With cold drinks, bites from local food trucks and a live band, P Lot turned into a mini festival during Brews, Bites and Bands during Reunion Weekend 2017. The event welcomed alumni of all years, and some future Flyers, to mingle on the sunny, 80-degree afternoon.
“It’s great to be back home,” Rachel Prindle ’12 said. “Even though I got lost on my way to Caldwell yesterday.”
The band This Side Up, a Reunion Weekend and Flyer wedding frequent, got alumni on their feet and dancing. Local breweries like Dayton Beer Co. and Warped Wing were present, while foodtrucks like Lilia’s Outside Café and PA’s Pork were onsite for hungry alumni.
“I don’t know any other school that does stuff like this,” Bernadette Gibson ’07 said. “We are so excited to come back for a random weekend in June, and I’ll continue to come back every year.”
Nine brothers of Chi Sigma Alpha have attended their five-year class reunions since the beginning, and five of those brothers reunited during Reunion Weekend 2017 check-in at 461 Kiefaber St. They exchanged hugs and a warm welcome. But this wasn’t a long-awaited reunion.
In addition to attending class reunions, Marty Flahive, Phil Lanphier, Dick Burk, George Molaski and Edward Meagher, all from the Class of 1967, get together every fifth birthday and travel to places such as New Orleans; Outer Banks, North Carolina; Lake Tahoe, Nevada; and New Mexico.
The five reminisced about how, on their 50th birthdays, they rafted down the Rio Grande River, and remembered how Burk flipped out on the rapids and had to float on his back to save himself.
“That was an interesting challenge with none of us having done that kind of rafting before,” Flahive said.
Aside from big adventures, the fraternity brothers and longtime friends see each other at weddings, baby blessings and other scheduled visits from time to time. In between, they make an effort to stay in touch.
“It’s a lot easier now with the internet,” Flahive said. “We were doing it by mail and phone for a long time.”
The friends expressed excitement for many Reunion Weekend activities, including SIG Zone, where they hoped to connect with current members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, an extension and revival of their fraternity, Chi Sigma Alpha.
For Molaski, the friendships have been a system of support, whether that means mentoring each others’ kids or looking out for each other after tough times with their jobs.
“The strong relationships that we’ve found here at Dayton really followed through,” Molaski said. “We took care of each other.”
Decked out in “I Love UD” buttons and lanyards, the Class of 1967 gathered in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception Friday, June 9, during Reunion Weekend. Celebrating their 50th graduation anniversary, they joined more than 6,000 alumni in the Golden Flyer Society.
At the induction ceremony, a prayer of thanks was said for bringing our Flyers back home before President Eric F. Spina addressed the crowd.
“Golden Flyers represent all that is wonderful and heartwarming and difference-making about the University of Dayton,” Spina said. The Class of 1967 beamed with pride as their names were called to shake Spina’s hand.
Before moving to Kennedy Union ballroom, the class gathered for a photo that ended with an eruption of applause and chatter. In the crowd, conversations included memories of old friends and times on campus.
“A lot has changed in 50 years,” John Kawa ’67 said. “There used to be only four buildings and we were housed 8 miles from campus!”
And although campus may have changed, Spina affirmed our Golden Flyers continue to be the “heart and soul of UD.”
In February 2017, Annie Kelley ’09 embarked on the trip of a lifetime for five weeks in Alaska after she was named the 19th “Teacher on the Trail” in April 2016.
The program was created to promote the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and encourages teachers to use the Iditarod in the classroom, just as Kelley had done for eight years before she was chosen. One teacher a year is named the “Teacher on the Trail” after an application and selection process. During her trip, Kelley was expected to create lesson plans for other teachers to use and post regularly to a blog about her experiences.
While in Alaska, Kelley travelled down the Iditarod trail. Though she wasn’t able to race with the sled dogs, the program flew her to each checkpoint in a bush plane. Kelley said the race was one of the key memories from her trip.
“Standing at the finish line when all the mushers came in was kind of like a dream come true,” Kelley said. “To see all of their hard work pay off and see happy dogs come to the finish line was awesome.”
As part of her responsibilities, Kelley visited classrooms in the town of Galena where she was able to meet with and teach second-, third- and fourth-grade students. Kelley said she enjoyed the opportunity to connect with the students and see their excitement for the upcoming race.
Since returning to her classroom at St. Andrew’s School on the northside of Chicago, Kelley has been more excited than ever to be teaching and she credits this trip for that.
“It revived my love of teaching,” Kelley said.
Kelley’s students rooted her on from the classroom during her absence and followed the curriculum she designed while on the trail. They each followed a different musher along the race and were eager to hear stories and see pictures upon Kelley’s return. They are currently working on writing letters to the mushers.
This summer, Kelley will return to Alaska to present the 2017 “Teacher on the Trail” award. After five trips to Alaska in just two years, Kelley isn’t sure how many more Alaskan excursions her future holds, but plans to continue to stay involved in the program however she can.
For 14 years, the University’s neighborhood ministry grew to a safe place for students to encounter God.
When those students met with Sister Linda Lee, a Dominican Sister of Peace (formerly Sister of St. Catherine de’Ricci), they could talk about their lives and gain a listening ear for their concerns.
Those interactions will now live on in student and alumni memory since McGinnis Center closed its doors for the final time at the end of the school year and after Sister Linda Lee retired from UD at the end of May.
“They had to tear the building down to get me to leave,” Sister Linda Lee joked.
Sister Linda Lee began her ministry at UD in August 2003, working as a faith development coordinator in the student neighborhood. Among her regular duties included the 9 p.m. Sunday McGinnis Mass and working with the neighborhood fellows in the student neighborhood. When students needed quarters for the washer and dryer at McGinnis, they came to Sister Linda Lee and left with so much more.
Students knew her well for her use of the slogan “Be Where Your Feet Are,” telling them that wherever they were, they’d find God. As a former marketing and advertising executive before entering religious life, Sister Linda Lee enjoyed sharing such stories on social media using the #BWYFA hashtag. She hopes to write an anthology of BWYFA stories she collected at UD during her retirement.
Most recently, she led the “Pause that Refreshes” Bible study, an hour-long Wednesday ritual at 11:30 a.m. in McGinnis. Students could listen to a 15-minute world music broadcast that featured a scripture at the end, then journal about the scripture while enjoying a cup of tea or other light beverage before resuming their day.
Sister Linda Lee’s experience taught her that despite being surrounded by friends, classmates and other peers, students often felt alone. Through conversation and cups of tea — sometimes while doing laundry — she let them know someone was always there.
This year marks 30 years that the W.S. McIntosh Scholarship has been awarded to graduating African-American high school students in the Montgomery County (Ohio) who show potential to be leaders at the University and Dayton community.
The highly competitive scholarship requires high school students to excel academically, as well as maintain a rigorous work schedule with their required four-year internship with the city of Dayton.
“[The scholarship] brings talented young people to our campus community, who can be ambassadors for the community, bring academic fortitude and skills, and are able to apply that in their internships,” said Kathleen Henderson, director of college access, success and transitions.
Current students and McIntosh recipients, Shaylynn Hespeth ’19 and Shadayah Lawrence ’20 are no exception to these standards.
Hespeth wasn’t sure about UD at first. Having spent her high school years across the street from campus at the Dayton Early College Academy, she originally had her heart set elsewhere. The scholarship’s goal of keeping young people in the Dayton area and showing them what the city has to offer has paid off.
“I never imagined I would be here,” Hespeth said. “But I was happy once it set in. And I’m still happy.”
Though the scholarship requires a rigorous work and academic load for its recipients, it provides full tuition, free room and board for four years and a four-year paid internship.
“I’m grateful,” Hespeth said. “Tired, but grateful.”
Hespeth didn’t stop achieving once her time at UD started. On top of her city internship, she was chosen as University President Eric F. Spina’s only undergraduate representative on his inauguration committee. She is the president of her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, a Program to Engage and Exchange Resources for Students (P.E.E.R.S.) mentor and a member of Women of Remarkable Distinction, Black Action Through Unity.
“It has made me a really hard worker,” Hespeth said of the scholarship, “It’s pretty demanding and definitely requires strength.”
For Lawrence, the internship experience with the city guided her decision to major in environmental biology. She works with the city’s environmental management division where she will work with sampling 563 water outfalls in the Dayton area and testing what goes into the river.
Lawrence has seen the scholarship play a big role in her ability to be a leader. She has had younger students approach her, asking how she did it.
“It was like all my hard work in high school paid off,” Lawrence said. “I’m at the finish line of the race. I was running for so long. I finally won.”
This year’s recipient is Maya Smith-Custer who is a senior at Stivers School for the Arts in Dayton. Smith will enroll in the fall and plans to major in international studies.
Click here to read the news release of Smith-Custer’s scholarship announcement and click here to watch video of Smith-Custer receiving a phone call from President Eric. F. Spina surprising her with the news.
Brother Tom Pieper, S.M., dons a bright green “UDSAP ‘17” shirt, gathers 13 University of Dayton students for a group photo on the porch steps of the Marianist community on Kiefaber Street, then leads the group in prayer on the lawn with family and friends.
This scene — relaxed, joyful, prayerful — plays out summer after summer as “BT,” as he’s affectionately called, takes students on a 227-mile journey to Salyersville, Kentucky, in the heart of Appalachia for a nine-week, life-changing experience. For 51 years, students have lived among the people as part of the University of Dayton Summer Appalachian Program (UDSAP).
“It’s an experience that changes people’s lives, including my own,” said Pieper, a 72-year-old Marianist brother who’s traveled with students for 18 years to this tiny town on the banks of the Licking River in Eastern Kentucky.
“When our vans pull up, all these kids come over and jump all over us,” he said, smiling. “We come with nothing but ourselves. We don’t build houses or fix porches. We come to listen and learn and be present. We build a sense of community that’s not fluff.”
In a rustic 1930s farmhouse famous for its large porch, outhouse and the deeply personal thoughts that the students scribble on the walls, the UDSAPers give up much of life’s material trappings — TVs, cell phones, computers and air conditioning — to prepare meals together, pray, reflect, shower outdoors and live a life rich in spirit.
In the town of Salyersville (population: 1,754) six miles away, they run a day camp, volunteer at a local nursing home and spend hours playing with the children.
As this year’s group loaded up four vans, Taylor Tovey, a junior education major from Flint, Michigan, reflected on how UDSAP will enrich her life.
“My goals are to learn how to embrace the uncomfortable and learn how to live and love simply,” she said. “When people think of (service in) Appalachia, they’re thinking of building houses.
“But when we say ‘Appalachia,’ we’re thinking about relationships and love.”
From a small country in West Africa, Tchamie Thierry Kadja, S.M. is a man with big goals and even bigger success.
Kadja graduated May 7 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology from the University of Dayton and was the recipient of both the L. Duke Golden Award of Excellence to the Outstanding Senior in Engineering Technology, which recognizes hard work, dedication and academic success, and the Richard R. Hazen Award of Excellence to the Outstanding Graduate of the Electrical Engineering Technology Program.
“Since my younger age, I have always been committed to my academics,” Kadja said. “So for me, it is a recompense of all of the hard work that I have been through.”
Though his hard work and dedication allowed him to achieve these prestigious awards, Kadja said he couldn’t have done it without the support of the UD community.
“With the support I’ve received from the brothers, the faculty and the students, I was able to manage everything,” Kadja said.
Kadja lives in community with Marianist brothers at 100 Chambers St., and credited the religious life for contributing to his success. The brothers have a very structured lifestyle, in which Kadja was able to compartmentalize his time spent in prayer, community and study. Additionally, the encouragement Kadja received from his brothers allowed him to feel safe and at home.
“Especially at the beginning when you don’t know anyone, your reference is your community,” Kadja said. “When you get back home in your community, you feel safe, home, protected somehow from the outside world. They gave me that shelter.”
Originally from Togo, Kadja graduated from Collège Chaminade Kara and was excited to continue his education within the Marianist community at UD. He spent time studying math at Molloy College in Long Island, New York before coming to the University of Dayton, and decided he wanted to pursue something more practical than theoretical, leading him to choose engineering.
Kadja’s favorite part about studying engineering at UD is the diversity and community spirit. Through the School of Engineering, he met students from places all over the world.
“They have given me some of their own taste of what engineering is,” Kadja said. “When you have teamwork, people approach things differently depending on where they’re from. So I benefited from this community.”
Kadja will pursue a master’s degree in electrical engineering at UD in the fall. He hopes to one day take his skills back to Togo where technology is not as advanced and help his community.
Eager faces of parents, families and friends filled University of Dayton Arena for the spring 2017 commencement May 7. Led by faculty, students filed in from all entrances, and guests whistled and waved happily in an attempt to catch the attention of their beloved graduate. When all graduates were seated in the center of the arena, everyone fell silent, ready to see these students enter the next phase of their lives.
Addressing the Class of 2017, the largest graduating class in University history, Provost Paul Benson offered welcoming remarks before inviting the graduates standing before him to place a medal around their necks featuring Blessed Father William Joseph Chaminade on one side and the University seal on the other.
Following Benson’s welcome, Crystal Sullivan, director of campus ministry gave an invocation and Anne Elizabeth Scott ’17 filled the arena with her voice for the national anthem.
Devin Mallet ’17 addressed his graduating class, telling the story of his journey of finding the University of Dayton and ending with a warm wish of good luck for his fellow classmates. His message was clear: The University of Dayton is the reason these students are standing here today, ready to face the world.
Before the 1,502 undergraduate degrees were conferred, University President Eric F. Spina invited the newest alumni to be a “porch light” for the world and heroic in all they do.
“Use your education to make a difference in this world that needs many differences to be made. Make a child’s life better. Advance the frontiers of medicine. Use your knowledge to create products and services that help those who most need help. Use your creative talent to help us all see the truth. Use your education to serve others, to make positive changes in the world,” he said.
Commencement ended with students getting their moment in the spotlight as their names were called to receive their diploma, making their very first transition: from student to alumni.
Though, as all Flyers know, and as Spina reminded: “[ … ] You will always be part of this special campus community. This will always be your home, and we will welcome you with open arms whenever you return.”
After a 13-hour flight, it was New Year’s Day when students hopped off the plane to ring in the new year, on a new continent. The 18 students traveling with the School of Business Administration (SBA) to China and Hong Kong had arrived at the starting point of a two-week journey.
In conjunction with the University of Dayton China Institute, faculty members Paul Sweeney, Terence Lau and Vince Lewis guided students across Asia during the spring 2017 intersession.
“In China, there is enormous and unprecedented economic growth and success,” Sweeney said. “No one has come further, faster in history than China, and it’s worth it for our students to understand that.”
Students who enrolled in the International Business course (INB 352), Doing Business in China and Hong Kong, prepared with bi-weekly meetings before travel. Once abroad, the learning was more experiential.
As the group visited nearly 20 different companies, including General Electric, Jabil, PwC, Crown and Emerson.
“The experience brought to life a lot of the concepts we discuss in class,” said junior entrepreneurship major Lyric Fields. “It reminded me why I’m in school doing what I’m doing now.”
When not visiting companies, students were tasting new foods, like octopus and jelly fish skin, and exploring the Great Wall of China, Forbidden City, Imperial Summer Palace and other historic landmarks.
“The culture was different in every city we visited — from Beijing to Shanghai to Suzhou,” said junior international business and economics major Nathan Stemen. “I learned I have a deep appreciation for culture and new ideas, and I can definitely see myself living and working abroad in the future.”
This was the second year the SBA offered the trip with plans to offer it again over the spring 2018 intersession. Interested students should contact Paul Sweeney at email@example.com in the fall for more details.