Welcome to the Aquinas College E-Newsletter - your source for the latest news and events happening at AQ! Read on to find out what amazing things AQ faculty, staff, students and alumni are up to as well as what exciting projects are going on at Aquinas.
By Laura Bennett-Kimble '95, Contributing Writer/Editor
Despite a tough economy, graduates of the AQ Sustainable Business undergraduate degree program continue to find jobs–and the program continues to attract more students each year, according to Matthew Tueth, Ph.D., Steelcase Foundation Professor of Sustainable Business.
“In general, I believe nearly every graduate of the program who was seeking full-time employment found it,” he said. The program, which began in 2003 with 10 students majoring in sustainable business, has steadily grown as more people pursue an education that combines the disciplines of business and environmental sustainability. By 2006, there were 35 majors, and Tueth’s estimate for the 2009- 2010 school year is about 65 majors. Last May, 14 sustainable business majors graduated, and based on historic data, their skill set is desirable to employers.
“Our placement rate has been very positive,” he said. When the program began, Tueth met with area employers to get an idea of job prospects for graduates, and he discovered a lot of interest. He also found a variety of internship opportunities for students.
“Every year of the program, every student has found an internship,” Tueth said. “Many businesses look at our program as a direct way to get one of our graduates; they see it as kind of an extended interview.”
Coursework changes include two new classes, “Sustainable Business Innovations,” which is geared toward applying theory in the workplace, and “International Perspectives in Sustainable Business,” which explores what’s going on outside the U.S., particularly in developing nations.
In addition, an international travel component was added last year (pictured at right), with students and associate professor of sustainable business Deborah Steketee, Ph.D., visiting Costa Rica for 12 days.
Tueth, who has a book scheduled for release in August, “Fundamentals of Sustainable Business: A Guide for the Next 100 Years,” which he will use as a textbook in two of his classes, said plans are moving forward to establish a master’s level sustainable business program by fall 2010 at the earliest. “Our goal is to create a destination program for students to come from all over the United States,” he said.
The undergraduate program is already a destination for one student, Tueth’s daughter, Rachel, who is a senior majoring in sustainable business. “It was completely her choice,” he said, “both the school and the major.”
Aquinas Ireland Program
By Dan Treul '09, Contributing Writer
For the so-called YouTube generation, the prospect of a semester spent living in thatched-roof cottages, frequently removed from Facebook, cell phones, and even the internet itself might seem impossible–not to mention frightening. So, to borrow a phrase from Irish pub life, what’s the craic in the Aquinas Ireland Study Abroad Program?
The craic, referring in its Irish context to “fun” and “enjoyment,” is found in the history, culture, art and music of the Irish people, and in engaging directly within the Tully Cross community - a tradition Aquinas has celebrated for nearly 40 years.
The story of the Ireland program begins in the spring of 1972, when the small village of Tully Cross, County Galway, on the island’s rugged west coast first hosted Aquinas students and professors in newly constructed, community-owned thatched cottages. Today, the program is thriving, and hundreds of alumni - like Laura Bertram ’08 - remember Ireland as a profoundly life-changing experience.
“It was without a doubt one of the best experiences of my life,” said Bertram. “The places I went, things I did and people I got to know have all had such a positive impact.”
Influential in affecting that kind of response is the program’s extraordinary effort to link history with direct, personal experience. Classroom education by Aquinas professors in Irish literature, history and culture are complemented by frequent excursions to such places as the Ring of Kerry, Clonmacnoise, Coole Park, Derry and Belfast. An extended weekend in Dublin offers students the opportunity to explore firsthand the history of the 1916 Rising, to walk in the footsteps of James Joyce and examine the illuminated manuscripts of the “Book of Kells” at Trinity College.
Beginning in 2008, Aquinas students now spend a week studying in Northern Ireland, where they attend workshops in Irish history, government and conflict resolution. Recent participants have had the opportunity to learn directly from the mayor of Derry, various government councilors and even Nobel Laureate John Hume. Bus and walking tours of Derry and Belfast offer sobering lessons on the legacy of violence in the North and include reflection at the Bloody Sunday memorial, an examination of Nationalist and Loyalist propaganda and a presentation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
“I have been blessed in life to visit many historical sites,” reflected James Gulvas ’10, who participated in the spring ’09 program. “But never have I felt so touched as I was by the struggles of Northern Ireland.” The visit with Hume, said Gulvas, was particularly inspiring.
“I was impressed by the peace process in Northern Ireland, and it gives me hope that someday there will be peace in the Middle East.”
2009 Ireland Program participants pose with John Hume, co-founder of the Social Democratic and Labor Party and Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Tully Cross has largely remained the same in the nearly 40 years it has hosted Aquinas students. Apart from the nine cottages, the village, nestled between the mountains and the sea, is home to two pubs, a small grocer, an eight-room hotel, a church and several houses. The local people have grown up accustomed to visiting Aquinas students and look forward to their arrival. Students actively engage in the community, with many working as teacher’s aides in the national schools, taking Irish tin whistle lessons, hunting for mussels on the seashore, and even participating in coast guard drills off the Irish coast.
With its windswept cliffs, haunting ruins and dramatic history, Ireland offers a realm apart, a place where students can reflect and embrace the Dominican charisms without the rushing interference of modern American life. In Tully Cross, students accustomed to life in the fast-paced United States find a community rooted in the land, its people and their collective heritage. It is an experience unlike any other, and the relationship between the College and the Irish community is one to be cheered. Perhaps over a pint o’ Guinness.
Aquinas College Named NAIA Champions of Character Institution
Aquinas College was selected as a 2008-2009 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Champions of Character institution. As a charter member of the NAIA's Champions of Character initiative, the student-athletes, coaches, and athletic administrators at Aquinas strive to uphold the five core values of the program: Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Servant Leadership and Sportsmanship.
Aquinas Student Honored in Pitch Competition
Two Aquinas College students were among the top finishers in a competition that recognized the entrepreneurial business acumen of competitors from four Grand Rapids-area colleges.
Aquinas students Peter Reno and Raul Velasco each received $500 for their third place finishes in the first annual West Michigan Regional Pitch Competition held at Grand Valley State University on November 19, 2009. The top finisher received $2,000 and second place was awarded $1,000. The eleven students competed in the Pitch Competition representing GVSU, Aquinas, Calvin College and Davenport University.
"The competition offers evidence not only of college/university collaboration but also of our efforts to encourage entrepreneurship in the region," according to Cindy VanGelderen, dean of the Aquinas College School of Management.
The competition involved students making 90-second pitches, which were then analyzed by a panel of judges based on the quality of their idea and presentation. The judges were three young entrepreneurs themselves. They included: Rick DeVos, entrepreneur and founder of ArtPrize, Spout.com, and TheCommon.org; Danny Beckett, president and CEO of Spearia, a Web design and marketing firm based in Comstock Park, Mich.; and Brent Hawkins, founder of Infusion Marketing.
Organizers of the event also announced that plans are underway to hold a West Michigan Regional Business Plan Competition in spring 2010. Aquinas plans to coordinate its own business plan competition internally to identify candidates to represent Aquinas at that spring event.
AQ Cheer Team Volunteers at "Start! Heart Walk"
The Aquinas Cheer Team exercised its effervescent spirit to assist the American Heart Association with "Start! Heart Walk" at Riverside Park in Grand Rapids.
The cheerleaders helped with logistics, cheered on the 3,000 participants and even gave a media interview with Grand Rapids radio personalities Tommy and Brook of Star 105.7 FM.
"The cheer team was thrilled to be asked to volunteer for the second year in a row at the Heart Walk," said Emma Powell, coach of the AQ Cheer Team. "Using their energy and spirit to excite and encourage the walkers is exactly what the event needed. And, the team had a great time!
Cindy Bouma, communications director for the American Heart Association, said the Cheer Team went above and beyond the call of duty, and stated that "Aquinas should be really proud of their Cheer Squad since they have been so generous with their time and talents."
The American Heart Association "Start! Heart Walk" supports the maxim that walking and eating well are the keys to longevity and raises funds to support heart disease research, stroke research and area educational programs.
Fall Sports Wrap Up
The Aquinas volleyball team continues to grow and develop into one of the best small college programs in the nation. In three short years the Saints have gone from eight wins in '07 to 22 wins in '08 to 26 victories this past fall. Coach Dave Rawles has brought an excitement back to the program that has been missing for some time. The Saints finished the season tied for second place in the WHAC. Captains Mollie Lounds and Katie Vander Meer were also named to the All-WHAC First Team. Sarah LeClair was named WHAC Libero of the Year and Honorable Mention All-WHAC. Jessica Bredeweg was named to the All-WHAC Freshman Team. Katie Vander Meer also garnered WHAC Setter of the Year and NAIA All-American accolades. The Saints have everyone returning next year so look for the improvements to continue.
Men's and Women's Golf
The men's golf team finished the 2009 season by taking fifth place in the WHAC. Freshman Joel Siegel led the Saints this year as he carded a 78.6 average and captured two top ten performances. Seniors Max Rouse (81.2 avg.) and Brad Hall (82.6 avg.) also were major contributors for Coach Gunn's squad.
The women's golf team claimed a third place finish in the WHAC this past fall. The team was led by freshman Abigail Hagan, who was named to the All-WHAC first team. Hagan (85.5 avg.) finished in the top five of all four of the WHAC jamborees and was the meet medalist in the second jamboree. Taylor Giesen-Bayley (89.0 avg.) was named to the All-WHAC Honorable Mention for her efforts this past season. Coach Pupel has a young squad that shows a lot of promise for the future.
Men's Cross Country
Kind of a strange year for the Saints. Still posted a very impressive (113-17) record, but saw their seven year hold on the conference crown slip away this year. Yet they beat Calvin College for the first time ever we believe or for the first time in a very long time. The Saints were led by the All-WHAC performances of Rob Veldman and Dustin Heiler. The Saints received at an-large berth to Nationals and placed 7th. The eight guys that made the trip to Fort Vancouver, Washington were very young and was the first national experience for many (1 sr., 1 jr., 5 so., and 1 fr.) - so the future looks great! Aquinas was only one of three teams to make it to Nationals every year this decade For the past ten years the Saints rank second in the country in overall performance at the National Championships. In the last six seasons the Saints have finished 2nd, 6th, 5th, 6th, 3rd and 7th at the National Championships. A big credit goes out to the great students we have in our program and the tradition that each are trying to uphold.
Women's Cross Country
The women's cross country team was crowned WHAC Champions for the 2009 season. With their victory at the conference meet contested at Riverside Park, the Saints received an automatic bid to the National Championships in Fort Vancouver, Washington. The Saints were led by WHAC Conference Runner of the Year, Carly Plank. The freshman led the Saints in every meet and just missed All-American honors by four places at Nationals. Katy Cramer and Samantha Rinkus were rewarded with All-WHAC honors for their performance at the WHAC Championships. The team finished a little disappointing 21st place at the national championships, but the future looks very bright for this young group of Saints. As a unit they need to continue to develop as runners and leaders for them to take the next step at the national level.
The men's soccer team posted a record of 13-4-2 for the 2009 season. One highlight from the season was an eight game stretch in which the Saints allowed only one goal. Aquinas finished the conference season in first place with a 9-2-1 record in WHAC play. The Saints season ended at the hands of Davenport in the WHAC tournament semifinal game 2-0.
Junior forward Jeovani Pantoja (Grandville, MI) received All-American accolades for his 13 goals (eight of the goals were of the game winning variety) and two assists. Junior Michael Vaughn (Jenison, MI) joined Pantoja on the All-WHAC 1st Team along with Chad DeRussell (Grand Rapids, MI). Heath Somers (Portage, MI) and Jesse Guevara-Lehker (Grand Rapids, MI) were voted to the All-WHAC 2nd Team.
In Coach Veal's four seasons the Saints record stands at 52-22-5.
The women's soccer finished the 2009 season with a record of 12-6-2. After a slow start that saw the Saints score only three goals in their first five matches, the offensive came alive. Aquinas went on to score three or more goals seven times during the course of the rest of the season. The Saints finished second in the WHAC with an 8-3-1 record. Aquinas fell just short of a National Championship bid as they were defeated in the WHAC tournament championship game 3-0 by Siena Heights.
Senior forward Bri Hill (Kalamazoo, Mich.), who was named to the NAIA All-American and WHAC Offensive Player of the Year, led the Saints in scoring with 19 goals and two assists. Sophomore Jaime Tomaszewski (Linden, Mich.) joined Hill on the All-WHAC 1st Team as she recorded eleven goals and nine assists on the season. Junior mid-fielder Teresa Buiocchi was named to the All-WHAC 2nd Team for her contributions on the field for the Saints.
Broadway Comes to Aquinas
By Dan Treul ’09, Contributing Writer
Last spring, 15 Aquinas theater students spent an afternoon with three actors from the national touring cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Arranged by AQ Improv President Rob Karel ’09, Broadway Grand Rapids and the Aquinas Theatre department, the masters class, as it was called, offered students a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the lives of touring professional actors. Students asked questions on a variety of subjects, including life on the road, auditioning and career paths in theater.
“It was an awesome opportunity for Aquinas students to see what it takes to make a career out of all the things that we have been studying in classes,” said Karel. “It also made it clear that there are options besides Broadway if you want to make a living doing what you love doing.” According to Karel, the actors were enthusiastic and focused, and “some students are still in regular contact.”
Winter/Spring 2010 AQ Theatre Calendar
February 25-28: RUTHLESS! The Musical
Book and Lyrics by Joel Paley, Music by
"Wake Up People" Brings Fun and Freebies to Aquinas
AQ Campus Life and Pepsi Max sponsored Aquinas’ second annual Wake Up People party. More than 600 students, faculty and staff members attended the free event, which was held in the College’s Carriage House. The evening featured performances from nationally recognized acts Blessed Union of Souls and Saving Jane. Free food and products were supplied by Pietro’s, Celebration Cinemas, Little Caesars and Yesterdog, which gave away more than 800 hotdogs.
The night saw the final round of AQ Idol, with Rob Karel beating out fellow finalists Justin Kazanowski and Edgard Portela to take the title. Campus Life and Pepsi Max awarded scholarships worth $3,000, $1,500 and $500 in a raffle that also gave away items such as gift certificates, clothing and movie tickets to attending students. As an evening of free fun in a safe environment, Wake Up People was a great way to throw off the wintertime blues and was a big success for everyone involved. Wake Up People 2010 will take place on Friday, February 19.