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Student Focused: The Butler MBA Experience of David Watkins

By Cindy Dashnaw

You might think David Watkins had too many roadblocks to get an MBA.

He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. He’d earned an undergraduate degree in International Affairs and Political Science, and was working for a nonprofit affiliated with Butler University. He traveled often with his job, and he was planning to get married in the next couple of years.

“Honestly, I wanted to get an MBA because that’s what was most available to me. I’d noticed in my job that MBA competencies would be helpful. And I was looking at grad programs at Butler because of the convenience and expense. I didn’t know much about the University,” he said somewhat apologetically.

While that’s less than a ringing endorsement for the part-time Butler MBA program, Watkins became an enthusiast pretty quickly.

“I had looked at degree programs elsewhere, but Butler offered the flexibility I needed. I was traveling internationally a lot for work, so being able to pick classes that worked for my schedule was a big deal. The level of personal service I got from the professors was beyond anything I’ve ever experienced.”

For example?

“In my first semester, I had to be gone for two weeks to the UAE (United Arab Emirates). I was a little worried about telling a professor. He asked me when I would get back, then invited me to his house—on a Sunday—to catch me up on what I’d missed. It was incredibly generous.”

He was amazed at the caliber of the professors.

“They came from business or were still practicing business, and they were very intentional about bringing business into the classroom setting. Across the whole program, the professors were bringing in local business people any time there was an opportunity to take a concept into its real-world application.”

Watkins maintained full-time employment during his studies, even switching employers. And yes, he got married during the program, too.

When he graduated with an MBA in May 2018, Watkins went to work for the Indiana Small Business Development Center. As Director of Network Operations, he oversees 10 offices across the state that deliver free services to Indiana residents interested in starting, growing, or succeeding in business endeavors. He also oversees export promotion programming and assistance throughout the state to help Hoosier businesses take their expansion to the next level in overseas markets. 

He uses the business skills he acquired through the MBA program every day, especially the greater understanding of how and why every action impacts a company’s bottom line. Yet, the Butler experience had another, somewhat surprising effect on him.

“Butler helped me quite a bit in my emotional intelligence,” he admitted. “One of the great attributes of the Butler program is that with every class, you’re working with a different group of people with a different set of backgrounds. I worked with scientists, bankers, engineers, ages 22 to 42 and everything in between, which helped me dramatically in my ability to present myself in a positive light no matter the situation.”

He sees a great benefit in the Butler approach of not imposing a cohort on students. 

“I got to know a wide array of people by working with them on a project or deliverable. Multiply that over the course of an entire degree, and you’re talking about a pretty big network I came out with. Being able to talk with people in different industries has been very beneficial to me. “

Watkins said the program does everything possible to help you succeed.

“It’s a high-caliber program that, if you let it, will be personalized to your experience and your need. You don’t have to fit to the program. The program fits to you. I came into it not quite knowing what I wanted, and the program helped me figure out what I enjoyed, was competent at and wanted to do. Others came from well-established careers, so their program was more about advancement and network building.”

And the ability to have a personal coach and build a network delighted Watkins.

“The ability to have a certified professional coach who walks hand in hand with you in a personalized way was invaluable in developing my own professional presence; and just having someone to bounce ideas off of and to challenge me with questions I hadn’t been thinking of before was beneficial inside and outside the classroom. They have enough coaches that no coach is too busy for their students—and the program is not so large that you miss out on that personal level of mentorship.” He laughed. “My coach Randy Brown was almost too available. And he’s still following up with me. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without his guidance and mentorship.”

He couldn’t be happier with his experience. “I expect great things as an alum.”

Shelvin Mack and Brad Stevens
HomecomingAthleticsPeople

Shelvin Mack's Homecoming

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Oct 01 2018

Emerson Kampen will never forget Shelvin Mack’s bachelor party in Las Vegas. But before any assumptions are made, Kampen wasn’t even there.

He called his former Butler University roommate and basketball teammate one morning, East Coast time, which must have been, “like 6:00 AM or 7:00 AM Vegas time,” he says, shock still audible in his voice, and Mack picked up.

“I’m in Vegas at my bachelor party,” Mack told Kampen. “I have this paper to do. I’m trying to knock it out this morning.”

And that is when Kampen knew his friend was serious about completing his Butler degree.

“Shel is as motivated as anybody, as self-driven as anybody I have ever met,” says Kampen, who is now an Assistant Coach on the Butler men’s basketball team. “When he says he will get something done, he will, and that attitude carries over to all areas of his life. When he said he was going to make the NBA, he did. When he said he was going to finish his degree, despite the demands of an NBA schedule, I knew he would do it. Now, in Vegas, I don’t know how good the paper ended up being, but I do know he was getting it done.”

Mack, who left Butler after his junior year in 2011, to enter the NBA Draft, has played for six teams, and most recently signed a one-year deal with the Memphis Grizzlies. Many players drafted in the second round like Mack have come and gone, but former teammates, coaches, friends, and family members say his work ethic and ambition separate him.

Those same traits that turned him into an 8-year NBA veteran, have motivated him to complete his Butler degree in Digital Media Production, he says. As he sees his sisters graduate, and all his friends flaunt their Butler degrees, as well as his wife, his competitive juices kick in. But it is also more than that—a love of Butler, a desire to better himself, and a promise he made to his mom.

“I always wanted to get my college degree, for myself and for my mom, but it was hard to balance my time when I first got into the league and figure out how to take classes without being at Butler,” Mack says. “Now that everything is sorted out, it was something I knew I had to do because I came to Butler because of the education and the fact that basketball won’t last forever. Now I know taking classes is part of bettering myself and my future.”

 

THE RECRUIT

Brad Stevens remembers meeting Victoria Guy, Shelvin’s mom, for the first time. He was in Lexington, Kentucky visiting Shelvin at his home.

Let’s just say Mack and his mom had slightly different questions as they sat in their living room with Stevens.

“She didn’t care about playing time, or TV games, or what kind of gym we were going to be playing in,” Stevens says. “She wanted Shelvin to get his college degree and work hard in the classroom. She asked about graduation rates and class sizes.”

Stevens had answers. A big part of the presentation at the time focused beyond what the team accomplished on the court, Stevens says.

They talked a lot about how successful players were after they graduated. Stevens shared graduation rates, and players’ majors, and the fact that practices were run around class schedules—not the other way around. 

The answers mattered. At the last second, the University of Kentucky swooped in, Guy says, and Mack was torn. He asked his mom for advice. She wanted the decision to be her son’s, but the only thing she did share with him was the value of a smaller, tight knit campus.

“He stuck with Butler and it worked out perfectly,” Guy says.

So, when Mack told Stevens he was going to finish his degree over a meal last summer, he wasn’t that surprised.

“Shelvin is very, very driven and usually that is hard to turn off. When you have an ambitious kid, they will usually be ambitious in everything they do and he certainly is that,” Stevens says. “I never dreamed he would have been good enough to leave after three years, but he did it because he was determined to.”

But Stevens also knows his mom is right there, ever-present, making sure her son is getting it done.

 

LIFE AT BUTLER

Kampen and Mack first met in 2008, two freshmen on the men’s basketball team in need of physicals. So, they hopped in Kampen’s car and headed to the doctor’s office. They made small talk and Kampen remembers how it wasn’t awkward—Mack always made everyone feel comfortable.

Kampen learned quickly that Mack was determined to make it to the NBA. But, he says, he and others didn’t really see it.

“He was obviously a really good player, but he was a bit chubby when he walked in. We all should have known when he says he will get something done, he will do it,” Kampen says.

Mack’s work ethic was always on display. He spent more time in the gym than anyone else on the team. They would be playing video games and Mack would have a 30-pound weight in his hands, doing curls while the game was loading, or while there was a pause in the game. He was always working.

Kampen wasn’t surprised when he found out Mack was finishing up his degree. He knows how much his friend loves Butler and values education. He also knows he can’t stand to have something go unfinished.

“I think one day he will be a coach,” Kampen says. “I always have tons of texts from him during the season, analyzing what we did in a game, and why we could have done this or done that. He is always the first to let me know about a decision we should have made.”

As a student, Mack took his work very seriously, Christine Taylor, Associate Professor of Entertainment Media and Journalism, says. She had Mack as a student in her directing and production classes. Now, Taylor is Mack’s academic advisor.

“He was very well-liked and a great team player in my classes,” Taylor says. “He also put his own creative stamp on the work. He had a creative identity of his own. He took his work seriously and was a very good student. So, when he reached out a few years ago, I was not really surprised at all. It was more about figuring out how we could make it happen logistically.”

 

LIFE IN THE NBA

When Mack decided to leave school early, his mom fully supported him, but said he had five years to finish his degree. As the years marched on, she kept checking on him. Mack claimed he was trying, but certain classes he needed weren’t offered by Butler online at the time, Guy says.

She did some fact checking.

“At first, I wasn’t buying it, so I called Coach Stevens,” Guy says. “I talked to Coach Stevens just to make sure Butler wasn’t offering the classes online and then I felt better.”

In Mack’s defense, it wasn’t just the logistics of figuring how to fulfill his major requirements. After he got drafted in 2011 by the Washington Wizards, by his estimate, he was moving around about once a year. He had a stint with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Atlanta Hawks, the Utah Jazz, the Orlando Magic, and now the Memphis Grizzlies. It was also adjusting to life in the NBA.

“It was something I always wanted to do, but I could never find the time,” Mack says. “I wasn’t great with time management, I was adjusting to NBA life, and probably not spending my time as wisely as I could have.”

Once Mack had his daughter, things changed, he says. He was on a strict schedule, going to bed early, waking up early, working out, taking care of her. Then, he realized, he could work school in. His daughter helped him manage his time, and he wanted to make sure he set a good example for her when it came to education.

Butler also started to work with him. A few years ago, when he tried to work on his degree, classes he needed weren’t offered online. A lot has changed over the last few years, says Taylor, his academic advisor, as more classes are offered online.

“Our philosophy is that we should partner with students so they can reach their goals,” Taylor says. “Obviously there is course work they must fully complete, but people are people and circumstances change for individuals and we will do our best to help them realize their goals of getting a Butler degree. This is simply us recognizing an individuals’ circumstance changes and we are as supportive as we can be within the rules to help them recognize their short and long-term goals.”

With Mack, Taylor sees someone who has a strong love for Butler and desire to complete a degree he has, in large part, already earned.

“For Shelvin, this has been part of the process of his development as a person and what kind of individual he wants to be,” Taylor says. “In times when the larger world is questioning the value of a degree from a four-year institution, I always find it really gratifying that people like Shelvin still place such a high value on education. It has been so uplifting to work with him…He is doing this to better himself because what happens in a classroom makes a difference, and he realizes that. That is really gratifying to know, and it reinforces that the conversations and lessons we have make a difference.”

 

FUTURE PROMISES

This summer, Mack finished his major by taking Entertainment Media and the Law.

He spent a couple months watching YouTube videos of different cases, reading case law, writing papers, learning why some people can sue, and others cannot. And, sometimes forgetting he had assignments due. Like many new students, he had to readjust to college life.

“Luckily, I had plenty of people around me reminding me and keeping me in check,” he says.

This fall, as the NBA season kicks off, Mack will be crisscrossing the U.S. on planes, playing in back-to-back games, and squeezing in time to read his textbooks. He will take two online courses, hoping to complete his degree in the next three years. But most importantly, before his youngest sister, Keionna, graduates in 2020. His mom is quick to remind him that he already missed his middle sister, Sierra, who graduated this past May.

To assure mom he is all over it, he had his textbooks sent to her house ‘by accident’ this summer. She isn’t so sure it was an accident.

“I know the degree isn’t everything, but it opens a lot of doors that won’t otherwise be there for you,” Guy says. “He could break a leg today and basketball could be over. I know he has thought about coaching, broadcast, and I want him to have that degree and those courses to fall back on.”

He will continue to take online courses throughout the season. As of now, he says, he would like a career in broadcast after his playing days are over. But coaching interests him, too. He looks forward to the day when he can just walk in the house and show his wife, a Butler grad and former hoops player, his degree.

But to his mom, who he says drove him around to “a million” basketball tournaments when he was young, and always supported him, it will mean everything.

Asked how she will feel when her son officially graduates from Butler, Guy is quiet for a moment.

“Oh my god. I will be super excited. Super excited. He will be the first male in his generation to have a college degree. He is behind schedule, but he needs to follow through. I need him to be better than average and I know he expects that out of himself, too.”

But there is one more thing that is bothering her. Mack pursuing his degree has motivated his mom to finish her degree. He has always motivated her to go after her dreams, just as she has always motivated him, he says.

“After two years of college, I had my son, and he was my number one priority, so I am going to go back after all of this and get my degree in business management,” Guy says.

Her son has given her a three-year window.   

 

Images courtesy of Shelvin Mack. 

Shelvin Mack and Brad Stevens
HomecomingAthleticsPeople

Shelvin Mack's Homecoming

NBA Player and former Butler Men's Basketball star Shelvin Mack is committed to completing his Butler degree. 

Oct 01 2018 Read more

A Global Education

by Marc Allan

Katie Moore's career in international education has taken her to places most of us can't find on a map: Mozambique, Fiji, Laos, the Philippines, Vietnam, Timor-Leste, The Gambia, Zambia, Uganda, Azerbaijan, Sierra Leone.

But no matter where the 2008 graduate has gone, "Butler friends and former professors have really been a part of every step on my path," she said. "And not just kept in touch, but have supported me in my life and in all of these decisions that my family has made. I don't know that you get that at other universities."

Moore had planned to devote two years to the Peace Corps after graduation, then become an early- or middle-childhood teacher. She thinks back to her days at Butler and recalls that when her then-boyfriend, now-husband Nick '07 MPACC '08 was earning his Master's in Accounting, one of his courses included lessons in negotiating. One of the topics he chose to present to his class was about negotiating what their life would look like after she finished with the Peace Corps.

"Unfortunately, he 'lost' his negotiation from that particular class; neither of us ever imagined we would have the life that we've had!" she says, laughing.

More seriously, she says, "On the other hand, we have gained together a world view that is more inclusive, more critical, and one that allows us to better understand the privilege we have had in even beginning to have the careers and opportunities to work and live internationally by choice. A recent UNICEF video articulates this sentiment, as it highlights the significant number of children and families throughout the world that travel not by choice, but for sheer survival."

Two years in the Peace Corps—where she trained approximately 90 young adults between the ages of 18-30 to become primary school teachers—became three, and in that third year, which she spent working for Save the Children, she was exposed to the field of non-governmental humanitarian work. She has since worked in various positions ranging from internships, fellowships, and as a consultant for global reaching organizations such as Amnesty International, UNICEF, Catholic Relief Services, and other organizations, promoting education, early childhood development and health.

While most of Katie's work has taken her to far-off corners of the globe, she also has spent time in New York—she earned her Master's in International Educational Development from Columbia University in 2013—and in Washington, DC. That's where she, Nick, and their daughter Wini are now based.

These days, Katie works as Senior Technical Advisor for Early Childhood Development for ChildFund International. The organization provides parenting programming to empower parents and other primary caregivers in low-resourced communities in the countries in which ChildFund operates with the knowledge and practical skills they need to give children a strong start in life, building on what parents already know and do. (Nick is Vice President Finance at Brookfield Property Partners, a real estate developer.)

This year, Katie is also wrapping up multi-year research efforts with Yale University's Child Study Center; she was on a team of research consultants. The team has been conducting a multi-country study on the impact of decentralization on early childhood education in East and Central Asia. 

In her most recent position, Katie will continue to engage with academic partners aiming to identify how to improve early childhood development programming conducted jointly with governments and community-based organizations in lower- and middle-income countries to promote children's development in their early years. She says she'd like to get back into academia in the future, perhaps earn her doctorate in Global Public Health.

"The experiential learning opportunities I had as a student in Butler's College of Education, specifically, and at Butler, more generally, made a significant impression on me," she said during the State of the University. "Not only on what I would choose to work on, but how and with whom, and they influenced the person, parent and professional I would become in an ever-changing world."

HomecomingPeople

A Global Education

Katie Moore's career in international education has taken her to places most of us can't find on a map.

A Global Education

by Marc Allan

Meet the Class of 2022: Max Cordoba

When incoming first-year Theatre and Math major Max Cordoba flew to Los Angeles in February to attend the National Unified Auditions—a one-stop shop for high school seniors to audition for multiple universities—he had never even heard of Butler University. The Neward, California native’s intention was to audition for mainly private schools that had a special musical theatre degree, explore those options, and then pick whichever school felt right, offered the best financial aid, and allowed him to learn more about not only the fine arts, but math as well.

He spotted Butler’s name and decided it was in his best interest to at least do one more session—it was additional practice, after all.

In most auditions, Cordoba was asked to perform two monologues and two songs. In the audition with Butler, Professor of Theatre William Fisher asked Cordoba to do one of each to start. Cordoba chose to sing Beautiful City from the Broadway production Godspell. For his monologue, he chose to read an excerpt as Hank from Marvin’s Room—a piece he believed would put him “over the top for the audition.”

After his monologue, Fisher and Cordoba made an instant connection over Marvin’s Room.

"I almost thought my audition with Butler was going to be a practice session, but after my talk with Professor William Fisher, I thought this could be the right school,” Cordoba said.

Cordoba explained to Fisher that he is a big theatre lover, but he wanted to also major in something a little more practical.

“I didn’t want to put all my eggs in one basket, and I wanted to ensure I had math as a back-up since a major in theatre isn’t foolproof,” Cordoba said. “I really needed a school that understood that about me.”

Most schools Cordoba had talked to previously in the day had told him that pursuing math with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) was not a possibility. Fisher explained that at Butler it’s not a BFA, but rather a Bachelor of Arts, which offers more flexibility, as well as the option to incorporate his passion for math.

“He really convinced me to at least explore more,” Cordoba said, “Even though it’s really far away, Butler seemed open to my diverse interests.”

In April, Cordoba—joined by his grandfather—started the on-campus college visit journey,  exploring the various schools he was interested in—including Butler. While on campus, Cordoba had the opportunity to speak with professors, including Chair of the Theatre Department, Diane Timmerman. He also sat in on an improv class.

“The students were making me laugh. Just from that show alone, I saw what I loved about theatre,” he said. “The students were super friendly and amiable, and they love to act and perform.” When he left for his trip, he was excited about all the schools he was about to explore. After the trip, though, he realized that when he was making his rounds, he always found at least one thing he didn’t like—except for when he was at Butler.

“What really set it in stone for me for Butler was that it was a smaller school than most I was looking at, but it had a big school feel,” Cordoba said.

Cordoba arrived on campus August 12, and feels just as excited as nervous—as most students are their first year. Cordoba’s distance from his friends and family definitely makes it harder, especially when he was so involved with various theatre and chorus groups for the past eight years.

Despite the nervousness of new surroundings and being so far from home, Cordoba said he feels honored, “to go to a school that is super accepting and diverse.”

Max Cordoba
Welcome WeekArts & CultureStudent LifePeople

Meet the Class of 2022: Max Cordoba

What brought Max from California to Indiana was Butler Theatre's faculty and flexibility. 

A Working Actor: Logan Moore

By Marc Allan

Whether he's acting or doing landscaping, Logan Moore '14 considers himself a workhorse.

From the time he was a sophomore at Butler, Moore was performing in productions both on and off campus, and since graduating he's worked steadily at several theaters in central Indiana while retaining his job with a local landscaping company.

In other words, he's living the life of a working actor.

"I like hard work," he said. "I just do."

Those who saw his most recent work, Actors Theatre of Indiana's production of Forbidden Broadway, can attest to that. In the show, a rapid-fire spoof of Broadway hits, cast members sing, dance, and act their way through multiple roles and costume changes galore. 

"Forbidden is one of the best shows I've ever been in," Moore said. "It's also one of the hardest shows I've ever done just because it's a marathon. Even in intermission, we're getting ready for the next numbers and setting up for Act 2. We get a five-minute break and then places get called."

By the time Forbidden Broadway ended on July 29, Moore had already secured his next two roles, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (August 30-October 7) and Man of La Mancha (October 11-November 18) at Beef and Boards dinner theater in Indianapolis, and Actors Theatre of Indiana invited him back for an updated version of Forbidden Broadway (April 26-May 19, 2019).

"He’s got a good bit of the whole package," said Don Farrell, Artistic Director/Co-Founder of Actors Theatre of Indiana. "He has a beautiful voice. I was surprised at the range. He has the low notes for the bass, but he also goes into the tenor range as well. The clarity and the tone is really strong, and I just love the resonance of it too. His acting ability is very good. His comic timing is very good. He’s also a team player, which always goes, no matter what business you’re in. You give him a little direction and he can run with it. He’s a good mover, dancer. On top of it, he’s a good-looking guy too."

Moore grew up on the eastside of Indianapolis, the second of six children. He's always been a singer—he sang in church choir with his family, and he sometimes traveled with his dad, who was part of a southern gospel quartet. He was homeschooled till eighth grade and hadn't thought about performing in public until his school drama teacher and choral director dragged him to an audition.

"From then on, I liked being onstage," he said. "There's just something about the lights. When they shine and you're in front of them, you just forget that any audience is there and you're just in a different world. It's like playing make-believe for a job. And it's great."

He went to Warren Central High School and chose Butler for college because he wanted to stay close to home and Butler felt like home. "Once you get on campus, you just know that you're in a good place," he said. "That was the first thing I felt on my first tour here. I couldn't believe it. I had never felt that feeling before—except when I was home. I love the class sizes, being able to have one-on-one time with the professors, the core curriculum, everything."

At Butler, guest director Richard J Roberts, the dramaturg from the Indiana Repertory Theatre, cast him in Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice in the role A Nasty Interesting Man/The Lord of the Underworld. He also had parts in every production directed by the Christel DeHaan Visiting International Theatre Artists (VITA), guest directors from other countries who spend a semester working with Butler students and faculty.

In one VITA production, The Priest and the Prostitute, Moore performed an intricate Indian dance known as kathakali.

"The physical rigor of these pieces and the completely different style of working demanded a lot," Theatre Department Chair Diane Timmerman said, "and Logan delivered beautifully."

"Not only was he a terrific actor while here at Butler, he also excelled in technical work, and, perhaps most notably, was one of the kindest and most generous students around. If anyone needed help with a project, Logan was first in line. And whenever anyone was down, he made a special point to seek them out and brighten their day."

Moore said one of the lessons he learned at Butler is that acting is 80 percent connection and 20 percent talent. That stuck with him, especially since he had no connections. So he went out and met people. He did The Oedipus Trilogy at NoExit (a local theater company run by Butler graduates) and shows at Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre and Footlite Musicals.

After graduation, Roberts, who directed Moore at Butler, put him up for the lead in Actors Theatre of Indiana's production of The 39 Steps. "For Richard to think that highly of Logan said something," Farrell said. "And Logan gave a great audition."

Now four years out of college, with a resume that also includes The Fantasticks and The Mystery of Edwin Drood for Actors Theatre of Indiana, Romeo and Juliet at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, and Ghost the Musical at Beefs and Boards, Moore is toying with the idea of seeing what he can do in New York.

He's been thinking about a trip there in April—his boyhood friend Jordan Donica is currently on Broadway in My Fair Lady—but he may well be working then.

"It's not my favorite to decline work," he said. "If people are like, 'We need you for a show,' I'm there."

  

Logan Moore
People

A Working Actor: Logan Moore

Whether he's acting or doing landscaping, Logan Moore `14 considers himself a workhorse.

People

Nine Alumni To Be Honored

BY Marc Allan

PUBLISHED ON Aug 23 2018

  

Nine Butler University alumni who have demonstrated extraordinary professional achievement and service to the University and their communities will be honored at the annual Alumni Awards Recognition Program on Friday, September 28, at 6:00 PM in the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts, part of Homecoming Weekend festivities.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Butler Medal: John B. Dunn ’77
  • Butler Service Medal: Jeanne Hawkins VanTyle ’74 MS ’80
  • Joseph Irwin Sweeney Award: Kyle S. Delaney ’03
  • Hilton Ultimus Brown Award: Dr. Adam B. Hill ’03
  • Robert Todd Duncan Award: Hoagland C.  Elliott ’57
  • Katharine Merrill Graydon Award: Julie Russell Dilts ’92
  • Mortar Award: Jean McAnulty Smith '65
  • Foundation Award: John MBA '04 and Jordanna Perry MBA '03

Registration for the awards ceremony and all Homecoming activities can be made online.


THE BUTLER MEDAL: John B. Dunn ’77

John Dunn grew up in Speedway, Indiana, and attended Butler on a full-ride basketball scholarship. He majored in business, played varsity basketball and baseball, and was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. In 2004, he Dunnwas inducted into the Butler University Athletics Hall of Fame.

After graduating in 1977, he went to work for Cummins Engine Company in Columbus, Indiana, where he worked his way up from foreman on the main engine assembly line to owner of the Cummins distributor Cummins Rocky Mountain in Denver, Colorado. He sold the business and retired in 2001.

Dunn has been a long-time supporter of Butler University. He served on the Butler University Board of Trustees for 14 years, chairing a number of committees and two successful capital campaigns, ButlerRising and the Hinkle Campaign. He also served as Board Chair for three years. He was elevated to Chairman Emeritus status by the Board in 2016.

Dunn and his wife of 41 years, Kathryn (Kathy) Wilkie Dunn '79, whom he met at Butler, are members of the Cornerstone Society (lifetime giving of $1 million or more) and the Bulldog Club.  They have also supported the Campus Crusade for Christ organization for years on the Butler campus.  The Dunns also have established a scholarship fund for Speedway High School graduates attending Butler University. John attributes much of his success to Butler University and the invaluable lessons, friendships and service opportunities Butler has afforded him.

The Dunns have three adult children, John, Alisyn, and Patrick. John and Alisyn are both Butler graduates.

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

 

THE BUTLER SERVICE MEDAL: Jeanne Hawkins VanTyle ’74 MS ’80

VanTyleDr. Jeanne Hawkins VanTyle is Professor Emerita of Pharmacy Practice at Butler’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. She began her professional career in a joint appointment with Butler and St. Vincent Hospital before moving into a full-time academic position in 1981.

Her teaching areas have included pharmacokinetics, therapeutics, clinical assessment, and women’s health issues. She has taught in the Pharmacy, Physician Assistant, and Health Sciences programs. In addition to teaching, she served as the Director of the Learning Resource Center and as Interim Department Chair for Pharmacy Practice. 

Van Tyle served as Chair of the Assessment, Curriculum, Academic Affairs, and Honors committees in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. In addition, she was elected as the College’s Faculty Senator, and was the long-standing advisor to Lambda Kappa Sigma, the professional fraternity for Women in Pharmacy.

She was faculty advisor for Butler University Community Outreach Pharmacy and the Academy of Students of the American Pharmacists Association. She was Chair of the Faculty Senate, Vice Chair of the Faculty Assembly, Co-Chair of the Gender Equity Commission, and member of the Sesquicentennial Planning Committee. In recognition of her service, she was awarded Butler’s Woman of Distinction (Faculty) Award in 2011, and the Distinguished Faculty Award for Service and Leadership in 2015.

Van Tyle earned a BS in Pharmacy and MS in Hospital Pharmacy from Butler’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in 1974 and 1980, respectively. She earned a PharmD from Mercer University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in pharmacokinetics at the State University of New York in Buffalo. Her husband, Dr. Kent Van Tyle ’67 (COPHS), is Professor Emeritus, Pharmaceutical Sciences at Butler. They have two daughters, Rachel and Emily ’13 (LAS).

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

 

THE JOSEPH IRWIN SWEENEY ALUMNI SERVICE AWARD: Kyle S. Delaney ’03

Kyle Delaney is Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives and Marketing for the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University, serving as the Dean’s Chief of Staff with oversight over marketing and communications,Delaney new strategic initiatives, events, and dean’s office operations.

In his current role he has led a comprehensive rebranding of Northwestern Engineering, articulating Northwestern’s “whole-brain engineering” approach and leading significant improvements in media coverage of engineering research at Northwestern. He has also driven the development of new collaborative initiatives, such as activities at the interface of art and engineering.

Kyle joined Northwestern in 2005 and previously held a number of marketing positions at the school. He is a 2003 graduate of Butler University, earning a degree in integrated communications. As an alumnus, he has served as Chicago Chapter co-president, president of the Butler Alumni Association Board of Directors and a member of the Board of Trustees.

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

 

THE HILTON ULTIMUS BROWN ALUMNI ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Dr. Adam B. Hill ’03

HillDr. Adam B. Hill is a palliative care physician at Riley Hospital for Children. Dr. Hill is a proud Hoosier, a Butler Bulldog, and an Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM) graduate. He completed his pediatric residency training at St. Louis University, a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at Duke University, and a palliative medicine fellowship at IUSM.

His work in palliative care is focused on allowing patients to live the best quality of life possible, in the midst of chronic, life-limiting and/or life threatening medical conditions.

In addition, Hill is passionate about physician wellness/self-care, physician education, and international medical work. His international work has allowed him to work in Belize, Mexico, Kenya, Tanzania, and Australia over the past several years. As part of his work in palliative care, he serves as the medical director for a weeklong summer camp for children affected by childhood cancer.

A true embodiment of the Butler Way, Dr. Hill put others above self and courageously broke the silence regarding substance abuse issues within the medical field. Using his own struggles as the subject, Dr. Hill lectures and writes about the importance of addressing addiction and mental health challenges. His article titled, “Breaking the Stigma – A Physician’s Perspective on Self-Care and Recovery” was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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

 

THE ROBERT TODD DUNCAN ALUMNI ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Hoagland C. Elliott ’57

ElliottHoagland Elliott spent the first half of his career in retail and the second half in healthcare. After graduating from Butler, he worked as a buyer for L. S. Ayres & Co., and a Manufacturer's Representative for C.R. Gibson Co. He was Owner and President of the Card & Gift Gallery retail chain, The Fireside Shop, The Candle Gallery, The Wooden Unicorn, and I-ICE Inc.

In 1997, after a short retirement, Elliott was asked to serve as Chief Financial Officer for the Raphael Health Center, a ministry outreach of Tabernacle Presbyterian Church that serves as a primary health center for the uninsured and underserved in the inner city of Indianapolis. The center, which started as a half-day health clinic on Saturday mornings, grew from 400 patient visits and a staff of volunteer doctors in the first year to 20,000 visits and a staff of 37 doctors when he retired as Chief Executive Officer in 2014.

Elliott had left Butler nine credits shy of graduation in 1957. In 2013, at the age of 78, he returned to Butler to finish his academic requirements by completing nine hours of German.

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

 

THE KATHARINE MERRILL GRAYDON ALUMNI SERVICE AWARD:  Julie Russell Dilts ’92

DiltsJulie Russell Dilts is the Director, Regulatory Compliance, for Roche Diagnostics, where she has worked since 2007. Her teams help Roche achieve key business goals while ensuring that its product communications comply with FDA regulations.

Prior to her current role at Roche, Julie was Senior Counsel and also served as the Indianapolis campus leader and the mentoring program chair for Roche’s Women’s Leadership Initiative. Previously, she practiced law in the business department of Barnes and Thornburg, LLP, an Indianapolis-based law firm from 1997-2007.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Butler in 1992. After graduating from Duke University School of Law in 1997, she returned to Indianapolis and served on the Advisory Board for the Butler chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta from 1998-2007 (Chair, 2002-2004). 

Dilts joined the Butler University Alumni Association Board of Directors in 2007 and served as its President and representative on the university Board of Trustees from 2012 to 2014.

Her love for Butler started early, as her parents, Marla (Lantz) Dernay ’66 and the late Tim Russell ‘64, are Butler  graduates. The Butler legacy continued with her younger brother, Andrew Russell (PharmD ’08), and his wife, Danielle Haynes Russell (PharmD ’09). 

Dilts lives in Indianapolis with her husband, Clay, and their children, Asher and Lucinda.

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

 

MORTAR AWARD: Jean McAnulty Smith '65

SmithJean McAnulty Smith graduated from Butler with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and served as a newspaper reporter, gubernatorial Press Secretary, and Communications Director before spending 20 years as First Vice President and Director of Public Relations and Corporate Giving, First Chicago NBD Bank.

In 1999, she earned her Master of Divinity (magna cum laude) from Christian Theological Seminary and had a 15-year career in religion, mostly as Program Director, Religion Division, with the Lilly Endowment Inc. In 1998 she was ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church. She served several years at Saint Alban's, Indianapolis, retiring in 2013.   

Her service to Butler has included membership on the Board of Trustees (she is a trustee emerita), co-chair of a Presidential Search Committee, and chair of committees on Clowes Memorial Hall and Student Affairs. She has received The Butler Medal, Alumni Achievement Award, and Distinguished Professional Award from School of Journalism.

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

 

FOUNDATION AWARD: John MBA '04 and Jordanna Perry MBA '03

John D Perry is Managing Director - Family Wealth Director of Perry Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley. He is a member of Morgan Stanley's Chairman's Club, a distinction made for the top 2 percent of advisors within the firm. He is among the select few Financial Advisors to have earned Morgan Stanley's designation of Family Wealth Director, an industry leading designation that demonstrates that he met rigorous and high standards of delivering depth of experience and breadth of knowledge in wealth planning and investment advice to the most affluent clients.

John has been named in Barron's Top Advisor Rankings, honored as an IBJ 40 Under 40, Indy's Best and Brightest, and was featured in the magazine and website On Wall Street at number one on their Top 40 Under 40 list.

John is a graduate of the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University and earned his MBA from Butler University. He currently serves on the boards of the Goodwill Industries Foundation and Butler University’s Lacy School of Business. He also served as an advisory board member for the Butler Business Consulting Group and Student Managed Investment Fund.

John and his wife, Jordanna, have three children: Jack, Elly, and Gracy.

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

 

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

 

 

People

Nine Alumni To Be Honored

The annual Alumni Awards Recognition Program will take place as part of Homecoming Weekend.

Aug 23 2018 Read more

The Highlight of My Summer...

Travis Ryan, Professor and Chair of the Biological Sciences

"The highlight of my summer was the first two weeks after graduation! My colleague Phil Villani and I led a class to Panama for an intensive field ecology course. We teach this course every other summer and it is always a real thrill to take a group of students to the tropics – most of them for the first time. Over the course of two weeks we saw red-eyed tree frogs, sloths, howler monkeys, white throated capuchin monkeys, dozens and dozens of bird species, and more shades of green than most people can imagine. The class hiked an island in the middle of the Panama Canal, toured a rain forest canopy from a crane, and visited a facility that serves as a refuge for several frog species on the brink of extinction. In addition to meeting with scientists studying the endless diversity of tropical biodiversity, we also toured a traditional slash-and-burn farm, visited with an indigenous tribe of Amerindians, and learned about sustainable permaculture on a cacao plantation. The class ended the two-week whirlwind tour of Panama exhausted, but with deeper understanding of tropical biodiversity and an appreciation of different ways to live off of and with the land. And, we are already planning the trip for 2020!"

 

Francis Mihm, Class of 2020, Dance Arts Administration

"The highlight of my summer was my trip through Eastern Europe with Butler’s dance department. The trip began in Warsaw Poland and continued on to Poznan, Krakow, Bratislava, Vienna, Salzburg, and Prague. The semester before I left for the trip the dance department began rehearsals to take with us as a mini showcase to present to the other dance schools that we visited. The showcase was a combination of student and faculty choreography and represented the diversity and versatility of our program.

Once we arrived in Europe we immediately got to work by taking classes with the National Ballet School of Poland and continuing rehearsals for our showcase. However, it wasn’t all dance all the time. We were able to do a lot of sight-seeing including visiting the home of Mozart and the famous salt mines in Salzburg as well as many of the great old palaces and museums of Poland and Europe. Overall, the trip was an incredible experience and I would strongly suggest it to any future dance students coming to Butler. Butler creates so many options for students to travel and study abroad that offer such rich experiences. It has changed my life and hope other students take advantage of that opportunity."

 

Ryan Rogers, Assistant Professor of Creative Media and Entertainment

"The highlight of my summer was traveling to Prague to present a research paper at the annual conference of the International Communication Association. I had the opportunity to chat with other researchers and see some exciting work in the field as well as share my work - ‘The Impact of Presenting Physiological Data During Sporting Events on Audiences' Entertainment.’ Outside of the conference, I got to enjoy the culture, especially the beer gardens like Stalin (the former site of a huge monument to Joseph Stalin) and Letna. After the conference, I left the Czech Republic to spend some time in Lake Bled, Slovenia where I hiked to Mala Osojnica and rowed a boat to the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary at the center of the lake. Then I took a bus to Budapest, Hungary where I ate some amazing food like Langos and Nokedli. I also spent some time in the ruins bar, Szimpla Kert."

 

Nate Fowler, Class of 2019, Mechanical Engineering and Economics

"In addition to my two summer classes and daily basketball workouts, a highlight of my summer was the opportunity to intern at RENU Property Management in Carmel, Indiana. The benefits of a Mechanical Engineering and Economics double major were revealed to me this summer through my job responsibilities. While the internship was not directly correlated with my Mechanical Engineering coursework, being an Acquisition Analyst at RENU utilized my analytical and critical thinking skills, as well as knowledge attained from the Economic courses I completed at Butler. My daily work at RENU consisted of using their proprietary analytics software to search and underwrite single family residential properties in markets such as Las Vegas, Charleston, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Indianapolis. I was fortunate to share the work experience with current Butler student-athletes, Will Marty and Joey Lindstrom throughout the summer as well. I am incredibly thankful for the experience and opportunity Tom Eggleston, Traves Bonwell, and everyone else at RENU gave me this summer!"

 

Lauren Tibbets, Class of 2019, Actuarial Science

"The highlight of my summer was having the opportunity to fully embrace my sport (golf) before entering my last year as a collegiate student-athlete. I spent most of my time around golf through my part-time jobs in the golf industry and my practice time. Through working part-time, I was able to practice more than last summer, and it led to some success – I won the Indiana Women’s Open and Indiana Women’s Match Play tournaments. I also got the chance to play in the Monday qualifier for an LPGA tournament held in Speedway, IN. The support I received throughout the whole summer topped off my experience. My dad caddied for me in every tournament; my mom and grandparents attended all of them; a few members of my Butler golf family were able to watch my final holes in the State Open. The success and support I experienced this summer have contributed to excitement and confidence that I am ready to carry into our season as Butler golf starts competing in September!"

 

Ena Shelley, Dean of College of Education

"This summer was one filled with new beginnings!  The COE had been located in Jordan Hall for 35 years so packing and purging were hurdles that we all jumped together.  Working with Colin Moore and his team to finish the details in our new space on South Campus was one of the best experiences of my 36 years at Butler.  On August 6 the moving trucks arrived and the process began. I then left the site with many of my colleagues for the opening of new second Butler Lab School at IPS #55.  It is named the Eliza Blaker School and she happened to be the founder of the COE.  The past, the present, and the future have all been connected for me in a summer that I will always treasure."

 

 

Kayla Long, Class of 2019, Critical Communication and Media Studies + Spanish Majors

"The highlight of my summer was my participation in the Indy Summer Experience (ISE) program. Although I have spent my entire college career at Butler University, I was still unfamiliar with city. ISE provided the opportunity to learn more about Indianapolis and capitalize on the remaining time in my undergraduate experience. Through the program this summer, I spent my Wednesdays networking with Butler University alumni and traveling to amazing sites around Indy such as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the back rooms of The Children’s Museum (I touched a real dinosaur skull!). I not only learned more about what Indy has to offer but I also learned more about myself. With meeting alumni and visiting incredible professional spaces like Statwax/BLASTmedia and The Speak Easy Downtown, I have been able to envision my future as a young professional. ISE 2018 has opened my eyes to see Indianapolis as a hub of different environments, people, and remarkable spaces."

Francis Mihm
Welcome WeekPeople

The Highlight of My Summer...

From Panama to Poland, these Butler students and faculty had an amazing summer doing what they love.

Meet the Class of 2022: Maria De Leon

Maria De Leon
Major: Peace and Conflict Studies
Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana
High School: Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School


“I’m really looking forward to growing my professional network in my Butler experience.”

 


 

Incoming first-year student Maria De Leon is leading her family in a number of firsts.

She’s the first of her family members to graduate high school.

She’ll be the first to attend college. This fall, Maria will be one of 1,357 first-year students in Butler University’s Class of 2022, the University’s largest class ever.

Maria is also the first in her family to travel to Washington DC to participate in a sit-in to persuade senators to vote “yes” for a clean Dream Act.

And—as a result of participating in that protest—she’s definitely the first to text her Butler admission counselor to ask how getting arrested might affect her admission.

Luckily, Maria didn’t need to worry about the answer to her text. She was not arrested for her participation, although some of her travel companions were. But the protest was still an emotional experience for her.  While she isn’t directly impacted by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) legislation, her family and many of her friends are.

“My parents are immigrants, so they are affected by the immigration laws that the current administration is trying to put into place. Whatever happens with DACA will have a direct impact on my parents and my peers who want to attend college but might not be able to,” she explained.

Maria’s civic involvement began long before her DC trip. The Crispus Attucks High School salutatorian participated in last year’s nationwide “A Day Without Immigrants” rally.

“It was after this experience that I started asking more questions,” Maria said. “I asked, ‘How can I be more involved?,’ and ‘What can I do to help?’”

It was questions like these that landed her in contact with the Central Indiana Community Foundation, where she had the opportunity to be a Community Ambassador. In this role, Maria conducted in-depth research on a community of her choosing. As the daughter of two Guatemalan immigrants, Maria chose to research the Hispanic and Latino communities in Indianapolis.

“I wanted to know what my community was facing. Just because I’m Latina and have immigrant parents doesn’t mean I know everything,” she said.

Beyond rallies, Maria was also heavily involved in advocacy and raising awareness about various social issues at her high school. She founded the International Club at Crispus Attucks and was also a leader in her school’s NO MORE Club, designed to raise awareness about domestic violence. She’s interned with the Domestic Violence Youth Network and the Center for Victim and Human Rights (CVHR), and a teen dating violence policy she worked on will be implemented at Indianapolis Public Schools this fall.

These leadership efforts helped her earn the competitive Lilly Endowment Scholarship, which offers four-year, full-tuition scholarships to select Indiana students in all 92 counties. Candidates for the prestigious award must display “notable abilities, leadership skills, and civic potential through community service, exemplary school citizenship, and outstanding academic performance.” Maria is one of 20 Lilly Scholars in Butler’s incoming class this year.

Maria will continue her advocacy efforts at Butler, where she plans to double major in Peace and Conflict Studies and Political Science. She’s already lined up a gig on campus as an assistant in the Office of Health Education and Outreach Programs.

Butler’s Associate Director of Health Education and Outreach Programs Sarah Diaz believes Maria will be an excellent fit for their office.

 “She is coming in with this very solid foundation of knowledge around sexual violence, also some knowledge of the resources within our community because she done work with them, and she has had the experience of being a peer educator,” Diaz said. “She’s  the whole package of what our office does.”

Whole package, indeed.

Maria De Leon
Welcome WeekStudent LifePeople

Meet the Class of 2022: Maria De Leon

Incoming first-year student Maria De Leon is leading her family in a number of firsts.  

Meet the Class of 2022: Jack Kane

Jack Kane
Major: Accounting
Hometown: Arlington Heights, Illinois
High School: Rolling Meadows High School

 

"I'm looking forward to meeting new people and the new experiences, and all of the fun that comes with college and everything." 
 


 

Racing remote-controlled model airplanes has been part of Jack Kane's life for longer than he can remember. He was 2 months old the first time he attended a competition, and the hobby has taken him around the country (California, Colorado, Arizona, Florida) and the world (Australia, the Netherlands, England, Switzerland).

And now, it’s a hobby he hopes to continue in Indianapolis. Jack will be one of 1,357 first-year students in Butler’s Class of 2022, the University’s largest class ever.

"My dad's dad started doing this in the '60s and '70s," Jack said. "My grandpa was obsessed with it. Then my dad followed in his footsteps to be closer to his dad, and I followed to be closer to my dad too."

Jack and his dad fly Formula 1 and Quickee planes that are about 3 or 4 feet long and have a wingspan of roughly 6 feet. In competitions, they race against three other flyers at a time on a mile-long course. The first one to navigate around three pylons and get back quickest wins.

Winners take home trophies—there's no prize money—and in the past five years, since Jack's been an active participant with his dad, they've won about 20.

Jack said competitions are meant "to just enjoy yourself and have fun with your friends."

"But it's an adrenaline rush," he said. "These planes are going about 200 miles an hour around a mile course. It gets your heart pumping a little bit."

Jack said the biggest competition is held annually in Muncie, Indiana—and that, in part, is how he ended up applying to  Butler University. He would see Butler billboards on I-465 heading toward I-69 to Muncie, and that piqued his interest enough to investigate further. He liked what he found.

Like Jack, more than 25 percent  of this year’s class hails from Illinois. As an incoming Accounting major, he’ll be among the first Lacy School of Business students to enjoy the college’s new building. Set to open in August 2019, the new business facilities will feature a trading room, food service, and a rooftop deck.

When he's at Butler, Jack plans to try to continue racing planes.

"But," he said, "I'm putting school first."

Jack Kane
Welcome WeekStudent LifePeople

Meet the Class of 2022: Jack Kane

An native of Illinois, Jack has traveled the world racing remote-controlled airplanes.

Meet the Class of 2022: Kate Callihan

Kate Callihan
Major: Sports Media
Hometown: Austin, Texas
High School: Westlake High School

 

"I am most excited about the growing Sports Media program. It offers so many opportunities here and around Indy, and the professors show so much interest in the students already and classes haven't even started yet. Working with people who are likeminded and driven is going to be just incredible."
 


 

Like many high schoolers, Kate Callihan and her classmates studied the Vietnam war during their junior year.They read The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, heard from veterans who visited their class, and, as a final assignment, researched an American soldier who died in, or as a result of, the war.

Unlike many high schoolers, though, Kate took this assignment to the next level–and discovered a passion for storytelling in the process.

The name Kate was assigned was Michael Meyhoff. Rather than do some cursory research, she tracked down his family in North Dakota and made a 20-minute documentary using home movies, photos, and recollections of family and friends.

"I absolutely loved every second of it," she said.

Kate said she'd always loved writing, but it wasn’t until this project that she realized how much she loved storytelling. She narrated the video, "and at the beginning you can hear how timid I was and by the end of it I really found my voice and confidence."

"I realized that by telling this story I was not only impacting my grade and my own agenda, but there was a whole community that benefited from it and it was an absolutely incredible experience," she said.

Kate's English teacher, Dr. James Moore, wrote this about her effort: "The work you put in with calls, interviews, and emails eclipsed that of your classmates tenfold at least. I can tell that you really delved into the material, too, mining it for any little detail that would help fill out your story. "

Kate will continue honing her storytelling craft as a Sports Media major at Butler this fall. She will be one of 1,357 first-year students in Butler’s Class of 2022, the University’s largest class ever.

Butler’s Sports Media program drew her to Indianapolis–and it’s drawn others, too. Since 2017, the number of first-year students enrolling in Sports Media has more than doubled. The program, an integration of Sports Journalism and Digital Sports Production, is the only degreed program of its kind in Indiana, and one of only a handful of degreed programs in the Midwest.

In addition to studying Sports Media at Butler, Kate plans to double minor in Marketing and Theology, with a focus on Monotheism and Biblical Studies. She hopes one day to combine her interests in sports media and theology to bring teams to third-world countries to teach the children there how to play sports.

But that's the future. For now, she said, "I feel blessed to be part of the young Sports Media program and blessed to be part of Butler."

Kate Callihan
Welcome WeekStudent LifePeople

Meet the Class of 2022: Kate Callihan

Butler's Sports Media program drew Kate to Indiana from Texas.

Meet the Class of 2022: Ben Varner

Ben Varner
Major: Engineering Dual Degree Program
Hometown: Metamora, Michigan
High School: Oxford High School

"What I'm looking forward to the most in my time at Butler is meeting new people and getting the opportunity to live and hopefuly, work in Indianapolis."

 


 

Ben Varner's dad took him to a local go-kart track when he was 7. That started his competitive fires.

And he’s counting on Butler University to keep them going.

For the past 11 years, Ben has been competing in go-kart racing—and winning. He has more than 60 career wins and a list of achievements that include: 2011 Great Lakes Sprint Series Season Champion; 2016 East Lansing Kart Track Season Champion; 5th Place US Pro Kart Series Season Championship; and WKA Manufacturers cup win.

In 2017, after 10 years of go-kart racing, Ben got enough funding to take a step up into Formula cars. The next step, he hopes, will be IndyCar. His dream is to win the Indianapolis 500.

Achieving that dream, though, requires finding financing, he said. In the complicated and expensive world of auto racing, it can take mid-six-figure investments just to get started.

"You could be the best driver in the country and not have any financial backing and you wouldn't be able to get anywhere," he said.

So while he works toward that, Ben also has a backup plan: He wants to be an IndyCar engineer. To achieve that goal, he chose Butler's Engineering Dual Degree Program (EDDP), figuring that attending school within seven miles of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a smart strategy.

“We were at the Indy 500 a few years ago, and my dad told me about Butler,” he said. “We went and visited during the 500 weekend. I really liked the campus, and we talked to Jessica McCormick (Academic Program Coordinator) about the engineering program. I knew it would be a really good fit.”

Butler’s 5-year Engineering Dual Degree Program integrates curriculum from Butler University and Purdue University. Students enroll at both universities, and courses are taught on Butler’s campus during the first three years. In the final two years, courses are held at Butler and at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Ben will be one of 1,357 first-year students in Butler’s Class of 2022, the University’s largest class ever. As a Michigander, he’ll be in good company on campus–76 other new Bulldogs are also from the state. Since 2015, applications for admission by Michigan high schoolers have increased by more than 80 percent.

Last May, Varner shadowed the engineers at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, and he hopes to work with them again.

While he's looking forward to starting his college career, he also appreciates what he's achieved so far.

"It's been a ride, that's for sure," he said.

Ben Varner
Welcome WeekStudent LifePeople

Meet the Class of 2022: Ben Varner

 Originally from Michigan, Ben is a competitive Forumal car racer who is majoring in Engineering.

Abiodun
Welcome WeekPeopleCampus

From Nigeria to Butler, First Year Up to the Challenge

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Aug 20 2018

INDIANAPOLIS— It started as a friendly wager.

Teacher to pupil. Apply to as many colleges as possible, with the goal of earning at least $1 million in scholarship offers. But the accounts differ, a bit. According to teacher, it was a way for pupil to ‘explore his options.’ According to pupil, it was a way to get ‘$200 to take his girlfriend on a date to Buffalo Wild Wings.’ That’s a lot of wings.

Either way, pupil won the bet. Or, teacher won the bet. Well, those accounts differ, too, depending on who you ask.

Abiodun Akinseye applied to 32 colleges. He finished 28 applications. He was accepted into 30 colleges. Wait, what? Yes, two schools accepted him without a complete application. He has a heaping pile of acceptance letters to prove it, along with the multiple days it took to clean out the 2,000-plus emails he accumulated from different schools. There was Union College, Samford, Wittenberg, Central State, it’s hard for him to remember them all, but most states in the U.S. were covered. At the end of it all, Abiodun had more than $1 million in scholarship offers. And $200 from his teacher.

Genevieve McLeish-Petty wanted Abiodun to push himself. To explore his options. In her 17 years of teaching, she never came across a student quite like Abiodun. She knew the Northwest High School valedictorian was capable of getting into several colleges, but she wanted him to know it, too. So, she threw in a $200 motivator – earn the most scholarship money in the school and get $200. Next thing she knew, it seemed like Abiodun was coming up to her every day with another acceptance letter. And more scholarship money.

In the end, Abiodun chose Butler University. A campus he first stepped foot onto as a 10th grader, he was drawn to Butler’s location, size, Honors Program, and liberal arts education. But most of all, he was drawn to Butler because he knew it would challenge him. And though he made the college application process look easy, his road from Nigeria to Indianapolis was anything but.

“There’s definitely a reason I keep all of those acceptance letters at home in a big box,” says Abiodun, as he scrolls through pictures on his phone until he gets to the one he is looking for – a picture of all the acceptance letters and envelopes piled high. “I want to keep them to show how far I have come and how hard I have worked to get to where I am. I went from Nigeria, and tough, tough times, to graduating at the top of my class, and now really a dream at Butler. So, it has been good, but challenging, and now I want another challenge.”

I went from Nigeria, and tough, tough times, to graduating at the top of my class, and now really a dream at Butler.

From Nigeria to the U.S.

Abiodun grew up in Nigeria until he was five. He remembers it well. But he also vividly remembers why his family fled for America.

There was family tragedy. His aunt tried to kill him and his two brothers, so his mother and father moved the family to America. Abiodun still has nightmares about the pain he felt from being poisoned. He felt like he was on fire. About his mom crying next to him when he was laying in the hospital bed.

He also felt guilty for a long time. He was in charge of watching his younger brother when the hitman came and hit his brother with a motorcycle. He blamed himself.

They settled in Indianapolis in 2005. Abiodun remembers the cereal Corn Flakes and wondering what it was. He remembers the music. He definitely didn’t understand the music. The first song he heard was Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies,” and he wasn’t a fan of all the heavy bass. He taught himself English by watching "Sesame Street" daily. His favorite character was Cookie Monster, he could relate to his appetite. Then there was the snow. His family had no idea what the white stuff falling from the sky was. His mom warned him not to touch it. He still prefers summer to winter.

“What’s crazy is I never expected life to be harder in America than in Nigeria,” Abiodun says. “When I came here, things got worse.”

Abiodun was bullied in school. Classmates called him an “African booty scratcher.” They threw paper balls at him, made him feel ashamed of being Nigerian, and made fun of his accent. They asked him if he was related to monkeys, if turning the lights off would make his skin disappear, and if he knew what deodorant was.

He told his mom about the bullying, so he changed schools. But the bullying continued.

“The bullying caused me to be depressed and for years I really didn’t know how to deal with my emotions or my feelings,” he says. “It’s still hard, because the depression turned into anxiety,  and it was all tough.”

The adjustment has been difficult, he says. His family lives in Speedway. His mom and dad are both nurses. He has an older brother and three younger brothers. And quickly, Abiodun realized, academics and art were his refuge.

 

His Escape

Abiodun’s mother told him when he was young that education would be his escape. He says that always stuck with him.

So, when the bullying persisted, and he was down, he would focus on his studies, he says. Education runs in his family. His mom got her Master’s Degree a few years after they moved to the U.S. His dad has his Bachelor’s Degree from Nigeria. His grandmother’s sister has a doctorate in education. His favorite aunt got her Bachelor’s Degree a few years ago in the U.S.

His best friends growing up?

“The characters in books,” Abiodun says. “I spent all my time reading and studying. I would read the dictionary to grow my vocabulary. I love fiction with elements of reality because those books give me the ability to jump from the real world, but not take the full leap to the stars.”

He loves “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “The Fault in Our Stars,” and the Percy Jackson series. Usually, if he’s into a book, he will finish it in a few hours.

Drawing runs in his family, too. And it is something that has always helped him with his depression, he says. He started drawing when he was four. His dad taught him how when they lived in Nigeria.

Now, he fills up sketchpad after sketchpad. He makes sure to draw in pen, as opposed to pencil, to avoid overthinking. Pencil, he says, gives him the option to erase.

“Drawing helps me control my emotions,” he says. “It helps me take what is in my head, what is bothering me or what I am thinking about, and get it out and put it on paper in a creative form.”

 

The Last Valedictorian

McLeish-Petty knew about Abiodun before he ever enrolled in her sophomore honors English class at Northwest High School.

She ran the honors program at the school, so she had a whole lot of practice typing out his name. He broke test-score records, was known for his creativity, and of course, for how bright he was. At first, Abiodun was quiet, but as he became more comfortable, he started to challenge the class.

“We read some difficult literature and Abiodun was able to facilitate conversations when I couldn’t get the rest of the class on board,” she says. “He would stir up conversations by playing devil’s advocate, he would make everyone think in different ways. His fascination with certain topics were lightyears ahead of what a high school kid typically thinks about.”

Most students, McLeish-Petty says, just want an answer so they can put it down. Abiodun wanted to know why; he wanted to know what was the point. He was very refreshing, she says.

Then there was the time she tricked Abiodun into joining the drama club when he was a sophomore. It started as him working behind the scenes. She convinced him to design the sets for “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

“Because he is so smart, after a couple days, he knew everyone’s lines and where everyone should be,” McLeish-Petty says. “By the time the show opened, we had some people quit and Abiodun filled in as Grandma Josephine and doubled as an oompa loompa.”

By the time he was a senior, he was the lead in the school play.

Abiodun would end up with a 4.1 GPA. He would deliver the school’s final valedictorian address – the building will shift to a middle school in the fall. He would discuss religion and politics with McLeish-Petty for hours. He won $12,000 when he wrote a two-page essay about his life for a Kiwanis Club scholarship that honors local high schoolers for their resilience.

It wasn’t just teacher helping pupil. Abiodun forever changed McLeish-Petty.

A high school teacher for 17 years, Abiodun got her thinking. If she had been in his life earlier, around the time he started being bullied, she could have tried to make it better much sooner. How many young people are there out there who just need someone to talk to, she started to wonder.

For the first time in 17 years, McLeish-Petty won’t be teaching high school this school year. She will be teaching at Coldspring Elementary School. Something Abiodun inspired.

“Every once in awhile you have a student come through who you know will be in your life way past graduation,” she says. “Abiodun is one of those people. He’s not just smart. He’s self-aware, he wants to have an impact, he will befriend the kid that is sitting alone. I am positive I will still be talking to Abiodun in 15 years.”

 

Change-Maker

It’s a few days before the start of his first year, and Abiodun is walking around Butler’s campus.

He says he feels excited about the start of classes, but definitely a bit anxious. He’ll be taking Spanish – his fourth language (he already speaks English, French, and Yoruba), Calculus, Honors First Year Seminar, and Introduction to Art.

Abiodun plans on majoring in Psychology and minoring in Art and English. He hopes to write a book, and also help others who are going through depression. He’s interested in child psychology, and also art therapy.

“Maybe I will be able to make a change and help,” he says. “I definitely want to write my own book when I’m done with college.”

But that is down the line. For now, he wonders if he will play intramural soccer, maybe join student government, maybe get involved in a video game club. He’s excited for the food on campus. He hopes to make some friends.

He remembers back when he was in 10th grade and came to Butler’s campus for the first time on a school trip.

“I wasn’t that impressed,” he says. “But that’s because I was a judgmental teenager. As I saw more and more schools, I realized how big they were, and crowded, and confusing, and I realized how much I liked Butler. It was a perfect size.”

Here he is, 30 acceptances later. There may be differing accounts about why Abiodun applied to so many schools. But, one thing is clear: he’s up to whatever challenges are ahead.

 

Media contact:
Rachel Stern
rstern@butler.edu
914-815-5656

Abiodun
Welcome WeekPeopleCampus

From Nigeria to Butler, First Year Up to the Challenge

30 acceptances later, Abiodun plans a psych major to help others.

Aug 20 2018 Read more

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