Future Physician Elizabeth Cox (’18) Reflects on Her AMU Education


“The most unique experience I had with AMU was volunteering in the Dominican Republic for 10 days at a children’s home,” recalls graduating senior Elizabeth Cox. “It was incredibly inspiring to witness the pure joy of each child, regardless of their poverty and background.” Going on, Elizabeth shares: “This mission trip motivated me to pursue medicine, knowing that I had the potential to make a difference in global health.”

Elizabeth will walk across the stage at Ave Maria University’s Commencement Exercises on May 5th to receive her diploma for a Bachelor’s Degree in Biochemistry. She says she chose this major because she has a long-standing interest in the chemical processes that underlie human physiology. She chose AMU because of the unique education it affords. “I knew that I would have a chance to become a well-rounded student through the core curriculum,” Elizabeth explains. “I also found the small faculty-to-student ratio very appealing because I sincerely value relationships with my mentors and professors.”

Elizabeth Cox is Vice President of the Biochemistry Club, and President of Students Against Domestic Violence. She is also an Easton Campaign Scholar, an academic scholarship for students from South Florida (Elizabeth hails from Miami, FL). More recently, she earned the high honor of being named one of five finalists for the President’s Award, which recognizes a graduating senior’s academic accomplishments, involvement in the life of the University, service to others, and exemplification of AMU’s highest Catholic ideals.  

Elizabeth’s commitment to her academic life has immediate fruit; she will be attending University of Florida School of Medicine in Fall 2018. “I am humbled to call myself a future physician,” she says.

AMU has helped Elizabeth Cox deepen her spiritual life and has equipped her for a future in medicine.

Reflecting further on her time at Ave Maria University, Elizabeth is grateful for the opportunities she received to integrate her Catholic faith with her studies. “It has helped me grow as a person, and has motivated me to reach for spiritual success,” she shares. But it would be remiss not to include specific mention of the role her professors have played in shaping Elizabeth’s professional aspirations. “I have had an opportunity to conduct research in HIV-1 and Alzheimer’s Disease under their supervision and guidance, and this kindled my interest in scientific inquiry,” Elizabeth states. “Because of the research experience I have had at AMU, I hope to pursue clinical research as a future physician.”

We wish Elizabeth the best of luck as she heads to medical school, and congratulate her on being nominated as a President’s Award finalist!

“I Thirst” Spring Retreat: Jesus’ Cry on Good Friday Carries us to Easter Joy


 

The cry “I Thirst” from Jesus on the cross is usually associated with intense suffering, and justly so. He was pierced for our offenses and crushed for our sins. But “I Thirst” is also an expression of Jesus’ deep desire for a relationship with us–-quite literally, a thirsting for our love.

Reflections on Jesus’ last words are fitting for Lent, but what about afterwards, in the jubilation of the Resurrection? Can the words of the crucified Lord be applicable to the joyous weeks of the Easter season? The answer is: yes, they can, and the insights of Fr. Robert Conroy (MC) at a recent campus retreat helped AMU students figure out how.

Missionaries of Charity priest Fr. Conroy traveled from his residence in Mexico City to lead AMU students in a retreat on campus in the new Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel. Through talks, guided meditations, a holy hour and confessions, Fr. Conroy offered insights focusing on “I Thirst,” Jesus’ cry for souls from the cross.

“What’s your spiritual blood pressure?” Fr. Conroy challenged students. In other words, Where are your hearts? Are they guarded by Mary, present at the foot of the Cross, willing to suffer with Jesus for souls and to do His Will in all things? Considerations such as these, formed by the theme of the retreat, might seem incompatible with Easter, but Fr. Conroy gave advice on how the suffering of the cross carries us through to the joy of the Easter season.

We need to become spiritually childlike, he explained. Children are cheerful, even in the toughest times. The virtues of purity, humility, and total trust belong to children, and they can belong to us too if we present ourselves to Our Lady, our spiritual mother. She can give us hearts of children, hearts that are spontaneous, trusting, and eager to follow wherever God leads. “Stay with Mary,” Fr. Conroy urged. “Don’t be afraid. Pray the rosary, and she will show you the way!” The key to moving from Good Friday’s sorrow to Easter’s joy lies in Mary, Our Mother, who served the Lord with unabashed trust. She can show us how to “give Jesus the wine to drink of our service” and respond to His thirst for love.

Fr. Conroy, born in 1961 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a Missionary of Charity priest who works in both rural and urban areas with native peoples and the homeless, alcoholics, drug addicts, and gang members in prison. His ministry also includes retreat work with priests, religious, and lay people. He has been active for nearly 30 years in over 30 countries. He is currently editing the work of Fr. Joseph Langford, cofounder of the MC Fathers with St. Teresa of Calcutta, for future publication.

Economics Department Hosts Spring 2018 Lecture Series


 

Contributed by Dr. Gabriel Martinez, Associate Professor of Business and Economics

The Economics Department of Ave Maria University is sponsoring a lecture series in the Spring of 2018. The speakers in this series are as varied as the topics, all of great current and lasting interest.

The first lecture in the series dealt with the effects of the Great Tax Reform of 2017.

On February 22, Naples attorney Kevin Carmichael and AMU professor Dr. Michael New spoke to a packed Lecture Hall about the recent Tax Reform Plan. Mr. Carmichael, a lawyer and a CPA with Wood, Buckel, and Carmichael, gave a thorough overview of the impact of the 2017 tax reform for individuals and corporations. Mr. Carmichael pointed out that the elimination of the personal exemption, even when combined with the expansion in the standard deduction, had to be compensated by an increase in the child tax credit in order to provide a next tax cut to (most) individuals. He also emphasized the complexity of the tax reform, a reflection of the complexity of the existing code and of the variety of interests that the reform intended to address.

Dr. Michael New focused on the political and electoral aspects of tax reform. Dr. New, Associate Professor of Economics at Ave Maria University, pointed out that there has been decreased Democratic support for GOP tax cuts over the years, with seventy percent of Democrats supporting tax reform in 1986 and no Democrats supporting it in 2017. Dr. New also pointed out two items that did not happen: a flat tax and entitlement reform. Support for a “flat tax,” although high in principle, tends to run into roadblocks as some deductions are very popular. And while entitlement reform may be perceived as a necessity, no one is willing to pay the political price.

Former New York State Supreme Court Justice Visits AMU for the second installment of the Economics Department Lecture Series.

On March 15, Judge Laura Safer Espinoza spoke to a standing-room only crowd about her work with the Fair Food Standards Council (FFSC). The FFSC enforces agreements between growers of tomatoes and other agricultural products, the corporations that buy the tomatoes, and the workers who harvest them. In reaction to horrifying violations of human dignity and basic human rights (many at Ave Maria’s doorstep in the town of Immokalee), the FFSC was formed in 2011 to oversee a unique initiative that consists of (a) supplementing workers’ misery wages with an extra “penny per pound” paid by the corporate buyers into a fund and (b) by a commitment on the part of the growers to abide by a code of conduct that rules out forced labor, child labor, and sexual assault and that improves workers’ health and working conditions.

Judge Safer Espinoza, a former New York State Supreme Court Justice, remarked that while the Florida farms had once been “ground zero for US slavery,” now they are considered to be a model for treatment of workers. The students were moved both by the dramatic change and by the imperative to get involved.

Lessons from 50 years of Social Experiments

On April 5, Dr. Walter Nicholson (Emeritus Professor of Economics at Amherst College and Visiting Professor at Ave Maria University) spoke on various social experiments carried out over the last 50 years and their impact on public policy. Economics is often criticized for not being an “experimental science,” a science in which theoretical propositions can be tested. In his lecture, Dr. Walter Nicholson evaluated how economists have addressed this complaint by conducting experiments “with the goal of testing out major policy proposals” over the last few decades.

Still another lecture remaining this semester!

The Economics department has organized one final talk in April. On Monday, April 16th, guest speaker Dr. Alejandro Cañadas of Mount St. Mary’s University will speak on “The Puzzle of Inequality – a Catholic Perspective.” The lecture will take place in Lecture Hall at 5:00pm. Come out to hear the final lecture in the Economics Department Lecture Series!

Ave’s Annual Annunciation Feast is Beyond Compare!


 

Sunday’s Annunciation Feast was celebrated with an abundance of joy by the staff and students at AMU! 

What better way to observe Divine Mercy Sunday than to honor Mary’s “yes” to God’s will for her life?

Simple flower arrangements on the tables and lights strung above the academic lawn, set the scene for students and staff to enjoy the beauty of our campus while feasting, visiting, and dancing along to live music. Everyone was treated to a juggling show, music from AMU students, and the festive sounds of Irish-inspired folk music from Scythian.

With the sun going down, music filling the air and a plethora of joyful, smiling students, the trusting “yes” of Mary was beautifully celebrated.

Thanks to the thoughtful efforts of SGA for another successful Annunciation Feast at AMU!

 

AMU Economics Students Outscore 84% of the Nation!


Every year, the AMU Economics Department tests its graduating seniors’ knowledge of economics through a nationally-normed, standardized test, known as the Major Field Test.

This year, our Economics seniors scored better than 84% of the schools that use the Economics MFT (the overall score was at the eighty-fourth percentile).  Even better, in the subfield of Macroeconomics, our students averaged at the 91st percentile – our students did better than more than 90% of their peers.

The MFT is produced by the same organization that administers the SAT and that produces the GRE and TOEFL exam.  Here are some details: https://www.ets.org/mft/scores/compare_data .  Seventy-four other programs used the Economics MFT last year, including some very well-known colleges and universities.

Visit our webpage to learn more about our Economics Program.

Household Spotlight: Ardens Virtus


Ardens Virtus is one of the four male Faith Households at Ave Maria University. It’s a group of young men committed to praying and sacrificing daily in order to bring the love of Christ to those around them. “The hour has come,” their mission statement proclaims, “and we have decided to go forward into the world as warriors, not to be chided into cowardice, but enlivened and inspired by the spirit to engage sin at its source, pray for those who struggle daily, and bring the love of Christ into day to day life.”  

The opportunity to get involved with a Faith Household is one of the major components of the strong campus culture and spiritual life at Ave Maria University. Households are groups of male or female students who mutually support one another by spending time together in prayer and recreation. These Christ-centered groups strive for balanced, healthy, interpersonal relationships, all while challenging their members to develop spiritually, emotionally, academically, and physically.

In the interview below, William Petry gives a glimpse into the brotherhood and spirituality of one of Ave’s male households, Ardens Virtus.

Q: How did you decide to get involved in a household, and why did you choose Ardens Virtus?

A: I decided to get involved with Ardens Virtus last year when another student came to me at the beginning of the year and told me about the concept of households here at Ave, which was totally new to me. He then introduced me to the group of guys that were in Ardens at that time. It seemed to me that households were a conjoined effort of like-minded people who seek a sense of community as well as direction in achieving personal and collective goals for their lives, which was something that I wanted to be a part of.

Q: What are some of the things that you guys do to build community? What kind of commitments do you have to the household?

A: Ardens does many things to build community among each other and on campus, from social moments to communal prayer times. Personally, I think that Ardens’ ITT (intentional talk time) is one of the most valuable community building techniques. Each week, we have a one-to-one conversation with one of the members of the household. It can be as casual or formal as you please, as long as it is an earnest heart-to-heart conversation. These weekly conversations have been incredibly helpful for me, and I’ve been able to get to know the other members of Ardens as well. The household has various commitments, as others do, from weekly Mass, to night prayer a couple times a week, and a weekly meeting. There are plenty of other opportunities as well to nourish prayer life and establish community.  

Q: What is unique about being in a household at Ave?

A: It seems to me that households at Ave are a great opportunity for students to exercise a deeper level of introspection, discern their spiritual, social and emotional needs and find a particular means of fulfilling them based on their personal history and spirituality.

Q: Is your household in charge of putting on any events during the school year?

A: Ardens organizes a couple events on campus, such as competitive inter-household dodgeball games, apologetic debates, etc. There are many creative ideas that spark from our leadership team to engage with campus life.

Q: If I’m a male student interested in getting involved with Ardens, how would I join?

A: If you are interested in joining the household, I encourage you to join one of our events, such as night prayer, and get to know its members and mission to see if it is a right fit for you!

Interested in learning more about Household Life at Ave Maria University? Check out the missions and charisms of the different female and male households here!

Student Spotlight: Cecilia Berry


Junior Cecilia Berry is just one of the many students soaking in the opportunities that Ave Maria University affords to grow and excel spiritually, academically, and socially during the college years. Hailing from Denver, Colorado, Cecilia was drawn to go to college halfway across the country because, when she visited AMU, she found something worth staying for.

“I came to Ave because when I visited, I immediately fell in love with every aspect of the school–the faith life, the social aspect, and the academics,” Cecilia shares. “Being pretty close to the beach doesn’t hurt either!”

When asked about her experience at AMU so far, and how she feels prepared for the future, Cecilia responds:

“First of all, I love the friends that I’ve made here, and I know that my friendships will last a lifetime, which is such a blessing. What I’ve learned from my classes is a different kind of blessing. I’m a Catholic Studies major with an Education minor, and my experience with student teaching combined with a solid theological background gives me the confidence I’ll need pursuing a teaching job in a Catholic elementary school or high school someday.”

Cecilia is spending this semester studying abroad with the Rome Program. She is excited about using this opportunity to continue pushing her limits and growing as a person. “Another important thing I’ve learned from Ave is how to go outside my comfort zone, since I’m so far away from home,” Cecilia explains. “I’m acting on that by spending this semester in Rome!” Going on, she says: “While I’m here, first and foremost, I really want to deepen my faith life. I also hope to make new friends and try new things (like authentic gelato), take different classes, and experience a new culture!”

Ave Maria University offers opportunities to study abroad in Ireland and Rome. Like Cecilia, many AMU students find these experiences abroad life-changing; they come away transformed by the encounter with a new culture, their horizons are broadened, and their AMU education is marked by a new dimension of understanding. But the chance to study in another country with one of AMU’s programs is only one among many ways in which students are challenged academically, spiritually, and socially. Find out more about the vibrant student culture, strong Academics, and faithful spiritual life at Ave Maria University!

Saint Patrick’s Day Makes for an Extra Festive Battle of the Bands Competition


Thanks to the collaborative efforts of our SAB and SGA, the annual Battle of the Bands competition was extra festive! Sunset on the canal, live music, themed food, a selection of drinks, and Saint Patrick’s Day all made for an evening to remember. 

The crowd gathered to sing along, enjoy the food and drinks and find out which of the four student-bands would be named this year’s winner by the panel of AMU Staff judges. Using a point system of scoring, the judges listened to each song and gauged the audience’s responses.

Four bands playing four songs each made for a diverse and eclectic evening of fantastic music. This year’s bands and their set lists were:

Tom Monaband, this year’s Runner Up: 

Whose members are –

Daniel Zoumaya, Nicholas Cummins, Aaron Ockenfels, Casey Knox, Joe Schoenle, and Sean Hanley.

1. Joker & the Thief by Wolfmother

2. Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi

3. Don’t stop Believing by Journey

4. (Encore) Long time by Boston

The Upstate: 

Whose members are –

Francesco D’Agostino, Michael Davy, Daniel Zoumaya, Nick Cummons, and Joseph Blaso.

1. You Know It – Colony House

2. Am I Pretty – The Maine

3. Talk Too Much – COIN

4. All the Small Things – Blink 182

The Black Velvet Band:

Whose members are –

Jacob Kessler, Gabe Kessler, Luke Johanni, Luke Bisceglio, Michel Shahid, and Zack Johanni

1. Rocky Road To Dublin

2. Galway Girl

3. Star of The County Down 

4. Rorin Mary

And last, but certainly not least, taking the crowd by storm and being awarded as this year’s WINNING BAND,

(S)cool Kids:

Who’s members are –

Jon Babineau, Joe Free, Jon Larochelle, Carter Chell, Michaela Flynn

1. Do You Wanna Do Nothing With Me – Lawrence

2. Are You Gonna Be My Girl – Jet

3. The Wolf – Mumford and Sons

4. Mama’s Broken Heart – Miranda Lambert

 

Thanks to all of these great musicians for coming out to entertain us for another year of the Battle of the Bands competition!

Learn more about SAB and SGA events by visiting their webpages.

An Evening with Bishop Dewane: Advice on Faith and Life


We are midway through the season of Lent, a time of greater sacrifice, almsgiving, and prayer. Before Lent began, long-time friend of Ave Maria University, Bishop Dewane, visited AMU students on campus in the Gyrene Cafe to provide valuable advice on what the Church wants from them, especially during the season of Lent. Our students took advantage of the Bishop’s presence at their University and asked a variety of questions concerning his vocation to the religious life, the Church’s expectations of the students, advice for entering into society after college, and their Lenten duties.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane serves in the Diocese of Venice, Florida. He grew up on a farm in Wisconsin with loving parents, one brother and two sisters. Prior to entering seminary, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences from the University of Wisconsin. He went on to earn a Master’s Degree in International Administration from The American University in Washington, D.C. He also holds degrees from Pontifical Gregorian University and Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, both in Rome.

Sometimes, you have to wait on the Lord’s timing.

Bishop Dewane shared hat he did not enter seminary until he was 33 years old. The students, intrigued, wondered what else he did before entering the seminary. Bishop Frank Dewane traveled to Russia, learned the language, and worked for the National Broadcasting Association (NBC) in Moscow. After some time, he traveled to New York City and worked for a subsidiary of PepsiCo. When the time came for him to enter the seminary, he just knew. Bishop Dewane explained that he learned we must “be open to what the Lord is asking us to do, we must turn ourselves over to the Lord. At times in my life, I knew I just had to wait on the Lord.”

Throughout all of Bishop Dewane’s education experience and work experience, his father had repeatedly asked him, “When are you going to get a real job?” When the Bishop finally entered the seminary, his parents were happy and proud.

During his time at seminary, the Bishop explained that there were some seminarians whom everyone knew would most likely become bishops someday. Bishop Dewane told the AMU students: “No one in the seminary ever said to me, ‘You’re going to be a Bishop.’” And yet here he stands today, installed as Bishop of the Diocese of Venice by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006, and even serving on several committees at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Go out into the world and be Ave Maria strong, he said, particularly Our Lady strong.

Ave Maria University students crowded together in the Gyrene Cafe to hear from Bishop Dewane on the Monday before Ash Wednesday because they knew how valuable his advice would be. Senior Katie Ligday, student host for the event, asked: “What do you and the Church want from AMU as a young Catholic institution?” In reply, Bishop Dewane said, “Be the yeast in society, make a difference wherever it is you go.” Continuing, he urged: “You’ll all leave this nice place… Be Ave Maria strong, particularly Our Lady strong. At Ave Maria University, you get a unique education, in education but also in faith and morals. Be that yeast, that leaven in the world. Yeast can go bad sometimes. So, be the yeast in a good way. You know what is good, now set out and do it.”

When posed with the question, “How can we live in the world and not be consumed by the world?” the Bishop responded, “It’s not easy. You need a good conscience. You need to make those right choices. You need to be strong enough to tell a person that they aren’t being yeast.” More concretely, he warned about the distraction of technology and encouraged students to develop real connections, real relationships, with others. “Look at people in the eye, not at your device, and understand where their heart is. People are the gift the Lord has given us. Don’t let technology enslave you. Computers, iphones, all of it are great. But, they can be destructive.” Bishop Dewane expanded upon his answer to add that all are called to live holy lives. “That universal call for holiness is out there for you,” he said. “It’s not just for Bishops or nuns, but laity too. Keep in mind the call to holiness. Once we hear the call, it’s our responsibility to respond. That’s important. Find what the call is for you. It’s different for everyone.”

This year, Lent began on February 14th, which was both Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday. Bishop Dewane suggested that students celebrate Valentine’s Day on the day before, and live out the prayer and fasting of Ash Wednesday as a Valentine’s gift to the Lord. “Lent is no great secret,” he said. The entire season of Lent is a time set aside in a special way as a “gift” for God, to help us prepare our hearts to receive the far greater gift of participation in Christ’s suffering, death and Resurrection.

Bishop Dewane serves as an example of faith and love for the students at Ave Maria University. It was a great privilege for our students to receive advice from him during this formative time in their lives. AMU students ended the evening pondering the Bishop’s advice and inspired to go out in the world and be Ave Maria strong.

Grace Project Event Fosters Discussions on Female Friendship


At a recent Grace Project event,  Resident Director Amanda Morin and McKenzie Ligowski, wife of Resident Director Daniel Ligowski, shared their thoughts on female friendship. “If it wasn’t for the women I was with in nursing school, there’s no way I would have made it!” McKenzie exclaimed. She went on to talk about the temptation to “close off to the world when you fall in love,” but how maintaining your female friendships is important. Women “help you see a reflection of yourself,” she explained. “And they bring out the best in you!” Amanda, in agreement, shared: “The Lord sent me all these amazing girlfriends, and I spent a lot of time in college nourishing those relationships.”

The Grace Project brought a cozy evening of tea, biscotti and dialogue between women in the University community on the importance of cultivating strong female friendships

The Grace Project is a series sponsored by Student Life that offers undergraduate women on campus an opportunity to connect with and learn from female mentors in the University community.  While sipping on tea and snacking on biscotti, the students at the latest Grace Project event learned from McKenzie and Amanda about fostering deep female friendships during and after college, balancing relationships and priorities, and entrusting their dreams to the Lord while keeping a practical focus.   

On the topic of balancing female friendships while dating, both McKenzie and Amanda agreed that a romantic relationship should not take away from female friendships. But they also emphasized the importance of being realistic and setting clear boundaries with their friends.  According to McKenzie, “You have to make realistic expectations, and just be honest with them when you’re saying no.” Amanda added that it’s all about intentionality: “If you’re going to call them, do it. If you can’t, just be honest with your reasons.”

Amanda and McKenzie concluded the Grace Project event in answer to a question on being at peace in the present. “ Get to know yourself,” McKenzie urged. “You can’t be present if you don’t even know who you are!” Amanda followed up with  “God is in the present. Remember that. If you’re not there, you’re going to miss out.”

The Grace Project is just one of the over 250 events Student Life sponsors annually, including concerts, feasts, dances, talent shows, sports competitions and more. If you’re interested in learning more about the vibrant student culture at Ave Maria University, visit the website!