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July 22, 2019
In the World

Passing of Light

Wittenberg Alumni Leave Their Mark in the World

The following selections were compiled over the last year through the sharing of information or actual story submissions. Feel free to send your story to stories@wittenberg.edu. Correction needed? Please contact Cindy Holbrook at holbrookc@wittenberg.edu. Thank you!

Albert Bryan Jr. '89

Albert Bryan Jr. was elected the ninth governor of the U. S. Virgin Islands in November 2018. The bid was long in the making as Bryan started preparing for his run more than two years ago. Themed ‘Change Course Now,’ Bryan’s campaign demonstrated both his leadership and ability to unify the U.S. Virgin Islands. He received multiple endorsements from local senators, delegates to Congress, business leaders and even former secretary of labor, Hilda L. Solis. He also leveraged the power of social media throughout his campaign.

Timothy P. McCarthy ’02

Since graduating from Wittenberg with a degree in English in 2002, Timothy McCarthy has been building RCO Limited, now the largest Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers franchise. RCO Limited was founded in November of 2003 and became the first franchisee for Raising Cane’s, which up until this point in time had grown exclusively through company stores. To date, Ohio has 28 Raising Cane’s locations, and McCarthy keeps busy with construction and real estate development, along with the financial, marketing, and human resources sides of the business. He also serves as chairman of WorkPlace Impact, which connects brands to consumers at work, and as chairman of the Business of Good Foundation, which serves those who serve the poor.

Ed Hasecke '97

Ed Hasecke, Wittenberg professor of political science, has been appointed to serve as the first faculty director of the Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Civic and Urban Engagement’s newly formed Research Institute. Hasecke’s experience with community engagement and community-based research, both quantitative and qualitative, his extensive administrative experience, including overseeing Wittenberg’s Washington, D.C., semester program, and his continued commitment and service to the Springfield community made him the ideal candidate for this new position. The Research Institute will work in collaboration with established and new Hagen Center community partners, local organizations and citizens, and the Faculty Fellows of the Hagen Center to match the research capacities of Wittenberg faculty, staff and students to a wide variety of research needs in the community.  Hasecke officially began in his new role on July 1, 2019. 

Nora Kerr ’99

Nora Kerr has launched a business called Memoir for Me, which turns life stories into keepsake books Having worked with a few Tiger alumni the past few years, Kerr says her inspiration for the business ties back to her time at Wittenberg, when she completed her creative writing thesis on family stories in 1999.  Kerr currently lives in Chicago with husband Russ and their two children, Eamon and Zoe.

Grace Bartley '17

Grace Bartley recently served as a border servant corps volunteer at Iglesia Luterana Cristo Rey (Christ the King Lutheran Church) in El Paso, Texas, helping immigrants and their children.

“In the community, I worked with six families who have an average income per year of $15,000 to $20,000,” she said. “Most of the men work in construction or as handymen, and even in El Paso, it gets too cold in December and January for there to be much work for these jobs. This means, at the very time that we as a culture and as a church are feasting, many of the families that we work with are without jobs and struggling to figure out where their next meal is going to come from. The stories that they tell put life into a drastically new perspective, but yet the congregants of Cristo Rey are some of the most radically hopeful people that I have ever been blessed to know.”

Ali Hogan Hively '06

With more than 15 years of experience in the fitness/wellness field as a personal trainer, a group fitness instructor, and a habit-based nutrition coach, Ali Hively recently started her own nutrition consulting business, Kijia Living, to help others. Teaching is now her passion, a pursuit that started at Wittenberg when she was interested in taking a step aerobics class. At that time, Wittenberg didn’t have one, so Hively, an elementary education major, changed that.

“I was told that anything is possible at Wittenberg,” she said. “If there is a club you want to start, start it. If there is an activity you want to do, do it. Anything is possible. This got my wheels turning.”

She eventually asked if she could start a fitness program for students. A few weeks before college started, Wittenberg found her 20 steps and told her she could conduct classes on one of the racquetball courts. Word got out, and classes were moved from the racquetball court to the gym.

“It’s fun to look back and see where my love for fitness and teaching has taken me,” Hively said. “I feel so lucky that I get to share my passion every day in fitness classes, as well as teaching busy men and women how to make themselves a priority so they can feel great in their body and enjoy life.”

David S. Johnson '74

A pediatrician with Burlington Pediatrics for 38 years and a longstanding North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) member, David S. Johnson, M.D. recently received the E. Harvey Estes Physician Community Service Award at the NCMS Annual Business meeting. The award recognizes physicians whose service to their community is exemplary and reflects most positively on the medical profession.

A member of the Alamance Chamber of Commerce for many years, Johnson was elected President in 2009 and continues to take part in initiatives to recruit high-quality businesses to the area. He is active in the Alamance County Economic Development Foundation, helping to stimulate economic growth and is an inspirational ambassador for Burlington Pediatrics, as well as an effective advocate for the interests of children in Alamance County and the Triad region.

Johnson, a biology major, pursued medical school at the University of Tennessee, where he graduated with honors and was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his pediatric residency at the Children’s Hospital of the University of Alabama.

Joe Schmees ’06

The Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (IASWCD) recently named Joe Schmees as its new executive director. Schmees has lived in Fishers, Indiana, since 2007 with his wife and daughter. A lifelong learner, Schmees studied biology and chemistry at Wittenberg with additional interests in biochemistry and genetics, but he has spent the past 11 years working in water planning and restoration, earning a professional certificate in Watershed Management from Purdue University. He entered the agriculture industry through the water resources field, beginning his career with the Department of Environmental Management, where he surveyed river and stream health across the state.

IASWCD is a non-profit that works on a state level to address natural resource concerns throughout the state. The IASWCD supports the locally driven conservation efforts of its 92 Indiana Soil and Water Conservation District members.

Lindsey and Lisa Rusch ’08

Twins Lindsey and Lisa Rusch, standouts on the Tiger women's soccer team who grew up in Worthington, Ohio, have opened up a new restaurant called the Brekkie Shack at 1060 Yard St. in Grandview Yard, located in Grandview Heights, Ohio. Originally interested in opening a bakery, the twins changed direction, focusing instead on plant-based breakfast/brunch/lunch offerings, including such items as its seasonal veggie hash, which is topped with two over-easy eggs and jalapeno olive oil. Specialty dessert items also can be found on the simple menu, including a chocolate chip peanut butter bar, a cookie and cream brownie, their family’s buckeye recipe, and a daily special doughnut, in addition to the regular daily offerings.

Lt. Col. Valentina Dimitrova-Grajzl ’98

Lt. Col. Valentina Dimitrova-Grajzl, associate professor of economics and business at the Virginia Military Institute, was one of 13 recipients to receive the 2019 State Council of Higher Education for Virginia's (SCHEV) Outstanding Faculty Award. She is VMI's 7th faculty member to receive it and is the Institute's first female recipient. The award recognizes superior accomplishments in teaching, research, and public service among faculty at Virginia's public and private colleges and universities, and it has been presented every year since 1987. There were 86 nominations from across the state this year.

Along with teaching a full course load in economics during the academic year, Dimitrova-Grajzl, who is from Bulgaria, has established a summer study-aboard course in central Europe and is developing a new study-abroad program that will take students to new and old members of the European Union, all while connecting the history, economics, and politics of the region. Active in connecting cadets with the community and in co-founding the VMI service club Building BRIDGES, Dimitrova-Grajzl has also published 16 articles.

"I integrate my life experiences and my research findings in my classes," she said in a recent press release. "Ultimately, I want my students to feel the way I felt in my middle school math class or my Wittenberg classes--inspired to learn, safe to explore different ideas and learn different skills, enriched by my teachers' knowledge and peers' experiences."

Dylan George ’15

Following his graduation from Wittenberg in May 2015, George headed west to Hollywood, California, to pursue his lifelong dream of being an actor.

“I got my first stroke of luck on my very first day in LA,” he said. “I met a writer/director named Rich Krevolin, and we became steadfast friends. Rich cast me in a small role in his feature film Attachments that he co-wrote with the brilliant late actor, Joseph Bologna. The film starred Corey Eid and Katharine Ross. Shortly after this, I unknowingly booked a national commercial with Papa John's Pizza, after I went to a focus group to talk about our favorite pizza. It ended up being a secret commercial taping, and I got a hefty check.”

Since then, George has starred in small films here and there. He is also a star in South Korea after playing a role in the TV series called Surviving Korean Jobs where he was placed in a Korean business where no one spoke English and where he had to figure out how to work there for the day. His most recent film is a comedy titled 27 Rue de Fleurus.

“Now, I am employed at TAO LA as a food runner from which I've gained an underground social media following due to the way I sing/dance/present food at the tables for our guests,” he added. “I spend most of my time submitting myself for roles, auditioning, taking improv/acting classes and writing scripts when I'm not working. I'm trying to get my YouTube channel Mythic Spoon Productions up and running as a means of creating my own material and keeping the creative engine flowing.”

Stephanie Ricca ’98

Stephanie Ricca has been promoted to editorial director of Hotel News Now, a division of STR.

Ricca joined the team at HNN in January 2015 and has served as the digital outlet’s editor-in-chief since the fall of 2015. Her resume includes 12 years of hotel trade publication experience, including nine as an editor-in-chief, and she often serves as a moderator at industry conferences.

“Stephanie has proven herself to be an effective leader with the vision to take Hotel News Now to the next level,” said Amanda Hite, STR’s president and CEO. “Stephanie’s track record as a journalist speaks for itself and has enabled her to develop key connections with those around the industry. She will continue to lead content initiatives for HNN while also increasing her presence at industry conferences.”

Following her graduation from Wittenberg, Ricca went on to earn her master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Anna Parrill ’98

New Hampshire’s Amherst School Board recently selected Anna Parrill to serve as principal of Clark-Wilkins Elementary School effective July 1, 2019. Parill brings extensive administrative experience to the post, having served schools in Raymond, Hampstead, Dover and Salem, New Hampshire, for the past 13 years. In Salem, Parrill was the principal of Soule School from 2006-2015 and has been principal of Barron School from 2015 until the present.

“Anna is something special,” said SAU #39 Superintendent Adam Steel. “In the time I’ve spent getting to know her over the past month, I have learned that she is someone who seeks to connect with her staff, students, parents, and community. From those connections, she helps those around her develop their individual strengths for the purpose of building the school community. The staff in Salem spoke glowingly about Anna’s impact in their school but even more about Anna’s impact in their lives. I am confident she is exactly what Clark-Wilkins needs to move forward in its journey to becoming the top two elementary schools in New Hampshire.”

Cathy Pederson ’91

Cathy Pederson, the Elizabeth (Betty) E. Powelson Endowed Chair in Biology at Wittenberg, and her family were presented with a Warrior Award at the NeuroConnect Summit in Washington, D.C. for their work with their 501(c)(3) organization Standing Up to POTS®.  Pederson founded the non-profit in 2014 after her daughter, Lily, became ill at age 10.  

Together the family has raised more than $100,000 for POTS research, and Standing Up to POTS® has awarded grants to five POTS research teams in four countries. The family also hosts an annual Standing Up to POTS 5K/2K event at Wittenberg each fall, and Pederson has published eight papers on POTS/chronic illness and quality of life issues in the past couple years.  Lily, now age 17, writes about her experience with POTS on the non-profit’s website, Facebook page, and as a guest blog contributor, while Pederson’s other daughter, Kate, age 14, has designed T-shirts for the annual 5K, as well as graphics for both the website and the Facebook page.

“Lily and Kate co-wrote ‘My Life with POTS’ and raised several thousand dollars for POTS research,” Pederson said. “Lily also won the Rising Star Award for being the ‘Youth Advocate who displays promising potential and pursues every opportunity for self-growth, and aspires to achieve great heights for patient community.’  In Lily’s acceptance remarks, she stated that she hopes to be like ‘a ripple in smooth waters’ as she continues to advocate for those with POTS.”

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Out of nine faculty members, the history department at the University of Alabama in Huntsville includes three Wittenberg alumni:  Molly Wilkinson Johnson ’95, associate professor of history; Dylan Baun ’08, assistant professor of history; and John Mohr ’12, lecturer 
  • Wittenberg’s Faculty Development Board announced that Daniel Marous ‘09, assistant professor of chemistry, is the winner of this year’s Provost’s Award for Outstanding Teaching. The award recognizes the highest level of teaching excellence by a visiting or adjunct faculty member at the university. Visiting or adjunct faculty who have taught at Wittenberg for at least one year may be nominated by their department chair or a tenured faculty member. The award carries a one-time $500 stipend. Marous teaches classes on organic chemistry and the principles of biochemistry, among others.
  • Sha’Dawn Battle, assistant professor of English, has been chosen to receive the Edith B. and Frank C. Matthies Award following FDB’s recommendation, too. The purpose of the award is “to further the education of selected and worthy teachers and to strengthen the faculty.” FDB said Battle’s “research stood out a being especially creative and imaginative.” Battle teaches African American literature with an emphasis on the black musical tradition, as well as rap-music and popular culture-inspired composition courses.
  • Wittenberg’s general English literature program was recently named a “Best Value for the Money” in the annual nationwide ranking of U.S. colleges and universities by College Factual. The program was ranked No. 12 out of 603 programs reviewed, moving up 10 slots from the previous year’s ranking of No. 22. College Factual, located in Troy, New York, is the leading source of data analytics and insights on college outcomes. It provides in-depth coverage for over 2,500 colleges and universities and over 350 college majors. These insights are available to students from over 200 countries interested in pursuing accredited college degree programs in the United States.

    -Information compiled by Cindy Holbrook

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About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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