Loved ones are praying for the recovery of Coral Flamand ’13 after a catastrophic car crash. Medical science says her rehabilitation is not possible, but her parents’ Catholic faith holds out the hope of a miracle, perhaps through the intercession of a saint. Father Chaminade, founder of the Society of Mary, could be that saint.
In 1980, some plucky U.S. college kids and amateur players won an Olympic ice hockey game against a team of experienced Soviet players. In the game’s closing seconds, ABC broadcaster Al Michaels delivered what’s still the most famous call of his career: “Do you believe in miracles?”
But “The Miracle on Ice” wasn’t a miracle. It was a hockey game.
Here’s what a miracle looks like: Thousands fed with five loaves and two fishes. An enemy’s approaching army blinded by a handful of dust. Lazarus resurrected.
On the afternoon of Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, Coral Flamand ’13 was in her Honda Civic turning left onto Montgomery Road in Cincinnati when a Cadillac Escalade T-boned the driver’s side of her car, sending it with her flying into an empty lot.
In the moment before the collision, Coral was on her way to her apartment to study for the last final exam of her first semester in law school at the University of Cincinnati. She didn’t really want to be a lawyer, said her mom, Diana, herself a family law attorney in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Coral wanted to understand legal systems so that she could be an effective advocate for people who are marginalized and dispossessed.
But those plans couldn’t protect her from the hard facts of physics and biology at the moment of impact. It was late afternoon when Diana, sitting in her San Juan office at the end of a long week, started to get calls about her daughter. Around 5 o’clock, emergency responders asked for permission to transport Coral by helicopter to University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
“They told me, ‘It’s very bad. You need to get here as soon as possible,’” she said.
Diana left the office for the airport that moment, somehow making it through San Juan’s Friday-afternoon, Christmas-season rush hour in time to catch the next flight to Miami, which took off at 6:15. She sat in a middle seat between two strangers, praying she would get there quickly enough that her daughter would not die alone.
Coral was the baby of the family. The sibling nearest in age, her brother Francois, was 10 when she was born. “She was a surprise,” Diana said. “But from day one, you could tell this child was different.”
From an early age, “she had the gift of the word,” said her father, Luis. “She could always speak and write beautifully, in both English and Spanish.”
She was always, he said, conscious of the suffering of others. Back in fifth grade, her parents got a call from her school about a fight. They learned Coral was sticking up for a girl whom other students were calling “faggot.” In high school, Coral went with the Jesuits on a mission trip to Paraguay and returned without her suitcase because she’d left everything behind for others. She liked to borrow her father’s Economist and Time magazines and could tell you exactly what was happening in Darfur.
When it came time for college, she was admitted to the University of Chicago but chose Dayton instead, partly because it had the nation’s first program in human rights studies and partly because her brother Francois was a Flyer, Class of 2004.
At UD, she was a dedicated writer to the letters to the editor page of Flyer News. In one, she criticizes, with care and respect but pulling no punches, UD’s decision to provide shuttles to the local Walmart, “a corporation that has been criticized for anti-union and deplorable human rights practices for years,” she wrote. In another, she protests what she sees as lackadaisical responses to incidents of racial bias.
“She was always getting into other people’s fights,” her father
said. “She was a very determined girl, always advocating for the other person. It’s one thing to have gifts, but it’s another to use them in service of others.”
In the hours after her crash, Coral’s family converged on the hospital in Cincinnati. Coral’s oldest brother and godfather, also named Luis, drove six hours straight from his home in South Carolina. It fell to him, as the first to arrive, to make the initial medical decisions on his sister’s behalf. Another brother, Juan Carlos, came in from Arizona. Her third brother, Francois, lived in Panama but was in Miami for work and met Diana at the airport gate.
When she landed, Diana called her son Luis to find out whether Coral was still alive. He said yes.
“Then don’t tell me anything else,” Diana said. “That’s enough for now. And don’t tell your father. Just have him call me. I will be the one to tell him.”
Coral’s father Luis was across the ocean in Spain, settling in for the evening on the final day of a six-week religious retreat sponsored by the Jesuits. It was a long time to be away. Diana had offered her blessing for the trip on the condition that he bring back an image of the Virgin of Montserrat, the patron saint of Catalonia. Diana had chosen to give a virgin saint to each of her four children. She had already picked out Our Lady of Fatima, of Carmel and of Lourdes.
Until the accident, the plan was for Luis to arrive from Spain back in San Juan on Monday. Coral would take her last exam in Cincinnati that day and arrive back home on Tuesday. On Wednesday, they’d celebrate her birthday together. When he got Diana’s call, he instead flew to Cincinnati immediately. Another call, from Francois, went to Myron Achbach ’58, a family friend and, for many years, the admission director at UD. Francois knew Achbach could quickly find a priest to perform the sacrament of anointing the sick.
On the flight from Miami to Cincinnati with Francois, Diana prayed: “Father, I’m not going to argue. I’m not going to bargain. Thy will be done. But if we can have a miracle, please.”
They landed around midnight in northern Kentucky, just across the river from Cincinnati. Diana stepped out into the December cold still wearing the sandals she’d put on that morning in San Juan and went to the hospital. Early the next morning, Father Eugene Contadino, S.M. ’62, arrived and anointed Coral.
On the Glasgow Coma Scale — a three-part scoring system that medical staff use to evaluate a patient’s level of consciousness — Coral initially scored 3, the lowest possible number: no eye opening, no verbal response, no motor response. Anything under 8 is generally considered a coma state. Still, there was a neurologist on hand — he’d stayed behind so others could attend an office holiday party — who took her into surgery, something he later told the family “was a human decision, not a medical one.” He had a daughter around Coral’s age.
With the medical team’s intervention, Coral survived the collision, but just barely. She did not break her neck or sever her spine, did not lose a limb or have her organs sliced to bits by metal. All three of her car’s airbags deployed. Nonetheless, her injuries were catastrophic. A note from one of her UC Medical Cener doctors outlines the litany of her trauma: “a traumatic subdural hemorrhage, traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage” — explaining where her brain was bleeding — “carotid artery dissections” — the tearing of arteries in her neck — plus various bone fractures, a “grade 2 spleen laceration,” a collapsed lung, “and other minor injuries.”
Broken bones and lacerations heal.
The lasting damage has been to Coral’s brain. The same doctor’s note describes her as “mentally devastated.” She is quadriplegic and bed-bound, unable to care for herself or make her own medical decisions. In photographs, her body is contorted, her hands curled up against her chest. Her face wears a pained expression.
Coral’s medical condition lies in the consequences to her brain of being hit squarely by an SUV going 58 mph. The impact violently bounced her brain around the inside of her cranium, causing severe damage and bleeding that severed her brain’s ability to communicate with the other parts of her body. Her heart beats, her lungs breathe and her mind thinks, but her muscles wait in vain for signals to move. Her medical prognosis is bleak. If it holds, she will never walk, never say another word, never bite into an apple nor extend her hand with the sign of peace at Mass, and never insert herself into anyone else’s fight ever again.
After a year in hospitals in the States, Coral now lives back in her childhood home in San Juan. Her parents renovated the garage into a new room for her with a hospital bed and other medical equipment — “like a studio apartment,” they say. It’s just off the kitchen. There’s a futon by the door where one of them now sleeps every night. They’re worried saliva might accumulate in her mouth and choke her, or that she might slip into an awkward position and be in pain, her father said.
“Most importantly, we do it so she knows she is not alone, so she feels protected and cared for always,” he said. A small statue of the Virgin of Montserrat — the one he brought back with him from Spain and sat next to his daughter’s hospital bed in Cincinnati — remains with her also.
“I know that miracles have already happened with Coral,” Luis said. “First, she is alive. Second, she is there; her being is there. She is already a miracle.”
Medical science doesn’t offer a path for Coral’s recovery. In the weeks after the crash, one physical therapist advised that physical therapy was not only hopeless but unethical. Her parents know this, so they pray for a sign that God’s will aligns with their deep hope to have their daughter back closer to what she once was. They pray for her brain to redevelop the connections with her body that will enable her to be made more whole again. They are praying, they say, for the miracle of her rehabilitation.
The doctrines of their Catholic faith hold out the possibility that God may grant this miracle, perhaps through the intercession of one or more saints. The Catholic Church’s canonization process has four steps of recognition — servant of God, venerable, blessed and saint — and confirmation of miracles moves a person up the last two steps toward sainthood. The designation “blessed,” the third of the four steps, reflects the official doctrine of the Catholic Church that a person is in heaven and that one miracle is already attributed to his or her posthumous intercession.
Claims of miracles are investigated by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the precursor of which was established in 1588 by Pope Sixtus V. The current congregation has 34 members whose charge, according to the Vatican, is to annually prepare “everything necessary for the pope to be able to set forth new examples of holiness,” including the approval of miracles.
Today, the go-to miracle is healing, recoveries neither predicted nor explained by medical science. The belief in healing miracles can be subject to the abuse and exploitation of people desperate for cures. Just in March, Pope Francis introduced new regulations to curb perceived abuses in how contributions made to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to reimburse investigation expenses are regulated.
But what, exactly, is a miracle? The word itself comes from Greek, thaumasion, “something that is extraordinary in itself and amazing or inexplicable by normal standards,” according to one standard reference source. But it adds that a miracle is more than something inexplicable. Its essential nature comes not from what it is, but from what it signifies. A wonder becomes a miracle when it is understood as a revelation of the divine, a sign that can be read only through the knowledge that God is with us.
But do miracles really happen? I wondered this as I spoke on the phone to San Juan with the Flamands. We throw the term “miracle” around casually, referring not only to a hockey win but “the miracle of birth,” for example, even though we understand well the mechanisms of reproduction. As the Flamands talked with me from their home about praying for a real miracle for Coral, who I imagined lay nearby, they moved uneasily between past and present tense, the ground constantly shifting underneath them between who she was and who she is.
The 18th-century Scottish philosopher David Hume went as far as to use the language of transgression when he wrote about believers in miracles. He argued that advocates of miracles, by definition, are willing to allow that God capriciously violates the very laws of nature. Hume dismissed witnesses to miracles as deluded or deceptive. “No human testimony can have such force as to prove a miracle,” he wrote.
That may be so, but I know that my mother, like Diana, is certain of miracles. She has told me more than once that she felt the guiding hand of an angel when I was a baby. We were in a car in the mountains of Europe — the Italian Alps, I think — when a truck careened around a blind corner. Her quick, evasive turn of the steering wheel sent us toward a sheer drop off a high cliff, irretrievably, she says, until the hand of an angel turned the wheel back at the very last possible moment before we slipped over the edge. I’ve always suspected that maybe the car corrected because our wheel hit a rock or something, but could that not also be grace?
Our recognition of what we call miracles has a long history, not only in the Catholic faith but in all of the world’s major religions, according to Kenneth Woodward, the former religion editor at Newsweek, who published a book in 2000 analyzing the stories about miracles told by various religious traditions. Both the Buddha and Jesus are said to have walked on water, he points out, and both Jesus and Mohammad are said to have ascended into heaven.
The Gospels ascribe roughly three dozen miracles to Jesus of Nazareth. His first was turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana, and from there he variously cured lepers, the blind and others, exorcised evil spirits, and even cursed a fig tree, which then withered. The greatest miracle of his life was his own resurrection after his crucifixion. When his apostle Thomas doubted, Jesus invited him to “reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands” and “reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my sides,” according to the luminously beautiful King James translation I grew up reading. And then he damned Thomas (but only figuratively, with faint praise): “Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: Blessed are they that have not seen,
and yet have believed.”
That’s as good a definition of faith as I’ve ever read: not having the evidence in hand, yet believing anyway. The Gospels frequently model this version of faith. When Simon Peter has cast his fishing nets again and again without success, Jesus tells him to try once more. He complies, and the nets fill. When disciples have failed to heal a man’s epileptic son, the man still kneels before Jesus and professes his faith. “All things can be done for the one who believes,” Jesus tells him, and he heals the boy.
To Christians, Jesus of Nazareth was the Word made flesh, God become man. “The coming of Jesus represented the reappearance of God in the world,” Woodward writes, a reappearance that was “manifest chiefly through the miracles, or signs, of Jesus.” But his life on Earth lasted but 33 years, his ministry just three of them. Then he was gone again, leaving behind evidence but with himself no longer seen.
After Christ’s ascension into heaven, the Christian saints continued to work miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit with the invocation of Jesus’ name, according to the Catholic tradition. With time, indications of miracles ascribed to the intercession of the faithful and holy came to be understood as evidence of sainthood. With more time, these miracles came to be ascribed posthumously.
Woodward points to Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, as an important turning point in this understanding. After his murder in his cathedral in 1170, a monk was stationed near the altar steps where Becket died to record claims of miracles attributed to him.
“Fifteen years later, the records showed over 700 cures and other miracles,” according to Woodward. He says a shift was underway in the Church’s understanding of miracles.
“From the late 12th century onward, the papacy required posthumous miracles as signs from God, especially for nonmartyrs, confirming the [canonization] candidate’s reputation for holiness,” he writes. The candidates’ miracles were seen not only as signs of God’s presence in the physical world but as signs of their own closeness to God.
In addition to praying to the Virgin of Montserrat, the Flamands pray for the intercession of two current candidates for canonization. Blessed Carlos Manuel Cecilio Rodríguez Santiago, who died in 1963, was a native Puerto Rican and layperson of the Catholic Church, and was beatified in 2001. Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, who died in 1850, was beatified in 2000. He founded the Society of Mary, which founded UD. In the bureaucratic and often lengthy process of canonization, each man is blessed, just one miracle away from being declared a saint. If the Flamands’ prayers are answered, Coral’s
rehabilitation could be that miracle.
“God has been very merciful in giving us the strength to accept his will and have the internal will to deal with this situation with — I can say it — with joy,” father Luis said. “There is a purpose for everything.”
The miracle already ascribed to Rodríguez is the cure of a 42-
year-old mother diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s malignant lymphoma who had prayed to Rodríguez for intercession. If another miracle is attributed to him, he will become the Catholic Church’s first Puerto Rico-born saint.
The Congregation for the Causes of Saints has already attributed one medical miracle to Chaminade, the healing of a Buenos Aires woman suffering from lung cancer. The congregation declared her cure “scientifically inexplicable.” Three thousand pages of investigative materials for another possible miracle, the cure of a St. Louis high school student suffering from Askin’s tumor, a kind of sarcoma, was forwarded to Rome in 2010, but the congregation did not judge it a true miracle without medical intervention “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“There is a rigorous process in Rome,” said Father Martin A. Solma, S.M ’71, provincial of the Marianist Province of the United States. “Should Coral be cured, we would begin a local process, involving medical records, testimony and expert witnesses. At the conclusion of the local, diocesan process, the entire documentation, sometimes totaling thousands of pages, would then be sent to the Vatican for the lengthy process of study, verification and, finally, judgment.”
Solma personally prays for Coral daily. “She was a UD student, and the circumstances of her accident are heartbreaking, especially for her parents,” he said. “As believers, we accept the possibility that God can so touch the human person that healing, experienced in both body
and spirit, happens.”
Just after Coral’s accident, her family stayed in a hotel for a few days and then moved into her apartment. There they saw signs of the woman she was becoming and understood her in new ways. Her friends from Dayton and Cincinnati told them stories they’d never heard.
“We learned so much about her, things we never knew,” Diana said.
They knew that in her last two years at UD, “some sort of metamorphosis was happening. Her worldview was evolving,” as her
father Luis put it.
When Diana offered to buy her a new bag for books when she started at UC, Coral said, “I can make do with what I have. I have what’s necessary in life.” Diana saw this commitment to live simply when she entered Coral’s apartment. “She had just the bare things,” Diana said.
On a wall near a simple table where Coral ate and studied was a cross decorated with three flowers and the words “faith hope love.” Luis called it “the icon.” It took months of going back and forth between hospital and rehab rooms and nights of sitting at Coral’s table before he paid any attention to the framed image just below it. It was a giant peace sign with the word “Imagine” in large letters across it.
“I never paid attention to the ‘Imagine’ poster, which meant nothing to me,” he said. “One night, I wondered why only these two objects on that wall in that position.” He Googled it and read John Lennon’s iconic lyrics. “I started to look at the two items as one, and suddenly it made all the sense in the world. … I was so consoled at that moment.”
The juxtaposition spoke to Diana as well: “We believe it defines Coral, her beliefs and mission in life.”
Back home in Puerto Rico, Coral is
beginning to express herself again through the movements of her eyes, say Luis and Diana, something doctors and therapists said was unlikely to happen. “At first, they thought we were distraught,” Luis said.
Diana put it more bluntly: “Everybody thought we were crazy.”
It’s an encouraging sign for them. The girl with the gift for the word is finding a voice again, however tentative. “Her most precious gift was the ability to talk,” Diana said. “The inability to communicate must be the worst thing for her.”
Through the movements of her eyes, they say, she picks the color for her manicure or gives her consent for her daily physical therapy.
“She’s there,” Luis said. “She reads. She cannot talk, but she processes things in her mind. She watches TV. She follows politics and is into what’s happening. She reacts. She’s very much aware of time and space,” though, he added, her processing time is longer. “Only another miracle will make her walk. She knows this.”
The key for her and for them, the Flamands say, is that they have kept faith and found the strength to accept what has happened rather than struggle to make sense of it. “Thy will be done,” as Diana prayed on the way to Cincinnati.
They live, they say, comforted by the sacrament of the present moment, which encourages grace through a selfless abandonment to God. Memories are in the past; pleasant or not, you can’t do anything about them now. The future is similarly beyond grasp. “But we have today,” Luis said.
Even though medicine fails their daughter, the revelation of God’s will continues in their lives, they say. As they pray for the miracle of her rehabilitation, they say they already see many miracles, in her tiny steps toward recovery, in her continuing ability to benefit others around her, such as doctors in training or other families struck by
sudden accidents of their own.
“A miracle can be right in front of you, but you have to see it,” Luis said.
“This is not easy,” Diana said. “I wake up every morning and wonder how we will do it. And every night, I’ve won, but it’s not me. I see little miracles every day. Coral’s doing this for me.”
And every night when they pray for her rehabilitation, their prayers don’t ask for better understanding. The miracle they seek, if it comes, will defy understanding. They are asking to deepen the inexplicable mystery of faith.
Prayer for Coral
We believe, O God, that You are the author of life,
and You hold all of creation in Your eternal embrace.
Because our faith tells us that we live in the palm of
Your hand and we are never outside of Your care,
we beg most earnestly that through the intercession
of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade You will
restore to full health Your servant, Coral. It was
You who gave her life, it is You who can bring it to
fullness. We pray our need in union with Mary who
is our model disciple today and forever.
—a Marianist1 Comment
Although the residents of 124 Evanston might not have kept their house as clean as they should have, the mess didn’t stop them from becoming life-long friends, said Nick Hummel ’02.
Hummel lived at 124 Evanston with Tom Zientak, John Surso, Lou Cioffi, Aaron Sorrentino and Jay Harrison — all members of the Class of 2002.
“We thought the house was awesome, after having to live off-campus in Irving Commons for our junior year,” Hummel said. “The house had three bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, a dining room, a living room and, most importantly, a front porch. We were also able to use the basement when we were there and turned it into a VIP lounge with shag furniture and vinyl records on the wall.”
Hummel explained that one night, while he and Zientak were asleep, their roommates decided to cover the whole downstairs of the house — floor, furniture and walls — in tin foil.
“Being a house of six guys, it stayed like that for about a week before someone decided to clean it up,” Hummel said.
Another moment that Hummel and his roommates remember is being together in the house on Sept. 11, 2001.
“We can remember watching the news as things unfolded that morning and listening to the sonic booms of the jets being scrambled from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” Hummel said.
The residents have continued to stay in touch since their time at UD.
“We grew to be best friends, best men in each other’s weddings and godparents to children. UD was great, and we try to get back as often as possible,” Hummel said, adding that he recently attended a UD basketball game and visited with the current residents of 124 Evanston.
“Most of my best memories of UD involved the guys in that house,” Hummel said.
Suggest we take a tour of your old house.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pat McGann ’98 has teamed up with the Chicago White Sox to produce “The Cycle,” a weekly podcast. The comedian will host the hour-long show throughout the 2016 season, interviewing former players and others related to the franchise. McGann, who has made appearances on late night talk shows, believes teaming with the White Sox gives him a ready-made audience as well as a topic he’s interested in. “Being a lifelong White Sox fan, it is really cool. I want to talk about things they are not talking about in press conferences.”
Listen in at bit.ly/UDM_TheCycle.
—Shelby Quinlivan ’06
Margo Orlando Littell ’99
Margo Orlando Littell published her debut novel in June 2016. “A poem I heard during a poetry class more than 20 years ago wound up becoming the epigraph of this book. I began writing short stories during my time at UD and then wrote novellas at Columbia University.” In 2011, she turned one of her novellas into a full-length novel that would become Each Vagabond by Name. “I’m driven to write about characters who are rooted to a place and who, even if they succeed at leaving, feel pulled toward home for one reason or another.” The novel recently received the University of New Orleans Publishing Lab Prize. Visit her website at margoorlandolittell.com.No Comments
A University of Dayton education can take you far — including all the way to the top of colleges and universities around the nation. As we continue to celebrate historic presidential transitions on our campus, we look to our alumni who have made an impact in higher education.
Know of alumni we missed? Have more you can add to their stories? Send us information on presidents — past and present — and we’ll add their information to our honor roll. Email email@example.com.
Donald Birx ’90 became the 15th president of Plymouth State University in July 2015. Plymouth State is a residential university located in Plymouth, New Hampshire, with an enrollment of approximately 4,200 undergraduate students and 2,100 graduate students. Prior to his career in academia, he worked for 19 years at Systems Research Laboratories Inc. in Dayton, where he advanced from senior systems engineer to vice president and team leader of technology and new ventures. He is co-author or author of more than 20 journal articles. His primary academic research interests are in the areas of automated decision making and event prediction. He holds a doctoral degree in electrical engineering from the University of Dayton.
Ollie “Lee” Coggin ’90, in August 2010, became Muskegon campus president of Baker College of Muskegon in Michigan. Baker college is the largest independent college in Michigan. He began his career at the college as an instructor. Prior to his role as an educator, Coggin was a prosecuting attorney in Ohio’s Athens and Erie counties. He received his law degree from the University of Dayton in 1990.
Bonnie Coe ’00 became president of Central Ohio Technical College in 2004. She was presented the Excellence in Higher Education Leadership Award by the American Council on Education Women’s Network-Ohio in 2015. She places great value on her role as a mentor to students, saying, “I didn’t achieve this level of success on my own. Both men and women opened doors for me and they role modeled for me. As I get closer to retirement, I’ve become obsessive with trying to help other people because other people have helped me.” She received her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Dayton in 2000.
Richard Creehan ’81 served as the ninth president of Alderson Broaddus University in West Virginia from 2011 to 2015. The university grew in student population from 500 to just more than 1,200 in his four-year tenure and was also named its region’s Success Story of the Year in 2014. Creehan graduated from the University of Dayton in 1981 with a master’s degree in educational administration.
Michael Grandillo ’86 became the first lay president of Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan, in 2015. The university was founded by the Felician Sisters 78 years ago. He told the Detroit News, “I want to wake up every day to live up to the sisters’ values, serve those students and make sure they are prosperous in life.” Grandillo has 35 years of higher education experience, served on the Tiffin City (Ohio) Council four times and was appointed by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown to his commission to screen candidates for federal appointments. Grandillo used to serve as president of Lakeland College in Wisconsin. He is a 1986 graduate of the University of Dayton, having earned a master’s degree in college student personnel.
Gary Haight ’70 was the president, from 2007 to 2010, of Menlo College, a private, nonprofit school that focuses on business education with a strong liberal arts emphasis located in Silicon Valley, California. Haight says that it was not his dyslexia or hearing impairment that caused him difficulty in early education, but rather his proclivity to left-handedness. “Back then we all were required to write right-handed,” he recalls. “I couldn’t do it. Whenever the nuns turned their back to me, I would switch. But I couldn’t hide the evidence. One day a teacher saw the ink smudges on my left wrist and knew I had been writing with it.” Despite failing first grade, Haight went on to earn an MBA and doctoral degree. He graduated from the University of Dayton in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in management.
David Harrison ’84 became the fifth president of Columbus State Community College in Columbus, Ohio, in July 2010. Under his leadership, the college was named an Achieving the Dream college, a program that is aimed at helping first-generation students, students of color, and low-income students. Harrison has focused on student success and attainment, workforce innovation and civic engagement during his tenure. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Dayton in 1984.
John Lahey ’68 has been the president of Quinnipiac University, located in Connecticut, since 1987. Since taking office, the university has grown its enrollment by more than 350 percent and expanded its physical plant from 100 acres to 604 acres. He serves as a director of Yale-New Haven Hospital and has been a member of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee for more than 25 years. He devotes his time to educating others on the historical implications of Ireland’s Great Hunger. He earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Dayton.
Richanne Mankey ’97 became the first female president of Defiance College in Ohio in January 2016. She’s held leadership positions at the college level for nearly three decades. In 2011, she became a founding member the Women’s Leadership Institute through the Western New York Consortium for Higher Education, and she also participates in national discussions about issues relating to women in higher education. She received a master’s degree in social agency counseling from the University of Dayton in 1997.
Roderick McDavis ’71 became Ohio University’s 20th president in 2004. With a main campus in Athens, Ohio, OU serves 39,201 students. He is also OU’s first African-American president and the state’s longest-serving president at a major public university. Under his leadership, OU named three academic colleges on campus and created two extension campuses in Dublin, Ohio and Cleveland. He received a master’s of science in education from UD in 1971.
Scott Miller ’84 has led four colleges or universities as president in his career in academia. Since 2015, he has been the president of Virginia Wesleyan College. He was named, in the 2004 book The Entrepreneurial College President, as one of the 17 most entrepreneurial presidents in the nation. He has previously served as president for Bethany College in West Virginia, Wesley College in Delaware and Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee. He earned a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Dayton in 1984.
Brother Bernie Ploeger S.M. ’71 has been the president of Chaminade University in Hawaii since 2009. Chaminade University is one of three Marianist universities nationwide, the other two being St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and the University of Dayton. Ploeger also serves on the board of trustees at the University of Dayton. Brother Ploeger took first vows in the Society of Mary in 1967. He served at UD as its vice president for administration/senior vice president for administration from 1986 to 2001. He earned his bachelor’s degree in math from the University of Dayton in 1971.
Thomas Sullivan ’69 was president of Cleary University from 1989 to 2014. Cleary, founded in 1883 as the Cleary School of Penmanship, is a Michigan-based independent, nonprofit business university. It s MBA program became accredited under Sullivan’s leadership in 2000. He told the Ann Arbor News, ““People motivate themselves. Give people opportunity to understand their role, make decisions and serve their customers. That produces joy in work — motivation naturally follows.” He received a bachelor’s in English from the University of Dayton in 1969.
David Pauldine ’79 was the president of DeVry University from 2006 to 2014. DeVry, founded in 1831, now has 55 locations around the country. Pauldine focused his presidency on maintaining academic quality and providing graduates with the skills and knowledge to meet the needs of employers. He is chairman of the board of the Association of Private Sector Colleges & Universities (APSCU) and serves on the board of DeVry Brasil. Pauldine earned his bachelor’s degree in communication arts from the University of Dayton in 1979.No Comments
Jen Aprahamian ’06 believes that “every woman deserves a great #girlsquad.” However, she and a friend found that making new girl friends was a challenge once they left college. After using dating apps to try to reach out to other women to become friends, they realized it was time to make an app for that specific purpose. Hey! VINA is the result. On the app, women create profiles and can match with other women in the area who have similar interests. After that, they are encouraged to meet up and let the friendship grow. As the co-founder and CTO, Aprahamian has seen the app go viral and continue to grow. At the time of the launch, the app was available in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City, and Aprahamian said they are adding new cities as more women sign up on the free app.No Comments
These Flyer alumni have moved out of the UD bubble and into the sprawling Dallas/Fort Worth area. “Our community is friendly, active and incredibly welcoming,” said community leader Julia Prior ’10.
It’s not all cowboys and barbeque — North Texas is a bustling metropolis with Fortune 500 companies and a diverse population from all over the world, she said. But location still matters. Much like the loyalty of residents to Stonemill Road or Woodland Avenue, these Texans are loyal to their municipality. “You won’t find someone with a Plano address telling people they live in Carrollton, even if the two are right next door,” Prior said.
DayMag asked: What’s your favorite Texas-sized Flyer moment?
“I would say a collection of moments — basically every UD basketball game-watching party. There are not a lot of UD alumni in Texas, much less in Dallas/Fort Worth. We turn out in force to support our team, however, whether it be a blow-out victory, a squeaker or a shocking defeat. My most recent memory is the Feb. 27 game against Rhode Island. The restaurant thought it could get away with one server at 11 a.m. on a Saturday. It thought wrong. Go UD.” —Shaun Hassett ’09
“As of two weeks ago, I have a new favorite Texas-sized memory: My son has decided to join the Flyer family and is officially a Dayton Flyer, Class of 2020.” —Erin Reilly ’97
“My favorite ‘Texas-sized’ Flyer moment was when I attended the Dallas Mavericks game with the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter. It was an incredible event, and I was so shocked to see as many Flyer alums as I did. It was fun to meet new people from this area and attend an exciting game. Being
so far from UD has been hard, but attending events like these and making connections with fellow Flyers has made it better.” —Katie Giacomini ’15
UD Rescue Squad student volunteers and alumni speak fondly of the camaraderie and joy of helping others.
The same can’t be said for the organization’s aging squad house.
Since 1994, 214 Lawnview Ave. has been the base of operations for the squad.
Formerly student housing, the tan-colored, two-story house with white trim has two small upstairs bedrooms for overnight duty crews and a single, cramped bathroom on the second floor that is reached by a narrow, winding staircase.
Kim Sherman ’13 recalled crew members falling down the “very loud, creaky, steep steps” while dashing downstairs at night to respond to an emergency call.
The first floor features a tiny kitchen that Sherman described as “chaos” if more than one person tries to cook a meal at the same time. There’s also a small living room with an old, overstuffed sofa where students study and watch Netflix while waiting for emergency calls. The dining room becomes a game of musical chairs at shift change, and the laundry room doubles as file storage space.
UD Rescue frequently holds its crew meetings in the adjacent, heated ambulance garage, built in 2008, because of the lack of space in the squad house.
Squad members have a “love-hate relationship with the house,” said junior Neil Glenn, a premed major from Dayton.
“Everyone loves being here, mostly for the people,” Glenn said. “It definitely serves its function, but other than that, I think it’s hard to say much else about it.”
But help is on the way.
“The house has always been small, and it has always been old, and it is just time to replace it,” said Maj. Randy Groesbeck ’98, director of administration and security for the Department of Public Safety and the organization’s adviser. “It is far too small for what the Rescue Squad is currently doing.”
Work has begun on a new squad house, which will cost an estimated $400,000, including construction and furnishing.
University trustee John M. Forte ’64 has pledged to match all donations up to $200,000.
Forte, president of Miami-based Forte Properties, said he was so impressed by a Rescue Squad presentation to the board of trustees that he visited the squad house in May 2015. There, he discovered their working conditions were, as he said, “deplorable.”
“These poor students had to live in these conditions while they’re out trying to save lives and do their studies at the same time,” Forte said. “I thought that they needed some help, so I tried to put something together to get them a new facility.”
Unibilt Industries of Vandalia, Ohio, will build the new house and has committed $25,000 to the project. Unibilt Chief Financial Officer Gregory S. Barney is a Flyer — Class of 1987 — and the parent of a current civil engineering student.
In addition, several anonymous donors have contributed to the campaign, but more funds are needed.
The new, 2,241-square-foot squad house will offer three bedrooms and three full bathrooms, including one on the first floor that can be used as a decontamination area. In addition, the two-story house will feature a large gathering space, office and study areas, and a covered walkway to connect it to the ambulance garage.
“Aside from the comfort, it’s a proper headquarters for a service such as this,” Groesbeck said.
In midwinter, workers began preparing the old house for demolition, and the squad has been relocated to Lawnview Apartments for spring semester. Plans call for construction to begin in May. It will be operational by August for the start of the fall 2016 semester.
“I am very excited for next year just because I see all the things that we already do in a space that I feel is very limiting for a lot of things that we could be doing,” said squad chief Jonathan Melendez, a senior premed major from San Juan, Puerto Rico. “I think this is really going to increase our boundaries next year.”
To support the Rescue Squad house, visit alumnicommunity.udayton.edu/rescue-squad or contact Todd Imwalle ’84, senior director of development, at 937-229-5460.No Comments
Since 1992, the UD Rescue Squad has saved lives — and launched students’ medical careers
When senior marketing major Sean Ferguson was struck by lightning last April while walking across a campus parking lot, an ambulance crew of trained student volunteers raced to his aid.
They most likely saved his life.
The UD Rescue Squad was on the scene within minutes, took over from the bystanders who were administering CPR, and coordinated with the Dayton Fire Department to transport Ferguson to Miami Valley Hospital.
“There are individuals who are alive today who wouldn’t be if it wasn’t for the presence of that rescue squad on our campus,” said Maj. Randy Groesbeck ’98, director of administration and security for the Department of Public Safety and the student organization’s adviser. “Their calls range from minor illnesses to life-threatening events, and they’ve resuscitated a number of individuals who otherwise probably would not have made it.”
Since it was founded in 1992, the squad has attracted more than 500 student volunteers, responded to thousands of emergency calls, and opened the door to careers as health care and public safety professionals.
Public safety student security cadets who saw a need for a rapid Emergency Medical Services response crew on campus started the organization. They used a donated University van stocked with medical supplies as their ambulance and a side room in the public safety building as their headquarters.
By 1993, the group had seven trained emergency medical technicians who responded to calls in a 1978 Chevy ambulance. That same year, the first EMT class sponsored by public safety started with nine undergraduate students.
Founding squad member Merritt Colton ’93 recalled his crew as a “ragtag” group of students who were just trying to figure things out.
“Originally, we started at Gosiger Hall,” Colton said. “The ambulance was parked outside, and we had to run an extension cord to the back and put a space heater in to keep stuff from freezing.”
After graduation, Colton became a paramedic. Today, he is a Dayton Fire Department captain whose fire district includes the UD campus. He regularly sees the Rescue Squad on its runs, which lighten the number of minor injury calls for his EMS crews.
“Now we look at them — they’re a top-notch, well-equipped organization,” Colton said. “They really are an asset to the University and even to the city of Dayton.”
During the past three decades, the squad has been honored with national awards from the National Collegiate Emergency Medical Services Foundation. UD Rescue Squad was named Collegiate EMS Organization of the Year in 1999 and 2003. The squad also won Collegiate EMS Week Celebration of the Year in 2010, 2012 and 2013.
UD Rescue Squad has been recognized five times by the foundation’s Striving for Excellence program, including the current three-year certification through 2018.
The squad is one of 56 campus-based EMS organizations in North America to provide ambulance service, said Scott C. Savett, vice president of the foundation, which represents about 250 campus-based EMS groups in the U.S. and Canada. Only about 20 percent have an ambulance; the others respond by using golf carts, sport utility vehicles, cars or bicycles, or on foot.
“I can say without hesitation that UD Rescue is one of the finest organizations under the NCEMSF umbrella,” said Savett, who has visited the squad several times since assuming his role in 1997. The passion and dedication that has earned such accolades is evident in the student squad today.
A student-run volunteer EMS organization with a state-certified basic life support ambulance located on campus, the rescue squad provides free pre-hospital care and transportation for all medical and trauma emergencies on campus 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the academic year.
The squad’s current ambulance, dubbed Squad 1, was purchased in 2012 by the University. The box-like white vehicle is emblazoned with the UD chapel logo and a bold, red stripe down the side that spikes sharply toward the rear like a heartbeat monitor.
Groesbeck said the squad averages more than 400 ambulance runs each year during the eight months it is in service.
During the fall 2015 semester alone, the rescue squad responded to 315 emergency calls and transported 224 students, faculty, staff or visitors to area hospitals, said senior Patrick Dugan, a premedicine major from Noblesville, Indiana, who serves as the squad’s assistant chief of operations. Those runs included six possible heart attacks.
Emergency calls to public safety are dispatched to the UD Rescue Squad, which is alerted by a loud tone that sounds throughout the squad house. Calls to 911 from cell phones are sent to Montgomery County dispatch, which can turn a call over to public safety if the emergency is appropriate for squad response.
Each year about 50 student volunteers participate on the squad, but only after they undergo rigorous classroom and practical training during the fall semester of their sophomore year to become nationally certified EMTs.
Students in the EMT-Basic class initially learn CPR and use of automated external defibrillators for the health care provider and are trained to drive the ambulance. New members then begin working weekly shifts with the squad to gain experience. They continue taking four-hour EMT classes two to three nights a week, including labs and lectures.
“It is really great to be able to learn in the class and then transition into seeing it hands-on as we go on calls with them,” said sophomore Julia Ripepi, a pre-physical therapy major from Cleveland who completed the class in November.
A new group of EMTs is added each year, with 20 new students taking the class.
UD Rescue Squad always has three certified EMTs on duty to make up a crew.
Squad members are required to volunteer for at least 24 hours of duty each month. Typically, students work several two- to four-hour shifts weekly, arranged around their class schedules. Each month, they also work overnight shifts that span 11 hours on weeknights and 18 hours on weekends.
During those overnight shifts, students eat, study and sleep in their cramped, aging squad house at 214 Lawnview Ave. (Read more on the rebuilding of the UD Rescue Squad house.)
Many students average between 500 and 1,000 volunteer hours during their three years on the squad, but about one-third graduate with “well in excess of 2,000 hours each,” Groesbeck said.
That remarkable devotion to service inspired senior Jonathan Melendez to join the squad. A premed major from San Juan,
Puerto Rico, Melendez exudes passion for the organization. He is UD Rescue Squad’s chief, the top officer.
“That really touched me, because for me that’s one of the reasons I picked UD, because I felt very at home here — I felt like people really helped each other out,” Melendez said.
“I felt like this group of students, we kind of represented that, just giving away a lot of our time volunteering to help our community in a very unique way.”
Melendez said the experience has affirmed his decision to become a premed major and pursue a career in the medical profession. “I think there are a lot of ways you can impact the world, but for me, that’s kind of my place,” he said.
Earning a place in medical school involves service and clinical care hours, in addition to a strong grade-point average, said Kathleen Scheltens, director of UD’s premedical programs. Volunteering for UD Rescue Squad is common for premed majors because they gain patient care skills and experience that prepares them for careers as doctors, nurses, physical therapists and other medical professionals.
Melendez, for example, has interviewed and been accepted at Ohio State University, Boston University and the University of Central Florida. He said his experiences as an EMT and leader have been an integral part of his interviews.
Kim Sherman ’13 credits the squad for her discovery of her career path as a physician assistant in emergency medicine. She learned about the profession from an upperclassman while working an overnight shift.
Some physician assistant programs require as many as 2,000 hours of patient care. Said Sherman, “[T]hanks to my EMT-B training and volunteering with the squad, I was able to apply to any school.” She completed her master’s degree in physician assistant studies from Ohio Dominican University in December.
“My experiences with Rescue Squad were absolutely phenomenal,” said Mary Salimbene Merriman ’09, an epidemiologist at the Union County Health Department in Marysville, Ohio. She said UD Rescue boosted her confidence and helped solidify her career goal of working in the medical profession.
Tyler Britton ’11 supervises a hematology/oncology clinic at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston that sees hundreds of patients daily.
“What I experienced behind the double doors of the squad ambulance with two other classmates is not a far cry from the much larger team I work with now,” Britton said. “The principles of teamwork, best care and altruistic dedication are consistent, and to experience that with the UD Rescue Squad is something I am very grateful for, and it excels my work daily.”
While there have been many memorable and satisfying experiences for the squad, it’s clear that last April’s run to rush Sean Ferguson to Miami Valley Hospital will stand out in its history.
A three-member duty crew had just transported another patient and was in the hospital ambulance bay when they heard about the accident, recalled junior Chris Reyes, who was on duty at the time. The UD dispatcher radioed the crew to ask if they were able to respond to Ferguson. Reyes quickly threw the cot in the back of the ambulance, which raced to the scene with lights and sirens.
Meanwhile, senior Nathan Steinbrunner and five other off-duty crew members were meeting at the squad house garage. They heard the radio call, piled into a car and sped to the parking lot near Kettering Laboratories to help deliver aid.
“Incidents like this are very rare and very uncommon for us to ever get,” said Steinbrunner, a chemical engineering major from Versailles, Ohio. “But in all the instances, even though we don’t see situations like this frequently at all, we are still able to deliver the appropriate patient care.”
The squad members placed Ferguson on a backboard, obtained his vital signs and then transferred him to the Dayton Fire Department ambulance for transport, with Crew Chief Mariah Jutte ’15 riding with them back to the hospital.
After intense treatment and therapy, Ferguson returned to campus in the fall and received his degree in December at UD’s 166th commencement exercises.
Along with senior Matt Lickenbrock and Steven Pope, the bystanders who administered CPR, the Rescue Squad was honored in December at the 10th annual Miami Valley Crime Stoppers Awards banquet.
Reyes, a biology major from Elida, Ohio, said the day the squad responded to that parking lot with speed and professionalism was his proudest day as a Rescue Squad member.
“I would honestly trust all of my UDRS peers with my life,” Reyes said.
Dave Larsen is a former staff writer at the Dayton Daily News, where he covered higher education, film, popular music and technology over his 25-year career.
Rushing to help others can lead to interesting career paths. Here are some chosen by Rescue Squad alumni:
Aeromedical evacuation officer
Molecular genetic technician
Gynecologic oncology fellow
Zoo security officer
Director of athletic communications
Funeral director & embalmer
Deputy fire chief