Fiesta Primavera, A Cultural Event For A Good Cause

April 19, 2016

By Nayah James

Fiesta Primavera, an event hosted by university ministry, was held in the Underground on April 15 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. The event acted as a “dance, fundraiser” and “on campus event” according to the event posting site EngageDU.

The intent was to “enhance multiculturalism across campus” and the party did just that.

From the delicious Mexican food to the traditional Mexican music, everyone enjoyed themselves.

Music blared throughout the Underground, shaking the floors and windows. This reminded everyone in the room of the cause for the night. Sophomore and University Ministry Intern, Rosanna “Rosie” Fiasche, reminded the crowd that all proceeds would be donated to support students affected by the MAP grant.

The crowd grew bigger as more students flowed into the event. Everyone stood around the room, smiling, hugging and chatting with nearby friends as the party was really about to begin.

The Dominican Starlettes, dressed in red short ruffle-layered style dresses, started the party off right with a sassy Latin inspired performance.

From there, two other dance groups performed. The OLAS’ Estilo y Sabor group, dressed in black, performed a sultry Latin inspired number and a group of four, dressed in traditional Mexican dance attire, performed a more traditional gender specific number.

With the room well lit, not many people were out on the dance floor; however, when the lights went off and the strobe lights came on, everyone flooded to the center of the dance floor. There was everything from friends dancing with friends, couples dancing and even a few dance circles.

The most enjoyable activities were the line dancing and the authentic Hispanic food. Most felt the party was a great way to enhance multiculturalism and that the music was very fun.

Freshman Armani Brockman said, “I thought it was great! As someone who’s not Hispanic, but surrounded by a diverse Hispanic culture, it gave me a more intimate look at their culture. The food was good and the music was even better.”

Rosario “Rosie” Hernandez said, “This was a celebration of culture and support that I felt was the best way to relieve stress and feel more connected at Dominican.”

Ashlynn Hill talked about how nervous she was to perform.

“It was nice, but nerve racking because I didn’t expect it to be so many people, but it was really fun and I liked the music,” Hill said.

Another University Ministry Intern, Hope Gutierrez, said, “We were all celebrating together in a way that really brings warmth and light to my heart. It was amazing to see the love and community that was built in such a short period of time.”

From The Back Of The Yards To Front Of The Cause: Cutberto Aguayo Sets His Mark On Student Politics

April 19, 2016

By Martin Carlino

An old, beaten and worn-down pool table that sat in Dominican’s Mazzuchelli Hall caught Cutberto Aguayo eyes every time he walked past it during his freshman year.

One of Aguayo’s first acts as a Student Government Association (SGA) senator was replacing the torn, disheveled felt, broken pool cues and nonexistent chalk that came with that same pool table.

It has always been that kind of attention to detail and desire for change that has driven Dominican Senior Cutberto “Berto” Aguayo.

Aguayo’s story starts in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood, on 48th and Union, where he grew up. Aguayo, raised by a single mother who had to work very long hours, got into trouble early on in his life.

At 13, Aguayo found himself involved in a neighborhood gang that kept its grip on him for nearly four years.

Aguayo then began high school, recalling that his early years were marred with trouble.

During his junior year at Chicago’s Garcia High School, Aguayo started off one day in an all-too- familiar place, the principal’s office. Although he was serving a suspension for a gang related fight, Principal Josephine Gomez gave him an application that would change the course of his life.

That application was for the Mikva Challenge program, which engages youth in the world of politics.

Prompted by the appealing deal of, paid, summer work, Aguayo applied for the program. Much to his surprise, he was accepted.

Aguayo now had his first political job, a position with Chicago Alderman Michele Smith. That experience sparked something.

“Once I got to the office, it was really badass to see how the world of politics worked,” Aguayo said. “It was an extremely transformative experience and it allowed me to really see my potential.”

While working under Smith, Aguayo realized there should be much more to his life than gang violence and troublemaking.

After the completion of his internship, Aguayo continued to push his life in this new direction. Senior year, he doubled his GPA from 1.5 to 3.0 in addition to removing himself from the gang.

As senior year came to a close, Aguayo said he applied to five colleges, one of which was Dominican. However, college was still a bit of a long shot for him, and the application to Dominican was at first, nothing substantial.

Sparked by the incentive of being able to attend his school’s prom, Aguayo sent his application to Dominican.

“The reason why I originally applied to Dominican was because I had to apply to five colleges in order to go to prom,” Aguayo said. “It was school policy. At the time, I never really considered myself as the kind of kid that was going to college.”

Aguayo changed his mind, and came down to Dominican to go over his financial aid package. It was then that he knew Dominican would be the right choice for him.

“Once I got into the financial aid meeting, it all looked affordable,” Aguayo said. “It seemed possible and once they showed me everything it was an easy decision. All the aesthetics were a stark contrast to my reality on the south side.”

Once at Dominican, Aguayo wanted to continue to build on his previous political experience and knew that SGA would be the best way to do so.

Aguayo applied to be a freshman senator and got the position.

“I was a little disappointed with how little we were doing,” Aguayo said.

Hoping to change the impression students at Dominican had regarding SGA, Aguayo decided to run for the SGA presidency, and won.

In his two years as SGA president, Aguayo push to expand the hours of Dominican’s technology lab and gym, helped initiate the installation of additional water fountains throughout the resident halls and lobbied hard for MAP grant support.

However, his proudest achievement was the janitorial service appreciation day he pushed for. Aguayo organized the event on April 9, 2015. All members of the janitorial service were given certificates and gift cards in recognition for their hard work.

“Janitors are some of the least recognized people on our campus,” Aguayo said. “I feel like they deserve as much recognition as anyone else. I was always taught that you should talk to the university president, the same way you talk to the janitors.”

When looking back at his tenure, Aguayo is very happy with the work SGA accomplished in those two years.

“We did so much, people forgot how irrelevant SGA had been,” Aguayo said.

Aguayo’s peers and professors also recognized the work he put in.

“Berto Aguayo really helped bring the office of the SGA presidency back to relevancy,” said Political Science Professor David Dolence. “He improved the relationship between SGA and many in the university.”

Outside of Dominican, Aguayo has gathered quite the political resume. He has worked on the campaign of Illinois Rep., Emanuel Welch, as well as being appointed to the My Brother’s Keepers cabinet, an initiative to build ladders for success for young men of color, by Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel.

Aguayo realizes that his life drastically shifted for the better and hopes to continue in that direction.

“I’m more interested in what people will say at my funeral, than what my resume will say,” Aguayo said. “As long as people remember me as someone who tried to do the best they could for their community, then I think I will die happily.”

Aguayo is set to graduate this spring and hopes to continue in the world of politics.


Hats Off To The Class Of 2016

April 19, 2016

By Mary Alice Maloney

The Class of 2016 is just weeks away from graduating, and the seniors are preparing for their bright futures ahead. Big jobs, big moves and big changes are in the works for this graduating class, and The Star asked senior students to share their plans for life after Dominican.

Abel Orizaba, Philosophy and Psychology major

“I will be moving to China where I’ll be teaching English at the college level though a Catholic-based program called the Maryknoll China Teachers Program,” said Orizaba. “I’ll be living there for at least a year, but the program I’m with allows for people to extend their time abroad. I’m excited to graduate. Right now, I have a capstone I’m working really hard on, so I don’t think the reality of leaving Dominican has hit me yet.”

Axel Vargas-Irlanda, Rhetoric & Communication major, Social Media minor

I am applying to several places job wise, but for the summer the only thing that is certain is that I’m going to see my family in Puerto Rico that I haven’t seen since before college,” Vargas-Irlanda said. “My mom said that is what she is getting me for my graduation gift and I’m so excited. Other than that I will be looking for a job and trying to get a job.”

“I’m trying to land a job in event coordinating,” Vargas-Irlanda said. “My dream job would be with music event planning for concerts or festivals. I’m applying for positions at the United Center, Allstate Arena, Red Frog and almost 20 other places around the Chicago-land area.”

Maggie Angel, International Relations and Diplomacy major

I’m planning to move to Washington, D.C. and work on Capitol Hill,” Angel said. “I hope to go to graduate school in DC for my masters in security studies next year. My top two schools are Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and American University’s School of International Service. I visited them this past spring break and I loved them both.”

“It’s really an emotional roller coaster,” Angel said. “This end of the year is stressful so I just want a break, but I also think of how I only have a couple weeks on campus left and I think of how much I’m going to miss everyone on campus: my friends, classmates, coworkers, professors and staff. It’s scary to be an adult and that the world is ours for the taking but it’s a crazy and beautiful time planning for baccalaureate mass, candle and rose and graduation.”

Justin Wheeler, Neuroscience major, Psychology minor

“There’s a possibility I might be able to get a job at the animal shelter where I’m an intern so that’s good,” Wheeler said. “I’d be the Volunteer Coordinator. I’m also planning on doing more with music once I graduate. I’ll keep on giving guitar lessons and maybe join a band! I’ll see where the wind takes me.”

“I’d say I’m more excited than scared to graduate,” Wheeler said. “I feel like I’m finally ready to go out into the real world!”

Sara Angel, Rhetoric and Communication major

“I don’t have anything super official set up,” Angel said. “I’ve been in a long distance relationship all school year, so now that my commitments on campus will be finished I plan on moving out to the east coast. It’s a change of scenery that I think is much needed and a chance to grow my relationship. Once I’m there I want to continue to pursue my goal of staying in the Walt Disney Company with opportunities available in New York City.”

“I thought I would be more nervous about graduating,” Angel said. “I’ve been very involved in the Dominican community my four years here. Reflecting on my time, I think I’ve learned everything I need to be confident about moving on to the next chapter of my life. If anything I’m in shock that this year went as quickly as it did.”

“I would really love to congratulate all the graduating seniors,” Angel said. “We have been through a lot and worked so hard to get to this point. I hope everyone is as proud of themselves as I am of us as a graduating class.”

Dianna Kes, Nutrition and Dietetics major

“I’ve applied to a few different graduate school nutrition programs, including Loyola University here in Chicago and Florida State University,” Kes said. “My ultimate goal is to be a Registered Dietician and work globally to help communities get the access they need to the food they need. I’d love to get into either program, but I’m excited to move to Florida and live near my family if I get into FSU. If I end up staying in Chicago, I want to get an apartment in the city with a good friend of mine. No matter what happens, I’m excited to graduate (although I’m really sad to leave DU) and start living my life!”

Berto Aguayo

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have received a couple of job offers for after graduation, and I’ve decided upon working with Mikva Challenge, which is an organization that engages youth in the political process and it’s an organization that helped me get to where I’m at today,” Aguayo said. “In working with that organization, I’ll be facilitating a counsel called the College Access and Career Counsel, which basically is a group of students working on removing the barriers that stop people from getting into college. While working with Mikva Challenge, I’ll also be running the Hoops in the Hood program with the Back of the Yards neighborhood counsel. Hoops in the Hood serves over 150 kids over the summer, and it’s a basketball program that brings together a lot of community partners, like the Chicago Park District and Chicago Public Schools.”

“I also received a law school scholarship, so I’m going to be enrolling in 2017,” Aguayo said. “So while I’m working with Mikva Challenge and Hoops in the Hood to empower the youth in my community, I’ll be studying hard for LSAT to make sure that I get into a top law school. I’ll be able to better serve my community if I have a law school background. I’m aiming high as far as law schools go. University of Chicago and Northwestern University are obvious choices, but I’m also thinking about Harvard.”

“I feel like graduation hasn’t actually hit any of us yet,” Aguayo said. “We’re just so busy with trying to wrap up our classes and capstones and papers, we haven’t had the chance to stop and say ‘hey, we’re seniors!’ and enjoy our last weeks as undergrads.”

A Funny Family: Meet Dominican’s Noise From The Basement Improv Team

April 5, 2016

By Melissa Rohman

Dominican’s Noise from the Basement Improv team won third out of 32 teams from across the Chicagoland area and Midwest region at the College Improv Tournament two weeks ago and they were humbled to say the least. Some members were teary eyed and others were overjoyed but overall the entire team was “just happy to be at the competition”.

The group of eight jokesters and comedians, who range from freshmen to seniors and are majoring in everything from apparel design to neuroscience, are more than just a team. This improv family is not afraid to bring on the weird.

Co-captains senior Rosa Terracciano (referred to by the team as mom) and senior Axel Vargas-Irlanda (referred to by the team as dad) explain that the team dynamic this year is drastically different.

Team members include: freshman Emily Bochniak, freshman Shannon Wilcox, sophomore Hayley Nebrig, sophomore Tim Piotrkowski, junior Gaby Faloona, senior Axel Vargas-Irlanda, senior Rosa Terracciano and senior Erik Virden.

Terracciano and Vergas-Irlanda believe that their team’s unique dynamic is what makes them so strong.

“It’s the fact that we can do crazy things and laugh about it,” Terracciano said.

This is the first year Terracciano and Vargas are co-captaining the improv team. According to Vargas-Irlanda, everyone on the team is differently skilled, with some members who have zero improv and/or theatre experience and others who have a lot of improv and/or theatre experience.

“This group is more like we are all weird together and we all know what each other’s funny is,” Terracciano said. “We’re just an odd group and we have finally found what we agree can be an okay weird. We’re totally supportive of each other.”

The team’s funny and functionally weird family dynamic has helped the team grow during rehearsals to improve their long form improv techniques. Long form improv, unlike its opposite short form improv, involves the team taking a suggestion from the audience and then generating ideas off each team member to make the scene work for a certain amount of time.

To warm up, the team will get in circle, look at each other’s faces and make intense eye contact. The biggest thing the team has committed to this year is improving eye contact, communication and physical comfort.

“We do things specifically during warm-ups to get to know each other so when we are in a scene we are connected we can go with things and not combat each other,” said team member sophomore Hayley Nebrig.
Thanks to coaches Jared Miller and Dominican’s Performing Arts Center Box Office Manager Patrick Serrano, the team has dedicated a lot of time to team bonding and becoming emotionally comfortable with each other.

“We’ve grown a lot and it helps that we have two coaches who have really invested a lot of their time in us this year,” Nebrig said.

The improv family held auditions at the beginning of this year in order to put together their team. Vargas-Irlanda explains that those who make it on the team are based off what the teams needs and whoever is having fun.

“We want people who can also be our friends, because it’s a family,” Vargas-Irlanda said.

Having been through numerous teams and coaches since joining the team her freshman year, junior Gabby Faloona explained that she is grateful the team has gotten to this point.

“The hardest thing for me this year has been getting to this point and group dynamic,” Faloona said. “But now we’re here and we are a team and that’s really special.”

Freshman Emily Bochniak explains what her experience was like coming onto the team as both a newcomer to improv and a newcomer to college.

“At first I was like this is going to be hard because I have to learn so much, there’s different techniques, I didn’t know anyone and I was one of the awkward freshman and everyone was older than us,” Bochniak said. “But throughout the year, we have become family.”

Freshman Shannon Wilcox did improv in high school, so it was interesting for her to see the transition.

According to Wilcox, the hardest and best thing the team has helped accomplish this year was to help her break out of her shell.

Yet the hardest thing for the senior co-captains will have to leave the team by the end of this year.

“The hardest thing about this year will be letting go of the team from this year and after Axel and I leave, wondering what’s going to happen to the team,” Terracciano said.

Noise from the Basement rehearses Saturdays from noon-2pm at Dominican. On Thursdays, catch the team performing at pH comedy theatre in Andersonville on Thursday nights at 10pm. Student tickets are $5 and is BYOB (“bring your own boats”).

Student Commons Project Seeking Funds Before Student Input

April 5, 2016

By Marty Carlino

Dominican’s Student Commons project is suffering delays while the university awaits funding.

The Student Commons project, initially set to begin in the Spring of 2016, is long overdue.

The purpose of this space is to provide students, specifically commuters, with a place to gather between classes and engage with each other.

The exterior design of the building is complete; however, the interior designs cannot commence until production is underway. This means that students will have to wait until they can have their say in the project.

“We’re pretty far along with the design,” said Dominican University Project Manager Dawn Morse.

Production cannot begin until 70 percent of the funds are secured. According to university officials, Dominican has budgeted $17 million for the project.

“It’s all donation dependent right now,” said Dominican’s Dean of Students Trudi Goggin. “We have a great plan and we’re ready to go.”

Dominican’s President, Donna Carroll addressed the status of the Student Commons project at a town hall forum held by Dominican’s Student Government Association (SGA). According to Carroll, “Seventy percent of the required funds are needed before production on the project can begin.”

Once plans are finalized, they must be approved by the Village of River Forest. According to Morse, “Dominican must submit a lengthy application as part of the process, as well as meet with a developmental review board and the village of River Forest board.”

Once that is done, Dominican can submit the project for permit. “Permit is more of a checking to make sure the code requirements are met, and they’re on board with all of the detailed issues,” Morse said.

One thing university officials want to stress is that the delay in the start of production is not related to the ongoing MAP grant difficulties.

“This project was never on the backs of students,” Goggin said. “It is all philanthropy generated and is not intended to impact student expenses in anyway.”

Outside donors will be paying for the Student Commons; these funds are restricted to that project and cannot be spent elsewhere.

Once Dominican gets closer to the 70 percent, the administration reach out to students to have their say in the interior design of the commons.

“We have to make sure that the content will fit, but we’re really looking for the students to give it the personality and the flavor,” Morse said.

Students are eager to participate in the design, but the university will likely wait until production plans become more concrete.

“We’re ready to hold forums for students, but we really want to make sure we can put the shovel in the ground first,” Goggin said. “We don’t want it to be a bait and switch, or something like that.”

Although the Commons have been delayed, the initial mission of the project remains constant.

“Our goal was to integrate services, as well as be available to the commuter student as well as the resident student,” Goggin said. “So often so much of what’s happening on campus seems to be geared towards our resident students. We think the convergence of our offices (Academic Enrichment Center, Office of Student Involvement and University Ministry) really centralizes student development and core support.”

University officials are unclear as to when production will actually begin, as Dominican is awaiting donor contributions in order to progress forward.  

The Stars Head Into Conference Play With Momentum

April 5, 2016

By Christopher Sich

The Dominican University Women’s softball team has gone 2-2 since returning from Fort Myers, FL. The Stars had not played in two and a half weeks heading into their doubleheader against Elmhurst College at The Ballpark at Rosemont on March 29, which led to their slow start.

“The team was definitely rusty after being off from games for two and a half weeks; we were in a great rhythm leaving Florida and you hate to see that broken,” said Head Coach Cristina Lukas. “We had a tough first game loss vs. Elmhurst, but played much better as the day went on.”

The doubleheader loss to Elmhurst was disappointing. Nonetheless, it was a noteworthy day because it was the first time the Stars played at their new home field, The Stadium at the Ballpark at Rosemont. The Stars have played a handful games at The Ballpark at Rosemont throughout the past couple seasons, but this is the first season in Dominicans history that the softball team can call The Ballpark at Rosemont their home. 

“Being able to call The Stadium at the Ballpark in Rosemont our home field is the greatest experience we could give our student-athletes here at Dominican,” Lukas said. “Every time you walk into the ballpark you say ‘wow’; it is truly an amazing experience every time we play there.”

Playing at the Ballpark at Rosemont has several benefits, and for sophomore pitcher Michele Behrens, it’s a dream come true.

“The field is real nice, in great shape, and very spacious,” Behrens said. “Knowing that the Chicago Bandits play there, and Jenny Finch played there, makes it a dream come true in a way.”

The Stars had their next doubleheader at The Ballpark at Rosemont on March 30 against North Park, two days after their losses to Elmhurst, and came out strong as they pounced on the Vikings and won in convincing fashion.

“We worked on some key things during Tuesdays practice and had a goal to have a more aggressive approach; the team definitely responded and our bats came to life,” Lukas said. “The team was outstanding offensively against North Park and made fast, effective adjustments.”

According to Coach Lukas, the return of Freshman Gabby Curran to the lineup was also huge for the team. Curran was hurt for the teams first 10 games in Florida and is a middle-of-the-order hitter for us, in addition to being an excellent defensive player.

Now the Stars must prepare for their first conference games against rivals Concordia-Wisconsin and Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE).

“The games against North Park were a nice momentum boost going into the weekend,” Lukas said.

The practices in between games are very important for the Stars.

“We gear our practices toward things we need to work on, in addition to preparing for specific opponents and the types of pitches we will be facing,” Lukas said.

Even though the game on Saturday against Concordia-Wisconsin was postponed, the Stars must prepare for MSOE on Sunday, and then quickly turn their focus back to Concordia-Wisconsin as they play them the very next day.

According to Lukas, MSOE is very good team with strong pitching and is capable of shutting down a good team, so it will be imperative that the Stars bring their “A” game on Sunday. The Stars must also bring their “A” game against Concordia-Wisconsin.

“The team is pretty fired up to start conference play and to play against Concordia-Wisconsin, a very evenly matched team,” Lukas said. “If we can force teams to hit to beat us, limiting walks and bunts with solid bunt defense, teams like Concordia-Wisconsin will struggle to score runs.”

The Stars schedule for the rest of the season consists of only conference games, so it is important that they get off to a good start this weekend. The Stars next home game at The Ballpark at Rosemont will be on April 10 as they face Lakeland College.

Adjuncts Unionize Across Chicago But Not At Dominican

March 22, 2016

By Rich Bodee

The wave of unionization for part-time instructors has caught up to several Chicagoland colleges and universities – but not Dominican.

Last month, part-time instructors – better-known as adjuncts – at the University of Chicago and Loyola University formed adjunct professors’ unions, and adjuncts at other Chicago-area schools are following suit. At DePaul University adjuncts have begun the process of organizing, as well as Dominican’s River Forest neighbor, Concordia University of Chicago.

Reasons for adjuncts to unionize are as follows: they want more transparency in the hiring process, which would ultimately lead to better contracts with a salary increase, benefits, and better working conditions.

Union supporters say not only would adjuncts benefit, but also students would benefit in the form of a better educational institution that serves the needs of the collective group.  

“I’m confident it would be a win for education at Dominican,” said Jacob Lesniewski, an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Social Work at Dominican. “As the Chicago Teacher’s Union says: our teaching conditions are our students learning conditions. The better we take care of those who instruct Dominican students, the better we can support them in delivering a high quality education.”

Despite the spread of unionization at other colleges and universities, Dominican adjuncts are not following their contemporaries in organizing and unifying.

“I am not aware of any efforts to unionize at this time,” said Roberta McMahon, director of human resources at Dominican, and a former adjunct professor in the Brennan School of Business.

“I taught for a few semesters between 2003 and 2004, and then a few years later I taught online classes for a few semesters,” said McMahon.

Part-timers are numerous at Dominican. This past fall there were 295 adjunct professors teaching at Dominican as opposed to 167 full-time professors, according to Dominican’s Office of Institutional Research. If you do the math that means almost 64 percent of professors at Dominican are considered to be adjuncts. 

If adjuncts at Dominican were to organize, they would most likely be represented by the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, who is “the union most aggressively organizing adjuncts in the Chicago area,” according to Lesniewski.