ALLIANCE, Ohio — Three recent Mount Union grads will begin a new adventure this summer as they travel to South America to participate in a cross-cultural experience.
Abby Reckard ‘13, of McDonald, OH, Kelly Slutz ‘13 of Orrville, OH and Megan Merlene ‘13 of Conneaut, OH will depart in June for South America through the AMIGOS de las Americas program. Reckard and Slutz will be stationed in Canar, Ecuador for seven weeks and Merlene will be in Caja Marca, Peru for eight weeks.
According to the program’s website, Amigos de las Américas (AMIGOS) is a summer abroad, service learning program for high school and college students that empowers young adults to grow as leaders and increase their multi-cultural understanding through training and community service projects in Latin America.
All three learned of the opportunity through a presentation given in Spanish professor Dr. Gregg Courtad’s Senior Culminating Experience class. All previously participated in psychology professor Dr. Steve Kramer’s Social Responsibility course during which they traveled to Central America to do community service projects.
During their time in Latin America, Reckard, Slutz and Merlene will immerse themselves in rural communities and work on various community development projects. Each participant will be matched up with a partner and given a work assignment. From there, partners will disperse to their host families. Participants will go into local schools five days a week to do activities with children based on topics such as environmental health, nutrition, physical activity and hygiene. Participants will also do one community-based initiative, meeting with community leaders and assessing the community’s needs before helping them implement a sustainable community project.
“I really have a love for traveling and being able to experience a new culture and I thought this would be a really good opportunity,” Reckard said. “I thought it would be a good preview into working with an international non-profit.”
“I really like being able to do projects for a lot of people in a rural community,” Slutz said.
“I have always really liked traveling and doing service and this experience combined both things,” Merlene said.
In addition to the work experience they will gain, Reckard, Merlene and Slutz are looking forward to some other things as well. Reckard is looking forward to learning to live more humbly than she is accustomed to; Merlene is anticipating the challenges the summer will bring, and Slutz is excited to learn how to cook and grill food and climb mountains.
For Reckard, Slutz and Merlene, the AMIGOS de las Americas program will serve as a jumping off point as they begin life after college. After returning from Ecuador, Slutz plans to begin grad school at Northern Arizona University. Reckard plans to join the Peace Corps and Merlene plans to take a year off before starting grad school.
“Service is important to all of us but after studying abroad and participating in the Social Responsibility class with Dr. Kramer, it will be helpful to be gone the whole summer so we have more time to form relationships and be impacted,” Reckard said.
“Service has always been important to me but there weren’t a lot of opportunities in my hometown,” Slutz said. “But after attending Mount Union, I’m so much more aware of things I can do and how to get involved. My experiences at Mount Union pushed me to get even more involved internationally.”167th Commencement Ceremony Held
ALLIANCE, Ohio — Nearly 500 students participated in the University of Mount Union’s 167th Commencement Ceremony held Saturday, May 11 in the Peterson Field House of the McPherson Academic and Athletic Complex.
International students from Bahamas, China, Georgia, Japan, Malaysia, Republic of Korea and Vietnam were among those graduating from Mount Union, with flags of those nations displayed as part of the graduation regalia.
This year’s Commencement speaker was Matthew Darrah, a 1984 graduate of the University of Mount Union and executive vice president of North American Operations for Enterprise Holdings.
During his speech, Darrah discussed “Setting Yourself Apart in a Competitive Work Environment.”
He told graduates that Enterprise will hire 9,000 college graduates this year. All new hires will go through an orientation and will participate in a question and answer session with Darrah. He is often asked what sets him apart and what has led to his position at Enterprise.
“I am no different than you and I sincerely mean that,” Darrah told graduates. “I was an average student at Mount Union, but I was active and engaged.”
Following graduation from Mount Union, Darrah went to Los Angeles and took as many interviews as he could because he knew repetition would make him better. When he interviewed with Enterprise, he knew it was the perfect fit and took the job. He quickly learned that there were plenty of talented people in the company and wondered how to set himself apart.
Darrah soon realized that all people go through cycles in their careers. At the beginning of a new job, everything is positive and people give everything they have.
“Over time, reality sets in, obstacles creep in and bring you down,” he said. “Slowly, you contribute less and perform at a lower level before eventually getting on track again.”
Darrah realized that he came through those cycles a little differently due to an event that occurred when he was a sophomore at Mount Union – losing his 22-year-old brother to a long battle with cancer.
“I had no idea how to handle it but I decided to use it to make myself better,” he said. “It didn’t make sense to have a bad day. I watched others go through cycles and began to recognize when I wasn’t giving everything I had.”
Darrah said understanding when one is not giving their best is the ‘Holy Grail’ that sets people apart in the workplace.
“If you choose to be aware of the cycles, identify obstacles and choose to get back on track, you will have a profound impact on those you will lead in the future,” he said. “It’s time to go out there, be successful, be special and run toward hard things. Embrace them and own them because that’s where all the opportunities lie.”
Originally from Kent, Ohio, Darrah earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration from Mount Union. He began his journey with Enterprise Rent-A-Car in 1984 as a management trainee in southern California. He worked his way up the corporate ladder, reaching positions of group rental manager of Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s Connecticut operations in 1990, and then earning the position of vice president/general manager of the Rhode Island operations in 1992.
Darrah was promoted to vice president/general manager in 1996, overseeing Toronto operations where he worked hard to establish Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Canada in a fairly new market. Four years later, he and his family relocated to St. Louis after accepting the position of corporate vice president overseeing Canadian operations.
In 2002, Darrah became the corporate vice president of the northeast region. He obtained the role of senior vice president of North American Operations in 2004 and was again promoted to his current position of executive vice president in 2009.
Darrah is in charge of all operations in both the United States and Canada, which includes approximately 6,000 neighborhood and airport branch offices within 15 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. population. He has also played an important role in Enterprise’s efforts for response to consumers, insurance companies, government agencies, catastrophe teams and local utilities following natural disasters such as Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene.
During the ceremony, the Heaton W. Harris and Corinne Harris Smith Prize was presented to senior Kelly Slutz, a Spanish major of Orrville, OH. The Good Citizenship Award went to senior Alicia Switzer, a communication and psychology major of Strongsville, OH.Mount Union Holds 167th Baccalaureate Service
ALLIANCE, Ohio — The University of Mount Union held its 167th Baccalaureate service on Saturday, May 11 in the Peterson Field House of the McPherson Academic and Athletic Complex. The service preceded the University’s Commencement ceremony.
The student-organized worship service featured scripture readings, hymns and performances by the University’s Inspirational Voices of Praise.
The Rev. Dr. Ivory Lyons Jr., professor of philosophy and religious studies, gave the sermon, “Rise to the Occasion.” He spoke from the passage 1 Timothy 4:11-16, which is a charge from the writer, Apostle Paul, to a young disciple, Timothy, to not let anyone look down on him because of his age but to be an example for others.
Lyons told those in attendance that rising to the occasion means to meet the challenges set before them.
“It’s not what you do when you win, but how you react when you lose,” he said. “That is how your real character is tested.”
Lyons said that as graduates embark on a new adventure, there will be many distractions but they should commit themselves to being people of integrity.
“Integrity is something no one can take away from you,” he said. “You can be tested with the choice to do something unethical or do the right thing – you can rise to the occasion or fall into it.”
During his sermon, Lyons said that one of the most difficult things to do is to love.
“It’s hard to love your enemies but the hardest thing is to love yourself – if you don’t love yourself, you can’t love another person,” he said.
Following the sermon, Dr. Richard F. Giese, president of the University, led the Seniors’ Prayer.
Also during the ceremony, select members of the Class of 2013 presented pink roses, as symbols of thankfulness, to faculty, administrators and trustees for their support and encouragement.Lyonses to Participate in Baccalaureate
ALLIANCE, Ohio — The Rev. Dr. Ivory Lyons, professor of philosophy and religious studies, and his wife Barbara Lyons, director of Inspirational Voices of Praise and secretary for academic affairs, will play unique roles in the University of Mount Union’s Baccalaureate service on Saturday.
Ivory Lyons will give the sermon during the service and Barbara Lyons will lead the Inspirational Voices of Praise (IVOP) in providing music for the service.
Ivory Lyons has worked at Mount Union since 2000 and Barbara Lyons since 2001 and each are involved on campus in various capacities. Ivory Lyons teaches a number of religion courses as well as teaches in the Africana Studies Program. He has served as a guest lecturer at Christ University in Bangalore, India and the University of Ghana in West Africa. Barbara has been director of IVOP since 2001.
Ivory Lyons’ sermon, titled, “Rise to the Occasion,” got its name after he noticed shirts worn by basketball players during the NCAA Final Four in March. He will speak from the passage 1 Timothy 4:11-16, which is a charge from the writer, Apostle Paul, to a young disciple, Timothy, to not let anyone look down on him because of his age but to be an example for others.
He chose the verse in part due to it being one of the first Bible verses he remembers learning as he came to his faith as a young man and partly due to its message.
“I’m going to talk about why it’s important for graduates to be good examples and to rise to the occasion,” he said. “I need to plant seeds where they can begin to think about how to pattern their lives.”
Ivory Lyons said he has often thought about what he would say to students if he had the opportunity to give them a message and now he has the chance to do just that.
“I consider it an honor to be speaking to the future generation,” Ivory Lyons said. “I have a lot of respect for Mount Union graduates. Alumni are an outstanding group who put the needs of the community first and show their support in many ways.”
For Barbara Lyons, this performance at Baccalaureate will be her final event before retiring from the directorship of IVOP.
“I’ve enjoyed working with the students, helping them to see their potential and possibility and encouraging those who have never done solo work before but needed someone to believe enough in them so they can believe in themselves,” she said.
IVOP is a student organization where members of the student body, staff, faculty and community-at-large are welcome. The organization’s mission is to initiate spiritual connections to many traditions and promote spiritual growth. IVOP is particularly known for singing gospel music from the African American tradition.
“Through this ministry, where there is suffering we give joy, where there is despair we offer hope, where there is doubt we instigate faith,” the mission statement reads.
Barbara Lyons said she has enjoyed watching IVOP grow and improve each semester. Each year, the group has two performances on campus and the remaining performances are off campus. One of those performances is always community service oriented. The group has performed at nursing homes, hospitals and most recently at the Indian River Juvenile Correctional Facility in Massillon, OH where they sang to inmates and spoke to them about college life.
“For me, I wanted students to understand how extremely privileged they are even though many have struggles,” she said. “I wanted them to see what it would be like to have your every waking moment orchestrated. Both sides came away from the experience being impressed in some way and our students got to see what a blessing they could be to other people.”
The Lyons’ have ministered together on numerous occasions, however, Baccalaureate is one of the few events they haven’t intentionally planned that way.
“That makes this kind of a special day for us,” Ivory said. “We both have invested in the students – Baccalaureate and Commencement are a time when we can see the investments made by faculty, staff members and parents and it’s a new beginning.”Safety Fair to be Held at Mount Union
ALLIANCE, Ohio — In a cooperative effort between Safe Kids Stark County, Alliance Chamber of Commerce, the City of Alliance, the University of Mount Union and the Stark County Health Department, a free interactive safety fair is planned for 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 16 at the University of Mount Union (Bracy Hall).
The family-oriented event will take place rain or shine and is aimed at providing important and useful safety tips through children's activities and displays. This year's theme is "Preventing Childhood Injuries,” focusing on bicycle safety, child passenger safety, stranger danger and bullying, fire safety and burn prevention, emergency preparedness and much more.
Emergency vehicles will be on display, including the Family Safety Education Trailer and Alliance City police and fire officials’ vehicles. Additional stations include Affinity Medical Center, Alchemy Acres, Alliance Area Domestic Violence Shelter, Alliance Farmer's Market, Alliance City Health Department, Alliance City Schools Food Service, Alliance Community Hospital, American Red Cross, Alliance Family YMCA, American Medical Response, Aultman Hospital Trauma Services, Army Corps of Engineers, Beech Creek Botanical Garden, Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Early Childhood Resource Center & Trillium Family Solutions, Jackson Township Police Department, Kent State University Research Center for Educational Technology, Kings Kids Early Learning Center, Med Flight, Mercy Medical Center, Navigators, ODNR Division of Water Craft, Operation Safe Child, Pilot Club International, Stark County Health Department, Stark County Job & Family Services, Stark County Prosecutors Office, Stark County Safe Communities, Stark County Park District, John T. Houston/John D. Brumbaugh Nature Center, University of Mount Union Health Education and YWCA of Alliance. The Ident-A-Kid program will also be available for free child identification cards.
Sponsors for the event include the University of Mount Union, Affinity Medical Center, Alliance Community Hospital, City of Alliance, Alliance Rotary, Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce, American Medical Response, American Red Cross, Aultman Hospital, AVI, Beech Creek Botanical Garden, C Massouh Printing, Cicchini Enterprises, Early Childhood Resource Center, Kent State University Research Center for Educational Technology, Kings Kids Early Learning Center, Kohls Cares, Mercy Medical Center, Navigators, Operation Safe Child, Pizza Hut, Portage Awnings, Reiter Dairy, Safe Kids Stark County, Stark County Dental Society, Stark County Health Department, Stark County Job & Family Services, Stark County Police Chief's Association, Stark Parks and YWCA of Alliance.
Free refreshments will be provided by Safe Kids and served by the American Red Cross. Prize raffles will take place throughout the day. DJ Service is provided by Get Down Sound, and Ronald McDonald will be making a special appearance.
Parking is available on site. For more information, call 330-493-9904 x 282 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org .