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Knowing that his work would be seen by hundreds of spectators and educators, Jonathan Zeleny took his 2013 internship with the Pittsburgh Opera very seriously. From mid-summer to late fall, the senior arts administration (music) major spent 16 to 20 hours each week assisting the Opera’s Education Department. 

“I did anything and everything to help the opera company,” Zeleny said. “Most of my work included updating and reformatting the Opera Trunk Program, which sends trunks filled with information and props pertaining to certain operas such as ‘Madam Butterfly’ or ‘Carmen.’  I also created opera synopsis PowerPoints and historical/cultural PowerPoints that were presented in opera workshops and shown in the Benedum Center.”    

Zeleny, who said he couldn’t name just one favorite part because the entire experience was “wonderful,” obtained the internship after networking with the Opera’s education director via email. A strong recommendation from Melanie Catana, instructor of vocal music at Waynesburg University, sealed the deal. 

“I have seen a great deal of growth in Jonathan in the time I have known him, both academically and personally,” Catana said. “I strongly believe that he has the definite potential for great success in his career as he couples his knowledge and professionalism in business with his talent and expertise in music.”

Outside of the classroom, he’s involved in symphonic band, bagpipe and drum band, and private clarinet and bagpipe lessons. He has served as a student senate representative for Chamber Works, woodwind quartet, clarinet ensemble and the Waynesburg University Pep Band. He hopes to continue growing as a musician as he finishes his final year at Waynesburg and reflects on the success of his internship. 

“I have become much more self-sufficient in my work and more confident in my abilities as a young professional,” Zeleny said. “I have been able to grow as a musician because of the great environment at Pittsburgh Opera.” 

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Oland_Kyle_5.JPGWhen he accepted a prestigious media relations internship with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Kyle Oland thought he had put the finishing touch on his summer plans. The senior public relations major from Westminster, Md., planned to commute from Waynesburg to the city for every home game and looked forward to spending the summer doing what he loved, while also supplementing his income with a job in fast food. 

But in the spring 2013 semester, when Oland opened an email from a professor at Waynesburg University and found a link to an application for a part-time internship at the Smith Brothers Agency, Oland figured that applying to the agency position couldn't hurt. The Agency, an acclaimed full service integrated advertising and digital agency in Pittsburgh, Pa., focuses on consumer packaged goods. 

“I talked to the Pirates’ vice president of communication and he said that having both sports and agency background makes you more marketable,” Oland said. “I always like a challenge, but I didn’t think I would actually get it.”

Two weeks later, God revealed a more exciting summer plan for Oland than he could have hoped. He notified his food-industry job that he wouldn’t be able to work that summer, because he now had two big-name internships competing for his time. 

“I am glad I opted to do two internships in two very different spectrums of public relations,” Oland said. “I discovered what I excel at and what I dislike, which has made me realize what I want to do upon graduation.”

Throughout his Pirates’ internship, Oland compiled media and press kits, wrote for MLB.com and the Pirates website and interviewed players and coaches. He distributed news publications to members of the media, broadcasters, TV crews, camera crews, the executive offices, players and coaches before each game. 

“During the game, I sat in the press box and communicated via Google Chat with the Pirates' announcers,” Oland said. “Following the game, I compiled box scores and stat packs and then distributed these packets to the visiting clubhouse and the media.”

During games in which he worked for Major League Baseball, Oland served as a real-time correspondent. In this role, he provided in-game coverage of the night's game by finding unique stories via pictures or video interviews. He worked hand-in-hand with the Pirates' social media manager and the visiting public relations manager and even had the opportunity to eat dinner with the president of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Frank Coonely, and other team executives. 

Across the street as a digital strategies intern for Smith Brothers, he monitored clients’ and competitors’ social media accounts, compiled weekly reports and researched trends in the field. Oland’s research was used by the firm’s public relations team to better plan and execute social media strategies. Additionally, he assisted in the planning and writing of various posts for the social media platforms of brands including Nestle Drumstick, Skinny Cow, Frosty Paws and Dolce Gusto. 

“Kyle worked on a Twitter strategy for one of our clients. He provided a very thorough analysis with great recommendations,” said Kaitlyn Kline, social media coordinator/acting analytics coordinator at Smith Brothers Agency. “He always handled his workload very well and was eager to learn all the nuances of agency life – even if they weren't strictly related to social media and public relations. His drive is really something to note.”

With major brands and one of the season’s best baseball teams to represent, Oland faced a full schedule of events each day. Each morning, he drove into the city to work from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Smith Brothers, and then walked across the street to PNC Park. From there, depending on the game, he might not get home until around midnight or later. 

“Working two internships was definitely a challenge,” Oland said. “While the days were long, it didn’t bother me because I understood that many would love to be in the position I was. I counted myself lucky.”

Approaching the summer, Oland’s biggest concern was balancing the two internships, but said that his days were quite comparable to his fast-paced, comprehensive days as a student in the Department of Communication at Waynesburg University. 

“The Department of Communication teaches you to get involved and to manage your time well. It was no different than a day at Waynesburg where I could go from working in the Sports Information Office, to writing a Yellow Jacket article, to attending a PRSSA networking event, to covering an athletic game and of course classwork,” Oland said. “In so many ways, Waynesburg University prepared me for both internships. Waynesburg helped me gain the ability to juggle a variety of tasks and perform those tasks at a high level.” 

After a strenuous but rewarding summer immersed in the world of public relations, Oland felt more motivated than ever to pursue his ultimate goal. Since freshman year, he has dreamed of returning to beloved Maryland to work for the Baltimore Ravens. 

“The summer of 2013 has not only been a reward for the hard work I have put in the last three years, but also as a reassurance that I am on the right path to achieve my goal.”

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Bombalski_Riverhounds-web.jpgWith her ponytail tightened, bright athletic clothes donned and an infectious smile displayed, Taylor Bombalski entered class to pursue the only thing she loves as much as soccer: her major at Waynesburg University. In class, the junior public relations student learned about internship requirements for the Department of Communication at Waynesburg University. She listened intently, taking notes and racking her brain for a way to unite her two passions. 

Later that evening, she saw a television commercial for The Pittsburgh Riverhounds, the city’s premier United Soccer League’s Pro Division team, and its inaugural season at Highmark Stadium in downtown Pittsburgh. Something clicked. She logged on to the team’s website and inquired about a public relations internship for the summer of 2013. 

“I love soccer. I have been playing since I was four. I just looked up the Riverhounds and saw they had interns for the summer and felt this was the perfect opportunity to learn the ropes,” Bombalski said. 

Bombalski, who feels at home on the field, with the turf gliding under her cleats and the crowd roaring above her, said she experienced complete comfort at her internship location. After securing the job and learning about her public relations, sports marketing, sales, media relations and event management responsibilities, she decided she wouldn’t be intimidated by those either. 

“My public relations writing and production class helped me with writing tips, and advanced PR strategies helped me to plan and implement an event,” said Bombalski. “As a member of the Waynesburg women’s soccer team, I understand the lingo and tactics of the semi-professional soccer team.”

With a combination of athletic experience and public relations knowledge, Bombalski created overviews for game day programs, tracked statistics, wrote articles and planned a special “Latino Heritage Night” event for the team.

“The internship was a little bit of everything so that I could figure out exactly what I love to do,” Bombalski said. “My favorite part was planning my event.  I got to meet with key spokespeople and network; it was a challenge but I learned so much.”

Her internship supervisor, John Rotz, assistant coach and member of team operations for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, wholeheartedly agreed that Bombalski grew as a young public relations professional during the summer. 

“Taylor was a quick learner, which enabled her to be trusted with many new facets of the day-to-day operations of the club, which in turn accelerated her exposure and enhanced her experience,” Rotz said. “If I knew that Taylor was handling a responsibility, I was at ease due to her professionalism on all fronts.”

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Steven-Snow-resized.jpgIf you ask Steven Snow, a senior criminal justice administration major and Waynesburg University Bonner Scholar, about his summer 2013 internship, he can dazzle you with incredible experiences with the Los Angeles County Probation Department. But first, you’ll need him to pause and explain the acronyms. Between C2C, CBT, PO’s, SOWs, RFPs and more, Snow learned to talk the talk of criminal justice during his summer in sunny California. 

The “duly sworn” intern had to pass multiple exams and background checks to work under a senior director of the largest probation department in the nation. He proved the old “who you know” adage by contacting a family friend for potential openings in the department, but employed the “what you know” gained at Waynesburg University to truly excel once there. 

“Mr. McIlwain, Mr. Jack, Dr. Baer and many others at Waynesburg University greatly influenced my preparedness for the internship,” Snow said. “More specifically, my Juvenile Justice class that I took in the fall of 2012 really helped me to be creative in working with the Crossroads Program.”

Snow spent most of his internship working with the Department’s youth module, Crossroads. The six-week program helps to coach and mentor delinquent or misguided youth on probation, a perfect fit for Snow’s service heart. 

“My heart for service and leadership went a long way in the internship,” Snow said. “The Crossroads Program is very similar to The Open Door, a young adult ministry I serve at through Waynesburg University. By being a mentor and implementing the tools and techniques I learned at Waynesburg and through service, delinquent behavior can be minimized.”

In fact, Snow directly applied many concepts from his Juvenile Justice class at Waynesburg to the Crossroads Program. His class watched a video about developing creativity in youth who are recovering from substance abuse issues. In the video, the youth visited a glass making studio and created art based on emotions they might otherwise suppress.

“I thought back to that video and decided it would be great to incorporate the same idea into the Crossroads Program,” Snow said. “The youth were very creative and highly skilled in design. By affirming and developing the skills these young men hold, I thought we could encourage them to use their skills for art and design rather than graffiti or tagging.” 

Snow instituted “graffiti art,” in which the young men would pick a word discussed in the Crossroads workbook and draw what that word meant to them. They chose words like family, loyalty and value. Then he displayed their artwork in the halls for people to view and appreciate. 

“Engaging with them was so rewarding,” Snow said. “My expectation was that the youth were going to be rude, disrespectful and act like they didn't care about anyone or anything. That was certainly not the end result; I got to help them push for a change.” 

Hoping to learn all aspects of a parole department, Snow interned at the right place. In addition to working with the Crossroads Program, he attended board meetings with his supervisors and assisted in writing a Statement of Work (SOW) for a Request for Proposal (RFP) to provide housing and employment for ex-parolees. With so much responsibility, Snow said that his faith grounded him. 

“Because of the nature of law enforcement, my faith was certainly tested during the internship,” Snow said. “But I know now that this is what I want to do with my life and I think this is where God wants me. Without Waynesburg University or the Bonner Scholarship, both of which focus so much on faith and service, I would still be searching for my calling.” 

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Onifer_Tiffany_4.jpgTiffany Onifer, a senior chemistry major at Waynesburg University, had no idea that a brief, chance meeting in March 2013 at PITTCON, the world’s largest annual premier conference and exposition on laboratory science conference, would lead to an internship and eventually, graduate school at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. 

Not knowing who they were until after the conversation, Onifer met the retired chair of Vanderbilt's Chemistry Department and Centennial Professor David Hercules and his wife at the conference. They spoke casually about the day’s session and about Onifer’s ambitions of pursuing an M.D. /Ph.D. degree. 

When the evening ended, Onifer invited the couple to attend her poster session, “The characterization of prepared immobilized β-cyclodextrin beads and their binding affinity with enkephalin neuropeptides in microdialysis sampling,” later that week. 

Onifer presented her poster session with Dr. Heidi Fletcher, assistant professor of chemistry at Waynesburg University. She and Fletcher’s Waynesburg University research on β-cyclodextrin beads has gained regional and national attention. The duo has given numerous presentations across the nation about the beads and their binding affinity. Despite her experience presenting research, Onifer was still surprised that she garnered the attention of Mr. and Mrs. Hercules. 

“They came to my session! I gave them my resume and within a week I was contacted by the head of graduate admissions at Vanderbilt,” Onifer said. “Admissions asked that I compose a list of names of faculty that I was interested in conducting research under.”  

After consulting with Hercules, Onifer created a list of four people including Dr. John McLean, associate professor of chemistry at Vanderbilt. A few days later, she received an email stating that McLean saw her resume and wanted her aboard his team.  

Just two months later, in the summer of 2013, Onifer began conducting significant research for the Systems Biology, Biological Physics and Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Research Experience (SyBBURE) program within the Vanderbilt Institute for Integrative Biosystems Research and Education (VIIBRE) as well as analytical chemistry research under the McLean Research Group.

"My relationship with Jesus holds utmost precedence in my life; I firmly believe that God ordered my steps that day at PITTCON when I met two wonderful people from Vanderbilt,” Onifer said. “At that time, I had several health problems and could have withdrawn from the semester at Waynesburg.  God had a greater plan in mind.  He made a way for me to come to Vanderbilt and since day one in Nashville, indescribable favor has saturated me and Proverbs 22:29 has come to pass."

Her research, entitled, “The Structural Characterization of Polyurethane Precursors: Methylenedianiline Trimer and Tetramers,” analyzed polyurethane precursors using matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization ion mobility mass spectrometry (MALDI-IM MS) at Vanderbilt University.

According to Onifer, the significance of the research lies in utilizing ion mobility to identify underlying conformational isomers that could be present in the trimer and tetramer methylenedianiline (MDA) sample.  MDA is a precursor to polyurethane - a versatile substance used in the creation of medical devices and consumer products.

“Each day that I interned was a blessing because I was mentored by one of the top researchers in the country,” Onifer said. “I am growing and being molded into a real researcher, one that can take the gift of knowledge and run with it.”

She collected, tested and presented upon the data collected at Vanderbilt and communicated with other interns about the research. She also presented at the Vanderbilt institution of chemical biology.

Onifer invested hundreds of hours into her research that summer, often working late into the evenings and arriving at the lab before the 39 other SyBBURE program interns. Each day, she recited the football legend Jerry Rice’s famous quote, “Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't,” to focus herself. 

“The most challenging part was the amount of new material I had to learn to fully grasp the fine intricate details regarding my project,” Onifer said. 

Despite the challenges, Onifer eagerly dove into her research, refusing to quit, quite literally. She asked her internship supervisor, or principal investigator (PI), if she could stay an additional two weeks to extend the standard 10-week program. 

He obliged with an even better offer, asking Onifer if she would apply for graduate school at Vanderbilt and stay long-term. Onifer received her official acceptance into Vanderbilt’s Doctoral Chemistry Program last fall, but is still investigating her many graduate school options.  

Dr. John Williams, assistant professor of chemistry at Waynesburg University and Onifer’s academic adviser, is sure that Onifer will do well no matter where she ends up in life. 

“She is very energetic and enthusiastic about her studies,” Williams said. “She never shies away from challenges, and she genuinely learns from her mistakes. There is a wide-open future for her no matter what she wants to do.”  

Aside from the technical and scientific knowledge Onifer has gained from professors like Williams, she said that one of the greatest lessons learned at Waynesburg University is “upending the pyramid.” The concept challenges students to place others first in order to become a leader. 

“I found that at Vanderbilt, being a leader takes on many forms: being a friend, a role model, a hard worker, an honest researcher and a strong academic,” Onifer said. “But mostly, leadership is about putting others before oneself. Influential leaders at Waynesburg taught me how to integrate faith, serving and leading in a Godly way.”

 

 

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