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Joey Brunk: A Big Man with a Big Heart

By Sarah Bahr

JO-EY! JO-EY!

Twenty-one-year-old Butler men’s basketball center Joey Brunk has just checked into the game, and the cheers from the 9,100 fans packing Hinkle Fieldhouse are thunderous.

"He’s so likeable that people cheer like crazy just when he enters the game,” Butler Associate Athletic Director John Dedman says. “Luckily Nate [Fowler] understands that fans aren’t cheering that he is going to the bench.”

Brunk pushes a soft, loose wave of what Twitter users have called the “golden mane” and “the best hair in college basketball” away from his face, a grin peeking through his Matthew McConaughey-inspired beard and mustache, and steps to the line. Swishes the free throw.

Tonight, he can’t miss.

An hour later, he walks off the court, through the locker room …

… and heads back to his dorm, where he’ll strip off his size-17 sneakers, maybe read some poetry or a JFK biography (“He’s my favorite president”) before curling his 6-11 frame into a bed not made for a man who could nearly stand head to head with a small adult elephant.

In the morning, it’ll be time to teach poetry to second-graders.

 

In a Class of His Own

Brunk, an Elementary Education major and aspiring teacher, spent last semester student teaching in a second-grade class at the Butler University Laboratory School on Wednesdays.

His first full-class lesson was an introduction to emotion poetry.

“I was a little worried they might come in with negative attitudes, but they enjoyed it,” Brunk says. “I had them read a poem and then act out different emotions—I was the photographer, and everyone else was an actor.”

“It got lots of laughs.”

Brunk says there aren’t a lot of men in elementary education—last semester, he was one of only two guys in his elementary-education class.

“The kids thought it was cool that I was a guy teaching them,” he says. “I tried to be cool, whether it was talking ESPN, last night’s NBA games, or SportsCenter highlights.”

But as he rests his fist on his chin in a pose reminiscent of Rodin’s The Thinker sculpture, the mid-morning sunlight streaming into Hinkle Fieldhouse streaking his wavy hair, it isn’t hard to believe the hard-charging center whom Butler Director of Basketball Operations Brandon Crone calls a “gentle giant” is a poetry aficionado.

“He’s so patient,” Crone says. “He just has a presence. I have a 3-year-old son, and Joey’s always one of the first to give him high fives and hugs in the locker room.”

No one in Brunk’s immediate family is a teacher, but after volunteering in a fifth-grade class at Southport Elementary School a few days per week his senior year of high school, he was sold.

“I wanted the kids to be able to have a positive role model,” he says.

It’s a role Brunk also tries to play for his younger brother, Johnny, a sophomore guard at Roncalli High School, about 20 minutes south of Butler.

Being able to stay close to Johnny was one of the reasons Brunk, a four-star prospect out of Southport in 2016, chose Butler over offers from a bevy of Big Ten schools, including Indiana and Purdue.

“I went to Butler so I could see my brother play,” Brunk says. “I grew up in a family where everyone was at everyone else’s stuff.”

Which meant his Friday nights were never exactly, umm, wild.

“I was expected to be at every one of my brother’s Little League games and practices,” Brunk says. “And he attended all my practices and workouts.”

But supporting his younger brother has never been a chore for the Butler big man.

“He was there to support me, so I want to support him,” Brunk says.

Family first.

So it was never a question for Brunk to forego the remainder of his first-year season to spend time with his dad after Joe Brunk was diagnosed with brain cancer in November 2016.

 

His Biggest Fan

Brunk has been to the Indianapolis Zoo no fewer than 500 times.

He would go with his family once or twice a week from age 2 on, always wanting to look at the same things—the lions, tigers, and his current favorite animal, the red panda. And the animal-lover also says his parents enabled a fearsome Zoobooks addiction.

“They paid for a monthly subscription, and it went on so long that I’d have three copies of the exact same issue,” he says.

He honors his dad by visiting a local zoo with Butler play-by-play radio announcer Mark Minner whenever the team travels for a tournament. It’s a way for Brunk to keep his hero with him.

Brunk and his dad, a two-time NAIA All-American at Hanover College, bonded over basketball from the beginning. They attended games at Hinkle Fieldhouse together, and Joe Brunk was his son’s first AAU coach.

“He was my biggest critic—and my biggest fan,” Joey Brunk says.

His dad would pick him up from middle school every day and drive him to the gym for workouts, a dedication that paid off when Brunk was a Top 100 recruit and one of the three finalists for the statewide IndyStar Mr. Basketball award as a high school senior.

“There were lots of mornings when—God bless both my parents—they’d get up at 5:30 AM to drive me to the high school for a workout,” Joey Brunk says. “My dad would rebound for me, and my mom would pack me breakfast, lunch, and something for the way home from school so I could eat again before going to the gym.”

Joe Brunk was there to watch Joey’s Southport team beat Ben Davis 60-57 for the sectional championship during Brunk’s senior year—and Joey hoped he’d one day get to watch Butler win an NCAA Championship.

Then, in November 2016, his dad was hospitalized while visiting friends in Las Vegas.

“It was completely unexpected,” Joey Brunk says. “I flew to Nevada right away.”

The diagnosis? A brain tumor.

Brunk stayed at his dad’s side in Southport for the next six months, foregoing the remainder of his first-year season to spend the last moments of his dad’s life with his hero.

“We laughed; we cried; we told stories,” Joey Brunk says. “There was never any dead airspace.”

Joe Brunk died April 15, 2017, at age 56.

But, true to his dad’s mantra of living with passion, Brunk made a vow: He wouldn’t be depressed.

He’d be the Energizer Bunny.

 

Butler’s Energizer Bunny

Drop in on a Hinkle Fieldhouse practice, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a happier guy than Brunk. He wears his dad’s No. 50 jersey, another reminder of the man who helped him achieve his dream of playing Division I basketball.

Brunk doubled down on his dedication to the sport this summer, using the offseason to transform his body with as many as four workouts each day, ranging from hot yoga to shooting with his brother at Roncalli. He dropped 10 pounds, from 240 to 230, and increased his maximum bench press from 230 to 260 pounds.

And it’s paid off: He’s averaging 8.6 points per game this season, compared to last year’s 1.3. His average rebounds per game are up to 4.4 from 1.8. And his average minutes per game have quadrupled, from five to 20.

The NCAA granted Brunk an additional season, awarding him a hardship waiver for his first year, as he only played in seven games before stepping away to be with his dad. That means he’s a redshirt sophomore this season, with two years of eligibility remaining.

Crone says that, despite his dad’s death, nothing about Brunk’s personality has changed.

“He’s the same Joey I’ve known for five years,” he says. “He’s the Energizer Bunny in the locker room.”

“Dad and I always talked about living your life in a way that you’re excited to wake up,” Joey Brunk says. “There are lots of people who would die to be in this position.”

Joey Brunk
UnleashedStudent Life

Joey Brunk: A Big Man with a Big Heart

The Butler Men's Basketball center is dedicated to achieving his dream and helping others do the same. 

Katie Pfaff: A Small-Town Success Story

By Sarah Bahr

They were beautiful, those tiaraed Indy 500 Festival princesses in black-and-white sashes, visiting a Lewisville elementary school in a small, rural Indiana farm community more than a decade ago. They inspired a mesmerized Katie Pfaff to dream of one day donning a crown herself.

Though the 21-year-old Butler University senior’s big dreams would take her 60 miles west of the farm where she grew up—more on that in a minute—she’s always had a soft spot for driving down a backroad with no destination in sight, or digging into a slice of the apple-crumb pie her grandma would make her each April 25 because she didn’t like birthday cake.

Small-town life was comforting. There were euchre games with dozens of cousins around the fire on Friday nights, tractor rides through the rustling corn under the fading pinks and purples of an August Indiana sunset. The breeze tickled her hair as she clutched her brother’s back, looking up at the stars in wide, open spaces with no skyscrapers to fill them.

Her graduating class had 60 people in it, in a town of 366.

When both grandparents died on the same day before Christmas one year, her family didn’t cook for a week—her neighbors kept ringing the doorbell with plates of chicken and spaghetti. Their driveway was cleared of snow by an unseen phantom, as though someone had poured hot lava on the white mass and left a sparkling drive.

But Pfaff wasn’t content to accept the charity of others—she was ready to repay it.

 

A Gathering Place

Pfaff, her parents, and her older twin brothers Tyler and Tom started their own business her sophomore year of high school; a Lewisville wedding and event venue known as The Gathering. They converted an old church into a place to celebrate marriages, birthdays, and Christmas—anything that would bring people together.

But when Pfaff went off to college at Butler, some in her hometown thought she’d never come back. She’d become a city girl, forsaking her farm roots. Her role in the family business would be toast.

At first, it looked like they were right.

The minute Pfaff stepped on the Butler campus, the senior Strategic Communication and Human Communication & Organizational Leadership double major was smitten with the big-city school’s small-town feel.

“I don’t know everyone on campus, but it takes no more than a five-second conversation while getting coffee for someone to not feel like a stranger anymore,” she says. 

But all the opportunities could be overwhelming for someone who’d always wanted to do everything.

Her Ethics professor noticed her stress and offered to buy her coffee at the campus Starbucks last spring. But when she walked into class, setting her cup on the table, someone bumped into it, and her drink hit the deck.

“I was paralyzed,” she says. “But Professor Norris waited until everyone had left, bought me another cup of coffee, and sat down for an hour to talk about what I was feeling. He just wanted to know how he could make my day better.”

It was that conversation with Norris, she says, that inspired her to take on a leadership role with Butler’s BUBeWell initiative last spring, a program designed to keep stressed-out students sane while cultivating their mental, physical, and social wellbeing.

Going to Butler was a big adjustment for a small-town girl. She’d come across more people in a single day of walking across campus than she’d meet in an entire year in Lewisville. She missed her mom’s bacon-wrapped water chestnuts; Friday nights around the fire with her parents and brothers, biting into slices of ooey, gooey cheese pizza.

Then she realized: She needed structure.

She set a “golden rule” for herself: She’d be in bed by midnight every evening, no matter whether it was Tuesday or Saturday.

She joined a sorority and found friends like her roommate of two years, 21-year-old Butler pharmacy student Chloe Sandman, who also grew up in a small town and shares Pfaff’s love of ice cream and Hallmark movies.

Now that she was secure in herself, it was time to begin giving back. To the parents who invested in her. To the school that sculpted her.

To the town that raised her.

 

A Royal Coronation

But first, let’s talk about the 178-page paper she just finished writing. Not by herself, of course. The assignment was an eight-person group project for her senior communication capstone class. But 25 pages of that behemoth were hers.

It was that commitment to academics that propelled her to princesshood.

She was chosen as one of 33 Indianapolis 500 Festival princesses in spring 2018 out of a field of more than 2,000 women—just over 33 times the size of her high school graduating class.

Her days sometimes started as early as 3 AM and ended as late as 1 AM (sorry, “golden rule”). She could work as many as three events in a day.

“I spent countless hours doing community outreach in nursing homes and elementary schools,” she says.

But Pfaff’s internship advisor, Butler Communication professor Scott Bridge, says Pfaff has never been one to court recognition for her accomplishments.

“She doesn’t try to draw attention to herself,” he says. “But she does things so well that she can’t help it.”   

Pfaff is still involved in The Gathering’s operations in her hometown, from running social media to answering calls between classes, and coming home on weekends and breaks to help out. She’s raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the college ambitions of children in her community through an internship with her hometown scholarship foundation.

And when Cindy Oler, a Lewisville dance instructor who taught Pfaff for 13 years, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, Pfaff choreographed a sign-language routine to the song “Blessings” by Laura Story and taught it to Oler’s dance troupe.

“The movements are simple, pure, and so beautiful,” Oler says. “We now teach it every year, invoking the name of the kind and loving heart that created the piece.”

But as soon as she got the call last February that she would be a 500 Festival princess, she knew there was one more thing she had to do.

 

Full Circle

The gleaming blue Chevy rolled up in front of the Lewisville school last May, dozens of eyeballs glued to the 2018 Indianapolis 500 pace car’s star-studded chrome wheels.

Pfaff and several other princesses brought the glitz and glamour of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” to Henry County, and Pfaff even got to wave the checkered flag at the end of the school’s tricycle race she’d pedaled in as a kid.

“It meant everything to me,” Pfaff says.

Being a princess comes with crazy hours—one 3 AM Mini Marathon wakeup call came after she’d stayed up past midnight the night before to finish a final paper—but she always keeps things in perspective.

“So many people would love to be where I am,” she says.

She’s one of Butler’s Top 100 students, a Chapman Champion Award recipient for her exemplary service to the University, and a soon-to-be intern with Indy Hub, an Indianapolis nonprofit designed to help the city attract and retain young professionals.

But most meaningful to her?

The smiles on those little Lewisville boys’ and girls’ faces.

 

 

UnleashedStudent Life

Katie Pfaff: A Small-Town Success Story

From rural Indiana to a princess, Katie's journey has always been focused on helping others. 

Maria De Leon: A Lifelong Activist

By Sarah Bahr

Twelve-year-old Maria De Leon was on the phone with a doctor 40 years her senior.

She was translating a pain-pill prescription from English for her Spanish-speaking parents—but struggling with unfamiliar words like ‘hydrocodone’ and ‘acetaminophen.’

The language is rife with false cognates; each an opportunity for disaster.

‘Intoxicado’ doesn’t mean intoxicated, but ingested. ‘Embarazada’ means not embarrassed, but pregnant.

“That was something my parents didn’t understand,” she says. “Even though I do know English, I don’t know all the words.”

She would translate insurance claims, doctor’s appointments, sometimes even conversations with lawyers.

It was challenging, she says—her parents, who moved to the United States from Guatemala before she was born and have the equivalent of elementary-school educations, don’t speak enough English “to survive,” in her words.

Which meant that in high school, she was on her own to navigate the FAFSA, scholarships, SAT, and college application process.

But she didn’t end up a dropout.

She graduated salutatorian.

And won a full-tuition scholarship to any college in Indiana.

 

“Will Getting Arrested Keep me From Attending Butler?”

Except she almost didn’t.

Butler admission counselor Whitney Ramsay’s phone buzzed one morning last winter.

Will getting arrested keep me from attending Butler?

De Leon, then a senior in high school, was planning to participate in a sit-in protest in Washington, D.C. in January to lobby senators to approve a “clean” Dream Act, or one that creates a pathway to citizenship for immigrants without adding additional stipulations.

Would being arrested for civil disobedience, she wanted to know, affect her eligibility to attend Butler—and her Lilly scholarship?

Ramsay talked to her supervisor: De Leon’s admission decision wouldn’t automatically be rescinded, but any disciplinary infraction would be reviewed by a committee. (Butler later issued a statement reading: “Applicants to Butler University who respectfully engage in meaningful and authentic discourse regarding important issues within our society will not be penalized in the admission process”).

“I told her to be safe, be smart, and listen to her gut,” Ramsay says.

De Leon ultimately decided to stop short of being arrested—though some of her fellow protesters were.

“I felt like me going and protesting was enough at that moment,” she says.

De Leon’s passion for civic engagement started at Crispus Attucks High School on the northwest side of Indianapolis. She was a community ambassador for the Central Indiana Community Foundation, researching Indianapolis’ Hispanic and Latino communities to discover their biggest challenges. She interviewed student DACA recipients, as well as police officers who worked in the Hispanic community.

She also volunteered with the Domestic Violence Youth Network and became a leader of Crispus Attucks’ NO MORE Club, which raises awareness of teen dating violence and sexual assault.

But De Leon wanted to do more than just join a club. Why, she wondered, did Indianapolis Public Schools not have a teen dating violence prevention and response policy?

According to a 2017 Indiana Youth Institute Report, one in eight high school students said they had been “forced to do sexual things they did not want to do by someone they were dating or going out with.” That’s higher than the one in 10 national average.

De Leon worked with Lindsay Stawick, the Youth Program Manager at the Domestic Violence Network, and three other students to draft a policy. It took eight months.

When the policy was enacted at IPS schools this fall, it was the first teen dating violence prevention and response policy in Indianapolis, Stawick says. It holds school staff accountable for preventing abusive behavior and punishes students who participate in it. It also mandates training for teachers and places a teen dating abuse advocate in every IPS school. 

That policy was possibly De Leon’s most significant achievement at Crispus Attucks, but she didn’t wait until her senior year to get involved with organizations she was passionate about.

She began volunteering at TeenWorks, an Indianapolis college-and-career readiness and youth employment nonprofit serving at-risk Marion County teens, her freshman year of high school.

TeenWorks President and CEO Tammie Barney says De Leon can reach the students in a way the adult volunteers can’t.

“It’s rare to see that level of boldness and leadership in such a young person,” Barney says. “She seizes the day to get the most out of every opportunity.”

Her go-getter attitude is one the reasons De Leon says Butler has been a perfect fit.

“I’ve learned that Indy is a city where if an opportunity isn’t there, you can create it,” she says.

 

A DIY Education

Just because her parents didn’t speak English doesn’t mean they weren’t her fiercest academic cheerleaders, De Leon says.

They accompanied her to the many college preparation programs she’d enrolled in as a show of support—even though they couldn’t understand what her instructors were saying.

When De Leon graduated from Crispus Attucks last spring—the first in her family to graduate high school—her parents, two younger brothers, and younger sister were all there to see her walk across the stage.

She gave the second half of her salutatorian speech in Spanish to honor her parents. She was proud to be a role model for her siblings, and the ear-to-ear smiles on her mom’s and dad’s faces said it all.

Her mom’s mantra growing up—and one that De Leon included in her personal statement for Butler—was that her daughter’s U.S. citizenship wouldn’t matter if she didn’t pursue an education.

So De Leon networked like her life depended on it in high school, printing professional business cards and job-shadowing mentors. She knocked out a semester’s worth of college credits from dual-credit courses before ever arriving on the Butler campus.

But sweetest of all?

A full-tuition, four-year Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship, which 143 Indiana students from the state’s 92 counties receive each year. Scholars must be leaders, civically engaged, and academic all-stars—all boxes De Leon checked.

But she didn’t think she had a chance at the scholarship after she found out the valedictorian had also applied.

“We thought only one of us was going to get it,” De Leon says. “But then we both got it, which is crazy!”

 

Look Out, Joe Hogsett

When former first lady Michelle Obama spoke in Indianapolis last February, De Leon was in the audience. The quote that stuck with her?

“If there’s not a chair at the table, bring your own.”

That’s what De Leon is trying to do at Butler; The Political Science and Critical Communication & Media Studies double major recently established a Latino chapter of Butler’s Leading Women of Tomorrow initiative, a group focused on empowering women to seek public service careers. She applied to be vice president or secretary.

She was asked to serve as president.

And De Leon continues to volunteer with the organizations that triggered her passion for activism four years ago.

She’s a mentor with the Domestic Violence Youth Network, where she volunteers twice per month and during breaks, and she plans to continue to help with TeenWorks events this summer, from conducting mock interviews to providing resume advice.

De Leon’s goal is to work in politics after she graduates in 2022. She’d love to be the president of a youth-focused nonprofit organization like TeenWorks, but she’s also considering a run for mayor of Indianapolis.

Look out, Joe Hogsett.

Maria De Leon
UnleashedStudent Life

Maria De Leon: A Lifelong Activist

As a daughter, student, and mentor, first-year Maria De Leon works hard for herself and others. 

Keeping the #ButlerBound Secret

Jeff Stanich ’16

For five years, the #ButlerBound program has delivered good news to prospective students around the country. With a personal touch, and a lot of drool, Blue III (a.k.a. Trip), Butler’s live mascot, surprises future (human) Bulldogs with their acceptance letters or scholarship announcements.

More often than not, such a big reveal is dependent upon the accepted students’ parents, who work behind the scenes with Butler to organize the surprise. We caught up with a few parents whose children had their acceptance letters paw-delivered by Trip to gain more insight on that moment and how their relationship with the university continued from there.

For Angela Buchman, she knows that getting the news directly from Trip could be one of the main factors in her son’s decision. Luke, now a high school senior, is still in the thick of his college-choosing process.

“If you saw Luke’s face, you saw how special that moment was, and how he’s continued to think about it,” she says. “In the last few years, he has really buckled down and worked hard at school, and Butler seemed to recognize that. It really vaulted Butler up his list.”

That’s right - Luke’s future as a bulldog is still up in the air. Some schools have his attention for the programs they offer, others because it’s where his friends will probably go. But no other school has pulled out the kind of stops that Butler has, which is exactly why the university does it.

As higher education becomes increasingly more competitive and the college decision becomes more pressure filled, Butler has a Trip up their sleeve.

Michael Kaltenmark, Butler's Director of Community and Government Relations and resident bulldog handler, makes anywhere from 40 to 100 admission visits with Trip each year. These visits demand lots of coordination and early mornings, but the payoff is worth it. Students who receive a personal visit from Kaltenmark and his loveable pooch are significantly more likely to attend Butler, and that’s what it’s all about.

And to be on the receiving end of such a visit is all the more memorable. Especially for Keelen Barlow.

“It was amazing - really, it was everything he could have hoped for,” says Keelen’s mother, Nicolette. “Given his backstory, and what Butler has always meant to him, it couldn’t have played out any more perfectly.”

Because even though no one in the Barlow family had ever attended Butler before Keelen started this fall, the university always held a special place in their lives.

After Keelen was born, Nicolette’s parents subscribed to season tickets for Butler basketball games and started to take him to every home game when he was only two. It’s how Keelen initially fell in love with Butler - and when his grandfather passed away, Nicolette believes going to the games became a way of keeping those memories alive.

“But even though he always wanted to be a student there, it wasn’t a sure thing given the costs,” she recalls. “That’s why Trip showing up at our door was so amazing. They didn't just come with an acceptance letter, it was also the first time we learned that Keelen had gotten the scholarship he needed to go.”

For Keelen, meeting Trip in a room full of his loved ones, including his grandma and fellow bulldog super-fan, all of his life seemed to be leading up to that moment. For Nicolette, it became one of many examples of how Butler often goes the extra mile to ensure its students feel a true sense of belonging on campus.

“It’s such a tight-knit community in so many regards, and I love knowing he’s not sitting in a lecture hall surrounded by 200 other students being taught by a T.A.,” she says. “Especially as a freshman, because all the changes are easy to get lost in. But when he came home for the first time he was a changed man. Definitely for the better.”

Angela is aware of those same obstacles that her son will face next year on campus as a freshman, wherever that might be.

“With everyone that Luke talks to at Butler, he can really tell how much they care about him as an individual already,” she says, “and I think that’s important to him. It’d be important to anyone. Butler’s people really are eager to help every student find their place there.”

So eager, in fact, that the Butler Bound visits become one of the hardest secrets to keep in town. For Angela, she couldn’t help but let it slip to the receptionist during one of Luke’s orthodontist visits.

With Keelen’s family, they all knew how significant this moment would be for him. And the more and more people were invited by his mother to witness it, Keelen started to know something was up. But even though he is a journalism major now and learning to chase leads, his instincts were a little off when guessing what everyone was so excited about.

“He thought I was pregnant!” Nicolette says. “Once I started telling him to be home on a certain day and time he got really suspicious, but he still didn’t expect the bulldog to be there on the front door. He was so shocked that I had to remind him to let them in.”

Because there, in his living room surrounded by family, dreams were coming true between two bulldogs. Nicolette used to fear that her son would get teased for wearing a Butler t-shirt every day growing up. But all those worries went away knowing her son would soon be right at home.

“Once he got his letter and that scholarship there was no way in hell I wasn’t going to let Butler happen for him,” Nicolette says. “He still pretended to look at other places just because they were on the table before. But his heart was already at Butler, where it still is now.”

AcademicsStudent Life

Keeping the #ButlerBound Secret

A big reveal is dependent upon the accepted students’ parents, who work with Butler to organize the surprise.

Jordan Jazz: Small but Mighty Good

By Haley Stevenson '19

Jordan Jazz is a small ensemble of student jazz singers studying in Butler University’s School of Music. Led by Erin Benedict, the vocal ensemble performs along with a band of students from the jazz program consisting of piano, bass, drums, saxophone, and guitar.

Erin Benedict
Erin Benedict

A graduate of The Manhattan School of Music, Erin Benedict began teaching at Butler a couple of years ago. Outside of Butler, her forte is commercial performance: singing in movie soundtracks and television commercials. Like with any new job, she had doubts, but as soon as she met the students and the group she would be teaching, she knew she was in the right place. “I was approached several times to come here and teach jazz voice and do Jordan Jazz … I’m glad I said yes!”

Jordan Jazz is a unique ensemble because it is so small and close knit. Only eight students meet with Benedict once a week for two hours. Throughout the course of a semester the group gets to know each other very well. “They all set up a group chat and support one another … In a smaller school like Butler, it may be more common, but in a larger school, it’s very unlikely,” Benedict says.

As many music students will note, it can be a struggle to maintain the excitement they had when they first started out – creative passions sometimes become a bit of a job, and a demanding one at that. Jordan Jazz gives students the opportunity to perform in a professional setting, but under less pressure so they can freely express themselves. “I am studying classical music constantly, so I really like being able to come together in this small jazz group. The tight harmonies and intimate settings make it really special," says junior Rowan Squire-Willey.  

Benedict hopes that in the coming years, Jordan Jazz will be one of the elite ensembles at Butler: “I see it being six men and six women … a mixture of a cappella and with instruments. I would love to see some students write things, and I would like to take them out to perform in the community.” That vision may come true as soon as this coming spring, when Benedict is planning to start some community outreach.

If you’d like to see the ensemble’s first performance of the 2018-2019 school year, your chance is this Wednesday, November 28 at 7:30 p.m. in Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall. The performance is free, open to the public, and is sure to be night to remember.   

Jordan Jazz
Arts & CultureStudent Life

Jordan Jazz: Small but Mighty Good

Jordan Jazz, a small ensemble of student jazz singers, takes the stage Wednesday, November 28. 

Jordan Jazz

Jordan Jazz: Small but Mighty Good

By Haley Stevenson '19

Lee-gacy

by Sarah Bahr

“I’m already late for work, Dana!”

“It’ll take like five seconds, I promise!”

Butler University Collegian reporter Dana Lee pauses from reading her column-in-progress over the phone to her mother — a palliative care nurse in a northern suburb of Chicago who is, indeed, late for work.

Yes, the Collegian’s now-editor-in-chief and former ESPN and Indianapolis Star intern really does read (almost) every story she writes to her mom — who’s often cooking dinner in her kitchen 200 miles away.

Talking through her ideas helps her conquer writer’s block, Lee says.

The 21-year-old senior journalism major calls her parents at least once a week — but usually many times more. She called her dad before the first interview she did for the Indianapolis Star. During her freshman year when she was overwhelmed by Carmel, IN’s roundabouts. After she asked a security guard at Madison Square Garden to film her while covering the 2018 Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament in New York City for the Collegian. Her dad’s reaction? “I can’t believe you did that!”

Lee has written for ESPN, hobnobbed with celebrities (Bill Nye!), and embedded herself in former Butler basketball player Kelan Martin’s kitchen, but just try and tell her story without bringing up her parents (“They’ve read every story I’ve ever written”) and her two younger siblings, Jessica and Michael, who also attend Butler.

You can’t.

A Butler Family Lee-gacy

When Jessica Lee was weighing the pros and cons of attending Butler, her sister, Dana, landed squarely on the cons side.

“Which I didn’t know until halfway through my freshman year,” says Dana.

But Jessica, a junior Political Science and Strategic Communication double major, says that, without Dana, Butler likely wouldn’t have been on her radar. And, in the end, Butler’s internship opportunities, proximity to a big city, and beautiful campus proved too difficult to ignore.

Despite her older sister’s presence.

“I certainly had reservations about attending the same school as Dana,” Jessica, who’s a year younger than Dana, says. “Not because we aren’t close, but because I wanted my college experience to be my own.”

But Jessica says attending the same school as her siblings does come with perks; namely, Butler-themed inside jokes.

“It’s like speaking our own language. Like, ‘Have you seen Holcomb Gardens yet?’” Jessica says. “‘The leaves are turning and it looks BU-tiful.’”

While the siblings aren’t roommates, they live close enough together to walk to one another’s residences. Jessica and Dana lived in the same residence hall Jessica’s freshman year.

“It was nice having her closet nearby!” says Jessica.

Dana says she, Jessica, and Michael have always gotten along because they “didn’t have any other option.”

“Growing up, my parents would sit us on the staircase until someone gave someone else a hug,” Dana says. “We genuinely enjoy each other’s company.”

Michael, a freshman Digital Media Production major, says the siblings haven’t yet been on campus during the same semester.

Jessica is the culprit. She’s interning with the Democratic National Committee in Washington D.C. this semester, completed an internship with the European Union in Belgium last summer, and studied abroad in Germany last spring.

But even nearly 600 miles apart, the Lees are on the same wavelength.

Now the trio write for the Butler Collegian, Butler’s student newspaper. Dana is the editor-in-chief, Jessica is a co-news editor, and Michael is on the multimedia team. While Jessica says there’s no sibling rivalry, in the same breath, she contradicts herself.

“When Dana was the sports editor and I was the co-news editor, we would compete to see which section got the most clicks online,” Jessica says. “I most definitely won.”

But the siblings don’t share everything. When Michael committed to Butler last December, Dana and Jessica found out when he posted his decision on Instagram.

“So basically almost 500 people knew before I did,” Dana says. “Classic.”

A Sports Journalist in the Making

Though all the Lees played sports, it was Dana who was the family fanatic.

Mike Lee was a high school varsity baseball coach, so his daughter rode alongside him as he dragged baseball fields on a tractor, and wore his team’s uniform in the dugout during games.

Dana’s thirst for all things news — not just sports — was insatiable. In eighth grade, she wrote a persuasive essay petitioning her parents for an iPhone so she could read the The New York Times online before school (spoiler alert: she got it).

“My parents thought I was crazy,” she says, but it was this fanaticism that has made Dana successful as a student and a budding journalist

It’s a love she’s carried with her to college. Case in point: if inflating 500 basketballs in four hours would get her to ESPN, Dana Lee was going to do it.

Her first internship with the WNBA’s Chicago Sky the summer before her sophomore year was decidedly non-glamorous: As an unpaid community relations intern, she did the grunt work for the franchise. Including inflating all those basketballs.

“That was the lowest point of my internship,” she says.

Of the nearly 20 internships she applied for, Lee says the Sky position was the best offer she got.

Fast forward a year, and Lee had the opposite problem: too many opportunities.

Her offers: an Indianapolis Colts Media Operations internship, an Indianapolis Star reporting fellowship, a promotion to Butler Collegian sports editor . . .

So which one did she pick?

All of them.

Oh, and she also took 20 credit hours of classes that fall.

“Junior year was a nightmare,” Lee says. “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”

She put in 16 hours per week at The Star as an “Our Children” fellow, examining opioid addiction and spotlighting nonprofit success stories in her quest to find and tell the overlooked stories of Indianapolis kids. She spent Sundays at Lucas Oil Stadium, helping set up the press box before Colts home games and transcribing coach and player interviews. She coordinated the Collegian’s sports coverage whenever she had a free moment. She slept very little.

“It was a terrible idea to intern two different places,” Lee says. “I’d never, ever do it again, but it was a great time.”

Don’t Look Over Her Shoulder in Class

You may be wondering, at this point, about Dana’s social life.

Two of her friends, Butler Collegian Digital Managing Editor Zach Horrall and Managing Editor Marisa Miller, both seniors, shed some light.

The last time they hung out?

Last Saturday night, when the evening’s agenda included Lee creating a class schedule for next semester.

“When we hang out, it’s basically low-key work,” says Horrall.

Lee’s been involved with the Collegian every semester, first as a sports reporter her freshman and sophomore years, then as a sports editor last year, and now as editor-in-chief, which means she’s grown to love staying up until 2:00 AM  on weeknights before tests. Not because she’s cramming — because she’s designing and editing stories at the Collegian office.

The print edition of the weekly Collegian publishes on Wednesdays, and Lee must read every story that ends up in print and online before the page designers can go to work.

And, of course, reporters being reporters, much of the copy comes in just before the deadline.

“I try to start reading between classes on Tuesday,” Lee says. “I probably read more stories in class than I’d like to admit. I try to have all the stories read by 10:30 PM, but if I finish by 9:30 PM, we’re in really good shape.”

After arriving at the office around 7:00 PM, the rest of her night is spent helping the designers and dealing with any snafus. Typically around 2:00 AM — but sometimes as late (or early?) as 5:00 AM — she’ll head home to catch a few hours of sleep before her Wednesday morning classes.

“My dad asks me all the time ‘Why are you doing this?’” Lee says. “I went from thinking my sister was crazy when she’d stay late working on our high school paper to being that person.”

But she says editing the Collegian doesn’t feel like work.

“It’s so nice to be immersed in something I want to do after graduation,” she says.

A “Hail Mary” Internship

You’d never know it if you came across Lee in the newsroom, but she’s an introvert. Her parents are still in disbelief that she wants to talk to people for a living, she says.

But she says her Collegian experiences have forced her out of her shell, from interviewing Butler men’s basketball’s second all-time leading scorer, Kelan Martin, as he fried up a dozen slices of turkey bacon in his kitchen, to enlisting a Madison Square Garden security guard as her cameraman during the 2018 Big East tournament in New York City.

“Freshman me never would’ve done that; not in a million years,” she says.

At the end of her junior year, she decided it was time for a hail mary — and applied for a summer internship at ESPN.

She got it.

She and 50 other interns spent 10 weeks in Bristol, Connecticut (where ESPN is headquartered), New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. this summer with the country’s foremost sports network.

She filmed Bill Nye demonstrating the physics behind a line drive. She covered the 2018 MLB All-Star Game in Washington, D.C. She shadowed SportsCenter newscasters Keith Olbermann and Chris Berman. She got a shout-out from ESPN sportswriter Seth Wickersham on Twitter.

But, true to form, Miller says the newly minted Collegian editor-in-chief still worked on the paper from Bristol.

“Even during her 40 hour-a-week internship, she was still updating our spreadsheets and planning guest speakers for the semester,” says Miller.

“She’s Very Talented, But She Doesn’t Always See It”

Every one of her friends, editors, and professors will tell you: Detail is to Lee what a lightsaber is to a Jedi.

She has a spreadsheet to keep track of every Chicago restaurant she’s eaten at, and those she wants to visit, with detailed notes about each, says Horrall. She interviewed Indianapolis Indians President and 1954 Butler graduate Max Schumacher for four hours just because she was curious. She filmed a standup shot at Hinkle Fieldhouse after the first Butler basketball game she covered 16 times to get it exactly right (Miller stood there until 11:00 PM holding the camera).

“I wish I had even 10 percent of her attention to detail,” Horrall says. “She homes in on things I’d never notice.”

She’ll Google restaurant names in Collegian stories to make sure ‘Bazbeaux’ doesn’t have an ‘s’ on the end of it, Horrall says, or check to make sure a movie theater really is in Carmel and not Indianapolis.

Nancy Whitmore, who’s taught journalism at Butler for 18 years, says Lee’s observational skills often surpass those of professional journalists.

“The insight and interpretation she brings to her reporting far exceeds her age,” says Whitmore.

Jessica Lee says her sister’s articles are an extension of her personality.

“Dana’s able to write these stories because she sits down with her yellow legal pad and blue pen and computer and she steps into [her interviewee’s] shoes,” she says.

Yet Lee doesn’t realize what she does is in any way out of the ordinary, says Horrall.

“She is very talented, but she doesn’t always see it,” he says. “Sometimes she thinks she’s gotten lucky, but she’s just really good at what she does.”

Her Parents Might Want to Look Into a Long-Distance Phone Plan

Her sister’s been to Belgium; her brother Cambodia. But outside of a two-week trip to Spain in high school, Dana Lee hasn’t left the country.

She wanted to spend a semester abroad last year, but as the Collegian’s sports editor, she couldn’t afford to leave Butler in the middle of basketball season.

But after graduation, she says, all bets are off.

“I’m looking at journalism fellowships abroad, particularly South Africa,” she says. “It’d be really interesting to look at the country post-apartheid.”

But one thing won’t change anytime soon.

“Jessica and Michael will always be my best friends,” she says.

FamilyStudent LifePeople

Lee-gacy

  When Jessica was weighing the pros and cons of attending Butler, her sister landed on the cons side.

Lee-gacy

by Sarah Bahr

Family Away From Home

By Brittany Bluthardt ’20

First-year student Alyssa Johnson wasn’t sure what to expect when she moved into Irvington House a few months ago. She was one of few students on campus as part of the Ambassadors of Change Pre-Welcome Week program. From one home to another, Alyssa was overwhelmed and nervous to begin her new journey at Butler University. She felt instantly more comfortable after she met her resident assistant, Murjanatu Mutuwa, for the first time.

“She was extremely energetic and helpful,” Alyssa says. “Now, she’s someone I can go to at any time for support.”

Resident assistants, RAs for short, are mentors for new students on Butler’s campus. RAs are fellow Butler students who help first and second year students while they are living in a residence hall. Murjanatu and other RAs plan programs and activities for their residents throughout the year. They also help to develop a respectful community while serving as a resource for students. RAs maintain an environment within residence halls for students to grow academically and socially while pursuing their first few years as a Bulldog.

Murjanatu knew she wanted to take on this role after her own experience as a resident in Schwitzer Hall. As a first-year student, Murjanatu quickly began helping others, from planning events to becoming the residence hall president. As she worked side by side with her own RA, she quickly determined she had the desire and the drive to be one too.

Three years later, Murjanatu is now a senior with a job lined up after graduation and many other responsibilities on her plate. Her biggest responsibility, perhaps, is caring for a group of fellow students as their RA.

She and her residents live in a small section of Irvington House, a place they proudly call “The Island.” The group is always together, whether they’re sitting in the hallway, chatting and doing homework together on school nights, or eating a family-style dinner at Atherton Union.

Murjanatu has created more than a community in her unit. She’s created a family.

*

Growing up in Cedar Lake, Indiana, Murjanatu was used to living with many people. When she was a teenager, her family adopted a little sister. Her parents also fostered many children in their home, some of them were even Murjanatu’s classmates at school. In her mind, everyone just became a new brother or sister.

“I’ve learned how to accept people who are very different from myself,” she says. “At the end of the day, a family is who you come home to - it’s where you feel yourself.”

With this early foundation of acceptance and caring, Murjantatu learned how to love people, even when it’s challenging. Because she’s just a few years older than her residents some things can be a bit difficult, but she’s learned how to support them and be an authority figure at the same time. Her residents reciprocate the same compassion. When Murjanatu had to go home after a sudden loss of a friend, her residents surprised her with a signed card and candy when she came back.

“When I go through things, people here are always there for me,” Murjanatu says. “People at Butler walk through challenging seasons with you.”

Although Murjanatu is in a new residence hall with new students, she doesn’t forget the friends she made in years past. She occasionally meets with her past residents to talk about their lives, grab a coffee, or unwind with a slumber party. Sophomore Julia Junker had Murjanatu as a resident assistant last year in Resco, and she remembers the support Murjanatu always gave her when she needed it the most.

“I don’t see her as often anymore, but when I do, she’s always excited to see me, and we’ll have long conversations together to catch up,” Julia says.

Another resident, Kennedy Broadwell, had Murjanatu as an RA last year in Resco. Kennedy said their hallway of residents took a while to get close with each other, but Murjanatu made sure to plan plenty of bonding events. If anything, their hall bonded over their love for Murjanatu and her funny personality.

“Murjana as an RA was a literal ray of sunshine walking down the hall,” Kennedy says. “She is probably one of the busiest people on campus, but she always made time to talk to her residents when we needed her.”

Now, Kennedy is a sophomore pursuing a major in sports media. Although she does not see Murjanatu as often as she wishes, when they do see each other, it is as if nothing has changed.

“Murj’ is just someone I know will always care about my well-being and will always be there to listen, whether she's my RA or not,” she says. “Now, somehow, we manage to pass each other every couple of days, and we always get so excited to see each other.”

*

On a late Sunday afternoon, Murjanatu opens boxes of pizza, sends a final reminder message to her friends, and anxiously waits for approximately 30 Butler University students to arrive at the Community Room in Fairview House. At this “family dinner,” as Murjanatu calls it, her Butler family, past and present, will get to meet each other.

Julia and Kennedy reunite with Murjanatu and meet Murjanatu’s new students from “The Island.” Other past residents FaceTime from off campus just to say “hi.”

“It was so fun to meet them and kind of compare stories from our first semester last year to their semester now,” Kennedy explains. “I could tell how much they already love Murjana and I wasn't surprised in the slightest. They are the luckiest kids on campus!”

With a semester and a half separating Murjanatu from graduation, she grows sadder when she thinks of leaving her residents. For four years she has worked to create a family at Butler. She has cared for students who in turn, have cared for her. While she’ll officially no longer be their RA come graduation, just like with a real family, the bonds will remain.

Cambria Khayat, a current resident of Murjanatu, aspires to be like her when she’s older.

“I look up to her so much,” Cambria says. “She’s where I want to be my senior year. I feel so blessed to have her as a friend and my RA.”

FamilyStudent Life

Family Away From Home

A resident assistant fosters community and creates a family for students on campus.

Family Away From Home

By Brittany Bluthardt ’20
Donkey, Blue, Elephant
AcademicsStudent LifePeople

(Bull)Dog Days on the Campaign Trail

BY Sarah Bahr

PUBLISHED ON Oct 31 2018

What awaited Butler University sophomore Jon Gray-Smith inside the small, ramshackle house on a Saturday in Grant County in northeast Indiana this summer was less than inviting.

Maybe I should just skip this one, the Indiana Republican Party field intern mused before walking up the front porch steps.

But Gray-Smith knocked on the door, took a step back (no one wants to be accosted by a stranger, he says), and was greeted by. . .

A nearly nude older white man. Toting a shotgun. And wearing only a pair of white underpants.

While that’s his horror story, Gray-Smith says it’s not out of the ordinary for canvassers to work in less-than-ideal conditions.

Jon and Luke Messer
Jon Gray-Smith with Luke Messer

“People don’t always have a lot of clothes on when they answer the door,” he says. “And, in my experience, a ‘Beware of Dog’ sign is typically correct.”

The life of a political intern is hardly glamorous.They get chased by dogs. Confronted by half-dressed old men packing heat. Screamed at like they’re the second coming of Cruella de Vil. And most of the time, they do it for free.

But Butler students also intern with political campaigns in increasingly large numbers. At a time when the political stakes are at an all-time high, Butler students are dotting the state, serving in a variety of  roles with political parties. From answering phones, to crafting press releases, to knocking on doors, Butler students say it is not just the skills garnered in their political science classes that have helped, but also the skills from their journalism, business, and history classes, for example, that have prepared them for when they are thrown into the real-world political fire. Or even faced with a semi-clothed man at the door.

 

“A Dream Come True”

Knocking on 527 doors for 12 hours in Indiana’s blistering July heat isn’t most people’s idea of a good time.

But Gray-Smith, the Vice President of the Butler University College Republicans, says each interaction motivates him to seek out the next one.

“I’m talking to voters who sometimes have never talked to someone about an election in their whole life,” he says.

Gray-Smith says people are often surprised by his age.

“I had a lot of people tell me, ‘It’s so good to see a young person out here doing this,’” he says. ‘That keeps me going.’”

And, unlike at many political events, he enjoyed bipartisan support.

“I had so many people offer me bottles of water, Gatorade, Powerade, anything to help me stay cool,” he says. “They told me ‘Please keep doing this; there are lots of voters out there.’”

He won a $30 Visa gift card for contacting the most voters from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM — an average of 48 per hour, with an hour for lunch.

But his margin of victory?

Just 13 people.

Passion fuels political interns from both major parties, who perform thankless tasks such as calling voters, knocking on strangers’ doors, editing video, and uploading press releases to campaign websites — most of the time for free.

Gray-Smith contacted just under 7,000 voters this summer soliciting support for Republican congressional candidates such as U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, and Mike Braun. From mid-February to May during his internship with U.S. Rep. Luke Messer’s U.S. Senate campaign, he called 17,000 voters.

Cecil with Susan Brooks
James Cecil with Susan Brooks

Door-knocking and phonebanking are hardly sexy selling points for students seeking political internships, but Butler Assistant Professor of Political Science Greg Shufeldt says Butler has “countless” students volunteering and interning for campaigns and political parties this semester.

Junior Rachel Spodek has been a field intern for Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly’s re-election campaign since May.

“I’m running phone banks and trying to get as many voters registered as possible,” she says.

Senior James Cecil, who is named after President James Madison, landed a congressional internship on the Hill this summer in Washington, D.C., with Indiana congresswoman Susan Brooks.

The president of the Butler University College Republicans researched bills, attended hearings, answered phone calls, and gave tours of the U.S. Capitol building. She’d previously completed an internship with the Indiana GOP and is currently interning with the Mike Braun campaign for U.S. Senate.

“I’m a huge history buff, so being able to walk the halls of the Capitol was a dream come true,” she says.

 

Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunities

While most of their days are spent canvassing counties and calling constituents, some interns do enjoy the occasional once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Earlier this month, Cecil snapped a photo with George W. Bush, whom she got to meet at a fundraiser for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Braun.

“He’s one of the funniest guys I’ve ever listened to,” she says.

Gray-Smith was left speechless after he had the chance to meet Vice President Mike Pence as part of his Indiana GOP internship last summer.

“I was able to meet the second most powerful person in America,” he says. “I could’ve never imagined that would happen when I came to Butler.”

 

A Butler Assist

A common thread runs through Cecil, Gray-Smith, and Spodek’s experiences — Butler’s Political Science department helped them land their first internship.

“I always knew I wanted to pursue politics, but I was more laid back my freshman and sophomore years,” Cecil says. “Then [Shufeldt] urged me to get involved in the Todd Young Senate campaign during the 2016 election cycle, which sparked my interest and led to my internship with the Republican Party.”

Shufeldt emphasizes campaign internships because they lead to future political internships and career opportunities.

“Interning on a campaign is a great opportunity to open professional doors,” he says. “It  is one of the most impactful ways we, as citizens, can shape the direction of our government.”

Shufeldt regularly invites Democratic and Republican Party and campaign representatives to speak to his students.

“Studying politics in a major metropolitan area and a state capital is a huge advantage for our students,” Shufeldt says. “I encourage them to take advantage of this as much as possible.”

And Gray-Smith says Butler’s Political Science students are well prepared when opportunities arise.

“The two journalism classes I took forced me to reach out to people and made me more comfortable interviewing strangers,” he says. “They really opened my eyes that I can’t turn to my friends for help every time.”

“The U.S. Politics class I took helped inform my basic knowledge of voting,” Spodek says.

Cecil says being a conservative among more liberal classmates has made her more comfortable defending her beliefs.

“I’m an outspoken conservative in a liberal environment,” she says. “But my beliefs are challenged, not changed.”

 

A Political Future

Cecil wants to pursue a career in political fundraising. Gray-Smith wants to one day run for state or national office. Spodek wants to go into public policy and is looking at law school.

They know that, whatever path they end up pursuing, their internships will have helped them get there.

“The connections I’ve made will propel me to the career I want,” Cecil says. “I definitely look forward to getting up in the morning and doing something I’m really passionate about.”

But, in the meantime, all three stress that one vote can turn the tide.

“This election is going to be really tight, not just for Donnelly, but for a lot of candidates,” Spodek says. “I know every bit of effort I put in will make a difference.”

Donkey, Blue, Elephant
AcademicsStudent LifePeople

(Bull)Dog Days on the Campaign Trail

Butler students also intern with political campaigns in increasingly large numbers.

Oct 31 2018 Read more

Going Places: Studying Abroad in the Sciences

By Marc Allan, MFA '18

Chemistry Professor Stacy O’Reilly remembers looking at the other science disciplines and thinking, "They're going places. Why can't we?"

O’Reilly wanted Chemistry students to have the opportunity to see the world, learn from other cultures, and put their classroom education into practice—something they didn't typically get to do because they were so busy with coursework.

That was in 2015.

Soon after, she got a call from a tour company about putting together a study-abroad trip for Chemistry students. In less than 10 months, she and colleague Michael Samide developed a course centered on Chemistry and sustainable energy in Germany and Switzerland. They took 18 students to visit two hydroelectric power plants and, by the time they left, better understood how water is used to create electricity, the finances required to build such a facility, and the economic impact a plant can have on a community.

Fast-forward three years: 87 students have taken Chemistry's study-abroad course in various incarnations: Chemistry and Food, Chemistry and Art Conservation Science, and Chemistry and Fermentation. There are courses with embedded study tours planned out through 2021—including one for Butler alumni, employees, their families, and friends called Beer, Wine, Cheese, and Chocolate. (More at https://blue.butler.edu/~msamide/AlumniTour2020/)

"So often, our science students are so engaged in the work to finish their science degree," O'Reilly says. "They don't have a lot of flexibility in their schedules. One of the things we like about this program is that it's not a full semester abroad, it's not a full summer abroad, but it gives them a taste of international travel."

"The language of science bridges culture," Samide adds. “There's a common bond they feel between cultures. I think it makes the world a little smaller for them. They feel more globally connected."

Students who take CH418 spend the semester building their background in the subject area, the idea being that they have the scientific knowledge they need before they travel. Then, when they go overseas in early May, they can integrate the science with the culture and society they're visiting and have conversations with experts.

Ben Zercher '16 was among the students who went on that first study tour. When he first heard about the opportunity to study abroad, he was excited because "Chemistry can get lost in textbook learning and memorizing."Student Feeding Goat

"I wasn't sure how they'd work chemistry into a study abroad program, but we started looking at renewable energy systems that are used around the world and I was excited for the trip because it would give the class some cultural context to the curriculum we go over," said Zercher, now a graduate student at the University of Washington in Seattle. "We moved around a lot and saw a lot of different applications of what we had learned in the course."

Zercher said what he looks for in Chemistry are ways to better society. The study-abroad trip showed him that the United States is lagging the leading countries when it comes to renewable energy. "Maybe I can help change the cultural acceptance of science and how we apply it to renewable energy," he said.

Heidi Kastenholz '19, took the Chemistry and Art Conservation Science tour in 2017, which met during the spring semester to prepare the students for what they would see at conservation and research laboratories in Germany.

She said she chose to go because she's always been interested in art and she wanted "to be able to take what I'm learning in class and see it applied to something I have a great interest in and to be able to learn and to see it in a new way."

The experience so intrigued Kastenholz that she continued to look into conservation science. This summer, she presented a Butler Summer Institute project called "Case Studies of Reference Materials in Conservation Science."

Kastenholz came to Butler wanting to be an optometrist. Until last summer, that was her goal.

"Because of my awesome experience, I'm actually having a really tough time trying to figure out if I do want to do optometry or if I want to pursue a career in culture heritage Chemistry because I think it's a fascinating field that most people don't know about," she says.

As for the Chemistry study abroad class, "I think it's my favorite class I've ever taken at Butler, and this is my fourth year," Kastenholz says. "I think that speaks a lot about what the Chemistry Department has been putting into these short-term study abroad programs. Sometimes, when you're a Chemistry or Biology major, you feel like you can't take that whole semester. But they're making it so easy to be able to go abroad for a short time. I don't know how you can say no to it."

*

Although study abroad is relatively new to Chemistry, it's been part of Butler's sciences programs for at least 30 years, dating back to Biology's first trip to look at marine life in Belize. Physics and Astronomy also has been taking students to Japan, Spain, Chile and China for at least 10 years.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences believes so strongly in study abroad for science students that it offers financial assistance through Seitz Awards, which assist Natural Science students who desire to study science and conduct research abroad, outside the normal academic classroom setting. Sophomores and junior status majoring in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics are eligible to apply. (Psychology majors studying Physiological or Cognitive/Neuropsychology, or Anthropology majors studying Biological Anthropology, Primatology, or Archaeology also are eligible to apply.)

The Seitz funds have provided financing for students to study all over the world—China, Tanzania, South Africa—and propelled the careers of graduates who've gone on to research and travel the world fighting infectious diseases.

The Biology Department has been taking students on study-abroad trips to Belize every other year since the 1980s, thanks in part to the Seitz Awards. There, students get what often is their first exposure to the tropics and marine ecosystems in the second largest barrier reef in the world, said Biology Professor Carmen Salsbury, who has led the trip, which goes every other year, since joining the Butler faculty 17 years ago.

"It gives us the opportunity to dive in deeply—excuse the pun—to those particular habitats," she said.

Prior to trip, students spend the first part of the semester learning about marine ecology. In the laboratory, they learn to identify organisms. They come to know what the fish are, as well as the ecology of the invertebrates. When they travel to Belize during spring break—they stay on one of the largest island off the coast of Belize, Ambergris Caye, which has a small fishing village that is a popular tourist destination—they're on or in the water from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM daily.

In evenings, there's class to review everything they saw. The students make a list of species and where they're found so they can see the different patterns of diversity.

They also take one day for a side trip to visit the Mayan ruins and the rainforest.

Salsbury says study abroad trips are important for students to broaden their worldview.

Students Abroad"This goes well beyond science," she says. "The walk from where we stay to the dock is maybe five blocks. The students walk by houses where there are no windows, there are dirt floors, there are feral dogs everywhere. Chickens and roosters wake them up in the morning because they're wandering the streets. The streets aren't paved. It's a very different experience. I don't think you can give students a sense of what's that about until they see it for themselves."

In the years when Biology students aren't going to Belize, they're traveling to Panama for an immersive tropical biology course. There, they walk the Pipeline Road, where over 400 species of birds can be observed at one time or another. They witness researchers collecting bats, take a crane ride more than 130 feet in the air to see the tops of the forest and meet the researchers on Barro Colorado Island, the most intensively studied tropical forest.

That course is heavily subsidized through an endowment from Frank Levinson '75, part of a $5 million gift to the sciences in 2007 that also enabled the University to buy the Big Dawg supercomputer and make upgrades to the Holcomb Observatory telescope. Biology Department Chair Travis Ryan said Levinson's endowment covers more than half the course and also pays for two Butler interns to spend the summer interning at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.

One of every three Butler interns who works there becomes an author on a paper they helped collect data on, and most have their own independent project they're working on while they're interning, Ryan said.

*

Physics Chair Gonzalo Ordonez said his department has used Seitz Awards for several years. Professor Xianming Han has taken students to China, while Ordonez has gone with others to Japan and Spain.

"That's been really helpful for our students, and it really improves their prospects for grad school," Ordonez said. "They get involved in more serious research and they might get interested in a field that they didn't know before."

Bradley Magnetta '15 went to Osaka on a Seitz Award in the summer of 2014. He was in Japan for a month, studying and collaborating with Ordonez's colleagues there.

Magnetta participated in all the research opportunities available to him at Butler and had a wealth of experience in research in general when he took the study trip.

"I already had a base foundation for my project and I was really ready to start collaborating with people in general," he says. "I knew I wanted to start collaborating. I heard about this program and I knew that Dr. Ordonez had colleagues working on similar things that I was interested in. So it was a natural fit to pick Japan and Osaka."

He describes the experience as "excellent," not just academically but on a personal level. It was his first opportunity to leave the country, he collaborated with a graduate research group—"which as an undergrad was a really cool experience"—and he got to be around different people from different backgrounds and discover that there's a universal language in sciences and mathematics.

Magnetta said he went in with questions on his project and, through collaboration, was able to answer them. He published the results a couple of years later.

Today, Magnetta is working on a doctorate in applied physics at Yale University and grateful to have had the chance to study abroad.

"I absolutely recommend it," Magnetta said. "A trip like this really adds clarity because once I get into grad school, I felt very comfortable. When I joined a research group, it was a very familiar feeling because I had already spent a month with a graduate level research group in Japan. So it prepared me for what the group dynamics were. That trip prepared me for my future in a number of ways and I would recommend it to anyone."

Study Abroad Group in Germany
AcademicsStudent Life

Going Places: Studying Abroad in the Sciences

Although study abroad is relatively new to Chemistry, it's been part of Butler's sciences programs for at least 30 years.

Butler in Asia Internship Program: Student Blog

By Xiaofu Yu

Butler University’s Butler in Asia program is a unique, six-week internship program in East and Southeast Asia. Butler students are able to work full-time in an industry directly connected to their course of study. Butler faculty travel with the study group for the first three weeks of the experience providing support and cultural context. Nearly $800,000 in funds from the Freeman Foundation helps to cover some of the costs for this opportunity. Approximately 125 students have had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the Butler in Asia program since it began in summer 2015. Internship program options are offered in Shanghai, Beijing, and Singapore.

Butler Lacy School of Business student Xiaofu Yu was one of the interns studying through the Butler in Asia program this past summer. She took the time to share with Butler readers an excerpt from her travel and study blog:

 

5/14/18—Arriving in Malaysia

It has been such a long travel day. Fifteen Butler students, with majors ranging from Finance and Pharmacy to Communications, along with Dr. Ooi, an Associate Professor in Political Science and Peace and Conflict Studies, met at the Indianapolis (Indiana) airport at 3:30 AM preparing to depart for our 30-hour trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Because of the pre-departure meetings (and after-finals relief), the group instantly started getting familiar with one another, although many of us recognized each other from other classes and activities on campus. Just prior to the trip starting, I began to have concerns about connecting with the rest of the group. But once we all met each other everyone seemed excited to meet new people and explore our commonality.

 

5/20/18—Feeling Connected

We’ve spent the last week in Malaysia visiting Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Melaka. It was great fun! Our schedule was jam-packed but we were able to immerse ourselves in the local culture as much as possible. Overall, Malaysia seemed quite slow-paced, so it was a great way to start summer and a short break before our internship starts. I really enjoyed our visit to Perak Cave Temple and Pinang Peranakan Mansion. It was interesting to learn the history and journey of Chinese immigrants and how the culture diversified with the locals. Mostly, I did not realize how much I missed speaking in Chinese. Even though English was widely spoken in Malaysia, it felt very close and personal to talk with someone in my native language. 

 

5/21/18—Startup Internship Begins

My first day at my internship consisted of some administrative tasks and an introduction to the company I would be working for. I am currently working at a local residential real estate firm called OhMyHome. As a startup company, OhMyHome has already achieved great success in the field of property technology (proptech). The company focuses on maximizing consumers’ benefits, providing them with the platform and tools to create their buy/sell/lease experience on their own, as well as the option to work with an agent at a fixed price. The working environment is very welcoming and driven and everyone is highly concentrated on their own tasks, while willing to collaborate and assist colleagues. I am very excited to spend the next six weeks at OhMyHome, not only to learn more about the emerging real estate field in digital platform, but, more importantly, to connect with my co-workers and continue challenging myself.

 

5/22/18—Staying Motivated

I was frustrated because I wasn’t quite sure I was on track to finish a task. I was assigned to conduct research on the real estate market in all Southeast Asian countries, specifically Kuala Lumpur (Maylaysia) and Bangkok (Thailand). I spent most of my day trying to understand each country’s cultural background, economic and political status, technology markets, and legal barriers for a small business to enter. However, I was not able to digest all the information and in a way, I felt like I was not making any progress. I realized that real estate is still so raw and new to me and I realized quickly that if I stay motivated and continue to learn, by the end of the internship I will have gained so much more knowledge.

 

5/23/18—Making My Way; Meeting New Friends

Fortunately, I felt much better today after looking up more in-depth information for markets in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Cambodia. My biggest challenge so far is to change my mindset of writing a research report for class, to analyzing facts and finding how they will impact the company’s standing for the future. I have to rely on existing data of the real estate market in one specific country, in addition to thinking outside of the box to draw correlations. After organizing all my data in an excel sheet, I was able to have a much better sense as I began comparing each country’s unique consumer needs, existing programs, and legal regulations.

It has also been so nice to hang out with my new co-workers during lunch break and get to know each other better. As a startup company, although everyone has a specific role in the office and does more than the work that they are assigned, there is really no hierarchy or divisions. My co-workers always check on me to see if I am getting used to living in Singapore. From taking me to try out different local cuisine to giving me suggestions on where to go during weekends it is a blessing to get to know a group of young, talented people that are welcoming and caring.

 

5/30/18—A New Way of Thinking

I can’t believe that it is already the end of May. I feel more inspired and on track with this week’s workload compared to last week’s. Rather than continuously doing research on Southeast Asia’s real estate market, I have more flexibility to work on generating content and information for a public service account for the company, as well as thinking creatively about graphic design and layout. There are still times during the day where I begin to feel a bit lost but I think this is normal as real estate is a new field of study for me and interning at a startup firm requires a much different way of thinking compared to preparing for a class or studying for a test.

 

5/31/18—Staying Healthy and Exploring the City

Lately, I have been trying to keep up a healthy routine while I am abroad. My internship is from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM; however, I normally stay until 6:30 PM to finish up all the work. After I get home around 7:00 PM, I go to the gym for about an hour, then head to dinner at a food court in the mall that is near the apartment. Staying at Clarke Quay in downtown Singapore really helps us get around to a variety of restaurants and supermarkets. That is one of the main things that I miss about big cites—convenience. Everything is in walking distance or is accessible via subway or buses.

My roommate/friend, Mikayla and I discovered this bar with awesome live music on Bugis street. One day we were just checking out this pop-up café called Tokidoki and were attracted to the architecture and street art in the area. As we are doing a photography session, we both got distracted by the music from “The Beast.” We decided to go in to meet the performer. Long story short, we had a great time and are definitely thinking about coming back next Thursday!

 

6/7/18—Out of My Comfort Zone

During the past two days, I have been participating at Innovfest Unbound. It is an international market-based platform that connects innovative technology companies and showcases their most recent developments. I was mainly responsible for introducing OhMyHome to potential customers and investors when they stop by our booth. It was a bit awkward at the beginning as I am not usually outgoing but I quickly changed my mindset and decided to step out of my comfort zone to talk to people and share the OhMyHome experience.

Having direct contact with customers is interesting. It not only helps me gain a better understanding of the company’s business concepts and accomplishments, but also improves my ability to adapt to different situations. Not all the questions are straightforward or within my knowledge, but I tried my best to provide as much information as I could in regard to the function and operation of OhMyHome’s app and available services. Overall, I consider this event as a great learning experience. It was an opportunity for me to learn and be exposed to realistic questions from customers.

 

6/10/18—Don’t be Afraid; Try New Things

Lately, I have been reflecting on the dynamics of the students participating in the Butler in Asia program. It is important when traveling abroad with a large group to focus on the “big picture” and be considerate of the majority. I want the group to recognize how much time and effort others spent in order to maximize our exposure to local culture and I am really happy to see those who are interested in trying out new things.

Food plays such an important role in any culture, especially in Asia, where there is such a large variety of vegetables and types of cooking. Although, once in a while, the food may cause a cultural shock based on its display, or just simply because we as Asians think meat that is served with bones is more authentic and fresh. I am proud of those who are willing to take the risk and to challenge (surprise) their taste palette. After all, the main takeaway is to keep an open mind to try new things and to explore the unexpected whether it is a meal you’ve never had before, a new work experience, or getting out of your normal comfort zone. It is all part of the experience.  

Acting Boldly

by Marc Allan

Xavier Colvin thought his appearance in the 2015 International Bowl was going to be his final football game. Colleges told him he wasn't big enough. So he thought maybe he'd go to Central Michigan or some other school as a student. Study Sports Administration. Come back to Indianapolis, get an MBA and figure things out from there.

Then Butler University Coach Jeff Voris called. He came to North Central High School, and sat down with Colvin and his parents.

"Suddenly," Colvin said, "football started to become a thing again. I felt like I was wanted here and I felt like there was a reason for me to be here."

The reason, it turned out, went far deeper than football. In August 2017, Colvin came out as gay in an interview with outsports.com. What he found at Butler, he said, was that he could be himself here. Everyone around him—teammates, coaches, professors, friends—supported him.

He's been sharing his story ever since, and he shared it with the Butler community on September 28 at the State of the University address.

"There are seven of us in NCAA football who are out," Colvin said. "Statistics show there's more than seven. So I would hope someone could see my story and see my situation and know that everything is going to be OK, everything can be OK. You don't have to continue to lie and not be yourself. I think that's the main reason I've done what I've done—to help the next person, that kid who's going into high school soon and trying to figure themselves out before the real world hits them."

Colvin said he would like to get to a point where individuals in the LGBT community don't have to come out; they can just be who they are.

And when he's not sharing this part of his life with others, he's busy being who he is—a Marketing major in the Lacy School of Business, a Sports and Recreational Studies minor in the College of Education. A linebacker on the football team. An operations intern at the Health and Recreation Center, his third internship (after working at the Indiana Sports Corp. and Hot Box Pizza). A senior set to graduate in May.

Down the road, he wants to work in an athletic department, maybe as an Athletic Director, or perhaps as a coach. Further down the road, he envisions himself as an NFL General Manager or Director of Operations.

But right now, he's a student who's happy he chose Butler and the Lacy School of Business. He tells his teammates who are unsure of what to major in to consider Marketing. Yes, he said, Business Calculus, Accounting, and Finance are tough courses. Internship class requires a lot of papers. And the School does require you to build a network of resources.

"But the individuals I've met through my internships who have been connected to Butler have been great," he said. "It's a small community, but once you find someone in it, it leads to positive impacts."

HomecomingStudent Life

Acting Boldly

"I felt like there was a reason for me to be here," Colvin said. The reason went far deeper than football.

Acting Boldly

by Marc Allan

To Be Greek Or Not To Be Greek

by Kyle Giebel ’20 and Rebecca VanVliet ’19

On Being Greek

By Kyle Giebel ’20

Greek Students Participating in Butler's Dance MarathonFor over one-third of Butler University students, building lasting relationships, developing skills as leaders, and organizing all-campus fundraisers through Greek Life is college at its best. With the potential to explore new experiences and activities, our chapters (five fraternities and nine sororities) plan formals and social events, perform service projects, and stay connected with alumni mentors while maintaining at least an average of 3.4 GPA. Additionally, in any given year, members of Butler’s Greek organizations contribute more than 20,000 hours in service to over 200 Indianapolis area nonprofits.

In my first year at Butler, I was dead set on being independent. I had seen movies like Revenge of the Nerds and Animal House, and with those in mind I was certain that Greek life was not for me. Going through first semester I also struggled with my identity. In high school, I was on the swim team. Without sounding cliché, that team was truly a family, and when I came to Butler, that family was stretched too thin to be reliable anymore. I was put in a position to become whoever I wanted to be and with whomever I wanted. That freedom of choice was too much for me to handle in that moment. I resorted to the few things I knew, swimming and working out. That is where I started to develop a relationship with Adam Bantz, who was a junior at the time. This man, as I grew to know him, was everything I wanted in a friend and in a role model. I eventually learned that he was a very active member of the Greek community. This then exposed me the true nature of Butler’s Greek life. The more people I met, in fraternities and sororities, the more I realized that the Greek population on campus was a true community of families and neighbors. After meeting the right people, I was hooked.

As a Junior, I am currently the president of one of the chapters on campus. My time as a member has been such a unique and rewarding experience. It is true that most of my stresses and time commitments stem from being a part of the Greek community, but my friends and support system were developed by the same community. Under further reflection, I would rather struggle with true friends than coast with a few acquaintances.

In the end, any group or organization will give you what you put into it. I see the Greek Community as my family. Yes, I am willing to sacrifice my time, energy, and effort daily to support my family members, make a positive impact, and build those relationships that I want and sometimes need. Greek life is not for everyone, but for me it was the perfect start for my future.

 

To learn more about Greek life on campus, visit our website.


On Being Independent

Rebecca VanVliet ’19

Students Studying on the MallI might be a senior now, but I still can remember posting on the Class of 2019 Facebook page for the first time: I’m Rebecca, I’m from Ohio, and I don’t plan on rushing.

Even then, before we were technically students, we all identified by our decision on whether or not to go Greek. Now, as an Independent student by choice, I know that I am much more than my decision not to rush.

Students who don’t join Greek life are often called “unaffiliated” – but in my experience, Independent students affiliate themselves with tons of organizations on Butler’s campus. With over 130 student organizations to choose from, religion to politics, professional to social, student government to special interests and beyond, we have so, so many opportunities to get involved on campus.

Just over the past three years, I’ve tried out many of the groups that Butler has to offer, including founding a new club, restarting another, and currently serving as president in a third. I don’t feel like my decision not to rush limited my involvement in these organizations – if anything, it allowed me to dedicate myself fully to other groups that were important to me. These groups have given me leadership opportunities, social activities, and the chance to meet some of my best friends – who are both Greek and Independent.

Greek houses host regular events on campus, and most students who join Greek life are proud of their houses and their involvement, and this can sometimes lead to so much Greek presence that it can feel overwhelming to Independent students.

As a student that has been overwhelmed by this, I think it’s important to remember that the majority of Butler’s students aren’t considered Greek; whether they are commuters, athletes, dropped out of or didn’t receive a bid from a Greek house, or students like me that simply chose not to go Greek. Only about 35% of Butler’s campus chooses to join a Greek organization, which means that most Butler students are a part of the Independent community.

This community is growing, with more Independent students coming together for campus events that were typically Greek-dominated, like BUDM and Spring Sports. The past year also brought the Independent Student Council back to campus, a group of Independent students that hope to bridge the gap between the Greek and Independent communities and offer ways for Independent students to get involved. Butler has also encouraged panels and conversations about the decision to go Greek, as well as offering programming during the winter Rush Week.

Independent students are welcome at all events, and belong on Butler’s campus. Though they might not find their homes in the Greek houses along Hampton Drive, Independent students can find their home in other organizations, their residence halls, within their friend groups, or wherever else they want to belong.

 

To learn more about campus life, visit our website.

To Be Greek Or Not To Be Greek

by Kyle Giebel ’20 and Rebecca VanVliet ’19

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