Profile: Linda Young

Linda Young

Bachelor of Science in social work, 1989
Executive Director, Welcome House of Northern Kentucky
Covington, Ky.

Winning the Lottery | “I won the lottery a long time ago,” says Linda Young, referring to her childhood in Mason, Ohio. “My family didn’t have much money, but we loved and supported each other. I grew up in a little town where it was safe to just sleep out on your porch. I not only had two parents, but I had the whole community who raised me. Working for Welcome House, I realize just how much that means, how valuable that is. Not everybody has that support. And it’s not something you can buy.”

Family Matters | Young grew up the oldest of six siblings. And although her brother and sisters now live in different areas of the country, they remain a tight-knit family. On their 50th birthdays, the six of them (sans kids, spouses and friends) vacation together and act like they’re kids again.

The Crash | In 1981, Young’s husband was killed in a drunk-driving accident. After the accident, friends and family supported her and her two small children. And while she felt blessed to have a strong network of people who cared for her, she wondered what life was like for those who didn’t have the same resources that she had.

The Second Chance | When she decided to go back to school, Young chose to study social work instead of furthering her career in nursing. The social work program proved therapeutic for Young because her classes allowed her to ask the questions that she had been contemplating since her husband’s passing.

Welcome Back | After earning her bachelor’s degree, Young worked as Welcome House’s program coordinator until she went to Case Western Reserve for a master’s program in social work. Upon graduating, the Welcome House offered her the position of executive director. “I feel a responsibility to the community,” she says. “It makes sense to me that if you have a strong community, you take care of or work with people who have challenges and less privileges.”

Problem Solver | She considers herself a pragmatist and feels in her element when she finds creative solutions to real-world problems, like homelessness and poverty. “My work is about creating a model that’s affordable for people to be able to pay rent and take care of both themselves and their family. We can eradicate homelessness. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t.”

Real Hero | Dealing with such real-world issues on a day-to-day basis can be overwhelming. When it becomes too much, Young turns to a poster from writer Brian Andreas hanging on the wall of her office for a little reflection and inspiration: “Anyone can slay a dragon, but try waking up every morning and loving the world all over again. That’s what takes a real hero.”

Alumni Profile: Carl Bergman

Carl Bergman

Master of Business Administration, 1972
Board member, Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity

Hammer Time | For Carl Bergman, giving checks to nonprofits was always easier than giving time. But after he retired from his job as a marketing executive at Ford Motor Co., he wanted to take a more hands-on approach to serving the community. So Bergman did what he knew: He wrote a check to Habitat for Humanity. On the bottom of that check, however, Bergman wrote a note asking how he could get involved. Someone from Habitat got in touch with him shortly thereafter, and in less than a month, Bergman was hammering nails instead of penning checks.

Most Valuable Volunteer | From 2010-2011, under Bergman’s term as board president, Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity opened two secondhand furniture and appliance stores in Southwest Ohio called ReStores. Bergman recently received recognition for his efforts by being named the Ohio Habitat for Humanity’s 2012 Volunteer of the Year.

Presidential Perks | After receiving his undergraduate degree from Miami University in 1968, Bergman worked for Proctor and Gamble in Michigan. Nine months later, he was drafted into the Army. “I was extremely lucky—99 percent of the people I knew were going to Vietnam. I wound up in the Presidential Ceremonial Unit at Ft. Meyer, Va. I rolled out the red carpet on the south lawn of the White House when visiting dignitaries came in. I got to see the Nixons, British Prime Minister Edward Heath and Indira Gandhi of India.”

Wanderlust | From eighth grade until his junior year of high school, Bergman lived in Germany with his family. He credits his time spent there for his love of travel as an adult. “When I was 16, my brother and I both had mopeds. One Easter break, we rode them on a 450-mile trip from Munich down to Austria and back. We were gone for like five days. I can’t imagine that happening today.” And although he didn’t pick up a second language while living in Europe, he still knows his way around. “I know enough German to order another beer.”

Getting Around | He later upgraded his moped to a motorcycle, which he drives all over the world with his wife, Julie. The two of them have toured in countries as far away as Australia and South Africa, and in places as close as their home states.

Samaritan Scuba Diver | When he’s not riding his motorcycle or volunteering, you might find him under the water. Bergman is an amateur scuba diver and underwater photographer. And for Bergman, the volunteering doesn’t cease on vacation. It travels with him. “One of the best things about visiting these very remote islands is when I get to hang out with the kids at the local schools. I bring balloons and school supplies to the kids. You’ve never seen kids so happy.”

Profile: Maj. Mark Smydra

Maj. Mark Smydra
Bachelor of Arts in organizational communications, 1995
Master of Education in agency and community counseling, 1996
Strategy and Plans Officer, Department of Defense
Washington, D.C.

Walk On | Smydra walked onto Xavier’s campus in 1991 and, after a year, onto the basketball team. He played four seasons, including his last as a graduate student. “I had a year of eligibility left, so I asked Coach Prosser if I could play as a fifth year walk-on, and he said I was welcome.”

Spot On | “I remember Prosser took all the tryouts into a room and said, ‘If you want to be a walk-on, you can’t get hurt, you can’t get sick, you have to get good grades and if not, then don’t try out.’ I played in 15 games, including against Georgetown in the first half of the NCAA Tournament game in 1995. We ended up losing by three points. Prosser said I would get to play, but I had caught some bug and just felt horrible when I got into the game.”

Military Liaison | After graduation, Smydra completed the Marine’s Infantry Officer Course and Scout Sniper School, among others, before a colonel recommended him for deployment to Kosovo with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit in 2000. From there he was sent to Bosnia to support military operations and then to Latvia to support Latvia’s desire to enter the European Union and NATO. “We spent our time scheduling experts to train and assist the Latvians.”

SOCOM | After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Smydra was assigned to U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., which helped provide information to special operations units in Afghanistan. “The office I was in was specifically set up to support special ops units engaged in the War on Terror.”

Moving On | Smydra was assigned as the Marine Attaché in Pristina, Kosovo, in 2003. His unique experiences in special operations and foreign affairs led to additional assignments as the U.S. liaison to Turkish Special Forces in Iraq and as the Marine Attaché to Ukraine.

Fired Upon | In 2006, he went with Turkish Special Forces into Iraq and was fired upon by Peshmerga snipers. Smydra stopped his Toyota Landcruiser when one of the convoy’s Kurdish soldiers fell out with a gunshot to the head. They picked him up and sped to a hospital. “I saw him a few weeks later and he’d made a full recovery.”

The Pentagon | Now assigned to the Pentagon, Smydra drafts policy and makes recommendations affecting Marines. In short, he writes a lot of briefs and executive summaries for military and civilian leaders. “You have to be articulate, brief and effective, so all the writing and speaking skills I developed at Xavier were fantastic.”

Promotion | Smydra has been selected for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel this year. He expects to continue sharing his unique experiences with other military members, while also spending more time with his wife, Karyn, and son, Max.

Profile: Col. Paul Fellinger Jr.

Col. Paul Fellinger Jr.
Bachelor of Arts in international affairs, 1990
Garrison Commander for the U.S. Army Garrison at Presidio
Monterey, Calif.

Army Brat | Paul Fellinger Jr., has been moving since before he had motor skills. His father, Paul Fellinger Sr. (see Paul Sr.’s profile on page 41), was an Army man. So they moved from base to base, house to house. “I was born in Cincinnati and probably within six months had moved for the first time. I’ve probably lived in 30-35 different houses throughout my lifetime. My favorite places growing up were Germany and Virginia.”

International Education | As a lover of both academics and athletics, Fellinger enjoyed high school. For his first three years, he studied at the International School of Hamburg, in what used to be West Germany. There, he befriended students of different backgrounds and was exposed to cultures from places as far away as the Middle East and Asia.

Going Back | Later in life, Fellinger returned to Germany, but this time, it was for his assignment—not his father’s. He spent two years there with his wife and two daughters. “We lived in southern Bavaria and spent a lot of time in town interacting with locals, buying their food and practicing their language. I’m glad that my girls spent some time living there and getting to know the lifestyle. I don’t know how much they appreciate it yet, but they will when they get older.”

Active Duty | Since 2004, Fellinger spent nearly three and a half years on assignment in the Middle East. While in Afghanistan, he assisted in establishing local military and police forces. He also assisted the Department of State to develop rural and war-torn areas, which included involvement in the construction of schools and roads.

Snapshot | “Many people in Afghanistan, at least where I was in 2010, lived in mud huts. They’re good at building these structures, but it’s a lifestyle that we as Americans don’t think is possible. Many people there don’t have electricity. They’ve got no sewage, no plumbing. Very different from the world that we live in. But that’s their life and that’s just how they live. It’s not bad or worse than ours, just different.”

A Good Sport | “I’m a huge fan of sports and have been my whole life. When I was deployed, Xavier basketball was my connection home. I would have a bad day in Afghanistan, and if I was lucky enough to have a cable TV, at the end of the day I could pull up a Xavier basketball game. It’s something that was and still is important to me.”

There’s No Place Like Home | “During one deployment I was the commander of a squadron of just under 1,000 soldiers. My school spirit must have rubbed off on them at some point, because many became fans of Xavier basketball. Whenever I visit Cincinnati, I pick up some Skyline Chili and buy Xavier garb for them. They love it.”

Profile: Lt. Col. Paul Fellinger Sr.

Lt. Col. Paul Fellinger Sr.
Bachelor of Arts in history, 1967

Blue Bloods | Four generations of Fellinger freshmen have now passed through Xavier’s doors—Raymond Fellinger, an English student who went on to become Xavier’s registrar; Paul Sr., a history major; Paul Jr., an international communications graduate; and Hannah, a current theology student.

Xavier Roots | “I remember when I was little and would go to the basketball games in Schmidt Fieldhouse with my dad. The building only held like 3,000 people, but it was a fun place to be during a game. The students would line the floor on temporary benches, and we would stomp on it and drive the place crazy.”

Service | When Fellinger Sr. started college, Xavier was still a field-artillery school that required all incoming students to join the ROTC program for at least two years. For his junior and senior years, Fellinger decided to stay enrolled in the program. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the U.S. Army and soon after was sent to Vietnam. After returning from his tour in Vietnam, he accepted an assignment in Germany—where his wife and children joined him.

Found in Translation | “Coming back to Cincinnati after living in Germany, you gain an appreciation for traditions from other cultures. For example, people in Cincinnati often say ‘Please?’ instead of ‘I didn’t hear you.’ That’s a total German thing. When German-speakers can’t hear what you’ve said they respond by saying ‘Bitta?’ which is the German word for please.”

Military School | Fellinger Sr. moved to Philadelphia to earn his master’s degree while simultaneously teaching for Widener University’s ROTC program. “The course I taught was called Ethics in Military Environments, and most of what I taught had to do with leadership. The class showed the theory of leadership, and I actually made the students make decisions. It might be as simple as marching a group of people, but they figured out how to navigate a group of men by practicing.“

Boot Camp Advice | “Before they enlisted, I told my two sons that, one, the officers aren’t intentionally trying to kill you, and, two, if the person to your right can keep going, and if the person to your left can keep going, then you can keep going, too.”

Soldiering On | Fellinger Sr. retired this spring from his second career as an administrator at Shriver Co., a tax firm based in Cincinnati. “I’m enjoying retirement and staying busy. My wife and I still have friends in Germany, and my son (see Paul Jr.’s profile on page 43) just moved to California. So I’m sure we’ll be doing some traveling.”

Profile: Lt. Gen. Charles G. “Chick” Cleveland

Lt. Gen. Charles G. “Chick” Cleveland
Master of Arts in history, 1966
Montgomery, Ala.

An Ace 50 Years in the Making | Before Top Gun, there was Lt. Gen. Charles G. “Chick” Cleveland. And unlike today’s era of unmanned predator drones, Cleveland was at the controls during the dawn of the jet age, engaged in aerial dogfights over the infamous “MIG Alley” during the Korean War. His designation of “ace” was not made official for more than 50 years, but thanks to a lifelong friend and a little help from the Soviet Union, Cleveland’s place among the flying stars was eventually assured. His biography, Once a Fighter Pilot, was published in 2012.

West Point | “When I graduated from West Point in 1949, there was no Air Force Academy, so 20 percent of the graduates went into the Air Force. And I was lucky enough to be in that group. I still remember my first jet flight. The instructor said, ‘On takeoff, keep your hands off the stick and just enjoy.’ We raced off into the Arizona afternoon and it was an exhilarating feeling.”

Korea | ”When I left Korea, I had four confirmed victories, two probables and four damaged. It took five confirmed victories to become an ace in the Korean War. But I didn’t get that fifth victory confirmed because my wingman had been killed, so he couldn’t give his statement.”

The Dogfight | “I hit him hard from close range, and he went into a vertical dive into the roll cloud of a towering thunderstorm. MiGs just didn’t do that. I couldn’t follow him and I didn’t see him bail out, explode or crash, which is necessary for a confirmed kill, but I know he never got out of that thing alive.”

Ace Delayed | “One of those two ‘probably destroyed’ was confirmed as a kill some 56 years later, with new evidence from Russian records. A friend of mine, Dolphin D. Overton, discovered the records in the National Archives. Of course they were in Russian and had to be translated.”

Xavier Connection | “When I came back stateside I was assigned to Wright Patterson Air Force Base and took classes, commuting to Xavier.”

Vietnam | “I was Gen. Westmorland’s executive assistant for a year. That was the toughest year I spent in the service. Vietnam was a different war. All wars are terrible, but if you want to survive, you’ve got to fight ‘em and win ‘em.”

The Pentagon | “I served in the Pentagon from 1975-1979. My last assignment was as commander of Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., home for all professional education for the Air Force.”

Retirement | “We retired in Alabama, and I was the director of the Montgomery-area United Way. I did that for seven years, and think I did the community some good. I have three volunteer jobs now—one is the president of Say No, an anti-drug coalition, the second is the president of the American Fighter Aces Association and the third is the Alabama World Affairs Council.”

Profile: M. Stephanie Martin

M. Stephanie Martin

Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts, 2008

Human resources assistant,

Military Science, Xavier Cincinnati

Flying the coop | During high school, M. Stephanie Martin spent a summer in New Jersey with her uncle, a command sergeant major in the Army. “I loved the PX and the commissary,” she says. “And I liked the uniform.” She also wanted to travel. When she graduated, she moved up to Detroit, enlisted in the Army and got a uniform of her own.

Traveling wings | Martin served her first two assignments at Fort Jackson, S.C. Then she went to Fort Bragg, N.C., where she saw her first maroon berets—members of the 82nd Airborne Division. “There was something different about them,” Martin says. “They walked with their chests out.”

Leap of faith | Martin married a paratrooper in 1982 and enlisted in the 82nd in 1983. She trained, endured fortitude tests and took one final physical to be cleared for jump status. That’s when she learned she was pregnant. Two kids later, she tried again. “My first jump was the easiest,” she says. “You just jumped. The second was harder. You’re like, Hmm, I survived that one. Do I really want to do this again?”

Jump status | Martin jumped 52 times in all. How does one fall safely from the sky? “Keep everything tucked and tight, feet and knees together,” she says. As you fall, count to four. If your chute hasn’t opened by then, pull your secondary. Yield to the lower jumper, and land in a roll with five points of contact—feet, calf, thigh, butt and back. (Although usually it’s more like “feet, knees, face, or feet, butt, back-of-the-head,” she says. “It all happens really fast.”)

Around the world | Women paratroopers don’t enter combat. “I was doing HR,” she says. “But, because I was a paratrooper, I got to hang out with some really cool people.” She also got to travel to Korea twice and was a courier to Saudi Arabia during the First Gulf War. (Often she didn’t know her cargo. She got stuck in Spain once because she was carrying Class B explosives.) In 2002, she served in a Joint Special Operations Command force in Uzbekistan.

Boots on the ground | Today, Martin manages the paperwork of student cadets as the human resources assistant for Xavier’s ROTC program. “Sometimes I put my mama hat on, sometimes I put my sergeant’s hat on,” she says. She gives some students their first salute when they become commissioned officers. For that, she pulls on her uniform once again.

Continuing service | In 2011, Martin received the Army’s regional Civilian of the Year award for community service. A mentor for at-risk youth, she is also a caregiver for disabled people and a signer in her church. She stays busy, even with a bad back and knee from jumping out of planes. “There’s a saying: Old soldiers never die, they just fade away,” she says. “I haven’t had anything boring in my life. Even now, I’m still having the adventures of a lifetime.”

Profile: Thomas A. Coz

Thomas A. Coz

Bachelor of Arts in History, 1976

Safe Environment Coordinator for Children and Youth Archdiocese of Cincinnati

On The Watch | Thomas Coz has his keen eye on some 79,000 church employees in Southern Ohio. As the new point-man responsible for protecting any child who attends the region’s 300 Catholic parishes and schools, Coz is busy overseeing a number of critical changes in how the archdiocese does—and will do—business.

New Beginnings | “During 2012, we will begin to implement a new national child-protection training program called VIRTUS, to allow us to more effectively track our training and compliance efforts.” The program emphasizes best practices to raise awareness about child sexual abuse, protect victims from any further abuse, discourage bullying and cyber-bullying, identify and punish offenders, and assist leadership in setting other priorities.

The Enforcer | You don’t want to find yourself fibbing to Coz; he has the know-how and FBI information network to assure that every worker’s personnel record is clean as a whistle. “I supervise the fingerprinting and background check work that we do to ensure that no person with a criminal background comes into contact with children anywhere in the archdiocese.“

Restoring Faith | Don’t think of him as just a snoop or private-eye. Coz sees his primary role “to protect, enhance and in some cases restore the trust that our faith calls for, between agents of the Catholic Church and the children and adolescents entrusted to their care.” His watch list extends to all clerics, staff, volunteers, substitute teachers and even those personnel furnished by third-party contractors. Be it the groundskeeper in the parish garden or a nanny in the nursery, he’s got his eye on you.

To Protect And Serve | The task is immense. “With over 79,000 names in our databases, keeping track of who has received the training, who is current with training updates and who is not should dominate my time,” Coz says. His territory covers 214 parishes along with 113 primary and secondary schools. If an employee at any of these locations is promoted or moved into any other role, beginning now, he or she must agree to be fingerprinted yet again. The Archdiocese will also forbid registered sex offenders from entering a church property except to attend Mass.

The Road To Now | The attorney finished his JD at the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1979, then spent his early years at PepsiCo and NorthAmerican Van Lines. More recently, he’s served as general counsel to Wild Flavors Inc. in Erlanger, Ky. The father of two sons and a daughter, he’s a member of St. William Parish in Price Hill. “Our family returned to Cincinnati in 1992 where we purchased the home that my wife (Maureen Murphy Coz, Class of 1982) had grown up in.”

Profile: Melissa Currence

Melissa Currence

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science

2001 Interactive Media Project Manager, Greater Cincinnati Foundation;

President, League of Women Voters Cincinnati

Club Day | Her first month at Xavier, Currence went to Club Day on the Mall and stopped at the League of Women Voters table. As a political science major, she was interested in learning about the political process. They invited her to the monthly unit meetings, and she went—every month.

A Good Fit | “Campaigns are so focused on attacking each other, but the League was part of the political process without being part of that negativity. I would rather work toward something positive that empowers voters than be part of just saying you’re wrong.”

Her Other Job | Currence was asked to join the board after she graduated. She also managed the voter service election guides for four years and in 2009 was appointed to the state board. In 2010, at age 30, she was elected president of the Cincinnati League on the 90th anniversary of its founding.

Madame President | “I was really interested in giving it a try. The League has been around for 92 years, and Cincinnati is one of the oldest Leagues in the U.S. and the largest in Ohio. I want to do the League justice as its president.”

Big Gains | Currence focused on making the League more relevant to younger Cincinnatians by improving its online acessibility. As she wraps up her two-year term in May, she thinks about all she’s gained. “The League trusted me and gave me so much. It’s been my leadership training.”

Service To Others | Currence fed her interest in government in other ways, too—with a student internship with Sen. George Voinovich and an unpaid internship doing public relations for the Race Street Tenant Organization Cooperative (RESTOC), a low-income housing provider in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.

Summer In The City | That led to a full-time job after graduation with RESTOC as a tenant organizer. She also wrote press releases and a newsletter, capitalizing on other communications work she’d done, including for the Xavier Newswire.

Hot Town | “The day I interviewed for that job was the day the civil unrest started after the Timothy Thomas shooting. I’d lived in Over-the-Rhine the year before, and it was heartbreaking, but I was really excited to see what I could do to help. It’s why I chose to take the job.”

Change of Plans | She left RESTOC in 2003 for a master’s in journalism at Ohio State University, which led to a job at Talbert House, a nonprofit social service agency where she was a public relations specialist for six years. Last year, she was hired by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation as the interactive media project manager. “I got that foundation from Xavier about servant leadership, and that’s why I’m driven to work for nonprofits because I think they can really make a difference.”

Profile: Ryan Krcmarich

Ryan Krcmarich

Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs,

2001 Owner, Tacos Without Borders


Career Shift | After graduating from Xavier, Ryan Krcmarich spent six years organizing political campaigns. “I’ve always been a people person,” he says. “Meeting all the people, listening to them, that was always my favorite part of campaigns.” The 90-hour, seven-day workweeks got old, though. While studying for his master’s in public affairs, he found his next calling: the mobile food business.

Meals on wheels | Krcmarich had read about the food truck scene of Los Angeles, and he wanted in. First, he needed a city with little competition. He picked Indianapolis. Then he needed a vehicle. He bought a cranky, 27-foot 1998 Chevy, an old Doritos truck with a kitchen in the back. After a few repairs, Tacos Without Borders was open for business. “It was an interesting first year,” he says. “I was learning everything on the fly. I’d never even worked in a restaurant before.”

Tacos with a twist | Tacos are Krcmarich’s fare, but not your standard hard shell. “I want people to step away from Taco Bell,” he says. “I want them to try ethnic foods through the comfort of a tortilla.” His menu includes a Thai Penang curry taco, a spicy peanut taco, an Indian butter chicken taco and more. “To my knowledge, I’m the only one who’s ever come up with an African taco,” he says. “And I have three different ones.” All come with slaw, scallions and Cotija cheese.

International inspiration | At Xavier, Krcmarich was known for his cooking. One time, a friend called Krcmarich in a panic. He’d invited a girl for dinner at his place. But he was a hopeless cook. So Krcmarich went over, cooked dinner and left before the girl arrived, letting his friend take the credit. Krcmarich found international influence at Xavier, too. On Sundays he would join a friend from New Delhi for meals with his family. He’d never eaten Indian food before, but he grew to love it. Now Krcmarich seeks inspiration from almost 400 international cookbooks. “I’m trying to accumulate one from every country.”

Rolling along | Krcmarich was the second food truck in Indianapolis when he started in 2010. By the next spring, there were 12. Now there are 40. That’s no sweat for Krcmarich, who gets most of his business at company lunches and private events. Food bloggers in Indianapolis call him “The Elusive One,” since his truck is so rarely in public. He did work this year’s Super Bowl, and was even invited to sell at an NFL Players Association event. But otherwise, Krcmarich is happy to whip up his ethnic tacos alone, in the back of his truck. “I really enjoy cooking. You get in there, pop in your mp3 player and do what you’ve got to do.” Krcmarich loves the freedom his wheels bring. “I don’t ever want to work for anyone ever again. I just enjoy cooking, talking to people and being my own boss.”