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He's The Student Behind
UC's New Tradition

Date: Sept. 25, 2001
By: Marianne Kunnen-Jones
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Archive: Profiles

An institution with more than 182 years of history boasts a brand new tradition, as a result of the inspiration and work of Jay Hummel, a junior business student.

2000 banner

For the past two years, the academic year at UC has been launched with the raising of a huge banner during convocation in Shoemaker Center. Stitched together from dozens of separate flags created by teams of students during summer orientation, the banner has truly become a new tradition. It's also a high-flying symbol of unity and UC's Just Community principles in practice.

This year's flag, raised on Sept. 15, measured 45-by-48 feet and was pieced together from 170 flags. The inaugural flag measured more than 48-by-52 feet and included more than 200 flags.

Hummel, the winner of the 2001 Just Community Award for students, worked with Trevor Holekamp, Matt Baker and Russell Curley to conceive the first banner in the summer of 2000, plus a program called Bearcat Bound that helps new UC students make the transition to a new campus during Welcome Week.

The banner idea is one that popped up at 3 a.m. during an all-night meeting. "Originally they came and said they wanted to do singular flags, but we saw the opportunity to build on that. The idea was to get people to talk about their differences, get them to work together as a team and help them to realize, 'I didn't know I could work with someone so different from me and reach a common goal," explained Hummel, who is a Carl Lindner Honors-PLUS scholarship recipient who maintains a 3.8 GPA.

Banner 2001

Some people, including one dean, at first criticized the idea of a banner of multiple flags stitched into one. "I think a lot of people thought it was going to be hokey," said Hummel.

But then as the first flag went up in September 2000, "I remember hearing the oohs and ahs," he said. "I saw students sitting together in the audience and students pointing to the flags they made."

Hummel had hoped that the new students participating in the flag-making exercise would look at the person next to them and feel they had achieved something together. "I think we accomplished that," he said.

They almost didn't accomplish anything that first year, however. When the first flags were laid out at Shoemaker Center to piece together with grommets, organizers discovered that the flag manufacturer had not made the banners in a consistent size. The grommets didn't match up. "It was very stressful," admits Hummel.

As a last-minute solution, students arranged for a company to stitch the flags into seven strips that were then connected with plastic "zip" ties.

Hummel visits France

Although Hummel is no longer a "hands-on" organizer of the flag project, his life remains filled with other campus and personal activities. He is a member of Sigma Sigma, the Men of Metro, Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity and the Order of Omega. This quarter he is co-oping at Deloitte & Touche, a big five accounting firm. Hummel, who won the College of Business Administration's Spirit of Community Award earlier this year, also serves as one of three undergraduate members on the University Heights Redevelopment Corporation, a 20-member group that will be leading the redevelopment of the Stratford/Clifton Avenue area.

He's also an avid runner and triathlete. In June he finished 63 out of 900 in his second triathlon and spent much of the summer running 5-K races.

Hummel eats seafood

More than a month of his summer was spent touring European cultural sites and corporations with his Honors-PLUS classmates in CBA. During the trip, he suffered through a reputation as one of the pickiest eaters in the group of 20 undergraduates traveling from Finland, to the Netherlands, to Belgium and France. The MacDonald's and the Hard Rock Cafes across the Atlantic proved to be his favorite eating spots, although he was coaxed into trying salmon and Indonesian and Japanese food by faculty member Raj Mehta.

When seven of his classmates returned to the United States on Sept. 10, Hummel stayed in Europe to travel with friends. His decision to remain overseas meant he stood in Athens, Greece, far away from home, when he received word of the Sept. 11 terrorist hijackings.

Registering for his hotel room in Athens, a news bulletin interrupted the Greek soap opera a hotel clerk was watching. Later in the day while he walked along the famous Athenian Plaka, he got news updates at shops along the way, as business owners tried to translate the Greek news into English for him and classmate Regina Schneider.

Just four days earlier, Hummel had visited the American Cemetery at Normandy, remembering the sacrifice his grandfather's generation had made by fighting in World War II. He had noted to a fellow visitor that his own generation may be the first generation in American history not affected by war or a military draft. Now it seems that this fact may be changing.

No matter what happens in the short term, the 22-year-old Hummel hopes someday to be a CEO or at least a high-ranking executive in an international company. He also has aspirations for a successful career in public service.

And no matter what he does with his own future, Hummel has already had an impact that will undoubtedly affect UC's future for many years to come. It seems that every freshmen class will get a glimpse of a tradition that he started.

To meet other UC people, go to the profiles archive.

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