English professor Alex Cameron was the official pronouncer of the Scripps National Spelling Bee from 1981 to 2002. Cameron died in 2003.
Waving colorful scarves joyfully in the air in a transformed conference center in Agen, France, a University of Dayton contingent joined thousands of voices from around the globe in the closing song, “Allez,” at the June 10 beatification Mass for Mother Adèle de Batz de Trenquelléon.
At that moment, the founder of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate joined Father William Joseph Chaminade, S.M., founder of the Society of Mary, on a path that places both one step closer to sainthood.
“Over the past year, Adèle has come to mean a lot to my faith. I often struggle with my role as a woman in the Catholic church, but our women founders are a source of hope and remind me that God puts no limits on the ways we can be a force of love in this world,” observed Allison Leigh, director of Marianist strategies. “The beatification celebration, in dance, song, tears, prayer, readings and rituals, united a community of thousands, all of whom have been blessed by this woman we have never met.”
That’s just one heartfelt reflection from this year’s participants in the Chaminade Seminar, who spent spring semester in the classroom learning about Marianist history before embarking on a two-week pilgrimage to live it.
“I thought that I had gotten to know her pretty well by reading biographies and some of her letters over the past few years, but she really came to life for me in a special way at her beatification Mass,” said Nick Cardilino, associate director of campus ministry. “Her gentle spirit breathed through the choreography of the young, graceful Vietnamese sisters. Her excitement to offer everything she had shone through the offertory procession in which sisters from Togo sang and danced to the beat of an African drum. Her commitment to deepen the faith of young people was expressed by one of the best youth choirs I have ever heard.”
Others, too, were moved. “Seeing sisters from the U.S. — including our own Laura Leming and Leanne Jabolonski — as well as India, Korea, Japan, Togo, Vietnam and France dance, sing and offer gifts during the ceremony in an expression of love and cultural unity was inspiring,” said Amy Anderson, associate provost for global and intercultural affairs.
Lee Dixon, associate professor and chair of psychology, said he was “struck by the notion that while Adèle was going about her work, it probably never occurred to her that 200 years later thousands of people from around the world would be celebrating her life and what it produced.
“From what I’ve come to understand, Adèle simply followed her heart and day by day did what she felt she was called to do. Surely, this is what we all are meant to do,” he jotted during a quiet moment on the train ride from Bordeaux to Zaragoza, Spain.
John McCombe, director of the Honors Program, had never heard of Agen, a dot on France’s map. “I was struck by the civic pride of this small city that was once Adèle’s home. While the beatification Mass reflected the truly global nature of the Catholic church this weekend, one could never forget that Adèle was a girl born and raised in a particular corner of southwestern France. … And though she is now Blessed Adèle, she will always be Adèle from Agen as well.”
Added Father Joe Kozar, S.M., assistant rector: “She belongs to the people of Agen and France and now to the world.”
(For University of Dayton President Eric Spina’s blog about Blessed Adèle de Batz de Trenquelléon, click here.)
David Byrnes and Bridget Jamieson Byrnes, both 1998 graduates, visited the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception June 9 during Reunion Weekend 2018 during the annual renewal of the vows. The couple has been married since 2004 and credits the course taught by Father Norbert Burns, S.M., Marriage and Family, as integral in learning how to be partners and parents of four children. The renewal of the vows had the church pews filled to capacity with couples ranging from newlyweds to those married more than 40 years.
The June sun beat down on UD’s campus during Reunion Weekend 2018, but that did not stop a number of alumni from gathering on Central Mall at the special interest group tent to meet with the organizations they participated in while as students on campus.
Multiple fraternities, including Delta Tau Nu, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Sigma Phi Epsilon, all gathered to reunite with fellow alumni. Thomas Merkle ’64 of Delta Tau Nu recalled memories of campus shenanigans and general enjoyment of campus life: “I enjoyed my time here and did not want to leave.”
The event was not just limited to Greek life, however. Engineers in Technical Humanitarian Opportunities of Service Learning (ETHOS) attended to promote their cause of using their engineering skills for humanitarian purposes. Visitors to the table discussed a potential trip to Guatemala should Mount Fuego, an active volcano in the region, dissipate.
Other groups present included the Black Alumni Affinity group, the rugby team and Theta Phi Alpha.
What was clear was that alumni who were involved in a special interest group during their years at the University have maintained strong friendships and ties to campus.
Even 50 years later, Merkle says he has gotten together with his fraternity brothers since 2009 every two years and plans to, as he says, “for as long as I can.”
Mel Taylor had returned to campus numerous times since his graduation to meet with his old Dayton football teammates, but this weekend marked the first time he’d attended for Reunion Weekend.
“It’s been 50 years,” said Taylor, a 1968 graduate. “I’m going to be a Golden Flyer.”
Taylor chatted with other alumni the afternoon of Friday, June 8, as they waited in line to pick up their registration packets for Reunion Weekend. Close to 3,200 registered for the weekend, according to representatives from the Division of Advancement, and everyone from Golden Flyers to graduates who earned their diplomas just a year ago swapped tales from their years on campus.
The stories differed — four housemates from the Class of 1988 bemoaned the fact that their house had been demolished in recent years while another group of eight friends from the Class of 1983 smiled as they recalled how they all met their husbands while attending UD.
Some had to ask for directions to their weekend residences, as places like Virginia W. Kettering Hall didn’t exist before 1987. Others marveled at the campus’ expansion from their years here — even graduates from five years ago were greeted by new buildings or new construction.
While the details differed depending on graduation year, the alumni all had one story in common. They were back for Reunion Weekend because UD was a special place.
Right behind Taylor was John Lucas, another soon-to-be-inducted Golden Flyer from the Class of 1968. He’d never met Taylor, but after hearing he was a fellow 1968 graduate, Lucas said he’d make sure to talk to him at the class party that evening.
“I come to Reunion Weekend every five years because we live nearby,” Lucas said. “This is a big year — 50th year since graduating from UD and 50th wedding anniversary.”
Golden, indeed. Welcome home.
Many people do not think of college classes as an avenue to make a real difference in their community. Yet for the students of EDT 350, it was.
Treavor Bogard, associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education, had students team up with local and international organizations to develop and research books relevant to their particular organization in an effort to give practical experience that still teaches the core concepts intersecting the usual “exploration of…literature genres in this course” with “real-world, real-time needs of literacy programs” according to the course syllabus.
Two of the four student groups provided help for Conscious Connect, a nonprofit created in 2015 to mobilize Dayton neighborhoods around urban education and literacy. One group helped to build a library of books featuring diverse characters for underrepresented youth to the organization, while the other discovered female empowerment books for young girls. Of the remaining two student groups, one worked with the Kiser PreK-6 School in Dayton to create library with multicultural literature and characters for its large ethnic student population. And the fourth group found books to be put on a mobile book platform to be taken to young children in Malawi, Africa.
Brittany Resar ’20, a student of Bogard’s class, noted the difficulty for many adolescent girls to find strong female role models in children’s literature. She feels that “they [young girls] may not know who to look to” and may become “pressured to succumb to some of the stereotypical roles of women.”
Molly Cleary ’19, another student of the class, says that if children can “find books that are inspiring” it “allow[s] students to find their passion and success” from people that look and act more like them.
The students created crowdfunding pages for all of their efforts to help fund their childhood literacy project. For more information, follow the links below:
From May 20 to May 22, 105 campers from all over the country came to the University of Dayton for band camp. This wasn’t your average band camp, however. The campers were senior citizens, who all chose to attend in the hopes of learning more about their musical side.
The host of the camp, New Horizons, was founded by Roy Ernst in Rochester, New York in 1991 when he found himself wishing that his retired parents had more challenging and stimulating activities to keep them busy in their later years.
He joked, “They play golf. Watch TV. Then die.”
Rather than passively sit by, he founded New Horizons to provide an alternative solution. His method? Having retirees delve into their musical talent. For some, it is a return to music after a long stretch without it. For others, it is their first time picking up an instrument.
A major component of New Horizons is fostering an environment with no stress and no competition. Ernst says it allows the musicians to truly express themselves.
In addition, the atmosphere fosters learning.
According to Ernst, a common attitude amongst campers is, “I don’t know if I can do this. But I want to try.” The people who are there, Ernst says, are willing working towards their goal which helps create camaraderie amongst participants.
And this closeness often means making new and lasting friendships when they return to their hometown, often in different states or countries.
Truly, new horizons.
All the world’s a stage, William Shakespeare wrote, but for a moment this week Ohio artists stole the spotlight.
“In Ohio, we don’t have oceans. We don’t have mountains. But we have the greatest arts for our size of any state in the nation,” said local business executive Stuart Rose as he and wife Mimi accepted the 2018 Arts Patron Award at the Governor’s Awards for the Arts luncheon. The May 16 event drew a large, appreciative audience of 700 to the Columbus Athenaeum to celebrate the power of the arts to enrich communities.
University of Dayton President Eric F. Spina nominated two winners — the Roses for the top philanthropy award and the acclaimed Dayton Contemporary Dance Company for the Irma Lazarus Award.
In all, Daytonians garnered three of the nine awards presented by the Ohio Arts Council and the Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation. Dayton poet Sierra Leone, a leader in the urban arts movement, received a Community Development and Participation Award. On campus, she’s a member of the IACT Collective, a group of faculty, staff and community members committed to developing imaginative and creative skills in students.
In a video tribute, Spina called DCDC “world class,” a company “that brings Dayton out into the world” through performances before packed houses locally and in countries as diverse as Bermuda, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, Poland, Russia and South Korea. As
University of Dayton community artist-in-residence, DCDC traveled to Suzhou in 2012 to perform with UD students in a concert celebrating the grand opening of the China Institute. The troupe regularly performs in Boll Theater and at UD’s annual Celebration of the Arts.
“What better way is it to be able to say, ‘We are connected. We are part of humanity. We are a part of each other and each other’s world’ than to be able to experience that through arts and culture?” asked Ro Nita Hawes-Saunders, DCDC chief executive director. “This award and recognition allow us to be able to do that and to be recognized for something that we believe from the depths of our hearts.”
Mimi Rose also spoke from her heart about why the couple is making a lasting impression on the local arts and cultural life through live performances, art exhibits — and ancient books.
“I’m so fortunate to be married to a man who wants to help make the world a better place. The road to philanthropy is all about friendships, relationships and love. We love and cherish Dayton,” she said.
The couple, members of UD’s John Stuart Society for their lifetime giving, helped fund the Stuart and Mimi Rose Music Center, a popular 4,200-seat amphitheater in Huber Heights and theaters at the Dayton Art Institute, Miami Valley School and the Cincinnati Country Day School. A rare book enthusiast, Stuart Rose has loaned some of the oldest and most important works in history for various public exhibits on campus.
The Roses “understand very well the power of community, and they unerringly know the ability of arts and culture to really build that community,” Spina said.
With papers and final exams still to be tackled before graduation, 10 University of Dayton roommates and a dozen or so friends, many barefooted and clad in shorts, retreated to the tiny third-floor chapel in a campus house.
Welcome to the weekly 9 p.m. Mass on Mondays at 1903 Trinity Avenue, an oasis of tranquility in the middle of what can be a raucous college student neighborhood.
“I know these are your last days,” said Father Ignase “Iggy” Arulappen, S.M., standing behind a simple altar flanked by two candles. “Many times we read in the newspaper all that is bad in our world. We hear less about the grace of God. (The world) needs the eyes of grace and faith to see.”
My son, Ali, and his friends sat cross-legged on the floor and prayed for the recovery of one of the roommate’s aunts, an end to school gun violence and the safety of the people of Nicaragua caught up in bloody anti-government protests. During the traditional “Sign of Peace,” the students embraced everyone in the room in a tender moment that lingered.
Afterwards, Ali said, “This is a time to take a breath, feel peace and feel the human touch.”
It’s also a bittersweet time for my son and his roommates, who lived together “in community,” to use the Marianist lingo, over two years in special student houses in UD’s neighborhood. An eclectic group, they hail from different parts of the country — from Pittsburgh and Atlanta to Fort Wayne and Cincinnati. One is Chinese. My son is a Muslim.
They shared meals and prayed together. They bared their souls about tough professors and broken relationships, divisiveness in the country and hopes for humanity. They challenged their neighbors to a crockpot cook-off and invited other students over for dinner and roundtable discussions every single week. They took turns tending to the demands of an energetic puppy. Some spent their summers in a dilapidated farmhouse in Appalachia, living among the people of Salyersville, Kentucky. Armed with degrees in fields as diverse as electrical engineering and English, all worried about what the uncertain future holds for them.
As their days together wound down, one joked, “We’ll never live in a 10-bedroom house again in our lives,” leaving unsaid that the bond of friendship that unites them today will be harder to maintain when they move the last couch out and move on to new lives.
I flash back to the words of Father Jim Schimelpfening, S.M., at first-year orientation Mass at UD Arena nearly four years ago: “I hope you learn how to ask questions, the questions that really make a difference, the questions that change lives,” he said.
“Who do you say you are? How you answer that question sets the stage for everything.”
If graduation is the ultimate final exam, these guys may have aced the answer to that question.
Ali is heading to NYU to earn a graduate degree in social work and turn his passion for helping troubled youth into a profession. Others are studying theology and medicine or taking jobs in engineering and finance. One has signed up for a year of service in Chicago with Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, which works to help children and families heal and rebuild after violence and conflict.
All seven graduating seniors are taking University of Dayton President Eric Spina’s charge at the spring commencement ceremony to heart: “Do not use your degree just to make a living. Use your degree to make a difference.”
It was a historic weekend at the University of Dayton, with approximately 2,116 students —a record number — crossing the stage and receiving degrees in three separate ceremonies.
It was also a weekend of personal triumph and celebration.
Marina Li Mancuso, a graduate in chemical engineering, addressed her classmates by sharing her journey to belonging at UD. Thanks to the persistence of a fellow Flyer, she joined the UD chapter of Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers. She said it brought her both a sense of belonging and personal success, including becoming the first female president of UD SASE.
“It’s proof that when you force yourself into a situation that you never considered before, you can thrive in ways that you never imagined,” Mancuso said. “We’re all about to embark on a new chapter of our lives. Whether we’re starting our first professional job, beginning graduate school or serving our community, we will surely encounter uneasy and uncomfortable situations that we wish we could just avoid entirely. … I’m encouraging you to think about the endless possibilities and benefits that can result if you choose to stay and embrace that discomfort.”
Michael Hannigan, who graduated at age 65 with a general studies degree, shared before the ceremony how his diploma dream happened thanks to the persistence of his daughter, Chrissy. Four years ago, his daughter started her undergraduate studies at UD.
“She asked if I could finish so I could graduate with her,” said Hannigan, who began at UD in 1972 and left two years later to begin a career. “I couldn’t say no.”
The two today walked down the same aisle and received their degrees, Chrissy Hannigan earning a bachelor’s in exercise science.
President Eric F. Spina offered congratulations and shared with graduates the words of civil rights leader and master orator Thomas Nathaniel Todd: “Do not use your degree just to make a living. Use your degree to make a difference.”
Said Spina, “Our world is hungry for respectful dialogue and behavior, for hearts that reject bigotry, and eyes that look with empathy and compassion on all people as children of God. This may be the greatest challenge of contemporary times.”
Learning and living at a Catholic, Marianist university has prepared you to make a difference, Spina said.
“It’s not just because your résumé is strong, though it is,” Spina said. “It’s not just because you are armed with marketable skills, though you are. It’s not just because you hold a college degree, though you do — proudly.
“It’s because you have lived and learned in community — and have already shown you can make a positive difference with the way you live your lives inside and outside the classroom. Every moment on your academic journey has shaped you into the person you are today.”
For 168 years, the University has served and educated its students. To today’s graduates, Spina had these final words:
“Remember that the University of Dayton will always be an important part of you, and you will always be part of this special campus community. This will always be your home.”