Mike Rankin: Nursing student, EMT, community serviceman

by Matthew J. Van Wagenen

Mike Rankin is a 22 year old on a mission – a mission for God and his fellow citizens.

Mike is a 2011 graduate of Franciscan University with a degree in Catechetics. He is currently enrolled as a sophomore in the competitive nursing program and is taking 10 credit hours of classes.

Mike is a volunteer fireman with Hillndale Volunteer Fire Department. He is on call one six-hour shift during one night each week but is always on call. Calls can last anywhere from one to three hours. He is also a paid Emergency Medical Technician working for Hillndale Fire.

“I’m doing 16 hours a week for fire school,” said Mike. “I’m taking Firefighter 1 and I finish in March.”

Mike aims to become a registered nurse and continue being a volunteer fireman/EMT. Additionally, Mike works for Shaffer Plaza residential home 18 hours a week. Mike also is involved with his brother’s Eagle Scout project.

To keep pushing through all of his challenges, Mike turns to the Lord for help.

“I pray…a lotta prayers,” said Mike. “I get a lot of support from my family and keeping my spiritual life as good as I can (is important). It feels good knowing I’m making a difference, affecting other people’s lives…knowing I’m making a difference in some way.”


Snapshot: about the Author

by Matthew J. Van Wagenen

Now the man behind the blog will give a little insight into his duties for the semester.

I’m currently a senior at FUS pursuing a communications degree with a concentration in journalism. I also have enough credits for my history minor under my belt. Additionally, I am a Cadet First Class at Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps Detachment 730 at the University of Pittsburgh.

My week starts early on Mondays. I report to Physical Training at 6:30 a.m. at Pitt, work out with my cadet wing for an hour, then go to my senior ROTC class, National Security Studies and Preparation for Active Duty. After this, I return to FUS for my on campus job from 1-3 p.m., followed by class at 4 p.m. and night class at 6 p.m.

The rest of the week is filled with my remaining classes for a total of 18 credit hours, six of which are Air Force ROTC course hours. I work a few hours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for my on-campus job. On the weekends I often work with a Franciscan alumni who owns a power washing company to earn some extra money. Fridays are typically a recovery day other than work.

Physical fitness is important, both to me personally and to the Air Force. I need to maintain a higher level of overall fitness in order to pass the twice-yearly Physical Fitness Assessment, or PFA, for ROTC. So naturally I need to work out a few times a week to stay in shape. It can be hard to find the time with my responsibilities, but I have to make it happen.

For ROTC, on Thursday mornings from about 6:15 – 7:45 a.m. I oversee the Leadership Laboratory training session for my Detachment’s Professional Officer Course. I need to plan lessons and put together materials for my weekly presentations. This is my job in my Det for the semester.

My time is tight, but it’s forced me to cut out time wasting and increase my productivity. Although it has been a stressful semester, I feel that the outcome will be rewarding.


Jordan Otero: faith, journalism, school, journalism…and MORE journalism

by Matthew J. Van Wagenen

Out of all of the Communications Arts students at Franciscan University, Jordan Otero certainly stands out as one of the busiest and most dedicated.

Since she was a freshman in the Fall 2010 semester, Jordan has worked for The Troubadour, the student-run campus newspaper. Jordan started as a staff writer and started working as a layout editor in the Spring 2011 semester, learning from more experienced staff as she went. She would eventually serve as the web-editor and is now the editor-in-chief of the publication.

“This semester, I’m on the clock 24/7,” said Jordan. “My iPhone is glued to my hand and I’m constantly getting emails from editors, staff writers and the like.”

Jordan is also taking 18 credit hours of classes and an active member of Daughters of Jerusalem women’s household.

“My saving grace this semester has been my schedule,” said Jordan. “I’m a planner by nature and when I figured out the print schedule for the paper and my classes for this semester, the first thing I did was plug it all in to my iCalendar on my laptop.”

A typical week for Jordan starts on Monday morning with classes spanning from 10 a.m. to 8:40 p.m. with some breaks in between, most of which are spent in editorial and staff meetings. During weeks that The Troubador is preparing a print issue, she heads straight to layout design after night class lets out, oftentimes until 11 p.m. During the online-only weeks, Jordan goes to household commitment and then does homework. Throughout the rest of the week, she continues to have household commitments, classes, and lots and lots of coffee to keep her going.

“My schedule this semester has me feeling like I’m running on empty most days, but probably the most rewarding thing – particularly pertaining to The Troub – is seeing the print issue come out every other week,” said Jordan. “This year, I’ve wanted to try and make The Troubadour not only a more reputable news source, but something that students want to take part in. It’s awesome to be able to hold in my hands the physical evidence of the handwork of my team and myself, to see other students picking up the paper and reading it.”

Jordan participated in an internship program in Washington, D.C., at The Washington Times, in the Fall 2011 semester. While in this program, a BestSemester off-campus study program through the Washington Journalism Center, she served as the national politics desk intern. She currently is an Alumni Ambassador for the BestSemester study programs at Franciscan University and has the responsibility of promoting these programs to students. She has to host tables and events to spread awareness of the programs and potentially generate interest.

“A pro to my busy schedule this semester is also that it’s preparing me for real world life as a journalist,” said Jordan. “The reality is that when I graduate in May, I’m not going to land a 9-5 desk job; my work life is going to closely resemble this semester, minus the classes.”

For Jordan, this semester has been one of the busiest for her during her college career; however, with the support from those around her and the fruits and rewards of her labor ever present, she continues her trek.

Shannon Sommers: Nursing Major, AFROTC cadet, athlete, and more

by Matthew J. Van Wagenen

Shannon Sommers studies harder than many college students as a nursing major, but that’s just a start.

Shannon is a full-time sophomore nursing student at Franciscan University of Steubenville taking 18 credit hours of classes. She is a cadet at AFROTC Detachment 730 at the University of Pittsburgh. She also plays NCAA Division III softball for FUS and holds a job working for Sodexo Food Services on campus.

“Having a strict schedule really makes you figure out time management and prioritizing,” said Shannon, who is constantly planning out her weeks, down to the hour.

Her week starts bright and early on Monday morning. She attends Physical Training with Det 730 at 6:30 a.m. in Pittsburgh and then returns to Steubenville for a full day of class followed by softball practice. Throughout the week, she continues to have classes, daily mass, softball practice, evening work on Tuesdays and Thursdays, all leaving little time to waste. Her Thursdays are exceptionally busy; she needs to be at the University of Pittsburgh by 5 a.m. to train until around 10 a.m. She then has class at FUS from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., followed by practice and work until 12 a.m.

“It stinks sacrificing my sleep for studying, or working out or whatnot,” said Shannon, “but it motivates me to keep going to get where I want to go.”

Having a hectic schedule is nothing new to Shannon, however. In high school back in small town Wisconsin, she played volleyball, field hockey and basketball for a year each, three years of cross country and 4 years of track and softball. By her senior year she worked lengthy work weeks at a skilled nursing facility in addition to varsity sports and school work.

On the weekends, Shannon tries to catch up on sleep when she can, but she spends a good portion of her weekends in study. Staying physically fit is a challenge given the lack of time overall, but she pushes herself to stay in shape in preparation for Field Training, an upcoming, 28 day event in her AFROTC career which will occur this coming summer.  As a sophomore in the program, she is spending this year in preparation for this upcoming training segment.  Her ultimate dream is to be a flight nurse for the Air Force.

Shannon is also an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers and the Alabama Crimson Tide.  On her weekends, she loves to watch the two football teams combat their rival NFL and NCAA teams, respectively.

It’s easy to see that “busy” is of a totally different nature in the life of Shannon Sommers.

Luke Starre: finance student, financial adviser

Luke Starre: finance student, financial adviser

Unlike most 21 year-old college guys, Luke Starre is building up a client base for his career field.

Luke, a senior at Franciscan University studying finance, is currently enrolled in 15 credit hours of study.  He attends class Monday through Thursday and is fully entrenched in his studies.  Although the Fall 2013 semester is now underway, he spent the better part of the summer studying for a test as well, but not the standard college course test.

“I passed the Series 7 test on August 16,” said Luke.  “I took it to become a licensed financial professional in the state of Ohio.”

Luke spent most of his summer studying two to three hours daily in preparation for the test, which was given at Prometric Testing Centers in Toledo, Ohio. He scored a 92 percent overall on the test.

“I was pumped when I got my score,” said Luke. “It was one of the most enjoyable and valuable experiences of my college career when I did that well.”

Luke also took and passed the Ohio Health and Life test, which certifies him to sell health and life insurance in the state of Ohio.  Additionally, he studied one to two hours a day during the summer months to be successful in this endeavor.

The reason Luke has been pursuing these certifications is to enable him to start his self-employment.  Luke is an independent financial adviser with Creative Financial Partners of Toledo, Ohio.  He has started to form a client base in the Jefferson and Carroll County areas.

“With the huge boom in the oil and gas industry in this area, my market will be royalty owners in Jefferson and Carroll County,” said Luke. “Because of this, I’m working on my client base.”

Royalty owners are the people who own property that is being utilized by the oil and gas industry, notably those who have oil and gas pulled from beneath their property through fracking. Because of this increase in monetary wealth of landowners in these counties, Luke is looking to help advise these people on how to invest their money.

“The reason I’m starting this job while I’m still in college is because of the here and now of the situation,” said Luke. “There is an influx of money to the region, and I’m trying to get involved now.”

Luke spends his work time doing whatever tasks need to be accomplished, which range from communicating with the home office of CFP to researching into financial data and market updates.  His work days are flexible because of his self-employment, and he works from home.

“I’m spending my time familiarizing with products and developing a market plan for my target market,” said Luke. “I’m currently talking with potential clients, and as time goes on I’m hoping to have my business ventures grow.”

James Dougherty: farmer, student, family man

By Matthew J. Van Wagenen

James Dougherty wears significantly more hats than most other 20 year old college males.

James is a full time student at Franciscan University and is currently enrolled in 19 credit hours of study.  He is in his junior year majoring in biology as well as participating in the rigorous Honors Program at FUS.  This, however, is not his only major responsibility-James is the son of a farming family and holds significant responsibility with the goings on of the farm, located on the outskirts of Toronto, Ohio, some 20 minutes from Steubenville.

“Every day I’m up at 6:30 a.m. to help with milking the cows,” said Dougherty. “Every time the cows are milked, we need to skim the cream, put the milk in for either cheese making or to be jarred for sale, and wash the equipment to get it ready for the next milking.”

James is the third of eight children to Professor Shawn Dougherty, Professor of Drama at FUS, and his wife Beth.  As the eldest son still living at home, he has significant responsibilities with helping to run the major functions of their farm, especially with livestock care, breeding and overall farm maintenance and upkeep.

He and his family hand milk the cows which are producing milk, which can be anywhere from two to nine of their 12 heifers.  James personally hand milks Sunday and Tuesday afternoons as well as Saturday mornings.  Other mornings he partakes in the additional responsibilities of milking and takes on extra shifts when his family needs the help.  The Dougherty family also currently owns seven steers which will be slaughtered and sold as beef.

Additionally, the Dougherty family breeds their own cattle; James is directly involved with this process as well.

“I’m certified in artificial insemination for cattle,” said James.  “My certification is through COBA/Select Sires.  I am responsible for the breeding season, which goes from July to October.”

Annually, each of the heifers is bred for two reasons: to provide the farm with new steers and heifers as well as to provide milk.  Due to this biological cycle, each of the cows will only be producing milk during certain months.

James is also responsible for butchering steers. The slaughter season, which is usually between mid-November and January, is a busy time for him.

“We can usually butcher one steer every couple of weeks,” said Dougherty. “The ideal temperature to do so is between 32 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The meat is then aged for two weeks.”

The family also owns approximately 50 chickens, 15 sheep, 5 calves in pasture, and a sow and boar and their 14 piglets.  James helps with each of these groups should his siblings, who have their own sets of responsibilities on the farm, need his assistance.

“We as a family own 27 acres in the valley,” said James.  “We oversee another 50 acres which we utilize for grazing our cattle and growing and cutting hay.”

The list of responsibilities James has does not end here, either.  He was directly involved with the harvesting of approximately one ton of potatoes, one ton of beets, and 500 pounds of apples grown on their property in the past year.  The beets will be fed to the pigs, and the apples will be components of apple cider, wine and butter.

Naturally, a farm needs vehicles.  James is a “grease monkey” too, working on the six cars and trucks that the family uses for work and everyday needs, as well as three tractors used for haying on sections of the upper 50 acres.

“Every week I work about 12 hours for the Franciscan T.O.R. sisters at their motherhouse in Toronto,” said James.  “I perform general grounds maintenance for the sisters. My Saturdays are split between helping my father with any projects that need to be completed on the farm as well as working for the sisters.”

James Dougherty has much, much more responsibilities on his plate than just the typical college guy’s schedule.  Oh, and he’s got a full time girlfriend to boot.

A look-see…

By Matthew J. Van Wagenen
Something I’ve seen throughout my experience as a college student is that many of my peers are heavily involved with various activities outside the classroom and library.  Now, summer jobs and internships are one thing, but I’m talking about taking typically a full course load of 12-18 credit hours plus holding a full load of responsibilities outside the classroom during the school year.
Although most college students are at least involved with one or two extracurricular activities in addition to their college requirements, there are others who have significantly more on their plates than most.  Franciscan University does not have a heavy “Greek life” influence as do many other campuses in America; however, students at this school clearly have found other time-consuming and productive ways to spend their time.  For some it’s by choice, for others it’s by necessity, and for others still it’s just a way of life.
This area of students particularly encompasses students who live in the local area and commute to classes. Oftentimes for these students, who aren’t an active part of campus life, taking classes is additional to their typical work week.  Some are farmers; some hold jobs in the financial sector, others still hold positions with emergency response teams.  Others still are part of Reserve Officer Training Corps.
Throughout the Fall 2013 semester, this blog will have postings taking a peek into the lives of these students, who have lots more on their plate than most.