Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Conservatory Grad Lands New Gig with Grammy-Winning Divas

Two big milestones for Conservatory grad Felicia Rojas '10 this summer! She finished her Doctorate of Musical Arts in Violin Performance at Texas Tech University in May 2015 and promptly landed a job making music with the Grammy award-winning Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea, a multicultural, all-female ensemble based in Los Angeles.

Rojas is in the process of moving to LA to begin rehearsing and performing with the group, which has recorded 11 albums.  She's been told to prepare to begin traveling and playing with the Divas almost immediately in places like Sacramento, Chicago and Mexico.

Rojas told the BW Alumni Office, "I could not have achieved any of this if it were not for the wonderful professors of the BW Conservatory including [strings chair] Dr. Julian Ross [and many others]...who aided me in my education and my quest to become the best possible musician I could be."

During her time at BW, Rojas had the opportunity to participate in the Bach Festival orchestra for four years, in productions of The Phantom of The Opera, Semele, and Our Town; and in masterclasses with Cleveland Orchestra members.

Renowned History Grad IDs Remarkable Jamestown Skeletons

Bill Kelso '63 with bone fragments from the Jamestown colony - Susan Walsh AP
BW’s most accomplished history major, William M. Kelso '63, is in the midst of a remarkable announcement by archaeologists working at the Jamestown, Va. settlement he unearthed. Tests on skeletons found buried at the church where Pocahontas married Captain John Rolfe in 1614 have pegged the remains to the earliest leaders of the English colony that would become America.

News of the recaptured piece of 400-year-old history is making headlines worldwide with Kelso, director of archaeology at Jamestown Rediscovery, helping to explain the find to The Washington Post, BBC News, USA Today,  National Public Radio (NPR) and, just to name a few.

Kelso, who once escorted the queen of England to the site of his Jamestown excavations,  has served as director of archaeology for the APVA Jamestown Rediscovery archaeological project for more than 30 years. He has built a reputation as one of America's foremost historical archaeologists in Early American history.

Monday, July 27, 2015

BW Career Network Helps Marketing Major Land Internship

Senior Kevin Fredrick may be spending his summer days working 8-5, but he doesn't mind.

With help from the BW Career Network (BWCN), the marketing major from Archibold, Ohio found an internship that perfectly aligns with his major and his interests. Fredrick is working at American Tank and Fabrication (AT&F), one of the world's premier metal fabricators, as a Marketing Intern. The BWCN is a web-based platform designed to connect BW students and alumni with employers for jobs and internships.

Fredrick's position keeps him busy throughout the day with a never-ending to-do list that consists of tasks like creating trend reports, maintaining the company's customer relationship software and editing press releases, articles and other publications. Fredrick also assists with internal marketing for the company.

Fredrick tells us he enjoys the variety. "My days aren't repetitive. I do a lot of different things for a lot of different departments and people. Though the workload can be a challenge, it's one that I welcome."

AT&F is a small family owned, family operated business and in the three months that Fredrick has worked there, he feels as though he has created solid relationships with his AT&F colleagues.

"I feel cared about. The people here are seriously focused on group success and it feels much more gratifying to be working with people who share in each other's successes."

Post graduation, Fredrick hopes to work for an advertising agency, doing content marketing, and he feels fortunate to have an internship that is preparing him for a future in his intended career field.

BW Night at the Ball Game Builds Community

Alumni, students, parents and faculty gathered together for a group photo during the 7th inning stretch

The Indians may have lost to the White Sox, but it was a win for the BW community at Progressive Field on a recent summer night.

Over 140 alumni, friends, family and faculty from around Northeast Ohio attended BW Night at the Ball Game, an annual and greatly anticipated alumni event on July 23. Spirits were high and fun was had by all, despite the final score.

BW works to build the YJ4L (Yellow Jackets for Life) community through events all year round. Stay up on the latest. "Like" the Baldwin Wallace Alumni Facebook page for alumni news and updates about upcoming events!

Friday, July 24, 2015

2015 Music Theatre Grad Makes Broadway History in Les Miz

Kyle Jean-Baptiste made Broadway history twice last night as he stepped on stage as Jean Valjean in the beloved Broadway musical "Les Misérables." The 21-year-old tenor, who just graduated from BW's celebrated music theatre program in May, became both the youngest and first African American actor to play Victor Hugo's hero on Broadway, according to the theatre industry's

Just a day after May graduation, Jean-Baptiste landed in the Les Miz ensemble in the roles of "Constable" and Courfeyrac and as understudy to Ramin Karimloo, the Tony-nominated actor who currently plays Jean Valjean. The July 23 evening production gave Jean-Baptist his first chance to go on as leading man.

"Valjean has been a dream role for me ever since I got involved with music theatre," Jean-Baptiste told Plain Dealer "Pop Diva" Andrea Simakis. "I'd always say, 'Wait until I'm old enough and then I'll play it, be patient.' Next thing you know I'm getting called in for his understudy on Broadway and I'm like . . . wait what?"

Simakis goes on to remind PD readers that "Great Lakes Theater fans got a taste of Jean-Baptiste last fall, when the then-Baldwin Wallace senior played rebel leader Enjolras in "Les Miz" at the Hanna Theatre under the direction of his teacher, Victoria Bussert, head of BW's powerhouse music theater program." 

Before bringing that production to Cleveland, Bussert staged Les Miz at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. This week, The Idaho Statesman also published a feature story noting that theatre goers in Boise also can say, "We knew Kyle Jean-Baptiste when...," as did the New London Barn Playhouse in New Hampshire.

"I knew he had star quality – but very little experience," Bussert told the PD about her first impressions of the Brooklyn, New York native at his BW audition. Since then, Bussert added, "He absorbed the training like a sponge!" Bussert believes last night was just the beginning.

"He has the kind of voice that can truly do anything, from the most legit music theater to jazz and rap. I doubt he will ever stop working! But the best thing about him – he has a huge heart, and it shows in his work and his life."

“It feels amazing to be here. I’m so grateful and humbled,” he said on a rehearsal break earlier this month. “It’s a dream come true. I can’t believe they’ve trusted me with this role.”
Read more here:

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Internship Creates "Summer of Purpose" for English Major

Senior English major Kristina DeGirolamo '16 is spending her summer interning in a field that she feels truly passionate about: nonprofit work. DeGirolamo is as an advancement (fundraising) intern with Stepstone Academy, a charter school associated with Ohio Guidestone.

The paid, competitive internship is supported by the Cleveland Foundation Summer Internship program which connects undergraduate and graduate students with meaningful, career-related experiences in nonprofit and public sector agencies.

During her first week on the job, she experienced fundraising in action on a large scale at Stepstone's annual Golf Classic event.

Writing on the Cleveland's Foundation's blog, DeGirolamo said, from the beginning, she felt at home with the faculty, staff and students. "I've seen staff who come into work with a grin every day, students who are excited about learning and donors who want to impact the lives of others."

DeGirolamo believes that nonprofits are key to any city, especially Cleveland where organizations such as Stepstone Academy have made it their mission to improve the lives of others in the community. For DeGirolamo, this truly is a "Summer of Purpose."
As part of their "Summer of Purpose," DeGirolamo (2nd from left) and 17 other Cleveland Foundation interns visited Cleveland City Hall and met with Mayor Frank Jackson.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Residence Life Director Recognized at National Conference

Earning the respect of your peers on a national level can say a lot about your work, and BW's director of residence life, Robin Gagnow, recently received the highest recognition bestowed by the professional association that supports collegiate housing professionals. The Association of College and University Housing Officers-International (ACUHO-I) Foundation honored Gagnow with a 2015 Parthenon Award, the foundation's most prestigious award.

The Parthenon Award recognizes outstanding service, leadership, achievement, and contributions to the collegiate housing field. Gagnow was honored "for his commitment to education during a 30-plus-year career, including numerous leadership roles with ACUHO-I and the Great Lakes Association of College and University Housing Officers."

“Robin is a leader who doesn’t just talk the talk,” said Dr. Joe Berthiaume, director of university housing at Texas Woman’s University. “He provides hands-on engagement and is a shining example of a professional who is dedicated to helping others succeed.” 

Parthenon Award winners were announced at the 2015 ACUHO-I Annual Conference & Exposition.

WISE Scholarship Recipients

Women in Sports and Events Cleveland (WISE Cleveland) annually honors amazing women who contribute to the field of sport management/events in the greater Cleveland area. Two BW students, Mackenzie Nelsen '17, a sport management and business administration major and Rebecca Brown '16, a sport management major, were honored as recipients of WISE Scholarships at the fourth annual WISE Women of the Year Awards and Scholarships event.

Every year, four college-aged women who are pursing careers in sport management/events field are chosen WISE scholarships. The award recipient have a
demonstrated track record of participation in event planning, sport management volunteerism or participation in the business of sports or athletics such as coaching or team management.

Brown and Nelson  received their WISE recognition at a spring luncheon at the House of Blues in Cleveland.

Read the full recap, courtesy of WISE Cleveland, here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

BW Grad Helps Design #ThisisCLE Summer Challenge

A Baldwin Wallace University public relations grad is in the thick of Destination Cleveland's summer campaign to increase the awareness of "locals who have yet to experience Cleveland's recent revival" with a goal of showing them "what this town is all about."

The tourism agency engaged a group of young professionals, including KeyBank social media manager Alyssa Purvis '12 to design (and take!) the #ThisisCLE challenge. Purvis, 25, and her peers helped create a short list of challenges that represents the best of Cleveland.

"It took a while to whittle it down," Purvis tells The Plain Dealer/ "We started with tons and tons. We went from festivals to food events to nonprofits to museums." 

Purvis, an Ashland native who settled in Cleveland after graduating from BW, told the newspaper that the summer challenge is designed to motivate people who rarely venture out from the suburbs.

"There's an untapped market here," she's quoted as saying. "Overall, I think a lot of people who live here just don't know enough about what's going on."

Just a few of the items on the challenge list include a river cruise aboard Nautica Queen and an Indians baseball game, plus visits to the Taste of Tremont, the Cleveland Flea and the beach at Edgewater Park for spectacular city views and sunsets. 

"I want to do them all," Purvis said. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

BW Students Coach HS Students to GEAR UP for College Success

Baldwin Wallace University and Strongsville High School have been collaborating to develop an innovative program that helps prepare high school students for college, using BW students as coaches. The benefits of the Strongsville Writing Center/Academic Lab were recently featured at the GEAR UP Ohio Conference in Columbus. GEAR UP is a state project focused on embedding a college-going culture in targeted communities with the goal of increasing the number of low-income students who are college ready.

Susan Oldrieve, Ph.D., a BW English professor and Associate Dean of BW's School of Humanities, and Brian Tumino, Strongsville High School Assistant Principal and Secondary Curriculum Liaison, told GEAR UP conferees that BW student coaches are helping to boost vital reading and writing skills, AND discussing the transition to college life, with tips for making friends, managing time and balancing academics with social life.

The program has been such a success that the collaborators are looking for funding to continue and expand the work to other school districts and other subjects like mathematics. The Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, BW Honors Program and the BW English Department's Kirk Fund all helped support the program last year. 

In addition, College Now, which works with schools throughout Ohio to promote college success, is using the BW-Strongsville writing center project as a model of a successful partnership between secondary schools and institutions of higher learning.

BW's "Big Data" MBA Track: Taming Information Overload

As "big data" continues to make headlines, BW's new MBA in business analytics is highlighted as a solution in this month's Cleveland Business Connects (CBC) magazine. The article highlights the dilemma of "information overload" or what's described as "infobesity." The challenge for business and managers is to tame data that has grown so large and complex that traditional ways businesses process data have become inadequate.

“You have all of these inputs and sources of data coming into an organization, and organizations are struggling to make sense of it all,” John Lanigan, Dean of the BW School of Business, told CBC. “In some cases it’s very specific information, right down to the product level. And in other cases it’s customer experience information. Some of it is very formalized. Some of it’s informal. It could be a Facebook post — ‘I love your product’ or ‘I hate your product.’ How do you make sense of all that information? How do you organize it? How do you gather it? How do you analyze it?”

Lanigan also told the magazine that a variety of MBA students will benefit from the data analysis track. "I don't think you could pigeonhole one type of student that might be interested in this," said Lanigan. "It's not industry specific. It's not job description specific. That's what's kind of fun about it."

It has been predicted by U.S. News that in three years there will be a shortage of roughly 190,000 people with the skills to analyze and manage big data. BW's data analysis MBA track is available starting Fall of 2015.

Monday, July 13, 2015

MBA Alumni Team up to Open Eye Candy Optical

A fashion-forward optical shop that was born at BW is getting national attention, was in the black within 10 months of opening and is on track to achieve its three-year revenue goal a year early! Eye Candy Optical in Westlake, the brainchild of MBA graduates Anton Syzdykov '13 and Steve Nelson '99, was recently featured in an Inside Business (IB) magazine story on entrepreneurship education. 

In 2013, while still pursing his entrepreneurship MBA at BW, Syzdykov encouraged Nelson to audit a business-plan development class that he was taking and it was there that two men developed the plan for Eye Candy Optical with support from Professor Ven Ochaya. After Syzdykov graduated, the pair dipped into 401(k) accounts and personal savings, and secured a small business loan to open the store in a 1,300 square foot space in the Promenade at Crocker Park.

“The hardest thing about starting a business is [getting funding] and finding a framework — actually vetting out an idea and saying, ‘OK, does the idea have legs?’ and then, ‘How are we going to put all of the pieces together?’ ” Nelson told IB. “We had the opportunity to do it all in a classroom setting.”

Anton Syzdykov MBA '13 and Steve Nelson MBA '99
With roughly 1,400 eye glass frames for customers to choose from, the business was ranked number two on a list of America's 10 finest optics retailers by InvisionMag. According to Invision, "Eye Candy is [Syzdykov and Nelson's] answer to this question: 'What if Victoria's Secret and House of Blues opened a glasses shop?' "

Like Eye Candy Optical's Facebook page for news, updates and a good laugh!