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Can I Help You?: Natalie van Dongen '18

By Cindy Dashnaw

When Natalie van Dongen ’18 describes her passion for the environment, she’s not referring to climate change, clean air, or protecting forests. She’s concerned with how one’s environment can influence how other people treat them.

“Certain socioeconomic groups are treated differently based on their environment or place in the community,” she said. “For example, wealthy and white people, frankly, have access to better food systems and more organic food than lower-income and minority groups.”

Van Dongen credits her childhood for her ability to recognize these disparities. She was born in Indianapolis but grew up in the small farming town of Towanda, Illinois, with a population of just 480 at the 2010 census. Though her family never wanted for anything, it wasn’t the case for everyone in Towanda, where the median household income is under $45,000—and big stores with healthy food options are unknown.

“I was incredibly privileged growing up. I still am. And I knew if I wasn’t using that privilege to help others, I’d feel guilty,” she said. “My childhood is one that not a lot have lived. My experience is my own, and there’s a lot that can be done with it.”

But what?

In thinking about a college degree and a career, Van Dongen found herself considering the employability of her passions.

“I’m quite outspoken and really care about a lot of issues. When I was looking at what to study, I didn’t know which basket to put my eggs in,” she said. “In today’s world, you can be someone who is outspoken yet not very productive. I wanted to make sure I was putting my time and resources where my mouth is, but more than that, I wanted to do it for others.”

At first, mostly because both parents are Butler Bulldogs, she was adamantly opposed to attending Butler. But like many students, the moment she stepped on campus, she made her choice.

“There’s such a sense of community that’s unlike anything else. It’s like a neighborhood but more than that. I’ve never experienced it anywhere else. It’s a sense of solidarity and camaraderie that’s amazing.”

With the help of her professors, Van Dongen centered her academics on critical communications: The importance of messaging and rhetoric, how they can affect our understanding of the world, and how we can change the ways the world works.

Without them, Van Dongen said, she would never have been able to see a career path from combining her studies and her passions. “My professors identified strengths in me that I didn’t see in myself, and encouraged me to do academic and personal work that would help me explore them. In fact, they made me feel more comfortable in all facets of my life,” she said.

She’s now working for the City of Indianapolis, where she began as a Communications Intern. She helps callers to the Mayor’s Action Center figure out which department handles their questions and requests, giving everyone an equal voice.

Van Dongen’s Instagram profile features a quote from Paul Farmer, international health and social justice activist. “The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.”

Now that she’s a Butler graduate, Van Dongen is out to correct the imbalance.

Alum Works to Create ‘Next Big Thing in Solar Power’

By Larry Clow

When Dan Kroupa ’12 walked into Professor Todd Hopkins’ chemistry research lab 11 years ago, he realized for the first time that his passion for science and chemistry could lead to a career. But he didn’t know that such a career would prompt him to tackle one of the most pressing issues in history—or that it would earn him accolades from Forbes Magazine.

Kroupa, now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington’s Clean Energy Institute, was recently named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30: Energy” list for his work on next-generation solar energy technology.

“We’re developing entirely new semiconductor materials that enhance, and could one day replace, current solar absorbers,” he says.

The technology that Kroupa is working on will make today’s solar cells more efficient and easier to produce. The sun is a tremendous source of energy: According to Kroupa, the solar energy that hits the earth in less than two hours contains more power than all the energy humans consume in a year.

The problem is that solar energy is diffuse. Current commercial solar technology doesn’t capture as much of the solar spectrum as it could, and producing solar panels is capital-intensive. While the cost to produce solar panels is declining, Kroupa says panels will need to become even cheaper and more efficient before they’ll be widely adopted.

“Silicon absorbers make up 90 percent of the market. These things are extremely expensive to make and fabricate, and kind of big and rigid. We need to have a very vast amount of solar cells deployed to capture a sufficient amount of that solar radiation,” Kroupa explains. But the results would be worth it. “If we could harvest just a small fraction of solar radiation, we’d be set for a long time.”

Kroupa’s research has found an answer to both challenges through something called quantum cutting. As part of the process, a layer of perovskite (a compound made from common elements) is applied to a silicon solar cell. That coating, applied via a special ink, manipulates the sunlight so that the solar cell can more easily absorb it and convert it into electricity.

“We’re taking high-energy solar photons and converting them into multiple lower-energy photons,” Kroupa says. “It’s a fancy way of saying that we’re getting two-for-one. And if we apply that coating on the surface of the solar cell, we can see improved performance.”

It was Butler that helped guide Kroupa to cutting-edge solar technology research.

“Butler was where I saw that I could apply this unique skill set to solving specific big problems, and one of the areas that I saw could use help was solar energy conversion,” he says. The University is also where he met his wife, Madalyn (Menor) Kroupa ’12, and developed the leadership skills he now uses to guide researchers in the laboratory.

After graduating from Butler, Kroupa earned his PhD at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he worked on next-generation solar technology as a researcher at the federal National Renewable Energy Lab.

The scope of renewable energy projects can be large, and the stakes are high. With so many pressing problems, it can be challenging to remain optimistic while plugging away in the lab. The key, Kroupa says, is to keep things in perspective—and to make a list of what you can accomplish each day.

“The idea is to look at the big picture, but develop a plan for the things you can do to start chipping away at the problem,” he says. “You need to focus on the important things to accomplish for your specific problem while keeping an eye on what you’re working toward. Everything we do in the lab is driven by that.”

Being named to the Forbes list was “exciting,” Kroupa says. “It was the first validation that what we’re trying to do as a company might be a good idea. Getting on the list definitely raised our company profile a little bit. As a startup, you’re always looking for credibility, so any way you can demonstrate that external validation is good.”

Kroupa’s research is being spun off into a private company, BlueDot Photonics, where he is the Chief Technology Officer. There are plenty of challenges ahead, as Kroupa and his team work on refining the technology, finding investors, and determining the best way to bring their product to market. But, he’s optimistic. “It’s going to be the next big thing in solar power,” he says. “It’s just a matter of figuring out how to scale it up and prove it out.”

Dan Kroupa ’12 named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30: Energy” for research on more efficient solar cell
UnleashedAlumni Outcomes

Alum Works to Create ‘Next Big Thing in Solar Power’

Dan Kroupa ’12 named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30: Energy” for research on more efficient solar cell

Community and Compassion: Loor Alshawa `14

By Monica Holb ‘09

Compassion may not have been a course that Loor Alshawa ’14, a two-time Top 100 student of the year, took at Butler University. But it was a lesson she learned along the way, and is now taking it with her into her medical career. Alshawa graduated from the Indiana University School of Medicine in May 2018, ready to take on a residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Kentucky.

Alshawa’s first brush with compassion at Butler may have come from her older sister, also a Butler graduate. Alshawa was on a college visit with her sister, in the midst of the Bulldogs’ 2010 Final Four run, when she spotted Gordon Hayward. Alshawa was compelled to ask for a photo as Hayward made his way to class, and her sister, embarrassed as she was, compassionately didn’t bar Alshawa from ever stepping foot on campus again.

Compassion, however, is expected of siblings; not always of professors and other students. Yet, Alshawa got the sense, right away, that Butler was a tight-knit community.

At Butler, Alshawa learned the importance of compassion, as well as connecting with community. “It is so easy to lose sight of that, but having it ingrained in me at Butler, I hope it will stay with me in my career,” Alshawa said.

A large part of her lesson in compassion came from the myriad of volunteer opportunities Alshawa took part in as a student. For example, through the Diversity Center, she did a tour of volunteering in New Orleans. She also served as the President of the Muslim Student Association for three years. “We went out into the community to help people in need,” Alshawa said of these experiences. One of Alshawa’s favorite things about Butler is that sense of community.

“I went to Butler knowing that I wanted to go to medical school, and Butler helped me get there,” Alshawa said. “A career in medicine can be difficult, but now I am used to having a support system from the Butler community. Staying connected with Butler is my plan.”

Community and compassion mixed with high-level academics were the perfect combination at Butler for Alshawa.

“The academic rigor for medical school is just another level of difficulty,” Alshawa explained. But she was not daunted by the sheer amount of knowledge one must gain in a short amount of time. “I truly believe that Butler set me up for success; the difficulty of Butler courses gave me a leg up,” Alshawa said.

Butler’s academic rigor also put Alshawa in a position to deliver compassionate care. Alshawa had studied French since the seventh grade, but wasn’t planning on adding it to her Biology major. But she admired her French professors and felt she should pursue the language and make it as strong as possible, and decided to double major. With a summer semester in Paris and an independent study her senior year, Alshawa was fluent enough to interview French-speaking people in Indianapolis. The conversations were research about their culture, but also improved her skills. Little did she know that speaking French could help her future patients.

During Alshawa’s OB GYN rotation in medical school, her team had a patient come in by ambulance. The patient had given birth to her baby, but not the placenta, and they were still connected by umbilical cord. The woman was French-speaking only, and the emergency team was not able to even ask for her name. No one could talk to their patient.

Alshawa stepped up and shared her knowledge. “I ended up speaking to her and walking her through what was going on and what we were doing in an emergent situation,” Alshawa said.

These experiences lend Alshawa a vision of who she wants to become as a physician: someone who can interact with patients, visit after visit—without losing her compassion. Butler University’s commitment to academics, and its support of students and the community, will help her achieve just that.

Always in Style: Andrew Gelwicks '15

By Marc Allan, MFA '18

Andrew Gelwicks ’15 is wearing ripped jeans, a white T-shirt, Converse sneakers, and a baseball hat, which seems antithetical to how a stylist to the up-and-coming stars ought to be dressed.

But no, he said. His personal style is to keep things simple.

“You see stylists on TV and they’re portrayed as ultra-glamourous, running around in heels and designer clothes,” he said. “While that is sometimes the case, the reality of it is that styling is more physically demanding than most people would think. You’re carrying garment bags, you’re bringing racks of clothes around to people’s hotel rooms, you’re standing on set for 12 hours. So I just dress for comfort. I love dressing my clients in very luxurious, high-end clothing, but my personal style is not that.”

He added: “At the end of the day, my objective is to make sure that as soon as my client steps in front of the cameras, they look and—more importantly—feel their best. It’s my job to take their style and bring it to the next level.”

And in just three years since graduating from Butler, he has a growing list of clients to prove his point. Celebrities such as Tommy Dorfman and Brandon Flynn (Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why), KJ Apa (Riverdale), Sistine Stallone (model, daughter of Sylvester Stallone), Serayah (Empire), Cordell Broadus (model, Snoop Dogg’s son), Larsen Thompson (dancer/model/actress), Chloe Lukasiak (Lifetime’s Dance Moms), Dascha Polanco (Orange Is the New Black), and Camren Bicondova (Gotham) are just some of who have all taken their fashion cues from him.

 

The Andrew Gelwicks Course

Gelwicks traces his desire to be part of the fashion industry to well before he arrived at Butler. Strategic Communication Professor Rose Campbell remembers looking at the website Gelwicks designed when he was in high school in Cincinnati, Ohio, and being impressed by the modeling, clothing, and design.

“It was a cool, well-done visual, and very clever,” she said. “We don’t see too many students who have that kind of interest early on.” She added: “We didn’t turn him into what he is; he came here laser-focused on what he wanted to do, and he found that our department was the way to get there.”

Gelwicks had looked at a number of schools, but when he visited his older sister’s friend, who was a Butler student, “there was a click between me, the students, and the campus.” He came in as a Strategic Communication major, with a minor in Digital Media Production.

After Gelwicks’ first year at Butler, he wanted to do an internship in New York City. Before the end of his first semester, he had six internship offers around the country, including at Hearst Magazines and Vogue. (He went with Hearst). At the time, the department didn’t have a mechanism to allow him to get credit—something all of the companies he was considering required—so they created a new course, STR199, Field Experience in Strategic Communication.

“That,” Campbell said, “is the Andrew Gelwicks course.”

He also was interested in the design aspects of Strategic Communication, but the department only had one required design course and no photography or videography courses. Strategic Communication Instructor Armando Pellerano worked with Gelwicks, supervising multiple independent studies where he was able to expand his knowledge on photography, video, and design.

“Having an Andrew Gelwicks teaches you about the holes in your curriculum,” Campbell said.

Beyond his coursework, Gelwicks made a splash nationally with articles he wrote for Out magazine and The Huffington Post about being gay in a fraternity. (He published a dozen more pieces for the Huffington site.) And he periodically flew to New York to assist stylists on photo shoots, help out at New York Fashion Week, and to interview for a job. He was adamant about keeping one foot in the city as best he could.

“In my senior year, I did a freelance project for Self magazine, helping them with an event they were doing with Drew Barrymore,” he said. “I would sit in the basement of my senior house helping arrange the guests for this 600-person event.”

Ultimately, he said, Butler “helped me figure out myself, what my priorities are, and my personal goals. If I had gone to school in New York, it would have been very, very different. The fact that I grew up in Ohio and went to school in Indiana really helped me as I’m now in this hyper-chaotic world with extreme personalities and egos. Coming from the Midwest, I was able to be with people who are really grounded and care about their friends and families. That has been so valuable.”

 

Building His Own Brand

After studying in Berlin, Germany, his junior year, Gelwicks came back for the fall 2015 semester and graduated in December. He waited a week or two and moved to New York the first week of January.

That first week, he had 20 interviews. By Friday, he had accepted a job at GQ, working in the fashion closet. Four months in, he met the entertainment editor at Vogue, “an Editor I had been fascinated with for years. I was so curious about her and her job and what she did every day—she books all the celebrities for Vogue, and is such a big force at the magazine.”

Then, by happenstance, Gelwicks ran into her again on the street. She hired him that day and two weeks later, he was handling the celebrity bookings for Teen Vogue.

He was there almost a year—booking celebrity talent for the print magazine and digital, and getting to meet up-and-coming actors, actresses, and musicians. But he missed the fashion element of the business, so on the weekends he started doing test shoots for modeling agencies. He would find photographers and models on Instagram and they would come together to create work for all of their portfolios.

For the next six months, Gelwicks did two or three shoots a weekend to put together as much content as possible. In summer 2016, Madonna’s publicist introduced him to an agent who represents Hollywood stylists and makeup artists. He’s been working in that end of the business ever since.

Connecting with clients happens in a variety of ways. He will sometimes see someone in a new show or movie that interests him and reaches out, or the talent finds him via word of mouth or social media. His agents bring in new work as well.

Right now, his aim is to build his business as much as possible. “I’m working with a lot of great clients who I have a connection with and I feel passionate about—where they’re going, what our vision is, where we want to take their careers.” In the days after this interview, he was scheduled to do two shoots with Cosmopolitan and another with Refinery29, a digital media and entertainment company focused on women.

“I’m really enjoying myself,” he said. “This is definitely a high-stress and 24/7 job, but I can’t imagine doing anything else. And going from being an employee to now operating my own business was definitely a learning curve. I didn’t study business, so figuring out how to operate the financial end of things was incredibly overwhelming at the beginning. All of that aside, though, I’m loving every second of what I’m doing.”

 

Photo courtesy of Ben Hider

Prepared for the Long Term: Alex Anglin '10

In early June, Alex Anglin ’10—Butler University Trustee, Lacy School of Business graduate, and walk-on for the men's basketball team that went to the 2010 National Championship Game—shared the news that he's going back to school this fall for his MBA.

At Duke University.

“Don’t hold that against me,” he said with a smile.

Anglin was on the bench when Gordon Hayward's last-second shot bounced off the rim and Duke beat Butler, 61-59, in the 2010 national championship game. He remembers watching from the bench and thinking that the ball “was tracking well, so I thought it had a shot to go in. But it is what it is.”

In the years since, Anglin has spent far more time building his career than agonizing over the loss. Since graduating, he’s gone from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to Eli Lilly & Co., and now Lilly is financially sponsoring his MBA and holding a position for him after he's finished.

He remembers what Coach Brad Stevens used to tell his Butler teams: Enjoy the moment, but don't let college be the best four years of your life. Anglin already knew that going into Butler. By the time he finished, he’d done three internships, met his future wife, Lindsey (Corbitt, now a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney within the Marion County prosecutor’s office), and landed a job.

“Basketball’s not forever,” he said. “I went to school to prepare academically and professionally for the long term.”

*

Anglin came to Butler from Kokomo, Indiana, two years after his sister Kym. In high school, he‘d been active in Future Business Leaders of America, and he also played basketball.

“I think I had a natural draw to what Butler had to offer—small class sizes, a big city with access to a diverse set of organizations for internships and community involvement.” he said.

The First-year Business Experience course gave him a “dunking” into potential business disciplines, and he was hooked. Then he took the accounting and finance modules, and those also clicked. Professor Pamela Rouse, an accounting lecturer, suggested he pursue Accounting. She told him that Accounting is the language of business, a critical component of how organizations analyze their business and communicate information for decision-making purposes. Anglin didn’t know what industry he wanted to go into, but he figured he could apply Accounting to a variety of businesses, including financial services, healthcare, and manufacturing. He knew he wanted something flexible so he could eventually find the right path. He decided to major in Accounting, with a minor in Management Information Systems.

As a sophomore, he did the first of his internships, with Allison Transmission, a “great and valuable experience” that gave him his first real taste of the business world.

Also that year, he decided to try to walk on to Butler’s basketball team.

“I thought I would be OK coming to school as a ‘normal student,’” he said. “But I soon realized that I missed playing basketball in a competitive team setting which was a big part of my childhood.”

Stevens, who‘d seen Anglin play in high school, welcomed him, as did the team.

“The family culture is a big part of the Butler system,” Anglin said, “you’re expected to be fully vested in the team and contribute whether you’re a starter and leading scorer or the last man off the bench. That mindset helped me adjust and say I’m here to be the best I can be and help the team get better.”

At the same time, he knew the primary reason he was in school: “To be in the best position to be successful after graduation.”

Following his junior year, Rouse helped him land an internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the auditing/tax consulting firm. He did well and he liked the work enough that Aaron Schamp, a Butler Trustee and Partner/ITPA Midwest Regional Leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers, offered him a full-time position after graduation.

He accepted. But there was still a year of school to go.

*

Anglin played sparingly during his four years with the basketball team, scoring 14 points in 42 games. But being a walk-on still meant practicing at 6:00 AM, being there for every game and team meeting, and training. Balancing academics and basketball “was pretty intense,” especially around NCAA tournament time.

He credits his professor and classmates with helping him keep up with the work in one class in particular, Taxation for Partnerships and Corporations, which met for three hours on a Wednesday in the spring of his senior year. The coursework, he said, was “meaty material that you need to be in front of the professor to understand.”

He got through, and finished his Butler career with a summer internship at the Butler Business Consulting Group (BBCG), which works with businesses to solve their challenges.

“After interning with large public companies, the BBCG was a perfect segue for me to understand the small business mindset as well as to hone skills that are required to lead a finance organization,” he said. “The BBCG provided me an intimate view into the daily roles and responsibilities of a CFO, a role that I aspire to assume.”

Anglin impressed Chris Stump, Project Manage–CFO Services with the consulting group.

“Alex provided excellent contributions to a variety of client projects with the highest level of professionalism and teamwork,” he said. “His demeanor was always pleasant and borderline shy as his nature was very reserved at that time. He led more by action than words. BBCG team members and clients all enjoyed working with Alex.”

Zach Hahn ’11

Zach Hahn ‘11 has always been a team player.

A four-year member of the Butler Men’s Basketball team, Hahn helped the Bulldogs reach the NCAA championship games in 2010 and 2011. He grew as a player (and a person) under the guidance and poise of Coach Brad Stevens.

A Physical and Health Education major in the College of Education at Butler, he formed close relationships with professors and classmates to reach his high academic goals—he made the Horizon League All-Academic team three times.

“In life, you are going to be on many teams,” Hahn said. “It’s not always going to be about you. It should be about the bigger picture. Whether it’s school or work or family, you have to work together to try and accomplish the goals you have.”

He recalls his professors setting up Skype in the classroom so he could keep up with lectures while on the road for basketball.

He spent the second semester of his senior year student teaching at Shortridge High School and Park Tudor School in Indianapolis, which allowed him to observe the day-to-day lives of the teaching professionals he aspired to follow.

He soaked up the advice of COE professors Mindy Welch and Lisa Farley, who Hahn said “served as a role model and an example of what all of us as educators hope to become someday.”

But more than anything, he said Butler taught him the importance of community and building relationships.

Hahn is now the Men’s Head Basketball Coach and Health and Physical Education Teacher at Center Grove High School in Greenwood, Indiana. He credits Butler with giving him the experiences that helped him reach his goals.

“As an educator, I’m a firm believer that people don’t care what you know until they first know that you care about them,” he said. “My professors did that for me.”

Zach Hahn
Alumni OutcomesAthleticsPeople

Zach Hahn ’11

Values gained on the team play out in the classroom.

Keeping Teachers Teaching: Amanda Huffman ’12, METL ’16

By Marc Allan, MFA '18

Amanda Huffman ’12, METL ’16 wrote her master’s thesis on how to mentor math educators to keep them in the profession. Then she put her plan into action.

Working in collaboration with several Butler University professors and in partnership with Pike High School in Indianapolis, Huffman established a mentoring program at Pike, where she has taught Math since 2012. The program helps Butler’s future teachers bridge the gap between what they theoretically know about math and teaching and the reality of classroom life.

That program has proved to be so effective that it has expanded to other subjects at Pike, a 3,500-student school on the city’s northwest side. During the 2017–2018 school year, Jenny DiVincenzo ’16 mentored eight future English teachers and Ali Ranallo ’16 supported a group of eight would-be Social Studies teachers.

During the weekly sessions, which took place after school on Wednesdays, the mentors shared career advice, classroom tips, lesson-planning ideas—anything to help make the future teachers more comfortable and prepared.

“It’s a powerful thing to sit down with somebody," Meredith Varner ’18 said. “In college, it’s really easy to think of the most beautiful picture of a classroom, where every lesson runs really smoothly and times are perfect and you integrate those strategies and its incredible execution. We were able to get into the nitty-gritty of what it looks like to apply teaching concepts to the actual content and what it looks like to bring that into the classroom.”

Varner did her student-teaching at Pike in Indianapolis from January to March. By the time she had finished, she had verbally agreed to a full-time offer from Pike to teach math there beginning in 2018–2019. Varner then went to Westlane Middle School, which feeds into Pike High School, from March to May and, when she finished there, returned to Pike and ended the year by filling in for a teacher who went on maternity leave.

She said she benefited from what she learned in Butler’s College of Education, but also from what she learned from Huffman, her mentor.

New Pike High School teachers are assigned what’s called a “cooperating teacher” to help them through early growing pains in the classroom, but those are usually highly experienced teachers. 

DiVincenzo, who in June finished her second year of teaching English at Pike, said there’s something reassuring about having a mentor who’s close to your own age sharing her experiences. That’s why she wanted to be a mentor.

“I am more of a neutral person they can go to,” she said, sitting in her classroom, one corner of which was decorated with Butler pennants and pictures. “And I’m closer in age to them, so they feel more comfortable.”

She said her mentees wanted to know about topics ranging from lesson-planning to how to navigate relationships with coworkers and maintain professionalism even if you have different philosophies. Each session would focus on something different.

DiVincenzo studied Education and English at Butler and is licensed to teach English as a New Language. She teaches three sections of that and three of regular English 10. She said her faculty coworkers at Pike have been incredibly helpful, “but I would have had less stress and less anxiety going into my first year if I’d had a mentor. It does feel nice to be supported and feel like I have a Butler community here.”

Ranallo, who finished her second year of teaching Social Studies at Pike in the spring, said she was delighted to be a mentor. “Butler was such a great part of my life, and I wanted to keep going with that and helping out as much as I can,” she said.

She spent her Wednesdays with her mentees discussing topics like: How to talk about current events and help students process the information; how to explain and use primary sources; how teachers figure out if their students learned what they were trying to teach them. Classroom management, observing state standards, and how to make sure you’re applying them—those subjects also came up frequently.

Ranallo said she advised the future teachers to keep trying new things. There are going to be lessons and strategies you’ve learned that are going to be fantastic and you’re going to want to do them again, and there are going to be some that need some major readjustments or tweaks, she said. But your students deserve new ideas, so keep trying them and don’t be afraid to go for it.

The mentoring program began to take shape in 2012, the summer after Huffman graduated, when she participated in a Pike/Butler Partnership for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math teachers. There, Butler professors Ryan Flessner (College of Education) and Mary Kron (Department of Mathematics and Actuarial Sciences) gave a presentation about combining math and new methods of teaching.

Huffman approached her advisor, Associate Professor of Education Shelly Furuness, and together they figured out how best to translate that idea into action.

“She believed us in the College of Education when we said we continue to support our students even after graduation,” said Furuness, Huffman’s thesis advisor.

Huffman, who’s now six years into her teaching career, said she’s proud to have established the mentoring program, particularly because it fits with the Butler College of Education’s mission: To make schools what they should be—not what they are.

Huffman teaches five sections of pre-calculus/trigonometry and one International Baccalaureate senior level section of calculus. One of the lessons she shared with her mentees was a classroom session where she broke up her class into groups and gave each group a calculus problem to solve at the board.

Once the group finished and had the correct answer, the members were dispersed to other groups until, finally, there was one group of 20.

“Some teachers would think that there’s nothing happening there,” she said. “It’s going to turn into chaos. I would say three-fourths of the students were still engaged in that last group, trying to figure out that last problem.”

Furuness said Huffman’s work—which earned national recognition from the federal Department of Education in 2016—demonstrates how Butler’s College of Education integrates theory and practice.

“So often, the narrative out in the world is that what you learn in teacher preparation isn’t real,” Furuness said. “We’re showing them people who are doing these things. Amanda, Jenny, and Ali help bridge that theory-to-practice gap. Our students tell us over and over again how thankful they are. They like seeing the graduates doing the work.”

Enjoying the Journey: Smita Conjeevaram '85

By Cindy Dashnaw

Smita Conjeevaram ’85 was born in Mumbai at a time when a college degree for Indian daughters was generally a means to one end: A marriage arranged by her family. But Conjeevaram, describing herself as “intense and serious” from her earliest days, had a family that helped her focus on her own goals, rather than on others’ expectations.

For instance, she joined India’s National Cadet Corps at age 18 and became South India’s first female glider pilot.

“My mother was very progressive in how she raised me and my siblings,” she said. “She wanted us to be able to rely on ourselves when we grew up.”

Conjeevaram has relied on herself all her life. As an adult, holding senior positions at prominent investment management firms for over 25 years, hundreds of other people learned to rely on her, too. Now retired, she continues to keep her finger on the pulse of business and the financial industry by serving on corporate boards, including a public financial tech company, SS&C. And a new endeavor has another audience counting on her: young artisans hoping she can revive global interest in handloom textiles.

 

A Midwestern Butler Welcome

Her father’s electronics and plastics manufacturing company inspired Conjeevaram to pursue a business career. In India, she had earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics and was working toward a master’s degree when she met her future husband. He accepted a job with Allison Gas Turbine in Indianapolis to design military aircraft engines, and Conjeevaram packed up and moved with him.

She had no intention of altering plans for her life, however.

“Ideologically, I was very much about building a career and making the most of opportunities that came my way,” she said. Conjeevaram enrolled at Butler University to pursue Accounting and Business Administration. She remembers how welcome she felt.

“Butler had a very comfortable and approachable ambience, and the professors were fantastic,” she said. “People were curious about my background … but never did I feel like I was different. Everyone had an equal interest in my success and gave a lot of care to making me feel like I belonged.”

Conjeevaram adjusted to the informality of an American campus, where it was OK to call professors by their first names and keep your seat when they entered the classroom, and she appreciated Butler’s approach to academics.

“While at Butler, I felt I was not only learning through courses directly related to business and finance, but also through a curriculum that included liberal arts classes that brought perspective and provided a well-rounded education, something I missed in India,” Conjeevaram said.

Since earning her Butler degree magna cum laude in 1985 and becoming a CPA in 1989, Conjeevaram has held senior positions in some of the most sophisticated Wall Street financial services companies: PwC, Long-Term Capital, Fortress Investment Group, and others. Among other things, she was actively involved in growing the business and designing and bringing about efficiency and controls in operational infrastructure.

 

Business of a Different Sort

Now that she’s retired, Conjeevaram has time to devote to her other passions: textiles and philanthropy. She visited every textile center in South Asia, spending three months with weavers and artisans and the nonprofit groups and governmental agencies that support them. She realized that the centuries-old craft of handloom was dying and, with it, the life and culture of the weavers. During a three-year weaving course in Florence, Italy, she also realized her textile books had little visual documentation of old weaving techniques.

She later captured her journey on film and turned the footage into a trailer, Threads of India, from which she plans to make a documentary.

Meanwhile, Conjeevaram launched online retailer Esse et Cie to create a marketplace for artisans she met and to continue visually documenting textile arts. She hopes that by educating consumers on how products are made, they will appreciate them more.

 

‘You’ll Never Regret Finance’

In addition to advising young textile artisans, Conjeevaram also has some advice for Butler students.

“Finance and Accounting are two courses which you’d never regret studying. They present career options in a wide variety of industries,” she said. “While it is great to plan out your career path and future early on, it’s important to be flexible and nimble to make the most of opportunities that arise. At most times, how you respond will dictate your career path. So go with the flow, take a few risks, and enjoy the journey.”

Dedicated to Change the Art of Healthcare: Shandeep Singh ’18

By Krisy Force

Recent Butler University graduate Shandeep Singh’s ’18 Linkedin opening says a lot about who he is as a person and who he hopes to be as a medical professional. He writes, “I am a firm believer that medicine is an art that combines compassion and knowledge in order to provide effective healthcare.”

When his Career Planning Strategies Professor Courtney Rousseau read that statement in fall 2017, she remembers being struck not only by its verbiage but by its simplicity.

“The typical response I get from students pursuing fields in the medical profession is that they want to help people or they like science,” Rousseau said. “But it’s the first time I’ve ever heard anyone describe the medical field as an art. Statements like that are going to help develop the empathy that is sometimes lacking in healthcare.”

So if Singh’s passion is to become a doctor, what led him to pursue an internship through Butler’s Washington, DC Learning Semester? He figured out, like most Butler students, that at Butler he was able to combine his other passion—politics—with his love for science to pursue a hands-on learning experience.

When searching for an internship in Washington, Singh made sure to choose one that covered topics in the medical field while also allowing him an inside look into the career of a politician. Singh ended up interning for Representative Jackie Walorski in the capital for four months in spring 2018.

“My internship focused on the backside of healthcare, which allowed me to learn how I can really make a change and possibly make the system more efficient,” Singh said. “This is how it all starts. You develop a medical product, you go to Congress and lobby, and you hope to get funding.”

Singh explained there are a lot of great products that could potentially save someone’s life or ease the process of getting treatment, but the general public doesn’t even know about them because the lobbying and funding process is inefficient.

As a doctor, he hopes to use what he learned in his internship to help lobby for the products and devices that could positively impact patients’ lives.

Rousseau said students like Singh illustrate that careers shouldn’t be the only thing that defines who we are.

“Singh knew he was passionate about a lot of things and he knew he could explore them without them necessarily aligning,” Rousseau said. “It’s finding the right spaces for the things you’re passionate about.”

Megan (Wesler) Larsen ’12

Megan (Wesler) Larsen ’12 MPAS ’13 said she is grateful for the well-rounded education she received a Butler. So, no doubt, are her patients.

At the time of this interview, Larsen worked as a Physician Assistant (PA) in the emergency rooms at Community North and Community East hospitals in Indianapolis. Now she works in Trauma/Emergency surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago, where she sometimes has to deliver the worst news possible.

“The first conversation that I had like that takes the breath out of you,” she said. “You don’t know what to say and you don’t want to say it wrong. The first time I had to have that conversation, I brought my attending physician in with me and we had that conversation together. The next time, you do it on your own and you develop your own way to approach it.”

Larsen said that while nothing can truly prepare you for moments like that, her Butler education taught her “ways to cope and think on your feet and be resourceful and use others around you. That’s been very beneficial to me in my specific career path.”

Larsen came to Butler from New Paris, Ohio, a town of 1,500. By the time she arrived on campus, she’d made up her mind to be a PA. She wanted the flexibility to be able to change specialties and the opportunity to finish school faster than physicians do.

While she worked on her five-year degree, she also managed to fit in swimming for the Butler team, participating in Kappa Kappa Gamma, and working with the Timmy Foundation for Global Health.

“I’m truly grateful for the five years I got to spend here,” she said. “At Butler, it’s so much more than a degree. The way you’re taught at Butler—the way I was taught at Butler—it digs a little bit deeper. You learn so much about so much that when you go out into world, you’re not just prepared for your specific career but you also are worldly and you have a touch of humanitarianism.”

Megan Wesler Larsen
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Megan (Wesler) Larsen ’12

  Her ER patients will be glad she learned her profession at Butler.

Jauvon Gilliam ’01

Jauvon Gilliam ’01 came to Butler on a full piano scholarship. He left a timpanist—and a darn good one.

In the years since he graduated with a degree in arts administration, he went on to perform with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for seven years and, for the past five-plus years, as the principal timpanist for the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC. He’s also performed with the symphony orchestras in Cleveland, San Francisco, Detroit, and Indianapolis, as well as the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

“I feel like I have the best job in the world—I get paid to beat stuff,” he said with a laugh. “I get paid to bang on drums.”

Gilliam had played a little bit of drums and percussion in youth orchestra while in high school, but it wasn’t until his sophomore year at Butler when he met Percussion Artist in Residence Jon Crabiel that he thought about timpani.

“We had a three-minute conversation,” Gilliam recalled, “and he said, ‘You know, you can make money playing drums.’ I said, ‘Really?’”

He talked it over with his piano teacher/academic advisor, Steve Roberson, who told Gilliam to follow his heart. Two days later, he changed his major to devote full time to timpani.

From his piano training, Gilliam already knew how to make music. What he needed was a proficient teacher who could instruct him in technique. He found that in Crabiel.

After a year of Crabiel’s tutelage, he was playing at a national percussion convention.

“I cannot give him enough praise,” Gilliam said. I’ve called him a hundred times and said, ‘Dude, I love you, thank you, because I couldn’t have done it without you.’”

Professors Crabiel, Roberson, and Dan Bolin, he said, “were like father figures to me. Even thinking of it now, I wish I could give all three of them a hug because I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Jauvon Gilliam
Alumni OutcomesArts & CulturePeople

Jauvon Gilliam ’01

  Jauvon Gilliam ’01 came to Butler on a full piano scholarship. He left a timpanist—and a darn good one.

Ron Smith ’88, MS ’96

Ron Smith ’88, MS ’96 likes to tell a story about his Butler experiences. It starts when he was a first-year student in an education course where he was expected to spend time in a classroom. At that time, he thought he was going to be a high school teacher and a coach, but the professor placed him in a kindergarten class.

Smith recalled: “After 10 minutes of arguing with him about my placement, he said, ‘Ron you’ll learn a lot about child development. I’m not changing the placement. I think you should do this.’”

Smith was assigned to a male kindergarten teacher who was “magic” in front of young children, and he ended up changing his major that semester to elementary education.

Two years later, Smith was taking an early childhood class focused on preschool. The professor put him in a preschool setting for field experience. Again, he stayed after class and argued with the professor, saying he would probably teach kindergarten or older and didn’t want to work in a preschool because “there’s no money in preschool.”

“And he said, “Ron, you’ll learn a lot about child development. I’m not changing the placement. I think you should do this.”

“I did,” Smith said. “And I loved the preschool experience. It was magic working with those children.”

A few years later, Smith became the director of Warren Township’s Early Childhood Center, one of the largest preschools in the Midwest.

“And I made a good living doing it,” Smith said with a smile. “I share that story often with students from the College of Education to let them know that sometimes professors see things in you that you might not see in yourself yet. It’s good to pay attention to what they have to say.”

Smith, who grew up in Portage, Indiana, came to Butler on a cross country and track scholarship. After graduating with his bachelor’s degree, he taught elementary school for seven years while earning his master’s in school administration at Butler. He took a job in Wayne Township as an assistant principal, then spent 10 years running Warren Township’s Early Childhood Center.

He’s now in his sixth year as principal of the IPS/Butler Laboratory School, a partnership between Butler and Indianapolis Public Schools.

Smith said he owes his success to Butler.

“Butler is a unique place,” he said. “And it’s a really special place. I never felt like a cog in the wheel or a number here. My experience was very personal, and the connections that I made with my professors here at Butler continue to this day.”

Ron Smith
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Ron Smith ’88, MS ’96

  The Lab School principal has learned to adapt.

Andrew Kazmierczak ’13

When Andrew Kazmierczak ’13 thinks about all the guiding principles he learned at Butler, one of the first that comes to mind is the five-year rule.

“One of my professors said, ‘Whatever you do, think five years down the road,’” Kazmierczak said. “‘What’s going to be more impactful—what you’re doing now or this other decision that you make?’”

At the time, Kazmierczak used that advice to decide whether to go to watch Butler play in the NCAA tournament or stay at school and take a test. (“I got a big ol’ zero on the test,” he said.)

But early on in his career, as product marketing manager for Oracle’s Marketing Cloud software, or now, as a Senior Solution Architect on the Marketing Cloud Experience team for Salesforce, he uses that idea to guide his choices.

Kazmierczak, who earned his degree in Marketing and Management Information Systems, grew up in South Bend, Indiana. He chose Butler because “I came on campus and felt like I fit. I felt welcome.”

As a sophomore, he was speaking on the Butler Business Scholars program when he met a senior who spoke about the post-leadership opportunity program with ExactTarget. He talked to her, interned, became a contractor, then a full-time employee. When the company was acquired by Salesforce.com, he continued on as a software consultant.

Then Oracle called, offering the opportunity to be in charge of its business-consumer cross-channel marketing platform. Essentially, he said, that means marketing software that companies like Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc. use to send you email confirmations and reminders of your reservations.

Kazmierczak said he expected that it would take him at least five years to be where he is now in his career. He credits his success, at least in part, to what he and others learn at Butler.

“There’s some sort of innate hustle we have when we graduate from here,” he said. “You do better work, you’re more motivated to do good work. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some kids from other schools and some kids from Butler and I’d take the Butler kid on my team any day of the week and twice on Sunday.”

Andrew Kazmierczak
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Andrew Kazmierczak ’13

The greatest lesson Andrew learned at Butler? The five-year rule.

Maria Porter ’12

Maria Porter ’12 grew up in Fishers, Indiana—a hop, skip, and a jump, and maybe another hop, from Butler University—and intended to put some distance between her and her hometown when she went to college. But she visited Butler, met professors and others students, and realized that “this was where I needed to be.”

Time proved her right. Initially, Porter was unsure what she wanted to study. Something to do with technology, media, art, or maybe even theatre, she thought. So she started as an Exploratory major, which gave her time to figure out what she wanted to do. After shadowing a graphic designer, she found her calling.

Four years later—after a college career that included two years as a Butler Collegian photographer, a semester abroad in Australia, and an internship with Indiana Humanities—she was one of the first graduates from Butler’s newly created Art + Design major.

“Even though it was a new program and we were still figuring stuff out, we were all in it together and the professors”—Elizabeth Mix, Gautam Rao, and Leah Gauthier—“made sure our needs were being met and we were having a good time doing it.”

Since graduating, Porter has worked as the Graphic Services Manager for the law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, which has 10 offices, including in downtown Indianapolis, where she’s based. There, she works with attorneys and the marketing team, human resources, their diversity committee—anyone who needs visual communication.

Porter recalled that while at Butler, she took a Global and Historical Studies course on women, in which the professor encouraged the students to figure out how to learn and grow from listening to the opinions of people who had different backgrounds, beliefs, and ideas than they did.

“In my job, everyone’s differing needs and opinions and priorities are something that I have to balance on a daily basis,” she said. “That’s something I learned at Butler.”

Maria Porter
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Maria Porter ’12

  She's using what she learned in Art + Design every day.

Jessie Eastman ’15

Less than a year after graduating from Butler’s Lacy School of Business, Jessie Eastman ’15 was working at Sun King Brewing Company, Indianapolis’ second largest brewing company, and feeling grateful for her Butler education.

“Everything I was able to do at Butler really prepared me,” she said at the time. “It is such a great community that encourages you to push yourself to be the best you can be.”

Eastman had interned at Sun King during her fall semester senior year, and she ended up working for them part-time during her spring semester as well.

“Something that I will forever value from the Lacy School of Business is the requirement of two internships,” she said. “My second internship actually landed me my full-time position.”

Internship experience wasn’t the only thing that the Lacy School of Business provided. Eastman said things like cross subject learning really prepared her for the real world.

“I was a marketing major, but I took classes in accounting, classes in finance, and entrepreneurship,” Eastman said. “In the Lacy School of Business, it is real life, real business and it is crazy how true that is. If I didn’t realize that during in my undergraduate studies; I am definitely realizing it now.”

Eastman stayed with Sun King as the Community Development and Events facilitator, working with over 350 nonprofits across Indianapolis, until the end of May 2017, when she moved to Detroit. She is now with a company called Shift Digital, working as a Digital Strategy Associate.

"The company has tons of clients (mainly automotive) but I sit specifically on the BMW team," she said.

Jessie Eastman
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Jessie Eastman ’15

“Something that I will forever value from the Lacy School of Business is the requirement of two internships.”

Josh Pedde ’04

Joshua Pedde came to Butler in 2000 wanting to get into choral conducting—and did he ever come to the right place. Sixteen years later, Pedde was named as the new Artistic Director of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir (ICC). He's now in his second year.

Pedde took over for Henry Leck, the longtime Butler professor who founded the choir 32 years ago and grew it to the point that it provides music education to more than 5,000 children in central Indiana. Each week, the choir holds 110 rehearsals and music classes at Butler, where the organization is housed.

“I’m really honored that the person who started it chose me to take over,” Pedde said. “It’s the biggest compliment.”

Pedde had chosen Butler based on recommendations from several of his high school music teachers in Kokomo, Indiana, who knew Leck and the quality of the music program. “A lot of arrows kept pointing to Butler,” Pedde said. “Once I came to campus, it just felt like home. It felt right to me.” He met Leck at his audition and Leck became Pedde's choir director his freshman year. That year, Pedde walked into the ICC office to ask about becoming a choral conductor.

He said Leck and many others at Butler instilled in him values including hard work and a strong moral and ethical compass. “You put in your time, you put in your effort, but you always bring your best to the table,” he said. “Bring quality and it will always pay off for you.” He also became interested in political science, which broadened his view of the world and the part music can play in creating common culture.

Pedde received his Bachelor of Vocal Music Education and was a graduate assistant in 2005 and 2006 while earning his Master of Choral Conducting. After graduating, he taught elementary school in Zionsville and continued to work with the ICC. Then, four years ago, they created the position of assistant artistic director, and he joined the choir full-time.

“I cannot say thank you enough to the faculty and staff at Butler,” he said. “They are truly top-notch. What they put into their students and what they give is incredible. And the way they care about them as a whole person and help them mature into those people we see out in the community is absolutely wonderful.”

Josh Pedde
Alumni OutcomesArts & CulturePeople

Josh Pedde ’04

  He learned from the master. Now he’s taking over for the master.

JoJo Ciancio ’14

JoJo Ciancio ’14 came to Butler with a clear vision—find the perfect post-graduate job. He took advantage of opportunities provided through Butler’s Lacy School of Business to come out on top.

An Economics and Finance double major, Ciancio developed relationships with professors and attended campus networking events to embed himself in the Indianapolis community as a future business professional.

He found his first internship at Localstake, a community investment company, through a career fair held at Butler. Ciancio worked as a Financial Analyst and was able to watch the start-up company grow from the ground up.

He then scored a second internship at Pearl Street Venture Funds, a venture capital firm, through a connection to a Butler graduate.

“I’m really fortunate I came here because there aren’t many schools that can get so many internships for students,” he said. “It really helps you learn on-the-job skills, what employers look for, and how to apply skills you learn in class to real-world situations.”

A star on the football field, Ciancio was named the co-recipient of the first Pioneer Football League Scholar-Athlete of the Year. His teammates voted him senior captain during his final season, and he was chosen for the Pioneer Football League Academic Honor Roll for four consecutive years.

Ciancio said Butler provided him with the tools and the mindset to succeed in all aspects of life. Since graduating, he has been working as a Staff Consultant in the finance department at H. J. Umbaugh and Associates, a CPA firm in Indianapolis. In 2017, he was promoted to Senior Staff Consultant at the firm.

“The most important thing that Butler teaches you is that you have to be able to communicate with others,” he said. “In order to be successful in a job, but really at anything in life, you not only have to set goals, but you have to be able to communicate to peers, or a supervisor, what you want to accomplish.”

JoJo Ciancio
Alumni OutcomesPeople

JoJo Ciancio ’14

  JoJo came to Butler with goals—and met them.

Andrew Gonzales ’14

On his way to becoming a Pharmacist for Marsh supermarkets and Pharmacist Consultant for the Indianapolis-based non-profit organization HealthNet, Andrew Gonzales ’14 had several eye-opening experiences at Butler that helped shape him both as a person and as a professional.

One was during a medical mission trip to Ecuador, where he encountered children living in abject poverty who “really had no type of medical care other than us.” Another was meeting and helping Indianapolis residents who came to Butler’s Community Outreach Pharmacy to get medical attention.

Both made him acutely aware of the need for the services he would provide once he earned his Doctor of Pharmacy degree.

“I saw things that I would not have seen otherwise,” he said.

Gonzales, who grew up in nearby Carmel, Indiana, said Butler also helped improve his people skills.

“Before I started at Butler, I didn’t have a lot of professional leadership type of skills,” he said. “Butler helped me understand leadership and how to communicate with people. I jumped in after a couple of years and I haven’t looked back since.”

He saw the value of connections when one of his Pharmacy professors, Jeanne VanTyle, put him in touch with the medical director at HealthNet.

“He was looking for somebody who could be really adventurous and willing to oversee something a lot of pharmacists don’t really know a whole lot about,” Gonzales said. “She brought my name to him.”

Gonzales still works for HealthNet, where he's now Director of Pharmacy Services. In that role, he manages HealthNet's extensive 340B program (a drug discount program) and serves as the organization's main contact for medication-related services throughout the health centers. In addition to his administrative pharmacist roles there, he still cares about directly serving patients, so he moonlights at Costco Pharmacy a few times a month.

“Butler really did an excellent job getting me connections and teaching me how to talk to people and how to network with people,” he said, “because that’s what’s important in the long run.”

Alumni OutcomesPeople

Andrew Gonzales ’14

  Butler taught him leadership.

Katrina Rodriguez ’15

Katrina Rodriguez is part of the 100 percent—the job placement rate for the College of Education. Since graduating in 2015, she has been working at the Brownsburg (Indiana) Early Childhood Center, first as a Teacher in the developmental preschool and now in an administrative role as a Transition Teacher who helps parents get special-education services for their children.

She said Butler prepared her well—in small classes taught by professors who have vast experience teaching in elementary school classrooms as well as college classrooms.

“We got to student-teach for a whole year, which I found was not really common in most other colleges,” she said. “And getting you in the classroom in your freshman year to observe was awesome.”

Rodriguez’s mother was a kindergarten teacher, and she wanted to follow in her footsteps. She chose Butler based largely on its placement rate for education, which has been at 100 percent for more than a decade. “The 100 percent placement rate on the poster they have in front of the College was really eye-opening.”

While at Butler, Rodriguez did her student-teaching at the Butler Lab School, a St. Mary’s preschool classroom, and in a fourth-grade classroom in Wayne Township. She also was part of the team of Education, Pharmacy, and Business students who wrote and published the book Max Greene and the Vaccine Team, which was designed to help children get over their fear of shots. In addition, she was a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority and participated in a trip to Italy to visit schools that use the Reggio Emelia teaching method, which is the foundation of Butler’s College of Education teaching.

Rodriguez’s pride in her education is on full display on her office wall, where she has hung her diploma (Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, cum laude), Honors Program-High Honors Certificate, and Alternative Special Education Licensure Certificate (2016).

And there will be more: Rodriguez is now back at Butler, working on her Master's in Effective Teaching and Leadership.

Katrina Rodriguez
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Katrina Rodriguez ’15

  We got to student-teach for a year, which was not really common in most other colleges.

Brendan King ’17

Brendan King ’17 didn’t know what he was in for when he arrived at the Butler Bowl just a few weeks into his first year to cover his first game for butlersports.com.

King was assigned to do the live play-by-play broadcast for the men’s soccer game against Indiana University in September 2013. The Bulldogs won a thrilling victory in double overtime against the Hoosiers in front of a crowd of almost 5,000 people. King knew from that moment on that he had made the right choice in Butler University.

The Mokena, Illinois, native came to Butler as a Journalism major and then switched to Sports Media when Butler first started offering the program his sophomore year.

“Sports Media and the College of Communication have done a fantastic job of preparing me just by the vast majority of activities I’ve gotten involved in whether that’s in the classroom or out of the classroom,” he said.

King says being able to get involved right away like he did was one of the things that drew him to the school. Since his freshman year, King has been a sports reporter for the Butler Collegian and a sports broadcaster for a number of Butler athletic teams.

Outside of the classroom, King has had numerous internship opportunities both in Indianapolis and across the country. He spent summer 2016 in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, working for a minor league baseball team called the Orleans Firebirds. He was the play-by-play broadcaster for the team, developing valuable on-the-job experience during his time there.

In fall of his senior year, King worked as a broadcast intern for 1070 The Fan, a local sports radio station in Indianapolis. After graduation, he spent the summer broadcasting games for the Boise Hawks, the Short-Season Single-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, then returned to Indianapolis and 1070 The Fan, where he's been filling in. Next season, he will be the number two voice of the South Bend Cubs.

He said he is more than ready to take on a career in the sports broadcasting industry with his Butler education behind him.

“The professors at Butler give you the tools you need in the classroom and the confidence you need to succeed outside the classroom,” King said. “That’s why I think Butler students are so ready.”

Brendan King
Alumni OutcomesAthleticsPeople

Brendan King ’17

  He gained the tools for success—and the confidence he needed.

Alyssa Setnar ’16

  

An Engineering Dual Degree from Butler is propelling Alyssa Setnar ’16 to infinity and beyond.

In June, the Columbus, Ohio, native is heading to Los Angeles. She’s working for Millennium Space Systems, a satellite manufacturing company, as a spacecraft structural engineer.

“I’m going to be a part of the team that goes all the way from the napkin sketch to the proposal all the way to manufacturing,” she said. “I’m really excited to be a part of the entire process.”

That process started at Butler, when she found out she could get an engineering degree through the dual degree program with IUPUI.

“I got that big-school degree from Purdue at IUPUI’s campus, but I really fell in love with Butler’s small campus feel and the people that I met here,” she said. “I feel really lucky that I got both.”

Butler’s small campus feel allowed Setnar to explore all of her interests.

“The amount of things I’ve been able to get involved in here have really diversified me as a person,” she said. “Not only academic clubs but also through Greek life. I’ve met people I’d never had the opportunity to meet before and different volunteering opportunities unlike I’d ever seen anywhere else.”

Setnar got involved early on in her time at Butler. She arrived a week before Welcome Week her freshman year for the Ambassadors of Change program.

She was so impressed with and transformed by the program that she served as an AOC team leader for the next three years. It’s that passion for helping others that sets Butler students apart, Setnar said.

“Whenever I’m out, whether I’m volunteering, or at a restaurant, or just wearing a Butler shirt out while I’m shopping, the community recognizes that the people that are coming from Butler are really genuine and smart and interested in caring,” she said. “I feel like I have this connection with the community even though I’m not from here.”

And even though she’s headed west, Setnar is taking the Butler Way with her.

“I grew up in the Midwest, and there’s Midwest hospitality,” she said. “There’s a Butler hospitality that is unrivaled anywhere else.”

Alyssa Setnar
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Alyssa Setnar ’16

  The EDDP graduate's first job takes her to infinity and beyond.

Mara Olson ’15

When Mara Olson ’15 embarked upon her search for the perfect college, she knew it would take a special school to support both her academic and athletic interests.

A self-proclaimed science nerd with a proclivity for the creative arts and the drive to run competitively, it became clear to Olson that Butler’s small class sizes and big-time Division I athletics would make for a seamless college fit.

“A lot of people look at my interests as maybe a little bit eclectic or even confused,” Olson said. “But I see it as a good way to get my tentacles out into the world and experience it all. College is what you make of it, and if you are willing to push for what you want, a school like Butler will give it to you.”

In her four years at Butler, Olson participated in four national championship races and competed in countless more national-level meets while at the same time nurturing her academic interests.

In addition, she took the required science classes for her major and plethora of minors, but she also found ways to grow in new areas through art and writing classes.

For Olson, a busy schedule was a small price to pay for well-rounded academic exposure and athletic success. After graduating with a major in biology and minors in Neuroscience, Spanish, and Chemistry, she moved to Boulder, Colorado, to compete as a professional runner for Adidas. Olson has continued her sponsored running in San Francisco, where she's now in medical school at the University of California San Francisco.

When opportunity knocked at Butler, Olson said, she was able to make it happen.

“It’s not because I was an athlete," she said. "It’s because I was a student. My professors had a genuine personal interest in every student. It’s a really incredible thing to experience in college.”

Mara Olson
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Mara Olson ’15

  One major, three minors, one huge athletic success.

Jenn Muszik ’98

In 1996, Jenn Muszik was two years into her pharmacy studies when she decided to switch to business. Dan McQuiston was her adviser. He looked at what Jenn had done and what she needed so that she could graduate as close to on time as possible while still getting what she needed to be successful in her career.

“He was thinking beyond ‘How do you check the boxes on a sheet to get a degree?’ and more about ‘How do I make sure you have the right things in place to be successful?’” she said. “It shows the caliber of people who teach in the School of Business.”

When she was ready to graduate in 1998, she wanted to go into pharmaceutical sales. Dick Fetter, another of her professors and mentors, reached out to one of the local district managers at Pfizer. He said, “I don’t care if you interview her, but you should hire her. She’s really talented.”

She spent 16 years at Pfizer, advancing in eight different roles. During those years, she was there for Butler, participating in Butler Business Scholars, class panels, and other activities. And when she and her husband, Paul, both suffered some personal health setbacks, the Butler community—friends, professors, Alpha Phi sorority sisters—was there for her too. (You can read more about Jenn’s odyssey in the book she wrote and self-published, An Everyday Miracle.)

“Butler didn’t stop for me in December 1998,” she said. “When you’re down and out, you know who you can count on. And it’s the people who are Butler, the people who were there when I was there, and the people in between. It doesn’t end when you walk across that stage.”

In June 2015, when Jenn’s job at Pfizer was eliminated, her Butler professors again helped her make connections. Today, Jenn is Director of Commercial Excellence at Roche Diagnostics. She credits her professors and mentors for helping her land the position, and she also credits her Butler education. “I would not be where I am today without the great, broad spectrum of liberal arts I got at Butler,” she said. 

Jenn Muszik
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Jenn Muszik ’98

  Butler doesn't end when you walk across that stage.

Amber Mills ’14

Amber Mills ’14 said Butler provided her with a blank canvas—a fitting analogy for someone whose profession is graphic designer.

“I got to explore who I was, what I was passionate about, and who I wanted to become, and then Butler gave me the tools and the confidence to go out and get it,” she said.

Mills, one of the University’s first Art + Design majors, is now a Graphic Designer at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, the largest fully professional resident non-profit theater in Indiana. In that role, she works on the website (irtlive.com), designs ads, marketing materials, and does some photography. The job “changes by the minute,” she said. She even designed the theater’s current logo during its 2015 rebranding.

She said Butler prepared her well—whether it was what she learned in the classroom or in her internship with the University’s Marketing and Communications Department, where she designed the Hinkle Fieldhouse replica doghouse that is still on display in the campus bookstore. Mills did four internships while in school.

“Butler goes beyond teaching just the basic skills and theories in the classroom,” she said. “It teaches you how to communicate effectively. It teaches you how to solve problems. It teaches you how to think critically. And then it sends you out into the world to apply those skills and really gain the experience that sets you apart. There’s nothing like going into a job interview right after you graduate and being able to say, ‘Hey, I know I just graduated from school, but I’ve been making money as a graphic designer for two years and here’s my portfolio and my references to back that up.’”

Mills grew up in New Carlisle, in northern Indiana, and wanted a small school in a city. She found Butler to be “a nice steppingstone” with a community feel that reminded her of home. And she found people who are “exemplifying and living out the golden rule—being kind to one another, helping each other out, lifting each other up instead of tearing each other down. That’s the Butler Way.”

Amber Mills
Alumni OutcomesArts & CulturePeople

Amber Mills ’14

  Butler provided her with a blank canvas.

Eric Buenger ’12

You won’t find his name in any record books or box scores, but Eric Buenger registered an assist for the 2010 Butler men’s basketball team.

It was on the plane home after the win over Kansas State in the Elite Eight. Buenger, who played baritone in the Basketball Band, was sitting across the aisle from Coach Brad Stevens. Stevens asked his wife if she had any sour cream and onion potato chips. She didn’t. But Buenger did. He gave his chips to Stevens, which prompted the coach to say, “You’re the man!”

“‘You’re the man,’” Buenger said, still reveling in the memory. “Brad Stevens just called me the man—after all that just happened on the court. But no, I’m the man.”

That’s just one of many happy Butler memories for Buenger, who chose Butler because it offered the major he wanted—Actuarial Science—taught in small classes. He said he made up his mind after coming to campus to interview for a departmental scholarship. Afterward, he received a handwritten card from the people he interviewed with saying how excited they were to potentially have him as a student.

“With that level of connection I felt in the interview and then that follow-up afterward, I thought: ‘These are going to be people who care about me and my progression and my career.’ That’s really what drew me in. And then the faculty was great once I got there.”

During Buenger’s time at Butler, he worked as a Resident Assistant in Ross Hall for three years, which helped him develop interpersonal and conflict resolution skills as well as the ability to communicate in front of a large audience. “All of those things definitely helped me moving forward in my professional life.” He also played in the Marching Band, was a member of the national honorary band fraternity Kappa Kappa Psi, interned with Prudential on the East Coast, and met his future wife, Lauren, a Pharmacy major.

After graduation, Buenger worked for Torchmark Corp. in Texas before moving back to Indiana to work for Anthem. He said Butler prepared him well for his career. While in school, he even passed his first two actuarial exams (out of upwards of a dozen milestones he'll have to pass).

“That,” he said, “really helped me with my job search. They saw that I had two of these exams down, and that was definitely a good starting spot.”

Eric Buenger
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Eric Buenger ’12

  “These are going to be people who really care about me.”

Marco Rosas ’16

Marco Rosas came to Butler as a Biology major. He graduated with a degree in Recording Industry Studies and went into a career that is making him happy.

“I always had a huge passion for music, whether it’s listening to music, playing music, or talking about music, and I really fell in love with the audio production side of the program,” Rosas said. “I always wanted to be part of the music-making process, whether it’s at a studio recording the music or helping to promote the music.”

As a Recording Industries Studies major, Rosas participated in the Butler Music Industry Association club, which records student musicians and their original compositions. That helped him hone his skills. He also had an internship with Nuvo, Indianapolis’ alternative newspaper, where he worked with Sarah Murrell ’10 on a podcast about the Indianapolis food scene.

 

 

But Butler was more than his major. One course he took on climate change and its effects on human behavior gave him a deeper appreciation of nature.

“I have fond memories of going to Holcomb Gardens on a clear night, laying down and just looking at the stars,” he said. “The campus is just beautiful, and the class made me realize that those experiences in that class were not just, ‘Oh, I’m going for a walk,’ but ‘I’m going to help my mind clear itself.’”

After graduation, thanks to “an amazing recommendation” from Cutler Armstrong, who oversees the Recording Industry Studies program, Rosas landed a job with Tour Design Creative, which makes TV and radio commercials and posters to promote concert tours. His job in quality control is to make sure the information in the ads is accurate and that there are no audio mistakes.

“Cutler told me I’d get out of the program what I put into it, and that is exactly right,” Rosas said. “But the rewards are greater than anything I could imagine. I never thought I would work at a place like this, and I would not be here if it was not for Cutler and that program. Going to Butler was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.”

Marco Rosas
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Marco Rosas ’16

  Going to Butler was one of the best decisions I've made in my life.

Jimmy Rick ’15

Jimmy Rick made the most of his time at Butler. In 3½ years, the history and anthropology major from Dayton, Ohio:

  • Studied abroad in Vietnam, where he did a field research project interviewing people about reverence of their ancestors.
  • Interned with the Indiana Historical Society and in the Butler library with historian Sally Childs-Helton.
  • Worked with a historian researching slaves brought from Virginia to southern Indiana.
  • Helped with a public television documentary on Indiana’s bicentennial.

“It’s a special relationship between historical materials—the things that are left behind—and the people who left them behind and the historians of today,” he said. “I was glad to be part of that.”

Rick grew up with an interest in big questions: How do we make human life work? How do disparate individuals come together and make institutions, make nations, make history happen? He said he chose Butler because, as an aspiring anthropologist or historian, he wanted to go somewhere where his professors would be accessible, his classes would be reasonable size, and he would be taught by professors, not teaching assistants. He also liked that history and anthropology were together in one department.

Sophomore year, he took a history class with Professor Vivian Deno that enabled him to go to New Harmony, Indiana, the site of two early American utopian communities. He visited an archive and worked directly with historical documents of the communities. That trip pushed him in the direction of historical research—and to pursue his internships.

Before graduating in December 2015, Rick applied to several doctoral programs in history. He wants to teach eventually, but he’s keeping his options open. Library sciences or archival history also remain potential career paths.

“The knowledge I have now will help me pursue what I want to do in the future,” Rick said, “whether that’s applying to programs to pursue a career in academics or to work outside that in libraries and archival history. There are multiple ways I could go, and my Butler education has helped me find ways to do that.”

Jimmy Rick
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Jimmy Rick ’15

A combined major drew him to Butler.

Lester Burris ’12

Lester Burris ’12 said he received a great education from Butler’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences—especially the lessons in dealing with the ever-changing role of the pharmacist.

“I learned at Butler that a career spans several different jobs or even roles within those jobs,” he said. “Pharmacy is probably going to continue to change for as long as I’m working, so it’s important to be adaptable to that.”

That information proved to be important because since graduating, Burris has moved from CVS to Kmart to his own pharmacy. In May 2016, Burris, Josh Anderson ’07, and Josh’s uncle Steve Anderson ’91 founded Panacea Pharmacy inside the new Lucky’s Market store in Bloomington, Indiana. (They have since opened another pharmacy in Hope, Indiana.)

Suddenly, not only did Burris need to know all about medications, but he had to learn the business of pharmacy. The Panacea team had to contract with insurance companies, figure out their inventory, and develop their business model—which includes a more holistic approach to providing medication. Among their innovations: Packaging a patient’s medications together so they don’t have to open multiple pill bottles, and a smartphone app that makes it easier to fill prescriptions.

“We’re trying to change the way pharmacy’s done,” he said. “The main thing we’re trying to focus on improving is medication adherence. That’s a big focus of the Affordable Care Act—preventing readmission to the hospital. And one big cause of that is medication non-compliance.”

Burris grew up in Mitchell, Indiana, south of Bloomington, and knew he wanted to study pharmacy in college. He chose Butler because it’s closer to his home than Purdue is, and he was able to walk on and play football. After a year on the team as kicker—mostly place kicking, and a little punting—he figured he wasn’t going to see much playing time. He talked to the coaching staff and asked if he could help out.

“I was able to stay involved with the football team, which was one of my best experiences at Butler for sure,” Burris said.

Burris said by the time he graduated, he was well prepared for the state and national pharmacy licensing exams. As for running his own pharmacy, Burris said he’s enjoying the opportunity to improve patients’ health.

Alumni OutcomesPeople

Lester Burris ’12

  He and two other Butler alumni are looking to redefine how pharmacy is practiced.

Daniel Pulliam ’04

In four years at Butler, Daniel Pulliam experienced the world. Sometimes literally.

There was Brian Murphy’s astronomy class his first year and, with it, the opportunity to lead tours of the Holcomb Observatory. Serving as News Editor of the Butler Collegian when 9/11 occurred, and working for Dawgnet, which was Butler’s first online student news website. Interning in Washington (DC), as part of the Washington Semester Program, where he earned experience as a reporter for States News Service. (One of his stories was interviewing then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.) Participating in the Honors Program.

And for good measure, meeting his future wife, Noelle (Myers) Pulliam ’04, an integrated communications major, in Kwadwo Anokwa’s International Studies course during their senior year.

Pulliam grew up in Indianapolis and chose Butler to be close to home. He started as a Business major but switched to Journalism while dabbling in pre-law “intermittently.”

After graduating in 2004, he did a summer internship for the Roanoke Times newspaper, then got a job in DC as an online reporter for Government Executive, which covered the federal government.

“You never know why you get hired, but I’m pretty sure that, through my work at Dawgnet, which was a pretty new online journalism site, they saw the skills I learned at Butler,” he said.

After three years covering government, Pulliam decided to go to law school so he and Noelle could move home to be closer to family. He said writing his honors thesis at Butler gave him the confidence to know he could manage the rigors of the Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis.

Pulliam now works for Faegre Baker Daniels in Indianapolis in corporate litigation and white-collar defense. Though his career has changed, what he learned at Butler has proved to have lasting value.

“You learn at Butler about life,” Pulliam said. “It’s not just about getting a job. It’s about learning to be prepared for life.”

Alumni OutcomesPeople

Daniel Pulliam ’04

  From the newsroom to the courtroom, "Butler is about being prepared for life."

Lauren Buenger ’10

Sometimes, parents just know. Lauren (Miller) Buenger’s mom knew that her daughter was good with people and detail oriented, and she thought Lauren would make a perfect Pharmacy major. Buenger’s father knew, after visiting schools, that she favored Butler.

“It was the only place I asked for a shirt,” she said.

Ultimately, Buenger, who initially wanted to major in Chemistry, knew too. Today, she is a Clinical Pharmacist in the Emergency Department at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis. There, she works with physicians and nurses, making recommendations about which drug therapy would be best for a patient or how to best administer the doses.

“I also get to talk to patients and families and council them about their medications and answer their questions,” she said. “And then, because I work in the Emergency Department, if there’s an emergency situation, I’m in the room with the team, trying to get medications for the patient as fast and safely as possible.”

Buenger said that when she started in Butler’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the only pharmacists she knew about worked in grocery stores. “I didn’t realize all the different things you could do as a pharmacist,” she said. Through classes, rotations, and job shadowing, she learned.

While in school, she did two rotations at Riley Hospital and, as her PharmD project, interviewed patients about their medication allergies to find the rates of true allergies versus symptoms reported as allergies.

She also made time to play flute and piccolo in marching band and basketball band, and served as President of Kappa Kappa Psi, the band fraternity, where she met her future husband, Eric Buenger ’12.

After graduation, she did a general pharmacy residency through IU Health, a pediatric second-year residency at Riley, and a year at Cook Children’s hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. She and Eric moved back to Indiana so she could take the position at Riley.

She credits Butler with preparing her well.

“Part of how I was able to meet people and be prepared to get a competitive residency like at IU Health was because of my training at Butler and the rotations that I had,” she said. “That set up the chain of events that led me to this position.”

Lauren Buenger
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Lauren Buenger ’10

  I didn't realize all the different things you could do as a pharmacist.

Levi Smith looks through a microscope

Levi Smith was unstuck in time.

He’d been in the Yale University lab for who knows how long—sans sunlight, the 18-hour days were starting to bleed together. With some straining, he remembered: He was on his third day of four in this cycle.

A rustling startled him: It was the janitor, in for his 4:30 PM round. Another eight hours had elapsed.

It’s all going to be worth it soon, he thought.

He was exhausted—tired didn’t even begin to cover it. He was shellacked by numbers and formulas. His mind was a maze of molecules, the lab in front of him and the one in his mind swimming in a brain-fog limbo.

“He described to me that when he’s doing an experiment, he imagines in his mind how the molecules interact within the space of the tube or inside the cell,” Alex Erkine, a professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Butler University whose lab Smith worked in while investigating anti-cancer therapy, says. “As if his mind is a hugely magnifying microscope.”

That vision, Erkine, says, is the gold standard in molecular biology. It’s like perfect pitch in music.

“This quality to see the world of molecules and participate in it experimentally is the superb golden quality of a talented molecular biologist,” Erkine says.

Smith was immersed in a world of unbroken concentration, his body screaming for sleep, his brain eager to forge on.

And he couldn’t wait to do it again the next day. And the next.

This was the type of work, he realized, he wanted to spend the rest of his life doing.

 

The ‘Miracle of Tylenol’

Smith graduated from Yale in March with a doctorate in cell biology, one six years in the making. And he spent six years at Butler University before that, earning a master’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences and a doctorate of pharmacy, the first student in a dual-degree pilot program.

Now he’s a senior research scientist at Halda Therapeutics, a start-up biotech company based in New Haven, Connecticut.

But first, he had to get there.

Smith didn’t grow up in Silicon Valley, or on one of the coasts. He’s from Camden, Indiana, a town just under 90 minutes north of Indianapolis that has fewer residents than many high-school graduating classes (just over 600, according to the 2010 census).

Camden was a place where a “nerdy” kid who was dumbstruck by “the wonder of Tylenol” in middle school could stand out.

“I remember thinking how extraordinary it is that my back could hurt, and I could take Tylenol to fix it,” Smith says. “Or if my hand hurt, I could take Tylenol to feel better. It was that naiveté of ‘Wow, how does it know what to fix?’”

But there was one big obstacle to his scientific ambitions: Neither of his parents had graduated from college. His dad had been out of his life since he was 10, and his mother was taking classes online at Indiana State University while raising him and his year-younger brother solo.

Smith was never ashamed of his family’s financial situation, but he was aware they weren’t exactly well off. 

“I remember bringing groceries home from Dollar General once,” he says. “My mom sat down at the table with her checkbook, and we had to take some back because the check would’ve balanced if we’d have kept all of them.”

That moment that would later inspire him as a low he never wanted to return to.

“I didn’t want my mom to ever be in that situation again,” he says. “She was doing the most she could, not having a college degree.”

His mom worked as a teacher’s aide at his Camden elementary school, picking up cleaning jobs on the side. Smith delivered copies of the Logansport Pharos-Tribune newspaper on his bike for extra cash.

“Everyone in Camden knew me,” he says.

But it wasn’t enough to be known. He wanted to be liked.

Shannon Sterrett, a Camden classmate of Smith’s who’s known him since he was 2, says Smith always had a snarky comment at the ready.

“Which often times made his fellow students laugh, but his teacher, not always so much,” she says. “I can remember a time or two in middle school when he got sent out into the hall.”

Smith wasn’t, in other words, your stereotypical brownnoser. But neither was he popular with his classmates.

So he turned to drugs—the study of them, that is.

“I never got into [using] drugs because I feared losing my 21st Century scholarship,” he says. “That scared the hell out of me.”

But as for the chemistry and biology behind them? Now that he could digest.

He wanted to know how to make new medicine. And how to treat diseases. And just how, exactly, did Tylenol know what part of his body hurt, again?

And then he went all in.

 

Landing at Butler

Though neither of Smith’s parents graduated from college, it was always the assumed next step for him and his younger brother, he says. 

Smith’s mom was taking online classes through Indiana State when he was in middle and high school. She’d do homework in the bleachers at his soccer matches and track meets. 

“She was a single mom going to school online while raising two teenage boys,” Smith says. “How do you even do that?”

When she earned her bachelor’s degree in Human Resources from Indiana State in 2006, she was the first in Smith’s family to do so.

Now, it was Smith’s turn.

To understand how improbable Smith’s ascent from Camden to Butler to Yale is, you need to understand his mentality toward standardized testing. Yes, he took a few AP classes, but he didn’t realize studying for a test was something people did.

“In my naiveté, I thought you just showed up and demonstrated your intelligence,” he says. “It was only later that I realized, ‘Wait, people study for those?’”

When the navy-and-white envelope from Butler University arrived in his mailbox, it was good news.

He was headed to Indianapolis to study pre-pharmacy.

 

“Failure Was Not an Option”

This is the fanciest place I’ve ever been, Smith remembers thinking when he visited the Butler campus for the first time in 2007. The brick-and-glass buildings, the fieldhouse that could fit nearly 15 Camdens inside it, the meticulously manicured lawns…

He says Butler’s assistant director of financial aid, Jacque Mickel, was crucial to his success as a first-generation student—even when he felt like a fish out of water.

“My mom and I showed up to this nice-looking building for our first financial aid meeting, and I felt very out of place,” he says. “I was trying to walk so [Mickel] wouldn’t see the holes in the seat of my jeans when I left her office.”

What Mickel remembers about that meeting is that Smith took the lead.

“He is the one that led the discussion, not his mother,” she says. “The majority of the time students sit in financial aid meetings and don’t say a word…with Levi, this wasn’t the case. He took an active role in knowing about financial aid and the impact of loans, as he knew he was going to have to take them out.”

Smith says Mickel was the blessing he didn’t know he needed.

“I’d get emails from her like, ‘You’d be a perfect fit for this scholarship!’ or ‘Can you go to this breakfast on this day?’” he says.

At every opportunity, he took advantage. By the time he graduated from Butler in 2013 in the top 10% of his class, he’d received six scholarships, including the A.J.W. LeBien Scholarship from the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the Thomas Stein Scholarship for fourth-year pharmacy students, and the Indiana 21st Century Scholars Scholarship.

And then came even better news.

“When we found out I got a stipend for grad school [at Butler], and I wasn’t going to have to take out any more loans, [Mickel] cried,” Smith says. “She really, really cared.”

Yet Mickel doesn’t get all the credit keeping Smith afloat financially. The frugal mindset from his Camden years never left him.

Before starting college, Smith remembers a heart-to-heart with his mom.

Some of the people you meet are going to be talking about vacations, or where they’re going on Christmas break, she told him. You know the fact we can’t do that doesn’t change—just know you’re going to have a different experience.

Yet Smith says he never remembers feeling “without.” He kept himself so busy he didn’t have time to spend money. And he had a pharmacist’s preference for generics over brand names.

“I was buying Great Value everything,” he says.

His lunch was a jar of Great Value peanut butter, spread on Great Value bread with Great Value chips.

But there was one exception to his Great Value mindset: Ritz crackers.

They were his holy grail. His grandma would bring the last few sleeves from a box every time she saw him. He was unwilling to splurge on a full box himself. 

“I was cognizant of my financial situation, and I wasn’t foolish enough to think it was any different than what it really was,” he says. “I’d cook food at home—it’s not hard to boil pasta. I had family in Crawfordsville about an hour away, and my grandma would bring me some food from her cupboard.”

HIs number one priority, bar none, was doing well in school. He knew he had one shot at college, and he wasn’t about to waste it.

His goal, he says, was to ensure future Levi would never be frustrated with past Levi.

“I worked very hard to never put myself in a position to disappoint myself,” he says. “There was no safety net if I didn’t do well.” 

And he was willing to work—whenever and wherever he could.

He was working in the lab at Butler. But he was also holding down a job as a weekend intern at a Wal-Mart pharmacy from 2009 to 2013 so he could pay his rent. He’d work Monday through Friday from 9 to 5 in the lab at Butler, then spend Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday working at the pharmacy.

“It was a way to get extra hours when I couldn’t get paid for all of my lab work,” he says.

When he started his clinical rotations working in a community pharmacy setting during his final year at Butler—only 10-hour days five days per week, he says—it actually felt like a break.

And he was curious about everything, so much so that he initially irritated a few of his professors, who mistook his intensity for arrogance.

“Just a bit too many questions,” is how Erkine, Smith’s research mentor at Butler, characterizes his first impression of Smith, who would later become his star student.

Medhane Cumbay, a former assistant professor of Pharmacology at Butler, met Smith in 2008, during the first semester of his freshman year. Cumbay helped develop a dual-degree program at Butler in 2011 that combines a doctorate in pharmacy with a master’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences, which Smith piloted.

The dual-degree program “was designed to attract students like Levi,” Cumbay says. Smith’s hybrid program combined the clinical knowledge of the PharmD program with the M.S. program’s training in science research skills.

Yes, it was a lot of additional work and late nights in the lab. But it was perfect for Smith.

Erkine, who worked with Smith to pilot the program, remembers Smith’s unparalleled work ethic. Smith injured his thumb while working in his home’s basement one day — and was exasperated, Erkine says, not because of the physical pain, but because he couldn’t hold a pipet.

“When he starts a lab procedure, he dives into it and can stay very late or come during the weekend to push it through,” Erkine says.

And when the opportunities he craved didn’t exist, Smith made his own.

“Levi doesn’t seem to see barriers,” Cumbay says.

And though he didn’t know it at the time, his extensive research experience coupled with his doctorate in pharmacy made him competitive for one of the top research programs in the country:

Yale.

 

The Pipe Dream Becomes Reality

The results blinked back at him from atop the Google search: “Top 10 PhD programs in the U.S. for Cell Biology.”

Dream big or go home, Smith thought.

He applied to all of them.

Smith was in his last year of the dual-degree pharmacy program at Butler, ready to take the next step to doctoral research, one he says was necessary if he wanted to work in drug development. He knew Yale was a long shot because of his unconventional background — completing the dual degree program meant he had extensive research experience, but not the typical applicant’s bachelor’s degree in biology or prestige of having worked for a famous research university.

What, Yale committee members might wonder, did a pharmacist know about research?

Erkine believed in him—but Smith’s mentor also a realist.

“That’s a very good program,” he said when Smith told him he was applying to the doctoral program in Cell Biology at Yale.

A beat passed.

“No, I mean that’s a really good program,” Erkine said. “Maybe you should consider applying for a backup, just to be on the safe side.”

He needn’t have worried: Smith had that covered.

Each of the dozen-plus schools Smith applied to required three or four letters of recommendation. Cumbay and Erkine were up to the task.

Cumbay said his letter of recommendation for Smith for the Cell Biology program at Yale was “one of the most enjoyable” he’s ever written.

“It was a ringing endorsement,” he says.

Yale flew him out for an interview, one he worked extra hours in the Butler lab to make up for attending. He spent the intervening weeks trying to come to terms with what a rejection might mean. He read the rejection letter online. Once. Twice. Ten times.

He can still quote from it.

“You can tell I’ve read that a few times,” he says.

Rejection letters are infamously thin, compared to the thick packets Yale’s admitted students receive.

Finally, one afternoon, the mail arrived. Smith braced himself.

It was a thick packet.

 

Six Years, One Disease

It was the one puzzle he couldn’t solve.

“With most diseases, we have drugs that can correct something that’s going wrong,” Smith says. “We have disease-modifying drugs that, if your cholesterol is too high, will eat the rest of it. Or we can prescribe a statin, which inhibits the body’s production of cholesterol.”

But such a drug for Alzheimer’s sufferers has proved elusive.

“It’s the only one of the top 10 deadliest diseases [in America] that can’t be prevented or cured or even slowed,” Smith says.

He spent six years of his life trying.

He worked in Yale Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience Stephen Strittmatter’s lab as a doctoral candidate, parsing the mysteries of Alzheimer’s and drug discovery.

He developed a drug that would prevent two proteins from binding to one another to treat memory impairments in mice—the same mutations that cause Alzheimer’s disease in humans. He tested his drug on more than 100 mice using an experimental design known as the Morris water maze.

In the Morris water maze experiment, a mouse must swim through a pool of opaque water to a hidden escape platform. The platform is located in the same spot during each trial, but the mouse is released into the pool from different entry points, testing its ability to learn and recall spatial cues—that is, memory.

Smith performed the experiment both forward and in reverse, which means that after three days of the mouse learning the location of the hidden platform in one position, Smith moved the platform to the opposite side of the pool. So, now the mouse had to not only learn that the platform was no longer in the first location, it also had to learn and recall the new location.

“The first day was a 22-hour day of just doing the experiment nonstop,” Smith says. “Then the next was a 20-hour day, then day 3 was 18…I spent a total of 135 hours in the lab over eight days, doing the experiment both forward and in reverse. You’ve got to love it.”

Smith was encouraged by the result: His drug restored the memory of the mice with plaques in their brains.

“My drug goes in after neurological connections are lost and prevents a beta (what plaques are made from) from binding to neurons, so neurons can heal and make connections again, fixing memory” he says. “This test showed that my drug did that.”

Not only that, but the mice “completely recovered from their mental impairment and regained all their connections.”

If his drug could produce the same effect in humans, it would be a game changer.

Smith’s classmates would be impressed, but not necessarily surprised.

Santiago Salazar, a former classmate of Smith’s at Yale who is now a scientist at Alector, a San Francisco biotechnology firm, recalls a time he legitimately thought Smith was superhuman.

Salazar and Smith were racing the clock to beat a grant deadline. Their lab advisor asked Smith if he could perform the necessary experiment at the last minute—because Smith was the only one in the lab who knew how.

“Normally this experiment can take weeks, even months, to optimize, with hundreds of milligrams of material to burn through,” Salazar says. “Levi optimized and performed the experiment all in one week, with less than 5 mg of drug.”

But Smith’s success never went to his head, another friend, Nathan Williams, who attended graduate school with Smith at Yale, says.

“Levi stood out compared to the rest of our class because he didn’t come from money, or have Ph.D parents,” Williams says. “It’s extremely common for Yalies to look down on people who were not raised on the coasts. Levi was one of the few who didn’t implicitly or explicitly treat me differently because I was raised in Texas.”

Williams says that lack of pretension also spilled over into their conversations.

“Levi was the one person in our class with the courage to say what everyone was thinking,” Williams says, “which earned him respect from professors and me, and ire from some of our classmates.”

 

A Future in Biotech

Twelve years of higher education later, this spring, it was time to look for a job. Finally done with school at age 30, Smith found one right away.

He defended his doctoral thesis at Yale at the end of February—and started as a senior research scientist at the startup biotech company Halda Therapeutics in Connecticut at the end of March, less than five weeks later.

His Yale mentor founded the company, which Smith says is currently in the “very early stages,” but has grown from six to 14 employees over the past four months. Smith can’t disclose exactly what he’s working on at the moment (“We’re kind of in stealth mode,” he says), but rest assured he loves it.

“I always want to be involved in creating new medicines for diseases,” he says. “My thought is, ‘There’s no reason I don’t have a chance to be able to do something about this.’”

Smith will tell you he’s lucky. But the truth? He works hard. He goes long. He’d almost rather die than disappoint someone he cares about.

Sterrett, Smith’s former Camden classmate, remembers a day in their eighth grade Family and Consumer Sciences class when Smith told everyone he was going to get a doctoral degree and do pharmaceutical research.

“We all laughed at him when he told us it was going to be 12 to 14 years of post-high school education,” she says. “But he did everything he said he was going to do, and I couldn’t be prouder!” 

Hayleigh Colombo ’12

Hayleigh Colombo ’12 remembers sitting in her Lake Zurich, Illinois, high school, when an announcement came over the public-address system that representatives from Butler University were doing an informational session.

“I remember just liking the sound of ‘Butler University,’” she says, laughing at the memory. “It just sounded nice. So I went down to the College and Career Center and got more information.”

Colombo and her parents visited campus, where the future Journalism/Political Science major met most of the Journalism faculty. She was hooked. “I knew those people would be invested in me and seemed excited about me—which was something I didn’t receive on any other college visit. That turned out to be 100 percent correct, tenfold.”

Highlights of her four years at Butler included a semester in the nation’s capital as part of the Washington, DC Learning Semester; serving as a reporter and, eventually, Editor-in-Chief of the Butler Collegian; and getting to interview former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Colombo remembers being nervous at that interview in Clowes Memorial Hall, “but it was a cool moment connecting with the outside world,” she said. “It made me passionate about journalism and to keep going and keep learning.”

After graduation, Colombo spent a couple of years at the Journal and Courier newspaper in Lafayette, Indiana, before moving to Chalkbeat, the pioneering website that covers education. In 2015, she became a reporter for the Indianapolis Business Journal, where she covers education and government.

She credits Butler for giving her the preparation she needs to do her job.

“My professors taught me how to think critically,” she said. “My job requires a lot of on-the-fly thinking, a lot of taking in information I don’t understand very quickly and making sense of it for other people. Without Butler, I would not be able to do that in a way that provides information in a clear way. (Former Supreme Court Justice) Sandra Day O’Connor said the secret to a happy life is doing work worth doing. Butler expects your best, and I think work worth doing is something Butler prepared me to do.” ​

Hayleigh Colombo
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Hayleigh Colombo ’12

  "My professors taught me to think critically."

Ten Butler Community Members to be Honored at Alumni Awards Recognition Program

Nine Butler University alumni and one professor emeritus who have demonstrated extraordinary professional achievement and service to the University and their communities will be honored at the annual Alumni Awards Recognition Program on Friday, October 25, at 6:00 PM in the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts, part of Homecoming Weekend festivities. Registration for the awards ceremony and all Homecoming activities can be made online.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Butler Medal: Craig E. Fenneman ’71 
  • Butler Service Medal: Dr. H. Marshall Dixon
  • Robert Todd Duncan Alumni Achievement Award: Michele McConnell ’93 
  • Katharine Merrill Graydon Alumni Service Award: James M. Bagnoli ’75 
  • Hilton Ultimus Brown Alumni Achievement Award: LCDR Jennifer A. Cockrill ’04
  • Joseph Irwin Sweeney Alumni Service Award: Marc A. Williams ’07
  • Mortar Award: Joseph ’88 and Florie (Theofanis) Eaton ’88
  • Foundation Award: Loren ’08 and Morgan (Greenlee) Snyder ’07 

 

Butler Medal: Craig E. Fenneman ’71 

Craig Fenneman graduated from Reitz High School, where he served as student council president. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Butler University and attended Indiana University School of Law for two years before pursuing a career in commercial real estate.

Mr. Fenneman founded two Indiana-based businesses: Fenneman and Associates, a real estate development company, and Southern Bells, Inc., one of the largest Taco Bell franchisees in the country. He has given back to his community in many ways, including serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the YMCA Camp Carson and Chairman of the Boy Scouts of America National Foundation. He also sits on the Board of the YMCA of greater Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Community Foundation of Morgan County.

In addition, Mr. Fenneman has been a loyal alumnus and friend to Butler University. A former member of Butler’s Board of Trustees, he held the position of Board Chair from 2011 to 2014. He also served on the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors, the Hinkle Campaign Cabinet, and the ButlerRising Campaign Cabinet. Craig and his wife, Mary Stover-Fenneman, are honorees of Butler University’s premier philanthropic giving community, the Carillon Society, and are recognized on Cornerstone Plaza for their generous lifetime giving to Butler University. Their philanthropic support has benefitted the Butler Fund, the Campaign for Hinkle Fieldhouse, the ButlerRising Campaign, the Craig Fenneman Endowed Scholarship, the Butler Business Consulting Group, and, most recently, they have joined the Founders Circle as donors to the new Lacy School of Business building and as lead donors to the Science Expansion and Renovation project.

Mr. Fenneman has received the Sagamore of the Wabash, YMCA Camp Carson Outstanding Volunteer Award, YMCA of Southwest Indiana "James Orr Award" as Outstanding Volunteer, Boys Scouts of American Silver Beaver, Award of Merit, Silver Antelope, Silver Buffalo, Distinguished Eagle and 2007 Ernst & Young Indiana Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

The Butler Medal is the highest honor conferred by the Butler University Alumni Association. It recognizes individuals for a lifetime of distinguished service to either Butler University or their local community while at the same time achieving a distinguished career in their chosen profession and attaining a regional or preferably a national reputation. Since 1959, it has recognized individuals who have helped immeasurably toward perpetuating the University as a great educational and cultural institution and have had, during their lifetime, a profound influence on the course of Butler University.

 

Butler Service Medal: Dr. H. Marshall Dixon

Marshall Dixon was born in the Bronx, but grew up in Southern Maryland, where he was a professional fur trapper at age 11. After receiving a PhD in physics from the University of Virginia, he served on the faculties of Tulane University and New Mexico State University, and also worked for Westinghouse Research Laboratory and White Sands Missile Range. Along the way, he served a term of duty in the U.S. Army.

He joined the faculty of Butler University in 1957 and taught physics, electrical engineering, constitutional law and the history of law for 53 years. Early during his tenure at Butler, the University hosted “scientifically minded” high school students in a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Dixon taught physics to these students, and, when the NSF grant ran out, continued the program on his own in his third-floor laboratory in Jordan Hall. No one was invited or turned away and news of the class was spread by word of mouth. By 1972, The Indianapolis Star reported that over 100 exceptional youngsters had passed through the program, many of them eventually attending Butler. 

In addition, Dixon housed and fed Butler students free of charge for decades, introducing them to a wide range of international cuisines (he did all the cooking himself) and mentoring them in their study of physics. As a result, close to 50 of his students went on to earn PhD’s.

Dixon retired from Butler in 2010, but continues to stay involved in physics education. Dixon and his colleagues developed a four-year, university-level physics program at Cathedral High School that prepares approximately 100 students each year for advanced study. Dixon has also gone on to publish Natural Philosophy: The Logic of Physics, a three-volume textbook series for Amazon.

The Butler Service Medal, established by the Alumni Association in 2001, is the second highest honor conferred by the Butler University Alumni Association and is reserved for recognition of emeriti faculty or retired faculty and staff (graduate or non-graduate). The recipient will have achieved a lifetime of distinguished service to Butler University and/or the community. Recipients will have helped to shape the past and future successes of Butler University and therefore shown a profound influence.

 

Robert Todd Duncan Alumni Achievement Award: Michele McConnell ’93 

A native of Indianapolis, Michele McConnell graduated from Butler University in 1993 with a degree in Music Education, minoring in Speech Communication and Theater. She has since launched a performance career spanning musical theatre, opera, cabaret, professional choral work, and touring productions. 

McConnell made her Broadway debut in The Phantom of the Opera, starting in the ensemble, and then taking over the starring role of Carlotta for a record-breaking six years. McConnell also has the privileged distinction to be the longest running Carlotta in Broadway history, with over 2,200 performances in the role to her credit. Her other extensive credits include performing in the national tour of Camelot alongside Robert Goulet, appearing with the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players at City Center, in Montreal and Las Vegas productions of Beauty and the Beast, and in Carly Simon’s Romulus Hunt.

McConnell has given back to Butler by teaching master classes on campus and by her active participation in the NYC Butler Community. She’s also taught at the Manhattan School of Music, the University of Indianapolis, and the Berklee College of Music. Since 2010, she has been an adjunct faculty member in voice at New Jersey City University.

McConnell actively serves as the President of the Board of Trustees for Skyline Theatre Company in Bergen County, NJ. She had the distinction of being recognized in 2018 by the New Jersey Theatre Alliance for her “dedication to and impact on arts education.” In addition, she has received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Mt. Vernon Education Foundation (her high school alma mater in Indiana).

The Robert Todd Duncan Award recognizes a graduate who is established in their career, and whose personal and/or professional accomplishment brings honor and distinction to the University, and individual attainment and/or contributions for the betterment of society. This award honors the spirit and accomplishments of Robert Duncan, a 1925 graduate, noted opera singer, and educator who in 1945, became the first African American to sing with a major white opera company, the New York City Opera Company.

 

Katharine Merrill Graydon Alumni Service Award: James M. Bagnoli ’75 

James M. Bagnoli ’75 is an enthusiastic Butler volunteer and comes from a family of fellow Bulldogs—his father, aunt, and brother are all Butler University alumni. A member of the Butler University Alumni Association Board from 2013 to 2017, he served as Vice President from 2016 to 2017. He has been an Athletic Department volunteer since 2013 and has worked on special projects for the Cross Country and Track and Field team. Bagnoli is also a frequent Bulldogs Into the Streets (BITS) participant and can regularly be found at events hosted by the Central Indiana Butler Community, including the annual Bulldog Crawl and basketball viewing parties.

Bagnoli retired from a four-decade career in banking in 2015. He began his career as a bank teller with Bank One in 1975 and worked his way through the ranks to become Senior Vice President – Business Banking. Later, as an Executive Vice President at USA Financial Services, he created a nationwide network of funding sources for commercial loan requests and marketed to residential brokers in the Midwest. As a Vice President at CU Channels, he coordinated the sales and marketing efforts for Indiana and Kentucky, located funding sources to supplement conventional mortgage programs, and coordinated efforts to generate new credit union relationships in the region.   

Bagnoli received his bachelor’s degree in Social Studies from Butler in 1975. A member of Phi Delta Theta, he learned early in his time at Butler of the importance of volunteer work. That commitment to volunteerism and community engagement continued throughout his career and personal life.

The Katharine Merrill Graydon Alumni Service Award recognizes a graduate who is established in their career, and has displayed and recognizes a long-term commitment of outstanding service to the University. The recipients of this award have provided demonstrable service to the University to assist in perpetuating Butler as a great educational and cultural institution. This award honors the memory of Katharine Graydon who graduated from Butler in 1878, and was a Professor of English Literature at the University from 1907 to 1930, receiving an honorary doctorate of literature in 1928. Graydon served as the Alumni Secretary and Editor of the Alumnal Quarterly from its first edition in 1922 until her retirement in 1929, when she was named Professor Emerita.

 

Hilton Ultimus Brown Alumni Achievement Award: LCDR Jennifer A. Cockrill ’04

Since graduating from Butler University in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences, Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Jennifer Cockrill has committed her professional career to advancing medical science and public health globally as a dedicated public servant and Commissioned Officer in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

Her civilian service to the United States has included investigating the mechanisms of anthrax toxin at the National Institutes of Health, working toward the development of a malaria vaccine at the Naval Medical Research Center, and conducting epidemiological health surveillance of critical medical outcomes for members of the U.S. military at the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center.

As a quarantine officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, LCDR Cockrill was repeatedly hand-selected to lead challenging missions critical to protecting global public health, from aiding in the Ebola Response in Liberia in 2016 to fighting Zika in Puerto Rico to assisting in the responses to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Michael, to name a few.

She is currently a Regional Emergency Coordinator for Health and Human Services’ Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in Region 10, where she works closely on public health preparedness and response efforts with the states of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. Jennifer holds graduate degrees from UC Berkeley and Georgetown University, and is currently appointed as the Vice-Chair and Chair-Elect of the advisory group to the Surgeon General on matters affecting LGBT officers in the Commissioned Corps.

The Hilton Ultimus Brown Alumni Achievement Award honors a recent graduate whose personal and/or professional accomplishment brings honor and distinction to the University, and individual attainment and/or contributions for the betterment of society. Hilton U. Brown gave a lifetime of service to his career and Butler University, including serving on the Board of Trustees for 71 years. He was an award-winning newspaper journalist and Managing Editor at the Indianapolis News for more than seven decades.

 

Joseph Irwin Sweeney Alumni Service Award: Marc A. Williams ’07

Marc A. Williams is a 2007 graduate of Butler University, where he earned his degree in Media Arts: Recording Industry Studies. Williams is the second Butler graduate in his family; his older sister, Danielle, graduated in December 2004. Danielle is responsible for introducing Marc to Butler and encouraging him to attend.

After graduation, Williams embarked on a career in education, earning his master’s degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from Ball State University in 2015. He currently serves as the Assistant Principal at Fall Creek Intermediate School in Fishers, Indiana. In this role, he is committed to serving his school community by focusing on creating and sustaining a joyful and healthy school environment and experience. Williams is also an adjunct professor at Butler University, where he teaches “A World of Hip-Hop” in the Honors Program.

Williams uses the pseudonym “Mr. Kinetik” as a professional musician, DJ, and emcee. At the start of the 2009-2010 season, Marc began to volunteer as the on-court promotions emcee for Butler Men’s Basketball games, a role he still fulfills to this day. This passion for creativity and performance has given him opportunities to represent, serve, and remain connected to Butler as an alumnus.

Lindsey Martin ’05, Director of Athletic Marketing and Licensing for Butler, has this to say about Williams’ contributions to the atmosphere in Hinkle: “He has become such an integral part of our game day production that if he needs to miss a game for work or a family commitment, our Twitter feed is inundated with questions on his whereabouts—and the atmosphere in the arena is noticeably different.”

The Joseph Irwin Sweeney Alumni Service Award recognizes a recent alumnus who has demonstrated a significant commitment of outstanding service to the University. The award’s recipients have provided demonstrable service to the University to assist in perpetuating Butler as a great educational and cultural institution. The award honors the spirit and example of Joseph Sweeney, a young student with a great deal of potential, whose life was tragically cut short.

 

Mortar Award: Joseph ’88 and Florie (Theofanis) Eaton ’88

Joseph Eaton received his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Butler University in 1988 and earned his Juris Doctorate (cum laude) from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 1991. He embarked on a career with Barnes & Thornburg as a Summer Associate in 1990, and was named Partner in 2000.

Eaton is a member of a number of professional organizations and has taken on many leadership roles throughout his three-decade career. His memberships include the American Bar Association, the Indianapolis Bar Association, the Indiana State Bar Association, the Defense Research Institute, Trial Lawyers of America, and International Association of Defense Counsel. He was honored as a Distinguished Fellow of the Indianapolis Bar Foundation in 2004 and has been named an Indianapolis Business Journal Super Lawyer (Civil Defense) every year since 2006.

His service to Butler has included membership on the Board of Trustees, the Alumni Association Board of Directors, and the ButlerRising Capital Campaign. He has also been a member of numerous civic organizations in Fishers and has been involved in the Hamilton Southeastern Schools Foundation.

Florie (Theofanis) Eaton received her degree in Public and Corporate Communications from Butler University in 1988 and was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. She began her career in communications in 1987 at an Indianapolis-based commercial real estate firm and later started her own specialty sales business.

She is a long-time member of the Fishers YMCA Board of Advisors and president of the Fishers Tri Kappa Associate Chapter. A dedicated Butler volunteer, Florie has served on the University’s Alumni Association Board, the Kappa Alpha Theta Advisory Board, and as an alumni outreach volunteer. She is a past volunteer with a number of civic and cultural organizations in Fishers.

Joe, Florie and their children, Kailey ’17 and Zach ’20, established the Eaton Family Scholarship at Butler University in 2018.

The Mortar Award, created in 1995, honors one person or couple each year who personifies the Butler spirit by demonstrating great vision, leadership, and generosity to Butler University.

 

Foundation Award: Loren ’08 and Morgan (Greenlee) Snyder ’07 

Loren Snyder earned his bachelor’s degree in Finance from Butler University, where he served as the freshman class president, competed on the Men’s Cross Country and Track and Field teams, and served as the Dawg Pound President. He has served on the University’s Young Alumni Board and was recently invited to act as an advisor for Butler’s student-managed investment fund.

Snyder is a Senior Vice President and managing partner of The Matthews/Snyder Wealth Advisory Team. In 2018 and 2019, he was named a “Top 40 Under 40” wealth advisor by On Wall Street magazine. He is a third-generation Rotarian and recently completed his term as President of the Bloomington Rotary Club.

Morgan Snyder graduated from Butler University in 2007. She is the Director of Public Relations at Visit Indy, the city’s official destination marketing organization. She previously served as the Public Relations and Marketing Manager for the Conrad Indianapolis Hotel and as a member of the Hirons & Company team. An active member of the Society of American Travel Writers, the Public Relations Society of America, and Leadership Indianapolis, Morgan has been named a “Top 30 Under 30” by Destinations International and one of “Indy’s Best and Brightest” by Junior Achievement. She recently graduated from the Stanley K. Lacy Leadership Program and was elected to the Travel & Tourism PR Professionals’ national executive committee.

Along with fellow family members, the Snyders established the Lippert and Snyder Family Scholarship at Butler University and they both serve on the University’s recently formed Board of Visitors. Loren, Morgan, and their son, Coleman, live in downtown Indianapolis with their English bulldog, Franklin.

The Foundation Award, created in 2011, honors one person or couple (age 40 and younger) each year who personifies the Butler spirit by demonstrating leadership and generosity to Butler University.

Alumni Awards
Alumni OutcomesPeople

Ten Butler Community Members to be Honored at Alumni Awards Recognition Program

The annual awards program will be October 25 at 6:00 PM in the Schrott Center for the Arts.