Monday, August 25, 2014

Take a Bow - 2012 Grad Makes Broadway Debut

A bouquet and bows for Shannon O'Boyle '12 at Sunday's curtain call for ONCE

Shannon O'Boyle '12 is the latest BW Music Theatre alum to appear on Broadway. With a BW contingent in the audience cheering her on, including BW Music Theatre Director Victoria Bussert and Dance Chair Gregory Daniels, O'Boyle got the chance to go on Sunday as the standby for Girl in the Broadway show ONCE and she "killed it," according to Bussert.

At BW, O'Boyle credits included a star turn in the PlayhouseSquare production of LIZZIE.

Astronaut Alumnus Honored with Ohio Historical Marker

Westlake dedicated an Ohio Historical Marker to BW alumnus and astronaut Robert Overmyer '58.
-Photo courstesy
NASA astronaut and BW alumus Robert Overmyer '58 was honored with the dedication of an Ohio Historical Marker in his hometown of Westlake over the weekend. According to a story, Overmyer's widow, Kit, a 1960 BW graduate, came in from Texas to attend the ceremony in Clague Park and said her late husband would be honored by the hometown tribute.

Overmyer, a BW Outstanding Alumni Award-winner, piloted the space shuttle Columbia in 1982 and acted as commander of a 1985 Challenger shuttle mission. Overmyer died at age 59 while test-piloting a prototype airplane in 1996.

For BW Alum, ALS Bucket Challenge is Personal and Professional

BW President Bob Helmer (right) and Alan Kolp, BW Chair in Faith and Life
accept the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at BW's Weekend of Welcome for
freshmen students. Helmer challenged two BW vice presidents, along with
Berea Mayor and BW alumnus Cyril Kleem - Photo by Da'Qeayce Swain '18
As the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has swept the BW campus, with President Bob Helmer and religion professor Alan Kolp the latest to endure a frigid shower at Weekend of Welcome, a BW alumna marvels at the support for a cause that is both a personal and professional mission.

Mary Wilson Wheelock '96, serves as Executive Director for the ALS Association Northern Ohio Chapter that covers 32 counties including Cleveland, Akron, Toledo and Youngstown. She says the awareness and support generated by the challenge is "unprecedented, unfathomable, and downright incredible."

The BW chemistry major changed her career path when her mother was diagnosed with ALS a year into her graduate program. "I took a leave of absence from Notre Dame to return home to care for my mother. Wanting something to distract from the demands of caring for an ALS patient, I found an opportunity for an AmeriCorp VISTA volunteer in the BW Career Bulletin. I was placed with Cleveland Reads, and helped write one of the first locally funded America Reads grants. I spent my service year working on various fundraising projects, and...well...a development professional was born."

"I lost my mom to ALS in June 1999, and her dying wish was that the battle to defeat ALS not end with her," she continues. "I took that to heart and became an active volunteer with the local Chapter. In early 2011, the executive director position opened up, and I was fortunate to be selected. The job has been, like the Ice Bucket Challenge, a dream come true."

Wheelock says the response to the challenge, from people like her old BW chemistry professor and Associate Dean, Jim McCargar, to Dean of the BW Conservatory of Music, Susan Van Vorst, and many, many others is amazing, but "our fight against this disease won’t end this summer."

To direct an Ice Bucket Challenge gift to the Northern Ohio Chapter, or to one of its upcoming Walk to Defeat ALS events, visit

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Senior Rocks Elite Internship Opportunity

Nicholas Wilders '15, who designed an interdepartmental major in "theatre and concert production" by combining coursework in the Conservatory of Music, theatre and business,  rocked a Cleveland Foundation-supported summer internship at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Nick, one of 16 interns chosen from more than 300 applicants, worked with the Strategy & Planning department collecting surveys and crunching the data. "Essentially, I explored trends in visitors and visitations so that we could correlate the needs and displayed behaviors of the visitors with potential future opportunities for the museum," he explains.

His top takeaway from the summer? "I learned that it's very dangerous to assume things about your customers. Our data showed some interesting trends in Rock Hall visitors that weren't necessarily common sense." The Mechanicsburg, Penn. native's ultimate career goal is to work as a producer/director in theatre, with an emphasis on social justice.

At BW, Nick is also pursuing minors in management, arts management and psychology while plugging into a host of campus activities including the PRISM concert, BW Beatles, BW Music Theatre Showcase, Arts Management Association, Psychology Honors Society, BW Opera, College Democrats and, this week, Weekend of Welcome orientation leader!

Monday, August 18, 2014

History Prof Weighs in on Middle East Conflict for "US News" and "Huffington Post"

BW History Department chair Dr. Indira Gesink put her expertise as a professor of Middle Eastern history into two, recent, thought provoking, national opinion pieces on violence in the region.

For US News, Gesink entered into the fray of the magazine's Debate Club, billed as "a meeting of the sharpest minds on today's most important topics."

Her essay, which garnered the most thumbs up from readers (at last check), answered the question, "Should Obama Have Armed Syrian Rebels Sooner?" Gesnik argued, "No. Arming Rebels Wouldn't Resolve Syria's Conflict."

Earlier this month, The Huffington Post published another piece by Gesink titled, "Iraq: Rise of the Gangster State -- Why We Need a Better, Bolder Response to ISIS." Gesink also is the author of Islamic Reform and Conservatism.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Neuroscience Major Conducts "Drop-Dead" Research

Jordan Smith '16, a BW neuroscience-biology major,  spent 10 weeks of her summer break participating in a National Science Foundation-sponsored Summer Research Program in the Biological Sciences Department at Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wis. Jordan's main research focus was to determine whether fruit flies with a gene mutation called "drop-dead" experienced hypoxia or the absence of oxygen.

The rich research program experience for Jordan and 18 other young scientists included weekly journal clubs and social activities, and culminated in a symposium for the students to present their research.  ​

Jordan was mentored in her summer work by Marquette biology professor, Dr. Edward Blumenthal.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sustainability Major Supports Urban Farming and More at WCC

Like many BW students, Maria Curcio '15 has more than one passion... and major. The business accounting and sustainability major has spent the summer interning with the West Creek Conservancy where urban farming, watershed data collection and conference planning have all been part of the experience. WCC is a non profit organization that works for a "greener, greater Cleveland," conserving land within Greater Cleveland through a variety of programs.

Curcio has collected data for the the Mill Creek Watershed Action Plan, helped WCC prepare for the biannual Greater Cleveland Trails and Greenways Conference and assisted the farmers at Kinsman Farm, the WCC's urban farm project. At Kinsman Farm, "citizens are able to buy about a quarter acre of land for $250 a year," Curcio explains. "The farmers are required to create a business plan and then farm the land in accordance to their plan. They are then able to do whatever they wish with their produce."

A previous internship at Hyland Software gave Curcio solid experience for her accounting major, while this summer is devoted to sustainability. "Working with a nonprofit is something I ultimately would like to do upon graduation," Curcio also tells us. "The networking and experience I am gaining through my work with WCC will only benefit my future career upon graduation from BW."

Calculus Success Strategy Focuses on Concepts over Calculation

Ed Meyer, chair of BW’s Physics Department, is out to help students improve their chances of success with calculus in high school or college. “I struggled with undergraduate calculus under the traditional mathematics teaching model,” admits Dr. Meyer, who worked for more than a decade as a corporate research scientist. “Calculus should not be a roadblock to success in the STEM disciplines.”

In a two-evening Hands-on Calculus short course coming up on August 12 and 14 at BW, Meyer and several master teaching assistants will throw out the usual derivatives and integrals, in favor of fun, hands-on exercises that will help students grasp the ideas behind calculus.

“Students can get the right derivative and still be frustrated because they have no idea what it means,” continues Meyer. “The new Common Core standards emphasize an understanding of the concepts over the ability to memorize formulas. This course will focus on concepts over calculation.”

“Hands-on Calculus” will run from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 12 and Thursday, August 14 at BW’s Center for Innovation and Growth (340 Front St, Berea). The course is appropriate for motivated and curious middle school students, high school students, and entering college freshmen that have a basic understanding of manipulating equations with algebra. Dr. Meyer is hoping for multi-generational attendance so that all can have some fun with applying calculus to better understand it.  The cost is $39 or $49 for families and includes all materials and snacks. Call 440-826-2312 for information or to register.

Grad Takes Vegan Bakery from Class Project to Real Business

BW grad Derek Wytzka '12 is generating buzz for a business that combines his personal passion for baking with business and entrepreneurship skills he picked up at BW. The Bay Village resident told the West Shore Sun News that his "Veg'n Out Cafe" vegan bakery began as a BW business class project during his senior year and launched "for real" in 2012.

Wytzka, a vegetarian himself, has hopes of one day opening a storefront but, for now, he's creating and delivering "delectable desserts containing dairy-free and other products not derived from animals" from his home in Bay Village. 

"We live in a world where people do not eat animal products due to intolerances or allergies, religion, personal beliefs, and I strive to be that company that they can turn to for their needs," Wytzka told the newspaper.

Veg'n Out Cafe also does catering for special events and supplies special order vegan cakes, cupcakes, and other vegan confections upon request.

Friday, August 1, 2014

President Nominates BW MBA Grad for Key Social Security Post

President Barack Obama has announced his intent to nominate a BW MBA graduate to a key post in the U.S. Social Security Administration. Andrew LaMont Eanes '92 is the President's pick for Deputy Commissioner of Social Security.

Eanes nomination was among a series of appointments announced this week in a White House press release. President Obama is quoted as saying, “I am grateful that these impressive individuals have chosen to dedicate their talents to serving the American people at this important time for our country.”

Eanes told that the BW MBA program helped to prepare him for a successful and varied career path. "It was a fine program," Eanes said. "You went through all classes with the same people."

Eanes has been Vice President of Agile Government Services Incorporated, an Overland Park, Kansas-based technology firm, since 2012.  Previously, Eanes was Chief Operating Officer of Dynis, Chief Operations Officer of BT Conferencing, Executive Vice President of IT/Services Operations with Premiere Global Services and Vice President and General Manager at Sprint, Inc.