Uplifting stories help #UCtheGood

As UC responds to coronavirus, it helps to also set our minds on stories that make us smile

The University of Cincinnati has celebrated countless joyful stories recently, and now — as we self-isolate and work to overcome a pandemic  — seems the ideal time to reflect on some of the many reasons our amazing community can still "see the good."

We are challenging you to share your inspiring stories with our team of writers, and we will do our best to share them. Feel free to send your ideas our way using this form, or post your stories on social media using the hashtag #UCtheGood. Below are some of our favorite feel-good stories from recent months.


UC staffer’s family takes Black history podcast national

Avery and Jackson Ausmer in their home studio

Avery and Jackson Ausmer in their home studio where they create "Hey Black Child: The Podcast." Photo/submitted

Nicole Ausmer, PhD, is director of Student Activities and Leadership Development at UC and a well-known figure on campus. She may soon be taking a backseat in the popularity department to her two children who went national on “Good Morning America” this week.

“Hey Black Child: The Podcast” is a brand new podcast that the Ausmer family created to fill a void that 10-year old daughter, Avery, noticed when she went searching for podcasts geared toward young people about Black history. She and her 7-year-old brother, Jackson, now star on the podcast that debuted July 1.

UC’s Ausmer works behind the scenes as the script writer while her husband, Lionell, CEAS '06, handles the sound engineering. 

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CCM grad leads stars in virtual performance

Virtual choir of voices performing

In his final semester at UC’s College-Conservatory of Music, orchestral conducting student Jeremy Robin Lyons found himself in a new world that deprived him, for now, of making music with other people in person. The pandemic cancelled performances, forced classes to move online and separated loved ones, but Lyons was hopeful and set out to create a virtual choir and orchestra project that united musicians online.

Lyons (MM Orchestral Conducting, ’20) organized a virtual choir and orchestra of 77 performers to sing Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk’s “Holding On” from the in-development musical The Bad Years. The performance is available to watch online at Playbill. It features Broadway favorites Lilli Cooper, Emma Hunton, Jonah Platt, Ciara Renée and more. It also includes CCM Collaborative Piano student Katie Hughes, recent graduate Matthew Boeckers (MM Clarinet, ’20) and alumna Stacey Scott (Musical Theatre, ATT ’85-’87).

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Engineering students help develop low-cost ventilators

UC student Jacquelyn Chapman works with biomedical engineering professor Peter Campbell.

UC student Jacquelyn Chapman works with biomedical engineering professor Peter Campbell. photo/submitted

Two biomedical engineering students are making a tangible impact working with Venti-Now, a nonprofit start-up company launched in Cincinnati in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to develop a new low-cost ventilator. 

UC students Jacquelyn Chapman and Johnathan Wisecarver have been working with Venti-Now for the last few months developing a reasonably priced ventilator for low-resource areas. Under the direction of their biomedical engineering professor, Peter Campbell, who lends his expertise as medical team leader for Venti-Now, the students have worked alongside experienced professionals to make a difference during the pandemic. UC Health and UC's College of Engineering and Applied Science helped provide Venti-Now with medical testing and consultation.

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UC Clermont helps community during COVID-19 crisis

Petra Hackenberg-Bauer

Petra Hackenberg-Bauer, MD, pediatrician at Anderson Hills Pediatrics, models the new face shields created by UC Clermont manufacturing engineering faculty.

UC Clermont College faculty, staff, students and alumni have stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide crucial services and support to students, community members and frontline workers.

Since the COVID-19 crisis began in March, 15 students have received nearly $15,000 in aid from UC Clermont’s Sauls Stay-in-School Fund, which was established in 1990 by James E. Sauls Sr. to assist students with unanticipated financial needs. Emergencies such as car repairs, unexpected medical expenses or family job loss can affect a student’s ability to attend class and complete academic work. 

“When classes were forced to transition to remote delivery in March, some students found themselves unprepared and lacking the technology to learn from home,” said Dawn Hundley, associate director of UC Clermont’s One Stop Student Services and financial aid. “The generosity of the Saul’s family allowed us to help the students continue their educational journey by supplying funds to provide Internet, webcams and laptops. Without this funding, students would have been forced to withdraw from the spring semester.”

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DAAP artists paint hope in the streets 

Adoria Maxberry stands in front of Black Lives Matter mural in Cincinnati.

Recent UC DAAP grad Adoria Maxberry pauses from her work painting the "Black Lives Matter!" mural that stretches across Plum Street directly in front of Cincinnati’s City Hall.

While cities across the country are alive with the sounds of change, many streets are also chiming in through art. Arising from the pavement in major parts of urban America are bold, yellow messages roaring the words "Black Lives Matter."

But a monochromatic message wasn't enough for Cincinnati. 

"Our moving mural does more than shout Black Lives Matter," says Adoria Maxberry, a recent graduate of the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. Each letter tells a story of hope and social justice. Inspired by our organizer Alandes Powell's poem, titled 'We want what you want,' our team of designers created individual messages within each block letter touting, 'Reflections on the past and hope for the future.'"

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Stranded, scared but supported by love

Version 2

Komronbek Rakhimov sits in front of UC's Tangeman University Center. Photo/submitted

On March 13, in a world tossed upside down by a global pandemic, most students were headed off campus, classes were going remote, and first-year business student Komronbek Rakhimov  scrambled to book a flight back home to Uzbekistan.

“Three days later, on a bus halfway to Chicago’s airport, I got the text message — all international flights to my country were canceled,” says Rakhimov, an accounting major in the University of Cincinnati’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business. “At that moment my world shattered. I was scared, confused and couldn’t stop the bus.”

Rahkimov would end up having to return to campus, where a series of kind acts from UC staff changed everything.

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Rediscovering the work of Albert Sabin

A young boy receives a dose of live polio vaccine from a spoon in the 1960s.

A young boy receives a dose of live polio vaccine from a spoon in the 1960s. photo/UC Archives

The COVID-19 era is casting light back more than a half century to the time when former University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children's Hospital virologist Albert Sabin developed the live oral polio vaccine. Recent worldwide media coverage, including the latest from MSN, is highlighting the health care hero's work. 

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UC sets all-time summer enrollment record

Class of 2016 forming UC on the Gettler Stadium, Meyers Field

Students formed a giant "UC " and "C" on the soccer field last year. This summer's enrollment is another record for the university, despite COVID-19 and the fact that all classes are online.

Summer 2020 represents the largest summer enrollment in the history of the University of Cincinnati.

Not only are more students than ever enrolling over the summer, more of those students are taking classes full time.

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Spotlighting UC's essential staff

Darnell Finklea powers sprays down weights and equipment at Fifth Third Arena

Custodial worker Darnell Finklea powers sprays down weights and equipment at Fifth Third Arena. Photo/Joseph Fuqua II/UC Creative + Brand

While most of the University of Cincinnati community learn and work remotely, essential staff continue to keep campus in top shape.

Thank you to the custodians, engineers, maintenence staff, police and others — some of whom are featured here — who are working behind the scenes to keep UC's campuses clean, safe and beautiful.

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UC helping the most students in Ohio with federal CARES Act dollars

McMicken Commons / Mcmicken Hall and Tangeman University Center TUC from steps of TUC

More than 22,000 University of Cincinnati students will receive some much-needed relief this week as the university begins distribution of $11.7 million in federal CARES Act funds to students most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Universities were entrusted to distribute the funds, and UC leaders chose to put the dollars in as many hands as possible by providing funding to every student who was enrolled at least half-time and was eligible for federal student aid at the time UC transitioned to virtual learning. That decision will allow UC to help more students in Ohio than any other university in the state, said Jack Miner, UC vice provost for enrollment management.

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UC grad provides ventilators for COVID-19 victims

Jennifer Raaf works as a physicist at Fermilab

UC graduate Jennifer Raaf works as a physicist at Fermilab. Photo/Reidar Hahn/Fermilab

A University of Cincinnati physics graduate is helping to meet a global ventilator shortage in the wake of COVID-19.

UC alumna Jennifer Raaf, a particle physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, is part of an international team of scientists and engineers who won federal regulatory approvals for a simple ventilator that could be produced quickly with common parts.

Raaf, a graduate of UC’s College of Arts and Sciences, helped steer the project through successful approvals with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use at hospitals in the United States during the pandemic.

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UC Serves 2020 goes virtual with monthlong online opportunities

A mom and daughter explore online together

The UC community can volunteer online from May 15-June 15 through CincinnatiCares.org and CatchFire.org.

"As UC provides immeasurable value to the community through health care, research and education, the university is further enhanced by the volunteer contributions of faculty and staff to the community," says Fran Larkin, director of UC's Center for Community Engagement.

While UC’s efforts this month are usually focused on serving through volunteerism, May is also Mental Health Awareness Month.

UC Serves is promoting mental well-being through volunteerism with CincinnnatiCares.org, which connects volunteers and leaders around the Greater Cincinnati region, and CatchAFire.org, a national organization which makes skill-based connections between professional volunteers and other nonprofits.

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UC students create UV box to aid Crossroad Health Center in midst of COVID-19

Allison-Joy Garbo and Kellen Crosby wearing masks

UC engineering students, Allison-Joy Garbo and Kellen Crosby are shown with their UV box known as Dis-Box. Photo/provided.

At first glance, it might be mistaken for a small wine cooler or dorm room refrigerator.

But Dis-Box is an ultraviolet box designed by a group of University of Cincinnati engineering students that may help extend use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers at Cincinnati’s Crossroad Health Center.

Designed initially to help a community in Tanzania use a low-tech but effective means of disinfecting and maintaining medical devices, the UV box will now disinfect masks and N95 filtering facepiece respirators in short supply in the Tristate in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was created by three seniors, part of the UC Department of Biomedical Engineering’s Medical Device Innovation & Entrepreneurship Program (MDIEP) — Allison-Joy Garbo, Kellen Crosby and Sepideh Shanehsaz.

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UC faculty and staff complete historic academic undertaking in response to COVID-19

Meera Rastogi works from home office

Meera Rastogi is an art therapist and psychologist who teaches both topics at UC’s Clermont and Uptown campuses.

As the University of Cincinnati enters finals week during one of the most chaotic and disrupted semesters in its history, UC leaders are acknowledging the historic effort to move the entire academic enterprise to remote learning in response to COVID-19.

The university announced on March 10 that effective March 14 UC would suspend face-to-face instruction. 

When students returned from spring break 12 days later, all courses — more than 8,000 of them — had gone online only.

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UC students launch free online tutoring service

Noor Ghuniem on television

UC student Noor Ghuniem speaks to local media about the tutoring service she helped create.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, families and educators around the world are scrambling to adjust without sacrificing their students’ education. 

Every day, more individuals and organizations are stepping up to mitigate the consequences of the virus and the measures taken to prevent its spread.

In early April, Teja Bollimunta, a chemical engineering student at the University of Cincinnati, decided he wanted to step up, too. 

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College of Medicine doctors, residents to present concert

Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum at the 2019 study meeting for the REPRIEVE trial in Boston

Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum at the 2019 study meeting for the REPRIEVE trial in Boston. Photo/provided

Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum of the UC Division of Infectious Diseases is not only one of the leaders of the efforts by the University of Cincinnati and UC Health to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. He is also organizing a group of College of Medicine physicians, residents and alumni to put on a concert series to be livestreamed on Facebook. The first event will be Saturday, April 25, at 8 p.m.

“It’s really important to stay connected and find a little happiness each day,” says Fichtenbaum. “Music is a great way to reach the hearts of people.”

He says his daughter came up with the name for the series — “Quarantunes: A Concert Series for UC & UC Health.” In addition to Fichtenbaum, the series will feature Dr. Andy Wells, an internal medicine resident; Dr. Heather Christensen, assistant professor in the Department of Medical Education; Dr. Mark Eckman, director of General Internal Medicine; Dr. Albert Weisbrot, Dr. Greg Mecoli and Dr. Mark Mecoli, all UC alumni; and Dr. Daniel Hoffman and his wife, Marta Carron, an internal medicine resident.

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Laptops help CPS kids in midst of COVID-19

CPS students receiving computers from the College of Medicine med mentors program.

Teressika Davis and Tristyn Meadows are led by Dr. Charles Cavallo to pick up laptops given by UC Med Mentors. Photo by Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand.

First-year medical student Nathan Lawera has used FaceTime and phone calls to check in regularly with Romendo Sims, a second-grader at Rockdale Academy Elementary School in Cincinnati.

Social distancing may be essential for our health, but it doesn’t stop University of Cincinnati medical students like Lawera from finding ways to stay connected with the youths they have befriended. He is part of UC Med Mentors, a volunteer mentorship program in the College of Medicine that connects more than 200 medical students with more than 100 school-age children. Lawera is co-president of the organization with fellow medical student Maura Kopchak.

The group works closely with the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative (CYC) to train mentors and link them to Cincinnati Public School children for mentorship. On Friday, April 17, UC Med Mentors gave away 20 laptops to a group of school children in Kresge Circle, adjacent to the UC College of Medicine.  It was a gray rainy day but that didn’t dampen the spirits of youths and their parents getting the laptops.

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UC’s OIP helps free 29th defendant

Chris Smith celebrates his newfound freedom from a safe social distance with UC College of Law student and OIP fellow Kaylee Price

Chris Smith celebrates his newfound freedom from a safe social distance with UC College of Law student and OIP fellow Kaylee Price, who worked on his case. Provided/Mark Godsey

After languishing in prison for 12 years for a crime in which DNA evidence implicated another perpetrator, Christopher Smith walked free on April 14 with help from University of Cincinnati law students, professors and attorneys. 

The Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) at the UC College of Law, took up the case of the Cincinnati man convicted in 2008 of armed robbery and sentenced to 18 years in prison. Michele Berry Godsey, a 2006 UC College of Law alumnus and former OIP participant, represented Smith both at his original trial in Hamilton County 12 years ago and in his appeal. 

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Boosting faculty spirits via UC colors

Collage of three UC faculty all in their UC gear

About three dozen UC faculty members are shown here as part of the virtual spirit day sponsored by the Faculty Enrichment Center. Photo/Submitted

The UC Faculty Enrichment Center challenged faculty to dress in UC gear then share a photograph on April 17. The above image was the result, said Rita Kumar, executive director of the Faculty Enrichment Center.

“The idea was to encourage faculty to think positively and connect in this time of social distancing while displaying university pride,” she said.


UC alum shares how he's creating 'Art in Isolation'

Southwest Ohio PBS affiliate CET featured University of Cincinnati alumnus Jody Jones on its program, "The Art Show," in a new series about artists in the age of COVID-19.

"Art in Isolation" looks at how artists and their artforms have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and how have they adapted to the situation. Musician, producer and engineer Jody Jones, aka GrandAce, is a 2019 graduate of UC's College-Conservatory of Music. He shared how he's staying productive — and positive — during this unique time.

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UC family gives living room performance of Beethoven

A family of musicians stuck at home during the pandemic found a perfect venue for a chamber music performance — their living room. The four string players, including two UC College-Conservatory of Music students, performed the first movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet in D Major, Op. 18, No. 3 and shared it online for music lovers everywhere to enjoy.

The home concert features Cleveland Orchestra violinist Kathleen Collins and her children: Daniel Fields, a student violinist at CCM; Matthew Fields, a student cellist at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University; and Maya Fields, a student violist at CCM.

The performance received rave reviews from the family’s live-audience member, Cleo the dog.

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CCM alum John Holiday sings highest of high notes

UC College-Conservatory of Music alumnus John Holiday (MM Voice, '12) sings everything from opera to spirituals on stages all over the world. His journey to singing is featured in a micro-documentary profile by Great Big Story, an Emmy-winning global media company devoted to cinematic storytelling.

Growing up in Texas, Holiday says that he sang in the soprano section of the church choir and was often teased for his high voice. However, the countertenor knew he was destined to be a singer.

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Encouraging words from UC's research community

The College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Cincinnati came together virtually, creating a video to thank healthcare workers and recognize its students for their strength, resilience and adaptability during the COVID-19 crisis.

Included in the video are the college’s dean, assistant deans, vice president, department heads, faculty, staff, alumni and students. Videos were submitted from across the United States – from South Carolina to Washington, and included 11 different languages.

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Pampered by pets during pandemic

Charlie the dog helps his owner

As coronavirus has forced most to social distance, pets have become the new supervisors, coworkers and even therapeutic Zen for many UC faculty, staff and students.

Want to share a photo of your furry work friend, your study buddy, or another uplifting image? Share it with UC News for a chance to be included in this "paws-itive" news feature.

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UC family keeps it upbeat and creative

Dr. Michael Holliday plays drumsand his daughter Abby plays guitar

Dr. Michael Holliday and his daughter Abby use music and humor to stay upbeat in the midst of COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Abby Holliday.

In the midst of intense times, the Holliday family knows just how to keep you smiling and your foot tapping. They have created a music video expressing their thoughts about coronavirus and how it has upended everything.

Abby Holliday, a senior studying social work at UC, got things going. She was fretting about Ohio's stay-at-home-order and wondered what she could do to stave off boredom. She would self-quarantine in the family’s Milford home with her mother and father, three siblings and grandmother, who moved in only a few weeks before.

“I love to write music, and I feel like there are so many song opportunities to explain everything that is going on,” said Abby. “The day before we made the video, I grabbed my guitar and pulled out a pen and started working on a song. I got some help from my siblings of things to include.

“My brother loves to make videos, so I was like ‘what if we made a music video,’” she said. “That is how it happened. It came together with the song done in one day, and we did the video the next day. It was pretty quick.”

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Image gallery shares beauty of UC's still campus

Empty UC Campus on March 23 during COVID-19 pandemic.

O'Varsity Way is normally a crowded thoroughfare, especially for UC athletes, coaches and staff who frequent the Richard E. Lindner Athletic Center. Photo/Matt Green/MasseyGreenAVP for UC

Spring at the University of Cincinnati is normally among the most vibrant and lively times to experience one of the world’s most beautiful urban campuses.

These days, however, the place is nearly empty as tens of thousands of students, faculty and staff do their part to slow the spread of coronavirus by self-quarantining. While classrooms and labs sit empty and normally busy green spaces remain quiet — except for the sounds of singing birds and trickling water features — there is beauty in the stillness. 

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UC science labs donate protective gear to UC Health

Jack Hinders stands among boxes

Jack Hinders stands among donated boxes of personal protective equipment. Photo/Heather Norton

Science departments at the University of Cincinnati are donating unused lab equipment to UC Health to augment its supply of personal protective equipment for nurses, doctors and staff.

The Chemistry Department in UC’s College of Arts & Sciences reached out to biology, physics and other departments in A&S and then extended its solicitations to the College of Engineering and Applied Science and the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning.

“The University of Cincinnati is a family. And you always help family,” said Jack Hinders, senior lab associate in chemistry.

“Our healthcare workers make sacrifice after sacrifice to protect all of us. It feels great to do something that will help protect them, too,” he said.

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DAAP prof puts new designs on community outreach

Brigid O'Kane at her home office

DAAP's Brigid O'Kane teaches art from a distance at home.

While the world scrambles to settle into a new normal amid the global pandemic, some things don’t change, like the need for self-expression and to stay connected.

As University of Cincinnati students shift into learning remotely from their safe spaces, faculty are broadcasting lessons virtually from empty labs, classrooms or home offices.

To navigate these new virtual waters, many are seeking ways to deal with their frustrations and uncertainties by continuing to creatively express themselves.

“What better way to do that than through the arts and other creative outlets, especially now,” says Brigid O’Kane, associate professor of industrial design at UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP). “People are experiencing a lot of emotion right now and it’s okay. Being aware of one’s emotions is important; it fosters thoughtful responses instead of careless reactions.”

Awareness is key and creative outlets are what she hopes will help channel those emotions constructively. 

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Donation expands UC Health testing capabilities

Infectious Disease lab staff in action.

Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand

A new gift to UC Health from a private foundation will help expand the capacity and speed of testing for COVID-19 across the region's academic healthcare system. 

Through the University of Cincinnati Foundation, the anonymous donor has funded the purchase of two pieces of equipment for the UC Health Precision Medicine Laboratory,  which can be put to immediate use in accelerating in-house testing for the novel coronavirus responsible for the global pandemic.  

Two machines and their associated peripherals at a value of $170,000, as well a quantity of test kits for an additional $30,000, have been purchased and are en route to arrive at UC Medical Center within the next two weeks. 

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UC medical students assist seniors amidst COVID-19

Cassandra Schoborg unpacks groceries.

Cassandra Schoborg unpacks groceries. She launched a program in Cincinnati pairing healthy volunteers with seniors and others at risk during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo courtesy of Cassandra Schoborg.

The coronavirus pandemic has upended the daily existence for most in the Tristate including medical students at the University of Cincinnati. Most are learning remotely and many have seen their clinical rotations suspended for safety reasons.

While social distancing, hand-washing and virtual meetings remain the norm for medical students, many haven’t given up on trying to make an impact in their community.

A group of about 40 medical students are part of a free service program known as “Cincinnati + NKY COVID-19 Match” aimed at connecting younger healthy volunteers who have a lower risk for illness with individuals at severe risk of developing coronavirus and in need of someone to pick up groceries, medications or deliver meals. Individuals with asthma or with immunocompromised systems along with seniors 65 and older are considered in the high-risk category, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Third-year UC medical students Cassandra Schoborg and Tommy Daley spearheaded the effort. They began thinking about ways to help as federal, state and local officials announced restrictions in daily life to protect public health. Schoborg, a Covington, Kentucky, native, was already assisting her grandmother by picking up groceries and other essentials.

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App helps connect isolated seniors with their families

A young and older hand embrace

With the coronavirus pandemic, which has shuttered elder care facilities to visitors across the U.S. in the name of social distancing, a sudden spotlight has been given to services like HiLois, a private social network designed for seniors and their families.  

Brett Harnett, HiLois founder and assistant professor in UC's Department of Biomedical Informatics, came up with the idea for the app shortly after his mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2014, as a way to remotely share photos and messages with her while living hundreds of miles away.

Now, facilities are reaching out to find out how they, too, can utilize the tool and connect residents with families. 

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Medical students celebrate a Match

Andrew Furthmiller with his family

Andrew Furthmiller with his family soon after learning he matched at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

Social media has sometimes been seen as the culprit of social isolation. 

But in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it allowed medical students at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine to stay connected as they celebrated Match Day with friends and loved ones, albeit with proper social distancing.

It’s a rite of passage for fourth-year medical students around the nation as they learn where they will complete the next three to seven years of residency training in specialties across the nation.

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UC's graduating class includes 93-year-old veteran

Paul Blom holds a photo of himself from the military

Paul Blom, 93, returned to UC to get his associate's degree after not having been to campus since the 1950s. Photo/Andrew Higley/Creative + Brand

It had been more than a half century since Paul Blom had taken classes at UC. 

Blom, a 93-year-old World War II veteran, attended UC in the late ‘40s and early-to-mid ‘50s, but fell a few classes short of earning a bachelor’s degree. 

Back in May of 2019, Blom’s daughter Paula Baxter reached out to the UC Board of Trustees to ask if there was any way he could be conferred an honorary degree.

"He has talked about this almost my whole adult life," Baxter wrote. "I think it is one of his biggest regrets." 

It turns out that there was no need for Blom, a 93-year-old World War II veteran, to be given an honorary degree — or to regret not graduating. After some investigation, UC officials discovered that Blom had received more than enough credits to qualify for an associate's degree through UC Blue Ash.

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UC student now sees her own story being told

UC student Mary Williams looks though video camera

Mary Williams behind the camera in the PBS Student Reporting Lab at Hughes STEM High School. Photo/Joseph Fuqua II/Creative + Brand

Her mentors call her passionate. She calls herself eager to learn. We call her a Bearcat.

In January University of Cincinnati sophomore Mary Williams’ name was called as “Student Journalist of the Year,” at a National Educational Telecommunications Association ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The award is for Williams’ video reporting and mentoring contributions over the last year to the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs (SRL), a nationwide, high school based, broadcast journalism program designed to help students produce news stories for the network’s evening news broadcast, PBS NewsHour, that relate to their own lives and the experiences of their peers; SRL students are mentored by volunteer teachers, graduates and PBS professionals at 150 schools across the nation.

“I didn’t know what to expect going into journalism, but as soon as I heard you’re going to get to ask questions, work with cameras and lighting it all just spoke to me,” says Williams, now an electronic media major at UC's College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). She started her journey to the awards podium at Hughes STEM High School, part of the Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), in 2015 while in 10th grade. 

“She has an immeasurable amount of talent and passion and I can’t wait to see what she does with it,” says one of Williams’ ShareIT mentors Josette Riep, director of the university’s information technology department. She adds that Williams was the first of a handful of high school students to enroll in the program, and her achievements are applauded by everyone in the IT department. “We are all behind her,” says Riep. “It’s part of our mission here. We all believe that we are here to serve the students and do anything that we can to create a more inclusive environment.”

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UC students provide job coaching for people in recovery

UC students in the College of Arts & Sciences provide job coaching help to patients at the Center for Addiction Treatment. The students help patients write resumes and cover letters, fill out applications and provide interviewing skills.

UC College of Arts and Sciences student Riley Jerow, right, works one-on-one with job-seekers in recovery at Cincinnati's Center for Addiction Treatment. Photo/Colleen Kelley/Creative + Brand

Riley Jerow, a University of Cincinnati student, sat across a table from three patients at the Center for Addiction Treatment who had little in common apart from their desire to get better.

Jerow is taking part in a new UC service-learning project in which students create a curriculum designed to help people in recovery write resumes and cover letters, apply for jobs and prepare for interviews. Then the students put their plan to work at the treatment center, where they provide one-on-one job coaching.

The job-seekers were born years apart and have different educational backgrounds and work histories. But each welcomed Jerow’s job-coaching help.

“I appreciate her coming down to help us,” one told another during a break.

Robert Hyland, an associate professor of English and comparative literature, created the project after surveys of the center’s patients found their biggest priority was re-employment. The center 

The treatment center, which serves a diverse population by age, educational background and work experience, is decorated with the patients’ artwork. In one meeting room, a hand-lettered watercolor reads: “God, please help me to laugh again but please don’t let me forget that I cried.”

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UC students run free health clinic to help uninsured

UC students and physician faculty opened free health clinic

UC students opened a new free health clinic in northern Hamilton County last summer. Photo/Colleen Kelley/Creative + Brand

Medical students and physician-faculty at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine have opened a free health clinic in northern Hamilton County in hopes of increasing access to health care services for uninsured Tristate residents.

The clinic is located in the Healing Center, 11345 Century Circle West, Springdale, Ohio, and will initially operate 9 a.m. until noon every Saturday. The first day of operation was July 13. The clinic was created by medical students, who will provide care under the supervision of physicians who are on the college’s faculty. Licensed interpreters also will be available for non-English speaking patients.

“Our long-term goal is to be a comprehensive primary care clinic that manages acute and chronic illnesses,” says Joseph Zegar, PharmD, who is entering his second year of medical school and is involved in the clinic’s operations. “Initially, we will operate like an urgent care type center handling flu, fever, infections, minor cuts and injuries. These are matters we can treat during one visit, but we hope to expand and offer more comprehensive care as we acquire more services for the community.”

The target audience is the region’s uninsured adult population, says Caroline Hensley, a medical student entering her fourth year who has spearheaded efforts to open the health clinic. As a master’s of public health student working at the Crossroad Health Center in 2016, she noticed many Spanish-speaking residents who lacked insurance. Many of them lived outside of the central city core and had unreliable transportation to access the clinic.

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Student hopes experience as patient helps as researcher

Caroline Spencer, CAHS student, with her Great Dane dog, Clark, in front of the new Allied Health Sciences building.

Caroline Spencer was diagnosed with Friedreich’s ataxia several years ago and now manages on campus with the help of Clark, her 4-year-old Great Dane. Photo/Colleen Kelley/Creative + Brand

When Caroline Spencer was diagnosed with Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) just before her 24th birthday, she unfortunately knew what was ahead for her. Spencer, now 31 and in her fourth year as a doctoral student in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) at the University of Cincinnati (UC)  College of Allied Health Sciences, was familiar with FA from her studies in neuroscience as a UC undergrad and while getting her master’s degree in speech pathology from Purdue University.

“It was pretty tough to take because, even though I knew something was wrong and the answers I’d been getting weren’t right, I didn’t want FA to be the answer,” she says.

FA is a genetic condition that affects the nervous system and causes movement problems. People with this condition develop impaired muscle coordination, gradual loss of strength and sensation in the arms and legs and impaired speech, hearing and vision.

Spencer is currently working on a National Institutes of Health fellowship grant to fund her dissertation and training in neuroimaging analysis, using data related to speech language pathology research conducted by Suzanne Boyce, PhD, professor in CSD and Spencer’s advisor. Spencer says the outcome of this project will provide further knowledge about the interaction between phonological and motor networks for speech production in children who fail to acquire all the sounds of their language

It was when she was around the age of 20 that she first went to the doctor because of problems she was having with her balance.

“I was never very athletic or coordinated, and it took me a long time to learn to ride a bike,” she says of what she now sees as her earliest symptoms. “I have two brothers and they don’t have it, and neither of my parents are symptomatic, but they are both carriers, so I’m the lucky one who got both recessive traits.”

Spencer says the last part of that sentence with a smile and quick laugh, something she does a lot during a conversation. That’s a bit unexpected coming from someone who knows that her mobility, which is already challenged, is most likely only going to become more limited in the coming years. She says she doesn’t have any other choice but to maintain a positive attitude.

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Lessons in love

Dr. Art Pancioli and med student Katie Brown help a patient in Tanzania.

These days Dr. Art Pancioli is helping spearhead UC Health's response to coronavirus, but last summer he flew to Tanzania with a few dozen others to serve the underserved in Tanzania. Also pictured helping the patient is UC med student Katie Brown. Photo/Ravenna Rutledge/Creative + Brand

UC Magazine joined a two-week trip to Tanzania in June 2019 with volunteers including University of Cincinnati students, faculty and staff. The nonprofit Village Life Outreach Project has sent hundreds of volunteers from UC to three remote villages in East Africa since it started 15 years ago, an effort that has deeply impacted countless lives on both sides of the world.

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Nursing faculty inspired to ‘Give Like a Mother’

Amy Van stands among racks full of donated clothing

Amy Vann, an adjunct visiting faculty from the UC College of Nursing, started Give Like a Mother to help those who needed some extra help. Photo/Colleen Kelley/Creative + Brand

Amy Vann knows what it’s like to not have nice things. Growing up in the Ohio River towns of Gallipolis, Ohio and Point Pleasant, West Virginia, she felt the teasing and mocking by school kids who had the new shoes and brand name clothes that her parents could not afford to buy for her and her sister. Now a mother herself, Vann founded and operates Give Like a Mother, a non-profit company that collects and distributes clothing and other items for free to underprivileged families.

Vann, an adjunct visiting faculty from the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Nursing who teaches students in a clinical setting at UC Medical Center and UC Health West Chester Hospital, got her certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) degree at the UC College of Nursing in December of 2009. After graduation, with a little more time on her hands, she started searching for a service project.

“I’ve always had a strong heart for children, and I always loved serving,” says Vann. “We have a very service-minded family, and we always love to give back and help others.”

Vann began by looking for people to give baby clothing or equipment that she no longer had use for, since, after having a boy and a girl, she was done having babies. Using Facebook yard sale sites, she would meet people to sell them items from her family, and saw then how great the need was in the community.

“That’s when I started looking for people who needed items and I would ask other moms that I knew or people in the community if they had anything to spare,” Vann said. “It was during what they call a ‘journey’ at Crossroads Church where they challenged you to be brave in whatever God had planned for you that I started thinking about it and thought, ‘this is what I’m supposed to do.’”

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Nourishing a community

A student at Cooking for the Family The Cooking for the Family

A student at Cooking for the Family The Cooking for the Family at the St. Francis Seraph Ministries in Over-the-Rhine’s St. Anthony Center preps fresh produce. Photo/Andrew Higley/Creative + Brand

Sounds of chopping and bubbling pots punctuate conversations as the chef instructor quizzes the class on last week’s lessons: the difference between a boil and a simmer, a dice and a mince.

Smells of garlic and coconut fill the air as they work their way through this week’s recipe: island rice and beans with a salad of apple, carrot and radish. Colorful fresh produce sits in bowls ready to be prepped, cooked and enjoyed by the students. The Cooking for the Family class hosted by St. Francis Seraph Ministries in Over-the-Rhine’s St. Anthony Center is a sensory feast.

This class — and several programs across the Tristate — is made possible in part by a University of Cincinnati Bicentennial Community Engagement Grant.

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UC program gives high school students big head start

Hazem Said holds up phone while speaking from podium

Hazem Said, UC's director of the School of Information Technology, speaks during Thursday's announcement of the formation of the Early IT program at Akron Public Schools' Akron’s Kenmore-Garfield High School Photo/Courtesy Akron Public Schools

Akron high school students eager to begin careers in information technology can now get a head start before they graduate high school, thanks to an agreement formalized Thursday between the University of Cincinnati, Stark State College and Akron Public Schools.

The partnership provides students at Akron’s Kenmore-Garfield High School with a unique opportunity to complete up to 43 hours of college credit while in high school. Students who complete their freshmen year of the information technology bachelor’s degree program while in high school will automatically be accepted to UC as sophomore IT majors and immediately be eligible for co-op placement.

The program, which is provided at no cost to high school students, not only saves students a year’s tuition money, but also makes it possible to graduate with little to no debt while gaining practical work experience. Entering sophomores can earn money to pay for classes via co-op, which makes college an affordable option for students from all socio-economic backgrounds, said Akron Public Schools Superintendent David James.

“This is a big win for our students both academically and financially,” said James. “Earning college credits and working a co-op to offset the cost of tuition gives our students a huge advantage to earn a degree while minimizing student loan debt.”

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More than meets the eye

Frank J. Rybicki, MD, PhD, and 3D model of an artery in the liver with an aneurysm.

Dr. Frank Rybicki, professor in the UC Department of Radiology, holds a 3D model of an artery. Photo/Colleen Kelley / Creative + Brand

Today, 3D printing is being used for everything from jewelry creation to producing food.

But the ways in which Dr. Frank Rybicki and the University of Cincinnati Department of Radiology are using the technology are directly impacting the way patients receive care at UC Health, improving their experiences and overall outcomes.

Rybicki, professor in the department, came to UC this year with a decade of medical 3D-printing experience under his belt.

He was part of the team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, both located in Boston, Massachusetts, that used 3D models for the first U.S. full face transplant in 2011.

"I immediately realized that 3D printing was going to be a game changer for radiology and medicine as a whole,” he says.

Using CT, MRI or other forms of medical scans, Rybicki and his team make 3D models of what those scans show, such as tumors or clogged arteries. This then helps physicians make decisions on the best, personalized treatment for the patient as well as explain those plans. These models also help students and residents learn more about anatomy. 

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Impact Lives Here

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