Feb 24, 2011

Proudly Cincinnati Beyond Our Borders: Jillian Strunk

During this year’s annual freshman convocation, President Williams unveiled an aggressive plan to place the University of Cincinnati among the top 100 universities in the country. He identified student study abroad as one of the primary vehicles driving the university’s growth, saying, “To educate tomorrow’s citizens, we must expand opportunities for global engagement in our curriculum.”

In an ongoing series of posts, UC Where You Are will take a look at the students who are already making strides toward the president’s goal. This series will focus on the unique experiences and learning opportunities afforded to students who are currently studying abroad, most of whom are grant or scholarship recipients who might otherwise not had the opportunity to contribute their experiences to the global classroom.

We begin our series by introducing you to Jillian Strunk, a senior from Bay Village, a community located just west of Cleveland. As an International Affairs major, Jillian jumped at the chance to study abroad in Morocco this quarter, where she’ll have first-hand exposure to the Arabic language. Here’s her story:

Let’s start with the basics: What is your major at UC, when do you expect to graduate, and what are your plans after graduation?
JS: I’m an International Affairs major with a focus on Middle Eastern Studies. I’m a senior this year and I hope to graduate either in June after returning from Morocco or in August. I would like to work for the government and do interpreting work in Arabic and German.

UC: Why did you choose the University of Cincinnati? What did the campus (or your program of study) offer that other colleges or campuses did not?
JS: I visited all the schools I applied to and something about UC just felt right. I really like how compact and city-like the campus was. I love being in the city and I really wanted an urban atmosphere so UC was perfect. I also have family in Dayton and UC was close enough to them that I still have support yet far enough away from my family that I felt independent.

UC: So, when did you decide to study abroad? How did you come to choose Morocco as your location?
JS: In high school I did a study abroad in Germany. It was a great experience and I knew I wanted to do it again. I started learning Arabic two years ago and decided to do a study abroad in the Middle East/North Africa region so that I can become better at the language. Arabic is an extremely difficult language and I need all the experience I can get. Between the classes I will be taking and the weekend excursions, I felt the Morocco program had a lot to offer.

UC: What will you be studying there?

JS: I will be taking classes on Arabic, as well as Islamic Society and Politics, Peace and Conflict Resolution, and Three Religions, Three Peoples. These classes will help me understand Islamic society and history better, as well as the religious and political conflicts that are going on today.

UC: How do you anticipate your study abroad work to influence your further career options?
JS: I am hoping that studying in Morocco will help me to become fluent in Arabic. This will help me get the interpreting job that I am hoping for. It will also give me more insight to Arabic and Islamic culture. This will also help me greatly in getting an interpreting job.

UC: You're a grant recipient, right? Which grant, and what were the criteria to apply?
JS: I have a grant from the study abroad office at UC called the UC International Student Grant. You have to be a full time student, have a GPA higher than a 2.0, and be studying abroad with a UC approved program. You also have to do something for the community related to your study abroad. I chose to do a blog about my trip and when I return I will print out pictures and blog entries and have them bound. I plan on leaving a copy of this in the study abroad office so that others can look through it.

I am also a Cincinnatus scholarship recipient and I have transferred that to my study abroad as well.

Jillian leaves for Morocco on Jan. 26, so we’ll plan to check in on her once she’s had a chance to get settled in her new environment. If you’d like more frequent updates on her progress, you can follow along with Jillian’s adventure on her blog, http://www.jillianstrunk.blogspot.com/.

In the mean time, stay tuned for future profiles of students who are exemplifying what it means to be Proudly Cincinnati beyond the borders of UC’s campus.

Feb 18, 2011

McConnell Promotes UC Graduate & D.C Resident Neil Chatterjee

Congratulations to UC grad Neil Chatterjee who was just promoted by
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell  from legislative aid within the senator’s personal office to a policy advisor in the senator’s leadership office.

Since 2009, Neil has served as a legislative assistant advising McConnell on energy and agriculture issues. In his new role, he will focus on agriculture, energy, environmental and transportation issues in the jurisdiction of the Agriculture, Energy and EPW committees.

According to Washington, D.C. Newspaper, Roll Call, McConnell explained that Neil and another  recently promoted staff member, “will provide continuity on our policy staff and help ensure that Kentuckians and the Conference are well-served.”

“I’m confident they will have an immediate and important impact on our team and on behalf of my constituents.” McConnell said.

Neil is as graduate of UC's College of Law. Previously, he worked as counsel to the House Republican Conference under former Chairwoman Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio.

Any recent career moves for you? We want to hear from you too! Let us know and shout out your congrats to Neil below!

Feb 16, 2011

Calling All Floridian Bearcats! Where are you?

Florida is a wonderful place to live and it is even better if you are a Bearcat. My name is Jim Ray and I am leading a networking effort for Bearcats here in the Sunshine State.

As we look to grow our network of alumni across the state we need to know who and where you are. If you are or know of any fellow graduates or big UC fans in Florida, or if you spend part of the year in Florida escaping the winter up north, please contact us! We want to connect and bond the Red and Black across our great state, especially given our Big East rival located in Tampa, Florida.

Stay up-to-date on all the wonderful developments happening at our alma mater, learn about upcoming alumni events in Florida, and become acquainted with our many notable area alumni on our new website.  There you'll find information about our community of proud UC supporters that regularly comes together to network, socialize and make exciting things happen in support of our University.  And be sure to subscribe and check back on this blog often for more Florida-related posts, coming soon!

If you have any suggestions for an upcoming event, or even just want to get in touch, post a comment below and we'd be happy to reach out to you!

Proudly Cincinnati in the Sunshine State, 
-Jim Ray

Feb 14, 2011

UC Love Stories: Lori and Dirk Richards

Dirk (’84) and Lori (’83) Richards at the Sugar Bowl
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner… and what could be a better way for us to celebrate than by sharing some of our favorite UC love stories! Today, we’re bringing you the story of Lori and Dirk Richards, who currently reside in the Pierce Township area in Cincinnati.

On their second date, Lori (Shepherd) Richards (’83) knew her life with future husband Dirk Richards (’84) would be never be dull. Recalls Lori, “A funny thing happened on our second date; the Triangle fraternity spring formal, which took place on a B&B Riverboat.  A popular song at that time, ‘Super Freak’ must have been a favorite of the disc jockey, because he played it MANY times during the evening.  At one point during the evening, Dirk said, ‘If he plays that song one more time, I am going to throw that album into the river!’”

You can probably guess what happened next…

“We were on the top deck of the boat when the song was played again.  Dirk ran down the steps, with me right behind him.  He slapped a five dollar bill on the table, ripped the album off the turntable, and flung it into the river!  Later, we discovered that the album did not belong to the disc jockey, but to one of his fraternity brothers!  That should have been a sign to me that my life would NEVER be dull,” Lori says, laughing at the recollection.

Lori and Dirk met during a “crush” party at her sorority, Kappa Delta, in 1982. Although Dirk wasn’t one Lori’s three invited “crushes”, they hit it off. A few weeks later, they enjoyed their first date at the Kappa Delta spring dance/hayride at Handlebar Ranch. The next night, they went on their second date, site of the infamous record-throwing incident.

According to Lori, Dirk’s and her time at UC consisted of “normal” college activities – Homecoming parades, Greek formals, football games, study dates – punctuated by moments of sweetness spent planning their life together while walking around campus.

“We did not formally get engaged on UC’s campus, but we first started talking about marriage one night when Dirk was pulling an ‘all-nighter’ at DAAP (where he was an industrial design major),” says Lori.  “I took a pizza over to him, and in the room where we were eating, there was a poster on a wall about studying in Europe. Dirk said that he wanted to go there on our honeymoon.  This was the first time he spoke about marriage, so needless to say, I was shocked!”

The couple became engaged in April of 1984, while Dirk was a senior at UC and Lori was employed in her first teaching position. The couple married in November of that same year.

Do you have a great UC love story to share? Comment below and tell us how you met your spouse or significant other at UC!

Feb 11, 2011

UC Love Stories: Sharon and Bill Drewry

Sharon and Bill Drewry (Class of '92) at the 2010 Sugar Bowl.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner… and what could be a better way for us to celebrate than by sharing some of our favorite UC love stories! Today, we’re bringing you the story of Sharon and Bill Drewry.

To get to the beginning of Sharon (Thieken) and Bill Drewry’s relationship, one must first hear the story of Sharon’s… we’ll call it an “unpredictable” sleep schedule.

Sharon explains, “I'm a pretty laid back person, but I show stress when I sleep, generally by sleep walking or talking.  The night before a big physics test, my roommates and I were up late studying, and I was having a hard time with the material.  Later in the middle of the night, I had a dream that velocity was an object that I had misplaced in our dorm room. 

“I woke up standing in the middle of the room, frantically lifting and looking under everything in sight.  I had completely trashed our room.  All of my roommates were now awake, trying to figure out what I was looking for in such a frenzy.  I woke myself up screaming, ‘I TOLD YOU, I'M LOOKING FOR VELOCITY!!!’ The next morning,  my roommates told half of our freshman engineering class about it. I took a lot of friendly jabs for that one!”

This was in 1987, when Sharon was an engineering major. Cut to 1989… although Sharon had changed her major to personnel and industrial relations, she would soon learn that the “Velocity” incident would follow her throughout her career at UC.

Sharon and some friends were at the Yacht Club – a favorite hangout – when they ran into Bill, whom Sharon only knew as a casual acquaintance with poor penmanship. “We didn’t know each other well, and I could never remember his name. But I knew his handwriting was absolutely horrible, so he was always the ‘guy with the bad handwriting,’ to me,” explains Sharon.

Although Sharon and Bill didn’t know each other well prior to that evening at the Yacht Club, they spent a lot of time plotting exactly how she would set Bill up with one of her roommates, whom Bill was interested in. But fate had other plans: that fall, Sharon and Bill seemed to run into each other everywhere on and off campus. In November, Bill asked Sharon for a date to the Cincinnati Museum Center, followed by views of the city from the observation deck on top of Carew Tower. 

After a few dates, Sharon decided to share her sleep issues with Bill.  “I started to tell him the ‘velocity’ story.  He stopped me mid-way through and said, ‘Oh my God, I'm dating Velocity!’”  Bill, it turned out, had heard the tale of Sharon’s midnight rampage from mutual friends in the same freshman engineering class Sharon and her roommates were in.

“Apparently my notoriety had spread much farther than I thought… it was SO embarrassing,” Sharon says with a smile. 

Despite her status as a bit of an urban legend, Sharon and Bill’s relationship continued its forward-moving “velocity”. Nearly two years after their 1992 graduation, Bill asked Sharon to meet him for dinner in Downtown Cincinnati.

“We met and had dinner at The Palms restaurant,” recalls Sharon. “It was a beautiful evening, so after dinner, Bill suggested that we head up to the Carew Tower observation deck of old times sake. He proposed to me that night above the downtown lights, at the site of our first date. It was very romantic!”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Do you have a great UC love story to share? Comment below and tell us how you met your spouse or significant other at UC! And check back for more in this special series of "UC Love Stories."

Feb 10, 2011

UC Love Stories: Joan and Tom Vinciguerra

The Vinciguerra Family
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner… and what could be a better way for us to celebrate than by sharing some of our favorite UC love stories! Today, we’re sharing the story of Cincinnati residents Tom and Joan Vinciguerra:

When asked how he and his wife met, Tom Vinciguerra (’76) wastes no time recalling how he and his wife Joan (Knueven) Vinciguerra (’76) met at a Sigma Phi Epsilon mixer a few days before classes began their freshman year. “The friend who invited me said there would be lots of girls there, so I went,” says Tom.

The two didn’t start dating immediately, however. Although they would occasionally see each other on campus or exchange pleasantries in the cafeteria, they remained just friends until Tom asked Joan to accompany him on a group outing to the Kentucky Derby.

“It took me a year just to work up the nerve to ask her out!” he explains.

Tom and Joan Vinciguerra
Love blossomed that spring, over movies at Tangeman University Center, dorm parties, free concerts and local watering holes like Reflections and Past Times Saloon, they and their friends even rented separate apartments in a four-family home on Stratford. “That was the year I and three of my buddies serenaded Joan and her roommate with our rendition of ‘Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire," says Tom with a laugh.

Married in 1980, Tom and Joan kept their Bearcat love in the family. Their oldest daughter, Lisa, graduated in 2005, and their youngest daughter, Janna will graduate this spring.

“It’s fun being a part of the Bearcat family and being able to share that with our daughters,” says Joan. “In fact their paths have, in some ways, mirrored our own. For example, our oldest daughter lived in Daniels Hall her freshman year – as I did – while our youngest daughter lived in Calhoun Hall, just like Tom; although at the time, it was an all boys dorm!”

Joan notes that – with luck! – the Vinciguerra tradition at UC will live on. “Our oldest daughter also married a Bearcat, Justin Shafer (‘05), and now we have two future Bearcat granddaughters Lilly and Carolyn… so even with our daughters, the path we started at UC lives on.”

Do you have a great UC love story to share? Comment below and tell us how you met your spouse or significant other at UC! And check back for more in this special series of "UC Love Stories."

Feb 9, 2011

UC Love Stories: Kimberlee and Robert Dobbs

Kim and Bob performing during a
Bearkittens halftime show –
the “O” on her sweater is from
high school!
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner… and what could be a better way for us to celebrate than by sharing some of our favorite UC love stories! Here’s the story of Kimberlee and Robert Dobbs:

Kimberlee (Kramer) Dobbs can still point to the exact place at Nippert Stadium where her future husband, Robert, introduced himself for the first time. It was Homecoming Weekend, 1974.

“He had been working on his fraternity float all night and was a bit scruffy looking.  His first words to me were, ‘You don't know me, but we are going out tonight,’” says Kim, reminiscing over the moment in November 1974, when the couple first met. “I was on the Bearkittens squad and Bob was the fraternity brother of one of the trumpet players in the band.  It was love at first sight for both of us!”

The couple’s first date was a Homecoming dance at Bob’s fraternity. “He kept me out until three in the morning…  My mom was at the door waiting!” Kim recalls.

Despite the late night, the couple’s relationship flourished. They became engaged in January of 1975, a scant two months after meeting, and married in December of that same year.

Just a sophomore when she and Bob married, Kim noted that many of her favorite memories took place on UC’s campus. She danced with the Bearkittens, so she and Bob attended many football and basketball games together.
Kim (’78) and Bob (’76) Dobbs
“He was my groupie,” Kim explains. “Once a year, the Bearkittens would do a special dance during one of the halftime shows during basketball season. Bob would always be my partner. It was great fun including him in an activity that was such a big part of my life!”

Like many UC love stories, Kim and Bob have shared their memories surrounding UC with their family. All three of the Dobbs’ children graduated from UC, as has Kim’s brother, sister and father.

“We’re definitely a Bearcat family,” says Kim. “And imagine – it all started with a Homecoming float!”

Do you have a great UC love story to share? Comment below and tell us how you met your spouse or significant other at UC! And check back for more in this special series of "UC Love Stories."

Feb 8, 2011

UC Professor Gives Sneak Peek of Feb. 16th NY Event

Still sticking to your New Years resolution to live a healthier lifestyle and maintain a more well-balanced diet? We hope so! Either way, no time is better than now to be educated of those internal forces you simply can't control when trying to lose weight.

According to UC professor and Director of the Cincinnati Diabetes and Research Center, Randy Seeley, PhD, America's obesity epidemic is driven more by the conversation between our body and brain and less by proven weight loss therapies and drugs or even our own will power to put the fork down.

Randy shares a sneak peek of next week's visit to New York where he'll host a seminar for UC alumni to learn from his expertise in obesity and weight loss challenges. Join Randy and your fellow New York alumni on Feb. 16th at the Princeton Club of New York. For more details and to register for this event, contact Lindsay Deeter – lindsay.deeter@uc.edu or 513-556-0435.

Feb 7, 2011

UC Alum Shares Fond News Record Memories

UC’s independent student-run newspaper has been in production for more than 125 years, carrying the name The News Record since 1936.  Following his journalistic aspirations, Charlie Stix (A&S ’49) dedicated much of his student life to the paper, always maintaining a critical view of what was going on at UC.

More than 60 years later, Stix maintains close ties to UC, even still making regular appearances in The News Records’ newsroom in the basement of Swift Hall. His dedication to students’ professional growth is apparent through the endless hours he spends mentoring students and the dollars he so generously feeds into the program. For more than 40 years, Stix has funded several annual journalism scholarships and recently made a bequest for an endowed lectureship series. 

And for Stix, the prosperity of the students is repayment enough. He hopes to help provide students with the same opportunities and experiences The News Record afforded him years ago.
 “I don’t want self gratification; I’ve had enough of that all these years. Now is the time for giving back.  The News Record was the most important thing that happened to me at UC.  TheNews Record taught me so many things.” 

Watch this video to hear how Stix compares today’s UC to the campus he remembers from the 1940’s. Plus, witness his face-to-face meeting with one of the recipients of his scholarships. Then tell us who your mentor was as a UC student!

Feb 3, 2011

E-Media Alum Shares LA Career Experience

Lisa Ripley Becker, an Electronic Media alum from UC's College-Conservatory of Music ('96), credits her UC education for helping her get started in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, California. She currently works as a Production Coordinator on the popular Fox TV series "Bones."

As a recipient of the Paramount Pictures Media Award, Lisa was able to intern and ultimately start her career in film and TV work in Los Angeles.

Lisa has a reputation as one of the best production coordinators in the business and also stays well-connected to UC in LA, having planned a recent CCM E-Media alumni gathering. Lisa is definitely Proudly Cincinnati! 

Lisa overlooking the Jeffersonian Lab where all the research
takes place on the Fox TV series "Bones."

Lisa sitting at Dr. Temperance Brennan’s desk at the Jeffersonian office set.

Lisa with TJ Thyne, who plays Dr. Hodgins on "Bones."

We want to hear about your cool job and how you got to be where you are today. Tell us about it below and we'll feature you next!

Feb 2, 2011

Strong Bearcat Ties to 2011 Super Bowl

Super Bowl XLV pits two of the NFL’s oldest and most storied franchises against each other as the Green Bay Packers face the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday, February 6th. The two franchises have nine Super Bowl wins combined.
But here's some fun trivia you may not know: UC red and black runs through BOTH teams!

Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin spent time patrolling the sidelines of Nippert Stadium as defensive backs coach in 1999 and 2000 under then head coach Rick Minter.

Former Bearcat Brandon Underwood, cornerback for the Packers, played under Mark Dantonio and Brian Kelly at UC. Underwood played in 10 regular season games for the Packers and had two tackles against the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship.

So no matter who wins this Sunday's big game, a former Bearcat will claim one of the sports world’s most prestigious rings and we wish them both luck!

Got another UC – Super Bowl connection to share? Predictions on the game? Favorite super bowl party dish? Weigh in by commenting below!