Each month we highlight one exceptional Hanoverian. Do you know a Hanover College graduate that deserves recognition? Is their work in the community something to celebrate? Have they achieved a personal or career milestone? Whatever you find to be noteworthy, we’d love to hear from you so they can be acknowledged. Please tell us about noteworthy alumni.
Unlike many aspiring artists, Shelley Cooper ’08 has always been able to make a living pursuing her dreams of being a professional actor, singer and director without having to take on menial jobs to pay the rent. In fact, her art has taken her to Europe and Southeast Asia.
She performed her one-woman show that she wrote for her master’s thesis at the University of Central Florida on the life of opera legend Maria Callas at the International Performing Arts Institute in Bavaria, Germany in 2011 and again just this weekend at the Bangkok Theatre Festival in Thailand.
In 2012, the soprano landed a gig singing Italian opera at the Venetian Macao in China. The experience gave her the opportunity to travel all over the area.
Not long after Cooper returned to New York City, where she lived at that time teaching voice and auditioning for roles, she successfully applied for a full-time position teaching voice and musical theater performance at Mahidol University in Bangkok, the nation’s capital.
“I deliberated for quite a while over whether I would take (the job) or not,” she said, during a campus visit last month to perform her solo concert, “Shall I Be Sweet?” “I was happy in New York, but I knew this opportunity would come only once in my life and New York would always be there.”
Part of what intrigued Cooper was to teach in a place where the study of Western music has only occurred for the past 50-60 years; musical theater is even younger.
“What’s great about being in Bangkok is that the students aren’t used to this kind of formalized training, so sometimes they might not know what to ask and what to do, but they’re hungry and excited for the knowledge.”
In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Cooper continues to perform and direct while living on the Indochina Peninsula. Upcoming performances include serving as soprano soloist for a production of Handel’s “Messiah” with the Bangkok International Orchestra.
This coming spring, she’ll direct a production of the Stephen Sondheim classic, “Company;” back in February of this year, Cooper directed the Asian premier of the off-Broadway musical by Alexander Sage Oyen called “Moment by Moment.”
While some people struggle with what they want to do with their lives, Cooper knew she wanted to be an actor and musician while still in kindergarten.
“I was very interested early on in the collaborative process, in theater as a whole” she said “Acting was the first thing that I was drawn to, but even as a kid I was getting involved in everything.”
By age 13, she discovered she had a vocal gift beyond the ability to carry a tune. Cooper studied voice at the Ursuline School for the Performing Arts in her hometown of Louisville, Ky. There, the soprano learned multiple techniques and genres such as opera and Broadway.
The vocal training served Cooper well at Hanover, where the theater major performed a solo recital each of her four years here, singing pieces such as “Oh, never sing to me again” by Rachmaninoff or “Mi Chiamano Mimi” from the Puccini opera “La Boheme.”
Additionally, she had roles in plays such as Ariel in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” and helped direct such musicals as “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.”
“(At Hanover) I didn’t have someone over me all the time telling me what to do,” said Cooper. “I had teachers who supported and guided me through this (process) but I learned that if I wanted to get things done in my career I had to do them myself.”
Learning how to be independently motivated is an experience Cooper considers invaluable. She also gives credit to the nurturing and attention she received from her professors, and encourages current students to take advantage of the resources Hanover offers.
“Just because you’re in a small school in the middle of nowhere doesn’t mean that you can’t accomplish great things.”
When Tom Roberts ’78 first came to Hanover, teaching wasn’t the career choice he had in mind. But after spending a summer as a teacher therapist at Englishton Park Academic and Remediation Training Center, the camp for children experiencing behavioral, emotional or learning difficulties founded by the late Professor Emeritus of Psychology Harve Rawson, he switched his major to elementary education and never looked back.
“He really put us through our paces,” said Roberts in a recent phone interview. “That first summer, it was almost like reprogramming your brain or learning to speak a new language because it was based on a behavioral model where the idea was to use positive means for connecting with the kids and managing their behaviors.”
Roberts eventually spent four summers at the camp and said one of the best things he learned was how to affirm kids in a way that is specific to them individually.
“At Englishton, we had to find that inner (non-judgmental) voice about the kids and hopefully ourselves, so that they experienced a kind of positive affirmation about themselves, maybe in a way that they never had in their lives. It was a short program of 10 days, (but) you saw a tremendous response.”
Rawson’s forward-thinking ideas also included the use of video for training purposes, which fueled Roberts’ interest in using media in education. He earned his master’s degree from the Ivy League’s Harvard University (Mass.), which had a one-year program specializing in studying children’s television.
While there, Roberts learned about the work being done by the Bank Street College of Education. The progressive school was one of the early adopters of using technology in the classroom and created the nationally known math and science PBS series, “The Voyage of the Mimi.” Roberts served as a researcher on the project for three years.
“If you’re looking at education from a multi-sensory perspective, television taps into kids who are visual learners,” he said. “A good TV series, where information is presented in an engaging way and wrapped into a story or narrative, increases the chances of kids holding on to that information.
After further work in film and development projects, Roberts joined Trinity School in New York, a K-12 college-preparatory school founded in 1709. Teaching fourth grade has given Roberts an educational home for the past 23 years, and in an article in the New York Press in 2009 he called it “an optimal time for learning.”
“They are old enough to focus, while young enough to be captured by the joy of learning,” he said.
Roberts has instituted a number of class rituals to create a positive environment, lessons he said he learned at Hanover. “Thought for the Day” encourages students to share an affirmation. “Class Good News” is a weekly activity where students share something that someone has done for them.
“Learning is a joy in Mr. Roberts’ classroom,” parent Bahar Tavakolian said to the New York Press. “He teaches his students respect for others, kindness and how to be a great citizen of the classroom, the school and the world beyond. He’s an incredible teacher.”
Accolades like this are common for the popular teacher who has earned two awards for his work, one in 2009 and another in 2010. Roberts, however, considers himself the lucky one.
“I realize I’ve been given a lot. and it’s had a big impact on me,” he said. “To be able to pour that in some way into the classroom makes me feel like a very blessed and lucky person.”
Fran Quigley '84 doesn’t embody the often pervasive stereotype that lawyers only care about making big money. Instead, he chooses to help all workers earn a livable wage and teaches his students to focus on social justice and human rights.
Currently serving as professor of law in the Health and Human Rights Clinic at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law, which he founded in 2011, Quigley and his students work with low-income clients in Indianapolis.
When not in the classroom, he turns his attention to writing, including a bi-monthly column for the Indianapolis Star, whose topics often focus on raising the minimum wage.
Quigley’s concern for others has a global reach. He is the author of two books, “Walking Together, Walking Far: How a U.S. and African Medical School Partnership Is Winning the Fight Against the HIV/AIDS Pandemic” (Indiana University Press, 2009) and “How Human Rights Can Build Haiti: The Activists, the Lawyers, and the Grassroots Movement” (Vanderbilt University Press, 2014).
Additionally, Quigley is the co-founder of the Legal Aid Center of Eldoret, Kenya’s first human rights legal program connected to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. While some might view his work as a noble sacrifice, Quigley believes it’s the exact opposite.
“(Social justice) is the most exciting and rewarding work that I could ever hope to do,” he said. “I get to work alongside inspiring people and for causes that can change lives for the better. On a good day, we may even be helping pull the arc of the moral universe a little bit toward justice.”
Variety, fluidity and curiosity are all words Emily Hankley Berger ’04 uses to describe her time at Hanover College. Having spent the past 10 years translating her liberal arts education into several different career paths, she also serves both her community and her alma mater.
Armed with a degree in communication, Berger earned her master’s in Library Science from Indiana University-Indianapolis and served in both programming and development roles at the Indianapolis Public Library for five years.
At the same time, she took her impressive array of campus leadership experiences and put them to work in her local community, serving as a board member for Youth Connections of Johnson County and the Indianapolis chapter of First Book, and as a volunteer for School on Wheels, the Indiana Arts Commission, the American Library Association, Connect-2-Help and Giving Sum.
Last December, Berger joined Granite Capital Partners, a private equity firm, as vice president of acquisitions. She credits Hanover with preparing her to navigate such a significant career transition.
“My involvement in extracurricular activities at Hanover laid the foundation for continued volunteerism and networking after graduation, and that has since opened many doors for me,” she said. “I didn’t know a great deal about finance when I started in this new role, but at Hanover I learned how to apply new knowledge in a variety of subject matters, and that’s been invaluable to me now.”
Berger also serves as the volunteer reunion giving chair for her class’s 10-year reunion, a role that allows her to make sure future students are prepared for fulfilling careers and meaningful service in their communities.
“So much of my Hanover experience was made possible through generous gifts from alumni, “ said Berger. “I hope I can share my enthusiasm with my HC peers and encourage them to give back to the school as well. Our gifts, not matter the size, combine to make a positive impact on students’ future experiences.”
Bonney Hartley ’04 graduated from Hanover with a degree in international studies aided by three semesters of studying abroad. Her experiences had fueled a love of culture — especially her own heritage — that she chose to make it her career.
Serving as the historic preservation assistant for the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, of which she is a tribal member, Hartley works to repatriate cultural items. She also consults with federal agencies to protect Mohican sites threatened by construction projects mainly in the New York State Hudson River Valley area.
“I like knowing we are protecting pieces of our tribe’s history that would otherwise be lost for all of time,” said Hartley.
Previously, she worked for eight years in Native community development roles, including managing a grant making program at the United Nations Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, re-designing a grant making program for Native American traditional foods projects in the Bay Area and serving as the community services program director for the Native American Health Center, an urban Indian clinic.
Equally active in community service, Hartley was the recipient of the American Indian Heritage Month Local Unsung Hero Award in 2013.
She cites professors Mi Yung Yoon and David Buchman as mentors.
“(Buchman’s) Introduction to Anthropology class was influential in causing me to question all my assumptions, not only repeat what I had been socialized up to that point, and see patterns in power dynamics and who tells history,” said Hartley. “It was liberal arts at its best.”
Jeff Blair ’70 has kept his connection to Hanover strong ever since his days of taking math classes with his favorite professor, John Yarnelle, playing varsity basketball and baseball, or hanging with his Phi Delta Theta brothers.
However, the math major who grew up in Goshen, Ind., has an equal passion for helping others. His many philanthropic interests include church missions, Alzheimer’s research, the Lincoln Highway Association (LHA) and his alma mater.
In 10 days, Blair will make his second 150-plus mile walk across northern Indiana following the historic Lincoln Highway. His goal is to raise funds for two organizations dear to him, the Alzheimer’s Association and the Lincoln Highway Association. In 2011, Blair’s pilgrimage raised $22,000.
His dedication to Hanover has led him to serve on the Business Scholars Program Board for several years. Blair comes to campus annually to teach business classes, help students sharpen their interview skills and resume writing, and assist with internship placement.
‘Hanover gave me treasured lifetime friendships and a work discipline that has served me well,” said Blair. “I’m a big believer in the liberal arts.”
After Hanover, he earned an MBA at Indiana University. Blair’s career began as a management trainee in the medical supply business, and he retired as CEO of the leading medical research organization NAMSA. Blair currently serves as the company’s board chairman, along with additional business boards.
A physics major, Sean Points ’93 was a member of Mortar Board, where he helped begin a tutoring program that matched Hanover students with local high school students in English, mathematics, history and the physical sciences.
Additionally, Points was a mentor for at-risk children at the Boys and Girls Club of Madison, Ind., for two years.
After graduation, he went on to earn his master’s in 1995 and his doctorate in 2001, both in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of Illinois at Champaign.
Currently, he serves as an associate scientist for the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in La Serena, Chile. The observatory is a division of the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO).
“As a project and instrument scientist, I am responsible for ensuring that the instruments at the telescopes are ready to be used by visiting astronomers,” Points wrote via email. “(I also help) them plan their observations, teach them how to use the telescope instrumentation during their observing run and assist with the reduction of their data at the end of their telescope run.”
For the past 10 years, Points has participated in CTIO’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. CTIO selects six undergraduate students from the U.S. to work with CTIO/Gemini-South/SOAR scientific staff members during the Chilean summer (Jan-Mar) on individual research projects.
The desire to help students share his fascination with physics and astronomy also led Points to help establish The Darryl Steinert Award for Research in Physics.
Expanding from one location and four employees, to 15 locations and more than 100 employees since 2008, it should come as no surprise that the Indiana Economic Development Corporation recognized Summers Plumbing Heating & Cooling, owned by Steve Line ’90, as one of the 2013 Indiana Companies to Watch.
The Noblesville, Ind., business was one of 33 selected from 400 nominations to receive the distinctive award presented by Gov. Mike Pence ’81.
Line makes giving back to the community a priority. For the past five years, each of his company locations have given customers a $5 discount if they donate five cans of food to Line’s annual food drive.
Last year, customers contributed more than 6,000 cans, and Line matched each donation himself.
“It’s a fun day, loading up the trucks with all that food,” he said, “but the best part is delivering 12,000 cans (with my employees) to fill up (local food) pantries.”
At Hanover, Line majored in business administration, played intramural basketball and football, and joined the Sigma Chi fraternity.
Though he credited his business success to the well-rounded education he received at Hanover, his fondest memories are of the friendships he made during those four years.
“You couldn’t ask for better friends. My college friends will be my friends forever.”
To illustrate, Line noted seven or eight Hanover couples he and his wife, Tracy Beard Line ’88 gather with every month or so to spend the evening together.
The couple are parents to Sarah Line ’16, and to daughters, Megan, 17, and Abby, 11.
Sue Weissinger ’69 treasured her off-campus experiences at Hanover. In fact, her 1966 trip to Mexico set the stage for her career that began teaching middle school Spanish, which led to her becoming a bilingual social worker. Before her retirement, Weissinger worked for the state of Delaware training social workers.
Today, she counsels and mentors women prisoners, and teaches a pre-release class about learning how to set appropriate boundaries. Weissinger also trains and counsels at a 24-hour suicide crisis hotline.
“There’s not a person on earth who doesn’t need an anonymous hotline at some point in life,” she said. “Sometimes you just can’t talk to your family or friends.”
Additionally, Weissinger volunteers for a variety of functions through Westminster Presbyterian Church, including the Mission Connections Program. She has traveled to Guatemala three times for mission work, and currently works with the church group to raise funds for the purchase of 200 water filters for the Guatemalan region.
A Spanish major at Hanover, Weissinger went on to earn two master’s degrees from the University of Delaware in education and counseling. To give back to her alma mater, she provides an annual scholarship to help a current Hanover student realize the dream of studying off-campus. Weissinger is also a member of The 1827 Society and The James Blythe Presidents’ Club.
“Hanover gave me a safe environment to learn, grow, explore and to discover who I was as an independent individual,” said Weissinger. “It was absolutely the best decision for me. It was the perfect environment in which to grow-up.”
Dottie Scharf Burress ’50 isn’t sure if she’s made on impact on Hanover, but completely believes the College has had a large influence on her life ever since she arrived in the fall of 1946.
It was during that first year that Burress met her husband, Ralph, part of the influx of former service men who started college after military service during World War II.
“The man-to-women ratio on campus at the time was about four men to every woman, which wasn’t bad in my opinion,” she said.
In addition to her double-major in sociology and religion, Burress joined the Independent Women Organization, the Girls’ Athletic Association and played field hockey.
Initially, Burress planned to be a missionary, but she and her future husband quickly became a steady item and married between their sophomore and junior years. In 1953, the couple returned to Hanover where Burress’ husband served as vice-president of business affairs for 35 years.
Burress spent 28 years serving as executive secretary for the Jefferson County United Way. She chaired the annual Madison Regatta Parade for 44 years, along with her long-time friend, Merel Horton.
Additionally, Burress has served as president of Hanover’s Southeastern Indiana Club since 2010. She is a long-time patron of the Community Arts Series, and a regular attendee at many College events, including Day at the Races, retiree luncheons, athletics and Homecoming.
A widow since 2001, she still lives on campus.
“It was great raising our children here on campus,” she said. “Hanover’s been home for me for a long, long, time, and I just love it.”
Even though Horine is a loyal and enthusiastic supporter of Hanover today, he initially approached the College with reluctance. Having grown up in southern Indiana, he initially wanted to attend a school further from home.
However, facing the realities of a long-term, debilitating kidney condition forced him to stay close, but after a dozen surgeries in four years, the family-like support Horine received at Hanover made the decision the right one.
Graduating this past May with a degree in philosophy and as a Business Scholar, he said he wasn’t sure he would have been able to achieve that feat at any other institution. One reason was his professors, whom Horine found to be both caring and challenging.
“Even after a surgery, (they) would always ask how I was doing first,” he said, “but a quick second comment was always ‘You know you have an assignment due.’”
While participating in the Business Scholars Program, Horine experienced a life-changing internship when he was able to return to his hometown of Henryville, Ind. and help rebuild his high school after it was destroyed by an EF4 tornado in 2012.
During his senior year at Hanover, Horine met with alumni from across the country as a student ambassador for the Live Our Loyalty Campaign.
“I was so moved by the experience that I made a promise to contribute part of my first (pay) check to the College.”
He kept his word a few months later and joined the thousands of alumni who support their alma mater every year with gifts of all sizes.
Today, Horine is in the management trainee program at PPG Industries in Louisville, Ky., and pursuing a master’s degree in industrial management.
“I was fortunate to accept a position with a Fortune 500 company just a few months removed from graduation,” he said, “and I am a firm believer that Hanover College played a significant role in making this possible.”
Inspired by her parents’ strong work ethic and dedication to public service, Barb Alder ‘77 developed a passion for community involvement and outreach early in her career.
She currently serves as director of Purdue University’s Office of Engagement, a position she took after 26 years with Verizon Communications Inc. Active in community service, Alder also serves on the Madison County Education Coalition steering committee, where she formerly chaired the College Readiness Committee. She was a former member of the boards of directors for the Anderson Education Foundation and the Anderson Impact Center, Inc.
Alder serves on the boards of the Hancock Community Education Alliance, the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, the Flagship Enterprise Center, Women & Hi-Tech and the Paramount Heritage Foundation, serving as that organization's Vice President.
Additional activities include membership in the Indianapolis downtown Rotary Club, serving as the immediate past-president of the Hanover College Alumni Association board of directors and attending Hanover’s signature and special events, among others. Alder is a member of the 1827 Society and The James Blythe Presidents’ Club.
A business administration major and member of Kappa Alpha Theta at Hanover, Alder earned her MBA at Indiana University-Fort Wayne.
Who inspires you?
It’s more a class of people than any particular individuals — people who come from modest means, overcome tough odds, and still achieve great things. I am particularly impressed with people who are firsts at what they do: trailblazers and pioneers that pave the way for the rest of us. Many people don’t know that I was the first woman assistant director of admission at Hanover, and only the second female admissions counselor, following Mary Makarius. So thanks to Mary, for opening that door for me and for all the women who have followed in that office.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
I have been told I have good instincts and that I should listen to them.
"Barb is a breath of fresh air. She always has a smile and is gracious to everyone she meets."
Jan Patterson Haas '79
What do you like most about your current job?
My current position affords me the opportunity to meet and interact with a wide variety of amazing people. I also have the entire portfolio of Purdue University’s people and programs to call upon when someone brings me a problem that needs to be solved. That’s an amazing set of resources.
What was your favorite class at Hanover?
(Professor Emeritus of Theatre) Tom Evans’ Intro to Theatre. In fact, if I had had any talent in that area and money/job prospects had been of no concern, perhaps that would have been my major. It was so much fun and all the theatre majors seemed to be having such a great time!
Tell us about your HC Connection
As I have said to graduating seniors in my toast to them at the Alumni Senior Banquet, they feel a strong tie to their classmates and friends around them now. What they will learn as they leave campus, and as the years go by, is that the tie to Hanover actually grows stronger with time and distance. Whenever I meet someone with a Hanover College connection, be it alumni, a parent or current student, we have an immediate bond that is something only other Hanoverians can understand and appreciate.
Culver came to Hanover with the assumption that his interest in math and entrepreneurship would automatically translate into a career in engineering. His plans evolved, however, when Professor Emeritus of Economics and Business Administration Paul Blume opened his eyes to the power of small business.
Describing his Hanover experience as freedom to discover himself, Culver has played an integral role in Hanover’s DNA by making an annual contribution to his alma mater every year for the past 22 years.
“I give as a small way to register my approval that Hanover should exist as a reasonable private college alternative to the large impersonal state universities,” he said. “I want middle class families to have private college options. I also want to keep alive those great memories by keeping Hanover alive and financially strong.”
After graduation, Culver earned an MBA in finance from Butler University and pursued a career in that field. He currently serves as a business consultant for Transworld Business Advisors, working with business men and women looking to either buy or sell a business.
As an advocate for children, economic empowerment, education and health, Culver has volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana, Kids Against Hunger and Rotary International, where he served as president of the Greenwood chapter. He also gives his time to Shepherd Community Center, an organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty on the east side of Indianapolis.
Culver and his wife, Andrea, have three children and live in Greenwood, Ind.