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Lessons Learned: 2009-2000

Lessons Learned: 2009-2000

Our Alumni December 02, 2018
Wit and wisdom from alumni from the Classes of 2009-2000

Class of 2009

Teresa Perretta
Operations Leader, Dayton

I had an executive leadership coach, Scott Bracale, who would say to me, “Get what you want, don’t want what you get.” I’m often in the position where I’m creating something that doesn’t exist yet, and it reminds me to stick to my original intentions.

Teresa Perretta ’09Love means being selfless. I want to give without expectation. I fell in love with feeding people and the feeling of creating something that creates a feeling inside another person without an expectation of any of that coming back to you.

I turned 30, and I feel like I’m getting younger constantly. The older I get the more I realize there’s so much we don’t know. I’ve realized I should act like I know nothing at all because you learn more. I just keep asking questions.

My advice is to just get out there and say “yes” and meet as many people who are different from you. Who I am as a person today is from showing up and saying “yes.”

One of the most startling things I’ve learned is you can be completely misplaced in the world with people you don’t know and you end up playing a role you’ve played your whole life.

Class of 2008

Neil Bailey
Account executive, Yellow Springs, Ohio

The best advice I’ve received came from Julie Barber, a vice president at LexisNexis. It was the first time I’d heard about managing your own brand and brand awareness. Act in a manner you can be proud of. Be happy about yourself.

Neil Bailey ’08Our home is our prized possession. My wife, Amy, and I literally scrapped for 2 ½ to 3 years to save for a down payment. It took so much effort and partnership to get to this point, which is why it meant so much to us.

I was a political science major. I went to law school at an interesting time with the financial collapse taking place around us, so I decided to take a different path. I figured I could be a non-traditional lawyer.

I still have the number for the Poli Sci department in St. Joe’s in my phone.

Flyer blue all day. My wife tells me I have too much blue in my life.

Coffee for certain. I like beer and wine, but I’m really more of a bourbon man.

With two first-class tickets, I’d go to the Far East. Somewhere on the beach. But I’d only take the tickets if they were in the exit row because I’m 6-foot-5.

Undergraduate school was the best time of my life because you had the opportunity to meet so many people and socialize just by showing up to class.

Failure: Not an option. Curiosity: Always. Time: Valuable. Politics: No thank you. Humor: Most important.


Sivasai Mungi
Senior Software Engineer, Pittsburgh

My passion for life gets me out of bed in the morning, as does the opportunity to look at my beautiful 5-year-old daughter still sleeping blissfully.       

Sivasai Mungi ’08To today’s students I say be passionate in whatever you do and believe it will take you to heights.

When I go into a FedEx store and see their employees using the scanner system with software my team developed many years ago, it makes me happy. A software engineer can have an impact on everyday life.

The most precious gift in my life is my family — my daughter and my wife, the most understanding partner I could dream of — as well as my parents and twin brothers. Where I come from, Hyderabad, India, family plays a huge role in a person’s success, and my parents sacrificed much for their sons.

My father told me being honest and never cheating is the greatest thing you can give yourself. Being honest may not pay off always, but you will feel happy and content when you look back.

I am happy with what I have and I am very blessed. However, my heart burns when I read 40 percent of the world’s population sleeps hungry and lacks access to basic amenities. This statistic from the World Health Organization motivates me to give back to my community and my world. I hope it also makes us more responsible and focused on human values instead of selfish goals.

Class of 2007

Rachel Bade Trinity
Educator, Perrysburg, Ohio

My faith has allowed me to go into marriage knowing we are going to figure it out together.

Rachel Trinity ’07Parenting is a cacophony of chaos. When the tween years approach, learn to listen more. It’s a shift in parenting.

Show your kids how to apologize and forgive.

It doesn’t matter what you think you say, it’s what someone hears.

No one likes to be told what to do. Let your kids come up with ways to solve their own problems.

Learn how to let go and have a family dance party!

You don’t have to be perfect or get it right on the first try. Kids see your flaws.

Ask for grace and be real.

Community is such a buzzword. It’s harder in the real world. Creating community takes letting go and compromise.

Be friends with people who challenge you and ask the hard questions. Don’t live in a vacuum because there is no growth.

Put your ideas out there to be questioned even though it’s uncomfortable.

Have five to six good friends who you can do life with. If you have a choice between deep and wide, choose deep. Deep friendships take time to build but are so worth it.

Class of 2006

Florian Edenhofer
Chaplain, Schwerin, Germany

When people ask who I am, I’m not German or Bavarian. I’m Catholic in the first place, and it’s home.

Florian Edenhofer ’06Friends make me smile. They know you, they know you well, and they still stick by you. You can be yourself around them with all your faults and craziness and weirdness.

What makes me cry is when I see how Christians have closed themselves off, how states or governments pretend they are Catholic or Christian but shut those out who are in need.

In Christ we are one — there is neither slave nor free nor Greek nor Jew nor man nor woman, as says Saint Paul in his letter to the Galatians 3:28.

You’re a complete stranger, standing at their front door, and they let you in — that is UD’s warm, welcoming spirit of community. It’s putting Catholic at its best.

Challenges make you stronger. I was supposed to become a priest in the diocese of Augsburg, Germany, but when that got postponed, I had to overcome and see what God had up the sleeve for me. The detour helped me grow up a little more and be confirmed with my ministry.

Class of 2005

David Trimbach
Geographer, Social Scientist, Tacoma, Washington

If you can do what makes you happy, regardless of what that is or if it is personal or professional,
I see that as success.

David Trimbach ’05We all have an obligation to leave the world better than we found it. We should equitably and intentionally build a better world for everyone both present and future through subtle or more overt actions, conversations and efforts.

People make a place a home.

As a social scientist, I am always listening and hoping to help solve problems through people’s stories or insights. Listening can be a powerful tool.

I have terrific and strong parents. I am very lucky. They taught me to do what makes me happy without thinking about what other people think.

Love means having unconditional acceptance and respect of and for yourself and others. 

Possessions are overrated.

Trust yourself, even when it seems difficult or impossible. Be authentic, even when others demand or expect otherwise. Be critical, even when challenged to think, act or be otherwise. Everyone makes mistakes, feels fearful, or perceives some form of inadequacy in their lives every day, so you are going to be okay. You are enough. 


Class of 2004

Katie Horstman Lawrence
Small Business Owner, Cincinnati

Be kind — to everyone. Kindness and generosity spread just as quickly as hate and can just as easily change the world. I read that once in a magazine. It became my mantra.

Kate Lawrence ’04If you really want something, make it happen. When we lived in Bermuda, people would always say, “You’re so lucky, I wish I could live there.” My response was always, “You can.” Moving there didn’t happen to us; we made it happen. If your life isn’t happening, make it. 

Feel good about what you’re doing and hope you’ll never have to look back and wish for more time. 

Children feel like an extension of your own self, and somehow your child riding a bike with no training wheels is the proudest you’ve felt in ages. 

I wouldn’t change anything about myself. It took me years to accept and realize that this is me, no change necessary, and I can happily see this in other people as well.

Work is work. Even when you love it, it’s still work. Try to make it a part of your life rather than an obligation. Don’t let it define you. Work to live. 

Beauty is everywhere. Don’t forget to notice it. 

Class of 2003

Erik Blaine
Judge, Dayton

I believe in giving back to your community and being responsible for yourself.

Erik Blaine ’03It’s always worth it to reach across the aisle and bring people with different opinions together.

Do everything with honor and humility.

Cherish your friends from UD.

Knowing that my grandparents fled Czechoslovakia because they wanted to give my mother a better life, because everything was taken from them and the legal system was against them underpins everything I am. Their story is my story because they fought and risked everything to be a part of the American dream.

Politics does not belong in a courtroom.

Get your hands dirty when it comes to community service. Don’t just sit on the board but be the custodian on the ground too. These experiences can shape your entire life.

It’s important to never burn a bridge because you never know who is going to impact you.

Follow your passion and what you believe is right.

No matter what you do, the law touches some part of it.

Seeing someone learn brings back the feeling of absolute joy that comes from the internal realization that you can do something and accomplish something difficult. It is unforgettable.

Class of 2002

Patrick McEntee
Organ Donation Advocate, Dayton

Not many people can say they’ve literally had their heart ripped from their chest. As the recipient of a heart transplant, I can. In emotional terms, when I see someone bullied, it hurts my heart.

Pat McEntee ’02Getting a heart transplant is like being reborn. Just like new babies slowly discover their bodies and what they can do with it, I find myself doing the same thing and being amazed when I discover I can do things I never thought I’d be able to do again, such as walk a mile with no effort.

Love is how we see God in the world. If God is love, then every time we experience love, we experience God. I’m blessed to see God often in family, friends, strangers and nature.

Do whatever you can to keep a positive attitude at all times, especially in the most difficult times of your life.

1,068 days on the transplant waiting list taught me plenty about patience.

There’s so much in life that I want to see, do and accomplish. Every day that I am blessed to wake up is an opportunity. I can never take that for granted.

Class of 2001

John Seryak
Engineer, Columbus, Ohio

The UD community is still having an impact in my life. Some days its like we’re still there. I married a Flyer, I work with 10 Flyers who I was fortunate to hire, and on holidays there are Flyers on both sides of the family.

John Seryak ’01Working to improve how society uses energy is definitely my vocation.

Most of the valuable life course changes I’ve had come from errors, mistakes and getting lost.

I dislike pollution of all types. I could pick up trash from now through eternity.

Pickle brine is really good.

I’m inspired when someone speaks the truth and transcends themselves. I thought the Parkland students were inspiring.

I love watching the Stooges with my son. There’s just something about watching Larry take a shovel to the face.

I love thinking about the Fermi Paradox and the potential solutions to it. It is improbable that we are alone in the universe.

The worst job I ever had was yard work at home. My dad used to pay us a penny for each dandelion we’d pull. It was not a fair wage.

I think curiosity is essential to being satisfied.

Class of 2000

Ann Bourke Shank
Veterinary Support Specialist, Worthington, Ohio

I was always comparing myself to other people who were doing tremendous things at a very young age — famous by 23, releasing their first albums at 25, owning their own companies at 28, billionaires by 30 — that kind of thing. That’s nice for them. But for the majority of us, we’re not going to blaze like a comet right out of the gate, and honestly, we might be way better off to have a nice long, slow burn. 

Ann Shank ’00You’re allowed to be flexible; you’re allowed to set down gifts and talents and come back to them in a few years; you’re allowed to define your own priorities for yourself and your family, to make up your mind and change it.

I have so many memories of Stuart Hill — sledding down the hill in the wintertime, crawling up after nights that were way too much fun, sitting out there with friends talking about life and love. UD is such a special place. But it’s the people, not the physical location, that make it so extraordinary.  

God is a deep well of compassion, forgiveness, tenderness, wisdom and guidance — all the things you first need yourself in order to pour out love to others.

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