Many people forget all about their senior thesis once they’ve graduated from college, but Brittny Barney uses hers every day.
Charles Dickson is right where he’s always wanted to be—working in sports broadcasting as a broadcast associate for Fox Sports 1. He credits the broad base of knowledge he gained as an Electronic Media major at Xavier for getting him there.
After she retired from teaching art in 2003, Darlene Yeager-Torre developed an interest that’s become a second career as an artist using long-exposure photography and the targeted use of light.
Desiree Vick’s day job counseling people with disabilities is intense and fulfilling. After work and weekends, though, it’s all about the food.
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Entrepreneurial Studies, 2008
Chief marketing officer and co-founder, InfoTrust
Info What? | InfoTrust is a fast-growing technology company that was featured recently in the Cincinnati Business Courier for its early growth and global expansion. The start-up’s major customers include E.W. Scripps, Total Quality Logistics, the University of Cincinnati and LegalZoom. It reported earnings of $2 million last year.
Google That | “We’re in the business of analytics consulting…and are certified as a Google Analytics Partner. We try to answer a simple question: How do we turn data into something that helps organizations market themselves better and generate more sales?”
Origin Ukraine | “My family won a green card, which gave us the legal right to move to the U.S. when I was in high school. I’m grateful to my parents. When you’re 15 or 16 years old, you can adapt to anything, but it was harder on them. I’m confident I wouldn’t have the same level of opportunity if I had stayed in Ukraine.”
Major Studies | “When I declared entrepreneurship as my second major, I had no idea what it was. What I thought of as entrepreneurship is very different than how I think now. But my favorite classes were theology and philosophy. It helped me see the world differently.”
Data Discovery | “After graduation I worked in a number of different jobs and noticed how companies paid attention to social media. The Chamber of Commerce offered classes on Twitter and data analytics. It’s where the marketplace was going.”
Worry Wart | “The challenges have been in areas I didn’t anticipate, but I tend to worry. I consider myself a highly successful worrier, but worrying doesn’t stop me. It keeps me on my toes and helps me anticipate.”
A Xavier Foundation | “The best thing about Xavier is the ability to go out and explore. I was interested in things beyond business, so I applied for a fellowship to go to Israel, and I managed to go to the Vatican while I was at Xavier. You don’t anticipate those opportunities would be available in college. That’s why I love Xavier so much.”
Next Stop: Dubai | InfoTrust recently opened an office in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. “It seemed like a market that was ready for the services we offer. That turned us into an international company. We also have clients in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Asia.”
And Beyond | “We have very ambitious goals. We’ve been growing almost 100 percent year over year. We want to stay on track of being a company that builds products, and we want to grow our consulting.”
Bachelor of Science in Biology, 1993
Vice President, Mannik Smith Group
Environmental Pioneer | Gladwell’s interest in the environment dates to her childhood. At Xavier, she promoted recycling long before the University made green a priority. Now with MannikSmith, an environmental consultancy, she focuses on sustainable development. She’s also vice president of the board at the Black Swamp Conservancy, a land trust that protects farmland and open space from development.
An Early Affinity | “My interest grew out of a curiosity and vision of stewardship when I was a teen. I grew up with a love of nature. My happiest childhood memories took place outdoors. That grew into a commitment to make sure we had an energy-efficient home.”
Longterm Vision | At Xavier, “I really started to see my interest in the environment as a vision for a career. I wanted my career to be more than a way to support myself and my family, but also a way to contribute to the common good.”
Early Recycler | “I got involved with the recycling initiative on campus, using blue vans from Physical Plant to collect recyclables. Some offices weren’t willing to go to the trouble of setting things aside, but overall we got good support.”
Earthcare | “I helped found EarthCare out of the Dorothy Day House, an inspirational and foundational effort for me, and we received Club of the Year. We focused on expanding recycling and sponsored programs on farming, food challenges and how to be responsible consumers.”
Sustainable Developer | At Mannik Smith, Gladwell works on developing abandoned or underused land in urban areas, known as brownfields, into office space, retail, entertainment venues and housing. She developed funding strategies for an entertainment district being built by the Toledo Mud Hens minor-league baseball team. The district, known as Hensville, is redeveloping three vacant buildings and a vacant parking lot into a $21 million outdoor event space with sustainable stormwater management.
Wake-up Call | “Urban revitalization is one of the reasons I get up each morning. The most sustainable way for people to live is in cities and urban centers. Abandoning the urban core and regional sprawl has a cost that’s not just financial.”
Urban Core | “Once people understand a topic, they have a greater appreciation for environmental stewardship and sustainability. But I think people don’t understand that urban centers are a more sustainable way of living. It ripples out from environmental to economic sustainability.”
Abundant Opportunities | “I challenge myself to bring an environmental awareness to everything. I’m always trying to bring to mind what we can do as an organization to be more sustainable.”
With big industry in need of data analysis, Xavier heeds the call with two new graduate programs
As a Xavier alumnus, Tim Schroeder is grateful for the education he received in the late 1970s. But as a Xavier trustee, parent and employer, he understands that higher education is changing radically, and institutions like Xavier must change, too. That prompted Schroeder to help launch the new Master of Science in Health Economic and Clinical Outcomes Research (HECOR) in a unique partnership with his company, CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting Services.
When her husband, Aaron, was diagnosed with a brain tumor, Nora McInerny Purmort, a 2005 Xavier graduate, started recording their story on a blog. She later used it to update friends and family. By the time Aaron Purmort died last November, thousands were following their love story online, and his obituary was featured on NPR, Huffington Post and other sites.
The blog, myhusbandstumor.com, is a raw, charming, painful and often hilarious look at a marriage honed by tragedy. Her husband’s chemotherapy and surgeries, the birth of their child, a miscarriage and eventually her husband’s death—Nora Purmort shared it all, and people from around the world responded with love—on the Internet.
“The Internet is a fickle place. It usually brings out the worst in people, but by and large it has shown me what I’ve always known about people, which is that they want to be a force for good,” says Purmort. “It felt like the whole world was there for us.”
Purmort still hears from people who find themselves in the same situation she was in three and a half years ago, when their ordeal began after he suffered a seizure at work. She helps by posting stories about their fundraisers and sometimes texting total strangers.
Their son, Ralph, will grow up knowing of his parents’ love for each other, and for him, through her writings. Purmort is working on a book. “If even one woman can have something besides statistics to read, it’s worth it.”
Visit the blog at myhusbandstumor.com.
Chemotherapy made Natalia Marsh-Welton feel cold, so when the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted the girl a wish, her goal was warmth. Not her own, though. Natalia wanted to make homeless people feel warm by giving them soup. And blankets.
Natalia’s soup-and-blankets project was so outstanding that it received the Infinite Wish Award in 2014 from the national Make-A-Wish Foundation, selected from more than 13,000 wishes granted each year. Program manager Kate Donnellon Berliner, a 2003 Xavier graduate in organizational communications, worked on the project with Natalia. They completed it in February, and the award was announced in October—one month before Natalia died, shortly after turning 11.
Natalia’s first wish was to be cured of her brain tumor. When she learned that wasn’t possible, she settled on her love of cooking to make others’ lives better. Berliner helped arrange for Natalia to meet with well-known Cincinnati chef Jean-Robert de Cavel in January, and he helped her create a minestrone soup with a kick of cayenne. Three weeks later, she fed the soup to 200 people at the Drop Inn Center and gave out 500 blankets.
The soup is still served monthly at the shelter, and people now share the recipe using the Twitter hashtag #nataliaswish. You can get the recipe online. “We’ve had people making the soup from as far away as South Africa,” Berliner says.
Berliner learned of the foundation when her younger brother, Andrew, who has a heart condition, was granted a wish to go to Disney World. He’s now the kicker for the football team at Bluffton University. “I love being able to hear stories about how a wish can change a situation that seems hopeless.”
For those who consider advanced mathematics a strictly academic pursuit, David Gerberry’s research comes to a completely different, and extremely useful, conclusion. Gerberry creates and analyzes mathematical models of biological processes and diseases. In one project, he and four colleagues set up models to see how HIV spreads through populations in South Africa.
Their models showed the epidemic is concentrated in geographical “hot zones.” Targeting prevention efforts in those zones could prevent 40 percent more infections than spreading efforts equally across the entire country—and be 40 percent more cost-effective, a crucial consideration when fighting a scourge like HIV.
The research was published in the scientific journal Nature Communications and was an editor’s pick in Science magazine. For Gerberry, it illustrates how math and science can solve some of the planet’s biggest problems. “When we set up models for these infectious diseases, it translates into physical results,” says Gerberry, who came to Xavier in 2012. “It’s nice to show this is where math, chemistry and biology play together. They’re separate courses in college but they work together in real life.”
Gerberry, a graduate of Youngstown State University, earned his PhD at Purdue University, where he became intrigued with the modeling of infectious diseases. At Xavier, he teaches all different levels of math and also helps students in the Philosophy, Politics and the Public program map election results.
“At Xavier, we have a really close relationship between departments, and people have been really open to collaborating,” he says.
Gerberry also spoke about mathematical modeling of the Ebola virus to freshmen to show how medicine and math can complement their studies. He encouraged them to consider hard questions like what’s more effective, new treatment centers or a vaccine? Determining the most cost-effective treatment is a huge step in solving some of the world’s most challenging diseases, and math is an essential part of it.