Cultural Connections: Classical Guitar Performance

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Each month, Global Thinking features a “Cultural Connections” guest post written and curated by a member of the Department of International Languages and Cultures (ILC). This month’s post shares photos from a recent ILC event.image7

Dr. Alvaro Cordoba provided Webster University students, faculty and guests with an extraordinary performance in classical guitar on Wednesday night, August 26, at Winifred Moore Auditorium.


In a program that ranged from Bach to Eduardo Falu and Manuel de Falla, Dr. Cordoba displayed exceptional skill and a deft touch in his interpretations of classical songs.


Dr. Cordoba is a practicing neurosurgeon with an intense passion for music, which was evident throughout his performance. The program was sponsored by the College of Arts & Sciences and the Consulate of Uruguay in Chicago.

Nurse Anesthesia Student Wins AANA 2015 Award for Excellence


From left: Jill Stulce, Director of Nurse Anesthesia at Webster University; Angela Delaria; Sharon Pearce, AANA President; Juan Quintana, AANA President Elect, Cassandra Decker, Missouri Association of Nurse Anesthetists (MoANA) President.

Webster University nurse anesthesia student Angela Delaria does not shy away from tough situations. In fact, the very circumstances that push others in the healthcare field to their limits are the ones in which she thrives.

“I worked full time as an ICU nurse for about 2 years at a local hospital [before enrolling at Webster],” Delaria recalls. “While I loved critical care and the ICU environment, I always thought I was capable of more. My favorite days were when I had the sickest, most critical patient in the ICU. I decided I was ready for my next challenge, one where I had those critical situations every day.”

When a nurse anesthetist colleague offered Delaria the opportunity to shadow him in the operating room, Delaria says she “instantly fell in love with anesthesia.”

“Anesthesia had everything I loved about critical care nursing – and more. Every day I get to meet new people; care for them at their most vulnerable and potentially sickest; manage complicated disease processes; integrate advanced pharmacological concepts; utilize complex biomedical instruments, machines, and devices; and at the end of the day leave them better than when I met them.”

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A&S Welcomes Shannon Hernandez as New Dean’s Assistant

shannonAs we welcome the start of a new academic year, the dean’s office also welcomes a new team member, Shannon Hernandez. Shannon joins the College of Arts & Sciences as dean’s office representative and assistant to Dean Wilson. She replaces Erin Cornell, who is now the College’s Strategic Initiatives Coordinator.

Shannon graduated with a Master of Arts in International Relations from Webster’s London campus in 2005. A St. Louis native, she returns to her alma mater after working for Peabody Energy and the British Consulate in New York.

Check out our 30-second Q&A with Shannon and get to know her a little better:

What made you want to work at Webster?

I received my MA International Relations from Webster at the London campus. I really enjoyed my time there. I liked my coursework and professors, and I learned so much. As a former student, I was familiar with the culture at Webster University and thought it would be a great place to work!

What might surprise someone to learn about you?

I’ve travelled to every state, but one – Alaska.

If you could fly or be invisible, which would you choose and why?

Fly!  I could get so much more done and get to places in a lot less time.  Plus, I could travel to so many more places (and save a bunch of money on airfare).

Webster to Host Human Rights Conference on United Nations Millennium Development Goals

A student asks a question at the 2014 Human Rights Conference on Rights of the Family (© Tim Parker)

A student asks a question at the 2014 Human Rights Conference on Rights of the Family (© Tim Parker)

Webster University will host its annual Human Rights Conference at the Webster Groves campus October 7-8, 2015. This year’s conference theme is the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Created by the United Nations as a blueprint for human rights development with a target date of 2015, the Millennium Development Goals have galvanized support from governments and institutions in their efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest. The goals range from halving extreme poverty rates to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education.

Dr. Kingston at the 2014 Human Rights Conference (© Tim Parker)

Dr. Kingston at the 2014 Human Rights Conference (© Tim Parker)

Events at Webster’s human rights conference will reflect on the successes and failures of these development goals, and consider the post-2015 development agenda.

“This is the time when the international community is asking some hard questions about what worked and what didn’t, and also deciding where we go from here,” said Lindsey Kingston, Webster professor of human rights and director of the University’s Institute for Human Rights & Humanitarian Studies. “Webster’s annual Human Rights Conference brings this debate to Saint Louis, and I hope these conversations will continue throughout the 2015-16 academic year.”

Guest speakers include scholars and human rights advocates from around the country; their areas of expertise, Kingston noted, range from “heath rights and education to gender equality and sustainability.”

Judith Blau, Professor Emerita of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, will close the conference on October 8 with a keynote titled “The Sustainable Development Goals and Human Rights: Bringing the United States on Board.” Blau, who co-founded and directed the Human Rights Center of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, is also the founder and past president of the US chapter of Sociologists without Borders (SSF), and the author of six books on sociology, most recently “Human Rights and Sociology” (Sage, 2011).



“I’m particularly delighted to welcome Judith Blau as our keynote speaker,” said Kingston. “She is a highly respected, world-renowned sociologist who has dedicated her life to fighting inequality. She’ll be discussing how the United States fits into these debates about international development and how we can push for human rights protection in the future.”

The conference is sponsored by the University’s Institute for Human Rights & Humanitarian Studies – an organization committed to supporting human rights as a field of study at Webster and inspiring future leaders to embrace human rights as the foundation for global civil society.

Now in its eighth year, Webster’s annual Human Rights Conference brings together a diverse group of activists, researchers, scholars, and students to create a conversation around the University-wide Year of International Human Rights theme. Past themes include refugee and migrant rights, rights of the family, and women’s rights.

2015 Human Rights Conference poster“The conference is always a high point in the College’s annual line-up of quality programming, and it is emblematic of the value Webster places on social justice,” said David Carl Wilson, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “As we celebrate Webster’s centennial year and reflect on the legacy of our founders, the Sisters of Loretto, we can see how their example is alive and well through our innovative Institute and its efforts to bring human rights issues to the forefront of both academic and community conversation.”

All conference events are free and open to the public. For more information, including the full conference schedule, visit

Nursing Program Enters Dual Admission Agreement with St. Louis Community College

Health Assessment - NursingWebster University and St. Louis Community College have signed a new agreement that will help provide a seamless transition for nurses seeking their Bachelor of Science in Nursing after earning an associate degree.

The dual admission agreement admits nursing students to St. Louis Community College and Webster University simultaneously, giving them access to resources at both institutions and allowing them to begin work on their BSN while still completing their ADN.  The agreement also helps St. Louis Community College students maximize the number of academic credits they can use toward their bachelor’s degree at Webster.

Webster and St. Louis Community College’s partnership serves not only the needs of nursing students, but the needs of the evolving healthcare industry: BSN-educated nurses are in greater demand than ever before. Employers are seeking nurses with higher education credentials as the role of nursing expands and becomes increasingly complex. Additionally, a landmark report on the future of the nursing profession issued by the Institute of Medicine in 2010 recommended that 80 percent of registered nurses obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing by the year 2020. Higher education institutions are therefore likely to see an influx of registered nurses seeking bachelor’s degrees in the coming years.

“Webster is pleased to partner with St. Louis Community College – an institution where many of our Webster graduates begin,” said Jennifer Broeder, Webster associate dean of Professional Programs and chair of the Nursing Department in the College of Arts & Sciences. “This agreement will help prepare nursing students for successful careers, and provide for our region the population of knowledgeable, skillful practitioners we need to keep our communities healthy.”

To learn more about the dual admissions agreement in nursing, visit our dual admissions page or contact the Office of Admission at or (314) 246-7800.

“My ticket to go and see the world”: Global MA Graduates Reflect on a Life-Changing Year

Meet Starrlett Johnson, Joe Henley, and Ann Ngyuen — three Webster Global alumni who recently earned a Master of Arts in International Relations while traveling to 5 different countries in only 11 months. Check out what they have to say about their Global classes, the faculty they met, and what it’s like to travel around the world with a group of classmates:

Cultural Connections: Students Set to JET to Japan

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Each month, Global Thinking features a “Cultural Connections” guest post written and curated by a member of the Department of International Languages and Cultures (ILC). This month’s post celebrates two students studying Japanese at Webster who have been accepted to teach English in Japan.

Webster University students Melissa Bufka and Lindsay Ohlemeier have been accepted into the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program in Japan. As one of the most recognized programs in the world for teaching English as a foreign language, JET is extremely competitive and has had over 38,000 U.S. participants in 27 years.  All teachers work full-time as an Assistant Teachers in either public or private school, instructing students that range from first graders in elementary to seniors in high school. The mission of the JET program is to promote foreign languages in the Japanese education system and encourage corporation between participating countries.

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Melissa Bufka has been studying Japanese for five semesters at Webster University. Melissa said that anime sparked an interest Japanese culture in grade school, and that she started studying Japanese after high school. Although Melissa doesn’t have a specific favorite class, she remarked that all of the classes that she has taken have been fun and engaging in their own way. When Melissa thinks about her future, she is excited to teach English in Japan because it is the ultimate experience for her.

Lindsay Ohlemeier is an English major at Webster University and has only started studying Japanese since the beginning of the Spring 2015 semester. Lindsay started learning Japanese informally from her Japanese friends last summer as they wished share their culture with her. Lindsay is currently an English as a Second Language (ESL) tutor for new immigrants in the U.S. and believes this experience will help her greatly in Japan.

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Ohlemeier (left) with Japanese exchange student Anyu Okamoto, dressed in yukatas for the International Student Association Fashion Show.

Although Melissa and Lindsay have been studying Japanese for different periods of time, they both have qualifications that will lead them to be successful in the JET program. They are both thankful that Webster gives academic and extra-curricular opportunities that will support their professional ambitions. Professor Maki Shiwachi says that Melissa and Lindsey’s passion for Japanese language and culture will lead them to be strong teachers and ambassadors.  We wish Melissa and Lindsay an outstanding year with the JET program.

Webster Remembers Dr. Van Krieken

pvkIt is with great sadness that the Webster community announces the passing of Dr. Peter Van Krieken, beloved former Webster University — Leiden professor of international relations.

Dr. Van Krieken joined Webster as a faculty member in 1996 and taught for the institution for seventeen years. Teaching primarily at the Leiden campus, Dr. Van Krieken also lectured at the St. Louis campus as a visiting professor in 2001 and 2003, and in Thailand in the summer of 2005. He served as a faculty fellow for Webster’s Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies, lending to the Institute his expertise  in human rights subjects such as asylum, migration, torture, hijacking, statelessness, family reunification, migration, health, terrorism, and repatriation.

Dr. David Carl Wilson, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, warmly recalls Dr. Van Krieken’s keynote speech at Webster’s first Annual Human Rights Conference.

“His speech was truly unforgettable. He concluded his keynote by presenting me with two books for Webster’s library — a copy of his own just-released book on The Hague and an antique book by the famous 17th Dutch jurisprudence thinker Hugo Grotius.”

In 2010, Dr. Van Krieken was honored with the University’s William T. Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching — a recognition that students and colleagues alike agree was well-deserved.

“He was an electric teacher,” said Dr. Kelly-Kate Pease, Director of International Relations Worldwide.

“I don’t know of any other professor whose students more regularly said that he changed their lives,” said Wilson.

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“Joy, joy, joy!”: 2015 Outstanding Alum Betty Birney Addresses College’s Graduating Class


Decorated author, advisory board member, and 2015 College of Arts & Sciences Outstanding Alum Betty Birney addressed this year’s graduates at the College’s Commencement ceremony Saturday, May 9. Each student received a signed copy of Birney’s first Humphrey the Hamster book, The World According to Humphrey, and Birney passed along to our graduates some words of wisdom from Humphrey himself: “JOY-JOY-JOY to the whole wide world (and that includes you!)” Click here to view a pre-taping of Betty’s remarks.

Betty is an award-winning TV writer and children’s author. After earning her BA in English from Webster University (then Webster College) in 1969, she moved to Southern California, working at Disneyland in the advertising department and eventually writing and producing television and radio commercials and theatrical trailers at Disney Studio in Burbank. Betty is the recipient of a Writer’s Guild of America Award and three Humanitas Prizes, as well as a Daytime Emmy Award and a Christopher Award. Her most well-known works are the Humphrey the Hamster series of children’s books, the Madeline children’s TV series, and the made-for-TV family movie Mary Christmas.

“Life is what you make it”: Commencement Reflections from Marilyn Osei ’15

Osei gives her Commencement address at the College of A&S ceremony

Osei gives her Commencement address at the College of A&S ceremony

Students from the College of Arts & Sciences and across Webster University were all smiles despite the rain this Saturday, May 9 as they celebrated the end of their academic journeys. English major and 2015 Student Commencement Speaker Marilyn Osei addressed her fellow Arts & Sciences graduates at the College ceremony, congratulating her peers for their hard work and asking them to consider what it will mean for them to make their own lives as they move on from Webster. The full text of her address is below.


“When I was younger, my mother constantly said the words: “Life is what you make it.” Over the years as I lost my first tooth, learned to ride a bike, and graduated from high school, these words went from background noise, to a cliché, and today, a daily mantra. My mother’s words sparked some questions that I would like to share with you: What does it mean to make your life? What exactly constitutes the creation and careful calculation involved in “making” your life?…

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