Science Lab Renovations To Expand Opportunities
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
“I would be willing to bet that we’ll be the best equipped small science department in the state.”
–Dr. Scott Pinkerton, Assistant Professor
That’s the goal of planned renovations and upgrades to the science lab area of the R. Joe Dennis Learning Center.
The renovations will increase the functionality of the lab area and enhance safety as well.
Science faculty members Pinkerton, Dr. John Kyndt, and Dr. Tyler Moore developed a plan that outlined how upgrades could impact the educational opportunities by solidifying current degree offerings as well as expanding possibilities for new programs.
“It will give us the capability of moving out into degree areas that we are not capable of moving into right now,” Pinkerton said. “If we have dedicated research areas, that means we might be able to look at research-based graduate degrees. We’ve talked about a master’s in biotechnology. This would give us that capability.”
Amongst the new equipment being considered are:
Spectrophotometers — an instrument that measures the amount of photons (the intensity of light) absorbed after it passes through sample solution.
“I’ve been able to order some sample equipment already,” Pinkerton said. “The students already are being exposed to it and fighting over who gets to use it.”
Compound microscopes – a microscope which uses a lens close to the object being viewed to collect light (called the objective lens) which focuses a real image of the object inside the microscope. That image is then magnified by a second lens or group of lenses (called the eyepiece) that gives the viewer an enlarged inverted virtual image of the object.
“The compound microscopes are going to be really cool. They actually have a built-in tablet on top of them a seven-inch tablet,” Pinkerton said. “Not only do you have the eyepiece, but you will also be able to display the image on the tablet. We’re talking about having Apple TV on monitors. You should be able to take the image from the microscope and throw it up on the monitor.”
DNA sequencer — used to determine the order of the four bases: G (guanine), C (cytosine), A (adenine) and T (thymine). This is then reported as a text string, called a read. Some DNA sequencers can be also considered optical instruments as they analyze light signals originating from fluorochromes attached tonucleotides.
“Some of the other equipment will be spaced out a bit. The University is actively going out and seeking donations,” Pinkerton said.
The new equipment and renovations won’t be locked away behind closed doors either. It will be on display with glass walls running down one side of the labs.
“We have a focus on the science on display,” Kyndt said. “This will allow us to showcase it more. You’ll be able to see what’s happening in the labs.”
Degrees directly impacted by the improvement will include Biology, Health and Human Performance, Health Science, Sustainability Management, and the Master of Science in Professional Sciences. Others programs that would benefit include Psychology. The upgrades should also benefit the teacher-education program.
“This will also support when secondary education comes in because biology is one of the emphasis areas, and chemistry is going to be one of the emphasis areas,” Pinkerton said. “You’ll have people who are coming in and training on this equipment. Knowing what this equipment is, know how to operate, know how to do this research and when they go out into the high schools and talking to kids and trying to get kids interested in science as a career path.
“We will have capability like a small research university, but we’ll have class sizes and experience like small teaching university. That will give us a differentiator.”
Education Powers Velazquez’s Drive
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Jorge Velazquez is on the right track. The product of Omaha Central High School first completed his associate’s degree through Metro Community College before earning his Bachelor of Science in Business through Bellevue University in 2015. Velazquez plans to use the knowledge he picked up throughout his educational career to continue moving up the ladder.
What led you to select Bellevue University to pursue your Business degree? How did you first hear about Bellevue University? Gina Ponce (Director of the University’s South Omaha Outreach Program) was the reason I went to Bellevue University. She worked with me by encouraging me to pursue my education.
What did you enjoy most about your Bellevue University experience? The instructors were very helpful when teaching different ideas related to business. I enjoyed being able to go through classes with the same people. That really helped when doing projects.
Was there a particular professor or class that stood out for you? The Kirkpatrick Signature Series was very challenging. I really liked the different concepts that series offered. It taught me to see different points of view.
Where did you get the most support for your academic endeavors when you were in school? Valeria Henderson (Student Experience Specialist) worked with me. She made herself available anytime I had questions and was very supportive of me as a person. I also want to thank my family, especially my son Brandon, for helping me through this.
I understand you went to Metro before coming to Bellevue University. What was the transfer process like? The transfer process was very easy. All my classes at Metro transferred to Bellevue which allowed me to finish my degree at Bellevue in a short amount of time.
What did you enjoy most about your experience at Metro? Metro really encouraged me to explore various educational paths and career opportunities. The instructors work very hard to provide real world examples and encourage students to actively participate in class discussions. The college classes are very challenging for a community college.
What are your career goals? I want the opportunity to make a difference and contribute to the success of an organization. As I grow my career as a manager, I want to be able to share my knowledge and experience with future work generations in a way that will help them learn and grow with the company.
What would you tell someone that was interested in attending Bellevue University?
I tell people that the experience is worth the time and effort. The programs provide real world situations and the hours work for busy working adults.
Miller Grows at Bellevue, Behlen
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
What do Behlen Manufacturing and Bellevue University have in common? They’re both about facilitating growth — and they’ve both played key roles for Jen Miller.
Miller, who earned both a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration of Technical Studies as well as a Master of Business Administration at Bellevue University, has worked at Behlen, a farm and ranch equipment manufacturer located in Columbus, Nebraska, for close to 20 years and is the General Manager for the Behlen Country Business Unit.
“Being a General Manager at Behlen comes with a lot of responsibility like setting monthly goals for the teams as well as evaluating the performance of the business,” Miller said. “Making good decisions helps ensure our 900 Partners in Progress have job security as well as the opportunity for growth. I enjoy working with multiple different teams on projects that benefit our customers across country.”
Miller graduated from Boys Town High School in Omaha, Nebraska in 1995 before heading for Central Community College in Columbus where she earned an Associate’s degree in Business Administration and Management.
“Central Community College is a local college, and one that my employer is partnered with. Due to this partnership and the Behlen Mfg. Co. tuition reimbursement program this was a great fit for me,” Miller said.
Affordability and accessibility were two of the main factors in Miller’s decision to attend Bellevue University.
“Continuing your education is important in this ever-changing business environment. Making the active decision to continue my education at Bellevue University has helped to open up opportunities to learn more about the business I love,” Miller said. “Bellevue offered me a program where I could still maintain working full-time as well as being a parent to my boys. The online atmosphere was inviting, and created an active, engaged learning environment. There was always access to others in the class as well as the Professor.”
A strong support system is important in every aspect of life and pursuing your degree is no different. Miller’s husband, Mike, filled that position admirably, she said.
“Not only did he take the lead with our boys, but he was always there to support me through the late nights and long weekends of homework and projects,” she said.
Miller didn’t stop with her bachelor’s degree, continuing on to earn her MBA as well.
“It was an easy transition from the Bachelor’s program to the MBA program. I was used to the schedule and knew if I maintained I would be able to obtain that much desired MBA,” she said. “My mentors at work had MBAs and so I felt that was the right move for me and my career.
“Bellevue University offers a great learning environment for both traditional and non-traditional students. The campus is easy to manage and the on-line atmosphere is engaging. I would recommend Bellevue because they care for their students and want to see them succeed. The professors prompted engagement which helped to keep my classes as well as my degree path on track. Together with my advisor we set a path at the beginning, and I was able to stay with it, knowing what classes would come next.”
Welcome to Bellevue! International Students Embrace Bellevue
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Even through some winter months that were a bit chillier than they’re used to, the 83 students that are a part of an exchange program between Bellevue University and Guangzhou College of Commerce have received a warm reception from faculty, staff and the Bellevue community. In turn, the students have embraced their American college experience enlivening classrooms and campus events.
With a 100 percent retention rate, the program has exceeded expectations.
“I think that’s really positive,” said Bellevue University President Dr. Mary Hawkins. “I think that the faculty, staff, and community have been very welcoming. The students have been polite, and friendly with a good sense of humor. They’ve just been fun to work with.”
The Guangzhou students are enrolled in the Supply Chain and Logistics Management and International Business programs. Teaching international students is nothing new for Bellevue University faculty members, but the concentrated number of students opens up new challenges and opportunities.
“The language and culture have been big challenges, but I think that this has helped me to become a better instructor,” said Dr. David Levy, a veteran professor in the College of Business. “Also, understanding the academic foundation that the students have and their learning process and then adapting my teaching to match this has been a challenge, but I also consider it an opportunity to improve my overall teaching techniques. Teaching them has given me a chance to interact with students who are here because they want to learn and experience America. I have had many enjoyable discussions with several of the students. This has been a great learning experience for me to understand more about the Chinese culture.”
The retention rate speaks to the students’ satisfaction with the program.
“I love the people. They are very kind. The teachers and advisors have helped us very much. This has been a good experience,” said student Ashley Lin. “It was a challenge at the beginning learning and studying in a completely different language.”
One area that still needs a little work – the food.
“Our favorite food is what we cooked,” student Sky Tan, said with a smile. “American Chinese food — It tastes very sweet. The food is always sweet. Too sweet for us.”
Something to work on before the next fall when an additional 100 students from China will arrive.
“I think both the Chinese and Indian students that have come on campus have had the impact that I had hoped for,” Hawkins said. “It reminds us all of how much fun it is to have students around. Reinvigorating campus with students here is a good thing for all of us. Seeing the student center full, seeing them at the game or the matches — I just enjoy it a lot.”
The exchange with Guangzhou is part of an effort to increase on-campus enrollment to 2,000 students. A number of other initiatives are in the planning stages to further bolster those numbers.
“We’ve got several groups brainstorming ideas,” Hawkins said. “I think it’s continuing to build incrementally. More students, more services. We’ll be cost effective and we’ll stay with our mission. We’re trying to make spaces and opportunities to do good work on campus.”
From Video Store Clerk to VP at Paramount
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Sitting behind the counter at Applause Video, Jim White was surrounded by Hollywood dreams. Thirty years later he is living those dreams as the Vice President of Human Resources for Paramount Pictures.
White has been in that role at Paramount for close to nine years. He began his journey in the mid-80s working at the video store just across the street from Bellevue University (then Bellevue College), where he was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in art.
“I started as a video clerk across from the school and it was perfect. I could work part-time. Through my whole time at Bellevue I continued to work there,” said White, who grew up in Carter Lake, Iowa and graduated from Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson High School.
White had an eye on teaching when he enrolled at Bellevue.
“I was really impressed with the school. I had opportunities to go other places, but I wanted to stay local. The thing that stood out the most was the quality of the instructors and how much they really cared — the one-on-one assistance, availability and approachability. The one-on-one connection with the faculty was fantastic.”
Now-retired Professor Dr. Joyce Wilson stood out for White.
“I love Joyce Wilson. What an educated, wonderful, talented, caring, loving, humorous person,” he said.
White earned his degree in 1987 and that’s when things started to get interesting. An up-and-coming company called Blockbuster Video wanted to tap into his experience to help grow their business.
“They kept pushing to have me work there. I didn’t realize that I was one of the few people on the planet that understood video stores. They offered to pay all my student loans if I would work for them for one year,” White said.
One year turned into a 14-year stint that took him across the country and around the globe. White helped with acquisitions in places like San Diego, New York, and Miami. When Blockbuster went international, he helped lead the charge working in London and Australia. While in Australia, he earned a master’s degree in Adult Education and Cultural Diversity from the University of Technology in Sydney.
Once back in the states, White was ready for a change and took a job with Universal Music which took him to New York City and, eventually, Los Angeles. He spent some time working for Vivendi Games before taking his current position with Paramount Pictures.
While he will occasionally run into people like Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Tom Cruise, and Mark Wahlberg, much of White’s job responsibilities mimic those of HR executives at other businesses.
“I’m a business partner to the business leaders,” White said. “I’m an advisor, a counselor, a coach. I get integrated into the business to thought partner with these business heads about things that they’re doing. They can be business-related, people-related, or issue-related.”
Paramount is 102 years old and responsible for producing classics like Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The 10 Commandments, and Titanic. Among its most recent releases are 13 Hours and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Paramount will also be distributing the Alexander Payne feature, Downsizing, which recently filmed scenes in Omaha.
In addition to his work at Paramount, White is heavily involved in PATH Beyond Shelter, an organization dedicated to developing systemic approaches to combat poverty and homelessness among families with children, and to enhance family economic security and well-being.
“I did not understand the problem when I first got here,” White said. “I got actively involved with Beyond Shelter which helps homeless women with children get off the streets. We worked with the Obama administration and Michelle Obama specifically in trying to end chronic veteran homelessness in Los Angeles.”
He’s written a book, The World Is A Safe Place, to benefit the homelessness cause.
Through it all, White’s Bellevue University education continues to inform his decision making.
“The education that I received at the University and the fact that I worked for (my degree) really set a strong foundation for what I do now,” White said. “The importance of education and the importance of actually doing it yourself and having to work for it — It creates a whole new level of appreciation.”
Highs and Lows: Mike Hannon Hits All the Right Shots
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
High Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores and low golf scores are what Bellevue University golfer Mike Hannon is shooting for during his senior season. In fact, Hannon has already carded his first objective having applied at seven law schools and been admitted to all seven. He will attend the University of Nebraska College of Law in the fall.
“The application process to law school, for me, was stressful,” said, Hannon, who attend Hastings St. Cecilia High School. “I had seven schools that I applied to, all in the Midwest. I was able to get into all of them, so I had choices. My main one ever since I started this was Nebraska. It’s a top tier law school and financially it made sense. It’s close to home. When that acceptance letter came in there wasn’t much decision to be made.”
“I’ve taken a ton of courses with him. I’m completing my senior thesis with him,” Hannon said “He requires a lot of work. It sometimes can be overwhelming at the beginning of the term when you only have 12 weeks to complete it. I kind of grew to like that. For me, it’s interesting. He critiques you. He helps you along the way. He’s just incredibly passionate about current events, history, security, and intelligence.”
An international roster of teammates, travel opportunities throughout the United States, and the humbling nature of the game, have provided more than their fair share of learning opportunities during Hannon’s time as a member of the University’s golf team.
“As a team, it’s motivating when you see one of our teammates struggling or doing really well. If they’re struggling you know you have to grind a little harder,” Hannon said. “The same thing if they’re playing well, it kind of motivates you to keep going. Every stroke matters. Throughout a 54-hole golf tournament and five players, there are a lot of strokes there. It’s kind of crazy when it comes down to one or two and it always seems that it does.”
The University’s golf teams have always had an international flavor since their inception in 2011.
“I’ve gotten to know a lot of guys over four years from Canada, here in the States, South Africa, and mostly in South America. It’s definitely been a learning experience,” Hannon said. “I think it is kind of cool when we go someplace here in the United States for them to see it. Like when we go to Las Vegas. For a lot of them, maybe they never thought they were going to see that. They’re a long way from home. It’s kind of cool to get to share that experience with them.”
“The trip my sophomore year was by far the coolest trip I’ve ever had the pleasure of being on. It’s just an awesome facility,” Hannon said. “The first day I walked onto the golf course I was just in awe. Then I started to realize we had to play a tournament there and it is incredibly hard. It was the worst weather I’ve played in in a long time. It snowed. It was October in Wisconsin, but I got done and I was freezing. My hands were frozen, but I walked out and I was like I want to do it again. I want to keep going.”
Hannon was recruited to the University by Head Men’s Golf Coach Rob Brown. Brown was at a high school tournament to watch another player, but Hannon caught his eye.
It’s a relationship that has worked out for both coach and player. Hannon was named Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference Golfer of the Year in the 2013-2014 season when he claimed his first individual title by winning the conference tournament.
“Coach Brown — he’s been great for four years. He’s a character. He’s fun to be around,” Hannon said. “But most importantly, he’s just a good guy. He’ll go to any length to make sure that all eight of us have what we need to succeed. Whether it’s academically, in golf, or in life — he goes out of his way to make that happen.”
SE Tech Student a Step (or 93) Ahead With Transfer to Bellevue University
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Starting off on the right foot is great. Being ahead of the game is even better.
Lance Hubert was all of that when he transferred from Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Bellevue University to pursue his bachelor’s degree. Hubert brought four associate’s degrees with him from Southeast Tech.
“Bellevue accepted all 93 credits I earned at Southeast Tech! Transferring credits was a breeze,” Hubert said.
Hubert earned his Bachelor of Science in Business in 2015 and is currently the Payroll Coordinator and a Human Resources Assistance for Olson Oil Company in Sioux Falls.
“I am responsible for processing payroll for 200+ employees. I also assist Human Resources with recruitment and employment, personnel records, and benefits administration,” Hubert said. “I thoroughly enjoy helping employees understand their paycheck and answering questions about benefits.”
Hubert’s bachelor’s degree has helped maximize his value to the organization.
“Earning a bachelor’s degree has made me more valuable in my current position as well as open up potential opportunities for advancement,” he said. “I’m currently preparing for the SHRM-CP certification (a certification offered by the Society for Human Resource Management) and this degree was the stepping stone for me to be eligible.”
Hubert praised Bellevue University Adjunct Professors Jessica Bivens and Karl Hernes and encouraged other Southeast Tech students to consider Bellevue University for their bachelor’s degree.
“Check them out! Going to class one day a week made it easy to work full time while earning a bachelor’s degree,” he said. “I looked into one other college to complete my bachelor’s degree but chose Bellevue because of cost per credit and the in class option.”
Hubert was active while at Southeast Tech with stints in Student Government, once as Treasurer and once as President.
“Student Government was a great way to get involved at Southeast Tech,” he said. “Some of my favorite memories include co-hosting the 3rd talent show, volunteering at the Banquet, handing out water to runners of the Sioux Falls Marathon, and coming up with a formula to calculate type of pizzas to order for the monthly Movie/Pizza Night.”
Diploma Presented to Family of Sarah Root
Bellevue University was honored to present the family of Sarah Root with her diploma during a ceremony Thursday, March 10 in the Muller ASB Multipurpose Room. Root was killed by a drunk driver one day after graduation on the morning of Sunday, January 31.
“The student population at Bellevue is first and foremost in our minds. We look forward to working with them over the course of their tenure here and also hoping for great futures,” said University President Mary Hawkins. “That her’s was cutoff has hit all of us. We speak from our hearts about the sadness we feel for your daughter.”
In attendance from the Root family were her father Scott, mother Michelle, brother Scott, and the younger Scott’s girlfriend, Cori Shaw.
Both Sarah and her brother were recipients of the American Dream Scholarship. Sarah earned her bachelor’s degree in Investigations, while Scott graduated from the University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Scott spoke on behalf of the family.
“I’d like to express our sincere gratitude to President Hawkins and the entire Bellevue University faculty and staff for presenting Sarah’s diploma to us in person. It means the world to our family and I know it would mean the world to Sarah,” he said. “Finishing her bachelor’s degree was something she talked about all the time. She was always trying to better herself.”
Crysta Lewis, One-Stop Counselor, presented the family with $208 raised by selling ribbons in Sarah’s honor.
LifeTouch Photography donated several framed photos of Sarah at the Commencement Ceremony to the family.
A silent auction, raffle, and spaghetti feed will be held Saturday, March 19 at the Mile-Away Hall in Council Bluffs, 20270 Old Lincoln Highway. The event will begin at 5 p.m., while the auction will conclude at 7:30 p.m. Proceeds of the event will go to the Root family to cover outstanding medical expenses.
Moore Helps Pilot Puget Sound Through Rough Water of Cyber Seas
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
As the Branch Manager, Cybersecurity Branch, at the Puget Sound Naval Yard in Bremerton, Washington, Ian Moore is tasked with making sure the yard enjoys smooth sailing through the rough water that constitutes today’s cyber seas.
Moore is about seven months into the job having earned his Master of Science in Cybersecurity from Bellevue University in 2012.
“I am really enjoying all of the different parts of our IT department that I get to be a part of,” Moore said. “I am constantly looking into projects with my Cybersecurity lens and asking about controls and vulnerabilities. I also work with a great team that has literally hundreds of years working in the shipyard.”
Moore, who has served stints in both the U.S. Navy (1994-98) and the U.S. Air Force (2002-2006), earned an associate’s degree at Shoreline (WA) Community College in 2000. He followed up with a bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington in 2002.
“I enrolled in Shoreline right after getting out of the Navy, so my brain was a sponge, and I did really well because I was truly ready to be in college,” Moore said. “My experience was very positive. I determined what degree program I wanted to pursue at UW and made all of the right choices to get in. Shoreline also helped me financially because of the cost savings for the first two years. “
Moore was in a civilian role at Offutt AFB when he started considering a Master’s degree.
“I started to look for a good school to work on my Master’s degree, and Bellevue University was local and had a great degree, Cybersecurity. That was all it took,” Moore said. “It was a great choice for me. I’ve only reaped rewards from this degree.”
The degree has paid dividends for Moore including an invitation to serve as an adjunct professor in the program.
“This degree, along with my certifications, places me head and shoulders above the competition,” Moore said. “During my education at Bellevue University, I had opportunities to show my ability to present and demonstrate my understanding of the material. Through this I was asked to return as an adjunct professor, once my one year of industry experience was complete. I’ve been teaching ever since.”
Juggling school work and other responsibilities is a challenge for many students. Moore was no exception during his time at Bellevue University including finishing up his final paper while en route to Disney World.
“I have two boys who are now 11 and 13, so while I was in school in 2010-2012, I had to balance my time because I wanted to ensure that my boys didn’t resent my education because of all the time I spent at the computer,” Moore said. “Once I settled into a routine I worked from around 9:30 to 12:00 every night during the week. That way the boys would be in bed and their time with me wouldn’t be influenced by my classes. To this day there was only one time where they remember me working with them awake and that was when we went to Disney World by car. I still had a final paper to turn in on our first night there. I had to finish using the glow of my laptop for light while everyone else was trying to get to sleep.”
Focus Shows in Rodriguez’s Artwork
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
A sharp eye serves Jair Rodriguez well as an artist. That same focus has helped Rodriquez earn his Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design degree at Bellevue University this past November. Receiving the South Omaha Scholarship and the requirements to keep the scholarship played a role in his success, Rodriguez said.
“It helped me stay focused on my assignments and work by letting me not worry about how I was going to pay for the next term of school,” he said. “It also kept me motivated to earn good grades because I had to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5 each term in order to receive a book grant for my books and other school material.”
As part of the scholarship requirements, Rodriguez attended at least one professional enrichment program (PEP) each term. Topics covered included resumes, interviewing, and time management.
“It helped me improve essential life skills and prepared me for situations I would encounter after I graduate,” Rodriguez said.
“They also helped reach out more to the Omaha area by requiring me to volunteer at least 20 hours per year to any non-profit organization. One year I wound up interning for Habitat for Humanity of Omaha where I helped make designs for their Public Relations department. It was a great way to build up my portfolio while helping a good cause at the same time.”
Rodriguez felt his classwork outside the design studio often found its way into his artwork.
“I enjoyed exploring diverse subjects through my elective classes ranging from ancient history, to nutrition, to business management,” he said “I feel that the more topics I learned about outside the design world, the more I was inspired to apply outside influences to my own design work. I enjoyed learning new things and later finding inspiration.”
In his artwork, Rodriguez draws inspiration from his personal life and experience and strives to learn from others, while experimenting with new techniques himself.
“That helps me come up with ideas that are sometimes outside the box and unorthodox,” Rodriguez said. “I conduct thorough research before I start a project in order to get a good understanding on what needs to be communicated. I also strive for putting and seeing my work in all types of environments where the public can see and interact with it.”
A 2010 graduate of Omaha South High School, Rodriguez aspires to open up a design studio of his own someday.
“One of my ultimate goals would be to open up my own design studio in Omaha and constantly work alongside other talented individuals,” he said. “I hope that one day my work could inspire others like I have been inspired by others.”