Ave Maria University’s March for Life Story


Every January, the staff, faculty and, most especially, the students of Ave Maria University become the voice for the University community at the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. This past year was no exception as over 200 members of our University joined the ranks of Marchers, despite the cold of a record breaking winter. These 200 students, faculty, and staff were part of a peaceful protest that drew nearly half a million people from all over the United States looking to lend their voices to urge our government to abolish abortion from this country.

As usual, The March for Life was an excused absence from class for all Ave Maria University’s students attending with the University group. The University chooses to allow for this two-day absence to emphasize how important the fight for a Culture of Life is to the very mission of the University. In the spirit of Pope St. John Paull II and St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Ave Maria University seeks to promote a Culture of Life which cares for the most vulnerable of our society from conception to natural death.

As can be heard in the resounding chants of her students at the March, Ave Maria University believes that the dignity of each person should be upheld not just by the Church, but all of society. Since life is a gift from God, every human is sacred and must be treated as such in any condition. By attending this March, Ave Maria University takes a stand to always defend the rights of those threatened by the culture of death, whether it’s the unborn, the disabled, the infirmed, or those at the end of their lives.

Like previous years, this mass pilgrimage to the U.S. capital from Ave Maria, Florida was entirely organized by the students of Ave Maria University, specifically Ave for Life; the University’s pro-life initiative and largest student organization.  Ave for Life organized for three buses to transport these 200 students (almost 20% of the student population) over 1,000 miles to Washington D.C. This dynamic group of students was able to raise enough funds to cover all food and lodging costs for all the students traveling to Washington.

As is evident, everyone at Ave Maria University who was involved in the 2017 March for Life spent a great amount of energy to bring this event about. However, as usual, the established media chose to treat this large scale demonstration very minimally, or in some cases, pay no attention to it at all. One may ask why Ave Maria continues to be a part of an event that receives little attention due to biased reporting. What good can come of it?

In fact, a great deal of good has already come of it. According to the Washington Post, 53% of Americans ages 18-34 believe that abortion should be illegal in most or all cases. This is a staggering number compared to the generation that was this age when Roe vs. Wade was passed. The students of Ave Maria University belong to a generation that believes it is becoming more and more likely that abortion will be abolished in this generation’s lifetime. This is why Ave marches. As AMU Junior Blair Harbison put it, “We believe that one day abortion will be seen as the evil that it truly is, and we hope to be remembered as the generation that stood for what they believed in and became the voice for the voiceless.”

 

 

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos To Address Graduates At 2018 Commencement


AVE MARIA, Fla. (January 11, 2018) — Ave Maria University announced today that the Honorable Betsy DeVos, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, will be commencement speaker at this year’s graduation exercises

“It is a great privilege to have America’s top education official address the Class of 2018, and our entire campus community looks forward to welcoming her with joy in May,” said Jim Towey, president of Ave Maria University. “Secretary DeVos is a passionate advocate for children in America and their right to a quality education, and the common-sense initiatives she has undertaken in her first year overseeing higher education in America merit our gratitude,” he added. President of the AMU Student Government Association, Stephen Akers, echoed Towey’s enthusiasm. “Having Secretary DeVos on our campus is a true honor for our graduates and Ave Maria’s students will receive her with all of the excitement and gratitude she so richly deserves,” he commented.

Chairman of the Ave Maria University Board of Trustees Michael Timmis believes Secretary DeVos’ choice of the University buttresses the campus’ growing national profile, and praised her selection. “Secretary DeVos recognizes the rights and importance of faith-based institutions of higher education in America,” he stated. “Her message will surely resonate with our graduates on their special day.”

Ave Maria University’s commencement takes place on May 5, 2018 at 10AM in the Tom Golisano Field House. Approximately 250 undergraduate and graduate students are expected to receive degrees at this year’s ceremony, the 11th on the University’s permanent campus, and 14th overall. Past commencement speakers have included former Florida Governor Jeb Bush; entrepreneur Dan D’Aniello; Florida Governor Rick Scott; The Wall Street Journal columnist and author Peggy Noonan; Librarian of Congress Dr. James Billington; President of the American Enterprise Institute Dr. Arthur Brooks; and His Eminence Sean Cardinal O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston.

Ave Maria University is a Catholic liberal arts college situated in Southwest Florida with approximately 1,100 students from 45 states and 24 countries, and offers concentrations of study in 34 majors as well as both a Master and Doctoral program in theology. AMU’s average class size of 20, 85% Ph.D. instruction, net out-of-pocket costs for tuition, fees, room and board of about $20,000, and low average student debt for graduates, make the University one of the best value propositions in all of academia. Recently ranked as one of the top 25 colleges in the South and the third best in Florida by the Washington, D.C.-based research firm WalletHub.com, Ave Maria University has the nation’s only Mother Teresa of Calcutta project and museum in her honor. This academic year scores of AMU students will travel on mission trips to India, Uganda, Haiti, Mexico, France and the Dominican Republic, as well as serve the poor in the nearby farmworker community of Immokalee.

CONTACT: Brian Couch; Vice President of Advancement; (239) 280-1695; brian.couch@avemaria.edu

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Ave Receives Florida Department of Health Grant To Research Alzheimer’s Disease


AVE MARIA, Fla. (January 10, 2018) — Approximately 480,000 Floridians are currently affected by Alzheimer’s disease, and researchers around the world are studying new methods of diagnosis and treatment. While significant research progress has been made, it is still unclear why some individuals develop Alzheimer’s disease.

To solve this question, the Florida Department of Health has awarded a $100,000 pilot grant from the Ed and Ethel Moore Alzheimer’s Disease Research Fund to Ave Maria University chemists and biologists. Increasing evidence suggests that Alzheimer’s is linked to changes in the metabolic profiles of patients that diminish neuron survival.

Four Ave Maria University professors propose to investigate how the nicotinamide metabolites affect the aging-related protein sirtuin-1 (SIRT1) to promote neuron survival. The multi-investigator team includes Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Antonio Barbosa (principal investigator), and co-investigators Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Stephen Cronin, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Diana West, and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. James Vranish. With expertise in biochemistry, medicinal chemistry, and biology, this research team will work alongside Ave Maria University undergraduates to better understand how SIRT1 can be harnessed to prevent the formation of Tau tangles and amyloid beta plaque build-up in Alzheimer’s.

A portion of the grant award will initiate scholarships for undergraduates to conduct biomedical research in the summer. The Ave Maria University research team anticipates that this research will be beneficial for the discovery of new therapies for Alzheimer’s. For more information on this research project, please contact Dr. Tony Barbosa at tony.barbosa@avemaria.edu.

Ave Maria University established its permanent campus near Naples in 2007, and has since expanded the number of majors offered from 11 to 34, including programs in business, nursing, education, and the arts and sciences. The University this year has an enrollment of 1,100 that includes students from 45 states and 20 countries, and a student body that is approximately 85% Catholic, 25% minority, and evenly-divided between men and women. Ave Maria’s state-of-the-art campus offers six residence halls with a capacity for 1,300 students and rests on a tract of over 300 acres in Southwest Florida.

Ave Maria University is a Catholic, liberal arts institution of higher learning devoted to Mary the Mother of God, inspired by St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Calcutta, and dedicated to the formation of joyful, intentional followers of Jesus Christ through Word and Sacrament, scholarship and service. For more information on Ave Maria University, visit https://www.avemaria.edu.

CONTACT: Katy Thoele
Program Manager, Advancement
(239) 280-1565
katy.thoele@avemaria.edu

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Resident Assistant Spotlight


Senior Matt Peterson gives a glimpse into what it’s like to be a Residence Assistant.

Q: First, the details. Where are you from, and what are you studying?

A: I am from Bedford, New Hampshire and I am studying accounting with a minor in Latin.

Q: So, why did you want to be an RA?

A: I wanted to be an RA because I saw the impact my RAs had on me, and I wanted to have the same sort of impact on other students.  Having transferred into Ave halfway through my sophomore year, I understand that the transition to college can be challenging and awkward at times, but the RAs were always there to aid with that transition. I’s satisfying knowing that now I can be that for other students.

Q: What have you learned from being an RA?

A: I’ve learned that every single person truly is unique and comes from a different walk of life. This definitely helps me handle situations with a less judgmental mindset, knowing that when a student is acting out or being unsociable, it has much deeper roots than what I see.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an RA?
A: Aside from the lack of sleep, the most challenging part of being an RA is stepping outside of my comfort zone, whether it be to connect with a student who wants nothing to do with me, or handling an incident.

Q: What makes Residence Life at Ave so awesome?

A: The people. Not just the residents, but also the other RAs, who are carefully and prayerfully grouped with one another to make the most perfect fit possible for each of the dorms.

At Ave Maria University, each residence hall is served by a Residence Director, a live-in full-time staff member who plays a critical role in the lives of the students in their residence halls. Residence Directors are assisted by a team of Resident Assistants (RAs), students who are hired for their leadership skills and heart of service.

Ave Maria University Now Offers Nationwide Distance-Learning Through SARA


Ave Maria University is excited to announce that it is now a participating institution in State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA), which sets national standards for postsecondary distance-learning programs. SARA works to lower the costs and increase the opportunities associated with students taking college-level online courses from institutions operating in other states.

Approved participation in SARA is good news for Ave Maria University, which launched its first distance-learning program, JumpStart, in August 2017. JumpStart offers high school juniors and seniors the chance to enroll in highly affordable, fully accredited college-level courses, taught by Ave Maria University professors and offered entirely online. When enrollment for JumpStart first opened, its offerings were limited to Florida residents alone, but the expansion of course offerings and extension of the program to students in other states was always part of the long-term plan. With its approved participation in SARA, Ave Maria University is now in a position to move forward and open up the benefits of JumpStart to high school students nationwide. “Ave Maria University’s new Jumpstart program provides a wonderful opportunity for high school and homeschool students to earn college-level course credit from one of the finest classical liberal arts curricula available,” says Director of Admissions Karen Full. “We are thrilled to offer these affordable, online courses to students from all over the country.”

SARA is a voluntary agreement among participating states to a set of national standards for distance-learning programs with the goal of making it easier for students to take courses from institutions that are based in another state. SARA, which is overseen by a National Council, began inviting states to become members in January 2014. States become members through a process overseen by their regional compact. The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), of which Florida is a member, approved Florida to join SARA as the 48th state member in August 2017. Once Florida was established as a member of SARA, the Florida-State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (FL-SARA) opened up the application process in October 2017 for institutions such as Ave Maria University to seek approval to become participants in FL-SARA.

Starting next year, Ave Maria University will be able to offer more distance-learning courses, all available to students nationwide. High school students across the country will soon be able to reap the benefits of AMU’s online program, JumpStart, which is one step closer to the ultimate goal of offering more students access to quality Catholic postsecondary education at an affordable price. Registration for JumpStart is now open online for classes beginning January 8th, 2018.

“Joining SARA is a big step for Ave Maria,” says JumpStart Academic Coordinator Dr. Gabriel Martinez. “Not only does this allow us to serve almost the entire country, but also SARA institutions commit themselves to the highest standards in online education.  By joining SARA, we are committing ourselves to developing high-quality, academically rigorous online programs in a manner that fulfills our mission and serves society.”

A Night on Broadway in Ave Maria, Florida


What’s the next best thing to experiencing a night on Broadway? Experiencing it without traveling to NYC! Broadway’s bright lights and magic came to life on AMU’s campus during the 2017 run of the Drama Club’s annual Night on Broadway performance.

The group of students who performed in this year’s Night on Broadway showcased songs from a variety of musicals, including Mary Poppins and The Drowsy Chaperone, Evita, and Wicked.  Some in the audience were transported back to their childhood by Broadway classics like The Sound of Music and Footloose. Others had the opportunity to hear music from more recent productions, such as Anastasia, or the 2017 Tony Award-Winning musical, Dear Evan Hansen. Throughout it all, the joy and camaraderie of the group of student performers was clearly visible, and the fun they had while sharing their talents overflowed into the audience.

A Night on Broadway was initiated by Ave Maria University students looking to make use of their talents in a joyful experience of the arts on campus. Rachel Wisely, student director of this year’s show comments after the fact, “I was told several times that this was ‘the best Cabaret yet.’” Rachel was joined by students Rebecca Felix (assistant director), Erin Koehler (choreographer), and Zachary Rappley (orchestra director), in addition to the team of singers and dancers who put in hours of rehearsal to pull off the Drama Club’s 2017 Night on Broadway. “I am very proud of the cast and of my work as a director,“ Rachel shares. “It’s amazing how collaborative, artistic work pulls together!”

The AMU Drama Club, which has over 35 active members, is one of the largest clubs on campus. The club organizes and puts on at least one student-run production each semester. If you’re interested in learning more or getting involved, contact the club’s staff advisor, Rachel Flowers.

 

AMU Adds Major in Marine Biology


Students looking to major in Marine Biology now have that opportunity at Ave Maria University.

“We’re in a very unique location,” says Dr. Nicholas Curtis, Assistant Professor of Biology and chair of the department. Ave Maria University is located less than 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Directly South of campus lie the Ten Thousand Islands, and just beyond that, the Florida Keys. We are adjacent to Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and more. “We have access to unique marine and ecological environments which can really only be experienced in Southwest Florida,” Dr. Curtis explains. “We decided to take advantage of our location.”

Starting spring 2018, the Department of Biology will offer courses for the Marine Biology (B.S.) major and minor. These new courses, such as General and Chemical Oceanography (BIO 310), and Animal Physiology (BIO 403), will explore the environment and how it interacts with fisheries and oceans. “Students who study Marine Biology at Ave Maria University,” Dr. Curtis says, “will receive a strong core in science and, within that, a focus on the marine environment.”

Who might study Marine Biology? For starters, anyone interested in teaching, research, or industry consulting in the fields of marine biology or marine ecology will benefit from this new major. Likewise, students who seek government employment in the National Park Service or Fish and Wildlife Service will find that the comprehensive Marine Biology major is designed to meet their needs.

In the words of Robert Wyland, renowned marine life artist, “The world’s finest wilderness lies beneath the waves.” What are you waiting for? Check out the Major in Marine Biology today!

https://www.avemaria.edu/majors-programs/marine-biology/#required-courses

Larson Saves the Women’s Soccer Season 


This year, Ave Maria’s soccer program has been persevering through the struggles of their season. After being in a tough conference and having to reschedule games due to Irma, it’s a miracle that they have been able to handle everything thrown at them. Their record does not reflect their hard work and dedication, but one person’s statistics have stood out. Freshman goalie, Erica Larson, has tied the school record with 21 saves in one game and has broken the school’s record for total saves in one season.

The record hasn’t been touched since September 28th, 2013, when Francesca Singleton had 21 saves in a game verses Northwood. On October 11th, Erica tied the school record against St. Thomas University when they lost 7-0. Larson had 13 saves in the first 45 minutes of play and had 8 more in the second half. Her last save came in the 89th minute of play, which tied her for the school record. On Monday October 23rd, Larson has accumulated 143 saves in one season, which broke the Ave Maria record.  Francesca Singleton has had the record since her 2013 season, but it wasn’t a match for Larson.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, she is ranked the 10th goalie in the nation by having 143 saves in NAIA Division I soccer. Larson is also 7th in the nation in saves per game (10.670), and this is just her freshman year. It’s been a tough season for the Lady Gyrenes, but they have refused to back down despite the hardships and Erica Larson has been a key component for her team.

The Grace Project Welcomes January Donovan for “The Art of Being a Woman”


“I’m living the life of my dreams,” spoke Bethany Bateman while introducing the evening speaker from The Grace Project, January Donovan. Women from the University gathered to attend a talk given by the praised January Donovan, a woman who will, as described by Bethany Bateman, “impact your life within minutes.” An uplifting discussion ensued, centering around the message that “you can live an extraordinary life.”

January delivered this message to the women at Ave Maria University who live in a society where the value, gift, and beauty of women are not fully appreciated. Societal pressures downgrade the importance of women. January Donovan discussed ways for women to think opposite the way society wants them to. No longer should women allow their minds to be filled with expectations from others that prevent them from being their true selves. “What kind of woman do you want to be?” This question impacted the minds and hearts of the women in attendance. January Donovan spoke of being the kind of woman who allows herself to live her dreams, who knows what she wants, who gives herself permission to want what she wants, and who “leads the rise” with other women to strive to live a beautiful life.

January Donovan aims to illustrate “the art of being a woman” in order to assist women in impacting the world in their own individual and unique ways. Through her talk series on campus, she works with the women of Ave Maria to build and cultivate skills and talents which can assist them in living extraordinary lives. College women are at a time in their lives where they have so much ability to become extraordinary yet also where there is so much attack aimed to prevent them from doing so. The Grace Project works against the negative pressures in this society to supply women with the tools and skills needed to excel and succeed as beautiful women.

JPII’s Feast Day: A Student’s Reflection


“There is no place for selfishness and no place for fear!”  Saint John Paul II gets right to the point when describing the head-on, Christ-centered life he is calling today’s youth to live.  There is absolutely no room for selfishness or fear anywhere in the world, but this is especially true on college campuses.  It’s easy to be scared of college sometimes, especially as an underclassman. Will I like school? Will I make friends? Will I get good grades? Will they make me to go daily mass?  These are questions most students had running through their mind during orientation at Ave Maria.  Consequently, getting wrapped up in one’s own worries can easily lead to selfishness– it is easy to focus on your concerns, your desires, your preferences.  Thankfully, JPII sees this trend among the youth, and joyfully encourages us to be exactly the opposite!  He wants us to let go of our worries, most famously proclaiming “Do not be afraid!” from the balcony of St. Peter’s.  Although it is easy for universities to become selfish and fearsome places, Ave Maria has certainly not succumbed to this worldliness.

The devotion that the faculty, staff, and students on campus have to JPII is really quite remarkable.  The professors are constantly giving of themselves to the students to make sure that they’re getting the most out of their education.  From staying late in their offices, answering emails at all hours of the night, to meeting up at the pub to talk philosophy, Ave professors have done it all to ensure that each student reaches his or her academic potential.  As a result, the students reciprocate the love of learning they witness in their professors.  The teaching style in most classrooms is discussion based, so that everyone can voice their opinion. The unselfish nature of this education style is immeasurably valuable, for students and teachers work together to achieve the academic excellence cherished by Ave Maria University.

Academia isn’t the only realm on campus affected by Pope John Paul.  He had a great love for sports, particularly skiing and swimming, and his positivity and competitive spirit reverberate with the Gyrenes.  Each team on campus has a marvelous work ethic, and demonstrates sportsmanship in victory and defeat.  The camaraderie on the teams builds a community that John Paul II would be proud of, one that encourages self-discipline as well as pride in Ave athletics.

Not only does Ave Maria embody Pope John Paul’s advice in the classroom and on the sports fields, but also embodies a spirit of service which John Paul II held dear. This was evident in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. While the 130 mph winds were approaching, students, faculty, staff, and President Towey himself bustled around campus, making sure everything was safe and secure.  The field house was a shelter for residents of surrounding areas whose homes were in danger. After the storm, the community united to clean campus and provide assistance to more severely impacted areas.  Ave Maria is truly blessed to have such serving hearts present on campus.  Whether it’s assisting in hurricane cleanup, working in soup kitchens, or doing mission work in Africa– the students and staff of Ave Maria do not hesitate to give of themselves every day in extraordinary ways, living out John Paul’s command to the fullest: “Wherever people are suffering, wherever they are humiliated by poverty or injustice, and wherever a mockery is made of their rights, make it your task to serve them.”

Saint John Paul II didn’t only preach about courage and love– he lived these messages each and every day.  Born Karol Józef Wojtyla on May 18th, 1920, in Wadowice, Poland, he was destined for greatness right from the start.  After losing his mother and older brother at a young age, he went on to study at Jagiellonian University in Krakow.  During World War II, the Nazi’s closed down the university, so the young John Paul II had to continue his studies in secret with the Archbishop of Krakow.  After the war, he returned to school and was ordained a priest in 1946.

Pope John Paul earned his doctorate in theology after two years of fruitful study in Rome, after which he returned to Poland and served in parishes near Krakow.  His brilliant mind was recognized early on, and after becoming an Archbishop, he was invited to participate in the Second Vatican Council in 1962.  John Paul II’s contributions to this council were immeasurable. In 1967 he became a Cardinal. JPII was elected Pope in 1978- the first non-Italian Pope to succeed Saint Peter in over four hundred years.  He exhibited a great love for the youth throughout his reign as Pope, but it was most evident in his founding of World Youth Day in 1984.  John Paul II invited young people from all over the world to join him in Saint Peter’s square on Palm Sunday for an International Jubilee of youth, and over 300,000 attended.  He smiled on this massive crowd and declared with great joy, “What a fantastic spectacle is presented on this stage by your gathering here today! Who claimed that today’s youth has lost their sense of values? Is it really true that they cannot be counted on?”  JPII would say the same words to the youth of Ave Maria, who are afire with love for Christ and are ready to spread Christ’s love to the world.

From the JPII dorm on campus to the budding St. John Paul the Great leadership program, Ave Maria University embodies Saint John Paul II’s giving spirit, courage, and love.  His presence on campus is very real, and almost tangible– the way in which his spirituality is imitated is part of what makes Ave so unique, and is what makes its students such wonderful witnesses of the Catholic faith. Happy feast of St. John Paul the Great. John Paul II, pray for us!