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Hired for his strong research background in microbiology and immunology, Chad Sethman, assistant professor of biology at Waynesburg University, has enhanced undergraduate research while challenging students to think deeply about the concepts and their relationship to the “big picture” of science and also to society as a whole.

Prior to joining Waynesburg University, Sethman performed Immunological Research as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. Sethman worked to functionally characterize a newly-discovered human gene, referred to as “SARM,” and investigate its role in inflammation and programmed cell death.

Although his earliest career intentions were primarily focused on performing bio-medical research, Sethman had the opportunity to teach various laboratory courses and a lecture course as a graduate student. These experiences sparked his interest in teaching and research mentoring. Today Sethman is committed to developing and delivering the best possible educational experiences for his students, and according to his students, he does that and more.

Sethman teaches a variety of courses including Microbiology, Immunology, and the department's capstone course involving reading and evaluating journal articles as well as developing a research project, collecting and analyzing the data, and presenting the results.

Involved in research for many years before becoming a professor, he often uses those experiences to help his students understand what they are learning and why it is important.

“Dr. Sethman is known for the rigor of his courses. He makes sure his students have more than just a superficial understanding of concepts, that they're really able to explain what happens and why,” said Chris Cink, chair of the Department of Biology, Environmental Science and Athletic Training. “Particularly in his senior research course, he pushes his students to ask questions and to evaluate the research methods of others.”

Jeff Johns, a senior biology major, would agree.

“Dr. Sethman has a special ability to relate to the students. He is able to break down and present difficult subjects in an interesting way that keeps students' attention,” Johns said.

Currently working with Sethman to study the transmission of antibiotic resistance between pathogenic and nonpathogenic microbes in relationship to MRSA, Johns said Sethman has taught him many lessons throughout the process.

“I have learned to think critically and to apply my knowledge when fabricating a research plan. Because of Dr. Sethman, I know what will be expected of me when I leave Waynesburg, and he has better prepared me for my future endeavors in medicine and research,” Johns said.

As a result of his work with Sethman, Johns has decided to pursue microbiology and immunology in graduate school following his graduation from Waynesburg University.

“He has been very influential in my academic career,” Johns said.

Like Johns, Britany Spitznogle, a 2011 Waynesburg University alumna and a student at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Pharmacy, recognized the value of being mentored by someone such as Sethman.

Unable to choose just one situation in which Dr. Sethman made a profound impact on her life, Spitznogle said that Sethman taught her that she could “do whatever she wanted to do in life” as long as she “put in the time and effort.”

“Without his advice and guidance, I wouldn't be where I am today. His classes are what prepared me most for pharmacy school, and it's not often that you find a professor that cares as much about your education and future as Dr. Sethman does.”

Spitznogle said Sethman's unique teaching style taught her to rely on resources beyond the textbook.

Because career success is never based on one's ability to accurately answer questions on exams, Sethman said “students need to develop proficiency at turning mere knowledge into innovation and productivity, the true bases for career success.”

“Research experience provides the invaluable training required to make this transition. It enables students to develop the essential practical skills of applying their knowledge in order to solve problems and make advancements to our understanding of a particular field,” he said.

His passion for guiding students through their undergraduate research stems from what Sethman believes it does for students.

“Research experience provides our students with huge advantages toward preparations for successful careers. We have the opportunity to immerse our students deeply in the entire research process with regards to conceptual planning, diligent experimentation/data gathering, critical analysis and effective communication.”

Sethman said the complexity and depth of Waynesburg University's research offerings has resulted in comments from employers and graduate school representatives relating to how impressed they are with Waynesburg's students' level of professional scientific aptitude stemming from their research experiences.

“The benefits of undergraduate research include increasing the student's level of involvement in independent learning; enhancing skills in critical thinking, problem solving, reading comprehension and communication; and teaching students how to be life-long learners,” he said.

In addition to the research opportunities and the skills learned in the process, Sethman credits Waynesburg University's small class size and faculty members who are highly-qualified experts in their fields for the level of student success related to research.

“These are essential to maintaining the most effective learning atmosphere. Because of the small class size, our students obtain a much more individualized education and have many more opportunities to interact with faculty for course help and career advice.”

Sethman also deems it notable to highlight Waynesburg's Christian mission — a mission which he said enables biology students to have the uniquely moving opportunity to explore the relationship between their scientific understanding of the world and their spiritual faith.

“This is something that I think is invaluable to the development of ethically and faithfully responsible professionals,” he said.

Grateful for the opportunities presented while a faculty member at Waynesburg University, Sethman is pleased to accept the fact that his earliest career intentions were not his last.


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Second lieutenant Courtney Parker, motivated by her parents' sacrifices and devotion, embarks on a journey to serve God and her country.

Fulfilling her duties as both a patriot and a Christian means everything to Waynesburg University alumna Courtney Parker.

A second lieutenant in the United States Army from Columbus, Ga., Parker was inspired to serve in the military by her parents, both once active duty soldiers. Parker's goals of honoring their sacrifices, emulating their devotion to America and continuing a legacy of pride motivated her throughout her demanding training and continue to drive her as she embarks on her military career.

Parker and other Waynesburg University students interested in pursuing careers in the military are eligible to participate in Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program at West Virginia University (WVU) through an agreement between the two universities.

“The almost daily commute between Waynesburg and WVU, the insanely early morning wake ups, all the nights spent training in the mountains, all the hard work… I'm glad I did it. I am so proud to finally be an officer and a soldier,” said Parker, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in sociology (pre-law) in 2012.

Sworn in on May 11, Parker is currently serving as Camp Cadre at Fort Lewis, Wash., with the Leadership Development and Assessment Course, which is a one month ROTC camp every cadet must attend prior to commissioning. In her role of Camp Cadre, Parker is evaluating cadets in their third year of ROTC.

In September, Parker will move to Fort Lee, Va., where she will participate in a Basic Officer Leadership Course for five months, after which she will take on her first duty assignment with the 108th Air Defense Artillery DBE at Fort Bragg, N.C., in February 2013.

“I have no doubt that Courtney will be successful as an officer in the U.S. Army,” said John McIlwain, instructor of criminal justice at Waynesburg University. “I have the upmost respect for her.”

McIlwain said Parker successfully balanced academics and her commitment to ROTC, demonstrating a notable ability to excel at both.

She was also active in the Pre-Law Society, the Stover Scholars Program and participated in several service mission trips during her time at Waynesburg.

“In these past four years, I have traveled to a foreign country, jumped out of airplanes, met with some of the highest ranking officials, became a United States Army Officer, made lifelong friends, completed a Bachelor of Arts degree and discovered more about myself than I could imagine,” Parker said.

As for the nature of her personal discoveries – they cover a broad spectrum.

“I can accomplish great things,” Parker said. “I can be strong. I can excel in academics. I can navigate an airport all by myself. I can tour a new city. I can learn a new language. I can talk to strangers. I can fall in love with God every day. I can have gigantic dreams. I can.”


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The opportunity to be a part of a program founded upon the principles that embody who he is has restored Dan Czajkowski's hope in the world.

Ironically, more than five years ago when the program was established, Waynesburg alumnus Dr. W. Robert Stover (1942), the man for whom the program is named, approached Waynesburg University President Timothy R. Thyreen with concerns about the direction in which the United States was heading. From that conversation, Waynesburg University's Stover Scholar Program for Constitutional Studies and Moral Leadership was developed with the purpose of finding young women and men exactly like Dan Czajkowski.

“Centered on the first principles of our nation and ethical Christian leadership, the Stover Scholar Program seeks to bring Christianity into the public sphere,” Czajkowski said. “The Program is consistent with the University's mission to integrate faith, serving and learning, and encourages its scholars to be faithful servants to the public good.”

Through his involvement in the Program, Czajkowski, a junior criminal justice administration major, has found assurance that there are others, like him, “who desire to make a difference by walking in integrity and committing themselves to lives of public service.”

“Our world needs men and women who will stand with moral fortitude against popular culture, and I am fortunate to be in a program that supports my desire to do that,” Czajkowski said.

Czajkowski's testimony is validation that the Stover Scholar Program is achieving precisely what it was intended to achieve.

“Waynesburg University's Stover Scholar Program is committed to developing leaders who embrace the constitutional principles that guided the Founding Fathers in an effort to positively impact the direction of American politics and law,” said University President Timothy R. Thyreen.

Appropriately, from an early age, Dan Czajkowski was captivated by the notions of law and justice which inherently led him on a path to find a career within the criminal justice system.

“I am passionate about righting wrongs, and I desire to find the career where I would be most capable of bringing justice to the world around me,” Czajkowski said.

Regardless of what his next step might be, there is no doubt in the minds of those who know him best that Czajkowski will be effectively prepared to fill a significant role.

“Daniel Czajkowski is a well-respected leader at Waynesburg University with a gentle and friendly disposition which makes his strong analytical insights very persuasive among his peers and professors,” said Dr. Lawrence M. Stratton, director of the Stover Center for Constitutional Studies and Moral Leadership.

Stratton reflected upon Czajkowski's role in a play put on last September during Waynesburg University's Constitution Day celebration in which the Stover Scholars reenacted the debates surrounding the 1787 Constitutional Convention and ratification. Stratton said Czajkowski fittingly played the role of future President James Monroe, which led him to his next thought.

“It is not hard to imagine Daniel Czajkowski occupying the Oval Office himself one day,” Stratton said.

His courses and the opportunities afforded by Waynesburg University have served as deliberate steps toward his future goals, whether that is working in law enforcement or a government career.

“Waynesburg is very effective at producing career-ready graduates. What sets Waynesburg apart in preparing its graduates for life after college is the emphasis it places on how a graduate uses the skill set that he or she developed while at Waynesburg,” he said.

Czajkowski is certain that the Criminal Justice Administration Program, specifically its curriculum and opportunities for experiential learning, has effectively prepared him for the challenges ahead.

“My time working seasonally for a police department speaks especially to the quality of our Criminal Justice program, as I felt head and shoulders above my peers in the amount of understanding I had of my field compared to students from other colleges,” he said.

Similarly, Waynesburg's social science curriculum, according to Czajkowski, has complemented his education by enhancing his knowledge and understanding of both government and governance.

Czajkowski plans to pursue a master's degree in Public Administration following his graduation from Waynesburg University. Although he has theories of what his future will hold, ultimately he said his plans will rely on God's plan for his life.

“I will continue to dedicate my talents to God and seek to use them for His glory and honor,” he said. “Although I am currently pursuing a path in law enforcement, I am open to God's leading in my life and am anxious to see where He will guide me.”

In the spring of 2013, Czajkowski will spend his semester in Washington, D.C., studying through the Best Semester's American Studies Program. The Program is one of 12 off-campus study abroad programs offered through the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.


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Fedoris resized 600Since the age of 13, Jillian Fedoris has struggled with an issue that most young adults never have to worry about. That same issue led her to Waynesburg University, where she would pursue a degree to aid others experiencing the same condition. After doctors diagnosed her with diabetes at a young age, Fedoris committed her life to educating children about the disease.
 
“Being diabetic is not something horrible,” Fedoris said. “A lot of people that are diabetic don't tell others because they don't want to share the sappy story, but I want everyone to know and to be educated so that I can help more people.”

This semester, the senior nursing major worked with pediatric patients and newly diagnosed diabetics at Jefferson Regional Hospital through her externship. She worked to educate about diabetes, a chronic disease that deals with high blood sugar levels and the clear misconceptions that children and youth might have.

“Taking care of yourself and believing that you can do well with diabetes is important, because if you don't, it will take advantage of your body,” Fedoris said. “Education and prevention are key.”

Fedoris strives to combine the knowledge and skills she's learned at Waynesburg University and throughout her clinical experience to service. She has worked as a diabetic counselor with Camp Crestfield, a Slippery Rock, Pa., Christian summer camp that offers camping experiences for diabetic youth, since the age of 17.

Her job as a Diabetic Counselor involves monitoring campers' diabetes during camp activities such as eating, hiking, swimming and sleeping. Her nursing experience allows her to check campers' blood sugars at night, and count their carbohydrate intake during the day.

By combining her passion for serving others with her advanced nursing knowledge and personal experience, Fedoris aims to live a full life while taking care of others.

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For three months this summer, Brittany Walton will take her passion for service to an unfamiliar environment. The junior biblical ministry studies major will learn the challenges and blessings of an urban environment, will serve alongside diverse groups of students, and will share her faith with people from around the country.

A desire to help others recognize God's calling for their lives led Brittany Walton to the Center for Student Missions (CSM). Brittany will join with the staff of the CSM San Francisco site as a city host this summer. As a city host, Brittany, a Waynesburg, Pa., native, will guide groups through Oakland, Calif., and introduce them to diverse service opportunities including sites that deal with poverty, gang violence, drugs and prostitution.

“Only when we try to understand the lost and broken, can we truly help them. After all, we are all broken, formerly lost people ourselves,” Brittany said. “CSM encourages the people who serve with them to give up former biases about the people who live in the city, and to love them despite their brokenness.”

CSM, a Christian organization that hosts week-long urban mission trips for high school and college groups across the nation, hires young people based on leadership skills, a desire to serve God and enthusiasm for service.

“CSM is important to me because the ministry focuses on the issues that are found in the heart of major cities and strives to love those who live lives of judgment,” she said. “It encourages the adolescents who serve with CSM to really get to know the individuals of the city, whether it be a homeless man sitting on the street, or a child who has known nothing but a life of drugs and abuse.”

A desire to spend her summer serving others led Brittany to contact the director of San Francisco's CSM location to arrange an interview via Skype. After surviving the preliminary application and interview process, Brittany was asked by CSM staff to visit a CSM location for a face-to-face interview.

“I could have chosen Philadelphia, Pa., which is the closest site to Waynesburg, but I really wanted to show them that I was very serious about this internship. I saved up some money and sold my laptop for a plane ticket to San Francisco during Thanksgiving break,” Brittany said. “I shadowed the city hosts to gain a better understanding of what they did, and I had a face-to-face interview with the CSM director at an Ethiopian restaurant in the city.”

Needless to say, Brittany's visible desire to serve San Francisco through CSM earned her a position as one of five city hosts. She anticipates the challenges of working with an urban ministry to not be much different than her service in Waynesburg, Pa.

“My heart breaks often in Waynesburg when I see the devastating issues that Greene County faces daily, so I know that a big city such as San Francisco will break my heart substantially,” she said. “But I am at peace with that, because I want my heart to break for what breaks God's heart. It is that brokenness that allows us to do amazing things for Him.”

Her faith and service-related activities and leadership roles as a student at Waynesburg University have shaped Brittany's desire to serve with CSM this summer. On campus, Brittany leads a prayer ministry called Selah and serves as the Praise and Worship Coordinator for Adelpha, a Christian leadership sisterhood created to encourage women on campus in their faith.

“Without Waynesburg University and its ministries, I'm not sure that I would even be a Christian,” she said. “With the help of Upper Room, Chapel, Selah and Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO) staff and mentors on campus, I accepted the precious gift of salvation and gained the desire to work with children and youth.”


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