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Serendipity Redirects Graduate Student’s Path Toward School Psychologist

Sometimes it’s all about being in the right place at the right time — and grabbing the opportunity that’s been handed to you. Charles Vogel calls it serendipity.

In Vogel’s freshman year at The University of Toledo, a teaching assistant in his statistics course asked if he wanted to participate in the InSPHIRe lab. Vogel, a premed psychology student at the time, didn’t even know what the lab was.

Charles Vogel


Seven years later, he can rattle off the lab’s full name with ease — the Integrating Social Psychology and Health in Research lab.

Vogel spent three years in the lab as an undergraduate, studying the nocebo effect and how it alters perceptions of pain. (The nocebo effect, the opposite of the placebo effect, is when negative expectations can make you feel worse.) His team presented their research at conferences and even published a paper in the Journal of Pain in 2019, a coup for an undergraduate.

“I was young and more eager to be involved on campus,” he said. “As a research assistant, I fell in love with it.”

Along the way, Vogel learned he was more interested in social behavior and psychology than medicine. He wanted to focus more on child behavior, so branched out to work in the Forensic Developmental Psychology Lab and the Child Anxiety and Stress Lab.

After he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in 2018, he started graduate school. He is now a third-year graduate student in UToledo’s Education Specialist School Psychology program.

He is still conducting research. For the past two years, as a graduate assistant in Dr. Jennifer Reynolds’ lab, he has studied nearly 800 math students in the Fostoria, Ohio, school system. His team studies how fluency with math facts affects future abilities in math and helps schools provide and monitor interventions for their students.

“My undergraduate research gave me a perspective that a lot of other students didn’t have. I got to hone my skills,” Vogel said. “At the graduate level, [my research is] preparing me as a consultant, who would be responsible for collecting data and talking to teachers and administrators about how to use the data to guide decision making. I’m getting experience with working with staff at Fostoria. That’s what school psychologists do.”

Reynolds, program director of the school psychology program, was one of the first people Vogel reached out to when he was considering graduate school.

“Charles is one of the kindest, hardest working, most dedicated and positive students I have worked with,” Reynolds said. “Most importantly, as a first- and second-year student he positively impacted the life of numerous children in multiple school districts ― including my sons — through field experiences and research endeavors. Charles is, and will continue to be, an asset to the field and community.”

Vogel grew up in a household of educators and nurses, he said. His mom is a junior high English teacher in Bedford, Mich.

“She’s passionate about helping students and people,” he said. “I want to use my knowledge of psychology to help students in similar ways.”

Vogel said he’d like to focus on younger children as a public school psychologist.

“I really like school-age kids, K through 5. I can be a lot more involved with intervention at that level,” he said. “And little kids are just funny. They’re so honest and have so much potential. I like how they explore things in their environment and interact with each other. It’s like watching The Office.”

Vogel said he has always been a curious student, eager to learn more about things that fascinate him — and people fascinate him.

“People find ways to alienate one another. But in a psychologist’s eyes, we’re more alike than we are different,” he said, “It’s that commonality I find a lot of hope in.”

Finding common ground and increasing cultural diversity is one of the goals of UToledo’s School Psychology Student Organization, which Vogel served as president last year. The group of about 25 students works on professional development and raises funds for their organization and other nonprofits. Vogel has volunteered at the Glass City Marathon and organized the group’s first Relay for Life team for the American Cancer Society.

“Being part of a student-led organization teaches you communication skills and to collaborate with people of different backgrounds,” he said. “You get to build leadership skills and fulfill roles you wouldn’t get to just going to class or to practicum sites.”

The group plans to launch a mentorship program this year, pairing second-year school psychology students with first-year students.

Vogel is scheduled to graduate in spring 2021. As he looks back on the seven years he’s spent at UToledo, he’s grateful for the way the University prepared him for his professional life. But he also sees that it’s done much more than that.

“I didn’t just go to UToledo because of classes,” he said. “It’s the relationships I’ve had with staff and faculty. I’ve always had a network of support that’s allowed me to be successful. It wasn’t necessarily easy to build those networks. You had to seek them out, but the opportunities are there, and I’ll always be appreciative of that. If it wasn’t for the grad student who asked me to be involved in the research lab, I might never have known about that lab.”

And the world might have had one more doctor instead of a school psychologist.

Toledo Women’s Tennis Player Gets Her Teeth Into Student-Athlete Experience

While many college students arrive on campus without a clue about the direction of their future career, that was never an issue for University of Toledo women’s tennis player Eileen Carney.

“As long as I can remember,” Carney said, “I wanted to be a dentist. I have a few dentists in my family, and each time they talk about their work, I’m very intrigued. As young as 7 years old, my dream was to be a dentist.”


Carney, who begins her third year with the Rockets this fall, has been a powerhouse on the court and in the classroom. A regular in the lineup the last two years, Carney has tallied 16 victories at the No. 2 singles spot. As a freshman, she was named the Mid-American Conference Singles Player of the Week after clinching the Rockets’ come-from-behind win against Oakland. She also has flourished with her studies at UToledo, making the dean’s list on two occasions.

“Making the dean’s list has motivated me to work hard and show how The University of Toledo stands behind its student-athletes for success,” said Carney, a medicinal and biological chemistry major. “The best teachers I’ve ever had have been at UToledo. I feel so honored to have made the dean’s list.”

“Eileen has made an incredible impact on our program,” said Head Women’s Tennis Coach Tracy Mauntler. “She’s a lead-by-example type of person in everything she does and an incredibly hard worker. We’re very fortunate that Eileen is a Rocket.”

Carney attributes much of her success at UToledo to her ability to prioritize and work ahead.

“The weeks can get busy, and the best way I’ve found to cope with that is to work ahead and stay ahead,” Carney said. “I feel I do my best when I start studying two weeks before tests. That helps me to not stress out and allows me to keep up with my other classes. By giving myself ample time to prepare, I can study a little each day and not worry about pulling all-nighters.”

Carney also acknowledges that Mauntler has provided her valuable insight into balancing athletics and academics.

“Coach [Mauntler] told our team that we have to learn how to compartmentalize tennis and school,” Carney said. “When we are on the court, we are only thinking about tennis. When we are in class, we are focusing on school. This has been extremely helpful because it has enabled my mind to stay clear of excess stress that can float around if academics and athletics cross.”

With Carney devoting a majority of her day to the court and with her studies, the Joliet, Ill., native still finds time for community service. She and her Rocket teammates have volunteered at the ALS Walk in downtown Toledo and the 13 ABC Hope for the Holidays Toy Drive, to name a few. She understands how important it is to serve others in the community and give back.

“I want to help and serve others,” said Carney, who was selected by Mauntler to spearhead the team’s community service efforts. “I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to lead our efforts because I can reach out to those who need help directly. Toledo has given my teammates and me so much. We have an opportunity that very few get to experience. Our team wants to show UToledo how grateful we are by giving back. I hope to repay the community through volunteering. One of the things that motivates me most is thinking about the impact I can make helping people.”

At the midway point of her time at UToledo, Carney feels very fortunate to play the sport she loves, study at a great university that is preparing her for dental school, all while having the opportunity to give back to the community.

“The University of Toledo has been a great fit for me,” Carney said. “It has helped me succeed as a student-athlete, grow as a person, and hopefully fulfill my dream of becoming a dentist.”

UToledo Student Disability Services Showing Promise of Ohio College2Careers Program

Navigating the college experience can be daunting: taking measure of your own skills and interests, choosing a major well-suited to those interests, and, of course, mastering the network of people, offices and resources that are critical to earning a diploma.

Doing so with a disability, especially in the midst of a global pandemic, adds complexities to an already challenging environment. Fortunately, The University of Toledo is demonstrating early success in a statewide program to empower disabled students as they successfully transition from college life to full-time careers.

College2Careers, a program offered by Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, was announced in fall 2019 and is supporting students at 15 public colleges and universities around the state. Through each institution’s disability and career services offices, College2Careers helps provide career exploration, assistive technology, resumé preparation and more for students to complete their degree, earn higher wages, and meet the demands of employers.

The University of Toledo was selected as a participating institution at the program’s launch based on a combination of census information of students with disabilities, a need for geographic representation throughout Ohio, and the availability of dedicated space and resources.

“College2Careers was conceptualized as a way to close gaps in services for students, not only during college, but after graduation as well,” said Tinola Mayfield-Guerrero, a vocational rehabilitation counselor embedded with UToledo’s Student Disability Services Office.

“Through a collaborative process and conversation with each student, we’re able to take a holistic, ‘listen first’ approach that helps them understand the system. We want the graduation and employment experience to be seamless.”

Part of the program’s potential is to address urgent disparities in the workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 80% of persons with a disability are unemployed nationwide, compared to only 34% for those without a disability.

The Student Disability Services team implementing College2Careers at UToledo has shown success with assisting students with disabilities, in large part because of how immersed Mayfield-Guerrero is within their office and workflow.

“Developed with the staff at the Student Disability Services Office, UToledo’s process helps incoming students understand how the program can help them during college and in achieving their career goals,” said Kristin Garrett, program administrator at Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities. “They have worked together to set up a system of serving students with disabilities that has been very effective and successful.”

College2Careers is already showing promising results among students. Fawad Khan, a computer science and engineering technology major expecting to graduate in spring 2021, is legally deaf and worked with UToledo’s team on virtual interviewing skills.

“When everything shut down due to the pandemic, I was worried. I’m more used to in-person interviews,” Khan said. “But after the coaching and training, I felt very comfortable during a remote interview with a recruiter. The questions were very similar to our practice sessions, and I feel like I aced it.”

For more information on College2Careers or other resources, contact UToledo’s Student Disability Services team at studentdisability@utoledo.edu or 419.530.4981.

Building Racecars Helps Student Discover Passion for Project Engineering

Hannah Haselhuhn is all about trying something new.

It has been the hallmark of her time as a Rocket, and it’s taken her down some interesting paths, including one that’s led to a role as the team lead on UToledo’s Formula Society of Automotive Engineers team.

In that position, Haselhuhn, a mechanical engineering major and also a student in the Jesup Scott Honors College, directs the design and build process for a Formula-style race car. The team manufactures custom parts either in their machine shop or in the UToledo engineering labs, and in a typical year, they’ll create up to 90% of the car’s parts themselves.

Hannah Haselhuhn and Engineering race car team

Hannah Haselhuhn poses with members of UToledo’s Formula Society of Automotive Engineers team. As the team lead, Haselhuhn, a mechanical engineering major, directs the design and build process for a Formula-style race car.

“I absolutely love seeing the process from start to finish,” Haselhuhn said. “That’s a big part of the reason I think project engineering appeals to me.”

Haselhuhn hopes to put what she’s learned about project engineering to work in the oil and gas industry. A junior, she’s already completed one co-op with Marathon Petroleum in Findlay, and has another slated for the summer of 2021.

“I didn’t necessarily know what kind of industry I wanted to go into when I selected mechanical engineering, but now that I’ve completed one co-op and I have experience in project engineering, I really, really liked it,” she said. “I’m hoping I will end up at Marathon after graduation.”

A Toledo native, Haselhuhn chose UToledo specifically for its engineering program, selecting it ahead of the University of Cincinnati, which had offered her the equivalent of UToledo’s Presidential Scholarship. She chose to stay close to home in part because of the nearly limitless opportunities available at her hometown university. That includes the chance to do things she’d never done before — like leading a team that designs and builds a race car. Even if that was part of the appeal, she’s still a little amazed at just how far she’s come.

“I really didn’t have any idea what to expect, but it’s been fun.”

Toledo Football Player Followed His Heart to Find a Career Path

Like many college students, Bryce Harris arrived on campus as a freshman looking for some guidance.

A scholarship football player, Harris had all the help he needed from the Rocket coaching staff. There was no issue there. But on the academic side, he had no idea what to major in, or beyond that, what he would like to pursue as a career after football. He only knew one thing for sure: He liked working with young people.

Bryce Harris ran with a youngster at Victory Day in 2016.

An introductory career class and some assistance from a UToledo success coach helped send him in the right direction.

The class was Career and Self-Evaluation, taught by DeMya Wimberley, who also became Harris’ success coach. By his sophomore year, Harris had his direction — school counseling.

“DeMya helped me find my academic niche and my career field,” said Harris, the Rockets’ starting center. “My goals in life centered around helping people. I just needed to find a career that would allow me to do that.”

Winberley said Harris possessed all the tools for success before he came to college. He just needed a little nudge.

“I saw right away that Bryce had a maturity about him. He had a focus. He just needed direction,” said Wimberley, who is a program manager for the Center for Success Coaching. “My class helps students learn more about themselves. Sometimes you need to learn a little more about yourself before you can choose a career path.”

Since UToledo does not have an undergraduate major in school counseling, Harris chose psychology as his major with a minor in school counseling. He earned his bachelor’s degree in spring 2019. He then entered the College of Graduate Studies, which does have a school counseling major. He is on course to receive his master’s degree next spring.

While the time commitment of being a student-athlete can pose its challenges, for Harris it has provided an opportunity he might not otherwise have had.

“My home life was very stable growing up, but in reality, I’m not sure I would have even gone to college right out of high school if it wasn’t for football,” said Harris, who attended Firestone High School in Akron. “It would have been a bit tough financially. I probably would have worked for a few years and then maybe pursued it later in life.”

In addition, the circumstances of his athletic career have made it possible for him to finish six years of higher education while on an athletic scholarship. After sitting out his first season as a redshirt in 2015, Harris moved his way into the starting lineup the following season. He became a stalwart on the offensive line, earning second-team All-Mid-American Conference honors as a junior in 2018. However, off-season surgery forced him to sit out the 2019 season, while the Coronavirus pandemic has put the 2020 season on hold. With his athletic career delayed, Harris has forged ahead on his academic journey. A two-time Academic All-MAC honoree, Harris gained the opportunity to earn not one, but two degrees during his playing career as a Rocket.

Bryce Harris posed last year with some students from St. Pius X Catholic School in Toledo.

“Bryce is someone who has always maximized his ability and potential in everything he does, both on and off the field,” said Toledo Head Football Coach Jason Candle. “He’s a mature young man who has really grasped the concept of what it means to be a student-athlete. It takes a special person to be in a position to earn two degrees while playing college football. It says a lot about his parents, too. They have been supporting him through every step of the way.”

Harris said the highlight of his academic experience thus far has been an externship at St. Pius X Catholic School in Toledo. There, he worked with students in a classroom, helping them with their assignments, but also getting to know them as individuals, listening to their problems, and offering guidance. He was required to work 60 hours in the program, but enjoyed it so much he volunteered for an additional 60 hours. He also participated in an after-school program there, spending time with students until their parents or guardians were able to pick them up. For Harris, the experience fit perfectly with his goal to help others. It’s something he does in his spare time as well.

“My parents always taught me that if you’re in a position to help others, do it,” Harris said. “I’ve been doing some type of volunteer work since my freshman year of high school back in Akron. So coming to Toledo and participating in all of the volunteer opportunities they provide for us in the football program has always been a no-brainer for me to sign up. I love working with the youth, or anyone in need. Seeing a smile on someone’s face is all I need to brighten my day.”

Harris’ life away from football is on a pretty clear path right now. He has two more semesters left to finish before he receives his master’s degree in May. He also got married during spring break last March to his high school sweetheart, Janelle Perry, a former track and field star at both Ursuline College and Central Michigan University.

What is somewhat less certain is his future on the gridiron. Like all his teammates, Harris is hopeful that there will be a spring football season so he can wear the Midnight Blue and Gold one last time. There is also more at stake than just school pride for Harris, who is a candidate for the Rimington Award as the nation’s best center and the Outland Trophy as the country’s top down lineman. Another good season also could improve his prospects for a potential NFL career, especially since he has not played football in almost two years.

“I’ve been playing football since I was 8 years old and all that time I’ve dreamed of playing in the NFL,” Harris said. “I worked hard to get an athletic scholarship so I could get my college degree and get a chance to play in the NFL. Hopefully, I can do both.”

Medical Student Finds Artistic Inspiration During Anatomy Class

Fourth-year medical student Meghan Lark is at the intersection of art and medicine.

“I’ve loved art and drawing my whole life, but I didn’t really know how I was going to integrate it into my future career as a physician,” Lark said.


It was during her second year of medical school that inspiration came while taking her anatomy course.

“I fell in love with anatomy and realized that it was much easier to learn if I drew it out,” she said.

Lark has been sharing her drawings on Twitter and has caught the eye and appreciation of fellow students and others in the medical profession.

Her artwork recently was featured on Twitter as part of #AnatomyMonday by the American Association of Clinical Anatomists, which promotes clinical anatomy knowledge and services in education, research and scholarship.

“We stumbled upon her beautiful anatomical drawings on Twitter recently and they are a must-see,” the tweet read.

Lark said she started keeping anatomy journals to reference while studying, which eventually turned into drawing anatomy as a hobby.

“In the future, I plan to become a surgeon and continue to develop drawings to help educate medical students and explain surgical procedures to my patients,” she said.

Drawings by fourth-year medical student Meghan Lark are receiving widespread attention.

Greek Life Provides Opportunities to Raise Awareness for Political Science Student

Ala’a Kayed had a plan.

Born and raised in Toledo, UToledo first attracted her interest with its diverse programs, particularly in political science.

“There were people in that program who were passionate about political science and knew what they were doing,” she said.

Hooked, she enrolled as a political science major and made plans to eventually pursue the field all the way through grad school. But a Federal Work-Study opportunity changed those plans. Kayed ended up working at the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership, which opened a door to something she’d not considered before: Greek life.


“A lot of people just have different ideas of what Greek life is, and being a student of color and a woman of color, that really wasn’t an idea for me,” she said. “It wasn’t until I got to see a better glimpse of what it was about and what the students of the Multicultural Greek Council were able to do, I began to think ‘Maybe going Greek really is for me.’”

Kayed did go Greek, joining Alpha Psi Lambda National Inc. and the Multicultural Greek Council. She became the president of the council in December and has big plans for the organization heading into the fall 2020 semester. Specifically, she’d like to expand the Multicultural Greek Council’s scope, adding new representation wherever possible.

“Even though we’re under a multicultural title, we, up until this last year, strictly represented organizations that were Latinx or multicultural but with Latinx backgrounds,” she said. “It wasn’t until this past semester that we chartered a Muslim-interest sorority. So we’re really looking to expand our offerings to encompass those cultures as well.”

In addition, Kayed wants to continue the campus conversation surrounding social justice in the United States, a topic that’s come increasingly into the national focus during the summer.

“Especially with the unjust murder of George Floyd and many other innocent Black people, we want to continue to raise awareness around the issues that arise in those communities,” she said. “We want to help our students and show them how to unlearn their subconsciously ingrained ways while relearning new anti-racist approaches.”

Helping students — especially students who may not have a clear idea about what path they’d like to pursue at UToledo — is the crux of Kayed’s college experience, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed among campus leadership.

“Ala’a is a role model for other students who may not necessarily understand the whole college experience when coming into school,” said Alex Zernechel, UToledo’s assistant director of Greek life. “She regularly speaks out against injustice and unfair practices occurring. She is always quick to support her fellow students to achieve their goals. She advances what it means to be a Rocket every single day that she is on campus.”

The drive to help others is natural for Kayed, who added an Africana studies major to her original political science plan. After she graduates, she’ll go on to grad school, ultimately hoping to land a position where she’ll have the opportunity to work with college students, hoping to help others recognize that small opportunities can grow into big things.

“The most important thing to realize is that it just takes that first step and first grain of effort. For me, it just took that one little push.”

Handmade Face Coverings With a Message Benefit UTMC

The purple and teal-colored cotton fabrics were originally meant to be part of a quilt. Instead, they will help protect nurses and other healthcare workers at The University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC).

The colors weren’t chosen at random. Purple honors National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which began in 1981; teal symbolizes Sexual Assault Awareness Month, observed nationally in April since 2001. The fabrics were to be stitched together with panels featuring supportive messages from students, faculty, staff and others in The University of Toledo community to create a “Messages of Hope” quilt as part of UToledo’s “What Were You Wearing?” exhibit, part of a nationwide effort to shed light on the experiences of sexual assault survivors and combat the myth that sexual violence is caused by a person’s choice of clothing.

Community volunteers Jennifer Kregel, Barbara Limes and Jen Minard, together with UToledo’s Title IX Office, donated 40 handmade masks for use at The University of Toledo Medical Center. The colors honor Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April) and National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October).

But in March, as facilities and operations throughout UToledo shifted remotely in response to the growing threat of COVID-19 — including the format of the exhibit going to a virtual setting — the team in the University’s Title IX Office saw a different potential purpose for the energy and materials behind the quilt.

“We talked it over and quickly decided that cloth face coverings could have an immediate, meaningful impact at UTMC,” said Lindsay Tuttle, sexual misconduct prevention education coordinator for Title IX. “Our goal right now is to pull together as an institution, help our peers, and at the same time send a message in the fight against domestic violence and sexual assault.”

That’s where volunteer Jennifer Kregel comes in. Kregel, a family and consumer sciences teacher at Perrysburg High School and friend of the Title IX Office, saw right away how the two bundles of fabric for the quilt could be repurposed. Along with her mother, Barbara Limes, and Jen Minard, an acquaintance from church, the three began trying patterns and fits to determine what would be most comfortable.

“We really wanted the coverings to be practical, something you could wear all day,” Kregel said. “Especially right now, it was nice to know we were helping people in need and making people feel safer in their jobs. And the colors to raise awareness of sexual assaults and domestic violence were a big part of that.”

“Bringing awareness to sexual assault and domestic violence is not just a day or a month, so finding positive ways to continue the conversation is essential,” said Vicky Kulicke, UToledo’s director for Title IX and compliance, and Title IX coordinator. “If the recipients of the face coverings share the meaning behind the colors, then the conversation and awareness continue.”

Ultimately, 40 face coverings were completed with the group’s materials and delivered to UTMC, where they will be sent directly to the teams of nurses, clinicians and other workers.

“We are providing the cloth coverings to any department on site that is in need,” said Jennifer Pastorek, senior supply chain director for UToledo’s Health Science Campus. “Since they’re required, many staff wear the cloth face coverings in before transitioning to their personal protective equipment (PPE) required in the clinical spaces, thus preserving the use of PPE. We are so very grateful for this community outreach and outpouring of support for our hospital and clinical teams.”

Nursing Student Tapped to Serve on UToledo Board of Trustees

Helping others is in Anthony Gennings’ DNA. He is pursuing a degree in nursing at The University of Toledo — and assisting many on campus along the way.

The ultra-busy senior has added another responsibility to his list: He has been appointed to the University’s Board of Trustees.

His term began in July and will expire July 1, 2022.


“I wanted to be a student trustee because I love to advocate for students,” Gennings said. “There have been plenty of issues that arose over the past few months and years that I believe should be brought to institutional attention. Also, I want to be able to impact future UToledo students positively.”

He has been making a difference since arriving on campus in 2017. Gennings joined the Black Student Union, receiving its Upcoming Leader Award one year later, and participated in the Freshman Leadership Program, where he now serves as a mentor for first-year students.

“When I came to The University of Toledo, I felt that there is plenty of room to thrive,” he said.

And he’s been thriving.

Since 2018, he has worked in the Office of Residence Life to help students transition to new living and learning environments. He is a resident advisor for the Health Professions Living Learning Community in Presidents Hall, and this summer served as a resident advisor in Ottawa House West for the football team.

Last summer, Gennings became a peer mentor for TRIO Student Support Services.

“The experience as a peer mentor has been amazing,” he said. “I impact the underserved student populations on-campus — students who are first-generation, low-income, military-connected, and those with disabilities. I help develop and maintain relationships with and aid and support for first- and second-year students, focusing on a smooth transition, acclimation, and a sense of belonging.”

“Anthony is a fantastic person, student and leader; his compassion and empathy serve him well when relating to others,” Kenny Brown, advisor with TRIO Student Support Services, said. “Anthony has that ‘it’ factor and a drive that fuels him to accomplish anything. He possesses the intangibles needed to lead and learn in all of his endeavors.”

Gennings also is president of the Student African American Brotherhood, an organization with 120 members.

“The importance of this group is significant because it provides a safe space where Black males can build community, embrace their culture, and have a sense of belonging,” he said. “I want members to know they have a support system and family that is composed of African American male peers and faculty and staff.”

And Gennings was selected last year to attend the Klar Leadership Academy.

“Klar has helped me gain confidence, build relationships, and, most importantly, become comfortable with being uncomfortable,” he said.

His passion for becoming a nurse began while attending middle school in Cincinnati and continued after his family moved to Amelia, Ohio.

“I was inspired to pursue nursing when my mother was diagnosed with stage I colorectal cancer in July 2017. Ever since then, I have been inspired to pursue a career in nursing to impact the lives of patients,” Gennings said.

His mother, Eldra Gennings, said her son was very involved in her treatment. “He was always asking questions, asking about outcomes and the liklihood of the cancer returning,” she said. “He has always been a helpful soul. His passion for learning and reaching new heights blows me away.”

The COVID-19 outbreak has increased that desire to help.

“The pandemic has changed the way I view the profession. It has motivated me more to help vulnerable populations and facilities that are in need nationally,” Gennings said. “I am ready to graduate and help and impact lives.”

Staff Members’ Poetry in Spotlight in Local Contest

Home is where the art is — in this case, poetry. Three UToledo employees were honored in the Toledo City Paper’s Ode to the ZIP code 2020 contest.

Paying tribute to where you live is the goal of the contest, which is open to area residents who submit poems inspired by their ZIP codes — the number of words in each line determined by the corresponding digit in the postal reference tool.

Works by Amal Abdullah, coordinator of doctor of pharmacy admissions in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Charlene Gary, secretary in the World Languages and Cultures Department, and George Hayes Jr., electrician journeyman, were among those selected this year.

By Amal Abdullah

big-box retail stores
restaurants and plazas
the intersection of neighborhoods and consumerism
birds perched
on cable wires

“I consider poetry to be a medium for creative expression that encourages one to reflect on the nuances and the ordinary through engagement with the written word,” Abdullah said. “The poetry contest provided a unique opportunity to write and share a succinct reflection on the space that constitutes my ZIP code. I have an affinity for writing, so it is an honor for my poem to be recognized.”

By Charlene Gary

come time for harvest
loud lumbering combines
growl and grumble and wake the
reminding us we are of earth

“We are kind of rural here in Oregon; there are a lot of farms. What really struck me when I first moved here is at harvest time, I would see these huge rolling machines just driving down the road like this is an everyday thing; it was surreal. The magnificent size of these machines, and the noises that they make driving by, was really striking,” Gary said.

“Poetry is succinct and efficient. When talking, I tend to be too wordy, so writing poetry forces me to use different words, $2 words, in the smallest way possible in order to express what I’m thinking,” she said. “It’s really a challenge, but I like challenges.”

By George Hayes Jr.

Four twenty, birds singing
Gunshot sounds too
Life in the hood not good
Mayor says change is going to come

“Toledo is like two cities, the inner city and the rest of Toledo. It’s always been that way in my adult life here,” Hayes said. “This poem is just some of the many things that happen in the hood, daily sometimes, but weekly all of the time.”

He added, “I love poetry because it’s from the heart, sometimes life experiences, sometimes words to encourage others in a time of need. I love performing spoken word as well, kind of like poetry, but on steroids if it’s done with passion and heart.”

See all of the poems selected in the adult category of Toledo City Paper’s Ode to the ZIP code 2020 contest.

Dr. Jim Ferris, UToledo professor and the Ability Center Endowed Chair in Disability Studies, was one of the judges for this year’s contest. He is a former Lucas County poet laureate.

“The Ode to the Zip code is a great way to encourage us all to think creatively about where we live,” Ferris said. “It is particularly important in these unprecedented times to use the imagination to stay grounded and keep connected to our neighbors and our community.”