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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."

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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.

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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.

Creating a Bulldog Community: Marci Feneman `03

By Monica Holb ‘09

Marci Fenneman Moore can’t get enough of Butler University. After graduating in 2003, she went back to Butler for her MBA, graduating in 2010. And after moving to Evansville in 2012, she’s playing a leading role in developing the Butler University Greater Evansville Alumni Community.

The Greater Evansville Alumni Community, one of 15 different geographic or special interest communities, officially launched on June 1, 2018, but only after Fenneman Moore went on a journey from undergrad and grad student to volunteer and supporter of her beloved University.

Fenneman Moore knows how to stay connected to Butler, even at a distance. In completing her MBA, she drove from Brownsburg to Butler-Tarkington multiple evenings each week to take part in classes to advance her career and knowledge. As much as Fenneman Moore and her husband enjoyed Central Indiana, eventually the pull from their hometown of Evansville was too much to ignore. They wanted to be close to their parents as they started their own family. But Fenneman Moore wanted to keep her connection to Butler.

“I had been away for 13 years and was looking for ways to get connected in Evansville,” she said. “Surely there is a Butler alumni chapter. But I looked at the website, called the alumni office, and there was no chapter.”

Fenneman Moore aimed to change that. By working closely with the Office of Alumni Relations and Engagement, she sent postcards and emails to local alumni and friends of the University to invite them to a basketball viewing party. The viewing party led to others, and excitement for the alumni community in Evansville continued. Fenneman Moore progressed in making the casual hangouts more formal in name. After working with the Office of Alumni Relations and the Board of Trustees, Fenneman Moore and the steering committee proved their vibrancy as a community and became an official extension of the Butler University Alumni Association.

The steering committee—made up of Jeff Moehlenkamp '93, Jenn Koch '13, Kyle Faulkner '13, Amanda Burry '92, Jeff Bosse, MBA '04, Hannah Faulkner '15, Josh Koch '14, Matt Malcolm '10, Caroline Moehlenkamp '93, Chris Mohammed '94, Kara Nichols '04, and Sara Rogier '01—plans events that will engage the nearly 700 alumni and friends of the University in the greater Evansville, Indiana, region. The Evansville alumni community will participate in events that  include Bulldogs Into The Streets (BITS), a Butler Soccer tailgate event, Butler Basketball viewing parties, and a performance and reception with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra.

Now, any Butler grad who makes the Evansville area home will be able to quickly get involved with the University and fellow Bulldogs. To learn more and get involved, visit the community’s page at butler.edu/alumni/communities/evansville.

Community and Compassion: Loor Alshawa `14

By Monica Holb ‘09

Compassion may not have been a course that Loor Alshawa ’14, a two-time Top 100 student of the year, took at Butler University. But it was a lesson she learned along the way, and is now taking it with her into her medical career. Alshawa graduated from the Indiana University School of Medicine in May 2018, ready to take on a residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Kentucky.

Alshawa’s first brush with compassion at Butler may have come from her older sister, also a Butler graduate. Alshawa was on a college visit with her sister, in the midst of the Bulldogs’ 2010 Final Four run, when she spotted Gordon Hayward. Alshawa was compelled to ask for a photo as Hayward made his way to class, and her sister, embarrassed as she was, compassionately didn’t bar Alshawa from ever stepping foot on campus again.

Compassion, however, is expected of siblings; not always of professors and other students. Yet, Alshawa got the sense, right away, that Butler was a tight-knit community.

At Butler, Alshawa learned the importance of compassion, as well as connecting with community. “It is so easy to lose sight of that, but having it ingrained in me at Butler, I hope it will stay with me in my career,” Alshawa said.

A large part of her lesson in compassion came from the myriad of volunteer opportunities Alshawa took part in as a student. For example, through the Diversity Center, she did a tour of volunteering in New Orleans. She also served as the President of the Muslim Student Association for three years. “We went out into the community to help people in need,” Alshawa said of these experiences. One of Alshawa’s favorite things about Butler is that sense of community.

“I went to Butler knowing that I wanted to go to medical school, and Butler helped me get there,” Alshawa said. “A career in medicine can be difficult, but now I am used to having a support system from the Butler community. Staying connected with Butler is my plan.”

Community and compassion mixed with high-level academics were the perfect combination at Butler for Alshawa.

“The academic rigor for medical school is just another level of difficulty,” Alshawa explained. But she was not daunted by the sheer amount of knowledge one must gain in a short amount of time. “I truly believe that Butler set me up for success; the difficulty of Butler courses gave me a leg up,” Alshawa said.

Butler’s academic rigor also put Alshawa in a position to deliver compassionate care. Alshawa had studied French since the seventh grade, but wasn’t planning on adding it to her Biology major. But she admired her French professors and felt she should pursue the language and make it as strong as possible, and decided to double major. With a summer semester in Paris and an independent study her senior year, Alshawa was fluent enough to interview French-speaking people in Indianapolis. The conversations were research about their culture, but also improved her skills. Little did she know that speaking French could help her future patients.

During Alshawa’s OB GYN rotation in medical school, her team had a patient come in by ambulance. The patient had given birth to her baby, but not the placenta, and they were still connected by umbilical cord. The woman was French-speaking only, and the emergency team was not able to even ask for her name. No one could talk to their patient.

Alshawa stepped up and shared her knowledge. “I ended up speaking to her and walking her through what was going on and what we were doing in an emergent situation,” Alshawa said.

These experiences lend Alshawa a vision of who she wants to become as a physician: someone who can interact with patients, visit after visit—without losing her compassion. Butler University’s commitment to academics, and its support of students and the community, will help her achieve just that. 

 

Butler in Asia Internship Program: Student Blog

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.  

Talent, Determination and a Little Bit of Comedy

By Marc Allan, MFA '18

The first day of sixth-grade basketball tryouts was the last day Bri Lilly ever played that sport.

"I tried to shoot a free throw," she recalls. "I threw it as hard as I could, it bounced off the rim and hit my nose. I went home, and that was the end of my basketball career. I thought maybe I should try something different. My dad was devastated for three months until I tried out for volleyball. Then he was fine."

Six years later, she was at the Mideast Qualifier volleyball tournament in Indianapolis, playing for suburban Chicago’s Thornton Fractional South High School. In the stands, her mother shared some jellybeans with the woman sitting next to her. That woman turned out to be Sharon Clark, Butler's longtime volleyball coach.

Clark invited Lilly for a campus visit. A week later, she was signed, earning the Dean Herbert F. Schwomeyer Scholarship, given annually to a deserving student selected by the Athletics Department, and a Lake Trust Book Fund award.

It’s worked out well on all fronts. On the volleyball court, as a junior, the 6-foot-2 Lilly was a First Team All-BIG EAST Selection and broke the Butler Volleyball record for highest attack percentage recorded in a season (.378).

She also keeps the team loose. Clark describes her as “quick-witted” and someone who “loves being center stage.”

“Bri is quite a BIG personality and a character,” the coach says. “During her first visit to Butler, we asked what major she was considering. She told us that she could be a comedian and she and her sister would do a stand-up comedy show. Too bad we don’t have a major in comedy. She would have done it!”

As a student in the College of Education, where she’s a Secondary Education major with a focus on English, she has impressed her professors with her energy and devotion to students.

Lilly brings to her role a love of literature. Her mother was a bookworm, and “it wasn't a choice for me to love books,” she said, listing A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Great Gatsby, Native Son, and anything by Alice Walker among her favorites. “They've guided my life.”

Education Professor Shelly Furuness, Lilly’s academic advisor and professor for several classes, said she’s certain Lilly will be a successful teacher.

“I don’t think there is a single thing she wouldn’t be successful at doing,” Furuness says. “What I see in Bri is someone who really does see every challenge as an opportunity. She is an outstanding example of our best and brightest seeing teaching as an opportunity to do good in the world, and she’s prepared to do it well.”

Lilly graduates in May, and she already has a job lined up. In summer 2018, she interned at the Success Academy, a New York-based charter school group. She spent six weeks there, working with students and getting a feel for what it would be like to teach in New York.

When she finished, they asked her to come back. She’ll teach either language arts/creative writing in the middle school or English literature and AP English in high school. She doesn't know which school she’ll be in since Success Academy has 50 schools in the city’s five boroughs, but she’s excited.

In the meantime, she’s enjoying her last year at Butler. She loves the travel with the volleyball team—she collects magnets at every stop—and enjoys that her parents, David and Denise, travel to most of her games.

Butler, Lilly said, has turned out to be a great choice.

“I’m close enough to home that my parents can see all my games, but far enough away that we have space,” she said. “Overall, Butler has provided me with a lot of friends, opportunities, and a lot of memories that I can stick with for a long time. So I’m happy I came.”

Prepared for the Long Term: Alex Anglin '10

In early June, Alex Anglin ’10—Butler University Trustee, Lacy School of Business graduate, and walk-on for the men's basketball team that went to the 2010 National Championship Game—shared the news that he's going back to school this fall for his MBA.

At Duke University.

“Don’t hold that against me,” he said with a smile.

Anglin was on the bench when Gordon Hayward's last-second shot bounced off the rim and Duke beat Butler, 61-59, in the 2010 national championship game. He remembers watching from the bench and thinking that the ball “was tracking well, so I thought it had a shot to go in. But it is what it is.”

In the years since, Anglin has spent far more time building his career than agonizing over the loss. Since graduating, he’s gone from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to Eli Lilly & Co., and now Lilly is financially sponsoring his MBA and holding a position for him after he's finished.

He remembers what Coach Brad Stevens used to tell his Butler teams: Enjoy the moment, but don't let college be the best four years of your life. Anglin already knew that going into Butler. By the time he finished, he’d done three internships, met his future wife, Lindsey (Corbitt, now a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney within the Marion County prosecutor’s office), and landed a job.

“Basketball’s not forever,” he said. “I went to school to prepare academically and professionally for the long term.”

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Anglin came to Butler from Kokomo, Indiana, two years after his sister Kym. In high school, he‘d been active in Future Business Leaders of America, and he also played basketball.

“I think I had a natural draw to what Butler had to offer—small class sizes, a big city with access to a diverse set of organizations for internships and community involvement.” he said.

The First-year Business Experience course gave him a “dunking” into potential business disciplines, and he was hooked. Then he took the accounting and finance modules, and those also clicked. Professor Pamela Rouse, an accounting lecturer, suggested he pursue Accounting. She told him that Accounting is the language of business, a critical component of how organizations analyze their business and communicate information for decision-making purposes. Anglin didn’t know what industry he wanted to go into, but he figured he could apply Accounting to a variety of businesses, including financial services, healthcare, and manufacturing. He knew he wanted something flexible so he could eventually find the right path. He decided to major in Accounting, with a minor in Management Information Systems.

As a sophomore, he did the first of his internships, with Allison Transmission, a “great and valuable experience” that gave him his first real taste of the business world.

Also that year, he decided to try to walk on to Butler’s basketball team.

“I thought I would be OK coming to school as a ‘normal student,’” he said. “But I soon realized that I missed playing basketball in a competitive team setting which was a big part of my childhood.”

Stevens, who‘d seen Anglin play in high school, welcomed him, as did the team.

“The family culture is a big part of the Butler system,” Anglin said, “you’re expected to be fully vested in the team and contribute whether you’re a starter and leading scorer or the last man off the bench. That mindset helped me adjust and say I’m here to be the best I can be and help the team get better.”

At the same time, he knew the primary reason he was in school: “To be in the best position to be successful after graduation.”

Following his junior year, Rouse helped him land an internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the auditing/tax consulting firm. He did well and he liked the work enough that Aaron Schamp, a Butler Trustee and Partner/ITPA Midwest Regional Leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers, offered him a full-time position after graduation.

He accepted. But there was still a year of school to go.

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Anglin played sparingly during his four years with the basketball team, scoring 14 points in 42 games. But being a walk-on still meant practicing at 6:00 AM, being there for every game and team meeting, and training. Balancing academics and basketball “was pretty intense,” especially around NCAA tournament time.

He credits his professor and classmates with helping him keep up with the work in one class in particular, Taxation for Partnerships and Corporations, which met for three hours on a Wednesday in the spring of his senior year. The coursework, he said, was “meaty material that you need to be in front of the professor to understand.”

He got through, and finished his Butler career with a summer internship at the Butler Business Consulting Group (BBCG), which works with businesses to solve their challenges.

“After interning with large public companies, the BBCG was a perfect segue for me to understand the small business mindset as well as to hone skills that are required to lead a finance organization,” he said. “The BBCG provided me an intimate view into the daily roles and responsibilities of a CFO, a role that I aspire to assume.”

Anglin impressed Chris Stump, Project Manage–CFO Services with the consulting group.

“Alex provided excellent contributions to a variety of client projects with the highest level of professionalism and teamwork,” he said. “His demeanor was always pleasant and borderline shy as his nature was very reserved at that time. He led more by action than words. BBCG team members and clients all enjoyed working with Alex.”

Can I Help You?: Natalie van Dongen '18

By Cindy Dashnaw

When Natalie van Dongen ’18 describes her passion for the environment, she’s not referring to climate change, clean air, or protecting forests. She’s concerned with how one’s environment can influence how other people treat them.

“Certain socioeconomic groups are treated differently based on their environment or place in the community,” she said. “For example, wealthy and white people, frankly, have access to better food systems and more organic food than lower-income and minority groups.”

Van Dongen credits her childhood for her ability to recognize these disparities. She was born in Indianapolis but grew up in the small farming town of Towanda, Illinois, with a population of just 480 at the 2010 census. Though her family never wanted for anything, it wasn’t the case for everyone in Towanda, where the median household income is under $45,000—and big stores with healthy food options are unknown.

“I was incredibly privileged growing up. I still am. And I knew if I wasn’t using that privilege to help others, I’d feel guilty,” she said. “My childhood is one that not a lot have lived. My experience is my own, and there’s a lot that can be done with it.”

But what?

In thinking about a college degree and a career, Van Dongen found herself considering the employability of her passions.

“I’m quite outspoken and really care about a lot of issues. When I was looking at what to study, I didn’t know which basket to put my eggs in,” she said. “In today’s world, you can be someone who is outspoken yet not very productive. I wanted to make sure I was putting my time and resources where my mouth is, but more than that, I wanted to do it for others.”

At first, mostly because both parents are Butler Bulldogs, she was adamantly opposed to attending Butler. But like many students, the moment she stepped on campus, she made her choice.

“There’s such a sense of community that’s unlike anything else. It’s like a neighborhood but more than that. I’ve never experienced it anywhere else. It’s a sense of solidarity and camaraderie that’s amazing.”

With the help of her professors, Van Dongen centered her academics on critical communications: The importance of messaging and rhetoric, how they can affect our understanding of the world, and how we can change the ways the world works.

Without them, Van Dongen said, she would never have been able to see a career path from combining her studies and her passions. “My professors identified strengths in me that I didn’t see in myself, and encouraged me to do academic and personal work that would help me explore them. In fact, they made me feel more comfortable in all facets of my life,” she said.

She’s now working for the City of Indianapolis, where she began as a Communications Intern. She helps callers to the Mayor’s Action Center figure out which department handles their questions and requests, giving everyone an equal voice.

Van Dongen’s Instagram profile features a quote from Paul Farmer, international health and social justice activist. “The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.”

Now that she’s a Butler graduate, Van Dongen is out to correct the imbalance.

Dedicated to Change the Art of Healthcare: Shandeep Singh ’18

By Krisy Force

Recent Butler University graduate Shandeep Singh’s ’18 Linkedin opening says a lot about who he is as a person and who he hopes to be as a medical professional. He writes, “I am a firm believer that medicine is an art that combines compassion and knowledge in order to provide effective healthcare.”

When his Career Planning Strategies Professor Courtney Rousseau read that statement in fall 2017, she remembers being struck not only by its verbiage but by its simplicity.

“The typical response I get from students pursuing fields in the medical profession is that they want to help people or they like science,” Rousseau said. “But it’s the first time I’ve ever heard anyone describe the medical field as an art. Statements like that are going to help develop the empathy that is sometimes lacking in healthcare.”

So if Singh’s passion is to become a doctor, what led him to pursue an internship through Butler’s Washington, DC Learning Semester? He figured out, like most Butler students, that at Butler he was able to combine his other passion—politics—with his love for science to pursue a hands-on learning experience.

When searching for an internship in Washington, Singh made sure to choose one that covered topics in the medical field while also allowing him an inside look into the career of a politician. Singh ended up interning for Representative Jackie Walorski in the capital for four months in spring 2018.

“My internship focused on the backside of healthcare, which allowed me to learn how I can really make a change and possibly make the system more efficient,” Singh said. “This is how it all starts. You develop a medical product, you go to Congress and lobby, and you hope to get funding.”

Singh explained there are a lot of great products that could potentially save someone’s life or ease the process of getting treatment, but the general public doesn’t even know about them because the lobbying and funding process is inefficient.

As a doctor, he hopes to use what he learned in his internship to help lobby for the products and devices that could positively impact patients’ lives.

Rousseau said students like Singh illustrate that careers shouldn’t be the only thing that defines who we are.

“Singh knew he was passionate about a lot of things and he knew he could explore them without them necessarily aligning,” Rousseau said. “It’s finding the right spaces for the things you’re passionate about.”

Keeping Teachers Teaching: Amanda Huffman ’12, METL ’16

By Marc Allan, MFA '18

Amanda Huffman ’12, METL ’16 wrote her master’s thesis on how to mentor math educators to keep them in the profession. Then she put her plan into action.

Working in collaboration with several Butler University professors and in partnership with Pike High School in Indianapolis, Huffman established a mentoring program at Pike, where she has taught Math since 2012. The program helps Butler’s future teachers bridge the gap between what they theoretically know about math and teaching and the reality of classroom life.

That program has proved to be so effective that it has expanded to other subjects at Pike, a 3,500-student school on the city’s northwest side. During the 2017–2018 school year, Jenny DiVincenzo ’16 mentored eight future English teachers and Ali Ranallo ’16 supported a group of eight would-be Social Studies teachers.

During the weekly sessions, which took place after school on Wednesdays, the mentors shared career advice, classroom tips, lesson-planning ideas—anything to help make the future teachers more comfortable and prepared.

“It’s a powerful thing to sit down with somebody," Meredith Varner ’18 said. “In college, it’s really easy to think of the most beautiful picture of a classroom, where every lesson runs really smoothly and times are perfect and you integrate those strategies and its incredible execution. We were able to get into the nitty-gritty of what it looks like to apply teaching concepts to the actual content and what it looks like to bring that into the classroom.”

Varner did her student-teaching at Pike in Indianapolis from January to March. By the time she had finished, she had verbally agreed to a full-time offer from Pike to teach math there beginning in 2018–2019. Varner then went to Westlane Middle School, which feeds into Pike High School, from March to May and, when she finished there, returned to Pike and ended the year by filling in for a teacher who went on maternity leave.

She said she benefited from what she learned in Butler’s College of Education, but also from what she learned from Huffman, her mentor.

New Pike High School teachers are assigned what’s called a “cooperating teacher” to help them through early growing pains in the classroom, but those are usually highly experienced teachers. 

DiVincenzo, who in June finished her second year of teaching English at Pike, said there’s something reassuring about having a mentor who’s close to your own age sharing her experiences. That’s why she wanted to be a mentor.

“I am more of a neutral person they can go to,” she said, sitting in her classroom, one corner of which was decorated with Butler pennants and pictures. “And I’m closer in age to them, so they feel more comfortable.”

She said her mentees wanted to know about topics ranging from lesson-planning to how to navigate relationships with coworkers and maintain professionalism even if you have different philosophies. Each session would focus on something different.

DiVincenzo studied Education and English at Butler and is licensed to teach English as a New Language. She teaches three sections of that and three of regular English 10. She said her faculty coworkers at Pike have been incredibly helpful, “but I would have had less stress and less anxiety going into my first year if I’d had a mentor. It does feel nice to be supported and feel like I have a Butler community here.”

Ranallo, who finished her second year of teaching Social Studies at Pike in the spring, said she was delighted to be a mentor. “Butler was such a great part of my life, and I wanted to keep going with that and helping out as much as I can,” she said.

She spent her Wednesdays with her mentees discussing topics like: How to talk about current events and help students process the information; how to explain and use primary sources; how teachers figure out if their students learned what they were trying to teach them. Classroom management, observing state standards, and how to make sure you’re applying them—those subjects also came up frequently.

Ranallo said she advised the future teachers to keep trying new things. There are going to be lessons and strategies you’ve learned that are going to be fantastic and you’re going to want to do them again, and there are going to be some that need some major readjustments or tweaks, she said. But your students deserve new ideas, so keep trying them and don’t be afraid to go for it.

The mentoring program began to take shape in 2012, the summer after Huffman graduated, when she participated in a Pike/Butler Partnership for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math teachers. There, Butler professors Ryan Flessner (College of Education) and Mary Kron (Department of Mathematics and Actuarial Sciences) gave a presentation about combining math and new methods of teaching.

Huffman approached her advisor, Associate Professor of Education Shelly Furuness, and together they figured out how best to translate that idea into action.

“She believed us in the College of Education when we said we continue to support our students even after graduation,” said Furuness, Huffman’s thesis advisor.

Huffman, who’s now six years into her teaching career, said she’s proud to have established the mentoring program, particularly because it fits with the Butler College of Education’s mission: To make schools what they should be—not what they are.

Huffman teaches five sections of pre-calculus/trigonometry and one International Baccalaureate senior level section of calculus. One of the lessons she shared with her mentees was a classroom session where she broke up her class into groups and gave each group a calculus problem to solve at the board.

Once the group finished and had the correct answer, the members were dispersed to other groups until, finally, there was one group of 20.

“Some teachers would think that there’s nothing happening there,” she said. “It’s going to turn into chaos. I would say three-fourths of the students were still engaged in that last group, trying to figure out that last problem.”

Furuness said Huffman’s work—which earned national recognition from the federal Department of Education in 2016—demonstrates how Butler’s College of Education integrates theory and practice.

“So often, the narrative out in the world is that what you learn in teacher preparation isn’t real,” Furuness said. “We’re showing them people who are doing these things. Amanda, Jenny, and Ali help bridge that theory-to-practice gap. Our students tell us over and over again how thankful they are. They like seeing the graduates doing the work.”

Enjoying the Journey: Smita Conjeevaram '85

By Cindy Dashnaw

Smita Conjeevaram ’85 was born in Mumbai at a time when a college degree for Indian daughters was generally a means to one end: A marriage arranged by her family. But Conjeevaram, describing herself as “intense and serious” from her earliest days, had a family that helped her focus on her own goals, rather than on others’ expectations.

For instance, she joined India’s National Cadet Corps at age 18 and became South India’s first female glider pilot.

“My mother was very progressive in how she raised me and my siblings,” she said. “She wanted us to be able to rely on ourselves when we grew up.”

Conjeevaram has relied on herself all her life. As an adult, holding senior positions at prominent investment management firms for over 25 years, hundreds of other people learned to rely on her, too. Now retired, she continues to keep her finger on the pulse of business and the financial industry by serving on corporate boards, including a public financial tech company, SS&C. And a new endeavor has another audience counting on her: young artisans hoping she can revive global interest in handloom textiles.

 

A Midwestern Butler Welcome

Her father’s electronics and plastics manufacturing company inspired Conjeevaram to pursue a business career. In India, she had earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics and was working toward a master’s degree when she met her future husband. He accepted a job with Allison Gas Turbine in Indianapolis to design military aircraft engines, and Conjeevaram packed up and moved with him.

She had no intention of altering plans for her life, however.

“Ideologically, I was very much about building a career and making the most of opportunities that came my way,” she said. Conjeevaram enrolled at Butler University to pursue Accounting and Business Administration. She remembers how welcome she felt.

“Butler had a very comfortable and approachable ambience, and the professors were fantastic,” she said. “People were curious about my background … but never did I feel like I was different. Everyone had an equal interest in my success and gave a lot of care to making me feel like I belonged.”

Conjeevaram adjusted to the informality of an American campus, where it was OK to call professors by their first names and keep your seat when they entered the classroom, and she appreciated Butler’s approach to academics.

“While at Butler, I felt I was not only learning through courses directly related to business and finance, but also through a curriculum that included liberal arts classes that brought perspective and provided a well-rounded education, something I missed in India,” Conjeevaram said.

Since earning her Butler degree magna cum laude in 1985 and becoming a CPA in 1989, Conjeevaram has held senior positions in some of the most sophisticated Wall Street financial services companies: PwC, Long-Term Capital, Fortress Investment Group, and others. Among other things, she was actively involved in growing the business and designing and bringing about efficiency and controls in operational infrastructure.

 

Business of a Different Sort

Now that she’s retired, Conjeevaram has time to devote to her other passions: textiles and philanthropy. She visited every textile center in South Asia, spending three months with weavers and artisans and the nonprofit groups and governmental agencies that support them. She realized that the centuries-old craft of handloom was dying and, with it, the life and culture of the weavers. During a three-year weaving course in Florence, Italy, she also realized her textile books had little visual documentation of old weaving techniques.

She later captured her journey on film and turned the footage into a trailer, Threads of India, from which she plans to make a documentary.

Meanwhile, Conjeevaram launched online retailer Esse et Cie to create a marketplace for artisans she met and to continue visually documenting textile arts. She hopes that by educating consumers on how products are made, they will appreciate them more.

 

‘You’ll Never Regret Finance’

In addition to advising young textile artisans, Conjeevaram also has some advice for Butler students.

“Finance and Accounting are two courses which you’d never regret studying. They present career options in a wide variety of industries,” she said. “While it is great to plan out your career path and future early on, it’s important to be flexible and nimble to make the most of opportunities that arise. At most times, how you respond will dictate your career path. So go with the flow, take a few risks, and enjoy the journey.”

Always in Style: Andrew Gelwicks '15

By Marc Allan, MFA '18

Andrew Gelwicks ’15 is wearing ripped jeans, a white T-shirt, Converse sneakers, and a baseball hat, which seems antithetical to how a stylist to the up-and-coming stars ought to be dressed.

But no, he said. His personal style is to keep things simple.

“You see stylists on TV and they’re portrayed as ultra-glamourous, running around in heels and designer clothes,” he said. “While that is sometimes the case, the reality of it is that styling is more physically demanding than most people would think. You’re carrying garment bags, you’re bringing racks of clothes around to people’s hotel rooms, you’re standing on set for 12 hours. So I just dress for comfort. I love dressing my clients in very luxurious, high-end clothing, but my personal style is not that.”

He added: “At the end of the day, my objective is to make sure that as soon as my client steps in front of the cameras, they look and—more importantly—feel their best. It’s my job to take their style and bring it to the next level.”

And in just three years since graduating from Butler, he has a growing list of clients to prove his point. Celebrities such as Tommy Dorfman and Brandon Flynn (Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why), KJ Apa (Riverdale), Sistine Stallone (model, daughter of Sylvester Stallone), Serayah (Empire), Cordell Broadus (model, Snoop Dogg’s son), Larsen Thompson (dancer/model/actress), Chloe Lukasiak (Lifetime’s Dance Moms), Dascha Polanco (Orange Is the New Black), and Camren Bicondova (Gotham) are just some of who have all taken their fashion cues from him.

 

The Andrew Gelwicks Course

Gelwicks traces his desire to be part of the fashion industry to well before he arrived at Butler. Strategic Communication Professor Rose Campbell remembers looking at the website Gelwicks designed when he was in high school in Cincinnati, Ohio, and being impressed by the modeling, clothing, and design.

“It was a cool, well-done visual, and very clever,” she said. “We don’t see too many students who have that kind of interest early on.” She added: “We didn’t turn him into what he is; he came here laser-focused on what he wanted to do, and he found that our department was the way to get there.”

Gelwicks had looked at a number of schools, but when he visited his older sister’s friend, who was a Butler student, “there was a click between me, the students, and the campus.” He came in as a Strategic Communication major, with a minor in Digital Media Production.

After Gelwicks’ first year at Butler, he wanted to do an internship in New York City. Before the end of his first semester, he had six internship offers around the country, including at Hearst Magazines and Vogue. (He went with Hearst). At the time, the department didn’t have a mechanism to allow him to get credit—something all of the companies he was considering required—so they created a new course, STR199, Field Experience in Strategic Communication.

“That,” Campbell said, “is the Andrew Gelwicks course.”

He also was interested in the design aspects of Strategic Communication, but the department only had one required design course and no photography or videography courses. Strategic Communication Instructor Armando Pellerano worked with Gelwicks, supervising multiple independent studies where he was able to expand his knowledge on photography, video, and design.

“Having an Andrew Gelwicks teaches you about the holes in your curriculum,” Campbell said.

Beyond his coursework, Gelwicks made a splash nationally with articles he wrote for Out magazine and The Huffington Post about being gay in a fraternity. (He published a dozen more pieces for the Huffington site.) And he periodically flew to New York to assist stylists on photo shoots, help out at New York Fashion Week, and to interview for a job. He was adamant about keeping one foot in the city as best he could.

“In my senior year, I did a freelance project for Self magazine, helping them with an event they were doing with Drew Barrymore,” he said. “I would sit in the basement of my senior house helping arrange the guests for this 600-person event.”

Ultimately, he said, Butler “helped me figure out myself, what my priorities are, and my personal goals. If I had gone to school in New York, it would have been very, very different. The fact that I grew up in Ohio and went to school in Indiana really helped me as I’m now in this hyper-chaotic world with extreme personalities and egos. Coming from the Midwest, I was able to be with people who are really grounded and care about their friends and families. That has been so valuable.”

 

Building His Own Brand

After studying in Berlin, Germany, his junior year, Gelwicks came back for the fall 2015 semester and graduated in December. He waited a week or two and moved to New York the first week of January.

That first week, he had 20 interviews. By Friday, he had accepted a job at GQ, working in the fashion closet. Four months in, he met the entertainment editor at Vogue, “an Editor I had been fascinated with for years. I was so curious about her and her job and what she did every day—she books all the celebrities for Vogue, and is such a big force at the magazine.”

Then, by happenstance, Gelwicks ran into her again on the street. She hired him that day and two weeks later, he was handling the celebrity bookings for Teen Vogue.

He was there almost a year—booking celebrity talent for the print magazine and digital, and getting to meet up-and-coming actors, actresses, and musicians. But he missed the fashion element of the business, so on the weekends he started doing test shoots for modeling agencies. He would find photographers and models on Instagram and they would come together to create work for all of their portfolios.

For the next six months, Gelwicks did two or three shoots a weekend to put together as much content as possible. In summer 2016, Madonna’s publicist introduced him to an agent who represents Hollywood stylists and makeup artists. He’s been working in that end of the business ever since.

Connecting with clients happens in a variety of ways. He will sometimes see someone in a new show or movie that interests him and reaches out, or the talent finds him via word of mouth or social media. His agents bring in new work as well.

Right now, his aim is to build his business as much as possible. “I’m working with a lot of great clients who I have a connection with and I feel passionate about—where they’re going, what our vision is, where we want to take their careers.” In the days after this interview, he was scheduled to do two shoots with Cosmopolitan and another with Refinery29, a digital media and entertainment company focused on women.

“I’m really enjoying myself,” he said. “This is definitely a high-stress and 24/7 job, but I can’t imagine doing anything else. And going from being an employee to now operating my own business was definitely a learning curve. I didn’t study business, so figuring out how to operate the financial end of things was incredibly overwhelming at the beginning. All of that aside, though, I’m loving every second of what I’m doing.”

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.”

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