Irwin Mallin: Embracing the Joy of Teaching

Irwin Mallin is truly an unforgettable man. Throughout his time on campus, whether it was known as Indiana-Purdue University Fort Wayne, he has always had everyone call him Irwin. No matter what relationship he had to the person, he was always just Irwin. It would feel wrong to call him anything other than that. Being on a first name basis with everyone speaks to his character and overall personality very well. In spite of his doctorate in communication and law degrees, Irwin never felt that he was above anyone else and made sure that everyone felt like they belonged when they were around him or his beloved department of communication.

Now, 20 years after he first arrived, Irwin is set to leave the university. Irwin has been battling cancer for nearly two years now. His diagnosis is terminal and as of this writing, he has transitioned to hospice care.

Irwin was born June 20, 1962 in Syracuse, New York. According to Irwin, Syracuse was a good place to be a kid, but not so much fun as an adult. His father and uncle taught him his sarcastic and unapologetic sense of humor, and he described himself as a very ordinary high school student who enjoyed watching sports and goofing off.

Growing up in Syracuse was something special for Irwin. “Syracuse was designed as a place to be a kid.”

 

Irwin’s senior photo from Nottingham High School in 1980.

After high school, Irwin went to Syracuse University where he studied communication. He found communication to be very interesting. “Communication allows you to be a part of people’s lives in ways that you otherwise wouldn’t,” Irwin said. After graduating with a degree in communication, Irwin went back to Syracuse University to get a law degree.

Irwin has always loved being able to help people through difficult times. After getting his law degree, Irwin spent five years as a bankruptcy lawyer. During that time, he estimated that he assisted around 70 people. He enjoyed his time as a lawyer because he was able to spend some time helping people. Helping people was always Irwin’s strong suit.

In 1999, Irwin continued to find ways to help people during challenging and transitional periods – this time as a college professor and head advisor at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. He no longer found joy from his career as a lawyer and wanted to do something more fun.

“I wanted to teach because it was easy and seemed fun,” Irwin said. For Irwin, the excitement and passion for teaching never faded.

For the better part of 20 years, Irwin has devoted himself to his students and his work. His level of expertise and ability to connect with anyone he met set him apart from every other professor on the Purdue Fort Wayne campus. He genuinely cared about each and every student he interacted with on campus and would do anything to make sure they would succeed.

Dr. Marcia Dixson, Professor of Communication and Associate Vice Chancellor for Teaching and Learning at PFW, was the chair of the Communication Department for nine years from 2006-2015. As Irwin’s former department head, Dixson experienced many years of Irwin’s sometimes-awkward social abilities, sarcastic humor and commitment to student success.

“For the most part [being Irwin’s boss] was easy. Unless he was really fired up, he just works hard and does what’s best for the students and the department. He was always doing what’s best for the students and he was always willing to put the effort in,” Dixson said. For Irwin it was never hard to go above and beyond at his job, because it was fun for him.

One of Dixson’s most unforgettable Irwin moments was back in the early 2000s, when checks were still printed and picked up in an office. Dixson recalled Irwin walking down the hallway holding his check high while loudly saying, “Can you believe we get paid for this?” This statement really showed Irwin’s character. His sarcasm, humor and genuine personality have always made him someone that was easy to connect with on campus, no matter who you were.

Irwin receives his Featured Faculty for Service Excellence award from Carl Drummond, Vice Chancellor of Purdue Fort Wayne.

 

In February, Irwin was recognized for his commitment to the campus and his service to its students with the Featured Faculty for Service Excellence award for the 2018-2019 school year. The award recognizes those who “demonstrate extraordinary and sustained dedication to engagement with the community,” according to the nomination form.

“He fought to have advising recognized as a part of student success. He changed the culture of the campus in terms of how much we value advising and its recognition of his importance to student success,” Dixson said.

Irwin addresses the audience at the 2014 Communication Symposium.

“This institution became part of his soul – the students, faculty and place. It’s what he wanted to do with his life and he did it,” said Dr. Michelle Kelsey Kearl, Chair of the Communication department.  “I admire that Irwin made this place part of who he is, and his commitment didn’t waver. He is enduringly optimistic. He has faith in this institution and people that is profoundly unique.”

“Irwin will be remembered on campus as a person with a strong commitment to students and advising with an odd sense of humor. He was passionate about his students and about teaching,” said Dixson. “Whatever he did, it was always going to be good for students. He does things that he thinks matter and matter to other people and he loves that.”

Irwin would update his office hours each week, sometimes daily, on his website so that students knew when he was around. He always welcomed students and would do anything he could to make their experiences better. At the beginning of a class, he asked his students how they felt and a student answered “hungry.” Irwin immediately left the room without saying a word and came back shortly after with a Snickers bar. Irwin did whatever he could to make his students enjoy their time, even if it was just a silly gag.

Whether it was in the classroom or in his office with a student, Irwin was extremely passionate about his job and made sure other people felt the magic that he did. He walked into every class with an excited “Stars!” and the class would chime back “Hi, Gene!” as a homage to an old cheesy game show. Each and every class felt special with Irwin. He made you feel like you were supposed to be there, no matter your age or how much expertise you had on the subject. As you walked out of the classroom or his office, he would simply say “peace.” Irwin said he appropriated this saying from a Lutheran girl he dated 30 years ago. He always made students and colleagues feel welcome.

“Here in this department, my experience of him is he wanted everyone here to feel like they belonged. Every time a student would become a communication student, he would introduce them to everyone in the office and would root for them down the hallway ‘you’re one of us,’” Kelsey Kearl said. “It gave the students a sense of belonging. It did good work for the students and was great morale for the faculty. His rooting made it clear what our value was to the students.”

For many current students, alumni and faculty, Irwin has made an extremely lasting legacy.

“He has been a champion of teaching. There is no way to articulate it in a quantitative way. His award for outstanding advising is a career’s worth of effort into changing the entire culture of this campus,” Kelsey Kearl said.

“This campus will lose his passion for advising and his high valuing of advising. We have to hope that the culture has changed and that he has made a lasting legacy,” Dixson said.

Described as a “gem of a professor,” by his students, a photoshopped image of Irwin greets visitors to a student-created Facebook fan page.

The communication department and PFW in general will lose a phenomenal faculty member and stellar advisor upon Irwin’s departure. Everyone that encountered Irwin learned something – even if they didn’t know it at the time. He is genuinely a wise and down to earth man that never stopped sharing his knowledge with students and colleagues.

“You can’t have a conversation with Irwin and not take something out of it that is helpful or purposeful. He was so focused on students, making their experience here productive and a meaningful part of their lives,” Kelsey Kearl said. “He always seemed persistently invested in helping people do better. You would have to try hard not to learn something from him or find some productive tool that he knew about.”

As Irwin’s time at PFW draws to a close, he will greatly miss the university and its students. Irwin’s wish for the university is that it will continue to thrive and take care of students. He left a lasting legacy on this campus and on anyone that has ever encountered him; one that will hopefully continue to impact PFW for many years to come.

When asked what advice he has for students he simply said, “Do well.” As an educator and as a person, Irwin’s lasting impact has set the example for what it truly means to “do well.”

Editor’s note: This article was submitted for publication several days prior to Irwin Mallin’s passing on May 6, 2019.

Cancel Culture

Anyone and anything can be cancelled in our pop culture crazed social media culture that we exist in today.

Urban Dictionary defines “canceled” as dismissing someone or rejecting an idea or individual. Keeping that in mind, cancel culture is the recent trend of canceling individuals, organizations or products when they do something that the public does not approve of.

“When you have celebrities who have done problematic or harmful things, you have to cancel them,” said Sylvia Rust, a Women’s Studies student at Purdue University Fort Wayne. Rust went on to explain that we have created a society that is more critical of others who’ve done problematic things. “It has helped our society and has been a beneficial piece of today’s pop culture.”

Comedian Kevin Hart is a very recent example of cancel culture in action.

“Kevin Hart was about to host one of the biggest nights in television when he was deemed canceled. Nothing can stop cancel culture,” Rust said. After Hart was announced to as host of the Oscars last December, several of the comedian’s homophobic tweets resurfaced online. Twitter users began deeming Hart as canceled and he ended up backing out of the hosting gig.

Purdue Fort Wayne student and president of Campus Feminists of Solidarity, Jenn Reeve, explained that Black Twitter should be credited for cancel culture. Black Twitter, the active Black network of Twitter users, has been a large part of how Twitter has remained such a large platform.

“It really is a great thing that was born out of Black Twitter as a way to boycott problematic celebrities,” Reeve said. “Cancel culture and Black Twitter reaffirmed Twitter’s base, it would have failed without it.”

Secretary of Women’s Studies, Hayley King, was not familiar with the term cancel culture, but was familiar with the ability to call out celebrities or organizations that are in the wrong. “The #MeToo movement has given people power that they are not normally used to having,” King said. “It all highlights other parts of history that people aren’t used to hearing or sharing,” Reeve added.

The trend of canceling problematic people and organizations has created an even larger trend of transparency. With information being so readily available, more and more organizations are centering their advertising campaigns and social media platforms around creating a transparent and honest perception of themselves. If a company seems secretive, it will not be as easy for consumers to engage with and connect with them. If a company doesn’t own up to their mistakes, they may become canceled among consumers.

“If someone is doing something wrong, they will be held accountable now. We are more critical of others and are willing to try to put a stop to them,” Rust said.

Facebook went through a rather large privacy scandal this past year and has been working to increase transparency with its users to avoid any further issues. They publish “transparency reports” rather frequently, but it still has been difficult for the company to fully gain back the trust of the public. Even while publishing pieces about transparency, the company is still seen as rather secretive and as a big machine.

Becoming more aware and critical as a society plays a large part in the creation and growth of cancel culture. With so much information at our finger tips, it is easy to observe celebrities and large organizations. If someone or a company is in the wrong, it is hard for them to get away with it. When Facebook went through its privacy scandal, their stock fell more than 20%. They also experienced the slowest quarterly user growth since 2011. While Facebook was still widely successful, it did experience many problems due to their lack of honesty.

There are more people listening and observing now than ever before and they now have the power to speak up. Cancel culture will continue to thrive in a social media minded society that still gives platforms to problematic people and companies.

Gluten-free: The way to be or just trendy?

Reading the nutrition facts label – it’s a common thing to do in the grocery store when starting a new diet. Calorie, carbohydrate and fat content are the usual suspects during this endeavor.

But wait a second.

There’s a neatly-packaged and healthy-looking food container sporting a “gluten-free” label sticking out against the others. Didn’t Karen at work mention the other day trying the gluten-free diet and feeling better afterward? The gluten-free food is more expensive than the others. Inevitably the gluten-free food finds its way into your cart and out of the store.

So what’s with all this talk about gluten-free diets? More importantly, what is gluten and why has it suddenly become a problem for so many in the last 10 years?   

First, it’s important to know exactly what gluten is and where it can be found. According to Robert Shmerling of Harvard Health Publishing, gluten is a protein that can be found in many grains, with the most common being wheat, rye and barley. Foods like bread, pasta, pizza and cereal are all sources of gluten. The condition that is most commonly responsible for gluten intolerance is celiac disease. It is a condition that causes the immune system to attack the lining of the small intestine when gluten is ingested and it is estimated that 1 in 133 Americans, or about 0.75 percent of the population, suffers from it. If someone with celiac disease eats something that contains even small amounts of gluten, they can experience symptoms like instant gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headache, trouble concentrating, and fatigue.    

So why do one in three Americans, many of whom don’t suffer from celiac disease, have a desire to reduce their gluten intake? There has to be more to the gluten-free fad than meets the eye. The issue that has gained traction is something called “non-celiac gluten sensitivity.” Adam Gehring, a clinical dietitian from Parkview Lagrange Hospital, said it is not known from a medical perspective if non-celiac gluten sensitivity exists.

“Whenever we get into that realm that’s whenever we start to leave research,” Gehring said. “We start to actually enter into the realm of speculation.

According to Beyond Celiac, a national organization focused on raising awareness for celiac-related illness, there are an estimated 21,000,000 Americans needing a gluten-free diet. Additionally, celiac disease is commonly misdiagnosed in as many as 83 percent of those suffering from the condition.

Gehring said many individuals who don’t have celiac disease but report feeling better after eating gluten-free food likely didn’t have the best diet in the first place. Foods such as meat, fruit, vegetables and dairy are already healthy gluten-free options. Gehring said as a result, it’s no surprise people begin feeling better when they begin eating these foods. This scenario of correlation not equaling causation, as well as people not following a strict gluten-free diet, is why Gehring said non-celiac gluten sensitivity is speculation even though research says it might be real.

“It’s almost like a lot of people today just do a gluten-reduced diet and they feel a lot better from it.” Gehring said.

According to Robert Shmerling of Harvard Health Publishing, there are many reasons the gluten-free diet has become popular. One reason is the intuition that it just seems like a good idea. Other convincing reasons to adopt a gluten-free diet include celebrity endorsement and logic. If gluten is bad for those with celiac disease, maybe it’s bad for other people too. Testimonials from other people and marketing also contribute to convincing people to reduce their gluten intake. With there being hundreds of gluten-free meal and snack ideas on the internet, it’s clear that many people are now considering their gluten consumption.

A 2014 study from the International Journal of Food Sciences & Nutrition said there are people that say they experience digestive problems but not a severe reaction when eating gluten. The study went on to say the next chapter of gluten sensitivity is more clinical research since a larger amount of data are needed to confirm these stories. Even though experts say non-celiac gluten sensitivity is currently speculation and research on it is sparse, gluten intolerance is still a very real issue for those with celiac disease.

Jessica Reynolds, 27, said she was diagnosed with celiac disease when she was 17 and had to make tough lifestyle changes.

“Gluten-free food is actually more expensive than regular food because of the way they have to process it and make sure nothing gets in it,” Reynolds said. “You kind of have to cut expenses from other places to be able to afford the food.”

Another lifestyle change Reynolds said she had to make was changing the lip balm she used. Reynolds said she discovered something called “hidden sources of gluten” from her dietitian when she found out her lip balm was made with wheat germ.

“I just kept getting sicker and sicker and sicker and couldn’t figure out why,” Reynolds said. “I checked the packaging of the chapstick I was using and wheat germ was used as a binding agent in the chapstick.”

Since being diagnosed with celiac disease, Reynolds said the lifestyle has become second nature to her but she doesn’t understand why the gluten-free diet became so popular.

“I actually think it’s completely ridiculous that it’s a diet because unless you need it, it’s not as healthy for you,” Reynolds said. “It’s generally higher in carbohydrates and fats because of all the substitutes you have to use and wouldn’t cause anyone to lose weight.”

So the next time you’re reading the nutrition facts label during a trip to the grocery store, you’re welcome to try gluten-free foods – but Reynolds recommends finding research on gluten intolerance from reputable sources, and Gehring recommends visiting a registered dietitian if you think you have gluten intolerance. After all, non-celiac gluten sensitivity still lies within speculation and needs research to determine its existence.

 

The Healing Power of Music

Many individuals today struggle with facing challenges in their lives. These challenges can range from past traumas and current stressful situations, to the inability to express oneself.

The result of these challenges or problems occurring in one’s mind can lead to what we call mental illness. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, research has shown that mental illnesses affects tens of millions of people each year in the United States.

Individuals that struggle with a mental illness often seek treatment in the form of counseling or medication to overcome their personal barriers. However, one doesn’t typically think of music when talking about receiving therapy but, according to Forbes website, music therapy is on the rise and is growing more diverse in its practice.

Dr. Peggy Farlow of Purdue University Fort Wayne is a specialist in exactly that. She is a music therapist on and off-campus and has an extensive medical background that has helped her hone her craft in the field to best compliment her clients. Farlow teaches on campus for four days out of the week while also operating her own private practice one day out of the week. According to Farlow, the format of a music therapy session is different to that of a normal therapy session.

“It all depends on the setting,” Farlow said. “What we do is we would go to the clients home and meet with the client and the family, just get to know the client, figure out what they like to do, what kinds of things they have problems doing, and find out what their musical preferences are.”

Farlow explains that many of her patients tend to have a mental disability that can range from the inability to form sentences to coping with a past trauma. Once Farlow figures out a patient’s musical preference and the challenge they are facing, she will then proceed to create a music activities plan that will help the patient tackle what is bothering them.

A common exercise that Farlow has used is asking her patient a question in the form of a song. Over an extended period of time the patient becomes familiar with the song and questions and will sing back the proper responses.

According to the Speech Pathology Graduate Programs Organization website, the same technique that Farlow uses has been shown to help aphasia patients learn to speak again. With a connection music, individuals have the ability to memorize the words to a song on a commercial that they heard ten years ago but struggle to memorize information for a test that they spent many hours studying for.

Farlow explained that after getting know her client, the next part of this process allows for her to give the client options for their answers. Farlow then follows this by changing the questions so that the client must then think and respond on their own. Over time, her client had practiced the exercise so much that they eventually stopped singing and became able to deliver structured sentences normally. Farlow explained that this was due to how music accesses all of the brain’s attention.

Farlow also explained that the parts of music that most impact an individual can vary. “Some people relate more to the rhythm, some relate more to the harmony, some relate more to the melody. Everybody has their own preference,” Farlow said.

Musician Tom Mayes echoed some of Farlow’s takes on music as a form of expressing oneself. “For me, I learned to play guitar when I was really young,” Mayes said. “Something about playing chords and singing gave me my first real gateway to communicating what I wanted to say.”

“Now that I’m grown up, I find that music tends to provide me with comfort during difficult times,” Mayes added.

Karen Hammons, of Van Wert, Ohio, stated that she finds music to be comforting, especially in her church. “Worship music really tends to speak to me and provides me with a warm feeling when I’m participating in it.”

Hammons also stated that music in general is a common way for her to relieve stress and other worries, citing that it helps her slow life down when it becomes too fast.

Farlow explains that worship music is often a common choice from a large number of musical therapists’ clients, but it isn’t the only choice. Farlow encourages those looking to get into music therapy to understand that music is not universal.

“So yes, we all respond to music, but the kind of music is not universal,” Farlow said. That said, Farlow believes that music is essential to human existence.

“Music is an important part of our lives for sure,” Farlow said. “It’s something that we can relate and react to naturally”.

Eli Paulk On Overcoming Depression, And Helping Others Do The Same

Eli Paulk sat alone outside of Purdue University Fort Wayne’s International Ballroom. A handful of students filtered in and out of the banner event September’s Suicide Prevention Week: a resource fair with over a dozen different community organizations and groups hoping to engage students on the topic of mental health. Dressed in black shorts and a purple Louisiana State University hoodie, Paulk appeared to be unaware or uninterested in the event going on in front of him. A surprising observation to me because, as he would later share, although he has made it his goal to help others struggling with depression, Eli still battles with it himself.

“There was honestly, two years straight where every day, it just seemed like there was a cloud over me,” Paulk said, fighting back tears. “I couldn’t enjoy anything.”

Paulk did not share exactly what circumstances affected his life during these two years other than a short-lived break up with his girlfriend. But he said he credits her, as well the music of J-Cole and Mac Miller for helping him work through that time in his life. This is why he says Miller’s death last September affected him so deeply.

Paulk said although he didn’t meet him, talk to him, or even consider him his favorite rapper, Miller and his music were a big part of his life growing up. When Miller’s album, “Swimming,” released last September, he said he listened to the song “Wings” on repeat while crying for a half an hour.

“He was very transparent,” Paulk said, as he teared up. “Everybody knew his struggles. He didn’t hide from anything. And that’s why people connected so easy.”

And by sharing his own personal challenges on YouTube, Eli is trying to do the same.

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Eli Paulk, 22-year old YouTuber and Purdue Fort Wayne student, hopes his videos can help viewers struggling with depression.

Last July, Paulk announced a change in the direction of the content on his YouTube channel, “Eli Is Broke.” Once a mix of personal adventures, hip hop and rap album reviews, and a short film about self doubt, Paulk started to post videos focused on success and happiness. One of his longest uploads, a conversation about depression in millennials, runs 17-minutes long.

Paulk said he wanted to stop making clickbait and focus on producing more substantive content that could make a difference in people’s lives.

“I don’t wanna try to fix anybody,” Paulk said. “But I wanna be there in case anybody needs affirmation.”

Paulk said he has always had the urge to help people. Born and raised in Fort Wayne, one of his clearest memories as a kid was not being able to understand why there are homeless people in the city. He took notice of the juxtaposition of homeless people asking for money along Coliseum Boulevard, while high-end car dealerships existed nearby. This led him to pursue a career in social services, before becoming an English major and focusing on communication after encouragement from his professor, Dr. Kate White.

However, his mission of reaching out to and helping others is proving harder than he thought.

During the first week of the fall semester, Paulk passed out over 1,500 business cards on campus to promote his channel. Since then, he has not seen any increase in views or heard from a single person who may have found his card — until I contacted him.

Paulk took a four-month break from making videos to focus on himself.

Josué Loya, Paulk’s longtime neighbor and friend, said this is something Paulk doesn’t often do. Loya says Paulk is always doing what he can to help others.

“He’s a very caring person,” Loya said. Anytime he has needed a ride, run out of gas, or just needed help cleaning his yard, Paulk has always been there to help.

Paulk’s desire to reach out to those struggling with their own mental health is not without need.

Judy Tillapaugh, Coordinator of Fitness and Wellness at Purdue Fort Wayne, said suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college students. Tillapaugh said one of the best things students could do for their own mental health is to reach out to others.

“You’re talking, you’re sharing, you’re laughing, you’re connecting,” Tillapaugh said. “That can make a difference in helping a person cope through something that they might be facing.”

At a time when it is easier for us to be closed off and pulled into our own little words through smartphones and social media, Paulk said he hopes his content can break through and make it easier for those of his own generation to connect and reach out to others. He aims to meet people where they are, rather than wait for them to come forward.

Paulk hopes to find the right balance between positivity and entertainment. He knows kids won’t want to watch videos of him solely lecturing about mental health. He wants it to be easier for audiences to digest, so he can make a meaningful connections and accomplish what he set out to do in the beginning.

“That’s the goal,” Paulk said. “Give people hope.”

The Immigrant Dream

Editor’s note: The names in this story have been altered to protect the subject’s identity.

“Imagine living the past 18 years in fear of whatever you do wrong you get kicked out of your own home,” he said.

For the many children who are not officially documented citizens in the United States, this is a very real fear. Despite not holding American citizenship, immigrant children often live like average Americans. They go to school, they spend time with their friends, and they eventually get jobs. Yet for these immigrant children, the persistent fear that anything they do wrong, no matter how inconsequential, could result in the deportation of them and their families, is an always looming concern. This is the reality that Esteban, 22, has lived with for more than 18 years.

On the surface, Esteban’s life seems to be that of a normal American.

“I really enjoy watching shows on Netflix like Daredevil, and playing NBA 2K games on my PS4 when I have some free time,” Esteban said. “I also try to keep a healthy fitness routine by going to the gym and doing some weight lifting several times a week.” Since 2015, Esteban has been pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science at Purdue University Fort Wayne. “I was immediately drawn to programming because I saw it as using digital Lego blocks. I was into Legos at a young age so it was very appealing to me,” Esteban said. Currently, Esteban is an intern at Lenovo Software, applying and expanding his programming education as a member of their build and install team. None of this however, is indicative of the daily burden he carries regarding his citizenship status.

Born in South America, Esteban has been living in the United States with his family since they immigrated to the U.S. in 2001. “I do have some memories of living in South America, but living here is the only life I have a real memory of,” Esteban stated. “I remember feeling confused at the time. I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on at first.”

Although it was only his second visit to the U.S., Esteban and his family would not return to South America. At that time Esteban would have fallen under the proposed DREAM Act, which according to the American Immigration Council meant that as a young immigrant he would have eventually been eligible for citizenship through a three-step process. This however is no longer relevant to Esteban’s circumstance since he now has a U visa.

Ever since moving to the United States, Esteban and his parents have been making efforts to become official citizens. However, in early 2013, Esteban’s journey to citizenship took a dramatic, although unfortunate turn. Esteban’s mother was victim to a robbery and stabbing. His mother’s injuries required her to undergo many extensive surgeries and the effects of the attack have stayed with her ever since. As a result of the attack, Esteban’s mother became eligible for a green card, per a section of U.S. immigration law. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. immigration law allows non-citizens who have been victims of certain crimes to get a Green Card. Esteban and his parents are now residing under a U visa which allows them to apply for residency.

During Esteban’s junior year of high school, his family met lawyers who offered their services at no cost to him and his family, eventually getting them official work visas. They are currently in the process of applying for residency; a process that requires many documents and much patience. For this process, the government needs proof of residency, passports, pay stubs, tax records, school records, medical certificates/ examinations and any other identifying documents the applicants may have. Presently, Esteban is in the process of getting his Documento Nacional de Identidad, or DNI, which is a national identity document for citizens from South America. After getting his DNI, Esteban then must go to Chicago to renew his passport. Once that is complete, Esteban and his parents present their documents to their lawyers, who then continue the process by presenting the documents to the immigration center.

“After that it’s pretty much just a waiting game,” Esteban said. His citizenship status is still working against him. “I was taught that life is always going to kick you in the butt, especially since you’re from another country, but you have to make the best of the worst situation.”

In spite of the difficult process, Esteban says he wouldn’t change anything since his efforts are worth the reward. “I’ll be one step closer to living a normal life.”

A normal life like that of his younger brother Theo, 17, who is an American citizen by birth. Theo thinks very highly of his older brother.

“Esteban is a great guy. He likes to help people a lot and lends a hand when it’s needed. He’s a happy guy in general with an overall positive outlook and a family first mentality,” Theo said.

Theo, currently in his junior year of high school, looks to Esteban for wisdom and guidance. “Esteban is my biggest role model in life. He is very relatable because he’s gone through the same things that I am going through. He would drop everything and help me out if I needed it.”

One of Esteban’s close friends, Scott, 22, related how Esteban inspires him. “He inspires me to do better in life because he has it harder in life and has lived in fear of being deported. I admire his willpower. He pushes through a lot to get to what he wants to do,” Scott said. “Esteban is also extremely reliable and I like that in a friend. I enjoy his humor, wit, athleticism and he is just an all-around good guy.”

Although Esteban and his parents are in the process of applying for residency, their non-legal status remains a lingering concern. Fortunately for Esteban, his U visa allows him to continue to legally work in the United States. Ultimately, Esteban is not someone who is defined by his citizenship status. His brother Theo certainly agrees.

“I don’t think it will slow him down in any way. Esteban is determined. He is a hard worker in general and since he isn’t a natural citizen it makes him more determined to succeed. I feel that it may be a driving force behind his success.”

TinCaps Set for Season Opener Thursday

Opening Day for the Fort Wayne TinCaps has arrived, as they will begin their 2019 season at Parkview Field Thursday, April 4, at 7:05 p.m. The TinCaps will be playing the Lansing Lugnuts, the minor league affiliate team for the Toronto Blue Jays.

The TinCaps had a winning season at home last year, advancing to the Midwest League playoffs. Hoping to continue last season’s success, the TinCaps recently announced they would be returning their entire coaching staff from last season.

“It’s great for us to know that not only will we have a group capable of developing future major league players, but also one that appreciates Fort Wayne and is committed to giving back to the fans in our community,” said TinCaps team president Mike Nutter.

To celebrate the beginning of their 2019 season, the TinCaps will have postgame fireworks and offer $1 beers as part of their season-long “Thirsty Thursdays” promotion.

The Fort Wayne TinCaps are the minor league team for the San Diego Padres. The TinCaps have called Parkview Field their home field since 2009. In that time over 4 million fans have come to the ballpark to enjoy a game of TinCaps baseball.

To purchase tickets for a game this season you can go to tincaps.com or call the Parkview Field Ticket Office at 260-482-6400.

Profile: Rob Chiarappa of The Stolen

As I enter the venue, the feeling of comfort, unity and a love of music fills the air. The sound of ‘80s rock synthesized with alternative/indie pop music vibrates through my veins. Rob Chiarappa, guitarist for The Stolen, is used to performing at venues like The House Café. On stage in his rolled up dark blue jeans and navy blue sweater, he grips his guitar pick between his thumb and index fingers and taps his foot in his heavily worn sneakers that were once white. As the song softly comes to an end, his fingers, nails painted black, briefly work on tuning his guitar. He says to the crowd with the utmost sincerity that we must look out for each other and live in the moment. The statement leads into an introduction of the band’s new single “Rooftop” that confronts the sensitive topic of suicide.

Over the years, Chiarappa’s songwriting has evolved and matured.

“I think that this is the most important record for us, because we want to write songs that are not just about personal experiences, but it’s about experiences that not only relate to me but can relate to other people,” Chiarappa says.

Playing in The East Room in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

He goes on to tell me that The Stolen originally started as a cover band. Rob and his brother Mike, drummer for The Stolen, were next door neighbors with Dominick Cuce, the lead singer of the band, while growing up.

“As kids do, we always hung out together, played kickball in the street, you know PS1, the whole bit,” Chiarappa says.

At a young age, Chiarappa was inspired to make music and learn how to play the guitar like his father. From there, his father started to teach him how to play the guitar left handed and he just couldn’t get it. It became so frustrating to the point that he told me he almost quit, but then he tried flipping the guitar around for it to be more comfortable.

“It was a total game changer and I fell in love with it,” Chiarappa says.

At the time, the band members were in middle school, performing classic rock covers and not writing their own music. It wasn’t until Chiarappa was 15 years old that he started writing original music for the band. Chiarappa said that he was inspired to write music because of a band called Like The Stars. He saw them play at a local showcase at The Stone Pony, a venue located near Chiarappa’s hometown of Old Bridge, New Jersey.

“They wrote their own music, and watching them I was like ‘Ah, this is so cool!’ I went home that night and tried writing a song and that was kind of what started the writing process for me,” Chiarappa says.

Being the oldest band member, Chiarappa was exposed to newer music before the other band members. From a previous interview in 2016, Cuce explained that Chiarappa was the one to show them music by All Time Low, a melodic emo-pop act. Cuce continued on to say that All Time Low sparked their interest in the alternative scene when they first started as a band. The alternative music scene is somewhat diverse, and typically includes styles such as grunge, indie pop and indie rock.

The Stolen has developed a unique sound that combines alternative rock with indie pop. According to the results of a 2017 Statista survey examining consumers’ favorite music genres, the highest consumers of alternative rock/indie music are between the ages of 16 and 24. The majority of The Stolen’s fan base are around these particular ages.

Once I developed a full understanding of the band’s background, I begin asking Chiarappa about touring in itself. He tells me that the band officially began touring more and more after all the band members graduated from high school.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a tour that I didn’t like,” Chiarappa says.

He reminisces about touring on a bus while opening for singer-songwriter Jake Miller during the fall of 2017. Chiarappa tells me how different it is touring on a bus compared to touring in a passenger van.

“Touring in a van, you’re seeing whole drives and everybody’s stopping in the middle of the desert in like New Mexico or wherever we were. That was so sick!”

Last spring, The Stolen did their first full U.S. tour in a passenger van. Four band members, one photographer, and all their equipment traveled from Old Bridge, New Jersey, across the country to California. Most individuals would do such a trip as a one-time thing but not Chiarappa. He enjoys everything tour has to offer; whether it be developing friendships with other artists, sightseeing, performing for fans or even just eating the local food in the area.

Most people would think touring with their brother would be a nightmare but the Chiarappa brothers say otherwise. For Mike, the opportunity to tour and make music with his brother is what he enjoys most.

“He’s the oldest, but doesn’t act like it,” Mike says.

Rob says to me that he and Mike are polar opposites but they make it work.

“It’s great, because we balance each other out.” Rob goes on to mention that he considers the whole band to be brothers.

On and off stage, I can see the amount of history there is for the band members of The Stolen. Cuce tells me how much he enjoys being in a band with Rob, because he’s known him since he was three years old.

“Growing up throughout the years, music has been like a part of our friendship and we’ve grown as people. It’s really amazing for me as a person to watch his progression and vice versa,” Cuce says.

He tells me that while performing onstage and while creating music, the energy between him and Rob bounces off one another in a different way than the other band members. Cuce explains that as a musician, Rob has always told him to not be afraid to take chances and to write what he feels.

“It’s more just how you perceive what is happening to you and the world around you.”

Rob Chiarappa (left) and Dominick Cuce performing in the Big Room Bar in Columbus, Ohio.

The Stolen are a band built from the ground up, that never take what they have for granted. They all have worked very hard to be in the position that they are in right now whether that be working in retail or recording other artists for money in order to tour. Their hard work and gratitude is evident during their performances. While looking at the facial expressions of the crowd as Chiarappa performs his guitar solo during “Rooftop,” something he said during his interview continues to replay in my head.

“I want us to make a record that’s going to change the world…making music that has such an impact on the world.”

His dedication and persistence to achieve this dream is well underway.

Rob Chiarappa performing at the Boathouse Waterway Bar & Grill in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

What To Expect In Purdue Fort Wayne’s Honors Program

Purdue Fort Wayne’s Honors Program assists qualified students in maximizing their college education. The program helps students expand their academic horizons.

“We are here to support those students that want to get extra out of their education that they’re doing here,” Assistant Director Michele Shawver said.

Any courses that students are taking in a semester can be elevated to Honors classes. There are no restrictions on the members’ classes that can be boosted.

While their approach is different in terms of who they accept into the program, Farah Combs, Honors director, says that a high GPA is a must have to qualify. 

“They need to maintain a minimum of a 3.3 GPA in order for them to be eligible,” Combs said.

Once eligible students become members of the program, their membership becomes tentative on a semester-by-semester basis. Their membership length depends on their ability to consistently satisfy the program’s requirements.

Combs said that maintaining their required GPA each semester keeps members eligible. However, they must also successfully complete a 300 level or higher class towards their major.

For any semester, students who are not able to meet those requirements become temporarily ineligible.

Combs said these unqualified members are put on Honors probation. While on probation, students cannot continue to take Honors classes.

Members who meet these requirements for the initial semester can start applying for Honors scholarships. Multiple scholarships of up to $1,000 are available for Honors members to apply, including study abroad and internship scholarships. 

Members can only apply for one scholarship per semester.

Members will get certificates and medals with their names on them once they graduate. Both will be given out if they have met all the qualifications throughout their membership.

“They have to complete 18 hours of honors credits by the time they graduate,” Combs said.

The number of program members in a semester varies. Its size is dependent on members’ eligibility status. Combs said there are approximately 300 members in the program each semester. 

Program members meet daily in the Honors Center, located on the second floor of Helmke Library. 

How Career Services Helps Students Go Above And Beyond

Career Services is an organization at Purdue University Fort Wayne that supports students and alumni to reach their career goals by providing opportunities to connect with employers through their high-quality programs and events.

“The vision statement for career services is to be recognized nationally for its service throughout the Midwest,” Courtney Sullivan, a counselor at Career Services, said. “We will be an innovative leader in educating, developing and connecting our university and the communities we serve.”  

Career Services’s most important event happens once a semester, the Mastodon Job and Internship Fair, where students get the opportunity to build a network and market themselves in the workforce.

This year the fair will take place March 14 at the Lutheran Fieldhouse on Purdue Fort Wayne’s campus.

Career Services also administers Handshake, a platform that Sullivan said is very useful for students who are looking for job opportunities.

“We can see our students make appointments,” Sullivan said. “We have jobs posted every week, so every Tuesday we send out emails to students through handshake about different jobs in their career field.”

Sullivan talked about other events that happen more often like the Lunch & Learn’s and the Immersion Excursion.

“Immersion excursion is where you actually go to the employer. They will sometimes do a tour where you get to ask them questions. The Lunch and Learn’s are when the employer comes to campus,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan described the Career Services website as very informative for students. It has many templates for important documents that a student might need when looking for a job.

“Our website has a sample resume, how to write a cover letter, and interviewing strategies,” Sullivan said.  “Also, you can look at ‘What can I do with my major?’” 

Career Services has an Endorsed Program, which Sullivan said was not as rushed as other services they offer.

“Based on the test that you complete, you get points, and after you get so many points you’ve completed the program,” Sullivan said.“You get a certificate and then you get a recommendation from our office on LinkedIn.”

For more information about Career Services, call  260-481-0689 or visit their website at pfw.edu/career.