Campus Notes

Student chooses Drury thanks to summer camps

Aaron Sawyer begins his college career at Drury University this fall. But unlike most incoming freshmen who’ve spent perhaps a day or two on campus prior to move-in day, Sawyer has spent the last six summers here making memories with truly like-minded friends.

The Sikeston native is one of hundreds who have attended Drury’s summer camps for academically gifted students since 1981. The camps give kids like Sawyer a chance to be around others who are equally as bright, curious and engaged.

Aaron Sawyer

“It can be difficult” to be a gifted kid in school, he says. “You almost feel like you don’t want to talk for fear of being different.”

The camps are for students from pre-K to 12th grade and are divided by age groups. The camp for middle school students (called Summerscape) and the camp for high schoolers (Drury Leadership Academy) are wrapping up this week. Programs for younger students took place in June.

Sawyer began coming to the camps in middle school. He’s taken classes on digital photography, philosophy, speech and debate, the human body, Rube Goldberg machines and more. He’s made great friends, too.

“You’ll make friends here and come back next year and continue a conversation you left off last summer like no time has passed,” he says. “It’s a unique experience I feel like you don’t get many other places.”

Sawyer says being away from home in a college-like environment has helped him come out of his shell.

“If I hadn’t been (coming to the camps) for this long, I probably wouldn’t be able to give this interview,” says the soft-spoken Sawyer. “I would have been way too nervous.”

Sawyer plans to double major in history and education and hopes to become a college professor. He chose Drury before his sophomore year in high school.

“I feel like (Drury) has invested a lot of time in me and I’ve invested a lot of time here,” he says. “It almost felt like there wasn’t a question that I wouldn’t go here.”

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader. 

 

 

Greece trip combines science and business studies

Citizenship, business sense and science came together for a few weeks this summer as 10 Drury students traveled to Greece to study geography and the environment.

The group traveled to Aigina, Greece – a town on an island of the same name where the university has a satellite campus called the Drury Center. They spent three weeks working in two teams. One team focused on the physical geography of the Aigina coastline by conducting water quality tests and studying marine debris. The other team addressed cultural geography by studying how recycling and composting can help local agriculture.  Both projects were connected to real life on Aigina with the active participation and expertise of local farmers and civic leaders.

“The Drury Center was amazing,” said professor of the class, Dr. Sean Terry. “They set up meetings with local experts and even translated from Greek to English in live interviews.  This local knowledge inspired our students about local sustainability efforts.

The students conducted academic research in advance so they could more easily focus on actual fieldwork once they arrived, Terry says, adding that they were able to “see how science can be applied in real-world situations to make a positive difference in a community.”

DU students in Aigina

Despite the science focus of this class, most of the students weren’t science majors – nine of the 10 were business majors. A study abroad experience is required of all students in Drury’s Breech School of Business. The trip and its impact on the students illustrate Drury’s interdisciplinary approach to education and engaged learning.

“This was my first trip abroad and it was the most enlightening trip on which I’ve ever been,” said student Jesse Allard. “It was a completely new experience seeing another culture and really trying to immerse myself within it.”

Results from each project highlighted the need to increase local participation in environmental initiatives. Water quality tests at several beach locations came up clean, but plastic trash on shore was an issue. The beach team cleaned up approximately 600 pounds of plastic waste in two days, and the Drury Center itself is committed to a plan that will see Drury students “adopt” Colona Beach permanently. It is hoped that this could lay the groundwork for local schools to “adopt a beach” and maintain the momentum in the future. The students met with local environmental leaders and a middle-school principal in order to learn how the adoption efforts might move forward.

“The projects were a great way to connect with the local community members and make a difference that will be visible to all people who visit the island of Aigina,” says Mallory Long, a junior majoring in accounting and finance.

Ryan Fitzgerald, a senior biology major, said the trip has already changed the way he lives at home.

“The influence that the project has had on my daily actions at home is incredible,” he says. “I have begun to recycle more and look for any chance to help make a cleaner world.”

The second team learned about the relationships between agriculture, solid waste and the Aigina economy. The island currently ships in much of the fertilizer used by local farmers and ships away its trash because of lack of landfill space. All of that costs money, and there’s currently an effort on Aigina to increase composting of food waste to reduce these shipping and hauling costs. Food waste typically makes up 30 to 40 percent of the trash we throw away, Terry says.

“Our study was to calculate the potential benefit of taking that food and separating it from the trash and composting it on the island. Would there be a local use for it and a local market for it?” Terry says.

The head of the local composting association and the president of the farmers’ association both agreed that composting is not only a benefit, it is becoming an economic necessity. A project in Kalamata, Greece, indicated that local farmers and the community can both benefit from the use of fertilizer made from local food waste. A composting demonstration hosted by the Kalamata group drove home how science, the community, and government must all be involved in order to solve this type of problem.

“In a short period of time, this group of students was able to apply concepts they were learning in the classroom to the local context through meaningful engagement with community leaders,” says Eleni Dellagrammaticas, director of the Drury Center in Aigina.

The community nature of the projects made an impact on Jesse Allard, a senior accounting major.

“It was so much fun to see the community members so interested and excited about the work we were setting up,” Allard says. “They genuinely appreciated what we were doing and wanted to be involved.  I think studying abroad is essential. As the world becomes ‘smaller,’ I think it is more important than ever to understand and appreciate other cultures so we can all work together and maximize the potential of the human experience.”

Terry hopes the groundwork laid during this experience can be used by future Drury students to help explain the global nature of sustainability issues.

“I was so impressed by the progressive ideas of the Aigina community,” he said. “The beauty of the island, and the passion of the local people to improve it make it a perfect learning laboratory for our students.”

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

Drury grad heads to Oxford for three-year research fellowship

From Nixa to Drury to Oxford, Ashley Maher is an example of how a liberal arts education can open unexpected doors.

The Nixa native graduated from Drury in 2008 with a degree in English and creative writing. But she began as architecture major. She was then able to combine her interests in architecture and literature while earning a Ph.D. at Washington University in St. Louis. Her dissertation looks at the influence of modern architecture on 20th century British authors, many of which worked as contributors or editors for architectural journals. This fall she will begin a three-year Junior Research Fellowship at Oxford University.

Maher was interested in studying architecture from the time she was in the third grade, and Drury’s architecture program was one of the major reasons Maher decided to attend Drury.

AshleyMaher

“I liked math, art history, and the fine arts and my father manages a lumber and hardware store, so I had some early exposure to the building industry,” she says. “I also took a couple of drafting classes in high school. I found the architecture classes I took at Drury interesting, but I felt that a change of major might be in order when I realized my favorite part about the classes was writing the analysis papers.”

Maher appreciated how her instructors at Drury made themselves available to continue discussing topics raised in class during their office hours. Several faculty members were great sources of advice as she began her own academic career. She also had the opportunity to study abroad in the U.K. where she conducted research at the archives of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

“Studying abroad in London gave me a better understanding of British politics and culture, which fanned my interest in 20th century British literature,” Maher says. “I’m looking forward to digging into the literary archives at the British Library and other locations around the U.K. when I move to Oxford in September.”

The Oxford fellowship is extremely competitive and is typically awarded to those approaching the end of their doctoral research. Maher will use the fellowship primarily to expand her Ph.D. dissertation into a book and to start her next research project. She will teach classes as well as participate in seminars and other programs across the university.

Maher and her husband David Ruvolo, are excited to start their journey in London as newlyweds.

“As for the charm of Oxford, the university has wonderful archives and academic resources,” Maher said. “I look forward to interacting with and learning from the scholars working there who are further along in their careers than I am.”

After Maher completes her three-year Junior Research Fellowship, she hopes to find a position as an assistant professor either in the United States or London.

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Story by Colombe Iyeza, Drury marketing & communication office intern. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

 

Drury MBA students explore global connections in China

A group of Drury University MBA students recently returned from a study abroad experience they won’t soon forget.

Drury’s MBA program requires a trip abroad to China. Unlike many other study abroad opportunities, the China trip is built into the MBA curriculum, and it serves as a cultural and academic capstone for the program.

This year’s trip was more interesting than usual because it occurred in the days leading up to the 25th anniversary of the Chinese government’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

But the Drury contingent wasn’t even aware of the upcoming date until the group of 24 students visited the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. No Chinese spoke of it.

“What I found out is we’re more similar than we are dissimilar – except in the area of the personal freedom,” says Sherry Coker, Director of Workforce Development at Ozarks Technical Community College. It was Coker’s first international trip.

Drury MBA China group

“For example, the ‘one child policy – I looked at it from a woman’s perspective,” Coker says. “To have a child in China means you go to your employer and say you want to have a child, and they tell you when you can have a child.”

For Andrea Gill, the trip brought the differences in language and culture into stark relief.

“To do business with (the Chinese) you really need to focus on understanding the importance of family, their overall culture and the complexity of the language,” Gill says.

The trip gives students a first-hand view of a market that is both essential and enigmatic, says Associate Professor of Management Dr. Janis Prewitt Auner, who went on this year’s trip. The tour included visits to companies such as online media company Sina[cq], tech giant iSoftStone and Beijing Hyundai.

“We visit various businesses and they tell us what the challenges are to doing business in China, and they are pretty honest about the difficulties,” Auner says. “I think this is part of what distinguishes our program from others in the state and the region.”

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader. 

Recent Drury grad completes White House internship

From Drury to Washington, D.C., Austin Seaborn is proving that with perseverance, the right attitude, and hard work, anything is possible. Seaborn, a 2013 graduate with a bachelor’s in German and International Political studies, has spent the last year pursuing a Master’s degree at Georgetown University while also interning at the White House, continuing the legacy of leadership that he left at Drury.

Georgetown has top-ranked programs in international affairs, and only about 20 people were accepted into Seaborn’s program at the BMW Center for German and European Studies.

“I knew it was competitive so I beefed up other areas of my resume — I had great internships, a lot of leadership positions and experiences, and studied abroad while I was at Drury,” Seaborn said. “One of my professors, Dr. John Taylor, got his Master’s and Ph.D. (at Georgetown), too, and he gave me a lot of encouragement.”

Seaborn

During his first semester in grad school, Seaborn applied to be an intern at the White House and found out this past December that he would be working in the Office of Legislative Affairs — the President’s liaison to Congress.

From January to May, he worked 50 hours a week and was a full-time student. He met and escorted members of Congress to events and meetings at the White House, monitored the Senate floor and counted votes, and helped manage and track correspondence from members of Congress to the President and other senior officials.

During his internship, Seaborn spoke with the President, First Lady, Vice President, and Chief of Staff. He even got the chance to play with the President’s two dogs, Sunny and Bo.

“I most enjoyed the opportunity to work alongside some of America’s best and brightest. Both the staff and my fellow interns are brilliant, hardworking people who wake up every morning and come to work hoping to make a positive impact on people’s lives,” Seaborn said. “It was great getting to meet so many members of Congress, and see what goes in to making a meeting or event happen at the White House was unforgettable.”

Seaborn’s internship and experiences reaffirmed his commitment to public service. He is excited at the possibility of starting a career that raises discussion about important issues and helps positively affect the people around him.

“I hope to use the skills I have learned and the experiences I have been so fortunate to have to help others who are going through a tough time and to inspire people to set lofty goals, work efficiently, be flexible to different opportunities, and to give back to people in need,” Seaborn said.

This summer, Seaborn will be working at the Georgetown Law Center and will start his last year of graduate school in the fall.

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, and English and writing major at Drury. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader. 

Studying abroad helps architecture grad gain global perspective

Not many 23-year-olds can say they’ve travelled the world, have a master’s degree and had multiple internships during their college career. Wil Toedtmann can. He graduated Drury this month with a degree in architecture and a minor in Design Arts and Global Studies.

The Hermann, Missouri, native became interested in architecture in high school when he would sketch buildings on his notes during class. He came to Drury for the five-year Master of Architecture program.

During those years, Toedtmann counts his travel abroad opportunities as some of his biggest learning experiences. In total, he visited seven countries, including China, Italy, Spain, Greece and the United Kingdom.

Toedtmann1

“Studying abroad was such a life changing experience and I not only learned about other cultures, but I also learned a lot about myself and what my values were,” Toedtmann says. “It really changed my whole perspective on life. I think traveling is one of the best ways to learn and it really gives you a global perspective.”

This past spring break, Toedtmann and two other Drury students traveled to China to present their fifth year urban design projects to the Suzhou Industrial Park Design & Research Institute. The projects focused on the anticipated future growth of an area west of Shanghai, and looked at redevelopment strategies addressing issues of sustainability, culture and population density.

“One of professors was actually born in Beijing, which made the trip even better because it was like having a personal tour guide,” Toedtmann says. “I was really glad he came with us because he showed us authentic Chinese cuisine, which was great!”

Aside from his study abroad travels, Toedtmann also appreciates the networking opportunities Drury has provided him. Because of a Drury connection, Toedtmann was able to spend a week in New York City working with Daniel Libeskind, one of the world’s most well-known architects. Another Drury connection helped him secure a part-time job at Casey Architecture, where he works today. He hopes to move to a large city in the future.

“I honestly feel like Drury couldn’t have done any more to better prepare me for the field of architecture,” Toedtmann says. “I am not only grateful for the degree and education I received, but more importantly, I am grateful for all the relationships that were created through my experiences and the opportunities that molded me into the person I am today.”

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, an English and Writing major at Drury. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader. 

Engaged Learning Summit highlights community action

Community engagement is a lynchpin of education at Drury University, and a recent event spotlighted students’ efforts  to reach out beyond the campus’s borders.

Drury’s first Engaged Learning Summit was a chance for local leaders to hear first-hand from students who are translating their course work into community action in a variety of ways. The efforts are also summarized in a new Annual Community Engagement Report available online.

“We are committed to measuring our worth in part by our capacity to leave the Ozarks better than the way we found it,” Charles Taylor, vice president for academic affairs, told those gathered.

When measured in time and dollar value, that worth is large indeed. Drury students provide more than 148,000 hours of local service annually, and the estimated value of those hours is more than $2.8 million.

Students discussed projects such as multi-year study of invertibrates and water quality in Jordan Creek. The data collected and analyzed by environmental science students could help guide the City of Springfield’s efforts to further update the waterway with a more natural streambed. Another highlight was the “Art of Space” projects undertaken by architecture students who create interactive spatial art installations during events such as First Friday Art Walks.

Former Springfield Mayor Tom Carlson listens to Drury architecture students describe "Art of Space."

Former Springfield Mayor Tom Carlson listens to Drury architecture students describe “Art of Space.”

Others included Drury Scholars, which gives local African-American middle and high school students a taste of the college experience, and the Intergenerational Rock Band, which pairs music therapy students with older community members to perform live concerts together.

“What is good for Drury is good for the community, and vice versa,” said Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce President Jim Anderson. “This event is the embodiment of what’s good for Drury and the community.”

Brian Fogle, president of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, appreciated hearing from the students themselves.

“It’s a rewarding experience to see students so engaged in the community, and excited to talk about their work and impact,” Fogle said. “Not only will that benefit them throughout their lives, it should benefit Springfield as they feel more connected to our community.”

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader. 

Seven political science students present original research

After almost a year of gathering data and developing a thesis, seven political science students recently presented their original research at the Midwest Political Science Research Conference at Park University in Parkville, Missouri.

All Drury students in the political sciences department complete a capstone course in the fall and create a research proposal of a topic of their interest. These seven students took their proposals a step further and actually gathered statistics and data to complete a study.

At the conference, students were divided into different panels based on their research topic. A discussant provided feedback on both their papers and presentation, and opened discussion for attending audience members.

Max Byers, a senior majoring in American Political Studies, presented “The Effect of Democratic Party Mobilization on Black Voter Turnout” and worked closely with his professors throughout the research process.

“Voter turnout is one of the most studied topics in political science, so I had to dig through a ton of information to determine what was meaningful and what was relevant,” Byers said. “It was eye-opening to see how much work goes into journal articles.”

Byers is currently an intern for Meryll Lynch and hopes to receive his MBA in the future and work as a financial analyst.

Lindsay Lehmen, a senior double majoring in Mathematics and Politics and Government, presented “Voting Isn’t Fair: The Underlying Voting Power Distribution of the United States’ Electoral College.” Lehmen’s research doubled as her senior-year Honors project.

Lehmen began her research in January 2013 after she studied the power index in her math senior seminar class. In the fall, she interned with the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and had the opportunity to do much of her research in the Library of Congress. She was still enrolled as a full time student at Drury and completed class work in D.C.

Lindsay Lehmen

Lindsay Lehmen

Seeing the presentations from a variety of students from other universities left Lehman with a strong sense of pride in the work she and her fellow classmates had done at Drury.

“It was clear that Drury has an incredible research requirement for their students,” Lehmen said. “All of our professors really pushed original thinking instead of piggybacking off of someone else’s research. The discussant was really impressed with my project and it was big confidence booster.”

Other student researchers and their topics included: Lexi Brewer, “How Internal Factors of States Influence International Diplomacy;” Kate Elam, “More than Material: Explaining Public Support for Environmental Protection in Western Democracies;” Garrett Hurd, “Contemporary Conservatism in America;” Dakoda Trithara, “South China Sea: A U.S. Foreign Policy Dilemma;” and Aaron Tucker, “Corporatism, Economic Equality, and Unionized Labor: An Empirical Survey.”

Lehmen attributes her and her classmates’ success at the conference to Drury’s small class size and the study-faculty interaction.

“Our professors really know our strengths and capabilities, sometimes better than we know them ourselves. We’re not just a number to them.” Lehmen said. “We have incredible faculty that care about our success and I’ve never felt like I was on my own. They were there every step of the way.”

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, an English and writing major at Drury. A version of this story originally appeared in the Springfield News-Leader. 

Students Choose Service for Spring Break Trips

Many students travel to a beach location for spring break; but this semester, around 20 Drury students headed out-of-state to serve communities in Washington, D.C., and Twin Lakes State Park in Virginia.

The Drury Alternative Breaks Program is a student-led program offering affordable, service-learning trips over academic breaks.  The Washington, D.C., group worked with nonprofits that focus on urban farming and sustainable development programs, while the Virginia group performed forestry and park maintenance work. Each attending student completed at least 32 hours of service work during the trips.

Each trip only cost students $75 — the rest of the cost was paid for through fundraising, money from the Student Government Association, and the Office of Community Outreach and Leadership Development. These trips also are counted as an Engaged Learning credits, which is a requirement in the Drury curriculum.

DC trip group photo

Kevin Daroga, a junior Finance major, attended the D.C. trip with 10 other students and two Drury advisors. While there, the group faced an unexpected snowstorm that changed some of their volunteering plans, but they remained flexible and found other ways to serve the community.

“Even though we were planning on working outside and our plans changed, everyone had a positive attitude and we found other ways to work with the nonprofits,” said Daroga. “We helped clean up indoor gardens where apartment residents could ‘rent’ plots of land to grow their own produce.  We also packaged fresh meals for children and the homeless and learned a lot about the benefits of composting.”

Students volunteered for four days and had one “free” day for sightseeing. The D.C. group took a tour of the White House and was able to visit some of the museums and monuments in the area.

Abbi Weller, a sophomore architecture major, also attended the D.C. trip for her spring break and enjoyed the service and educational aspects of the experience.

“I didn’t know anything about urban farming before the trip, but afterwards I thought I had a good understanding of the concept,” Weller said.  “It was awesome to interact and get to meet people who are so passionate about service work and about providing fresh food and gardening services to the public. It was an experience I would love to participate in again.”

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, English and writing major at Drury. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader. 

Advertising & PR Major Lands Coveted National Internship

Natasha Sanford, a junior majoring in Advertising and Public Relations and minoring in Web Communications and Design, was awarded a prestigious internship this summer with cosmetics company Urban Decay.

In June, Sanford will head to Newport Beach, Calif., as part of the 2014 American Advertising Federation Stickell internship program. Each year, a handful of outstanding students are selected for a 10-week internship and are matched at U.S. media organizations, advertising agencies, and client and supplier companies throughout the country. Forty-eight students were nominated this year as one of the best individuals from their AAF student chapters and only 16 were selected.

Sanford is the sixth student from Drury to earn this honor since 2005, showing the strength of Drury’s Communication Department and student body.

Sanford2

“The Stickell Internship program offers talented advertising students the opportunity to work alongside the best and the brightest in the integrated marketing communications profession,” said Dr. Regina Waters, professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communication. “Natasha is an outstanding student, and I am confident she will have much to offer the Urban Decay brand management team.”

After Sanford was nominated for the internship, she completed an application that included a cover letter, resume, ad critique and essay.

Sanford, who originally wanted to major in marketing but then “fell in love” with advertising and public relations, feels her Drury experience prepared her well for the internship. Sanford is on the AD Team, is the social media chair for the AD/PR club, is Vice President of Communication for the Student Government Association, and is actively involved in Greek life.

“I’ve learned so much from my classes, and all of the extracurriculars I’m involved in have helped me develop my leadership and communication skills,” said Sanford. “This summer will be a great opportunity to gain even more experience in the field, and I’m very thankful for everyone who’s helped me get to where I am.”

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, English and Writing major at Drury. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.