Sales isn’t about selling

February 24th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in From Our Alumni

Alumni, students succeed in sales field through UT’s highly ranked Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales

By Laurie B. Davis

Stepahnie Elkins-ProAm

Stepahnie Elkins-ProAm

Stephanie Elkins never thought she’d be in professional sales when she took her first classes in the field. She had no sales experience, and her vision of sales was that of the stereotypical used car salesman who wants to sell you a lemon as he hounds you in the parking lot. “It’s the guy nobody wants to talk to,” she says.

It wasn’t until Deirdre Jones, Director of the Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales (ESSPS) at The University of Toledo, convinced Elkins to compete in the Internal Sales Competition that Elkins learned what professional selling involves and how it might be her career calling. The image of the used car salesman vanished when she took first place in the junior division of the competition in March 2015. She then continued to collect top sales honors in a Pi Sigma Epsilon Pro-Am Sellathon in November 2015 and a Pi Sigma Epsilon National Pro-Am competition held in March 2016, in which she also was named Top Salesperson of the Day.

Elkins, a Columbus native and a current professional sales student, is one of 200-plus students enrolled in the professional sales program. It offers shared learning experiences, networking and recruitment opportunities, and an open and professional exchange of ideas about industry issues.

Joining Elkins in a class of first-place winners in competitions that took place during the 2016 academic year are Ale Vera and Lexi Jarrett, who placed first in the Graduate Division of the National Collegiate Sales Competition, and Jacob Pawelszyk, who placed first in the Quicken Loans Sales Competition.

“ESSPS is consistently recognized as one of the top sales schools in the country, which is why it is able to attract major sponsors such as 3M, Goodyear, Owens Corning, Quicken Loans and Proctor & Gamble for its annual University of Toledo Invitational Sales Competition,” says Dr. Gary Insch, Dean, UT College of Business and Innovation. “ESSPS’s outstanding educational program has earned the school and its faculty a fantastic reputation among companies who actively recruit our students, resulting in a virtual 100 percent job placement rate for our sales students. The continued success of ESSPS is a perfect example of COBI’s overall mission, which is developing lifelong leaders for the world of business.”

UT sales students learn how to navigate complex sales by building trustworthy relationships with clients and customers. “Students in the program are taught how to be the customer’s consultant and to teach the customer about the value added,” says Jones. “Sales isn’t about selling; it’s about teaching someone how to buy.”

Challenges get personal

Brittany (Meighan) Johnson, (Bus ‘08, Honors ‘08)

Brittany (Meighan) Johnson, (Bus ‘08, Honors ‘08)

Brittany (Meighan) Johnson (Bus ‘08, Honors ‘08), who has worked in sales for the construction tools and equipment manufacturer, Hilti, for four and a half years, wanted a career in which she could use her outgoing personality to meet and talk with different people and help their businesses grow. “Sales is about relationships and asking the right questions. In any career, you’ll have to sell something, an idea, a proposal, and you need to have a clear picture of what that is,” says Johnson.

The Westerville, Ohio, resident says taking the Myers Briggs Personality Test in one of her classes was pivotal in directing her to the sales profession. “The personality test made me understand my thoughts, it really changed my perspective about myself.” She learned she also possesses a knack for details, a skill that complements her ability to easily converse. Those traits meshed well in her role at Hilti, the company that recruited Johnson.

Jones and other faculty members encouraged Johnson, just as they encourage all students, to challenge herself to acquire the sales acumen needed to succeed. The national UT Invitational Sales Competition, which is the only contest in the nation specifically designed for non-seniors, is the prime opportunity to assess one’s abilities and to network with companies for internships and post-graduation careers. One component of the competitions is role-playing, also incorporated into courses. Organized as an exercise in reality—a sales scenario plucked from a real-life situation with a customer and a seller gets played out and recorded for review, feedback and judging. In the mix of negotiation, the seller must focus and evoke their conceptual selling skills.

Jordan Gannon

Alumnus Jordan Gannon (Bus ‘14) role-playing

“Role plays were great, but stressful; that’s the business world,” says Johnson. “You’re always going to be unprepared for things that you weren’t expecting.” But, she adds, “The value of learning sales skills is that you can sell yourself or convince your team about an opinion you hold. They’re applicable skills.”

Johnson likes to return to the Schmidt Professional School of Sales to judge competitions or to recruit and hire new “highly qualified, well-trained” students. “What separates UT sales students apart from their counterparts is their understanding of quality work,” says Johnson. “We expect Toledo to be producing high-caliber students. I’m not sure my colleagues who didn’t attend UT feel the same pride in their universities, as me and my colleagues who did go to Toledo. We really appreciate the quality of the curriculum.” She also expects the best results from her talent search. “I just know that I’m going to find someone good, the right recruit at Toledo.”

Sharpening the rough edges

Mike Steel, (Bus ‘05)

Mike Steel (Bus ‘05)

Mike Steel (Bus ‘05), executive director of global commercial payment-U.S. large markets for American Express, had two genuine aspirations when he first enrolled at The University of Toledo. He wanted to play football for the Rockets and he hoped to one day live on the East Coast. As the first member of his family to attend college, Steel, a native of Cincinnati, arrived on campus with no family or friend connections in Northwest Ohio. When his hopes to walk on the football team didn’t materialize, he channeled his energies into his studies, he says.

“When I went to the University of Toledo, I didn’t know what my major was going to be,” says Steel, who also earned his MBA in 2011 at Howard University. “At the time I was in school, Toledo was one of the only schools offering the major in professional sales. I took an intro class with Deirdre Jones, so I just stumbled upon it.

“I always had sales ability when I was younger, without really being conscious of it. In high school, I used to cut hair to make money. My brother did it and so I did it, too.” He describes those early sales skills as “rough and natural,” but through his tenacity and supportive faculty members, Steel sharpened his ability to sell. “The University of Toledo helped craft and build that in me,” he says. “They used clear philosophies, and professor Jones was vitally instrumental. She made it tangible. We learned how to do probing, where you learn to better understand the client. When we applied for scholarships we had to do interviews, and you had to sell yourself, and be confident.”

Steel describes Jones as “a catalyst,” for recognizing his academic gifts and pointing out specific selling tactics he used in role playing as on target. He says the sales program positively influenced his career path, which took him to New York and now to Philadelphia. His six-year tenure at American Express also took him abroad as an International Marketing Manager. For Steel, the rewards of graduating from UT’s sales program are life-changing. “The opportunity to work globally, doing business in another country,” has been very beneficial, he says, and the roster of companies that recruit UT students comprises an impressive group. “They helped me define what I wanted, and to go after it and get it.”

He advises anyone interested in professional sales to study the successes of the top sellers they admire. “Look at the top sales people and what got them there. What skill set they have. Those are the skills you’re going to be able to hone at Toledo.”

Get out of your comfort zone

Alumnus Jordan Gannon, (Bus ‘14)

Alumnus Jordan Gannon (Bus ‘14)

Alumnus Jordan Gannon (Bus ‘14), agrees that opening oneself up to global opportunities, whether to study abroad or work internationally, is one way to experience the unknown and the uncommon, which can give someone a professional advantage. “You want to be doing something that sets you apart. It’s very important to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Gannon also considers broadening one’s networks while in school a worthwhile time commitment. “In any career, networking is the most important thing.” He says those opportunities were abundant at UT where he participated in sales contests, career fairs, and networked with alumni in formal and informal settings. He also recommends the Alpha Kappa Psi fraternity, an organization on campus within the College of Business and Innovation. “It’s the largest co-ed fraternity in the country.”

If Gannon had to sell the Schmidt Professional Sales Program to an undergraduate who was interested, yet undecided, he says he would emphasize a few personal perks of being in sales. “If you’re outgoing and like to be in charge, be your own boss,” as cliché as that may sound, he adds, “setting your own schedule is great.” He adds that today’s technology allows you to work remotely, using all things mobile, which provides a sense of freedom and excitement. Gannon also notes that many company CEOs began their careers in sales.

Although his parents didn’t have the chance to enroll in the Schmidt Professional Sales Program at The University of Toledo, they both are UT graduates, and they work in sales. His younger brother, Justin, is now an accounting student at UT. Gannon says Toledo has the best school for professional sales, and for him it was a natural fit. A professional sales and marketing double major, Gannon – based in Louisville – is now a territory representative for 3M, covering Kentucky, Indiana, and southeast Ohio. He says he liked UT’s specialized focus on sales, which differs from traditional sales courses that often are built into a marketing degree.

He will return to campus from Feb. 23 to 25 to judge a competition. The reality-based environment of the contests and internships are first-rate, he says. “There’s a whole elaborate plan, pushing your creativity to do whatever you can to make a good impression,” on the judges.

“Very few colleges have as much prestige as the University of Toledo. It’s one of twelve degrees with a professional sales major offered in the country,” he adds “They give you the tools you need, and it’s up to you to use them.”

Navigating the professional sales landscape

Patrick Witter and Stephanie Elkins

Patrick Witter and Stephanie Elkins

Two current sales students, Patrick Witter and Patrick Shaughnessy, are sharpening their skills as they engage in internships and sales competitions.

Witter spent last summer prospecting for potential new sales in the business-to-business company LiftMaster, which manufactures garage door openers and security gates. He worked out of Elmhurst, Ill., assisting an outside account manager whose territory covered Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. “It was kind of exciting and kind of overwhelming,” Witter admits. But, his ability to develop 220 new sales leads that could bring as much as $1.1 million in profits resulted in a successful pipeline of prospective customers.

Witter enjoyed the territory management course he took in the Schmidt School of Professional Sales, and praises the faculty for sharing not only their academic expertise but also the real-life examples that back up those lessons. Witter also has reaped the benefits of Prof. Michael Mallin’s class, to which Mallin invites alumni who share the steps they’ve taken in their careers.

Part of what attracted Witter to UT’s sales program was knowing he had excellent chances of finding a great job after graduation. “I knew about the College of Business and Innovation’s ability to get students placements,” he says, and that reputation plays out in the placement ratings the Schmidt School of Professional Sales has reached.

For Shaughnessy, an internship with Crown Equipment, began with a serendipitous encounter at the University of Toledo Invitational Sales Competition last year. Shaughnessy was one of the alternate contestants who receive coaching from faculty and company representatives participating in the competition.

Shaughnessy was looking out for a fellow classmate who was set to compete one morning. He knew his friend hadn’t eaten yet, and Shaughnessy didn’t want him competing on an empty stomach. So, he bought him a breakfast sandwich and delivered it. When he jumped on the elevator upon his return, he ran into Chris Schwartz from Crown Equipment, one of the recruiters at the event. Schwartz was looking for the coaching room for the alternates where Shaughnessy was headed. The two talked, and Shaughnessy had the opportunity to give his personal “elevator pitch,” so to speak. “He explained the culture and the camaraderie,” of Crown, says Shaughnessy, and those appealed to him.

The result of that chance meeting was an internship, after Schwartz referred Shaughnessy to a manager in Cleveland. At Crown, which manufactures forklifts and lift trucks, Shaughnessy sat in on sales calls being placed by company staff. He says that out of a dozen or so other interns, he won an internal company competition, in which interns earned points for specific activities, including outside calls.

Shaughnessy says his UT training shows students how to handle objections, and to use a line of questioning that gets into the psychology behind it. “The big takeaway has been learning SPIN selling,” says Shaughnessy. A mnemonic device, SPIN stands for “Situation,” “Problem,” “Implication,” and “Needs payoff,” a method that helps guide sellers through parts of the customer dialogue and decision-making process. The last piece of the method, “needs payoff,” refers to how the seller is aiding the buyer. “You’re selling solutions and not just making another sale,” says Shaughnessy.

Anticipated outcomes

ESSPS Students

ESSPS Students

The one-on-one transactional sales of the used car salesman are not the focus of the Schmidt School of Professional Sales curriculum. Jones and other faculty members teach students how to sell in the business-to-business world of sales. Depending on the product, service or industry, selling begins at the distributor level.

Tenneco, a company that recruits UT students and manufactures Original Equipment and Aftermarket parts for automobiles, produces ride control shocks and struts. “Tenneco market specialists interact with all three levels of parts distribution and sales,” says Jones. “From the warehouse distribution, to the jobber, like an O’Reilly’s, and to the installer, such as a Goodyear. Sixty percent of vehicles go to the graveyard with their Original Equipment ride control,” she says. When the Tenneco market specialist interacts with the installers, “they are teaching shops about safety that they can pass along to the customer by educating them that replacing these parts can resolve safety issues, and they’re a cost-saving measure.” The anticipated outcome is that everyone benefits: revenues are increased, better inventory is developed, and the customer experience improves.

Elkins, who earned top honors in the sales competitions, will be focusing on serving her customers as an employee of Owens Corning, once she graduates in May. When she began school at UT as a freshman, she got to move into her dorm early. That week she took advantage of a tour of Owens Corning, developing a knowledge base and an affinity for the company. Starting school with 15 completed credits also is allowing her to graduate early, and she will move to Dallas to work as a member of Owens Corning’s insides sales support team.

“I always had known I wanted to move out of Toledo,” says Elkins, but moving to Dallas on her own is a big step. “One thing Deirdre (Jones) is really good about is plugging us into an alumni network.” With Jones’ help, Elkins already has connected with UT alumni and residents in Dallas Becca Reidy and Louis Szilagyi, who graduated from the sales program in 2014.

Elkins’ early misconception about the sales profession has faded and her future looks very promising. “My experience has been pretty special,” she says. “The fact that I could accept a job offer before I graduate is amazing.”

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With two UT degrees, Cressman Bronson was banking on future success

February 24th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in From Our Alumni

PNC Arts Alive Press Conference at the PBC Cultural Council May 2, 2016 photos by CAPEHART

PNC Arts Alive Press Conference at the PBC Cultural Council May 2, 2016 photos by CAPEHART

By Laurie B. Davis

For Cressman Bronson, perseverance has become somewhat of a personal mantra. He learned of its importance as a student-athlete and incorporated it into his career trajectory after earning an accounting degree in 1989, and a marketing degree in 1993, both from the University of Toledo.

Bronson, who now is regional president for the Florida East market for PNC Bank in West Palm Beach, Fla., also is a former UT Rocket. A walk-on athlete for baseball and track, Bronson says, “Athletics teaches you hard work, perseverance, resiliency, and a sense of pride.” Those lessons helped him work his way through college and have remained with him throughout his life. “I’m very proud of my education and the degrees I earned at the University of Toledo.”

One of his most memorable experiences at UT happened on the school’s running track. “That’s where I met my wife, Nicole. She was a baton twirler for the marching band, and they would be practicing on the field when I would be running sprints.” The two began dating, then married and now have three children. Cressman and the former Nicole Woodruff have been together for 27 years.

Perseverance became a strong influence in Bronson’s life when he discovered how tough it is to break into the industry of professional sports and had to pursue another career avenue. His dreams of playing professional baseball were not unlike so many other young men with a good pitching arm or a vision of hitting a home run with the bases loaded. After college, Bronson played baseball with a semi-professional team in Orlando, Fla., but the competition to break into the professional leagues was formidable. He left baseball behind and began working in his father-in-law’s construction business in Akron, Ohio. As he gained more experience in entrepreneurial pursuits within the construction industry, Bronson wanted to leverage his accounting and marketing degrees and break out on his own merits to get into the banking industry.

Cressman-NicoleHe took a chance on calling a top executive at Key Bank, Yank Heisler, who had gone to high school with Bronson’s mother-in-law. He says he asked to speak with Heisler, and then was asked if Heisler was expecting his call. He answered, “no,” but that his mother-in-law, Connie Hart, said to say hello to him. Heisler’s assistant then put Bronson’s call through. “I asked him, ‘How do you get into the banking business?’” Heisler advised getting more sales experience, which Bronson then acquired through some work in investments and sales work with Metlife.

That experience and his degrees in accounting and marketing solidified his determination to become a banker. In college, he says, “Accounting was my focus. I liked the balance that it gave me. I liked its structure and symmetry,” says Bronson. He also was fond of the former UT professor of psychology, Ace Lane. “Lane would bring real-life perspectives to his teaching and speak to students in layman’s terms.” For Bronson, it provided a non-business aspect to his learning. “That resonated with me,” he says. “It was about knowing that the psychology of human behavior was going to be critical no matter what you did in life.”

As he continued building his corporate banking portfolio, Bronson was mindful of the value- added proposition, he says. His own business values “came from an entrepreneurial spirit, and a high regard for small business ownership. I wanted to be a source of information and guidance,” says Bronson. Between his wife’s family and his own, five different businesses had been built, from manufacturing to printing, a business his grandfather ran for 35 years, to construction and insurance. Being able to help other businesses succeed and grow through sound financial management was the goal.

Cressman-Nicloe1In 1995, perseverance paid off. Bronson joined Key Bank’s corporate banking program in Cleveland and worked there until 1999. He then moved to National City in Akron, Ohio. In 2007, Bronson moved to West Palm Beach, Fla., with National City, where he became regional manager. In 2009, PNC Bank acquired National City. At that time, Bronson was advising companies across the state that had revenues in the range of $10- $50-million. He also was establishing a Commercial Bank group in four different markets that included Tampa, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. “You embrace change when you know you’re going to be better off,” says Bronson, who welcomed the acquisition.

In 2014, Bronson succeeded Craig Grant as regional president for the Florida East market. In that role, he continues his work in commercial banking, overseeing the areas of wealth management, and corporate and retail banking. Bronson ensures teamwork among his staff members in all business units to meet the needs of local employees, customers and communities as well as PNC’s shareholders.

Bronson serves on the boards of the United Way of the Palm Beaches, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, the Economic Council of Palm Beach County, and is a member of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County and the Association for Corporate Growth. He also heads some of PNC’s philanthropy, chairing the bank’s Florida East foundation, which focuses its charitable giving on early childhood education and community development through the arts. “It’s our responsibility to support these causes, and there’s a joy in being part of your community,” Bronson says.

Step up for StudentsPNC supports early childhood education through its Grow Up Great initiative and partners with Step Up for Students, a tax-deductible donation program that is funding the education of 329 low-income students in either a public or private school of their choice. PNC staff members can form teams and participate in a challenge grant program, in which they can build up 100 Grow Up Great service hours to earn a $3,000 grant to donate to the educational initiative.

“We also support the Arts Alive! West Palm Beach organization and STEAM programs that teach kids science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. Through the arts, we engage those who are under-invited to events such as plays, concerts and exhibitions,” says Bronson, offering opportunities to people who typically are not exposed to the arts.

As a leader in the community, Bronson can now pass on the lessons of perseverance, hard work and resiliency to his own children and those he meets through PNC’s philanthropic endeavors.

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Skin pathologist battles melanoma

January 30th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in From Our Alumni

By Vicki L. Kroll

Nicole Dominiak smiled for the camera after receiving the doctor of medicine degree at UT in 2012.

Nicole Dominiak smiled for the camera after receiving the doctor of medicine degree at UT in 2012.

In 2012, Dr. Nicole Dominiak was finishing her medical degree at The University of Toledo, planning her June wedding, and looking forward to moving to Charleston to start her residency in pathology at the Medical University of South Carolina.

But there was a snag.

“The mole was on my back, so I really couldn’t see it very well, but I could feel it on my shoulder and it would catch on my clothing,” she recalled.

Since Dominiak (A/S ’07, Pathology Certificate ’10, Med ’12) happened to be on a dermatology rotation at UT Medical Center, she asked Dr. Lorie Gottwald, professor and chief of the Division of Dermatology, to take a look at the back of her right shoulder and the dark, raised spot that measured about 6 millimeters.

“It was bothersome, so I just wanted the mole to be taken off. I asked her to biopsy it because I knew there would be a delay if I waited to establish with a dermatologist in Charleston. And I’m very grateful that she did,” Dominiak said.

Nicole Dominiak and Sean Powers at Match Day in 2012. She matched at her first choice, the Medical University of South Carolina.

Nicole Dominiak and Sean Powers at Match Day in 2012. She matched at her first choice, the Medical University of South Carolina.

Those biopsy results, however, caught everyone off-guard: invasive melanoma.

“Nicole’s mole was changing and also out of context with others on her skin, so it was biopsied,” Gottwald said. “I was somewhat surprised at the result, but if you biopsy something, the suspicion is there.”

“I got the phone call from Dr. Gottwald explaining my diagnosis. With that kind of startling news, I asked if I could come into her office. No appointment, no nothing. She said, ‘Absolutely,’” Dominiak said. “Meanwhile, while I was on my way — I didn’t know this at the time — she had called Dr. [Prabir] Chaudhuri from surgical oncology. So when I was sitting in her office, Dr. Chaudhuri came over in between his surgeries to take a look at everything and talk to me about the case.”

Nicole Dominiak and Sean Powers

Nicole Dominiak and Sean Powers

Eighteen hours after her diagnosis, Dominiak was in surgery. Chaudhuri performed a wider excision of the area on her shoulder and a sentinel lymph node biopsy, which showed micrometastases in two of three sentinel nodes. He then performed a completion lymphadenectomy.

“Nicole is an amazing girl,” Chaudhuri, professor and surgical director of the UT Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center, said. “She handled the tremendous obstacle of undergoing a major operation in the face of her upcoming graduation and marriage ceremony. She was always upbeat, had an extremely positive attitude, and did not allow the diagnosis of melanoma to compromise the enjoyment of the finer things in her life.”

Nicole Dominiak and Sean Powers on their wedding day in 2012

Nicole Dominiak and Sean Powers on their wedding day in 2012

Stage-three melanoma was one life-changer Dominiak didn’t plan on. Three weeks after surgery, she married Sean Powers, firefighter and paramedic. Seven days later, she received the doctor of medicine degree, and the newlyweds moved to Charleston two weeks after commencement.

“Everyone says, ‘Oh, that’s so ironic you chose dermatopathology after your diagnosis.’ The real irony is I had already decided this was the area I wanted to specialize in and my diagnosis came after,” Dominiak said. “If I wasn’t interested in that area, if I didn’t have the knowledge that I had from being in medical school, I’m not sure my course would have been as positive and optimistic.”

Nicole Dominiak and Sean Powers on their honeymoon in St. Lucia.

Nicole Dominiak and Sean Powers on their honeymoon in St. Lucia.

Her confidence grew at the Medical University of South Carolina, where she was treated by oncologists who specialize in melanoma.

“At that time, there weren’t a lot of treatments after surgery,” she said. “Pretty much the only therapy that was approved for stage-three and stage-four melanoma in the adjuvant setting was interferon. Based on the fact that I had positive sentinel lymph nodes and the depth of my tumor and after speaking with a medical oncologist, we all agreed that going that route would be the best course.”

So the 27-year-old started her pathology residency on weekdays, received interferon injections on Fridays, and had PET-CT scans every three months.

“In May 2014, during one of the routine monitoring scans, we found a nodule in my left lung. Thinking it was one nodule, and that was the only disease we could find on imaging, we pursued a surgical route,” the Toledo native said. “Because of where the metastasis was located, they had to remove an entire lobe of my left lung. Unfortunately, during surgery, they found another metastasis on the other lobe of my left lung, so they had to remove a portion of that lobe as well to remove the tumor.”

Two months later, imaging found the melanoma had metastasized to her brain.

Now in her dermatopathology fellowship at the Medical University of South Carolina, Nicole Dominiak looked at skin biopsies.

Now in her dermatopathology fellowship at the Medical University of South Carolina, Nicole Dominiak looked at skin biopsies.

But an immunotherapy drug was showing promise for melanoma.

“Ipilimumab was the first immunotherapy drug to show some benefit to melanoma patients. It’s supposed to rev up your own immune system to start recognizing the tumor and attacking it,” she explained.

In August 2014, she began ipilimumab infusions and received gamma radiation for the tumors in her brain.

“For the patients it worked for, ipilimumab seemed to have a substantial and sustainable response, which was incredibly encouraging,” Dominiak said. “It was just a matter of will I be one of those patients?”

After completing the immunotherapy treatment, the young doctor learned in October the drug did not work for her.

“After I finished the entire treatment, we found out the cancer had progressed and I had more metastases — in my lung, some in my liver and in my lymph nodes,” she said.

Nicole Dominiak posed for a photo this month outside the Medical University of South Carolina.

Nicole Dominiak posed for a photo this month outside the Medical University of South Carolina.

Then a new treatment possibility emerged.

“I got incredibly lucky; pembrolizumab had just been FDA-approved for use,” Dominiak said. “Pembrolizumab blocks a different receptor on your lymphocytes, but the ultimate goal is the same with all the immunotherapy: to help regulate your own immune system to recognize things that are foreign to you, the tumors, and it can begin to fight the tumors and clear them from your body.”

So far, so good.

“I’m still on the pembrolizumab, just over two years with — knock on wood — very few side effects and a fairly good response,” she said.

Through it all, she’s relied on her supportive home environment with her husband and their pets, Cooper and Nutmeg; family and friends; and specialists and colleagues at the Medical University of South Carolina.

“I share my story hoping to help just one person,” Dominiak said.

She also encourages everyone to see a dermatologist once a year for a regular skin check.

Cooper the dog and Nutmeg the cat are part of Dominiak’s support system.

Cooper the dog and Nutmeg the cat are part of Dominiak’s support system.

“You also should keep an eye on your own moles and look for the ABCDEs — asymmetry, border, color, diameter and evolution. If anything looks questionable, ask your physician or dermatologist to check it,” Dominiak said. “Also, sunscreen is incredibly important: Use it every day if you can.

“I know when I was younger, tanning beds were very trendy. Stay away from the tanning beds.”

“Nicole has been courageous in sharing her story and stressing the importance of regular skin exams. I am proud to call her a graduate of our medical school,” Gottwald said.

“Nicole will not only always remain one of my favorite students, she will also be my role model in dealing with adversity,” Chaudhuri said.

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Library renovations to include new veterans lounge named for UT alumnus

January 30th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in From Our Alumni

By Meghan Cunningham

The second phase of renovations underway at Carlson Library will include a new veterans lounge, a glass wall spanning several stories allowing for more natural light, and an expanded concourse when you enter the building.

The $3 million renovations funded by state capital dollars will focus on the first and second floors of the library. The renovations, which are expected to be completed prior to the start of fall semester, follow the work on the third and fourth floors finished last year that included the creation of more than 20 new group study rooms and new paint, carpet, ceilings and lighting to transform the learning space.

“The south side of the second floor will be renovated to include group study rooms and study carrels like those that have become popular on the recently completed third and fourth floors,” said Barbara Floyd, interim director of University Libraries. “We recently conducted a survey asking students if they were satisfied with the renovations done, and the comments were overwhelmingly positive, with many students crediting the renovations with their success in the classroom.”

The second floor of the library also will be the new home for the University’s Veterans Lounge, which will relocate from its current location in Rocket Hall.

“Our student veterans were interested in a more centrally located space and in this academic setting they also will have better access to library resources for research and homework with longer hours to take advantage of the lounge,” said Navy Reserve Lt. Haraz Ghanbari, UT director of military and veteran affairs.
A $20,000 donation from the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes supports the creation of the new lounge, which also will be larger with a separate social area and private study section.

The coalition’s gift was made in recognition of Lt. Col. Thomas J. Orlowski, a UT alumnus and Army veteran who is the immediate past chairman of the organization’s board. The lounge will be named the Lt. Col. Thomas J. Orlowski ’65 Veterans Lounge in his honor.

vet 2

Lt. Col. Thomas Orlowski spoke after being recognized by the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes with its Hometown Hero Award and the news that the veterans lounge at his alma mater will be named in his honor. Orlowski, who graduated from UT in 1965 before his 20-year career in the U.S. Army, is being recognized with the naming of the Lt. Col. Thomas J. Orlowski ’65 Veterans Lounge that will be relocated to the second floor of Carlson Library.

“It’s a fantastic idea, and I’m proud of the University for doing it. I’m just very humbled to be honored as part of the project,” Orlowski said. “The exchanges that will occur in this lounge will start with, ‘What are you studying and with what professors?’ But after that familiarity builds up, then the war stories come up. It will definitely help veteran students academically, but a secondary benefit that people may not realize is the camaraderie of others who have been where you’ve been and done what you’ve done.”

Orlowski graduated from UT in 1965 with a degree in English literature, and he also was a middle linebacker for the football team. He joined the Army later that year, and his 20-year military career included assignments in the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam, 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized), HQ U.S. Army Europe, HQ U.S. Continental Army Command and the Office of the Adjutant General of the Army. For his service in Vietnam, he was awarded the Purple Heart, Silver Star, Bronze Star for Valor with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Air Medal.

The new Veterans Lounge is expected to open in early summer.

Veterans lounge

This rendering shows what the Lt. Col. Thomas J. Orlowski ’65 Veterans Lounge may look like when finished on the second floor of Carlson Library this summer.

Library renovations will continue through the summer, with the addition of a glass wall on the east side spanning the height of the building that will open up the library with more sunlight. The staircase from the first to second floors also will be redesigned with a mezzanine area on the second floor further opening up the space.

The separate hallway that you currently pass through when walking into the library will be removed so that guests will immediately be in the lobby when they walk in from outside. The redesign also will bring all of the library’s patron services — including circulation, reference and instruction — to the first floor. The information technology help desk recently moved from the back of the floor to share space with the circulation desk at the front.

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Alumna leads public art project at Toledo Correctional Institution

January 30th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in From Our Alumni
Standing in front of the mural painted by incarcerated participants was revealed were, from left, Matt Taylor, Emily Numbers, Yusuf Lateef and Rachel Richardson. The four, who worked together to make the project happen, spoke at a press conference when the work was revealed.

Standing in front of the mural painted by incarcerated participants was revealed were, from left, Matt Taylor, Emily Numbers, Yusuf Lateef and Rachel Richardson. The four, who worked together to make the project happen, spoke at a press conference when the work was revealed.

Criminal justice reform is in the spotlight. Across partisan lines, public figures are talking about a need to reform criminal justice policy, especially sentencing and the prison population.

The United States holds 4.4 percent of the world’s population, but 22 percent of its prisoners, according to the Sentencing Project. Roughly 2.2 million people are incarcerated in prisons and jails — a 500 percent increase in the last 40 years — and the effects on children, families and neighborhoods are even farther-reaching. Poor people and people of color are disproportionately impacted. These circumstances, among others, have prompted conversations at the national level about the state of the U.S. criminal justice system.

Community artists, organizers and incarcerated people completed a public art piece inside the walls of Toledo Correctional Institution to contribute to that dialogue at the local level.

The project, a 6-foot-by-14-foot mural, was developed by community art coordinator Emily Numbers (A&L ’14, Honors ’14) in collaboration with People for Change, Art Corner Toledo, and artists Matt Taylor and Yusuf Lateef. A public unveiling was held in November in the lobby of One Government Center.

art close-upPeople for Change is comprised of incarcerated individuals and UT faculty, students and alumni who organize educational initiatives inside the Toledo Correctional Institution. It is an alumni group of the national Inside/Out Prison Exchange Project, in which university students take a course inside a prison alongside incarcerated people. Other People for Change initiatives include workshops, community speakers and an academic library.

Numbers took the Inside/Out class as a UT student in 2013. Since then, she has been a part of the People for Change alumni group.

“The Inside/Out Prison Exchange Project opened my eyes to the talent, intellect and desire to make positive change that exists within prisons, and introduced me to the vast injustice that is mass incarceration in the U.S.,” she said.

Numbers, who became interested in the concept of art as a catalyst for social change as a law and social thought student at UT, designed the project to humanize the prison population and to promote civic dialogue on issues surrounding incarceration. The art was painted on a series of 21 2-foot canvasses due to limitations on materials allowed in the prison.

“I learned about the principles of community-based art in Thor Mednick’s Arts Diplomacy class at UT, in which we painted a mural with artist Dave Lowenstein and community members at the Frederick Douglass Center. The elements of dialogue, participation and collaboration were key aspects that I wanted to keep central to this project,” Numbers, communications and public relations specialist in the College of Engineering, said.

Taylor, Lateef and Rachel Richardson, director of Art Corner Toledo, got involved when Numbers invited them to speak to the workshop group about their art in the community. After that initial meeting last spring, the three decided they wanted to continue their involvement with the project. Numbers’ vision and coordination, Taylor and Lateef’s expertise, Art Corner Toledo’s community connections, and the dedication of the incarcerated participants came together to result in this work of collaborative, community art.

Art Corner Toledo helped secure funding from the Lucas County Commissioners, who have a current focus on criminal justice. The Art Supply Depot and the UT Inside/Out Project in the College of Arts and Letters also provided support for materials and supplies.

Over several brainstorming sessions with the artists, organizers and incarcerated participants, the group arrived at the final design for the piece. The imagery was ultimately inspired by the sharing of poetry written by incarcerated individuals and represents the experience of incarceration and the aspirations of the group. Viewers’ perspectives place them at the bottom of a well, looking up toward a bright opening. Both flowers and weeds fill the bottom of the well, and one determined vine makes its way into the light. Several bees are included in the image, both coming and going from the viewer’s perspective.

“To the incarcerated participants, the well represents the physical limitations of the maximum security prison in which they reside, as well as the social barriers that may have led them to the circumstance of incarceration,” Numbers explained. “The flowers indicate the possibility for life and beauty to thrive in unexpected places, and the bees represent the exchange of ideas necessary for that hope to thrive. The bees can be interpreted as teachers, family members or volunteers, for instance, who refuse to turn a blind eye to the damages done by incarceration, and who refuse to turn their backs on individuals who will ultimately return to our community.”

art painters

Incarcerated individuals worked on the mural at the Toledo Correctional Institution.

The piece is accompanied by a collective poem written by the incarcerated participants, elaborating on the visual metaphor.

All of the incarcerated participants in this workshop have taken college-level courses through the UT Inside/Out Prison Exchange Project. Many of the discussions leading to the design were centered on the concept of education as the key to reaching post-incarceration aspirations.

Dr. Renee Heberle, professor of political science, brought the Inside/Out Prison Exchange Project to the University in 2010.

“Inside/Out and People for Change give UT students and incarcerated students a unique opportunity to engage and learn with individuals they might otherwise not only never meet, but would perhaps, otherwise, stigmatize and fear,” Heberle, coordinator of the program, said. “It has literally changed lives and career paths of students, on the inside and the outside. The innovative pedagogical model and ongoing opportunities for engagement beyond the classes cultivate democratic and collaborative skills as students confront issues related to social justice and create social change.

“This mural represents the underlying principles and values of Inside/Out in the collaborative process of its creation, while being a beautiful and aesthetically important work of art on its own terms.”

The art made its debut at One Government Center and is now hanging at the Lucas County Common Pleas Court. It will be installed in public spaces in Toledo. After completing its tour around the city, the work will be donated to a local organization selected by the participants.

“It is the intention of the incarcerated participants that this public art project will serve as a sign of hope for all viewers who may face barriers or confines of their own,” Numbers said.

“As the project travels around Toledo, it carries hope for the transformation of the criminal justice system, hope for incarcerated people seeking meaning and growth despite their circumstances, and hope for anyone facing conditions that confine, imprison or isolate.”

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