Flood Communication CEO Ruback Touts University’s Culture

Broadcast veteran and Bellevue University alumnus Andy Ruback is the CEO of Flood Communications, one of Nebraska’s largest and fastest-growing media operations, with a focus on radio, television, and online channels, and general and Hispanic audiences. Ruback is a 1999 graduate with a degree in Communications. Since graduating, Ruback has become well-recognized as a community and industry leader, and was named one of Radio Ink magazine’s “Best Managers” in addition to other recognitions.

What did you know about Bellevue University that prompted you to pursue your degree here?

Bellevue University has a stellar reputation and is well-known for investing in the success of their students. Part of the reason that this is possible is because of the smaller, more intimate classroom setting.

What did you enjoy the most about your Bellevue University experience?

Over the years, I have learned that while some would call my college experience non-traditional, it was certainly not uncommon. Like so many people I know, and many of them extremely successful individuals, I started at a large out-of-state university where I quickly became just another number. With lectures having 300 or 400 students, it was easy to get a bit lost in the system. In my experience, professors didn’t know their students by name, let alone take the time to invest in their success.

To me, people matter and you need to know people to empower them and help them achieve their goals. At Bellevue University, every professor knew every student and they truly cared about seeing their students excel.

What was one of your biggest takeaways from your educational experience at Bellevue University?

A cultural fit can be difficult to explain, but everyone knows when they feel a sense of inclusion. Bellevue University was a great fit for me. Not only did my classes offer value to my education and life, but I felt like I was valued in the classroom, as well. Being empowered to succeed is something that I have taken forward with me to my own employees. It’s important to both offer value and to be valued in life and working to empower others to achieve life goals is very fulfilling.

Tell us a little about the work and culture of Flood Communications.

Flood Communications is Nebraska’s premier, forward-leaning media operation with eight radio stations and two television networks. We have leading brands throughout the entire state. And, we stand by our reputation, our clients, our employees and our communities. With dedicated news, television, radio and social media teams, everything we do is to serve our audiences.

What do you enjoy most about your job as the CEO at Flood Communications?

There are innumerable reasons why I enjoy serving as the CEO of Flood Communications, but top amongst them is our dedicated employees. In my role, I’m ultimately responsible for the overall success of Flood Communication’s talented team of professionals and extensive network of Television, Radio, Hispanic, and Digital products.

And that is only possible because we have an amazing team. With more than 130 professionals throughout Nebraska, I’m thankful to be part of a team that is at the forefront of the industry evolution and creating new models for user and advertiser success every day.

What are some of the biggest challenges in your position?

Flood Communications is committed to communities throughout our state and for engaging our diverse populations. This diversity is represented in all ways – age, language, geography, political philosophy, urban and rural… And we represent our communities authentically and try to provide the best most relevant content. It’s a definite challenge, but very rewarding when you are able to help keep Nebraskans informed, entertained and engaged.

What are your interests outside of work and school?

First and foremost, I love spending time with my family and creating positive memories and experiences with my awesome wife and kids. Beyond that? The usual…fishing, bourbon, and playing the drums.

Who have been your biggest supporters in your academic and career endeavors?

That one is hard to narrow down. I’ve had the opportunities to work with incredible people at incredible companies over the years. Mentors are important. I’ve had the privilege to be mentored by some truly great people. They have set a gold standard in my life and I can only hope to be a mentor in a similar way to others in the future. It’s important to pay it forward in life and continue to be grateful.

Any major takeaways for our readers?

Life isn’t about just the finish line; it’s also about the journey. There is power and value in the process

Alvarez Seeks to Make a Difference at Otero

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Timothy Alvarez was managing a Jack ‘n Jill Grocery Store in Scottsbluff, Nebraska back in the late 80s. Doing a bit of future casting, he decided neither Jack nor Jill should be a part of his future.  Flash forward to 2018 and Dr. Timothy Alvarez is the recently appointed President of Otero Junior College.

Bellevue University was the first stop on his journey on a new career path. With an associate’s degree from Western Nebraska Community College already in hand, Alvarez, at 32 years old, decided he needed to change directions and that a bachelor’s degree was going to be a necessity to make that happen. After some research he decided on Bellevue University.

“I told my wife, “I don’t really love what I do. I want to go back to school. And, of course, she’s looking at me thinking ‘what are you, crazy?’” he said.

Alvarez convinced his wife it was a good idea when he discovered a school that would allow him to work full time, while taking a full load of classes, as well. Alvarez ended up working 52 hours a week and earning 67 credits in a year. He graduated in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts in Management of Human Resources.

“Bellevue University was the answer and I’m so grateful for the opportunity. If it wouldn’t have been for the structure of the program, I would have never been able to finish,” he said. “From that point on my life just took a different trajectory and I was so fortunate.”

A number of folks had an impact on Alvarez during his time at Bellevue University, including then President John Muller, and Jan Hansen, who was Dean of the College of Professional Studies during Alvarez’s time as a student.

“Those two people made a difference,” he said.  “Jan Hansen, in particular, was very instrumental. She had a conversation with me and helped me feel comfortable where I was at. As a non-traditional student, you have a lot of ‘impostor syndrome’ when you come back to school. Jan was really helpful and helped me manage it.”

From there Alvarez was off and running. He earned his Master’s in Developmental Counseling at Chadron State in 1993 and completed his Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) in 1999. He worked at Eastern Wyoming College while earning his master’s degree and at UNL before starting his Ph.D. program. He had long runs at Western Nebraska, UNL, and North Dakota State in a variety of positions before landing the top job at Otero.

“It’s always been an interest and a passion for me to help the vulnerable populations and populations who would have been like me when I earned my associates degree,” Alvarez said. “I’d like Otero to be an engine of social mobility. I don’t care who you are, what walk of life you come from, if you come to this campus, I hope that we’re able to help you achieve whatever goals you might have and that once you leave here that you have the skills to either be fully employed or go on to finish a four-year degree.”

Otero is located in La Junta Colorado, a town of a little less than 7,000 people southeast of Pueblo. The median household income is $31,999, about 51 percent of the average across the state.

Alvarez wants his students to start thinking differently. He eschews the traditional ‘what’s your major?’ question and instead asks ‘what difference do you want to make in the world?’

“Oftentimes, students are not prepared to answer that question, but they’ll come back later and say ‘I’ve thought about it. Here’s what I want to do.’  Ninety percent of the time it has nothing to do with the major or discipline, it has to do with their purpose and their passion.”

Commissioner Zuger a Role Model for New Sarpy County Partnership

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Sarpy County employees won’t have to look hard to find an example of how a Bellevue University education can pay off. County Commissioner Brian Zuger holds two degrees from Bellevue, including a Bachelor of Arts in Leadership and a Master of Public Administration.

Sarpy County announces new tuition program in partnership with Bellevue University.

Sarpy County employees can take advantage of a new program, offered in partnership with Bellevue University, which features tuition reimbursement of up to $5,250 for County employees and $2,500 for employees’ immediate family members. The program is available to full-time, degree-seeking students at Bellevue University. There is no cost to the County or taxpayers for the program.

Zuger, who is running unopposed for Sarpy County Treasurer this fall, earned his bachelor’s degree when he was 40 and his master’s at 42. He didn’t let age stand in his way, and others shouldn’t let it stop them either, he said.

“For a lot of people, age is a barrier to entry. They think, ‘I’m an old dog, what am I going to learn in this program?’ or ‘It’s too late for me’.”

But Zuger said being an adult student today makes more sense than ever before.

“There’s less risk for them to go do this now because it’s not as big a financial burden. I think it’s going to be very beneficial for Sarpy County.”

Zuger first enrolled at Bellevue University in 2010, 18 years after he graduated from high school.

“I was looking for an education that that catered to professionals,” he said. “I took both of my degrees online, but it was nice to know that if I ran into an issue I would have a local person to talk to.”

Zuger describes himself as a “leadership junkie” and felt his undergraduate program was a great fit.

“It really challenged my perceptions as to what it meant to be a leader. I think it helped me to find my leadership style,” he said. “I really enjoyed that part. It allowed me to be very introspective and challenged the perceptions that I had.”

Zuger credited longtime University professor Del Stites as being particularly influential during his bachelor’s degree program.

“He taught a logic class and challenged us quite a bit,” Zuger said. “I like to be really challenged to test my thought processes and how I processed information.”

When Zuger decided to pursue a master’s degree, he selected Bellevue’s MPA program with an eye toward a leadership position with a nonprofit organization.

“I wanted to go to that next level with a nonprofit, that’s what the MPA really came into focus for me and I’ve always kind of a public-policy junkie,” he said.

As part of his degree, Zuger liked the style of the MPA cohort program, which puts students into a group that advances through the program together. This allows students to get to know one another and to take advantage of their peers’ expertise and experiences.

The cohort program “really allows you to focus on your passions,” he said.

These days Zuger is passionate about Sarpy County and his upcoming term as County Treasurer.

“I’m going to miss my time on the Board (of Commissioners). I love being a policy maker and having the ability to impact the direction of Sarpy County,” he said. “I think our Treasurer’s Office is run very well. I’m really looking forward using the skills I learned at Bellevue to build on the culture of collaboration.”


2008 Graduate Comes Into His Own as Partner at Global Payments Consultancy TSG

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Mike Strawhecker, a 2008 graduate of Bellevue University with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing Management, recently took on a new challenge with The Strawhecker Group, an Omaha-based global payments consultancy that bears his family name.

As the newest Partner at The Strawhecker Group (TSG) and a member of the firm that his father, Kurt Strawhecker, and Jamie Savant founded in 2006, Mike still feels the pull of his entrepreneurial roots. “Both my parents and siblings have played huge roles for me in terms of career support,” he said. “We are a family of entrepreneurs, so we are constantly using each other as sounding boards for ideas or discussing issues we are facing in either TSG or our other businesses.”

Mike Strawhecker came into TSG shortly after they first opened their doors and has seen the company grow exponentially over the last 12 years. “I joined the team about two weeks later at the bottom of the totem pole,” he said.  “I think a key component of our growth and success stems from the fact that we specialize in a niche of a niche that most people don’t even think about existing. It is easier to market to your core constituencies and gain share when you pick one thing or market and get really good at it – especially in a globalized economy.”

TSG’s Acquiring Industry Metrics (AIM) product, which measures the financial performance of payments companies, is one of the pillars of TSG’s success. It’s a product Mike himself spearheaded the launch of in 2010, and today AIM is used by some of the biggest and most influential payments and financial technology companies in the world.

Shortly after he joined his father at TSG, Mike made the decision to take college credits he had earned and complete his degree at Bellevue University. “I learned about Bellevue from a friend who had a great experience there and recommended it to me,” Mike said. “Bellevue’s accelerated program was very attractive to me, especially since I already had a lot of credits. They were willing to work with me on making sure that these credits counted.  It ended up being an excellent program and experience that I took a lot from.”

The Marketing Management program Mike selected is offered in a cohort format where students move from class to class as a group. Mike said the bonds formed with his classmates helped enhance the educational experience. “We got to know each other in the classroom as well as personally, and became friends in the process,” he said. “I think getting to know this one group really helped me excel in my time at Bellevue.”

Mike praised Professor Kristi Lynch as well. “She was the leader of my cohort and was (and I am sure still is) an excellent teacher and advisor,” he said. “She knows more about marketing than anyone I have ever come across and she was also very supportive of me during my time at Bellevue.”

Strawhecker said that though he knew the day was coming where he would take on a larger leadership role within TSG, he still enjoys and expects to continue to work alongside TSG team members to solve difficult challenges for TSG clients, and to continue having fun. Last year, the TSG leadership team, including Mike and his father, purchased a Golden Tee golf arcade game as a Christmas gift for everyone in their office.

But whether he’s competing in a fierce game of online golf or working to address a tough business challenge, Mike understands what really matters. “One thing I have learned,” he said, “is that it doesn’t matter what type of business you own, the key ingredient to sustained success comes from the people you have on your team.”

Native American Alum Makes National News Helping Her People

By Dan Sheridan

“I am a Native American of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe. I grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Most of my clientele are Native Americans and I want to find ways to work with other native populations.”

Meet Grace Johnson, Bellevue University alumnus. Since January, 2018, she has been serving members of the Omaha tribe as the Behavioral Health Director at the tribally operated Carl T. Curtis Behavioral Health Education Center in Macy, Nebraska, on the Omaha Reservation. Johnson is where she’s at today because of hard work combined with passion.

“For that past five years or so,” explained Johnson, “I have been working toward my goal of being in charge of a mental health department because I know where my people need help. We need trauma-focused techniques and trauma-informed people, and now I can direct the department toward the biggest issues facing Native communities.”

Johnson’s passion for her fellow Native Americans drove her into her current field. Johnson, already holding an undergraduate in psychology in order to meet her ultimate goal of running her own department, searched for the best institution to get her master’s in clinical counseling. She chose Bellevue University because “they put more emphasis on that actual work of counseling,” said Johnson.

“I also liked the option of being able to take the course both online and in class,” said Johnson. This was an important feature for her since she had to juggle school, two children, and work as a part-time family support counselor.

Bellevue University’s clinical counseling program is CACREP-accredited, which stands for the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. CACREP accreditation is considered the national “gold standard” and Bellevue University’s program is one of the few in the nation that is fully online.

Johnson said the course lives up to Bellevue University’s motto, “Real Learning for Real Life.” “The Bellevue program,” Johnson explained, “prepared me to run groups, to do individual therapy, and to do assessments; I got the essential detailed knowledge that has helped me practice in the real world.”

Johnson, in addition to loving the practical curriculum, admired her professors whose teachings were inspired by years of personal experience in the field. “Dr. Jon Kayne was one of my favorite teachers,” Johnson said, “he has a lot of life wisdom which comes from his many experiences, and he’s accommodating, friendly, warm, and welcoming.”

“Dr. Kayne emphasized research; to take the time to find evidence based practices that are working,” said Johnson. This advice she has taken to heart and it has aided her greatly in her current mission of providing practical solutions for the people she serves.

Johnson graduated from Bellevue University in 2014. Armed with her Master of Science in Clinical Counseling degree, she pressed forward and captured her ultimate prize this past January when she was appointed to her current position as the Behavioral Health Director on the Omaha Reservation. Now, in her new role, Johnson is directing her team of therapists to grapple with her clients’ toughest problems.

“I do what are called Historical Trauma Presentations,” explains Johnson, “which ties these issues together, explaining the things which happened to Native peoples in the past that are still affecting us today. It is very trauma-focused which is why I chose to get my Master’s in Clinical Counseling at Bellevue University — so I could focus on trauma therapy.”

Johnson is making sure her staff is properly educated to best serve the Native community. “My goal right now,” explained Johnson, “is getting all my therapists trauma trained so they can be trauma certified.”

Johnson, now widely recognized as an expert in her field, recently made the news when she was asked by the Mayor of the City of Omaha and the Omaha Police Department to provide Native American cultural sensitivity and mental health training. The request for training came on the heels of a nationally publicized incident in which a mentally ill Native American man, Zachary Bearheels, died in police custody. The Omaha Police Department, thanks to Johnson’s efforts, is now learning about Native Americans and Native American culture, which will surely make for better relations.

Grace Johnson is living her dream. She is extremely proud to be able to help her people. “When I was a staff subordinate,” Johnson proudly explained, “I saw the issues that were affecting my people, but now I’m in the position to direct the focus of our efforts toward them and provide practical solutions.”

See Grace Johnson in the news.

For more information about Johnson’s Native Tribe.

For more information about Johnson’s current work.

For more information about the Carl T. Curtis Behavioral Health Education Center.

BU Serves as Spring Board to Law School

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Getting in to law school can be an arduous process. Taking a non-traditional path toward that goal can further complicate matters. McKinley Malbrough III was already in his late 20s when he decided law school was the path he wanted to pursue. The first obstacle he needed to overcome – he had not yet earned his bachelor’s degree.

Malbrough discovered that Bellevue University, located over 1,500 miles from his home in Oakland, California, was the perfect partner to help him past that first hurdle. Malbrough enrolled in the University’s Communication Arts program in the fall of 2015 and earned his degree in the summer of 2017. He’s just completed his first year at the University of San Francisco School Of Law.

“I knew law school would be a huge undertaking, therefore I needed an undergraduate program that was flexible and affordable. I extensively researched schools and Bellevue University was the best option,” Malbrough said. “I could affordably pursue my undergraduate degree while still working to prepare for the financial burden of law school. Looking back, I’m thankful I found Bellevue University.”

He transferred in credits from Merritt College in Oakland, California, and even took additional courses to meet general education requirements, while working on his degree requirements at Bellevue University.

“My counselor at Bellevue, Dawn Novak, was amazing and it was great to meet her in person at graduation. She consistently talked about the scenarios I had to ensure that I was on track to be ready for law school,” Malbrough said. “Oftentimes, I reached out to Bellevue University prior to taking classes at my local community college, while pursuing my degree, to verify course completion requirements. Bellevue was more than helpful in working with me to complete my degree.”

Malbrough found his Health Communication class to be particularly helpful.

“This class helped me be more assertive with my family and medical staff about my health and the health of my loved ones,” he said. “Recently, my father needed to go to the emergency room. Instead of being passive about the process I was open and transparent about talking to the staff and my family about the process of recovery for my father. This was helpful because my father allowed me to take control and trust that I would ask the needed questions to best help him in his process to recovery.”

Dr. Kate Joeckel, Director of the Communications Arts program, played a key role in helping Malbrough navigate through his Bellevue University experience.

“Dr. Joeckel was amazing,” he said. “I completed my degree in reverse with most of my major courses completed first then my general education. Dr. Joeckel believed in me and gave her blessing for me to complete my degree this way.”

Malbrough found his online experience with Bellevue University prepared him well for law school.

“I’m the only student in my section of about 50 students who completed their undergraduate degree entirely online and doing so helped me to have the discipline to complete work on my own,” Malbrough said.

Once he’s completed law school, Malbrough has several options he’s considering including coming back to Bellevue to complete a Master’s Degree, human resource law, or even becoming a sports agent.

“What I realized is that I don’t have to limit myself,” he said. “With my newfound knowledge, I feel I can do anything and everything but it all starts with a single goal.”

Meisinger Meets Milestones with BSN Program

By Dan Silvia

Dr. Kimberley Meisinger has put down some roots in her almost six years at Bellevue University. She serves as Director for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Bachelor of Science in Public Health Education and the Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences. A longtime Bellevue resident, she has even deeper roots in the community.

The program recently achieved a significant milestone when it earned accreditation through the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The validation is important on several levels, Meisinger said.

“While I always thought that the program was tremendous even before accreditation, this is recognition from outside experts saying, ‘We validate that everything that you’ve done meets the standard that we’ve outlined’,” Meisinger said. “As students graduate, they can go out into the workplace and those people who are hiring them are going to say,’ they’re CCNE accredited.’ It ensures the employer that a graduate has the kind of skills they need and they can hire them knowing that they are coming from a program that has a quality education. It’s important for the program, but equally is important for the students.”

Meisinger is working on attaining some personal milestones herself. She has been nominated for a position on the board for the American Nursing Association. She will be travelling to Washington D.C. to present, before the final vote for the board positions. Initially, Meisinger wasn’t sure she would apply, but could not pass up the opportunity to be an influencer.

“I’m always encouraging my students to become part of a professional organization and change how leadership looks in nursing,” Meisinger said. “I felt like if I’m going to tell my students to do it, then I should probably step up and do it myself.”

Meisinger came to Bellevue University while finishing up her dissertation for her Doctor of Nursing Practice and Clinical System Administration at Creighton University. A graduate of Bellevue West High School, Meisinger began her academic career earning her bachelor’s degree in Nursing at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She followed that up with a Master of Science in Nursing Education from Nebraska Wesleyan University. She earned a second master’s degree in Alternative Dispute Resolution from the Creighton University School of Law.

She began her Bellevue University career working with Dr. Mike Freel in the Master of Healthcare Administration program. An opportunity to lead the BSN program opened up about a year and a half later. Getting the program into shape to earn the CCNE accreditation has a large part of her job since that time.

“It’s been an immense amount of work, probably more work than I’ve ever done on one specific project,” Meisinger said. “I’m excited for the students because they wanted this for such a long time — to hear the excitement on the phone when I called them or to see the excitement when I saw them at graduation. They were jumping up and down, they were hugging, they were just thrilled. That probably was more satisfying than anything.”

Going forward, establishing a National Honor Society for nursing at the University is a high priority for Meisinger. The honor would add the potential for an additional credential that might help a resume stand out. Additionally, Meisinger is laying the groundwork for a Master of Science in Nursing program.

“That’s the next academic step that we want to make. It will allow our BSN students to have another place to come back to,” Meisinger said. “A doctorate in nursing is always on the back of my brain. We have a very small amount of nurse educators available across the country and we are requiring those educators to have a doctorate.”

The Bellevue University Bachelor of Science program is devoted to creating nurse leaders.

“Everything is kind of geared toward that. Our content is very leadership focused,” Meisinger said. “One thing that I like about our program is the students get to choose their practicum experience. We meet them where they’re at, so that they can create the experience they need to have. We’ll just guide them down the path. It makes it more personal for the students, but is also beneficial for the organizations because at the very end, they have a project or an outcome that the can actually do something with.”

When Meisinger isn’t helping the BSN program sprout, she is tending to those roots that help keep her grounded and growing herself.

Her oldest son, Kanin, will be attending Bellevue University this fall as a business major, while daughter Sierra will be a senior at Bellevue East High School. The youngest is Tess, who is a sophomore and is home schooled. Meisinger has been married to husband, Deric, for 16 years. Family have been her biggest supporters during her academic and career endeavors.

Meisinger enjoys spending time with her kids and reading. She mentors students in the Bellevue East Health Occupations Student Association. She has also recently taken up kayaking.

“I’m not good at it, but definitely trying,” she said.

With Meisinger’s drive you can rest assured that she will be an expert kayaker soon enough.


A Lot to Applaud with Nursing Student’s Graduation

By Dan Silvia

A wall of Bellevue University faculty and staff, all clad in purple robes, cheers on graduating students as they exit the Mid-America Center following the commencement ceremony. If all has gone as planned, this isn’t the first time students have encountered supportive staffers during their time at the University.

Dana Corwin discovered just that as she navigated the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, graduating with a 4.0 grade point average in Spring 2018. Corwin had praise for faculty and staff from her first interaction with the University all the way to the last.

An online student from Mayville, New York, Corwin first became aware of Bellevue University when a friend pitched it to her following a presentation at a local government office. Kerri Brown, Bellevue University’s representative at nearby Jamestown Community College, reached out to Corwin directly to let her know the details about what Bellevue University had to offer.

Once enrolled, Student Coach Holly Richie helped keep Corwin on the right track.

“She was unbelievable. She called me at home in New York to check in with me,” Corwin said. “She gave me reminders and information and support that was so helpful! I really valued that service and Holly was fantastic in every way.”

Dr. Kim Meisinger, the director for the nursing program, as well as Associate Professor Michelle Bahr, and Adjunct Professor Laurel Chadek all received praise from Corwin covering a wide of range of classes in her undergraduate experience.

“Dr. Meisinger, the department chair, was wonderful. She was encouraging and supportive, giving quick and ready communication. She was an amazing professor and such an important role model,” Corwin said. “Her ability to model the professional side of nursing and the academia was inspiring. Cool, calm, and collected, she has a strong personification of strength and grace. Her approach is collaborative, and her organizational skills and mentoring are awesome.”

While Bahr and Chadek don’t teach in the nursing program, their impact occurred while Corwin completed general education requirements and the Kirkpatrick Signature Series. Bahr taught an oral communications course that impressed Corwin, already an experienced public speaker.

“I have been doing public speaking for almost 15 years. Her feedback was so helpful, and she was very encouraging,” Corwin said. “You know you have learned new skills when you start to dissect others presentation skills and mentally check them off as they unfold in front of you.”

The Kirkpatrick Signature Series is a collection of three courses focused on American government and civics. Adjunct Chadek helped guide Corwin through the course.

“The timeliness of the feedback was crucial, since the content is not my major. The ability to have your work validated and commented on quickly, helped to ease my insecurities in this civics course,” Corwin said. “I applaud the university leadership for making this a core requirement and initiating citizenship in the education at Bellevue.”

The Nursing program was accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education just as Corwin was finishing up her degree requirements.

“I appreciate the implications of achieving accreditation and was very interested in the process,” she said. “Personally, it paves the way to pursue a master’s degree in nursing.”

Corwin works in Chautauqua County, New York on the southwest side of the state where she is the director of aging health services for the local agency on aging.

“I love the ability to understand and work with the social determinates of health and effect change in managing the challenges of community health,” Corwin said. “I also adore the population I work with. If I have done my job well, the people I am working for feel empowered, capable and engaged in improving and maintain their independence and dignity.”

While Corwin is across the country and graduation is in the rear view mirror, Bellevue University faculty and staff are still applauding her efforts.

New eSports Course Set to Help Gamers Level Up Their Streaming Skills

By Cris Hay-Merchant

As esports popularity continues to grow worldwide, two Bellevue University gaming gurus are helping the University level up by creating a new course focused on teaching students how to provide quality live streaming productions on streaming platforms like Twitch.tv.

Chris Vocelka, who will serve as course instructor, and Alex Rogers have developed “ESPT 110 Fundamentals of Streaming Media Production,” which will be available starting this fall through the College of Science and Technology. The undergraduate, three-credit-hour course fulfills BU’s General Education Technology requirement, and has no prerequisites.

“Streaming is an important element of esports,” explained Rogers, who coaches the Bruins eSports team. He said that gaming events, including competitive esports tournaments, are often delivered on specific platforms like Twitch.tv. Twitch, which was founded in 2011 and purchased by Amazon in 2014, is one of the world’s most popular online services for watching and streaming digital video broadcasts. The content streamed can be that of someone playing a video game, an  esports event,or other creative and IRL (In Real Life) content. Twitch.tv, for example, boasts 2 million-plus unique streamers every month, who access the service through an official Twitch app and website.

According to Vocelka, students who enroll in ESPT 110 will be among the first in the country to take an esports course outside of the game design realm. “Our focus will be to help students understand what you need to know and do to provide a quality streaming experience,” he said. “We’ll cover computer requirements and technology, as well as how to communicate effectively on streaming media channels.” To ensure the new course covers all the bases, Vocelka and Rogers have consulted with one of the world’s top livestreamers, Ben Lupo, who is better known by his gaming handle of “DrLupo.”

DrLupo is widely recognized as one of the top Twitch broadcasters, and frequently livestreams content from games such as Destiny and Fortnite. He has a following of more than 1.4 million followers on the Twitch platform and another 512,000-plus followers on YouTube. He also happens to live in Nebraska, which is what led Vocelka to reach out to him. “It’s been amazing working with him as we’ve built this course,” said Vocelka. “Thanks to DrLupo, the course is infused with true eSports culture and has a high standard of livestreaming production know-how built into its foundation.”

Vocelka points out that the course is open and will benefit any student – not just gamers – who want to produce high-quality streaming media content. Streaming was identified several years ago as a business trend to watch, and today consumer demand for both audio and video content continues to rise as people consume more and more entertainment and lifestyle content on mobile devices. In a study done by Livestream, 81 percent of audiences watched more live videos in 2016 than in 2015. And Deloitte’s annual digital media trends survey found that the percentage of U.S. households subscribing to a paid streaming video service grew a staggering 450 percent – from 10 to 55 percent – between 2009 and 2017. So, not surprisingly, businesses are recognizing that they can reach key audiences and improve their exposure as a way to boost sales. Across various sectors, companies are now using live streaming to enhance areas like marketing and customer service.

“We’re very excited about this course,” said Rogers. “The industry and businesses in general need content creators, media managers and other leaders who have the skills to produce quality live streaming events. This course will help enable that.”


Marketing Degrees Boost Havermann

By Dan Silvia

Meeting you where you are, when you are ready – some of the hallmarks offered by online education – can be a necessity for today’s working professional. Cheryl Havermann can attest to that.

Havermann was enjoying her job as a program assistant at the University of South Dakota (USD), but needed to complete her bachelor’s degree in order to move up. After examining USD’s traditional offerings, she estimated it would take her about seven years to complete. That just wasn’t going to work.

“I could only go part-time because I still had to work,” Havermann said. “I started looking around for some online options and Bellevue University popped up. I made some phone calls and before I knew it I was taking classes.”

Havermann had already earned her associate’s degree through Southeast Community College in Lincoln, Nebraska. She enrolled in Bachelor of Science in Marketing Management in 2012.

“I really liked the idea of the cohort where I was with the same group of students all the way through,” she said. “It was a much smaller group. It just really made us feel like we could reach out to each other, ask questions, and bounce ideas off each other. You might have a difference of opinion or see things a little bit differently. We all came from different backgrounds. We all had the same question to answer, but we all applied it to our current situation just a little bit differently.”

Havermann completed her bachelor’s in 2013 and advanced in her career at USD. She enjoyed her Bellevue University experience so much she enrolled in the Master of Science in Strategic Marketing program.

Dr. Julia Cronin-Gilmore and Adjunct Professor Ann Marie Johnson helped make her master’s program stand out.

“Both of them were very, very good. They were always happy to chat or answer anything that we might have an issue with understanding,” Havermann said. “I think I was very fortunate to have them as professors so they could bring their real-world experience into our classroom and help us gain that deeper level of learning.”

Havermann became a Web Content Editor at USD in the midst of her master’s program and later accepted her current position as Director of Marketing for the Yankton Medical Clinic.

“It’s a new challenge every day. I am a department of one,” Havermann said. “I do all of the marketing — everything from a form that a patient might fill out, to our billboards, to all of our websites, all of our social, everything.”

In addition to her job responsibilities, Havermann also recently decided to help out current students at her alma mater, and hopefully, receive some valuable feedback from them, as well. One of her first tasks at Yankton Medical Center was to start working on a website redesign. She contacted Cronin-Gilmore to seek some advice on consultants who might be able to assist. After chatting, the pair agreed to incorporate a critique of the website into the curriculum of an upcoming class.

“That’s real-life learning. Taking a real-life example from a business was one of the things that I enjoyed doing in my classes,” Havermann said. “It was very interesting to study what they did well and consider ways they could improve. I’m anxious to get back any feedback they have. I’m looking forward to hearing their ideas.”