From Bellevue to Baku:
The Caspian Project Illuminates Important Region
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
A hub of energy, environmental, and political issues, the Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on earth and is bounded by five countries — Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Turkmenistan. That confluence of interests and influences makes it one of the most important regions in the world, according to Dr. Matthew Crosston, Director of the University’s International Security and Intelligence Studies (ISIS) program.
Crosston and his students are helping shed light on the region for Americans and others through The Caspian Project, an online magazine produced by Modern Diplomacy. The magazine is the brainchild of Modern Diplomacy editor, Dimitris Giannkopoulos.
“He (Giannkipoulos) contacted me from Athens, Greece, asking if I would be interested in taking over the helm for this project as Senior Editor, given my background, experience, publications, and reputation covering the region,” Crosston said. “His desire was to create something that would be more unique than the standard economic and natural resource analyses that tend to dominate Caspian region reports.”
The publication has served as an outlet for original policy commentary articles written by students in the ISIS program. The latest issue, Volume 9, features an article by University student JJ Harper, one by Evan Thomsen, a University alum who is currently pursuing his master’s degree at George Washington University, as well as one by Crosston himself.
Crosston is quick to point out that the submissions are heavily vetted and acceptance is anything but guaranteed.
“The competition to be accepted into The Caspian Project and have your research published is incredibly intense and restrictive,” Crosston said. “As a result I can say with confidence that every single contributor so far from Bellevue University has been top-notch.”
Harper has relished the opportunity to see her work published.
“I never really aspired to be a writer, but it was an opportunity I couldn’t resist. It increases my knowledge of the area and helps me stay relevant within my field,” she said. “The relationship between the former Soviet republics with Russia and with each other (fascinates me). It surprises me that people don’t generally have a lot of knowledge about this important region.”
Taylor Morse is another student who has been published in The Caspian Project.
“I am very honored to have my work published among the prestigious writers and editors at Modern Diplomacy,” said Morse, who wrote about Iran’s naval strategy in a recent issue. “It is a wonderful opportunity to have my work as a graduate student published among scholars of this caliber.”
Crosston said the publication is a great way for students to build a portfolio and adds to the prestige of the ISIS program and Bellevue University in general. Not long ago four of the five top trending articles on the larger Modern Diplomacy site were occupied by Bellevue University ISIS students.
“This meant, in real numbers, that their work had been read by over 10,000 people and followed on social media by more than 1,000 organizations,” Crosston said. “This type of exposure, popularity, and growth is truly mind-boggling when you consider that in the Social Sciences in general we tend to get excited when a few dozen scholarly peers read our work.”
Crosston has even larger goals for The Caspian Project over the long term.
“I can envision The Caspian Project growing around Bellevue University, where people all over the world (and especially in the five titular countries connected to the Caspian Sea) will come to see our university as a hub of analytical expertise and a center of intellectual and diplomatic wisdom,” he said. “As that slowly develops, there will be very interesting opportunities for Bellevue University growth into this area of the world. Speaking even more fantastically, I would love to see our little piece of the heartland here in Omaha become a ‘destination spot’ for important meetings and diplomatic/business initiatives concluded about the Caspian region. Perhaps BU can become a primary mediator for what will be, in some case, multi-billion dollar deals across the global market, but originating from this region.”
A perfect example of this is the upcoming celebratory No. 10 issue of The Caspian Project, due out at the end of this week, where as many as eight Bellevue University students will have original analyses published, including for the first time three members of the undergraduate program, something Crosston praises as particularly unique.
“Student scholarship is and has been a buzzword across all universities, all over the world. Despite this emphasis very few, if any, can point to the success we have achieved and will continue to achieve. This not just a testimony to the talent at our university, but also what can be done when faculty focus on building programs of relevance that are meant to structurally produce real scholarship and not just teach students the rules and regulations of research but never provide them opportunity for real world engagement. Our three undergraduate students, for example, ended up with articles because a specific analytical research assignment was built into the BS ISIS course on geostrategy. By looking to fuse in-class demands with out-of-class opportunity, the ISIS program has become a beacon of pedagogical innovation that, at present counting, has seen TWO DOZEN Bellevue University students earn international publications before receiving their degree. There is no other university or program in the world capable of making that statement.”
YIEP Program Offers Access To Underserved Community
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Access to education can open up all kinds of doors. Bellevue University’s partnership with Yeshiva Initiatives Educational Programs (YIEP) was designed to open doors for Orthodox Jews. The customized programs, administered through the University, allow Orthodox Jews to continue their education in an environment that does not conflict with their lifestyle demands and cultural customs.
The program began in 2005 after Rabbi Pesach Lerner contacted the University seeking to develop a program compatible with the Orthodox Jewish community’s beliefs. A meeting with lead faculty, Dr. Mary Hawkins (provost at the time) and others was arranged and an agreement sprung from the meeting. The Master of Arts in Educational Leadership was the first program offered through the partnership. Other degrees available through the partnership include bachelor’s degrees in business and human services, an MBA, and a Master of Science in Clinical Counseling.
“We currently have about 200 students – across a variety of YIEP programs – in the system,” said Dr. Stephen Linenberger, who oversees the program on the University’s end. “It’s the longest running educational partnership in Bellevue University’s 50-year history. Clearly the program has been very sustainable.”
Students pursue a number of paths following graduation and a majority of graduates have advanced their careers, started a career, or have gone on to pursue additional education at Ivy League institutions.
Doni Silverstein earned his MAEL from Bellevue University in 2006 and earned a Master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University in 2014. He is currently a Staff Therapist at the Center for Applied Psychology at the Bikur Cholim organization in the greater New York City area.
“I had always wanted to pursue a master’s degree, but with restrictions on time and location, I could never find the right fit until Bellevue University came into my life,” Silverstein said.
Working with professors who promoted interaction and a group of highly-motivated peers made for a wonderful learning experience, Silverstein said. The format also allowed Silverstein to manage his school responsibilities in addition to his job and family obligations.
“I really enjoyed the content and subject matter of each course, the University afforded me an interesting and fun learning experience making sure I never felt overwhelmed getting back into the swing of attending graduate school,” he said.
And when it came time to tackle Columbia and Ivy League academic standards, Silverstein felt prepared.
“Bellevue University prepared me for Columbia University in a myriad of ways,” he said. “I would say the importance of learning and perfecting the ability to manage my time properly (time management), the ability to synthesize, analyze, and integrate information into graduate level writing, and the self-confidence to not only pursue my degree at Columbia University, but also succeed at an Ivy League school level.
Bellevue University has continued to impact Silverstein’s life beyond Columbia as well.
“Bellevue University has impacted my life and career on multiple levels. First, there is no question that without my degree I never would have had the ability to apply to Columbia University and pursue my career as a therapist. Second, earning my MAEL offered me a graduate-level education about topics such as: leadership, education, non-profits, psychology, and group dynamics, subject matter that I deal with in my current career on an almost daily basis,” he said. “Finally, my degree has also given me the opportunity to become an adjunct professor at the University and give back to the student body.”
Lerner has been pleased with the quality and growth of the program over the years.
“The partnership is successful because everyone really cares for the student, they want the student to learn and be successful. And it shows!” he said.
Scaling Heights Literally and Figuratively: Flexxive Student Breaks Climbing Record
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Josh Sanders has hit a lot of high points this year. Sanders, who recently earned his Bachelor of Business through the University’s Flexxive format, conquered the High Point Challenge in record time.
The High Point Challenge involves climbing to the highest point in each of the 48 contiguous states. Josh and his sister, Lindsay, made the climbs in 19 days, 7 hours and 37 minutes. Their last climb was Mount Katahdin in Maine in mid-July.
“For me personally, there was never any thought on any level other than I want to break this record,” he said “I’ve also always been very ambitious especially when it comes to athletics. I think it was only a matter of time before I found a way to combine my love of sports and competitive nature with my love of the outdoors and mountains.”
While the mountains in Wyoming and Montana were Sanders favorites in terms of the view they offered from the top, they were also among the most harrowing climbs.
“The Montana and Wyoming mountains were the most punishing and dangerous,” he said. “Wyoming is a 40-mile hike just to get to the peak where you have to scale Bonney Pass and Bonney was a 60-degree frozen ice slope. I’m pretty fast in the mountains and that 1,200-foot pass took 2.5 hours to climb. It was exhausting.”
And the view?
“Just visually stunning places to see,” he said. “You don’t want to take photographs because you know they could never capture the whole landscape and do it justice.”
In Nebraska, Sanders ascended to Panorama Point in the southwest portion of the panhandle near Kimball. The site is 5,429 feet above sea level, but is not so much a mountain or hill, but rather the “highest area of a plateau,” Sanders said.
Of course, the highest point in Nebraska for Sanders might well have been his Bellevue University degree. Sanders thrived within the Flexxive format.
“What’s innovative and in my opinion, groundbreaking with the flexxive program, is that it allows someone with an associate’s degree to get their bachelor’s in 12 months,” he said.” It’s also the most affordable option.”
Sanders would occasionally put in up to 10 hours on school work in a single day, but other times would not log in for two or three days.
“I thought it was incredible,” he said. “I’d get in a ‘school mood’ and knock out a class or two at 1 a.m. You have to be motivated since there are no deadlines, but if you’re ambitious or organized this format is total freedom.
“As much of a nerd as this will make me sound… I loved making progress. The program is divided into phases and components and ever the competitor; I’d loved making a Word Document with all the phases and just knocking them out one by one. Obviously learning the material and getting good grades were important too, but being competitive and motivated I loved being able to see my progress as I earned the degree.”
“I’m hopeful that with my work experience already being very good for someone my age (33) that this degree will round out the resume and lead to a position in leadership with a company where I can make a difference,” he said.
There are more mountains to climb, but Sanders will take a break at least for a little while.
“I’m still recovering from this 19-day climbing marathon, so at this time I’m torn between never climbing a hard mountain again and then the opposite spectrum where I’d like to make the sport of ultra-marathon mountaineering happen.”
Professor Publishes Book on Thomas Jefferson
Dr. Judd Patton, professor of economics, now retired and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Bellevue University, has recently published a new book on Thomas Jefferson entitled: Thomas Jefferson’s 1804 Abridgement of Jesus’ Words. Here is a brief thumbnail sketch of Dr. Patton’s book on our third President.
Thomas Jefferson produced two abridgements of the Gospels with two different purposes. He envisioned his 1804 “cut to paste” abridgement (46 pages) as a mini-Bible and “Collection for the Indians.” He originally hoped to publish it as a manual in different Indian dialects as a concise summary of the moral and doctrinal precepts of the Bible for Native Americans on the frontier. However, his 1820 expanded abridge-ment (82 pages) –in Greek, Latin, French and English—was for his personal study.
Jefferson’s 1804 White House “wee little book,” which he titled as The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth, has never been found except for the Title Page, Table of Texts, and two KJV Bibles he used to clip Scriptures into a blank notebook.
Dr. Patton has re-constructed President Jefferson’s 1804 abridgement high-lighting: the words of Jesus in red-letters; the moral and doctrinal precepts of Mr. Jefferson’s work; seven rare, historic facsimiles of Jefferson’s Title Page, Table of Texts and 1791 Bible; and three Christian scholars who explain the context of Jefferson’s work for Native Americans, while defending it from erroneous perceptions and ideas that have arisen over two centuries.
The book is dedicated to Native Americans and is a must read, according to Dr. Patton, for American patriots desiring to understand President Thomas Jefferson’s classic work in early American religious history.
The 256 page book can be purchased online or through Dr. Patton (ESB 4214, Judd.Patton@Bellevue.edu , 557-7510).
‘Very Proud and Humbled’
Earlier this month, Bellevue University alumnus and graduate student Claude Jones of Sacramento, California, ran across the University-sponsored “Remembering Our Fallen” exhibit on display at a Redding mall. Below are excerpts of an email commentary and photos Jones sent to Cybersecurity Prof. Ron Woerner.
“I am an engineer for a cellular company in northern California. My job takes me to the northern-most counties of my state from time to time…One of my duties is to check the radio frequency conditions and test data speeds for the cellular network within certain buildings where we have coverage, to verify service for our valued customers…
“On July 7, I was in the Mt. Shasta Mall (Redding) doing what I do and came across a very somber and humbling display that caught me off guard. It was a memorial for the fallen soldiers who hail from the northern-most California counties. I was moved to tears when I saw the pictures of our finest young men who were taken from us far too soon. I don’t know these fine men personally but in so many ways I do. They are my neighbors, the clerks at the local stores, the peace officers who walk the beat and even my family members. I bowed my head and said a prayer, and as I was walking away, I saw the dedication banner with the name of the sponsor (Bellevue University) on it. Needless to say, I felt even more pride as I read the eulogy for the fallen…
“When I started my undergraduate studies 5+ years ago, I had never heard of Bellevue University, but a manager at the time recommended I look into the university. Since then, I have gone on to finish my degree and started my Master’s program…I’m certain that I have made the right choice. Knowing that the values of this university are in line with my own makes my choice to continue my education here at Bellevue easier…
“Thank you for showing your support for the men and women who make our world a better and safer place, especially for those who have sacrificed all…”
Very sincerely and respectfully,
Graduation a Special Time for Alum’s Business
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
May and June are surely Fred Schall’s favorite time of year. While the weather in sunny Tamarac, Florida, Schall’s home town, is probably one reason, it’s graduation season that Schall enjoys the most. Graduation season means business is booming for Schall’s Diploma Plaque Laminators mail-order business.
“Business has grown each year since our business began in 2007,” said Schall, who earned his Bachelor of Science in Marketing Management from Bellevue University that year. “Of course, graduation time is a very busy time of the year for us. We have many repeat clients from all of the United States and Canada. We have medical doctors, attorneys, CPA’s, Masters, Ph.D.’s and all other professions sending us their diplomas and certificates as well new customers each day.”
Schall first became aware of Bellevue University through online research.
“I was attracted to the many courses offered and the ease in which I was able to work with the staff in completing my academic goals,” he said. “The entire experience was the best! The fact that I could take classes online was incredible. Professor Sheryl Okash was outstanding! I always say, ‘I wish my parents could have seen this’.”
Alumnus, Entrepreneur Unleashes OMG Monster
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Brad Nietfeldt wants to be a monster.
That’s evident from the Omaha Media Group’s logo, a company Nietfeldt helped found and where he holds president and CEO titles. The horned creature with one red eye and one blue eye lurks about the organization’s website.
“Our goal for Omaha Media Group is to become the largest mega-agency in the Midwest, if not the United States,” Nietfeldt said. “We’ll do that through our approach of how we treat our clients and how we’re able to integrate with our clients as an extension of their business.”
So a friendly, fluffy monster that works with you and your organization to take over the world.
World domination will come in the form of the design and development of intuitive web, mobile, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) friendly applications that help companies take advantage of the power in social and business collaboration, cloud computing, mobile applications, and next-generation tools.
“I wanted to be creative for other people, to help people accomplish goals for whatever reason, business or personal” Nietfeldt said. “Omaha Media Group is a spinoff of what people traditionally think of as an advertising agency. We’re a creative management firm. That’s a term that I coined to be different than a traditional agency. What we do differently — we work as an extension of our clients business. Our clients actually feel like we’re a part of their own company.”
Nietfeldt’s inspiration is his own, but the confidence to unleash that inspiration comes from experience and education. Nietfeldt earned two degrees from Bellevue University. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Information Systems in 2007 and followed that up with a Master of Science in Management of Information Systems in 2009.
Nietfeldt had collected an associate’s degree from ITT Technical Institute Omaha, Nebraska, but felt he needed a bachelor’s degree to add some oomph to his career path.
“I wanted a bachelor’s to climb the corporate ladders,” he said. “I didn’t really care about grades in high school. When I got to Bellevue it was completely different. All of a sudden I cared about my grades and I wanted to do a good job.
“Having a degree gives you the self-confidence that you need to be able to follow the path. For me it was all about ‘I’ve earned these degrees, I’ve earned this success, and I’ve paid the dues and my experience is legitimized. I do know what I’m talking about and this is why you should listen to me’.”
Nietfeldt’s motivations changed somewhat when it came to his master’s degree. “My MSCIS was literally for me,” he said. “Nobody in my family had really done it. It was really for me. Just to do it and have that accomplishment.”
Nietfeldt’s business experience comes from the ground floor in the early days of PayPal where in 2002 as a Support Coordinator and held several titles before departing in 2007. That time frame encompassed the PayPal merger with eBay. “When the company started there was a hand full of us there,” Nietfeldt said. “I could tell you who they were, what they did, and what their kids’ names were.”
Nietfeldt is paying that experience and education forward having served as an adjunct professor at his alma mater. “I enjoyed Bellevue so much that I wanted to remain a part of it not just from an alumni perspective, but I wanted to actually teach as well,” he said. “I wanted to give back to the students other people that might have been in the same situation or similar situation to what I was in in their overall life.”
Student Earns Gilman Scholarship
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Cheryl Huckabee-Washington will be packing her bags for Barcelona soon and Bellevue University helped make the trip possible. Huckabee-Washington was awarded a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship this spring. She is the first Bellevue University student to receive the award.
The Gilman International Scholarship Program offers grants for U.S. citizen undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies or credit-bearing, career-oriented internships abroad. Such international exchange is intended to better prepare U.S. students to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world.
A married, mother of two, and a small e-commerce business owner, Huckabee-Washington is on online student from eastern Pennsylvania. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Supply Chain and Logistics Management. The application process for the scholarship was quite an undertaking, she said.
“The application process took more than 12 hours during the course of a few weeks to complete,” she said. “It was approached like a project which was broken down into parts and edited for a cohesive final draft. However, it was thought provoking, succinct and a most collaborative process.”
As a non-traditional student, Huckabee-Washington didn’t fit into the same mold as most of the scholarship applicants.
“I’m pioneering some unchartered waters here. I think this opportunity is very overlooked by non-traditional students like me,” she said.
Huckabee-Washington praised the efforts of Emily Krueger, the University’s Study Abroad Representative, Dr. Ed Haynes, the director of the Supply Chain and Logistics Management program, her Academic Advisor Suzy Christiansen, and Doug Henely, the Assistant Director of Financial Aid, for assisting with the process.
“It took the Bellevue University village to bring the application process together,” she said. “I was kept in the loop as they met with each other while collaborating and formulating this mass into a cohesive final application. I could not have been more supported or hope for a better team.”
The collaborative process was a highlight for Krueger as well.
“As soon as I told Cheryl about the Gilman Scholarship, she was determined to win,” Krueger said. “That final week before she submitted everything, I was with our program that took place in the UK this past spring. Each night in my hotel room I’d have a new edit from Cheryl, and I’d look it over with my suggestions and send it back, until we both felt satisfied that her application essays were the best they could be and that her personality shone through. It was a significant investment of time on her part- but it certainly paid off! I’m so excited for her to head to Spain this fall.”
Huckabee-Washington’s internship will be arranged through BarcelonaSAE and begin on October 5, 2015. BarcelonaSAE is one of several international internship providers that partners with the Study Abroad Office.
“I’m looking forward to great experiences participating in the first of what I hope will be many opportunities to conduct business with the European Union countries,” Huckabee-Washington said.
Huckabee-Washington had already earned an associate’s degree before enrolling at Bellevue University.“I honestly don’t know how I happened to stumble across Bellevue. I looked at other colleges, but they did not meet my requirements in terms of transfer credits, cost, and the specific degree I was looking for, she said. “I guess it could have been divine intervention because I set a specific intention of what I wanted, and here we are.”
Huckabee-Washington said her experience at the University overall has been consistent with her experience pursuing the Gilman scholarship.
“The true diamonds at Bellevue University are the faculty and staff, be it the class experience or the administrative assistance to the students,” she said. “People make the product great and people need to be affirmed for the great jobs they do. I’m sure President Hawkins deserves to be acknowledged for cultivating the wonderful programs and staff that made this possible for me.”
Eaglesham’s Advice: Keep Grinding
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
From the pitch to the podium, Graeme Eaglesham has had a successful stint as a Bellevue University student-athlete. After scoring 28 goals for the University’s men’s soccer team, Eaglesham capped his career by earning his bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Performance. He was also selected as the student speaker for the 2015 Spring Commencement ceremony.
“I am hoping that my fellow students can take motivation in my story of reaching graduation and to believe that anything can be achieved if we put our minds to it,” Eaglesham said. “It means the world to me. My mother always wanted me to graduate and to finally do so and make her proud is a great feeling.”
Eaglesham hails from Maidens, Scotland and made the leap across the pond after getting an offer from the Bruins.
“I received a phone call from the men’s soccer coach, Matt Briggs, asking if I wished to play for the team, one month later I flew from Scotland to Omaha Nebraska!” he said. “It was a great experience for me getting to travel across the country with the soccer team. They have become like my second family.”
Eaglesham earned Midland Collegiate Athletic Conference Newcomer of the Year honors in 2009. He was first team All-MCAC in 2009 and 2011 and second team All-MCAC in 2012.
Juggling school, soccer, and other responsibilities required a certain amount of focus, Eaglesham said.
“I think it really becomes second nature. You have certain goals in your mind and you just need to have tunnel vision. You need to carry out small tasks one at a time until you reach those goals.”
He is already on to his next assignment as Sports Education Manager for the Pacific Soccer Academy Royals in San Jose, California.
“It is just a tremendous honor to be able to address everyone at the commencement. I just want people to know that anything is possible,” Eaglesham said. “I come from a small town in Scotland and over the past two years I have been a grave digger, mail man, unemployed, but now I am moving to California for my dream job. No matter what you are going through, keep grinding.”
OPD Officer Orozco was Bellevue University Alumnus
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Omaha police officer and Bellevue University alum Kerrie (Holtz) Orozco was laid to rest on May 26. Orozco was killed in the line of duty on May 20. Hundreds filled St. John’s Church on the campus of Creighton University for the funeral and thousands lined the streets during the funeral procession.
“Kerrie’s murder was one of the saddest and most frustrating events I have had in 35 years of law enforcement. She was a capable and promising student and police officer,” said Conboy, a former Omaha city prosecutor. “I remember her as being supportive and thoughtful in her comments, and setting a good standard for the class. She was a promising law enforcement professional.”
Orozco was eulogized by Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer, who has also served as an adjunct instructor at the University.
“Through all of our pain and emotions, and there has been a ton these last few days, we are truly blessed for the opportunity to catch a glimpse of Kerrie’s life and how she truly lived,” Schmaderer said according to local media accounts. “It’s been a pleasure. Minus the tragic circumstances, I’m proud the entire nation got to know Kerrie.”
Orozco is survived by husband Hector Orozco; and children Olivia Ruth, Natalia Rose and Santiago Manuel Orozco among others. Orozco was scheduled to begin maternity leave on May 21 when three-month old Olivia Ruth came home from the hospital for the first time following her premature birth.
“The thing I can’t help thinking about our students, and the law enforcement professionals we encounter, is that they all have so much to offer, and have lives and families that, like Kerrie, make them such wonderful people,” Conboy said. “Her loss is a reminder to appreciate the students and police officers that Bellevue University serves.”
Donations to Orozco’s family can be made via the Omaha Police Foundation.