UIndy School of Education sends large contingent to Kappa Delta Pi Convo

KDPconvo3Nearly a dozen School of Education students from the Sigma Omicron Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi attended the 2018 Kappa Delta Pi International Convocation in Indianapolis in November, led by Nancy Steffel, professor of teacher education. School of Education Dean John Kuykendall also attended, along with other faculty and alumni.

As the Lucinda Rose Award winner for Counselor Excellence 2017, Steffel presented the counselor regional awards. Steffel served as counselor of UIndy’s KDP Sigma Omicron Chapter for 20 years, an achievement which also was acknowledged by her induction in 2017 into the Eleanor Roosevelt Society. The two new counselors who will take her place, Brittany Dyer, career navigator with the Professional Edge Center, and Jennifer Grace, assistant professor of teacher education,  joined Steffel at the KDP Convocation.

“With the Convo being held in Indianapolis this year, I felt it was important that our KDP members be Indy conference ambassadors and co-present in workshop sessions alongside our outstanding faculty. UIndy teacher candidates continue to be some of the most attractive students for jobs in the teaching profession. Dr. Steffel and Dr. Grace are doing an exceptional job creating high-impact opportunities for our KDP members,” said Dr. Kuykendall.

Chapter officers included elementary education seniors Marissa Ellsworth, Mackenzie Atto, Cassidy Smith, Grace Kinsey and Leanna Leatherbury ’19 (history). Chapter officers-elected included elementary education juniors Kiley Tompsett, Teyler Siples, Brianna Brechbuhl, LaShonica Smith, Olivia Page and Jacqueline Krall. Other participating faculty included John Somers, Department of Leadership & Educational Studies co-chair, Angie Ridgway, professor of teacher education, Deb Sachs, Teach (STEM)³ program director and Donna Stephenson, instructor.

KDPconvo`Students and faculty presented poster sessions and had the opportunity to hear renowned educators speak on a variety of different topics including STEM education, literacy strategies and sustainability. Mackenzie Atto ’19 said she appreciated the chance to network with educators ranging from Indianapolis to international locations like Nigeria and Uganda.

“This conference opened my eyes to the diversity of education around the world. There is so much variety in teaching around the world, yet we all share the same passion for education,” Atto said.

KDP President-elect Kiley Tompsett ’20 found the breakout session on student teaching particularly informative.

“The idea that stuck out the most was that I might have a different teaching philosophy or teaching style than my cooperating teacher, but I will still learn so much about what to do or even what not to do in my future classroom,” Tompsett said.

For Nancy Steffel, the convocation capped off a career of inspiring excellence in the University of Indianapolis School of Education.

“My hope is that I have laid a history of Kappa Delta Pi Sigma Omicron excellence that can be continued by future members, faculty, and counselors,” Steffel said. “Over the past twenty years, our chapter was awarded & consecutive ACE (Achieving Chapter Excellence): 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017 and received the top award, Dr. Florence B. Stratemeyer Award for Chapter Excellence 2013. We have become one of the top chapters of the over 660 chapters worldwide. Although we are a small chapter, we are mighty!”

UIndy students and faculty presented the following poster sessions:

“ACE to ACE: Accentuating Chapter Experiences to Achieve Chapter Excellence” Presenters: Kiley Tompsett, Teyler Siples, Brianna Brechbuhl & Oliva Page, Sigma Omicron Chapter

“Profit through Personalized Posters” Presenters:, Leanna Leatherbury, LaShonica Smith, Cassidy Smith, Jacqueline Krall, Sigma Omicron Chapter.

“Teaching Coding with SCRATCH and Seesaw” Presenters: Mackenzie Atto, Marissa Ellsworth, Grace Kinsey, Seniors, and John Somers, Sigma Omicron Chapter.

“Engagement, Connections, and Motivation: Designing Effective Lessons for All Content Areas” Angelia Ridgway, Donna Stephenson, Deb Sachs, Sigma Omicron Chapter.

“Adolescent Brain: What’s Going On In There?” Deb Sachs, Sigma Omicron Chapter.

Learning Lab for all undergraduates on Education for Sustainability, co-presented by Nancy Steffel and Faye Snodgress.

“Secrets of the Dead” forensic expert Scott Warnasch to speak at University of Indianapolis Nov. 16

Scott Warnasch

Scott Warnasch

A nationally known forensic archaeologist will share secrets revealed by the discovery of an iron coffin in a talk at the University of Indianapolis Nov. 16.

During “American Mummies: The Industrial Birth of the Eternal Dead,” Scott Warnasch will speak about his most recent episode of “Secrets of the Dead – The Woman in the Iron Coffin” that aired in October 2018 on PBS. The event will be held at 5:00 p.m. in Lilly Performance Hall in the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center. A question and answer session will follow the lecture.

Krista Latham, director of the University of Indianapolis Human Identification Center, is organizing the talk. Latham’s work to identify the remains of migrants who died while crossing the southern border has been nationally recognized.

Register here for this free, L/P event.

Warnasch, a consultant who conducts field and lab work in forensic archaeology, will discuss the investigation surrounding the identity of a woman found inside a Fisk iron coffin that was disturbed by construction crews in New York City in 2011. The woman was identified as a descendent of the St. Mark AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church community, and the discovery shed light on early African-American history and the development of the AME Church.

The iron coffin, which was responsible for the woman’s remarkable level of preservation, was expensive yet very practical during the early years of steam travel. Many historical figures were buried in these coffins; however, in this case the coffin contained an ordinary citizens, Warnasch said, and a well-preserved body can reveal details about the overall health and customs of a particular social group in that historical period.

“The clothing and how they were prepared for burial speak volumes about things that don’t get recorded for everyday people,” Warnasch said. “The people who were represented in these early iron coffins are like time travelers from the beginning of the modern world.”

Originally reported as a potential crime scene, investigators in New York realized they were in fact dealing with an archaeological site more than 150 years old. The deceased was identified as Martha Peterson, who died of smallpox around 1851. Warnasch said the case highlights the expertise that archaeologists can contribute to the forensic field.

“Archaeologists are specifically trained to do exactly the meticulous documentation and step-by-step process of investigation and body recovery that most law enforcement officers are not trained to do,” Warnasch explained.

Warnasch said his mission is to teach people how much more there is to understand about grave investigation than “just grabbing a shovel and getting the body out of the ground. I add a layer of context to that crime scene that other people don’t focus on.”

Warnasch’s professional experience includes leading the human remains recovery operation at Ground Zero in the wake of the World Trade Center attack on September 11th, 2001.

“There were valuable lessons learned on what worked the first time around and what didn’t,” he said. “It proves that archaeological methodology is solid and a vital tool in mass disaster responses.”


While the topic is a favorite of film and television programs like “Bones” and “CSI” as well as a plethora of documentaries, the reality of a thorough investigation is a far cry from the grave-robbing so breezily depicted in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (which incidentally was released the same summer that Warnasch did his first field school.)

“I don’t do a lot of excavations with a whip!” Warnasch joked. “There’s a method to it. There’s a lot of thought and research that goes on. Context is so important – you have to understand the environment that you’re working in.”

Warnasch hopes to see even more convergence between the fields of crime scene recovery and archaeology. For students interested in pursuing a career in the field, he recommends being “open-minded about what you’re willing to work on.  Digging in Europe teaches you things you’d never learn digging in California. To get a well-rounded experience will leave you open to opportunities.”

Learn more about Scott Warnasch

Register here for this free, L/P event.

Written by Sara Galer, Communications Manager, University of Indianapolis. Contact newsdesk@uindy.edu with your campus news.

Alumni Award recipient Judge Michael Shurn ’71 to speak at UIndy Nov. 5

Judge Michael Shurn was honored with the 2018 Education for Service Alumni Award.

Judge Michael Shurn was honored with the 2018 Education for Service Alumni Award.

Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Michael Shurn ’71 will provide a lecture on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 as part of the Pre-Law Student Association (PLSA) Judicial Lecture Series. The free event, which is presented by the University of Indianapolis Pre-Law Student Association, takes place at 7 p.m. in the Schwitzer Student Center, UIndy Hall A. L/P credit is available.

Judge Shurn will discuss his broad range of experience, including civil, criminal, administrative, juvenile and probate law, and his familiarity with the many aspects of life that the law touches.

“As judge of a court in rural Indiana, I’ve seen cases from splitting Tupperware to first-degree murder.  You see it all. The good, the bad, the ugly, and all the secrets blowing in the winds of Hoosier cornfields,” Judge Shurn said.

Judge Shurn graduated from the University of Indianapolis in 1971 with a degree in English and later earned his J.D. from Indiana University. He was recently honored with the University’s Education for Service Award, which recognizes an alum whose life work exemplifies a fulfillment of the philosophy underlying the University’s motto “Education for Service.”

“With over 40 years of experience in the law, many of them sitting on the bench, Judge Shurn is a wealth of knowledge not just for those interested in pursuing a legal career, but for any student who plans on entering the professional workforce,” said Dr. David Root, assistant professor of political science and pre-law advisor.

Dr. Root explained the need for legal professionals in rural areas, and noted that lawyers working in those locations tend to take on a bigger role in the community compared with their urban counterparts.

“Because of their education, professional position and representation of people in the community and government offices, they have access to important information and connections that spread deeply through their locale,” Dr. Root said. “Additionally, because of the nature of rural practice, such lawyers tend to see a lot more variety in the cases and matters that they handle on a day-to-day basis.”

About Judge Shurn
An avid community volunteer, Judge Shurn has worked extensively with the Pulaski County Historical Society, Boy Scouts, 4-H, Winamac Kiwanis Club and his church, which earned him the 2011 H.J. Halleck Award for community service. He also served six years on the University’s Alumni Board of Directors and remains active in UIndy events. Michael and his wife, Mary, have two children. Their daughter, Megan, is a 2003 UIndy graduate.

The lecture is free of charge. Registration is encouraged. Contact Dr. David Root at rootd@uindy.edu.

 

Visiting Fellow Greg Ballard joins a national discussion on prosperity

Delaware_Co_Ballard_Summit_26703University of Indianapolis Visiting Fellow and former Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard visited Washington, D.C. this week to participate in a Politico panel discussion, Geography of Opportunity, about ways the federal government can help cities prosper. The group was focused on finding practical, concrete solutions that have the potential of being supported by policymakers in Washington and beyond.

Learn about other examples of Mayor Ballard’s civic engagement

Four lessons from the Women in Leadership Sports Industry Panel

womenleadershipheaderProfessionals from across the sports industry recently shared their experience with University of Indianapolis students as the Departments of Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Sciences hosted the “Women in Leadership: Strategies and Success” panel On Thursday, October 4.

The four panelists, whose backgrounds ranged from former LPGA pro to former morning radio host, fielded questions on nearly every aspect of working in sport. A special focus was given to the challenges women can expect to face in the industry, but the event offered valuable insight for everyone in attendance.

Here are four lessons from the night’s panelists.

On Making Mistakes

Audrey Becker
Event & Program Director, NFL Combine

“Learn from your mistakes, good or bad. The people you surround yourself with, they’ll back you up because they employ you, they believe in you, and they’re there to help you in the process … You’re going to make some mistakes along the way; don’t let them override your success.”

Audrey, an alumna of the UIndy Sport Management program, shared that she once unintentionally booked two NFL teams in the same hotel suite. She explained that the best thing to do is own the mistake, and offer solutions on how to fix it.

On the Importance of Networking

DeAnne M. Green, MS, LAT, ATC, PES
Sports Medicine Manager, Community Sports Health

“Make a concerted effort to find one person at each industry event and connect with them. Reach out to them on a consistent basis, invite them out for coffee, ask for a shadow experience.”

The importance of networking was emphasized by DeAnne, a self-professed introvert. DeAnne credited three women with being significant career mentors, one of whom (a former National Athletic Trainers’ Association president) connected DeAnne with her current position.

On Work-Life Balance

Angela Hatem
Membership Director, Indiana Sports Corporation

“I don’t want to miss my nephew’s tee ball game—that’s a memory I want to have. I don’t want to remember that Excel sheet from earlier. Sports are easy to live around and soon you find yourself talking about nothing else. You have to do things for yourself as well.”

The panel agreed that work-life balance can be hard to find in the competitive, fast-paced industry of sport. They recommended identifying what your life priorities are and sticking to them, while finding flexibility where you can at work.

On Finding What You Don’t Like

Diane Dickman
Managing Director of Division 1 Governance, NCAA

“If you have an experience with something you don’t enjoy, that’s good. That’s something you know. You can say ‘I now know I don’t want to work in X.’ Be good with that.”

After leaving the LPGA tour, Diane went to graduate school and found plenty she didn’t like. She worked in the ticket office, in event management, and coaching; she found herself uninspired by each. Eventually, she started working in compliance and that led her on the path to the NCAA.

Laken Detweiler is a M.S. in Sport Management student and helped to introduce the panel.

“It might sound ridiculous, but sometimes you do not realize everything that goes into an event, and that someone has the job to make sure it gets done,” Laken says. “I love learning the different responsibilities that various jobs have, it is helping me narrow down where I want to go in my future.”

Written by Logan McGrady, Communications Specialist for Graduate and Adult Learning Enrollment.

UIndy hosts 5th annual Hoops and Heroes basketball benefit game

.pngThe University of Indianapolis will host the 5th annual Hoops and Heroes event in Nicoson Hall on October 6. Basketball teams from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the Indianapolis Fire Department will go head-to-head in the charity basketball game, benefitting The Julian Center. Mayor Joe Hogsett will be in attendance during the event.

Doors open at 5 p.m. for pre-game activities until 6 p.m. Tip-off is at 6:15 p.m. Pre-game fun includes:

  • An appearance by former Pacers player and contestant on Survivor, Scot Pollard
  • Jr. Pacers and Jr. Fever skills challenge hosted by the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever
  • Opportunities to meet and greet the Pacemates and Fever Inferno Hip-Hop Squad
  • Presentation of the flags by the Indianapolis Fire Department’s Honor Guard
  • The chance to meet mascots, including McGruff, Boomer, and Freddy Fever

Raffle items are available to win, and halftime entertainment is provided by Boomer and the High-Flying Power Pack Dunk Squad.

Hoops and Heroes is free to attend and open to the public. Free parking is available. To learn more, click here.

All proceeds from the event will support the counseling, workplace readiness, legal and housing assistance, and family programs at The Julian Center.

Event sponsors include Hathaway Strategies; Kroger; Pacers Sports & Entertainment; University of Indianapolis; Barnes & Thornburg LLP; Black & Veatch; Herman & Kittle Properties, Inc.; Central Security & Communications; Gregory & Appel Insurance; Arcadis; Citizens Energy Group; Defenders; Katz, Sapper & Miller; Molly Maid; Oneview; and TCC.

Indianapolis Public Library commissions letterpress work by UIndy art & design students

PrintinginIndyPtITwo graduate students in the University of Indianapolis art & design program recently produced a commissioned letterpress work for the Indianapolis Public Library.

Auna Winters ’20 (M.A.), ’18 (art & design, printmaking concentration) and Kalia Daily ’20 (M.A.), ’18 (studio art major, art history minor, painting and printmaking concentrations) created a promotional poster for IPL’s letterpress event series, which showcases the history and community of printing in Indianapolis.

Amy Griffin, the special collections librarian at the Indianapolis Public Library, approached Katherine Fries, assistant professor of art & design and director of UIndy’s printmaking program, about a commission. The library is partnering with Indiana Humanities to host the events, which include a tour of UIndy’s Hullaboo Press printmaking studio, 2-4 p.m. Oct. 13.

“Amy was interested in having a letterpress poster to advertise and commemorate these events, and Katherine recommended the project to Kalia and me as grad students. We were thrilled!” Winters said. PrintinginIndyPtII

The series title is “Then and Now: Printing in Indy.” The students said they were inspired by the title to showcase older, more historic elements with more contemporary ones, showing how letterpress has prevailed and evolved over time. They proposed several ideas, and the Indianapolis Public Library followed the students’ suggestion to create a two-print commemorative set.

“It was so exciting to work on, especially since all of the events we featured are events that either we are involved in, or highlight the contributions of people we consider our letterpress family,” Winter said.

Auna Winters, left, and Kalia Daily

Auna Winters, left, and Kalia Daily

The series is made possible through a grant from Indiana Humanities in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Humanities and by Friends of the Library through gifts to The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation.

Related events at the Central Library include an exhibition of David Peat’s letterpress collection, Oct. 1, 2018-Jan. 31, 2019.  (Note: Work by David Peat’s father, Wilbur D. Peat, a longtime Indianapolis-based artist and curator, is on display at the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center through Oct. 5).

See more IPL events here.

 

Wilbur D. Peat exhibition explores work of longtime Indianapolis arts influencer

wilburpeatWilbur D. Peat, an art administrator who spent his life promoting art in Indiana and recognizing Hoosier artists, was a gifted artist in his own right. A new exhibition at the University of Indianapolis Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center Gallery celebrates Peat’s legacy with “Wilbur D. Peat: An Indianapolis Icon,” a collection of rare works on display through Oct. 5, 2018.

An American born in China, Peat trained as an artist at the Cleveland School of Art and became director at the Akron Art Institute before moving to Indianapolis, where he became the architect of some of the city’s most prized arts institutions and societies.

“Starting in 1929, Peat was a significant and influential figure on the Indianapolis art scene for the ensuing 36 years. Hired as the director of the Herron Art Museum, he laid the foundation for the current Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields,” explained Mark Ruschman, exhibition organizer and adjunct instructor.

Katherine Fries, exhibition organizer and assistant professor of art & design, explained that Wilbur Peat’s son David is a letterpress printer and collector, and longtime supporter of the University of Indianapolis arts programs. Fries noticed some remarkable paintings during a visit to David Peat’s home. When he revealed that his father was the artist who had painted them, and explained his father’s role in the Indianapolis arts community, the idea for an exhibition was born.

“He was a remarkable man who was involved in a lot of different activities,” Fries said, noting Wilbur Peat’s work as an author, expert and leader of the artistic life and heritage for the city and state. Wilbur Peat was a prolific writer, popular lecturer and talented artist.

“Peat’s book, ‘Pioneer Painters of Indiana,’ published in 1954 by the Art Association of Indianapolis, chronicles the origins and exploits of the early Indiana artists and is considered a seminal work on the subject. It proved be to an invaluable resource for my 2016 ‘200 Years of Indiana Art’ exhibition, marking Indiana’s bicentennial at the Indiana State Museum,” said Ruschman, who serves as the Indiana State Museum’s fine arts curator.

Fries noted that some of the most prized works in the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s collection by Rembrandt and Monet were the result of Peat’s efforts. Peat’s work also had an impact on the development of the Indiana Historical Society, Hoosier Salon and various public artwork projects.

“Wilbur D. Peat: An Indianapolis Icon” is a retrospective that covers Peat’s work from adolescence (around 1910) through his very last painting, made possible by the Peat family who are generously loaning the rare works to the University of Indianapolis during the exhibition.

“Most of it has not been seen by the public. He did it for pure enjoyment, for the sake of making art,” Fries said.

The work of Wilbur D. Peat will be on display at the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center Gallery through Oct. 5, 2018, with a gallery reception 4-6 p.m., Sept. 24 and special Gallery Talk at 4:45 p.m. The gallery is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays.

The letterpress collection of David Peat will be featured in an exhibition at the Indianapolis Public Library starting Oct. 1, 2018. More info.

“Little free pantries” expand Southside wellness initiative

Volunteers installed two "Little Pantries" near the University of Indianapolis campus in July 2018.

Volunteers installed two “Little Pantries” near the University of Indianapolis campus in July 2018.

Two food pantries near the University of Indianapolis campus will build community by encouraging donations and by providing residents with easy access to free food and other essentials. The “little free pantries,” funded by an INHP Early Action Grant Fund through the SoIndy Health & Wellness Action Team, are renovated newspaper distribution boxes that contain donated non-perishable items and toiletries. Community members are encouraged to “take what you need, give what you can.”

Project managers say while the pantries themselves may be small, they can make a big difference for families. According to 2015 data, nearly 32 percent of residents in the SoIndy geographic area are living in poverty.

“This project is a perfect example of the community coming together with our assets and resources to address a local need,” said Michelle Strahl Salinas, South Indy Quality of Life Plan director.  

The SoIndy Little Pantries, located in University Heights and Bean Creek neighborhoods are the latest example of the ongoing partnership between the University of Indianapolis and Community Health Network to increase access to health- and wellness-related opportunities for Indianapolis Southside residents. Additional partners in the pantry project include the South Indy Quality of Life Plan’s Health & Wellness Action Team, Purdue Extension and the Garfield Park Art Center.

The partnership brought volunteers together to create the UIndy and CHNw Community Garden (Serve 360°) at 4002 Otterbein Street (near the University Heights United Methodist Church) earlier this year, providing nutritious produce for residents in the University Heights and Carson Heights neighborhoods. The SoIndy Little Pantries offer free staples such as rice and pasta to supplement the fresh vegetables from the garden, which are also available to residents at no cost.

Gurinder Hohl, who directs the partnership between the University of Indianapolis and Community Health Network, said the SoIndy Health & Wellness Action Team, which operates as part of the South Indy Quality of Life Plan, has played a significant role in developing and implementing solutions to address the various food insecurity-related issues identified in the needs assessment conducted from fall 2014 to spring 2016. Hohl, along with Amie Wojytna, assistant professor of kinesiology, and Rob Campbell, Director of Business Operations at Community Health Network, and Anye Carson, senior public health student at UIndy, secured in-kind support for projects such as the community garden.

“The concept of the community garden, as well as the little pantry, is based on the principles of placemaking. By beautification and infrastructure bolstering, the community develops pride, and this results in future investments to enhance the quality of living,” Hohl explained.

Salinas, who also manages the Garfield Park Farmers Market, said the combined garden and pantry projects are the next evolution of the South Indy Quality of Life Plan to address health and wellness – and residents are taking notice.

“Neighbors are starting to ask questions about how the garden works, so there is some anticipation growing,” she said.

The Community Garden provided the theme for the Center for Aging & Community’s Grand Camp in June, which brought grandparents and children together to learn about gardening and other activities. It will also be featured in the 2018 Harvest Ride on September 8, during which cyclists will stop at six gardens to learn about the impact of community gardens on surrounding communities.

Volunteers, including University of Indianapolis students, will manage the SoIndy Little Pantries, which were designed and painted by summer art camp students at the Garfield Park Art Center.

UIndy alum’s opera project pays tribute to veterans on national stage

SSG Hilgert speaking to cast members of "The Falling and the Rising."

SSG Hilgert produced “The Falling and the Rising.”

Joining the Army might sound like an unusual route to become an opera producer, but for Staff Sergeant Ben Hilgert ’04 (music), it turned out to be the opportunity of a lifetime.

Eight years ago, SSG Hilgert made the decision to serve in the United States Army Field Band, the touring “musical ambassadors” for the U.S. Army. With more than 70 members, the Field Band performs more than 400 concerts a year and travels thousands of miles to perform in the U.S. and abroad.

“It’s a really fantastic opportunity to move people. As artists we look for ways we can express our artistic intentions. By far the biggest impact I could have ever imagined is singing for millions of people every year representing something so much bigger than the sum of its parts,” Hilgert said.

The band and its affiliated groups perform mainly for civilians – contrary to the misconception that military service members are the only audience, Hilgert said.

“Pretty much everybody thinks we perform for service members and tour bases. We actually do very little of that,” he explained. “Our mission is to engage the American public to bridge the civilian-military gap.”

Fewer than 10 percent of the U.S. adult population have served in the Armed Forces, according to Pew Research Center. “A big concern among military leadership is that American citizens are at great risk of becoming out of touch with what it means to serve in the Armed Forces,” Hilgert said.

Following his graduation from the music program at the University of Indianapolis, SSG Hilgert brought his passion for opera to the Soldiers’ Chorus, a vocal complement of the U.S. Army Field Band, with performances ranging from opera to musical theatre. He produced opera scenes for several years, including concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. But he felt compelled to do something more – and when a new commander challenged him to align his work more closely with the band’s mission, he was ready.

After attending an opera conference, SSG Hilgert realized the U.S. Army Field Band was in a prime position to reach new audiences – people who enjoy operas, but who may not know much about the Army. Bringing the Army story to the American public and honoring veterans was Hilgert’s inspiration for producing the opera, “The Falling and the Rising,” based on interviews with dozens of Army veterans.

"The Falling and the Rising"

“The Falling and the Rising”

“We’ve got an opportunity to tell the Army’s story, literally – that’s why I proposed the project,” he explained. His goal? “Find soldiers’ stories, turn them into an opera, collaborate with opera companies and make this something that is bigger than our organization.”

SSG Hilgert worked with librettist Jerre Dye and composer Zach Redler to interview 36 soldiers, including some at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetery and U.S. Cyber Command at Fort Meade.

The time he spent talking to soldiers “were three of the most moving days of my life. They reshaped my perspective on the Army, service, and being an ambassador for soldiers,” he said.

His first interviewee was a young veteran recovering from a traumatic brain injury that had stolen his memories of high school and his ability to speak, which he was working to regain. Despite his tremendous challenges, SSG Hilgert said the veteran had an impressive perspective on life.

“He shared with us this beautiful story of service, recovery and resilience. Just one of many jaw-dropping, inspiring stories we were privileged to hear,” he explained.

SSG Hilgert performing in 2012 in Wheeling, West Virginia. Photo courtesy U.S. Army Field Band.

SSG Hilgert performing in 2012 in Wheeling, West Virginia. Photo courtesy U.S. Army Field Band.

That story helped to form the central theme of “The Falling and the Rising,” which has been received enthusiastically across the country since a world premiere at Texas Christian University in April. Other productions include Seattle Opera, San Diego Opera, Arizona Opera, Opera Memphis, and Seagle Music Colony.

SSG Hilgert credits his musical education at UIndy with helping him pass the audition for the U.S. Army Field Band and setting him up with career opportunities.

“I would not have [my current job] if I had not carried [Professor of Music] Paul Krasnovsky’s choral experience with me and his work ethic – the diligence he approaches every piece with. It set the tone for how I approach music,” Hilgert said.

“As a singer I’d be nowhere without my voice teachers. Steve Enzinger and Kathy Hacker both put me on a great path forward. They gave me a solid foundation of technique and nurtured my curiosity for the human voice. They have a special place in my journey.”

He also appreciates the mentorship he received from Charlotte Templin, professor of English, who helped him with his junior recital.

“She gave me the time and really was an early mentor, somebody who opened a door that I didn’t even know was there. It makes you aware of possibilities greater than you understood,” Hilgert said.

Upcoming performances of “The Falling and the Rising”
Seagle Music Colony in upstate New York is next to perform “The Falling and the Rising.” Their production is scheduled to tour the state in September and October. The US Army Field Band is planning on a performance sponsored by Opera Memphis in New York City in conjunction with the Opera America New Works Forum in January 2019. Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University has a production scheduled for February in Baltimore. Opera Memphis will have its own production in April in Memphis, Tenn.

Follow the U.S. Army Field Band here.

Written by Sara Galer, University of Indianapolis senior communications specialist. Send your story ideas to newsdesk@uindy.edu.

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