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Ave Maria

u n i v e r s i t y


AMU Reacts to OUR NEW Students Celebrate the Election of Pope Francis Pope Francis

spring 2013

Ave Maria University senior Carolina Morales sings the Star Spangled Banner at the Second Annual Scholarship Dinner in Naples in February. See Story Page 6. Photo by Erik Kellar photography

Contents 12



Student leaders share their hopes, dreams and Ave Maria University experiences.

An Ave Maria University professor charts a course for success and leads students on the path to scientific discovery.

Twins Erika and Kingsley Avery bring spirit and success to Ave Maria University’s softball team.

Points Of Pride

Leading Edge

Double Team

DEPARTMENTS From the President..........................................................................................2 News @ AMU......................................................................................................3 On The Scene.....................................................................................................4 On Campus......................................................................................................27

ave MARIA university


Spring 2013 Volume 2, Issue 2


President Jim Towey The ave maria university magazine is produced by The Office of Institutional Advancement Kevin Joyce, Vice President editor Brigid O’Malley Director of Communication


contributors Andrea Allphin Elizabeth Baux Zach Crockett Erin DeCleene Grace Farley Bridget Littleton Kim Scharfenberger Colin Voreis photography Erik Kellar Photography Office of Enrollment and Marketing Office of Student Life Sports Information Office Kevin Stinnet Tony Zollo layout/design Apollo Design Group Inc. George Fetkovich Art Director

32 On the cover: Ave Maria University students react to the news from the Vatican that a new Pontiff, Pope Francis, was chosen. Students were released from classes at the sign of white smoke in Rome and gathered together at the AMU cafeteria to watch the news and celebrate the selection. Photo by William DeShazer, Naples Daily News

Ave Maria University Magazine is published by Ave Maria University, Ave Maria, Florida for alumni, parents and friends. Third class postage paid at Ave Maria, Florida. Postmaster: Send address changes to the Alumni Office, Ave Maria University, 5050 Ave Maria Blvd., Ave Maria, FL 34142. Ave Maria University subscribes to a policy of equal opportunity and does not discriminate against any individual on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status or disability in any of its programs, admission or employment decisions. | spring 2013 |


from the



very moving moment happened this spring on the Ave Maria University campus. We came together as a community in the very real sense of the word. When the white smoke rose from the Vatican in March, hundreds of our students, faculty and staff coursed into the Student Union to join together as a

University community and greet the announcement of the new Pope. Our joy was unbounded. The photo on the front cover of this edition of the Ave Maria University Magazine captures that moment. This image was picked up by the Associated Press and carried all over the United States and our campus was at the heart of the biggest news for the Catholic Church in years. We want to take to heart Pope Francis’ message that we should strive to be “a star of hope,” evangelizing and brightly radiating our faith into today’s world. We should rejoice in our faith. We should reflect on its meaning in this “year of faith.” We should renew our efforts, with Mary our Mother, to pursue the truth that resides in Jesus, our Risen King. Recently my good friend who visited us, Donald Cardinal Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., called on us to celebrate the young men and women who live their lives in a good and moral way, fighting the “tsunami of secularism” that is attacking America’s culture and college campuses. I share his high praise for the students here who are taking on both the rigors of scholarship and the responsibilities to put their faith into action. In this edition, you will be introduced to members of our student body who demonstrate who we are and where we are going. They share their backgrounds, their hopes, their dreams, their talents, and how, with the grace of God, they will succeed. These students owe a debt of gratitude to the many who made their journey possible, including our founder, Tom Monaghan. I close with a heartfelt thanks to him and to all of you, from our most

President Jim Towey

recent graduates to our incoming students, from our most senior faculty and staff to our newest arrivals, for all you have done to enrich the Ave Maria experience. You make me proud! To those who have given so generously to support our liberal arts tradition at this unabashedly joyful Catholic university, please know of my gratitude. Next year we will begin celebrating our 10th anniversary, and we have much for which to be thankful. Enjoy this edition of the Ave Maria University Magazine, and let me know what you think of our new look! Warm regards,


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Around Campus | news@AMU

AMU Adds New Majors Education and Accounting Programs to Start in Fall


ve Maria University has announced the addition of two new undergraduate degree programs in Education and Accounting, an expansion into pre-professional learning that will help students thrive and succeed in a globally competitive job market. “It’s an exciting time for us. These new programs will give our students even more opportunities to use their education to make contributions in key areas of our society, our classrooms and our financial markets,” President Jim Towey said. The degrees will be offered starting this fall semester. By providing degree programs in high-growth, high-demand areas, the University’s academics broaden the institution’s mission to provide an exceptional education in the tradition of Catholic thought.

The new programs will provide Ave Maria graduates with the ability to compete for jobs and once entering the workforce, have a significant impact on two areas where high-level, quality employees are needed today. “We want our students to not only be prepared to be critical thinkers, but to be motivated and actively engaged in our communities and ready to make a difference,” President Towey said. AMU also expects that these

pre-professional degree offerings will increase enrollment on the Southwest Florida campus as students and employers search for degree programs and graduates with these skills to help fill key positions in America’s educational and financial systems. The additions also allow the school to evolve with economic conditions and give students the ability to pursue degrees in jobfriendly degrees.

HHS LAWSUIT DISMISSED Lawsuit May End Up Back in Court


he following is Ave Maria University President Jim Towey’s statement regarding the March 29, 2013 order of the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, granting the motion by the Defendants (Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, et al) to dismiss Ave Maria University’s lawsuit: “The Federal Court’s dismissal on Good Friday of Ave Maria University’s lawsuit was made on technical legal grounds—so-called “ripeness” —because the federal regulations in question are not in final form. It does not mean our lawsuit is dead. The Obama administration has bought itself time by promising to change its regulations and the Court’s dismissal order explicitly relies on this promise. If the final regulations that come out this summer do not keep this promise, Ave Maria University will be back in Federal Court with this lawsuit. The clock is ticking. In 274 days, on January 1, 2014, the so-called “safe harbor” protection the University now enjoys will no longer exist, and the Obama administration’s contraception mandate will be in full force. The Court has ruled that our lawsuit is not “ripe,” and for now we accept this ruling. It is my hope the Obama administration will soon get rid of its rotten regulations and respect our right of conscience and religious identity.”

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You might have to look around for the answers or find it in this issue of the Magazine.

1 Who inspired the architecture on the AMU campus?

2 Name two study abroad sites.

3 What are the official colors of the Gyrenes?

4 Who is leading the trip to Calcutta, India? Answers on Page 40. | spring 2013 |


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students abroad


On The Scene

A Front Row Seat to History By Kim

Scharfenberger, Class of 2013, Literature Major

Editor’s Note: Kim Scharfenberger, an AMU senior studying abroad this semester, had an up-close and personal brush with history and the goings-on at the Vatican, from the announcement of a papal resignation to the installation of Pope Francis on March 19.

“What now? What next? The whole world was asking.”


ope Francis has been a true inspiration to all of us. Part of what has amazed me so much is the value system that he stresses in his homilies and speeches. His installation Mass happened to fall on the Feast of St. Joseph (also known as Italian Father’s Day) and Pope Francis took the opportunity to talk about the necessity to embrace tenderness, especially when in service to others. I get that sense from him even from these first few days of his papacy. While greeting the countless members of the crowd in the Square for his Mass, he had his vehicle stopped so that he could personally greet and bless a disabled man. It was a truly beautiful moment. And even as he was passing, there was such a genuine tenderness in his eyes towards everyone who reached out their hands to greet him. It’s clear that he is already proving to be a great gift to the Church. When I first received news of my acceptance to study with the Ave Maria

Rome program for the spring 2013 semester, I was understandably thrilled. Having never traveled to Europe before, I was ecstatic to be spreading my wings and beginning my own adventure, outside of any familiarity or comfort and into the exciting unknown. I did not expect anything more than a fulfilling semester in Italy. It was the morning of February 11, and I had just returned from a weekend trip to Assisi when I heard: “The pope is resigning. Spread the news!” I couldn’t believe the words at first. In fact, I was certain that there had been some sort of media miscommunication and that this was merely a rumor running rampant. Is that even possible? Can you retire from being pope? The news about Pope Benedict’s renunciation of the papacy has been splashed over every newspaper and magazine cover. There was a tangible sense of tension and suspense in the air on that first day. “What now? What next?” The whole world was asking and all of the questions were being directed at us, at Rome, at the heart of the Catholic Church. The day after Pope Benedict’s announcement, St. Peter’s Square was an absolute madhouse. News vans lined the streets, journalists roamed the area with cameras and microphones at the ready and taxi-cabs were bumper to bumper. People swarmed the square in droves larger than any tourist attraction could bring. It seems especially poignant to me that Pope Benedict’s announcement came to the Church during the Year of Faith. Pope Benedict has taken his flock as far as he can carry, and now he is leaving it up to us to do the rest. Being here in Rome and seeing the support from thousands of Catholics for Pope Benedict’s service is a truly heartening feeling. amu AMU senior Kim Scharfenberger is on the scene at St. Peter’s Square immediately after the announcement that Pope Benedict XVI has resigned.

Photo courtesy of Kim Scharfenberger

f i rs t rep o r t

Live from Rome By Erin DeCleene, Class of 2015, theology major Editor’s Note: The following is an edited version of Erin’s blog. Please go to http://followerintorome.blogspot. com/2013/03/habemus-papam.html to read it in its entirety.



new Pope! And I was there!!! The timing was divinely worked out; I couldn’t have planned it better myself. I mean, really, I was in Poland this morning and in Rome in St. Peter’s square for the white smoke tonight!

I left Poland this morning at 9 a.m. I landed in Rome around

11 a.m., just about the time of the cardinals’ second morning vote. The plan was to have our driver change his course from the villa to St. Peter’s if we heard there was white smoke while we were in the car. So, we all waited. The cab was practically silent. Finally, black smoke. So, we went back to the villa to unpack from Poland and have some lunch before heading out to St. Peter’s for the afternoon round of votes.

A little after 5 p.m., we went out into St. Peter’s Square to begin the smoke watch. It was cold and rainy. We prayed

a rosary for the cardinals and the future pope. Then, we waited, and waited, and waited some more. A church nearby St. Peter’s had Mass at 6:30 p.m. It was risky; we were nervous about missing the smoke and the new pope if we went, but we decided to go, anyway.

As soon as we walked out of the church around 7:20 p.m., what did we hear? Bells. St. Peter’s bells. There was a

lady next to us outside of the church talking on her phone. Right as we were asking these questions, she was saying, “Habemus papam!! Habemus papam!!!!!” which means, “We have a pope! We have a pope!!!!!”

We ran. We RAN from where we were to St. Peter’s Square. It didn’t even take us five minutes, at least, it didn’t

feel like it did. It was so dramatic. We were running through the streets with cries of “Habemus papam!!!” and shouts of joy. Anyway, when we were running, it was like everything was in slow motion. We got to a point where there were barriers up. The police were guarding them. There was one barrier left unguarded; it was a now or never moment. My Resident Director jumped it first, I followed; my classmate behind me was the last one to get through before the guards stopped people from jumping over. Her sleeves barely escaped his grasp!

The cardinal came out and said the long awaited, much anticipated phrase, “Habemus papam.” Finally, after less

than a minute, we had deduced that an Argentinian cardinal had been elected and that he had taken the name Papa Francesco, Pope Francis. I cheered, laughed, prayed, sang, screamed, anything I could do to show my love for the new Pope Francis.

After Pope Francis’ address, my classmates and I sang, cheered, and moved out, practically carried by the huge

mob. We all celebrated with gelato, then came back to the villa, had a late dinner, then each went off to his or her way of sharing tonight’s experience. | spring 2013 |


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| Scholarship Dinner

Cardinal: Celebrate Ave Maria Students Papal Elector Speaks At 2nd Annual Scholarship Dinner Story by

Brigid O’Malley


ust days before heading to Rome to elect the new Pope, the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., told a crowd of Ave Maria University supporters that the school and its students should be celebrated. “We can be so proud of this university,’’ Donald Cardinal Wuerl told the audience at the AMU second annual scholarship dinner at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples, in

February.” These young, impressive men and women show us that, yes, there is a moral order, there is a way to live morally. We should celebrate Ave Maria University.” The Cardinal took time out as he prepared to leave for Rome for the papal conclave to talk about his thoughts on the next pontiff. He described how the decision that ultimately elected Pope Francis, the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was to be made in an atmosphere of prayer and thoughtfulness during the papal conclave.

P h o t o s


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E r i k

K e l l a r

p h o t o g r ap h y

“We can be so proud of this university. These young, impressive men and women show us that, yes, there is a moral order, there is a way to live morally. We should celebrate Ave Maria University.” — Donald Cardinal Wuerl | spring 2013 |


scholarship dinner scenes top left: Ave Maria University Senior Vanessa Tompkins joins Franc D’Ambrosio who starred in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, in All I Ask of You, from that production. TOP RIGHT: Ave Maria University Chancellor and Founder Tom Monaghan, left, celebrates with Rhodora Donahue and her husband Jack after she is conferred with an honorary degree from AMU at the Scholarship Dinner. From left, Board of Trustees Chairman Michael Timmis, Vice President of Academic Affairs Michael Dauphinais and Cardinal Wuerl look on. BOTTOM: Cardinal Wuerl meets Ave Maria University students at the Scholarship Dinner.


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ABOVE: Cardinal Wuerl offers a private blessing to Ave Maria University President Jim Towey and his wife Mary at the end of the Scholarship Dinner.

“We need to keep focused on our spiritual mission,’’ Cardinal Wuerl said during the fundraiser in February. He later praised Pope Benedict XVI’s successor’s pastoral experience. The cardinal spoke to a crowd of more than 350 supporters at Ave Maria University’s second annual scholarship dinner. The scholarship program awards $10 million to students every year. University President Jim Towey took the opportunity to praise the Cardinal’s commitment to the college, pointing out that his trip to Naples was happening just days before his journey to the Vatican. “ We knew you loved Ave Maria University, but we didn’t realize until now just how much,” Towey said. The cardinal praised the University and its commitment to quality education and its mission to provide values to the young men and women on campus. Cardinal Wuerl spoke of the great need for evangelism and the same spirit that the University’s students possess to be spread throughout society today. “We live in a world simply awash in secularism,’’ he said, and overcoming that hurdle along with materialism and individualism is important for Catholics today. “Is this not the reason why we have Ave Maria University?” he asked. “It offers us another vision of life. It’s another way of life.” Cardinal Wuerl urged Catholics to practice evangelism by renewing their faith, standing in its truth and sharing it with others. He called it “our moment” and the new Pentecost. “At the heart of new evangelization is the challenge to say all over again, particularly to those who have drifted away from the Church, that Jesus really is the answer,’’ Cardinal Wuerl said. The University’s mission is important to that movement. The dinner featured a musical performance of O Mio Babbino Cara by AMU senior Vanessa Tompkins. Tompkins also joined Franc D’Ambrosio, who starred in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, in All I Ask Of You, from that production. Also at the dinner, University President Towey honored Jack and Rhodora Donahue of Naples, great supporters of the University. He announced that the plaza where the Oratory sits will be named after them. Rhodora Donahue was also the recipient of an honorary doctorate degree. The Donahues are the first husband and wife team to receive Ave Maria University honorary degrees. amu | spring 2013 |


CARDINAL WUERL: “OURS IS A MESSAGE TO REJOICE!” The following are excerpts from Donald Cardinal Wuerl’s speech at the AMU Scholarship Dinner: “Those who attend and graduate from institutions such as Ave Maria have an advantage. A faithful Catholic university in communion with the Magisterium has the unique capacity to deal with and emphasize the transcendent and spiritual dimension of human life and, thus, it has an invaluable role to play in the New Evangelization. In re-proposing Christ and his Church to the secular world, whether individually or institutionally, we offer real hope because the Gospel message continues to be the answer to the needs and longings of people today. Clearly Ave Maria University stands in the midst of the community and the Church as a truly Catholic university. Let me note what I take to be four important characteristics of the effort to pass on the faith today – the characteristics, personal and institutional, of an evangelizer of the faith today and, therefore, the characteristics of this university engaged in that task. In the Acts of the Apostles, the word that describes the Apostles after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is “bold.” Peter boldly stands up and preaches the Good News of the Resurrection. Paul boldly announces the Word in frenetic movement around the world. Today, the New Evangelization must show a similar boldness born of confidence in Christ. The new evangelizers also need a connectedness with the one Church, her one Gospel and her pastoral presence. The authentication of our message of everlasting life depends on our communion with the Church and solidarity with her pastors. Our message should be one that inspires others joyfully to follow us along the path to the kingdom of God. Ours is a message to rejoice! Christ is risen, Christ is with us! This is a new moment in the life of the Church, a new Pentecost.We all recognize that it is now our turn to share the great gift we have been given, the gift of our Catholic faith. It is precisely in this faith anchored to Peter that we take on the challenge to renew the face of the earth. Our message is simple. The message of those associated with Ave Maria University is clear. Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!”


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In Their Own Words | student life

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March For Life “I stood shivering in the frigid January air in the middle of an enormous crowd at the March for Life. The sight of all the young people fighting for their generation was breathtaking. Halfway through the march, it began to snow. It was like a gift from God, reminding us that while the horrors of death can never be forgotten, He can lay a new, pure foundation over the past, and allow life to continue to fill the world with joy . Life has a future, and someday in the future we can all look back, knowing we helped defend it.” — Kristina Stark, freshman, business major

“There were approximately 650,000 of us standing up for Life in Washington, D.C. For me, it was the profound sense of unity that stood out the most as an infectious buzz of excitement seemed to resonate throughout the entire crowd. I felt so at home, as though I knew everyone there. My experience at the March gave me a renewed hope in our country.

“I had a phenomenal experience at the March for Life in D.C. It started with a 20-hour pilgrimage on overcrowded buses, which was a great bonding experience for all of us. The numbing sting of the sub20-degree weather provided all of us with the opportunity to offer up our small discomforts in prayer for the unborn. As many of our signs said, we truly are the “Pro-Life Generation.” — Paul Nurse, sophomore, theology, pre-med

— Hannah Harned, freshman, psychology major | spring 2013 |



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Leaders | student life

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AMU’s LEADERS OF TOMORROW Brigid O’Malley photos by erik kellar photography Story by

Vanessa dreams of an Italian stage. Zach focuses on the big picture. Paul wants to doctor souls. Lauren may have found her calling. Amy is more than a team player. Miquel reaches out to witness. Chris leads on and off the field. Megan’s heart is wide open.

hese young men and women have made a mark on Ave Maria University through their scholarship, their athletics, their arts, their service to others. Some are leaving behind tall shadows, while others are forging new ground. Their hearts, their souls and their minds grew on this campus. They are pioneers. They are scholars. They are the future. And their journeys, as different as the people they’ve become, brought them through the doors of one university, one place where they will make friendships to last a lifetime and make memories to share forever. They are Ave Maria University. Read their stories. Learn about their passion. Feel their faith. | spring 2013 |


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student life



C H RIS F A H E Y Not that long ago, the Ave Maria University football team didn’t play any games. Instead, the players dug irrigation systems for the field, painted the locker room, practiced and waited. That was their first season. “You’re part of something new. That’s something so few people get to be part of,’’ said Chris Fahey, 21, a junior studying economics at AMU, a wide receiver who is also captain of the football team. “It made us a tight-knit group.” This fall, they’ll open their third season with a game at Soldier Field in Chicago. Chris, who is in the AMU football record books with the school’s first touchdown catch, recalls the practices, the


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scrimmages in the Southwest Florida heat. Chris recalls coming to the AMU campus from his home in Danbury, Conn. and noticing right away that something was different. “Everybody is happy,’’ he said. “Everybody is smiling.” His time at AMU isn’t just about sports and studying, though. He helped start “Man Up,” a campus group meant to allow the young men on campus to form a brotherhood and develop as tomorrow’s leaders. Chris said the football team also makes trips to the Golisano Childrens Hospital in Fort Myers, Fla., to visit the ill children and pass out footballs. “We’re a college football team. It’s so important for us to give back,’’ he said.

V A NESS A TO M P K INS As soon as she could talk, Vanessa Tompkins was singing. Her piano teacher discovered there was more to the youngster’s talent. Soon, she was recruited to take her place on a bigger platform for her vocal talents and a place for her spirituality to blossomAve Maria University. “Before that, it was just notes on a paper for me,’’ she said. “The emotion was there, but it really grew here.” Today, Vanessa, 22, of Tampa, is an Ave Maria senior trained in classical music and opera, setting off to the still bigger stage this spring when she graduates with a degree in music. She’s off to graduate school and one day hopes to grace a stage in Europe, maybe Italy. But her AMU experience, shared with four siblings, is where she excelled as a soloist, lead actress, pianist and ballerina. At AMU, she’s been a soloist for the AMU Choir, with the Chamber Ensemble. She’s performed at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. AMU is where she made the transition from being home-schooled. She remembers the day when she felt at home on campus. “It was a hard transition,’’ she said. “But then one moment . . . I had this sense of peace that this is where I belonged.’’ As she looks around the campus and her eye falls on the Oratory, she talks of the lifelong friends she’s made. “You can feel the love here. You can feel the faith.” | spring 2013 |


M EG A N VIL A RDI Four years ago, while she was browsing a news article, hoping to spy her name in print, she saw something else that changed her life. An advertisement for Ave Maria University in the Florida Catholic newspaper caught her attention. “It was on the same page as the story about me,’’ said 20-year-old Megan Vilardi, an Ave Maria University junior who is studying theology. After talking to her youth minister, Megan made the decision to apply. “It definitely grew on me,’’ she said. “Just the joy that all of the people had. You could see it.” But hitting the books was part of the draw for Megan, who attended a public high school in Jensen Beach, Fla., and was raised Catholic. She got involved big-time, from becoming the head of household for Stella Maris, a group of AMU students who live together in a spiritual sorority. “It’s a sisterhood,’’ Megan said, explaining that green is the Stella Maris color, which also explains the green clothes and the green nail polish she wears. In her down time, she spearheaded the Habitat and soup kitchen volunteer group on campus. She even put together a winless flag football team. “I’m finding out who I am through my service to others,’’ she said. “It helps me become a better woman.”


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Leaders | student life

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Z A C H C RO C K ETT Zach Crockett knew from the start that a new university meant new challenges. The 2013 graduate and student government president at Ave Maria University also knew that it opened up the doors to a new collegiate experience. “We can start our own traditions,’’ the 22-year-old from Chicago explains. “We can help our university grow and breathe.” He believes that involving the entire student body is key. He points to days like the fall All Saints Celebration, where the focus is on the college’s Catholic identity and students attend Mass, as well as its identity as a place where young people gather for fun, from dunk tanks to slip-n-slides to a pig roast, along with community members. “That really brings the student body together,’’ he explains. “There were 300 people out here.” This small community means closer friends, lifelong connections and a chance to contribute. Zach, who was home-schooled all the way through high school, and hopes for a career in public policy, non-profits or politics, sees the future. And it’s more than just bright. “A friend suggested Ave Maria…I thought of it as a college for the ‘hip Catholic,’’’ he explains, adding that the Latin classes, the praise and worship music and the availability of scholars to shape students’ analytical thinking. The future students who prowl the campus will make the biggest difference. Their interests, their goals, their philosophies will guide the University. “What’s going to happen here in the next five, six, seven years?” he said. “It’s up to the student body to determine the future.” | spring 2013 |


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student life




Paul Nurse ran a 5K road race this year. In Washington D.C. In the cold. In the snow. Nurse was one of hundreds of Ave Maria University students who braved the elements and traveled to D.C. for the March for Life. He walked and he ran for life. That’s the way the 20-year-old sophomore from Kansas City, Mo. shows his faith on and off campus. Paul wanted to dive deeper into his Catholic faith and found his way to eastern Collier County and AMU. He attended a public high school, was looking for an atmosphere for growing in learning, faith and service. Paul is a member of FIAT, a group of AMU students who visit an Immokalee youth group each week. He calls it a “conversation” with the kids.

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He’s also involved in Mary’s Meals campaign, which provides chronically hungry children with one meal every school day. As part of the AMU Life runners, Paul and about a dozen other students complete a 3-mile run after Mass each Sunday. A few of the runners raced in the Naples Daily News Half Marathon, wearing their blue T-shirts to draw attention to the pro-life cause. He organized Lenten runs that begin and end in prayer. “It’s about the sense of community we have,’’ he said. Paul, who is studying theology and taking pre-med courses, hopes to be a physician one day. “It’s not about the grades we’re getting, it’s about the people we’re becoming.”

L A U REN H EBERT Playing Pagodes by Claude Debussy, the spirit moves her. You can see it in her eyes. You can hear it in her voice as she walks away from the piano. “I just love to play,’’ she says. Twenty-year-old Lauren Hebert, an Ave Maria University sophomore, has been at the piano since she was four years old. “There’s more to being a musician than just talent,’’ she said. “You really can learn from others, be open to criticism and inspired by others.” Lauren, who grew up in Houston and was raised in the faith, was home-schooled. “The longer I’m here, the more I love it,’’ she said. “Faith isn’t forced upon you. It reminds me of home. There’s a deep sense of a community, a community that’s warm and welcoming.’’ With professors who’ve worked in the Vatican and dreams of one day working in the Office for Sacred Music there, Lauren is soaking it all up. “It’s amazing,’’ she says. When she wasn’t studying music and taking courses in literature, history and theology, Lauren helped co-found a new AMU household, a sort of spiritual sorority called Queen of Peace. She’s made a mission trip to Guatemala and will be heading to Calcutta on a pilgrimage with other AMU students in May. “It will be life changing,’’ Lauren said. “It will be an experience that I’ll look on for the rest of my life and smile.” And she doesn’t just smile. She beams. | spring 2013 |


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student life



M I Q U EL GON Z A LE Z Miquel Gonzalez will tell you quite readily that he knows everyone on campus and in town. “I like the small town feel,’’ the 21-year-old junior said. “I love the Mayberry feel.’’ Miquel, who grew up in Fort Lauderdale and was home-schooled, says that close-knit feel was part of the draw of a liberal arts education from Ave Maria University. Majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry, he’s been immersed in theology and philosophy courses, too.“It’s all about the individual here,’’ he said. “And really, you won’t ever get a chance for a well-rounded education again.” Miquel revived the AMU Rugby Club, The Papists, last year. Now with about 25 members, the club has shut out both nearby rivals, the


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University of Miami and Florida Gulf Coast University. He shrugs off the idea that academics has to take over your college life. “People always say, ‘Oh, you’re so busy. How do you have time,?’ But you do have time. You have to make time.” Miquel also is in charge of social media for Catholics Called to Witness, a group his mother started in 2008. His future is helping people and he believes that his Catholic education and background will help him in the world of medicine. “I don’t think I’ve realized yet how much my Catholic education will help the medical world because it is a hostile environment,’’ he said. “You have to keep your faith first.”

A M Y M Y LER For Amy Myler, it’s all about the teamwork. On the court. In the classroom. And in the community. “I’ve never been on a team this close,’’ she says. “We click really well together.” The 21-year-old basketball player from Indian Harbor Beach, Fla., made her way to Southwest Florida after a friend and former teammate who attended Ave Maria University suggested she head south. This year, she leaves with AMU school records in rebounds with 1,095 and field goal percentage shooting 48.4 percent. She finishes second alltime in steals with 234 and comes in second place with 1,117 career points scored. “Playing a sport really helps me be productive as a student,’’ she said. “I have so much better time management skills.” Amy graduates with a degree in biology and hopes to be a physician’s assistant where she’ll use the academic rigors of an AMU education to her advantage. Growing up Catholic, Amy understands that AMU is making a difference in her life. “It’s built me up spiritually,’’ she explains. “It forms you as a person.” Amy talks about losing in tournament play in her junior year. There was more to the road trip, more these young women had to give as a team. “ We lost the first game and then did service work the rest of the time we were there, maybe four days,’’ she says. “We were at a hospital visiting kids. It was great.” That’s how to be part of Amy’s team. amu | spring 2013 |


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maureen Joyce

New Finance V.P. Counts On Teamwork by BRIGID O’MALLEY

“I kept hearing about it and hearing about it,’’ she explains on her third day as the Vice President of Finance at AMU. “Then I saw the ad, applied and I was ready to come here.” Having never lived or worked outside of Boston, Joyce headed south for a new adventure. Joyce, with more than 20 years of experience managing the affairs of large scale, non-profit organizations, is no stranger to the world of finance. Before coming to AMU, she worked as Comptroller for Simmons College in Boston, Mass., for three years. Prior to that, she worked as both Director of the Division of Sponsored Project Administration and Associate Controller at Northeastern

Photo by Kevin Stinnet


aureen Joyce found the idea of starting up a university downright fascinating. So from 1,200 miles away in Boston, she watched from a distance as tomato fields here in Southwest Florida were turned into the Ave Maria University campus.


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University in Boston. Joyce also held the positions of Assistant Secretary for the Northeastern University Board of Trustees, Director of Internal Audit, Internal Auditor and served as an accounting instructor at that university. Prior to that experience, she was the Internal Auditor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in

“President Towey is bringing the best of government public service and financial accountability here.”

Cambridge, Mass and a staff auditor at Grant Thornton LLP in Boston. Joyce holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Northeastern University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in Accounting (cum laude) from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. (She is no relation to Vice President of Institutional Advancement Kevin Joyce, although they both can lay claim to Irish ancestry.) Her conversations with President Jim Towey made the choice to relocate to Florida an easy one. She liked the idea of being a member of a team with clear goals where she could bring her financial expertise to help keep AMU on a prudent financial path. And she’s ready to be engaged. “He is bringing the best of government public service and financial accountability here,’’ she said. “He is used to seeing things work.” She said her family, her three children and their father, are happy to have a Florida vacation spot to visit. Her oldest daughter is a pediatric nurse, while her middle son is at Northeastern University and her youngest daughter is on her way to college in the fall. “The time was right for me to move. I was ready,’’ she said. Joyce likes to golf so she’s come to the right place to sink a few putts. “I like to chip and putt. I like to play nine holes,’’ she said. She said she picks up some valuable information from her playing partners. “You learn a lot about people by playing golf with them.”

Leaders | AMU

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dr. michael Dauphinais in Florida. His authority extends to his role as Dean of Faculty as well as including responsibility over the library, the university’s accreditation relationships and the Latin American campus.

“A fully Catholic university has to embrace a broad range of disciplines.”

Dauphinais Leads Faculty by AMU Magazine Staff


hen Dr. Michael Dauphinais first came to Ave Maria University’s campus in Ypsilanti, Mich., only five majors were being offered: classics, theology, philosophy, literature and

history. In the dozen years since his first being hired, the university has had enormous growth, now providing undergraduates with 23 majors and 21 minors, with two new majors in education and accounting just added. Dauphinais has recently been named Vice President for Academic Affairs and now has responsibility for the academic curriculum of the institution and providing leadership to the faculty as AMU enters its second decade

Dauphinais sees the expansion of the university as part of a Catholic mission and from the beginning of his career at the institution, he has been involved in expanding the curriculum to the natural sciences, mathematics, the social sciences, music and now more pre-professional programs. “That’s part of the idea of a university. A fully Catholic university has to embrace a broad range of disciplines,” he said. Born in Mt. Airy, Md., Dauphinais went to Mt. St. Joseph High School before going to Duke University for mechanical engineering. While at Duke, he experienced a conversion back to the Catholic Church. He began to study theology and philosophy during his undergraduate years. Dauphinais’ budding faith motivated him to complete a master’s degree in theology at Duke’s Divinity School and a Ph.D. at the University of Notre Dame. He then earned his first teaching position at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. In 2001, Dauphinais was hired as a professor in theology at Ave Maria College in Michigan. He has taught courses across the theological curriculum, including topics such as C.S. Lewis and the theology of revelation. He was promoted to Dean of Faculty in 2002 and in 2004 moved to AMU’s Southwest Florida campus with his family. After serving as acting Vice President for Academic Affairs since 2011, the position was made permanent in 2012. “I have been impressed by his commitment to excellence and devotion to the best interests of Ave Maria,” President Towey said. “We are lucky to have him as our faculty’s leader.” amu | spring 2013 |



HIDDEN GEM Dr. James Peliska Leads AMU Students to Scientific Stardom By



Dr. James Peliska poses in one of the Ave Maria University science labs. Peliska was one of the faculty members who helped put together the AMU science labs. He is currently researching HIV drug resistance. PHOTO BY Erik Kellar photography


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: ATION ry EDUC nic Chemist a g f o in Or ersity Ph.D. e Univ ison h t m d o a fr nsin-M Wisco , iology and B y r t is ege, Chem B.S. in rthland Coll . c is No d, W Ashlan

R e s e a r c h | f acu l t y


here’s a map of the United States on the wall outside the science labs at Ave Maria University. Dr. James Peliska stands in front of it, pointing out the many places biology and biochemistry graduates have gone off to major medical schools, dental schools, veterinary schools, law schools and graduate programs. Boston University, New York University, Northwestern University, he rattles off, showing off the dozens of map dots that add up to AMU success stories. “They’re all over the place,’’ he says. “The students that we have really go on to some great things.” Peliska is a professor in the Department of Biology and Chemistry and held the position of department chair between 2002 and 2010. He joined the AMU faculty in 2002 when the University was still based in Ypsilanti, Mich. It was Peliska’s job to bring the sciences to AMU. “I started the program without a test tube, without a beaker,’’ he says. “It was a challenge.” But it was a welcome opportunity. Peliska had worked in a major research lab with a dozen other scientists and dealt in millions of dollars in research grants, but his heart pulled him to academics. In 1993, Peliska was teaching at the University of Michigan as an assistant professor of biological chemistry and had started the undergraduate biochemistry program along with four other professors. He enjoyed the job at Michigan and felt that he and his wife were called to the area for a higher purpose. They soon would find out about Ave Maria University and because they wanted to be part of the Catholic tradition of the school, Peliska waited until the University branched out into his specialty. “I always felt that as soon as Ave Maria was ready, that was the place for me,’’ he said. “Finally, they were.” Starting a department and a science lab without the essentials was difficult. The first lab was in an old elementary school closet. They also used labs at Eastern Michigan University. Finally, in 2006, the school was ready to move to Southwest Florida. Peliska and Dr. Joshua Lees put their plans on paper and modern labs, although they were portable classrooms, were brought to the first AMU campus at the Vineyards in North

Naples. Those same labs are on the campus of St. John Neumann Catholic High in Naples. “They worked just great,’’ Peliska said. Now the labs are state-of-the-art in the Paul M. Henkels Academic Building on the AMU campus. It’s where research is done, including Peliska’s work into trying to analyze an enzyme integral to the HIV virus. (See What’s the Science?) Joe Embry, 21, a 2013 AMU graduate, worked on Peliska’s research with him. “It was great being part of it,’’ he said, explaining that he spent about last summer in the lab. “We had a good amount of autonomy.” He graduated this spring with his degree in biology and a minor in chemistry. His brother, Levi, 23, did the same last year. Both are headed off to veterinary schools now. Joe is going to Texas A & M, while his brother is going to Oklahoma State. “Dr. Peliska is a hidden gem at Ave Maria,’’ Levi Embry said. “He’s extremely good. He helped us work through problems a lot. He spent a lot of time doing big-time research. But he’s really good with putting up with college juniors learning organic chemistry.” With only 27 veterinary schools in the country, the competition is tough, Peliska says. He’s proud of the Embry brothers. Although every AMU student takes science courses, some really excel and some didn’t even realize they had an interest until they got into the labs. “They’re both very hard workers and they catch on very fast,’’ he said. “Joe jumps right in, while Levi is a little more deliberate.” Peliska enjoys being an educator and says he loves instilling the love of science in his students. “That’s what I’m here for,” he said. “These brilliant scientists and doctors have to come from somewhere.’’ The Embrys, who are from Kemp, Texas, a 3,000-person town near Dallas, will find out where their talents take them, whether it’s working with cattle or dogs and cats in a clinic. Both had considered being medical doctors, but changed their goals to veterinary medicine. Both feel the pull to help creatures who can’t help themselves. “I like working with people, “ Joe Embry said. “But I’d rather not have the person as the patient. I like working with animals.” Success stories like the Embry brothers make Peliska more than proud. The sciences are alive and well on campus, he said. And now they’re getting a spotlight. “We’ve been a major part of the University that nobody knows about,” he said. amu

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WHAT’S THE SCIENCE? My current main focus is on trying to understand the biochemical causes of drug resistance in Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The genome of HIV is composed of single stranded RNA. After infection, a viral enzyme called reverse transcriptase, assisted by other proteins, converts the ssRNA into double stranded DNA. This DNA is then inserted into the host chromosome by a second viral enzyme, integrase. Since reverse transcriptase plays a central role in viral replication, it is an important target in drug development against HIV infection. Many of the currently used HIV anti-retroviral drugs inhibit, or “shut down” viral replication by inhibiting reverse transcriptase. Unfortunately, the genome displays a high rate of mutation formation. That is, much like the influenza virus (which is why you need a different flu shot each season), the virus is always changing due to these mutations. One of the consequences of this high mutation rate is that the virus rapidly develops resistance to drugs, rendering these drugs ineffective. — Dr. James Peliska | spring 2013 |


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f acu l t y


Te a c h i n g


Dr. Lylas Rommel brings an imaginative bridge to teaching by Brigid O’Malley


ometimes Lylas Rommel sees stellar work from her students. Consider the student paper that produced an analysis of Homer’s Iliad in the student’s own translation of the poem from Greek. Or peruse the student paper that set out a study of the semiotic theory of an ode of Horace, once again the student’s own translation from the Latin. “Where else could you find that?” Dr. Rommel said. “Where could you go in this country and work with students in that range?” Rommel, an associate professor of literature at Ave Maria University, teaches courses such as Literary Tradition, American Literature, The Novel and Russian Novel. “It’s all about reading and writing and building that imaginative bridge between,’’ she said. Arriving at Ave Maria University eight years ago and now in the midst of a 50-year teaching career that started at 13 when she taught ballet, she still takes pleasure in pushing students to be their best. She served as an assistant professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University, teaching the Humanities, Literature, Latin and Ballet History before coming to the AMU campus. “I would say that my teaching philosophy is that I function as a coach who brings out in students what they are capable of through the discipline of careful reading and careful writing, which, of course, includes knowledge of grammar and composition. As coach, I have to know everything about the game of literature, which I enjoy. I push myself very hard in order to push them. The pleasure in the job is knowing that I have done a lot over the past eight years,’’ she said. Rommel seeks to have her students become more conscious and more aware. “I want them to see the fun in this discipline and this enterprise,” Rommel said. She says she works to “elicit the magic” and lift the students up as she would if she were teaching them to dance. “I’m going to badger them until it works,’’ she said. “When you see it work at that intensity, it motivates you,’’ Rommel said. She said she’s seen major improvements in her students’ work, especially in the last two years. She recounts that one recent class recorded 12 A grades in a class of 24 students. Some of the writing was just amazing,’’ she said. She’s taught writing for 30 years and admits students aren’t reading enough nor reading the right books. She’ll challenge them, though. She says the students’ “disciplined creativity” has to be unleashed into a “free flowing kind of expressive creativity.” She says Classicists are often alone in academic environments and her Jesuit-training has prepared her to build a : ATION sustain a new program like the one at AMU. EDUC ., English, .A Rommel says watching a student grow is what makes y B.A., M of Kentuck y teaching worthwhile. it s r e iv Un rsity “It’s cool when they catch on and see the value,’’ she said. Unive la o y o AMU senior Leslie Nagel who studied Literary Theory reek, L o M.A., G of Chicag with Rommel, said she appreciates the philosophy and the attention to more modern critics that the professor brings to ature, ., Liter as, .D h students in her class. P M.A., sity of Dall ame r “It’s very broadening,’’ Nagel said. “You really get the s of Sh Unive Poetic ing of A : n historic picture of the literary work.” ean tatio Disser e Literary M stoevsky Outside the classroom, Rommel performs with the Naples h o t D d an odor Chorus and Orchestra as a soprano in the chorus. amu is in Fe m Faulkner s o n e K illia and W



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U n i v e r s i t y D i g e s t | o n cam p u s

Photo Courtesy of The Ave Herald.

harvard professor speaks Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon spoke on Politics as a Vocation” at Ave Maria University. Professor Glendon is the Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, She was appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in May of 2012. From 2008 to 2009, she served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See and prior to that she was a member of President Bush’s Council on Bioethics (2001-2004). A prolific scholar, Professor Glendon writes and teaches in the fields of

human rights, comparative law, constitutional law, and political theory. Her lecture was drawn from her latest book, The Forum and the Tower (2011).

Aquinas Lecture Series Professor John M. Rist, the first occupant of the Fr. Kurt Pritzl Chair of Philosophy at the Catholic University of America, and author of 15 books and dozens of important scholarly articles gave the Third Annual Aquinas Lecture at Ave Maria University on the theme, “Must Morality Be Dependent on God?” Professor Rist was educated in classics at Trinity College, Cambridge. His teaching career includes educating students in Greek at University College in the University and he was a professor of classics at the University of Toronto. In 1976, Rist was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and in 1991 he was elected a life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge, among other accolades. Among Rist’s books are: Man, Soul and Body: Essays

Percent of faculty represented With PhDs.


University of Kansas Professor of Classics Stanley Lombardo was part of the Ave Maria University Homerathon, where all 24 books of The Illiad were read aloud during a 24-hour period this semester. Lombardo, whose new translation was written for an Englishspeaking audience of the 21st century. AMU students were also part of the readings that lasted long into the night.

Amu professor decorated On the 31st anniversary of the declaration of martial law in Poland, Michael Novak, Ave Maria University trustee, professor, author, theologian, and former U.S. ambassador, was decorated by President Bronisław Komorowski with the Commodore’s Cross with a Star of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland. Before the official decoration ceremony, Professor Novak gave a lecture at the Presidential Palace on the meaning of social justice. The decoration ceremony took place in the historic grand hall of the Presidential Palace, the site of the 1955 signing of the Warsaw Pact. Professor Novak was cited for his “merits in fostering democratic change in Poland as well as developing Polish-American cooperation.” As ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission in 1986, Novak initiated the international condemnation of martial law in Poland, the first ever U.N. condemnation of a regime behind the Iron Curtain.

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94 Percent of students From Florida

40 U.S. states represented by students


in Ancient Thought from Plato to Dionysius (1996), Augustine: Ancient Thought Baptized (1994), The Mind of Aristotle (1989), Platonism and Its Christian Heritage (1985) and Human Value: A Study of Ancient Philosophical Ethics (1982). | spring 2013 |


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student life


Campus Community

Showing Their Faith

juggling act AMU Senior John Audino and his brother Chris, an AMU junior, juggle at the Feast of the Annunciation, while far right, graduate student Sarah Bowes plays the bagpipes during the annual event. Photo by Dave Shnaider, Ave Herald

More than 800 people gathered

at Ave Maria University on the Feast of the Annunciation to participate in a new tradition to celebrate the school’s patronal feast. Students, faculty and staff, priests, and families from the community enjoyed a sunset steak cookout and concert on the campus’ central lawn as part of a new annual tradition organized by a student committee. The Celtic rock band Scythian performed as the Ave Maria University community came together. The University’s name “Ave Maria” is the Latin version of Angel Gabriel’s greeting when he first appears to Mary: “Hail Mary.”

Photo by Kevin Stinnet


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service project feeds needy

Students make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as part of a service project to mark the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI this spring. Several hundred bagged lunches were sent to Immokalee to help feed the needy. Photo by Erik Kellar photography

board member meets dalai lama

Ave Maria University Board of Trustees member Arthur Brooks meets with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in India recently. Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Institute, a non-partisan think tank. Photo courtesy of Arthur Brooks | spring 2013 |


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student life


Campus Community

AMU Open House Faculty to Student Ratio



Junior Annie Hartney leads a group of prospective AMU students and their families on a tour of the campus during an Open House event. Showing off our beautiful Southwest Florida campus and sharing the academic excellence of the University gives visitors a good idea on why AMU should be their first choice in Catholic education. Photo by Kevin Stinnet

lesson in a box About 20 Ave Maria University students slept on bricks in cardboard shelters as part of a Lenten effort to better understand the world of the poor and homeless. Earlier in the evening, the students collected canned goods for Guadalupe Social Services in Immokalee and heard reflection by Father Paulo on serving the poor. Photo by ave herald


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> Heather Esker, an AMU junior, tries out her sleeping quarters for the night.

Average Class Size

18 Majors


Calcutta | student life

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Calcutta Calling AMU students follow in Mother Teresa’s footsteps by Bridget


Littleton, Class of 2013

pon hearing the word “Calcutta,” an image immediately comes to mind of Mother Teresa, her face lined with the imprints of a timeless smile, beneath a white veil bordered in blue. Mother Teresa is a woman whose legacy continues to touch the lives of countless people, not only in India, but at Ave Maria University. Twelve students are looking forward to experiencing first-hand Mother Teresa’s spirituality and life of service when they travel to Calcutta this spring. This May, three seniors, four juniors, three sophomores, and two freshmen, led by AMU President Jim Towey, will travel to Calcutta to work with the Missionaries of Charity. Junior Benjamin Ruefer gives a preview of the six-day mission: “The first day we will go see Calcutta. The weather will be 120 degrees and we will be sweating at 6 a.m. Mass, but you’ve got to get used to it.” Then they’ll work in one of four houses, including one called the “house of the dying.” Half of the poor who enter this house will die there. “We will be there to give them a dignified life. Cleaning, feeding, bathing them, helping them into their passing,’’ the 21-year-old Ruefer said. Each student will be assigned to work in one of the four houses. In addition to the house of the dying, the houses include anorphanage, a recovery house, where people go who survive the house of the dying, and a house of the handicapped. The students won’t be sightseers or doing the ordinary tourist-type visits, according to 21-year-old senior Adrienne McClellan who is studying politics. “This is not just a fun visit to a foreign country, to see the bright colors, to meet people and go home. It is a spiritual experience for us,” she said. That spiritual part of the trip to Calcutta is important to the students. “I am looking forward to that encounter with Jesus that I am hoping to have,” said 20-year-old sophomore Lauren Hebert who is a music major. “To be able to recognize him in what Mother Teresa called his ‘distressing disguise’ of the poor.” Emily Morton, 18, a freshman studying biochemistry, says this trip is about a special kind of beauty. “In Calcutta it will be about hidden beauty,’’ she said. Before they return home, the group will spend a day in Paris, contrasting the secret beauty in Calcutta with the physical beauty of Paris. Junior Hayley Thompson, 21, does not hesitate to admit that she is a bit scared. “I am nervous about the fact that God really wants me to go on this trip. So he must have something in mind,’’ the politics major said. Like many of the other students in the group, Morton says she has always wanted to work in the missions of Calcutta. It’s a personal trip for her too, because she has three siblings adopted from the Missionaries of Charity Home in Ethiopia. “Serving with Mother Teresa’s nuns has been my dream since age 10,” she said. The group has been preparing for this pilgrimage, from the recommended shots to watching a DVD about Mother Teresa’s life and works. They’ve had to raise the money for the trip themselves and are grateful for all of the people who have helped them make this mission possible through their donations. “Being a missionary is not just the person who goes; it is the people who make the mission possible.” theology student Ruefer said. amu

“I am nervous about the fact that God really wants me to go on this trip. So he must have something in mind.”

— Hayley Thompson, junior

Ave Maria University President Jim Towey with Mother Teresa in Mexico. Towey served as legal counsel to her for 12 years. | spring 2013 |


Erika and Kingsley Avery in the dugout at the softball field at Ave Maria University. The twins bring the double-barreled strengths of academic success and athletic prowess to the team.

Photo by Erik Kellar photography


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International | student life

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Twin Power AMU softball players make the move from “Down Under” to AMU by

Grace Farley, Class of 2014


eing a student-athlete at Ave Maria University can be difficult and demanding, but a pair of twin softball players have found a way to succeed on the field and in the classroom. Kingsley and Erika Avery, 19-year-olds from Auckland, New Zealand, are setting the bar high for their teammates and fellow students. They bring so much to our program, “ softball coach Tim Speakman said during a recent practice. “Juggling academics and athletics. And their personalities . . . every day they come out here with a smile on their faces.” The two women are part of the international flavor of the campus. Students come to our Southwest Florida campus from nearly every state and 18 different countries. The Averys turned down a chance to play for a New Zealand national team to be Gyrenes. While they were playing for the South Florida Mini Bulls, a prominent travel softball team with mostly Division One players, AMU’s softball coach Tim Speakman recruited Kingsley and Erika. The twins were planning on going to different colleges, but, after visiting Ave Maria, they both decided to attend an academically challenging school while participating in its growing softball program. Kingsley and Erika enjoy being teammates. “We have a way of pushing each other farther because there is always that sense of competition,” Erika says. Her sister agrees. “It is also so great to be a part of a team that is consistently wanting to get better,’’ Kingsley says. Erika is one of the team’s power hitters and is someone the team looks to knock in some runs.

The two women from New Zealand are part of the international mix at AMU. The campus draws students from 18 different countries.

Kingsley is the team’s left-handed leadoff hitter and uses her speed to get on base. The twins bring a lot of speed to the lineup and are both solid outfielders. Kingsley plays center field, but can also catch, while Erika is a left fielder. Even in high school, Kingsley and Erika achieved academic and athletic excellence. The girls played multiple sports throughout their high school careers at Epsom Girls Grammar School, a school of 2,400 students, nearly three times the size of the AMU campus. New Zealand national softball teams recruited them in high school, and, after graduating in 2011, the Avery twins came to the United States hoping to continue their softball career. They also realize that “there is a much bigger picture than softball,” says Speakman. “From the classroom to the field, they give 100 percent in everything they do,’’ he said. Kingsley and Erika have changed the dynamics of the work ethic for the team, setting the bar high in the weight room, in conditioning, on the field, and, most importantly, in the classroom. Erika, an outstanding athlete and a power hitter is affectionately known as “Spaz” by her teammates. At their morning footwork drills, she’ll trip over her own feet—eventually, Speakman explains. Kingsley, known as the “Kiwi Kid” has the whole package as a softball player, from speed to defense, her coach says. The women are competitive everywhere from the classroom to the weight room to the softball field. Kingsley describes Erika as someone who will stay in her room and get her work done before doing anything else. She jokingly calls her twin, “a cave woman.” Playing softball keeps them on a tight schedule, which “forces you to use the time you have,” says Erika. Balancing athletics and academics is challenging. “They feed off each other because in both aspects you are required to have a good work ethic and sight of the bigger picture. In a way both areas drive success in each other . . . the schedule that I currently have makes me feel fulfilled, I definitely would prefer to be busy than not,” Kingsley explains. amu | spring 2013 |


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at h l e t i c s


AMU Trailblazers: Seniors lead the way by Zach Crockett, Class of 2013



he buzz surrounding this year’s athletics at Ave Maria University might lead one to believe that success always came easy to the Gyrenes. It was not always that way, and no one knows that better than this year’s crop of graduating athletes. They have been trailblazers for sports at AMU, and what they leave behind will be just as important as what they take with them. Players recall having no home court advantage. “When we first got to Ave, everyone practiced at Donohue Academy,” said Cecilia Eckard (above), 21, referring to a nearby school. Eckard, along with seniors Christianne Ludwick, 22, and Megan Arago, 21, have formed a core for the volleyball team the past four years. Those early days were rough. Practice times were limited and space was always tight. The court doubled as a cafeteria. Facilities were just one part of the problem. The lack of players made it difficult for the programs to get off the ground. When Leo Duval began organizing tennis matches for the University back in 2010, the 21-year old economics major admits that there was one problem. ‘We didn’t actually have a team yet,” he says. “I would have schools come out and

play under the guise that we had a tennis team.” Many of the students have similar stories to tell. Psychology major Janet Holtfreter, 22, was one of six original recruits for the women’s softball squad. The rest of the team was built from girls already at the school, many of whom had not played softball in years. “We would get laughed at,” she recalls. “The umpire would look at our lineup card and say, ‘Coach, this is an illegal lineup. Where are your subs?’ We had no subs; there was nobody on the bench!”

Peter Lesniewski

Cecilia Eckard


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Peter Lesniewski (above) started baseball as a club program in 2008. “I had to petition for the club to get jerseys, and then I got whatever guys were at the university to play,” he says. “I had to show there was interest.” As enrollment increased at the University, so has the interest in athletics. There has always been a strong sense of community permeating the campus life, a family atmosphere of camaraderie and faith that unites the student body. According to the senior athletes, these interactions are what make Ave Maria a special place. “You will not find so many amazing people in one area anywhere else in the

You Should Know . . . Nickname: Gyrenes Colors: Tanzanite Blue and Kelly Green Conference: Sun

world,” says Lady Gyrenes guard Emily Huber. The 22-year old feels these friendships translate to success on the basketball court as well. “I know what my teammates are going to do before they do it.” Helped by their friendships and the much-needed construction of the Golisano Fieldhouse, the athletes began to master their craft and the wins began to pile up. Suddenly, a program that was once a laughing matter had to be taken very seriously. One of the highlights for 23-year old Dylan Fugate (below, with ball) came at the end of his freshman year, when the men’s basketball program beat their rival and then fourthranked St. Thomas University of Miami.

“I think we knew at that point that we could be really good, and it gave us a lot of confidence and a foundation to work harder for the next year,” he said. Now a 22-year old grad student finishing his master’s degree in theology, Lesniewski reflects on just how far the baseball program has come. “I think this is the year we’ve really turned the corner,” he says. Their success on the field helps to promote strong academic performance in the classrooms. Ludwick, a volleyball player, spent a semester as Butler University in 2010, but

found that the quality of the professors at Ave Maria makes the curricula unique. Her teammate Arago explains: “Whether it’s athletically or spiritually or academically, the education at Ave Maria helps to build up your whole person.” This creates an atmosphere where, according to tennis player Duval, learning is constantly just around the corner. “I think you learn more outside the classroom than you do inside,” he says. Their leadership in sports and academics has led them to give back to the community as well. Eckard, Ludwick and Arago all took part in mission trips to Nicaragua. Janet and the softball team have read for kids at the local elementary school. This past summer, Huber biked from Maine to Washington to raise awareness and money for a cure for multiple sclerosis. “It feels good,” Huber said. “Every time we do something new, we bring good PR for the university.” So there is good reason to be excited about what the athletics program has accomplished. This year’s seniors demonstrate passion for athletics, academics, and leadership. By laying the foundation for athletics, they have laid the foundation for a broader pursuit of excellence, one that expands the mission of AMU, and in part fulfulls the vision of Founder Tom Monaghan—AMU’s No. 1 Athletics fan. amu

Dylan Fugate, No. 22 Photo Courtesy AMU Sports Information Office | spring 2013 |


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at h l e t i c s


Spring Roundup

Super Spring for AMU The Gyrenes are showing up big in spring sports. The Ave Maria University spring sports teams began their best combined season yet in 2013. AMU baseball won its record 23rd game against NCAA I #23 FGCU in March. Tennis is off to a record start, with the women’s team sitting at fourth place in The Sun Conference at mid-season. The women’s doubles team of Heather Esker and Mary Kate Lee has recorded victories against the #1 doubles team in the NAIA (SCAD Savannah) and also against NAIA #2 Embry-Riddle’s first doubles team. The Gyrene softball team has already tied their all-time high mark at 16 wins at mid-season. Men’s golf has produced impressive scores on the course, with James Chillemi recording a 75 (3 over par) and Sean Miller a 79 (6 over par) in a recent tough loss to Illinois College.


Photos Courtesy AMU Sports Information Office





Pete Lesniewski holds the runner on first in a game earlier in the 2013 season. He has been a part of AMU baseball since its inception—each of his four years as an undergrad and his fifth year as a graduate student.

Heather Esker and Eileen Lee discuss a point in an early season match. Esker and Lee have led AMU to the most successful season in program history.

Junior Beth Vaccarezza hurls a pitch in a March game against Broward College. Vaccarezza has picked up big wins against MichiganDearborn and Cornerstone University this spring.

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G o o d Wo r k s | at h l e t i c s

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Huber Named to Good Works Team AMU Basketball Star Picks Up National Honor


enior Emily Huber picked up a national award for good works and good character. Huber was named to the inaugural Allstate WBCA Good Works Team by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and Allstate Insurance Company. She is one of 10 women’s college basketball student-athletes that were named to the team and was selected to the team for her contributions in volunteerism and civic involvement. “The women being recognized with this award have demonstrated a commitment to excellence on and off the court,” said Pam Hollander, senior director of marketing for Allstate Insurance Company and a member of the 2013 WBCA Good Works Team selection panels. “We believe in the potential of this exemplary program as an opportunity to promote the good works taking place in collegiate athletics,” said Beth Bass, CEO of the WBCA. “The Good Works Team recognizes student-athletes who are conscientious and caring individuals who will continue to make significant contributions as civic leaders in communities across the United States.” The Ave Maria University senior biked across the United States in the summer of 2012 with Bike the

US for MS, a foundation that organizes cross country bike trips that raise awareness for Multiple Sclerosis research for patients. Huber’s inaugural trip spanned across the Northern Tier. The Northern Tier is a 4,295 mile trail that begins in Bar Harbor, Maine and ends in Seattle. She traveled across 13 states last summer raising more than $5,000. This summer she will journey across the TransAmerica trail. She will travel from June 1 through Aug. 1 on the trail that runs from Yorktown, Va. to San Francisco. For more information about her trip and an opportunity to donate and support her journey please visit her fundraising page, http://www. and contribute. Huber is a four-time All-Sun Conference selection and was a NAIA Division II All-America Honorable Mention honoree in 2011-12. Additionally she was also AMU’s first women’s basketball player to score 1,000 points. She has career averages of 14 points per game, 4.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.3 steals. She was also recently chosen as the Sun Conference’s Champion of Character award-winner for the 2012-13 season. — AMU Magazine staff report

By the Numbers: Women’s Basketball , 2012-13 season

23-10 Record


Ranking in NAIA Div. II in 3-Point FG Defense

2,207 Points scored | spring 2013 |


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a l um n i


Growing Our Family

Calling All AMU Alumni Once A Gyrene, Always A Gyrene As the Ave Maria University alumni family grows, the Magazine will highlight graduates who are making a difference, making history and making our AMU family proud.

How to share your Gyrene News: Email: Facebook: AveMariaAlumni Phone: 239-280-1565


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E c o n o m i cs , 2 0 1 1


ean ventured out into life after Ave Maria armed with his Economics degree and anticipating a future in the run-of-the-mill business world. After only a few months in a job at a retail company, Sean was offered a position at his favorite Catholic Ministry: World on Fire, a nonprofit company founded by Fr. Robert Barron that is focused on evangelization through different forms of media. At World on Fire, Sean works as a domestic account manager, using the his knowledge and skills in economics to expand the company’s distribution and appeal and working to get World on Fire’s evangelization tools into every Catholic parish in the United States. Sean jokes about the “technical business language” in his job with the company, but it is the opportunity to serve the Church that Sean loves most about his work. Sean has been able to travel to parishes and conferences across the country and see first-hand the difference that modern evangelization techniques can have on Catholics of all ages. “It has been incredible to see what our work at the ministry has done to change thousands of lives,” he said. “It gives me hope for the future. The New Evangelization is here!” And AMU helped give him that hope. “Ave Maria gave me skills that allowed me to transition seamlessly into the business world,” Sean says of his education at AMU. “More importantly, Ave Maria helped form me into a soldier for Christ and gave me a strong spiritual backbone so I can use my practical skills to do spiritual work.” He encourages current AMU students to “utilize everything our great university gives you” be unafraid of whatever paths open after college because something unexpected might be the greatest opportunity of all. By Andrea Allphin

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n March 31st, her 25th birthday, Amanda launched her new brand that provides life-coaching services as well as content full of resources for people looking to add “a little fire and heat into their careers – and their lives!” Her website,, features blog posts with career, finance, and health resources, workshop videos, Amanda’s new initiative is the latest in the career she’s made of helping recent college graduates create strategies to meet their potential for success. Facing a dismal job market as a graduate in 2010, Amanda says her own “desperate attempt at finding solace” was to create a blog – “Grad Meets World” – that offered career, finance, and health resources for other struggling millennials. The readership of her blog grew rapidly, and she began working as a life-coach and career consultant, giving speeches, holding workshops, and writing advice columns. Amanda focused on encouragement and positivity in her career development advice, finding that people who pursue a career they could enjoy find success in other areas of their life, from finances to mental wellbeing. Amanda is a true believer in the value of a liberal arts education, especially with her experience in the career-building world. “The majority of the people I meet assume I studied finance, business or human resources. When I tell them I went to a small liberal arts school and majored in English Literature they are usually pretty dumbfounded,” she says. “It’s refreshing to them that a liberal arts grad is actually doing something they love and getting paid for it.” Amanda says that AMU also taught her invaluable skills for the workplace. “Ave taught me how to work hard, push myself to my own edge, and figure things out,” she said. “Ave also taught me how to think outside of the box, ask questions, look for solutions, and not take no for an answer. All skills that you will need at any job, any undertaking and certainly in life.” By Andrea Allphin


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Name that Gyrene





Can you name the Gyrene giving his best rendition of Jesus in a student-produced Passion Play in 2006?


Do you recognize these Gyrenes who dressed as their favorite Harry Potter couple, Harry Potter and Cho Chang, at the inaugural Sadie Hawkins Dance in 2009?


Do you remember these talented Gyrene sisters captured here performing for the guests at the 2005 Students for Life Dinner? answers on page 40 | spring 2013 |


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Adopt AMU

Join The AMU Giving Community Celebrate Our Students

Dr. Lou Argenta and his wife Ginger with Donald Cardinal Wuerl at the Second Annual Scholarship Dinner, which they generously sponsored. The Argentas are proud supporters of Ave Maria and also proud parents of an AMU sophomore, Sara. Photo by Tony Zollo

ADOPT AN AVE MARIA STUDENT: Every dollar you give can make the difference in the life and education of an AMU student.

Follow the money: $32,286.................. a full year’s tuition, room, board, fees $16,143 ................ a semester’s tuition, room, board, fees $9,286 ............... room and board and fees for a full year $12,500 ............ average scholarship for an AMU student For more information, please contact Antionette Bosch, Donor Relations and Stewardship Coordinator, 239-280-2574 or 239-280-1646

QUICK QUIZ ANSWERS (from Page 3): 1. Frank Lloyd Wright; 2. Rome, Nicaragua; 3. Tanzanite Blue and Kelly Green; 4. Jim Towey. NAME THAT GYRENE ANSWERS (from Page 39): 1. Rich Pagano (Class of ’07) who will be ordained a priest for the Diocese of St. Augustine on May 18th! 2. Drew Miles (Class of ’12) and his longtime sweetheart Andrea Corona (Class of ’11) who got married in December 2012 just before Drew headed off to Officer Candidate School for the Marine Corps. 3. (From left to right) Kathleen (Class of ’08), Patricia (Class of ’09), Ann (Class of ’10), and Maureen Moran (Class of ’11) who are all now busy pursuing careers. Kathleen and Maureen both work in New York City while Patricia and Ann are both in Washington, D.C.


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embers of Dr. Travis Curtright’s Shakespeare in Performance course act in a scene from Much Ado About Nothing. From left, AMU senior Charles Atkinson (Don John), freshman Nicholas Ciavarra (Claudio) and junior Charlie Carlisi (Borachio) act in a scene from the play performed this spring on campus. In this scene, Don John is trying to mislead Claudio into believing Hero, his love, is being pursued by another man. Shakespeare in Performance is a student acting troupe that presents the plays according to originalist practices of rhetoric and theater space. The Shakespeare production is the high point of the class, which includes outreach to high school students and performances for the entire community. Photo by Erik Kellar photography

Ave Maria University 5050 Ave Maria Blvd. Ave Maria, FL 34142

Smarter Than The Average Bear Ave Maria University President Jim Towey reveals the “conversion� of a curious bear that once called the Town of Ave Maria home to the delight of the crowd at the annual Scholarship Dinner. For complete coverage of the event go to page 6.

Photo by erik kellar photography

AMU Magazine Spring 2013  

AMU Magazine Spring 2013

AMU Magazine Spring 2013  

AMU Magazine Spring 2013