Madonna University News : August 2016

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Madonna Students Take Health Education to the Philippines

August 31, 2016

LIVONIA, Mich. – A group of Madonna University students put their classroom studies into action earlier this year when they brought health education programs to the Philippines.

As part of their clinical program, eight nursing upperclassmen and their instructors visited the southern part of the Philippines to teach health promotion and disease prevention educational activities. Information on healthy eating habits, proper tooth brushing, use of safe water, hand washing techniques, blood glucose, and more was shared with residents in an effort to promote a healthy community. Students also cooked a nutritious meal for about 32 village families.

Pat DeGuia, assistant nursing and health professor, said the students “exemplified the Franciscan values” of Madonna University, which include respect for the dignity of each person and education for truth and service. “Each nursing student did an amazing job being a genuinely concerned healthcare giver, a friend, a mentor, and a role model to the Gawad Kalinga residents,” she said.

Joining the nursing students and faculty on the trip were a graduate student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program, as well as an alumnus of the broadcast and cinema arts program and a current communication studies student who produced a touching documentary about the visit.

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Lexii Carrillo

Madonna Student Selected as Fulbright Scholar to Mexico

August 11, 2016

LIVONIA, Mich. – Alejandra “Lexii” Carrillo recalled sitting in her first class at Madonna University “with my eyes sparkling, I was so excited.”

While thrilled to be a student at Madonna, she never let on that she was only 15 and still attending Divine Child High School, in Dearborn. Since she already had a full load of high school classes, including a zero hour of Greek before most of her fellow students even arrived on campus, it was easier on her schedule to take economics as a college class over the summer.

Two college degrees, a handful of internships and many, many classes later, Lexii learned she had been selected for a Fulbright award to study and work in Mexico for the coming academic year. “It still doesn’t feel real,” she said.

According to Fulbright, Carrillo, now 22, is one of 13 students chosen to participate in the Mexico Binational Business Internship, designed to enhance knowledge, expertise, and understanding of post-NAFTA Mexico. The program is for students interested in combining coursework in international business or law with an internship at a Mexico-based company conducting international or legal business. Carrillo will attend graduate school in Mexico City and work an internship at a business there.

Carrillo took a roundabout path to studying sociology, law and business. While registering for her economics class at Madonna, she noticed criminal justice class offerings, which she took in the evenings and over summer break – driven to and from campus by her parents until she could drive herself. By the end of her senior year in high school, she realized she was only a few classes away from an associate degree.

The Dearborn resident graduated from Divine Child in 2011, and shortly thereafter completed her associate degree in criminal justice, with a certificate in homeland security. She then headed to Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., where many of her credits transferred. Carrillo stayed for four years and double majored in sociology and classics (the study of Latin, Greek and Arabic), minored in philosophy, and had a concentration in legal studies. She graduated last May and currently teaches English as a second language and citizenship classes.

During her upcoming Fulbright year and afterward – she hopes to apply to Columbia Law School and conduct research at Columbia’s Center on Global Legal Transformation – Carrilloi wants to study the sociological foundation for the criminal justice system. “I’m so excited to be given the opportunity; not just to be a Fulbright scholar, but to understand the international community and to live in it,” she said. “To understand the international community, you need to understand how the country functions.”

In the research proposal she submitted for Fulbright consideration, she noted that poor communication hinders a corporation’s transparency and accountability, which can lead to fines and a marred reputation. “As a Binational Business Scholar, I want to play a key role in Mexico’s path toward leadership in clean business practices that espouse transparency, accountability, and compromise,” she wrote. “Accessible and effective grievance mechanisms for all employees can be the first step toward transparency.”

She points to transparency, trust and communication as the keys to streamlining bureaucratic procedures and saving time and money. “I want to live a life promoting a monumental shift across institutions toward transparency, and, ultimately, human rights,” she wrote.

Carrillo credits at least part of her interest in sociology to those first few classes she took in criminal justice. “This was the foundation of my education,” she says of her time at Madonna. “I remember being so fueled, so passionate. The professors here want to see you succeed.”

Stephen Boak, adjunct professor at Madonna University, said he didn’t realize Carrillo was still in high school when she started taking his criminal justice classes. “There was nothing extraordinary about Lexii that would indicate what an amazing young woman she was,” he said. “Her demeanor, maturity, and her obvious intelligence allowed her to fit right into a class of college juniors and seniors. It didn't take long for me to realize what a gifted person and student she is.”

He remembered that Carrillo excelled in all his classes, including Constitutional Law. “It’s no surprise to me that she has been awarded a Fulbright scholarship,” he said. “We are very proud of her accomplishments. She is an example of what can be done, when one has the benefit of a Madonna education.”

The Fulbright Program, the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, aims to increase mutual understanding and strong ties between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers research, study and teaching opportunities in over 140 countries to recent graduates and graduate students. It is named after Senator J. William Fulbright, who in 1945 introduced a bill in the United States Congress that called for the use of surplus war property to fund the “promotion of international goodwill through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science.”

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Summer Theater

Summer program gives students taste of theater as a career

August 4, 2016

LIVONIA, Mich. – Soon the curtain will rise on the annual production of Madonna University’s Summer Music Theater program; an intense, two-week workshop during which high school students refine their dancing, acting and singing skills.

The long days of personal and group instruction will culminate in two performances of “Book It to Broadway,” a collection of songs from musicals adapted from novels and plays, at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Aug. 12 and 13, in Madonna University’s Kresge Hall. The show is open to the public and admission is $5. Proceeds will fund future Summer Music Theater scholarships.

The program is led by Barbara Wiltsie, associate professor of voice at Madonna, and Patti Davidson-Gorbea, guest drama instructor. The intensity of the program is geared to students who are thinking seriously about pursuing musical theater in college, and/or as a career, and who have the talent but could still use a bit of refinement. Several past participants have gone on to study musical theater, music or drama at their college or university, and some came back to help with the camp.

After a morning of choreography and voice rehearsals, students break for lunch, although they dance around the room and spontaneously burst into song several times while they make sandwiches. The students referred to the camp as “amazing.” They said they were learning a lot about musical theater and all the work that goes into a production, including researching a character and building a performance résumé. Off stage, they’re developing life skills, such as time management and working with others.

All of the students have participated in theater at their high schools and want to continue working on productions, if not as a career, then as a hobby. They agreed that while instructors have high expectations, it helps them prepare for potential real-world auditions and criticism. “I think it gives you a true taste of what doing this as a career is like,” said Ann Stein, a student at Plymouth Christian Academy.

Dakota Firestone, a student at Farmington High School and one of two participating in the program for the second time, said the experience makes for life-long friends. “It’s hard work and intense, and we’re having a great time doing it,” he said.

More information about the program can be found at