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Fulbright Scholarship Brings Academics, Family Heritage Full Circle for Anh Pham '20

May 16, 2024
By Archbishop Carroll High School

Anh Pham '20 is ready to write the next chapter in a story that began decades ago and thousands of miles away.

This August, Anh will travel to Vietnam for a year to teach English as a second language after winning a Fulbright Scholarship during her final year studying education, English, and Spanish at the University of Dayton.  The opportunity to teach while exploring her cultural heritage is a dream come true for Anh.

According to the Department of State, approximately 2,000 students earn Fulbright Scholarships each year.  Anh began the highly competitive application process after learning about Fulbright through the honors program during her second year in college.  Encouragement from UD’s Director of National Competitive Scholarships Dr. Laura Cotton Howell, Honors Program Coordinator Courtney Kingston, and fellow Carroll alum and Flyer Philip Cicero '20 pushed Anh to begin the highly competitive application process in October 2023.

Anh Pham and Carroll teacher Katie Nielsen

One of Anh’s biggest supporters throughout the process was one of her Spanish teachers at Archbishop Carroll High School, Katie Nielsen.  As a Fulbright alumna who taught English in South America from 2008-2009, Nielsen not only offered insight and wisdom on the technical aspects of the application process, but provided mentorship and comfort through rough spots on Anh’s road.  They discussed Nielsen’s Fulbright experience and “everything under the sun” during visits at her home, Anh recalls. Resume advice, application material review, and interview practice were always part of their conversations, but the two always found time to have personal conversations and made their friendship a priority.

When Anh found out she was an alternate for the Fulbright Program, Nielsen received one of the first phone calls and provided a voice of comfort.  She also was one of the first to learn that Anh had been promoted to Fulbright Scholar, and they celebrated the news a day later with breakfast along with Anh's manager manager at her part-time job and letter of recommendation writer Lynsey Logsdon.

Sharing the news with her parents was something Anh knew she had to do in person, however.

Her parents “freaked out” when Anh told them she would travel to their home country of Vietnam to teach.  Her father, Tuan, came to America as a refugee during the Vietnam War when he was 20 years old and settled in Chicago.  Her mother, Thuy, was sponsored and arrived in Colorado at the age of 18.  The couple met through a mutual friend, moved to Dayton, married, and raised two children – Anh and her younger sister, Cindy.  Anh’s parents planned to make their first visit to Vietnam before they had children, but canceled their plans when they found out they would soon welcome their first child.

As small business owners, the monetary support of the Fulbright Scholarship will allow Anh’s parents to make the most of their first visit home since the early 1990s.

“I’m just so grateful for this financial support because my parents don’t have to worry about me,” Anh said.  "They’ll be able to spend their resources on themselves.  Everything they’ve done has been for me and my sister.  Education has always been number one in life for their family, and they sacrificed everything for that."

Anh with Dr. Kirsten Mendoza and Dr. David Fine

A career in education has been one of Anh’s goals for many years, and one that countless educations have inspired along the way.  She credits her teachers at St. Peter School in Huber Heights for providing a solid educational foundation during her time in grade school.  UD’s Dr. David Fine, Dr. Kirsten Mendoza, and Dr. Rachel Collopy supported Anh through medical issues she overcame during her Fulbright application process.  Her relationship with Dr. Mendoza, Anh’s first Asian American teacher at any level, has a unique meaning.  “It’s so important for people to have teachers and people they can identify with, and she was one of the first ones for me.”

Anh has already started planning her future pursuing a career in education, and the connections she has built in her journey so far at Carroll and UD are playing an important role in Anh’s future as a teacher. Carroll alumni and UD faculty members Jackie (Marshall) Arnold ‘89 and Peggy (Muick) Brun ‘79 have provided guidance on how to move forward into grad school when Anh returns from Vietnam in 2025.  She hopes to earn a master’s degree at UD and is considering early childhood education and teaching English as a foreign language.

“I want to be able to be someone to provide access to education in the way my parents did for me.”

Posted in Familiar Voices

Universal Faith: Meet the Fedorisin Family

March 25, 2024
By Archbishop Carroll High School

The most common things make the biggest difference when you’re 4,800 miles from home.

“I was surprised by how big the roads and the cars are in America,” Noemi Fedorisinova ‘26 recalled – just one of many eye-opening experiences from when she and her family arrived in the United States from their native Slovakia. Unlike many families who left eastern Europe in 2022, Noemi, her sister Sofia ‘24, their parents, and their brothers were not fleeing the burgeoning war between Russia and Ukraine. Their father, Francis, is a Byzantine Catholic Priest who had been urged by a bishop in 2019 to relocate his family to the United States to help grow their ministry.

The family spent months in deliberation and prayer to make a decision. They ultimately decided to leave behind their comfortable lives in Slovakia to answer the bishop’s call to spread their faith. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic put their plans on hold, but the family arrived in Charlotte after a 24-hour journey from Budapest.

The Fedorisin family gathered in the
Dormition of Mother of God, Byzantine
Catholic Church in Cleveland.

“There was also sadness because I had made good friends and was in a good high school community,” Sofia said. “It’s important for our family to make decisions together and make sacrifices for the church and our faith. It’s important to be able to sacrifice even the great life that we had in Europe. Everything was perfect there, but we sacrificed it to help people here."

After adjusting to the weather, tweaking their English dialect from British to American, and bouncing from Charlotte to Cleveland to Dayton, the family settled into their new life.

“For my first three months of school, I was just sitting and doing nothing because I was so stressed. I tried to speak, but it was bad. When I went to high school, I started to talk and make friends and things got better. The teachers are always trying to help you, and I really appreciate that.”

Sofia and Noemi also learned about the differences between the Roman Catholic and Byzantine traditions while attending Catholic schools. Their father leads the St. Barbara the Great Byzantine Catholic Community and is the officiant for its services in St. John Bosco Chapel on the campus of Wright State University. For all the differences in rites, Sofia says the commonalities are much greater than what distinguishes the two ways of practicing faith.

“Everything that we do in the Byzantine church is based on the Roman Catholic Church. We are Catholic. We are united.”

Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2024 edition of Reflections.  Click here to read the entire magazine.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Meet Isaiah Taylor '14: Leading a Diverse Future for STEM Research

March 18, 2024
By Archbishop Carroll High School

“Stand on the shoulders of giants” is a common phrase to anyone who is preparing to defend research or a thesis to earn an advanced degree. For Isaiah Taylor ‘14, that type of foundational support extends beyond his doctoral studies and into the future of the next generation of learners from underrepresented backgrounds.

Taylor researches the effects of microgravity on bone cells, working towards a PhD in molecular and cellular pharmacology at Stony Brook University. In addition to the challenges of conducting advanced research and maintaining a work/life balance, Taylor is one of the leading voices for diversity and inclusion on campus. Stony Brook’s most recent report says that approximately 12% of all of its students are African American, and Taylor says he is the only one in his PhD program.

Taylor receives the first Vertex Pharmaceutical Biomedical Science Career Scholarship in March 2023.

As president of Stony Brook’s Black Graduate Student Organization, Taylor leads the way in rebuilding the group’s impact on campus as it relaunched this past fall after the COVID-19 pandemic derailed much of campus life. He also works part-time for the DICE (Diversity, Intercultural and Community Engagement) Program in Stony Brook’s Division of Student Affairs. According to their website, DICE’s mission is to “provide programs to maintain an all-inclusive campus community where diversity is valued and celebrated, and where a positive campus climate is promoted. The office helps to foster a campus environment that is welcoming, nurturing, and supportive for all members of the university.” Taylor also served as peer mentor in the Office of Multicultural Affairs as an undergraduate at the University of Dayton.

Building relationships and providing an example for young learners of all races is of the utmost importance to Taylor after experiencing the impact a mentor can have.

“About two summers ago, I got to participate in this program called Scientists in Mentoring. It was a diverse and inclusive program, and I got a mentor from Johnson & Johnson who told me about her path. She helped me figure out where I want to go after graduation. That program helped me realize that no matter where I’m working, I still want to be involved in some sort of diversity and inclusion program. There should be more people of color in graduate schools and professional schools. It’s very important for development starting from a young age. A lot of schools are predominately white institutions, so having representation is important because kids now and in college want to see an example. If there is no representation in these roles, maybe they get discouraged or have impostor syndrome. It’s important for us growing up and even in college to see other people do it.”

Taylor '14 presents research at the American Society for Gravitational Research in 2022.

Providing opportunities to build a network of peers can lighten the burden of managing difficult classes, long days of experiments and research in the labs, and the stresses of daily life. Taylor says his time playing sports and participating in clubs as a student at Carroll provided him with a sense of belonging as a teenager and provided a sense of belonging in the community. Taylor also carries the academic and spiritual foundations of a Carroll education with him to this day. He credits his difficult course load from high school with giving him an edge once he arrived in college. His faith is reflected in the work he does outside the research labs to bring about positive change and a more just society. Ensuring that diversity and representation are present in daily life are critical pillars of Catholic Social Teaching, and Taylor says that all institutions, including the church, must continue progressing with those values at the forefront of their missions.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the Spring 2024 Edition of Reflections.  Click here to read the rest of the publication.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Marching into the Future: Meet Michael Gaines '86

November 08, 2023
By Archbishop Carroll High School

Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in the Summer 2023 edition of Reflections.  Please click here to see the rest of the publication.

Long before he was an internationally renowned artist and a driving voice in the marching arts, Michael Gaines ‘86 was a kid mesmerized by the guitar ensemble at Mass at St. Luke Catholic Church in Beavercreek. “Music has been part of my life since I picked up a guitar in second grade and started playing in church a few years later,” Michael recalls.

2018 Drum Corps International World Championships in Indianapolis. 

Decades later, Michael Gaines is one of the most influential minds in the world of marching band and color guard.  He has designed championship winning shows for top Drum Corps International (DCI) groups and high schools across the country, but it was his desire to be a member of the Marching Patriots when he became a student at Carroll is what sparked his love for the activity.  Even though he had never played tuba before coming to high school, Michael’s dedication to the ensemble allowed him to grow into that role and contribute to the most successful season in program history.

The Marching Patriots reached the Bands of America finals during Michael’s freshman year, but the best was yet to come.  The very next season, the band broke through and won the national Class A Championship in the fall of 1983, earning an invitation to play in the Orange Bowl in Miami.  Working with top educators from outside of Dayton to refine the show, rehearsing at the Dayton Convention to avoid the harsh Ohio winter, and fanfare from local newspapers and television stations are still fresh in Michael’s mind – so are the obstacles that came along with his final two seasons as a Marching Patriot. “All of those years were equally impactful to me,” Michael said.  “You got to learn a lesson about how to handle success and a lesson about how to handle falling short of your goals competitively with the realization that this is not just about judges putting numbers on a scorecard.  It’s when I started realizing what the community actually means to me.  As I got farther away from it, I realized how special it was to be in the music program at Carroll and have the educators and fellow members that I had throughout the four years.”

Michael knew his life after high school would include the marching arts, but he did not see a full time future as a music educator.  He stayed close to home, studying finance at the University of Dayton and joined the Carroll band staff as an instructor for the rifle line.  Like his transition to tuba at the start of high school, Michael’s focus shifted towards guard performance and design.  He performed with the Cavaliers of Rosemont, Ill., one of DCI’s top ensembles during the summers of his college years until he aged out of the activity at 22.  The group’s leadership kept Michael on staff after his days as a performer ended, and he spent 20 years teaching the color guard as well as designing seven championship shows.

As I got farther away from it, I realized how special it was to be in the music program at Carroll and have the educators and fellow members that I had throughout the four years.

-Michael Gaines '86

Now, as the Vice President of Winter Guard International’s Executive Board in addition to his career as a show designer, Michael sees continued evolution and a bright future for the marching arts. The activity has grown from its roots as a military exercise into theatrical performances that Michael compares to a production on Broadway or the Las Vegas Strip.  Most modern competitive shows include instruments and equipment that require electricity, intricate drill, choreography for the musicians, and props and stages across the field. Balancing the needs of the ensemble’s different sections – winds, percussion, color guard – in an entertaining way for the audience is how Michael describes his role as a show designer.  Like with any creative medium, Michael combines the technical foundations with creative visions to tell a story that can entertain any audience.

Michael Gaines and The Marching Patriots in fall 1983.  The Patriots performed at the Orange Bowl after being named Bands of America Class A Grand Champions that season.
Posted in Familiar Voices

Share a Story: Ally Gozum '19 takes social media expertise from Ohio State to Hollywood

May 03, 2023
By Archbishop Carroll High School

Ally Gozum ‘19 has always dreamed of a career working in entertainment.  When she graduates from The Ohio State University on May 7, that dream will come true thanks to an educational experience that began her senior year at Archbishop Carroll High School and went viral during her senior year in Columbus.

Throughout her final year as a Buckeye, Gozum has interned for the university’s communications and public relations team.  Her biggest and most visible task has been imagining and producing original content for the university’s Instagram and TikTok profiles.  Each post starts as an idea in a brainstorming session with the four member team of full time university employees who manage the accounts.  Once the team approves an idea, Gozum creates the post without much further input.  Sharing campus life with more than 500,000 followers has been a rewarding and educational experience.

“It feels unreal,” Gozum said.  “It’s opened my eyes to the world of social media, and I’ve learned a lot about it.  I love going to Ohio State, so I love being part of this team and advocating for a school that I’m really passionate about.”

Her experience running a social media account started with a much smaller audience in the fall of 2018.  As the Communications Captain for Mercy House, Gozum first learned how to create and schedule content for social media.  The skills she learned at Carroll enabled her to grow at Ohio State.

Carroll helped me so much as being a great foundation for all of my college classes.  I had to take Spanish here for a few credits, and those classes at Carroll really prepared me.

“We talk about our content strategies and planning, so it’s really cool being able to apply the knowledge I learned at Carroll into this job.”

Gozum also spent the summer before her senior year at Ohio State interning for a global public relations firm in her hometown of Chicago.  Working with influencers to promote consumer good brands like Ninja, Shark, and Whirlpool all while networking created a portfolio of demonstrated skills to strengthen her resumé for her job search.  


Although she is preparing to sign out of the Ohio State account one last time, Gozum has already accepted a spot in NBC Universal’s west coast Page program after rounds of interviews and collaborating with other job candidates to design a marketing campaign.  She will rotate through programs in public relations, marketing, and communications to help promote NBC Universal’s scripted television shows and feature films.  As she moves west to begin her career, Gozum credits Carroll with laying a foundation for her success.

“Carroll helped me so much as being a great foundation for all of my college classes.  I had to take Spanish here for a few credits, and those classes at Carroll really prepared me.”

Posted in Familiar Voices

Carroll Alum Makes Broadway History in "The Phantom of the Opera" Finale

May 01, 2023
By Archbishop Carroll High School

Since its opening in January of 1988, more than 6,500 artists have delighted 20 million theatergoers throughout 13,981 performances of The Phantom of the Opera during its 35 year run. Kyle Anderson ‘07 played in the pit orchestra for the show’s final six weeks, including the historic closing night of the longest running production in Broadway history.

Anderson’s involvement with the legendary Broadway musical began in August of 2022 when he became the french horn substitute for the show. He had played off and on before taking a long-term substitute position for the show’s final six weeks, including the curtain call on April 16, 2023. It was during that six week stay that Anderson became very close with his fellow pit orchestra colleagues, 11 of whom had been playing with the show since the beginning of the production, years before Anderson was even born. “It didn’t matter how long you had been there,” Kyle said, “Everyone was close, especially with all of the emotions about the close (of the show).”

Kyle Anderson '07 (center)

“Bittersweet” was a common feeling for Anderson and the rest of the cast and crew during those final six weeks, as some orchestra members were moving on to other gigs and others were retiring after making The Phantom of the Opera their lifelong career. “It was bittersweet for me too because I had just started bonding with everyone and had had six full weeks there (with eight shows per week),” he said.

Anderson had the pleasure of playing under the show’s music supervisor and conductor, David Caddick, who had been with the show since its initial workshop days prior to its Broadway run. As standard practice for musicians entering a Broadway show, Anderson was given a video of Caddick conducting to rehearse with at home, and he was able to sit in the pit orchestra during one of the shows to read through the orchestral score. Unlike other Broadway gigs, however, Kyle had three rehearsals with the full pit, as new music was added to the show’s closing for when the show’s creator, Andrew Lloyd Webber, its producers, and the original cast members joined the final cast members onstage at the end of the show.

He recalled the electricity buzzing throughout the Majestic Theatre on closing night. “I had never heard (an audience) reception like that. Every time somebody came onstage, the audience went wild, and it was just crazy,” he remembered.

Though his experience with Phantom was an incredible moment in his career, it was not his Broadway debut, nor was it the first time he had played in a pit orchestra. Kyle started playing the piano at age five and then switched to the french horn when he was ten. It was then that he knew that he wanted to make a career out of playing the horn, hoping to someday play in a symphony orchestra.

During his time at Archbishop Carroll High School, Kyle was very involved in the music program, and he recalls the valuable lessons he learned from current Music Department chair Mr. Carl Soucek and the other directors involved with the program during Kyle’s time playing in the concert band, musical pit orchestras, and the marching band. “I just remember it being a fun time – that it never felt like work. I carry that positive, fun, competitive attitude to what I do today,” Anderson said. He also fondly recalled his involvement in the pit orchestras for the Muse Machine musicals as well.

After graduating from high school, Kyle continued his french horn studies at Julliard, and he has been involved with several ensembles and symphonies since. His involvement with the American Symphony Orchestra led Kyle to work with the principal horn player for Phantom, and an opportunity arose. Having worked with additional Broadway pit orchestra professionals, Anderson had networking connections that allowed him to first audition for a horn substitute seat on his first Broadway show, The Lion King, in September of 2019. He will play his 100th show there this May.

In addition to The Lion King, he is currently the french horn seat substitute for four additional Broadway productions. He plays horn for Moulin Rouge! The Musical, Camelot, and he accompanies Josh Groban in the new revival of Sweeny Todd. This May, he will add more Broadway history to his resume when he started playing as the substitute french horn player for New York, New York, the new adaptation of John Kander and the late Fred Ebb’s score with additional lyrics from Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Channeling the positive energy and fun he learned from his Patriot music ensembles, Kyle says he is enjoying turning his everyday job into a passion and hobby. “It’s fun to play these new shows,” Anderson said. He feels like he is at the top of his game and that he has “made it.” In the future, he hopes to secure a more permanent chair position in a Broadway musical, like many of his colleagues had while playing for The Phantom of the Opera. That experience, for Anderson, “was probably one of the largest moments in my career so far, and I think it’s going to be hard to top that."

Posted in Familiar Voices

Julia Quinn '21: Supporting Fellow FAU Student-Athletes, Friends on the Road to the Final Four

March 30, 2023
By Archbishop Carroll High School
Julia Quinn '21

Competing at the highest level of collegiate athletics calls for long hours in practice and study groups, but Julia Quinn ‘21 is preparing for an even bigger task to support her fellow student-athletes at Florida Atlantic University this weekend as the men’s basketball team heads to the Final Four.

After she swims her final lap of practice at the FAU Aquatic Center on Friday, March 31, Julia Quinn ‘21 will start a 16 hour car ride from Boca Raton, Florida to Houston to watch her friends and fellow student-athletes play in the Final Four.

“We all know someone [on the team] through being in the athletics program,” Quinn said.  “I’ve had classes with some.  We all share the same training room, so I see them in and out of the training room all the time.”

Knowing and managing the demands of competing at the Division I level helps create a strong bond between Quinn, her teammates on the swim team, and the Owls who compete in other sports.  During the season, practice alone fills 20 hours each week on top of other team events, and some student-athletes work part time jobs on top of the demands of sports and school.  Quinn says even her friends on the cheerleading team are dealing with an unprecedented amount of obligations due to spending so much time away from campus.

Some student-athletes like Quinn carry a packed course load throughout their time in college in order to begin work on their graduate degree while still on scholarship.  Thanks in part to Carroll’s College Credit Plus program and earning six credit hours in high school, Quinn says she expects to finish her finance and business analytics degree a year early and start work on her MBA while exploring a career in sports management.

Quinn (row two, 6th from left) and the Florida Atlantic University Women's Swim Team competed in the American Athletic Conference Championships at the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center and Barr-McMillion Natatorium in February 2023.

Watching the Owls’ historic season unfold in front of her has made the extra challenges worthwhile, Quinn said.  She and her friends could walk into home games minutes before tip off at the start of the season.  As the wins started piling up, tickets became required for entry, and students and fans would have to line up for the best seats.  After the brackets were revealed, Quinn expected the team to win their first round matchup against the Memphis Tigers.  She admits that she wasn’t as confident for a second round win against their expected next opponent, the Purdue Boilermakers.  After the team defeated tournament darlings Fairleigh Dickinson, Quinn and the rest of the FAU fans started believing that a run to the Final Four was possible in the Owls’ first NCAA tournament appearance.

Julia Quinn '21 (left) with FAU Swimming teammate

Now, thanks to a little luck in the ticket lottery, Quinn along with her roommate and teammate, will witness the end of the Owls’ season in person from court level at NRG Stadium.  Small moments like a road trip with her best friend and major events like being part of the crowd at the Final Four all add up to an outstanding college experience for Quinn.

“That’s why I love FAU – we’re close with the people who play other sports.  We know when the other teams are playing, and we all support each other and want FAU to do well as a whole.”

Posted in Familiar Voices

Taking the PULSE of Healthcare

February 01, 2023
By FamilyOnline by The Marianists

Editor's Note: Abby Shahady is a member of the Archbishop Carroll High School Class of 2018.  This article originally appeared in the January 31, 2023 edition of FamilyOnline.  Please visit their website to read the full story.

Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, Abby Shahady thought she knew the city well. “But serving as a Marianist PULSE volunteer this year has opened my eyes,” she said. “I feel like I have not truly lived in Dayton until now.”

Abby, a 2022 University of Dayton graduate with a major in health sciences, is one of three volunteers participating in PULSE for 2022-2023. PULSE is a post-graduate, servant leadership and social justice initiative sponsored by the Marianists. Each PULSE volunteer makes a one- or two-year commitment to live with fellow volunteers in a lower-income neighborhood while working full-time at local nonprofit agencies.

With Abby’s healthcare background, she was a natural fit for serving two nonprofit sites: The Fitz Center for Leadership in Community and Dayton Children’s Hospital Family Resource Connection.

Posted in Familiar Voices

A Foundation of Community and Computer Science at Carroll: Meet Jason Dong '18

July 19, 2022
By Archbishop Carroll High School

At Duke University, students do not officially declare a major until their sophomore year, which would only give Jason Dong ‘18 a short year to decide the course the remainder of his college experience would take. Thankfully, he had his academic and extracurricular experiences at Archbishop Carroll High School to prepare him for his future. “When I was at Carroll, there were a lot of opportunities for me to explore what I wanted to do,” Jason recalled. He knew he wanted to go into either biochemistry, bioengineering, or electrical engineering, and he was able to explore all three throughout his time at Carroll.

When it came time to officially declare his major, he chose two. He would pursue electrical engineering and computer science, as well taking on a minor in history.

At a prestigious institution as Duke, taking on two majors and a minor would be no easy task. But, Dong felt very prepared, especially after navigating AP-level courses while running cross country. The discipline to run daily, in addition to taking rigorous courses, taught him valuable lessons necessary for success as a Blue Devil. Patriot Cross Country Coach John Agnew ‘80, an electrical engineer himself, also encouraged Jason to pursue engineering by providing him with valuable information about the profession.

With such little time for a social life, Jason found great friendships and belonging in the STEM community at Carroll. He had great connections with his teachers and his tight-knit group of classmates. Dong recalled that they led him to be more sociable and confident in himself. With those friends, he joined the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) competition team and was able to explore the bioengineering side of the STEM field.

Little did he know that the two years he spent as a part of Carroll’s newly-formed House System would provide valuable tools to prepare him for life on campus in Durham, North Carolina. “At the time Carroll did the House System, I didn’t fully understand the concept. It makes a lot of sense leading into college,” said Dong, especially at Duke, where the university was beginning to incorporate their own version of the House System into community residence life while he was an undergraduate.

Jason was able to live on campus his freshman year; however, the COVID pandemic complicated two years of his time at Duke. He spent a good portion of sophomore year and all of his junior year back home while both virtually taking classes and working as a Teaching Assistant for the Intro to Coding and Digital Electronics courses. “I’m very thankful that I had my last two semesters on campus, in person, at Duke” Jason said, as he was able to attend hall of fame Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final home game against their bitter rivals at the University of North Carolina and reunite with his friends for other university events.

Since Duke this past spring, Jason has accepted a position as a software engineer for Goldman Sachs. He plans on taking either the GRE or GMAT while working in New York to work towards earning a masters degree in computer science or getting an MBA.

Jason Dong ‘18 with his sister Kelly Dong ’22

Jason’s mother told her son that she knew Archbishop Carroll High School would provide Jason with a valuable education in a faith-filled community. However, neither she nor Jason could have guessed that being a part of not one, but two, House System community developments would play such a significant role in his professional advancement. Jason hopes that his past experiences and current career endeavors will allow him the opportunity to someday shape a professional community of his own as the project manager of a startup in the future.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Dan Willen '94 helps Bengals stay healthy during Super Bowl run

February 13, 2022
By Carroll High School
Cincinnati Bengals Assistant Head Athletic Trainer Dan Willen '94

Earning a spot in the Super Bowl takes more than having talented players and smart coaches, and Dan Willen ‘94 has played a crucial role in keeping the Cincinnati Bengals healthy and on the field after a 20 game season.

As the Bengals’ Assistant Head Athletic Trainer, Willen helps guide a staff that makes sure every medical need of the team is met.  Managing smaller injuries to players on the active roster, supplying proper hydration throughout practice, stretching, and developing stretching routines are just part of Willen’s 12-hour days when the team prepares and competes in games.

“It’s a team approach.  It’s not just the athletic trainers; our strength coaches are very good with how we approach practice,” Willen said. “Coach [Zac] Taylor has done an awesome job with how we structure practices.  All those things help gauge the health and wellness of our team, how we approach different weeks, and how we go easier or harder [in practice].  I’m very happy that we’ve been able to be as healthy as we’ve been.”

Being on the sidelines each step of the way during the Bengals’ unexpected run to Super Bowl LVI has been a career highlight for Willen, a lifelong fan and former season ticket holder of the team.  The memories of the Bengals’ last Super Bowl appearance and playoff win came back after the team’s win over the Las Vegas Raiders in the wildcard round.  Willen said his phone was full of text messages and social media notifications after the thrilling victory.  After the anxiety in the build up to that game was relieved with a win, Willen says the team has embraced the growing spotlight.

Dan Willen in the Bengals' locker room
after the 2022 AFC Championship

“I’m on the sidelines every game, and I’m sure I looked like an idiot running onto the field at the end [of the Raiders game].  We’re playing with house money, we’ve got a good team, and I think we can beat anybody right now.  The game is going to come down to a couple of plays, and hopefully, we’re on the right side of them.”

Health has been one of the biggest differences from the 2020 season for the Bengals in Willen’s eyes.  Injuries to key players, especially quarterback Joe Burrow, derailed the teams’ season a year ago.  Helping the Bengals’ star through his rehab journey had a different feeling than most of the other athletes Willen has worked with throughout his career.

Cincinnait Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow
Dan Willen accompanies QB Joe Burrow off the field following an injury in 2020.

“You help guide the player and make decisions to progress him.  The way [Joe] approaches practices and games with his work ethic, that’s where you’re going to get a lot of successful outcomes.  Having that internal motivation to get healthy and do the right things.  He surrounded himself with a lot of good people that gave him good advice and pointed him in the right direction.  That’s rewarding to see.  Every athlete wants to get back to play, but he has a unique drive that’s superior to a lot of other players.”

Willen knows just how important athletic trainers are to an athlete dealing with injuries.  He sustained an ankle injury during the Cross Country Regional Championship of his junior year at Carroll.  Thanks to the dedication of and care of Carroll’s athletic trainers, Willen was able to join his teammates in the State Championship race the very next week.

“That’s what I really enjoy about the athletic training experience.  You take someone from where they really cannot perform, and you get them back on the field.  Seeing that progression is the most rewarding aspect of this profession.  Being exposed to that at Carroll is a fond memory.

His time as a student and member of the cross country team at Carroll helped Willen prepare for success after high school.

“The faith-based aspect of Carroll is important, and I pride myself on that.  The closeness and experiences I had as a member of the cross country team helped me surround myself with people who would go on to be leaders and strive for excellence.  The education prepared me very well for college, helped get me where I am today, and I have a lot of fond memories from school events and volunteer outreach projects.  All those things were important.”


Posted in Familiar Voices

Cheryl McHenry '74 brings the Super Bowl experience to local fans

February 10, 2022
By Carroll High School
Cheryl McHenry anchors WHIO-TV coverage of the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI

Cheryl McHenry ‘74 (2008 Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame Inductee) has covered just about every type of event in her award-winning, 40 year career at WHIO-TV.  The 1988 Democratic National Convention, papal visits from Saint John Paul II in 1987 and 1999, the return of the crew of the USS Cole of a terrorist bombing in 2000, and a trip to Bagram Air Base on a C-17 in 2015 are the assignments she remembers most, but McHenry has added her current assignment of covering the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI to that list.

Along with WHIO sports reporter James Rider and videographer Chuck Hamlin, McHenry will provide the Miami Valley with seven days of coverage of the Bengals’ third trip to the Super Bowl.  McHenry’s stories are centered around the fan experience of Super Bowl week.

“The reason we’re out here is to show our viewers what it’s like to be here, because most of them can’t be here,” McHenry said.  “Our job is to take them through the experience, show them the excitement here in LA, and make them feel like they are here.”

Cheryl McHenry '74 with colleagues James Rider (left) and Chuck Hamlin (right)

The workload is heavy and the pace is fast, and the three hour time difference of being thousands of miles away from home complicates logistics even more.  McHenry says her days start with 7 a.m. rides in a taxi or rideshare to a different part of Los Angeles, and filled with shooting video and interviews, catching rides back to their workspace in the hotel, preparing stories to send back to Dayton, and rushing to SoFi Stadium for liveshots in nearly all of Newscenter 7’s broadcasts.  At the end of the 13 hour work days, she hopes the rewarding yet challenging story ultimately concludes with the Bengals winning the franchise’s first Lombardi Trophy.

“I’m more avid in years when they’re doing well because it hurts me to see teams that I like lose.  I had the opportunity to meet Anthony Munoz about a year ago.  I really love this team, and they’ve revived the Bengals fan in me.”

Covering an unpredictable story that has brought so many people together in a positive way is a much welcomed change of pace for McHenry compared to the major events of the past three years.  After sitting on the WHIO set to anchor coverage of massively destructive tornadoes on Memorial Day in 2019, the tragic Oregon District shooting in 2020, and nearly two years of a global pandemic, telling stories that put a smile on viewers’ faces is long overdue for McHenry.

“I think it’s great for our region and all of southwest Ohio because it gives people something to cheer about, something that unites them.  It’s just fun, and we haven’t had a lot of fun in the last two and a half years,” McHenry said.  “Now, to have something to cheer for and be proud of is wonderful.”

Posted in Familiar Voices

Bengals Super Bowl brings boost to bottom line, spirits for Carroll small business owner

February 09, 2022
By Carroll High School
Andrea Siefring-Robbins '97 and Urban Stead Cheese Company in Cincinnati are ready for the Bengals Super Bowl

For Andrea Seifring-Robbins ‘97 and the rest of her team at Urban Stead Cheese in Cincinnati, this Sunday is the most important day of the year on their calendar. The hometown Bengals playing in the Super Bowl is only part of it.

Having people back in here, shopping in person, sitting at tables, and enjoying interacting with people is why we have the tasting room.  To get back to that and engage with people again is really special.

-Andrea Siefring-Robbins '97

“We have the perfect storm coming together for the Super Bowl and National Cheddar Day on Sunday, plus Valentine’s Day [on Monday],” Seifring-Robbins said.  “People have a lot of things going on this weekend.”

Tasting Room at Urban Stead Cheese
Tasting Room at Urban Stead Cheese

Seifring-Robbins, a lifelong Bengals fan and small business owner since 2017, has welcomed customers back to the tasting room and bar built at the front of the house of her cheese production facility as COVID restrictions have begun easing up.  The timing of a surprise run to the biggest sporting event in America for the Bengals has only added to the excitement.  A stroke of good fortune with Saturday game scheduling for the Bengals’ first two playoff victories meant that Seifring-Robbins and her husband and Urban Stead Cheese co-founder, Scott Robbins, could see another part of their dreams come to life in front of their eyes.

“My favorite thing about Urban Stead Cheese is the sense of community that we experience here in the tasting room.  Having people back in here, shopping in person, sitting at tables, and enjoying interacting with people is why we have the tasting room.  To get back to that and engage with people again is really special.  Adding the Bengals’ success and all the brightness that it brings has just been phenomenal as well as good for business.”

Much like the Bengals, the Urban Stead team is preparing for a memorable Sunday.  Requests for centerpiece charcuterie catering boards have increased, and special football-shaped cheese balls with Urban Stead’s quark, a traditional German item similar to cream cheese, and locally sourced summer sausage are available for purchase this week only in-store at their 3036 Woodburn Avenue location.  Party hosts can also purchase Urban Stead’s two-year aged cheddar, a blue ribbon winner and Reserve Grand Champion at the 2021 Ohio State Fair.  Siefring-Robbins says their quark is a perfect substitute for mass-produced cream cheese in crowd favorite game day snacks like Cincinnati Chili Dip or Artichoke dip.  Retail orders are available online (pick up only) and in person for all of Urban Stead’s cheeses, boards, drinks, and accompaniments.  Dayton-area residents can find Urban Stead products in any Dorothy Lane Market location.

The tasting room will be closed on Sunday as usual so that Siefring-Robbins and the staff can cheer on the Bengals in their quest for the team’s first Super Bowl win.

“It’s so exciting.  It’s been 31 years, and there are groups of people who remember the last time and people who don’t remember the last time the Bengals made the Super Bowl.  It’s so fun to hear people’s different perspectives about how they grew up as Bengals fans.  The city is just so incredibly ready to embrace this.”

Posted in Familiar Voices

Za rešitev problema: Sonja Kosir '17 conducts STEM research abroad in Slovenia

December 08, 2021
By Carroll High School
Sonja Kosir '17 conducts STEM research focused on electroporation abroad in Slovenia

Over the summer, Sonja Kosir ‘17 was awarded the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to be a part of innovative research while learning about her family’s history and culture. Kosir received a fellowship from the American Slovenian Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on connecting highly-talented students with other Slovenian professionals, to spend ten weeks in Slovenia conducting scientific research. Sonja, whose family is of Slovenian descent, found out about the opportunity from her grandfather. After witnessing a few of her friends take advantage of the opportunity, she decided to apply and was accepted.

Science fair definitely helped me learn about the research process and how to approach a scientific question.  I just really love that process. It’s the reason why I went into STEM.

-Sonja Kosir '17

She spent ten weeks living in Stranska Vas, a village outside of Ljubljana, the capital. In Ljubljana, Kosir worked at the University of Ljubljana in the Laboratory of Biocybernetics, home to one of the world’s leading programs in Electroporation-Based technology. Part of Sonja’s motivation for applying for this fellowship came from her studies at the University of Cincinnati, where she had read about the electroporation process and the prestigious Slovenian institution where the research was being conducted.

Electroporation, Kosir explained, is the process in which fast, high-voltage pulses are applied to cell membranes, momentarily disrupting cell action and enabling materials to be inserted to either kill or keep the membranes alive. This technology is used in the medical field, as electroporation offers an efficient method for delivery of medicine directly to the cells. As part of her research, Sonja sought to distinguish the lethality of different doses of nickel on living cells compared to the effect of the process itself. This study would provide helpful parameters to future research in this area.

Sonja credits her STEM courses at Carroll, as well her participation in science fair as a student, with igniting her love for science. “Science fair definitely helped me learn about the research process and how to approach a scientific question,” she said. “I just really love that process. It’s the reason why I went into STEM.” Learning how to overcome complex challenges through research inspired Sonja to pursue a career in science.

Not only was Kosir’s research challenging, but she also had to adjust to an entirely new country, community, and language. “It’s significantly the farthest I’ve been from home,” Kosir said, “The language barrier was a little bit of a struggle at times, but it helped me to get creative (with communication).” Just as Sonja was involved with the mass and liturgical choir as a Carroll student, Sonja got involved with a young adult group at an English-speaking church. “It was really fun to get to meet other kids who were international students at that time,” Sonja said. While her STEM skills were instrumental to her work as a researcher, her holistic education and faith-formation from her time at Carroll allowed Sonja to both engage with the international scientific community and encounter a new Catholic community abroad, all while immersing herself in her heritage.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Jean (Geiger) Bussell '74 Completes the Path to Achieving her Lifelong Dream

November 09, 2021
By Carroll High School
Jean (Geiger) Bussell '74 at Katahdin after finishing a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail

As a child, Jean (Geiger) Bussell ‘74 grew up loving the outdoors.  She would often be found outside climbing trees, and her family would camp often. Although her father, Frank Geiger, passed away when she was only three years old, Jean’s mother, Mary Geiger, continued taking Jean and her four siblings on the camping trips that fostered Jean’s love for the outdoors. While sitting in her fourth grade classroom at Immaculate Conception School, Bussell learned about the ultimate outdoor experience, the Appalachian Trail. It was in that classroom that she decided that, one day, she would hike the entire trail. This past fall, Jean finally got the chance to accomplish her lifelong goal.

Jean (Geiger) Bussell '74 and her husband Buddy at the start of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain in Georgia
Jean (Geiger) Bussell '74 and her husband Buddy at the start of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain in Georgia

The Appalachian Trail stretches nearly 2,190 miles starting in Georgia's Springer Mountain, and more than 3,000 thru-hikers attempt the entire journey each year, with roughly a quarter of those attempts ending in success at Mount Katahdin in Maine.  Bussell was determined to be a thru-hiker who would make it all the way to Maine. She and her husband, Don, decided that they would hike the trail together. “He didn’t really have that dream, but he didn’t want me to go by myself, so he went with me,” said Bussell. They decided to hike the trail after Jean retired from the teaching profession in 2017 and Don, known to his friends as Buddy, retired from being a pilot for Delta Air Lines in 2019. They officially registered themselves on the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and set their start date for April 9, 2020. 

To prepare for the long journey, Jean read books that thru-hikers had written about their experiences. From them, she learned about both the trail itself and other crucial information, including the equipment she would need, the best ways to keep her hiking pack light, and the dehydrated food she should pack. Experienced hiker outfitters also assisted Bussell and her husband prepare for the trip. To physically prepare, Bussell would go running and take light day hikes consisting of a couple of miles. Surprisingly, her first long distance hike would be the Appalachian Trail itself. 

Right before their departure, they received information from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy that their registration was canceled, as most of the country was still shut down due to the coronavirus. So, they re-planned their journey and set out on April 13, 2021.

Jean (Geiger) Bussell '74 with her husband Buddy on the Appalachian Trail
Jean (Geiger) Bussell '74 with her husband Buddy on the Appalachian Trail

“The trail wasn’t what I thought at first,” recalled Bussell, “I thought it’d be like a trail on a path, like Hocking Hills. But, it’s climbing big elevations and coming down on rocks, bouldering, and fording rivers and streams. It’s not like a hike in the park.” Like many thru-hikers, Jean found that the trail trained gave her the “trail legs” she would need, that although she and her husband were only able to do 8-10 miles per day for the first few days, she would end up doing over 20 miles per day towards the end of her journey.

I got to accomplish my dream.  I didn’t quit or give up when it got hard. I persevered, and I felt good about that.

-Jean (Geiger) Bussell '74

Along the way, a shuttle driver told Jean that, “The Appalachian Trail is the longest small town in America,” and she found that to be very true, since she would encounter the same groups of young thru-hikers who would end up becoming her best cheerleaders on the trail. “We didn’t hike with each other during the day, but at the shelters and in town, we’d run into each other again.” She was surprised at how kind and helpful everyone was on the trail, and she observed her fellow thru-hikers offering food and medical supplies to others in need.  “Though we were all different ages and had different backgrounds, we were all hikers," Jean recalled.

Jean and Buddy had many memorable moments journeying together on the trail. Though they have been married for 16 years, they became even more connected and in-tune with each other’s needs. Together, they embraced the hiker lifestyle and did things that they would never do in their daily life, like eating candy bars and other sugary snack foods and hitchhiking from the trail into town.

Jean and Buddy spent their wedding anniversary together in a laundromat in town while on the journey. Unfortunately, Buddy suffered a stress fracture in his back and was unable to complete the final quarter of the trail. After much discussion, they decided that he would return home to recover that August while Jean would finish the final 705 miles on her own. 

After some recovery time, Buddy drove out to Maine in September to assist Jean achieve her dream. He would meet her where the trail came out onto roads and helped with such tasks as resupplying her equipment and shopping for groceries. They even car camped when Jean was in town.

Jean (Geiger) Bussell '74 with her husband Buddy on the Appalachian Trail
Jean (Geiger) Bussell '74 with her husband Buddy on the Appalachian Trail

On September 27, Jean accomplished her dream of successfully completing the entire Appalachian Trail. Her husband was there at the end to greet her, as were several of the younger hikers she had met along the way. “They were very excited for me,” laughed Bussell, “They said, ‘You kept up with us!’” Bussell was very excited for herself as well. “I got to accomplish my dream!” Jean said, “I didn’t quit or give up when it got hard. I persevered, and I felt good about that.”

Looking back at her time on the trail, Jean spent significant time thinking of those early days spent outdoors camping with her mom, who passed away in 1995, and that fourth grade classroom where this dream began. Jean credits her experiences at Carroll High School for developing her ability to overcome and persevere through challenges. She did not have a study hall, and she remembered not having a lot of downtime in the school day. “Carroll taught me to not give up (and) work hard.” 

Bussell shared that lesson on dedication with other travelers she met along the trail. When she found fellow thru-hikers getting discouraged or disappointed that their hike schedules weren’t going as expected, Jean would tell them, “Put your goals in granite but your plans in sand,” with Jean herself being an excellent example of the aphorism she shared. Though she waited many years and navigated through many challenges and obstacles along the way, she was ultimately proud to turn her childhood dream into a reality. 

Posted in Familiar Voices

Carroll alumnus working with refugees reflects on the anniversary of 9/11

September 11, 2021
By Carroll High School
Tom Middleton '05 is an Economic Empowerment Specialist for World Relief

Tom Middleton ‘05 still knows exactly where he was when American Airlines Flight 11 hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

“I remember being in Mrs. Levy's biology class, and she turned the TV on. There was a general feeling of fear and confusion, then going between classes and seeing people's faces of worry and unease.”

Twenty years after the attacks of September 11, 2021 and his freshman year at Carroll High School, Tom is a part of the humanitarian response to the current refugee crisis set in motion on that day.

Tom had spent the past nine years of his career working as a Budget Analyst in the non-partisan Ohio Legislative Service Commission, researching and preparing reports about the costs of new programs or laws centered on economic development and transportation.  After deciding he was ready for the next step in his career, months of job searching lead him to World Relief, a worldwide Christian humanitarian organization with a network of more than 6,000 churches and 95,000 volunteers that assists the victims of disasters, extreme poverty, violence, and oppression.  In late August 2021, packed his bags and moved 2,000 miles from Columbus to World Relief’s Seattle branch.

World Relief’s new Entrepreneurship Assistance Academy provides financial help and administrative guidance to refugees who run their own businesses to help get the ventures off the ground.  Tom’s background in civil service and economic development are perfect credentials for his role as an Economic Empowerment Specialist for the agency.

Before The Pentagon announced that the United States was removing its military presence from Afghanistan after 20 years of operations on August 28, World Relief Seattle would resettle about 19 refugees each month.  That rate rose to 19 refugees each day, and World Relief is recruiting more volunteers and hiring more staff like Tom to handle the caseload.  Working directly with people whose lives are still being upended by the attacks of 20 years ago and the conflict it started has been an emotional touchstone for Tom.

“It just shows the impact of war can last for generations.  Seeing the human impact decades later is pretty powerful,” Tom said.  “As a world community, we have to work to help people that are in extreme situations.”

Tom’s dedication to serving those around him took root during his time as a student at Carroll.  He was a frequent volunteer with Five Rivers Metroparks and participated in the weeklong Christian Service Workcamp before his senior year.  Tom continued to serve his community with the Columbus Gives Back organization as an adult.

“It’s part of the service commitment that Carroll did a good job [of teaching].  Not just learning about religion in the classroom, but also applying it and being out there in the community with different organizations was important for high school and the years after.”

Visit to learn more about the organization’s work.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Patching Some Tires and Paving the Way in Special Education: Meet Marina Sorrell '17

May 19, 2021
By Carroll High School
Carroll High School alumnus Marina Sorrell graduated from the University Dayton as a licensed intervention specialist

On May 9, Marina Sorrell ‘17 received her diploma from the School of Education and Health Sciences at the University of Dayton, where she majored in Intervention Specialty, or the education of neurodiverse students. Leading up to this significant moment, she has had many opportunities to both reflect upon her time as a student at Carroll and to plan on how she will utilize the tools her teachers gave her to now teach in her own classroom as a licensed Pre-K through 12th grade Intervention Specialist. 

Marina graduated Cum Laude, and The UD Department of Education and the Dean’s office selected her as the recipient of the Raymond and Beulah Horn Award of Excellence out of all the Intervention Specialists in her cohort for excellence in her subject area. In addition to this highly prestigious award, she also received other awards in excellence in Intervention Specialty from the university.

Marina has had many influential experiences leading up to her choice to become an Intervention Specialist; however, growing up as a sibling of a neurodiverse learner could be considered one of the most significant experiences that has prepared Marina for her future career. Her younger brother, Woody, was diagnosed with Autism when he was two years old. Marina, who was seven at the time, had not heard of the term, let alone had any idea what that meant for Woody and his future learning experiences. However, she remembers when his diagnosis finally made sense to her. In a conversation with her parents, a very young Marina compared Woody’s brain to a popped bicycle tire. “It’s not like the bike doesn’t work,” Marina said, “but it’s harder to pedal, so we have to help him inflate his tire. That’s the analogy I always think of (now) when I’m teaching.”

Marina Sorrell '17 after graduating from the University of Dayton, with her brother Woody and father Chris '83.

Marina grew up watching Woody’s team of family, therapists, adults, and educators work together to fill his tires, and she was by his side to celebrate the tiny yet monumental breakthroughs he achieved on his journey to success. Watching her brother's progress and development made a significant impact on Marina, and it inspired her desire to help children on similar learning paths. 

From early on in her life, Sorrell knew that she wanted to go into the education field in some way as well. Even her 4th and 5th grade teachers at Mother Brunner School would discuss it with Marina’s parents and encourage that path for their daughter. “Every grade level I got to, I thought, ‘I could teach this grade! This would be fun!’” recalled Sorrell. It would take many years later, upon a hike with her mother, where she would realize that Intervention Specialty could be a good fit for her. An Intervention Specialist’s license would allow her to work with students pedaling their bicycles in ways similar to Woody. An additional endorsement would also allow Marina the freedom and flexibility to work with a diverse group of students in all grade levels and various subjects.

“Carroll is more than just this school on Linden Avenue. The Carroll support got me through college and got me there.”

-Marina Sorrell '17

Marina credits Carroll as being the place where she solidified her desire to become a teacher during the most formative years of her life. “I owe a lot to Carroll. I liked the subjects I was in, and I liked how my teachers went about teaching,” said Marina, “They were really great models for what it’s really like to enjoy your teaching job.” She remembers her English teachers in particular having so much fun, and those memories inspired her to make learning fun for her future students.

Carroll Social Studies Mr. Chris Sorrell ‘83, Marina’s father, mentioned to her that when she took Mrs. Jill Kilby’s AP Psychology class, it was the first time that he saw his daughter becoming a student- one who wanted to dive deeper into the material, even beyond what was being covered in class. Marina credits Mrs. Kilby, as well as her teachers at Carroll, for igniting that desire to be a lifelong learner and to become a teacher herself.  “All of the teachers at Carroll are great examples of great teachers.” Marina learned from teachers, like Mrs. Marcy (Hemmert) Hughes ‘83 and Mrs. Mary Ollier, who showed Marina what it means to teach the whole student rather than just presenting the classroom content.

When it came time to apply for college, the application process for Marina looked like it does for most high school seniors, daunting. Thankfully, Marina felt comfortable being vulnerable and reaching out to her beloved teachers for help when the time came to apply. They came to her aid, reading over application essays and helping her prepare materials for submission. During the application process, her teachers at Carroll linked Sorrell to professors at the University of Dayton who are connected to the Carroll family in various ways that could help her discern both her major and her overall decision to attend the University of Dayton. “(Carroll is) more than just this school on Linden Avenue. The Carroll support got me through college and got me there,” Marina recalled.

Upon entering UD her freshman year, Marina felt more than prepared for the rigorous coursework that comes at the university level. Having taken scholarship courses during her time at Carroll, including College Credit Plus coursework as an upperclassman, Sorrell not only had experience in college-level demands, but she also had acquired college credits prior to her arrival on UD’s campus. One of the more challenging courses for freshman education majors, Physics, ended up being less of an obstacle than expected, as she had taken two years worth of physics at Carroll. Marina even ended up being the go-to classmate on her residence hall floor to proofread papers for the UD course, as Marina knew the formatting so well from her Carroll days. After taking the course at UD, Marina returned to Carroll, sought out Physics teacher, Mrs. Laurie Fuhr, and told her that she would not have passed without her. 

At the University of Dayton, Marina did more than simply pass her coursework. She earned one of the top scores among her classmates on her edTPA, a performance-based Ohio licensure test. The university has also frequently asked her to speak to incoming and current undergraduate students who are entering the education field about her experiences in the School of Education.

Now, Marina is ready to help other neurodiverse students inflate their own bicycle tires and find success on their own learning journeys. She is currently applying for teaching positions in the greater Dayton and Cincinnati areas, and she is so excited to be in a classroom of her own. “I can’t wait to meet my future students, and I can’t wait to learn about them and grow with them,” she gushed, “I don’t know where I’ll be teaching, but I’m so excited to be there, wherever it is.” 

Posted in Familiar Voices
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Sorting through Tax Season: Meet Miriam Cleary '11

April 15, 2021
By Carroll High School
Miriam Cleary '11 Client Specialist at Baird

Miriam Cleary ‘11 is a Client Specialist at Baird to two financial advisors on a wealth management team in Cincinnati.  She recently spoke with us about how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way she works and how Carroll prepared her for success after high school.

What are some of your responsibilities on a typical day?

“I am in charge of client interactions, facilitating transactions when people need money or talk about distributions from different accounts and trades.  I’m also working on my certified financial planner license.  I do all the planning for our team for a realm of possibilities for our clients.  My day-to-day is making sure our clients have the best experience possible, especially during tax season, because it can get really complicated with all the forms and different days they’re due.  It’s really nice to have those relationships with my clients established before I have to talk to them about what they actually have to pay for their taxes.”

When does tax season start, and how does it affect what you do?

“We provide the forms for the accounts if there is interest paid or retail accounts where there are distributions from qualified accounts.  We started issuing tax forms at the beginning of February because people are always anxious to get their tax forms in.  Usually, things really start to speed up in mid-March.  Because a lot of people do their taxes online or because of the pandemic, they just email everything to their tax person.  It’s much easier than having to worry about when we’re going to get them in the mail.  After April 15, we go back to our day-to-day business like client meetings.”

How has the pandemic changed how you work?

“Our clients are used to meeting with us once, maybe twice a year.  Having to transition from face-to-face meetings in our office to being either on Zoom or on a conference call.  That interaction with us, especially with our older clients, is very important, and it’s very important to us as well because we want to keep that relationship established.  I now have an office set up in my home.  [Baird] has been great about getting all of us access and keeping the internet and network up to speed, but we can’t print [financial documents] at home because of the confidentiality, so getting those things to clients has been a challenge. 

Our clients can’t go out of their homes as much as they could, so we’ve talked to people more and more.  That’s been helpful to me because I’ve been able to re-establish some relationships and talk to people about things other than their investments.”

How did Carroll help prepare you for college and career?

“I graduated from college with a degree in foreign language and international studies and a minor in anthropology, and I work in finance.  People don’t understand how that happened, and sometimes, I’m not sure either.  Carroll made us work hard.  I’m glad I was constantly challenged either Mrs. [Mary Jane] Clark, or Mr. [Jim] Hemmert; all the challenges they threw at us and the sense of responsibility they instilled in us to succeed and help others.  When I got to college, I already knew how to study because of Study Skills my freshman year.  I knew it would be harder, and I had to learn to rededicate my time because the level and amount of work was different, but Carroll made it much easier for me because I was much more established in my study habits.  I already knew what I needed to do, and that transformed into a better experience altogether.  My parents thought it was the most important thing for us to get that education because they knew that it would set us up down the line, and it has.”

What is your advice to current students?

“Remember what you do enjoy about your job, even if it’s something that you may not think you would ever get into, you can try to find something good about having that career.  Be open to those dynamics and understanding that you may not always be right, but that’s how you grow as a person.  Carroll taught me that, and it was expounded on when I got to college.”

Posted in Familiar Voices

Intersections of Art and Physics Flourish at CWRU

March 24, 2021
By Case Western Reserve University
Ryan Buechele '17 at Case Western Reserve University

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on the Case Western Reserve University website.  Please click here to read the entire story.

What do music theory and statistical mechanics have to do with each other? The connection may not seem obvious, but it’s exactly what Ryan Buechele is studying in his senior project.  “I love seeing ways where the tools of physics can be applied to solve problems in other fields like biology, economics, and, of course, music theory,” he says. A CWRU senior pursuing both a B.S. in physics and mathematics and a B.A. in music, Buechele is working with Associate Professor Jesse Berezovsky on a project combining the tools of statistical mechanics and music theory.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Wired for Innovation: Connecting one of Dayton's oldest buildings to a brighter future

March 08, 2021
By Carroll High School
Alek Mezera '04, Dave Mezera '81, and Natalie Mezera '14 of DataYard at the Dayton Arcade Innovation Hub.  Photo by @tayloredsocial/Taylor Hudson Snead

Whenever Alek Mezera ‘04 would drive past the Dayton Arcade in the heart of downtown, he usually thought about the stories from the complex’s glory years that had come and gone before he was even old enough to attend kindergarten.  26 years after the arcade effectively closed to the public, he stepped foot in the vacant, deteriorating building as he prepared to help lead the modernization of one of the oldest and most notable facilities in the region.

Dayton Arcade
The Dayton Arcade as seen from West Third Street

“That was an awe-inspiring visit, just being able to see the scale, first and foremost, of all the buildings involved in the arcade development, but also the potential and history,” Mezera said.  “There’s so many old signs and photographs and pieces of Dayton nostalgia you would see around every corner that were really cool.”

As the Director of Client Partnerships at DataYard, an Information Technology provider founded by Alek’s father Dave ‘81 in the mid 90s, Alek helped DataYard earn the rights to be the sole IT provider for the Arcade Innovation Hub, a joint venture between the University of Dayton and the Entrepreneurs’ Center that occupies more than two thirds of the first two phases of the Arcade renovation project’s master plan.  All office space, classrooms, and retail shops on the upper levels of the checkerboard-floored rotunda are connected to the internet through DataYard.  While plenty of typical renovation work, like replacing windows and walls, were needed to breathe life back into the nearly 120-year-old set of five buildings that comprise the Arcade, DataYard had the unique challenge of not only building the first network, but also concealing all of its infrastructure to comply with historical guidelines.

“For any rehab/reuse project happening downtown, there are a lot of tax incentives involved with taking something old and making it new.  In order to do that, there are a hundred different aesthetic guidelines you have to work through.  As far as IT and historic tax credits are concerned, it has to look like it isn’t there.  We had a challenge in adequately hiding the infrastructure behind the scenes in a way that still achieved all of our goals.  We ran miles of rigid steel conduit which has all been painted to blend in and match the brick ceiling and exposed brick walls.  Some of it is hidden in drop ceilings and wrapped around corners.  It was a challenge but ultimately produced the most aesthetically appealing stroll down memory lane.”

Mezera estimates that the Arcade now holds $1.5 million dollars worth of network equipment, including 100 wireless access points, 20,000 feet of steel conduit, and 142,000 feet of ethernet cable, which is enough to stretch from Carroll High School to the Dayton Arcade six times.  At its peak, the network can serve approximately 700 individuals using up to four devices each.  Mezera says the Arcade project is the biggest and most complex in DataYard’s history.  It is also one of the most meaningful.

DataYard Director of Client Partnerships Alek Mezera '04, Founder and Principal Dave Mezera '81, and Client Partnerships Project Manager Natalie Mezera '14 in a conference room at the Innovation Hub in the Dayton Arcade.  The table in this conference room is a repurposed door upcycled from the University of Dayton's Chapel rennovation project. Photo by Taylor Hudson Snead/@Taylored Social.

“One of the things that everybody has as an intrinsic need is the ability to see the fruits of their labors,” Mezera says.  “Unfortunately, our grandparents and great-grandparents built all the churches and all the bridges and those large scale, masonry types of projects where you have a cornerstone with a date on it and get a romantic, emotional feeling when you think about your contribution to a specific project.  We don’t have a lot of those projects going on at the moment and haven’t in quite some time.  To be a part of a rehab/reuse project of a complex of this physical scale brought its own romantic draw for those reasons, something you can drive past and look at and know that your contributions have directly impacted the success of the project, and more importantly, the advancement of the region and our neighbors.”

In an ever-changing field like IT, DataYard relies not only on its teams’ up-to-date technical knowledge of designing and installing networks, but also on their ability to adapt quickly and think critically while working together.  Even though Mezera grew up with computers, the skills Mezera learned during his days at Carroll prepared him to play a major role in the Arcade project.

Learning how to learn was a big part of what I’ve taken from Carroll, my family, and other places.  Extracurriculars really stuck some life lessons and habits in my spirit.  Working with a team, wanting and needing to produce the absolute best work that I possibly could, and feeling a sense of pride in my work and achievements.

Alek Mezera '04, DataYard Director of Client Partnerships

“I did enjoy those computer classes with Mrs. [Diane McNelly] Keller ‘83 back in 2003, and those gave me an opportunity to practice and develop outside the home.  Beyond that, learning how to learn was a big part of what I’ve taken from Carroll, my family, and other places.  Extracurriculars really stuck some life lessons and habits in my spirit.  Working with a team, wanting and needing to produce the absolute best work that I possibly could, and feeling a sense of pride in my work and achievements.  Whether you’re playing basketball or in the marching band or whatever it is, if you’re with a group of people, and you have a goal and something you have to work hard to achieve and you do it together, I learned early on that it was one of the most rewarding experiences.”

Mezera sees the rebirth of the Arcade as DataYard’s role on a team that lays the groundwork for the next generation of Dayton entrepreneurs to succeed.  

“You get a sense of pride and feeling of an ownership stake in the city,” Mezera says.  “We’ve poured so much blood and treasure into trying to make something better for ourselves and neighbors, and to see it come to fruition, watch other people utilize those services to take themselves to the next level and advance the success of their business, and watch people interact in the space on a human level is incredibly rewarding.  The space has so much energy, promise, and potential that it certainly is a much-needed boost to civic pride.”

DataYard provides Dayton's best IT services and technology consulting including solutions for Cloud hosting, cyber security, disaster recovery, IT management, and more.  To learn more about DataYard, contact Alek Mezera at (937) 610-3525 or email

Posted in Familiar Voices

The Elusive "10"

February 05, 2021
By John Sullivan '75
Sr. Mary Alice Stein

“Sister Mary Alice is short.”  

While that sentence may be politically incorrect, it is concise, descriptive, and free of spelling and grammatical errors.  And that sums up most of what I learned in Sister Mary Alice’s journalism class.

Sister Mary Alice Stein, known affectionately by her initials as “SMAS” (but never addressed by that name) provided my best training as a writer during my junior year in high school.  All of our articles had to be typed on an 8x10 sheet of paper folded in half; we typed on one side; she then unfolded the paper and wrote her comments on the other side in red ink.  She graded on a scale of 1 to 10, and she was proud that she’d given only one “10” in her entire career, always reminding us the young woman who received it became a reporter, justifying her perfect grade.  I wanted to be the second person to score a perfect “10”.

My first attempts were met with a sea of red ink regarding style (lack of), grammar (incorrect), and a general absence of enthusiasm about the entire piece.  I went to work dressing up my leads, inverting my pyramids, and rewriting things several times before submitting them.

Desperate to show progress, I once wrestled with a sentence to get my point across and ensure it was grammatically correct.  When I was confident it met both goals, I submitted my piece.  When she returned it, I had once again failed to get a “10”, and the sentence I struggled with was indeed correct but marked in red pen as “awkward.” My face turned red with embarrassment, matching the editing marks.

Sister Mary Alice was always kind and restrained when explaining her edits.  She had a way of engaging students that was cordial and entertaining but left no doubt that she was in charge.  I took her advice to heart, and over time, my writing and grades improved to the 9.0 level with an occasional 9.5 or higher.  I was honored to be named one of the editors my senior year.

My first job after college had me reading memos and reviewing resumes, and misspelled words and mangled sentences ruled the day.  Technological advances not only increased the garbled writing, it made messages longer.  Word processors and email increased the length of messages, allowing writers to use more words to say less since there was no longer a piece of paper edging out of the typewriter to suggest it might be time to stop.

This unlimited length wasted a lot of time and money in deciphering the original sender’s meaning and intent, resulting in an electronic snowstorm of “reply all” messages.  It spawned the acronym “BLUF”, (Bottom Line Up Front), but it failed to get writers to state a point early — or sometimes ever.

I was already placing the most critical information at the top, just as Sister Mary Alice taught me.  It paid off handsomely.

I never did get the “10” I wanted.  During my career, I have published a number of articles as a freelancer, have gotten paid for my writing, and have also been able to get donations, jobs, and compensation for complaints (mostly from airlines) from my ability to write well.  That’s worth a lot more than a “10.”

Posted in Familiar Voices

Meet Dr. Lisa (Wahlrab) Walsh '05, one of the first recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine

December 18, 2020
By Carroll High School
Lisa (Wahlrab) Walsh '05 receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Dr. Lisa (Wahlrab) Walsh '05 is an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and James Cancer Hospital and was one of the first people in the State of Ohio to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, December 16, 2020.  She works in the medical intensive care unit as the primary provider for critically ill patients on life support, including patients on ventilators who have respiratory failure.  Lisa has been part of the primary COVID unit since the outbreak of the pandemic.

How did the pandemic change your responsibilities?

We’re trained to provide the specialized care that these patients need.  They wouldn’t be able to survive without the ventilators and the highly trained nursing staff that take care of them.  They’ve been sicker than any other patients that we’ve had.  They’re sicker than a regular flu patient.  Their respiratory failure is much worse, and it requires a lot more specialized care that can only be provided in the intensive care unit.

Lisa (Wahlrab) Walsh '05 in full PPE treats COVID-19 patients at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center ICU.
Lisa (Wahlrab) Walsh '05, dressed in full Personal Protective
Equipment, treats COVID-19 patients at The Ohio State
University Wexner Medical Center ICU.

What has been the biggest challenge of treating patients?

The biggest challenge through all this has been the need for the hospital to limit visitors and not let families be there to see their loved ones.  It’s not just COVID patients.  The hospital hasn’t allowed visitors for other patients.  There have been exceptions made for patients who are actively dying. It’s been really hard to communicate with families.  We try to do it over the phone or on FaceTime, but it’s just not the same as having family there in person to support their loved ones.

When did you find out you would receive a vaccine?

Rumors started at the beginning of December that in mid-December, vaccines would be available at Ohio State.  Since we are part of the group on the front line taking care of COVID patients, they told us we would be in the first group to get the vaccine.

What went through your mind when you found out you would be one of the first people to receive the vaccine?

I was pretty excited.  I think everyone I work with has been excited because we’ve been looking for an end to all this.  The work has been exhausting, and we’re always overflowed with patients who have been sicker than our other ICU patients.  Everyone is wearing down, so to have a vaccine available and know that we are top priority so we can stay healthy to take care of the sick people.  Hopefully soon, it will be available to the public so that we have less patients so that our work can go back to normal.  I think everyone on my team is excited and anxious to get the vaccine.  We understand that even though this is a new virus and a new vaccine, the vaccine technology itself has been around for a long time.  Everyone feels safe and confident to get the vaccine.

What are some of the lessons you learned at Carroll that have helped you navigate this situation?

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a nurse and help people.  A sense of giving back, doing good, and helping others is something really was instilled in me at Carroll through volunteer work.  Just wanting to be a productive member of society and somebody who is trained and available to help others is the biggest thing that my Catholic education at Carroll instilled in me.

What should people know about staying healthy as the vaccine becomes more widely available?

I would impress on people the importance of social distancing and wearing masks for hopefully just a few more months.  Hopefully, this is the light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s still important to avoid getting sick and getting others sick because it has been terrible in the hospitals with how sick these patients are.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Meet Sarah (Sidell) Seagraves '09

November 20, 2020
By Carroll High School
Sarah (Sidell) Seagraves '09, 67b Bookkeeping

As a small business owner, Sarah (Sidell) Seagraves '09 knows the challenges her clients have faced throughout the coronavirus pandemic.  Her bookkeeping service, 67b Bookkeeping, has been a crucial element in helping her customers keep their doors open.

What are your job responsibilities and duties?

I own 67b Bookkeeping business, and I specialize in helping entrepreneurs in the marketing and creative industries learn, figure out, and manage their business finances. Day-to-day, I’m working with companies to either manage their books for them, or I do consulting and teach entrepreneurs how to keep their books and finances organized so that they can better understand their financial position.

How did you assist your small businesses clients with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application process during the coronavirus pandemic? 

When the coronavirus happened, and all of the PPP (information) came out, I have had to learn it as quickly as it happens and be super flexible because it’s Congress, and things are going to change.

It was so beneficial that I had clients set up and ready to go with all of their financial information organized and ready. All of my clients that I had been working with prior to the pandemic received PPP loans.

Sarah Sidell 67b Bookkeeping

What does it mean to you as a small business owner to be able to provide this service and help people keep their livelihoods?

It’s incredibly important to me!  When you shop at a small store, or you order from a small, mom-and-pop shop or local business, that is supporting their livelihoods, and that can affect whether or not they can buy groceries at the end of the week.

I love Target and Starbucks as much as the next girl, but I have renewed my energy of going to the small, local coffee shop and buying as much as I can from smaller, local, family-owned businesses because now, being a small business owner myself, I understand how critical one or two sales can be to someone.

What are the lessons you learned at Carroll High School that are helping you give back to Dayton entrepreneurs? 

Often, entrepreneurs may not have been given the resources or lessons on what you can do to help your neighbor like we did at Carroll. Being in an environment where Catholic Social Teaching was so instilled and part of every day at Carroll definitely has impacted my business. 

I’ve given presentations to the Dayton Entrepreneurs Center’s Fast Track program for Dayton entrepreneurs on the basics of bookkeeping, how to manage your finances and keep records, and use all of that data and information to really analyze your business. So, being able to give my time and really help local Dayton entrepreneurs figure out how to manage their business is awesome. 

For readers interested in starting a business in the Dayton area, what other resources are available?

There are definitely resources for people that want to start a business, are thinking about branching out on their own, are expanding on a hobby, or want to have a good, solid foundation and education (for bookkeeping). There are resources from the Dayton Entrepreneurs Center, Launch Dayton, the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, and other organizations.

Most of these resources are free or very inexpensive, and they have programs that are built and were created to help the Dayton Community to grow and to give back.

Sarah Sidell Seagraves 67b Bookkeeping

Business owners and those interested in learning how to manage their books can contact Sarah to book a discovery call and get a personalized quote at 67b Bookkeeping.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Fostering Service: Meet Morgan King '17

August 26, 2020
By Carroll High School
Morgan King '17 and her foster dog, Passion.  Morgan participates in 4 Paws for Ability's service dog foster college program through the University of Cincinnati.

Morgan King '17 has had dogs in her life since her family brought home their pup Xavier when she was 10 years old.  As a senior at the University of Cincinnati, Morgan is balancing her education and training as an occupational therapist with fostering service dogs through 4 Paws for Ability's college program.  We spoke with Morgan about her involvement with the program and how her love of dogs extends to other parts of her life.

What is the mission of 4 Paws for Ability?

4 Paws for Ability was founded as an organization to place service dogs with children, but it has expanded to help veterans with PTSD.  The founder tried to get a service dog when she was younger, but her condition was deemed too severe by multiple organizations.  Their mission is that no disability is too severe, no person is too old or too young, for us to provide a service dog.

What are your responsibilities as a foster in the program?

I participated in orientation, training, and on-site work at 4 Paws for Ability with the dogs.  Then I was placed with my foster for about year.  Most dogs are placed around eight weeks old and can be placed as old as two or three years.

I work with dogs on basic obedience, socializing them in public, making sure they aren’t scared of anything, and love all people.  I also encourage people to ask to pet the dogs because the dogs are so young, so I want to make sure they’re friendly with all ages and types of people. Once this is over, I return the dog to 4 Paws for Ability for advanced task training.

Morgan King '17 and a foster dog from 4 Paws for Ability.
Morgan King '17 and one of her foster dog from 4 Paws for Ability.
How did you learn about the program?

I heard about it through [Andrea Poole ‘17] and some other friends from Wright State.  I looked up 4 Paws for Ability and realized it’s close to my home in Xenia.  I decided to be a puppy sitter at first because I wasn’t ready for my own dog yet.  I did the same orientation as a foster would to learn about the expectations and work with the dogs.  I joined the club at the University of Cincinnati where I would watch the full time sitters’ dogs for a few hours a day.  I did that for a few months and then got my first foster, Passion.

What are the challenges of raising a foster dog as a full-time college student?

It’s not something that is for everyone.  You’re given an eight-week-old puppy along with taking 18 credit hours of classes.  It’s stressful, but for the people who are good at managing their time, it’s manageable.  The biggest challenge was public awareness, though.  Most people aren’t as educated on the topic of service dogs as I am.  People in public can distract the dog from their training.  Other people stare and try to figure out why I have a service dog.  From the school aspect, there are times when it is overwhelming.  If the dog is sick, I have to drive from Cincinnati to Xenia and back in the middle of the week to take care of the dog.  Giving the dog back is another big struggle.  It’s hard to give up a dog you’ve been with for a year to a random person, but the process of watching the dog be placed with a family and change a kid’s life is worth it.

What are the rewarding parts of this program?

I study occupational therapy, and I’ve always been pulled to the special needs and pediatric side of things.  The club intertwined with me being in school for O.T. to see all the different types of disabilities and how the organization places service dogs, what they teach the dogs, and how it changes the kids’ lives.  It was also a great starting point for me at UC as a transfer student.  I made so many new friends and performed so many service hours.

The biggest reward is seeing the end goal; whether it’s seeing the dog become a service dog or one who doesn’t quite make it as a service dog become a client companion as an in-home dog for a family.  From an academic and professional aspect, it’s also a great thing for my resumé, especially as I prepare for grad school.  It’s a great conversation starter to introduce people to the program because we’re always in need of fosters and sitters.

How did Carroll help prepare you for this?

Leadership and responsibility are definitely two things that I took with me from Carroll.  I was involved with clubs, sports, and outside events.  Taking on those roles helped give me the courage to join an organization like this and start my own business.  Not being afraid to get out there and do something outside my comfort zone is something I took with me.

Morgan’s family adopted her most recent foster, Adler in June.  She also runs her own small business, Morgan's Creations, that makes and sells custom bandanas, collars, and accessories for dogs.  Morgan plans to graduate from the University of Cincinnati in Spring 2021 and begin Occupational Therapy school.

Posted in Familiar Voices
1 comment

Meet Dr. Stephen Blatt, MD '77

May 15, 2020
By Carroll High School
Dr. Stephen Blatt, MD, TriHealth

What are your job responsibilities and duties?

I'm the Medical Director for Infectious Diseases at TriHealth hospital system in Cincinnati.  I’m responsible for setting the policy for management of patients with infection problems.  In this setting, we have a large steering committee for our COVID-19 preparations and management, and I help run that.

What are the daily tasks you perform?

We monitor the data about how many cases we are seeing.  We monitor how those patients are doing, what their outcomes are, how many are discharged, if we have any patients that die from the infection.  We also monitor the infections among our healthcare workers to make sure that they’re not getting infections from our patients.  We monitor the protective equipment that’s available to make sure we have adequate supplies.  We monitor our testing capability to make sure that we’re able to provide testing for both our patients and any employees that need it.  Then, we basically troubleshoot to make sure the whole system is working properly, that patients and employees are protected and getting the treatment that they need.  We also work with our research department to try to get clinical trials of medications, experimental medications that are available for our patients that need them.  I also see the patients. Some of the patients that are sicker, we get consulted on to help with their care.

How has the pandemic changed your job responsibilities?

It’s the same kinds of things that I was doing, but obviously it wasn’t COVID-19 that we were worried about.  It was more common things like antibiotic resistant bacteria or other infections that people can catch in a hospital.  We spend a lot of time trying to prevent those kind of infections.

Why is your work considered essential?

It’s very important that we provide the best care we can for patients who have this novel virus and protect our health care workers who are at risk of getting it and deserve to be protected.  If the health care workers can’t stay healthy during this time, then we won’t be able to provide care for any of the patients who come in.

What precautions are you taking to ensure coronavirus safety?

We’re a lot more careful about making sure we have the right equipment and wear it correctly.  Around all the patients who we know or suspect might have COVID-19, the healthcare workers all wear gowns, gloves, face shields, and special kinds of masks called respirators that we have to have each worker fit-tested for so that they wear them correctly and we know that they’re not breathing air that hasn’t gone through the filter.  That takes a lot of time and is a pretty expensive proposition that came out of nowhere.

What makes coronavirus different that more typical infectious diseases?

It is highly contagious, and it is a lot more dangerous than the flu.  The number of deaths is far exceeding what we would expect in a typical flu season, and it’s really been compressed within a very short timeframe here in the United States.  There have been 70,000 deaths in a two month period which is at least three or four times what we would see in a typical flu season.  It’s a lot more dangerous because nobody has any immunity to it, that’s the problem.

What are the lessons you learned at Carroll High School that are helping you navigate this situation?

Carroll was really essential at learning to look at the whole picture of a problem, analyze it, and come up with a rational approach to dealing with it.  One of my mentors was Mr. Joe Sens who taught chemistry at the time.  He was just great at being calm, evaluating an issue, and coming up with rational solutions.  There’s been a lot of panic around this whole COVID-19 issue that really doesn’t need to be.  It’s just a matter of understanding it as best we can and applying rational solutions. 

Posted in Familiar Voices

Meet Tina Kinstedt '12

May 03, 2020
By Carroll High School
Tina Kinstedt '12

What are your job responsibilities and duties?

I'm a volunteer with MedSupplyDrive.  It’s a nationwide, student-run effort to donate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to hospitals.  It started at Georgetown University by third year medical students on March 18 and has grown to include more than 650 volunteers in over 40 states.  So far in Dayton, we have given gloves, alcohol pad, shoe covers, and isopropyl alcohol to several hospitals.

What are the daily tasks you perform?

A lot of days, I send emails as often as I can.  Some times, I’ll go to different stores and find gloves or alcohol that we can donate.  A lot of it is waiting from responses from hospitals or individuals.  We also pick up and deliver donations that we receive.

Why is your work considered essential?

If hospitals run out of any of this equipment, they’re unable to help patients properly.  As much as we can give them, it helps them do their jobs.  They’re the real heroes here, but we want to do something that allows us to be helpful.

Tina Kinstedt '12 (left center) delivers Personal Protective Equipment to an area hospital.


What precautions are you taking to ensure coronavirus safety?

We’re required to wear PPE when we donate.  We talk to the hospitals beforehand, so we know exactly where to go, and we talk to people who are making donations so that we’re not coming in contact with too many people, just doing what we can to minimize contact.  I encourage everyone to stay healthy and safe.  Minimize exposure to others as best as possible. Follow the advised cleanliness guidelines recommended by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.  Also, try to stay optimistic.  I know it is difficult now during this time of crisis, but we just have to remember that things will get better and life will go back to normal in time.  We are all in this together, and together we will overcome.

What are the lessons you learned at Carroll High School that are helping you navigate this situation professionally and personally?

Academically, Carroll was an incredible school for me to go to.  It really prepared me for [undergraduate studies] at Miami University and Wright State’s graduate program, and I’m really thankful for that education.  In terms of volunteering, Carroll pushed me to volunteer in the beginning.  I first started with Habitat for Humanity my junior year.  Since then, I’ve still been in contact with Habitat for Humanity and help them.  I wouldn’t have been able to do that except for that fact that Carroll opened up that opportunity for me.

How can someone get involved with MedSupply Drive?

You go on the website, become a volunteer, and you’re assigned to a regional manager.  We email different institutions like universities, stores, high schools asking for donations.  Then we figure out what hospital we can donate to and drive the donations to them.  I’m pretty sure all the people in this are just volunteers.  None of us are actual health care professionals yet.  There are a lot of volunteers who are in medical school or pre-med, but you don’t have to be either of those to volunteer.  You can also donate PPE or cash.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Meet Major Matt Sturgeon '89

April 17, 2020
By Carroll High School
Riverside Police Department Major Matt Sturgeon '89

What are your job responsibilities and duties?

My biggest responsibility is overseeing the operations of everybody assigned to the Riverside Police Department road patrol. 

What are the daily tasks you perform.

To cover the day, we have two, twelve-hour shifts.  My direct link to the 22 patrol guys are my four sergeants.  I monitor them, and they monitor the patrol guys. I’m not actually out on patrol unless needed. If there is a critical incident, I respond.  On a day-to-day basis, it’s a lot of policy revision, and I split grant writing duties with the other major. There’s also a lot of use of force reviews, pursuit reviews, and any felony reports I review after the sergeants. 

Why is your work considered essential?

At a time when we’re dealing with COVID-19, but also in general, police are often referred to as “The Thin Blue Line”.  We’re a nation, state, city, and county of laws.  No matter what, we provide support to people who can’t take care of themselves. There are still people who victims of crime and medical emergencies. Even during a pandemic, nothing stops.  We prepare our operations for how we’re going to respond to [particular cases], how are we going to patrol, how are we going to keep our guys protected, how we’re going to support our fire department.

Riverside Police Department

What precautions are you taking to ensure coronavirus safety?

With coronavirus, [criminal] activity has dropped greatly, and we’ve rolled into Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) and Emergency Command Center.  Those have been up and running since early March.  As this whole thing has unfolded, we’ve done it in stages with a blend of what the Centers for Disease Control has been sending us through update portals that go directly to police departments and other services we subscribe to.  We’ve also been monitoring what’s going on globally, within the country, and most importantly to us, what’s going on within the state of Ohio. Initially, all we drew down our response to different types of calls and instead doing everything we can over the telephone.  This has become vital for us to lean on our dispatchers.  They’re screening calls to see if it can be conducted over a telephone call.  That has allowed us to dramatically decrease the in-person response.  When it all kicked off, we started social distancing and pulled all of [the City of Riverside’s] Personal Protection Equipment out of storage and took count between us and the fire department to determine how much we have and how long we can go on with it.  The mayor also declared an emergency which gives us the ability to supersede contracts to give us more flexibility with our staff.  Our guys are wearing N-95 masks and gloves when they respond to calls. When we’re arresting somebody, we put them into a surgical mask, and they’re evaluated at the Montgomery County Jail for COVID-19 screening.

What are the lessons you learned at Carroll High School that are helping you navigate this situation professionally and personally?

The biggest thing is the quality and level of education that I was able to receive at Carroll, and part of it is faith-based.  You understand that you have to be prepared. Going through Carroll, the University of Dayton, the police academy, and 25 years of working in law enforcement prepared me for the moment; it isn’t too big.  It gives you a chance to think critically. The worst thing you could do is just react without sitting down, planning, and thinking about the consequences of which direction you’re going to go. Dealing with my job in general, it’s always easier when you have a strong faith to fall back on.  You see the worst in people, and it’s easy to get cynical about why things are happening. My faith has allowed me to realize always that there are way more good people in the world than bad.

Editors' Note: During the coronavirus pandemic, we are featuring alumni who work in essential fields to learn more about how social distancing and other changes are affecting their critical professions.  Please contact Director of Communications Michael Franz '05 if you know an alumni with an essential job who would like to share their story with the Carroll community.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Meet A.J. Williams '03

April 10, 2020
By Carroll High School
AJ Williams '03
Greene County Clerk of Courts AJ Williams '03
AJ Williams swears in a deputy clerk.

Meet AJ Williams '03, Greene County Clerk of Courts

What are your job responsibilities and duties?

The Clerk of Courts is the keeper of the records for the Greene County Court of Common Pleas and all automobile title transfers, swears in all trial jurors, and reads the verdict in criminal trials.

What are the daily tasks that your office performs?

We make sure that filings reach the courts and judges on time.  We also receive orders from the judges to issue warrants from our office, and we get it to the police department so they can make arrests.

Why is your work considered essential?

The Supreme Court of the State of Ohio ruled that all Common Pleas Courts are essential and are to remain open, so we didn’t need to make a decision.  It was pretty helpful for us to have that decision from the Supreme Court and Chief Justice Maureen O’ Connor. The main tag line they used in the ruling is that we need to continue to provide citizens access to justice.  For dealings with the clerks, that includes someone who is filing for a civil protection order or someone who is trying to pay a fine from a criminal case. We need to provide [those services] to our citizens. We can’t just shut that down and say, “I understand you need a civil protection order, but we can’t file it right now,” and hope for the best.

What precautions are you taking to ensure you’re not spreading the coronavirus?

Our volume of work has gone down tremendously, so we’ve gone to half staff.  Half of our staff works one week, and the next staff comes in the next week. We’ve done that for three weeks now.  We’ve had the luxury of not needing to have everyone in the office and allowing people to stay home for a week. We have a thermometer scan every day, and no one’s had a fever.  We also have drop boxes outside the courthouse and have a lot of phone calls every day to keep people outside the courthouse for their safety and our safety.

What are the lessons you learned at Carroll High School that are helping you navigate this situation professionally and personally?

Going through St. Helen School, Carroll High School, and the University of Dayton, I learned that it’s always about service.  All the lessons I learned through my Catholic upbringing and family is service above self, and it always has been. There was never a time when I thought we need to close this down, but we need to find a way to serve the public no matter what.  Some of the staff was afraid to come in, and my stance was for them to stay home, feel safe, and not worry about their jobs, but I’ve been in every day at both offices. I’ve been at the title office alone because I need to provide that service.  I learned it at St. Helen, it was reinforced at Carroll, and it was reinforced at UD. Through my Catholic education, service has been instilled in me, and that’s the only way to operate.

Editors' Note: During the coronavirus pandemic, we are featuring alumni who work in essential fields to learn more about how social distancing and other changes are affecting their critical professions.  Please contact Director of Communications Michael Franz '05 if you know an alumni with an essential job who would like to share their story with the Carroll community.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Meet Lori (Marshall) Hallmark '99

October 22, 2019
By Lori (Marshall) Hallmark '99
Lori (Marshall) Hallmark '99

My name is Lori Hallmark, and I am an assurance partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). My current role there primarily includes serving as an audit partner in our Private Company Services team in the Cincinnati office. In addition to my day to day role as an audit partner, I am also a part of the national team that helps determine the audit methodology, tools, and technology used by more than 2,000 team members nationally in our Private Company Services practice.

Climbing the ladder at PwC

I joined PwC after graduating from the University of Dayton (UD). Since joining PwC, I’ve been very fortunate to be able to serve in a number of different roles within the Firm. I started my time as a tax associate but quickly learned that completing tax returns was not for me! I watched the audit staff spend their time with clients every day, learning about how businesses work and getting to know people within the organization. I quickly knew that I wasn’t meant to be hanging out in the office every day and that working directly with clients to help them meet their business objectives was something that would really resonate with me. As I spent more time in the audit practice, I came to really enjoy working particularly with private company clients and understanding how the auditing standards could be applied differently in our audit work. This led to a number of different roles from consulting with teams on the application of auditing standards all the way to spending 18 months in our Tampa, Fla., office with a global team helping to rewrite the manual that PwC uses to conduct its audits.

Foundational Catholic education

Fortunately, my time at both UD and Carroll High School really prepared me to take on challenging assignments and provided me with the basis I needed to be successful. While I didn’t take any business classes in my time at Carroll, I did take plenty of challenging courses that taught me what it meant to be a life long learner. These courses taught me not just about text book learning, but how to apply that learning in the real world. Whether it was Science Fair or Youth in Government, being able to work in teams in an experiential way provided me with a strong basis for how I operate in the business world today. More important than anything I learned in specific course work though are the lessons I learned about the kind of person I wanted to be. Carroll provided me with one of my first significant opportunities to experience the joy of providing service to others. Through Action Appalachia, I worked with my classmates collecting donations of clothing to take to those who needed it. As we loaded the semi and prepared for the trip, I looked forward to spending time with my friends on what I expected to be a fun trip. I didn’t realize that the truly rewarding part of this would be seeing the real value of making a difference in someone else’s life.

Lori (Marshall) Hallmark and Emma Mihlbachler
Lori (Marshall) Hallmark '99 and Emma Mihlbachler '18 at the Class of 2018 Baccalaureate and Graduation.


Continuing a Carroll legacy

All of these lessons have been instrumental to me as an individual, but I saw Carroll from an entirely new light as the parent of a student. I thought that I knew how important Carroll had been in influencing my development in a positive way – enough that it was extremely important to me as a parent for my daughter to experience the same benefits. Experiencing the impact of the school and community from a parent’s perspective was truly amazing. Because my daughter Emma Mihlbachler '18 was involved in completely different aspects of the Carroll community as part of the music program, I was able to see a whole new side of what Carroll has to offer. I was also able to experience again the value of providing service to others as the food mom for the band. These years were absolutely some of the best I have spent, perhaps even better than when I was there as a student! Seeing the absolutely tireless effort that the parents, administration, band directors, and other members of the Carroll community put into the students from a parent's perspective really confirmed everything that I had experienced as a student and more. Now watching her as a successful college student in the nursing program at Case Western Reserve University, I am even more amazed at what a Carroll High School education provides its students.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Carroll High School taught me that it's okay to fail

September 12, 2019
By Marilyn (Rupp) Cox '98
Marilyn (Rupp) Cox '98

I promise this isn’t a click-bait headline. This is my attempt not to bury the lead. You see, I fail every single day. From my freshman year at Carroll High School (and definitely before) and through more than 20 years since leaving (and definitely in the future), my life has consisted of a series of micro-failures, and there was a time I feared that failure.

There’s very little I’m afraid of. Heights don’t bother me. I think spiders get a bad rap. I’m more comfortable flying on a plane than I am driving to the grocery store. Slasher films, zombies, running alone through Chicago – they all provide an adrenaline rush. But after I graduated from Carroll High School, I was afraid of failure. Was I ready? Could I succeed? Will I remember the definition of ‘health’ (Yes, Mrs. Lane, I remember it’s ‘optimal personal fitness for full, fruitful, creative and spiritual living)? These same concerns have tagged along with me as I’ve worked as a marketing turn-around expert for technology and media/entertainment companies.
But my ability to embrace, learn from, and build on my failures are a result of my time at Carroll.


Fail together, in public, with confidence

If you were in English class with Miss Wourms or a Latin class with Sister Mary Alice Stein, you can probably recall the repeated rework of diagramming sentences or conjugating Latin verbs. I can remember the frustrations of Calculus and trying to follow along with Shakespeare but what stands out the most were the teachers who encouraged us to own our failures while learning these concepts. We shared them as a class, discussed the challenges, and then broke down why they occurred so we could build on those learnings. This taught me throughout my career how to develop an environment that reinforces resiliency, risk-taking, perseverance, and adaptation. I learned how to focus on solutions instead of blame and how to respond to failure.


Fail fast, and incrementally, in order to create

In business we preach, “fail and fail fast” or “create an environment where employees have the freedom to fail”. Even if the company culture truly supports that, failure doesn’t happen often. Companies hire experienced employees who have proven success in their field. Failure is rare. However, when you’re in school and learning, almost everything you first attempt fails. I believe this is why so many professionals become averse to learning. At Carroll, I failed over and over and over and over again. In my academics, athletics, and social structure, I was pushed so incredibly far outside of my comfort zone. I learned to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and that has served me well. It has taught me that micro-failures are necessary if I’m going to continue to learn and develop.

Fail free of judgment

While at Carroll, I was surrounded by teachers and coaches that encouraged authenticity. I was taught the importance of transparency, compassion, commitment, ethics, and setting the tone. I was never fearful – well, except when walking to the lunch room and my shirttail was untucked. These teachings have allowed me to foster a culture in my teams that embraces failure, free of fear. By developing a culture of authenticity, I’ve found that I can improve manager-employee relations, respond to change, and set goals. And when you fail free of judgment, you can begin to replace blame with curiosity. Relationships are better and more interesting when working together and building. It’s too easy just to fight, but relationships with tension and conflict make life interesting because not all tension and conflict is bad. Competing and differing ideas are great things.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to spend the better part of seventeen years working for innovative companies and iconic brands like The Second City and Oracle. I’ve worked with immense talents that push the level of creativity and challenges common convention. I’ve also learned to view everyone as a person with a special story to tell, to foster talent, and to teach. All of these learnings and all of my success can absolutely be attributed to my time at Carroll High School. But the most important lesson is to follow the fear and do what scares me the most. Carroll has taught me that if it’s uncomfortable, do it more.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Meet Michael Franz '05

August 23, 2019
By Michael Franz '05
Michael Franz '05

My name is Michael Franz, and I have been Carroll High School’s Director of Communications since September 2015. My role at Carroll boils down to this: tell the story of Carroll High School. I accomplish this through writing profiles, shooting pictures, producing videos, designing ads, and guiding our communications strategy and resources that ultimately appear in digital, broadcast, and print media.

After graduating from Carroll, I attended the University of Tampa in Florida to major in communications with an emphasis on writing and journalism. The years I spent in Florida brought many personal and educational blessings in my life. I dreamed of being the next great American sports broadcaster and was fortunate enough to gain professional experience while pursuing my degree. I’ll always remember my days as an intern at the area’s largest sports talk radio station (WHBO AM 1040) and the Tampa Bay area’s NBC affiliate. Tampa Bay hosted the Super Bowl during my final semester in spring 2009. Helping with our coverage leading up to the game is one of the highlights of my professional career. I was even able to earn a paycheck covering high school sports for the Tampa Tribune while finishing my degree.

My first journalism job after graduation was working as an assignment editor back home in Dayton at WHIO-TV in November 2009. I learned so much from so many great people, especially long time Sports Director Mike Hartsock who gave me the opportunity to cover sports in Dayton. I covered countless high school games and athletes, Ohio State football, and Dayton Flyers basketball, including following the team to Buffalo, New York, and Memphis, Tennessee on their Elite Eight run in 2014.

During my time as a student at Carroll, the idea of one day coming home as a staff member appealed to me even before graduating in 2005. Unfortunately, working as a teacher was something that I thought did not fit my skill set, and the position I have now did not exist at the time, so I did not spend much time throughout college and my early career thinking about how I could return to Carroll. When I saw a Facebook post on Carroll’s page in August 2015 seeking applicants for the new position of Director of Communications, I heard a voice in my heart telling me that this opportunity was made for me.

While the early part of my career prepared me for my current role at Carroll, my time as a student will always be the most formative years of my life. Coming from a school that did not send many students to Carroll, I quickly learned how crucial communication with strangers would be to my future success. The five-sentence outline structure I learned from Miss Downie (now Mrs. Clark) in freshman Honors English gave me the tools I needed to efficiently conceptualize and write not just papers and essays for college, but also many projects working as a journalist and communications manager. Walking the school’s halls and interacting with current students on a daily basis shows me that today’s faculty and staff are still instilling those same values and lessons in current students, and continuing that Patriot legacy is one of the greatest joys in my life.

Posted in Familiar Voices

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