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Amazing work ahead

4:10 PM  Aug 22nd, 2017
by Anne Crecelius

Assistant professor of health and sport science Anne Crecelius presented the following keynote address at today’s convocation ceremony after thanking the many people who made New Student Orientation 2017 a success.

… Perhaps most importantly, thank you students.  You are the reason we are here today.  I want to thank you for being here — being here this morning, early, after a whirlwind couple of days. More than that, thank you for being here at the University of Dayton. As you well know by now, you are the largest, most diverse and one of the most academically qualified first-year classes ever at UD.  You have made the choice to join our community, and for that, I am grateful.

I’d like to start by telling you a little bit more about who I am. In addition to being an assistant professor, I am a proud UD alumnae, and more than a decade ago, before this building even existed, I sat at my own convocation, curious as to what the next four years at UD would bring. Today, many years later, I am also a physiologist.  I teach about and study how the human body works.  And in that light, I’m going to ask you to do me a small favor and put your bodies to work. If you’re able, please stand up.

So, why is this crazy lady asking me to stand up right now?!  You’re not the first to ask that question, but I have two reasons.  No.  1, numerous studies have shown that prolonged sitting can be harmful to your health and it is important to interrupt sedentary time.  No. 2, I want to highlight the wonder of a simple suggestion I made to you. When you stood up, amazing things happened, whether you were aware of them or not.  Neurons fired, muscles contracted, pulling on tendons then bones to help you rise.  Your cardiovascular system adjusted to the dramatic change in gravity that resulted and now, as you stand, your body is at work to stay balanced. You will be asked to stand again, around four years from now, as your academic degree is conferred upon you. I guarantee many more amazing things will happen within you and to you between now and then.  You can take your seats now.

So, the physiologist in me knows that I’ve done you a healthy favor by interrupting your sitting time — but I was asked to speak on the academic mission of our great institution.  Classes start tomorrow, and you’ll get syllabi and cover in detail specific academic expectations.  So this morning, as we are here in the RecPlex, beneath the running track and across from the climbing wall, I’m going to take a slightly different approach.  I want to talk about what showing up and putting in work (as you are going to be asked to do) can result in, and provide an example from my own life that has happened right here in these walls.

A little over a year ago, after two years of chemotherapy, surgeries,and radiation, I was in remission from cancer but carried an excessive amount of weight.  I both needed and wanted to make changes and set a goal of getting back to my pre-cancer weight and fitness levels.  I wasn’t sure exactly what the future held for me  — probably much like you sit here this morning — but I knew it was going to be different.  The first step on the path to any type of accomplishment is pretty simple.  You did it about an hour ago.  You’ve got to SHOW UP.

To accomplish my goal, I chose to show up here at the RecPlex, usually on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.  I’m not the only one that makes that choice by the way; as an FYI, you may have a “Spina Sighting” around that time as well. The way you choose to show up can be different for everyone. I thought about myself and chose a place, time and modality that worked for me. I made a plan, and that plan was flexible because circumstances might and often do change any given day or week.

Even with a plan, I couldn’t accomplish my goal alone. I sought out someone with experience and expertise. A person I could connect with. My trainer provided me with specific programs and he asked me questions, but he couldn’t lift those weights for me. That was on me.

Even with a plan and a coach, to accomplish my goal I had to work hard. There were days when I just didn’t want to get up. Days when I was embarrassed with my current level, frustrated that an exercise was harder now than when I had done it before. Days when I outright failed at an exercise. My plan sometimes interfered with having fun. And yet, I knew I had to stay consistent. If I “slipped,” I got back on track, continued to show up, work hard, and little by little, it became easier.

Accomplishing my goal was about more than showing up, following my plan and working hard at the gym. I’ve mentioned how amazing our bodies are — they are also incredibly complicated. Sleep, proper nutrition and mental self-care all combine to impact how our bodies perform. Without all my body systems functioning, my work would be wasted. I could work on some of these areas myself, and for others I needed help, from family, friends and trained professionals.

And what do you know, but by showing up, not working alone, putting in the hard work, and taking care of my whole self I was able to accomplish those goals that seemed so scary at the beginning. I gained strength. I lost weight. I made progress. But the thing is, I’m not done. Taking care of our amazing bodies is not something that can stop. It’s an everyday thing, with new challenges we must face, new situations to encounter and new work to be done. I’ll keep showing up, so as to not let all this work be wasted.

I’m sure you enjoyed my nice little story — but what does a public service announcement for being active and staying healthy have to do with our academic mission?

It’s really the same thing!  Your academic career is a process. You’re in training. It’s going to be long, hard at times, and there will be rewards and setbacks along the way. The similarities to preparing for an athletic event or getting in shape are many:

Make your plan and show up. It has to be the plan that works for you. Your major, whether it be exercise physiology, English, mechanical engineering, marketing or human rights, has to fit your interests and skills. Your study habits may not be the same as your roommate. Just like in the gym, some are early birds, some night owls, prefer to show up with friends or without, work to tunes or in silence, and can be found at a campus building, in your residence or out in the community. The important thing is that you consistently do whatever works for you, and don’t be afraid to experiment a bit to find the best plan.

You. Are. Not. Alone.  Look around you.  We as faculty and staff are your trainers. We are here to provide programs, feedback, encouragement and rehab if you’re hurt. Remember, you are the ones doing the heavy lifting.

It will be hard. It has to be. There’s a physiological concept called the principle of overload. Essentially, for a muscle to grow, it must be stretched, even broken down a little, pushed further than before so that it can be built back stronger. Growing academically and as a person is not without challenge.

It’s not just about academics. You have joined a community of learners, a community of doers that is focused on integrating knowledge, searching for the truth, and pursuing the common good. Outside of class, you’ll find yourself engaged in athletics, service, faith life, research, employment, and myriad other activities that campus, Dayton, the U.S. and the world offers you. Stay balanced, and make sure you’re taking care of your whole self.

You can make it happen. You can achieve more than you might think possible right now.  You will inspire others, including me, with your passion, ideas and dedication. I am so excited to see what you will all accomplish.

I’m standing here today and my body is doing amazing things. My blood pressure is being regulated. My heart rate is no longer quite so sped up by my nervous system and has come back into balance. In the face of various challenges, my body is able to maintain a stable internal environment (by the way for my future students, that’s essentially the principle of homeostasis, one of the most important themes of physiology …).

I’ve told you who I am and why I’m here this morning but really, what is important is who you are and why you are here. What will your routine be? What strengths will you gain and what weight will you lose over the next four years? As I often say when I see students here early in the morning, I’ll say to you now: Have a good workout.

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Driving to success

9:44 AM  Aug 20th, 2017
by Cari Zahn '18

This weekend has held a lot of excitement for the University of Dayton campus as it accepts a record 2,262 first-year students. While many of these students are finding a home within the residence halls on campus, a select group will be traveling to campus from their permanent residences in Dayton or the surrounding area.

Taniayah O’Quinn-Sims and Ajay Madlinger are two of these students. Coming from Miamisburg High School and Archbishop Alter High School respectively, O’Quinn-Sims and Madlinger are already familiar with the Dayton area, but are excited to find a new community on UD’s campus.

O’Quinn-Sims is eager to break into the UD community by joining clubs and meeting new people. She said she already knows some people on campus and hopes that she can become more involved in the community through those friendships.

“UD has everything I’m looking for,” O’Quinn-Sims said. “It’s a pretty campus, and everyone is so nice.”

For Madlinger, the desire to attend UD came from his father.

“My dad graduated from here, so that was my inspiration,” Madlinger said.

These two students are part of what represents the 37 percent increase in students at UD that come from within a 50-mile radius from campus. If the goal is to keep Dayton thriving with young intellectuals, these students are part of what makes that achievable.

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Part of the legacy

1:09 PM  Aug 19th, 2017
by Cari Zahn '18

An incoming first-year student from Wisconsin may not have grown up in Dayton, but she certainly is familiar with the University of Dayton scene.

Chloe Doring was greeted in her Marycrest residence hall room Friday by members of the UD Alumni Association who made a point to greet legacy students and welcome them into the Flyer family.

Following in the footsteps of her mother Christine ’87, father Thomas ’87 and brother Robert ’17, Doring made the decision to come to UD.

Not being completely sold on the idea of mirroring her family members’ choices, Doring wasn’t sure she wanted to join UD’s Class of 2021. But a campus visit made the decision for her.

“I toured it and I absolutely loved it,” Doring said. “And then, of course, my parents and my brother were like, ‘You should go here, it’s a great school. I always loved it.’”

Doring is one of at least 180 first-year students who are keeping alive the legacy, a Flyer family tradition they may one day pass on.

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A helping hand

4:07 PM  Aug 18th, 2017
by Elysse Winget ’19

On their only day off from practice, University football players helped assist first-year students move into their buildings.

Two of those team members, Clayton Langdon and Jake Moore, were also first-years and wanted to help others with their transition into the dorms. The two moved onto campus Aug. 6 to start practice and are enjoying seeing other students begin to fill the recently vacant halls.

Langdon, who plays safety, was born right down the street at Miami Valley Hospital, and comes from Akron, Ohio.

“I wanted to come back and go to a school that was near the rest of my family,” Langdon said. “I’ve always been a big Flyer fan.”

On the other hand Moore, who plays center and long snapper, came to UD from Tampa, Florida.

“I chose UD because it was the only school that allowed me to be both a student and an athlete,” Moore said, “and I liked that it was rooted in the Catholic faith.”

Their big game this year is Sept. 30 against the University of San Diego. “Come watch us,” Moore said. “We have a great team this year!”

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The catch of a lifetime

2:22 PM  
by Elysse Winget ’19

Shaina Dawson may have Pokemon to thank for deciding that UD was the place for her.

Dawson grew up in Centerville, Ohio, about 20 minutes from campus. While she was in high school, she and her friends used to come to campus to play Pokemon Go, an app-based game where you can visit various places to “catch” Pokemon animated characters.

It was during her time chasing elite Pokemon that she looked up from her phone and realized, “Hey, I could actually see myself here!”

A first-generation college student, Dawson said she hopes her time at UD will shape her into a servant-leader to help change the world.

The new Flyer is majoring in political science, though she is also interested in business and humanities. She hopes to involve herself in community service.

“I want to do anything and everything that gets me out into the community,” Dawson said.

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Liking the vibe at UD

1:37 PM  
by Cari Zahn ’18

Elizabeth Thiedky and her twin sister have been inseparable, until they are separated for their college experiences. For the first time, Thiedky will be living apart from her sister as she attends UD as a discover arts student and her sister attends Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, to study nursing.

“We were best friends,” Thiedky said. “Since kindergarten, we’ve hung out with the same friend group.”

This will be the first time Thiedky hasn’t shared a room with her twin sister, but she will still feel somewhat at home with a good high school friend living directly next door to her.

In fact, Thiedky was drawn to UD because she already knew many people entering the freshman class. She says that campus just felt like the right place for her to be.

“I liked the vibe,” Thiedky said. “I’ve never heard one bad thing about Dayton.”

Although Thiedky had not yet met her roommate at the time, she said she is hopeful that though it is not her twin sister, they will become fast friends.

If nothing else, the warm welcome Thiedky received from President Eric F. Spina as he made his rounds in all of the first-year residence halls made her feel right at home at UD.

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A circle of hope, a prayer for peace

3:29 PM  Aug 17th, 2017
by Cari Zahn ’18

The UD community came together to pray for peace during campus ministry’s Prayers of the Heart Service Thursday. The service was dedicated to the recent racial hostilities  in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Approximately 70 people gathered around the Peace Pole behind the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception to offer prayers not only for peace in the world but also for the targets of discrimination and hate in Charlottesville.

“It’s especially important that we be gathering when something in particular happens that is harmful to members of the world community or our campus community. Charlottesville is one of those things,” said Crystal Sullivan, director of campus ministry and a member of the Prayers of the Heart Planning committee.

The Prayers of the Heart committee holds a gathering once a month to pray for healing, empathy, awareness, reconciliation and transformation, but members of the UD family were not the only people in attendance for this particular service.

Among the circle of people holding little blue flags decorated with black peace signs was Andrew Wright, pastor of the Church of the Brethren. Wright traveled from New Carlisle, Ohio to attend the prayer service after hearing about it on the news.

“We are eagerly searching for a group to be a part of to show the world and ourselves that we are going to be an active part of the solution,” Wright said.

To inspire that solution, the service not only allowed attendees to engage in a community prayer for peace and change but also called for a commitment to action, an important aspect for Calla Couch, graduate assistant in campus ministry.

“If we don’t start from a place of peace within ourselves, then there’s no way you can bring peace to any other situation,” Couch said. “It’s helpful to gather together and figure out where people are at and what’s the best way to respond.”

When prayer and petition concluded, attendees placed their flags in the ground around the pole and offered each other a sign of peace, the conclusion of an event that is, according to Sullivan, a prophetic witness of prayer.

On Aug. 13, President Eric F. Spina released an official statement relaying a series of tweets he posted, one of which stated, “I pray for greater wisdom & kindness in our nation, respect for the dignity of every person and the radical spread of love to overcome hate.”

The Prayers of the Heart service is held the third Thursday of every month at 12:15 p.m. at the Peace Pole, rain or shine. The public is welcome to attend.

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Being part of the change

10:08 AM  Aug 8th, 2017
by Cari Zahn ’18

For Jenifer Agudelo ’19, civil engineering means “building a future where others may inhabit.” This summer, she is living out that philosophy through her work with Five Rivers MetroParks in downtown Dayton. With the park’s sustainability initiative team, Agudelo is evaluating water usage systems to devise a plan for better water conservation and usage practices.

Agudelo connected with her service site through the University’s Semester of Service program and their collaboration with Engineers in Technical Humanitarian Opportunities of Service Learning (ETHOS). While Agudelo feels grateful for the real world experiences she has gained through this opportunity, she appreciates helping communities outside of UD.

“Not only are engineers needed in these technical immersion projects internationally, but locally as well here in the Dayton community,” Agudelo says.

Agudelo has been able to use the skills she has gained as a civil engineering major to conduct water audits in order to support the Five Rivers MetroParks in their mission of protecting open space and natural areas. The team has no prior information on water usage in the parks, so Agudelo is working to build that database.

At the parks, Agudelo does building checks, where she makes note of existing water appliances and water pressure levels before conducting an hour-long water shut off to locate any leaks. She also makes note of any recreational water features, such as the fountains at RiverScape MetroPark, and recommends methods for water usage reduction. Another part of her job requires her to work with a horticulturalist to determine if the landscape is drought resistant, the plants are sufficient for water conservation, and if there is enough mulch to act as a chemical barrier.

Agudelo hopes to attend the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers conference in the fall where she plans to look for career opportunities in sustainability and engineering.

“Semester of Service has opened my eyes to the issues facing Dayton communities and what it means to be a part of the change we want to see,” Agudelo said.

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Lights out!

1:37 PM  Aug 1st, 2017
by Cari Zahn ’18

Summer allows students who remain on campus the opportunity to work on new projects that benefit the entire University.

Led by Sustainability and Energy coordinator Matthew Worsham ’15, graduate students Zac Siefker ’17, Danny Ulbricht ’17 and Stephen Berlage ’16 conducted a lighting audit for Liberty Hall to help determine how the University could curb energy costs.

Students counted the lights in use and collected data about how long they were on. The information will allow University facilities management to understand where they can cut costs by replacing the incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs to make the buildings more energy efficient.

The lighting upgrade is supported by the University’s Green Revolving Fund, a program on campus that allows campus members to propose sustainability projects. The fund will put up that money to replace the lighting. As the new fixtures are in use, the savings will go back to the fund and replenish it for use in future sustainability projects.

The program began in 2016 with the University providing $1 million of seed money to get the fund running.

While making the campus a more environmentally-friendly place is important, the secondary benefit is the opportunity for community collaboration and education, according to University officials.

“I could go in and do this project myself,” Worsham said. “But there’s a benefit to the students participating in these types of changes we’re making on campus.”

According to Worsham, students feel more ownership of campus sustainability projects when they are able to get the experience and learn about it firsthand. This particular project educates students on how lighting impacts energy use and gives perspective on how we interact with lighting throughout the day.

Moving forward, Worsham said his goal in future sustainability projects is to help students “use campus as a laboratory” to bridge the gap between academics and facilities.

In 2017, the University received  $500,000 in rebates from DP&L for energy-efficient initiatives the University has taken during the last decade.

The Green Revolving Fund is among a decade of sustainability initiatives at the University of Dayton, which have led to a 5 percent reduction in the University’s carbon footprint and helped accumulate the DP&L rebates.

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Outdoor lab gives hands-on experience

9:12 AM  Jul 26th, 2017
by Cari Zahn ’18

Salamanders, Siberian larch forests and invasive plants: these are areas of research University of Dayton students are focusing on in the McEwan Lab.

Nearly 100 undergraduate students have put their hands in the dirt and tested the waters, including current lab members Eric Borth ’17, Mitchell Kukla ’18, Meg Maloney ’18, and Taylor Sparbanie ’19. While projects are different for each student, they all have a focus in invasive species and forests.

Kukla and Sparbanie are currently working at Bill Yeck Park in Centerville, Ohio, just 20 minutes south of campus, to create a species list that could help park staff understand how to respond to invasive species.

Maloney focuses her research on salamanders.

“A lot of the science that we’re doing has a big, significant impact on the really big world issues we’re having right now,” Maloney said. “A salamander is an organism that indicates water quality in the streams, which lead to bigger streams, where eventually there could be a pollution problem.”

No one day in the lab is the same. Some days, the students are on their hands and knees by a stream, identifying macroinvertebrates. Other days, they’re getting up close and personal with different plants as they try their hand at identifying them.

It’s the type of opportunity Professor Ryan McEwan, who now focuses his research in forest ecology, received himself. McEwan started the lab to allow students to gain research experience as undergraduates. As a college junior, McEwan began his research on dogwood anthracnose, a type of fungal disease. He presented this research at the Ecological Society of America in 1999 and published was in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

“It changed my perspective on what I could do with my career and provided an opportunity I didn’t think about before,” McEwan said on being published while still a college student.

Borth, who graduated in the spring and is pursuing his master’s in biology at UD, is looking forward to a collaboration with Mississippi State University that will take him to Siberia. He will study larch trees, permafrost soil, and how the way in which carbon is emitted and stored contributes to warmer climates.

Overall, the lab has provided students with the ability to gain real world experience and discover whether or not this kind of work is something they want to do.

“It’s been very affirming that yes, this is something I can see myself doing,” Sparbanie said. “The big question for me for awhile was ‘Am I even capable?’ Being able to get experience in a research lab is huge.”

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