When we chose the logo for our Applied and Experiential Learning Program (APEX), we first saw the “A” for Alfred, and then a peak to represent a high point in a student’s college career. Whether it is study abroad, undergraduate research or an internship, an APEX experience can be a peak in a student’s career, with the potential to profoundly change his or her world view and future career plans. The logo can also represent the hills that surround Alfred University, creating the “magic valley” that means so much to our students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends.
While the name APEX is new, and so is the promise of funding for students in their junior or senior year, the experiences have been part of Alfred University’s DNA for decades.
We could have imagined our APEX logo in terms of a straight line. John Mauro ’01 BS, ’06 Ph.D., both in glass science, worked with Arun Varshneya, professor emeritus, on his undergraduate research project, and his doctoral dissertation. The experiences landed him at Corning, Incorporated, where his work contributed to the development of Gorilla Glass, and then, in a turn, as Varshneya could have predicted, to Pennsylvania State University where he is now a professor of glass science.
There is a straight line of mentorship: Arun to John, and now John to his students at Penn State, each new step building on the one that went before it. “That adviser is there for you for a lifetime,” John said. “It’s like being a parent. Arun has been that for me. Throughout my career he gave me a lot of great advice and tremendous support.”
Or we could think of APEX in concentric circles, rippling out.
While I was in in Florida two weeks ago, Trustee Jay Haberland ’72 and I visited Trustee Robert “Bob” Welter II ’68 at Data Graphics, a custom plating/signage/printing business that Bob founded in 1984 and that serves the medical, aerospace, military, and telecommunications industries. The award-winning company is now owned by Bob and Melinda Welter’s two sons, Robert III and Michael. The company president is Brad Butterstein ’96, who first started working at Data Graphics as an extern. Brad later became chief financial officer, and then president.
Appropriately enough, Data Graphics has donated the t-shirts to promote our APEX, Common Ground, and Allen Term programs.
Now, the circle widens. Brad is seeking to replicate the mentoring he received from Bob Welter, by hosting Jeff Klossner ’19, a renewable energy engineering major from Chemung, New York. Who knows where the impact from that professional ripple will lead.
The consensus based on feedback from numerous faculty, staff, alumni and friends, is that the peak is the perfect way to represent our APEX program. As alumni reach their career peaks, they can look back and see Alfred students in the “magic valley,” just starting their climbs, and extend a helping hand to those who follow them, through internships and career advice.
Tomorrow, representatives from more than 70 companies will be on campus for the Spring Career Fair, and more than 15 alumni will be among those recruiting our students. As each reaches out to help our current students advance, we reinforce the values of mentorship and networking. Whether it is professor to student, or alumni to student, the benefit is indisputable. Soon we will have a veritable chain of mountains surrounding our valley.