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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
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Ron Smith ’88, MS ’96

  The Lab School principal has learned to adapt.

Rachel (Hahn) Arkenberg ’16

When she was in high school, Rachel (Hahn) Arkenberg ’16 started looking for a college with a great Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) program. She thought she’d found the right one, but they told her, “We’d love to have you, but honestly, with your credentials, you need to look at Butler’s program.”

“That was something you’d never expect,” she said. “I was totally shocked.”

But that turned out to be great for Arkenberg, who proclaimed Butler’s CSD program to be “the best program in the nation.”

“Because we don’t have a graduate program, we as undergrads get to do all the experiential, clinical experiences that are within our scope of practice and our ability,” she said. “Not only did I get to do the community screening with preschoolers in the Indianapolis area, I did research.”

And she got to work with the Butler Aphasia Community, in a course where she helped an adult client in need of language therapy while working under the supervision of a certified speech pathologist.

Arkenberg, who grew up 20 minutes from campus in Zionsville, Indiana, said she also was attracted to Butler because of the opportunities it offers for service. She was a Resident Assistant in ResCo, a multiyear participant in Fall Alternative Break, a tutor in a local high school English as a New Language program, and she worked with disabled students in the VSA Arts of Indiana program.

After graduating, she continued her education at Purdue University. She is currently finishing her master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology, with plans to continue at Purdue for a doctorate.

"I have been able to present my research from Butler and new research I have done at Purdue at international conferences," she said. "The opportunities I had at Butler uniquely prepared me for research and clinical work in graduate school, and I have had a more diverse and interesting caseload because of it.”

Rachel Hahn
People

Rachel (Hahn) Arkenberg ’16

  "Butler has given me the experiences to become the best version of who I am."

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.

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Lester Burris ’12

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

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
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JoJo Ciancio ’14

  JoJo came to Butler with goals—and met them.

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
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Jimmy Rick ’15

A combined major drew him to Butler.

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.”

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Daniel Pulliam ’04

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

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
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Brendan King ’17

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

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.”

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Andrew Gonzales ’14

  Butler taught him leadership.

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
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Jenn Muszik ’98

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

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
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Hayleigh Colombo ’12

  "My professors taught me to think critically."

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
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Andrew Kazmierczak ’13

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

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
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Alyssa Setnar ’16

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

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