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'Mr. Bearcat' Finds New Directions At College

Date: June 4, 2002
By: Carey Hoffman
Phone: (513) 556-1825
Photo by Colleen Kelley
Archive: General News

John Schulke's mother was not surprised he won an award from UC. But she had her own thoughts as to which one he deserved.

After being recognized by his fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, "my mom jokingly called it the 'Not Seeing Your Parents' Award. I didn't go home very often. All my friends are here," says Schulke.

Schulke has become such a fixture at UC that he leaves campus this year with the ultimate UC title, the Mr. Bearcat Award. The honor goes to a graduating senior man who has achieved academic success, demonstrated leadership in diverse settings and contributed to UC with "Bearcat Spirit."John Schulke, with Lindner Hall in the background

The marketing major from the College of Business Administration wasn't always so entrenched here, however. As a freshman, in fact, uncertainty about his initial major of architectural engineering and family difficulties back at home in Beavercreek, Ohio, had him thinking of transferring. "It was a lot of things, including the transition to a big city," Schulke says. "I didn't like it, until I got involved."

Schulke's situation was helped by his earning an Air Force ROTC scholarship after two years at the university, reducing the pressure of having to work nearly full time to pay for school.

He also was involved in a mammoth undertaking with his fraternity. Continuing problems caused the national headquarters of Beta Theta Pi to call for a re-organization of its UC chapter. From a membership of almost 100, most members resigned or were kicked out. Schulke was one of seven invited to remain and lead the reformed chapter. Immediately, he became the house's president and treasurer.

"Things have completely changed," he says. "We are now an alcohol-free and drug-free facility. Members have to have a minimum 2.5 GPA. We had to come up with a new constitution and bylaws, and we had to agree to send so many of our members off to conventions (for leadership education)."

Schulke's life was changed by the experience. Participation in leadership development programs gave him a new direction on campus and convinced him that this was the kind of work for which he was best suited.

After feeling his influence through his involvement with a long list of campus organizations, his peers agree.

"The most important characteristic of John Schulke is his character," says Scott Oyler, who has succeeded Schulke as Beta Theta Pi's president. "He is a hard worker who still finds time to have a good time. John is a finisher and will always do what he says he will do."

In nominating Schulke for Mr. Bearcat, the Sigma Phi Women's Honorary cited an Oliver Wendell Holmes quote: "The great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving." They then added: "It is within this quote that you can capture John's personality, attitude and outlook on life, as well as his dedication to the university and its purpose. A direction in life is so important and, as a college student, it is rare to find a person so dedicated to moving in the right direction and the ability to lead others in the right direction."

Beta Theta Pi is now back up to 22 members, and headed in the right direction. As for Schulke, he will fulfill his four-year military obligation at Arnold Air Force Base in Tennessee. He then plans on returning to Cincinnati and finding a position in student leadership.

"I want to help out in student life, just because I've gotten so much out of it," he says. "I've gotten such a great experience being involved with student groups that now I want to give back."

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