Stetson Magazine

Page 1





















Meet the

New President Christopher F. Roellke, PhD

Celebrating the Historic Class of 2020 Achievement during unprecedented times | STETSON



Taking the Stage It didn’t take long for new President Christopher F. Roellke, PhD, to command attention on campus. Roellke was introduced to the university community on Nov. 21, 2019, at Lee Chapel in Elizabeth Hall. With ease and confidence, he drew rousing applause, including from members of the Stetson Concert Choir. Moments earlier, the choir had delivered an uplifting a cappella performance of “Walk a Mile in My Shoes.” As you’ll read on Page 6, Roellke, indeed, plans to walk a mile in his neighbors’ shoes — to help understand them better and to get his footing at Stetson. Roellke officially began as president on July 1. Photo: Stetson University/Ciara Ocasio


STETSON | Summer 2020

“Kindness not only matters … it enables us to listen, to engage with others unlike ourselves, and to consider paths we can forge together to make our community, in fact the world, a better place.” — New Stetson President Christopher F. Roellke, PhD, Nov. 21, 2019 | STETSON






President Christopher F. Roellke, PhD Vice President of University Marketing Bruce Chong Assistant Vice President, Marketing/Media Relations Janie Graziani Editor Michael Candelaria

22 Departments


2 BEGINNINGS Taking the Stage

22 Freedom Riders

6 WELCOME Meet the New President 8 INTELLIGENTSIA News and Notes About Knowledge 18 FIRST PERSON On the Front Lines of COVID-19 52 ATHLETICS Super Seniors 56 ALUMNI Virtual Connections 62 THE CLASSES Accolades and Achievements 67 PARTING SHOT Leaving the Stage


STETSON | Summer 2020

With present-day events being reminiscent of the past, Stetson’s travel experience and exploration of a civil rights movement from nearly 60 years ago — canceled this summer — comes back into timely and historic focus.

26 The Spread of Goodwill

In time of pandemic need, Hatters helped Hatters, as the Stetson community rallied in relief of their own and their neighbors.

Designer Kris Winters Art and Photography Faith Jones ’21, Joel Jones, Ciara Ocasio Writers Sandra Carr, Bruce Chong, Rick de Yampert, Janie Graziani, Cory Lancaster, Ashley McKnight-Taylor, Kimberly D.S. Reiter, PhD, Jack Roth, Emily Spriggs ’20 Class Notes Editor Cathy Foster STETSON UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE is published three times a year by Stetson University, DeLand, FL 32723, and is distributed to its alumni, families, friends, faculty and staff. The magazine is printed on FSC-certified paper. The College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business Administration and School of Music are at the historic main campus in DeLand. The College of Law is in Gulfport/St. Petersburg. The university also has two satellite centers: the Tampa Law Center and the Stetson University Center at Celebration near Orlando.

Want to add, remove or change your magazine subscription?

Email Also, we accept paid advertising. Email inquiries to



CLASS OF 2020 30 Autumn Hope Rising

For a Class of 2020 whose members conquered rare challenges to reach their goals, the resilience of Autumn Hope Johnson offers an emblem of their optimism and promise.

36 Tip of the Cap

Graduates left their academic impacts on the university, and much more, in what turned out to be historic achievement.

48 Staying for More

Personifying the virtues of experiential learning, Ashley Martinez ’20 has made her immediate plans following graduation: remain on campus to leave a greater impact.

50 Showcase, Indeed

Despite cancellation of the actual event, Stetson Showcase again proved to be a worthy display, with research impressing “all who have seen it.”

ON THE COVER: Christopher F. Roellke, PhD Last fall, the Stetson University Board of Trustees selected Roellke to replace Wendy B. Libby, PhD, who has retired. So, what can Stetson now expect? Hint: confidence, strength, experience, expertise, acumen. (And he’s athletic.) Photo: Stetson University/Ciara Ocasio | STETSON


WELCOME The Roellke family (left to right): Julia Roellke, science education fellow, sustainability coordinator and basketball coach, Greens Farms Academy, Westport, Connecticut; Kim Roellke, DVM, veterinarian; Chris Roellke, president, Stetson; Olivia Roellke, rising junior in high school; Emma Roellke, medical student, NYU Long Island School of Medicine

Meet the

NEW PRESIDENT Ten questions for Christopher F. Roellke, PhD — revealing insight into what makes him tick.


hristopher F. Roellke, PhD, spent 21 years as a professor and administrator at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. From 2008 to 2018, he served as Dean of the College, and in 2018 became Dean of the College Emeritus. Last fall, the Stetson University Board of Trustees selected Roellke to replace Wendy B. Libby, PhD, who has retired. Roellke earned an undergraduate degree in American government from Wesleyan University (where he played on the baseball and basketball teams), and a master’s degree and doctorate from Cornell University in social and philosophical foundations of education. Prior to entering the doctoral program at Cornell, he was an award-winning secondary-school history and social studies teacher in rural, suburban and urban settings. Coincidentally (or not), Roellke was born in the same city as university namesake John B. Stetson: Orange, New Jersey.


STETSON | Summer 2020

Stetson University Magazine: If someone had told you last fall that this pandemic scenario would occur — and the most recent social-justice movement (Black Lives Matter) would unfold — creating an incredibly challenging situation not just for Stetson, but for all colleges and universities, how would you have responded? I do believe that Stetson and institutions like us are being confronted with a “once in a century” set of challenges. However, this context also brings considerable opportunity to learn, to grow and to work diligently to remedy historical injustices and inequities. As we move forward in addressing our contemporary challenges, we must do so with open minds and with our core values driving the difficult decisions that lie ahead. Stetson, over time, will emerge stronger if we come together as a community and continue to be a place where “learning and values meet.” As I indicated in my welcoming remarks to the Stetson community last fall, “We will be proactive, not reactive, in the rapidly changing higher education landscape and will not shy away from challenges — challenges that inevitably will come.” Just a few short months after I was appointed Dean of the College at Vassar, we experienced a significant downturn in the economy (the Great Recession). We had also just announced an ambitious plan to diversify our student body, faculty and staff. Our response to the crisis required creativity, patience, collaboration and a laserlike focus on what was most important to the institution. The same holds true for our current context.

Has there been an easy part to this transition, or has everything been impacted by COVID-19? Or, perhaps, has COVID-19 forced an acclimation to Stetson more quickly? Over the past several months, I have been immersed in countless virtual conversations with faculty, staff, students and members of the Board of Trustees. This has afforded me a window into the Stetson community that goes well beyond what a typical presidential transition would entail. In times of crisis, you often see some of the very best in people, and that has certainly been my experience thus far at Stetson. What will your priorities be in the first 100 days? And, related, what pace do you want to set at Stetson? First and foremost, I am prioritizing listening. While my planned “listening tour” will be accelerated given our current context, I believe it is critical for any new leader to take the time to understand multiple perspectives and the lived experiences of a community. There is no doubt that we will need to continue to make pragmatic and judicious decisions in a context of COVID-19 and social unrest. As I think about the first 100 days and beyond, I believe a president’s disposition and demeanor are a vital component of effective leadership. What I can pledge is that I will always be committed to working with our constituents collaboratively, with openness, with honesty and with steadfast integrity.

Chris Roellke, No. 21, played guard/forward for the Wesleyan University Cardinals and was a team captain. He also played first base on the baseball team and was named an Academic All-American.

During that time, those 100 days, what do you expect to be “telling yourself”? Most importantly, I will be reminding myself that we are not alone in this. All institutions of higher education are being challenged, and all members of our community are trying to navigate uncharted waters. Given this uncertainty and the inevitable anxiety that accompanies it, I can think of no better place to be than in an institution of higher education. On our campuses, one is always surrounded by really smart, really thoughtful and really insightful people — all of whom are seeking to improve the human condition. As you moved through the interview and discovery process for the presidency, was there any one thing about the university you kept thinking about — that kept coming back to you, telling you this was the place you wanted to be? As the presidential search process was unfolding, I found myself getting more and more enamored with the prospect of being afforded the opportunity to lead Stetson. Stetson has had just nine presidents in more than 136 years of existence, and it is the deepest honor and privilege of my professional life to be selected as number 10. There is so much about Stetson that resonates with me. What stands out most to me is that the people who study and work here are kind, engaging, thoughtful and hungry to make a difference. The commitment to experiential learning, to modernizing concepts of a broad and pragmatic liberal arts education, to promoting diversity and inclusion — all of these commitments have been central to my own thinking about education. What is most compelling to you about the profession of being an educator and leader? Related, what made you want to teach? Though I have been a senior executive in higher education for some time, I still very much view my primary role as that of educator. Teaching and learning are profoundly exciting, challenging and important. The opportunity to equip young people with the tools necessary to lead society judiciously to good ends is a true privilege, and it is what has driven me profes-

sionally for all of my adult life. Great educators share a number of both measurable and immeasurable characteristics: an ethic of caring for each individual mind and each individual person, a deep commitment to the craft of teaching, an insatiable curiosity for understanding, and an unquenchable thirst for personal and intellectual growth. To me, there is nothing more exciting than pursuing this kind of excellence in our field. What is the role of a university today in terms of the liberal arts, career development for students and its place in communities? Students and their families are rightfully expecting a “return on investment” in education. Given the escalating costs of higher education, it is vital that we prepare students for an increasingly competitive global marketplace. In my view, the best way to do that is to make sure that our graduates possess the ability to collaborate across differences and to think critically and creatively to help solve pressing global problems. It is also essential that our students continuously apply what it is they are learning both inside and outside the classroom to improve the human condition. Stetson has long been committed to bridging any perceived or real gaps between theory and practice, and I am eager to ensure that our curriculum continues to be responsive to contemporary challenges. A little self-analysis, what motivates you? Related, where do you go to find your drive, direction, positivity? My father’s favorite salutation when saying goodbye to friends or family was “keep smiling.” I always interpreted that salutation as highlighting the importance of staying positive, regardless of context. Both my mother and father “practiced what they preached” in terms of plowing through adversity — viewing all challenges as learning opportunities. As the last of seven children, I also benefited immensely from having older brothers and sisters who are among my most potent teachers. Family continues to be central to everything I do both professionally and personally.

What will you miss most about the Poughkeepsie area, where Vassar is, or about the Northeast, where you grew up? The Hudson Valley has been our home for more than two decades, and we will miss the deep friendships and collaborations we have established over the years. We lived directly on the Vassar campus for well over half of our time in Poughkeepsie, and the college was an extraordinary place to raise a family. I will also miss the strong partnership we established with local area school systems — the Vassar College Urban Education Initiative, which I founded 15 years ago — as I do believe we have made tremendous progress in strengthening the relationship between the college and young people and their families in the surrounding community. I will also miss playing baseball (center field) with the Pirates — four-time champions of the Dutchess County Men’s Senior Baseball League! Beyond that answer, what does Chris Roellke enjoy? Here are my “likes and dislikes”: Likes: daughters, pets, family get-togethers, teaching, blues music, “Seinfeld,” Frank Costanza, watching my kids eat, baseball/ basketball, New York Yankees, Italian food, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” mowing the lawn, Nilla Wafers, peanut butter cups. Dislikes: heights, deep water, traffic, waiting on line, cotton candy, folding laundry, making the bed, the meeting before and after the meeting. Sign: Pisces. | STETSON



The CUB’s blend of historic appearance and modern flair drew global recognition for design excellence.

CUB Receives Facility Design Award The Carlton Union Building on Stetson’s campus in DeLand has been a focal point of student activity since its opening in the fall semester of 1957. Now, more than six decades later, the CUB — as it’s affectionately dubbed — is an award winner both for aesthetics and functionality. This spring, the CUB received a Facility Design Award from the Association of College Unions – International for renovation and expansion excellence. ACUI, headquartered in Bloomington, Indiana, is a nonprofit educational organization that brings together professional campus-community builders worldwide. The ACUI Facility Design Awards were created to encourage and recognize excellence in the design of student-centered facilities that support campus communities and student learning. The CUB, according to ACUI’s description, retains the “historic appearance of the front of the union building and its red brick exterior and stately white columns” while still allowing “for a modern flair to arise from the eastern façade.” The CUB is named after Doyle E. Carlton, a 1909 Stetson graduate and governor of Florida from 1929 to 1933. On campus, he was known to be an especially active and engaged student. Each year, the Doyle E. Carlton Award is presented to a Stetson graduate, partly in recognition of extraordinary contributions to the life and development of the university. Suitably, the CUB brings similar benefits. The CUB’s renovation/expansion was completed in December 2018, following two years of work. The project was highlighted by a nearly 50% increase in the building’s footprint, providing larger dining hall and kitchen space, along with new offices for the Student Government Association and more areas for student activities, among other features. In addition, the CUB showcases the university’s commitment to environmental sustainability, including the installation of 231 solar panels atop the building, 8

STETSON | Summer 2020

the result of efforts by students to establish a Revolving Green Fund in spring 2017. The Templeton Fountain was added east of the CUB last August. The fountain, donated by Troy Templeton, a double-Hatter and former university trustee, and his wife, Sissy, incorporates 41 jets of water, colored LED lights and speakers for sound. Pumps and filters recycle the water. — Michael Candelaria

DID YOU KNOW? At the 2020 Atlantic Sun Conference Spring Meetings, held virtually, special honors went to Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, PhD, in recognition of contributions to the ASUN and in light of her retirement. In addition, Stetson Athletics Director Jeff Altier was honored with the Stellar Service Award, with Altier completing his 35th year at Stetson and 23rd overall as Stetson’s AD.




Trustees Approve $12 Million in Capital Projects In late April, at its first-ever videoconference meeting, the Stetson University Board of Trustees approved a resolution by the university’s Facilities Committee and Finance Committee for $12 million for capital projects in the 2020-2021 academic year. The majority of the funding for the projects comes from donor contributions and includes initial planning and construction for the Cici & Hyatt Brown Hall for Health and Innovation in DeLand. Additionally, the board honored Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, PhD, by conferring President Emerita and Professor Emerita status. Other activities included the board’s approval of committee additional four-year terms for Maureen Breakiron-Evans, Dean Hollis, Tom Horton and Josh Magidson; and the board approved the conferral of degrees for Stetson students who have met their graduation requirements. Typically, the university would hold its commencement ceremony in early May, but the event and celebration, along with the Academic Awards and Recognition ceremony, have been postponed until December. The meeting’s highlight was the honoring of Libby, who in February 2019 announced her plans to retire as of June 30, 2020. Aside from the Emerita status, the board officially named the open green area between the CUB Commons dining room and the Templeton Fountain the Libby Lawn. “Stetson is a different university than it was 11 years ago, when Wendy arrived,” said Joe Cooper ’79, MBA ’82, who until June 30 had been chair of the Stetson University Board of Trustees. “She helped Stetson live up to its potential. We have more students; a successful $218 million campaign behind us; a much stronger endowment; a ‘One Stetson’ university; new faculty and academic programs; a more vibrant, beautiful campus; renovated and new facilities; the benefits of football and other athletic programs; and a solid foundation for an even stronger future.” — Bruce Chong



Thank You, Joe! A huge Hatter thank-you to Joe Cooper ’79, MBA ’82. On June 30, Cooper completed his tenure as chair of Stetson’s Board of Trustees, a position he held since 2017. A former chief executive of multiple large companies, Cooper retired in 2014 and moved his wife, Cindi Tidwell Cooper ’82, to Naples, Florida. In April 2016, Cooper was inducted, as a member of the inaugural class, into the Stetson University Accounting Hall of Fame. He served on Stetson’s Joe Cooper ’79, MBA ’82 School of Business Administration Board of Advisors and was elected to the Board of Trustees in May 2011. Effective July 1, Maureen Breakiron-Evans ’76 became the new chair. In addition to an accounting degree from Stetson, BreakironEvans has master’s degrees from Harvard Business School and Stanford University. — Michael Candelaria

The open green area between the CUB Commons dining room and the colorful Templeton Fountain is now called the Libby Lawn. | STETSON



Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport

Tide Rises for Water Institute

Stetson College of Law Remains on Top It happened again. For the 22nd time in 26 years, Stetson University College of Law is ranked the No. 1 school for Trial Advocacy in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Also, Stetson is ranked No. 3 for Legal Writing. The rankings were announced in late March. Since its inception 120 years ago, Stetson Law has required students to enroll in a practice-court advocacy course — believed to be the first academic course of its kind at a law school. Such courses now are part of the college’s Center for Excellence in Advocacy. Similarly, legal writing is a bedrock skill for any practicing lawyer that now endures through Stetson’s Institute for the Advancement of Legal Communication. “We are incredibly proud of these accolades, as they reinforce that our mission — to transform students into advocates who are compassionate, ethical, powerful, persuasive and overall committed to excellence, not only in the legal profession, but in service to their communities — continues to thrive,” said College of Law Dean Michèle Alexandre. — Ashley McKnight-Taylor

Many coastal cities are sinking, as sea levels rise, becoming more susceptible to climate change. Stetson’s Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience is working to change that reality. Thanks to a new grant, IWER, as it’s becoming known, is collaborating with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Coastal Management and Sea Grant College Programs in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina to evaluate green-infrastructure interventions for reducing flood risks. The research is being made possible by two-year, $404,000 funding from a Karl Havens Memorial South Atlantic Regional Research on Coastal Community Resilience Grant. Stetson’s environmental science and studies students will have an opportunity to intern with the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, assist with implementing key project objectives, and work directly with the country’s leading resilience experts. In the past, IWER has conducted sea-level-rise vulnerability assessments and developed adaptation planning strategies for numerous local governments, and often in collaboration with research and outreach partners from Florida Sea Grant, the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council and other universities throughout the Southeast region. Those efforts now are being fortified. “IWER’s mission includes conducting advanced research methods and outreach that promotes creative solutions to complex environmental challenges,” said Jason Evans, PhD, interim executive director of IWER and the grant project’s team leader. “Being selected to lead this grant-funded project in partnership with university collaborators, a diverse set of coastal communities and planning professionals, and the Sea Grant College Program’s network of outreach specialists, is a clear indication that IWER’s high-impact experiences and capabilities have been well-recognized.” — Sandra Carr

Jason Evans, PhD


STETSON | Summer 2020

AdventHealth University


New Pathways to Health Care Careers Students interested in health care careers now have pathways to earn degrees in nursing and nuclear medicine technology, under a partnership between Stetson and AdventHealth University. As a result, Stetson students can move into AHU’s program to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or Nuclear Medicine Technology. Stetson and AdventHealth already had partnered to provide pathways for Stetson health and science students to enter the AHU Doctor of Physical Therapy and Master of Occupational Therapy programs. Stetson also partners with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine through its Early Acceptance Program with select colleges. The growing list of programs comes as more Stetson students consider careers in health care, due to the high-paying jobs and strong demand for graduates. This fall, Stetson will schedule recruitment events to provide additional information to students about the available programs. — Cory Lancaster

Master Producer of Fulbright Scholars

Thanks to a $23,651 check from the Fairwinds Foundation, Stetson students will benefit from extra career training and mentoring needed to secure an internship or job. The funding grant matches a $23,651 grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund for Stetson’s EDGE 2020 program, which “focuses on accelerating social capital and success for 30 students with limited incomes,” according to Tim Stiles, executive director of Stetson’s Career and Professional Development office. The program, open to first-year students through seniors, involves meeting with various employers, attending networking events, and receiving online and in-person financial literacy training and development, with ongoing support and mentoring for eight to 12 months — “until every participant uses their training and contacts to successfully secure an internship or job,” Stiles said.

Stetson has been named one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright Scholars, according to rankings published this spring in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Stetson is among the top five master’s-level institutions for the number of faculty and staff who earned prestigious Fulbright scholarships in 2019-2020. The rankings were compiled by the Institute of International Education, which administers the Fulbright Scholar Program, the U.S. government’s flagship international Mayhill Fowler, PhD education exchange program. Fulbright Scholars receive funding to take their research and teaching overseas for up to a year. Current Stetson Fulbright Scholars: Jennifer Foo, PhD, professor of finance, traveling to Uzbekistan during her sabbatical; Luz Estella Nagle, JD, professor of law, teaching international law topics in Tenerife, Canary Islands; and Mayhill Fowler, PhD, associate professor of history and director of the Stetson Program in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, researching and teaching in Lviv, Ukraine. — Sandra Carr | STETSON



Business Ethics on Display In March, students from Georgetown University placed first in Stetson’s fifth annual Templeton Business Ethics Case Competition. As a reflection of its commitment to social responsibility and business values, Stetson’s School of Business Administration hosted the event, and Stetson students did not participate. The competition was made possible through the donor support of Troy Templeton ’82, MBA ’83, a former university trustee, and his wife, Sissy. Each year, undergraduate students from invited institutions receive the opportunity to analyze and present arguments on a contemporary business matter tied to financial, legal and ethical issues. The case presented to students this year was “Nestlé and Ginnie Springs: Socially Responsible Business Practice or Harmful Extraction of a Scarce Natural Resource?” After receiving the case, teams were given two weeks to prepare and submit an executive summary and visual presentation. Teams represented consultants who advised the Suwannee River Water Management District about an application to extract up to 1.1 million gallons of water from the Floridan Aquifer at Ginnie Springs. They then made their oral presentations to a panel of judges, who were representatives from top companies across Central Florida. The Georgetown team received $1,500 for winning. Iowa State University placed second, while St. Petersburg College was third, and the U.S. Naval Academy was fourth. Jim Beasley, PhD, professor of management and co-director of the event, called the competition a “wonderful example of the transfer of learned course material to a real-world setting.” “The use of concrete, actual business dilemmas in the cases analyzed by student participants prompts a level of learning that significantly supplements students’ curricular programs in business education,” Beasley added. — Sandra Carr

Stetson’s School of Business Administration hosted the annual Templeton Business Ethics Case Competition.

DID YOU KNOW? Creating a simulated 3D-printed carbon fiber bicycle company from scratch? That’s what three of Stetson’s business students did and earned second place during the inaugural Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization Online Student Marketplace Simulations competition. The team — consisting of Wyatt Peck ’20 plus first-year students Kendall Buck and Chris Chappell — “founded and owned” Carbon Gears, a company that sold recreation and speed bikes with 3D-printed carbon fiber frames during the competition. Part of Stetson’s Prince Entrepreneurship Leaders Program, the team matched abilities against students from 11 other universities. Each team designed and developed bicycle businesses, conducted research, evaluated market areas and customer feedback, and created sales strategies, among other duties.


STETSON | Summer 2020

Neal Mero, PhD

First Time’s a Charm for CPA Test By any calculation, “top 5%” is a good number. That’s where Stetson’s M.E. Rinker, Sr. Institute of Tax and Accountancy found itself in the most recent National Association of State Boards of Accountancy report. Stetson placed 13 out of 278 institutions — the top 5% — among medium-sized programs worldwide in relation to average student pass rates for first-time Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination test-takers. Stetson tied with Cornell University and outranked John Carroll University, Babson College and Bradley University in the medium-sized program ranking category. Mediumsized programs have between 21 and 60 test-takers who sit for the CPA exam during the NASBA annual reporting period. Stetson’s students also ranked in the top 7% (49 out of 769 schools) of all CPA exam-reporting institutions globally that had at least 10 candidates taking the test. And, compared to other universities regardless of size, Stetson excelled on the first-time CPA exam pass rates. It outperformed, among others, the University of Southern California, Penn State University, New York University, Baylor University, Villanova University and the University of Central Florida.

Global Top-10 Percentile Business owners, of course, face many challenges. For starters, they must create products and services for consumers, plus manage the details of the business. During an international online competition, called Capsim Management Simulations’ Capstone 2.0, four student teams — a total of 16 students — from Stetson’s School of Business Administration not only proved to accomplish those tasks well, but they also scored in the 90th percentile. In other words, the students made the global top-10 percentile list. The Stetson students competed against nearly 3,000 collegiate teams that were managing sensor companies, designing sensors to match customer requirements, automating operations and improving internal processes, plus overseeing the marketing, financial and human resources aspects of their businesses. Using corporate strategies, concepts, theories and model analyses, the Stetson teams managed a fictional business-to-business company that manufactured and sold sensors for cellphones, streetlights and other devices. Rankings were based on their balanced scorecard, which is a strategic management performance metric used to identify and improve internal business functions and external outcomes.

“The CPA exam results highlight the significant value and career success Stetson’s School of Business Administration graduates have come to expect,” commented Neal Mero, PhD, dean of the School of Business Administration. “These current rankings, along with a history of excellent candidate performance on the CPA exam, help demonstrate to our accreditation body, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, and prospective students that Stetson has a high-quality program,” said Maria Rickling, PhD, M.E. Rinker, Sr. Institute of Tax and Accountancy department chair and director of the Master of Accountancy program. — Sandra Carr

Stetson shared the global top-10 percentile with Brigham Young University, Penn State University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Temple University and the University of Nottingham, among others. “Having four of the university teams be listed in the 90th percentile is a great example of how Stetson pushes its students to be the best,” commented Wyatt Peck ’20, team captain who majored in entrepreneurship. — Sandra Carr Wyatt Peck ’20 | STETSON



This fall, the Human Resource Management Program is being launched in the School of Business Administration.

New Post-Pandemic HR Program According to a 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the employment of human-resource managers is projected to increase 7% in the United States through 2028, faster than the average for all occupations across the workforce. Also, Burning Glass Technologies, an analytics software company that provides Stetson and other higher-education institutions and businesses with career data, projects Greater Orlando as a high-growth area in HR — to the tune of nearly 18% growth. Juanne Greene, DBA, assistant professor of human resource management, knows those numbers, as do Kelly Hall, DBA, and Neal Mero, PhD, dean of the School of Business Administration. The result: This fall, the Human Resource Management Program is being launched, with a focus on developing the skills and competencies required to effectively recruit, hire, motivate and retain employees. Students will have an opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Business Administration or minor degree in human resource management. Mero credits an “exceptional team of faculty members” for bringing the new program to life, a program that will meet “significant demand for professionals.” Hall points to the especially opportune timing. “Responding to this need in the market is more important now than ever, as organizations will grapple with a myriad of HR-related issues as part of their post-COVID 19 recoveries,” Hall said. “For many organizations, this will include new approaches to job design, workforce planning and recruitment, as well as learning and development efforts.” — Sandra Carr


STETSON | Summer 2020

The Passing of Excellence In the Spring 2020 issue of Stetson University Magazine, Dave Rigsby was saluted for his widely impactful work across more than 176 scenic acres on the campus in DeLand. The article, “Keeper of the Grounds,” detailed his 42 years as manager for Stetson Grounds and senior assistant for Special Projects, including his retirement in January after 42 years on the job. In early May, Rigsby died at age 69. As testimony to his character, in a 2017 interview Rigsby credited Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, PhD, for beautifying Stetson after her arrival in 2009. As it turned out, however, Rigby had much to do with that success. He and his grounds crew planted hundreds of trees and thousands of plants, effectively transforming the look of the campus. Yet, Rigsby always deflected praise. “David Rigsby took landscape architecture to the highest level possible,” said Bob Huth, Stetson’s executive vice president and CFO. “The campus became his foundation upon which he created beautiful views, colorful details and very pleasant shade. He had a very creative eye, and Stetson has been the beneficiary of his growing legacy.” Said Libby: “I was so thankful that he and his team had an opportunity to put into action Dave’s vision for the transformation of the Stetson University campus. No doubt, he deserves the lion’s share of any praise for the stunning beauty of our campus.” — Cory Lancaster

The late Dave Rigsby, Keeper of the Grounds

Left to right: Jill Arlaud, Crystal-Dior Glover, Zhaoxuan (Daisy) Zhou and Zonovia Proctor won second place nationally in the 2020 American Counseling Association’s Graduate Student Ethics Awards for Master’s Degree Students.

Counseling Kudos for Graduate Students Four graduate students from Stetson’s Counselor Education program spent Christmas break 2019 working via videoconference calls from California, New York and DeLand to write an entry for the American Counseling Association’s Graduate Student Ethics competition. It took a few months, but their holiday efforts paid off. The students won second place nationally in the ACA Graduate Student Ethics Awards for Master’s Degree Students. They were scheduled to be recognized at the ACA annual conference in San Diego in mid-April until the event was canceled due to COVID-19. Aside from the national award, the four students — Zonovia Proctor, Jill Arlaud, Crystal-Dior Glover and Zhaoxuan (Daisy) Zhou — won the Stetson Counselor Education Ethics Award in December. And, notably, they are particularly diverse, with Proctor from the Bahamas, Arlaud from Suriname, Glover being African American and Zhou from China. “It was really great to do something that gave Stetson national recognition,” Proctor said, adding that “it was pretty nice to be a bunch of women of color doing something like this for our university.” This marked the first time Stetson presented its Counselor Education Ethics Award, which occurred by virtue of an additional endowment from the late George and Mary Hood. George Hood, PhD, was former dean of students, professor and director of Student Counseling Services at Stetson. His wife, Mary Turner Hood, was a longtime assistant to President and Chancellor J. Ollie Edmunds, PhD. In the future, student teams will compete each December for the award, with the winning team automatically submitting an entry to the ACA’s national competition on behalf of Stetson. — Cory Lancaster

DID YOU KNOW? Two Hatters were named to college basketball’s Kyle Macy Freshman AllAmerica Team: Mahamadou Diawara and Rob Perry. The Kyle Macy Freshman AllAmerica Team consists of the top 30 firstyear players at all levels of Division I basketball. Diawara and Perry are the only representatives from the ASUN Conference. Diawara, a 6-foot-10-inch center/forward, started 30 of 31 games for the Hatters during the season, averaging 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Perry led the Hatters in scoring at 15.1 points per game and set a Stetson record by making 69 3-pointers. Kyle Macy was a legendary player at the University of Kentucky in the mid-1970s. | STETSON



Dr. Wendy B. Libby Week

The new Bartram Gardens & Trail opened at Stetson’s Sandra Stetson Aquatic Center.

Honoring Nature American naturalist William Bartram came upon scenic Lake Beresford in DeLand during his trip to Florida in 1774. Today, the community can experience the natural nirvana that Bartram encountered when they visit the new Bartram Gardens & Trail at Stetson’s Sandra Stetson Aquatic Center. The gardens, named after the renowned environmental explorer, includes a lush, tree-lined path with six large, interpretive kiosks that feature literary descriptions and pen-and-ink drawings and paintings of the fauna and plants Bartram found while exploring the area. The Bartram destination also includes 10 small sign panels that provide visitors with information about various planted trees and plants in the naturalist’s own words adjacent to the signage. Scans of Bartram’s drawings and paintings were procured from the Natural History Museum in London. The Sandra Stetson Aquatic Center, on the shores of Lake Beresford, was opened in February 2019. “William Bartram is America’s first naturalist and a triple threat who is famous for his visual art, romantic literature and scientific descriptions,” said Tony Abbott, PhD, professor of environmental science and studies at Stetson, who contributed his significant Bartram expertise to the project and created a Bartram paddle map for one of the large kiosks. Bartram Gardens & Trail, free and open to the public, is part of the River of Lakes Heritage Corridor, which includes Lake, Seminole and Volusia counties and part of Brevard County. — Sandra Carr


STETSON | Summer 2020

The setting seemed especially appropriate. Since the announcement of her retirement in February 2019, it has been widely viewed that Wendy B. Libby, PhD, hit a home run as the ninth president of Stetson University. So, there she was on May 18, standing near home plate at Melching Field in front of a few university officials and DeLand city administrators — as physical distancing suggested — to be recognized for exceptional achievement. In honor of her university presidency and in gratitude for her 11 years of cooperation and commitment to the local community, Robert Apgar, mayor of DeLand, proclaimed June 1-8, 2020, as Dr. Wendy B. Libby Week. Libby also received a Key to the City. The event was a surprise to Libby, who had arrived expecting to be at the stadium for a different reason. The Official Proclamation detailed Stetson’s impressive growth and development since July 2009, when Libby took office, replacing the retired H. Douglas Lee, PhD. Effective June 30, Libby did the same, departing with another ambitious leader waiting in the wings, Christopher F. Roellke, PhD, who arrived from Vassar College in New York. Further, Libby was active and influential in the community. At the podium, after Apgar read the proclamation, he recalled his first meeting with Libby and the impression she left: “She had it … and she had a vision for the university,” he stated. Apgar revealed that initially he hoped Libby would build on the foundation that existed between the city and Stetson. “Little did I know,” he said. “I just envisioned maybe a ‘three-story building.’ It turned out to be a ‘skyscraper.’” Also, Apgar thanked Richard Libby, PhD, Libby’s husband seated nearby, for his service and urged him, with a smile, to try to “slow her down and get her to change from 90 miles an hour to maybe 25 miles an hour.” It was a touching moment for a power couple who on more than a few occasions hit it out of the park. — Michael Candelaria

DeLand Mayor Robert Apgar proclaimed June 1-8, 2020, as Dr. Wendy B. Libby Week. Libby also received a Key to the City. | STETSON



On the


of COVID-19

My summer job as an emergency-room medical scribe brought many of the expected great lessons plus one surprise: a global pandemic. B Y E M I LY S P R I G G S ’ 2 0


n summer 2019, I began working as a medical scribe in the emergency room at AdventHealth hospital in Lake Mary, not far from Stetson’s DeLand campus. I was eager to begin working as I headed into my senior year. The benefits of being a medical scribe include enhancing knowledge of pathology and medical terminology, gaining experience in the health care setting, and shadowing medical providers while working closely alongside them. During each shift, I am assigned to work with one provider — the umbrella term for a doctor, physician assistant or nurse practitioner. I am responsible for filling out the electronic medical chart in real time by documenting the patient interview and physical examination, such as noting all diagnostic testing, medications, vitals and calls of consults the provider made.


STETSON | Summer 2020

“The ER protocols began to change, seemingly almost every time I went to work.”

Scribes offer a more efficient workflow in the ER, as the provider’s productivity improves by allowing for direct focus on medical decision-making and the patient, resulting in better patient outcomes. What an opportunity for me! My goal upon earning my Bachelor of Science degree in health sciences is to attend graduate school for a master’s in physician assistant studies. Unlike medical schools, physician assistant programs require the applicant to have hours of direct patient care before entering the program. My work/hours as a scribe are accepted by most programs as a way to meet this requirement. Then in March, my job description changed. By February 2020, the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, was making its way to the United States and into Florida. I recall sitting in the providers’ room, which is in the center of the ER, with the doctor, physician assistant and another scribe. Conversations during this time were filled with unknowns, and although I didn’t realize it at the time, a great deal more uncertainty was yet to come. The ER protocols began to change, seemingly almost every time I went to work. Toward the beginning of March, the direction was that surgical masks were to be worn at all times while in the ER. At one point, the corporate office shared concern with the doctors that personal protective equipment — now recognized universally as PPE — could become limited, and items such as the N95 masks, gowns and face shields needed to be conserved. I felt like providers were showing more concern about what the future might bring and for the safety of their loved ones. On March 12, I received an email announcement that, effective immediately, scribes were not to enter patient rooms if the patient came in the emergency department with flu-like symptoms. There was confusion. That change had not been clearly relayed to the providers, as I can recall some doctors insisting the scribe go with them or stand by the patient’s door. A fellow scribe began working scheduled shifts the day after returning from a weeklong Spring Break trip to New York City. The scribe had already worked several shifts when Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order on March 23 requiring a 14-day quarantine for those returning to Florida from New York City. Things were moving very quickly as new information about the virus became available. On March 9, Stetson resumed classes following Spring Break. As a graduating senior, I was unaware this would be my final week ever attending classes as an undergraduate. The sad truth is, I remember hoping for just a few days of class cancellations, so I could have a couple of extra days to study for my upcoming exercise physiology exam. On March 12, Stetson announced that classes would be “virtual” for the remainder of the semester. I was in disbelief; this was a sudden and drastic change. On March 13, I celebrated my three-year anniversary of being cancer-free (see sidebar), and I attended class on Stetson’s campus for the last time. My exposure to the rapidly changing environment at work as a scribe, outside of the seemingly safe college environment, made me realize that the measures being taken, indeed, were necessary. During the first week of virtual classes, I began working full time in the ER.

Emily Spriggs ‘20

I wanted to be there as much as I could to help in any way I could, as much as my position would allow. Each person in the health care industry is important to overall patient care. We function as a team with the same goal in mind. From the doctors and lab technicians, to the nurses and housekeeping, everyone has a key role. When front-line health care workers began to receive widespread recognition, I didn’t think I deserved a thank-you. I’m just a scribe who doesn’t touch patients or really talk to them during their time in the ER, I thought at the time. However, I began to really understand the full picture. The motto for the scribe company I work for, ScribeAmerica, is “Doctors save lives. Scribes save doctors.” There’s truth in that statement. As a scribe, I matter. Health care is what I want to be in long-term. I took the opportunity to go full force and do whatever I could to assist. After seeing what was happening in other parts of the country, I realized being proactive was key in this fight. In order to prepare for a possible surge of COVID-19 patients, we were again directed to conserve PPE and use only one surgical mask per week. By mid-March, there was a large tent set up outside the ER. We were in complete ready mode. As of this writing, the tent has not been used except for a one-time trial run. The ER was reorganized to have COVID-19 patients on one side of the building and all other emergencies on the other side. | STETSON


Professors Michele Skelton, PhD, and Heather Evans-Anderson, PhD (middle), share a moment at AdventHealth hospital with Spriggs, their former student.

Processes rapidly and continually changed. Providers began to call the phones in the exam rooms to interview possible COVID patients before they examined them in full PPE, as it’s sometimes hard to communicate with a respirator mask on. My scribe company provided training to us at the end of March to prepare for the possibility of working remotely. The plan was to have providers wear headphones and have scribes perform documentation virtually from our homes if it was deemed unsafe for us to be in the ER. Some providers were accepting of this direction and appreciative that they would still have a scribe available; others didn’t agree with scribes working remotely. In an effort to protect loved ones, health care workers typical have fixed routines when returning home from work. To help improve my own, I asked various providers about their routines, and I received various responses. Some would completely change into their work clothes when they arrived for their shift and then change out of them before going 20

STETSON | Summer 2020

home. One provider takes a dip in the backyard pool before showering. I didn’t enter my home until taking off all clothes in my garage and putting them in my washing machine. Then I immediately showered. I have worked alongside pretty much the same group of providers for almost a year now, and I have become close with them. The doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners I work with truly care about their scribe’s safety in the ER. For that, I am grateful. Simply, we could never be too safe. In late March, a patient came into the ER, thinking seasonal allergies were acting up. At first, the patient was put on the nonCOVID side of the ER. The nurse practitioner I was working with that day was taking extra precautions by first interviewing all patients over the phone before going into that room. The patient didn’t feel short of breath. However, her oxygen saturation indicated otherwise. The patient also said she had a mild cough. Immediately, the patient was moved to the other side of the ER.

“As a scribe, I matter. Health care is what I want to be in long-term. I took the opportunity to go full force and do whatever I could to assist.”

The patient was middle-aged and a former smoker. The chest X-ray revealed a bad case of bilateral pneumonia. Ultimately, the patient was admitted to the hospital COVID unit for further treatment. I remember this particular case well because the patient worked in a nursing home. It made me think about the COVID-infection cycle: How many people had she been in contact with and might have unknowingly infected? Would any contract the virus? Would any die from it? Would this patient survive? In April, patient numbers plummeted, as people were scared to come to the emergency department in fear of contracting the virus. As a result, provider hours were reduced. Never did I think during a pandemic that ER staff would be struggling to receive work hours. While early in the COVID-19 stay-at-home period scribes had facilitated diagnoses and treatment for many COVID-19 patients, now our work had shifted to more traditional ER evaluations, as testing sites continued to open. We were allowed to have one surgical mask per shift. In May, patient numbers slowly increased as people again began coming to the ER who had been putting off other medical problems, or they were unable to see their primary-care doctor. Emergencies such as falls, strokes, car accidents and overdoses became more frequent. Again. Then came another big surprise: a thank-you. On May 5, Michele Skelton, PhD, associate professor of health sciences and one of my professors, arrived at the ER as part of a delivery of meals funded by The Pargh Foundation, along with ear guards for masks made by 3D printers in Stetson’s duPont-Ball Library. (See Page 26.) I’ve had the privilege of taking four health science courses with Associate Professor Skelton, who sincerely cares about her students, both past and present. Heather Evans-Anderson, PhD, another of my awesome health science professors, also was part of the food delivery. It was such a special day for me. The other scribe on staff that day attends the University of Central Florida and was amazed by the relationships I have with my professors. Those bonds, those friendships, are the product of Stetson’s close-knit community. It’s a community that has remained true, even in these trying times.

Emily Spriggs graduated in May with a Bachelor of Science in health sciences from Stetson’s School of Arts & Sciences. Spriggs is working this summer, continuing to gain patient care hours, and plans to apply to physician assistant programs next year.

FROM CANCER TO AN ER SCRIBE Emily Spriggs, Class of 2020, wasn’t only an ambitious medical scribe in an ER department of a hospital located not far from her Stetson campus. She also once suffered from acute lymphocytic leukemia — a blood cancer that left her literally without an immune system. While on campus in the spring semester of her sophomore year, Spriggs noticed a lump in her neck, which continued to grow. In February 2017, she was diagnosed with leukemia and was medically forced to withdraw from school. She spent nearly 200 days in hospitals during 2017. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments, aimed to kill all her white blood cells, ravaged her body. Her mind, however, remained strong, buoyed by a positive attitude throughout treatments and the strong support of her family. A declaration of remission came following her first round of treatments, a total of 28 days, but further efforts were required — more chemotherapy, spinal injections, pills, radiation, steroids and blood transfusion — for another 30 months. In spring 2018, Spriggs returned to campus, without hair and wearing a mask to protect her low immune system. It was two years before the pandemic. Through it all, Spriggs endured and gained focus. During her treatments, she watched, learned and decided to pursue health science as a career, which ultimately led her back to a familiar place, the ER, but in a different capacity and with an entirely uncommon perspective. Editor’s note: Special thanks to The Daytona Beach News-Journal for providing information. | STETSON


S The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute — part of the Stetson travel experience



With present-day events being reminiscent of the past, Stetson’s travel experience and exploration of a civil rights movement from nearly 60 years ago — canceled this summer — comes back into timely and historic focus. BY JACK ROTH


STETSON | Summer 2020

ince 2006, more than 300 Stetson students have participated in a life-changing historical exploration, retracing the steps of the Freedom Riders and meeting many of those courageous individuals in person. The six-city travel experience, part of the curriculum for courses at both Stetson Law in Gulfport, where it was established, and the undergraduate program in DeLand, exemplifies what a Stetson education is all about: providing students with the opportunity to engage in experiencebased, transformative learning. Not only for educational purposes, but for life. So, in a sense, the students, too, are freedom riders.

Freedom Riders — civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the southern United States in 1961 to protest segregated bus terminals — played a significant role in the civil rights movement by placing a great deal of pressure on the federal government to safeguard civil rights. In turn, they inspired African Americans in the South to act against their infringements and provided a real-life example of what we’re now seeing again nearly 60 years later — blacks as well as whites taking immediate action for more civil rights. Robert “Bob” Bickel, former Stetson professor of law, created the tour as part of his Constitutional Law and the Civil Rights Movement class, and partnered with Tammy Briant, JD ‘06, to grow the experience. He has since retired, and Briant is no longer teaching, but the program continues to grow and now includes undergraduates who take a Religion and the Civil Rights Movement class taught by Greg Sapp, PhD, professor of religious studies and the Hal S. Marchman Chair of Civic and Social Responsibility. (Briant is now executive director of Community Tampa Bay, whose mission is to cultivate inclusive leaders to change communities through dialogue and cross-cultural interaction.) The travel experience, of course, was canceled this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, history is repeating itself. And the lessons still resonate. “I think the description students use year after year is ‘life-changing,’” said Sapp, a graduate of Stetson, Class of 1988. “The impact isn’t only historical; there’s a strong contemporary component to it, as well. Students learn that the motivations that fueled the segregationist practices through the 1960s remain and must be fought continually.” During previous trips, students and faculty visited the Nashville Public Library Civil Rights Collection, the National Civil Rights Museum, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Southern Poverty Law Center and National Civil Rights Memorial, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, the Rosa Parks Museum, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Change. They also visited sites of

Left: Rip Patton, an original Freedom Rider, has been a major part of the Stetson travel experience since 2007, each year traveling on the bus with the students. Below: Patton is seated first; Professor Greg Sapp, PhD, is seated third, accompanied by students on the trip.

the major events in the civil rights struggle in Memphis, Nashville, Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma and Atlanta. “The most meaningful component of the experience is getting to meet the people who were there, who marched with Dr. King, participated in the Montgomery bus boycott, and were beaten and imprisoned for participating in the Freedom Rides,” asserted Sapp. “You can read about it in textbooks all you want, but when you’re sitting in a room with someone who lived it, you can’t replace that kind of experience.” Rip Patton was one such Freedom Rider. Since 2007, he’s been a major part of the experience, each year traveling on the bus with the students and introducing them to other Freedom Riders who meet with them. Patton was involved in the Jim Lawson workshops in late 1959 and early 1960, preparing for the Nashville sit-in movement, before he became one of the original Freedom Riders. Also, he was one of the original members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and was part of a group of about 10 of those committee members who in 1961 met with Martin Luther King Jr. in Montgomery, in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade King to join them on the Freedom Rides. Patton worked closely with other Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee leaders, such as John Lewis, Diane Nash, Bernard Lafayette and Julian Bond. “I have photographs of Rip walking through museums, and our students are crowded around him as he points at pictures on the wall, recalling who these people were and what they did,” Sapp said. Stetson students stood in Kelly Ingram Park, where schoolchildren were attacked by dogs, knocked down by water cannons and arrested (and jailed) for marching for equal treatment. Students shed tears standing beside the 16th Street Baptist Church at the spot where a bomb was placed by Ku Klux Klan members that killed four young girls who were preparing to participate in Youth Sunday. “We got to visit with Denise McNair’s father,” said Sapp. “Denise was one of the four little girls who was killed in the church bombing. He passed away recently, but for the students who met him, it was an experience they will never forget.” | STETSON


Micheal Jenkins, JD ’20

Whether standing beneath the balcony where Dr. King was assassinated, or marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where voting rights marchers saw police officers lined up at the base of the bridge with clubs and gas masks, being in such places leaves indelible impressions. “I tell my students that these marchers were undergraduate students just like them,” Sapp noted. “They were standing up to white supremacy and white control, and they were demanding equal treatment.” For Micheal Jenkins, who was born in Mississippi and grew up in south Georgia, the experience truly was compelling and captivating — a chance for him to see up-close and personally while some of the participants are

Above: For Stetson students, young faces displayed on exhibit walls were a poignant reminder of the civil rights struggle. Right: Students experienced the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge.


STETSON | Summer 2020

still alive to share stories. Jenkins took the course trip in summer 2018 following his first year at Stetson Law. “It’s something that, one, I never can forget. And, two, it just opened my eyes up to so much more than I think just the normal population has,” said Jenkins, who graduated from Stetson Law in May. “I understood how important the movement was going into [the course]. But what I didn’t fully understand was how many everyday people played a role in this movement, how important they were. … There was so much more to this movement.” The lessons reached Stetson students and staffers alike. “You get to the point where you feel it’s safe to cry, because you do cry,” commented Rina Tovar Arroyo, assistant vice president for Development, Parent and Alumni Engagement. “When we walked up to the very spot where Martin Luther King was killed, an audible sob came out of me. I mean, it was so powerful. We just stood there together in silence.” Arroyo watched, listened and learned. During that experience, she was a student, too.

Arroyo remembers one particular moment in Montgomery at the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration. “This was such an eye-opening experience in which I was filled with rage, shame and pure horror at the brutal history I was not taught in school,” she recalled. “There were many moments that I broke down and was feeling ashamed on so many levels as a white American woman. That was when I walked around the corner, and there was Rip Patton, sitting down with a white family — a mom, dad and two little children. They were looking at him with admiration and amazement in their eyes! They had just seen his photo on one of the walls, honoring the Freedom Riders, and then they realized this real-life hero was standing in front of them. “He sat down and told them stories of the Freedom Rides, and he made sure to tell them that they could not have done what they did without their white brothers and sisters. He thanked their parents for bringing them to the museum and gave them hugs.”

GENEROUS BENEFACTORS As a member of the Bonner Program during her first year on campus in 2016, Ali Van Gundy ’19 was already interested in community transformation and social justice. Van Gundy took Sapp’s Religion and the Civil Rights Movement class in the spring and participated in the travel experience that summer. “Each person has a different experience based on his or her background, but it’s extremely meaningful for everyone,” she noted. “I never had coursework that was as deeply emotional and felt so personal. The trip connects you to history in a unique way.” The travel experience was so amazing, Van Gundy went a second time two years later. Not coincidentally, her parents gave a major gift to endow the program. Courtesy of Kim and Stan Van Gundy, the gift covers scholarships for each of the undergraduate students who take the summer class and their trip expenses. In addition, the gift subsidizes some of the law students’ expenses. At the time, Kim was a member of the Stetson University Board of Trustees. Stan is a former

head coach in the National Basketball Association. “As a trustee, I knew it was important to support the mission of the university in every way possible,” said Kim. “Knowing our passion for social justice, when Dr. Libby [Wendy B. Libby, PhD, past-president] and Rina Arroyo offered us the opportunity to endow this program, we immediately knew it was something we wanted to do. We saw the significance and importance of the trip through Ali and knew it was something every student should have the opportunity to experience.” Stan confirmed that in terms of any kind of academic experience, it was the most impactful thing Ali did during her time at Stetson. “You’d hate to see an experience like that only be possible to students who had the money to do it,” he said. “It should be open to anyone, and that was our motivation for getting involved.” Ali specifically remembers going back to the hotels at night, where the students would stay up and continue the conversations they were having on the bus. The time spent talking and reflecting about the things they experienced earlier in the day allowed them to process all of it. “It’s the kind of thing that motivates you,” she explained. “It’s one thing to read about history, but it’s another thing to experience it like that. From a historical perspective, it adds so much to your understanding when you hear it from the people who actually lived it. That’s invaluable.” The Van Gundys also are involved in Stetson’s Community Education Project at the Tomoka Correctional Institution, as well as a community coalition led by Stetson Professor Emeritus Grady Ballenger, PhD, and community leader Sharon Stafford, to claim Volusia County’s monument from the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The Van Gundys recalled a recent conversation with Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. “[Stevenson] talked about the importance of education and confronting our true history,” Kim said. “This course provides an opportunity for students to do that. It’s important all schools revisit our history and

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery

confront it in a way we haven’t yet. There’s a lot of unlearning and relearning to be done.” Stan found it interesting how Stevenson contrasted the way in which the issue of race has never truly been confronted in the United States; meanwhile, Germany has dealt with its history, coming to grips with the past and dealing with it as a society. Stevenson noted that, as a result, the entire country of Germany has been committed to wiping racism out, according to Stan. “If you don’t understand the history of slavery, then you don’t understand Jim Crow [racial segregation], what the people in the civil rights movement were fighting for and what they had to sacrifice just to get the right to vote,” Stan commented. “We have to understand the history of this, and when these students get a chance to have a personal connection with people like Rip Patton and understand what really went into this and what this struggle has been like, it’s transformative.” “Maybe the biggest thing I learned, when I went on the trip, is that we’ve overcome so much; we’ve come so far. But we still have so far to go,” said Jenkins. “There are just so many similarities to what happened in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s to what’s happening today. … The parallels are just so astounding.” Sapp stressed the importance of learning experiences that compel students to use critical thinking skills in order to try and better understand the world around them. He encourages students who want to enhance

their Stetson education to get involved and take advantage of whatever opportunities may interest them. “When you get students out into the community, they realize how messy life can be, and that’s the great thing about experiential learning,” Sapp said. “This particular travel experience represents an outstanding opportunity for our students. When you see how their lives are transformed as a result, it makes you feel good as an educator.” From the perspective of starting out in his legal career, learning about the Freedom Riders and their civil rights movement certainly will help, said Jenkins. Yet, even more, the lessons will last a lifetime. “You can’t take this course without becoming a better citizen,” he concluded. “But this was a life lesson, in general.” Kim, Ali and Stan Van Gundy | STETSON


P Stetson Associate Professor Michele Skelton, PhD, stands in the background (green shirt) with, among others, AdventHealth DeLand Foundation President Lorna Jean Hagstrom ’64 (red pants) and Dr. Christopher Riccard ’08 (also holding sign).

roviding meals to hospital workers and first responders as a way of saying thank-you. Launching an effort to help locally owned restaurants. Creating mobile shelters as an “ICU in a Box.” Establishing a student emergency fund and stocking the campus food pantry, plus ensuring supplemental federal dollars. Those are only a few examples over the past several months of Stetson faculty, staff and students pitching in to assist others during the COVID-19 pandemic. Never before have we witnessed such harrowing, unprecedented circumstances that have impacted both lives and livelihoods. In response, seldom have we seen such collective giving. Call it The Spread of Goodwill.

THE SPREAD OF GOODWILL In time of pandemic need, Hatters helped Hatters, as the Stetson community rallied in relief of their own and their neighbors. BY CORY LANCASTER AND MICHAEL CANDELARIA


STETSON | Summer 2020

Left: Stetson Innovation Lab Manager Tony Ganus helped to make ear guards, using 3D printers. Below: Associate Professor Skelton hands out ear guards to first responders at Reedy Creek Fire Department.

HEARTY THANKS One simple idea. Multiple examples of synergy. Ample appreciation. All in the wake of a nightmarish pandemic. That pretty much sums up events that began with a mid-April phone call and culminated with overwhelming mutual appreciation in a partnership between Stetson University and The Pargh Foundation to benefit area health care workers. In late April, approximately 150 emergency room workers at AdventHealth DeLand received complimentary meals (sandwiches, sides, desserts and drinks) during three work shifts, delivered by independently owned Toasted restaurant. A day later, approximately 100 workers at Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach were fed during two shifts by independently owned Zarrella’s Italian & Wood Fired Pizza restaurant. Funding for the meals came from a generous donation by The Pargh Foundation, charitable trust. The donation was intended to thank hospital personnel for the work they’re doing during the COVID-19 pandemic while also providing support to local restaurants. In addition, Stetson handed out ear guards, which were manufactured using 3D printers from the university’s Innovation Lab in the duPont-Ball Library on campus. The ear guards were designed to enhance comfort for the health care workers, who must wear protective face shields, as COVID-19 continued its onslaught. That was just the beginning. Over the next two months across Central Florida, more than 1,300 health care workers and first responders on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis received what amounted to heartfelt thanks that began with these words:

“I’ll send you a check, but can you make sure it gets implemented properly? The words came from Andy Pargh, founder of The Pargh Foundation, to Rina Tovar Arroyo, Stetson’s assistant vice president for Development, Parent and Alumni Engagement. Pargh, a resident of Central Florida, had become a donor of Shabbat dinners as part of Stetson’s Hillel House, which opened on campus in December 2019. There, he met Arroyo. Pargh — known as The Gadget Guru who became a media darling and introduced America to email on NBC’s Today show more than 20 years ago, famously helping host Matt Lauer send his first email — wanted to thank health care workers and first responders for their efforts in trying times. He also wanted to help support small independent businesses, who, likewise, are facing extreme economic challenges. And it happened. Arroyo reached out to Michele Skelton, PhD, associate professor of health sciences, who had been teaching at Stetson since 1993. And a plan was set into motion. Skelton had served as chair of the Integrative Health Science Department from 1999 to 2012, and was the Lynn and Mark Hollis Chair of Health and Wellness from 2009 to 2015. Also, she taught numerous students who had advanced to a broad range of careers in medicine and health care. Further, Skelton always has kept in regular touch with them. Mark Hollis, a 1956 Stetson graduate who also was awarded an honorary doctorate by Stetson, became a mentor of Skelton’s. And she remembers his words: “Volunteerism and gratefulness contribute positively to overall health and well-being.” So, she contacted some of those former students at area hospitals, in DeLand and Daytona Beach. Their message was a familiar one: “Food is always a good idea,” Skelton described. Toasted and Zarrella’s were chosen as the restaurants largely by virtue of past experiences with Pargh. Later, other restaurants, such as Brian’s Bar-B-Q and Sweet Spot in DeLand, got involved. Coincidentally, even before Pargh’s donation, Skelton had been thinking about a way to help health care workers through 3D printing at Stetson, with initial thoughts centered on making needed face shields. However, in consulting with Susan Ryan, MLS, dean of Stetson’s duPont-Ball Library and Learning Technologies, too many hurdles were present, and the approved plastic material wasn’t available. That’s when Skelton, again with the help of former students, turned her focus to ear guards. The ear guards were a comfort item and not Andy considered personal protective equipment. Pargh They provide health care workers relief from | STETSON


Health care heroes from Orlando Health South Seminole Hospital enjoyed ice cream from Sweet Spot and received ear guards from Stetson. Julianne Turnbull Purdy ’08, a physician assistant-certified, is with Skelton.

the constant pressure of the shield’s elastic security strap on ears and back of the head. As a result, there were fewer safety and materials restrictions. The guards were printed in PLA (polylactic acid) plastic, which is biodegradable, nontoxic and strong. Then the race was on to merge handouts of the ear guards at the hospitals with the scheduled deliveries of food. Innovation Lab staff members Tony Ganus and Chris Finkle handled the exacting operation of 3D printing. Ganus printed 100 plastic ear guards from his home, using a lab printer. Finkle, who lives near campus, used several printers at the lab to make 200 more over two full days. Following that effort, Ryan and her husband, Tandy Grubbs, PhD, Stetson professor and chair of chemistry, sanitized and individually packaged the ear guards — with Ryan noting it didn’t hurt that her husband also “knew plastics.” Synergy in action. Ample appreciation, too. Prior to the event at Advent Health DeLand, Christopher Riccard, MD, a 2008 Stetson alumnus and former student of Skelton’s, lauded her approach to teaching, saying, “She was truly a friend, mentor and family to everyone.” Following the delivery of food April 23, he spoke about “generous support,” adding, “I know our providers/staff appreciated it.” The same for Kristen Krier ’13, an emergency room nurse at Halifax Health Medical Center. Krier recently had shared her professional experiences with students from Skelton’s class in advanced anatomy. She called the gesture of gratitude an “act of kindness that reminds us we aren’t alone, and we are appreciated for our hard work.” “This precisely exemplifies the spirit of Stetson, people coming together as a community to accomplish a common goal,” Skelton commented. “I am very grateful to be Professor/chef Hari Pulapaka, PhD a part of the team that through the generous donation of the Pargh Foundation had the opportunity to express our thanks to our health care heroes, especially my health science alumni, for caring for our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

CHEF SURPRISE Stetson Associate Math Professor and chef Hari Pulapaka, PhD, usually raises money for a good cause by cooking a big meal, inviting a bunch of people to his downtown DeLand restaurant and asking them to donate while they’re eating. In March, with all the health precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic, that kind of fundraiser wasn’t an option. Instead, Pulapaka launched his first GoFundMe page to raise money to help the waitresses, cooks and other restaurant workers in downtown DeLand who were laid off or saw their hours drastically reduced since the outbreak. 28

STETSON | Summer 2020

By early April, the COVID-19 DeLand Restaurants Employees Fund had raised $17,575 and counting. The need was real. “We have applications from some single mothers who have children to take care of, cooks who have been laid off or have reduced hours, where their income is very minimal and they literally need to eat,” Pulapaka said in April. “It’s fairly desperate.” Then, within days, he wrote the first checks from the fund. The maximum award will be $750. “It’s really not a whole lot of money, but it’s a shot in the arm,” he said. “It buys [people] another week, another two weeks, and gives them some hope and that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.” Pulapaka, co-owner of the acclaimed Cress Restaurant in downtown DeLand, said the pandemic impacted his own restaurant. At the same time, he helped others. “I am very grateful and thankful for the overwhelming support,” the professor/chef said. “I have never asked for money so strongly before, and frankly it’s the response that drives me and the overwhelming need that I have seen.”

HATTERS CARE Stetson officials began hearing from students with financial emergencies not long after the university moved classes online in mid-March and most students moved back home. In response, Stetson created the Hatters Care (COVID-19 Emergency Fund) — raising more than $28,500 in only the first five days. In early June, the tote board read $104,830.07, exceeding the goal of $100,000 to help students with unexpected expenses and financial challenges. By early April, the Financial Aid office had received an almost-immediate 134 requests for financial assistance related to the pandemic. Those requests included students who needed to repair their laptops to take courses online or had to upgrade their Wi-Fi service at home. Another had to book a sudden flight home for $1,500. Students submitted an online application for the emergency assistance, with supporting documentation. The awards were in the range of $500 to $1,000. “Our concern is using this money to make sure that students are fed and housed, and can survive until they get back to work again,” said Heidi Goldsworthy, director of Stetson University’s Office of Financial Aid, at the time. “They’re not huge amounts. The nice thing about our students is that they’re not asking for large amounts. They’re being reasonable with their asks.” In addition, the university identified other funding to help students.

The U.S. Department of Education, for example, allowed colleges and universities to use their remaining federal work-study funding for the year to help students in need, under the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program. At Stetson, that totaled approximately $150,000, available for undergraduate students who receive need-based Federal Pell Grants and who suffer unexpected financial setbacks from COVID-19. Further, the Stetson Business School Foundation board approved a $10,000 donation to the Hatters Care fund for students who are business majors to receive immediate assistance by submitting an online appeal. Among the results, a student whose mom has COVID-19 and was furloughed received aid. The student went home to care for younger siblings. Another student was helped after losing three family members to COVID-19. His two younger brothers also were infected and in the hospital. There was no income and no health insurance. Toward the end of May, Stetson had awarded nearly $900,000 in COVID-related financial assistance to students, according to Goldsworthy. On the Hatters Care fundraising website, Lynn Schoenberg, dean of students, and George Alderman, Student Government Association president, noted that “COVID-19 is presenting unanticipated challenges for many of our students and their families” and that “times like these test our resilience and resolve.” Additionally, Schoenberg and Alderman concluded: “But such times also bring out the best in people. They remind us of the Hatter spirit that has long rallied and sustained our strong sense of community.”



ensures uninterrupted power for ventilators and other medical equipment, even in power outages. “Employing the MDMI [modular deployable medical infrastructure] will be a step in the right direction for the fight against COVID-19 and other global pandemics to come,” said Hollis, who is another former student of Associate Professor Michele Skelton, PhD. It wasn’t the first time Solar Stik teamed up with World Housing Solution. A few years ago, portable medical clinics were provided to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, according to Stetson alumnus George Winsten ’18, who joined Solar Stik after graduating with degrees in Environmental Science and Political Science. “We have units that are ready to ship that can fit in a standard shipping container and can be set up by six people in a couple of hours with no tools,” Winsten said. “They are completely insulated. They are completely powered and self-sufficient. They can have beds. They can have medical equipment. They can provide over 380 square feet per person, everything that is required based on FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] and CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines.” While Hollis and Winsten hope the modular hospital units won’t be needed, the Stetson alumni stand ready. “When we started seeing these sort of tent hospitals going up in places, we got on the phone,” Winsten said. “It was a simple sort of switch to turn these over to a COVID-19 solution.”

Stetson alumna Stephanie Hollis ’94 saw the tent hospitals appearing in New York City and knew her company could help provide an alternative for the fight against COVID-19. Hollis earned an undergraduate degree in exercise science and attended medical school at the University of Florida. Now an anesthesiologist, she has worked in “top-notch medical facilities and barebones field hospitals” around the world. So, she knows firsthand the benefits of working in a walled health care facility, including the ability to thoroughly disinfect treatment rooms. In 2005, Hollis and her husband, Brian Bosley, co-founded Solar Stik, which provides solar and portable power to everything from sailboats to the U.S. military in remote locations around the world. The company, based in St. Augustine, not far from Stetson, also partners with World Housing Solution in nearby Sanford to provide rapidly deployable modular hospitals, able to be assembled in hours and provide uninterrupted power, even if the power grid goes down. In early April, the two companies held a demonstration at the Sanford manufacturing plant to show how their “ICU in a Box” could be used in the coronavirus pandemic. The mobile shelter was powered by Solar Stik batteries that are charged by solar panels, wind or, when needed, a backup generator that only comes on long enough to recharge the batteries. The system

One more example: the Hatter Food Pantry, including meal cards. Located in the Student Counseling Services office on campus, the Hatter Food Pantry is a confidential, free service available to students during office hours. The pantry is lined with shelves of canned goods, snacks, pasta, oatmeal and other food. It was established in 2013 by Nicole Currie, an administrative specialist in Student Counseling Services. This spring, Stetson Dining Services began offering a special promotion to help students in need: Donate two meals in the Lynn Dining Commons for the price of one at $10.61 plus tax. The meal cards were provided to the Hatter Food Pantry for distribution to students. Stetson Dining Services had already been selling meal cards for people to donate to the Hatter Food Pantry. The pandemic prompted the special promotion. “This was a system that we designed a little over a year ago to allow students to be able to give back with the use of their leftover HatterBucks,” said Candra Reid, senior director of Stetson Dining Services. “Our normal system is one meal card for the cost of one, but as an additional way to help, we wanted to boost that offering a little more, so we are changing it and offering the two meals for the price of one.” “I love that they can get a hot meal, more of a variety of food options to choose from, like fresh fruit, fresh veggies and meat,” Currie commented in April. “Options to make a meal in their room can be very limited.” As it turned out, thanks to widespread generosity, students were able to have options — and received emergency relief. | STETSON


AUTUMN HOPE RISING For a Class of 2020 whose members conquered rare challenges to reach their goals, the resilience of Autumn Hope Johnson offers an emblem of their optimism and promise. BY RICK DE YAMPERT

THE TEE When Autumn Hope Johnson spied a Stetson University T-shirt in a Sanford soup kitchen in 2011, she had to have it. “I immediately loved it because it was a baseball T-shirt, and I was very much a tomboy,” said Johnson today, who was 14 at the time. “I never was able to buy my own clothes. So, I would pick up things here and there from soup kitchens that gave away clothing.”

Photo: courtesy of MDK Photography


STETSON | Summer 2020

Johnson’s mother had passed away in early 2000, when Autumn was 3 years old. Her father, a selfemployed carpenter and handyman in Central Florida, had been hit hard by the Great Recession triggered in 2008. Work evaporated. The family, including Autumn’s younger sibling, lost its home to foreclosure in May 2010. Johnson’s dad used his last $1,000 to buy a big, boxy, used beach-concession truck, and the family moved into it with their meager possessions. Home became wherever Johnson’s father could find an inconspicuous place to park the truck at night in the Sanford area, one county away from the Stetson campus in DeLand. That treasured green and gray baseball tee would soon bring about yet another profound change to Johnson’s young life.

The journey of Autumn Hope Johnson ’20 first became a national story in 2011. The cameras were back in May. Photo: Stetson University/Ciara Ocasio

Yes, “destiny” is a big word, freighted with epic, Shakespearean overtones — the stuff of kings and mythic warriors. Yet, there may not be a more precise word to describe that shirt. With “Stetson” emblazoned on the front in arty, cursive script, it would become her destiny.

CALCULUS OF TRUCK LIFE Johnson, who was born Arielle Metzger, and her sibling didn’t have to sleep on the floor of the truck. With the deadline to get out of their foreclosed home looming, her father used his handyman skills to tailor the truck, the box on wheels he had purchased, to meet his family’s

needs, including a horse-sized, black-and-whitesplotched Great Dane named Lord Have Mercy. The dad built bunk beds for his kids. Storage bins were craftily arranged to hold canned food, laundry and tools. Bank deposit bags — the place for toiletries and other small items — were hung in rows on a wooden panel. The dad would land occasional odd jobs, and the children had been receiving Social Security payments since their mother’s death. So, a bit of money was coming in, but not much. “And we had food stamps,” Johnson noted. Yet, the family’s ingenuity had its limits. There was no way to heat food, and there was no cold storage for perishable items. “Obviously, we couldn’t have the fresh fruits and the fresh vegetables and the best of foods,” Johnson said. “But we did have the opportunity to have a can opener and have canned food. That was amazing because that was our little survival thing.” Johnson was attending Seminole High School, and her sibling remained in school, too. “I don’t think my teachers knew, but I know that my friends had an idea,” she recalled. For homework, she and her sibling went to the library. “They had computers, the electricity and such. When it came to after dark and I still had homework, we would connect a battery and a converter and — boom — you had light,” she said with a soft laugh. “My dad was just so clever that way.” Literally, they lived in a “mobile” home. That Johnson occasionally refers to the box truck as an “RV” is understandable. There was little recreation, though, and few places to park. The search was almost nightly. “Downtown Sanford has a lot of stores,” said Johnson. “They would have some trucks every now and then parking there, and we needed to blend in. We stayed behind various stores that knew about us and would allow us to stay back there.” The parking lot at a Sanford library became a favorite spot. In the calculus of truck life, that library provided more than just ready access to computers. “The library was a spot where we knew we would be around people, no one could hurt us, and there were other big trucks

there, too,” Johnson said. Similarly, there was a YMCA, where they had a membership and were able to shower. “In the YMCA lot, we parked more towards the back,” Johnson added. “That way, in the morning, people wouldn’t see us and they wouldn’t suspect anything, at least when they drove in. But we were completely visible by the pool area.” And there was Lord Have Mercy. The family gave the Great Dane that name because, as Johnson described, anyone who saw her would proclaim, “Lord have mercy, that’s a big dog!” Each night, the family felt secure knowing Lord Have Mercy was there, vigilant.

MOVIE NIGHT There was a movie night, too. Johnson can’t recall what movie she and her friends saw one night. But she does remember their laughter, their smiles. Amid the harsh rigors of truck life, it’s that movie night that remains, as she called it, “my most powerful memory to this day, that I love so much.” “I knew we were very poor most of my life,” Johnson said. “Just the way that we were living and seeing my friends and how they lived — their clothes, their homes.” Johnson “really wanted to hang out with my friends,” and she made it happen, even if it meant revealing herself. “We only had the beach truck, and my bold self said, ‘Hey guys, I have like this really cool truck that can carry everyone, no seat belts, let’s go to the movies!’” They went, with her dad at the wheel. “Sure enough, they saw my whole life in that truck,” Johnson said. “They saw the beds, they saw my dressers, they saw our dog, all of it. I can’t tell if it just didn’t click with them at the time, or if they just truly didn’t care, because it didn’t change who I was. “Gosh, I don’t remember what movie we saw. All I remember is afterwards when we were sitting in the YMCA parking lot, and there’s like this drainage ditch with a big grassy field, what would be a retention pond but it was dry in the middle of the summer. I just remember sitting there with my friends, chitchatting and looking around and seeing how happy we were. My friends were there for me when no one else was.” | STETSON


Photo: courtesy of MDK Photography

CALCULUS OF THE HEART For Johnson and her family, sometimes the calculus of truck life yielded to the calculus of the heart. Even eating canned food had a benefit. “We would share it with other homeless individuals because it’s just something you can store real quick,” she said. “You put it in a bin, and it doesn’t go bad.’ Yes, they shared with others. “Absolutely. We didn’t have a lot to eat, but there was not much need for that,” Johnson explained. “During the summer, it was a little difficult, but during school they provided the lunches [through the National School Lunch Program for students in need]. Every now and then, yeah, we would get little treats for ourselves, but we would do as much as we could to help other homeless individuals around us. We didn’t have much, but whatever cash we did have, we would try to help. We would buy food, fast food, water, whatever, and we would hand it to that individual and tell them that we were praying for them.”

“60 MINUTES” COMES CALLING As the Great Recession ravaged the nation, spurring massive unemployment, particularly among the housing and construction industries, homelessness spiked. “60 Minutes,” the CBS television news show, decided to produce a segment on Central Florida homeless families who were living in cars and other vehicles. The segment, titled “Hard Times Generation,” aired Nov. 27, 2011. Johnson and her family were featured prominently. When reporter Scott Pelley asked “What’s it like?” to live in a truck, the 15-year-old replied: “It’s an adventure … . It’s not really that much of an embarrassment. I mean, it’s only life. You do what you need to do, right?” The “60 Minutes” crew filmed Johnson and her sibling studying at the library, then showed Pelley interviewing the two children in front of their truck-home. Pelley asked them what education means to them. “It is everything to us,” Johnson replied. “I plan to be a child defense lawyer. If I focus on my studies, I have that opportunity.” After Johnson expressed her compassion for other homeless people and a desire to help them, Pelley commented, “You sound very adult to me. You had to grow up pretty fast.”


STETSON | Summer 2020

During another, much shorter segment, Johnson is shown as her dad drops her off at school. She is wearing her treasured Stetson baseball tee. The moment is brief. It turned out to be big. Word spread quickly throughout the Stetson community about the homeless girl sporting a Stetson T-shirt on “60 Minutes.” University staff reached out to the television show’s producers. Mere weeks later, Johnson and her family met with Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, PhD.

“She took us down to Boston Coffeehouse [just south of the campus],” Johnson said. “That was our first experience in DeLand, and it was absolutely wonderful. That’s when I knew that I love the city. I love the people; I love the campus. It was amazing.” Libby offered a deal: If Johnson could graduate from high school with at least a 2.0 GPA — and with “no trouble,” Johnson remembered also hearing — she would receive a full scholarship to Stetson. Johnson entered the university in fall 2016. First, however, more profound changes awaited her.

Autumn Johnson and her family were featured as part of “Hard Times Generation,” aired Nov. 27, 2011, on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

Left: Associate Professor Rajni ShankarBrown, PhD, has served as a close mentor to Johnson. Photo: Stetson University/Ciara Ocasio

NEW START ENTIRELY In July 2013, Johnson and her sibling separated from their father and entered foster care. Anyone who meets her would be struck by Johnson’s sunny smile, her openness about her life, the buoyancy in her voice and her general manners — punctuating conversations with an occasional “yes sir” or “yes ma’am” that actually sounds down-home friendly and not the least bit perfunctory. This topic, though, wasn’t easy for her. Johnson grew reserved when talking about separation from her father, leaving that chapter of her life expressed in these simple, carefully chosen words: “He wasn’t in the best position to take care of us.” Entering foster care brought about another ending, one that Johnson labeled as “a little bittersweet.” The siblings had to give up Lord Have Mercy, their beloved, affectionate Great Dane. “To this day, I don’t know where she is. I don’t know if she’s alive. Great Danes have short life spans. I love her so much, but now I’m really sad,” Johnson said. She and her sibling were shuffled among three foster homes until, on Jan. 4, 2014, they moved into the home of Christopher Johnson, a retired Baptist minister, and his wife, Alicia, in Clermont, west of Orlando. The foster home would become what Johnson refers to as her “forever home.” In July 2014, she and her sibling were adopted by the Johnsons. Her new life was symbolized by her new name. Arielle Metzger became Autumn Hope Johnson.

GOD, THE LEOPARD AND ‘GIMME’ That change begat others and, almost inevitably, brought God. In the calculus of a life lived in shadows cast by a parent’s death, and in the calculus of truck life, a light entered the equation. “I didn’t understand any of the things that happened to me when I was little — why any of that happened,” Johnson said. “I knew there was a God, but I didn’t affiliate myself with anything Christian. I called myself agnostic, but I didn’t really know what that meant at the time. I questioned God: ‘Why God? Why are we here? Why do I deserve this? What did I do? How can I better please you?’ I knew He was there, but I wasn’t striving to have that relationship with him. It was just ‘Gimme gimme gimme gimme. Whatever I want, Lord, you’re supposed to be providing that for me.’ “So, yeah, I did — I asked those questions. Any person in their right mind would ask those questions.” Those questions, she revealed, were a way to “constantly remind myself: ‘I know what I’m going through now stinks, and it sucks and no one should have to go through it.’ But my spirit has

always just been ‘All right, we’re going to look at the positive, we’re going to keep moving forward’ because … .” Johnson hesitated before adding, “That’s survival. You stay still and a leopard’s going to get you, you know. It’s just always been survival: ‘Let’s just keep moving forward. It can only go up from here.’” In the calculus of truck life, even leaving behind a tiny home on wheels can be fraught with inner chaos. So was moving into the new home. Actually, traumatizing. “I found out my foster dad was a pastor, and I didn’t want anything to do with it at first,” Johnson said, a soft chuckle coloring her remembrance. “I wanted to push it away just because I liked the lifestyle I was living. I had an addiction to smoking, and I knew Christian people were all like ‘Oooo, no smoking!’ That’s what scared me the most — the rejection of things I did and I liked to do. But thankfully, I knew this was our last chance [including her sibling], that we didn’t have other places to go, and I quit ‘cold turkey.’” And transformation occurred. After a month of living in the Johnson home, she “fell in love with Jesus, and I accepted him as my Lord and savior, and we [she and the Johnsons] started talking about adoption. As time started rolling by, I just loved these people more and more.” She now had “a new identity and name, a new start.” | STETSON


UNIVERSITY DAYS Autumn Hope Johnson graduated from Seminole High School in spring 2015. Following a year of study at the Word of Life Bible Institute, she graduated from there the next spring and entered Stetson in fall 2016 to major in sociology. That course of study wasn’t coincidental. Consider these words: “I honestly never saw myself as completely 100% homeless,” she revealed. “The sociology part of me comes out where there is a hierarchy of homelessness. You’re not truly homeless even if you’re living in a vehicle because you have that shelter, that protection. You have a lot of resources that honestly a lot of others don’t. If we were to live on the street, I would say absolutely we were homeless. But I think because we did have that truck, that gave me stability enough to say, ‘OK, I am better off than a lot of other people.’ Sure, I didn’t have a ‘home,’ but define home. Ultimately, a lot of people define it as where you feel comfortable, where your family is, that kind of stuff.”

Johnson, shown here with Shankar-Brown, was riveting at Stetson’s 2019 Poverty and Homelessness Conference.

“I think because we did have that truck, that gave me stability enough to say, ‘OK, I am better off than a lot of other people.’”


STETSON | Summer 2020

Three years after arriving on campus, in pursuit of that degree, life experiences led to her senior research project, titled “The Relationship Between Youth Displacement and Adult Homelessness According to Labeling Theory.” For the project, she interviewed people served by The Neighborhood Center of West Volusia, which provides emergency shelter, transitional housing and employment-seeking services for the homeless and those in crisis. For starters, wary the center’s clients might see her as a girl who “grew up living this high life” and wouldn’t “understand what it’s like to live a hard life,” she decided to share her story with them. “They were like, ‘What?! How did you even get here?’” Johnson said. “It was an exchanging of stories instead of ‘Oh, just let me get your stories.’ I wanted my interviewees to see that it does matter to me, and that I wasn’t there just to do a project, but to make a difference and hope that this can help.” Waylan Niece, the center’s operations director, was struck by how she had “overcome difficult obstacles in her life.” “She has the vision and compassion to work with the vulnerable population in our community and whatever community she ends up being in,” Niece commented. “She has the passion to create lasting change, whether it’s at the local level or the systemic level.” Johnson also served on Stetson’s annual Poverty and Homelessness Conference, which was founded by Rajni Shankar-Brown, PhD, associate professor and the Jessie Ball duPont Endowed Chair of Social Justice Education. Additionally, Shankar-Brown is an executive board member of the National Coalition for the Homeless. The Poverty and Homelessness Conference is a collaborative endeavor rooted in civic agency, equity and justice. Shankar-Brown invites Stetson students across disciplines to be a part of the steering committee, providing opportunities to gain leadership and critical 21st-century skill sets. In front of hundreds of attendees at the 2019 Poverty and Homelessness Conference, with Shankar-Brown by her side, Johnson shared her story. While she was at the podium, one could hear a pin drop. “Autumn was an outstanding PHC [Poverty and Homelessness Conference] student leader during her time at Stetson,” said ShankarBrown, who served as a close mentor. “Through the PHC, she was able to draw from her own journey and use her voice, sharing her passion for child advocacy and further developing her leadership skill sets. I am incredibly proud of her. She exemplifies courage, resilience, determination and compassion. And Autumn truly embodies her middle name, hope. “Supporting her journey, professionally and personally, is deeply rewarding. While sharing knowledge, experiences, insights and guidance with Autumn, and engaging together in reflective practice, I also learn so much from her. Mentoring is a mutually giving gift, for which I am grateful.” Johnson also shared similar feelings of gratitude for Shankar-Brown, who she refers to as an “outstanding role model.” Johnson is thankful for her genuine support and guidance, which have been instrumental in her academic and personal journey. Further, although Johnson graduated this spring, Johnson will

“I want to use my story to be able to encourage others, because a lot of people who go through these situations, they don’t come out the same way that I have.”

Photo: Stetson University/Ciara Ocasio

continue to serve on the PHC planning committee, now in the role of a Stetson alumna. Both Shankar-Brown and Johnson expect their work together to endure. Shankar-Brown currently is working with Johnson on publications and presentations. “Our collaborative advocacy and social justice work will continue onwards. Autumn and I both are values-driven. We share a deep commitment for child advocacy and human rights, and moreover we now share the priceless gift of friendship. Our paths have become forever interwoven,” Shankar-Brown said. Johnson graduated with a degree in sociology and a minor in religious studies. A few days after completing her undergraduate degree, she was in front of the CBS cameras again — this time being interviewed on campus for “CBS This Morning,” a segment that aired in late May. Appropriately, the setting was in Palm Court under the warm gaze of the John B. Stetson statue. Fondest memories at Stetson include the friends she made through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, who “were always there when I needed them, whenever I said, ‘Hey, I need a prayer.’” Small classrooms provided the “amazing experience” of being able to “really talk to professors one-on-one.” The experience on campus can best be summed up in these words from her: “I love it a lot.”

THE FUTURE Now, she moves on from Stetson. Or, perhaps not. Johnson will be getting married in August. Her fiance is not a Stetson student. Shankar-Brown will be a part of their ceremony, sharing an original poem and blessings for the couple. After taking a few months to “enjoy my marriage,” Johnson will be “hitting the books hard for the LSAT.” Long ago, in that segment for “60 Minutes,” Johnson stated that she planned to become a lawyer. It just might happen, as she hopes to attend law school “anywhere and everywhere — whoever will take me, I’m going to go.” Maybe back at Stetson with the university’s College of Law in Gulfport. After all, the Stetson past-president remains a big fan. Said Libby, “I really congratulate her on her graduation, her engagement and her future. And I really hope she goes to Stetson Law.” Regardless, Johnson has a story, and she wants to be a “voice” for children. “I want to use my story to be able to encourage others,” she said, “because a lot of people who go through these situations, they don’t come out the same way that I have. They don’t come out looking at the light. They don’t come out positive and happy-go-lucky. They’re depressed. They have anxiety. They resort to drugs, alcohol, sex. They don’t care about themselves as much. I’ve always had this positive outlook.” | STETSON



In recent years, Stetson Commencement was held at nearby Spec Martin Stadium. This year, the big event was planned for indoors at the Edmunds Center on campus.


STETSON | Summer 2020


Graduates left their academic impacts on the university, and much more, in what turned out to be historic achievement. BY MICHAEL CANDELARIA


xtraordinary is the word. In the face of rapid change that came with COVID-19, the Stetson community — from administrators and faculty to staff and students — responded in truly uncommon fashion. Particularly the Class of 2020.

Extraordinary? Absolutely. Even historic.

All students, including graduating seniors, were forced to complete the spring semester remotely. For graduating students, however, it was their final undergraduate semester at Stetson. Also, the graduates’ 2020 Commencement was postponed, with the hope of rescheduling to later gather for two days of deserved recognition. So, while the students who successfully completed their coursework and other requirements within the prescribed period of time did become graduates of Stetson, their official celebration had to wait. (Approximately 750 undergraduate students graduated in May.) And yet, they responded with grace and resilience. In retrospect, it was not a surprise — such poise, tenacity and drive had become earmarks of their education on campus. The following is a compilation — not inclusive — of outstanding seniors across Stetson’s College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business Administration and School of Music. | STETSON


CLASS OF 2020 |


SLAVINA “SALLY” ANCHEVA Economics and Political Science

DANIELA ANANT Communication and Media Studies and World Languages and Cultures Daniela Anant received the Michael McFarland Award for Outstanding Senior in Communication and Media Studies. The award recognizes a graduating senior, selected by the department faculty, who is outstanding in academics and who uses communication to contribute to the community, be it in the department, the university or the world beyond Stetson. A double-major, Anant also was named the Outstanding Senior among world languages and cultures students. She had a concentration in Hispanic studies. In addition, Anant was a member of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society (American first-year students) and Lambda Pi Eta (National Honor Society for Communication Studies), along with the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, International. Described by professors as diligent, insightful, tenacious and smart, Anant also exhibited a quiet confidence and intellectual maturity that are beyond her years, they added. Those characteristics were exhibited as an intern at the U.S. Senate and as a digital and news intern at Hearst Media’s WESH 2 News in Orlando. Anant plans to take a year off before applying to graduate school. 38

STETSON | Summer 2020

Sally Ancheva is a double-major in political science and economics. As an Edmunds Scholar, she came to Stetson with an exemplary record of achievement and lived up to that great potential. Ancheva was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Pi Sigma Alpha, Omicron Delta Epsilon and Phi Eta Sigma — all honor societies. While a student, she interned at the United Nations and at the European Parliament in Brussels. In May 2019, she worked on a campaign for the European Parliament elections in Bulgaria. In fall 2019, Ancheva was selected as a finalist for the Rhodes Global Scholarship and traveled to London for the elite competition. Her senior research project, “Economic Insecurity or Cultural Backlash? A Multilevel Analysis of the Reasons People Hold Populist Attitudes in Europe,” examined the factors that have led to an increase in populism in Europe. Ancheva plans to work as an accredited parliamentary assistant in the European Parliament for a year or two before pursuing graduate studies.

OLA BARTULA Health Sciences During her time at Stetson, Ola Bartula was especially active as both a top student in the classroom and a leader on campus. Bartula was part of the Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Health Honor Society for four years, and as a senior she was chosen as the AED president for the 2019-2020 school year. Just prior to graduation, she received the Health Sciences Scholarship and Service Award for outstanding academic performance and research skills, and commendable service to the Department of Health Sciences, Stetson and the DeLand community. In addition, Bartula was president of the Good Samaritan Volunteering Club during her junior and senior years, and she volunteered at the Good Samaritan Clinic for four years. She was vice president of the Stetson Astronomy Club during her senior year and was a member of the Stetson University Honor Council Society. Further, she volunteered as a lab assistant for organic chemistry, and she shadowed medical students at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine. Bartula is planning to attend medical school, beginning in fall 2021, with the hope of ultimately becoming a surgeon.

DAVID BERGSTRÖM Physics David Bergström, originally from Södertälje, Sweden, arrived at Stetson after a year of studying mechanical engineering at Central Connecticut State University. He left Stetson as the recipient of the Jack Gibson Endowed Physics Research Award for excellence on his senior research project, “The Drag Coefficient and Trajectory of a Rocket.” The project included study of the aerodynamic properties of rockets and the mathematical modeling of their trajectories. Majoring in physics with a minor in business systems and analytics, Bergström also

REILLY CASH Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian Studies Reilly Cash’s interest in this dynamic, complex and culture-rich region of the world initially attracted her to Stetson’s Program in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (SPREES). Cash, however, didn’t simply become involved; she became a leader. Cash helped organize the program’s annual events, she served as a Russian tutor, and she advanced to Russian Club secretary/vice president. Her dedication led to winning Stetson’s Sergei Zenkovsky Prize in Russian Studies, reserved for the top student of Russian language and culture.

was part of the Hatters soccer team that won the 2017 ASUN championship. He was named to the ASUN All-Academic Team in 2018 and inducted into the Sigma Pi Sigma physics honor society in 2019 before closing his Stetson career with multiple other academic prizes, such as Outstanding International Student 2020. Bergström plans a return to Sweden this fall to pursue a master’s degree in business and management from the prestigious Stockholm School of Economics. He hopes to use that degree, along with the skills obtained from his bachelor’s studies, to eventually work in finance.

In fall 2019, Cash spent a semester in Kyiv, Ukraine, and traveled to Russia and the Caucasus. Her study abroad honed her Russian skills and deepened her understanding of the Soviet Union, its aftermath and its lingering impact on international relationships in the Russian-speaking world, according to professors. Her senior project dealt with the complexity of those international relationships, focusing on the representation of the Russian-Ukrainian military conflict in documentary films. Cash plans to intern with the Armenian Volunteer Corps in Yerevan, Armenia. After a year or two working abroad, she hopes to pursue a position with the federal government in linguistics and/or international relations.

ABIGAIL (ABBEY) CRATER Aquatic and Marine Biology and Religious Studies Abigail (Abbey) Crater was outstanding in two distinct disciplines, receiving bachelor’s degrees in aquatic and marine biology and in religious studies. Crater completed a senior research project in marine biology (“Synchronous Air Breathing as a Response to Hypoxia Exposure in Two Size Classes of Juvenile Armored Catfish, Pterygoplichthys disjunctivus”), as well as a senior research project in religious studies that combined her interests in marine

conservation and religious studies (“Creatures of the Deep: Aquatic Myths and How They Can Contribute to Marine Conservation”). She was named an Outstanding Junior in Religious Studies in 2019 and was inducted into Theta Alpha Kappa, the religious studies honorary society. Crater was a member of Circle K International, Hatters Down Under: Scuba and Snorkel Club and the Women’s Chorale. Also, among other places, she volunteered at a St. Johns River cleanup, oyster bagging at the Marine Discovery Center and at the Samaritan Ministries Homeless Shelter Café. | STETSON


CLASS OF 2020 |


ADRIANNA DISLA Biology Adrianna Disla, from Puerto Rico, obviously enjoyed novel research during her time at Stetson — she worked on projects that involved local rodent species and tick-borne disease carriers. Disla came to Stetson as the beneficiary of the university’s Presidential Scholarship, a merit award based on outstanding high-school test performance and community service. She also received an Impact Fund Award, enabling her to experience a summer 2019 internship that earned her two awards in the 2019 Stetson Internship Showcase. As a result, Disla has left Stetson with a variety of career-related experiences in Florida, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica. They included shadowing veterinarians during consults with patients and surgeries; working on animal habitat maintenance, water quality testing and food preparations; and being a member of a rescue team for marine animals.

Further, while she began at Stetson being a bit unsure of herself, according to professors, Disla put those academic and work opportunities to good use, making the Stetson Honor Roll and earning Phi Eta Sigma distinction for classroom achievement. Plus, she helped the university by serving as a student ambassador, scheduling on-campus visits and guiding tours for prospective incoming students, among other duties. “It was just the most amazing journey of watching her get more and more confident and assured as she went along through her career,” commented Melissa Gibbs, PhD, professor of biology and director of Aquatic and Marine Biology. “She’s just been one of the most interesting transitions.” Receiving a Bachelor of Science in aquatic and marine biology, Disla hopes to eventually become a veterinarian.

JENNA NOEL PALMISANO Aquatic and Marine Biology Jenna Palmisano won both the Dorothy L. Fuller Award and the Rachel Carson Environmental Science Award. The Fuller award is presented to the most overall outstanding senior in the areas of biology, aquatic and marine biology, and molecular biology. The Carson award recognizes the senior who has achieved exceptional academic standing and made extraordinary contributions through civic engagement on environmental issues. In addition to being a standout student, Palmisano was active in a wide variety of campus Shown with Ryan McCleary, PhD, endeavors. Palmisano was a Stetson Peer Instructor a visiting professor for several years, and for the past year served as the lead peer instructor, supervising a staff of 17 other students. For her final three years on campus, she was a Gillespie Museum guide and Volusia Sandhill Ecosystem intern, helping with ongoing education and conservation efforts. Palmisano was a talented researcher, studying horseshoe crab ecology at the Marine Discovery Center and venomous snake biology at the Reptile Discovery Center. She received the “best student paper” award at the Southeast Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation for her investigation of lizards as host of an invasive parasite. Palmisano plans to apply to graduate programs next fall. For now, she is continuing her ecological research studies with Stetson research adviser Terence Farrell, PhD, with an eye on presenting and publishing their work.


STETSON | Summer 2020

PHASIN GONZALEZ Chemistry Phasin Gonzalez was the winner of the American Institute of Chemists Foundation Outstanding Senior Award. Gonzalez consistently performed at the top of his class across all of his chemistry/biochemistry courses at Stetson. In addition, he served in a valuable teaching capacity as a student peer instructor in Organic Chemistry I and II classes during the past two years. In summer 2019, Phasin participated in a prestigious Research Experience for Undergraduates appointment at the University of Kansas, where he studied “The Microfluidic Affinity Selection and Electrical Detection of Circulating Tumor Cells in Blood Samples from Metastatic Cancer Patients,” a topic he would later use for his senior research project at Stetson. Phasin presented that research at the National 2020 Pittcon Conference in Chicago. Phasin’s ultimate ambition is to become a medical doctor. Following a gap year, he plans to take the Medical College Admission Test and apply to schools.

DAKOTA JOHN FIGUEROA History Dakota John Figueroa’s professors praised him for being “a model of liberal arts inquiry” and making “intuitive connections between ideas from different courses.” Not coincidentally, Figueroa was presented with the Gilbert L. Lycan History Award from the Department of History. He was a co-recipient with Dylan James Croup, who graduated in December 2019. Figueroa, a history major with a minor in American studies, was particularly wellrounded at Stetson. He was vice president of Stetson’s chapter of Alpha Zeta (first and oldest collegiate society for agriculture), a member of Phi Alpha Delta (pre-law chapter) and a member of the Stetson Honors Program. Other academic accolades included a Stetson Undergraduate Research Experience Grant and an Evans Johnson Research Grant from the history department. Both of those grants were used to research his senior thesis, “From Archenemies to Allies: Reassessing the Birth of the United States-Japan Alliance, 1945-1960.” Figueroa analyzed the factors that transformed the United States and Japan into staunch allies. He shared his findings at the prestigious national conference of Phi Alpha Theta, the undergraduate history honor society. Following a gap year, Figueroa is planning to attend law school with a concentration in either international or human-rights law.

EVA DEISA Digital Arts Eva Deisa journeyed a long way to receive her bachelor’s in digital arts, literally and figuratively. Deisa is from Riga, Latvia, and professors commented that her art was something out of this world. As a student, Deisa was included in exhibitions that ranged from the “Juried Art Exhibition” at Stetson’s Homer and Dolly Hand Art Center to “The Cube Art Project” in Lincoln, Nebraska. Just prior to graduating, she created a virtual-reality experience for “Generational Shift 2020” at the Hand Art Center. The project featured stunning impressions played to music. Her works primarily were achieved digitally, inspired by her own everyday observations. For that effort, Deisa was the winner of Stetson’s Ethan F. Greene Award, which recognizes one student for significant achievement in the preparation and

presentation of a digital-arts senior project. In describing the approach to that project, “Are We Seeing?” Deisa explained: “Our lives are revolving around our phones, social media and other people’s perception of us. We are stuck in a routine, a pattern without realizing it. I question these ideas a lot, and I try to find answers from within myself. I do so by making art. … With my work I am trying to make my audience aware of the routine and break it.” Plus, for good measure, she was a standout on the volleyball team.

EMILY MAULE Art In her work “Unsettling Binaries,” art major Emily Maule explored grotesque vs. dreamy, dark vs. light, the sinner vs. the saint. “These opposites in life are what drives my creativity,” Maule described. That work was displayed at the Homer and Dolly Hand Art Center on campus as part of the Generational Shift 2020 Creative Arts Senior Exhibition. Shortly afterward, Maule received the Ed Hamill Award for “outstanding senior,” presented by the creative arts, art, art history, digital arts and theatre departments. In “Unsettling Binaries,” as a view inside Maule’s world, she morphed the original images appropriated from the works of old masters (for example, the “Last Supper” by da Vinci) into either grotesque, neon creatures or more naturalistic humans with impressionistic brush strokes. “In a world seemingly black and white,” she concluded, “one realizes there’s bound to be a bit of color and thus complexity.” Maule plans to pursue an MFA and eventually work in either arts in medicine or in teaching. | STETSON


CLASS OF 2020 |




TIFFANY OMS Philosophy

Jacob Mauser excelled in his studies as an English major, receiving the Byron H. Gibson Award, the most prestigious honor bestowed by the English Department for scholar and university contributions. Also, he minored in philosophy and Russian language and culture. During his sophomore year, Mauser began working as a staff member at Touchstone, Stetson’s literary and arts journal. He eventually became executive editor and greatly helped to grow Stetson’s artistic community. He is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, English honorary society. In addition, he has served as master of ceremonies and photographer for Uncouth Hour, Stetson’s weekly open mic night, and worked as a photographer for the Hatter Network on campus. Mauser’s senior research was on John Donne’s Holy Sonnets. Also, his interest in Stetson’s Program in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (SPREES) led to study in Ukraine during summer 2019.

With the early understanding that the study of philosophy was excellent preparation for law school, Tiffany Oms pursued such study at Stetson with great passion. Ultimately, under the guidance of Melinda Hall, PhD, associate professor of philosophy, Oms’ senior project centered on disability, stigma and the law. A primary focus was ways in which discrimination, both outright and de facto, have negatively impacted the lives of disabled people. Additionally, Oms regularly offered insightful suggestions for strengthening legal protections for people with a disability, and she kept a keen eye on reforms. Faculty members were impressed by her dedication, intellectual curiosity and sense of social justice, along with her friendliness. In law school, Tiffany wants to represent those who face disability-related obstacles. Also, she hopes to educate the community about disability rights, and break down stereotypes and stigmas that act as barriers to a more equitable society.

STETSON | Summer 2020

MACKENZIE NALVEN Psychology Mackenzie Nalven studied all over the Stetson campus. She completed two majors — psychology and management — and minored in music as a violin player. Also, Nalven served as a writing tutor and was a member of the Business Ethics team. Nalven received an honorable mention at Showcase 2019, and the senior research project she designed as an extension of that work was accepted for presentation at the Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) meeting. Although the meeting was canceled, Nalven’s senior research professor noted that hers was “the best written project in our class.” Another of her manuscripts was under review by the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology. For those accomplishments and others, she was awarded the Outstanding Researcher in Psychology Award 2019-2020. Nalven will attend Vanderbilt University to pursue a Master of Education in leadership and organizational performance.

CHELSEA SEAVER Public Health Almost since day one at Stetson, Chelsea Seaver demonstrated all the qualities of an accomplished student who is well-prepared to join the world as an intellectual mind and a responsible citizen. Seaver was engaged in high-impact research, working with a local neighborhood to preserve history and enrich the lives of residents in the future. Through that research, she learned the importance of place, and how the interdisciplinary nature of public health, history, sociology, urban theory and local politics intersect to impact the overall health and well-being of a community. She minored in sustainable food systems. Seaver became a Newman Civic Fellow, part of a group of students recognized by their universities nationwide for their commitment to social change and for being known as public problem-solvers. She committed herself to research not for the purpose of résumé-building, but in genuine service to the community. She volunteered in the Dominican Republic, working on hygiene and sanitation projects, and was a proactive member of the Stetson wellness team, educating the campus community about healthy lifestyle practices. Further, Seaver mentored other students, displaying exemplary academic competence, leadership, community service and personal growth with the desire to be a change-maker. Her words: “My goal is to make a difference in the lives of others — whether I become a national public health leader, developing nutrition-based programs and enacting policies, or simply by being a helping hand in my community.”

JASMINE SANTIAGO Education Jasmine Santiago interned in a fourthgrade classroom, where, Santiago said, she will always remember her student teaching experience — when the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to move to an online teaching environment. During that time, Santiago diligently

KORINNE PATTERSON Public Management Korinne Patterson envisions a career in public service, and she’s off to a good start. Patterson earned the William Amory Underhill Award from the political science and public management in international studies departments. The Underhill award is given to the student who has most demonstrated the discipline, integrity and desire to pursue public service and is most likely to have a positive impact on government. Patterson was a member of Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society, the nation’s oldest and largest honor society for first-year college and university students in all disciplines, whose three Greek words appearing on its crest form the organization’s motto: “Knowledge is Power.” During fall 2019, she interned for Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill. Her senior research project, “Descriptive Districts: Minority Representation on City Councils,” focused on how descriptive representation for minorities on city councils is impacted by the way city districts are drawn. Now, Patterson plans to work in city government for a year before pursuing graduate study.

worked alongside her cooperating teacher to help their students continue learning from home. For such commitment, plus for many other reasons, Santiago earned the Ray V. Sowers Elementary Education Award as the most outstanding graduate in elementary education. Santiago’s professors described her as an exceptional student who has a heart for marginalized children. Her senior research project focused on protecting and serving undocumented students in public education. She is a member of Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society in education, and a student in the Stetson Bonner Program. Her plan is to teach in the intermediate grades, where she hopes to continue to “inspire students to demonstrate kindness and empathy.” | STETSON


CLASS OF 2020 |


FINN BUSMANN Marketing and Sport Business Finn Busmann was among the many students at Stetson who personified the term student-athlete. Busmann played on the Hatters soccer team for four years, becoming team captain as a junior. He made the ASUN All-Academic Team in 2017 and 2019. Also, he was part of the student-athlete advisory committee. A native of Marburg, Germany, Busmann worked on campus as a German language tutor and in special events, and he assisted University Marketing on special projects, among other roles. Within the School of Business

REBECCA “BLAKE” CREWS Professional Sales and Marketing On campus, Blake Crews said she was “most proud” of being a student-athlete — not only competing for Stetson in academic clubs and competitions, but also as a catcher for the Hatters in softball. Crews started all 47 of the team’s games as a junior. This spring, she was named to the ASUN Preseason all-conference team. “As a student-athlete, I learned so many valuable skills that helped me perform at a high academic level and in my sport,” Crews commented. “I know that those skills I learned will serve me well in the future.”

Her classroom performance was special, too. She made the ASUN Honor Roll from 2017 to 2019. And this spring, she received the Business School Foundation Merit Award for Professional Sales, what she called her “biggest achievement at Stetson.” “For me, it was a representation of the hard work that I put in academically over my four years,” she noted. Crews’ sales career is already in bloom. For personal privacy reasons, she withheld the name of her employer, but her job is in Boston as a business development representative.

WYATT PECK Entrepreneurship While still a student at Stetson, Wyatt Peck started a business, Dynamic Galleries, which brings new, curated photography exhibitions to business offices, lobbies, waiting rooms and other locales on an alternating basis, providing attractive displays while also helping local artists. He opened a first location at Daytona Beach International Airport. In addition, Peck was (and continues to be) a freelance photographer, specializing in commercial interiors/exteriors. Mostly, those achievements were away from the Lynn Business Center on campus, where Peck shined as a student — becoming the


STETSON | Summer 2020

Administration, he was stellar as a member of the prestigious Roland George Investments Program and one of its four student public trustees. In 2019, he was inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, an international business honor society. This spring, he was studying remotely to take the Chartered Financial Analyst Level 1 exam. On average, successful candidates report spending approximately 300 hours preparing for that exam, according to the CFA Institute, a global association of investment professionals. Busmann, who also minored in finance, plans to attend graduate school.

recipient of the Business School Foundation Merit Award for Entrepreneurship. Peck also was involved in the Prince Entrepreneurship Leaders Program, composed of a small group of select students who are serious about launching their own scalable businesses. And Peck was a frequent participant in student competitions, such as the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization Online Student Marketplace Simulations and the Capsim Management Simulations’ Capstone 2.0, where he and three other students helped Stetson finish in the global top-10 percentile. His next competition: the open market of entrepreneurship.

TARA TOVKACH Management In February 2020, Tara Tovkach put her management studies to the test in what she labeled “one of the most rewarding ways I was able to give back” on campus. Under Tovkach’s leadership as executive director, Hatterthon — a student dance-marathon fundraising event that is part of a national campaign to aid hospitals — raised a school-record $84,407. In the same role in 2019, she helped to raise $62,000. Also, as part of that effort, Tovkach helped first- and second-year students become more confident in their abilities. Tovkach began working for the University of Florida’s Dance Marathon while she was a high school student in Gainesville, and she was a member of the team that founded Hatterthon. This year, she oversaw a total of 60 students, and now Hatterthon is a top-five program nationally for year-over-year growth of the event. In addition, with minors in environmental studies and marketing to go along with her major study in management, Tovkach chaired the 2019 Homecoming Committee and was a student event coordinator for the university. Further, she earned memberships in Beta Gamma Sigma, a business honor society; Alpha Chi Omega, a national women’s fraternity; and Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society. Now, Tovkach is actively seeking roles in development/event planning.

LIKE MOTHER, LIKE SON. Sue Moyer and her son, Nick Moyer, both earned MBAs in May from Stetson’s School of Business Administration. They are shown here in June on campus. Sue, who has a career background in information technology, always had wanted to complete her MBA, but family — as in raising Nick — got in the way. She graduated in 1997 from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota with a major in psychology and a minor in business computer information systems. Going full time, she completed the Stetson MBA program in one year and now is seeking to re-enter IT project management or the IT training field. Nick, 22, who was home-schooled in nearby Apopka, was a first-year undergraduate student at Stetson in August 2016. He’s looking for a position in the finance, management or marketing sectors. Note: Special thanks to The Apopka Chief for providing information. | STETSON


CLASS OF 2020 | JAIDA HAWKINS Music Education - Instrumental Jaida Hawkins’ exceptional talent as a violinist was easy to see, and hear, throughout the School of Music. So, as no surprise, she was named Outstanding Senior in Music Education – Instrumental, emblematic of distinguished performance in student internship and promise for a strong professional future. Also, as a senior, Hawkins was inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda, the national music honor society. Yet, it was away from the stage where Hawkins perhaps made her greatest impact — as a student teaching intern at Seminole High School, not far from campus. “It was an incredible experience in which I was fortunate enough to interact with a variety of wonderful students,” she said, calling it her greatest achievement as a student at Stetson. “I loved

MATTHEW BALDERSON Music Education - Instrumental When Matthew Balderson started at Stetson, he said his personal goal was to focus on academics. He did, and he was rewarded. A music education - instrumental (saxophone) major, Balderson won the Phi Mu Alpha Scholastic Sinfonia Award, completing his studies on campus with a 3.80 GPA. (A sinfonia is an orchestral prelude to a vocal work. The Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America is an American collegiate social fraternity for men with a special interest in music.) “It’s nice to have a concrete reminder of my efforts,” he said about the award, which goes to the graduating sinfonian with the highest overall grade-point average. Also, Balderson spent a semester as a student-teacher, for which he is “most proud.” “It’s incredibly gratifying to see musical, academic band social growth in students, and to be able to have a direct, positive role in said growth,” he commented. Balderson would like to continue teaching, working with a middle school or high school band in Central Florida “for a few years before I tackle further education.” 46

STETSON | Summer 2020

SCHOOL OF MUSIC watching [the young students] improve and become a little more self-sufficient each day, all while making music together.” Similarly, Hawkins made a difference on campus in a variety of helpful roles. “I’m glad that I was able to serve my peers as a music theory tutor. I loved serving the orchestra as a concert master and as the librarian,” she said. “I appreciated all the music I was able to make with my peers in all of the ensembles I participated in, especially the symphony orchestra and the small chamber ensemble. I’m proud that I was able to pour into the School of Music community all while creating beautiful music and memories.” More opportunities to teach are in her immediate future, when she begins her first teaching job in August as an orchestra director at Hinson and Ormond Beach middle schools in nearby Volusia County.

LAUREN PRESTIFILIPPO Voice This academic year’s winner of the Scholastic Award from the School of Music was Lauren Prestifilippo, who majored in voice and finished with a 3.99 GPA in the Honors Program. The Scholastic Award recognizes the graduating Sigma Alpha Iota collegiate member with the highest overall GPA. Yet, excuse anyone who might call her Cleopatra. One of her biggest achievements at Stetson, said Prestifilippo, was her performance as Cleopatra in Handel’s opera “Giulio Cesare” to start the 2019-2020 season for Stetson opera theatre students. It was her first full study of a lead opera role, and the production was directed by Russell Franks, MM, director of Stetson Opera Theatre, and conducted by Anthony Hose, ARCM, associate professor of music, orchestra. “I am very proud of the progress I made as a singer through my completion of this,” Prestifilippo said about her performance, which was in authentic costumes. While standing out individually, Prestifilippo was “incredibly proud” of the close collaboration that occurred at Stetson among the student musicians. “From programming recitals with my outstanding accompanist and performing in small ensembles at downtown and on-campus events, to performing with the university choirs and opera theatre program, I have had the privilege of experiencing this time and time again,” she said. “I have grown so much from working with my wonderful peers in the School of Music and the Honors Program.” Following a gap year or two to spend time with family and to work more on her craft, Prestifilippo plans to pursue a master’s degree in voice performance and pedagogy.

ROTC’S SEVEN NEW SECOND LIEUTENANTS On May 9, seven Class of 2020 students advanced from cadets to new officers, receiving commissions as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army during Stetson’s modified Army ROTC Commissioning Ceremony. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the traditional group event was separated into shorter individual ceremonies and moved from Lee Chapel on campus to nearby Chess Park in downtown DeLand. Families were present to pin on the rank and do a first salute. The new second lieutenants are James Babich Jr., Georgina Boardley, Alyssa Dunstone, Juan O’Neal, Gabriel Overmyer, Nicolas Theriault and Erica Thompson. Babich, a psychology major in the Honors Program, joined Army ROTC at Stetson as a first-year student. His father is a Marine Corps veteran. Young Babich’s next stop is the Ordnance Corps (active duty). Boardley, a native of England who moved with her family to Central Florida at age 9, always was interested in medicine. She earned a degree in health sciences. After gaining her American citizenship in 2017, she joined Army ROTC as a sophomore. She headed off to the Medical Service Corps (Army Reserves) By the time Dunstone arrived on campus, she knew all about the military. Her father is retired from field artillery duty. Dunstone spent all four of her years at Stetson in Army ROTC, and this year she ranked among the top 10% of her commissioning class nationwide. Graduating cum laude with a degree in psychology and a minor in German, she is bound for active duty in Field Artillery. O’Neal joined Army ROTC as a first-year student and also played on the football team for three years. He became a chapter president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The son of a medical technologist and retired detective who is now a sheriff’s deputy, O’Neal not only became a leader on campus, but helped to develop the same qualities in others. Graduating with a degree in business administration, O’Neal is headed for the Infantry (active duty). During high school, Overmyer participated in JROTC for four years while also excelling as an athlete, playing football and becoming one of Florida’s top powerlifters. He came from a military family and got involved in Army ROTC during his first year on campus. Graduating with a degree in

Stetson’s new Army ROTC officers, from left: Georgina Boardley, Gabriel Overmyer, Juan O’Neal, James Babich Jr., Nicolas Theriault, Erica Thompson, Alyssa Dunstone

political science, plus minors in history and communication and media studies, he is off to the Signal Corps (active duty). Theriault arrived at Stetson as a Florida state champion in cross country and immediately became a member of the Hatters cross country team. Also, he was the recipient of a three-year Army ROTC national scholarship, and the duty to serve took precedent. His father, grandfather and greatgrandfather each had served in the military. As a senior, Theriault was the company commander for all of Stetson (Charlie Company), where he created and led training for the underclassmen, as well as provided guidance and input to the Eagle Battalion. He graduated with a degree in chemistry and moved on to the Chemical Corps (active duty). Thompson came to Stetson with a 3.5-year national Army ROTC scholarship. In addition, she became actively involved in a mental-health awareness organization, “To Write Love on Her Arms,” graduating as vice president. She was a Young Life Capernaum leader in west Volusia County for children and teens with special needs. Also, she is a young alumna of Omicron Delta Kappa, a leadership honor society, and was a member of Green, White & YOU, an organization on campus that aids students in their transition to Stetson alumni. Graduating with a degree in sociology, with a minor in military science and a concentration in pre-law, Thompson now is an Ordnance officer (active duty). | STETSON


As an undergraduate, Ashley Martinez’s community also included the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. Shown is a group of 2020 seniors: (top row, left to right) Aamani Thulluru, Alexis Singh, Taylor Jordao, Ana Mancebo; (bottom row, left to right) Tara Tovkach, Holly Brown, Ashley Martinez, Elena Garrison.

STAYING FOR MORE Personifying the virtues of experiential learning, Ashley Martinez ’20 has made her immediate plans following graduation: remain on campus to leave a greater impact. BY JACK ROTH


n 2016, when Ashley Martinez came to Stetson as a first-generation student from San Antonio, Texas, she wanted to take advantage of every opportunity being offered. Martinez did so and more. Thanks to financial aid and additional grants from benefactors, she graduated in May with a bachelor’s in communications and media studies. And, all the while, Martinez was a poster student for what the university holds so near and dear: experiential learning.


STETSON | Summer 2020

Martinez made it through with big boosts from two summer internships — at the Volusia Flagler Family YMCA in 2018 and at the United Way of Volusia-Flagler Counties in 2019 — plus as a student employee for the Center for Community Engagement on campus. “Working at the Center for Community Engagement, along with those two nonprofit internships, allowed me to develop some valuable professional skill sets,” she said. Now, with the title of community partnerships and operations manager, Martinez works as a graduate assistant at the center, where the tentacles of service engagement extend regionally, nationally and, in fact, globally. Martinez, at least for a while, has chosen to stay put to broaden her reach. Yet, it all wouldn’t have happened without the Summer Nonprofit Internship Fund, which annually comes by virtue of a grant from Bank of America, which allots money to help students complete traditional summer internships. The Bank of America Charitable Foundation Summer Nonprofit Internship Fund pays $1,500 to the students. “I knew my passion was in nonprofit community engagement work, but without this grant, none of this would’ve been possible,” Martinez noted. To qualify for the grant, a student must put in at least 280 hours of work at a nonprofit organization in Volusia County, where the DeLand campus is located, and the internship has to be unpaid.

Ashley Martinez ’20

At a Volusia County Coalition networking event involving the Volusia Flagler Family YMCA, Martinez met with a representative of the Daytona Tortugas, which is a minorleague baseball team.

“A lot of students don’t know about the opportunity, or they think about it too late. My recommendation would be to start planning in early spring or even late fall by reaching out to different nonprofits,” Martinez added. Actually, she learned about the grant by accident. “In 2018, I was working as a student employee at the [Community Engagement] center, which oversees the grant, and I started advertising the nonprofit internship fund, and realized I’d be interested in getting the grant myself,” Martinez explained. “I thought it would be an awesome way to get professional experience in an area I’m passionate about and also have it fully funded, which was very helpful.” Martinez began reaching out to nonprofits and eventually contacted the Volusia Flagler Family YMCA in DeLand. She ended up being the organization’s first-ever marketing intern. “It was an incredible experience. I did a lot of graphic design work, managed and updated social media platforms, assisted with marketing plans and got a feel for what an office environment was

like,” she described. Participating in events turned out to be a big lesson, too, such as the world’s largest swim lesson at Daytona Lagoon, where she shot video footage and reported on thousands of people learning how to swim, from toddlers on up. “It was great to be a part of events like that and see how community service and community engagement overlap with professional jobs. I actually loved it so much I continued my internship at the YMCA from the summer into the fall,” she said. In essence, Martinez leveraged her passions and talents to make an impact and reduce poverty in Volusia County by increasing the capacity of organizations that serve low-income families and community members. Label it learning by doing. Martinez studied abroad in spring 2019, but she wanted to be in DeLand for the summer, so she applied for the grant again. This time, she wound up at the United Way with another marketing internship that summer. Then in fall 2019, she continued employment at the Center for Community Engagement. There, Martinez took the lead on a series of graphics that shared ways the community could help during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also led a weekly newspaper, the Good News Weekly, which included community-engagement opportunities and spread positivity during difficult times. For good measure, Martinez spent two years as a production assistant for Stetson Broadcast Productions and a year as a WORLD (World Outreach, Research, Learning and Development) ambassador for Stetson’s David and Leighan Rinker Center for International Learning. And she still isn’t done on campus. Martinez applied to the Stetson MBA Program and, once accepted, she searched for a graduate-assistant position. An opportunity at the center emerged again. So, Martinez, with a degree and bright future in hand, remains on campus to continue her education. “I love the Stetson community, but I wasn’t completely set on what I wanted to do after graduation,” she said. “But once the pandemic happened, I prioritized where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. … I realized what an incredible community I have here and how important it is to me. I was inspired to stay and continue growing and learning.”

CENTER FOR COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT “Student learning through community impact.” That’s the mission of the Center for Community Engagement, which plays the lead institutional role in directing a nationally recognized campuswide community engagement program that is delivered through both curricular and cocurricular avenues. Signature programs: • The Alternative Break Program is student-run and recruits participants to attend directservice experiences worldwide. Through yearlong team building and issue education, students prepare for collaborative and intentional service in a new environment. • The Bonner Program works with nonprofit partners to collectively and collaboratively solve challenges such as homelessness, education and health care through long-term service internships. Also, students receive weekly training about professional skills and social justice issues while building community within the Bonner family. • Environmental Sustainability Fellows foster a culture of environmentalism through education about social, economic and environmental practices, as well as direct involvement with the DeLand community. Fellows receive both faculty and staff support. • Greenfeather is a weeklong competition of impact among student teams that takes place during Homecoming Week. Members of the Stetson and DeLand communities are united to raise funds for the Greenfeather Grant, an annual $10,000 sum given to one selected nonprofit partner. • The Peace Corps Prep Program prepares participants for international development field work and future Peace Corps service. By enrolling in courses and performing volunteer work focused on one of the five Peace Corps sectors, students can develop a global perspective and gain the language, professional and technical skills sought by the Peace Corps. • Stetson Votes is a team of faculty, staff and students who strive to engage all members of the community in the democratic process. Stetson Votes is the one-stop shop for all voter resources for faculty, staff, students and community members. | STETSON


SHOWCASE, INDEED Despite cancellation of the actual event, Stetson Showcase again proved to be a worthy display, with research impressing “all who have seen it.” BY K I M B E R LY D . S . R E I T E R , P H D


ike its predecessors starting in 1999, this year’s event had all the makings of a great one. By March 1, 2020, the Undergraduate Research Committee had prepared for the frenzied six weeks leading up to Stetson’s marquee celebration of scholarship, innovation and creativity: the Stetson Showcase.

Nearly 250 students from all schools were expected to participate on April 14, presenting at venues across campus. Students throughout the College of Arts and Sciences were preparing talks and posters. Eight junior music recitals were to be selected; the Art Exhibition was scheduled to present Showcase week; and the School of Business Administration was gathering its best students in sales, marketing, entrepreneurship and investment. Even the College of Law would send five honor students to present. There was a keynote speaker nationally known for her work in promoting STEM to underserved populations, along with a


STETSON | Summer 2020

winning piece of art for the posters and covers, plus judges, moderators and interns. Showcase 2020 was on track to be another successful day of Stetson academic prowess. That was before COVID-19. With the closing of campuses due to the pandemic, colleges and universities across the country were forced to face difficult decisions with their own undergraduate research days. Larger schools and those with well-staffed undergraduate research offices went virtual, putting posters and presentations online. Suddenly, the chat rooms of the Council on Undergraduate Research brimmed with platform ideas. Smaller schools such as Stetson, however, were stuck. Many of the research projects that would have been presented at Showcase were redesigned for different presentations within majors. Without a dedicated staff on campus and only two eager but stressed student interns who had returned home, there was no way that Showcase could use any of the myriad platforms other schools were trying on such short notice. Yet, it happened. Thanks to University Marketing, a Stetson Showcase 2020 website was created, where some of the best projects were displayed. Any student who still wanted to be in Showcase, along with the 2019 Stetson Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) grantees, could have a place on the platform. Immediately, 12 students from across the university spectrum accepted the offer. And the research has impressed all who have seen it.

In addition, the Creative Arts faculty worked with its students to build a Virtual Exhibition of all the artists who would have presented on April 14. The result: Showcase 2020 lives in the words, presentations, art and music of talented students — just like it has in the past. The theme this spring was Showcase 2020: Vision, as the university looked forward to a new presidential administration, new programs and new educational challenges. Meanwhile, the educational philosophy of in-person classes utilized engaged learning, embedded research and creativity, innovative approaches and perspectives and critical thinking — strengths that promote forward-thinking and robust visioning of exciting futures.

Kimberly D.S. Reiter, PhD

The winning cover artwork by Reeva Licht ’20 and Cameron Gerstenslager ’20 reflected this approach. Licht, a business major with a minor in art, drew the design; Gerstenslager, a digital arts major with a minor in business, used Adobe Illustrator to convert it into a graphic. Instead of being focused on only one field of study, they see a treasure of different subjects and fields ahead of them. Stetson is not a school where a singular passion is promoted for a narrow lens. The vision is broad, seeking new ways to explore the world around us. The 2020 Showcase projects are emblematic. One Stetson student composed music through computers and examined its ability to enhance the enjoyment and immersion in virtual reality. This submission by John Levee ’20 was actually two projects — an artistic endeavor combining one of his musical compositions in a forested virtual-reality scene, called “Seasons: Summer.” A second poster project examines how audio affects people’s enjoyment and immersion in a virtual reality environment. A double-major in audio technology and industry and digital arts, Levee presented his project at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in spring 2019 and was slated to present again this year, until the conference was canceled due to COVID-19. He also has presented his work at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research and at the World Congress on Undergraduate Research, a global showcase. Jeffrey Lu ’20 delved into mathematical biology, applying a mathematical approach to study the growth of microorganisms in “Diffusive Flux Study of Biofilm.” Lu was a double-major in molecular biology and applied mathematics. He plans to attend medical

school. The project represents the kind of level and standard that Stetson students can produce even as rising seniors, even as juniors in their summer year. A third student, Nelson Quezada Herrera ’20, examined political support for the Green New Deal, which lays out goals to address climate change. Herrera examined how people form opinions and attitudes toward a proposal like the Green New Deal, a congressional resolution that would set goals to tackle climate change, economic inequality and other issues. A double-major in political science and English, Herrera hopes to attend graduate school and earn a doctorate in political science. Faculty mentors played a significant role, too. On “An Observation of Societal Injustices Towards Antisocial Personalities,” Drake Cunningham ’20 worked with Melinda Hall, PhD, associate professor of philosophy. Cunningham, a philosophy major who minored in theatre arts, would like to work in bioethics, with a focus on the philosophy of disability. Heather Evans-Anderson, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Health Sciences, worked with Ola Bartula ’20, an integrated health science major, on the “Effects of Alcohol and Glutathione on GATA4 Expression and Cardiac Development in Ciona Intestinalis.” EvansAnderson introduced biomedical research to

Bartula, who now hopes to pursue medical school and become a surgeon. On “Where Has the Art Gone? Examining the Use of Imagery in the Baptist Community,” Emily Maule ’20, a studio art major, was mentored by Katya Kudryavtseva, PhD, associate professor of art history. Maule has eyes on an MFA and eventually wants to work in either arts in medicine or a teaching position. Established to foster an appreciation for academic excellence at the university, Stetson Showcase is a celebration of achievement. This year marked an exception, but only in presentation. And it remained exceptional. The proposed theme for Stetson Showcase 2021 is “A New World,” planned to acknowledge the anticipated challenges of the 2020s, as well as the opportunities for innovation in a liberal arts core. The event also is now in position to seek improved funding to ensure sustainability. So, expect more excellence. Stetson Showcase, indeed, casts Stetson in the best of light — even during a pandemic. Kimberly D.S. Reiter, PhD, is an associate professor of history and chair of the Stetson Undergraduate Research Committee and Stetson Showcase. Reiter is a national counselor with the Undergraduate Research Programs Division for the Council on Undergraduate Research. Editor’s note: Cory Lancaster contributed to this article. | STETSON



All-American Carly Perales

SUPER SENIORS To play or not to play? That’s only one of the questions, as Stetson will welcome the unanticipated return of some student-athletes next spring in accordance with a special NCAA ruling. BY R I C K D E YA M P E RT


STETSON | Summer 2020


ivals of Stetson’s beach volleyball team breathed a sigh of relief when AllAmerican Carly Perales played her final game for the Hatters this spring, in a season cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. Likewise, pitchers facing the Hatters in baseball were glad to see shortstop Jorge Arenas, who led Stetson in hits and RBIs during 2019, hang up his spikes. Yet not so fast, Stetson foes. The NCAA, recognizing the plight of graduating student-athletes whose final spring seasons were eliminated by the pandemic shutdown, has ruled those seniors can have continuing eligibility. They received another year of Athletics Director Jeff Altier play. Of Stetson’s 28 such student-athletes, so-called Super Seniors, many will return as Hatters — “probably 15 to 18,” according to Athletics Director Jeff Altier ’82. That’s a good thing, potentially great for the Hatters. It just won’t be easy. Numerous factors were thrust into play by the NCAA decision. Chief among them is finances, especially scholarship funding for the return of those Super Seniors. In addition, there are scholarship and roster limits to consider, along with academic requirements, recruiting and internal competition for playing time, among others. “The NCAA’s ruling permits us to be able to do this, but the NCAA does not provide any funding for us to do this,” Altier said. “That was a big challenge.” The decision to implement the NCAA ruling is up to each individual NCAA school, Altier noted, citing that so far he had only “anecdotal information” about several other schools in the ASUN Conference not pursuing it. The scene nationally is uncertain, too. “I’ve been shocked that some of the very large state schools are choosing to not apply this, or they are very selectively applying it,” he added.

“I am extremely proud of [our] university. They said, ‘Yes, there’s a business aspect.’ But they’re also trying to do the right thing by these young men and young women, who have been here at Stetson for four years in many cases and have competed hard. And if they want to return and play one season, ‘We want to stand behind them and make it possible.’” Of course, Altier, himself a former player at Stetson in baseball, wants the Hatters to win. “I was advocating for it. I felt it would be the right thing to do. In a lot of cases, that senior year is the best year they will have. So, it was really important for Stetson to allow our students to have that premier experience,” he said. Baseball coach Steve Trimper and beach volleyball coach Kristina Hernandez agreed, also applauding Stetson. “A lot of universities are like, ‘Yep, sorry, don’t let the door hit you on the fanny on the Beach volleyball’s Kristina Hernandez way out,’” said Trimper. “We did not do that to our kids. The people who made that decision need to be knighted as far as I’m concerned.” Trimper expects four or five Super Seniors to return to the baseball team. Two of them, Arenas and center fielder Andrew MacNeil, already have started graduate school. Arenas is the only three-year captain in the history of Stetson Baseball. He was a unanimous selection to the ASUN All-Freshman team in 2017 and never slowed on the field. In the classroom, he made the ASUN Academic Honor Roll each year. MacNeil, a team captain this season, batted .263 in 11 games during the shortened 2020 season for the Hatters. MacNeil was a 4.00 student, majoring in molecular biology, and has aspirations to attend medical school and specialize as an orthopedic surgeon. In June, he became the ninth student-athlete in Hatters history to earn Academic All-America honors. Hernandez, who will have Pareles and Katinka Krahn returning, commented, “With all of the financial worries going on at all colleges, I think it’s just really Andrew MacNeil | STETSON


Jorge Arenas

awesome to do this.” Krahn is a native of Oslo, Norway, who joined the Hatters as a sophomore. Notably, the decision to welcome back Super Seniors went through a budget committee that included the university’s admissions office, enrollment management team and finance office — with an obvious question being “how do we pay for it?” “We’ve been fundraising,” Altier said. “We’ve been looking at different areas to cut, so we can provide that additional resource to these young men and young women.” As for academics, Super Seniors who have earned their academic degrees must enter a graduate program, as Arenas and MacNeil have. Per the NCAA, Super Seniors must apply and be admitted. “That’s not a guarantee even though, truthfully, our students at Stetson are really good students,” Altier said. Super Seniors who still are working on their undergraduate degrees must continue to pursue that course of study toward graduation. The cost of a graduate-school program is about half that of an undergraduate program, which eases the burden of funding athletic scholarships for Super Seniors. At the same time, graduate students aren’t eligible for academic scholarships, which a number of student-athletes received as undergraduates. The proposition is tricky in every direction. “It’s taken us some time to get through the financial implication for the students,” Altier said. “In most cases, the Super Seniors will end up paying a little bit more than they did when they were undergraduates, even though the graduate degree will cost less.” Playing time and competitive balance encompass additional hurdles.

For example, the return of Super Seniors has an impact on “internal competition.” “We’ve had to talk to some of the prospects we signed and make them aware that, while you thought you were going to be one of our top six pitchers, you’re only going to be a top-10 pitcher,” Altier explained. “Jorge Arenas will probably start at shortstop again. So, the young man who was expecting to step in is not going to play.” Could Stetson gain a competitive boost over ASUN schools that are forgoing the policy of allowing their Super Seniors to play? Altier smiled and said, “Hopefully that will work favorably for us.” In obvious understatement, Hernandez called her two unexpected returnees “really good bonus players” and “not like walk-ons.” Perales, from Texas, is one of the best players ever at Stetson. In May, she was named to the 2020 U.S. Beach Collegiate National Team. “Having her for an additional year is obviously a blessing and is going to be really fun,” Hernandez said. “But yeah, not every school is doing this. So, unfortunately, there will be an imbalance with some teams. It was every school’s own decision. It will be an interesting year for sure for all spring sports.”

SPRING 2020 ATHLETICS SENIORS Note: Not all will return as Super Seniors.

BASEBALL Jorge Arenas, Miami Shores Andrew MacNeil, Gainesville Jonathan Meola, Toms River, New Jersey BEACH VOLLEYBALL Sunniva Helland-Hansen, Øystese, Norway Carly Perales, Round Rock, Texas Katinka Krahn, Oslo, Norway MEN’S GOLF Chris Williard, Blacklick, Ohio


STETSON | Summer 2020

WOMEN’S GOLF Erikah Neger, Oviedo Justine Lauer, Leetang La Ville, France LACROSSE Karli Maguire, Bel Air, Maryland Liza Diamond, Delray Beach Sarah Trupp, Brightwaters, New York Jaclynn Levy, East Islip, New York Bailey Busscher, Winnetka, Illinois

MEN’S ROWING Matthew Cranston, Haines City Nick Hall, Windermere JT Lamon, Branchville, New Jersey Xavier Mulligan, Brighton, Massachusetts SOFTBALL Linda Ross, Sarasota Molly McLaughlin, Viera Riley Russell, Dallas, Georgia Elizabeth Jackson, Valrico Blake Crews, Waycross, Georgia Devin Lewis, Lake Butler

MEN’S TENNIS Colter Decoste, Stuart WOMEN’S TENNIS Danielle Peele, Lake Mary Lucie Renault, Laval, France Jordan King, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

HATTERS EXCEL OFF THE FIELD The mechanics of the NCAA’s policy are further complicated in baseball. Universities competing in NCAA baseball are limited to a 35-player roster and 11.7 scholarships per team. Super Seniors won’t count against either of those limits. Teams with three such seniors will be allowed to suit up 38 players. Teams with, say, 12 Super Seniors may have a roster of 47, and so on. The corresponding same thing applies to baseball scholarship limits — if universities want to go that route. Also, Major League Baseball has clouded the situation. As a result of the pandemic, MLB reduced its collegiate draft, always held in June, from 40 rounds to five rounds. MLB has its own financial concerns, and caught in the ripple effect are players who potentially could be drafted out of high school. In other words, for coaches that means who is coming, and who is going? Trimper labels the MLB scenario a “monkey Baseball coach Steve Trimper wrench,” particularly for schools like Stetson that recruit standout players. Under normal circumstances, recruiting is a numbers game. Now, that game is even more difficult. “There are so many moving parts prior to the start of your team showing up on campus,” Trimper said. “Not only do you have your seniors that you know you’re losing, but if you did a good job of recruiting a very good class, some of those kids are eligible to be drafted and they won’t even come to college.” Trimper and other members of the American Baseball Coaches Association have petitioned the NCAA for relief. Among their proposals is to allow schools during the 2021 season to go 25 percent or 33 percent above the 35-player and 11.7 scholarship limits, apart from the Super Seniors. It’s complicated, for sure. And while fans might get to root for some of their favorite student-athletes again next spring, it will come with some headaches and heartburn for universities. Trimper, speaking for college coaches across America, concluded: “It’s a really crazy situation. It’s causing me to lose sleep.”

Ten Hatters sports programs earned perfect single-year scores, and two programs earned perfect multiyear scores in the 2018-2019 NCAA Academic Progress Rate Institutional Report, officially unveiled this spring. The complete scoreboard: Each of Stetson’s 17 NCAA sports performed extremely well, posting APR scores above 960 — a perfect score is 1000 — while 12 programs topped the 980 mark. (Men’s rowing is not an NCAA championship sport.) The 10 programs to achieve perfect 1000 single-year APR scores for the 2018-2019 academic year were beach volleyball, men’s cross country, women’s cross country, men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, lacrosse, softball and volleyball. The two Hatter teams with perfect 1000 multiyear scores were beach volleyball and men’s cross country. Those two programs also were honored with NCAA Public Recognition Awards for posting APR scores in the top 10% of their sport. The other Stetson programs achieving high multiyear APR scores were women’s soccer (989), lacrosse (987), men’s golf (986), indoor volleyball (984), men’s tennis (984), softball (982), women’s golf (982), women’s tennis (982), men’s soccer (981), women’s cross country (981), women’s basketball (979), baseball (974), women’s rowing (973), football (968) and men’s basketball (962). The Academic Progress Rate, implemented in 2003 as part of an ambitious academic reform effort in Division I, holds institutions accountable for the academic progress of their student-athletes through a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete for each academic term. The APR emerged when Division I presidents and chancellors sought a timelier assessment of academic success at colleges and universities. At the time, the best measure was the graduation rate calculated under the federally mandated methodology that was based on a six-year window and did not take transfers into account. The APR is calculated as follows: • Each student-athlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one point for staying in school and one point for being academically eligible. • A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by 1,000 to equal the team’s Academic Progress Rate. • In addition to a team’s current-year APR, its rolling four-year APR also is used to determine accountability. While the APR is intended as an incentive-based approach, it does come with a progression of penalties for teams that underperform academically over time. Yet, that hasn’t been the case for the Hatters in the past — and certainly wasn’t this time. - Jamie Bataille | STETSON



Virtual Connections Meet Rebecca Thomas

Briefly, going back to 2016 when you arrived at Stetson, what were your primary responsibilities? In 2016, I was hired to create and implement a student alumni organization based in the Development and Alumni Engagement division. The organization — Green, White & YOU — was established with the mission of fostering a spirit of philanthropy and a culture of engagement among students, donors and alumni of the university. Its work focused on three guiding principles: educating students about donor impact on their education and their Stetson experience; showing students how they could stay engaged as alumni once they graduated; and offering them an opportunity to give back to the university and pay it forward, just like generations have before them.

Prior to accepting your current position, you took on another role. How would you describe it? For about a year and a half, I was the director of Outreach and Transitions, which was really phase two of the student work that we had developed and implemented in my former role. That position involved building a pipeline of engagement and philanthropy efforts focused on young alumni — graduates from one year to 10 years out. We began implementing young alumni-focused regional and campus programming that would help place our most recent graduates firmly on a path of lifelong engagement with Stetson.

At Stetson, Rebecca Thomas has always expressed to students that graduation isn’t the end of their Hatter journey — instead, the university will always be a part of them. Now, Thomas gets to help make that sentiment a reality. In April, she was named director of Alumni and Parent Engagement, reporting to Vice President Jeff Ulmer and serving as chief liaison to the Alumni Board. Thomas joined Stetson’s Office of Development and Alumni Engagement in spring 2016 as the assistant director of sustainable giving, where she began developing relationships among students and alumni. Since then, Thomas has continued to advance at Stetson and within her profession. Earlier this year, Thomas was selected for a 2020 Emerging Leader Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education Southeast region. The award recognizes individuals who demonstrate extraordinary achievement, innovation, professionalism and leadership qualities. In 2010, Thomas received a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Central Florida, as well as a master’s degree in sport and exercise science in 2012. Also, she has a certification in nonprofit management from Rollins College’s Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership and a certification in hospitality and event management from UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management.


STETSON | Summer 2020

So, it appears the experience of those two roles has put you in a good position now as director of Alumni and Parent Engagement, correct? I’m enthusiastic about the opportunity. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the energy of the students and their passion for Stetson. They’ve helped lay a foundation for me, which speaks to the special community of people that is Stetson. Stetson’s community is passionate, and its members hold deep connections to their university. I’ve had the chance to see that with students and young alumni, and I am seeing the same now with the broad alumni base. They’re not losing that passion for Stetson. During my first couple of weeks in this role, I held phone calls with each of the alumni board members — and to see just how passionate they are was energizing but not surprising. The same love for Stetson is woven into each generation. There is a true Hatter community. I am grateful to be a part of it in this new role.

What is on the horizon for the Alumni and Parent Engagement office? Just like any industry or any other department at Stetson, we’re having to look at our programming — what does that look like? In-person is not an option these days, and it likely won’t be for some time. So, how are we going to continue to keep our Hatter community connected? Is it a hybrid form of in-person and “virtual”

"Stetson’s community is passionate, and its members hold deep connections to their university. I’ve had the chance to see that with students and young alumni, and I am seeing the same now with the broad alumni base. They’re not losing that passion for Stetson." events? Is it going to be all virtual events in the short-term? And, if we have to do everything virtually, what could that look like? By now, hopefully our alumni are aware that we have a new digital events “community.” Our alumni website ( brings together all of our existing digital events with other opportunities for alumni to learn and discover, connect with one another, and have opportunities to help and support students. This site also features an interest form where alumni, parents and friends can let us know what types of virtual events they’d like to see our office host. That’s the first thing we’ve been addressing: How do we provide useful and relevant content to our alumni and parents, and then leverage it for our students, prospective students and campus partners?

there’s something that piques your interest, or reach out to our office. We’re happy to chat with you, get you connected and see if we can get you engaged!

The effort appears to be ambitious. What’s your view of it? I’m motivated. Very simply, we want to be able to coordinate events, programming and communication in a holistic, user-friendly approach. That means laying out main objectives that help us meet our mission to connect alumni, parents and friends to the university, and to one another. That also means involving our Alumni Association Board to a greater extent, as representatives of all alumni and their interests. It is inclusive, reflecting the diversity within our alumni population? Are we producing relevant, beneficial and meaningful content, and what does that look like? Is this programming sustainable and consistent? Are we collaborating and coordinating with university partners in a way that drives their work and the university’s mission? That could mean working with our Admissions office or our Career office, repurposing events so prospective students and families can connect early and often with their Hatter network. Maybe that means repurposing webinars to “pull the curtain back” on what the Stetson experience is like. Maybe it’s leveraging faculty members and alumni who are well-versed in particular fields to tell future Hatters, “Hey, these are the programs we teach, and we’re also graduating alumni who are out making a difference in an industry — so could you.” It’s painting a picture and keeping everyone connected.

Is this approach different from other colleges and universities?

Previous work with students on campus for Green, White & YOU helped to prepare Thomas for her new role as director of Alumni and Parent Engagement.

A Quick Scan — Stetson's Alumni and Parent Engagement Event Website

The industry has defined alumni engagement by placing our work into four categories: communication, philanthropy, volunteer and experiential. That’s what we will concentrate on, and everything we do in those areas will be part of the mission of Development and Alumni Engagement, which in turn helps to drive the mission of the institution, which is always our focus.

Any final thoughts to share with alumni? Your Hatter network is 42,000-plus alumni, and our office is always an open door to you. I would encourage anyone to take a peek at our virtual events. See if | STETSON



Class of 2020 New Alumni in Celebration

Note: Only the people who submitted the photos are identified.

Devin Lewis

Brett Ball

Abigail Bailey

Alexis Bendler

Brendan Dunlop

Caroline Coggins


STETSON | Summer 2020

Bethany Bardeen

Austin Dilbert

Alyssa Dunstone

Aviles Champion

Jocehn Riehm

Jennifer Wayne

Caitlyn Figueroa

Kennedy Francisco

Bria Aqui Jordan Toth

Camila Morales Hernandez

Jaycie Cohen

Breanna Shi

Janeth Mutiganzi

Cailyn Hinkle | STETSON



Note: Only the people who submitted the photos are identified.

Ryan Stark

Mikael Dahlgren

Lauren Potts

Griffin Maxwell

Warren Fulkrod

Melissa Diaz

Grayson Curtis

Natylye Gomez


STETSON | Summer 2020

Molly McLaughlin

Hannah Gurland

Mario Pennetti

Emily Sayre

Kenneth Neely

Mary Pietraniec

Marianna Soper

Natalie Greenshields Colter Decoste

Victoria Rogers

Courtney Pindjak

Robert Scuderi

Veronica Anderson | STETSON



Send Us Your Class Note STETSON UNIVERSITY is proud of its alumni and their accomplishments. We would love to hear about your achievements. If you are a graduate from the DeLand or Celebration campus, please send your class note to Stetson University, Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement, 421 N. Woodland Blvd., Unit 8257, DeLand, FL 32723, or email your news to alumni@ If you are a graduate of the College of Law, send your class note to Stetson University College of Law, Office of Development and Alumni Engagement, 1401 61st St. South, Gulfport, FL 33707, or email your class note to alumni@law.stetson. edu. College of Law graduates also can fill out the online form at


Joy Vian Martin ’56, Sherman, Texas, had her first book published, “From Outhouse to Africa,” available on Amazon. The book details her life’s story, beginning with the Great Depression up through her work with Living Water International in Africa. Living Water International is a faith-based nonprofit organization that helps communities in developing countries to create sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene programs in response to the global water crisis.

Stephen R. Todd ’82, Crystal Lake, Illinois, was chosen by Five Star Professional as one of Chicago’s Five Star Wealth Managers for 2019. More than 5,000 Chicago wealth managers were considered for the award, which is based on a rigorous, multifaceted research methodology.

1960s Alice Worthington Schmidlin ’61, Plantation, was named the Plantation Woman of the Year by the Plantation Historical Museum & Society. David E. Sumner ’69, Anderson, Indiana, Professor Emeritus of Journalism at Ball State University, was interviewed about his book, “Fumbled Call: The Bear Bryant-Wally Butts Football Scandal That Split the Supreme Court and Changed American Libel Law.” The interview was by Rachel Grant, University of Florida, representing the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.



We can only use

William Allen ’74, Chicago, Illinois, was elected to a three-year term on the board of trustees of the University of Chicago Divinity School, a private graduate institution dedicated to the training of academics and clergy across religious boundaries.

photos that are high-resolution, and because of space limitations, we cannot guarantee use of all photographs.



STETSON | Summer 2020

Robert A. Krause ’87, Wauchula, was named CEO of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation, following a national search. Krause served as a member of the JSF board of directors since 2013 and currently is the foundation’s treasurer.


moms, spouses and business owners.” Kimberly Wetmiller Bell ’04, Atlanta, Georgia, is vice president, Production Services, for Turner Sports (WarnerMedia). WarnerMedia consists of HBO, Turner and Warner Bros. John Mills ’04, Chicago, Illinois, was elected to a three-year term on the board of trustees of the University of Chicago Divinity School, a private graduate institution dedicated to the training of academics and clergy across religious boundaries. Michael K. Grebosz ’05, MBA ’07, DeLand, was recognized by The Daytona Beach News-Journal for “40 under 40” and for winning the Local Government Officer of the Year Award. The award honors young professionals who are involved in efforts to make their area a better place to live and work.

Jessica Butcher Salazar ’04, Ponte Vedra Beach, is a managing partner at Northwestern Mutual in Jacksonville. She is the only female of 78 managing partners representing Northwestern Mutual nationwide. Salazar’s vision is to be the first female with children to retire in the position, helping “prove that women can be great

J. Giffin Chumley, JD ’06, Longwood, rejoined the firm Fishback Dominick as a partner. Chumley began his career at Fishback Dominick in 2006. He is board certified by the Florida Bar in city, county and local government law. Prior to his return, he served as an assistant county attorney for Volusia County for eight years.

Nicholas D. Chlumsky ’97, Fort Myers, was named by Wells Fargo Advisors as a member of the firm’s Premier Advisor Program. Chlumsky is first vice president-investment officer. The Premier Advisor distinction is held by a select group of financial advisers, as measured by completion of education components, business production and professionalism. He also was named by Forbes to its 2020 Best-in-State Wealth Advisors list.

1990s Gregory Dwyer ’92, Chicago, Illinois, was elected to a three-year term on the board of trustees of the University of Chicago Divinity School, a private graduate institution dedicated to the training of academics and clergy across religious boundaries. Hans Lehman ’94, Lakeland, was promoted to assistant chief/bureau commander of the City of Lakeland Police Department. Lehman has more than 25 years of law-enforcement experience, mostly in Lakeland.

Laura Myrick-Veal ’06, Jacksonville, is director of selection for Northwestern Mutual in Jacksonville.

Alexandra de Alejo, MBA/JD ’07, Miami, a shareholder in GrayRobinson’s Miami law firm office, was accepted into the 2020 Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Fellows Program. The Fellows Program is an ambitious, highly structured training program designed to build relationships and leadership skills.

extensive experience in both traditional labor and employment litigation. Prior to joining the firm, she was a practicing attorney and an assistant attorney general for the State of Tennessee. William J. Wieland ’07, JD ’10, Orlando, was included in Orlando magazine’s list of “Best Lawyers” in Central Florida for 2020. The annual list provides names of area attorneys recommended by their colleagues.

Brandon D. Howell, MBA ’08, Bloomington, Indiana, is now the assistant dean of Operations for the School of Public Health at Indiana University Bloomington. Howell serves as a faculty member in the school’s Department of Health and Wellness Design. Also, on April 30, 2020, he appeared on TV’s popular “The Price Is Right” show.


Mary Leigh Pirtle, MBA/ JD ’07, Nashville, Tennessee, was elected to Bass, Berry & Sims in Nashville. Pirtle has

Kristine Musgrove ’10, North York, Ontario, had an article, “Practical approaches

to including popular music in the secondary ensemble,” published in the Journal of Popular Music Education (JPME). Also, Musgrove got engaged in November 2019. William Webb Shephard, MAcc ’11, Flagler Beach, was promoted to senior manager at the firm of James Moore & Company, P.L., in its Daytona Beach office. Shephard is responsible for planning and executing auditing and accounting projects, and client engagements. He has been with the firm since 2011. Allison Dhand ’12, JD ’16, St. Petersburg, is now an attorney with the Southwest Florida Water Management District, one of five regional agencies directed by Florida state law to protect and preserve water resources. Anthony C. Walsh ’14, MAcc ’16, Gainesville, was promoted to audit manager at James Moore & Company, P.L. Walsh manages and monitors auditing and accounting projects, and client engagements. He joined the firm in 2015. Stephanie Espada ’18, Tampa, was sworn into the New York Bar. Espada also was admitted to practice in both the Eastern and Southern districts of New York. She brings additional experience to the firm after working at law firms abroad that specialize in intellectual property.

Jacqueline Bryant ’19, MAcc ’19, DeLand, has joined the office of James Moore & Company, P.L., in Daytona Beach. Bryant provides a range of audit and accounting services.

Chancellor K. Jackson ’18, Smyrna, Georgia, has released the first book in his series, “14 Days in Beijing.” The book tells the story of his experience in getting “locked up” abroad. It’s available on Amazon.

75th Postmaster General In May, the Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service unanimously selected Louis DeJoy ’79 to serve as the 75th Postmaster General of the United States and CEO of the world’s largest postal organization. Louis DeJoy ’79 As CEO of New Breed Logistics Inc., DeJoy spent decades in collaboration with the U.S. Postal Service, Boeing, Verizon, Disney, United Technologies and other public and private companies to provide supply chain logistics, program management and transportation support. He transformed New Breed Logistics from a small, familyowned transportation company with 10 employees into a nationwide provider of highly engineered, technology-driven, contract logistics solutions employing more than 9,000 people. New Breed Logistics was a contractor to the U.S. Postal Service for more than 25 years. DeJoy becomes the fifth Postmaster General to join the institution from the private sector since the Postal Service became an independent establishment within the Executive Branch in 1971. “Postal workers are the heart and soul of this institution, and I will be honored to work alongside them and their unions,” DeJoy said in the press release from the U.S. Postal Service. - Michael Candelaria | STETSON



Marriages 1 Catherine Kuchar ’07 to Brian Moats, Feb. 15, 2020.




Babies 1 Ellie Covault ’09 and Oscar Mims, a daughter, Charlotte Cannady, April 2020.

2 Virginia Byerts Anderson ’11 and Brett Anderson, a daughter, Sidney Rose, January 2019.


STETSON | Summer 2020

4 Alicia Winchell ’12 and Kevin Winchell ’07, ’08, MBA ’14, a son, Carsen Warren, September 2019.




3 Sandra Perry Shafer ’12 and CJ Shafer ’12, a daughter, Candence, February 2020.



5 Jeff Wiley, MBA ’19 and Nellie Jo Wiley, a daughter, Nellie Marie, January 2020.

MUSIC WORTH CELEBRATING Congratulations to Wesley Whatley ’02 on the announcement of his third and fourth Emmy Award nominations related to original songs for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Whatley is vice president/creative producer, Music and Talent, for Macy’s Branded Entertainment, as well as a highly respected musician and songwriter. Much of his work is focused on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks, where he is responsible for celebrity talent booking, music production, casting and direction of shows both live and on television. In 2008, Whatley composed the song “I Believe,” which was performed by Kermit the Frog in that year’s Macy’s Parade and was

nominated for a 2008 Daytime Entertainment Emmy Award. Whatley then won a Daytime Emmy Award in 2011 for the Outstanding Original Song “Yes, Virginia (There’s a Santa Claus).” Whatley composed the music, which was featured just before Santa appeared in the 84th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in November 2010. Among his original songs: “The Bad Guys” (Brainwashed by Toons), “Everything Changed” (The Feels), “North Star” (General Hospital), “A Holiday Carol – The Holidays Are Here: (93rd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” 2019) and “Hooray Hooray, We’re On Our Way” (93rd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade). Several years ago, about his Emmy experience, Whatley commented: “That night at the Emmys was the culmination of years of learning. I’m so grateful to the Stetson University community.” Whatley began his performance career as a part of his high school marching band in Valdosta, Georgia. At Stetson, he was a J. Ollie Edmunds Scholar who studied business, French and music. In 2010, he received Stetson’s Outstanding Young Alumnus Award. In a 2019 article for Advocate, he described his campus experience this way: “During college, I worked one summer at Disney World performing in the parades in the Magic Kingdom with all the fireworks, dancers and the audience. It was there that I fell in love with the idea of a parade.” Following Stetson, he worked at Universal Studios before truly going global with Macy’s in New York City. - Michael Candelaria

VERY SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP Steve Wunderlich ’82 is a police officer assigned to Everglades Elementary School in West Palm Beach, where Wunderlich has “a very special relationship with all the kids and especially the little ones,” he said. In October 2019, a public service day was held for all of the school’s eight kindergarten classes. Approximately 80 children participated — with 50 dressed in police uniforms. In 2015, Wunderlich retired as a supervisory special agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and remained retired for three years before returning to work as a police officer with the Palm Beach County School District. | STETSON



A Communio/ Bank Focusecl On You.

Free Personal & Business Checking• Free Online Banking• Online Bill Pay• Mobile Deposit Consumer Lending• Commercial Lending• Mortgage Lending

Visit us at any one of our convenient Central Florida locations or online at Downtown Deland

North Spring Garden

(386) 734-5930

(386) 734-0237

204 S. Woodland Blvd.

John Knox Village

Hol!Y Hill/Ormond

(386) 960-1200

(386) 366-9205

IO I Northlake Drive



1500 N. Spring Garden Ave.

1812 Ridgewood Ave.

Orange Ci9'

850 S. Volusia Avenue

(386) 774-2090


ISIS East Highway SO

(3 5 2) 404-0404

MAIN STREET COMMUNITY BANK OF FLORIDA Free checking accounts include our Mainstreet Checking and Downtown Checking products. All accounts subject to normal approval. See Terms and Conditions for additional information. Company NMLS #402783



In Memoriam 1940s


Doris Milligan Weber ’43 John H. Lounsbury ’47 Anita Caldwell Zarcone ’47 Sara Higginbotham ’49, MA ’57

Walter R. Boggess, MBA ’71 Remington A. Clark ’71 David L. Anderson, JD ’72 John C. Moore, JD ’74 Joseph J. DeRoss, JD ’77

1950s Raymond C. Pitts ’50 Betty Conway Proctor ’50 John L. Bowman ’51 Kenneth C. Cross Jr., ’52 Harold C. Epperson ’54 Shirley Eckelman Buckingham ’57 Joe Rhodes ’57 Alfred Washburn ’58


1980s Joyce Timmons, JD ’81 William H. Farrell, MA ’82 Robert G. Sewell ’82

1990s Dimitri Diatchenko ’94 Mary Antonio Wheatley ’97



Henry J. Robinson ’61 Robert G. Stokes ’61 Coleman M. Fielder ’63, MA ’69 David W. Quarrier ’65 Robert E. Cauthen ’67

Sheila Nicholson, MBA/JD ’02 Robbyn W. Howie, JD ’02

STETSON | Summer 2020

2010s Kevin M. Disbrow ’13

HATTERS BASKETBALL GREAT Former Stetson men’s basketball standout Earnest Killum ’70 died on June 11 in Atlanta, Georgia. A native of Clarksdale, Mississippi, Killum played two seasons for the Hatters (1968-1970), earning multiple All-America honors in each year. Killum, a guard, helped lead the Hatters to 36 wins in two seasons after transferring from Coahoma Community College in Mississippi. The 19691970 Hatters are regarded as one of the top teams in program history, posting a 22-7 record. In his two seasons in DeLand, Killum averaged 24.9 points per game, including 25.6 points during his senior season. Both marks still are school records. Following his playing days at Stetson, Killum was taken in the second round of the NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. He spent one season with the Lakers and remains one of two players in Stetson history to play in the NBA, along with Lorenzo Williams. Killum was inducted into the Stetson Athletics Hall of Fame in 1983. Following his playing career, Killum became an educator in Georgia, serving as a teacher, coach and administrator for more than 30 years.


Leaving the Stage After 11 years as president of Stetson, Wendy B. Libby, PhD, departed campus just how she arrived — with her devoted husband, Richard M. Libby, PhD, by her side. Her final official day in office was June 30. This photo was taken not long after she became the university’s ninth president. The Libbys will remain residents of DeLand. Photo: Stetson University/Joel Jones | STETSON


Office of University Marketing 421 N. Woodland Blvd., 8319 DeLand, FL 32723

STETSON is printed on FSCcertified paper.

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.