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Doug Boles ’88

On Track

Marc D. Allan, MFA ’18

from Spring 2019

Doug Boles ’88 is right where he belongs—in the corner office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with windows that look out on the back side of turn 1 and the entry to the short chute on the south end.

“It’s not the greatest view in the world,” the Speedway President says with a smile. “But it’s not the worst view, either.”

A lifelong auto-racing fanatic, Boles is a guy who chose Butler University in part because of its proximity to the track.

. . . Who, when he would hear cars testing their engines, would finish his classes, grab a burger, head to the track and do his homework in the Speedway museum parking lot.

. . . Who created a Motorsports Task Force when he worked for Indianapolis Mayor Steve Goldsmith.

. . . Who helped start a racing team, Panther Racing, which won 15 races and two championships while he was part of it.

. . . Who cares so much about the Speedway that—well, we’ll let three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser tell you that one.

“I’ve seen him on what they call the Coke Lot and he’s down there picking up trash,” Unser says. “I could not believe this. Not with a stick, not with some guy who works for him following him. No, just doing it himself. He’s that way. He’ll stop and talk to you. He wants to know how you are. Who would ever, ever, ever do that? This guy’s the boss, and he isn’t doing it to impress somebody. He’s doing it because it’s his track to run. I thought that was more than amazing. Nobody’s like Doug Boles.”

Boles traces his influences to a home where auto racing and Butler University were the cultural touchstones. His parents, Jeff and Susie, and a great aunt are Butler alumni. So are most of his parents’ friends. Both of his sisters went to Butler, as did their husbands.

Still, Boles was preparing to attend DePauw University when Butler swim coach Bob Waymouth offered a partial scholarship.

He joined Lambda Chi, the closest fraternity to Hinkle Fieldhouse (“With those 5:00 AM swim practices, you could sleep in five minutes longer”), worked as a campus tour guide, and majored in Journalism. An internship on the Indianapolis Star obituary desk convinced him that “I’m not sure this is for me,” so he followed his other love—politics—into a job doing public relations for the Indiana House Republicans.

Boles went from the Statehouse to the Indianapolis Mayor’s Office, where he worked as Director of Governmental and Corporate Affairs, and on the side managed the Indianapolis Motorsports Task Force. In that role, he met ESPN producer Terry Lingner, who hired Boles to be a producer’s spotter on the weekends for ESPN Racing.

Through that job, Boles met a mechanic named John Barnes, who proposed the idea of starting a team.

After help from attorney Jack Swarbrick (now Athletic Director at University of Notre Dame) pitching Pennzoil sponsorship, Boles became part of a team along with Barnes, Lingner, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jim Harbaugh, and auto dealer Gary Pedigo.

Boles spent 10 years with the team—and earned his law degree from Indiana University in 2000—but the travel and constant workload began taking its toll. He sold his interest in Panther Racing to spend more time with his wife, Beth, and family. He worked as a consultant for three years, then joined the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2010 as Director of Communications.

That role expanded to Director of Communications and Vice President of Communications for all of Hulman & Company—the Speedway, the IndyCar Series, and Clabber Girl. In 2013, he became Chief Operating Officer (COO), and that summer he was named President—a job that typically had gone to ownership or family.

It seems like the culmination of a lifelong dream, but as Boles tells people, “You couldn’t dream about this job because you never would have thought it would be an opportunity.”

It’s worked out well for him, the Speedway, and Butler. Danny Kibble, Butler’s Executive Director of Alumni and Engagement Programs, says the University is “fortunate that someone such as Doug, who has achieved such incredible international success, continues to remain involved with Butler University.”

Looking back at his achievements at the Speedway so far, Boles is most proud of his team’s effort to sell out the 100th running of the 500 in 2016 (a crowd of 350,000-plus), bringing in the Rolling Stones for a July 4, 2015 concert that attracted 55,000 fans, and spending roughly $120 million on grandstand upgrades and infrastructure improvements.

He keeps reminders of the renovations in his office, including a rusty beam that had collapsed into the grandstand and a “core sample” of the track that includes an original brick along with all the layers of pavement that had been added over the years. The thing looks like a bricks-and-mortar lasagna.

Beyond racing, for the past three years now, the Speedway has presented Lights at the Brickyard, an event that lets cars drive around the 2.5-mile track and look at some 3 million holiday lights. More than 150,000 people took the opportunity in its first year, 2016—and about half of those had never been to the track.

Boles’ efforts have earned the admiration of his peers.

“Doug’s passion and energy around motorsports is infectious,” says Chip Wile, President of the Daytona International Speedway. “He is always thinking about ways to be innovative at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and create an exciting environment for fans when they visit his iconic track.”

Boles says that’s the challenge he faces—to stay relevant, grow new audiences, and make sure the IMS is active beyond the month of May when the Indianapolis 500 takes over.

“We’re the Hinkle Fieldhouse of racetracks,” he says. “The question is: How do you take what is essential to your DNA and promote that? You can make subtle changes,” Boles says, “but you can’t walk away from who you are.”

Doug Boles ’88
Alumni Success

On Track

  

by Marc D. Allan, MFA ’18

from Spring 2019

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Brandon Gaudin ’06

The Players Aren’t the Only Ones Practicing

Monica Holb ’09

from Spring 2019

Luck is a word that Butler University graduate and play-by-play sportscaster Brandon Gaudin ’06 just can’t stop saying.

“I’m lucky, and I realize that,” he says, reflecting on the adventure that began when he was young. “No one has had bigger cheerleaders, bigger mentors, and better friends throughout this entire walk.”

His walk started at age 7 on October 24, 1991—the day his parents took the family to World Series Game 5, Braves vs. Twins.

“When I walked into Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, that is when I fell in love with sports.”

And he fell fast, and hard. Gaudin devoured the Atlanta Braves’ 1992 season at home in Evansville, Indiana, on TBS, constructing a bat and ball from the cardboard of a paper towel roll and a wadded-up balloon and making an outfield fence with pillows. He mimicked Braves announcer Skip Caray and hoped to follow in his footsteps.

And he has—as a play-by-play announcer for FOX and BTN and the voice of the Madden NFL videogame for EA Sports.

Brandon Gaudin calling a game at Hinkle FieldhouseGaudin has always known what he wanted to do, and when he first visited Butler, he realized the University could provide a foundation for his future success.

“What I saw in Butler was potential,” he says. “I knew at Butler that I would be an individual. Butler would provide me a chance to get a lot of hands-on experience earlier than I might have been able to at a bigger school.”

And experience, he got: During his years on campus, Gaudin took on two majors and two minors, interned at ESPN, and was named a Top 10 Male Student.

After graduating, he went right to work, putting in time broadcasting Single-A baseball south of Salt Lake City, Utah. Though not a glamorous start, Gaudin says, “I had no grand expectations of graduating from college and being on national television within six months, and I wouldn’t have wanted that. I feel very fortunate for the journey I’ve had.”

That journey led him to serve as the play-by-play voice of Butler Basketball, where he could allow his pride for the Bulldogs to shine through. He moved on in 2013 to become the voice of Georgia Tech’s football and basketball programs, and eventually to the national stage he’s on now.

Along the way, he’s been on the mic for a few special endings, like the University of Michigan’s buzzer-beating win over the University of Houston in the second round of last year’s NCAA tournament.

It’s the same call he made thousands of times years ago in his living room.

“When those moments have happened, my mind always travels back to acting them out as a child all those years ago in Evansville.”

Today, as a national television and radio broadcaster, he is still practicing. Like the little kid listening to Skip Caray, Gaudin as an adult admires the three gold standards of the industry: Jim Nantz, Al Michaels, and Joe Buck.

“Those are individuals I’m always trying to glean something from. So when I was asked to voice the Madden video-game, one of the many things that was so special was that Jim Nantz did it before I did.”

If Gaudin is lucky to be where he is today, it is because he ensures preparation meets opportunity. He works hard to blend the art and science of calling games. The groundwork of gathering statistics is a science. The art comes into play when he turns on the microphone to tell a story.

“You have a ton of stuff committed to memory, but if Kamar Baldwin is up at the free-throw line and I want to tell a story about him, I can look down at all the notes I have and weave them into the broadcast.”

For Gaudin, “what’s next” is more easily answered by what game is coming up or what flight number he’s packing for. (He logged over 200 flights in 2018.)

“I love what I am doing now and wouldn’t trade it for the world,” he says. “As cliché as it sounds, I try to enjoy the steps of the journey and not worry about tomorrow. I feel blessed to do what I do today. I am one of the luckiest people, and I realize that.”

Brandon Gaudin ’06
Alumni Success

The Players Aren’t the Only Ones Practicing

A sports broadcaster gets an early jump on career experience.

by Monica Holb ’09

from Spring 2019

Read more
Dr. Craig A. Anderson ’76

Focusing on Behavior

from Spring 2019

Dr. Craig A. Anderson ’76 has been on the leading edge of research about aggression for over 40 years. In February, his efforts were recognized with the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Society of Personality and Social Psychology.

The award honors a scholar who has made distinctively valuable research contributions across his or her career that bridge personality and social psychology or bridge personality or social psychology with another field (i.e., law, education, organizations, or medicine).

“Dr. Anderson’s work is remarkable not only for its sheer quantity and quality but also for its breadth,” says Distinguished Scholar Award selection committee member and University of Texas at Austin Psychology Professor Sam Gosling. “His research spans a wide range of areas, including judgment and decision-making; depression, loneliness, and shyness; personality theory and measurement; attribution theory; and human aggression.

“His work is also particularly notable for its applied implications well beyond the realms of academia; this feature is perhaps best illustrated by his groundbreaking work looking at the effects of media violence on behavior.”

He traces his interest in aggression to his childhood.

“I was a fairly angry child,” says Anderson, who grew up on a farm in Northern Indiana. “I was always one of the smallest in my class, getting picked on. I distinctly recall a point at 15 or 16 when I realized being angry wasn’t satisfying or productive.”

Not long after this epiphany, Anderson nearly got an up-closeand- personal look at aggression in its most institutionalized form. Attending the University of Notre Dame during the Vietnam War, he felt safe from joining the fight—at least until graduation. Suddenly, in 1971, President Richard Nixon cancelled student deferments, making undergraduates like Anderson subject to the draft.

“It was clear I was going to be drafted while still in college, and they were sending everyone to Vietnam,” he says. “So, I voluntarily joined an Army Reserve unit.” Anderson attended basic training and vehicle mechanic school at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, then tank mechanic school at Fort Knox.

Once he knew he could fulfill his reservist duties primarily on the weekends, Anderson turned back to his studies. He accepted a scholarship to Butler.

From the time he got to Butler—where his senior research project examined whether a researcher’s gender could influence the outcomes of a study—Anderson has been intrigued by the motivations behind people’s behavior.

“I’ve always been interested in what influences the way people think,” Anderson says. “How humans interpret the world underlies all my research.”

He says the Psychology Department at Butler helped his life’s work get off to a good start.

During those years, he also met and dated Dona Caprice (“Cappi”) Odom ’77, who was attending Butler’s School of Pharmacy.

They spent a lot of time together in the Psychology Department. Then one day, he recalls, one of his professors, Dr. J. William Hepler, took him aside and said, “‘Anderson, you’ve got to marry this girl. Not only can she can cook, but she can earn a living, and you’re not going to be able to make any money!’ So, I did.”

They just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. (Their daughter Caitlin graduated from Butler in 2012 with a degree in Psychology.)

After Anderson graduated from Butler, he went on to earn his master’s and doctorate from Stanford University. He taught at Rice University, Ohio State, and University of Missouri- Columbia before joining the Iowa State University faculty in 1999 as Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology.

“He is undeniably the most well-known, accomplished alumnus of the Psychology Department at Butler, and he’s very important as a social psychologist and a psychologist in general,” says Provost and Professor of Psychology Kate Morris. “His work is compelling and impactful—he’s testified before Congress. We’re obviously proud to have him as an alumnus.”

Michelle (Skinner) Brown ’09

Closing the Gap

Hayley Ross ’17

from Spring 2019

When Michelle (Skinner) Brown ’09 created CommonLit, Inc. she saw it as just a teacher website.

That was in 2014. Today, with the help of a $3.9 million grant from the United States Department of Education and another $3.5 million grant from Google, the online reading program for grades 3-12 is reaching over 8.3 million users, and averaging 21,000 new users every day.

In fact, Brown says, “CommonLit has grown so big that it’s rare that I meet an English teacher today who hasn’t heard of it. It’s pretty crazy.”

Brown created CommonLit to be a completely free, online compilation of literary and teaching resources. Professional, high-performing teachers create all of the lessons on the site, which include new articles, poems, short stories, and historical documents. The works themselves are donated by authors and publishers that support CommonLit’s mission of improving literacy for vulnerable populations.

StudentThe path to its creation was not a traditional one, however.

Brown came to Butler University from New Braunfels, Texas to study classical ballet. However, one of her professors, Dr. Marshall Gregory, inspired her to change her major to English.

“His classes made me believe in the power of literature to change people’s minds. In fact, Dr. G ended up writing my letter of recommendation for Teach for America, which is what brought me to the education sector.”

After graduating from Butler, Brown taught for two years at a school in a highly impoverished and extremely rural part of the Mississippi Delta. It was there that she got the “teaching bug.”

“Ultimately, what I am doing now directly correlates to teaching there,” she says. “CommonLit was born out of my experience in the classroom.”

Brown followed up her time in Mississippi with a Master’s in Education Policy and Management from Harvard University. It was upon completion of this program that CommonLit was born.

In the five years since its inception, the nonprofit has done so well, in part, because of something Brown calls “best practices.”

“Our theory of action is that if we give teachers high-quality resources and help change teacher practices, we can nudge them toward practices that support students who are struggling in reading,” Brown says. “We pick a handful of best practices that have been shown, through research, to move the needle in reading achievement—particularly for students who are struggling.”

For example, a best practice would be for a student who is an English language learner to explicitly be learning high-leverage words—words that you might see over and over again, no matter what class you’re in throughout the school day. This ensures students have strong foundational knowledge from which to build.

“Reading and writing is a predictor of life’s outcomes, of student earnings,” she says. “It really is the ticket to the middle class. Our mission is to close that gap.”

With the new multimillion-dollar grant, the company will aim to close the gap internationally as well, starting with a pilot in Mexico.

“We are actually writing original Spanish content, getting really great local stories, and building a curriculum that is more localized for Mexico,” Brown says. “Then we are trying to see over the next two years how we can build student achievement there.”

StudentsCommonLit currently has a three-person team in Mexico City that is working with the Ministry of Education as well as other partners who are local to the region and understand the unique context there.

“Literature and text selection are so localized and very cultural and are how people are socialized in their country,” Brown says.

“We aren’t just saying we are making a CommonLit for the U.S. and then lumping the rest of the world together. We’re thinking ‘what’s our global strategy,’ and thinking country by country.”

The under-resourced schools her team is working with in Mexico City just recently gained access to computers and broadband internet. Through its latest grant, CommonLit will be working on offline solutions as well.

“Our mission is to serve students who are in low-income areas and who are underserved,” she says. “And in international context, that usually means they don’t have consistent access to internet. So, that is something we will be pursuing in 2019 and 2020: How can we make an interactive version of CommonLit that actually works offline.”

CommonLit has grown exponentially and impressively over the past two years, but Brown says it’s the individual stories that have the most impact. She shares the story of a high school teacher in New York whose student had recently immigrated to the United States. In order to graduate with a high school diploma, he had to pass his New York State Regents exams— but he spoke no English.

“This teacher used CommonLit basically every day with him in English and Spanish, and the result was that he exceeded the average on the English exam at the end of the year,” Brown says. “He used the Spanish and English resources and started to understand the structure of the text and it was a total success... It’s moments like that when you realize that you’re really making a big impact.”

Michelle (Skinner) Brown ’09
Alumni Success

Closing the Gap

  

by Hayley Ross ’17

from Spring 2019

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Kena (Woods) Swanson ’98

The Hunt

Rachel Stern

from Spring 2019

Kena (Woods) Swanson ’98 is OK with failure. That’s because she doesn’t really view it that way. Failing is really just getting closer to discovering the right answer.

That is the world of vaccine discovery. Decades of research, years of clinical trials, and, unfortunately, more often than not, failure. And that is Swanson’s world.

“This is certainly not for the faint of heart,” says Swanson, a Butler University Biology graduate who currently works at Pfizer as Director in Viral Vaccines and is the research lead for the RSV vaccine program. “It takes passion, drive, and a lot of persistence to really see where the light will be at the end of the tunnel. But it’s also so worth it because you know you’re a small piece of the larger puzzle that will have so much impact beyond yourself.”

Swanson has spent the last five years working on finding an RSV vaccine at Pfizer’s Research and Development campus in Pearl River, New York. In her 10 years at Pfizer, she has also worked on finding vaccines for Chlamydia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Before that, Swanson went to graduate school at the Indiana University School of Medicine, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in Chlamydia pathogenesis and vaccine antigen discovery research at Rocky Mountain Laboratories (part of the National Institutes of Health).

But it was at Butler that she really discovered her passion for science and research.

She remembers sitting in Professor Emeritus of Biology James Shellhaas’ immunology course as a junior. He was comparing a virus battling against one’s immune system, to a game of tug of war. And right there, in that classroom, Swanson knew she wanted to hunt for vaccines as a career.

“I was hooked,” she says. “I knew I wanted to keep chasing after this. It was a great class. There were only five students, so there was a ton of discussion back and forth. Shellhaas made the connection that you need to know the biology of a pathogen and how it interacts, in order to make an effective vaccine. He opened my eyes to this dynamic, complex, interesting challenge and since then I have wanted to chase these answers.”

In between pitching for the Butler softball team—Swanson says there was a lot of studying in hotel hallways—she found time to present her research at the Butler Undergraduate Research Conference, take part in Butler Summer Institute, oh, and meet her husband, Wesley ’00—in the library, of course.

Her summer project for the Butler Summer Institute was teaming up with Shellhaas to research the immune response of macrophages when infected with various bacteria. It was her first experience handling research animals, and what sticks out is the patience of Shellhaas to teach her the basics of research—how to collect cells, grow bacteria, analyze it, tell a story, troubleshoot, and draw conclusions.

“These are all skills that are the foundation of a career in research,” Swanson says. “At Butler, you have the chance to do so much more than what is in the curriculum. There were so many different opportunities, by the time I was off to grad school, I already had an understanding of how to design an experiment, how to do research. But the thing is, it goes beyond these practical lab skills. I learned the analytical thinking that you need to be successful as a researcher. The skills to look at something one way, then realize, wait, there’s an alternative path out there in case you run into a road block, which you will.”

But a road block doesn’t mean failure. It just means getting closer to the right answer.

Kena (Woods) Swanson ’98
Alumni Success

The Hunt

  

by Rachel Stern

from Spring 2019

Read more
New York City Skyline

Unleashed in New York

Marc D. Allan, MFA ’18

from Spring 2019

You know what the song New York, New York  says: If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere. And that sentiment is what motivates tens of thousands of people to pick up and move to New York City each year.

The potential of great risk, great reward is too tempting to pass up. We talked to four Bulldogs who’ve moved to NYC in the past decade or so—and are most certainly making it.

 

A Matter of Time

Joe Ziemer ’05Joe Ziemer ’05 worked at Nuvo, Indianapolis’ alternative newspaper, and Clowes Memorial Hall for about a year after graduation. But by 2007, he was off to New York, where he’s been ever since.

“I knew it was inevitable,” he says. “It was just a matter of when.”

Ziemer had spent time in New York with his family growing up, and while at Butler he and classmate Steve Dumas ’05 did internships there rather than study abroad.

“We both took the view that if we were going to do a semester away, we wanted to do it in a place where we thought there was a likelihood that we would move to,” Ziemer says.

To get hired in New York, Ziemer borrowed a friend’s New York mailing address so he would look like a local applicant. He landed his first job with TriplePoint, a boutique communications firm, where he wound up running the New York office for the San Francisco-based company.

After five and a half years, he moved to Betterment, an automated investment service. At the time, it was a small, unknown startup with 10 employees managing $50 million. Six years later, Betterment has 240 employees and manages $15 billion in investments.

Ziemer is Vice President.

“It was definitely a career risk to take the plunge to a small startup, but it’s gone incredibly well,” Ziemer says.

So has the move to New York. After nine years in Manhattan, he moved to Brooklyn and also bought a small house upstate with his wife and two dogs to be able to “recapture a little bit of fresh air and nature when needed.”

He’s found New York to be “incredibly welcoming.”

“Almost nobody is from here, which makes it a really attractive place to move,” he says. “They’re accepting of different cultures and ideologies.”

 

An Overnight Success—14 Years in the Making

Katie Hannigan ’08On August 2, 2018, after 10 years in New York, Katie Hannigan ’08 got the kind of break that can catapult a standup comic’s career: She performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

The result, she says, has been “a nice little bump” that included getting a Home Depot commercial and increasing her road bookings.

“It definitely is a huge career milestone for me,” she says. “This is something I’ve been working toward for years and years and years.”

Hannigan has been working toward her goal for at least 14 years, if you go back to her first year at Butler. After graduating from Warren Central High School in Indianapolis, where she was fascinated by experimental theater, Hannigan came to Butler as a Theatre major and immediately found herself cast in Top Girls, a play by unconventional writer Caryl Churchill. Everyone in the cast was older, and “I felt quite distinguished and honored to be able to do that show.”

In that production, she worked with director Constance Macy for the first time. They teamed up again two years later on The Underpants, and she credits Macy, an Indianapolis actress and director who works frequently with Butler Theatre, with helping her develop a critical eye for comedic timing.

At Butler, Hannigan also worked at the Holcomb Observatory for two years, which “helped me develop my interests outside of performing, which is so important to be able to draw on.” (She’s now hosting a podcast called Apodcalypse about ends-of-days scenarios in pop culture and religious legend.)

Hannigan moved to New York a week after graduating from Butler. She moved in with her former Butler roommate Leah Nanako Winkler ’06—who has also gone on to great success as the 2018 winner of the prestigious Yale Drama Series Prize—and they worked together in experimental theater.

“I felt that if I went to New York,” she says, “I would find exactly what I was interested in focusing on for a long period of time.”

But that took some time. Two years later, Hannigan started in comedy. She spent four years going to open-mic nights five to 10 times a week to hone her act. A couple of years in, she also took a job at a comedy club so she could get more stage time, and she began to hit the road to work at clubs and comedy festivals around the country. She also started posting jokes regularly on Twitter—and still does @katiehannigan.

She had other gigs, too, including preschool teacher (“the kids were teaching me … that I hate kids,” she says in her act) and New York City tour guide. She developed such an extensive knowledge of New York City that she’s appeared in episodes of The Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum as an expert.

And even as her comedy schedule filled, she continued to act. During summer 2018, she shot two TV pilots, including one about city yuppies who decide they’re going to live off the land but find they’re woefully unprepared.

In the near term, she appreciates that standup comedy is the skill that’s bringing her the most attention.

“The weekend after I performed (for Colbert), it was quite a shock to my system to have accomplished that kind of goal,” she says. “I was feeling kind of overwhelmed as far as what do I do next. The Late Show is something that will help my career as a comedian, but I do have some big things ahead that I’m looking forward to.”

 

A Pretty Cool Place to Work

Radley Haddad ’13Radley Haddad ’13 didn’t have a favorite baseball team growing up, but he sure has one now—the New York Yankees.

Since 2017, the former Butler Baseball player has been the bullpen catcher for the Yankees, and at the end of the 2018 season he signed a contract for another two years. (Also in 2018, he married Arielle Hemrick ’14, who’s now a dentist in Brooklyn.)

“Being in New York has been a great experience so far,” he says. “Getting to be in Yankee Stadium every day is a pretty cool place to go to work.”

Haddad grew up in Carmel, Indiana, and transferred to Butler after two years at Western Carolina University for a chance to get more playing time. Then-Coach Steve Farley—“a really good molder of men”—helped Haddad get into a good summer league where he could play every day until he was eligible to play for Butler. And in 2012 and 2013, he started 93 games for the Bulldogs.

Haddad wasn’t selected in the Major League Baseball draft, but a week later the Yankees signed him to a free-agent contract. He played four years in the minor leagues, getting as high as the Double-A Trenton Thunder. During spring training in 2017, the Yankees gave him a choice: Go back to the minor leagues again or come to work as a bullpen catcher.

Haddad was 26 at the time. The choice turned out to be easy.

“It was tough to walk away from the game as a player, but the transition was easy.”

His qualifications for the job were basic: “I have the skills to catch guys who throw hard and I’m a generally pleasant person to be around. Those are probably the two job requirements that I filled.”

His first season—being part of a team playing in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series—“was just surreal.” Nine months earlier, he was “a grinding minor leaguer,” and here he was, warming up starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia.

“The path that your life can take in a short time is pretty remarkable,” he says.

Haddad still enjoys catching—“I get to see what Aroldis Chapman throws and all these guys who are probably future Hall of Famers”—and he also does some coaching, game planning, and analytics.

His plan is to “just continue to mold into the best version of myself and help the team win in any way possible, whether that’s as a bullpen catcher or coaching assistant or in baseball operations. Just continue to make the people around me better is my goal.”

 

Reading the Signs

Aaron Simms ’98In his bio, Butler Theatre alumnus Aaron Simms ’98 describes himself as “a New Yorker from Cincinnati.”

He’s been in New York since 2003, after detours that took him from Butler to Wisconsin (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival), Ohio (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Human Race Theatre Company), and West Virginia (Theatre West Virginia).

“That’s what you do,” Simms says. “You gig. You go where the work is. That’s the job of a professional actor.”

That mindset motivated him to pursue his craft in New York with just enough money for two months of living expenses and the phone number of someone he knew in theater.

Simms called while he was getting off the plane, and his acquaintance said that his theater company was having auditions that day. Simms went to the audition and booked his first job in NYC.

“That was kind of a sign that I should be here,” he says. “It’s strange for an artist, but the signs point you in the right direction. That was a strange and wonderful occurrence.”

That job led to others—“Work breeds work,” Simms says—and as his craft evolved, he began producing and general-managing shows.

He’s still doing that as General Manager of the York Theatre Company, which produces and develops new musicals and old gems from the past in Midtown Manhattan, and as founder and Executive Producer of Inwood Art Works in Upper Manhattan’s Inwood neighborhood. Simms says Inwood lacked galleries, theaters, cinemas, and other creative spaces, so he decided to create a cultural arts hub through programming showcasing artists who live in the neighborhood.

Simms, who earned his Master of Fine Arts in Theater Management and Producing from Columbia University in 2015, says his career is an outgrowth of what he learned at Butler.

“You have to create your own path,” he says, “which is something the chair of our department, Dan Warrick, instilled in us. That’s something I’ve carried with me from Butler.”

New York City Skyline
Alumni Success

Unleashed in New York

  

by Marc D. Allan, MFA ’18

from Spring 2019

Read more

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.

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.”

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.

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.”

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.”

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