University Alum Collects AIM Teaching Award
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
As a teacher at Omaha South High School, Lana Yager works with disadvantaged kids who may not get the opportunity to learn technical skills. She goes above and beyond the call of duty teaching all aspects of computers, modern technologies, and robotics. In recognition of her service, Yager was named the 2015 AIM Institute Tech Educator of the Year.
Yager, a 2002 graduate of the University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, was surprised by the award.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I’m NEVER speechless. When I learned about this award, I actually was speechless,” Yager said.
The award is presented to a dynamic K-12 or postsecondary educator who has risen to the top of the profession as an outstanding technology educator/administrator, a dynamic colleague, and a caring mentor to students.
In addition to her Bellevue University degree, Yager completed the post-bachelor’s teacher training program at the College of St. Mary and earned a Master of Arts in Education from Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska.
At South High, Yager teaches Computer Programming, Robotics Concepts, System Support, Digital Design, Introduction to Information Technology, and Intro to Programming. In addition, Yager hosts an after-school technology club, coaches the CyberPatriot and Robotics teams, and is working to bring the Girls Who Code program to the Omaha/Council Bluffs area.
“I am teaching an introductory computer programming class for all girls this year. I think these girls were very brave to venture into a subject so new and foreign to them! None of these girls had taken computer science classes before and now, several are planning to study CS in college after they graduate this year,” Yager said. “My main reason to get girls involved in IT is to help them build self-confidence. Teens with self-confidence normally make wiser life choices. Playing a role in helping students prepare for an exciting future in IT is pretty rewarding!”
Yager juggled work and family responsibilities, while pursuing her degree.
“The flexibility to take classes around a work schedule at Bellevue made it very ‘do-able!” Yager said. “I was a single parent while working full time and the courses I took were relevant. It’s obvious that BU works with local businesses when creating their curriculum.”
The late Dr. Ed Rauchut’s teaching style left an impression on Yager.
“Professor Edward Rauchut was an excellent instructor!” she said. “I frequently think of him and his teaching style and impact in his classroom.”
European Internship Hones Communication Skills, Wi-Fi Radar
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
What do you think about when you’re traveling through Greece and Italy? Amazing art and beautiful beaches? Beautiful people and amazing food?
Cherise Shaddix, a Communications student from Marietta, Georgia, was absorbing all those things in addition to some communication theory during a five-month internship experience in Europe. She visited Olso, Norway and Munich, Germany in addition to Athens and Santorini in Greece and Milan, Venice, and Rome in Italy.
“Santorini was incredible. It was one of the most unique places I’ve ever traveled,” Shaddix said. “Venice and Rome were close seconds. I had dreamed of Venice since I was a little girl, and Rome is like a museum under the sky.”
The internship grew out of a modeling opportunity. Shaddix worked with Dr. Kate Joeckel and Study Abroad representative Emily Krueger to bring all the elements for the internship together.
“It’s really great to travel everywhere, but lots of hard work that people don’t realize. It’s not easy, fun, or glamorous until you’re well known, but I made so many international friends that I’ll never need a hotel again,” Shaddix said.
“While most internships are behind a desk, I was with agencies in a variety of countries and my responsibilities were to make it to castings in places I had no idea how to get to, in countries I am unfamiliar with, she said. “So my morning would start with an agency telling me to arrive at a certain location, and for me to be able to successfully navigate in a foreign country with no Wi-Fi in order to book the job (So on my diploma, please add Top Wi-Fi Locator).”
Despite the beautiful beaches and amazing food (Shaddix recommends Athens for the “Best. Seafood. Ever.”), Shaddix was happy to return to her home near Atlanta, Georgia.
“The more I travel the more I love Atlanta, and I really realized how blessed I am as people learned I was from America,” she said. “They would constantly tell me how lucky I was, and that it was their dream to go there. I’m really lucky.”
Shaddix is on schedule to graduate in December 2015.
“I’ve been invited back to Europe,” she said. “but declined as I want to finish state-side and travel back once I graduate. I’m so close!!”
Alum, Veteran Pens Escape from Afghanistan
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Nathan Sessler has some stories to tell. A 2015 graduate of the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration, Sessler has written Escape from Afghanistan, a story pulled from his experience as a solider in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“Escape from Afghanistan is a peek into the realities our military members endure in the most basic tasks – the story is a bit of a roller coaster ride,” said Sessler, a native of Summerville, S.C. and a 14-year military veteran. “People often think about the hardships service members endure while in battle, but the war doesn’t stop there. Next, you have to get home and sometimes that is just as challenging. While some of the delays and complications could be expected, this true account contains both lighter moments and profoundly somber ones.”
The book was published in September by the War Writers’ Campaign, Inc.
“Their mission set of ‘the power of therapy though communication’ was exactly the message I wanted to be involved in and promote,” Sessler said. “I encourage any other veterans who have ever contemplated writing about their experiences overseas to go for it and let the War Writers Campaign help get your book published.”
After separating from the military in 2013, Sessler has completed his bachelor’s degree at the University and is now midway through the Master of Science in Organizational Performance (MSOP) program.
“A fellow military member told me about Bellevue University and, after contacting the school, I was hooked,” Sessler said. “I was nervous about college, but Bellevue made it extremely easy and my academic advisor (Anna Benton) called me constantly and helped me every step of the way.”
A capstone project, something a lot of students may dread to one degree or another, was actually a highlight of Sessler’s bachelor’s degree.
“My goal in that project was to identify a deficiency in my organization and formulate a comprehensive plan to solve it. I presented my capstone project, along with a suggested solution, to my agency, which then incorporated it into our training program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center,” Sessler said. “So, not only did I get to showcase the knowledge I had learned in class, I also leveraged it to better train scores of future federal agents. It was extremely satisfying on both fronts.”
Sessler aims to further enhance his leadership skills in the MSOP program.
“Anything I can do to be a better leader, supervisor, or manager and help my employees achieve their goals is well worth the investment,” he said.
Sessler plans to continue writing with a collection of short stories in the works among other projects. He took time to thank those that supported him during his military career, his academic endeavors, and his writing projects.
“The most supportive and influential individuals in my life have been my parents, Martin and Sharon, along with my fiancée, Nina. However, I must also give credit to all the wonderful military members I served with throughout my career,” he said. “They watched over me in combat zones all over the world and stood with me when arresting some dangerous criminals throughout the United States. Without these special individuals, I may not be here to tell my story today.”
Rahl to Headline Business Speaker Series
Rodney Rahl, the General Sales Manager at Nebraska Furniture Mart and a 2013 graduate of the University’s MBA program, will serve as the keynote speaker for the College of Business Speaker Series Wednesday, December 9 in Bellevue University’s Muller ASB Symposium Room on the main campus.
Rahl’s presentation, which will run from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., is titled The Changing Landscape of Logistics: A New Dynamic for Retailers. The event is free and open to the public. After 24 years with Nebraska Furniture Market, Rahl has seen several changes in retail store operations and the nature of products.
Once, furniture was primarily manufactured in the American south by highly skilled tradesmen and women. Then as the world market began to open up and trade normalized between the US and China, manufacturing left the US for Asian markets. This change has created a new dynamic for retailers
as lead times and forecasting goes from weeks to months. Even today this entire process is changing and the best places to manufacture items move according to currency exchange rates, political status, and employee commitment.
Those attending Rahl’s presentation are welcome to bring a brown-bag lunch.
Michael Horn: Disruptive Innovation is Misunderstood but Real
By Bill Wax, Communications Director
More than 100 educators and administrators had a chance to hear from one of the pre-eminent thinkers in higher education today during a special Innovation Luncheon presentation by Michael Horn, co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, a non-profit think tank. He complimented Bellevue University’s efforts at developing learning models that are a better fit for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century.
“Disruptive Innovation often is misunderstood,” Horn told the group attending the University-hosted, boxed-lunch gathering in the Muller ASB Symposium Room October 30. It often begins with a new innovation among a small nucleus of people, then gradually edges out into the culture and economy to become main stream. Computing, for example, began with scientists using mechanical slide rules, then main-frame computers costing millions, mini-computers at $250,000, then a few who could afford the first desk-top PCs, to today’s still-evolving digital environment, which is one of the most disruptive forces challenging higher education.
Using PowerPoint slides to accentuate and illustrate his points, Horn spent an hour talking about a variety of topics affecting higher education today and likely to have a big impact going forward in the realm of education. He outlined his case by asking several rhetorical questions, beginning with the impact of technology:
Technology: Where is it headed?
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) have been somewhat disruptive in reaching non-consumers (of education) and increasing affordability. “Education has been based on a factory model, with a central location and assembly line approach,” Horn said, an approach the calls upon students to learn within a fixed time and space. The future is a more flexible, competency-based approach such as Bellevue University is pioneering, he said. Learners focus on what they want or need to learn and “get it” before moving on to the next concept or lesson—like a tutor would do. The last major disruption in education was the printing press and its ability to disseminate information and knowledge to a wider audience, according to Horn, who believes the future of education will look a lot different than the past.
“Technology enables education to be more individualized, addressing the needs of the learner,” he said. New technology tools and capabilities are impacting access and equity in education, cutting costs, and making an “anyone anywhere” scenario a reality for many from pre-kindergarten through the post-secondary level. All of these have impacted education and influenced new trends such as “disaggregated staffing” models that put the teacher in the supporting role of the education process as content curator, course designer, mentor/coach, and assessment expert.
How can we better align today’s graduates with the job market?
Increasingly government, employers, and the educators themselves are asking what is being learned. There’s a “job mismatch paradox” going on. Despite large numbers of college graduates, employers fill an estimated 4.1 million skilled work force jobs. “There’s a huge disconnect between graduates vs. jobs and careers,” he said. “Sustaining innovation is costly…but examples are popping up, including education partnerships with business and education and designer MOOCS, which are pivoting to better serve industry (the job market)…creating courses to provide skills and knowledge that employers need.”
What about the cost of education?
The traditional college business model is struggling to keep expenditures below revenue. Even elite private colleges are having budget issues due to escalating costs. “Colleges are questioning the best use of their brick-and-mortar spaces…New spaces are being built with flexibility, availability, and student interaction in mind. And continued reliance on the taxpayers to pass along costs is not an option. “Expenses and tuition continue to rise while wages have stagnated. Government dollars have been a way to escape that (in the past), but government funding is going to disappear and K12 education will be the first priority for the funds that are available,” he said.
Does competition have a role in meeting the challenges facing higher education?
Examples such as Bellevue University and “new kids on the block in education include online colleges such as Southern New Hampshire University and Minerva” are making headway. Competency-based learning is on the rise. Online delivery is increasingly being adopted as a sustaining innovation, even for elite institutions.
Horn said there is reason for optimism as new approaches to education become available. Old measures of success such as seat time, student/faculty ratios, and the number libraries on the campus are giving way to better measures such as real learning outcomes. “High-end, elite institutions are not threatened and access (to college) is being greatly increased,” he said. “It’s an exciting future, but it will require navigation skills.”
Keynoter Mitch Daniels Sparks Thoughtful Signature Event Conversation
By Bill Wax, Communications Director
Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels gave those attending Bellevue University’s seventh annual Signature Event a lot to think about Tuesday, September 29, at Omaha’s Joslyn Art Museum.
The conversational “fireside chat” format of the evening program gave the audience of more than 200 a window into Daniels’ own experiences as a parent, businessman, Governor, and current President of Purdue University.
After a brief welcome by Bellevue University President Mary Hawkins, who introduced a short video presentation featuring testimonials by recent student scholarship recipients, Daniels fielded questions from Bellevue University Board Vice Chair Michael “Mike” Cassling. The conversation touched on many of the key issues of our time. The keynoter spiced his thoughtful responses with humor, personal anecdotes, and lessons gleaned from his career. He also answered several audience questions. Excerpts from the conversation, by topic, follow:
Issue: Higher Education
Q. As President of a large University, what are your suggestions for reforming or reinventing higher education?
A. “All of the officers at the university where I work will tell you that the biggest single problem is the K-12 system. Many students have not been well served by it…The traditional, age 18 to 24 year-old residing on a campus now accounts for only about one-fifth of all college students…
“We have poured hundreds of billions of dollars into improving access to higher ed, but attainment (numbers and percentage of the population who complete college degrees) hasn’t changed much…Thank goodness for Bellevue University and other innovative institutions who are gearing up to help the other four-fifths, older, working students, to meet the challenge…We especially need to help students who either skipped or missed an opportunity when they were a typical college age, to achieve that credential and the readiness that goes with it.”
Q. What can we do, as a nation, to address the growing amount of student loan debt?
A. “Total student debt is now $1.3 trillion and climbing, and average individual debt is over $30,000. It’s a problem that is not fully understood. Working with Gallup Organization, your hometown company, Purdue has collaborated on the two largest studies of college students in history…One of the key findings of that research is that debt not only burdens students financially, but the other consequences are pretty severe. A high percentage of them are postponing marriage and child bearing. Lower percentages are starting businesses than was true in the recent past. And very high percentages of them are not able to move out and become fully independent…I tell parents who are visiting our campus that if they send their son or daughter to Purdue, they will not move back into their basement after graduation…
“I am testifying tomorrow (Wednesday, September 30) morning in Washington, D.C., on the subject of Student Finance, and I will be making the point that the student finance superstructure that in place now has been a major cause for the debt and also the higher cost of college. One reason that Purdue (and most any other college you could name) raised tuition for 30 straight years is that they could. And the biggest reason they could is because of all the money that the government was flooding into the marketplace.” (As President of Purdue, Daniels has spearheaded a successful four-year effort to freeze tuition rates there.)
ISSUE: American Democracy
Q. Do you think our “American Spirit” is eroding, and is democracy still viable?
A. I’m worried about it for the first time in my life. I think the immediate problem that will help us return to the country we have been is a return to stronger economic growth…Our nation’s founders understood the virtue of freedom and the value of freedom. It has been a magnet for people from other countries for so long! The success of freedom has produced the fruit of freedom. We cannot sustain that if we cannot offer that same promise going forward…
“We’ve seen some unprecedented changes in public opinion. For example, there’s been a huge drop in the percentage of people who say a college education is worth it. That’s not good. And there’s been a huge change in the percentage of people who think their children will live better then they do. I think they are wrong, but we cannot continue to thrive, staggering along at growth rates of 1 or 2 percent as we have been for the past several years.
“I think we need to recover that optimism that drives a dynamic economy. If people begin to doubt the American Dream that Bellevue does such a great job of teaching, it (doubt) will eventually be self-fulfilling.
ISSUE: The National Debt and Deficit Spending
Q. We now have a growing national debt of $18 trillion dollars. In your recent book, Keeping the Republic: Saving America by Trusting Americans, you talked about the “Red Menace.” When are we going to tackle that problem?
A. Red Menace is a play on the old Cold War line. I was asserting that red ink is the new threat to our national security. We can’t remain in charge of our own destiny at the debt levels that we are accumulating. It’s the most dominant factor facing America.
The public, I think, gets desensitized to things too easily. We have four daughters. I used to say that when the first one caught a cold, we rushed her down to the doctor. When the fourth one swallowed a quarter, I took it out of her allowance. Recently I heard a news commentator (debt) say, ‘We are suffering from Deficit Attention Disorder.’ We have to pay attention to this problem or we will pay a tremendous price…
“We are fortunate that America is still a blessed country. The world uses our currency. We are still the best place for people to invest. We have the luxury of time. But we need to get started on this. The heart of the problem is the grotesquely underfunded entitlement system that we have set up. They (entitlement programs) are worse than unfunded and un-fundable. There’s a dishonesty involved here. There’s the notion that it (entitlement program funds) is their money that they’ve paid in. That’s not true and it never was. The system from the beginning has been a pay as you go system…It’s not sustainable…I believe it’s a genuine national emergency.
“If you want my suggestions, I would start by means testing entitlement programs, which has been resisted for political reasons. We need to focus the resources on those who badly need them. We do not want to be a country where people are destitute. Secondly, we need to stop over-indexing increases in benefits. And we should significantly raise the retirement age. Life expectancy of today’s college-age students at Purdue is probably well over 100 years. When Social Security was established, it was 65 years. FDR thought that was a good number, because hardly anyone was living past that at the time…We need to get started…It reminds me of an old country song, If I’d have shot you when I should have, I’d be out of jail by now. There’s no time like the present.”
ISSUE: Civic Engagement
Q. In your book you talk about “reconstruction” of the Union. Tell us a little about that.
A. I chose that term advisedly. The term “reconstruction” after the Civil War referred not to infrastructure but to rebuilding the Union, the unity of the America people. That’s pretty much where we are right now. The Kirkpatrick Signature Series here at Bellevue University ought to have its counterpart at every college campus in the country and all the way back down through the K-12 system. We are a unique nation, united not in the typical ways such as religion or ethnicity or tribe. We are united by an idea (freedom). If you’re going to build a great nation around an idea, everybody ought to understand the idea and subscribe to it.”
Daniels said he believes current generations of students have been force fed a false view of American history that even denigrates the country and its leaders, and provides no basis to expand public confidence and help to sustain the freedoms which we take for granted.
Q. What is your assessment of the current state of partisan politics?
A. Some of you remember comedian Lily Tomlin. She once said that, ‘No matter how cynical I get, I can’t keep up’…There are days when I feel that way…We have gotten ourselves into a situation, and I think the way out will have to be non-partisan Presidential leadership…Somebody has got to start speaking the language of unity in this country rather than division…We are borrowing money internationally and spending it on today. If we were genuinely spending that money on something we could call investment—infrastructure and defense assets that will have lasting value—you could make some justification for the borrowing. But we’re not. We’re borrowing and spending on consumption and handing the bill to our children and grand-children. It’s really not a very moral thing to do…
“If we are going to persuade our fellow citizens to change, it’s going to have to start with national leadership that says “E pluribus unum’ (out of many, one). We are going to have to talk seriously about addressing the set of serious threats facing us all. Our quadrennial opportunity to change direction is coming. We need to get back to a mentality of being a society of ‘haves and want to haves’ rather than ‘haves and have nots.’”
Daniels also fielded questions on K-12 education, government regulation, the current crowded field of Presidential candidates, and healthcare. A dessert reception followed.
Cybersecurity’s Dragon Warrior
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Cybersecurity is important everywhere – from right here on Earth to a galaxy far, far away.
Geoff Termorshuizen, a 2014 graduate of the Bellevue University’s Master of Science in Cybersecurity program, is working hard to ensure that message gets out across the universe. Here on Earth, he does that as a Senior System Support Engineer and Technical Consultant for ACI Worldwide in Atlanta, Georgia. As a Staff Writer for Dragon Con, Inc., he is rubbing elbows with the likes of Captain Jean Luc Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart/Star Trek: The Next Generation), Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion/Firefly) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew/Star Wars) and broadcasting that message throughout the galaxy.
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month which is designed to engage and educate public and private sector partners through events and initiatives with the goal of raising awareness about cybersecurity and increasing the resiliency of the nation in the event of a cyber incident.
Termorshuizen became engaged with Bellevue University and its Cybersecurity program via the school’s partnership with ACI Worldwide, which dates back to 2008.
“I’d been wanting to go back for a formal education for a while. I tried doing self-study, and while somewhat successful, I’ve always found a more structured, and most importantly, a more interactive, format to be most effective for me,” Termorshuizen said. “I like discussing an issue with others, postulating different viewpoints (regardless of whether I agree with them or not) and seeing what arguments others bring to the table.”
The intersection of man and machine is what attracted Termorshuizen to the Cybersecurity program.
“You need to know a great deal about a large number of areas relating to people and computers to understand cybersecurity. You have to understand both computer borders and physical borders in order to evaluate the effectiveness of any given system,” he said. “Cybersecurity feels far more like a sum of all the components of computer science, with a large dollop of sociology on top, tying it all together.”
Termorshuizen graduated with a 4.0 grade-point average in the Cybersecurity program and enjoyed the experience so much that he is pursuing a second Master’s degree at the University, this one in Management of Information Systems (MIS).
“By picking MIS with a cybersecurity concentration, I found I was only 6 courses short of the MIS requirements. It seemed silly not to wrap that up,” Termorshuizen said.
He plans to continue his education still further, having already applied to the Ph.D. program at Henley-Putnam University, where he plans to pursue a Doctorate in Strategic Security.
In the meantime, Termorshuizen is already making use of his Bellevue education in the workplace.
“The Cybersecurity and MIS had an immediate effect on my work,” he said. “I found myself noticing security-related items I missed before (such as considering not only will <x> work, but how it will affect systems outside of those directly affected). It’s helped me draw management attention to a number of areas that have helped both my company and our customers improve their environment, making it not only more efficient, but also more secure.”
With the Earth more secure, Termorshuizen can turn his gaze to the stars. He cites an early interview with Summer Glau, fresh off her stint on Joss Whedon’s Firefly series, as one of his favorite projects with Dragon Con.
“As it was my first interview, I sat in with one of the existing Daily Dragon staff and didn’t do much but try not to gibber a lot,” he said. “While it wasn’t my first Dragon Con, it was my first one-on-one interaction with a major celebrity, and I remember trying very hard not to fanboy. It was also my first time having something to which I’d contributed be requested for reprint. This was at the height of Firefly-madness, with the DVDs having been released in 2004, so she was insanely popular. The interview can still be found on fan sites.”
In addition to his writing responsibilities, Termorshuizen also helps organize the Dragon Con blood drive.
“I am very proud to say that Dragon Con raises, post processing, a few thousand units of product over the course of Con. As some of those blood products have a shelf-life of about 5 days, we are able to help people throughout the USA with whole blood, platelets, RBC (Red Blood Cells) and plasma,” he said. “I strongly encourage anyone and everyone to find their local blood bank and donate when and as you can. You are quite literally saving lives every time you donate.”
Sister’s Support Helps Walker Build Legacy
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Legacy — no matter how you define it, Beth Walker, the senior setter on the University’s volleyball team, has already built one. A two-time All-American entering her senior season, Walker has accumulated close to 3,500 assists over her first three seasons.
She has the Bruins off to an 11-9 mark prior to conference play, the team’s first as a member of the North Star Athletic Association.
Of course, Walker was a legacy when she first joined the volleyball squad. Her sister, Lisa (Walker) Longmeyer, was the Bruins’ Athlete of the Year as an outside hitter for the volleyball team in 2001. Today, Longmeyer works as an account executive with KETV, an Omaha television station. The married, mother of three still manages to make it to most of the Bruins’ home matches. Longmeyer was not shy about promoting her alma mater when it came time for her younger sister to select a college.
“I knew she wanted to play volleyball somewhere. I had a great time here at Bellevue, both academically and athletically,” Longmeyer said. “It’s a smaller school, so you’re not going to get lost in 100 to 150 students in the classroom and it’s a great volleyball program.”
Bellevue is a little over a five-hour drive from the Walker’s hometown of Dubuque, Iowa. So far enough away to find a little independence. But having an older sister a stone’s throw away helps provide some of the comforts of home. Like a little laundry and the occasional home cooked meal.
“A big part of why I’m here had to do with the fact that Lisa was here — just having the support,” Walker said. “Having her at my games is really nice. She knows about Bellevue. She knows the background.”
From a family of eight children, both sisters played at Dubuque Wahlert High School, a volleyball powerhouse both in Iowa and nationally, as did oldest sister, Trisha, Emily and Sarah, sisters who fall between Lisa and Beth.
“Wahlert is an amazing high school and a phenomenal volleyball program,” Longmeyer said. “I was fortunate enough to play for Coach Tom Keating. He has a lot of state championships under his belt. I also had the opportunity to play with a lot of great players including my sister, Trisha.”
Wahlert claimed a state championship in 1996 with two Walker sisters on the roster.
Keating, now the principal at Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Xavier, had moved on by the time Beth, the youngest sister, took to the court. Walker’s teams weren’t able to capture a state title, but did advance to the semi-finals.
“It was always a great program, tough, competitive. We always played against top-notch teams,” Walker said of her Wahlert experience.
While Walker followed her sister to the Bellevue University volleyball court, the pair has followed divergent paths in the classroom. Where Longmeyer earned her business degree, Walker is working on a psychology/sociology double major. Walker has benefited from the guidance of Dr. Roxanne Sullivan, who leads the psychology program, and is also one of the Athletic Department’s most ardent supporters.
“If you need an outlet to go to she’s always there,” Walker said. “She’s just a great support system. She’s always willing to help with anything and everything (including home baked cookies from her mother!).
Following graduation, Walker hopes to begin a career in social work.
“I want to work with kids. I also want to coach. I’m coaching for Millard South (as a varsity assistant),” she said. “We’ll see what kind of opportunities come around.”
Paranto Shares Details of Benghazi Attack
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Kris Paranto, former Army Ranger and member of the civilian security team that responded during the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, painted a vivid picture of the attack during the State of Security in the Heartland and Beyond event Friday, the third anniversary of the Benghazi attack.
The Security in the Heartland and Beyond event was put together by Professor Greg Allen and the University’s Security Management programs. SAC Federal Credit Union, led by CEO Gail DeBoer, University alum, sponsored the event.
Paranto held little back as he detailed how the attack unfolded.
“I’m going to tell you some stuff that might be offensive, but it’s the truth,” Paranto said. “I feel like you need to know.”
The event kicked off with a trailer for the upcoming film 13 Hours, which recounts the battle. The film is scheduled to be released in January 2016. Paranto helped co-author the book on which the film is based.
Four Americans were killed during the attack: Libyan Ambassador U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, Security Operative Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty, a CIA Operative.
While Paranto eschewed politics during the presentation, he did try to correct some misconceptions and misinformation that surround the Benghazi attack.
“Throughout that day it was calm, calm for Benghazi,” he said. “There was no protest. There was no indication that there was going to be a protest.”
Paranto said the first indication of trouble came at 9:32 p.m.
“Immediately as you get out the door, the consulate is three-quarters of a mile away as the crow flies, you can see the tracers popping,” he said.
Within five minutes, Paranto and his teammates were ready to go, but they were told to wait.
“You’re seeing a fire fight going on. We share frequency with the state department. They’re coming across the radio going ‘We need your help guys. We need you here now’,”Paranto said.
When the team finally got permission to roll out, they found the way blocked and were only able to drive halfway there. Half the team continued on foot, jumping through yards and over fences, while the other half of the team fired on the blockade. By the time they reached the compound, 50 minutes had passed since the first sign of trouble, Paranto said.
“The whole compound is completely on fire,” Paranto said. “When you’re in war your senses are intensified times 10. That orange is most vivid, bright orange I have ever seen in my life. It was incredible.”
The team worked to clear the buildings and locate Ambassador Stevens. They were able to locate Smith, but he had already died from smoke inhalation. They were unable to locate Stevens, who was found later by local civilians barely alive. He died after 90 minutes of resuscitation efforts.
Still under attack, survivors from the consulate and the rescue team escaped back to the annex, where the rescue team was housed, but the battle was far from over.
Paranto’s team had a plan in place to defend the annex and they were able to repeal repeated attacks through the night, but they did lose Woods and Doherty when a mortar hit their position. The team and the group that they defended were not able to escape the compound until a convoy of about 50 vehicles manned by local militia friendly to the Americans escorted them to the Bengahzi airport.
While most of the group left on a charter jet that had come from Tripoli, Paranto and the rest of the rescue team were still at the airport. They were not able to leave until they convinced the pilot of a Libyan C-130 to fly them out.
“Nobody was coming for us. It’s sad, but it’s the truth,” Paranto said.
Paranto said he takes comfort in the brotherhood he had with his team that became even more apparent when they came under fire.
“We actually worked as a team,” he said. “We dealt with adversity and found a way out of there.”
Volunteers Boost Victory Day Celebration
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Rosie the Riveter would be proud.
The Military Veterans Services Center hosted a Victory Day Celebration on September 2 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Allies’ victory over Japan in World War II. The event featured live music from De Ja Blu, a local singing group that specializes in songs from the World War II era; an antique car display, and museum pieces from the era. The Center itself was decorated to resemble the North Platte Canteen in order to recreate the vibe of a United Service Organization (USO) show.
Roughly 250 people attended the event. Amongst the attendees were a 103-year-old World War II veteran who parachuted into France on D-Day and a woman who was put into a detainment camp with her family when Dutch Indonesia (Java) was overrun by the Japanese.
De Ja Blu was a big hit said JR Richardson, Director of the MVSC. “They depicted the era of the Andrews Sisters. They really put on a good show. They definitely made the guest smile,” Richardson said.
Also turning out in force were volunteers from the University dressed in garb appropriate for the era adding to the atmosphere of the event.
“The biggest thing was our Bellevue University employees that volunteered had a tremendous spirit,” Richardson said. “We had Canteen girls here serving everybody. They dressed the part, but more importantly they truly had the attitude and conviction of people that were serving service members. The GIs, the older folks really enjoyed it.”
“Shoutouts for all of those that helped,” Richardson said.
McCollum singled out the local US Army Recruiting Station for paying for B&B Classic Dogs to supply the food for the event and bringing along some volunteers.