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Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

Tragedy and Triumph

People respond to tragedies in different ways. Josh Biris, a senior in mechanical engineering, set a shining example.

Biris' father passed away the first week of December 2014, right before Biris received his acceptance letter to UD. Going into his junior year at Dayton, Biris’ mother was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Biris returned home to Cleveland every weekend to take care of her until she passed away in December 2017.

"I could have given up after their passing, but that's not what my parents wanted for me. They wanted me to finish college. They wanted me to succeed and become something. I did it for them, and I think they are proud.”

In December 2019, Biris will graduate with honors and a job in GE Aviation's Operations Management Leadership Program.

While at UD, Biris earned a Minority Engineering Program scholarship and benefited from several other support services the program offers students.

"It lessened the financial burden and helped me focus more on my academics. I could buckle down on my schoolwork and not worry about how I'm going to pay for school," he said. "The MEP program offers so much more than financial support. It offers resources, people to talk to, and a place to find people with similar experiences and backgrounds.”

At the University of Dayton, Biris said he found several "rocks" in the Minority Engineering Program and Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center who "supported me, were my safe space and also kept me pushing" along his journey to graduation.

Among them are former Minority Engineering Program Director Laura Bistrek who welcomed Biris to campus and offered initial support, and current program Director Gerica Brown who helped Biris land the co-op at GE Aviation during college that led to his job after college. Biris said Maceo Cofield in the School of Engineering dean's office was always there with advice: "He kept me pushing and gave me a different outlook on college, how not to let yourself slip. He tells us not to sell ourselves short, not take anything for granted, go after what we want." And there's Cynthia Payne, an assistant director of academic success in the Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center, who Biris said he can "vent and talk to." She inspired him to give back to other students as an academic success ambassador.

"UD is an amazing place. I'll tell everyone that. When you're here, you don't feel like you're at college. Everyone is willing to help you. 'Community' is a huge word here, but it means something. It's a home away from home.”

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