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.
The Department of Art and Design held the Annual Horvath Juried Exhibition that displayed 40 pieces of student art work this past month, recognizing outstanding student achievement in the visual arts.
Dozens of pieces filled the room in Raymond L. Fitz Hall and its surrounding hallways with paintings, sculptures, photography, drawings, ceramics and designs between March 30 – April 27.
The department hosted a special reception in April as a closing event to the annual Bro. Joseph W. Stander Symposium to present selected students with awards for their pieces. The categories included: Horvath Award for Realism, first place/Best in Show, Best in Design, second and third place, Outstanding Photograph, as well as honorable mentions. Additionally, $1,600 in cash prizes were divided among the winning students.
Michael Conlan, Radial Gallery coordinator, accepted over 110 submissions for the exhibition, but only 40 were selected.
“The Horvath exhibit is an important opportunity for students to exhibit their work. Additionally, it is professional. There is a $5 entry fee. That’s how it works in the real world — you have to pay to get in,” explained Conlan.
Support for the awards comes from the Bela Horvath Award Fund established by Mrs. Horvath in honor of her husband, a Hungarian artist who found refuge in Dayton during and after World War II. Bela Horvath taught painting at the University of Dayton in the 1950s.
The students’ artwork can be purchased by contacting the gallery coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-229-3204.
Even though Ohio has made changes to its requirements for educational licensure, the University of Dayton Department of Educational Administration (EDA) continues to adapt. In the beginning of April, the department held a workshop that prepared students for the examination required to become superintendents and principals in Ohio.
The Ohio Assessment for Educators (OAE) replaced the Praxis examination and is used as a tool to gauge students’ knowledge in four specific areas: visionary and inclusive leadership, student learning, systems for capacity building and resource management, and educational law.
“We see this as a departmental initiative, a continuation of our program,” said Charles Russo, Panzer Chair in Education. “It’s not just come, pay your tuition and never hear from us again. We want to be able to help [students] continue in their careers.”
Russo helped craft a workshop for the Praxis exam prior to its replacement and joined Larry Smith, clinical faculty in EDA, and David Dolph, department chair, to put together this OAE workshop after sensing a need for such preparation from students.
“For some, the passing rate has been significantly lower across the state,” Dolph said. “It’s a tougher test, so from that standpoint we really felt the need to provide this opportunity for people to help them.”
“Because we are concerned about whether or not they pass this test,” Smith added.
During the workshop, students were able to ask questions about the exam, as well as review the four main sections of the test with EDA faculty members. There was also a session for students who previously took the exam to share their experiences with workshop attendees.
This month’s session was a success, but the future of the workshop holds even more promise as the faculty makes changes influenced by student feedback. According to Smith, the upcoming workshops will spend more time showing students where to find practice tools for the exam, as well as more conversations with students who have previously taken the exam.
The department intends on making this workshop a regular program with the next session scheduled for fall. For more information, visit the EDA site.
University of Dayton alumnus Zach McHale won first place and $25,000 for his stadium seat device in the University of Dayton’s 11th annual Flyer Pitch competition, one of the largest collegiate-level business plan contests in the country.
McHale’s patent-pending Neet Seat is a pouch that can be attached to stadium and arena seats to hold coats and other items. McHale, a 2006 graduate who studied chemical engineering, was announced as the winner during a banquet Tuesday night after six rounds of multi-national competition featuring more than 200 teams.
On March 25, teams had 20 minutes each to pitch business ideas to a table of judges, followed by 10 minutes of questions. The judges included business advisors, investors and others involved in Dayton’s start-up ecosystem.
“The quality of the teams has gotten better year after year,” said Vincent Lewis, director of the L. William Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at the University. “This year’s six finalists are all fundable business opportunities, with three of the finalists already having sold some products and one already having raised some capital. It is exciting through the course of the competition to see the teams develop ideas and transform them into viable opportunities.”
More than 200 teams applied to take part in Flyer Pitch, which took place in Dayton, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Suzhou, China.
Since the competition began, 27 businesses have been launched, 20 of which are still in business today.
Second place, and $15,000, went to a former professional baseball player, Jim Ward, and his daughter, UD alumna Tiffany Pikas ’05, for their design of Hit-Grip — a patented device to help control and improve the swing of baseball players and golfers.
Third place went to a group of current UD students who developed the Solar Thermal Adsorption Refrigeration (S.T.A.R) system, an environmentally friendly refrigeration method designed for usage in areas without reliable power grids. The group was awarded $10,000.
“This is definitely the first step for us into the business world in a journey that I am sure is going to get more exciting,” said S.T.A.R. team member Claudia Labrador Rached. “I truly believe that S.T.A.R. can make an impact in the developing world, where vaccine access and health care quality are compromised by the lack of reliable supply of electricity.”
The remaining three teams tied for fourth place, winning $5,000 each.