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Archive for January, 2013

John Fenton is a Young Alum who came to EMU relatively unattached, but had a major change of heart by the time he graduated

by Paul Martell

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John Fenton: EMU alum, Journalism Major

What do you do when work and school becomes, “work and schoolish”? There comes a time in nearly every student’s life that the drudgery of class takes over, and there is not much enjoyment to be had. John Fenton is an EMU alum who found the answer during his time as an Eagle.

“After my first year, my impression was that college was ‘run of the mill’,” said John Fenton,  journalism major. What John did not yet know was that he would soon become involved with an organization, on campus, which would turn his experience around completely.

Fenton chose EMU almost on a whim back in 2007. “I was in all the advanced placement classes in high school, and really applied at random” said Fenton, “I didn’t really care too much.” John happened to be in Ypsilanti around the time that EMU was holding an open house, and he decided to attend. There he applied, was accepted, and that was the end of John Fenton’s college search.

Fenton said that, initially, his college experience was, “like any other college story; I wanted to be a writer, and I wanted to get through.” He would attend classes, do homework and repeat. Before long, John was contacted by Vision, EMU’s student-run volunteer organization, and John decided to get involved. This would be the first step towards turning John’s college experience around.

Through Vision, John ended up working with America Reads and spent many hours working to help tutor children in Ypsilanti schools. John stayed with Vision, helping children learn to read within the Ypsilanti community, for two years. Fenton said, “It was a lot of fun, I met and worked with good people; it was a great way to network.” However, being involved in Vision still did not do much to bolster John’s school spirit. In fact, John would say the cycle of going to class then working for Vision would become too, “work and schoolish.”

In 2008, Fenton decided to become a part of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity on campus, and it was this decision that would lead EMU to become a part of John Fenton’s life daily, even after graduating. At first, Fenton was very hesitant about joining a fraternity, but after repeated encouragement he decided to make the move.

“Greek life turned out to be the best thing to happen to me,” said Fenton, “you meet a variety of really good people, and it was a Delt’ that hired me where I am now.” John Googled Delta Tau Delta before joining, and was surprised to find that there have been two vice presidents of the United States, astronauts, congressmen and senators that were all “Delt’s”. John joined the fraternity, and became a large part in it.

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Fenton (center) shows his EMU pride and still attends football tailgates at his university.

In addition to traveling to eight major cities, and handling many responsibilities within the fraternity, an accomplishment that Fenton remembers most fondly is working with Travis Rockey in writing the “Ritual Book”. Travis Rockey is the owner of Evening Post Publishing Company, and worked with Fenton to develop the book that would lay out the correct procedure for inducting new members. Writing the manual was huge as there were, “over 150 chapters worldwide and almost 7,000 members that had no standard for the Ritual.” That is all Fenton can say about the Ritual.

“The Virtue of being at EMU, and joining that fraternity, joining that group of guys and the experiences of traveling,” are all aspects that John attributes to really coming to feel a part of and enjoying EMU. John also fondly remembers having some “Gem professors” that helped him to grow. “I had a professor really open my eyes to how I looked at writing and myself. It redefined my relationship with not just writing, but the words I use to write” said Fenton.

In 2011, John Fenton left EMU and got his first job writing for Keller-Williams Real Estate, but he would not stay there for long. John’s connections with Delta Tau Delta were about to help him secure a fantastic job. One of John’s fraternity brothers worked at GE, and posted the opening for a writing position to his social media accounts. Fenton did not see this listing, however, a different member of his fraternity from EMU did see it, and remembered John. He then referred John for the job, and within a few moments, John had submitted his resume. Within two weeks, GE offered Fenton a job.

Today, Fenton works as a Social Media Specialist for GE. There he manages three to seven social media accounts, and generates all concepts and content for their social media campaigns. As far as how John’s future looks, he said, “I have no idea, bright hopefully. I still very much want to pursue a career in strictly writing. People have said the older you get, the less attached to the ideals of your youth you become, I find the opposite to be true.” John believes, more than ever, that the key to success in school is to participate more.

John still attends all the EMU football games and tailgates, and can appreciate the benefits that University involvement can bring. “The only reason I have a job at GE is because one of my brothers needed a writer, and another one of my brothers remembered me… Everyone who has a key role in my life is an EMU grad.”

– Paul Martell

 

 

 

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Aframes Eyewear:

Winston “Wes” Stoody and Cole Sanseverino Part II of II

by Paul Martell

Wes Stoody and Cole Sanseverino are EMU Alums who have partnered on a dream, and are spreading their vision through their charitable, eyewear business

 

Wes Stoody knew that Aframes was going to be a reality. He had a cause, and he had a product. What he needed now was a plan. Wes left the nation’s capitol, and went home to Eastern Michigan University. There, in his room, Aframes was born. The cross country team would serve as his board of advisors for the conceptualization of the Aframes brand.

“My team helped me pick the colors for my first line,” said Stoody. Serendipitously, one of those teammates happened to be Cole Sanseverino.

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From left to right: Cole Sanseverino, Partner at Aframes Eyewear; Wes Stoody, Founder and Partner at Aframes Eyewear

“After hearing about it over time, I knew it was going to be something great,” said Sanseverino, Partner at Aframes Eyewear. Cole graduated from EMU with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems, and was also the first investor for Aframes Eyewear. Cole would say, just by getting to know Wes over time he knew, “this guy is going to make it.”

It was the cross country team that led Cole to enroll at EMU. Cole said that his first visit to EMU involved a 10 mile run with a group of young men he had never met before. “It was all out laughs…Before he (coach John Goodrich) offered me anything, I told him I was canceling my other visits and never looked back.”

Cole started his college life heading toward a degree in finance, but soon after, he discovered information systems. Cole attributes his academic success to the busy schedule academics and athletics gave him. Cole said, “More structure equals less trouble for me.”

One lasting memory for Sanseverino comes from a race that helped Cole in an unusual way. It was his first MAC Championship at EMU, the one mile indoor run. Cole considered the one mile, indoor “his race”. On the last lap, Cole fell behind and took fifth place. Upon exiting the track, coach John Goodrich asked, “Did you think you were going to win that?” to which Cole said “yes,” Goodrich smiled and replied, “Me too!” It was these types of relationships and positive enforcements that would add to the entrepreneurial spirit that Cole and Wes would need to succeed.  

It was Fall, 2012, when Wes Stoody felt overwhelmed by the challenges a start-up business offers. “I couldn’t do it, I felt like I was drowning,” said Stoody. He then spoke with Cole and, together, decided to become business partners. Since that partnership, Aframes has moved forward. The one year anniversary of Aframes Eyewear was January 13, 2013.

“We think that 2013 is our year,” said Sanseverino, “and we will work very hard to make that happen.” Aframes has more than just its first anniversary to celebrate; production of their eyewear has moved to Turkey. “We have moved production, and we are really excited because now the glasses will be all handcrafted and hand assembled,” said Stoody.

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the Molly Cherry Front is just one of the stylish offerings from Aframes Eyewear

Aframes Eyewear has partnered with Helen Keller International to help spread knowledge about Vitamin A Deficiency and the cure since day one, and will continue to do so. However, it is important to the Aframes business model that they represent even more than a cause.  Stoody believes, in order to maintain business longevity, Aframes must offer a top quality product that adds to the reputation which comes with a meaningful cause. “We want to make such a high quality product that all the boutiques are carrying it; regardless of our cause, which we will always have” said Stoody. He says the key is to, “Have great glasses and a cause, not a great cause and a bad product.”

“VAD effects kids ages zero to four, and it’s not a ‘sexy’ cause,” said Sanseverino, “but for us to help give those kids a shot; it makes us feel good.”

Aframes today is run by Wes Stoody and Cole Sanseverino in Chicago, Illinois. They live in a two-story house. Together, they run Aframes out of the second floor, which has been converted into an office. As Aframes is still in its growth stage, Stoody and Sanseverino both still work other jobs. Sanseverino runs four miles to work, and four miles back. He works at a running store.

According to Wes, “The start of Aframes revolves around Eastern.” Both Stoody and Sanseverino are passionate about EMU and Ypsilanti, and have been building a high image for their University wherever they go. “I want an epidemic of people excited about Eastern,” says Sanseverino, “Keep pushing Ypsilanti West.”

Aframes Eyewear is one year old, recently upgraded production, and has a bright future. Just a few years ago, Wes and Cole could be found eating breakfast at the Bomber, or hanging out at the Corner Brewery. EMU is proud to have Alums who will reach out for a dream, or to aid those who need it.

It is impossible to point out one thing that makes a story like this happen. It could be a great team, a chance friendship, a documentary shown in class, a community that fosters growth, a University that offers opportunity, or two driven people. More likely, however, it is all of them together.

Please check out Aframes Eyewear, and support not only our Alums, but a great cause also.

To connect with Aframes like them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter!

If you feel like you are missing some details, try checking out Part 1. It was posted last week!

-Paul Martell

 

 

 

 

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Aframes Eyewear:

Winston “Wes” Stoody and Cole Sanseverino Part I of II

by Paul Martell

Wes Stoody and Cole Sanseverino are EMU Alums who have partnered on a dream, and are spreading their vision through their charitable, eyewear business

 

“I am forever grateful for what EMU, and those involved with EMU have given me, and I would really like to give back,” said Winston “Wes” Stoody, president and founder of Aframes Eyewear. He certainly has been giving back.

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From left to right: Cole Sanseverino, partner & Winston “Wes” Stoody, President/Founder. They are also best friends.

Stoody is a 2011 graduate, and has a Bachelor’s degree in economics. One of Stoody’s passions is running. He was an extremely active member of EMU’s cross country and track and field teams. Stoody was also one of the few students to receive the honored Presidential Scholarship from 2007 to 2011. His plan was to graduate, go to grad school and become an economics professor. It was Stoody’s junior year at EMU when he took an Economic Development class that would open his eyes to a cause that would later change him.

“The class was about growing the economy of developing nations” said Stoody. He “loved” economics so this class seemed a logical choice for him. On no day in particular, Doctor Steve Hayworth showed a PBS documentary about Vitamin A deficiency in various nations around the world. Vitamin A Deficiency is a widespread problem that most commonly causes blindness, but also leads to failure of the immune system, and often death. It was through this documentary that Stoody learned one third, or 190 million, preschool aged children and over 19 million pregnant women suffer from Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD). He also learned, approximately, half of the children that lose their sight to VAD will die within 12 months. These staggering truths left an impression in Stoody’s mind, he said, “I couldn’t believe most Americans just didn’t know about it.”

While the seed was planted, it was not yet time for Stoody to start his dream; he had other things to focus on. Stoody’s time was spent running for the team, and then going home to Downing Hall to study. He lived with team member and roommate Cole Sanseverino; Cole would later become a major part in the story of Aframes Eyewear. Stoody would say, to this point, his education was focused on course related classes, and not on general education.

Another defining moment for Stoody came in the form of a creative writing class during his sophomore year. To this point, Stoody’s classes were mostly mathematical, and less artistic. Stoody says, “It completely opened my mind and made me a better thinker, I didn’t take more (writing) classes after, but it helped me open my mind out of just Math, led me into poetry and changed my thought.”

During the summer of 2010, Stoody took an internship with the American Action Forum in Washington D.C. It was here that the final realizations would occur that would change Stoody’s life direction. He quickly found that “desk work” was not for him, “I wanted to do something that would matter, something that would count.”

Stoody rode the metro to work. It was here, reading the book Uncharitable, a book about the realism of the way Western culture values charity, that Stoody decided he was going to start his own business. It did not take long for Stoody to remember the documentary from the economics class he took. Stoody said, “I knew it had to be tied to Vitamin A, I couldn’t believe people didn’t know about it.” Then came the conception of Aframes Eyewear, a high quality, high fashion eyewear company that would give 5% of all its profit to, “spread the word about the problem, and help fund the solution.”

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the Cameroon Caramel is just one of the many stylish offers from Aframes Eyewear

Stoody was finally going to do something that “would matter, something that would count”, but he was not going to be alone. Stoody knew what he was going to do, but it would still be a long road to get there. All that was left was to start.

Wes Stoody is very much loyal to Eastern Michigan University, and appreciates the contributions the University has made. “I am so grateful for the great education that I believe in…I think about it a lot,” says Stoody, “The kids that go to Eastern have a far greater chance at doing something special than other Universities because of EMU’s diverse nature.” Wes attributes his success and education to more than just his classes; he believes his growth has come from his team, his university, and his city.

It is great to hear about the cool, interesting things our Alums are doing. This is only part of the story. If you would like to learn the rest about Wes, Aframes Eyewear, VAD and the illustrious Cole Sanseverino you should check back for part 2.

Don’t forget to check out Aframes Eyewear and support the cause (and look better than all your friends doing it).

http://aframeseyewear.com/

Check out their Facebook and Twitter to join the conversation!

– Paul Martell

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Hello Young, Eastern Alumni!

As the new Alumni Relations intern here at EMU’s Alumni Association, I wanted to take some time to get to know each other. I suppose we can start with me.

My name is Paul Martell, and I am a senior majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Management, and a current member of PRSSA. I have been at this wonderful University of ours for 2 years, and hope to walk in April’s graduation commencement. I am sincerely excited to be a part of the Alumni Association team, and I am looking forward to communicating with all of you, and getting to know you a little better. After all, if everything goes according to my plan, I will be one of you (an Alumnus) by this summer. I keep pretty busy with classwork, but when I do get free time, I am all about soccer, running, and just about anything that gets me outside.

When I came to EMU, I was unsure about my major, and intimidated by my first University experience. However, after two years filled with wonderful professors, many hours of class in Pray-Harrold, and genuine friendships I think I get it. EMU is a place to figure out who you are, and how to use that knowledge to find your career. So when I really think about it, I am excited about EMU for the same reasons I am excited about my future in Public Relations. They both rely on 2 foundational principles: integrity and relationships.

This semester is going to be an exciting one, and we have some great events coming up. Do not forget to like the Young Alumni Facebook Page and follow the Alumni Twitter for updates on events and to join the conversation. I will keep you guys updated here on the blog weekly, and I am already working on some cool stories I know you will enjoy.

So what about you? Is there anything this new intern needs to hear from the Young Alumni? Are there any topics you would like to read more about, or are interested in? Please feel free to share.

Well, that is all for now. I look forward to meeting you in person this semester at our events, until then, we can always talk here.

–          Paul Martell

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