SU People


Al Miles
Eddie Gonzalez


KeriAnn Lynch |

A Twirl of Orange

Syracuse’s Orange Girl, KeriAnn Lynch ’04, first twirled her baton in the Carrier Dome at age 8, when she performed in a pregame show as “The Tangerine.” She recalls the experience as incredible and overwhelming. “Sometimes I’m still amazed to find myself out there,” she says. “I’ll be twirling on the 50-yard line, look up, and think, ‘Wow, I’m actually here!’ Then I’ll put my hand in a football player’s spit and think, ‘OK, back to reality. Let’s focus.’”

Lynch began twirling at age 5 and has competed and performed ever since. She marched in former President George H.W. Bush’s inaugural parade at age 6, twirled as a leprechaun in a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Ireland, worked as an entertainer on a cruise ship, and even led a parade at Disney World. She won three titles at last year’s National Baton Twirling Association (NBTA) championships in Indiana, and was one of eight twirlers selected by the NBTA to be a member of the U.S.A. team and perform in Peru.

Here at SU, Lynch twirls on her own for about one hour a day. During football season she practices daily with the band for two hours. Her busiest time is during November and December, when the football and basketball seasons overlap. Then in February the twirling competition season begins. Once Lynch returns home to New Hampshire in May, her practice schedule “really explodes” as she works out for 8 hours a day and coaches a team of 36 twirlers, ages 3 and up. “I’m constantly trying new things,” she says. “I always want to get one more thing done before the baton comes down. I work to increase my strength so I can throw it higher. The more gymnastics I can do and the more intricacy I can bring to my routine before it comes down, the better. I try to catch the baton in unexpected ways. I like to surprise people. If I can get them to say, ‘How did she do that?’ my job’s probably done.”

Lynch, who has worked with the same coach since childhood, choreographs her own routines. The opportunity to develop her style was one reason she was attracted to Syracuse. “I knew I wanted to break out, expand my creativity, and get better,” she says. “That’s one of the biggest things that has happened to me here—I’ve become ‘my own twirler.’”

A psychology major in the College of Arts and Sciences, Lynch plans to go on to graduate school to become a sports psychologist. “While growing up I learned a lot about the pressure of competing and how it affects performance,” she says. “I saw a lot of kids who didn’t enjoy what they were doing, but were pushed into it by their parents. I want to contribute to making sports therapeutic and enjoyable. Sports should be fun. If you happen to be successful too, then great.”

In addition to performances and competitions, Lynch makes occasional public appearances, including a recent visit to the children’s unit of University Hospital with Otto the Orange. “I love twirling,” she says. “It makes me happy. But if I can make someone else happy too, that’s 10 times better. I like to think of myself as a symbol for SU—a symbol of strength, and of something different. Here is my unique talent that I’ve practiced my whole life—and SU gave me the opportunity to expand it. Yes, competing is fun, and winning is fun. But being here is the true reward for all that hard work.”

—Amy Shires



Juanita Perez Williams| Justice Matters

Schmitt Shoots!!
Diana Darris

Juanita Perez Williams quite possibly holds the least popular position on campus—at least from some student perspectives. As director of the Office of Judicial Affairs, she deals with students who get into trouble and are searching for quick ways out. Many enter her office with their fear and anxiety masked by hostility or indifference. “I give her a lot of credit for all that she does,” says Autumn Figueroa ’05, who works with Williams on the University Judicial Board (UJB), a group of faculty, staff, and students that adjudicates disciplinary cases. “It’s hard being the person who has to hand out the sanctions. But she keeps an open mind to both sides of the story, so students respect her. She does not want to see them fail.”

Williams draws on the skills she has developed as a lawyer, an educator, a former naval officer, a Hispanic woman, and a mother of four to assist students in the best way possible. “This is one of those jobs where I can honestly say I’m using a large percentage of my talents,” says Williams, who became director of judicial affairs in spring 2001. “My philosophy is to give students the time and opportunity to explain their side of what’s happened. What I end up hearing is not only a rendition of the incident, but who this person is. I hear about the mom who has cancer or the roommate who won’t stop using drugs. I get this picture of a person who needs help getting back on track.”

Williams developed this open-minded attitude while serving as a judge advocate general in the Navy, where she worked as both defense counsel and prosecutor. The military goals of emergency preparedness and chain of command took priority over creating a supportive environment for culturally diverse sailors, she says. “We didn’t take into consideration a sailor’s background or whether the sailor was equipped to work with people of color,” she says. “I made it my mission to educate sailors who needed assistance.”

Her work at Syracuse builds from that same belief in education over punishment. However, students know that doesn’t mean she’ll be easy on them. “She is just as capable of bringing down the hammer as she is of making sure you really get the best out of the experience,” says Justin Osborn-O’Brien ’05. He first met Williams when he violated the Student Code of Conduct, but later joined the UJB, and now works with Williams on more positive terms. “She is very good at determining the right course of action,” he says. “She’s a fair person and does her job well.”

During her first year in the position, Williams established an ambitious agenda for the office, which included implementing standard sanctions for common student offenses and using UJB students as ambassadors to informally educate peers about such high-priority issues as date rape and alcohol and other drug use. She also created the Team Against Bias to prevent and respond to incidents of bias or hate crimes. Off-campus, Williams is equally busy, serving on the board of directors for the North Area Family YMCA and Vera House, a women’s shelter. She is also an executive member of the Onondaga County Democratic Party and sits on U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton’s Military Academy Committee, a group that is responsible for selecting military school candidates from Central New York.

With so many successes to her name, it’s not surprising that some students see Williams as a role model. “Being a Hispanic woman myself, it’s important for me to see people like her on campus,” Figueroa says. “She’s hardworking and wants to accomplish a lot of goals. She’s also a mom with four lovely children.” Williams admits that her life involves a lot of juggling, but she finds strength in her supportive husband, Steven, and in her motto, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

—Margaret Costello


Schmitt Shoots!!

Jane Siow |

Information Age Nomad

Jane Siow’s life reflects one of her current study interests—the Internet. Both are international in scope, packed with information on diverse topics, and filled with possibilities for the future. Siow G’02, a native of Singapore, attributes some of these characteristics to a trait she inherited from her nomadic Chinese ancestors. “I come from a family with pretty adventurous ancestors who traveled to escape persecution,” she says. “I’m always adding to my interests. I find that very liberating. I should be a cat so I could have nine lives.”

She is certainly making the best of the one she has. So far, she has learned four languages, lived in five countries, worked as a restaurant manager, a marketing researcher, a journalist, and a tourism policy analyst, and earned two master’s degrees. Not stopping there, she begins work this fall on a doctoral degree in information transfer at the School of Information Studies. She hopes to weave together her varied interests into a cohesive, yet flexible career in improving the use of information technologies to better understand organizations and policy implications.

Siow was working as an assistant manager for the Singapore Tourism Board when the Information Superhighway led her to SU. “Part of my job was to compile reports and do technology and policy assessments,” she says. “There was so much information on the Internet that I realized I was spending more and more time just finding the information I needed.” As she researched better ways of locating and organizing information, she stumbled across a U.S. News & World Report article on top information technology programs that cited SU’s School of Information Studies. That prompted Siow to enroll in the information management master’s program in fall 2000. The program appealed to her on many levels, combining her love of writing and analysis with reading, collecting, and organizing information. “It was a very holistic program for me,” she says. “It wrapped around my whole brain. It’s not hard-core technology programming. I found it to be an introduction to a new way of thinking.”

Former information studies professor Rolf Wigand, who worked with Siow on projects at SU’s Center for Digital Commerce, calls her a “rare student” with boundless energy and enthusiasm. “She readily absorbs and applies newly acquired, complex information,” he says, “and she has an indefatigable appetite for new knowledge and research methods.”

Outside of her academic studies, Siow serves as senator of the University Graduate Student Organization and executive officer of the Syracuse University Singapore Students Association. She is also involved in several School of Information Studies organizations and is a member of Phi Beta Delta (Alpha Sigma chapter) honor society for international scholars.

This summer in London, Siow conducted an independent research project investigating privacy issues related to the United Kingdom’s new anti-terrorism, crime, and security bill. Ultimately, she hopes to work in an information management consulting business that serves clients throughout the Global Village. “I’d like to be able to live anywhere in the world,” Siow says. “How lucky am I to be born in this century when women have so many choices? I’m really grateful to have the chance to be here and be a student again. I find great satisfaction and motivation in learning and doing things I want to do. I’m loving it.”

—Margaret Costello


Schmitt Shoots!!


Shervin Saedinia |

A Smashing Success

From the baseline to the net, Shervin Saedinia ’03 knows how to cover the tennis court. During her tennis career, this dedicated student athlete from Woodland Hills, California, has amassed a long list of wins. As she enters her final year at SU, Saedinia is determined to make time for tennis after graduation. “Tennis will always be part of my life,” she says. “I’ll probably be one of those old women running around the court one day.”

Coming to SU ranked 95th nationally in the girls 18-and-under category, Saedinia led the Orangewomen with a .761 winning percentage her freshman year and tied for the team lead in total victories (35) among rookies. “It doesn’t matter what the score is,” says Jana Strnadova Bacova ’96, who was an assistant tennis coach when Saedinia joined the SU team. “She’s a fighter.”

Saedinia has all the right shots—a hard baseline game, a powerful net game, and plenty of slice and topspin to keep opponents scrambling. “She tries to do anything to win a point,” Bacova says. “It’s fun to watch her.” Although Saedinia was not in the lineup at the beginning of her freshman year, her hard work paid off by the spring season when she entered the lineup as the team’s number 6 singles player. In the 2001-02 season, Saedinia played number 3 singles and first-team doubles. In April, she stroked her way to her 100th career win, becoming the 23rd Orangewoman in the tennis program’s 32-year history to reach that milestone. She also won 10 of her final 12 matches to raise her career record to 103-62.

Saedinia and her doubles partner, Masha Kabanova ’03, won 15 matches in 2001-02 and posted a 19-9 record in their sophomore year. “She’s a great teammate,” Kabanova says. “I met her the first day I was here, and we’ve been best friends since.”

Saedinia remembers as a 9-year-old watching her brother hit tennis balls from a ball machine, and thinking, “I can do that.” She picked up a tennis racket and began slugging away. When Saedinia started playing competitively at age 11, she practiced three hours a day. “I looked forward to practice,” she admits.

Saedinia’s fondness for the game remains strong. “I love playing for SU,” she says. “There’s a lot of spirit, and I want to win for my teammates. When I play a match—even if I’m having a horrible day—I think about how I have to win this game for the team. You never know when the score will be 3-3 and your match is the deciding one.”

Off the court, Saedinia manages a full course load, balancing an exercise science major with three minors—coaching, nutrition, and psychology. She has consistently made the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll and the Big East Academic All-Star team, both of which require a minimum 3.0 GPA. After graduation, she says her dream job is to be a physician’s assistant working in sports, preferably tennis.

Saedinia admits it’s not easy being a full-time student juggling classes and homework with matches, practice, and conditioning. “It’s all about managing your time—being a student athlete keeps you on track,” she says. “I have a set schedule, so I don’t have time to be lazy.”

—Melissa Dittmann


Schmitt Shoots!!

Tina Casella |

Tour de Force

If you’ve ever dreamed of studying Etruscan art in the sun-drenched Italian countryside, cruising the Rhône through France, or exploring Mexico’s architectural treasures, you may want to get in touch with Tina Casella ’94. These are just some of the dozens of education-oriented trips she marketed to Syracuse University alumni this year. As associate director of alumni relations, she heads the alumni travel program, coordinates alumni gatherings at sporting events, oversees international alumni relations endeavors, serves as a staff liaison to the alumni association’s visibility and outreach committee, and helps organize events for the annual Reunion. “The tours offer a way for alumni to connect with each other and the University,” Casella says. “They also provide alumni with the chance to learn from University faculty and other specialists who accompany them on the trips, while enjoying carefree vacations at the world’s great cultural and historic sites.”

Casella works with professional tour operators who arrange hotel reservations, transportation, and other details for the approximately 300 participants each year, allowing travelers to concentrate on the surroundings rather than the itinerary. “Alumni sign up for the trips understanding that even if they don’t know anyone in the group, they still have SU in common,” she says.

Casella selects many perennially popular destinations, such as Italy and France, but also seeks unusual places that alumni may not be able to access through typical travel agencies. This year, for instance, she arranged for a group to travel to Cuba, which is off-limits to many American tourists due to U.S. government sanctions. Because the State Department allows educational tours, however, the alumni group was permitted this unique opportunity. “We’re always looking at ways to offer different destinations, to make our trips special,” she says.

While all the trips offer opportunities to learn about different cultures, Casella says some programs are very educational, featuring daily lectures coordinated with excursions to historic and cultural sites. Other trips may have fewer lectures, or none at all, but may be more oriented toward sightseeing and giving travelers a chance to interact with local residents and learn about the area’s culture, current issues, and history.

A loyal SU fan, Casella has worked at the University since 1984, when she and her husband, Rick, moved to Central New York from Philadelphia. She worked in the University’s Office of Government Relations before moving to the Office of Alumni Relations in 1989. She earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the School of Management in 1994, and is now working part time on a master’s degree in public administration (M.A.P.A.) through the Maxwell School’s Executive Education Program. “I feel the M.A.P.A. is like an M.B.A., but for people who work in nonprofit management,” Casella says. “It seemed like a natural thing for me to do.”

Aside from work and part-time studies, she is active in the First United Church of Fulton and president-elect of Women of the University Community, an organization of women affiliated with SU, SUNY ESF, and SUNY Upstate Medical University, either as faculty, staff, or spouses. The club raises funds for two scholarship programs—the Mildred Eggers Scholarship and the Ruth Tolley Scholarship—and is in the process of establishing a new scholarship at ESF. The organization also holds litter-removal days on neighborhood streets adjacent to the University. In addition, members meet in small special-interest groups to discuss art, literature, and such activities as cooking and gardening.

Both in her work and her volunteer activities, Casella says she enjoys interacting with people the most. “Every once in a while I get phone calls or letters from people who say that because of the travel program, they were able to visit their dream destination and are grateful for that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she says. “Stories like that make it all worthwhile.”

—Kathryn Smith


Schmitt Shoots!!

Sara Kurlandsky |

The Essence of Nutrition

When most of us browse through the produce section at the grocery store, we probably consider cost, taste, and perhaps general nutritional value. When nutrition professor Sara Kurlandsky G’90 looks at the same fruits and vegetables, she also wonders how their chemical composition helps keep us healthy. “I enjoy studying nutrition because it blends different areas, so I can bring in a variety of experiences,” she says. “I’ve always been curious about why food helps the body.”

Kurlandsky, who joined the faculty in the College of Human Services and Health Professions Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management in 2001, brings with her the broad perspective of a scientist who has worked both in academics and industry. In her first year on campus she was named co-director of the graduate program in nutrition. She teaches courses in nutritional biochemistry and advanced nutrition, as well as one on nutritional status, assessment, and evaluation. She also teaches a research methods course, where she draws on her experience to help students understand the variables that affect research, including the pros and cons of conducting commercial research.

Kurlandsky spent much of her first year at SU upgrading the nutrition research laboratory in Bowne Hall, which had seen little use in recent years. She set up new equipment and helped graduate students in her Nutritional Status Evaluation class use the lab to test how varying the amount of protein in their diets altered the amount of urinary urea nitrogen—a by-product of protein metabolism—they produced. “It was a great lesson to illustrate how the body adapts to changes in specific nutrient intakes, such as protein,” Kurlandsky says. “It showed them that if they go on a high-protein diet, their bodies have to work to get rid of potentially toxic nitrogen.”

This is not Kurlandsky’s first time at Syracuse University. She came here as a doctoral student in 1985 to study nutrition with an emphasis on nutritional biochemistry. “I had a great experience at SU as a graduate student,” Kurlandsky says. “I received lots of support and really enjoyed the blend of research and teaching.”

After earning a Ph.D., she completed postdoctoral fellowships at Columbia University and the University of Michigan, and then moved to Chicago. There she worked as a clinical research scientist, writing proposals and designing studies to test the beneficial health effects of pharmaceuticals, food, and such nutraceutical products as soluble fiber and dietary supplements. She later worked for a dietary supplement manufacturer, but rejoined the clinical trials company before returning to Syracuse. “Although I originally intended a career in academia, I stayed with research after completing my doctoral work because the job market was tight for faculty positions,” Kurlandsky says. “Also, I really enjoyed the research aspect of my work. But at the back of my mind I was always headed toward academics.”

Kurlandsky and a nutrition doctoral student plan to collaborate with SU nursing professor Eileen Lantier on a clinical study to investigate potential synergistic effects of two phytochemicals with different commonly accepted health benefits related to lipid-lowering and cardiovascular health. “In a given vegetable, there is a mix of chemicals, including phytochemicals, that are there for the plant’s own purpose,” she says. “Phytochemicals are not classified as vitamins, but may produce healthful benefits. I want to learn about optimizing these combinations of compounds.”

Kurlandsky says her work is inspired by a statement made by Nobel Laureate Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, who discovered Vitamin C: “Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.” Likewise, Kurlandsky says, “Often the best discoveries happen when something occurs that the researcher did not expect.”

—Kathryn Smith

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