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Ministry of Presence

Michael Donovan Chooses a Retirement of Helping Others on Chicago’s South Side

Michael Donovan ’75 chooses to see the best in humanity, even when it is at its worst.

As someone who witnessed the World Trade Center attack on that tragic day of Sept. 11, 2001, Donovan had no choice but to watch the horror unfold from his Manhattan IRS office just across the street from Ground Zero.

However, when he retired at age 50 after a distinguished nearly 30-year IRS career, he did have a choice. He could do pretty much whatever he wanted during his retirement years. But instead of spending his time sitting on a beach in Florida, Donovan moved to Chicago to volunteer in prison ministry and restorative justice efforts.

“I knew it was time to give back,” said Donovan of his decision to get involved in helping those involved with violence and conflict. “I absolutely felt I did not have the time while I was working to give back. I wanted something substantive, and jail ministry and working in the inner city seemed like the right thing to do.”

For the past 13 years, he spends most of his days visiting prisoners at penitentiaries around the State of Illinois, and nights helping with the Precious Blood of Reconciliation ministry in Chicago’s infamous South Side. Donovan, a devout Catholic, said he believes this is what he was called to do.

Read more . . .

One on One With . . . Dr. Amir Tamiz

Editor’s Note: This is an occasional Reflections series, and this issue features Siena Heights chemistry graduate Dr. Amir Tamiz ’92, who heads the Division of Translational Research for the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes (NINDS) in Washington, D.C..

Could you describe your current role and some of the duties and responsibilities you have on a day-to-day basis?

“I work at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which is focused to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease. The NINDS is one of 27 institutes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Within NINDS, I head the Division of Translational Research, which is tasked with accelerating the preclinical discovery and development of new therapeutic interventions for neurological disorders and stroke. We provide funding and resources (approximately $100 million annually) through grants, cooperative agreements and contracts to academic and industry researchers to advance basic research technologies, devices and therapeutic programs to first in human clinical trials and commercialization, with the hope to get therapies for patients who need them. DTR helps academic and industry researchers create a bridge through which discoveries made in the lab lead to new and improved medical treatments and options for patient care. We offer a variety of programs that support the design, implementation, and management of research activities critical to translational challenges in the treatment of neurological disease and stroke.

Read more . . .

Siena Startups

Ashlee Trempus ’15 co-founded the startup company SignOn, which is a “virtual immersion program” that connects the hearing and deaf communities through authentic learning interactions.
Ashlee Trempus ’15 co-founded the startup company SignOn, which is a “virtual immersion program” that connects the hearing and deaf communities through authentic learning interactions.

Recent Graduates Follow Their Passions to Create New Businesses

Editor’s Note: From time to time, Reflections Magazine will highlight entrepreneurial alumni who have recently started business ventures within the past year. This article spotlights Ashlee Trempus ’15 and Kenneth DeGraaf ’16.

Ashlee Trempus ’15: SignOn

As a sign language interpreter, Ashlee Trempus ’15 is used to face-to-face contact with the deaf community in helping them communicate with the world around them.

When she graduated from SHU’s Lansing campus with a bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary studies, she decided to bring that face-to-face concept to the Internet. Trempus co-founded the start-up company SignOn, which is a “virtual immersion program” that connects the hearing and deaf communities through authentic learning interactions.

Trempus said she got the idea when an illness slowed her ability to complete her required hours of interaction she needed for her interpreter certification.

“I became homebound,” she said. “I was unable to travel.”

Read more . . .