People | Butler Stories

Latest In



Betsy Shirley '10 Earns Religion Writers' Fellowship


PUBLISHED ON Jan 19 2016

Betsy Shirley ’10, an assistant editor with Sojourners magazine, has been named one of 28 Religion Newswriters Association’s Handa Fellows in Interreligious Communication, an achievement that will help broaden her knowledge of religion and the scope of her coverage.

The one-year fellowship includes numerous professional development opportunities—a dedicated mentor and webinars designed to sharpen the fellows’ writing and reporting skills—as well as possible travel opportunities.

BetsyShirleyHeadshot2“The fellowship helps younger reporters cover religions that aren’t Christianity or Judaism with much more depth and nuance,” she said. “When it comes to covering religion, we need reporters to be especially well trained in some of the religions that haven’t been as well represented.”

Shirley has been a writer and editor for Sojourners, which focuses on faith and social justice from a Christian perspective, since finishing her Master of Divinity at Yale Divinity School in May 2015. She said her interest in religion was stoked at Butler, which she chose for several reasons: She wanted a liberal arts education; her great-grandparents and her father were graduates; and in researching schools, she found that Butler rated high among students on a “happiness index.”

She majored in English writing, but added a minor in religion after taking Associate Professor Chad Bauman’s introductory course and Professor Paul Valliere’s “Faith, Doubt and Reason.”

“In that the first class, even the first week, we were out in Indianapolis observing a religious tradition that was very different from our own,” Shirley said. “I was assigned Sikhism and we were out talking to people who practice that religion. As someone who now works writing about religion and covering religion, that was especially valuable experience.”

After graduation, Shirley did a yearlong internship at Sojourners as an editorial assistant, then headed to Yale.

“I liked working at Sojourners and knew if I wanted to do this long-term, I needed a broader background in religion,” she said. “You need to be able to know what is a meaningful story and what is just Internet buzz.”

At Yale, she took courses in subject areas such as church history, biblical interpretation, and theology, as well as classes in other disciplines. That prepared her to cover stories like the Gay Christian Network Conference (a meeting of 1,500 LGBT Christians and allies), the role of hospital chaplains during the Ebola scare, and how a Los Angeles pastor uses karaoke to spread the gospel.

“I’ve had a lot of great training in religion,” she said, “but religion is complex and it deserves extra resources and training to fairly interpret it.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan



Michael Hole '08 Named to Forbes's 30 Under 30


PUBLISHED ON Jan 06 2016

Michael Hole ’08, a Boston Medical Center pediatrician and founder of an organization that works to reduce child poverty in America, has been named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list of America’s most important young entrepreneurs, creative leaders, and brightest stars.

michael holeHole is the cofounder of StreetCred, which he describes on his LinkedIn profile as a company that works to reduce child poverty in America by improving access to money and services available to low-income families and individuals raising children.

The organization provides free tax preparation and financial literacy services in pediatric hospitals and clinics targeting families eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. It plans to expand services into one-stop-shops helping families apply for other community resources and public benefits like health insurance, food assistance, public housing, electricity, FAFSA, and savings plans all before they leave the doctor's office.

Hole, 29, was a double-major in Biology and Spanish at Butler. While at Butler, he founded Ambassadors for Children and Timmy Global Health, and he was active in Student Government Association and Delta Tau Delta.

After earning his bachelor’s, Hole went on to Stanford University, where he earned his MBA and Doctor of Medicine (M.D.).

Hole and the 29 others on the list were chosen from an initial screening of more than 15,000.

“Name a business sector, social issue or essential institution, they are taking it on and changing the rules of the game– or creating entirely new playbooks,” Forbes wrote. “In the past, youth was a handicap to professional success. Getting older meant more resources, more knowledge, more money. No more. Those who grew up in the tech age have way bigger ambitions — perfectly suited to the dynamic, entrepreneurial and impatient digital world they grew up in. If you want to change the world, being under 30 is now an advantage.”

The Forbes 30 Under 30 list includes some famous names—basketball superstar Stephen Curry, Star Wars: The Force Awakens leading man John Boyega, plus-sized supermodel Ashley Graham, Canadian crooner Shawn Mendes and YouTube gamer CaptainSparklez (Jordan Maron).

Forbes said the process to make the list is “intense.”

“We look at thousands of candidates from 20 different categories and consider their game-changing quotient along various dimensions, such as impact, use of cutting edge technology or creativity, scalability or adaptability, number of people reached and dollars raised/generated,” it said.

Media contact:
Marc Allan



Learning About Service, the Butler Way

BY Evie Schultz ’16

PUBLISHED ON Dec 21 2015

At first, the concept seems difficult. How do you help third-graders understand what service means?

But for Early and Middle Childhood Education Professor Arthur Hochman and his early elementary education class, the challenge is often the most important part of the lesson plan.

Kat Welch '17 and her students.

For a little over five weeks this semester, Butler students were paired with Crooked Creek Elementary School third-graders in groups. The Butler students were responsible for creating lesson plans and guiding the elementary schools students through projects to discover what service is.

“Every semester I like to work with a local public school in coming up with something special that's going to have a feeling of culmination and importance, so that these third-graders will have an experience they will never forget,” Hochman said.

In past years the projects have varied. Students and children have organized a flash mob to honor a teacher or come to Butler for a day to present research they've done.

This year, the lesson took a different turn as the third-graders worked together to create their own magazine called Helping Hands. It was published within another local kids magazine, Inspired.

Kat Welch and ’17 and Allison Behling ’18 are two of Hochman’s students who worked at Crooked Creek.

Under the guidance of teachers such as Megan Shuck Rubey ’12 and Kristen Vannatta, they helped students create artwork, conduct interviews, and come up with ways to serve their teachers.

Welch’s group created an autograph book for one teacher and wrote a poem for another.

“It was neat to see how it was really important to them that the teacher liked it and that it was special for them,” she said. “We made a point to teach them that it was anonymous. At first they struggled with that, but then came to realize it's more about the act of doing than getting recognition.”

Hochman said the children are motivated to work on a deeper and higher level when there is an incentive of being able to achieve something important, such as serving and creating an actual published magazine.

“It’s the idea of getting kids to do work that’s in context, that’s real,” Hochman said. “It gives you an impetus to do great work, as opposed to ‘You need to learn multiplication so you can learn division so you can learn algebra,’ which when you’re little feels a little hollow.Coloring page

“But if it’s ‘You need to do a good job because you want to do a good job because there’s something at the end of the tunnel that’s meaningful for you,’ as a third-grader there’s power in that.”

After finishing the magazine and sending it in for publication, the Butler students returned to surprise their third-graders on the final day. The students gathered to see their final product projected up at the front of the classroom, and a special guest even came to visit: Trip, the Butler bulldog mascot.

Together, they celebrated their published magazine and the new bonds formed between the Butler students and their third-graders.

“We had third-graders crying,” Hochman said. “The attachments are very real.”

“It was very sweet,” Behling said. “But I think I was even more excited about Trip than they were.”

Not only did they come away with new friends, Behling and Welch said they came away with teaching experiences they will never forget.

“For me, I loved seeing the progress that was made,” Welch said. “The first or second day we were there, we asked them what service was. They all said out of order signs or drew stores. But by the end of the project, they talked about how it was important to do things anonymously for others.”

Behling said she noticed even more changes in herself.

“I kind of went in expecting for me to have my place, for everything to go my way, and obviously that doesn't always happen, especially with kids,” Behling said. “My biggest takeaway was not everything has to go right the first time and sometimes you just have to try again.”

Sounds a lot like the Butler Way.


Grant Helps Professor Samide Continue Art Preservation


PUBLISHED ON Dec 16 2015

Chemistry Professor Michael Samide and Senior Conservation Scientist Gregory Smith will be the beneficiaries of a three-year, $75,000 grant that the Indianapolis Museum of Art has received to continue their work on preserving works of art.

Michael SamideThe National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant will allow Samide to spend the next two summers at the museum as an NEH faculty fellow. In addition, two Butler undergraduates will have the opportunity to work at the museum during the next two summers.

The work is centered around the development of a new method for rapid analysis of volatile organic compounds released from materials used in museum construction. The hope is to find a better quantitative method for material testing so that museums can safely design and build museum spaces that will not damage the art.

The work began as part of a sabbatical leave in 2014 and continued with Samide serving as a Dreyfus MUSE scholar in the summer of 2015. Preliminary results have been published and the data was recently presented as part of symposium on conservation and exhibition planning at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Collegian Staff Selects Daniel Comiskey As New Adviser


PUBLISHED ON Dec 14 2015

Daniel Comiskey, deputy editor of Indianapolis Monthly magazine, has been selected by The Butler Collegian’s staff to serve as its adviser. He will take on the role at the beginning of the spring semester.

As adviser, Comiskey serves as a consultant to problems, offers advice to the staff when it is solicited, and critiques the stories the Collegian publishes.

Daniel Comiskey“I know it's a transitional time for the newspaper—a new editor-in-chief, a new adviser, a digital-first format,” he said. “But all of those things are opportunities as much as they are challenges. I hope to bring stability while encouraging the ambitious reporting and lively writing that have been the paper's trademarks for so long.”

Comiskey joined Indianapolis Monthly in 2006, shortly after completing a Master of Arts in journalism at Indiana University. During graduate school, he served as arts and culture editor of the Indiana University Alumni Magazine and reported for the Bloomington Herald-Times. Comiskey’s long-form features have won a number of Society of Professional Journalists Awards, and have taken him across the country in a semi truck, to the sites of natural disasters, and inside New York City Hall.

Comiskey grew up around newspapers. His mother, Nancy, was Deputy Managing Editor at the Indianapolis Star and now teaches at Indiana University.

And, he lives a block from the University, “so I'm already part of the Butler community in a way,” he said. “It makes sense for me to have a relationship with the place.”

Katie Goodrich, who will take over as Collegian Editor in Chief for the spring semester, said Comiskey “will bring lots of knowledge about embracing the digital realm, since Indianapolis Monthly transitioned to a heavier web presence while he has been there. This will be very valuable as we build our online community. He seems very enthusiastic and optimistic about the Collegian's future, and I am excited to work with him as we both enter new roles.”


Media contact:


Arick Named a Finalist for CFO of the Year Award


PUBLISHED ON Dec 11 2015

Butler University Chief Financial Officer Bruce Arick was selected as a finalist for the Indianapolis Business Journal’s CFO of the Year honor.

Bruce ArickIn nominating Arick, who has been with Butler for 24 years, the University cited his “solid tenure of stewardship, balanced by his willingness to embrace new endeavors, as was evident with this year’s progress in Hinkle Fieldhouse renovations, the university’s first parking structure, and the new partnership with American Campus Communities to build new student housing facilities.”

As Chief Financial Officer, Arick outlined the funding for the fieldhouse restoration, which included a capital campaign and other financing initiatives. As the Vice President of Finance and Administration, he also led the oversight of the Operations staff that managed the physical renovations of the magnificent building, which will entertain numerous fans for many years to come.

Among his other recent accomplishments:

-Securing bond funding for the Sunset Avenue Parking Garage, which includes 1,033 parking spaces and, on the ground level, approximately 15,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. Arick also worked to bring the first tenants—Scotty’s Dawghouse and Pita Pit—to the garage.

-Guiding the University through a lease agreement and a separate marketing and licensing agreement with American Campus Communities to finance, design, construct, furnish, equip, and operate a state-of-the-art student housing facility with approximately 600 modern, suite-style beds on land owned by the university. This effort represents the first phase of a comprehensive student housing master plan that will address the University’s overall housing inventory. The scope of the master planning process encompasses the renovation or redevelopment of approximately 1,200-1,500 student beds and related student amenity space.

“Over the past two decades, Bruce has helped the Executive Council turn around our financial position from historic deficits to regular surpluses,” the University said. “In addition to managing the overall budget, Bruce has enabled the university to invest in the growth for the future by implementing reserves to cover deferred maintenance for buildings.”

Since 1997, Arick has served Butler as assistant treasurer and vice president for finance. In January 2012, his duties were expanded to include management oversight of facilities, human resources, information technology, and Clowes Memorial Hall. His title was modified to vice president for finance and administration.

He also has served as controller at Southern Bells Inc., as well as staff accountant and senior auditor with Ernst & Young LLP, both located in Indianapolis.

He received a bachelor's degree in accounting from Indiana University and became a Certified Public Accountant of Indiana in 1991.

Arick “remains grounded with integrity, honesty, and reliability—traits every company desires in their CFO,” the University said. “Bruce has worked for four Butler University presidents; his value to the university is apparent. He has shepherded Butler through two decades of continuous growth and improvement. He has turned around Butler’s financial position from historic periods of deficits to regular surpluses while simultaneously investing heavily in growth for the future. He exhibits good stewardship and due diligence in the management of the university’s endowment and investments.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Professor Kercood Receives Grant for Oral Hygiene Training Program


PUBLISHED ON Dec 08 2015

Professor of Special Education Suneeta Kercood has been awarded nearly $25,000 by the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation to develop a video-based training program to teach families of special-needs children about oral healthcare and prepare them for visits to the dentist.

“There is a huge disparity in oral health care of children with intellectual/developmental disabilities,” Kercood said, “and after having spoken to numerous parents and medical practitioners, there is a great need for parent training, as well as training medical/health professionals to care for this special group of children (especially navigating through their physical and behavioral challenges).”

Throughout 2016, Kercood is collaborating with Dr. Ana Vazquez with Fishers Pediatric Dentistry, who specializes in providing services to children with special needs on the project.

She said oral health often is overlooked in the hierarchy of needs of children/adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities.

“Oral health is important, not just for basic activities related to food intake or communication, but can have implications for secondary health conditions, social interaction, and long term care, and thus needs to be addressed,” Kercood said.

Since 2002, the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation has awarded just over $1.5 million in grant funding to 74 projects designed to increase access to oral health care.


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Mel Coryell MFA '15 Earns Milken Family Foundation Award


PUBLISHED ON Nov 23 2015

Melody Coryell MFA ’15, an English teacher and the coordinator of Shortridge High School’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program, has been awarded a $25,000 Milken Family Foundation Educator Award—“the Oscars of Teaching”—for her work bringing IB education to Shortridge and promoting the rigorous curriculum around the state.
Jane Foley, Mel Coryell, and Glenda Ritz

“I had no idea,” she said after a ceremony in the Shortridge gym that included the school’s drumline and cheerleaders, as well as introductions by Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz and Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Lewis Ferebee. “There was not even any weird eye contact or anything. I’m shocked. I’m incredibly shocked.”

Coryell has taught for 11 years. She joined the Shortridge faculty after a decade at Lawrence North High School as an IB coordinator and English teacher, as well as a few years in university faculty development.

“I have a clear mission for my work in education,” Coryell said. “That is, I believe in the IB, I believe in the IB philosophy, and I believe it can work for all kids. So decisions I make as an educator are geared toward that. And I also believe that a relationship with students and teaching them to reflect on who they are as learners, and listening to them and seeking to understand and move them forward in their own goals, can lead them to succeed.”

Jane Foley, Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President, said Coryell “is not only a leader at Shortridge High School, she’s a leader in the IB program throughout the state. She’s the vice president of the state association for IB and she’s also known for helping colleagues and working with universities to determine how they’re going to give college credit for IB courses.”

Coryell earned her bachelor’s degree at Ball State University and then worked at IUPUI in professional development. She did her teacher training at Indiana Wesleyan University. In her bio on the Shortridge website, Coryell describes herself as “a lifelong learner” with coursework in literature, history, secondary education, higher education, and writing.

She said that when she started her Master of Fine Arts at Butler, friends wondered what she would do with the degree.

“But it’s made me a much better teacher,” she said.

Ritz praised Coryell for preparing students “to be global citizens through a high-quality, international curriculum. And as a teacher-leader, she supports and encourages her colleagues to ensure that students are receiving an education of the highest quality. As Indiana’s schools continue to experience a teacher shortage, now more than ever it is important to recognize the work of outstanding educators like Melody and to encourage the next generation to follow her example.”

The winners of the prestigious Milken Awards are chosen in secrecy, Foley said. There is no nomination or application process. Instead, the recipients are chosen through a confidential selection process.

“We look at the entire country and then we determine who we believe represents the top 1 percent of the profession,” Foley said. “Then the award literally falls from the sky to say thank you to educators who are doing amazing work. We want them to know that their work has been noticed and appreciated, and we want them to stay in education forever.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Realizing the Dream Scholarship Goes to Shandeep Singh '18


PUBLISHED ON Nov 19 2015

Shandeep Singh is realizing three dreams for the price of one.

The first is his parents’, who made it clear that they expected him to go to college.

Shandeep Singh“It was 100 percent I was going to go,” said Singh, a sophomore biology/pre-med and political science double major. “They want to make my life easier, and they know this was the way to go. Nowadays, the more education you have, the better your life is going to be. So that was the main focus for me.”

The other dream is his—to go into medicine, as either an anesthesiologist or cardiologist. That dream became a little easier when he was selected to receive Butler’s Realizing the Dream scholarship, an annual award given to a first-generation student.

Jennifer Griggs, the Director of Butler’s Learning Resource Center, said Singh demonstrates many of the qualities this award is designed to recognize.

“He excels academically and contributes to Butler and the Indianapolis community through many leadership and volunteer activities,” she said. “He has clear goals for his future and is truly an inspiration to anyone who wants to achieve the dream of a college education.”

Singh’s activities include: Vice President of the Butler Bigs Program; SGA Commuter Student rep; Morton Finney Leadership Program; Pre-Med Society; IU Methodist Riley Hospital Volunteer; Bulldogs into the Streets; Student Orientation Guide.

Singh’s parents grew up in India, married right out of high school, and moved to California when he was 4. Neither went to college.

They moved to Plainfield, Indiana, when Shandeep—nicknamed Sean—was 8, in 2001, and have lived there since. His father owns gas stations; his mother owns and operates a motel.

“It speaks to the amount of opportunities we have in America,” he said. “There’s so much diversity, and that even people like me who were born in India can come here and have a good future. So here I am realizing my dream too.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Think You Need an Antibiotic? Her Poster Says Think Again


PUBLISHED ON Nov 13 2015

The Indiana Department of Health will distribute a poster designed by a Butler University student to warn healthcare providers and their patients about the dangers of overprescribing and overusing antibiotics.
A sample of the poster created by Paige Watkins '16

The poster, created by senior Pharmacy major Paige Watkins, allows doctors and other pharmaceutical prescribers to post their photo along with a declaration that they are committed to using antibiotics responsibly. Under the picture is a card that says, “I pledge to help antibiotics stay strong by using them only when necessary.”

The poster templates will be distributed as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week” November 16–22.

“Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest health threats we face,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “By prescribing antibiotics responsibly, we can help ensure that patients with bacterial infections have access to effective medications that improve their chances of recovery.”

Watkins, a Grand Rapids, Michigan, native who plans to become a pediatric pharmacist, said the poster began with the work of the Indiana Coalition for Responsible Antibiotic Use. This collaboration of professional and student pharmacists, prescribers, epidemiologists, and others is spreading the message that “using antibiotics correctly is important if we want them to be useful and effective for a long time,” she said. “The more frequently you use them, the quicker they become unusable.”
Paige Watkins

The coalition, started by Butler Pharmacy professors Chad Knoderer and Kristen Nichols in collaboration with Indiana University School of Medicine Professor Elaine Cox, decided on a poster campaign in fall 2014. “We wanted to implement something that would provoke a conversation between prescriber and patient,” Watkins said.

After the poster was designed, Watkins worked closely with the state Department of Health to choose a location to test the message. The Department of Health provided the printing.

The first poster went up in August at the IU Methodist Family Medicine Center in downtown Indianapolis. The coalition is now beginning to evaluate its effectiveness in raising awareness about overuse of antibiotics.

“I think the poster is a great way to start conversation between prescribers and their patients about what antibiotic resistance is,” Nichols said. “It is important to have this conversation not only when the patient feels that they need an antibiotic.”

This week, the posters will be sent in an email with a blank template. Prescribers can add their face and electronic signature and hang them in their offices.

“I’m very proud of it,” Watkins said. “It snowballed a lot faster than I thought it was going to. Initially, it just started as my research project that every pharmacy student has to do to graduate. But everyone got passionate really quickly, and I have some great mentors in Pharmacy who have helped a lot, as well as some great contacts in the Department of Health. So this spiraled out of control in a good way pretty quickly.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Freelance Writing Made Easy. Easier, Anyway


PUBLISHED ON Nov 12 2015

As far back as high school, Zachary Petit ’06 had wanted to write for magazines. But he didn’t know how to get started. He looked for an instructional book—a simple A-to-Z primer on how to do it—and found nothing.

Zachary Petit“So it’s basically one of those clichés—write the book you want to read,” said Petit, author of the new book The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing: How to Write, Work, and Thrive on Your Own Terms (Writer’s Digest Books).

Petit approached the book from his own experiences, which started with an internship at National Geographic magazine as part of Butler’s Washington Internship Program. While there, he asked one of the staff writers how to go about writing for magazines. The advice: Go write for newspapers for 10 years. You’ll learn the skills you need for magazines.

He lasted three years in newspapers before becoming managing editor at Writer’s Digest, a magazine he’d been reading since high school. Writer’s Digest focuses heavily on fiction writing, so Petit found an opening to write the guide he always wanted to write.

As someone who’s pitched story ideas to editors, and heard his share of pitches over the past eight or so years, Petit was able to lay out, step by step, how to approach freelance writing, including identifying markets for your work, generating ideas, writing queries, and even “the terrible subject of taxes.” And he did so in a way that’s designed to be entertaining.

“I think most writing books are sort of cold, pontificating, really dry, boring, this-is-the-one-way-to-do-this-to-succeed,” he said. “So I wanted to write the anti-writing book. Approachable, hopefully funny, no b.s. guide.”Freelance Writing sign

Petit, who has written for National Geographic, National Geographic Kids, McSweeney's Internet Tendency and many other publications, had 10 months to finish writing. But most of it poured out in hourlong writing sessions after work at his current job as editor of PRINT magazine.

He still freelances (he’s shopping a novel, and he’s about to start work on another book), speaks about freelance writing at conferences, and is starting to make instructional videos about freelancing that he’ll post on YouTube.

What he really wants people to know is this: “It seems like writing for magazines is a lofty goal. It’s not out of reach. You just have to know the right way in.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Yes, They Sang With Stevie Wonder. Here's Proof.


PUBLISHED ON Nov 11 2015

Senior Jeremy Washington said that people these days don’t believe anything until they have a picture. So here’s a picture of him, sophomore Elisha Wright, first-year student Murjanatu Mutuwa, and graduate student RaeNosa Hudnell with Stevie Wonder and his backup singers.
That's Stevie Wonder in the middle, with Elisha Wright and Murjanatu Mutuwa to his immediate right and RaeNosa Hudnell and Jeremy Washington to his left.

On Saturday, November 7, the four Butler students sang background with Wonder and his group at his Bankers Life Fieldhouse concert.

“It was beautiful,” Washington said.

Wonder’s people contacted Valerie Davidson, Butler’s Director of Diversity Programs, on the Thursday before the concert, inquiring about available student singers. Two days later, the students were at the fieldhouse.

“They wanted us there at 3:30,” Washington said. “I don’t play that, so we got there at 3 p.m.”

They were escorted to their dressing room—the Indiana Pacers’s locker room—where they dressed and rehearsed with the six singers who travel with Wonder. These are singers who also have worked with Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, and Iggy Azalea, among others.

Around 5:00 PM, they went to the stage for soundcheck, just in time to see Wonder’s SUV pull up to the stage and drop him off right there.

“All the way up to that moment,” Washington said, “I thought we were going to wake up and this was not going to be real.”

They did a quick soundcheck, Wonder said it sounded great, and the singers went back to their dressing room for more rehearsal. When they finished, dinner was served: prime rib with a cinnamon brown sugar crust.

“They called it ‘Pastime Paradise’ prime rib,” Wright said. “They named all the dishes after Stevie Wonder’s songs.”

Before going onstage, Wonder, his band, and all the singers joined in a circle and prayed together. Then Wonder and the band went on, and the singers took their place near the stage to await the cue for their first song, “Pastime Paradise.”

The students had hoped to get a picture with Wonder because, as Washington said, they would have proof of their experience. And at intermission, they got their chance.

Washington said he and his fellow students had put away their phones. “We remembered we were hired for a job, therefore we were professional.” he said.

So when they were offered the chance for a picture, they tried to be as composed as possible.

“In person, I said, ‘Thank you for this opportunity,’” Washington said. “But mentally, I was going crazy.”

They sang again in the second half of the show—the songs “People Get Ready” and “Another Star”—and then joined in for “Superstition” during the encore.

It was a night, they said, they will never forget.

And they said that if Janet Jackson is listening, they’re available to join her for her concert January 29 at the fieldhouse.


Media contact:
Marc Allan