Category Archives: Ursuline College

After the Lecture: A Night in the Life of an NYC Urgent Activist

My first blog entry was supposed to focus on the large-scale protest of New York City Animal Control practices. This, however, seemed to make no sense out of the context of the nightly war that activists for New York City’s pets wage every day of the year. So, this entry will, instead, show you how I have spent my nights since I began to work for the pets of New York City. philosophy13

Animal activists engage in rescue work because each year in the United States about four million pets are killed in shelters, that is about 10,000 a day or one pet every ten seconds or so. In thirty-one states, including our own, gas chambers are still used . The vast majority of the dogs killed are either American Pit Bull terriers or Chihuahuas. Many places, including Cleveland, have implemented many No Kill policies but some cities, such as NYC, are far behind in their treatment of shelter pets.  philosophy12

Activists have created a network of posting and cross-posting pets on Facebook and other social media. This allows us to save thousands of pets everyday across the U.S. NYC activists use this network to reach out in order to find foster homes and adopters for the pets each night.

We know which pets to share each night because the demands of the Urgent volunteers have led the shelter administration to provide us with lists of the dogs and cats that are to be killed the next day; a barbaric practice, indeed. For NYC pets, however, it is progress. Many of the pets on the nightly list come from the hundreds of dogs and cats who are not available for the public to see when they come to the shelter to adopt. The Urgent Facebook page is the only place from which these pets can be seen. To date, NYC Urgent activists, including myself, have saved the lives of over 16,000 dogs and 11,000 cats. Here are tonight’s lists:

Every evening the to be destroyed list is posted, sometimes as early as 6 PM, sometimes as late as 9 PM. and we spring into action, sharing each pet on our own networking pages and in the many cross-posting groups on Facebook. We only have until 6 AM to save all of the cats and dogs who are on the list. Some of these pets can be reserved for adoption online, prior to 6 AM, others have been rated for New Hope rescues only. These pets can only be pulled by approved rescue groups. Pets end up with a New Hope rating for being very young, very old, sick, frightened, or for not being happy with the SAFER evaluation. SAFER evaluations consist, in part, of pinching the pet’s paw, poking the pet with a large plastic hand, giving the pet food that is then taken away by the large plastic hand, and giving the pet a toy and a raw hide that are then taken away by the plastic hand.

Each night we have to find donations to cover pull fees and vet bills for the pets who are pulled by rescues as well as fosters and adopters for each pet. While other shelters allow long distance adoptions and links to transport services, the NYC ACC does not. Pets generally cannot travel more than three hours away from NYC. This makes our work more difficult and can be very frustrating for those who want to help the pets. Tonight there are eleven dogs and puppies ranging in age from six months old to ten years old and thirty cats and kittens whose ages range between four weeks old and fourteen years old. While some of these pets were brought to the shelter because they were lost or homeless, many were brought here because of the breed ban in public housing or because their people were evicted or arrested or because they became sick or died. Many pets are also brought here by their guardians. The most common reason stated in NYC is that the person had “no time” for their pet. Some pets are kept at the shelter for months while some are added to the to be destroyed list after only two or three days.

We start by figuring out what each pet needs. We see who is rescue only and who can be adopted. We add up any pledges that each pet already has in place and check to see whether anyone has shown any interest in the pet. We post each and every pet to our own pages and to many groups as well, in hopes of attracting fosters or adopters for them, as well as pledges to cover the rescue costs. Activists and rescue workers get little sleep since we only have until 6 AM to find a place for each pet to go later in the day. Many times, particularly in Brooklyn, workers begin to kill the pets as soon as the deadline has passed so time is of the essence for us.

If we find someone who will commit to fostering a pet we have to also have each foster fill out applications for at least three of the approved rescue groups. This means that we also spend much time assisting prospective foster parents in choosing which rescues will be most likely to help that particular pet and with filling out the applications. If we find adopters for pets who are available for public adoption we assist them with the process of reserving the pet, paying the deposit, and filling out shelter applications. We also have to communicate with the rescues and entice them to help with the pet by showing them that we have raised enough money for the pet and that we have a committed foster or adopter available.

We often become attached to a pet, even over the internet. All together we have succeeded in saving the lives of over 27,000 pets just in NYC. One of my very favorite rescues was a Pit Bull terrier named Thomas who was the last lost pet from Hurricane Sandy. Together activists shared Thomas’s picture and story over 16,000 times before we found him a home in Baltimore.



The loss of our sweet Chopper was devastating for all of us and many people stopped their activism after he was killed. I’ll never understand how, in a city with over eight million people, not even one person would foster sweet Chopper, even for a few weeks.



Jake was another devastating loss for us. Sweet Jake had been shot by a policeman in his own apartment while his human was being arrested. He progressed with the volunteers and, by the time, he was gone, had taken to crawling on their laps and giving them kisses. Because Jake had lunged at the policemen who broke down the door to his apartment and forcibly took his human away, he was labeled aggressive. No pictures of videos of him snuggling with volunteers would change the minds of the shelter workers and, after having kept Jake in a cage for 23 ½ hours of every day for months, they killed sweet Jake with no warning to us. Many rescues had let the workers know that they were willing to pull Jake. When Jake came to the shelter he looked like this:



At the end he looked like this:



It is harder to save a pet then one would like to think. Before I began to engage in this kind of activism I thought that you could just show up and adopt. It is rarely so easy! I do, though, know that, while I can’t save the world, I CAN save the world for at least ONE pet! For now, as our sweet Emmit says ADOPT, DON’T SHOP!



Roxy’s Run

roxys_run_1I could bore you all with long and grueling details of my 26.2 mile run on Sunday, May 19th, as many long distance runners often do.  I could try to educate you on the discipline and training involved in accomplishing such a feat.  I’m choosing not to tell that story because that is not what was important about the day.  That day was about someone else.  It was about a nine year old little girl, and those 26.2 miles of running were about helping her and her family.

About two months ago I received a phone call from my friend Tammy.  She has a non-profit organization, Tammy’s Friends (, which assists families who have a loved one with cancer.  She wanted to organize a 5k race to help a local family who would be in need in the very near future.  Unfortunately we didn’t feel we could organize a race within the time she had envisioned.  Because of that call I began to think there may be something I could do to help.  I was registered to run the Cleveland Marathon, and I was in the middle of my training.  I had run two marathons for myself, and maybe it was time I turn my work into something that could benefit someone else.  I had a wonderful support system including family and friends who I knew would be willing to help out.

The next morning I returned a call to Tammy and discussed my idea with her.  She still had some other ideas she planned to carry out, but we agreed this could provide the family with immediate assistance.  With that I was on my next journey, and that was to not complete a marathon but instead to complete “Roxy’s Run.”

Roxy is a nine year old little girl who used to attend my son’s daycare until she became a big kid.  They now attend the same elementary school but in different grades.  Roxy has been diagnosed with an Ewing Tumor which is at the base of her spine and around her pelvis.  This has been causing her tremendous pain for nearly a year.  She is facing potentially 12 months of chemo and radiation treatments.  During this time her mother will be taking a leave of absence from work to care for her along with the assistance of Roxy’s two year old little sister.

Beginning in May, I started sending out emails and messages to all my contacts in my email account and social networking accounts.  I also asked my mother, a cancer survivor, to spread the word back at home.  Within minutes of my communications going out people were responding they had made a contribution online.  They would also share their own stories of how cancer had affected them or a loved one.  The stories were amazing, and I felt so blessed people were willing to share them with me.  I also had many people offer to provide other forms of assistance to the family if it was needed.  Having people offer support to a family they did not know reminded me there are so many kind, caring, and selfless people in this world.

To date friends and family have donated over $600 to help Roxy and her family.  This will easily provide the family with groceries for two months and one or two family nights with carry out pizza.  I feel my goal has been met, and the journey has been heartwarming to say the least.

I did complete the Cleveland Marathon in just over five hours.   I just missed my goal time of crossing the finish line in under five hours (5:01:49), but again, the run was not about me.  It was Roxy’s Run.

-Suzy Schroeder, Head of Library Electronic and Media

“Tomato, Tomato” Ursuline Style

The above clip from the 1937 film Shall We Dance makes a nice accompaniment to the rest of this post.  Go ahead and play it.  You can even watch it, then play it again and read the post while “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” plays in the background.

As the clip demonstrates, quite a variety exists in language.  Every year at Ursuline College’s commencement, I encounter a local example of this phenomenon when everyone sings the Ursuline College song.  You can see a copy of the lyrics below copyright and courtesy of the Ursuline College Archives (though you might need to click on the image to make them legible).


In the song, “Ursuline” is rhymed with “serene.”  Since the usual pronunciation of “Ursuline” on campus tends to rhyme the last syllable with a word such as “fin” or “sin,” this is an unusual pronunciation of Ursuline.

However, “Ursuline” has quite a range of pronunciations.  Although people in Dallas and Louisville seem to pronounce “Ursuline” as we do on campus, people in New Orleans and Massachusetts seem to pronounce that last syllable of “Ursuline” so it rhymes with “fine” or “sign.”

Still, where does the “UrsuLEAN” pronunciation come from?  One explanation is that it might result from poetic license from the songwriters (Sisters M. Augustine and M. Pauline), who might have preferred the rhyme possibilities of that pronunciation.  The other explanation is that it might preserve an older pronunciation of “Ursuline.”  The Ursulines who eventually founded the College came from France (though a couple were English), and it appears that the pronunciation of “Ursuline” in French does indeed have that syllable rhyme with words such as “lean” and “seen” (this appears to be the case in Quebec as well; in a history of the Ursulines in Quebec, I found an English language poem from 1888 which rhymed “Ursuline” with “seen”).  In fact, the French seem to even pronounce the “e” at the end of the word as a separate syllable.  You can hear this yourself at the French dictionary site Larousse.

Without going into great linguistic detail, if, in 1850 when the first Ursuline sisters arrived in Cleveland, Ohio, they brought along with them the French pronunciation of “Ursuline” (assuming the French pronunciation itself hasn’t changed much), the French pronunciation likely became anglicized over the years to chop off the “e” syllable at the end and allow the previous vowel more or less to follow the path of the Great Vowel Shift in English, a sound chain shift which explains today why the vowels of English speakers, particularly in writing, vary from their Continental language counterparts (so, if you ever had trouble pronouncing French or Italian words, now you know what to blame).  At some point, two primary pronunciations, one more French and one less French, might have been competing, with the more French pronunciation, surrounded by Buckeye English, losing speakers every year.  By 1930, when the Ursuline College song was likely composed, it’s possible that the songwriters wished to preserve the traditional pronunciation of “Ursuline” by embedding it in the alma mater.

So, perhaps it was poetic license, or it reflects an older pronunciation of “Ursuline,” but the Ursuline College song includes an uncommon pronunciation of “Ursuline,” at least around here.  The Gershwin brothers, writers of “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” would likely have sympathized either way.

Thanks to Mara Dabrishus, Sr. Virginia DeVinne, Gerri Jenkins, Sr. Ann Kelly, Sr. Janet Moore, Giuleta Stoianov, and Rebecca Wrenn for their help with this post.

Packing for 2.5 months (and with a cat!)

Packing for a 2.5 month multi-purpose trip to 2 US states and a developing country is a tad challenging.  And yes that cat is coming with me on my adventure (more on that soon).

Luggage for 2.5 months

I have been traveling for quite some time and have figured a few things out along the way.  So I thought I would share some of my top ten rules for packing.

10. Do NOT buy heavy and expensively pretty luggage.  It should be durable, and it WILL get dirty from being processed.

9.  Lay out all your clothes beforehand and choose outfits that are multipurpose and coordinate with each other.

8.  Choose a neutral makeup palette and bring just the essentials (mascara, powder, tinted lip balm, blush, and one eye palette is enough for me).

7.  Choose clothes that travel well and do not wrinkle easily.

6.  Roll your clothes inside out to prevent wrinkles, pack tightly, and avoid getting dirty from inside your bag.


5.  Bring multipurpose undergarments – I love convertible bras for this reason.

4. Wear your bulky clothes and shoes on the plane – always have a sweater/jacket, scarf, and/or socks in case the plane is freezing.

3. Use every nook of space in your luggage.  For example, I always put my socks or belts in my shoes.  I also keeps them from getting flattened.  If I have a fragile item, I wrap it in my clothes to pad it.

2.  Always leave space a little space in your luggage for gifts or mementos from your vacation.My carryons include a packable purse (Black Longchamp).   Included in my essentials are my dissertation field/data notebooks (yellow).  They never leave my possession!

1.  The following items belong only in your carryon/personal item!!!  Do not let them be away from you in case you get stranded without your checked luggage: prescription drugs, computer, camera, all chargers, jewelry, passport(!!!!), and anything else that is really delicate/valuable.

I am sure I am forgetting to pack something, but isn’t that part of the charm of traveling?


After the Lecture: What does an Ecologist do with their summer “break”?

That is a good question!  Hopefully this post will provide some insight.Jenise Snyder working with wetland plants in Belize

First though… who am I and what am I going to blog about this summer?  My name is Jenise Snyder and I am a full-time Biology Instructor at Ursuline College.  I have been teaching at Ursuline for 3 years.  I am an Ecologist, specifically a Wetland Ecologist and have been studying tropical and subtropical wetlands for the past 12 years.

As a Ph.D. student in Ecology at the University of California, Davis, I have been investigating how excess nutrients from fertilizers impact naturally low nutrient wetlands in Belize.  Part of my summer travel will actually be to work on writing the final chapters of my dissertation.

The rest of my summer travel is for vacation… well not really.  As an educator, you kind of never take that professor hat off.  So while I am going on vacation to Miami (Florida, not Ohio) and Belize, I know I will be collecting snippets of information, pictures, and  legally collected specimens, that will be used in my future classes.

So what am I planning to do on vacation?  Well first off, go to the beach!  My hometown of Miami has lovely beaches that I plan to visit and soak up the sun.  I will do some eating too.  I love Cuban food namely: café con leche, flan, and some pastelitos (little pastries).  Plus, I am going to visit my family.

In Belize, I am on a surf and turf vacation.  I will start off exploring some Mayan ruins in Central Belize.  Then I will head to the islands for some snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and some serious lounging in a hammock.  I am looking forward to going to my Belize as a tourist and not a researcher for once!

The final and longest leg of my journey will be to Davis, CA, a college town about 25 minutes southwest of Sacramento, and 130 minutes north of San Francisco.  I am renting a home here and will be hanging out with my Ph.D. advisor and lab colleagues.  While I am here, I hope that I can finish writing the last bits of my dissertation, as well as work on some future research projects.  But all work and no play is no fun, so I imagine that a trip or two to Sonoma or Napa Valley to do some wine tasting will probably happen.

So yeah, I think this is going to be a pretty amazing summer.  I hope you enjoy my journey.

My Travel Itinerary

  • 5.23 – 5.27: Miami, FL
  • 5.27 – 5.29: San Ignacio, Belize
  • 5.29 – 6.3: Caye Caulker, Belize
  • 6.3 – 6.4: Miami, FL
  • 6.4 – 8.10?: Davis, CA

After the Lecture: Service Trip to El Salvador

Students, faculty and alumnae from the Art Therapy and Counseling Department at Ursuline College are currently on a service trip in El Salvador. Read their blog below.

Art Therapy and Counseling Trip to El SalvadorFinal Blog: El Salvador Service Trip 2013 We began this service learning trip with the idea to immerse ourselves in another culture to see and be seen. It was our premise to experience the world as interconnected, and become more global citizens in the world. We hoped that this experience would be eye opening and that we could bring some joy to the children of Santo Domingo School in Chiltiupan, El Salvador. This experience did prove to be eye opening and more! The faculty, alumni and students were blessed with an “over the moon” reception of gratitude, made evident by multiple hugs, kisses and excitement in all the art and creative activities. The people we came in contact with were warm, authentic, and earnest in learning from all of us, as we were eager to learn from them.

The Ursuline students, alumni and staff quickly picked up Spanish phrases that made communication more viable. At times it was a comedic play of crazy charades in hopes of being understood. Nevertheless, love is a universal language, and it was felt in the students outreach and the heartfelt response. We successfully worked with approximately 150 children, from ages 5-17, painting, drawing, and creating all manner of craft projects. In addition, 6 murals were painted on the school walls with the support of the teens at Santo Domingo School, and this left a lasting mark for the children to remember our time together.

Art Therapy and Counseling Trip to El Salvador

Adding to the art making and work at the school, we visited extreme rural areas around Chiltiupan to get a better world view of the grim reality of poverty and its effects on individuals. We even went to a very small school on another mountain top and made a surprise visit. We went about entertaining these shocked children with the “hokie pokie” and then proceeded to teach an art therapy lesson of feeling expression. These particular children indicated to us how grateful they were for our “drop in” visit letting us know that they were honored because they are often forgotten about because of their remote location.

Toward the end of our trip, we toured the capital and were able to see the mural and memorial wall honoring the 75,000 people killed in the civil war. Sister Dorothy Kazel and the 3 other church women were listed on this wall, along with countless others who lost their lives fighting for freedom.

At the end of the day, we have been given a bigger gift than we could ever have brought. The gift was one of gratitude. No matter how poor any of the native El Salvadoran people were, there was always enough joy for a smile and an invitation to sit and talk, or come into their home, no matter how humble. Surely our time was well spent in the service of humanity, and as we helped, we received tenfold.

Saturday April 20 We just finished a beautiful breakfast while looking at the ocean. Heading to the airport soon. We all have mixed feelings of joy and sadness. Our hearts have been opened in new ways and we will forever be grateful for this experience.

Friday April 19 Our last day in El Salvador today. We are heading to the city of San Salvador to go to the art museum and the market; then some time at the beach!

Art Therapy and Counseling Trip to El SalvadorThursday April 18 Our last day at the school. Bittersweet. The children and the students have been enriched by this experience. A 5th grader in Cleveland had donated all her stuffed animals for our trip. We gave them out yesterday and it was axing to witness the excitement and joy!

Our students are a marvel and have taken the voice, vision and values ideals into practice. They have been so generous of heart and spirit, truly amazing.

Wednesday April 17 Monday was an exciting day. Children at Santo Domingo School were overjoyed with our presence and art materials. We worked hard at practicing Spanish phrases and giving out lots of hugs! Students really seemed to gain experience in multicultural awareness and communication. We are off again this morning for a 9 hour day! Adios!

Sunday April 14 Arrived Saturday. After the memorial, Sr. Rose pulled to the side of the road for some cool refreshing coconut juice. The woman at the stand whacked the coconuts with a machete. She put straws into the top of the coconut so we could drink the juice. Later she sliced them open and we ate the coconut meat! Delicious!

At the start of every endeavor it is important to ask, “Why are we doing this, and why do we want to do this?” We as students and faculty at Ursuline College wish to come to El Salvador to help those in need. After searching for different locations to provide Art Therapy and Counseling for people of the world who need help, it appeared that El Salvador was one of the best choices due to Ursuline College and Ursuline Sisters connection to El Salvador in providing service work and help over the last 30+ years.

Because we are Art Therapists, we also know that art has no barriers and a common language is not needed for the expressive healing of art making and art psychotherapy to be of benefit. As faculty and members of the department of Graduate Art Therapy and Counseling, we also wanted to find a way for our students to become global helpers and healers, and to be able to see the world in a more realistic light. This reality will help to create a mature and seasoned therapist in the world, wherever the student ultimately chooses to practice counseling and art therapy. To see and be seen are core needs in every human beings life, we are at the very least hoping to provide a lens of understanding and deep compassion for those in El Salvador who we work with by really “seeing” the essence of human suffering, courage, and resilience.

Art Therapy and Counseling Trip to El Salvador

We wish to serve the children in El Salvador who feel disenfranchised and unempowered. Those who have experienced loss, grief, trauma, stress, depression, hopelessness and despair are our target group; however, all are welcome to experience art therapy and counseling groups, sessions, and projects as Sr. Rose and Sr. Irma see fit. Those who are attending from the U.S. include students Mari Ballentine, Stephanie Ferenc, Diane Fleisch-Hughes, Rachel Lyman, Steve Macek, Emma Pitchford, Nema Saleem, Brittany Spaulding, Sharon Stupp, Ashley Tilberg, Nicole Topp, UC alum Areka Foster, and faculty Megan Seaman, Katherine Jackson and Sister Kathleen Burke.