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Therapy dog and educator inspire, energize children at local schools

Instant smiles. It’s almost a whiteout inside Reynolds Elementary School.

Hazel, the therapy dog, is in the hallway, and happiness abounds.

Marquis, a student at Reynolds Elementary School, petted Hazel, a therapy dog, as owner Dr. Dawn Sandt watched.

It’s just another day for the sweet, outgoing golden retriever and her owner, Dr. Dawn Sandt, associate professor in the Department of Early Childhood, Higher Education and Special Education.

“Hazel!” yelled a boy in the preschool special-needs classroom, alerting all to the visitors.

“Do you want to go see Hazel?” teacher Bridget Harding asked as the children walked and crawled toward the therapy dog that laid down and was content literally being the center of attention.

“Get your pets in,” Harding encouraged the kids sitting around their four-legged friend. “Let’s talk about Hazel’s tail today. She’s wagging her tail. When she’s happy, she wags it back and forth. Ricardo, where’s your tail? Do you have a tail?”

Ricardo shook his head no, beaming as he ran his hand over Hazel’s soft coat.

Sandt knelt next to Hazel; she held the dog’s leash and monitored all interactions.

Dr. Dawn Sandt, right, and Reynolds Elementary School teacher Leah Richter, center, watched as Hazel visited Ireland.

Then it was on to a classroom to see medically fragile students.

Hazel walked up to teacher Leah Richter. After soaking up compliments and a few pats, Hazel melted into the floor and flipped over, and Richter obliged with a belly rub.

“That’s her shtick — she says ‘Hi’ and rolls over,” Sandt said and laughed. “She likes it here.”

Watching it all from her wheelchair was Ireland, who could not stop smiling.

“You love it when Hazel and Dawn come!” Richter said to Ireland.

With encouragement from Sandt, Hazel put her paws on the edge of Ireland’s chair — and the girl grinned.

Then it was time to see the younger medically fragile students.

Marquis, a student seated on the floor, clapped and started humming when Hazel trotted into the room.

Paraprofessional Zippy Keith helped Lee grasp a tennis ball to give to Hazel during a recent visit to Reynolds Elementary School.

“We have a gift! We have doggy tennis balls for Hazel,” paraprofessional Zippy Keith announced.

The children took turns tossing the ball for the canine. For the first time, Lee picked up a ball and handed it to Hazel.

Meanwhile, teacher Liz Bishop told Tessa she needed to complete her assignment so she could see Hazel.

“We’re all so happy to see Hazel. We enjoy her,” Keith said as the kids petted the retriever.

“Aren’t you glad you got your work done?” Bishop asked Tessa, who lit up when Hazel gently stood up on the side of her wheelchair.

“Thank you for the visit,” paraprofessional Melissa Falkenberg said as Sandt and Hazel left.

“The best part of making the rounds with Hazel is seeing students progress toward their individualized goals and realizing Hazel did contribute to that progress in some way,” Sandt said.

Paraprofessional Melissa Falkenberg smiled as Hazel took her tennis ball to Dylan. The therapy dog regularly visits Reynolds Elementary School.

Sandt and Hazel have been visiting students at Reynolds Elementary for two years.

“We started in the classrooms where students were medically fragile. Hazel does well in those classrooms because she is willing to initiate contact with the children,” Sandt said. “The children have opportunities to track her with their eyes, reach out to pet her, and grasp and drop a ball for her to retrieve.

“We wanted to go into that classroom because the medically fragile population need intensive interventions, and I thought Hazel could help with communication and social interaction, as well as some range of motion activities.”

Indeed, the pretty pooch that will turn 4 in August does just that. Tessa communicated with her assistive device so she could see Hazel, and Lee had a breakthrough by picking up a tennis ball.

“The teachers, nurses and I thought that was pretty extraordinary for [Lee], who is medically fragile and also has sensory issues. The nurse said he had never shown that type of initiative before,” Sandt said.

“I like watching the preschool students interact with Hazel,” she said. “This gives the students a chance to learn about dogs, their body parts, how they move, and how to care for them. The preschool students are learning content knowledge — for example, same vs different — and functional skills like waiting their turn, asking permission to pet, communicating their name and Hazel’s name. These are relevant skills they can use in kindergarten and in the community.”

The duo also visits McTigue Elementary School.

“The administration and teachers within Toledo Public Schools have been wonderful to Hazel, and it is work that makes a difference,” Sandt said. “Wherever we go, the teachers appreciate the opportunity to interact with her.”

Dr. Dawn Sandt said Hazel would go home and sleep after visiting children at Reynolds Elementary School.

Dr. Virginia Keil, interim dean of the Judith Herb College of Education, said Sandt and Hazel are an example of how faculty collaborate with Toledo Public Schools.

“Dawn is deeply committed to working with our school partners to provide support for medically fragile children with special needs along with the educators in these classrooms,” Keil said. “Therapy dogs like Hazel are desperately needed to provide affection, comfort and love, which can help to improve the lives of the children they have visited.

“Watching Dawn and Hazel work together to support these children is heart-warming. Their work is an invaluable service to the community.”

“There is growing evidence that animals in school settings have potential benefits on cognitive and socio-emotional behavior, as well as physiological responses of children,” Sandt said. “However, there is a need for a larger evidence base of studies that are designed with more rigor and adhere to strict protocols for human and animal welfare and safety.”

To that end, Sandt is working with Dr. Janet Hoy-Gerlach, associate professor in the UT Social Work Program and author of the book, “Human-Animal Interactions: A Social Work Guide.” They have applied for a grant to explore how therapy dogs can be used in applied behavior analysis interventions for students with disabilities.

Sandt has another golden retriever, Rusty. The 2-year-old is training to be a therapy dog.

“I can’t imagine doing anything else with the time I have on this earth,” she said as she gave Hazel a treat.

In her quest to find ‘home,’ UT graduate student wins Sahara marathon

As her feet pounded the dirt road — mile after mile — through the Sahara Desert in northern Africa, the wind whipped sand through Inma Zanoguera’s hair and up her nose.

Camels lifted their heads, their long-lashed eyes following her as she ran by. Up and down the rocky dunes under the cloudy sky, The University of Toledo graduate student and former basketball player ran.

Based on last year’s winning time, Inma Zanoguera knew she had a shot at winning the Sahara Marathon — and she did, becoming the first Sahrawi to win the 26-mile race. (Photo by Damien Patard)

What was she chasing?

To while away the hours, Zanoguera filmed herself talking to her family on the GoPro she carried. She recited poetry. And she returned to her favorite running song, Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA”:

I got loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA…
Got war and peace inside my DNA
I got power, poison, pain and joy inside my DNA
I got hustle though, ambition, flow, inside my DNA
I was born like this…

This song meant a lot to Zanoguera on so many levels. It was her DNA that brought her to the desert, the birthplace of her biological mother. She was on a quest of sorts, a search for her roots.

Inma Zanoguera’s journey to Africa was about much more than the marathon. In her search for her roots, Zanoguera said she found more questions than answers. She said she relishes the connections she made with people in the camps, who were gracious and hospitable. (Photo by Michelle-Andrea Girouard)

As she crossed the finish line, completing her first marathon, Zanoguera fell to her knees. A race representative scanned her bar code. It was official: She had won the race with a time of 3:48:11 — the first Sahrawi woman to win the 18-year-old event.

The 2018 marathon was historic. For the first time, Sahrawis won both the men’s and women’s marathons.

A search for ‘home’

Adopted when she was a toddler by a family in Mallorca, Spain, Zanoguera discovered last year that her birth mother was a Sahrawi.

In 1975-76, Sahrawis fled their home in Western Sahara as Moroccan soldiers invaded during the Western Sahara War. Zanoguera’s mom was fortunate to land in Spain. But many others ended up in refugee camps in Algeria. They are still there, four decades later.

The marathon route traveled through three of the five refugee camps.

Zanoguera said she tried not to have any expectations of her trip to Africa. She wanted to remain open to whatever she saw and felt. A few weeks later, back in Toledo, she is still processing the experience.

Inma Zanoguera looked at her award for winning the 2018 Sahara Marathon; the awards were made by artist Mohamed Sulaiman Labat, who lives in Smara, the refugee camp where Zanoguera stayed while in Algeria. (Photo by Michelle-Andrea Girouard)

After the race, she stayed in Smara, one of the camps, for a few days. The people there knew who she was by then — the girl who won the marathon. Some of them knew her story, that her mother was a Sahrawi. They peppered her with questions: “How do you feel being back home?” “Do you feel Sahrawi?”

“Those were big questions,” Zanoguera said.

She didn’t have ready answers.

The question of “home” has always been one that troubles her, she said. She never felt quite at home in Spain, where the only people who looked like her were her brother and sister.

She decided to come to America in part because it had black and brown people. But when she got here, she said she was still seen as “other,” as a foreigner.

“I never feel at home anywhere,” she said. “Part of me unconsciously wanted to find a home [on this trip to Africa].”

At the award ceremony the day after the race, Inma Zanoguera raised the Sahrawi flag, the flag of her birth mother’s homeland. (Photo by Michelle-Andrea Girouard)

After she won the marathon, the Sahrawi minister of sports held a reception for the 2015 UT alumna.

“He welcomed me home,” she said. He told her he was happy to have her back, even though this was her first trip to her mother’s homeland. She was offered dual citizenship.

As she wandered the camps, she knew she stood out. Once again, nobody looked like her. She wasn’t wearing a melhfa, the traditional full body cloth that Sahrawi women wear. But at the same time, she said, it was like holding up a mirror to herself when she looked at them.

She said she was touched by their hospitality, their willingness to answer her questions. She had so many. “What do you think about someone like me coming to the camp and calling herself Sahrawi? How do you find meaning in the camps?”

Inma Zanoguera befriended 18-year-old Mohamed Moulud on the day of the race’s award ceremony. He convinced Zanoguera that she should raise the Sahrawi flag when she claimed her prize.

Zanoguera found the answer to that last question when she met an artist, Mohamed Sulaiman Labat. He showcases his art in Germany and England and had every opportunity to leave the camps. But he didn’t.

“The world has enough art,” he told Zanoguera. “They need me here.”

He built a studio in the camp and creates art out of whatever he can find — wood, cloth, clay, metal. He made the colorful, creative awards that Zanoguera and the other runners received.

Zanoguera said she thought she might have some kind of mystical revelation as she ran. She didn’t. But one evening at sunset, her guide took her and Canadian filmmaker Michelle-Andrea Girouard, who is making a documentary about Zanoguera’s search for her roots, to the dunes near the camps.

As she gazed out over the endless horizon, Zanoguera said she had a moment of sadness. There isn’t much beauty in the camps, she said, but here, there was indescribable beauty.

Inma Zanoguera took this photo of the endless Saharan dunes near the refugee camp.

“I realized that the beauty, the oil, the [natural resources] were so out of reach for those who belong to the land. They didn’t get to enjoy this,” she said.

Finding her place

The marathon and the connections she made to her mother’s people were healing for her, Zanoguera said.

“This trip was part of the learning process and acceptance,” she said. “I am Spanish, and I am Sahrawi, and I feel like a part of me also is American because I came here at such a young age. I am all these things, not just one.”

She said she has more questions now than when she started.

“I don’t know yet what it means for me and how it will affect my daily life,” she said.

Zanoguera and Girouard raised $1,200 for the refugees. Zanoguera said the two want to be smart and use it to create a sustainable program for the refugees. They’re considering starting a sports program for children, a way to distract the kids from life in the camps and share the many lessons that Zanoguera learned from athletics.

Her new friends in the camps asked if she was going to come back to visit. Zanoguera said she’s not sure. She said she would love to come back when their film is finished and present it at FiSahra, the film festival the camps hold each year.

Celebrating her victory

At the award ceremony the day after the marathon, Zanoguera leaned against a fence as she waited to receive her prize. She was torn. She’d never really felt a strong allegiance to any flag. When she played basketball for the Spanish national team, she said it never felt right to her to raise the Spanish flag.

But here, among the Sahrawi people, it felt right to raise the Sahrawi flag.

“But how do you dare raise a flag that signifies so much persistence and honor after only three days of being in this camp?” she said.

As she waited, she struck up a conversation with Mohamed Moulud, an 18-year-old refugee, who stood on the other side of the fence. She asked him what he thought. Would he be offended if she raised the Sahrawi flag?

“You absolutely must,” he told her.

She turned to the crowd and asked to borrow someone’s Sahrawi flag. As she walked to the stage — the first Sahrawi woman to win the Sahara Marathon — she carried the flag of her mother’s country and raised it high.

UT chapter of Food Recovery Network reduces, recycles

The University of Toledo is addressing food waste and hunger with the Food Recovery Network, the largest student movement to fight waste and feed people in America.

UT’s chapter is the fourth largest donor of recovered food among Ohio colleges involved with the organization. Since its inception in fall 2015, the UT group has donated more than 6,500 pounds of food to those in need in the Toledo community.

Kate Barbee of the catering staff, Chef Manager Otis Fitzpatrick, center, and Jacob Beakas of the UT chapter of the Food Recovery Network posed for a photo last month with food that was donated to an area organization.

Students involved in the organization take food left over in the dining halls at the end of each week to various places around Toledo; these locations include the Cherry St. Mission, St. Paul’s Community Center, Family House, Aurora Project and the Beach House Family Shelter.

In addition to recovering food from on-campus dining halls, the chapter collects leftovers from Panera Bread every week. In the past, members have worked with various UT campus events, alumni tailgates, Monnette’s Market, and Fowl and Fodder.

“Lucas County has one of the highest poverty rates in Ohio,” said Krisha Conley, president of the UT chapter of the Food Recovery Network. “To see how much waste college campuses provide nationwide is unsettling. This program not only provides a meal to those who are hungry, it connects the campus to the community in a way that is personal and humbling.”

Founded in 2011, the Food Recovery Network has 230 U.S. chapters that have distributed more than 2 million pounds of perishable food that otherwise would go to waste on campuses, restaurants and stores.

Jacob Beakas of the UT chapter of the Food Recovery Network loaded his car with food from the University to take to a local shelter as Chef Manager Otis Fitzpatrick watched.

While Toledo offers many resources for those affected by poverty, the winter months especially propose a challenge as many shelters are at or over capacity and run on little to no funding. The food donated from UT, ranging from 50 to 200 pounds weekly, is either served immediately or the next day and helps to alleviate stress on budgets.

“Overall, our waste at UT is relatively low, but we do see the amount of a donation increase as we go into winter or summer break due to closing of our locations,” said Gary B. Casteel, resident district manager with UT Dining and Hospitality Services.

“Items donated vary weekly depending on the menu offerings at our locations. Donated foods include fruits, vegetables, beef, poultry, pasta, desserts and more,” Casteel said. “Our priority is to offer our guests a top-quality product at a good value, but if there are usable leftovers, we wish to ensure they are put to good use by supporting our local community and those in need.”

In addition to the weekly donations, the students in the UT chapter of the Food Recovery Network also volunteer at the Cherry St. Mission and are working toward more volunteer opportunities at St. Paul’s and Family House.

“Administrators have a responsibility to engage with our students in support of the common good through stewardship and philanthropy,” Bonnie Murphy, UT associate vice president for auxiliaries, said. “College life raises students’ awareness of the importance of advocating for kindness. We would like to think we play a part in our students’ development.”

Conley said the organization also helps to provide an educational standpoint for students as they can learn how much food is wasted and teach them to be more aware on how much they consume.

“My experiences with the Toledo community has humbled me beyond belief and taught me to love my neighbor no matter the circumstance,” Conley said. “I am constantly mindful of what my actions are doing to impact others. The Food Recovery Network has provided a spot in my heart to serve others by action and creating relationships instead of being a bystander.”

To learn more about the organization or to get involved, contact Conley at krisha.conley@rockets.utoledo.edu.

New book offers strategies on working with needy people

In his latest book, “Needy People: Working Successfully With Control Freaks and Approval-holics,” Dr. Dale Dwyer immediately identifies a work situation everyone encounters.

“We all know them — the control freaks and approval-holics of our organizations and our lives. These are the people who drive us crazy at work,” he said.

The UT professor of management suggests that their annoying behaviors have their roots in high needs for control, approval or both.

“We’ll call the person who most drives you crazy at work ‘Chuck.’ Everybody has a Chuck, and everybody’s Chuck is different,” Dwyer said.

Dwyer notes that we all have a need for control and a need for approval, but it is the extreme cases that cause frustration for leaders, direct reports and co-workers who have to deal with them every day.

Through his consultations with leaders, both new and experienced, Dwyer identified six key challenges for people high in needs for control and approval:

• Lack of emotional control — impatience, anger management, bullying;

• Inability or unwillingness to delegate;

• Lack of communication skills — interpersonal and fear of public speaking;

• Inability or unwillingness to deal with conflict;

• Tendency toward perfectionism; and

• Difficulty in making decisions.

Throughout the book, Dwyer takes readers through an extensive self-analysis process so they can improve on their own ability to better deal with the Chucks in their lives.

“Needy People” offers self-assessment techniques, explores how control and approval needs influence key challenges, discusses the “myth of perfection,” and looks at the ramifications of these challenges on trustworthiness within work relationships, suggesting some ways to address them — including what to do about them if they arise with your “Chuck.”

Dwyer hopes that “readers of the book will learn how to spot the triggers for control and approval so that we can all improve our ability to work with and lead the control freaks and approval-holics of our organizations and our communities.”

“Needy People: Working Successfully With Control Freaks and Approval-holics” is available in print and Kindle versions on Amazon.com, and through Amazon in 12 countries, as well as through Audible and iTunes.

Dwyer joined the UT faculty in 1989 and is a former chair of the Department of Management in the College of Business and Innovation. He received one of the University’s Outstanding Teacher Awards, as well as the first UT Student Impact Award.

He is the author of the top-selling SHRM-published book, “Got a Minute? The 9 Lessons Every HR Professional Must Learn” (2010), as well as “Got A Solution? HR Approaches to 5 Common and Persistent Business Problems” (2014), both with co-author Dr. Sheri A. Caldwell.

Two students honored for internships by Washington Center

Two students spent fall semester in Washington, D.C., working at internships awarded by the Washington Center Internship Program.

Colleen Anderson, a senior majoring in paralegal studies with a focus in litigation, was an investigative intern with Public Defender Services for the District of Columbia, an organization that promotes and provides quality legal representation to indigent adults and children facing a loss of liberty in D.C.

Emily Grubbs worked for Amnesty International during her internship through the Washington Center.

Emily Grubbs, a senior with a dual degree in English literature and law and social thought, was an intern with Amnesty International USA in the Gender, Sexuality and Identity Program, the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization working to make sure all people are able to live in dignity, safety and freedom.

After finishing their internships in December, both students were honored at the Washington Center commencement.

Anderson won the award for academic excellence for demonstrating intellectual curiosity and offering thoughtful contributions during the Leadership, Engagement, Achievement, Development Colloquium and evening course, while Grubbs won the award for civic engagement for displaying initiative, care and concern in efforts serving the D.C. community.

“I cannot be more clear in saying that the Washington Center Internship Program has been the most valuable, professional opportunity of my undergraduate career,” Grubbs said. “Having the chance to network and explore Washington, D.C., with the support of my internship and program was a once in a lifetime experience. After leaving D.C., I had to completely change my career path, simply because I never knew the program would offer me so many unimaginable opportunities.”

During her internship, Grubbs developed materials to be used in campaigning activities, advocacy discussions and public education to conduct qualitative research on intersectional identity issues and rights violations targeted at people because of their identity; to analyze emerging areas of relevant global and national law and government policy; and to rank the progress of legislation in the U.S. Congress and identify key legislative opportunities.

She also had the opportunity to work with Amnesty’s Board of Directors to lobby Senate offices for the organization’s top human rights concerns.

“My favorite part of my internship was participating and organizing political actions for issues that I am deeply passionate about,” Grubbs said. “Gender and sexuality are areas that dominate both my academic and activist life. Every day I walked through the city to my internship, I knew I was helping society to become more equal and just.”

Colleen Anderson received an award for academic excellence from Chris Norton, president of the Washington Center, left, and Sherrod Williams, director of academic internship programs at the Washington Center. 

Anderson assisted in the investigation of cases, including interviewing witnesses and taking statements, photographing crime scenes, reviewing evidence, conducting social media research, and writing memorandums for attorneys.

She also had the chance to attend hearings and court events with attorneys, even having the opportunity to testify in court on one occasion.

“I really appreciated that this internship forced me out of my comfort zone,” Anderson said. “I can sometimes be reserved when meeting new people, and this internship thoroughly cured me of that after a few days of going door to door knocking and asking questions or interviewing strangers, I got much more comfortable with the process.

“Although it was a challenging internship, I believe strongly that sometimes the best experiences are ones that push you to grow, and my internship with the public defender’s office certainly did that for me,” Anderson said.

Both Grubbs and Anderson received grant money from UT as well as the Washington Center Internship Program to help pay for living expenses.

The Washington Center Internship Program helps provide internships in D.C. for students from a variety of academic disciplines and is offered each semester to students from all over the world. Students who participate receive college credit as well as experiences they can carry with them throughout their professional careers.

Miles to go: UT master’s student/former basketball star ‘Running Home’ in Sahara marathon

Serendipity.

It’s the perfect word to describe the fortuitous series of incidents that propelled Inma Zanoguera, a University of Toledo master’s student and former basketball player, to begin a journey to find her roots and connect to a family history she only recently discovered.

Inma Zanoguera jogged on the UT track to train for a marathon in the Sahara Desert.

Later this month, Zanoguera will travel to Africa, a continent she’s never visited, to do something she’s never done before — run a marathon.

The race won’t be just a physical challenge for 24-year-old Zanoguera. It will be an emotional and spiritual one as well.

When she was 3 years old, Zanoguera and her two older siblings were adopted by a family in Mallorca, Spain. While she was growing up, Zanoguera knew nothing of her biological family’s origins. She never asked.

Inma Zanoguera was a three-time all-Mid-American Conference selection who helped Toledo win 88 games in four seasons from 2011 to 2015.

At 17, she came to UT to study communication and business and play basketball. She graduated in 2015 and played basketball professionally in Europe. While in London in 2016, her sister sent her a picture of a document that she’d just found about her adoption.

That single piece of paper changed everything.

“My sister must have known I was ready for the answers,” Zanoguera said.

Zanoguera knew that her biological mother had died, but not much else. All the questions that she’d been holding inside for 20 years spilled out.

She pored over the adoption document. She discovered that she and her mother shared the same name. That her mom came from Laayoune, a city in Western Sahara, a place Zanoguera had never heard of.

The information stirred something in her, Zanoguera said, and she scoured the Internet for hours to learn about the region.

Zanoguera’s mother was a Sahrawi, a people who lived in the western Sahara Desert in northern Africa. In 1975-76, during the Western Sahara War, Sahrawis fled invading Moroccan soldiers.

Zanogeura’s mother was lucky enough to find safe haven in Spain. Most Sahrawi ended up in refugee camps in Algeria.

Forty years later, they’re still there, relying on international aid to live. The Western Sahara today is listed by the United Nations as a non-self-governing territory. It’s claimed by both Morocco and the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi group fighting for independence.

Last year, Zanoguera returned to Toledo to pursue a master’s degree in English as a second language. She started running to keep in shape and after finishing a half marathon, she knew she was ready for more. That’s when inspiration struck.

Zanoguera (photo by Katie Midgley)

In her hours spent Googling her mother’s homeland, she had read about the Sahara Marathon. Participants run a route connecting three refugee camps in Algeria that are home to more than 100,000 Sahrawi refugees. They stay with refugee families.

It all came together in her mind, Zanoguera said.

“All these coincidences seemed to be leading to that one goal,” she said. “I just knew that I had to go.”

Zanoguera wanted to meet the refugees. But for a stroke of luck, her mother could have been one of them. She wanted to see what their life is like, to help them if she could. Even more, she wanted to bring light to the injustices they’ve suffered.

It’s a story most Americans know nothing about. Zanoguera hoped to change that.

Girouard

A chance meeting with Canadian filmmaker Michelle-Andrea Girouard — yet another coincidence — led to the pair’s collaboration on a documentary about Zanoguera’s journey. They started a crowdfunding effort to raise money for the film, which they call “Running Home.” Twenty percent of donations will go directly to refugees in the camps.

Zanoguera said the UT community has been “overwhelmingly supportive,” contributing financially to the project.

She credits her UT basketball career with helping her grow into the kind of person that doesn’t see limitations. All the lessons that a student-athlete learns — going to practice when you don’t feel like it, coming back from a 20-point deficit — helped shape her.

She recalled conversations about life, not basketball, with her mentor and coach, Tricia Cullop.

“[Coach Cullop] has this open side of her that dreams really big,” Zanoguera said. “Life is short, and if there’s something that matters to you, there’s nothing that’s more important. I grew into somebody that sees something and believes she can do it.”

While she’s excited about her upcoming trip, Zanoguera said she’s scared, too. She’s never been to Africa or run a marathon, let alone in a desert.

“It’s difficult and unknown,” she said. “But at the same time, I’m not scared because I trust that this is the right path right now.”

If you’d like to see a video about Zanoguera’s journey or donate, visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/running-home-sports#/.

PhD student spreading love to children with cancer on Valentine’s Day

Love is in the air year-round for Michaela Margida.

The 29-year-old University of Toledo PhD student who solves environmental problems through mathematical modeling prepares for Valentine’s Day with a passion to put a smile on the faces of hundreds of children with cancer or other chronic illnesses.

Michaela Margida started the Valentine Project seven years ago to brighten up the holiday for children with cancer and chronic illnesses.

“Valentine’s Day is all about love, but it can end up feeling isolating for those children because of social stigma associated with illness, appearance changes or absences from school,” Margida said. “Instead of being about the number of cards a child receives or whether someone has a crush on someone else, I wanted to take this holiday and reclaim it for these kids so they can forget about the way that illness affects their life just for a few minutes and feel special and loved.”

Margida, a childhood brain tumor survivor, and her brother, Gregory, created the Valentine Project seven years ago. The nonprofit organization collects care packages from volunteers around the world and ships them to children’s homes in time for Valentine’s Day.

It’s first year started with 80 children in Ohio. It has grown to nearly 1,000.

“For the first time this year, we branched out geographically,” Margida said. “My brother moved to San Francisco and started a branch in California.”

The Valentine Project’s local drop-off point — Margida’s home in the Old Orchard neighborhood adjacent to campus — recently received a care package for a 5-year-old girl that includes a U.S. puzzle, Wonder Woman doll, stuffed poodle, book, heart-shaped box of chocolates, and a pair of Disney leggings.

Margida and her mother, along with other volunteers, examine each donated care package to ensure all gifts are safe and age appropriate. They add to the packages, if needed, and then ship them to reach the children by Valentine’s Day.

This labor of love is a way of giving back after the acts of kindness her family received when Margida was a little girl.

“I was 5 years old when I started getting sick,” Margida said. “After I had surgery to remove the brain tumor, I had to learn to walk and feed myself again. Hearing stories of how family and friends supported my family during that incredibly hard and scary time by bringing us a meal or visiting us in the hospital taught me that small acts of kindness can mean so very much to people going through difficult times. Those acts of kindness and love kept my parents going. That’s the spirit of the Valentine Project.”

This time of year, the charity work is all-consuming. Margida credits her PhD adviser, Dr. Daryl Moorhead in the Department of Environmental Sciences, with helping impose order on her “sometimes crazy life.”

When not organizing care packages, Margida is focused on her research in plant litter decomposition.

“I am interested in what happens to the carbon dioxide stored inside leaves and other plant parts when they die,” Margida said.

Before she arrived at UT, Margida worked as a marine biology teacher for middle and high school students in Sarasota, Fla. She also volunteered with Jesuit Volunteer Corps to teach lower-income adults how to manage their electric bill through using less energy in Baltimore.

“I feel called to give back,” Margida said. “Life is happening right this moment, and we can all begin to make a difference today. Love is what will change the world.”

The Valentine Project is in need of volunteers and donations to help pay for shipping costs. Go to thevalentineproject.org to learn more. Registration begins in December to make a care package for Valentine’s Day 2019.

Professor writes, reads poem for new Toledo mayor

Poetry is a passion for Dr. Jim Ferris.

So when he received a request from Wade Kapszukiewicz to write a poem that could be read when he would be sworn in as the new mayor of Toledo, Ferris put pen to paper.

Ferris

“I wrote a poem that seemed to work for the moment; it’s called ‘Laborare,’” Ferris, professor and Ability Center of Greater Toledo Endowed Chair in Disability Studies, said. “The Latin title means ‘To Work.’

“My initial plan was to pick something off the shelf. Inspiration to order has never been my strong suit. But I found myself thinking about the Latin phrase on the Toledo city seal, ‘laborare est orare’ [to work is to pray], and that led me to pick up a pen.”

Ferris, who began his second two-year term as the Lucas County poet laureate last summer, read the poem Jan. 2 when Kapszukiewicz officially took office as the Glass City’s mayor.

“Laborare” also was included in the program for the mayor’s inaugural events last weekend.

“It is quite an honor to serve as poet laureate of Lucas County; I hope I can be an ambassador for poetry and the arts in general in northwest Ohio,” Ferris said. “And it is quite gratifying when people find my work engaging and useful.”

He is the author of “Slouching Towards Guantanamo,” “Facts of Life” and “The Hospital Poems.” His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Poetry, Text and Performance Quarterly, and the Georgia Review.

“For me, poetry is not separate from my work to create greater access and opportunity for people with disabilities, people of color, and other oppressed groups in society,” Ferris said. “My commitment to diversity and inclusion informs my poems, whether that commitment is readily apparent or not.”

As Lucas County poet laureate, he shares his love of words and presents poetry to the area community.

“Samuel Taylor Coleridge described poetry as the best words in the best order; I think of language as humanity’s most important tool and toy. We do things with language, we use language to perform work, and sometimes we are most productive when we are most playful,” Ferris said. “Language is fun, and this is sort of a productive paradox: I hope my poems are useful and fun at the same time, whether it’s laugh-out-loud fun or ‘Oh, that’s moving’ fun.”

Freeze frame: New book offers pictorial history of UT

There are 240 photos packed into the 128 pages of “University of Toledo.”

That’s a lot of pictures telling many stories in the new book by Barbara Floyd. Part of Arcadia Publishing’s Campus History Series, the work takes a look back at The University of Toledo.

Barbara Floyd holds her new book, “University of Toledo.”

“This book would not have been possible without the incredible images preserved in university archives created by photographers known and unknown,” Floyd said. “The Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections houses more than 15,000 UT images, and sifting through them to decide what to include in this book was a labor of love.”

Floyd was the perfect person to curate the book. She retired last month as director of the Canaday Center, where she worked 31 years, initially as university archivist and later also as director of special collections for 20 years.

And she is a UT alumna. She received a bachelor of arts degree in journalism, a master of arts degree in American history, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University.

“The University of Toledo changed my life,” Floyd said. “Having the chance to pay tribute to this beloved institution that means so much to so many was a wonderful opportunity.”

The pictorial review starts with one man who had a vision: Jesup W. Scott believed Toledo could be the “Future Great City of the World.”

“As a real estate investor, Jesup Scott saw the location of Toledo on railroad lines, on the Great Lakes, and near farmland as the elements of a future industrial powerhouse,” Floyd said. “And that future great city would need a university.”

Scott donated 160 acres of land to serve as an endowment for the Toledo University of Arts and Trade. While the school failed, it was resurrected in 1884 by Scott’s sons, who gave the remaining assets to the city to create a manual training school.

“By 1909, the institution was becoming a full-fledged university, but struggled financially and needed a permanent location,” Floyd said.

When Dr. Henry J. Doermann became president of the University in 1928, he began planning for a new campus. A $2.8 million bond levy was passed that November, less than one year before the Great Depression.

A photo shows Doermann at the 1929 groundbreaking ceremony for University Hall.

“President Doermann selected the Collegiate Gothic design elements of the great universities of Europe because he wanted the architecture to inspire students,” Floyd said.

University Hall with its iconic tower and dual courtyards continues to be one of the most photographed landmarks in Toledo.

Images chronicle the University’s growing campus and burgeoning student life, which flourished even more when UT joined Ohio’s higher education system in 1967.

“The focus of this book is on the major events that shaped the University,” Floyd said. “It celebrates the University’s growth as an institution.”

There was a lot to celebrate in 2006 when UT merged with the Medical University of Ohio. At the time, it was estimated the new entity would have a $1.1 billion impact on Ohio’s economy.

A few pages also commemorate when UT was in the national spotlight. A smiling Chuck Ealey, the quarterback known as the “Wizard of Oohs and Aahs” who led the Rockets to a 35-0 record from 1969 to 1972, is in the book, along with a shot of the men’s basketball team playing Indiana in the inaugural game in Centennial Hall, now called Savage Arena. UT won, 59-57, with a basket at the buzzer to end the Hoosiers’ 33-game winning streak. And the women’s basketball team is shown celebrating its 2011 WNIT Championship.

Floyd gave credit to the late longtime UT photographer Bill Hartough, MCO photographer Jack Meade, and current University photographer Daniel Miller: “Their keen eyes captured events big and small, as well as campus life.”

“University of Toledo” is $21.99 and available at the Barnes & Noble University Bookstore and online book retailers.

UT quarterback’s journey one for the record books

When Logan Woodside first arrived on the campus of The University of Toledo, he figured he would have to be patient. With senior Terrance Owens calling the signals and Alabama transfer Phillip Ely waiting in the wings, Woodside assumed he would be redshirted, and possibly wait in the wings for another year after that before he had his chance to become a starter.

He was wrong. But then he was right.

Logan Woodside has the most passing yards of any UT quarterback: 10,083 going into this weekend’s MAC Championship Game.

Nearly five years down the line, Woodside’s career didn’t go exactly as he planned. But as he and the Rockets (10-2, 7-1 Mid-American Conference) prepare to play in the 2017 MAC Championship Game vs. Akron Saturday, he wouldn’t change a thing.

“It’s been the best five years of my life,” said Woodside, who graduated last spring and his working on his master’s degree. “I’ve met some of my best friends here. When you’re a freshman, you want time to move fast. When you’re a fifth-year senior, it’s like, where’d all the time go?”

Rocket fans are probably wishing time would stand still and Woodside could be their quarterback forever. He has set virtually every Toledo passing record in the books, including the most passing yards in a season (4,129 in 2016) and in a career (10,083 going into Saturday’s MAC Championship Game), most touchdown passes in a season (45 in 2016) and career (89), and many others. He has led Toledo to 28 victories as the starting quarterback, second only to the legendary Chuck Ealey’s 35 wins from 1969 1971.

But the numbers hardly tell Woodside’s story.

Woodside did not redshirt as a freshman — that came later. Injuries to Owens in 2013 forced him into the lineup for four games. A year later, Ely won the starting position, but an early-season injury put Woodside in the lineup. Under Woodside’s leadership, UT went 9-4 with a bowl victory. Only a 27-24 loss at Northern Illinois kept the Rockets out of the MAC Championship Game.

Everything seemed to be going Woodside’s way. Until it wasn’t.

The following season, Ely beat him out for the starting position for the second straight time, leading Toledo to a 10-2 season. Woodside sat out the entire season, using the redshirt year he thought would come in his freshman season. He has called that season the most difficult of his life.

“Being told that I wasn’t good enough for the second straight year was difficult,” Woodside said. “But it motivated me and made me become a better player. I’m grateful now for the opportunity to have the extra year. I believed in my coaches, and I knew they would put me in the best situation possible. I trusted in them, and it all worked out.”

Since Woodside took over as the starter last year, it is hard to argue that there has ever been a more prolific passer to wear the Midnight Blue and Gold. He was named Mid-American Conference Offensive Player of the Year and the Vern Smith Leadership Award winner this season. The Vern Smith Leadership Award, named for the former Toledo athletic director, has been given annually to the league’s most outstanding player since 1982. Woodside is the fourth Rocket to win the award. This is his second consecutive season as a first-team All-MAC quarterback, the first Rocket QB to accomplish back-to-back first-team honors since Gene Swick, who was a three-time first-teamer from 1973 to 1975.

In addition, Woodside has been named a contender for the Heisman Trophy in each of the past two seasons.

It wasn’t the typical college football hero’s journey, true, but Woodside certainly made it a memorable one. And now, as the curtain is about to close on one of the all-time great Rockets, there is little doubt that Woodside has left his mark on the program.

“I hope people will remember the legacy I’ve left here,” Woodside said. “I gave it everything I had. I left it all out on the field.”