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Commencement

A Bulldog Abroad

By Brittany Bluthardt '20

Only a few weeks after graduating from Butler University, one student will travel halfway across the world to serve in the Peace Corps in Malawi, an impoverished country in southeastern Africa. During her nearly two-and-a-half-year service, senior Bulldog Alex Gabor will work in the education sector and teach English to children. Although she’ll be far away from Butler University and her home in Wilmette, Illinois, Alex is excited for what life and service across the world has in the future; she thanks Butler for helping her along the way.

“I hope to form relationships with the people in my village that I will be living with,” she said. “Hopefully, I can gain their trust and respect because I feel like without that it’s hard to learn from someone.”

Alex hopes to become fluent in the village’s language and fully immerse herself in the culture. Her transition from Indianapolis to the small village will be a familiar change. Alex was born in the Philippines and lived there for nine years before traveling to the states; she’s used to moving around.

“Moving around is such a big part of me that I will be able to manage well compared to other people that haven’t had that experience,” she said. “So, I feel like it won’t be that bad, but I will definitely be homesick.”

Nearly four years ago, Alex didn’t know what she wanted to study or where she wanted to go. She stumbled upon Butler’s name and decided it was the one - she hadn’t even stepped foot on campus. After enrolling in an exploratory course, she sat in on an upper-level psychology class and discovered her passion for research. From then on, Alex threw herself into undergraduate research any chance she could.

“Being involved in research has given me such good experience, not only for my professional self, but for my personal self,” Alex said. “Butler has opened so many doors for me.”

Alex had experience in undergraduate research early in her college career which prepared her for future presentations across the country. Along with presenting at the Undergraduate Research Conference on Butler’s campus, Alex has traveled to Chicago, Milwaukee, Maryland, and, soon, San Francisco to share her knowledge.

“My research in psychology, I think, made me a really competitive applicant to serve in the Peace Corp.”

During her time at Butler, Alex took full advantage of the resources available to her on campus, from receiving resume help at the Internship and Career Services office to going to as many events, with free food, as possible. Along with taking courses for her two majors in psychology and Chinese and her minor in neuroscience, she was involved in Student Government Association, a sorority, volunteer work, and the Asian Culture Enthusiasts club. Alex kept herself busy and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“When I leave Butler, I’ll miss seeing the same people,” she said. “I’ll miss being around the people. It’s the vibe, the energy. You know when you’re on campus, you know?”

 

Alex Gabor
CommencementPeopleCampus

A Bulldog Abroad

Senior graduate Alex Gabor will fully immerse herself in a new culture, far away from her second home on campus.

Alex Gabor

A Bulldog Abroad

By Brittany Bluthardt '20

Perseverance and Patients: A 23-Year Journey to Graduation

By Rachel Stern

When Trent Tipple was at his low point, living in Indianapolis, Indiana, experiencing nose bleeds during class, suffering memory loss while trying to study for tests, juggling pre-med classes with daily dialysis treatments, little did he know this was just the first of three major low points in his life.

There was the lymphoma diagnosis. Then the kidney failure. Again. And a kidney transplant. Again.

But to hear Tipple tell it, these are all moments that have shaped an amazing life. So far. Because, let’s be honest, Tipple has defied death approximately three times. And, in his words, he feels “full of gratitude.”  

“I have learned to treasure each day and never ignore what is right in front of me,” Tipple says. “I try to remember that the relationships and memories are what actually matter and, as cliché as it is, tomorrow really isn’t guaranteed.”

But there is one thing nagging at Tipple. He hasn’t technically graduated from Butler University, where he was an undergraduate biology major. All of those dialysis appointments didn’t stop him, though, let’s make that clear.

It was that darn beeper.

Tipple, who enrolled at Butler in the fall of 1991, was on track to graduate in 1995. He was 19 credits shy and had applied to Indiana University’s School of Medicine. But, then, that beeper started going off and he had to answer it.

Because Tipple was on the kidney transplant list, he always had a beeper on in case a transplant arrived. After three years, his beeper went off. It just so happened to be during his last semester, senior year. So, technically, he never graduated.

That’s all about to change.

 

Always Interested in Medicine

Tipple grew up in Wabash County, Indiana. Farm country as he refers to it.

Long before the constant trips to the doctor, he had an interest in helping people by being a physician. Pretty ironic, he says. He was always interested in the ability to help others, and working in medicine gave him the opportunity to blend his interest in science with that desire. 

When Tipple was a sophomore in high school he stepped foot on Butler’s campus for the first time as part of a youth event. He was drawn to the campus’ small size and intimate setting.

“Everyone I came across was just nice,” Tipple says. “That first encounter made me familiar with the school and gave me a certain comfort level. I was attracted to the smaller size and the opportunity to get a well-rounded education beyond just science-based courses.”

Turns out the smaller setting would be crucial for many reasons. Tipple was diagnosed with chronic renal disease before his freshman year at Butler. He applied early to Butler, was accepted, and enrolled. With his disease came several trips to the doctor every week. Tipple knew going to Butler would enable him to continue down his desired pre-med path, while also being physically close to the downtown campus of IU Medical Center, as a kidney transplant was what he would eventually need. Tipple felt a school the size of Butler would be more willing to accommodate his specific needs.

“I knew I would be in and out of certain classes due to doctor’s appointments and, at any point, might need to miss class or assignments,” Tipple says. “At a smaller school, it is much easier to form personal relationships and communicate about my specific needs and situation. I think that would be much harder to do at a larger university.”  

 

Determined to Follow His Dreams

Trent at Butler with fraternity brothers.

Jim Shellaas remembers laying eyes on Tipple for the first time. Tipple was a freshman. Shellhaas was Tipple’s academic advisor, and, right away, something was different.

“He showed up to our first meeting with his mother,” says Shellhaas, who retired two years ago after working at Butler as a biology professor. “Now don’t get me wrong, his mother was a lovely person, but most freshmen don’t come to their appointments with their parents. She was there to explain Trent’s medical condition.”

From that first meeting, Shellhaas says, it was clear that Tipple was a determined young man. And Shellhaas’ first impression never changed over the course of four years.

“He had a dream and he was focused and no matter what, he wasn’t going to let go of it,” Shellhaas says. “It is hard enough to be on a pre-med track when a student is fully healthy. But to do that with a health condition like Trent’s, you have to be special and he is special. He had a goal in mind, plugged along, and never lost sight of it.”

Barb Howes recalls a student who was extremely responsible and always showed up to work at the Science Libraries with a work ethic that stood out. Howes has interacted with thousands of students during her time at Butler, but Tipple stands out.

“No matter what was asked of him, he did it, and he always had a wonderful attitude,” she says. “You never would have known that he was dealing with all of the dialysis, and the pain. It amazes me that he was able to remain so positive, despite having to face so much and juggle so much as a young person.”

 

Nothing Could Stop Him

After being on dialysis for two-and-a-half years, and after seven surgeries due to dialysis-related complications, Tipple’s beeper finally went off. He would later learn that a woman named Shiela, who’s family decided that she would be an organ donor, enabled him to become a kidney transplant recipient that January day in 1995. But, it wasn’t that simple.

Though he walked in his commencement ceremony, technically, Tipple did not graduate from Butler because of the timing of the transplant surgery and the recovery associated with it. He was 19 credits short.

He did, however, make the most of his time spent around the physicians he still hoped to one day be. “You meet tons of patients and they all impact you in different ways, but Trent stuck out and always will stick out,” says Sharon Moe, professor of nephrology at Indiana University School of Medicine, who first met Tipple when he was a patient at IU Medical Center. “He was just a smart, inquisitive, sharp young man.”

Moe learned that Tipple wanted to attend IU School of Medicine when he was a patient. Tipple also worked in Moe’s lab when he was a student at Butler. She decided to arrange a meeting between Tipple and the head of the Medical School’s admissions committee.

“I learned later that those conversations I had, thanks to Dr. Moe, were key for me ever getting in to med school and achieving my dream of becoming a physician,” says Tipple. “I am so thankful for people like Dr. Moe who believed in me and went out of their way to vouch for me and look out for me. They changed the course of my life.”

“Trent was networking, so to speak, or creating strong relationships, before that was even a thing,” Shellhaas says. “Instead of feeling sorry for himself when he was in the hospital, he was thinking about his next move and how he could achieve his dreams. He is an amazing person.”

He was accepted into IU’s School of Medicine in the summer of 1995, even though he didn’t have an undergraduate degree.

 

The Struggles Continue

When it was time to head to medical school, Tipple had to, well, learn how to learn again, he says. A fraternity brother from his Butler days, Doug Towriss, was already a medical student at IU. He tutored Tipple for well over a year.

“He taught me what it was to know something, versus being familiar with it,” Tipple says. “If you can’t write it down, you don’t know it. That was his big thing. A lot of time was spent at the chalk board with me writing down pathways, lists, and that type of thing from memory. He didn’t have to do that but he wanted to help me get caught back up.”

Tipple ended up graduating from medical school in 2000. He completed a general pediatrics residency in 2003 and a fellowship in neonatal-perinatal medicine in 2006 at The Ohio State University. By 2006 he was an attending neonatologist and assistant professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

But, things weren’t all smooth sailing.

In 2008, he was in Vienna for a conference with his wife and two children. In retrospect, he had been experiencing headaches for a few months, but that is just in retrospect. They wandered through the Swarovski store looking at all the jewelry. Then, all Tipple remembers is his world went black and the loud store went silent. He was 35 and experienced his first seizure.

He was rushed to the hospital, eventually made his way back to Ohio, and on Christmas Eve 2008, he was officially diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma. Technically speaking, he had post-transplant lymphoma. It is a kind of lymphoma only seen in transplant patients. The cruel irony? While Tipple took powerful medications to prevent his body from rejecting his kidney transplant 13 years earlier, those same medications kept his body from recognizing the cancerous cells and eliminating them. Those same cells actually allowed the tumor to form in the first place.

Trent with his cousin who donated a kidney.

This type of lymphoma carries an average 2-year survival rate of less than 10 percent around the world. But, Tipple’s oncologist at OSU had developed an experimental therapy that showed promise in the six patients who used it prior to Tipple.

Three weeks after starting the therapy, the tumor that had been the size of a walnut was gone. And within six months, there was no evidence of the active disease at all. Tipple was in remission. “It was honestly a miracle,” Tipple says. “I really thought I was going to die. I thought that was it and I just could not believe I was in remission. It is impossible.”

But, Tipple’s story does not end there.

One year after his seizure in Austria, the kidney that he had received about 15 years earlier failed. Tipple was back on dialysis.

“I was feeling devastated. I was angry and frustrated. But yet again, I had the amazing support of those around me,” Tipple says. “My wife put everything in perspective when she reminded me that a year earlier we thought I was going to die and said we will do whatever it takes.”

After 15 months of daily dialysis in their home, Tipple was back in the hospital for his second kidney transplant in 2011. This time, he knew the donor. “My cousin is a police officer outside of Seattle. She called me one day and said she was coming to Columbus to finish testing because she was informed that she was a match,” Tipple says. “How do you thank someone who says that?”

She was a match and Tipple had his second transplant on Aug. 2, 2011. Since then, things have been great, he says. But then there is that elusive degree from Butler.

 

Getting that Piece of Paper

Travis Ryan met Tipple about five years ago. He didn’t know much about him, but invited him to Butler’s campus to speak to a seminar class about potential opportunities to pursue research projects. “I had no idea about his background, but I knew he had a ton of experience in the research field and thought, as a Butler graduate, he could inspire our students,” says Ryan, who is the Biological Sciences Department Chair at Butler. “When we spoke after his talk and I learned about his background, and I remember thinking we should really look into trying to get Trent his official degree. He embodies everything Butler is about.”

Tipple was extremely excited about the idea.

“It always came up in job interviews and things like that,” he says. “But more than that, I know it is just a piece of paper, but it really means something important to me. My time at Butler was extremely valuable and meant a lot to me and to know that I officially graduated would mean a lot.”

Ryan worked with many people at Butler to make it official. Many courses that Tipple completed at IU’s School of Medicine, it ended up, could be counted toward the credits he was missing at Butler.

After 23 years, Tipple will be officially graduating from Butler.

 

Full Circle

Trent with his family on a trip to Germany in 2008.

Tipple tries to get back to Indianapolis, and specifically, Butler’s campus at least once a year. He usually returns for a basketball game or two, and comes each May for the Indianapolis 500.

Unfortunately, he won’t be here for the spring commencement ceremony on May 11. It is a bit harder now. In 2014, he started working at the University of Alabama at Birmingham as an associate professor. He is Director of the Neonatal Redox Biology Program and his work has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 2007. Tipple also serves as the Director of Neonatology Faculty Development and Program Co-Director of Neonatal-Perinatal Fellowship Program.

“After everything, I am doing what I love. I am teaching, I have a research lab, and I also see patients. I love doing all of that and it is exactly what I always wanted to do,” he says. Tipple plans to be back in Indianapolis at the end of May for the Indianapolis 500. He will be stopping by Butler’s campus. And this time, he will be picking up a diploma.

“It feels great to just come full circle after everything,” Tipple says. “I appreciate everything Butler did for me and with all I have been through and all the people who supported me and were there for me, everyone really made this happen.”

 

Images
Feature: Trent with his wife at medical school graduation (left). Tren with his son at a Butler Basketball game (right).
Top: Trent at Butler with fraternity brothers.
Middle: Trent with his cousin who donated a kidney.
Bottom: Trent with his family on a trip to Germany in 2008.

 

Trent Tipple MD
CommencementPeopleCampus

Perseverance and Patients: A 23-Year Journey to Graduation

After two kidney transplants and a battle with cancer, Trent Tipple M.D. will finally graduate.

 

15 Things You May Not Know about Spring 2018 Commencement

  1. The Real Deal
    Every single graduate receives their actual diploma (if they have completed their degree requirements) as they walk across stage. For logistical reasons, most universities issue fake diplomas on the day of graduation.
     
  2. Like a Pro
    The stages in Hinkle are built in less than 24 hours. Professional stage hands and sound engineers from Clowes Memorial Hall do the set up and tear down for commencement each year.
     
  3. So You Think You Can Walk?
    Michelle Jarvis, Associate Provost and a dance faculty member, helped to choreograph the processional on to Hinkle’s main floor.
     
  4. Crowded House
    Hinkle Fieldhouse’s floor can seat up to 1,200 graduates, 80 musicians, and up to 65 VIP for the ceremony.
     
  5. Take a Seat
    All the chairs set up on the main basketball floor and in the Efroymson Family Gym are zip tied together for safety, and each will contain a bottle of water and a program for the graduates and guests.
     
  6. “I Majored in Love. No, really.”
    There is a member of the class of 2018 who majored in Love as part of the individualized major program.
     
  7. Kellies E. Murphy
    This year’s graduating class has 963 participants, two of whom are named Kelly E. Murphy.
     
  8. All In the Family
    There are more than 17 Butler faculty and staff members who have family members graduating (spouses, children, and in some cases multiple children).
     
  9. The Year of the Symphony Orchestra
    Every other year, the Butler Symphony Orchestra (BSO) and the Wind Ensemble take turns performing at each Spring Commencement. This year will be BSO’s turn under the direction of Richard Auldon Clark.
     
  10. Butler Sing
    Every year, the School of Music’s Chorale performs at all three Academic ceremonies: Convocation during Welcome Week, Winter Commencement, and Spring Commencement.
     
  11. Jaguars Helping Out
    The IUPUI ROTC will serve as the color guard at this year’s ceremony.

  12. One in Three
    Of the students receiving their graduate degrees at this year’s ceremony, 34% already hold a bachelor’s degree from Butler.
     
  13. How Do You Pronounce That?
    More than 40 staff and student volunteers will help to make commencement a success this year. Two of the volunteers–Professors Scott Bridge and Ann Bilodeau–will serve as Announcers of Names by reading each graduate’s name as they walk across stage. Bridge and Bilodeau prepare by practicing for days from an excel spreadsheet with phonetic pronunciations. If they are uncertain, they have been known to contact the graduate to confirm how they’d like to be announced.
     
  14. Harry Potter-esque
    The flags that are part of the Commencement processional are called Gonfalons and are modeled after heraldic banners used by city states and guilds in medieval Italy (and by the houses in the Harry Potter series).
     
  15. Go Dawgs! No Really, You Gotta Go!
    Butler Baseball plays at 2:00 PM on Commencement day. Senior players will graduate first, then go suit up for their game. 
Commencement
CommencementCampus

15 Things You May Not Know about Spring 2018 Commencement

What do Harry Potter and the class of 2018 have in common? Read on. 

Pursuing Her Passion

By Meg Liffick

Graduating Senior Mariam Saeedi grew up in Fishers, Indiana, just up the road from Butler University. Like a lot of kids, she really loved being creative and especially loved art. In high school at Hamilton Southeastern, she took all the art classes they offered and pursued as many opportunities as she could to be creative.  

While she has a passion for artmaking and an obvious talent, when Mariam chose her major before starting her first year at Butler, Art wasn’t even on her radar. “I originally came to Butler because I wanted to be a teacher. I had heard great things about the College of Education. After my first semester, I realized that it wasn’t the right path for me. I felt like I was missing something.”

Like so many college students, Mariam switched her major her freshman year. This time, she chose Marketing.

But again, after taking a few classes, she still wasn’t confident she was on the right path. She had a nagging feeling that wouldn’t go away. One day as she was browsing through the course list for the Art+Design major in the Jordan College of the Arts things became clear. “I wanted to take all of those classes. I realized what I was missing was an opportunity to be really creative and express myself, and I found it in those classes.”

In the Art+Design program, Mariam was able to take coursework that explored different mediums of expression, and in doing, so she found her voice.

“During my time here, I’ve learned about myself. I don’t want to be somewhere where I’m creating what everyone else is doing. I want to create for myself and be an individual.” At Butler, Mariam found the courses, mentors, and opportunities to do just that. She forged strong relationships with her classmates and her instructors, and these relationships inspired her and challenged her to be her best.

“When I was younger, I knew I always liked art, but I never imagined it would turn into something I’d do all of the time. I was more interested in finding a `practical, reasonable career path.’ It all grew on me as I found myself more,” says Mariam.

After graduating this spring with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art+Design, Mariam will begin a prestigious Orr fellowship. After interviewing for months, she was selected with other top seniors from Indiana and Ohio to join the post-graduate experience dedicated to creating a foundation of career success through coursework, professional mentoring, and a full-time, salaried position. Awarded each year to an elite group of graduates, the Orr fellowship has launched the careers of some of the most accomplished young professionals in the city and beyond.

“People don’t think of the arts as a stable field, and I think they are scared to pursue creative paths.” But in finding her major, Mariam found herself. She proved that creativity and a practical career path are not mutually exclusive, and in fact, passion is critical to long term success.

“Loving what you do it the best motivation. It’s so much easier to succeed when you are really passionate about something.”

 

Mariam Saeedi
CommencementPeopleCampus

Pursuing Her Passion

When Mariam Saeedi '18 found her major, she found her voice.

Mariam Saeedi

Pursuing Her Passion

By Meg Liffick

A Snapshot of Something Bigger

By Brittany Bluthardt '20

“This story is only a snapshot of something bigger, genuine, and unique” Butler University senior, and soon to be graduate, Nikki Miceli said as she introduced her capstone project, “Up North.” The video follows with snapshots of her smiling family members, days in the water, and some traditional campfire singing. Clip after clip, Nikki captures the little moments her family celebrates every summer at their cabin in northern Wisconsin. Two years ago, Nikki didn’t know the random footage she took while on vacation would turn into a 16-minute short documentary about her family’s history and legacy. When Nikki came to Butler University, she wasn’t sure what to expect or where to go first. She just jumped in.

Nikki came to Butler because she loved the feel and energy of campus, and it was the first college campus she didn’t get lost on. Beginning as an exploratory major, she tried a little bit of everything and strayed away from everything she knew she didn’t like. Nikki was certain of one thing: she loved to make videos.

“I like video because it’s a more detailed photograph,” she said. “My family makes fun of me because I always have a camera out, but I tell them, ‘In 10 years, you’re going to really like this footage and see how you acted, what we looked like.’ You see so many more intricate, small, wonderful moments with video than you do with photography.”

Nikki and her freshman year roommate made lip sync covers to popular songs in their dorm room, then she would edit the footage with iMovie and upload it to their Youtube channel. At the time, Nikki didn’t think much of it until one video of her singing to “Hakuna Matata” gained over 4,000 views. With the help of her counselor who urged her to pursue video work, she eventually found a home in the college of communication.

Flash forward three years and Nikki will soon be graduating with degrees in digital media production and strategic communication. She’s completed multiple internships with companies like the Big East Digital Network and Webstream Productions, but her greatest experience was found in the heart of campus. As a video intern for Butler University’s Marketing and Communications office, Nikki connects with people and tells their story through Instagram.

“These people at Butler are so dang incredible,” Nikki said. “They are, honestly, the most passionate and caring people you’ll ever meet. I’ve seen that through this internship the most. I’ve learned about everyone’s true, genuine story and excitement about why they love Butler. I just love it.”

Although Nikki pushed herself to complete multiple internships, study abroad in Australia, complete two majors, and have room for a social life, her biggest challenge was gaining self-confidence. Her parents, one an accountant and the other a physical therapist, have supported her throughout her career but couldn’t help. Nikki’s creative side is unique, and she knew she had to work hard to be successful and find a job after college. Rather than change her major or redefine herself, Nikki took the challenge and reached her goals.

“I know what makes me happy,” she said. “Some people told me you go to school to find out who you are, and I thought, ‘No, college only solidified who I was.’ I knew who I was beforehand.”

Nikki took advantage of any opportunity presented to her. She helped create the newest Butler commercial through her internship on campus, and although it was stressful and a lot of work, she doesn’t regret taking on the challenge.

“The commercial project kick-started my confidence and made me realize I have a place here,” she said. “I think Butler and the community of care will stick with me for the rest of my life.”

She said she’ll miss Butler’s tight-knit community, the people, and her experiences, but she is ready to move on. Nikki is unsure where she’ll land after college, but knows she’ll continue making videos and telling stories.

 “I’m confident now -- watch me kill it.”

 

 

Nikki
CommencementPeopleCampus

A Snapshot of Something Bigger

Senior Nikki Miceli uses her experience on campus to tell the stories of others. 

Nikki

A Snapshot of Something Bigger

By Brittany Bluthardt '20

No Literary Grandma Moses

Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2017

In May 2018, I will have completed all the requirements for an MFA in Creative Writing from Butler University and be preparing to graduate. And like so many students, I’ve been asked countless times: What are you going to do with that degree?

My usual answer is that I’m going to have an interesting last quarter of my life. I’ll be 59 by the time 2018 commencement rolls around, so I’m not looking for a career. I have no expectations of becoming a literary Grandma Moses.

I went through the MFA program (30 classroom credits, plus thesis) because I wanted—and got—a great education. I enjoy writing stories about reprobates and other morally ambiguous people—a woman who fled her marriage after 9/11; a meth addict who thinks he’s on a reality show; a recent graduate who takes a job writing scam emails. So that’s what I did.

Over two years as an MFA student, I wrote a play, a movie script, at least a half-dozen short stories (three of which have been published), and a handful of prose poems and flash fiction stories. I learned alternative forms of storytelling and how to write a non-fiction book proposal, read brilliant authors I never would have known about otherwise, and gained insights about writing and storytelling from exceptional faculty and visiting writers.

When I was a kid, I wrote a lot of fiction. Then I stopped. I don’t remember why. The MFA program motivated me to write again, and it enabled me to have my work critiqued by highly accomplished professors and classmates who make up for in talent and insight what they lack in age.

If you’ve ever thought about going back to school—whatever your age—I highly recommend the experience. And if you’re ever in a bookstore or browsing Amazon.com and see a novel about a racist obstetrician who microchips babies so he can track their movements as adults, I hope you’ll buy it.

AcademicsCommencement

No Literary Grandma Moses

"If you’ve ever thought about going back to school—whatever your age—I highly recommend the experience."

by Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

from Spring 2017

Read more

It’s Spring—Batter Up! Tyler Houston ’18 Baseball Player

Hannah Hartzell ’18

Tyler Houston '18 was 7 years old when he first visited Butler University. A Finance major from Brownsburg (Indiana) Houston frequented Butler’s sports camps as a child.

So when the time came to choose a school for himself, Butler immediately came to mind. “I definitely wanted a small school,” he said. “When I came for a tour of the campus, it was everything I remembered. I could see myself here.”  

More specifically: He could see himself as a student athlete here.

“I had an opportunity to play baseball and accomplish my academic goals,” he said.

That’s exactly what Houston has done. After a standout, first-year season, Houston was named second team All-BIG EAST. In spring 2017, he was named first team All-BIG EAST and led the Bulldogs in home runs. However, Houston has developed more than just his athletic ability.

“The first two years were pretty big adjustments,” Houston said. “Once I settled in though, I got better at managing my time.”

“The business program is amazing,” he said. “I’m in a Portfolio Management class right now and I’ve gotten really into investing stocks. Before, I didn’t really understand what that was.”

He has also grown as a leader.

During his first year at Butler, Houston said a senior baseball teammate took the time to mentor him.  “Having that mentor was great,” Houston said. “Now I’m in his shoes and I get the chance to do the same thing for younger athletes.”

In the process, Houston said he has found lifelong friends.

“My favorite part is being around the guys,” he said. “The fun atmosphere is incredible.”

As far as baseball, well he’s not quite done with that either. “Our goal this year is to compete, qualify, and win the BIG EAST tournament,” he said. “And if the opportunity [to play baseball post-collegiately] presents itself, I might pursue that.”

It’s Spring—Batter Up! Madi Christiansen ’18 Softball Player

Hannah Hartzell ’18

If Madi Christiansen ’20 is on the softball field, chances are: Her Mom and Dad are in the stands. The student athlete from Etters, Pennsylvania said her parents have watched nearly every softball game she’s played for the Bulldogs.

“My dad is a huge Butler fan,” she said. “Initially, he and my mom worried about me being so far from home. But now they see how much I really do love it here.”

As a first-year student and athlete at Butler, Christiansen became very tight-knit with her new softball teammates as they made their way to the BIG EAST semifinals. “I’ve made so many friends through softball and through my classes,” she said. “That’s something I wanted when I came here.”

As an Entrepreneurship major with a 3.9 GPA, one of Christiansen’s favorite classes was the first-year real business experience last year, where she worked with a group to develop an imaginary product and business plan.  “It was great because we were actually doing something that will help us out in the future,” she said. “Plus, it helped me meet people.”

“I definitely like the small class sizes as well,” she said. “All my professors know my name and they’re very accommodating with the softball schedule.”

During the spring season, the softball team is gone every Thursday and Friday. But that doesn’t mean Christiansen is idle on the other days. “We have 6:00 AM practice four times a week,” she said. “The set schedule is helpful, but I have to make sure I go to bed early.”

Still, she said the whole Butler experience is worth it.

Whether it’s a trip to Smoothie King; a winning game; or a weekend movie night, Christiansen said she enjoys spending time with her Butler family.

“Last year, I was excited to go home for fall break,” she said. “But after four days, I realized that I really wanted to come back to Butler. This feels like home now.”

Jimmy Lardin ’18

Student Profile

Major / Program: Political Science

 

Meet Jimmy Lardin. SGA president (2017–2018, after two years on Student Senate). Student Orientation Coordinator (promoted after two years as a Student Orientation Guide). Education Reflection Chair for Fall Alternative Break. Four minors (English, Ethics, Environmental Studies, and Peace and Conflict Studies). Campus tour guide.

And that’s just a partial list.

“Out of the three S’s—socialize, sleep, and study—I don’t sleep,” he said with a laugh.

Lardin expected to be active in college. Just not here. The Shelbyville, Indiana, native was “1,000 percent determined not to go to school in Indiana.”

But a friend who was a year ahead of him chose Butler and invited him to campus. Lardin sat in on a business class and, six minutes into the lecture, belched. Loudly. The professor made light of it and used that as a way to incorporate Lardin into the class and make him feel at ease. Afterward, the professor offered her email and phone number in case Lardin had questions about Butler.

Then at lunch in Atherton, Lardin’s friend’s friends told him how passionate they were about Butler. Others chimed in too.

“That’s what sold me,” he said. “People who had no idea who I was were still interested in sharing their love of the school with me.”

He’s seen that love up close in the years since. In summer 2016, Lardin was diagnosed with cancer. He went through surgeries, then chemotherapy.

“The feedback and support I got was outstanding—and far beyond what I could have ever imagined,” including from professors who reached out to express support and offer accommodations for missed classes. Lardin said the cancer is in remission.

“I’m thankful that happened on this campus versus a school where you’re considered more of a number,” he said. 

Lardin is now looking at public policy programs for graduate school, though he wants to work for a while first—ideally on environmental justice issues. In June, he went to India for a month through the School for International Training to work on a food security/climate change project and see if he wants to do international work. He does.

He said Butler has proved to be a great fit, giving him opportunities and satisfying his social nature.

“It’s small enough that I can’t walk from my house to my classes without running into two or three people who I know and love dearly,” he said, “but it’s large enough that I meet one or two new people every single day.”

 

 

 

 

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Jimmy Lardin ’18

Meet Jimmy Lardin. SGA president. Student Orientation coordinator. Education Reflection chair for Fall Alternative Break. Four minors. Campus tour guide.

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Jimmy Lardin ’18

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Commencement

151 Graduate at Winter Commencement

BY

PUBLISHED ON Dec 21 2014

One hundred fifty-one students became alumni on Sunday, December 21, at Butler University’s winter commencement. Graduates include 47 from the College of Business, 42 from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 30 from the College of Education, 17 from the College of Communication, nine from the Jordan College of the Arts, and six from the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

_BS19831Jauvon Gilliam ’01 and Betty Kessler, who earned her teaching certificate from Butler in 1937, received honorary degrees.

Gilliam, who was named Principal Timpanist of the National Symphony Orchestra in 2009 at age 29, told the graduates that “this is the first step in a journey that only gets better from here.”

“Butler has equipped you with the tools needed to survive and thrive in this thing called life,” he said. “You’re ready. Trust yourself and know that your life, and the experiences you’ve had, in all their uniqueness, have placed you right where you need to be at this very moment. Jump in with both feet, and enjoy the ride.”

Kessler, 97, arrived at Butler in 1935 with only one dress in her suitcase and a strong determination to become a teacher of young children. She completed the two-year certificate program at Butler that was required at that time to become an elementary teacher in Indiana. She later earned an education degree through Indiana State University, but regrets that she did not receive a four-year degree from Butler.

Tina Burks, the wife of Butler Board of Trustees Chair Keith Burks, had Kessler as a fourth-grade teacher in Morocco, Indiana. Burks told the graduates that Kessler taught her students “to see and experience other parts of the world.”

“My fondest memory of Mrs. Kessler involves a Christmas gift,” Burks said. “For some odd reason, she picked my name out of the Christmas grab bag, and she gave me a beautiful world globe. While most fourth graders would not ask Santa for a globe, that gift made me feel soooo special…. In our small, rural town, this amazing teacher gave me the world.”

 

Media contact:
Marc Allan
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822