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.”
Students in the Department of Communication received a 200-plus person standing ovation during the world premiere of the student produced documentary on the opioid crisis April 26 at Sears Recital Hall.
“This is a crisis that knows no demographic,” said Dayton Daily News and WHIO reporter Will Garbe in the documentary “Epicenter: Dayton’s Opioid Crisis.”
Media production students, guided by professor Greg Kennedy and lecturer Roy Flynn, created the harrowing yet inspirational documentary for their senior capstone.
Since 2016, students in the course have created films focusing on Dayton-related topics such as the role of higher education in fostering modern entrepreneurship and food insecurity. This year the documentary focused on opioid addiction.
“While the opioid epidemic is a nationwide problem, it impacts Dayton disproportionately. Because we live in the epicenter, we believe we’re in the best position to produce a documentary of this nature,” said student producer Taylor Alexander. “With this documentary we hope to educate and enlighten people about the reality of living in the epicenter and how it affects the greater Dayton community.”
Since the course was created, students’ documentaries have been recognized with previous films, “The Modern Entrepreneur: The Divided Path to Higher Education” in 2017 and “All You Can Eat” in 2016, winning honorable mention Emmy Awards in the long form non-fiction category from the National Academy of Television Arts & Science – Ohio Valley Chapter.
“I am terribly proud of these students. They are examples of the some of the best UD has to offer,” Department of Communications chair Joe Valenzano said.
To create “Epicenter: Dayton’s Opioid Crisis,” 20 junior and senior students collaborated with three student producers. Students interviewed approximately 20 Dayton community members, from recovering addicts and their families to law enforcement, reporters and community members helping to solve the problem through community initiatives and programs.
“A lot us realized we wanted to be involved with this in more than the capacity of just a documentary,” Alexander said.
The students said they hope their documentary will not just highlight the opioid problem but promote and serve as a call to action for a solution to a nationwide epidemic.
Experiential learning was in its finest form at the Interprofessional Education Case Competition April 14.
Health care professionals from seven disciplines – medicine, nursing, pharmacy, mental health counseling, physical therapy, dietetics and respiratory therapy – joined students and faculty from UD, Wright State, Sinclair and Cedarville at Cedarville University. This year was UD’s first time taking part in the event.
Jayne Brahler, associate professor in the School of Education and Health Sciences at UD, was impressed by the way the students were able to learn from one another.
“It makes you feel good knowing that these types of students are devoting themselves to becoming the next generation of health care providers,” Brahler said.
The competition was focused on fostering interprofessionalism across four competency domains: values and ethics, roles and responsibilities, interprofessional communications and teamwork.
Students were divided into 13 teams, given a medical case report and required to provide a patient diagnosis and acute and long-term treatment plans. They presented to a panel of professionals after only 90 minutes of collaboration.
“To be able to bring together a comprehensive management and education plan and present it as a team to the panel of faculty judges, they exceeded our expectations so far,” Brahler said.
When it comes to health care, Brahler believes there are two primary forces driving professional education, those being better patient care and accreditation standards within individual disciplines.
“Students in health care professions oftentimes collaborate only with individuals of their own profession during the didactic phase of their programs, until they get into the clinical or hospital setting. If they practice collaborating with students from other professions while they are in school, they will function more fluently as interprofessional practitioners,” she said.
That is precisely what the case competition was designed to do. After three months of meetings, logistical planning and medical case revisions, the hard work paid off.
“It was amazing watching it unfold all day. The students just glowed,” Brahler said.
Since last year, the event has doubled in size, with 150 students attending this year and up to seven medical disciplines represented.
And the professors intend for it to keep growing, having already identified eight more disciplines they hope to have represented the next year.
“Traditional classes in law school focus on applying a set of cases and determined outcomes,” said Christine Carney, associate general counsel for Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions business. “Many of the questions we are asking are new legal questions without defined answers.”
Carney and UD School of Law professor Thaddeus Hoffmeister co-teach the course Law and Internet of Things (IoT) at Emerson’s Helix Innovation Center in Dayton.
Not only the name of an academic course, IoT is a universal term that describes the network of physical devices (ie: cellphones, cars, home appliances, etc) that are connected to the internet collecting and exchanging data with one another. Essentially, any device that can be connected to the internet becomes part of the IoT.
In an ever-growing digital society, countless legal issues can arise, such as consumer privacy. In April 2016, The Helix Innovation Center opened with a vision for UD students, faculty and researchers to collaborate with Emerson professionals to develop solutions to such industry challenges.
The course’s seminar approach deviates from the typical law school approach. Students are asked to apply information learned in previous courses to in-class discussions and simulations prepared by Emerson professionals like Carney and guest speakers from the Emerson law department.
“For today’s simulation, think of yourself as in-house counsel,” Carney said to her class on March 23. “You can’t Google it and find the answer; this is the real-life version. You have to think on your feet and be part of the solution.”
Instructors introduce real-time issues, such as the self-driving Uber accident in Arizona, and task students to work under strict deadlines. In this particular class, students had one hour to research and develop a statement to deliver to the “press” while representing their respective “client.” Students then had to defend their statement during a simulated press conference.
“In classes like IoT and Social Media Law, it’s mostly theoretical because it hasn’t been around long enough to really get ingrained in our legal system,” said UD law student Meghan Pratschler. “Partnering with Emerson gives us a practical perspective on the ramifications of both new laws and no laws, and their effect on the business sector.”
It’s hard to miss the compost bins in Kennedy Union, the recycling instructions in dining halls and the reusable mugs being distributed at UD’s coffee shops.
As #EarthDay approaches, it’s time to highlight one of the driving forces behind such changes: a team of passionate students from the Hanley Sustainability Institute who are educating students on the importance of sustainability.
“Environmental sustainability is a broad issue that impacts almost every aspect of our lives,” said Meg Maloney, a senior environmental biology major and the student leader of the Sustainability Reps Program.
Maloney and a group of students have been spearheading the Sustainability Activation Program, the first long-term program out of the institute directed toward all students, regardless of how much they know about sustainability.
The team developed nine online modules including videos and quizzes about how to make a difference. The videos include lifestyle adjustments centered on conservation, care and commitment. Some of the suggestions are:
So far, approximately 2,000 UD students have participated in the modules.
“It has been an amazing experience to watch students from a diverse background come together to create some exceptional programs, that will hopefully resonate with every student across campus,” Maloney said.
Caroline Shepherd, a junior sustainability activation program leader, said the videos make being sustainable both relevant and achievable.
“We tried to make sure students really had to watch the videos because they’re not very long and have lots of awesome information that I didn’t even know before I worked on the modules. This has been a learning experience for me as well,” Shepherd said.
The students hope to offer programs in the future during resident hall and club meetings, substitute lectures and Aviate events, which allow students to accumulate participation points that translate into housing preference for the following year.
“Being sustainable is not only for tree huggers or environmental majors, it is for every living person on this planet,” Maloney said. “UD students are capable of making the world a better place — it’s our job to equip them with the tools to do so.”
Karen Chee and Samantha Schoech, winners of an unconventional two-week residency for emerging humor writers, ventured out of their hotel rooms to offer some serious advice to students in a media writing class at the University of Dayton.
“Being funny is not trying to be funny. It’s being observant,” Schoech, a writer and editor from San Francisco, told students in Mary McCarty’s class.
“I was looking out my hotel room window, and I saw something glowing in the distance. I thought, ‘Here’s my view of the river, my piece of the Dayton Riviera.’ It was actually the reflection from an aluminum roof,” she said to laughter.
Schoech and Chee, a recent Harvard University graduate who now works as a comedy writer and performer in New York City, won all-expenses-paid trips to the April 5-7 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and a two-week stay at the University of Dayton Marriott, where they’re both working on books of humorous essays. They are the inaugural winners of “A Hotel Room of One’s Own: The Erma Bombeck | Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence Program” that drew applications from 401 hopeful writers in 44 states, the District of Columbia and five other countries.
Their advice to young aspiring writers:
Have a thick skin: “Some people don’t understand that my pieces are satirical,” said Chee, who’s written a humorous essay for the Washington Post and collaborated on political satire for The New Yorker during the first week of her residency. “One person said, ‘I see you dabble in humor, but when I looked at your Twitter feed, it’s a bunch of nonsense.’” Added Schoech: “I could wallpaper my house with rejection letters I’ve gotten over the years.”
Don’t succumb to writer’s block: “I think writer’s block is you getting in your own way,” observed Schoech, who wrote an essay for her book that morning. “You just have to keep putting words on the screen and write through it.”
Cultivate discipline: “Just get your butt in a chair and do it. There are so many distractions, but when you’re done, it feels so good to have written,” Chee said.
Network: “I’ve learned everything in my career depends upon relationships I’ve formed along the way,” Schoech said. “If I were in college again, I’d spend my summers interning.”
Take a risk: “A lot of places feel intimidating, but if you have something you think is good enough (for national placement), just send it,” Chee said. “They don’t ask for recommendation letters, and if your pieces are accepted, it’s a great way to build a portfolio.”
Be present in the world: “I love improv. It’s so collaborative. You may not have an idea going onto the stage, but you can build off someone (else’s funny lines). You have no choice but to be present,” Chee said. “The key to being a good writer,” Schoech added, “is being a good observer.”
Schoech, who has written for magazines and edited two anthologies of humor essays, left her 11-year-old twins with her husband to work on her first book during the residency. Chee, who interned for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” dreams of writing comedy for a living and said she was inspired to write a book after reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants and David Sedaris’s Naked.
Beyond their own plush monogrammed bathrobes and free room service, these writers have been given the gift of time to write, thanks to a generous gift from Anna Lefler, a Los Angeles-based novelist and comedy writer. (See “robing ceremony” here.)
“This is two weeks out of your zone,” Lefler said. “My goal was to give two writers the opportunity to pull back from their own lives and see life through a comical lens. It’s a kick start — and an experience that I hope can change the lives of writers. Everyone has a secret dream to write a book.”
As their senior project, the 2018 River Stewards cohort revealed a nature play area and mural at Dayton’s Cleveland Park on April 7.
Tree stumps, recycled tires and large sticks arranged in the shape of a butterfly make up the area. Children are encouraged to hop on the tree stumps, build with the sticks and interact with nature in any way they want within the play area.
Most of the materials were donated by various organizations around Dayton, including the Marianist Environmental Education Center and Grismer Tire and Auto Service Center.
Also included in the senior project is a mural painted in the picnic area, which depicts a forest and river on the floor and treetop canopy on the ceiling.
The park’s renovation is only one example of the River Stewards’ creative and innovative capabilities.
During the past 10 years, the River Stewards’ senior projects have been used to improve the Dayton community through such undertakings as a bridge documentation project, a rain catchment system at Mission of Mary Farm, and the planting of native trees with Adventure Central, located in Wesleyan MetroPark in Dayton.
This year’s cohort of 19 student members have been working together since sophomore year and started their senior project in fall 2016. They were inspired by their cohort’s three values of enhancement of a natural area, family and conservation.
“Over the past two and a half years, our senior cohort has been planning, developing and implementing a series of projects and events in Cleveland Park,” said Julia Hall, one of the cohort members.
She added, “The selection of this particular location was the result of several factors, including the presence of a forested area, the proximity to Cleveland Elementary School, and the way in which it was situated in the middle of the Linden Heights Neighborhood. These characteristics made the park stand out as a wonderful community asset.”
The cohort said it hopes the new play area will encourage outdoor activity.
“What I want to see is families enjoying a safe outdoor space,” said Meg Maloney, another member of the cohort. “We just want to get people passionate about nature. It starts with kids.”
Terri Lee Freeman ’81 has spent her career advocating for the importance and continued discussion of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message. For the 50th anniversary of the assassination of King, Freeman shared with the world his belief in peaceful, direct action and civil disobedience to affect change and the promise of America for all during a commemoration ceremony at the Lorraine Motel, the site of King’s assassination.
On Thursday, April 12, she brought that message to a Dayton audience during her presentation “The Incredible Relevance of Dr. King’s Message Today” in Kennedy Union ballroom. She spoke of what she called striking similarities between the political climate in King’s time and our political climate today.
“His message is relevant today because he has demonstrated the sacrifice that is required to make change. His work was not rhetoric. He was not a dreamer; he had a dream, but his work was real,” Freeman said.
Freeman pointed to specific social action and issues in our country: the Black Lives Matter movement, school shootings and student activism, reactions to controversial wage laws. Racism, job inequity and uneven justice, Freeman said, underlie these all and continue to plague our nation.
Freeman earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and communication arts at UD before receiving her master’s in organizational communication from Howard University. She now serves as the president of the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Her lecture was part of the campus #MLK50 commemoration, which also included a public screening of King’s last speech delivered the night before his assassination and a remembrance ceremony at the campus King monument.
As Freeman spoke, she made a call for change. It could be as simple as more millennials showing up to vote or as widespread as each of us having the willpower to remain nonviolent in a violent situation.
“I am here and ready to support you,” she said. “But I’m not going to tell you how to do it. You have to decide how it’s going to work, for you and for the masses.”
The 845 miles standing between Dayton and Boston did not intimidate junior marketing major Evan Rawbon.
As vice president of professional affairs for UD’s Delta Sigma Pi (DSP), a professional business fraternity, Rawbon coordinated a networking trip to Boston over spring break. From Feb. 27 to March 3, a group of 19 business students traveled with Rawbon.
“I pitched going to Boston because I thought it was a place that doesn’t have a big DSP alumni base,” Rawbon said. “I wanted to get our name out there and tell Boston-based companies what we do so when we graduate having DSP on our resumes will help us stand out.”
As a Cleveland native with no Boston connections, Rawbon secured tours by cold calling and reaching out to employers and recruiters on LinkedIn.
After nearly two months of planning, the group visited companies including: Smartsheet, TripAdvisor, HubSpot, AMP Agency, Boston Celtics and The Boston Beer Company.
Professionals talked about the ups and downs of their career paths, providing insight into what students should be looking for in post-graduation positions. Students were prompted to consider what size, culture and region fits their personality and work ethic best. Rawbon recalled the group being asked if they want to “make a big impact in a small pond” or work for a larger company where there is more opportunity for growth?
“Hearing first-hand from individuals from all types of fields was very helpful, as we are currently sorting out what we want to do for future work,” said Katie Hamor, junior marketing and management information systems major. “It was time well spent as I came back feeling confident and eager for my future in business.”
Gaining professional advice does not stop in Boston, however, as Rawbon is currently planning a “mini trip” to visit companies in Cleveland next month.
DSP began at New York University in 1907 and formed its UD chapter in 1963. In the past, UD DSP members have traveled to Washington D.C., New York City and Dallas to build their professional network.
Women and Gender Studies celebrated its 40th anniversary this year and a panel of students spoke on the program’s importance in a March event that coincided with Women’s History Month.
The academic program officially launched in 1978, when issues of gender divide and female empowerment were beginning to be discussed on college campuses.
Students and program director Denise James shared how the program has affected their education and vision of feminism.
“Studying WGS gives me the language to talk about systems of oppression and inequality and gives me the tools to combat these systems. It’s helped me be a better agent of change,” Elisabeth Spector, a double major in sociology and women and gender studies, told the audience.
While James is proud of what she has achieved as the program director thus far, she hopes to expand interest and participation in later years. She communicates that there are ways to apply the major outside of college, both personally and professionally.
“Students can have experiences in gender studies and also be fit for public service arrangements and other professional opportunities. We are changing the major to meet those demands,” James said.
The University offers both a major and minor in women’s and gender studies. The program focuses on the experiences and perspectives of women and considers how gender intersects with other factors, such as race and class, to shape our lives. Nearly 60 University of Dayton faculty members teach courses for women’s and gender studies credit.
To learn more about the major, visit https://bit.ly/2hTP1YA