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Honors

Graduate and Professional Program Fair Slated for Oct. 30

Looking to advance your career? Want to learn more about continuing your education? Stop by the Graduate and Professional Program Fair Wednesday, Oct. 30.

The event will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium.

Attendees can meet with representatives from colleges and programs; learn ways to fund graduate education; and start the graduate program application process.

On hand will be representatives from all UToledo colleges: Arts and Letters; Business and Innovation; Engineering; Health and Human Services; Judith Herb College of Education; Law; Medicine and Life Sciences; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Nursing; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; Graduate Studies; Jesup Scott Honors College; and University College.

Go to the Graduate and Professional Program Fair website and register.

The first 100 to attend the event will receive an application fee waiver; J.D., M.D. and Pharm.D. applications not included.

For more information, email graduateinquiry@utoledo.edu.

Day of Giving College Events and Giving Stations

UToledo’s third annual Day of Giving will take place Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 15 and 16.

The 36-hour campaign, “Rocket Forward: You Launch Lives,” will begin at midnight Oct. 15 and end at noon Oct. 16.

Several events are planned Tuesday, Oct. 15:

Day of Giving Fall Festival — 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Centennial Mall

• Student organizations will host booths with games.

• The Rocket Marching Band and UToledo cheerleaders will perform.

• President Sharon L. Gaber will greet students from noon to 12:30 p.m.

• The festival also will offer a dog-petting station, corn hole games, a basketball contest, pie in the face, pumpkin bowling and pumpkin golf.

College of Business and Innovation — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Savage & Associates Business Complex Second-Floor Atrium

• Giving station with ice cream.

Judith Herb College of Education — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Gillham Hall

• Giving station with popcorn.

College of Health and Human Services — 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 16, 8 to 10:30 a.m. in the Health and Human Services Building Atrium

• Giving station with popcorn, other snacks and prizes.

Jesup Scott Honors College — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside MacKinnon Hall

• Giving station with snacks.

College of Law — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Law Center Patio

• Fall Fest hosted by the Student Bar Association: Donate to decorate mini-pumpkins; play corn hole, ring toss and horseshoes; and eat kettle corn, caramel apples and cider.

Student Recreation Center — 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

• Giving station; popcorn from 2 to 6 p.m.

University College — 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 16, 9 to 10:30 a.m. in Rocket Hall

• Giving station with popcorn, snacks, and a chance to spin the wheel to win prizes with a donation.

The University of Toledo Medical Center — starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 15 and 16, in the Four Seasons Bistro

• Giving station in the cafeteria.

Colleges of Nursing; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and Medicine and Life Sciences — 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Collier Building Lobby

College of Nursing will host a Day of Giving party with a giving station, snacks, a pumpkin decorating contest, music and entertainment. President Sharon L. Gaber and Health Science Campus deans will be on hand for Day of Giving selfie photos with students, faculty and staff.

Give online at rocketforward.utoledo.edu Oct. 15-16 and share your UToledo story on social media at #RocketForward.

National Lab Day at UToledo to Fuel Region’s Engagement With Preeminent Scientists, World-Class Facilities

For the first time, The University of Toledo will host National Lab Day to connect students and researchers with scientists from U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories and explore opportunities for additional partnerships.

The event to enhance northwest Ohio’s collaborations to make discoveries, find innovative solutions, and create groundbreaking technology will take place Thursday and Friday, Oct. 10 and 11, on the University’s Main Campus.

“We are proud to welcome to our campus the country’s preeminent scientists from world-class facilities across the country,” UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber said. “This event presents an extraordinary opportunity for our students and scientists. We appreciate the Department of Energy recognizing UToledo’s momentum in advancing science and selecting us to host National Lab Day.”

A kickoff ceremony will be held at 8:45 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, in Nitschke Auditorium and feature Gaber, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and Chris Fall, director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

“From manufacturing the first Jeeps for the U.S. government at the onset of WWII, to the founding of America’s largest solar company — First Solar – Toledo has a long and storied history as a world leader in manufacturing, national security, and cutting-edge research and development,” Kaptur said. “That is why Toledo is the perfect place to host an event like National Lab Day. Partnership is at the core of the success of our national labs, and National Lab Day will help facilitate important and long-lasting partnerships that bring students and faculty together with the National Lab directors.”

The Department of Energy maintains 17 national labs that tackle the critical scientific and national security challenges of our time — from combating climate change to discovering the origins of our universe — and possess unique instruments and facilities, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.

Toledo native and director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Mike Witherell, who grew up just blocks from the University, is a key organizer of the event.

“The University of Toledo is experiencing tremendous growth in its research enterprise,” Witherell said. “As a resource for the nation, the Department of Energy national laboratories are a resource for the University as it innovates and drives economic growth for Toledo, the northwest Ohio region, the state and the nation. My colleagues from the labs and I are delighted to join with the University and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur at National Lab Day to explore the many exciting possibilities for engagement.”

Participants in National Lab Day 2019 at UToledo will meet laboratory directors and researchers; explore funding and fellowship opportunities; discover facilities open to academic and industry scientists; and learn about student internships and postdoctoral fellowships.

UToledo scientists will lead panel discussions with national laboratory scientists on a variety of topics, including:

• The Land-Water Interface: The Great Lakes Region and the World;

• Sustainability and Life Cycle Assessment;

• Structural Biology, Imaging and Spectroscopy;

• Astrophysics;

• Exposure Science — ‘Omics’ Applications for Human Health;

• Materials and Manufacturing; and

• Photovoltaics.

Registration, which is open for the academic and commercial research community, is required. Visit the National Lab Day website to register.

As part of National Lab Day, about 100 high school seniors will be on campus Friday, Oct. 11, to learn about career paths in STEM, meet national laboratory scientists, and learn about each of the national laboratories.

Spotlight on Alumni at Annual Homecoming Gala Oct. 4

It’s Homecoming and that means The University of Toledo Alumni Association will present its most prestigious honors: the Gold T, Blue T and Edward H. Schmidt Outstanding Young Alum Award.

These three recipients will be recognized — along with distinguished alumni from each UToledo college — at the Homecoming Alumni Gala and Awards Ceremony Friday, Oct. 4, at 6 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium.

Tickets for the gala are $30 each and may be purchased by calling the Office of Alumni Relations at 419.530.ALUM (2586) or by visiting the UToledo Alumni Association website. A limited number of tickets remain.

Barry

The Gold T is presented to a University of Toledo graduate in recognition of outstanding achievement in his or her field of endeavor while providing leadership and noteworthy service to the community.

The 2019 recipient is Alan Barry of Commerce Township, Mich. A 1966 graduate of the College of Business and Innovation with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, Barry is the retired president and chief operating officer of Masco Corp., a Fortune 200 company with interests around the world. Masco’s well-known brands include Delta faucets, Behr paint and KraftMaid cabinetry. Barry spent 36 years with Masco, beginning his career in 1972 with what would become its BrassCraft Manufacturing Division. Named one of the 50 most influential people in the home-building industry by Builder Magazine, Barry was instrumental in creating Masco Contractor Services, the industry’s largest organization for installation of insulation and other products in new home construction. Barry spearheaded the acquisition and internal development of the companies assembled to create this extensive organization.

Named the College of Business and Innovation’s Outstanding Graduate in 2005, Barry and his wife, Karen, a 1964 graduate of the former UToledo Community and Technical College, have been major philanthropists to their alma mater. They have created laboratories in accounting and leadership in the College of Business and Innovation, as well as scholarship and fellowship funds in that college.

Schuster

The Blue T is presented to a University of Toledo Alumni Association member and UToledo graduate who has made outstanding contributions to the progress and development of the Alumni Association and the University.

Tom Schuster of Maumee, Ohio, is the 2019 honoree. Schuster earned an associate’s degree in industrial technology from the former Community and Technical College in 1965 and a bachelor’s degree in adult liberal studies from University College in 1985. A past member of the Alumni Association’s Board of Trustees, he has served on numerous association committees over the past three decades. Schuster is also a past president of the Downtown Coaches Association, a support group that raises thousands of dollars for the UToledo Athletic Department each year. He and his wife, Marilyn, are members of the President’s Club and Heritage Oak Society, the latter in recognition of a planned gift that will provide support to generations of future Rockets. Since graduation, Schuster has financially supported many areas across campus; these include University College, Savage Arena, the Larimer Athletic Complex and the Koester Alumni Pavilion.

Retired from Daimler Chrysler since 2001, Schuster was a senior manager in charge of IT computer operations for 27 plants in the United States and five in Canada, while overseeing 175 employees.

Babcock

The Edward H. Schmidt Outstanding Young Alum Award is presented to a University graduate who is 40 years of age or younger in recognition of outstanding achievement in her or his field of endeavor, while providing leadership and noteworthy service to the Alumni Association, University or community. This award is named in memory of Ed Schmidt, a 1942 alumnus and a longtime supporter of The University of Toledo and its Alumni Association.

The 2019 recipient is Bret Babcock of Nashville, Tenn. Babcock earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and organizational development from the College of Business and Innovation, and the Jesup Scott Honors College, in 2010.

Babcock is chief operating officer, chief financial officer and partner at LOGICFORCE, a technology consulting firm that provides eDiscovery, IT optimization and network service consulting, as well as digital forensics to clients in the legal industry. Since joining the company four years ago, Babcock has played a key role in driving success, achieving a compound annual growth rate of more than 40% and helping expand to over 40 employees across 16 states.

Previously an assistant vice president and portfolio management officer at Bank of America, Babcock is involved with several nonprofit causes and organizations, including A Child’s Place, the Orchard and LIFE Fellowship. Babcock earned an MBA from the University of Mississippi and in 2017 was awarded the Ole Miss MBA Outstanding Young Alumnus Award.

For more information, contact Dan Saevig, UToledo associate vice president of alumni engagement, at 419.530.4008.

UToledo Banned Books Vigil to Take Place Sept. 26

Keep the light on and your mind open: Students, faculty, staff and area residents will answer riddles to win prizes, discuss ideas, and eat snacks at the UToledo Banned Books Week Vigil Thursday, Sept. 26, in Health and Human Services Building Room 1711B.

Every fall for 22 years, the University community has celebrated the right to read and think freely because “Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark.” This theme of the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, Sept. 22-28, highlights the role reading plays in democracy.

The free, public open house champions the right to read, think, speak and create freely.

“The battle for the First Amendment is never won,” said Dr. Paulette D. Kilmer, UToledo professor of communication and coordinator of the UToledo Banned Books Vigil. “Somebody is always eager to censor books, music, TV, movies, art and other cultural forms of free expression in the name of protecting us from ourselves.”

Recently, a Catholic school in Nashville banned the “Harry Potter” series, claiming the books contain spells and curses. In 2018, censorship affected 531 resources, including books, magazines and databases, according to the American Library Association.

Many instances of banning and challenges are not reported, Kilmer said.

“All books are vital to our democracy,” she said. “The ones that lack lasting value will fall away because they will not merit literary attention or remain interesting to the next generation. All books are not equally good reading, but each person must determine for him or herself what to read without outside interference.”

The book festival calls attention to everyone’s right to read what he or she wants, Kilmer added.

UToledo faculty and area teachers are invited to bring classes. Attendance vouchers will be provided.

Programs will start every 30 minutes during the event, which coincides with the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week. Door prizes will be given out every half hour. The first 300 guests will receive a grab bag at the door. Pizza is scheduled to arrive around 3:45 p.m.

Topics and speakers will be:

• 9 a.m. — “How Copyright Rules Cramp Free Speech” by Lucy Duhon, collection sharing coordinator and scholarly communications librarian in University Libraries.

• 9:30 a.m. — “The Sound of Silence: What Does It Look Like?” by Dr. Monita Mungo, assistant professor of sociology.

10 a.m. — “Silence = Death” by Holly Hey, professor of film, with Dr. Allyson Day, assistant professor of disability studies.

• 10:30 a.m. — “Banning Pride?! Challenging ‘This Day in June’” by Dr. Sharon Barnes, associate professor and chair of women’s and gender studies.

• 11 a.m. — “Prison Resistance and the Right to Speak” by Dr. Renee Heberle, professor of political science and co-director of the Program in Law and Social Thought.

• 11:30 a.m. — “Super Hero Women Return to Save the World” by Warren Woodberry, Toledo author and playwright.

• Noon — “Banned in Boston: Lillian Hellman’s ‘The Children’s Hour’” by Holly Monsos, professor of theatre and associate dean of the College of Arts and Letters.

• 1 p.m. — “A Thousand Hands, A Million Stars: Speaking for Those Whose Voices Have Been Rendered Silent Through Human Sex Trafficking” by Jane Atwood, instructor in the Department of Music and University College.

• 1:30 p.m. — “Outrageous T-Shirts — Free Expression or Rudeness?” by Kilmer.

• 2 p.m. — “Google Docs, Social Media and Censorship: How Third-Party Corporations Are Deciding What You Can Study” by Dan McInnis, assistant lecturer in the Jesup Scott Honors College.

• 2:30 p.m. — “Banning Books in Nigeria: Findings From a Study of the Origin, Methods and Motivations” by Dr. Mojisola Tiamiyu, associate professor of psychology.

• 3 p.m. — Banned Books “Jeopardy” hosted by The Independent Collegian.

• 3:30 p.m. — “Why Democracies Need a Free Press” by Ben Morse, editor-in-chief of The Independent Collegian.

4 p.m. — “Don’t Look a Smith Horse in the Mouth,” an episode of “American Dad” that was fined by the Federal Communications Commission.

• 4:30 p.m. — “Woody Guthrie Songs” performance by Risa Cohen, local singer and storyteller.

Kilmer said the Banned Books Vigil would not be possible without the help of generous sponsors on campus and in the community. She gave a special thanks to the Office of the President; the Office of the Provost; the Jesup Scott Honors College; the College of Arts and Letters; the School of Visual and Performing Arts; Communication Department; Athletic Department; Disability Studies Department; Law and Social Thought Program; Inside-Outside Prison Exchange Program; and Phoenicia Cuisine.

For more information about the UToledo Banned Books Vigil, contact Kilmer at paulette.kilmer@utoledo.edu.

Making Connections: Engineering Student Interns in Silicon Valley

Naba Rizvi is one of nine students selected from more than 1,000 applicants to receive the Adobe Research Women-in-Technology Scholarship.

In addition to that $10,000 award that honors women students who show great promise in the field of computer science, The University of Toledo junior landed an internship on Adobe Research’s team in San Jose, Calif.

Naba Rizvi was an intern at Adobe Research in San Jose, Calif., this summer.

“I worked on two projects,” said Rizvi, who is majoring in information technology in the College of Engineering. “They both focused on natural language processing and human-computer interaction.”

Her Adobe Research mentor was Dr. Franck Dernoncourt, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who specializes in natural language processing.

“My first project involved research engineering. I used my experience as a web developer to develop a visualization for a sentence compressor and text summarizer,” Rizvi said. “For the second project, I worked on making the output of latent Dirichlet allocation models for automatic document topic classification more human readable.”

In other words, Rizvi’s research is focusing on topic modeling — training the computer to recognize topics in written text with an algorithm.

Naba Rizvi, left, posed for a photo with Lisa Wang, a student at Westmont High School in California. Rizvi mentored Wang during the Girls Who Code Camp run by Adobe Research.

“I learned so much about natural language processing, particularly text summarization. I even submitted my first paper to a conference.”

That paper, “Margin Call,” which she wrote with Dernoncourt and Sebastian Gehrmann, a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University, was accepted by the International Conference on Natural Language Generation. That conference will be held in Tokyo this fall.

“My colleagues and myself were delighted to host Naba this summer at Adobe Research,” Dernoncourt said. “Naba is a fast learner and highly motivated. She made a great impact on our research projects.”

What was a typical day like?

“I read a lot of research papers, wrote code, tested the output, and turned to Stack Overflow, my co-workers or my mentor for help if I got stuck,” Rizvi said. “I met with my mentor every week to discuss my projects, progress toward my goals, and any roadblocks.”

“We are proud of Naba Rizvi and all that she continues to accomplish,” Dr. Michael Toole, dean of the UToledo College of Engineering, said. “Her success is well-earned and spotlights the strength of our Engineering Technology Department in the College of Engineering.”

The student in the Jesup Scott Honors College made the most of her time in Silicon Valley, home to many global technology and startup companies.

“To receive such a competitive internship as a first-generation college student really motivates me to work harder and take advantage of all the opportunities available to me,” Rizvi said. “I embrace the growth mindset and believe it is the key to success.”

And she is familiar with success: Last year, Rizvi won the $10,000 Google Women Techmakers Scholarship, which included a scholar retreat with Google scholars from around the world on Google campuses, including the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif.

She is taking her momentum and launching a nonprofit organization called Nontraditional Techies.

“We already have 600-plus members and a job board,” Rizvi said. “I will be creating a mentoring program and an interview series featuring people who have overcome great obstacles on their path to a technical career to inspire others to pursue a career in technology.”

Doodle Revolution Leader to Speak at Museum as Part of Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series

The University of Toledo is teaming up with the Toledo Museum of Art to bring author and visual literacy expert Sunni Brown to the Glass City as part of the Jesup Scott Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series.

Brown, author of “The Doodle Revolution,” will give an interactive lecture Thursday, Sept. 12, at 6 p.m. in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle.

Brown

Brown is known for her large-scale, live content visualizations, and she is also the leader of the Doodle Revolution — a growing effort to debunk the myth that doodling is a distraction. Using common sense, experience and neuroscience, she is proving that to doodle is to ignite your whole mind.

“This will be a fun, interactive event as Sunni engages with the audience,” said Mike Deetsch, director of education and engagement at the Toledo Museum of Art. “Her work has an element of gamification and play that elevates her visual dialogue and will appeal to a wide audience.”

The interactive lecture is geared to teachers, students and business professionals who work in teams.

“The Jesup Scott Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series brings innovative thinkers and doers to campus for all of the Toledo area to enjoy. Sunni Brown is an amazing speaker who will change the way you think about teamwork and brainstorming,” said Dr. Heidi Appel, dean of the Jesup Scott Honors College.

“Her talk is part of the exciting collaboration between The University of Toledo and the Toledo Museum of Art to enhance the skills of visual literacy,” Appel said. “Visual thinking fuels creativity and innovation, and knowing how to use, make and interpret visual images makes all of our students more successful.”

After the free, public lecture, Brown will sign her books, which will be available for sale.

To register for the free, public event, go to the Distinguished Lecture Series website.

Entertainment icon Katie Holmes to deliver commencement address May 4

Katie Holmes, a native Toledoan who rose to fame as an actor, producer and director, will return to her hometown to deliver the keynote address during The University of Toledo’s undergraduate commencement ceremony Saturday, May 4.

A Notre Dame Academy alumna and international icon of screen, stage and film, Holmes will address 2,078 candidates for degrees — 2,023 bachelor’s and 55 associate’s candidates. The event will take place at 10 a.m. in the Glass Bowl.

The University’s graduate commencement ceremony is scheduled the same day at 3 p.m. in the Glass Bowl, and will commemorate 915 candidates for doctoral, education specialist and master’s degrees, as well as graduate certificates. Analese Alvarez, an educator and musician who has recorded with the Grammy Award-winning rock group Fleetwood Mac, will be the keynote speaker. She is a candidate for a doctoral degree.

Both ceremonies are open to the public and can be viewed live on the University Views website.

President Sharon L. Gaber will present Holmes with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree before the keynote address.

“The University of Toledo is pleased to welcome Katie Holmes as our commencement speaker to inspire our newest alumni as they celebrate receiving their degrees,” Gaber said. “As a Toledo native with close, personal connections to the University, we are eager for her to share her experiences and accomplishments in the entertainment industry and as an entrepreneur and philanthropist.”

Holmes

Holmes is an internationally recognized film and television actor, producer and director, as well as a Broadway actor and an entrepreneur.

An exceptional student at Notre Dame Academy, Holmes was accepted to Columbia University, but deferred to embark on an entertainment career. She made her feature film debut in “The Ice Storm” in 1997, then established herself as a rising young actor the next year in the television show “Dawson’s Creek.” For six years, she played Joey Potter, a character still recognized in pop culture.

Holmes has appeared in supporting or starring roles in more than 30 films and television programs, including acclaimed performances as Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy in “The Kennedys” and “The Kennedys: After Camelot,” Hannah Green in “Wonder Boys,” Rachel Dawson in “Batman Begins,” April Burns in “Pieces of April,” Rita Carmichael in “All We Had,” and Paige Finney in “Ray Donovan.”

Her credits as a director and producer include “All We Had,” “Touched With Fire,” “The Romantics” and “The Kennedys: Decline and Fall.”

Holmes made her Broadway debut in a revival of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” in 2008 and played the role of Lorna in “Dead Accounts” in 2012.

As an entrepreneur, Holmes managed and designed a well-received fashion line, Holmes & Yang, with Jeanne Yang, from 2009 to 2014.

Her philanthropic efforts include the Dizzy Feet Foundation, an organization Holmes co-founded in 2009 that increases access to dance education in the United States. She also supports the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes; Love Our Children USA, a national nonprofit organization that fights violence and neglect against U.S. children; Raising Malawi, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to helping vulnerable children in extreme poverty through health, education and community support; and the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation.

Alvarez

Graduate ceremony speaker Alvarez has been an educator for nearly two decades and is a candidate for an education doctorate in educational administration and supervision.

The Santa Barbara, Calif., native has enjoyed an outstanding career teaching high school music, highlighted by leading her previous school’s music department to become a Grammy Signature Schools recipient in 2015. She has continued teaching music while pursuing her doctorate at UToledo by serving as a graduate assistant for the Rocket Marching Band and athletic bands since 2015.

Alvarez”s long career as a musician includes recording with Fleetwood Mac on “The Dance” and appearances on “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” and Nickelodeon’s “The Big Help.” She also was a member of the Los Angeles Laker Band, a subset of the University of Southern California’s Trojan Marching Band. She has performed with numerous professional ensembles, including The Desert Winds and the Gold Coast Wind Ensemble.

A volunteer club advisor for Gay Straight Alliances, Alvarez co-chaired the Southern Nevada chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network and served the Gay and Lesbian Center of Las Vegas. During the past year, she has been executive director at Equality Toledo, where she has worked to support the local community.

Alvarez earned a bachelor of music degree from the University of Southern California and a master of music degree from Northern Arizona University, both in music education.

UToledo’s spring commencement ceremonies will recognize graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters; Business and Innovation; Judith Herb College of Education; Engineering; Graduate Studies; Health and Human Services; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Nursing; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and University College.

UToledo’s College of Law will host its commencement ceremony Sunday, May 5, at 1 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium. Angelita Cruz Bridges, a 2000 graduate of the College of Law who serves as an assistant United States attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, will give the commencement address.

The next week — Friday, May 10, at 4 p.m. — the College of Medicine and Life Sciences will hold its commencement ceremony in Savage Arena. Dr. Scott Parazynski, a physician and inventor whose career included serving 17 years as an astronaut, during which time he flew five space shuttle missions and conducted seven spacewalks, will be theutoledo.edu/commencementrmation, visit the commencement website.

Service learning trip to Guatemala an eye-opening experience

This is my senior year at The University of Toledo, and I will graduate in May. Every year during our breaks, I have always worked as many hours as possible in order to save money for the next step of my life. However, it being senior year, I realized that I had never studied abroad and it saddened me to think that I might miss out on such an opportunity.

When I received an email in November stating the Jesup Scott Honors College was going on multiple service trips for spring break, I thought, “There’s my chance to see more of the world!” When I saw that one of my favorite, now retired, professors [Dr. Page Armstrong, former associate lecturer in the Honors College] was coming back to lead the trip to Guatemala, I was sold.

Brianna Becraft took a selfie with Lake Atitlán on her first day in Guatemala.

I’ve traveled to eight countries prior to going to Guatemala, but they were all tourist trips. I knew Guatemala would be different, that my purpose was to serve. I wasn’t expecting the large differences that greeted me.

When nine students and I first got to Guatemala, it was dark. The airport was eerily empty, and everyone was tired from flying. Leaving the airport in our packed van, I tried to soak it all in. There was barbed wire on nearly every wall of the airport and other buildings. People everywhere were walking the streets. The homes seemed to be made out of metal materials all pieced together, and motorcycles weaved wildly in and out of traffic — culture shock.

The retreat we arrived at was beautiful with its center courtyard and artistic paintings and sculptures scattered throughout. It was a building I came to truly appreciate over the course of the week as I “recovered” from the hard days’ work.

On our first day, we visited the area of Atitlán, which included a gorgeous view of Lake Atitlán, a calming boat ride, and lunch with a breathtaking view. The three-hour drive to Atitlán provided me with plenty of time to take in more sights with daylight; to say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. So many people were out walking on dirty, trash-covered streets; dogs belonging to no one ran to and from people begging for food; children followed parents or were held to their mothers by cloth wrapped around shoulders; and women carried bundles of their trinkets for sale on their heads. Dust kicked up as we drove through different villages. Roadside markets popped up every now and then, and I watched as people unloaded their products and set up their displays. I had no idea what to expect for our first day of service, so I made sure to take in everything during our trip to Atitlán.

This photo shows the river Brianna Becraft saw each time she pushed the wheelbarrow to move dirt while helping to renovate a tutoring center in Chinautla.

The service began on Monday, and I was excited to be put to work, but nervous about the conditions we might be working in. We arrived at the job site in Chinautla, and I was sad to see the way the houses were pieced together, sheets of metal screwed to one another, dirt floors that got muddy when it rained, and loose dogs, chickens, goats, kittens and cows scattered throughout the village. While it was shocking and hard for me to understand why people lived this way, coming from my place of privilege, I came to really appreciate the village and began to find beauty in it over our five days of working.

I spent a lot of time loading up wheelbarrows of dirt and gravel and moving it from its original pile to the tutoring center, which we were working to improve. I was tired early on and contemplated whether I could make it another four days. After lunch the first day, I started to take comfort in the view of the river every time I rounded the corner with yet another load of dirt. I began having conversations with the students from my trip, and I became more confident in my ability to stick it out.

This is a page from Brianna Becraft’s journal she kept during the service trip to Guatemala.

I also learned how to bend iron and tie metal to rebar in a way that created structures to solidify the tutoring center’s foundation once cement was able to be poured. My fingers hurt from pushing wires together, and my arms were burnt because I had forgotten to apply sunscreen that first day, yet I was so happy to be of service, to learn about an area of the world that I had never thought about, and to see how the people of Guatemala truly appreciated what little they had.

I learned a lot from the service in the village, but I also learned a lot from our nightly group discussions. Each night, we were presented with questions to journal about from blame and solutions, to listening and learning who we tell ourselves we are. I was able to hear different views from my peers and even continue group discussion with a few close friends each night, until we felt like we had solved some of the world’s greatest problems (although I can assure you, we did not). My journal is filled with answers to group discussion questions, self-reflections, and poems about the things I saw, heard and learned. It felt great to serve, get to know my peers, learn about myself, and be away from technology for a while.

Everyone should consider taking some form of service trip because it’s a totally immersive and creative way of learning about things that a classroom just isn’t able to provide. I can’t express how grateful I am for everything that I have here at home, and I’m also interested in continuing service work in some way as I move onto the next chapter of my life, post-graduation next month. I made lifelong friends and self-realizations that I would not have made had I stayed home for break another year and worked.

Becraft is a senior majoring in paralegal studies in the College of Health and Human Services; she also is a student in the Jesup Scott Honors College. She will graduate in May.

Fulbright Scholar Program workshop set for April 19

Interested faculty, administration members and professionals are encouraged to attend the free Fulbright Scholar Workshop Friday, April 19, in Carlson Library Room 1005.

The presentations will include an introduction to the Fulbright Program, information about teaching and research opportunities in more than 120 countries, and tips on how to craft a competitive application.

The workshop will run from 9 to 11 a.m.

“Any faculty member interested in increasing mutual understanding between the United States and other countries should attend the workshop,” said Chessica Oetjens, coordinator for competitive awards and undergraduate research in the Jesup Scott Honors College. “Opportunities are available for faculty members to conduct research, lecture, and/or consult with other scholars and institutions abroad.”

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946; it is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

“We also want our faculty to walk away with curiosity and explore the option of establishing connections abroad and even consider beginning the application process,” Oetjens said.

Each Fulbright experience is unique for each individual.

“Despite the variety of experiences, Fulbrighters have described their experience as life-changing and having an instrumental influence on both their professional and personal endeavors,” Oetjens said.

More than 1,200 faculty and professionals travel abroad annually through the U.S. Fulbright Scholar Program.

Former Fulbright Scholars also will be in attendance at the workshop to answer questions.

For more information on the Fulbright Workshop, contact Oetjens at chessica.oetjens@utoledo.edu.