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Prison Break

Aaron Kinzel ’10 Uses Education to Be on the Right Side of the Criminal Justice System

If Aaron Kinzel ’10 was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, it was probably stolen.

At age 5, he was taught to pick locks and steal. Continually surrounded by bad people and bad influences at home, the angry, pot-smoking 15-year-old shoved a teacher at a basketball game one night, and then tangled with police who tried to arrest him. That landed him in the juvenile detention center. From there, he moved on to drugs and guns.

The tipping point for Kinzel came at age 18, when his violent confrontation with police led to a five-felony conviction. He served nearly 10 years in federal prison, but spent some of that time learning. He learned about the legal system. He learned about the cultural stigmas of being a convicted felon. And he learned that he didn’t have to be angry any more.

Turning to education, one prison correspondence class sparked an amazing educational journey that continues to unfold. Now a Siena Heights University graduate on his way to a doctorate, Kinzel is teaching others about the criminal justice system—from his own unique perspective.

Read more . . .

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.

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Rising Stars

“Rising Stars” is a regular feature in Reflections. It profiles Siena Heights alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years and who excel in their careers, occupations or community service accomplishments. To be considered for “Rising Stars” in an upcoming issue of Reflections, fill out the online form at www.sienaheights.edu/risingstars. Those who are selected to be included in an upcoming issue of the magazine will be contacted by the Reflections staff.


Rob Anderson

Graduation year (from SHU): 2010.

Current title/position: Head of Global Talent Acquisition, Barracuda Networks, Campbell, Calif.

What Rob is doing: Since 2013, Rob works for Barracuda Networks, which delivers cloud-connected solutions that protect organizations like schools, hospitals and small businesses against cyber threats and data loss. After helping recruiting for and support BN’s Data Protection division in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 2015 he was asked to move to BN’s headquarters in Campbell, Calif., where he currently globally manages all of talent acquisition strategy and execution. His team specifically operates in California, Michigan, Georgia, Massachusetts, UK, Austria, India and China. Most of his time is spent working with Barracuda’s executives on understanding what the business plans are and then preparing a hiring plan of action to support those goals.

My favorite moment/story while a student at Siena Heights was: Besides waking up at 5 a.m. for soccer practice? In all seriousness, playing on the soccer team for four years was one of the best experiences of my life. I grew very close to all my teammates and we remain close to this day. Except now instead of waking up at 5 a.m. to go to the fieldhouse, we’re waking up to go to each other’s weddings and baby showers.

Read more . . .