Xavier Magazine

Serving a Career

The job market may be wreaking havoc on graduating seniors’ plans for employment, but it’s having the opposite effect on non-profit organizations. This year, for instance, Xavier’s Career Services Center received 31 applications for positions with Teach for America, compared to 24 last year. Only five students were offered positions, reflecting how competitive the jobs have become. Teach for America reports an overall 42-percent increase in applications this year—the largest number ever. Xavier students selected for jobs say the process was grueling, but worthwhile, and that many more positions are still available with smaller, lesser-known groups. “The level of competition for this position was rigorous,” says graduate Laura King, who accepted a two-year position with Teach for America in Phoenix. “There was a written essay application, a phone interview, and then a full-day, in-person interview.”

Xavier Magazine

Ike Relief

Hurricane Ike, the worst of the 2008 season, made landfall at Galveston, Texas, on Saturday, Sept. 13. Eight days later, senior marketing major Jabriel Kelley was hauling a blue bucket around asking everyone to pony up some cash to support relief efforts. The Category 2 storm left 112 people dead and $24 million worth of destruction. Kelley, a member of the student senate, wanted to help, and the United Way of Cincinnati told him raising money was the best way.

His professors allowed him to solicit in their classrooms. And his employer, Great American Insurance, where he’s held an internship all year, also encouraged him to solicit donations. Kelley netted $550 in one week for the Student Government Association, which wrote a check to the United Way who forward-ed it to their counterparts in Galveston and Houston.

“I was very proud of that,” Kelley says. “It felt great. Service has always been my passion, because you never know what a helping hand can do. That’s what I look forward to in my career: How can I help someone else?”

Xavier Magazine

Hands Across Water

Shoshonnah McKinney’s two-week vacation in China, where she was a teacher for four years, became an opportunity to do some international recruiting for Xavier. McKinney, Xavier’s international student specialist, went back in April to visit friends, but she tacked on an extra week to give presentations about Xavier at high schools and colleges in several cities.
The effort is part of Xavier’s economy-driven approach to international recruiting. Without an official international recruitment program, Xavier is nevertheless stepping up its efforts to spread the word about the University to prospective students in other countries, says Lea Minniti, director for International Student Services.

“I want to take a multi-faceted approach to recruiting,” Minniti says. “If we don’t promote recruitment, we will lose out.”
International recruitment is a hot issue as U.S. higher education becomes more accessible for non-citizens. Minniti says the largest growth in Xavier’s international student population, which is now at 169 students, is from China and Vietnam.

Other recruitment efforts include asking current international students to e-mail high school friends back home; following up in admissions with international student inquiries; putting forms and other information on the web; and sending admissions materials home with current students.

This spring, Xavier materials were displayed at six college fairs in China, Vietnam and Indonesia. Xavier graduate Kiki Peter represented Xavier at a college fair in Jakarta, where she is working.

Xavier Magazine


Undergraduate premed students now have a new option to choose from. The Department of Physics is adding a new major, biophysics, which combines the best of biology and chemistry with physics. Biophysics is the application of physics standards to biological processes. By adding biophysics, says department chair Steve Herbert, Xavier moves to the forefront of cutting edge science that is contributing toward advances in medical research—such as learning how cells produce the electrical impulses that fire into the brain.

“Much of the work in microbiology has progressed because physicists have looked at these biological areas,” Herbert says. “And there is more funding for it because biophysics can impact the health field with drug therapies and analytical techniques and tests for conditions and diseases.”

Xavier Magazine

Business as Art

Think of business in Cincinnati and suchicons as Ivory soap and Chiquita bananas come to mind. Surprising? Not really. Like virtually every other major city, Cincinnati is well known for its big corporations. But like virtually every other major city, there’s also a particular business segment that often goes unnoticed—the impressive array of arts organizations.


That’s just one of the reasons professor of management Tom Clark created a new offering within the entrepreneurship program last fall that focuses specifically on the operation of non-profit businesses. Social Entrepreneurship: Arts Management is the first course in what Clark is aiming to be a complete program on social entrepreneurship.

So, what actually is social entrepreneurship? Unlike a business entrepreneur who measures success by profit and return, a social entrepreneur measures success by the impact an organization has on society and the public good. They’re people like Kathy Wade, jazz singer and founder of Learning Through Art (LTA). She co-founded the nonprofit arts education organization whose goal is to provide quality performing art programs in support of art education.

Wade spoke with the students—a mix of business as well as arts and sciences majors—about what it took to get LTA off the ground and the work it took to continue to fund it. Unlike a for-profit business, managing a nonprofit is a whole different kind of act.

“With nonprofits, you have a variety of stakeholders to appease, such as donors, but you’re also dealing with special constraints,” says Clark.

For example, a theater has to set ticket prices low enough to attract an audience base, but high enough to help cover operational costs and pay an often low-wage staff. Make too much, and there will be some eyebrows raised.

“There are just a lot of particular issues that make running an arts organization unique compared to any other type of business,” Clark says.

The students heard stories firsthand from other art executives, including Scott Provancher from the Fine Arts Fund, Ken Goode of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Buzz Ward of the Playhouse in the Park and Chris Milligan from the Cincinnati Opera. Speaking in Clark’s class became a hot ticket.

“I started receiving calls from others in the industry who heard about the class and wanted to come and speak with the students,” says Clark.

Adam Leonard, a junior management major, jumped on the chance to enroll in the class. “I was immediately interested,” says Leonard. “I thought this was a great opportunity to learn about the nonprofit world.”

As part of the course, students were required to conduct individual interviews with local arts executives or performers. Leonard decided to interview Jay Kalagayan, a Xavier graduate and founder of The Know Theatre, a popular alternative theater in Cincinnati. Leonard was immediately drawn to Kalagayan’s dedication and passion.

“After learning about the Know Theatre’s mission, I asked Jay if there was a way I could help further his cause,” Leonard says. Kalagayan offered him an internship in the development office and inspired him to take a new career path.

“Before, I would have never considered a career in the nonprofit industry,” says Leonard. “Now I see if you are passionate about the mission of a company, you can derive a sense of fulfillment that can make up for the lack of salary.”

Clark hopes other students will be inspired to pursue a career working in the arts. In fact, his goal is to have every freshman attend at least one art event. “There are so many wonderful art organizations that are unique to Cincinnati,” he says, “I think it’s something every student must experience at least once.”

Xavier Magazine

Wings of War

It may be one of the more unique reunions two Xavier grads have pulled off—both great friends, both pilots, one flying the other off to war. The story begins when Daniel Drag, a 1999 graduate, and Mark Keiner, a 1996 grad, met playing on the club hockey team. But it was flying that really united them. Both  obtained a private pilot’s license while in college.

After graduation, Drag decided to pursue a flying career by joining the Air National Guard in his home state of Michigan. He needed more hours to qualify for the Guard, so he reconnected with Keiner, who had become a flight instructor at Blue Ash Airport just north of Cincinnati.

“We just flew, flew, flew—weekends, nights, days,” Drag says. “He helped me get an advanced instrument rating, which looked better to the Guard.”

Drag eventually became a captain piloting the A-10 Warthog. When his unit was deployed to the Mideast in December 2007, Drag knew Keiner had been flying troop transports for North American Airlines, a charter carrier often used by the Pentagon. So he called his old buddy. “I said, ‘If you can get this flight, you can take me overseas.’ He did.”

When the flight landed at the Battlecreek, Mich., base, Drag knew it was his friend at the stick. “We had been buddies for so long flying together, it was just an awesome feeling to see him plant that 767 on the runway at my base and pull in.”

And Keiner didn’t forget his friend on the flight. Drag got the upgrade. “I was sitting in the back in regular coach class with the troops and I hear this guy say, ‘Hey, Drag, come here for a minute.’ He put me in first class. Then we sat in the galley behind the cockpit and chatted as we flew across the Atlantic.”

When the transport arrived in Qatar, the two parted company. Drag’s unit went to Afghanistan. Keiner is currently flying corporate jets out of Lunken Airport in Cincinnati. Drag, who is now back in Michigan, says the reunion flight at least eased the drudgery of heading off to war. “I just kept thinking this was so cool. Here I am going off to no man’s land, and my buddy is taking me.”

Xavier Magazine

Voice of Hope

Marge Thurin’s parents were always involved in service organizations. So Thurin expected that she would be, as well. But Thurin didn’t envision the unexpected challenges she would face along the way.

Thurin graduated from Edgecliff College in 1956 and came to Xavier to begin working on her Master of Education degree. In between, she met her husband, David, who received his MEd from Xavier in 1957. The couple married the next year and quickly began raising a family.

But in 1972, at age 43, David was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. By then, the family was living in Minnesota, and Thurin became active at Struther’s Parkinson’s Center and chaired its community advisory board for a number of years.

Through the Struther’s Center, she started giving presentations for caregivers and families, and by the late 1990s, she occasionally “hit the road” for the National Parkinson’s Foundation.

The road trips gave her much-needed breaks in caring for David, who battled Parkinson’s until his death in 2003.

In 2006, Thurin delivered a presentation on hospice care to the World Congress on Parkinson’s Disease in Washington, D.C. She was the only non-scientist who spoke.

Now eyeing retirement, Thurin works part time helping the elderly who have problems with the system. She also serves as a Eucharistic minister at a local hospital.

“If we are going to fulfill mission as Christians, we have to serve one another,” she says. “People served us as well. It’s kind of like karma: What you put out there, you get back.”

Xavier Magazine

Travel Corner

Helen Todd wasn’t expecting much from the campus speaker, just a few tips on cheap student travel she could use for her study abroad trip during her senior year. What she got instead was a Eurail pass, a primer on CouchSurfing and an addiction to travel that’s taken her through Europe, Thailand, Cambodia and China—and leading her to

    “I walked out with the pass and backpacked six weeks doing 11 cities and surfing in five,” says the 2006 marketing grad who managed to fit graduate school at Emerson College into her agenda before settling in Boston earlier this year where she works for theKbuzz, a word-of-mouth marketing and media firm.

While the full-time job has slowed her travel plans, she’s still maintaining the web site, which includes tips from the “queen of travel disasters” on how to overcome problems and information on topics such as CouchSurfing in which travelers and hosts connect through the Internet, go through a verification system and sleep on each other’s couches. She tested the system that first summer traveling solo—no itinerary, no foreign language, no reservations. At Emerson she went on a self-designed independent study program that included “voluntourism” (doing charitable work while traveling), working at an elephant sanctuary, camping in the jungle and rafting on bamboo floats. Along the way she met some CouchSurfers and drove through Cambodia and Laos with them. “My favorite thing is getting to meet people from all over the world,” she says. “It makes the world seem much smaller. And makes parts of the world so much more relevant. It really puts a face on things.”

Xavier Magazine

Sounds of Summer

By the time their son Thomas was born, Rusty and Jennifer Staab were stumped. The couple simply ran out of ideas for a middle name. After all, this was their sixth child. Finally, they came up with an idea: Xavier. It was a perfectly fitting way to commemorate one heck of a run. Plus, the name took them back to their beginnings—they met on campus in the early 1980s, when Rusty played outfield for the baseball team. After graduating in 1983—Rusty with a degree in physical education and health and Jennifer a degree in business—the couple moved around before settling in Bellville, Ohio, where Rusty taught and served as head coach of the local baseball team. 

It’s also where the Staabs took a stab at the business world. After years of traveling an hour to find a batting cage, they decided to build one of their own.

“It was either buy property on Kelleys Island or build an indoor baseball facility,” says Rusty. “We still vacation on Kelleys Island, but just as renters.” They purchased 13 acres and began work on their new field of dreams. He named the facility “Hittsville” after his love of Motown music.

Hittsville isn’t your typical batting cage equipped with pitching machines. Batters hit off of “live” pitches, pitchers throw from the wind-up and catchers get in the game. “By simulating more game-like situations, all three players get a workout,” says Staab. He also offers baseball workshops and personalized training sessions, like helping players increase velocity and strength. Hittsville has its own workout room, and last year Staab added an outdoor baseball field. “I like giving the kids that really love baseball a place to come and improve their game.”

Xavier Magazine

School’s In

Barbara Lechleiter McGrath is rushing around town, photographing students from St. Joseph’s Catholic School. The kids are completing service hours in various locations in honor of St. Joseph the Worker Day. And, McGrath, who is the school’s director of admissions and communications, wants to make sure she sees it all. All of this, after all, is what she long dreamed of.

In 1991, MaGrath and three other moms in Greenville, S.C., came together with one dream—to start the first lay-run Catholic high school in upstate South Carolina. McGrath wanted to make sure the Catholic education of her daughters, Caroline and Julie, didn’t end at elementary school. Their small, in-home meetings quickly grew into larger grassroots gatherings with fundraising events and mass mailings to surveying experts and parishioners. As plans became more concrete, they presented their idea to the Diocesan School Board only to have the Diocese deny support for  their requests. Although disappointed, they forged ahead.

“Failure wasn’t an option,” says McGrath, a 1976 history graduate. “We all had a vision and a drive to succeed.”

They incorporated and kept working. In 1993, thanks to donations of school equipment and the kindness of a Lutheran pastor, who leased the group a vacant four-room home on his church’s property for $1, 13 students started their first year at St. Joseph’s High School.

In order to offer a full curriculum, the school got creative, completing science experiments in the kitchen sink, busing the kids to local parish for weekly mass and holding gym class at the YMCA.

It only took a year for St. Joseph’s to outgrow the small home and move downtown to accommodate more students. Three years later they moved again, raising enough money to purchase a facility sitting atop a hill on 36 acres, which has become the home of St. Joseph’s today.

By 2000, the school finally earned recognition and approval by the Diocese of Charleston. In 2003, they added a middle school and changed the name to St. Joseph’s Catholic School. And in 2005 they were recognized by the Catholic High School Honor Roll as one of the “50 Best Catholic High Schools” in the country.