College-level soccer took Jamiahus Walton ’13 of Peoria, Ill., by surprise his freshman year. “In high school, I was used to being one of the bigger guys on the team,” he says, “but at Millikin, everyone was about the same. I couldn’t get away with the little stuff I used to, and it was absolutely terrifying.” The learning curve was steep, but Walton came into his own quickly. He was dubbed Rookie MVP for the Big Blue men’s soccer team, went on to start for the team for three years and has aided others both on and off the field. Walton has a big heart for helping children and regularly volunteers at various after-school programs. In one of his most memorable experiences, he met Myshaun Dozier, a disabled child who played soccer on a local youth team. According to Myshaun’s mother, his performance on the field improved dramatically after Walton practiced with him. “Seeing him enjoy that so much gave me a feeling that I don’t think I can measure against any other accomplishment,” Walton says.
Soccer is just one of a myriad of avenues Walton uses to connect with people. Currently, he volunteers at Club 305, an after-school program at Decatur’s First Christian Church. Through the program, he serves as a positive role model for students of Parsons Elementary School and assists fifth-grade students with their mathematics homework. Last year, he served as the resident assistant for his fellow Long-Vanderburg Caterpillar scholars. “They were all brilliant students, and being able to be a leader for them has pushed me in a positive direction,” Walton says. Walton also connects with people through Soul Food Ministries, a part of Millikin’s InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. “It’s called a ministry because we want it to grow into something where people’s lives can change. If it was just a Bible study group, we wouldn’t have to put a name on it. We named it Soul Food because we’re feeding the soul so lives can change.”
Brothers Moving Forward, formerly known as Black Men Incorporated, is another student organization Walton has helped lead during his Millikin career. “Being a part of Brothers Moving Forward has allowed me to encourage young men to be positive role models in the community and not be victims of society’s negativity,” Walton says. His efforts to serve as a role model have been noticed by Dr. Eric Martell, associate professor of physics. “Jamiahus is concerned that younger black males do not lack for role models who express themselves through violence or anger, and he feels compelled to show these young men that there is another way,” Martell says. “But that is only part of what he does that is so noteworthy. Jamiahus has managed to maintain a 3.818 GPA while double majoring in physics and mathematics.” Walton received the Scovill Prize last semester, serves as a lab assistant for the physics department and a peer tutor for the Math Center, and was named 2012 Outstanding Physics Major. He also participated in an engineering internship with Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, working to help design more environmentally friendly car brakes.
He plans to pursue a doctorate in engineering and move into the work force from there. “I want to build something like a pipe connecting a small community to a water source,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be revolutionary, it just has to be useful.”
by Jackson Lewis
In 2005, while living in New Hall 4 on Millikin’s campus, Brian Rohde ’08 received a call from Mikey Laird, an old friend from his hometown of Elgin. Laird convinced Rohde that the two of them, along with a handful of other friends, should produce a play back home over summer break. Seven years later, that summer project has become Nothing Special Productions (NSP), a storefront theater company in Chicago. Rohde, who earned his Millikin B.F.A. in theatre administration, serves as technical director, Laird is artistic director and Nick Cardiff, fellow childhood friend, is executive director. NSP is one of more than 140 storefront or traveling theater companies in Chicago, many of them started by MU alumni. The abundance of these small companies allows the theater community to explore collaborative fundraising opportunities, such as Fight Night.
“Fight Night,” Rohde says, “is a combat event where we put together a series of short fight scenes with other storefront companies. It’s a night of violence, mayhem and $2 Pabst Blue Ribbons, and it’s been great for breaking into the Chicago theater scene.” But the location comes with challenges, too. “It’s well-known among the theater community that Chicago is where you make great theater,” Rohde says, “just not great money.” However, producing legitimate theater does take money, which means NSP must apply business savvy to their operation. “We’ve brought a person onto our staff who is not primarily an artist, Erika Davidson ’11. She has been great in organizing all things business,” Rohde says. Brian Rohde ’08 (center) and his ideas are met with a variety of emotions from his fellow actors celeste Burns (left), Volen iliev and Allie Kunkler.Davidson was immediately attracted to the attitude of NSP when she joined a year ago. “Our company meetings are great,” she says. “We gather at someone’s apartment once a month, order pizza, drink a couple of beers and talk about what we want from our company.”
The company has grown not only in organization and size, but in purpose. “We’ve made it our mission to tell stories and produce new works created by Chicago artists,” Rohde says. “Savage Land” by Josh Nordmark, a young Chicago writer, was the company’s most recent and largest production. It was the first show produced by NSP that was eligible for Chicago’s Jeff Awards. In order to be Jeff-eligible, a company must be in Chicago for two years and produce two shows a year with nine performances each. Once a company is eligible to be reviewed by the Jeff committee, the company must then hold 18 performances of the show being reviewed. “It’s a form of recognition,” Rohde says. “Our goal was to produce a Jeff-eligible show in 2012. That led us to ‘Savage Land.’ It was a huge success in that we achieved our goal of being eligible, even though we were not recommended for an award.” Staying competitive for the Jeff awards also proved to be too much for NSP’s resources. “It’s just financially irresponsible to continue to be a Jeff-eligible company,” Rohde says. “It was a big lesson, and while a decision has not been made, we’re pretty sure we’re going to hold back on our Jeff eligibility.” NSP’s next production is “A Midlife Something,” an original play, for their spring 2013 season.
“The show is about a 20-something guy living in the suburbs with his mom after his dad recently passed away,” Rohde says. “It deals with death, being stuck, and there’s a silly T-shirt company. Oh, and there’s something going on between his friend and his mom.” Rohde’s personal dream for the company is a place to call home. “I would like to see us become a resident at a theater where we’re producing the majority of our work,” he says. The problem with getting there is cash. “Nonprofit theater companies usually have a donor base which supports the company. We don’t have that yet,” Rohde says. “We are funded based on the money we are able to raise.” In the face of these challenges, the team is motivated by the simplest reason. “It’s fun,” Rohde says. “Since we started, we’ve said we’re going to do it until it’s not fun anymore. We’re seven years in, and it’s still fun.”
For more information, visit www.nothingspecialproductions.com.
by Jackson Lewis
Kevin Stocks ’13, of Bloomington, Ill., a finance major on a pre-law track, was elected president of the Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) Beta chapter the second semester of his sophomore year. “Being a sophomore president was a challenge,” he says. “The good thing, though, is that sophomores are really motivated. From the start, I brought a lot of new ideas that people really hadn’t thought about.” As president, Stocks implemented an online bill pay system that increased TKE’s collections by 25 percent and overhauled recruitment to bring in the largest number of new members the chapter had seen in four years. Also under his leadership, the chapter was awarded the Five Star Chapter designation, Millikin’s award for excellence in Greek life. “It’s taught me a lot about how to approach situations and make decisions,” Stocks says. “You don’t get experience like that anywhere else.” Stocks took the lessons learned as TKE’s president and was elected president of Millikin’s Interfraternity Council his junior year. “It was the natural next step,” Stocks says. “I felt comfortable enough with my knowledge and experience that I could step into the position.”
Stocks and fellow TKE David Anderson ’11, his moot court partner, came away from the 2011 Illinois Moot Court Competition with the “Most Outstanding Team” award. This year, Stocks received the “First Runner-Up Most Outstanding Attorney” award. Stocks also uses his logical prowess for other purposes. For his James Millikin Scholar (JMS) project, he is developing strategies with the Tabor School of Business to increase enrollment. “The goal is to create an idea or program that can make a beneficial impact on enrollment,” Stocks says. “The research has been about what actually entices students.” He spent this summer interning in the bank security department at State Farm’s headquarters back home in Bloomington. “It’s an awesome company,” he says. “One of the coolest parts was that I got to meet the general counsel. I talked with him about the legal field and picked his brain.” This was a rare opportunity for Stocks, considering his professional interest. “I want to end up somewhere in the intersection of business and law. I enjoy looking at business through a legal lens.”
With his time at Millikin coming to a close, Stocks reflects on his time here and looks forward to graduate studies in law. “I’ve loved Decatur,” he says. “It has a great small town atmosphere.” Stocks has close ties to the community. His father grew up in Decatur, his grandmother still lives there and his grandfather, Robert Frederick Stocks ’59, attended Millikin after serving in the military. “I’m ready to see something different now,” he says. “I started hearing from law schools by the end of fall semester, so now I can start making decisions about where I want to end up.” Dr. Cheryl Chamblin, honors director and professor of economics, has noticed Stocks’ tenacity and drive. “Kevin is one of the strongest students I have taught in my 28 years at Millikin,” she says. “He demonstrates analytical skills I have not seen in other honors level students, and he is not content to just ‘get the job done.’
by Jackson Lewis
Jessica Staire ’13, a music education major from Mahomet, Ill., has been around the world, from Haiti to China, to teach and learn from children. “There’s just so much positivity in kids, even if they don’t know it,” Staire says. “If I act excited about something, the kids will be just as excited about it.” Staire spent the summer in China with Dr. Nancy Gaylen, associate professor of education, fulfilling her global studies credit and teaching English as a second language to children. During the winter of 2010, Staire participated in a mission trip to Haiti, where she was met with entirely new experiences. “When I went over there, I didn’t speak a lick of Creole. I couldn’t talk to these kids in the same way I talk to other kids.”
Despite the language barrier, Staire connected with one of her students on a walk to the town’s water source. “We pointed at things and said what they were in English and what they were in Creole,” she says. “By the end of the night, we developed a friendship even though all we said was things like ‘rock, tree, star!’ It just goes to show that even with a language barrier, human beings can go together.” An appreciation of other cultures is an important lesson in Staire’s classroom. She developed an ethnomusicology curriculum about Filipino culture and music for her James Millikin Scholar (JMS) project. “My mom was born in the Philippines. She moved to the U.S. when she was 6 or 7,” she says. “So, I wanted to do something to further myself professionally, but also something that would allow me to learn more about myself and about my own culture.”
The curriculum in the classroom at Decatur’s Dennis Elementary, where Staire interns, had a focus on culture before she arrived, and her JMS project was an easy fit. “I really like working over at Dennis because there’s such diversity in the school,” she says, “which is not something I got to experience when I was in high school.” Staire and other Millikin students explore music education theory through the Kodály* Music Education Student Group. The group’s mission is to give music educators more tools to use in the classroom in order to teach a wider variety of students.
“We look through lesson plans and talk about mixing different educational theories, so we have a diverse way of presenting things to the class,” Staire says. “That way it appeals to many different types of learners.” In addition to her experiences educating in and beyond the classroom, Staire has volunteered at Decatur’s Homework Hangout, was awarded the Scovill Prize last semester and led a Bible study last year with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. “Jessica makes it very clear that she strives for excellence,” says Dr. Travis Stimeling, assistant professor of music, “not only because she holds herself to higher standards, but because she genuinely wishes to use her many talents to the fullest extent.”
by Jackson Lewis
Emily Schneider ’13 of Mascoutah, Ill., gets the job done by staying organized and optimistic. She balances a double music performance major in flute and voice with the responsibilities of being a James Millikin Scholar (JMS), volunteers for the Newman Catholic community, serves as Pi Beta Phi’s new member coordinator and holds a 4.0 GPA. Her optimism was especially important during her time as a First Year Experience Mentor (FYEM). “Being an FYEM taught me so much about leading others and being in a constant upbeat mood. It was at times a great challenge but overall, such a rewarding experience. It taught me how to lead my peers without being superior and how to make the most out of volunteering opportunities.”
Though she is not an FYEM this year, she is instead using that time to serve Pi Beta Phi in her role as new member coordinator. Schneider is charged not only with educating Pi Phi’s new members about Pi Phi history and culture but is also responsible for their well-being. “Pi Phi means so much to me,” Schneider says. “It’s a bond that only my fellow sisters understand, and it’s something that lasts a lifetime.” Schneider also sets the example with her experience with the flute. This summer, she participated in a weeklong master class at MU taught by Bernard Z. Goldberg, the principal flutist of the Pittsburgh Symphony for 46 years. “Bernie is one of the most charismatic and engaging teachers I have had the opportunity to work with,” Schneider says. “His knowl- edge of the flute, music and musicianship is awe-inspiring.”
In addition to her work with the flute, Schneider has sung in multiple operas, including Millikin’s production of “Orpheus in the Underworld,” where she played the part of Cybele. “I’m so thankful for the strong founda- tion Millikin has helped me create,” she says. “They teach you how to better yourself rather than expect perfection.” Another area that has inspired Schneider is the stories behind marriage engagements, and she has devoted her JMS project to a study of these stories since the 1960s and how these rituals invoke gender roles. “Because our society has changed so much,” she says, “I’m interested to see if the ritual and gender associations have changed as well.”
Schneider started gaining experience in research during her freshman year, when she presented during Millikin’s Day of Scholarship on the effect Coca-Cola’s advertising has had on the company’s overall success. “The visuals they give us are enticing and have helped shape American culture,” Schneider says, “and I’ve learned that when something is ‘American,’ people will go to great lengths to have it.” After Millikin, Schneider plans to attend graduate school to become a music librarian, combining her passion for music and her dream of being a librarian. “I can totally see myself being the music librarian who plays piano and organ at church and gives flute, voice and piano lessons – kind of like Marian the librarian from ‘The Music Man.’” “Clearly, only great organizational skills and an energetic attitude can sustain this amount of activity,” says Dr. Laurie Glencross, associate professor of music. “Emily is a remarkable student.”
by Jackson Lewis
Jacqui Rogers ’14 began her Millikin career with uncertainty. “I was very quiet my freshman year, but I had a really great First Year Experience Mentor (FYEM), Kale Ewing ’13. He always made sure to say ‘hi’ and reach out to me.” Today, Rogers is the one reaching out to unsure freshmen as an FYEM for her second year in a row. Between the freshmen in her residence hall and the seminar class she oversees, she has about 60 first-year students to look after. In addition to serving as an FYEM, Rogers is president of Student Senate, co-founder of College Republicans and a member of Millikin’s wind ensemble.
She successfully juggles a double major in political science and philosophy with a minor in music performance. She even managed to receive the Scovill Prize as a sophomore. However, Rogers’ campus involvement goes beyond her major and the positions she holds. “I interned at a law firm in Washington, D.C., for criminal defense this summer,” Rogers says. In addition to experience in the workplace, she has also gained a better understanding of her goals after Millikin. “I learned that I want to go into criminal prosecution instead of defense,” Rogers says. “Sometimes it would be frustrating because I knew the client was guilty, but I had to help them. That’s what the justice system is about. Everyone is given their due process.”
As a freshman, Rogers attended the “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Keep Fear Alive,” led by talk show hosts Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart in Washington. “They made it a big theatrical event to parody all the theatrics in politics today. The entire national mall was crammed with people.” Rogers then returned to Millikin to complete her freshman focus project, “Attack of the Attack Ads,” which analyzed one advertisement from President Obama and one from Senator McCain in the 2008 campaign. “Very often,” Rogers says, “their ads didn’t talk about themselves at all. They only attacked the other candidate. How can people make educated decisions if they’re not getting accurate information about the candidates?”
“Jacqui is certainly a citizen of the university,” says Dr. Bobbi Gentry, assistant professor of political science and Rogers’ adviser. “She is continually working to improve the institution as a student leader, a service leader and as a leader who seeks to improve the community.” Rogers plans to focus her remaining years at Millikin on the success of her first-year students, the growth of Student Senate and her own intellectual growth as a democratic citizen. “I hope to be re-elected and serve as Student Senate president my senior year,” she says. “I’m also starting my James Millikin Scholar (JMS) project. I’m going to look at conspiracy theories in politics, how they came about and why people continue to push them.”
After Millikin, Rogers plans to continue her personal development. “My dream is to go to Georgetown for law school,” she says, “and then go into criminal prosecution from there.” Dr. Eric Roark, associate professor of philosophy, says: “Jacqui has given more than anyone could ask of a student through her academic curiosity, her leadership, her support of students and her willingness to spread the virtues of Millikin.”
by Jackson Lewis
Jamie Rockhold ’14 of Clinton, Ill., an accounting and information systems major, loves movies, specifically the business behind them. “I am amazed at how the combination of many elements, from actors, directors and special effects to movie trailers and posters, can lead to a film’s financial success or dismal box office failure,” she says. Her love of the cinema industry sparked the idea for her group’s business plan, which won Millikin’s Freshman Business Plan Competition.MilliPlex, according to the business plan, would not only feature the latest movie releases, but would also contain a stage primarily for performances by Millikin students and dinner served to patrons in a modern, comfortable atmosphere.
According to Rockhold, her group won the competition because they had done their homework. “From the research, we created marketing strategies, company logistics and a detailed financial strategy offering strong reasoning behind all aspects of the business,” she says. Rockhold also has the ability to share this strong business reasoning with others. She was selected by Dr. Mark Munoz, associate professor of international management, for an independent fellowship project. Rockhold interviewed several successful Latin American entrepreneurs and compiled information for the book, “Hispanic and Latino Entrepreneurship: Profiles and Viewpoints.” “The purpose of the research project was to provide future entrepreneurs with guidelines and building blocks for their own personal success,” Rockhold says. “I appreciate the opportunity Dr. Munoz has given me.”
Because of her achievements at Millikin, Rockhold was selected to travel to the Dominican Republic to help establish the Millikin Microfinance Fund, a social enterprise that gives local entrepreneurs and artists small loans from the fund to help sustain their businesses and incomes. “This trip helped me understand the impact and importance of helping those individuals who are less fortunate to create prosperous careers and provide for their families,” Rockhold said. “I believe this circle of receiving and giving back can benefit us all.” It’s a circle she reflects in her academics. For her honors seminar, “Concepts of Infinity,” Rockhold co-wrote a children’s book describing infinity and developed a lesson plan to help teach the idea.
Her involvement on campus also seemsto be infinite. Rockhold has served as the president-elect for the Student Honors Advisory Council and Collegiate DECA, treasurer and committee chair of philanthropy and fundraising for MilliSTAT (Millikin Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow), received the Scovill Prize as a sophomore, was named Tabor Student Leader of the Year and Female Student Leader of the Year, and spoke at last year’s opening convocation as sophomore class representative. “Jamie defines what a Presidential Scholar should be. She is dedicated to her academics and is a leader on campus, serving in a wide variety of organizations,” says Dr. Cheryl Chamblin, honors director and professor of economics. “She is certainly one of Millikin’s best!”
by Jackson Lewis
A native of Springfield, Ill., Jenna Widner McCrady, PACE ’13, first attended Millikin in spring 1997 as a nursing major, but she didn’t stay long. “After I took microbiology,” she says, “I decided nursing wasn’t for me. Science wasn’t the direction I needed to go in.” Her life was moving toward a family. “I ended up meeting my husband, we got married and decided to start a family right away. Once I saw those wheels turning, I decided to wait and postpone my educational career until I was more ready,” McCrady says. Today, she and her husband, Ryan, are raising a 17-year-old son, Alex, an 11-year-old daughter, Alison (pictured with McCrady, above), and an 8-year-old son, Clifton
Since Alison’s birth, McCrady has spent her time primarily as a stay-at-home mom, working part time off and on and volunteering. She taught within her church, worked part time from home as a certified lactation counselor and founded a local chapter of MOMS Club International, an organization committed to bettering the lives of stay-at-home mothers and their children. She continues her volunteer work today, stretching her time and energy across the globe. McCrady and her daughter raise money and sponsor children in Uganda through an organization called Amazina Ministries. “It’s an amazing program,” she says, “led by a very young woman who began adopting children and has dedicated her life to remaining in Uganda for a long time. She is doing a wonderful thing for a lot of children who are orphaned and vulnerable.”
The McCradys became foster parents and offered respite care services through Catholic Charities until eight years ago, when theyv brought home six-day-old Clifton. “Clifton was the first and only full-time foster placement we accepted,” McCrady says. “He was supposed to stay for only a few months.” He never left, and the couple formally adopted him just before his third birthday. The family has been living in Decatur vfor the past four years, since Ryan accepted a position as Decatur’s city manager. When Jenna began considering applying to Millikin’s PACE program for early childhood education, her husband was behind her every step of the way. “He really encouraged me not to have any guilt or feel bad about this choice,” she says. “It’s been the best thing for our family.”
This fall, she was inducted into the national honor society for nontraditional learners, Alpha Sigma Lambda, and has earned a 4.0 GPA since re-entering Millikin. Though still unsure of where her degree will take her, early childhood education offers many professional avenues, such as teaching children between birth and third grade, becoming a developmental therapist or working in special education. “All those areas have interests for me,” McCrady says. “I’ve just loved keeping my options open.” Claudia Nichols Quigg ’75, adjunct instructor of education, recognizes McCrady’s success and drive. “Jenna is that rare student who combines academic excellence with emotional commitment,” she says. “Jenna is an extraordinary scholar whose work I often use as an example for other students to follow. More importantly, she has profound respect for children and families, and a strong desire to support their growth. Millikin will be proud of her contributions to the field of early childhood education in the years to come.”
by Jackson Lewis
Lane Bloome ’13 of Raymond, Ill., has learned the meaning of persever- ance through mathematics. “It’s not about the ability never to be lost,” he says. “It’s about being comfortable with being lost and eventually finding your way out.” His skills came in handy earlier this year at the Cornell University Summer Mathematics Institute, an eight-week program designed to prepare undergraduate students for graduate study. “Each night we had the equivalent of a week’s worth of homework,” Bloome says, “and they gave us study sessions in order to do it. There’s very little time for ideas to really formulate.” Bloome was well prepared for his time at Cornell. During summer 2011, he attended Auburn University’s Research Experience for Undergraduates. He also completed four inde- pendent study courses between his freshman year and the end of his junior year, three under the supervision of Dr. Joe Stickles, professor of mathematics, and one under Dr. James Rauff, professor of mathematical and computer science.
Mathematics, however, is not the only subject where Bloome is experienced. “I’ve dabbled in a lot of things,” he says. “I’ve taken upper-level classes in six different departments. You find unity within different subjects, and I think that’s what a liberal arts education is: a coalescing of different ideas.” Being part of a social community is also important to Bloome, specifically a community for those interested in mathematics. He is the president of Millikin’s honorary mathematics fraternity, Pi Mu Epsilon, and cofounder of the Math Club. “Mathematicians are not known for being social beings,” Bloome says, “but the more you relate to the people you’re working with, the better you are at the things you do. Having an exposure to other ideas makes things more enjoyable and less challenging.”
The Math Club brought back “Calculus: The Musical!", a comedy performance/lecture Millikin has not seen in three years. The club is also hosting the mathematics department picnic. Outside of Millikin, Bloome continues to volunteer as an assistant scoutmaster for his Boy Scout troop back home. “I really think it offers a lot of good things to young men. Not just things like learning how to use a pocket knife or build a fire, but I think overall those things build some form of confidence, self- esteem and, ultimately, leadership,” says Bloome, who joined the program as a youth and attained the rank of Eagle Scout.
Stickles has seen Bloome practice these virtues since he first came to Millikin. “During First Week his freshman year, Lane stopped by my office to introduce himself and discuss his career path at Millikin and beyond,” Stickles says. “Since that time, I have had the privilege of watching him grow into a model student, a promising mathematical scholar and a diligent servant to Millikin and the community.” “There are so many people who helped me get to where I am,” Bloome says. His advice to students is two-fold. “First, seek out people who will help you do what you know you can do, and second, give back, knowing that where you are is a product of where you have been. Be thankful for what you have, and seek out the resources to get where you would like to be,” he adds.
During his first advising appointment, nursing major John Blakeman ’13 of Taylorville, Ill., expressed interest in research. His adviser, Dr. Sheryl Samuelson, professor of nursing, handed him an 8-by-10 photo of a piece of embroidery made by a woman who rarely spoke after being diagnosed with schizophrenia in the 1960s. Blakeman, along with Dr. Samuelson and Kimberly McEvoy ’11, who earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing, conducted a qualitative research project of this woman’s condition based on the characters in the embroidery. They called the project, “Analysis of a Silent Voice.” The result of the research was a commentary on nursing practice, Blakeman says. “We found that there were many aspects the profession of nursing was missing, like awareness of the importance of milieu, that silence should not be inferred to be detachment and that nurses should continue to develop new ways to engage patients who may prefer to communicate in nontraditional ways.”
Blakeman has presented his findings at multiple venues, including the 2010 American Psychiatric Nurses Association Conference, Rush University Medical Center and Millikin’s Celebration of Scholarship. The poster for the project also won the People’s Choice award at Memorial Medical Center’s 2011 research day. “Analysis of a Silent Voice” has reaffirmed Blakeman’s mission to work with patients, not against them. “We are here to work with patients to get them better, not make them better,” he says. “We get focused on being in an authoritative position over patients, when really we’re there to work with them and help them become healthier.” Blakeman applies this nursing philosophy to geriatrics, a field he has found a passion for through his family life. “I have always been really close to my grandparents,” he says. “I saw them every day when I was little. I think what drew me in the most were their stories. When you listen to people talk about their lives, you begin to see what makes them special.”
He also inherited a love of teaching through his family. “My mom has been teaching third grade for more than 30 years, my grandpa was a teacher and principal, my grandma was a teacher, and my dad has his degree in secondary education. And now I’m always teaching people,” Blakeman says. “My favorite time of the week is probably tutoring.” Dr. Gregg Marcello, assistant professor of biology, has noticed Blakeman’s drive to assist his fellow students. “John was an excellent student in my class,” he says, “but what makes him worthy of special recognition is the interest he shows in improving the performance of his classmates.”
Blakeman works to ensure a positive experience for his fellow nursing students as a member of the school of nursing’s curriculum committee and serves as the vice president of academic affairs on Student Senate. “I always want to be a student and a teacher,” Blakeman says. “That’s what I live by. So when I am in clinicals or in class, I try to learn from everyone, and I also try to teach.”
by Jackson Lewis