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.”
Cardenas Navigates Bellevue University Journey
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Embarking on a new journey into unfamiliar territory can be an intimidating experience. Having some helpful navigators along for the ride can make all the difference.
As the first in her family to attend college, Crystal Cardenas can tell you all about that. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Bellevue University in 2010, and then followed up with a Master of Science in Justice Administration and Crime Management in 2015.
“I am the first person in my family to go to college and I did not have a clue as what I was supposed to do,” Cardenas said. “I spoke to the facilitator, Gina Ponce (Director of the University’s South Omaha Community Outreach), and explained to her my situation and how I thought I was never going to get into college.”
Ponce and Cardenas would collaborate to get the ball rolling on Cardenas’ academic career and throughout her time at the University.
“Gina would check in with me to ensure that I was successful during my college career. She knew my struggle and knew that getting an education was extremely important to me,” Cardenas said.
Following the completion of her bachelor’s degree, Cardenas took some time off before coming back to pursue her master’s degree. Having attended classes for her first degree, the online environment of the Justice Administration and Crime Management program was a new experience.
“I really enjoyed the cohort online learning. I got to know my online peers and we became a small community,” Cardenas said.
“That, to me, was very cool. It was also challenging because it forced me to time manage more effectively and to have my priorities straight.”
Like a lot of students, Cardenas had more to juggle than just school work.
“By the time of my graduation, I had two wonderful children, Valeria and Erick, and I was pregnant with my third child, Valentina,” she said. “The struggle was real and it was every day. The issues with daycare and the children being sick, having to work and managing a home, while still attending college kept me on my toes. I was very lucky to have the support of my husband, Erick, my family, friends and the Bellevue University staff.”
Cardenas is currently a Youth Academic Navigator at the D2 Center, a reengagement center for youth ages 15-21.
“We help the students complete their high school diploma by encouraging them to be successful, by helping them overcome obstacles, by problem-solving and providing information for different resources,” she said. “It is a very rewarding job, where I can make a difference in a youth’s life.”
With two degrees under her belt already, Cardenas’s Bellevue University journey may not be over yet.
“In a few years, I may return to Bellevue University to pursue a Doctorate degree,” she said. “It is such a wonderful university with caring staff who understand the needs of the students.”
Bellevue “Bandmates” Boost Arrowood to ITOP Degree
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Brian Arrowood is all about the band. You can find him on YouTube ripping through a rendition of The Devil Went Down to Georgia with Charlie Daniels or catch him on tour as the fiddle player with country music legend Travis Tritt.
So when he set his sights on earning his bachelor’s degree in Bellevue University’s Information Technology Operations Management (ITOP) program, he made sure he had the backing of some solid players to help him out. Those bandmates included Adjunct Professor Leslie Olsen, ITOP Program Director Anna Verhoeff, and fellow student Tim Bosford among others.
Olsen helped Arrowood off to a solid start as he knocked out some General Education requirements in her English Composition II class.
“She really had an impact on me, an excellent professor, and extremely knowledgeable, very assisting,” Arrowood said.
For her part, Olsen enjoyed working with the engaged student.
“Brian’s strengths as a student are his willingness to ask questions that challenge and clarify the material and his enthusiasm for applying what he learns,” said Olsen, who saw Arrowood play at a Travis Tritt show last year. “Brian engaged in multiple revisions of his written work, which helped articulate his argument. He has an eye for detail.”
Once into the 13-month long cohort, Arrowood frequently collaborated with Bosford on group projects.
“I had somebody who took their education as serious as I did. That’s what the interaction was all about,” Arrowood said. “I feel fortunate that I was able to have him as a partner. He was extremely self-disciplined.”
Bosford, a Lead Analyst for CACI International from Orange, Virginia, echoed those feelings back at Arrowood.
“Brian’s strengths were legion. His attention to detail is incredible. Brian is also a great team member as he is willing to hear other points of view from his own,” Bosford said. “My experience in the ITOP course would have been drastically different if Brian and I did not get along.”
Arrowood is on track to graduate this spring having completed the cohort program. He is currently enrolled in the Kirkpatrick Signature Series, the final requirement for his degree. While pursuing his degree, Arrowood has also earned CompTIA’s A+ and Project + certifications along with the ITIL V3 and Prince2 foundation-level certifications.
So is a career in IT in the offing for Arrowood?
“I’m a musician. That’s what I do. That’s what I’ve done for as long as I remember. That’s never going to stop,” Arrowood said.
“This is a personal achievement. It’s something that I’ve been working towards. There are things that I can do and continue to play music and be able to utilize my degree. What I’ll have to do is explore those options in more depth to see how I will be able to do both in a symbiotic manner.”
Like a lot of students, Arrowood had to fit his education in around his work schedule.
“I would go and play a show. I might have to be awake at 5:00 in the morning and in my bunk on the bus typing on the computer in order to get something finished. You just do it,” he said.
Arrowood has been back home in Nashville, Tennessee for the early part of 2016 as Tritt plays solo acoustic shows, but the band will be back at it in March including a show in Kansas City on Friday, March 11. Arrowood relishes the idea of getting back on stage.
“This will be the beginning of my seventh year with Travis Tritt,” he said. “It’s the response from the crowd. There’s interaction whenever you’re on stage — the energy. You’re playing for that audience; you’re conveying your enjoyment and that energy to them.”
In addition to his work with Tritt, Arrowood is working with banjo player Mike Scott on a collaborative project.
“Hopefully, by the springtime we’ll have that completed and he and I will be able to play some gigs,” Arrowood said.
Whether it is collaborating on school work, on stage, or in the recording studio, it is all about relationships for Arrowood.
“You really can’t do everything alone. I love relationships. I value relationships in life,” he said “People look out for you. I’m a big believer in karma. You give someone respect and you get it back.”
Woerner Travels to Tel Aviv For Cybertech 2016
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Ron Woerner, Director of the University’s Cybersecurity programs, took part in a recent trip to the Cybertech 2016 Conference in Tel Aviv, Israel. Woerner was invited on the trip by the American-Israel Friendship League (AIFL). Among the goals for the participants in the 5-day delegation to were to facilitate a mutual exchange of information security expertise and to learn more about the latest trends driving the security industry in Israel.
Woerner was one of 10 cybersecurity journalists invited on the trip. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu served as the keynote speaker for the event.
“It was a great opportunity,” Woerner said. “The idea was to learn what Israel is doing as a cyber-nation and to be able to showcase all of their initiatives. We got a briefing at the Israeli Electric Company (IEC) on what they are doing. Just like our electric grid, they are under attack.”
In addition to the Cybertech conference, Woerner and the group did get to take in some of the sights.
“We did get to spend a day as tourist in Jerusalem. We got to go to the Western Wall and hear about the history of Jerusalem. They do a great job of bringing together the old and the new,” he said.
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The Bellwether is an ongoing collaboration of creative, academic, and literary writing of prose, poetry, and visual art. Additional aims of the publication are to recognize effective writing at Bellevue University, collaborate with the Ethical Insights project, and celebrate the “Best Overall” written work at our academic institution. To view an electronic copy of Volume 7, please click here.
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