The BIG Event

Every year, the University of Toledo dedicates one big day to provide one big thanks to the Toledo community through one Big Event.

Known as the largest student-run service project, UT Big Event will take place March 25 from 10 a.m.­– 4 p.m. Volunteers are expected to arrive to the Student Recreation Center for a kickoff speech to start the event.

First-year pharmacy major Katie Matousek said that the Big Event is intended to bring together different organizations to serve the community.

While groups can choose where they serve by submitting requests, organizations that do not have a preference will also be assigned to do work, Matousek said.

“I think it’s great to give back to the community without expecting anything in return,” said Matousek, the team leader for Active Christians Today.

She has been involved in the planning of this event for two months and expects at least 30 different organizations to be taking part in this year’s Big Event.

Second-year exercise science major Stacy Isaac said that she is also looking forward to giving back to the place she has been living in. This is her way of thanking the community for the opportunities it has given her.

“I hope to gain a better understanding of what the community here in Toledo is like by working alongside people from different places with different values,” Isaac said.

Taking on the role of a team leader for Food Recovery Network, Isaac said that it means something to be able to help people and work together in peace. She encourages people to think about a time in their own life when they have been in need and how others have reached out and helped them. To her, that is what Big Event is about.

“I expect my team members to work diligently, be respectful of others and understand the importance of what they are doing,” Isaac said.

Claudia Garber, a volunteer from last year’s Big Event and a second-year communication major, said she had a great time participating during her freshman year.

Her organization, Zeta Phi Eta, spent a total of three hours cleaning up a neighborhood in downtown Toledo. The experience allowed Garber to gain an overall understanding of the value of teamwork and dedication.

“My favorite part of Big Event was getting to know the members of my fraternity a little more than I did before the event,” Garber said.

Carlee Vaugh, a second-year pharmacy student, is participating for her second year in a row and has decided to volunteer as a team leader for the honors college this year.

Volunteering through Lambda Kappa Sigma as a first-year, Vaughn’s responsibilities included gardening, restocking and organizing shelves at a local food bank. Vaughn said that she sensed a good feeling after giving back, which is why she is participating again this year.

“It sounds like a big-time commitment, but it’s only one day out of your entire year and it’s just giving back to your community, giving back to those around you, who make UT great,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn encourages students who are hesitant to go ahead and give it a shot. Even students who don’t have an organization to go with can sign up through Rocket Nation and volunteer.

“Even if you wanted to go with just a friend, a lot of organizations would enjoy the extra help,” Vaughn said.

Students and staff members who are interested in participating can sign up through OrgSync.

Putting an end to the stigma

The University of Toledo is home to many diverse student organizations, but one in particular is making a point to address the effects of mental health.

Sofie Rodriguez, a second-year recreational therapy major, and Bailey Kurtz, a second-year pre-med exercise science major, recently founded a chapter of Active Minds at the University of Toledo.

This organization is the first group at UT completely dedicated to mental health awareness.

Rodriguez and Kurtz had been friends since the beginning of their first year at UT. After sharing their experiences with mental health with each other, they decided something needed to be done.

“This moment not only brought us closer but sparked a passion in us to share our stories with the student body,” Rodriguez said.

Both Rodriguez and Kurtz have family members who suffer from a mental illness.

“We knew that we weren’t the only ones on campus who had similar experiences,” Rodriguez said. “We wanted an organization that would create open conversation about mental health for people to not only ask questions but to also meet other individuals who share similar stories.”

Active Minds held its first meeting in the Student Union Jan. 23 of this year. Since then, this group of more than 25 students has been meeting every other Monday night from 7:30–8:30pm in Rocket Hall room 1542.

These biweekly meetings last about one hour and focus on a specific topic or illness. Some of the topics that have been discussed this semester include eating disorders, schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Active Minds is an organization made up of more than 400 student-run chapters on different college campuses across the United States and Canada. They are dedicated to promoting awareness, discussion, education and support regarding psychiatric disorders.

The original chapter was founded by Alison Malmon at the end of her first year at the University of Pennsylvania, after her brother committed suicide. Malmon also founded a chapter at Georgetown University the following year, and the organization took off.

In 2003, Active Minds was officially established with a headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“Active Minds, to me, is a movement,” Rodriguez said. “It is a group of students trying to end the stigma against mental illness.”

Grace Sheckler, a second-year healthcare administration major, heard about the new group through her service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, which Rodriguez and Kurtz both belong to.

Sheckler said she chose to join Active Minds because of the impact mental health has made on her life after her high school best friend committed suicide.

“There is still such a shroud surrounding mental illness, and we need to start speaking more about it,” Sheckler said. “I joined because I want to be a part of making that change.”

Aside from their biweekly meetings, Active Minds occasionally organizes other events. On March 1, they hosted a table in the Student Union and passed out orange ribbons for self-injury awareness day.

Rodriguez said they also plan to host an event in the fall called the “Backpack Project.” They will collect gently used backpacks and set up a display to symbolize the number of college students who commit suicide each year.

To find out more information, visit their Facebook page, @activemindsToledo.

UT helps students pave their way to success

Biology is more than just knowing mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. Biology can lead to jobs in higher education, such as microbiologist, nature conservation officer, pharmacologist or even a research scientist. University of Toledo students who wish to pursue a career in biology were invited to attend a night dedicated to the field.

The Biology Career Exploration Night was held in UT’s Bowman-Oddy Laboratories March 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. and gave students the opportunity to talk to professionals in their field of interest.

Amanda Seabolt-Martin, the academic adviser of the organizations in charge of planning the event, said that several different speakers came to the event to introduce themselves and speak about their education and career.

“This event is an introduction to a variety of careers possible with a degree in biology,” Seabolt-Martin said. “We have several speakers from a variety of areas: medicine, chiropractic, bioinformatics, medical laboratory science, careers in the zoo, research, education, lab tech, MD and Ph.D.”

Seabolt-Martin also said that students were able break off into smaller groups and talk to presenters about any questions or comments that they may have.

As an academic adviser for the department of biological studies, as well as an adviser for Biology Undergraduate Studies and Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society, Seabolt-Martin said that it is important for biology students attend the event.

“Students need to know what they can do with their degrees, so I am working hard to expose them to a variety of options and career tracks through empowering my student groups to do events like this,” she said.

Christian Backer, treasurer of Biology Undergraduate Studies, said that the event is very helpful, even to those who don’t know exactly what they want to do with their futures.

“This event means a lot to me because even though my major is biology, I am still not sure of what I want to do with my career, so it will be especially helpful to hear from different professionals in the field of biology to see what options I have,” Backer said.

Backer also said that this is the first year this event has been held and the first year that BUGS has been active on UT’s campus.

“The main purpose of this event is to show that there are lots of different career opportunities in the biology field,” Backer said.

Seabolt-Martin said that all students, not just those studying biology, could benefit from the event.

“People should attend to learn about a variety of careers in science and in the greater Toledo area,” she said. “All of these presenters are from the Toledo community. Students from a variety of educational programs would benefit to learn about the careers and how they can get involved in a new field they maybe have not thought about before.”

She also said it is the department’s job to help expose students to as many possibilities as it can, especially since biology doesn’t always offer a clear career path in the working world.

“I call it ‘high impact,’ as nothing like this has been done before, and it is just very important for students to know what career options they have,” Seabolt-Martin said. “Everyone needs to know what options they have with their degree; it gives them purpose to keep on through the tough courses.”


Holocaust survivor shares his story of bravery

For 10-year old Irving Roth, life took a completely different turn when a sign reading “Jews and dogs are forbidden to enter the park” was placed in his homeland of Czechoslovakia in the summer of 1939.

Born in Kosice, Czechoslovakia on Sept. 2, 1929 and having lived in Europe through 1945, Roth’s entire childhood was spent in the Holocaust.

Director of the Holocaust Resource Center at the Temple Judea of Manhasset and Adjunct Professor at the University of Maine, Roth shared his story over Skype with University of Toledo students and community members on March 1 in Rocket Hall.

He took the audience on a journey to provide them with insight on Europe in the 1920-30s.

Roth said the world was a rather peaceful place. Czechoslovakia was a democratic country and his city of 7,000 people included Jews, Catholics, Protestants and members of the Russian Orthodox Church all together in harmony.

At six years old, Roth began attending an integrated public school with kids from different backgrounds and religious beliefs. During this time, he befriended a Russian Orthodox girl and became very fond of her.

Roth said that he had a comfortable childhood as part of an upper middle-class family. However, trouble was beginning to emerge in the world.

In April 1933, Germany started to boycott Jewish enterprises. The ideology was to defeat Jews both economically and in the arts in order for Germany to prosper.

“The elimination of Jews from society was an essential aspect of Nazis,” Roth said.

Germany quickly started a propaganda program. In 1935, Nuremberg laws were passed that prohibited German Jews from having Reich citizenship and forbade them from marrying people of German or related blood.

At the same time, Jewish students in Germany were thrown out of school, Jewish professors were fired and the elimination of Jews from society was in full swing. Roth said that, at six years old, he wasn’t even aware of what was happening.

By 1939, the German army marched into Czechoslovakia and dismembered the country. They split it into what is modern day Czech Republic and Slovakia, which essentialized the ideas of Germany.

Roth, now living in brand-new Slovakia, found a country in which Jews were no longer allowed to play together with others in parks or go to the beaches. They were prohibited from going out at night and were forced to wear a yellow star.

As things began to change slowly, 10-year-old Roth started to learn about the prejudice, the hatred, anti-Semitism and persecution that confronted Jews.

“One day I was going home with the girl I liked, and as I was carrying her books and talking about getting together to do homework, she said that she could no longer be friends with me,” Roth said. “Her father told her not to be friends with a Jew or else ‘[she] might get called something really nasty, like a Jew-lover.’”

In September 1940, his principal stopped Jews from entering. Jews could also no longer own their own businesses. Roth’s father, Joseph, asked one of his Christian friends, Albert, to put the business under his own name. As a token of appreciation, Joseph offered Albert $1,000 per month.

Within months of taking over the business, Albert returned and asked for half of the profits. A few months later, he came back and took all of Joseph’s profits.

“In just a matter of time, my father’s good friend was transformed, and that’s really what the Holocaust was about, transformation of society,” Roth said.

By summer 1942, six death camps were operating.

“We knew something was happening because, in the summer of 1942, on Friday night, 1,800 Jews were marched into a synagogue that could only hold up to 500 people,” he said. “There were no bathrooms or air conditioning, and guards were standing outside to make sure no one escaped.”

After being stuck for almost two days, the Jews were later marched into the railway station, shoved into cabin carts and resettled. In the coming months, Roth’s grandfather and grandmother were both arrested.

“We knew people were being arrested, put into trains and were gone,” Roth said. “We managed to get them out by paying someone off.”

To avoid being arrested, Roth and his family escaped to Hungary, where he lived with his brother, grandparents and other relatives while his parents moved to Budapest to find jobs.

In the spring of 1944, the Hungarian Nazis and the German government sent Jews to concentration camps in cattle cars. Ninety percent of them died on the journey.

Roth was one of the 437,000 Jews taken from their homes. Riding on a train crowded with 100 people, no windows, no place to sit and no bathroom for three days and three nights, 14-year-old Roth said he had no idea what was going to happen.

Once they arrived in Auschwitz, everyone was divided into two lines. Roth stood on the left with his older brother Andre, while his grandparents and aunt’s family stood on the right. The Jews standing on the right were led into a group shower. They were gassed to death and later incinerated in the crematoria.

He added that, out of the 4,000 Jews that arrived, only 300 people made it out of the camp alive.

Roth said that he and his brother were taken to Auschwitz, where their clothing was exchanged for striped jackets and pants. He was tattooed with a number and assigned to drain swamps and plow the fields.

“I was a kid who grew up in the city and knew nothing about farming,” he said.

In a matter of days, his brother was taken away, never to come back. Roth was put onto a train and moved to a new camp called Buchenwald with gas chambers.

Roth said he was always hungry and only had a piece of bread for dinner every night. Weighing only 75 pounds, Roth knew he would surely die if another death march took place.

Finally, on April 11, the U.S. Army entered Buchenwald and rescued the remaining Jews. Roth was liberated from Nazi captivity and oppression.

“There wasn’t a single person in the German Army uniform. People no longer wanted to kill me! There were 300 of us, and all the soldiers wanted to feed us. The doctors came to examine us and see how our health was,” Roth said.

Roth reunited with his parents in his home village. While Roth fought for survival in the concentration camps, his father wound up in a coma in a hospital where all the doctors told his mother that he would die. A Christian Adventist night nurse took care of Joseph and hid both of his parents in her one-bedroom apartment.

“So my parents were safe because someone was willing to help,” Roth said.

Roth said that the most important lesson he learned from the Holocaust was that one needs to evaluate every action groups, individuals and countries take. The Holocaust did not happen all at once; it was a step-by-step process.

All Around the World

Lights flash, music pulses and people strikes poses. Fashion and comedic entertainment formed a traditional event put together by the University of Toledo’s Black Student Union.

BSU presented their 48th annual fashion show Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. in the Lancelot Thompson Student Union Auditorium. BSU has become the third largest group on campus after UT Student Government and Campus Activities and Programing.

This event was attended by more than 400 students and community members.

MeKayla Pullins is a third-year exercise science major and the president of BSU. She has been involved in planning and putting on the fashion show since her first year at UT.

Pullins did a lot of behind-the-scenes work to prepare for this show and, as the president of BSU, many looked to her to make decisions whenever issues arose.

“I have never heard my name called so much in one day,” Pullins said.

Asha Townsend, a third-year psychology major who attended the event, said she heard about the show from her friend Kyndra Gaines.

“I have been looking forward to seeing all of the different clothes from all over the world,” Townsend said.

As the scene director, Gaines was responsible for coming up with the theme. This year’s theme, “All Around the World,” showcased fashion from four diverse countries. The countries included in the show were Brazil, China, India and Jamaica.

Every year, the fashion show has had a different and unique theme. Previous years’ themes have included “Color me Bad,” “Coming to America,” “Project Runway” and many more.

“The show is always different, seeing that there are different scene directors, themes, models and hosts, but that is what makes it original,” Pullins said. “The crowd will never know what to expect until the day of the show, which I think is what makes it exciting.”

The host for this year’s show was JayLa Milan. Milan, who goes by Lala or @LalaSizaHands89, is a comedian and entertainer from Atlanta, GA, who became famous on Instagram.

The proceeds from tickets sales for the fashion show go to fund scholarships that BSU gives to two students every year. These scholarships are for $1,000 each and they are awarded during the fashion show’s intermission.

Any money left over from ticket sales goes to an account set up to fund next year’s scholarship. The scholarship recipients are chosen by a panel of faculty members. This choice is based on applicant’s answers to essay questions created by BSU’s executive board.

The scholarships awarded during this show went to Isis Walker, a first-year communication major, and Sheri Saka, a third-year pharmacy major.

While BSU is responsible for sponsoring many events, the fashion show is their largest event of the year.

Pullins said that her goal for the show goes beyond just enjoying the performance and appreciating all of the hard work that has gone into it. She hopes that those who attended were made more aware of the opportunities that BSU offers to students.

Born to be brave

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

This is the Special Olympic athlete’s oath that was first recited July 20, 1968 at the opening ceremony of the very first Special Olympics International Games.

Since that day, more than four million Special Olympic athletes have bravely trained and competed to beat all odds.

Although this year’s Winter World Games are held in March, one University of Toledo fraternity decided to hold their very own Olympics this month. Sigma Phi Epsilon hosted the second annual UT Olympics Sunday, Feb. 26 from 12–5 p.m. in a campus-wide event that encouraged athletes of all kinds to come out and compete.

This multisport tournament included volleyball, indoor soccer and basketball. The majority of the Interfraternity Council and Panhel Council organizations at UT participated in the event. Each organization paid a $25 fee and each individual participant paid $5 to compete.

Jacob Lohr, member or Sigma Phi Epsilon and director of this year’s UT Olympics, said that, even though there were medals and prizes, these things were not the main focus of the event, but rather, helping the Special Olympians shine.

“The purpose of the event was to raise funds and awareness for people with disabilities and give them a time to shine,” Lohr said. “The three athletes that came to the event had an absolute blast and are excited to return next year.”

All funds raised from the event were directly donated to the Lucas County Special Olympics, a non-profit agency that provides sporting opportunities to athletes that are determined eligible for Lucas County Board of Developmental Disability Services.

Three athletes from LCSO – Terrance, Craig and Zach – came out to meet the students and compete in the games with them.

The mission of Special Olympics is to “provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.”

Lohr, who was in charge of reaching out to organizations, creating a planning committee, creating an account to raise funds and reserving the Student Recreation Center, said that, even though he will not be the event director next year, he still wants to help host this event in the years to come.

“I would love to have this event next year and make it better than ever,” he said. “I want to pass the torch down to someone else who holds the same amount of passion for philanthropy as my chapter does. I will be on the committee again and help out in any way possible.”

The event helped to raise more than $2,500, which will be used to fund athletes at LCSO.

The King and the Clown

The University of Toledo’s Department of Theatre and Film is giving students and community members the chance to immerse themselves in a different culture in the form of theatre.

The stage production “The King and the Clown” was performed this past weekend, Feb. 17 – 19, and will be again this coming weekend, Feb. 24 – 26.

The production is written by Taewoong Kim and directed by a UT theatre student, Keeyong Hong.

Hong said that he was anxious for the show, since it is his first performance as an American actor; however, he is excited for this unique opportunity.

“I am very excited because I really want to share Korean culture and play,” Hong said. “Through this show, I have a big chance to share our culture and play with an American audience.”

First-year theatre major Xaverie Baker said she is very excited to be participating in this American debut.

“From everyone I’ve talked to who has seen it, they’ve really enjoyed it and they’re really into the way it looks because visually the show is beautiful; it’s really beautiful,” Baker said.

Baker said since the original script was in Korean, some tweaks had to be made along the way.

“It’s based off of a true story. It’s basically just about a clown who is kind of struggling to rise in power,” said Baker. “The way he does it is by coercing the king, because he’s very feminine and the king eventually thinks he’s beautiful. The king is very violent and kind of sadistic, so it’s kind of like a power struggle to climb to the top of the food chain.”

Baker, who will be playing Clown 1, explained that the type of “clown” used in the play is not the kind you see at the circus.

“They’re performers, essentially, of a lower class,” she said. “They didn’t have anything, and they’re dressed in a way that very much shows that they don’t have money. They’re regular people and they’re very afraid of the king, but they’re still funny like you would imagine a clown to be. It’s very much political commentary.”

Both Hong and Baker said that since the show relies heavily on dance and body movement, it is important to follow the main character’s desires and emotions to make the show more enjoyable as opposed to just watching it absent-mindedly.

“It’s a kind of connection you get watching real people perform in front of you versus watching on a screen, and you’re never going to have that connection unless you’re there,” Baker said.

Theatre and Film Department Chair Edmund Lingan said that he has no worries about the performance and describes it as “almost Shakespearean.”

“This performance will lead to some great discussions about the issues in the play, and it will introduce people to a new playwright whose work has never before been presented in English in North America,” Lingan said.

He encourages students to attend the performance in order to better their understanding of culture and other important topics.

For tickets and showtimes please visit

SAMS changes the lives of Syrian refugees

Only 60 percent of children who have left Syria are enrolled in school to get an education, according to Melisa Fleming, author and chief spokesperson for UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees.

Touched by her words and motivated to change that percentage, Farrah Alarmanazi, co-president of University of Toledo’s Chapter of Syrian American Medical Society, said she is working to raise that number to 100 percent.

Second-year biology majors and sisters Farrah and Marah Alarmanazi founded the UT chapter of SAMS — a non-profit, medical and humanitarian relief organization aimed towards helping Syrian refugees — at the beginning of the fall semester.

“When I was a sophomore, that’s when the refugee crisis hit its peak,” Farrah said. “There were Syrian refugees headed here, and I started looking for an organization on campus that would focus on that issue, but I didn’t find any.”

Determined to create change, the Alarmanazi sisters got to work and contacted the Ohio chapter of SAMS to start a university chapter for students.

With the help of UT faculty, such as lecturer and director of Honors Learning, Page Armstrong; Associate Director of Undergraduate Research, Dr. Larry Connin; Associate Professor, Dr. Melissa Gregory and Dean of the Jesup Scott Honors College, Heidi M. Appel; Farrah was able to spread the message and find members to build the organization.

In August 2016, a friend of their mother’s, Rania Taher, asked Farrah and Marah to help four Syrian kids learn English. In the process of helping the children learn their alphabets, Farrah said she came to realize that these children deserved, and were in dire need of, education.

“They didn’t have any background in English and were struggling when they came here because they moved from Syria to Jordan just before starting school and then again to Toledo,” Farrah said. “One of the children even had a speech impairment.”

With the drive to help, Farrah and Marah contacted people within SAMS to establish a program to tutor Syrian refugee children between the age of five and 18. With Taher’s help, they contacted the principal of the Central Academy of Ohio and figured out a plan to hold the tutoring sessions at the school.

“In the beginning, it was tough since we didn’t have a lot of supplies, and were working with just pen and paper,” Farrah said. “We had about 20 children and only 12 to 13 volunteers.”

The program has since grown to 30 Syrian children, but the problem of too few volunteers still remains. Since the sessions are only held from 5:00 ­­– 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, most volunteers are unable to make it.

However, the Alarmanazi sisters are planning to change the weekly session to two meetings for more volunteers to be able to tutor the children.

“You would think just because they’re refugees, they wouldn’t worry too much about education, but really they did,” Farrah said.

She said that while the refugees struggled with issues like health insurance, finding a job and a place to live in, no one was focusing on helping the children with their education.

“The thing that made me want to help was when I realized how much the children were in need of education and how their parents were ready to do anything for their kids to be educated,” Marah said.

She said that when she sees the progress and how pleased the parents are with how well their kids are doing, she feels more motivated to continue helping those children. The kids don’t get tired from all the learning and never want to take any breaks.

Farrah added that, until last semester, most of the kids didn’t even know their alphabets and now they are starting to spell, read and make conversation.

“One kid came up to me and asked, ‘How do I say what my favorite kind of food is?’ He told me he was trying to make conversation with his tutor and didn’t know how to say it,” Farrah said. “I asked him if he wanted me to translate it for him and he said, ‘No, I want to know how to say it!’ It made me so happy to see him trying.”

Marah said that the children have formed such a strong bond with their tutors; they are sad when they are not there to work with them.

“This has also changed the volunteers’ perception of refugees since they are actually interacting with them,” Farrah said.

Hemaa SreeKumar, a second-year pharmacy major, said that she enjoys spending her time tutoring the children.

“I never had an impression of Syrian refugees, but I’ve always wanted to help and do something to help the community,” SreeKumar said. “I meet all these different kids and it’s kind of a good stress reliever.”

SreeKumar said that people have a misconception that they cannot help since they don’t speak Arabic, but she says anyone can help. The goal is to teach them English, and you don’t have to be Syrian or Arabic to volunteer.

Another volunteer, Annalisa Han, a fourth-year pre-pharmacy major, said as an international student, she really loves to learn about different cultures from different parts of the world.

“I have interacted with Europeans, Asians and Americans, but I’ve never met someone from the Middle East,” Han said. “SAMS has opened my eyes to a different perspective, to people’s different lives and I think it has made me care more about people.”

First-year nursing student Carly Gerogosian says she feels the same way. As a result of volunteering, she has become more open-minded and open-hearted as a person.

“My role in this organization is to help the kids and spread the message of all that I’ve learned through these tutoring sessions,” she said.

Due to the growth of the organization, Social Services for Arab Community has reached out to the SAMS Toledo chapter and asked to collaborate with them to have a separate section for the parents to be tutored.

The sisters have now started a program called the Family Education Program, where parents are also being tutored to learn English.

During the session, parents take lessons to learn English. For the half hour of the session, a volunteer speaks to the parents about living in the United States and how to adapt.

Farrah and Marah Alarmanazi say they are very happy with the success of the organization and the progress the Syrian refugee children have made in their education.

For more information about SAMS’ Toledo chapter, visit SAMS University of Toledo campus Chapter page on Facebook, SAMS-UT Student Chapter on Instagram or email the presidents of SAMS at [email protected]

Toledo gets jazzy

Each year, more than 200 music lovers in the Toledo community gather for a jazz-style piano concert.

The University of Toledo Department of Music Jazz Studies Program hosted their 26th annual Art Tatum Memorial Jazz Scholarship Concert Feb. 20 from 7 – 8 p.m. in UT’s Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall.

Gunnar Mossblad, director of jazz studies and professor of saxophone, introduced this event as one installment of the UT jazz concert series presented every semester.

The program sponsors many jazz events both on and off campus and hosts weekly jazz nights, which feature both faculty and students. The jazz department also hosts various ensemble concerts throughout the semester where a number of groups perform, including CrossCurrents, which is made up of only faculty members.

“Jazz is a performance art form that offers a palette of colors and textures that a jazz artist can use to create a personal musical statement,” Mossblad said.

This year’s featured performer was award-winning musician Phil DeGreg, a professor of jazz studies at the University of Cincinnati and a professional jazz pianist who performs internationally.

DeGreg was inducted into Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame this year, won eight Citybeat Magazine Cincinnati Entertainer Awards, a Fulbright Fellowship in Brazil and was a finalist in the Great American Jazz Piano Competition in 1996.

He is proficient in a wide range of jazz styles and has been playing piano since his childhood.

Before becoming a professional musician, he received his undergraduate degree in psychology from Yale University. He then went on to study music in Kansas City and later obtained his master’s degree from the University of North Texas.

It was at the University of North Texas that DeGreg and Mossblad met.

“We ran into each other at the Jazz Education Network convention recently and he suggested bringing me in for this,” DeGreg said.

During the performance, the two even played a duet together with Mossblad on saxophone and DeGreg on piano.

DeGreg has recorded and published much of his music into eleven albums and has worked alongside fellow musicians on numerous projects. In addition, he created a book with piano lessons and exercises for aspiring jazz pianists.

According to DeGreg, his most significant achievement to date is a jazz trio recording that is set to be released this spring.

“As musicians, we have a lot of fun making improvised sound together. Hopefully the process and the result are something people find interesting,” DeGreg said.

The proceeds from the event go to support the UT Art Tatum Memorial Jazz Scholarship. This scholarship is presented yearly to one student studying jazz performance at UT. The concert and the scholarship are given in honor of Art Tatum, a Toledo-born jazz pianist, who became famous in the early 1900s.

The scholarship is awarded in the fall, and the amount awarded varies based on the availability of funds from the foundation.

Last year’s recipient was Michael Reed, a third-year jazz performance major who specializes in percussion instruments.

“The jazz department has been very instrumental in my growth as a musician, and I am very appreciative of them,” Reed said. “I really enjoy jazz music and being able to express myself through my playing.”

The Year of the Rooster

Students enjoyed an afternoon of food, fun and games, all while celebrating Chinese culture.

The Confucius Institute at the University of Toledo celebrated their fifth annual Chinese New Year and Spring Festival Feb. 13 from 11 to 2 p.m. at their free event in the Student Union Auditorium.

The Year of the Rooster event gave UT students, as well as others who attended, the opportunity to learn about the culture of China through activities and crafts such as ping pong, solving riddles, attempting calligraphy and even trying on traditional Chinese clothes.

There was also an area where students could sit and try green tea or listen to a child play the guzheng, a traditional stringed Chinese instrument she has been studying for five years.

The event also offered several different types of Chinese food students could try once they had visited three or more areas within the event.

“I think it is amazing that the University of Toledo goes to such lengths to educate its students about the diversity on its campus,” said Olivia Tharp, a first-year student studying chemistry.

The Confucius Institute at UT and other universities and schools around the world align with the People’s Republic of China and focus on promoting and teaching the Chinese language and culture.

“I just want more people to show an interest in Chinese culture and to learn more about it,” said Xinren Yu, the international programs coordinator for the Confucius Institute.

Xiaofeng Zhao, a Chinese language teacher at Central Catholic High School and a member of the Confucius Institute, said that she feels it is her responsibility to promote appreciation of her heritage.

“I hope that everyone can enjoy the activities and show kindness towards each other and towards Chinese culture,” Zhao said.

Chinese classes from several local high schools, including Morrison R. Waite, St. John’s Jesuit and Maumee Valley, came to the event as well as part of a voluntary field trip.

Yu said that more than 500 people attended the event and approximately 200 of them were from high schools.

While some of these students were excited to have the opportunity to get out of class, others, like Adam Braun, a sophomore at St. John’s High School, said he was excited to attend the event for other reasons.

“It gives me a chance to be with friends and learn about Chinese culture and [the] New Year,” said Braun.

The Institute plans to hold this event in the future, as well as a similar event in the fall semester during the Mid-Autumn Festival, which is a Chinese and Vietnamese holiday celebrating the harvest.

Healthy relationships matter

Being in a relationship in 2017 is a completely different world than it was when our grandparents were doing the jitterbug. Romantic relationships for college students start from text messages, Tinder, mutual friendships, group projects or even running into each other at Chasers.

But these casual starts to relationships can quickly turn sour. College students are not equipped to deal with dating abuse, according to LoveIsRespect, a website that aims to prevent and end dating abuse. 57 percent of young adults say it is difficult to identify, and 58 percent say they don’t know how to help someone who’s experiencing it.

“All students have various relationships in their lives,” said Lena Salpietro, a graduate assistant for the Sexual Assault Education and Prevention Program in the University of Toledo’s Counseling Center. “Being able to determine what are healthy and unhealthy behaviors and working towards resolving conflicts and communicating effectively is something anyone in a relationship should be knowledgeable of.”

SAEPP, along with the UT Police, are hosting “The Healthy Relationship Seminar” on Feb. 16 at 5 p.m. in the Student Union (room 2584). Teaching students about the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships and how to cultivate these relationships is the goal of the collaboration.

“Students need to know, good or bad, relationships are certain to occur,” said Lt. Tressa Johnson of the UT Police. “Students should understand they will have many different kinds of relationships with many different people in their lives, and it is important to know how to have a healthy relationship without the negative influence of society and media through movies, advertisement or music.”

One in three dating college students has given a dating partner their computer, online access, email or social network passwords. says these students are more likely to experience digital dating abuse. In addition, one in six college women has been sexually abused in a dating relationship and nearly half (43 percent) of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors.

“I want students to know what happens in a healthy relationship,” Johnson said. “I want students to recognize warning signs of an unhealthy relationship. I want all of our students to become bystanders against violence, harassment and inappropriate comments. I want students to recognize the power they have to prevent or minimize themselves and others from all forms of violence.”

At the seminar, students will be educated on how to recognize the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship and how to safely and effectively intervene. Salpietro says education is how students can help create a safer culture on campus and within the UT community.

“This seminar will provide a safe place to talk about relationships and learn and practice healthy relationship skills,” Johnson said. “This seminar will also inform students of the numerous benefits in a healthy relationship, which will help to create a violence free campus here at UT.”

Johnson says the seminar will give all attendants a clear understanding of “good relationships are based on respect and equality. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity.”

The event will have opportunities for audience participation, along with activities on evaluating relationships and the creation of a support map.

For more information about the seminar, check out the Facebook pages of UT SAEPP and UTPD.

Student Leadership Conference held at UT

“Dreams you want to talk about become fantasy, the dreams you work to live become a reality.”

These are the words of Frank Kitchen, who was voted one of “America’s Most Eligible Bachelors” in Complete Woman Magazine and asked to audition for ABC’s “The Bachelorette.” Kitchen is a professional motivational speaker who has spoken for more than 500,000 people around the world.

As the keynote speaker for the 2017 Leadership Conference, Kitchen inspired University of Toledo students to live their dreams just last Saturday.

The conference, held in Memorial Field House Feb. 11 at 9:00 p.m., included a variety of leaders from different companies who provided students with advice on how to turn their dreams into a reality.

UT Blue Key member Samuel Duling introduced Kitchen as “as memorable as his last name with a recipe on life and leadership experienced by students, educators, volunteers, entrepreneurs and professionals around the world.”

To pay for his college education, Kitchen booked speakers as a college director of student activities, but his plans changed once his students talked him into becoming a motivational speaker.

“The most important thing I remember is that one of my students came up to me and said, ‘Frank, you always push us to go live our dreams, what are you doing to live yours?’” he said.

Since then, Kitchen has been traveling around the world talking to people about living their dreams. He said his ultimate goal is to educate, elevate and empower people to become great leaders.

“Every action you take comes out to your name,” said Kitchen.

Growing up with a 21-letter name (Frank Cornelius Kitchen), he said he did not feel especially awesome or unique as a teenager. However, that later changed as he learned that his parents saw him as a difference-maker and life changer.

He was named Frank after his father who served 30 years in the military. His middle name, Cornelius, was inspired by his grandfather who served in World War II and his last name is everyone’s favorite room in the house.

“If you are a difference maker and a life changer, people are going to remember you for your name and your actions,” Kitchen said.

Kitchen also said that every great leader’s vision starts with a dream and, after some planning, that dream turns into a goal. The first step to work toward your dream is to share it with others because there are people out there willing to help you live your dream.

He shared his dream about challenging himself and finishing a marathon for the first time.

“If you really want to be motivated, try to figure out how your dream can impact and help somebody else,” Kitchen said.

The second time he ran a marathon, he remained stronger, ran better and could not quit because he knew he was doing it to raise money for his mom who had recently had a stroke.

“This time I finished the race; I felt fresh,” Kitchen said.

This is what inspired his brand and the idea of being certified FRESH in order to reach your goals.

Kitchen said that you have to have a focus that everything in your life reflects. It is important to be resourceful so that you are willing to do everything in your power to reach your goal, be enthusiastic about everything surrounding your goal, remain strong mentally and be honest with yourself about your decisions.

“Success is living your own dream so you define what your dream is,” he said. “Don’t worry about comparing yourself to other people, you can learn from other people.”

Another leader who talked about the importance of building and learning from relationships with people was leader of Corporate Communication at Dana Inc., Jeffrey Cole.

Cole, who is a proud UT Grad and current UT trustee, has traveled to 53 countries, met influential leaders and built relationships with them.

Over the years, his travel experiences have opened him to cultural differences, made him less sensitive to being offended and allowed him to grow a thicker skin.

He advises students to also travel outside of the United States to build long-lasting relationships, see things from a different perspective and grow as individuals.

First-year nursing major Cassandra Fernandez was very inspired by Cole’s presentation. She said that he gave his life examples, shared his mistakes, and opened up his world to the students.

“Something I took away was to be open to other people and not be easily offended,” Fernandez said. “The world is a diverse place; everyone has standards of what is acceptable in a culture and what isn’t. If we work with people from different backgrounds, we have to be understanding of that.”

Founder and CEO of William Lucas Company, Will Lucas, told his story about dropping out of college six times. He said that most of the leadership positions he has held were without a college degree.

“Can you imagine what you can do with one?” he asked students.

Lucas said that students’ number one priority should not just be to develop themselves but to also find people who can go on their journey with them.

“There’s a universal principle that says that one can tackle one thousand, two can tackle ten thousand,” Lucas said.

He said the meaning behind this is that one person can multiply their efforts when they bring someone else along.

“Multiply by aspiring other people to come along in your journey,” he said.

Jeff Witt, diversity and inclusion specialist from the University of Michigan, spoke out about leadership brand being a specific part of who someone is as a person.

“If you’re going to build a leadership brand and you want to influence people around you with your leadership, your brand is first and foremost, and it has to be authentic,” he said.

He said that students should do self-exploration to find out who they are, be comfortable with themselves and build their brand around the six words that define them best.

“Any great leader who is truly living fresh, they don’t only talk about it as a fantasy, they want to live it and turn it into a reality,” said Kitchen.