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Student Success

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.”

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.”

UToledo Student to Study in Spain as Recipient of National Scholarship

Ever since she was a middle schooler participating in state writing competitions, Terri Draper knew that language would play an important role in her life.

Now she will have the chance to travel abroad for the first time and immerse herself in the language and culture of Spain as a 2020 recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.


Named in honor of late New York congressman Benjamin A. Gilman, the scholarship provides students the opportunity to study abroad and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Since its inception in 2001, more than 31,000 students have received the Gilman scholarship to study in 151 countries.

“Without this scholarship, this experience wouldn’t be possible,” said Draper, who is pursuing both a UToledo bachelor of education degree specializing in adolescent and young adult education, as well as a bachelor of arts degree in English. She also is a student in the Jesup Scott Honors College. “I would have to work for years to afford it, all without the education, programs and support I’m receiving at UToledo.”

Draper expects to receive her teaching degree next year, followed by her English degree in 2022. After receiving her diplomas, she envisions herself teaching high school English and writing in an urban, public school setting, where she can use her study abroad experience to bring unique perspectives to the classroom.

The Toledo native attended high school at Toledo School for the Arts (TSA), where she became acquainted with UToledo from a very early stage. TSA focuses on providing its students a college-preparatory academic curriculum and an intense visual and performing arts environment. As an eighth-grader, she was able to explore the UToledo campus and meet students and faculty.

Originally, Draper was scheduled to study abroad in summer 2020. However, due to travel restrictions and other complications from the COVID-19 pandemic, her trip is now planned for summer 2021. She will study at Universidad de Granada in Grenada, Spain, and will live with a local family for the entire four to six weeks.

“I knew from the moment I met Terri that she was a very determined individual with a lot to offer the world,” said Chessica Oetjens, program coordinator in UToledo’s Office of Competitive Fellowships. “We are very proud of her accomplishment and hope we can encourage more UToledo students to apply in the future.”

Draper suggests she was successful in being awarded the scholarship because she took an unconventional approach in her application — focusing on what she will do here at home, rather than during her travels.

“I want to bring Spanish language and literature to classes I teach in the future, so my students are exposed to other cultures and perspectives,” Draper said. “I remember learning so much about American and white European literature in school. I think it would be better for students to hear about Latin American, African and other cultures earlier in their education.”

UToledo Student Awarded International Research Grant to Study Black Urban Agricultural Experience

Brittany D. Jones, a Ph.D. candidate in The University of Toledo Spatially Integrated Social Science Doctoral Program in the College of Arts and Letters, is one of four winners of a 2020 MAXQDA Research for Change Grant from VERBI Software and the Global Nature Fund.

Her research project is titled “Empowerment Through Consumption: Land Banks, Land Ownership and Black Food Geographies.” Her co-advisors are Dr. Neil Reid and Dr. Sujata Shetty, professors in the UToledo Department of Geography and Planning.


Jones will explore the urban agricultural experience and Black foodways in Toledo and Dayton, two Ohio cities that saw a large influx of African Americans during the Great Migration. They are also legacy cities, meaning they lost a significant amount of population and economic viability after the decline of manufacturing in the region. She plans to look at land use and barriers to urban agriculture in these cities and how it impacts African American communities.

In recognizing Jones as a grant recipient, VERBI noted, “We were greatly impacted by Mrs. Jones’ story and how her life history has inspired her to pursue food system and sovereignty studies. With her project, she aims to uncover racialized hypocrisies embedded within both the local and global food system, which is now as relevant as ever. Mrs. Jones is a first-generation Ph.D. student in her family, and we are glad to be able to support her.”

Jones said in her master’s program, she began to fully understand the nutritional problems of the world she grew up in were rooted in systemic causes. In applying for the grant, Jones said she hopes her work will not only suggest solutions, but improve research methodology.

“Research for change means more than just finding solutions to a complex problem, [it] embodies the [grassroots] efforts of providing resources and realistic methods that can be easily replicated and adapted, all the while acknowledging cultural differences/expectations, which is crucial to long-term change,” Jones said.

Dr. Beth Schlemper, associate professor in the UToledo Department of Geography and Planning, said she believes Jones’ doctoral course work helped her win the grant.

“It makes me happy because I taught the Ph.D. students, who took advanced qualitative methods for spatially integrated social science students, how to use MAXQDA [research software], and she was inspired to use the software in her research methods and apply for this grant.”

Jones agreed: “The skills I acquired through my degree program have allowed me to confidently apply for opportunities best fit for my research. It has taught me that, as a doctorate student, you are the CEO of your degree and must stand in your truth as a contributor to universal knowledge, especially as a scholar of color.”

The $1,600 grant includes a two-year student subscription to MAXQDA Analytics Pro software, two online trainings with certified MAXQDA trainers, a registration waiver to the MAXQDA International Conference in Berlin, and full tech support. In addition, Jones’ research will receive international exposure through MAXQDA promotions.

“This software is highly used to fully integrate qualitative data analysis into your research and is especially popular with mixed methods researchers,” said Jones, who is a graduate research assistant in the University’s Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center and president of the UToledo Graduate Student Association.

Read more about Jones’ research project on the MAXQDA website.

UToledo Doctoral Student Receives Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship

A University of Toledo doctoral student has been selected for the prestigious John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, a yearlong program that places highly qualified graduate students in host offices in the legislative and executive branches of U.S. government.

Michaela Margida, a doctoral student in the Department of Environmental Sciences, is among five finalists in Ohio selected as part of the 42nd class of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Sea Grant fellowship program that provides a unique educational and professional experience to graduate students who have an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources.


Margida focuses her research on mathematical modeling of coastal ecosystems and biogeochemical processes such as the ways in which microorganisms contribute to nutrient availability. She also consults with high school teachers at the Aerospace and Natural Science Academy of Toledo to increase student engagement in scientific research.

“As I begin my career, I am focused on learning more about the role scientists play in policy development,” Margida wrote in her fellowship application. “I want to refine my leadership, communication and outreach skills so I can help inform decisions affecting ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources.”

Margida and the other finalists affiliated with Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant College Program join a group of 75 graduate students recommended to the national Sea Grant office from 27 programs across the country.

Finalists will meet virtually in late 2020 for placement interviews with potential host offices, which can include executive branch appointments in offices like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of the Interior and the National Science Foundation, as well as legislative placements on Senate and House committees and in legislative offices. More information about the program is available at

Nursing Graduate Student Named Ohio Recipient of New Scholarship

A University of Toledo graduate student is one step closer to becoming a leader in her profession thanks to a newly created scholarship that supports nursing students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sandra Boateng, a student in UToledo’s Clinical Nurse Leader Master’s Degree Program, was the only recipient of the $500 scholarship in the state of Ohio. Boateng was selected from a pool of more than 2,800 applicants nationwide.


Born and raised in the West African nation of Ghana, Boateng is the first in her family to attend college and received a bachelor of arts in biology from UToledo in 2013. She owes her success, in part, to the instructors and faculty she’s partnered with at the University.

“If it wasn’t for the professors and support they have given me, I wouldn’t have gotten this achievement. I appreciate them for all they do and really want to give credit to them,” said Boateng, who also works as a nurse aide at The University of Toledo Medical Center. “With this scholarship, I will be able to buy the books I need to complete my studies.”

The scholarship was awarded by the Foundation for Academic Nursing, a new philanthropic initiative of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing that promotes the importance of academic nursing and educational programs around the country.

“We applaud the Foundation for Academic Nursing for launching this new COVID-19 Nursing Student Support Fund and are very pleased that one of our very deserving students was chosen as the only recipient from Ohio,” said Dr. Linda Lewandowski, dean of the UToledo College of Nursing. “Sandra is an excellent student with great career goals to make a difference, and this scholarship will help her in her quest to achieve them.”

The foundation’s COVID-19 Nursing Student Support Fund was launched in April 2020 to remove barriers to new nurses entering the workforce. The program helps nursing students who are facing hardships as a result of the pandemic and need financial assistance to complete their degree programs.

Study Reveals Many Great Lakes State Parks Impacted By Record-High Water Levels

Every summer millions of people visit parks and protected areas along the shorelines of the Great Lakes to camp, hike, swim and explore nature’s beauty.

While COVID-19 has impacted staffing, operations and budgets at the parks, tourists this year also may notice changes if recent record-high water levels persist on Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie and Lake Superior.

UToledo graduate student Eric Kostecky posed for a photo on the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan.

A new study by a graduate student at The University of Toledo zeroes in on how coastal flooding and erosion in 2019 damaged park facilities and roads and interrupted visitor experiences, as well as examines the financial cost of the high water levels.

The research presented at the 2020 Great Lakes Virtual Conference, which is hosted by the International Association of Great Lakes Research, was completed by Eric Kostecky, a graduate student earning his master’s degree in geography, as part of a course in environmental planning he took last fall while completing his undergraduate degree in geography and planning.

“A humbling statistic is that 75% of the parks indicated that continued higher lake levels in 2020 and beyond would further impact park operations and infrastructure,” Kostecky said. “Future management actions would be to improve parking lots and roads and to move hiking trails, campgrounds and public access locations.”

This photo at Golden Hill State Park in Barker, N.Y., was taken by Dr. Patrick Lawrence.

To gather information, Kostecky surveyed 50 parks along the Great Lakes, both federal and state parks in the United States and provincial parks in Canada. Twenty-nine responded.

“Even though Great Lakes parks and protected areas have experienced impacts from shoreline erosion and flooding during previous high water-level events in 1972-73 and 1985-86, this study is the first comprehensive attempt to catalogue those impacts,” said Dr. Patrick Lawrence, professor and chair of the UToledo Department of Geography and Planning and Kostecky’s faculty advisor.

The study shows 50% of the responding parks were impacted by both shoreline erosion and flooding, with the most common type of damage being to boat launches and building structures that were flooded, and roads near dunes washed away by waves.

Total cost of damage for 55% of the parks was $50,000 or less.

As a result of the damage, parks implemented a variety of changes for public safety last year: sections of the park were closed, select park operations were canceled, and some visitor education programs were suspended.

Great Lakes water levels peaked in July 2019, with increases varying between 14 and 31 inches above their long-term averages; Lake Superior was at 14 inches above its average, while Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario were at 31 inches above average, Lawrence said.

“The water levels in the Great Lakes fluctuate, but they don’t fluctuate rapidly, so it’s hard to say if we’re still in the upswing or on the downswing,” Kostecky said. “We won’t know if we’re continuing to rise or if waters have started to recede for the next couple of years.”

The Great Lakes shoreline stretches 10,000 miles around eight U.S. states and Canada.

“Many parks and protected areas in the Great Lakes have struggled with the economic costs and interruptions of their operations, including services and programs for their visitors, and are concerned that as this period of high water levels continues this summer, they will face ongoing challenges in delivering the levels of public access and services to their visitors so eager to explore the parks and enjoy the nature and environment provided by these special spaces,” Lawrence said.