When Caleb Kortokrax ’11 transferred to Valparaiso University during his junior year, he had anticipated majoring in art history. But a conversation with Bob Sirko, chair of the Department of Art, changed Kortokrax’s thinking.

“I was telling him that I would also like to take painting and drawing classes,” Kortokrax recalled. “He was like, ‘Why would you want to study the history of art when you can make art? If you can make art, you should study art.’ ”

It was an option Kortokrax had not seriously considered. But it was a path he ultimately chose, later adding education as a second major.

While Kortokrax came to Valpo for a particular area of study, one from which he ultimately deviated, he instead began a journey. It was a journey of self-discovery that has continued at the Maryland Institute College of Art’s LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting, where Kortokrax is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts.

Micah Shields ’11 came to Valparaiso University with a desire to help others, inspiring his decision to study psychology as an undergraduate student. Valpo further cultivated that spirit in Shields, and he’s taken it out into the world.

In March, Shields, of St. Louis, spent a week building a new home for a family in Haiti. He traveled with a student group from Palo Alto University, where he is pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology. The team’s trip to Haiti was made possible by The Fuller Center for Housing’s Global Builders program.

Nearly 30 Valparaiso University students, faculty, and staff seized the opportunity to travel to Selma, Ala., during spring break to learn more about the civil rights movement of the 1960s. To highlight the trip, the group was fortunate enough to participate in the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee with thousands of marchers from across the country.

In 2012, Valparaiso University President Mark Heckler and Provost Mark Schwehn visited Concordia College of Alabama in Selma to discuss developing a relationship between Concordia and Valpo. As a result of this trip, Alan Bloom, associate professor of history, coordinated a spring break trip this year to Concordia, as well as other locations in Alabama and Tennessee, to give Valpo students an opportunity to visit the locations of important moments in United States civil rights history.

“I am delighted that both students and faculty from Valparaiso University had a chance to be part of the commemoration of a vitally important moment in the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S., to strengthen ties between Valpo and Concordia, Selma, and to learn through experience and inter-personal engagement about the past and the ongoing struggles to end racism in this country,” Schwehn said.

Many Valparaiso University students could easily spend their entire two-week spring break on a sunny Florida beach, skiing in the Rockies, or relaxing at home and simply recharging for the remainder of the academic year. But each year, groups of hard-working individuals choose to give back by traveling with their peers to assist communities in need.

The Chapel of the Resurrection, including the Social Action Leadership Team (SALT), is teaming with the Union on five spring break service trips. Traveling on those trips are 64 volunteers — including nine chaperones and 55 undergraduate, graduate, and international students. The locations they will be traveling include: Harvey, Ill.; Detroit; Pine Ridge, S.D.; New Orleans; and Hicksville, N.Y. For many of these trips, Valpo will be continuing work in the same communities they worked in during past spring breaks. Follow these students along the way on Twitter at #ValpoSB.

Rachel Rockey has a clear vision of what she wants to do with her life: to teach mathematics to high school students and to be a motivational leader for them.

“I want to become the teacher that is a light to her students and inspires them to learn — not only teaching mathematics, but inspiring them to live and love life,” Rockey said. “I believe that I am being called to do this through teaching math.”

Rockey, from Wildwood, Fla., is a freshman secondary mathematics education major at Valpo. However, she was originally considering attending another university closer to her hometown. Fortunately, Robert Clark, assistant professor of chemistry, called to tell her about the MSEED (Mathematics and Science Education Enrollment and Development) program at Valpo and its focus on the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). After a lengthy one-hour conversation, Rockey’s perspective had changed.

“I was hooked on MSEED — what it stands for, what it could do for me, how it will help bridge the gap between STEM and education — most of all how it would allow me to help high school students in math and science,” Rockey said.

Bonded by their passion for service, Chris Weber ’04, Ellie (Goetsch ’05) Eichman, and Lisa (Holmes ’04) Zittergruen are currently working for Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, providing care to underserved locations in Milwaukee. Originally named the Health Contact Center, the name of the clinic was eventually changed to the Sixteenth Street Clinic in 1971, given its location on the corner of South 16th Street and Greenfield Avenue.

These future health care practitioners’ paths first crossed during their membership in Valpo’s pre-med club and continued to intersect throughout their professional experiences, crossing most recently at the Sixteenth Street Clinic.

The Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers serve predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods, requiring bilingual staff members. For Chris, Ellie, and Lisa, the clinic not only sparked their philanthropic interests, but also let them utilize their backgrounds in Spanish. Lisa took multiple Spanish classes during her time at Valpo while Chris and Ellie minored in the language.

The Peace and Social Justice Symposium will be held on Saturday, Feb. 16, and Thursday, Feb. 28. The purpose of the Peace & Social Justice Symposium is to actively promote civic engagement and social responsibility toward strengthening peace, justice, equality, equity, and unity on campus and in our local and global communities. The Symposium provides an avenue for discussion of global and domestic issues affecting world peace, human rights, race relations, justice, and other social concerns.

The Christ College Symposium is a premier co-curricular program of presentations and talks sponsored by the honors college for the benefit of students, faculty, alumni and the general public. The Symposium features distinguished guests from all fields of scholarship, religion, the arts, public affairs, and science, and other arenas who present their work and engage in lively exchange with the audience.

Most Symposia are held in the Christ College Refectory in Mueller Hall beginning at 6:30 pm. Some Symposia, however, take place in the Christopher Center for Library and Information Resources Community Room or in other venues. Each presentation in the series is open to the public without charge. Call Christ College at (219) 464-5022 for more information or visit their website.

Valparaiso University offers programs and facilities often only found at much larger institutions.

With all of that come opportunities that are hard to match. Kyle Hansen has taken advantage of those opportunities, as he talks about in his video.

Kyle, an engineering major from Rochelle, Ill., not only benefited from one-on-one faculty mentoring in the highly regarded College of Engineering. He also got to work on the construction of the newest building on campus, the Donald V. Fites Engineering Innovation Center, as part of an engineering internship.

Engineering students aren’t the only ones who engage in hands-on experiences at Valpo. Students take on internships at a diverse range of businesses and nonprofits, and even on campus, such as in the marketing and communication department, information technology office, and elsewhere.

2013 MLK Award Holly SinghWhen Moninder “Holly” Singh speaks to an international student about life in the United States or life on the Valparaiso University campus, Singh speaks from personal experience.

The director of international students and scholars at Valparaiso University, Singh came to the United States more than 20 years ago from New Delhi, India, to attend Valparaiso University as an undergraduate student. Heavily involved in issues centered on diversity as a student, he graduated in 1998 and later earned a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Valpo while working in the University’s international students office.

“Valpo, I should say, is my first home now,” Singh said. “Half of my life was in New Delhi, India, and half has now been here at Valpo. I always tell people that I was born and brought up in New Delhi, but I matured at Valparaiso.

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