Author Archives: Voices Staff

Swans Visit Ursuline’s Lake Elissa

trumpeter swans 2

Resident pair of Trumpeter Swans at Sandy Ridge Reservation in North Ridgeville, OH, spring 2015 Photo by Adam Preston

Post by Ursuline’s Interim Dean of Arts & Sciences, Sarah Preston, Ph.D.

On February 4, 2016 Ursuline was visited by a pair of swans. I happened to notice them just before 3pm as I looked out my office window. I immediately grabbed my office neighbor, Sr. Elaine Berkopec, who grabbed her binoculars and came to look. No one I talked to remembers ever seeing swans here before.

For most people a swan is a swan and they are content to simply leave it at that. For others, a swan sighting has spiritual significance. Sr. Diane Therese Pinchot informed me that in Native American culture the swan as a totem animal represents intuition, femininity and calm in the midst of change.   For me, as a birder and scientist, I needed to know what kind of swans they were. There are four species of swans that can be found in North America: Mute Swan, Trumpeter Swan, Tundra Swan, and Whooper Swan. Whooper Swans are only found in Alaska, so they can be ruled out. Tundra Swans migrate through Ohio in large numbers in the spring and fall. Trumpeter Swans, once nearly extinct in the 1930s due to hunting and the draining of marshes, have rebounded thanks to reintroduction programs and the conservation of wetlands including Ohio’s own Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.

It is fairly easy to distinguish the Mute Swan from the other two possibilities. Their beaks are mostly orange, while the Tundra and Trumpeter Swans have a black beak with a small yellow spot near the eye and a completely black beak, respectively. The Mute Swan is also the only one of the three species with a graceful, curved neck. Mute Swans, not native to North America, were introduced from Europe as domestic pond dwellers and descendants of escapees have established breeding populations. An aggressive species, the Mute Swan is considered to be invasive and competes with native swans for nest sites. The eradication of Mute Swans from certain areas in Ohio is the source of much controversy. I can attest to the Mute Swan’s hostile nature since, growing up, my family briefly bred Mute Swans and, while they were nesting and raising the cygnets, you couldn’t go anywhere near the pond without a broom for protection.

Tundra Swans

Tundra Swans with cygnets at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge in Oak Harbor, OH, Nov. 2015 Photo by Sarah Preston

Looking at our visitors with binoculars, I could tell that the beaks were black with no orange and the necks were straight. This means that they were native, wild swans! My first instinct was to ID them as Trumpeter Swans since I did not see any yellow near the eye, but as any good scientist knows, a lack of evidence is not really conclusive. So later that night, I posted the best picture that June Gracyk took to the “Facebook Bird ID Group of the World” and asked for the experts to weigh in. James Coe commented, “That’s a tough photo, but from what I can make out of the beak size and shape, and the position of the eye, relative to the beak, I’d say they are Tundra. A better photo would surely be more definitive.”

The next morning I had intended to bring my camera in the hopes of getting a better picture of them, if they were still there, but I had completely forgotten about it until I was running on the treadmill in the fitness room facing the lake. They must have been on the far side because I didn’t see them for a while and then suddenly there they were: taking off, flying directly over the building. So the ID will remain a mystery and I’m not going to agonize over it too much. There’s a reason why there’s a Trumpeter/Tundra Swan entry on and that’s what I’ll end up reporting them as.


Study War No More: Our Right to Voice

Cross Fence

By Stephanie Pratt BA ’13, Graduate Admission Coordinator

For as long as I recall, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution included the right to speak freely and peacefully assemble. Today, however, I sit confused, staring at a plea made by Father Roy Bourgeois, leader of the SOA Watch. This plea is a result of a permit refusal and the silencing of a beautiful and necessary movement. This movement, which is very dear to my heart, as well as many others of the Ursuline community, is the progression to close the School of the Americas.

Read More

Do something: a history of fundraising, ground breaking and the people who built Ursuline College


Every year, the incoming class of students at Ursuline College learns the names Mullen, Besse, Fritzche, Wasmer, Pilla, Smith, Grace and Murphy. These names not only represent the buildings that comprise campus, but are a lasting testament to Ursuline’s history. The story behind the College involves a small but passionate group of people dedicated to the vision of Ursuline’s foundress, St. Angela Merici: Women’s education.

‘Once in a Century’: A New View

“Nearing the completion of a century of service to the community and to its members, Ursuline College, Ohio’s first chartered institution of higher learning for women, has never before sought financial assistance for operating or capital expenses. Now on the threshold of a new dimension in its scholastic endeavor, Ursuline College for Women, through its president and advisory board, announces embarkation upon its first comprehensive Development Program for capital expansion and academic enrichment…”
– ‘A New Dimension’ Brochure for the ‘Once in a Century’ Campaign, 1961-62

Read More

Update: Google Glass

glassBy Maggie Stark ’14

During my time working for the College’s marketing department, I have had the incredible opportunity to discover cutting-edge technology through the Google Glass Explorer Program. Like all newly released gadgets, there is an inevitable need for developers to work out bugs. However, it was exciting for me to witness first-hand the progress of Google Glass over the past year while capturing moments from my senior year of college.

Read More

January 2015: alumnae India immersion experience

indiaExperience India with International Partners in Mission (IPM) on this small group tour, designed for 10-20 participants for approximately 10-12 days. IPM’s Immersion Experiences are short-term travel opportunities where participants learn firsthand from IPM Project Partners in India, including alumna Karen Hanson ’08 organization Girls for the World. IPM offers Immersion Experiences to build cross-cultural relationships so that participants can gain a greater understanding of the global realities of poverty and injustice.

Read More

Get Moving! A note to young alumnae

gradsNo more semesters, no more finals, no more caffeinated, late-night studying for those finals. To quote our foundress St. Angela Merici, it is time to “get moving.”

As young alumnae, you are just starting out in the real world, establishing your career, finances, relationships, goals and your home. It is both a busy and exciting time in your life.

Read More

#BackToSchool Fall wardrobe edit

fall fashion edit2 By Anne Marie Gurko ’09, Alumnae Specialist/Adjunct Fashion Faculty

Fall is quickly approaching, and, while you’re still in summer mode, weighing in the back of your mind is a mental checklist of what you need to pack to head back to campus. You most likely have not committed to putting this list on paper in fear it will confirm that you summer break is officially over. Fret no longer. I have compiled a quick list that will help you focus on wardrobe necessities so you can in turn focus on loading the car up with your laptop, mini fridge and every book and notebook you won’t be able to survive the semester without. Feel free to add and subtract items. Here we go…

Read More

Covergirl: Miss Student Nurse 1955

helen hardy2In the February 1957 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, you will find a photo essay titled, “Student Nurse,” featuring St. John College alumna Helen Harding ’56 S.J. The lead reads: “Nursing isn’t glamorous or easy but Helen Harding learned in four years of giving baths, scrubbing wards, witnessing pain and death that she had met the challenge of her life. Here is the story of the rewarding career of a nurse.”

Read More

The Best Closet in Cleveland: 30 years of the Historic Costume Study Collection exhibition

labelsJoin Ursuline College to celebrate the Historic Costume Study Collection’s 30th Anniversary!

Constance Korosec, Ph.D. envisioned the collection to serve as a hands-on learning tool so students could feel, research and delve into fashion history. This dream made the collection what it is today. With more than 3,500 pieces of 20th Century American fashion donated by Greater Clevelanders, the College’s Historic Costume Study Collection is the “best closet in Cleveland.”

Read More

Recap: Alumna Katie Holzheimer gives beautiful ‘Impressions’

holzheimerKatie Holzheimer ’75 recently hosted a solo exhibition including works spanning her career as an artist. The exhibit, Impressions included giclee, acrylics and numerous brushless techniques. Holzheimer’s long career in art and interior design showcase her wide-range of art skills.

Read More