Faculty, Students, Staff Share Their Memorable Moments from Summer

Whether they were studying abroad in Barcelona or Albania, doing research or interning locally, or climbing Long's Peak for the seventh time, UNC students, faculty and staff had many memorable moments over the summer.

Learning and Teaching Abroad


Britney Kyle McIlvaine, assistant professor of Anthropology, and three undergraduate anthropology students traveled to Durres. Albania, to conduct research on the biocultural impacts of Greek colonization in the ancient Mediterranean region using human skeletal remains.

The four examined over 100 human skeletons and determined their age, sex, stature and any pathological conditions or trauma they may have experienced during life.

McIlvaine said that UNC students Melissa Chowning, Maria Warne and Codee Pfleiderer worked alongside Albanian students and professionals, experiencing what it's like to be part of an international research team.

During the trip, the students collected data for independent research projects. They're analyzing their data and writing up their findings during fall semester and also preparing an abstract to present at the American Association of Physical Anthropologist meetings in April.

UNC students (l-r) Maria Warne, Melissa Chowning and Codee Pfleiderer (left to right) measure part of a human skeletons in Durres, Albania. Photo courtesy of Britney McIlvane.


During UNC's first summer session, Thomas Endres, professor of Communication Studies and director of the School of Communication, took nine students -- both undergraduate and graduate -- to live and study international communication in Barcelona, Spain.

The group stayed in apartments with views of the city's most famous icon -- the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) -- the famed spired church that's been under construction for over 100 years, and is slated to be completed in 2026.

Endres said the trip included classes held twice a week in his apartment, walks down the famed La Rambla (the city's tree-lined pedestrian mall), ghost tours in the ancient district, multiple museum visits, a boat tour, an authentic Andalusian dinner and Flamenco show, and restaurants both good and bad.

The group also spent a day at the Tibidabo Amusement Park atop Barcelona's highest mountain peak, took a tour of the 1992 Olympic site, enjoyed train trips to visit Spain's wine country and spent time on the beach along the Mediterranean Sea.


Cassio Vianna, a Music Technology doctoral student and graduate teaching assistant, spent two weeks in June teaching freshmen and sophomore students at the Guangxi Arts Institute in Nanning, China.

Vianna accompanied a group of faculty from Western Oregon University, where he earned his master of music degree.

In addition to teaching Elements of Brazilian Music to two different groups of 30-plus students at two separate campuses, he accompanied two of his former professors from Oregon on piano during a sold-out concert at the art institute's 400-seat recital hall.

"The experience was very intense and rewarding," Vianna said. "It was my first time lecturing through an interpreter, nevertheless the connection with the students remained strong. Their eagerness to learn more about Western music and culture has inspired my work."

UNC student Cassio Vianna plays the piano during a concert this summer at the Guangxi Arts Institute in Nanning, China. Photo courtesy of Cassio Vianna.

Learning Locally

Defending the Public

UNC Criminal Justice major Anthony Azari got an inside look at the local criminal justice system during an internship over the summer with the Weld County Public Defender's Office.

Azari worked with investigators in the PD's office, which involved viewing evidence, interviewing witnesses, going to a correctional facility and interviewing an inmate and obtaining a variety of police, medical and financial records.

He also spent time in the Weld County Court House fulfilling day-to-day case requests made by the courts.

"In the UNC Criminal Justice program, we learned about many aspects of the criminal justice system and how the whole system works together as a whole," Azari said. "This opportunity was an amazing experience and I couldn't have done it without UNC's extended learning opportunities."

Research with Bovines

Cori Armstrong, a sophomore biology and chemistry major with a pre-health and biomedical sciences, emphasis, had heard about UNC's reputation for providing research opportunities for undergraduates, but her experience over the summer exceeded her expectations.

Armstrong joined Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Patrick Burns and some of his graduate students in their research in using omega-3 fatty acids as a feed supplement to regulate the reproductive cycle and prevent early pregnancy loss in beef and dairy cattle, a major problem that each year translates to millions of dollars lost in meat and milk production.

"It was amazing to see firsthand the process of conducting biological research, as well as the amount of knowledge and team work that went in to working with large animals, and the preparation and lab work associated with obtaining and processing samples," Armstrong said. "This summer was by far the most amazing experience I could have hoped for and I am more confident in moving forward with my degree than I could have imagined as a result."

Living the Life He Wants

In July, Special Education major Zachary Dreicer was among the students and staff from the Colorado Center for the Blind who traveled to Orlando, Florida, for the 75th annual convention of the national Federation of the Blind.

During the conference, 2,480 blind individuals from around the world broke the Guiness World Record for the largest umbrella mosaic, forming a pattern that included the federation's logo and its tagline: "Live the Life You Want."

"For me, participating in that event, as well as participating as a student at UNC truly shows that I can live the life I want," Dreicer said. "From here I will pursue specifically a degree to become a teacher of blind students and perhaps one day I will be a teacher at the Colorado Center for the Blind."

UNC student Zachary Dreicer was among the 2,480 blind individuals from around the world who helped form a record-breaking mosaic formed with umbrellas. Photo courtesy of Federation for the Blind.

Seven Children; Seven Climbs

On Aug. 13, Pat McDonald, UNC's manager of Landscaping and Grounds, accompanied his daughter Laura to the summit of 14,259-foot Longs Peak, marking the seventh time he's made the climb with one of his seven children.

The father-daughter team started out from Longs Peak Ranger Station under a clear sky at 2:20 a.m. at the height of the Perseid meteor shower, which McDonald said afforded them "the greatest seats in the house to view "shooting stars."

"We returned at 7:15 p.m.; just a mere 17 hours of hiking," McDonald said. "In 2003 I climbed this peak in 12 hours. I guess (17 hours) isn't too bad considering 12 years have passed along with both Achilles tendon and left hip replacement surgeries."

Before returning to Greeley, McDonald gave his daughter a gift he'd bought years earlier in anticipation of the climb: a replica of Longs Peak elevation benchmark.

McDonald said the ascent of what he considers to be the most difficult non-technical climb of all 55 of Colorado's fourteeners was most likely his last.

"Longs peak is known as life-taker and no matter what kind of shape one is in, it will kick your butt," he said.

Fulfilling a Lifelong Dream

As a child growing up in Singapore in the 1970s, Associate Professor of English Kenneth Chan dreamed of becoming a competitive figure skater after his parents took him to the country's first ice skating rink shortly after it opened. But time on the ice was expensive and after a few sessions, Chan put his dream on hold.

Forty years later in 2010, a friend suggested that Chan give skating another try at the Greeley Ice Haus, and Chan's dream was reawakened. He started skating regularly, eventually enrolling in a skating class and then taking private skating lessons and taking United States Figure Skating classification tests.

In July, he entered his first figure skating competition -- the Vail Invitational Figure Skating Competition --and took first place in his skill-level class.

"I never I thought that I could fulfill a lifelong dream of skating competitively at age 49, after learning to skate for five years," Chan said. "My goal now is to compete at the next level, hopefully in Colorado Springs at the adult regional competition in March 2016."

Chan plans on continuing to improve his skills in figure skating and ice dancing, even as he enters his 50s.

Kenneth Chan competes during the 2015 Vail Invitational Figure Skating Competition. Photo courtesy of Kenneth Chan.


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