Standing on the lush green lawn of the Taj Mahal, Health Care Leadership major Antwon Gates ’15 was overcome with gratitude. The trip to India, coordinated by Valparaiso University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, was an opportunity for students to observe health care outside of the United States.

For Antwon, it was also symbolic of a journey he’s been on since he first learned of Valparaiso University from one of Valpo’s accomplished alumni, Cornell Boggs ’82, ’85 J.D., the senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary of Dow Corning and one of Savoy Network’s 100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America.

The two met while Antwon was in the process of discerning where his life would take him.

“I was in a rough spot,” he said. “I was 24 years old and spent much of my time with people who lacked ambition. I realized in order to do good things I had to associate myself with good people,” he said.

Antwon began working at a Virginia boarding school, where he supervised students in the residence halls.

“The job was fulfilling and gave me an opportunity to watch kids grow and change,” he said. “It was an experience that helped me mature.”

The experience directly influenced the trajectory of Antwon’s life, as one of the students he supervised was Cornell’s stepson. When Cornell and Antwon first met, Cornell immediately saw in Antwon someone committed to making a difference.

“Antwon came from an underprivileged family in Columbia, S.C. In addition to working at the school, he was attending community college with an aspiration to go into health care,” Cornell said.

As a student, Cornell’s life had been changed by another Valpo alum, Richard Duesenberg ’51, ’53 J.D., who took a vested interest in his success.

“We met while I was a senior, and he was a distinguished practitioner in residence at Valpo,” Cornell said. “Richard was very helpful and instructive, and he was instrumental in my decision to attend law school. There isn’t anything I’ve done in my career that we haven’t discussed first.”

Cornell was impressed that Richard intentionally reached out to him and took on a mentorship role. The experience made Cornell appreciate the role Valpo alumni can make in the lives of current and prospective students. Since graduating, he has worked to stay connected to the University and to give back in any way he can.

“My wife and I always coach and encourage students, and we strive to reinvest in the university to make sure others have an experience as enriching as I had,” he shared.

Cornell thought Antwon could also benefit from and contribute to the unique community at Valpo. He and Antwon began corresponding, and a relationship developed.

“I told Cornell that growing up I never knew many successful African Americans,” Antwon said. “I just liked to talk to him and pick his brain.”

Cornell invited Antwon to visit Valpo’s campus and to stay with him in Chicago. Gazing at the Chicago skyline, Antwon could see the future he dreamed of come into focus. He decided to give the College of Nursing and Health Professions a call.

Now a junior, Antwon said all of his classes — from Communication Process in Health Care, to Business Law, to Indian Christian Theology — have helped him to become a more well-rounded person.

“I’ve been challenged to think outside the box in each class, and my professors have helped me find my voice,” he said. “I am thankful for them and the University for the opportunities to expand my horizons.”

Antwon’s trip to India during spring break was one of those unique opportunities. In addition to visiting health care facilities, Antwon and his classmates toured many of the country’s historical and cultural attractions and spent time learning with and from people they otherwise would never have met.

Antwon isn’t certain about his next step after gradation. He may continue his education with Valpo’s Masters of Health Administration program or perhaps apply to law school, but one thing he is certain of is where he can turn for advice.

Just as Cornell values the advice of his mentor, Richard Duesenberg, Antwon knows that wherever his journey may lead him — whether it’s the steps of the Taj Mahal or continuing his education through graduate school — he has the support and guidance of a caring Valpo alumnus to offer wisdom along the way.


With 200 trees planted, $5,000 raised, and three cleanup activities executed, Taiz, Yemen, is flourishing with a greener landscape, increased funds for a cancer hospital, and restored public and private spaces.

Graduate School alumnus Ammar Al-Hawi ’10 said his experience at Valparaiso University was the inspiration behind these changes.

“My time at Valpo provided me the honor of becoming a social redeemer and healer in my home country,” Ammar said. “I used the experience I gained to volunteer my work and participate in community service projects to promote several social activities in my native city.”

Ammar attended Valpo on a Fulbright Scholarship and earned his master’s degree in English Studies and Communication. Since returning to Yemen, he’s become involved with AMIDEAST, a non-profit organization that promotes educational and cultural exchanges between the United States and Yemen.

Valparaiso University student-athletes continue their history of excellence in competition and in the classroom, with eight Valpo students across five sports being placed on Horizon League Academic All-League teams. A total of 53 student-athletes were recognized from the league’s nine institutions, and Valpo’s received the second-most honorees from a single school.

The Horizon League recognizes student-athletes with seasonal Academic All-League Teams in each of its 19 championship sports. To be eligible for Academic All-Horizon League consideration, a student-athlete must have a cumulative grade-point-average of 3.20 or higher (based on a 4.00 scale) and have completed at least one year at the member institution, having earned 24 semester-hour or 36 quarter-hour credits.

Professor of History Kevin Ostoyich was preparing to spend a year as Valparaiso University’s Study Abroad director in Hangzhou, China, when he made a life-changing discovery about a group of 106 Jewish people who took refuge in Shanghai, China, during the Second World War. This group of refugees, it turned out, was but a fraction of the approximately 18,000 to 20,000 Jewish people who had journeyed to Shanghai in order to escape Nazi persecution

At the time, Professor Ostoyich had never heard of the Shanghai Group, but as he read through documents in a file located in the state archives in Bremen, Germany, a story began to unfold. The refugees had attempted to immigrate into the United States but had been denied and eventually returned to Germany.

“As I started translating documents from this file,” Professor Ostoyich said, “I realized this was a fascinating story that needed to be told.”

Valparaiso University’s inaugural Shakespeare Week, March 17-22, was a campus-wide celebration of the work of William Shakespeare. Featuring Actors From The London Stage, one of the world’s premiere Shakespeare companies, the weeklong event featured lectures and performances across disciplines centered on Shakespeare and the role his work plays in a range of arts and sciences.

“The week was a collaboration between Christ College and the Departments of English and Theatre,” said Betsy Burow-Flak, professor and chair of the Department of English. “We were thrilled to have the Actors From The London Stage spend a week with us and to have our departments collaborate to talk about the importance of Shakespeare to what we do.”

Actors From The London Stage performed three productions of “As You Like It,” Thursday – Saturday, March 20–22. They also visited classrooms across campus to discuss their work and how it applies to disciplines beyond the theatre.

“We’re very excited about it,” said Lee Orchard, professor and chair of the Department of Theatre. “They attended our rehearsals and worked with the students and coached some of the scenes. They also visited an acting class, movement class, and some of our intro classes.”

For most high school and college students, spring break is a time to have fun, relax, and maybe do some traveling. For Valpo freshman Marko Labovic, however, spring break 2013 was a frightening time of uncertainty as he faced medical concerns that led to a trip to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

“At first they weren’t exactly sure what was wrong, but the doctors and nurses really made me feel comfortable,” Marko said. After some tests, he was diagnosed with myocarditis and pericarditis, conditions that involve inflammation of the heart muscle and the tissue surrounding the heart.

Avery Davis was still in high school when he was first introduced to the sheng — a traditional Chinese instrument made of bamboo pipes that looks a little like a xylophone turned on its side.

Holes in the pipes allow the performer to change the pitch of the instrument, or one can use combinations of pipes to play chords, much like a flute or a clarinet.

When Avery first played the instrument, he was in love. “I just loved the sound,” he said.

In high school, Avery had played percussion, as well as the baritone and euphonium, but it was a visit from a Valparaiso University professor who changed the way Avery saw his future.

Junior Kaitlyn Spaudie’s face lights up when she talks about the project she’s working on in her Communications in Health Care class.

“We’re researching community health initiatives and writing proposals for services either in the Valpo community or our home communities,” she said.

Spaudie is working toward a Bachelor of Science in Health Care Leadership — one of several new degrees in the College of Nursing and Health Professions aimed at giving students a broad range of career opportunities.

E.J. Ramos ’04 still gets emotional when he thinks about the moment he realized how important music is to him.

He was studying with Valparaiso University trumpet instructor, Charles Steck, when it happened. “I was in a trumpet lesson with Mr. Steck,” Ramos recalled. “We were playing through something, and I just put my horn down and said, ‘This sucks.’ Mr. Speck said, ‘What? Excuse me?’ I told him I needed to do what I love and what I enjoy, and I had to change my major.”

Ramos began playing the trumpet when he was in fourth grade but chose to attend Valparaiso University to study engineering rather than music. Then after two years in the College of Engineering, Ramos said, “I loved the engineering department, but I got to a point where I just didn’t feel right.”

At Valparaiso University, Ruyue Yuan has found a connection between math and music that might surprise most people.

“They’re both beautiful,” Yuan said.

Yuan has been playing the violin since she was 6 years old. She loves music. In fact, she enjoys studying all of the humanities, but she also has a natural gift for mathematics.

So when she followed in her father’s footsteps — he was a visiting scholar at Valpo in the early 1990s — and came to Valparaiso University from her native Hangzhou, China, she was excited she wouldn’t have to choose between her passion for math and her love of music. The interdisciplinary nature of her studies in Christ College — The Honors College allows her to pursue both a math major and her interest in the humanities. She’s also a member of the Valparaiso University Symphony Orchestra.

“I can’t live without playing,” she said. “Music is a part of me. I love really old baroque: Vivaldi, Handel, Bach. And also I just love really peaceful, royal music.”

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