Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women

Women of the Week

The Eberly Center  recognizes outstanding students, faculty, and staff by highlighting a woman of the week in our weekly newsletter.

We want to applaud the women on campus who make a difference every day in the work that they do, the people they interact with, and the communities they serve! Our newsletter contains pieces of the interviews with each of the Women of the Week, and all of their answers can be found below!

Please help us to honor the amazing women who make UToledo a better place by nominating outstanding students, faculty, and staff below!

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Previous Women of the Week

Elizabeth Akeman

Elizabeth smiling at the cameraQ: Where are you from?
A:  I was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio.

Q: What are your hobbies or fun activities you enjoy?
A:  I enjoy staying active by walking, running, cross-training, biking, and golfing.  I love that my husband and daughter also enjoy these activities because it’s one of our favorite ways to spend quality time with each other.

Q: What is something that inspires you and why?
A: I am constantly inspired by my parents and their hard work ethic and unshakeable faith, both of which they had instilled in me at a very young age. Having strong work ethic and faith has helped me achieve many goals within my career and personal life and build strong relationships along the way.

Q: What future plans do you have for yourself?
A:  I have earned certificates in Patient Advocacy and Contemporary Gerontological Practice from UT and would like to eventually practice what I have learned by serving as an advocate to and helping others, especially older populations and patients who lack support and access to resources.

Q: Explain a time you had to make a difficult decision or faced an obstacle in your life.
A:  Changing positions is never an easy thing to do and I have had several positions throughout my time at UT.  It was a difficult decision deciding to leave each position, but each transition provided important takeaways and rewarding life lessons.

Q: What is something that you care deeply about?
A:  My family hosts a bowling tournament fundraiser each year to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in memory of my brother who passed away from MS in 2012.  The proceeds are split between the MS Society and a scholarship fund in my brother’s name at St. John’s Jesuit High School. We look forward to our event each year, as it is such a fun and special way to celebrate my brother and the coming together of our incredible community of family, friends, and supporters.

Q: What are you currently studying/teaching/working on?
A: We are continually working to increase our research efforts and implement new initiatives in my department that fuel the passions of our faculty and staff and keep them motivated. I am always looking for new ways and opportunities to be creative and learn something new. I love that UT offers professional development courses and try to attend every opportunity I can.

Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus/Toledo?
A:  Both campuses are absolutely beautiful but having worked on the health science campus for almost 31 years, I have come to love the view from my office of the wooded area between the health science building and Mulford Library. The view is my favorite with either freshly snow-covered trees or in the fall with the bright changing colors. Also, over the past few years, I have done the Owens Corning Half Marathon, and there is nothing like finishing 13.1 miles by running past our UT clocktower and across the 50-yard line of the football field!

Q: What has been your favorite experience while at the University of Toledo?
A: With over 30 years of service at UT, I have had the opportunity to work and establish lifelong friendships with some incredible people. The community is one of my favorite aspects of UT and is what keeps me motivated and engaged on a daily basis.

Q: How do you engage with the UToledo community?
A:  I currently serve on the Membership Committee for the Professional Staff Association and on the Eberly Center Advisory Board. I also participate in At the Edge Book Club through the Eberly Center and love to cheer on the Rockets in sporting events every chance I get. You can also catch me at the Morse Center working out or taking a fitness class.  Go Rockets!

Bethany Arn

Bethany holding a young child and smiling at themQ: Where are you from?
A: Oregon, Ohio

Q: What are your hobbies or fun activities you enjoy?
A: I enjoy volunteering, especially working with middle schoolers. I also enjoy swimming and soccer when I get the chance—especially coaching youth soccer.

Q: What is something that gives you purpose and why?
A: As cliché as it sounds… helping others. From a young age my parents instilled into me and my siblings the importance of helping other people and how we gain when we give. Adding onto that, I have two special places in my heart set aside for two specific age groups—middle schoolers and 18-22 year olds (i.e. typical college undergraduate students). I believe that these are pivotal ages for development and that a lot of people feel alone to some capacity during this time and because of this I have a strong passion for reaching out and helping students know that they are loved, accepted, and have an amazing future ahead of them and that even when times get hard that it is so unbelievably worth it to keep going and never give up.

Q: What future plans do you have for yourself?
A: I plan on continuing my education through obtaining a PhD and then becoming a lecturer in order to help students learn about the subjects that I absolutely love. In addition to that, I plan on helping my husband start and grow a biotech company working on mechanical organs. Lastly, I plan on taking my knowledge and skills into 3rd world countries to help increase the quality of life for the people there through partnering with various NGOs, NPOs, and in-country organizations in order to assess and recognize the needs and fill them in tangible and sustainable ways.

Q: Explain a time you had to make a difficult decision or faced an obstacle in your life.
A: Although there are many times I could talk about, the one that comes to mind first is an obstacle I’ve faced my entire life and will continue to face forever. I was born with spina bifida and it was not made known until I was older and beginning (i.e. failing) to hit some significant growth milestones. Because of the delay in diagnosis, I have permanent neurological damage and have had multiple surgeries throughout my life with the last one being at the end of my first semester in college. The obstacle with this hasn’t so much been dealing with the aftereffects and adjusting my life to work with it, but rather not letting my heart grow bitter about the oversight that occurred during my birth and early years which, if it was caught at an early age, could have avoided all of the long-term effects. Therefore, I instead choose to accept that this is a uniqueness given to me which allows me to relate to certain people on a level that very few can relate.

Q: What is something unique about you?
A: Hmm…. Something unique about me is that I have 20 tattoos and 15 of them are not from the States. After I completed my time as an undergraduate student I became a missionary and went overseas (Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, Southern Africa, and the Caribbean) for close to a year and a half. During that time I was living out of a backpack and in a new country each month. Each country I constantly learned new things and I wanted to have a tangible reminder about everything I was learning about the cultures, God, and even myself and what my true identity is away from just my degree and future plans. Therefore, combining this with living off of what I could carry, I decided to get a tattoo in each country as a reminder of what God taught me while I was there.

Q: What are you currently studying/teaching/working on?
A: I am currently working on my Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, and I am a Teaching Assistant for both the Bioengineering and Mechanical Engineering departments.

Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus/Toledo?
A: Either the human motion capture lab that I work in (the systems we use absolutely fascinate me) or anywhere that I can hang my hammock up between trees and just sit still.

Q: What has been your favorite experience while at the University of Toledo?
A: Oh man, this is a hard question! I have been around the UToledo community for almost a decade and there have been so many wonderful experiences. If I were to limit it down to my experiences as a graduate student, I would say that my favorite experience has been being able to volunteer for a Feed My Starving Children packing event that the Klar Leadership Academy put on back in February of this year.

Q: How do you engage with the UToledo community?
A: During my time here as a graduate student (as opposed to my time here as an undergraduate student) my engagement with the UToledo community has overarchingly been through my work as a Teaching Assistant—teaching is one of my passions and I try to engage with my students as much as possible, whether it is through one-on-one meetings (now remotely), larger lectures, or even YouTube videos when I know that a tough subject is coming up. In addition to my TA work, I have been able to engage with the UToledo community through joining different organizations—I became a member of UTEC (University of Toledo Engineering Council) early on in my graduate career and stay active with them through various means including becoming their RockeTHON 2020 team chair). Lastly, I was able to engage with non-engineering members of the UToledo community through becoming a part of the Advanced Leadership Academy (ALA) that COBI puts on for graduate students from all colleges—this was hands-down one of my favorites from this Spring 2020 semester.

Shahna Arps

ArpsQ: Where are you from?
A: I am from Bryan, Ohio, so I grew up in northwest Ohio about an hour west of Toledo.

Q: What are your hobbies or fun activities you enjoy?
A: I enjoy spending time with my family, playing games, watching movies, and hiking. Vegetable gardening is also a hobby of mine. I find growing plants, especially tomatoes, from seed to fruit very fulfilling (and tasty).

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?
A:  My proudest accomplishment is earning a Ph.D. in Anthropology. It wasn’t something I really considered as a child, as no one in my family had an advanced degree. Hard work, persistence, and support from my family made the accomplishment possible.

Q: What future goals have you made for yourself?
A: My future goals are to improve my teaching skills and strategies every year and to continue to pursue a research agenda that has academic as well as practical significance.

Q: Explain a time you had to make a difficult decision or faced an obstacle in your life.
A: Not having enough time to accomplish everything I would like to do is a constant obstacle, especially in terms of maintaining a good work-life balance. I try to overcome negative feelings or stress by taking a long-term perspective on time management. This means recognizing that I may not have the flexibility to devote as much time as I’d like to my professional, personal, or family life during a particular day or week, but that I can find ways to reestablish a balance over time.

Q: If you had a magic wand what would you change in the world (or on campus)?
A: I would end social inequality.

Q: What are you currently studying/working on?
A: I am working on a presentation for the Society for Applied Anthropology’s annual conference in March. My presentation focuses on growth and nutritional status of Haitian and Dominico-Haitian school children living in the Dominican Republic.

Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus/Toledo?
A: I really enjoy the areas on campus with magnolia trees in the spring. The trees are breathtaking when they are in bloom!

Q: What has been your favorite experience while at the University of Toledo?
A: My favorite experience has been co-instructing field school courses that included trips to the Dominican Republic. I enjoyed seeing student participants grow personally and professionally from the experience of traveling and conducting research abroad.

Q: How do you engage with the UToledo community?
A: I engage with the UToledo community mostly through the classes I teach in biological and cultural anthropology. UToledo students do a wonderful job of relating their diverse life experiences to the topics we discuss in class, and they help me think about course themes in new ways every semester. I am also the advisor for anthropology majors and minors, which has given me the opportunity to really get to know students in our program. I have also been lucky to collaborate with many faculty and staff members on a variety of projects at UT.

Tulani Black

TulaniQ: Where are you from?
A: Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: I enjoy listening to podcasts, painting and binge watching The Office on Netflix

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?
A: My proudest accomplishment thus far is creating scholarship for my organization’s annual women’s gala. Creating a scholarship is something that I have always wanted to implement while being on campus so I’m glad that I had the opportunity to do so.

Q: What is something that you are passionate about and why?
A: Something that I am passionate is advocating for others. I’m very passionate about advocating for homelessness and women’s rights.

Q: Explain a time you had to make a difficult decision or faced an obstacle in your life.
A: Freshman year of college, I had plans on transferring schools. I debated with myself and family on whether I should transfer schools or not. I had a great friend group here in Toledo and I was given so many different opportunities here but I still wanted to leave. I ultimately made the decision to stay and I can say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Being at Toledo has taught me so much about myself and has given me so many great opportunities. I’m not sure if I'd have the same experience if I’d left.

Q: If you had a magic wand what would you change in the world (or on campus)?
A: I would change the poverty in the world.

Q: What are you currently studying/working on?
A: I am a Social Work major minoring in political science and urban studies.

Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus/Toledo?
A: The courtyard located in University Hall

Q: What has been your favorite experience while at the University of Toledo?
A: My favorite experience is most definitely Student Appreciation Day

Q: How has being at UT helped your professional/personal growth?
A: UT has helped me grow as a person, I am very reserved and I keep to myself. Since being here I have done all sorts of things that I never would have done before, like becoming Vice President of an organization, mentoring incoming freshman, or lobbying for reproductive justice at the Ohio Statehouse.

Laura Brown

LauraQ: Where are you from?
A: I am originally from Parma, Ohio but I have been in Toledo for 14 years.

Q: What are your hobbies or fun activities you enjoy?
A: I love to read romance novels and travel (sometimes at the same time)!  I also really enjoy gardening and have a fairly large native plant collection in my yard.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?
A: I am a first-generation college student and I have an associate degree, a Bachelor’s degree and am working on my Master’s degree!  It has been a LONG road (filled with many meltdowns) but I got here and you can, too!

Q: What is your motivation or inspiration for the work that you do?
A: I have worked on campus for six years and I currently work with graduate students in the College of Medicine & Life Sciences while also working on my Master of Public Health.  I love that I get to combine two huge aspects of my life, education and career, and be a part of science and lifelong learning which has huge impacts on our local communities and global environment.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge and how did you work to overcome it?
A: Self-doubt!  Recognize your strengths and celebrate your successes – even if you don’t believe it at the time, you will eventually.  Be kind and patient with yourself.

Q: What is your favorite thing about your career?
A: I really enjoy working with students and being a part of their journey towards graduation.  I started at UToledo in 2014 and every year I have a bigger network of graduated students that moved on to so many diverse and exciting opportunities all over the world.

Q: What are you currently studying/working on?
A: I am currently working on a Master of Public Health, majoring in Public Health Policy & Law.  

Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus/Toledo?
A: My office!  Come see me on the Health Science campus, we are doing really incredible things!

Q: What has been your favorite experience while at the University of Toledo?
A: Any time I can get out from behind my desk and engage with students, faculty, staff and guests.  I encourage everyone to step out of their offices and join in on campus activities and discussions, or even just stop and ask someone if they need directions – you might find yourself meeting a scientist, a doctor, or a community leader.

Q: How do you engage with the UToledo community?
A: My entire life is surrounded by the University… I’ve met some of my best friends here, kayaked in the rec center pool (it was sanctioned!), hula hooped in the Rocket Hall hallway (that was NOT sanctioned), tailgated at Homecoming, walked the graduation stage in the Glass Bowl, completed a 5k and ran the Glass City Half marathon through campus, saw my brother-in-law propose to his wife in the University Hall courtyard, all kinds of things!  Both my husband and I work here and are alumni (with alumni memberships!) and we bought a house not far from main campus (of course there’s a UToledo flag hanging from the porch) and we are also multi-year season ticket holders to the football games.   My sister-in-law also works here – and was recently featured for Rocket Romance – her and her husband are UToledo alumnus.  I probably spend more time on campus than I do at home.

Pam DeWalt

Pam wearing glasses and smiling at the camera

Q: Where are you from?
A: I am a proud Toledoan, born and raised.

Q: What are your hobbies or fun activities you enjoy?
A: Fun activities I really enjoy doing are going on road trips, dancing when no one is around, and spending valuable time with my family and friends.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?
A: One of my proudest accomplishment was when my mom and children watched me walk across the stage in 2016 at Savage Arena when I receive my Executive MBA degree from the College of Business and Innovation. That was a very proud moment for me.

Q: What future goals have you made for yourself?
A: My future goals are related to developing a leadership presence in our community, as well as within our UT community.

Q: Explain a time you had to make a difficult decision or faced an obstacle in your life.
A: I’m a single mom of two (daughter in high school and son is a UT Rocket). I work full time here at UT and the most difficult decision that I ever had to make was when I decided to move my mother into our home and become her primary caregiver. Sure, there have been challenging times, but there have been plenty of precious moments, too.

Q: If you had a magic wand what would you change in the world (or on campus)?
A: If I had a magic wand that gave me the power to change three things in this world, they would be, as follows:
1)      Provide enough housing for everyone in this world to end homelessness.
2)      Provide enough food for everyone in this world to end world hunger.
3)      Provide free tuition to every college student.

Q: What are you currently studying/working on?
A: Although, I am not currently attending school, I do consider myself as a lifelong learner. I seek out opportunities the University offers on campus for personal and professional development.

Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus or in Toledo?
A: I honestly do not have a favorite spot on campus. I have been blessed to work on the Health Science Campus since the 90’s. In addition, as a result of receiving my Associates, Bachelor’s and Master degrees from UT, I have had the pleasure of spending a lot of time on main campus, as well. I truly enjoy being on both campuses, as I do not have just one favorite spot.

Q: What has been your favorite experience while at the University of Toledo?
A: I have had the opportunity to work in various positions within the advancement of my career, here at UT. During this time, I have met so many wonderful people along the way that I’ve worked for and worked with over the years. All of my experiences working with others have been my favorite experiences.

Q: How do you engage with the UToledo community?
A: I engage with the UToledo community by attending various events and programs, as well as, take advantage of the networking and mentoring opportunities that the University provides for the staff.

Anita Easterly

Anita standing and smiling at the cameraQ: Where are you from?
A: I am from the Toledo area

Q: What are your hobbies or fun activities you enjoy?
A: Doing number/letter puzzles with my 3-year-old Grandson, reading, and watching movies the more drama the better.

Q: What is something you love to do and why?
A: I love to spending time with my whole family, as these times are precious.

Q: What future plans do you have for yourself?
A: My future plans include using my degree to improve the student experience, grow the university, and improve the community for our future generation of learners.

Q: Explain a time you had to make a difficult decision or faced an obstacle in your life.
A: I was faced with an obstacle in my life at the age of 20, when involved in a horrible car accident. I had to endure months of physical therapy. But I am a stronger person because of that experience.

Q: What motivates you to do the work you do?
A: The students motivate me, seeing the students reach their desired educational goals is terrific!

Q: What are you currently studying/teaching/working on?
A: I currently work with Graduate and MSBS-MS students and love it! Also, I am currently working on categorizing my Netflix movies and series, as I graduated in December with a PhD, therefore the word studying is not in my vocabulary at this time.

Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus/Toledo?
A: My favorite spot on Campus (HSC) is the lounge area in the Mulford Library across from Medical School Admissions

Q: What has been your favorite experience while at the University of Toledo?
A: My favorite experience has been working with my colleagues and forging life-long friendships through the years. Also, my educational experience here at the University is also one of my favorite experiences. This institution has the most caring and brightest faculty there is!

Q: How do you engage with the UToledo community?
A: I have certainly engaged within this community by taking advantage of all educational benefits that UT offered. Also, any opportunity to be mentored by UT’s best and brightest faculty and staff.

Sydni Harmon

SydniQ: Where are you from?
A: I am from the great city of Toledo, OH! I lived in Toledo, OH for the first 18 years of my life, and recently moved back home in June of 2019. I like to call the Columbus, OH and Ames, IA areas home as well, where I spent my undergraduate and graduate student years.

 Q: What do you like to do for fun? (watching/reading/listening to)
A: Some of my favorite things to do are to attend concerts, to play, coach, or watch basketball, and spend time with family and friends while bonding over games and food. I love to be surrounded by good people, music, and sports!

Q: What is something that you would love to learn more about?
A: I would love to learn more about how to get into blogging and post-casting. I enjoy reading blogs and listening to various podcasts specifically related to self-care and wellness, and could see myself using either of those outlets as a space to help others process and heal, as well as myself.

 Q: Why did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
A: My passion has always been to support and be a resource for others, stemming back to my high school days as a supportive friend and mentor for various teammates and classmates. I know that every single individual needs at least one mentor and advocate to support them through their academic and personal journey, which is why I saw myself fit for this role to serve as a resource and part of a support system for underrepresented students.

 Q: What is one challenge you have recently experienced and overcame?
A: One challenge that I have recently experienced was my struggle with addressing and overcoming my mental health issues as a graduate student at Iowa State University. Several stigmas about mental health as a Black woman prevented me from actually addressing some of the depression and anxiety that I was facing. Once I finally expressed that I was facing these mental health issues and sought help, I was able to persist through graduate school with a healthier mindset and outlook on life.

Q: What are some small things that make your day better?
A: Some small things that make my day better are having conversations with complete strangers about something that their passionate about, and watching their faces light up when speaking about whatever that passion is. I also enjoy getting random calls or texts from friends of family members who I haven’t spoken to in a long time and catching back up on each other’s lives.

Q: What are you currently studying/teaching/working on?
A: My biggest project right now includes making sure that all Black History Month events run smoothly! I am also working on a partnership between the women of TAWL (Talented Aspiring Women Leaders Program), which is a mentorship program for women of color on campus and Toledo area leaders, and local high school girls at Springfield High School. It’s going to be great!

 Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus/Toledo?
A: My favorite spot on campus is actually Savage Arena. As a grade school and high school basketball player in Toledo, I’ve spent many days in that arena at youth camps, high school tournaments, and watching the Toledo Women’s Basketball Team play. I have been inspired by the many basketball players at Savage Arena who I’ve both played against and grown up admiring as strong, women athletes and coaches.

 Q: What has been your favorite experience while at the University of Toledo?
A: My favorite experience thus far at the University of Toledo was being able to participate as a staff member in the Multicultural Orientation and Resources for Excellence program (M.O.R.E.). It was great to witness all of the new Rockets meeting other new students and forming connections that will last a lifetime. I can’t wait to witness them all graduate in 2023!

Q: How has being at UT helped your professional/personal growth?
A: Being at UToledo has helped both my personal and professional growth in ways that I couldn’t have even imagined. I’ve had chances to hear perspectives from students, faculty, and staff of various backgrounds, experiences, and cultures. I’ve made it a priority to emphasize that these differences can and will contribute to the growth of the larger community, as long as we take the time to actively listen and respect one another.

Sally Harmych

DrHarmychQ: Where are you from?
A: I grew up near Cleveland but now live in Ypsilanti, MI with my family.

Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: I love to knit and spend most of my free time and waiting time working on projects. I knit socks, sweaters, hats, and shawls. I love the challenge! I also like to do kickboxing and going for hikes.

Q: What is your greatest accomplishment?
A: Earning my PH.D. in Biology from the University of Toledo. It took longer than expected and was difficult, but was worth every moment.

Q: What inspires and motivates you in your work?
A: The students that I teach. I am inspired every day by the challenge of helping them learn new concepts and figuring out new and innovative ways to present those concepts.

Q: What is one challenge you recently experienced and overcame?
A: I took on the challenge of being a faculty mentor for a summer program and did not feel confident that I could do a good job. It really came down to a lack of confidence. In fact, there were a couple of instances when I almost decided not to do it. Instead, I took on the challenge and it was an amazing experience.

Q: If you had a magic wand what would you change in the world (or on campus)?
A: I would get people to listen to each other again. The country feels extremely divided and I think part of the reason for this is many people are unwilling to listen to the other person’s point of view and be willing to accept that it is different from theirs.

Q: What are you currently studying/teaching/working on?
A: I primarily teach Freshman biology and orientation courses. Specifically, I teach Fundamentals of Life Science: Diversity of Life, Evolution and Adaptation (BIOL2150), Fundamentals of Life Science: Biomolecules (BIOL2170), cells and inheritance and Major Concepts in Biology (BIOL2010). I also teach the orientation course (NSM1000). In addition, I am teaching Human Nutrition (BIOL3210) this semester and will teach Parasitology (BIOL4330) in the spring.

Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus/Toledo?
A: Favorite spot on campus is the Mall, especially in the spring when all of the trees are in bloom.  I love to find a bench on a beautiful day and enjoy the view and all the activity. This was one of the first things I loved about the campus when I toured as a high school senior. I think this is one of the most beautiful campuses. My favorite spot in Toledo is the zoo. I could go there 10 times a year and when my kids were little this was one of our favorite things to do in the summer.

Q: What has been your favorite experience while at the University of Toledo?
A: I have 2: The first was being recognized for outstanding teaching. The second was moving both of my children into the residence halls when they began at UT. I am so happy that they see what I have seen all these years, that UT is an amazing university and have embraced the experience.

Q: How has being at UT helped your professional/personal growth?
A: Being at UT has allowed me to fully devote my time to teaching which is my true passion. When I began my Ph.D. I was fully convinced that I would eventually have my own research lab. Getting the opportunity to teach, however, changed that. The minute I stepped in to the classroom I knew I had found my calling and I have never looked back.

Jahnee Horn

Jeanine

Q: Where are you from?
A: Toledo, OH

Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: Reading is my passion. I also enjoy baking, scrapbooking, and spending time with my family.

Q: What is your greatest accomplishment?
A: I consider my greatest accomplishment to be the growth I have experienced as result of the opportunities provided to me as a student and employee of the University. Through the support of many faculty, staff, and student mentors here, I graduated with my Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology within four years, presented my research at an academic conference, and received the 2018 NODA (Association for Orientation, Transition, and Retention in Higher Education) Region VII Outstanding Undergraduate Student Leader.  These opportunities have shaped me into the young professional woman I am today.

Q: What inspires and motivates you in your work?
A: During my time as an undergrad here at UToledo, I uncovered my passion for working with students and aiding their development. As an admission counselor, I am inspired by the excitement I see in students who find their best fit as a Rocket and start their careers at the University of Toledo. I am motivated by their desire to “fuel their tomorrow’ and ultimately make a difference in the world.

Q: What is one challenge you recently experienced and overcame?
A: My office has undergone many changes, including the transition of many of my colleagues to new and exciting roles at the University. In the process of their transition and the welcoming of new staff, I had the opportunity to take on more responsibilities in mentoring new counselors and recruiting new areas. I welcomed the challenge but recognized that I was also new to recruitment and still had much to learn myself. Through the help of my wonderful colleagues, I successfully attended all fall recruitment events and made great connections with prospective students, parents, and Ohio high school faculty and staff members.   

Q: If you had a magic wand what would you change in the world (or on campus)?
A: As our education system stands today, many bright and intelligent students do not have access to educators, facilities, and learning tools necessary to maximize their potential. I would ensure that all children, especially children of color, have access to quality k-12 education. As a member the higher education community, I recognize how instrumental primary and secondary education is in setting students up for success in college.

Q: What are you currently studying/teaching/working on?
A: I currently serve as an admission counselor for high school students in the Office of Undergraduate Admission.

Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus/Toledo?
A: I love the Recreation Center’s pool deck! It is where I competed in one of my first swim meets and is where I give my nephew swim lessons. 

Q: What has been your favorite experience while at the University of Toledo?
A: I have had many great experiences as both a student and professional at UToledo but my favorite is definitely my education abroad trip to Toledo, Spain during my senior year of undergrad. Immersing myself in a new culture helped me develop an appreciation for new learners of all subjects, but especially world languages and empowered me to step outside of my comfort zone and experience as many new things as I can!

Q: How has being at UT helped your professional/personal growth?
A: My experience at the University of Toledo has been filled with so many opportunities for professional and academic growth! As a student, I worked as a research assistant in two psychology research labs, completed an externship, volunteered as a teaching assistant, studied abroad, and served as an orientation leader. Each opportunity listed started with a conversation I had with one of my great professors or staff mentors. They saw potential in me that, at the time, I was unable to see. Those experiences forced me outside of my comfort zone which created the perfect conditions for me to grow into the woman and professional I am today.

Aleiah Jones

JonesQ: Where are you from?
A: Born and raised in Toledo, Ohio and don’t plan on leaving anytime soon!

Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: I’m a homebody and spend a lot of my free time watching Netflix and Disney+ with my fiancé, Justin! I also like to read classics and new fiction.

Q: What is something that you would love to learn more about?
A: Learner is one of my top 5 from my CliftonStrengths assessment. I love learning new things every day! One thing I am particularly interested in now is immigration policy and law. That is partially because of the work that I do on campus with and for (un)documented students, but also because it is constantly changing, and I understand the impact that is has on so many people in our country.  

Q: Why did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
A: I am very passionate about being an advocate for marginalized and disenfranchised people. That is a value that was instilled in me at a young age. It is wonderful that our campus community promotes diversity and inclusion work and that I am part of it. As the program coordinator for Latino Initiatives. I not only help our students academically, but to encourage them in all the ways they want to be better. My work in the community through the Latino Alliance of Northwest Ohio, Nueva Esperanza Community Credit Union and the UToledo Latino Alumni Affiliate also help me to use my privileges to advance the work of improving the lives of Latinos in the area.

Q: What is one challenge you have recently experienced and overcame?
A: A challenge that I am currently experiencing is wedding planning! We will be getting married this year, but there are so many details to consider that it is a time-consuming process. Event planning is part of my job, so I know what it takes to be successful so I am confident that I will be happy with what we do.

Q: What are some small things that make your day better?
A: My brother and I like to send funny memes to each other throughout the day and it really lifts my spirits, especially when there are dogs involved! I also enjoy a good cup of coffee, catching up with friends and online window shopping.

Q: What are you currently studying/teaching/working on?
A: I will be presenting at the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Convention in Nashville on, Creating an (Un)documented Student Ally Training for Your Campus. I am excited to get to share with folks from across the country about the work we are doing here.

Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus/Toledo?
A: I love going to football and basketball games on campus so I would have to say the Glass Bowl and Savage Arena. It is one of the awesome perks of getting to work here!

Q: What has been your favorite experience while at the University of Toledo?
A: There are so many great things to choose from since UToledo has been my home through both undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as my time as a staff member. I am happy to share that I will be receiving the award for Outstanding New Latinx Professional at the ACPA Convention. It would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of my OMSS team as well as our students. Our students are the ones who really help me to understand the importance of the work we are doing and to continue to strive for greatness.

Q: How has being at UT helped your professional/personal growth?
A: I have been blessed to have so many awesome coworkers across campus that I rely on to help me in all types of situations. I can be honest and real with them and that is not something that I take for granted. It helps me to be pushed to do better by those setting a great example in their care, concern and dedication for our students and campus community. Others remind to persist through stressful times, and it is always great to have coworkers that you can call friends.

Ting Li

Ting smiling at the cameraQ: Where are you from?
A: Born and raised in a coastal city, Dalian, in China; moved to U.S.A. since 2009.

Q: What are your hobbies or fun activities you enjoy?
A: I enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and camping, although I’m not very athletic.

Q: What inspires and motivates you to do the work that you do?
A: My passion for life-long learning. My work allows me the luxury of teaching students from all over the world. Through supporting their success in American universities, I’m broadening my own horizons on a daily basis. Witnessing their growth also gives me a sense of achievement.

Q: What is something about yourself that you are proud of?
A: I’m proud to be an optimistic person. 

Q: Explain a time you had to make a difficult decision or faced an obstacle in your life.
A: Deciding to pursue advanced degrees in the U.S. was a tough call in my life – moving 7,000 miles away from my dearest family and friends was difficult and yet the most courageous thing I’ve ever done. Luckily I’ve since enriched my life by finding new homes away from home.  Now my friends and families in Toledo have made me feel the obstacles for the time-being may lead your life path to a more splendid direction. 

Q: What is a future goal that you have set for yourself?
A: My future goal is to be a compassionate, humble, and open-minded person every day, and never stop learning.

Q: What are you currently studying/teaching/working on?
A: I currently work as an ESL curriculum coordinator for the American Language Institute, the UT Intensive English Program. I’m also a professor teaching UC1150, an undergraduate College Success course.

Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus/Toledo?
A: 5th floor in the Carlson Library.

Q: What has been your favorite experience while at the University of Toledo?
A: My favorite experience at UT has to be the honor of working with all of my colleagues in the Center for International Studies and Programs, serving over 2,000 international students and scholars campus-wide.  

Q: How do you engage with the UToledo community?
A: I try to participate as many Student Involvement events as possible.  Part of my job is also to deliver Intercultural sensitivity workshops campus wide, for faculty, staff, and student employees to better understand cultural diversities.

Karie Peralta

PeraltaQ: Where are you from?
A: I’m from South Bend, Indiana.

Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: I enjoy playing with my niece and nephews, spending time with my family, dancing, browsing bookstores, and visiting the Dominican Republic.

Q: What is something that you would love to learn more about?
A: I would love to learn more about other cultures and worldviews that are different from my own.

Q: Why did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
A: I’ve always believed in the power of education to create an equitable and just society.  Working at the university-level allows me to integrate my teaching and research interests.

Q: What is one challenge you have recently experienced and overcame?
A: Meeting deadlines are an ongoing challenge that I overcome by staying organized and not procrastinating.

Q: What are some small things that make your day better?
A: Exchanging smiles, a good cup of coffee, and Facetiming with my family.

Q: What are you currently studying/teaching/working on?
A: I teach Sociology.  This semester I’m teaching a class on qualitative social research methods and another on professional development.

Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus/Toledo?
A: The Eberly Center for Women!

Q: What has been your favorite experience while at the University of Toledo?
A: I’ve co-led two international field schools in the Dominican Republic.  My students were amazing, and the experiences are unforgettable.

Q: How has being at UT helped your professional/personal growth?
A: UT is a place where there are a lot of opportunities to pursue your interests and ideas.  Being at UT has encouraged me to try new ways of teaching and doing research.

Jeanine Refsnider-Streby

Jeanine

Q: Where are you from?
A: Minneapolis, MN

Q: What do you like to do for fun? (watching/reading/listening to)
A: hiking, biking, traveling

Q: Who is your favorite author and why?
A: Jared Diamond - he has new ways of analyzing huge, broad patterns

Q: What motivates you to do the work you do?
A: We are placing unprecedented environmental challenges on organisms, both in magnitude and rate of change. Understanding the capacity of organisms to respond to these challenges is critical to protecting species and maintaining biodiversity. Plus, reptiles (my primary study organisms) are super cool animals.

Q: What is one challenge you have recently experienced and overcame?
A: Navigating university bureaucracy is an ongoing challenge, particularly with time-sensitive research such as ours where we have to be on the animals' schedule or we miss out on critical data.  I have learned to be persistent and pushy when necessary to make sure we get through the red tape so we can conduct our research.

Q: What skill would you like to master?
A: Speaking Spanish

Q: What are you currently studying/teaching/working on?
A: How are animals affected by human-caused changes to the environment?  For example, how do climate change, habitat fragmentation, harmful algal blooms, and pollution affect individual animals' health and population trends?  Are animals able to cope with such large-scale environmental changes, and if so how?

Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus/Toledo?
A: Along the Ottawa River

Q: What has been your favorite experience while at the University of Toledo?
A: Seeing students become confident in their abilities as scientists

Q: How has being at UT helped your professional/personal growth?
A: Having the opportunity to mentor fantastic graduate student.

teresa Rodriguez

SydniQ: Where are you from?
A: I was born in Adrian, MI and grew up in Ottawa Lake, MI; attended Whiteford High School from K-12.

Q: What do you like to do for fun? (watching/reading/listening to)
A: Well, I love to hang out with my grandbabies (Ricardo, Elijia, Harley, and Ivy) and just laugh and play with them. I don’t have a TV but I do like to watch Youtube.com on my cell phone. I love murder mysteries to documentaries to ice skating; true life stories, anything about animals, and dance videos.

Q: What motivates you to do the work you do?
A: I love my job so it isn’t hard to motivate me to do the work. I love to meet the students and the new staff. I love watching them grow from young students and staff to mature adults. I love when they come to me for personal advice or just listening to them share - their feelings, hopes, fears, family life, and future dreams. They are like my children seeing that I am much older than they are.  

Q: What is one challenge you have recently experienced and overcame?
A: To keep moving even when I want to stop! My Mom is my inspiration for me to keep moving. She is 83 years old and moves like a woman in her early 30’s. She amazes me; she inspires me, and she motivates me to keep going!

Q: What skill would you like to master?
A: This may sound silly, but truthfully, I would love to master skating – ice/roller skating. My granddaughter had a party at Funigans last year, and I really wanted to roller skate. Because of my bad back and knees I was afraid to fall. When I was little, I wanted to become an ice-skating professional, but we didn’t have many opportunities to go skating. It looks very relaxing, good exercise and overall fun.

Q: What are you currently studying/teaching/working on?
A: I am working on me. For so many years, I have given to and taken care of others. So I am working on getting my health back up to par. It took me forever to complete my two-year Associate Degree, so I am not studying anything right now. But I would like to take a sign language class or two and a few exercise classes.

Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus/Toledo?
A: I love the hustle and bustle of the students on campus; in particular, when there are events in Centennial Mall. I like to people watch so sitting near the fountain and watching, smiling at the interactions, and just having a relaxed time is comforting.  

Q: What has been your favorite experience while at the University of Toledo?
A: I have been very fortunate to have jobs here at UT that I love. I loved my job at the University Counseling Center. I felt like I was truly helping the students who came for counseling. Some of the students used to tell me that I made them feel comfortable, normal, and not judged. I felt a calling to work in the Center for the 12.5 years. The other 17 years have been in the Office of Undergraduate Admission. I love meeting all the people – staff and students as the new semesters begin. Watching people mature in knowledge, self-esteem, and confidence, is truly rewarding.

Q: How has being at UT helped your professional/personal growth?
A: I was a single mother working for $7,000 less when I got the call to work for UT in 1990. God blessed me with a great job here at UT; one that I love; one that has given me the opportunity to provide for my daughter and now my grandbabies. I have been blessed to advance in the positions that I have held and it turn it has given me more confidence in myself.

Kelsi Rooks

RooksQ: Where are you from?
A: Toledo, OH

Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: When the weather is nice, I like to go on long walks at one of Toledo’s lovely metro parks or stay inside and watch Netflix with my fiancé if it’s too cold out.

Q: What is one thing you think people should know about you?
A: I am an advocate for all thing’s mental health. 

Q: What is something you look forward to everyday?
A: My work as a therapist. I look forward to helping others accomplish their goals while fully supporting them in living a happier, healthier, lifestyle.  

Q: What is one challenge you recently experienced and overcame?
A: One challenge I recently experienced was how to manage my time with all of the changes that occurred in my life last semester. Not only did I begin all new classes, I got engaged and started wedding planning, started a new job, and started my internship at Harbor Behavioral Health. It was a lot of change all at once and it was definitely a challenge to transition into all of those new roles. However, it has been such an amazing experience and I wouldn’t change a thing. It has all helped me grow as a person and professional in so many ways.

Q: If you had a magic wand what would you change in the world (or on campus)?
A: If I had a magic wand I would change the way people view mental health. I would end the stigma surrounding mental health and make students on campus more aware of the services available and FREE to them, at the University of Toledo Counseling Center.

Q: What are you currently studying/teaching/working on?
A: I am currently working towards my master’s degree here at UToledo in the Counselor Education program, focusing on Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus/Toledo?
A: The flat lands. I love walking the path on my lunch breaks in the summer. You never know what furry friends you’ll come across back there!

Q: What has been your favorite experience while at the University of Toledo?
A: I have had too many wonderful experiences at The University of Toledo to choose just one! I’ll say all the opportunities in general that have been provided to me by UToledo have been my favorite experience. I was given the opportunity to volunteer in 3 different psychology labs, which led to publications and poster presentations at regional conferences as an undergrad. I’ve worked as a student worker in The Marketing and Communications Department, which allowed me to better understand the inner workings of the university, while continuing to network with so many individuals throughout campus. And I’ve been offered a Graduate Assistantship here at UToledo’s Counseling Center, where I serve as their Community Intervention Specialist and get to advocate for the mental health of fellow Rockets. Those are just a few of my favorites, among so many others. I could not be happier with the experiences I have acquired thus far, as a Rocket!

Q: How has being at UT helped your professional/personal growth?
A: It has allowed me to further my education in the area of expertise I love most and has provided me with the resources I need to succeed. As mentioned above, the immense opportunities available at UToledo have helped shape me into the person and professional that I am today.

Rebecca Sturges

SturgesQ: Where are you from?
A: I was born in Tucson, Arizona but I have lived most of my life in Orion, Michigan, a city about 30 minutes outside of Detroit.

Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: I consider myself to be a horror movie connoisseur! My roommates and I watch a scary movie or show at least once a week, probably more. I also really love playing soccer (but I am not very good!); I play on an intramural team here for fun.

Q: How would you describe yourself using only 5 words?
A: Dedicated, Intuitive, Trustworthy, Personable, Loyal

Q: What is one unique thing about you?
A: One unique thing about me is that I can wiggle my ears!

Q: What is one challenge you recently experienced and overcame?
A: Student Government and the International Student Association as well as the Black Student Union recently put on our Kalahari Leadership Retreat. While the entire thing eventually went very well, we had a hiccup in the middle of having students sign up where half the organizations we invited did not receive our invitation and another good amount were outdated contacts. We ended up splitting up the 70 organizations we invited and contacting them personally, whether that was texting, calling, or going to a meeting of theirs. It was stressful at the time and was a big bump in our road, but it all worked out with everyone’s help!

Q: If you had to compare yourself to a fictional character, who would it be?
A: I would probably compare myself to Merida from Brave. Not only do we both have red hair, but people underestimate what we can often do. I love her feminist stance and leadership skills, even in times of trouble.

Q: What are you currently studying/working on?
A: I am currently working on my bachelors degree in biology with a neuroscience concentration. After that, I hope to go to medical school!

Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus/Toledo?
A: I LOVE the courtyards behind University Hall, and probably UHall itself. The entire building is so old and fun to explore and wander around. The courtyards are BEAUTIFUL with all sorts of different flowers and trees and a great view of the bell tower.

Q: What has been your favorite experience while at the University of Toledo?
A: Without being too cheesy, I want to say my favorite experience has been all the different people I have met. I am introduced to new people every day, from all over the world and all over the nation with different lives and stories. I could never be bored with such a beautiful campus and beautiful people!

Q: How has being at UT helped your professional/personal growth?
A: I think specifically getting involved on campus has made me passionate about advocating for people. I am more into social justice, and fighting for those without a voice. Now my desire to be a doctor has a different meaning; I want to be able to fight for people who have trouble with their healthcare or insurance. Utoledo has changed my professional life for the better.

   Heena Thakkar

Heena

Q: Where are you from?
A: India

Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: Listening to songs and reading books.

Q: Who is your role model or hero, and why?
A: Honestly, I don’t have a role model or hero for following reasons, I believe every person I meet or have met in my life have something to offer and I try to learn and adapt those good qualities. I look up to women who know they are amazing just the way they are, women who are powerful, and those who know what they deserve and how they deserve to be treated. Also, Women who stand for themselves and don’t settle for anything less than what they deserve.

Q: What is one thing you think people should know about you?
A: I want them to know that:
-Nothing in this world can break me until I allow it to.
-If asked to describe myself in a word it would be; Resilient.
-How passionate I am about my career and the person I am evolving into.
-I believe in progress.
-I believe in the phrase, “Actions speak louder than the words.”

Q: What is one challenge you recently experienced and overcame?
A: One challenge I recently experienced was being able to believe in myself and help myself revive after a toxic emotional phase. After one point I decided to stand up for myself and choose what was healthy and right for me, that’s when I started to go to gym every day, being around my family and friends, and just doing things that made me happy. Slowly down this process I realized how important my happiness and my goals have been and how passionate I am to achieve those. Now, I have confidence in me that I know I am enough just the way I am, and I am happy in myself and that I don’t need any type of validation for it. I love the way I have transformed since.

Q: If you had a magic wand what would you change in the world (or on campus)?
A: Spread more positivity within people & people to respect personal lives and everyone around them

Q: What are you currently studying/working on?
A: Studying Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus/Toledo?
A: Library

Q: What has been your favorite experience while at the University of Toledo?
A: My entire journey so far has been an experience for me and it’s been amazing. The opportunities that are coming my way as I grow.

Q: How has being at UT helped your professional/personal growth?
A: University has given me a lot of opportunities; in my career and that have helped me in building my personality and just being involved on campus has given me some good and bad experiences and that helped me learn and grow a lot.

   Taylor Wynne

WynneQ: Where are you from?
A: Cleveland, Ohio

Q: What are your hobbies?
A: Hobbies include reading, traveling, and exercising

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?
A: Traveling to Baltimore Maryland and representing the state of Ohio in a speaking competition. 


Q: If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?
A: I would work alongside Michelle Obama at the Obama Foundation for a day.

Q: What is one challenge you recently experienced and overcame?
A: Around this time last year I was hospitalized for having a swollen esophagus and inflamed pancreas. Though I could've easily threw in the towel, and taken a semester off of school, my determination and goal driven mindset would not let me do so. I pushed myself to get better and finished out the rest of the semester. 

Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
A: In five years I hope to be teaching English at a high school, while pursing my EdD (Doctorate of Education)  

Q: What are you currently studying/working on?
A: I am currently majoring in English with a concentration in Literature

Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus/Toledo?
A: Favorite spot on campus is the 5th floor of the library

Q: What has been your favorite experience while at the University of Toledo?
A: Favorite experience while being at Toledo has been traveling to New York City during Spring Break for a service trip.

Q: How has being at UT helped your professional/personal growth?
A: UT continues to open doors for me, and challenge me as a leader by pushing me outside of my comfort zone and testing my abilities. It's only up from here! 

Last Updated: 5/21/20