Sophomore Embraces Risk and Reward at Oglethorpe

Mon Baroi '15

If you looked at the list of colleges I considered going to, Oglethorpe was number eight…out of a list of eight that included St. John’s University, Gonzaga University, Wabash College, Guilford College and Earlham College. I chose to come to Oglethorpe because of its proximity to Atlanta and its small classes. And, living up to its motto, Oglethorpe has helped me figure out how to make a life, make a living, and make a difference in society.

When I came to Oglethorpe my freshman year, all I wanted to do was “fast-forward” through the next four years. I wasn’t expecting to begin the process of starting a nonprofit called Oglethorpe’s Tiny Homes, and to work at Pegasus Creative, an on-campus student communications agency.

Two friends and I were sitting around a table during lunch, and after telling them that I wanted to build prototype tiny house that was sustainable, their response shocked me: “Yeah,” they said, “Let’s do it. We can help!” We went to the university administration about our idea and they asked us how they could help us. Oglethorpe shocked me with its spirit of encouragement.

Mon, Cartrez Wilson '15 and Jacob Tadych '14 discuss the Oglethorpe Tiny Homes project.

Although I knew that I wanted to build a house, and had an idea of how it would look, I was lost on what purpose the house would serve. Some of my classes in my major (politics) and minor (nonprofit management) actually helped me realize the purpose of Oglethorpe’s Tiny Homes.

It’s not about building houses, but rather, reinventing the philosophy and people’s perception of what a house should be. One of my politics classes, “New American City,” was focused on the political history of the city of Atlanta. Without this class, I would not have understood the dire need for affordable housing in Atlanta. Many of my politics classes have helped me understand who gets what, when and how in society. Oglethorpe’s Tiny Homes is all about creating affordable homes that increase people’s self worth without jeopardizing their net worth.

Mon with fellow Pegasus Creative member Caitlyn Mitchell '13

One of the most important things I have learned at Oglethorpe is that if you want to make a difference you must take risks and not be afraid of failure. Working at Pegasus Creative, Oglethorpe’s student communications agency, has helped me get better at taking risks and learning from my mistakes. At Pegasus, you are given responsibilities and tasks that the whole Oglethorpe community (and everyone else) can see and be affected by it. For example, I have helped build websites for Oglethorpe that potential students and current students will use. My responsibilities and the risks I’ve taken at Pegasus have helped me not be as afraid of failure.

Coming to Oglethorpe has helped me figure out how I want to live and what I want to do.  Looks like my lucky number is eight.

Editor’s note: Both Mon Baroi ’15 and Jacob Tadych ’14 were recently selected to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University conference in recognition of the Oglethorpe Tiny Homes project. Read about it here.

The Lale Özgörkey Bell Tower Dedicated at Oglethorpe’s Lupton Hall

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, Cemal Özgörkey, Armagan Özgörkey, Coca-Cola's Chairman & CEO Muhtar Kent and President Schall

On April 8, Oglethorpe University officially dedicated the iconic bell tower of Lupton Hall as The Lale Özgörkey Bell Tower. A dedication ceremony held in front of Lupton Hall included special guest speakers Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company.

The naming is in recognition of a generous gift from the Özgörkey family, many of whom were in attendance. Cemal Özgörkey, chairman of Özgörkey Holding, is a member of the Oglethorpe’s Board of Trustees. Both he and his brother, Armagan Özgörkey, vice chairman of Özgörkey Holding, are Oglethorpe alumni. The bell tower’s new name honors their mother, Lale Özgörkey. The family’s gift benefits Oglethorpe’s new campus center, opening in August 2013.

“Oglethorpe’s relationship with the Özgörkey family began more than 30 years ago and we could not be more proud of Cemal and Armagan and what they accomplished,” said Oglethorpe President Larry Schall. “It’s a tremendous privilege for our entire community to name the bell tower that overlooks our campus in honor of their mother, Lale Özgörkey.”

Lupton Hall is named after John Thomas Lupton, the owner of the Southern franchise of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company. Lupton Hall was completed in three phases, with groundbreaking ceremonies in 1922, 1924 and 1927. The bell tower, a part of the original section of the hall, was built as a memorial to Lupton’s mother. Lupton Hall was the second building erected on the university’s campus.

Oglethorpe Uses Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Grant to Help Protect and Promote Students’ Well-Being

Since 2008, Oglethorpe University has been awarded an annual grant from the The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. The grant promotes and raises awareness for highway safety issues, and thanks to Leanne Henry-Miller, director of counseling services, Oglethorpe has continued to benefit from this grant in some amazing ways.

Four Oglethorpe students participate in a banner competition about bullying at the Bacchus conference. Their participation was made possible by the grant from The Governor's Office for Highway Safety.

In 2008, the grant was fundamental in establishing the OU Alcohol and Drug Task Force. Members Gaby Pierce ’16, Zena Stephens ’13, Lukas Strasser ’14 and Katie Galli ’15 have been integral in tightening the alcohol and drug policy on campus and making sure students are more informed about sanctions. For example, this task force helped to establish the Good Samaritan Policy, which protects a student from being punished if he seeks help in an alcohol or drug-related emergency.  In general, the Task Force stresses a need for uniform, clearly defined policies in regards to alcohol and drug sanctions.

Similarly, the grant is a primary sponsor of Peer Education training, which is a program targeted toward leaders on campus. This spring, nine students completed the training, and learned how to respond to dangerous campus situations and how to lead through positive examples.

“Anyone who’s interested in being a leader on campus should (consider) this training,” said Leanne. “RAs, RHs, group leaders… it’s important for all gate keepers.”

Additionally, the grant provided funds to take students to the Bacchus Network Area 9 Conference. These students (Everett Jackson ’15, Gaby Pierce ’16, Brian Cornelius ’15 and Precious Goto ’16) participated in a banner competition about bullying, as well as a contest to see who could make the best Iron Chef “mocktail” (a cocktail without alcohol).

The grant also covers the cost for Alcohol e-CheckUpToGo, an online test for students who are concerned about their alcohol intake or who have been sanctioned.

Finally, the grant covers portions of speakers’ visits, such as Elaine Pasqua’s Orientation Presentation: “Sex and Excess: Surviving the Party,” which discussed how alcohol is usually a factor in sexual assault.

“The speakers are targeted towards freshmen because we know those first six weeks have high-risk behavior,” explained Leanne. “(We also) bring in speakers who target Greek life and athletes.”

Thanks to this grant, our campus has become better educated about drug risks and sanctions. Our student leaders have learned how to help their peers during moments of distress, and online tests have become available for those who are concerned about their alcohol consumption. Thanks in part to the Highway Safety Grant, Oglethorpe is becoming a safer, more informed campus, with students who are better prepared for emergencies and ready to lead their peers by example.

The Counseling Services at Oglethorpe is always ready to listen. If you have any alcohol or drug-related concerns, contact Leanne Henry-Miller at 404-364-3415.

Clinton Global Initiative University Selects Four Oglethorpe Students to Attend 2013 Conference

Last year, Awet Woldegebriel ’14 was selected to be a presenter at the prestigious Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU), founded by President Clinton to bring together students, youth organizations, topic experts, and celebrities to discuss and develop innovative solutions to pressing global challenges. Awet, an international studies major, was invited to attend CGIU again this year to discuss his nonprofit Knowledge Aid—this time accompanied by three more Oglethorpe students: Mon Baroi ’15, Jacob Tadych ’14, and Carolina Duque ’13, selected to attend based on their own impressive projects.

Mon, a politics major and nonprofit management minor, and Jacob, a business major, have been working on Oglethorpe’s Tiny Homes Project since September 2011, with the help of other members of the Oglethorpe community. “The mission of Oglethorpe’s Tiny Homes Project is to build a $400 home that is sustainable and environmentally-conscious on the campus of Oglethorpe in 2013,” explained Mon. “After we build the prototype, our first home, our plan is to raise $5,000 so that we can build five homes that are endorsed by the city of Atlanta for homeless or low-income individuals.”

Mon Baroi '15 and Jacob Tadych '14 happily at work on their project

The team plans to share their plans and research online, so that it may be improved upon and replicated around the world.

“I’m excited (to attend CGIU),” Jacob said. “I’m hoping we can get networks, get more people involved… plus we get to hear all the ideas from other people.”

One of those ideas is Carolina’s nonprofit, Mas Luz, which provides services and aid to help women in Colombia who have been physically and mentally abused.

“I’m looking forward to show everybody what we are doing in Colombia to help,” said Carolina, who is from Colombia and is studying business at Oglethorpe. “I wasn’t expecting (CGIU) to choose me. I am stunned.”

Carolina also hopes to network and to hear about other people’s projects. As Awet experienced last year, CGIU gives students the chance to grow their ideas and to make them a reality.

“The thing about (Tiny Homes) is that a lot of people think that it’s just about a house,” said Mon, “and the thing is, it’s not just about a house, it’s about a state of mind and a lifestyle. We’re advocates of a certain type of lifestyle, a lifestyle of lifelong learning.”

Congratulations, Carolina, Mon, Jacob and Awet—may your ideas continue to flourish!  Learn more about Oglethorpe’s business majors, politics major and nonprofit management minor.

Day of Service Celebrates Extraordinary Alumnus Fred Agel ’52

Mr. Fred Agel '52 (center) is surrounded by Day of Service volunteers, gathered in his honor.

Chances are that you’ve met Fred Agel ’52, a devoted alumnus, loving family member, and incredibly generous personhe is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa and the Board of Trustees, and you can often find him volunteering his free time in the library archives.  November 19th was a special day for Fred, who celebrated his 85th birthday with friends, family… and a big surprise.  To honor Fred and show how much they love and appreciate him, his entire family planned a Day of Service volunteer event with the OU community at Books for Africa.

“I hoped that we could find a way to work through OU since it has been, and continues to be, such an important part of my father’s life,”  said Laurie Agel Amerson, Fred’s daughter. ”I believe that my entire family has watched my father’s community service, and each and every one of us finds a way to be involved in our communities. He taught by example the importance of giving back, and three generations later, he is still teaching.”

The volunteer event on February 16th brought together more than 40 students, alumni, Center for Civic Engagement staff, and friends of Mr. Agel. Members of the newly established Thornwell Jacobs Society were especially excited to join in, as the project not only highlighted their goals of integrity, initiative, and perseverance, but took place during Thornwell Jacobs’ birthday weekend.

“Celebrating Fred Agel is celebrating Oglethorpe,” said Ruwa Romman ’15, historian of the Jacobs Society. President Antonio Mantica ’15 said with a smile that, if Fred were a sophomore, he would be a prime candidate for membership in the Society. 

In addition to the Day of Service, several departments have sent Fred thank you cards, and the baseball team (of which Fred is a former member) has given Fred a baseball, signed with all of the players’ names.

“This is a great way to celebrate his legacy,” said Heather Staniszewski ’02, assistant director of the Center for Civic Engagement, who helped plan the event. “It’s exciting to see family, alumni, and students working together in his honor.”

“The day was a huge success,” added Laurie.  “My dad spent a lot of time just looking at everybody working and sorting books with a big smile on his face.  The most wonderful thing for me was seeing all four generations of my family working side-by-side with OU students.”

If you would like to participate in future service projects, contact Heather Staniszewski.