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Passion and Purpose Lead Antwan McKenzie-Plez

By | Alumni, Bachelor's Degree, Doctoral Degree, Faculty & Staff, Latest News, Master's Degree, News, Students, Union Institute & University | No Comments

Antwan McKenzie Plez

September is National Recovery Month and offers the opportunity to highlight the passion and purpose of the students and faculty in Union’s M.A. with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling – Graduate Certificate programs.

Passion and purpose to help individuals recover is why Antwan McKenzie-Plez sought a career as a counselor. He will graduate in October with a M.A. in CMHC and a graduate certificate, prepared to make a difference in the lives of many. Learn more about Antwan in the Q&A below.

Q. What do you plan to do with your degree?

A. I am pursuing my passion to work with developmentally disabled adults. The drug abuse in this group is overlooked because there has been little to no research in this area. I am working to influence policy to help these individuals. The CMHC major requires an internship and now I am employed fulltime in a career where I can help people.

Q. What led you to this program?

A. I also completed my undergraduate work at Union and I was very pleased with my experience. I had to have a program that produces the brightest and best and I knew the highly regarded Clinical Mental Health Counseling major would prepare me to make a difference. I knew that I would be part of a cohort that offers the opportunity to share and learn from each other. The cohort became an extension of family. The camaraderie among my fellow students is extraordinary.

Q. Why did you choose Union for your studies?

A. Union offers personal growth. The program requires you to know yourself so you can help others. Counselors can’t be effective without self-awareness.

Q. If you could give a piece of advice to your 20 something, what would it be?

A. Do not put off your passion. Go for it!

Q. Who has influenced you the most in your life, and how have they influenced you?

A. My grandaunt took over the role of grandmother to me. She has been my biggest supporter. She taught special education for 40 years and inspired me to give of myself.

Your passion and purpose to help others can be your career!

Passion and Purpose

By | Alumni, Bachelor's Degree, Doctoral Degree, Faculty & Staff, Latest News, Master's Degree, News, Students, Union Institute & University | No Comments

Rosalyn Beatty Brown

Passion and purpose are the cornerstones of the UI&U Master of Arts with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling Graduate Certificate program.

Students enter the profession because they have a deep desire to help individuals recover and sustain the recovery of persons with mental and substance use disorders. Antwan McKenzie-Plez entered the program for that reason. “I am prepared to make a positive impact on lives. Union has given me the best training possible.”

“Our mission is to support every student as a future professional colleague in gaining counseling concepts and skills, but also encourage reflective personal growth,” said Rosalyn Y. Brown Beatty, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, Director, Masters of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling – Graduate Certificate Program.

Antwan agrees. “The self-knowledge I have acquired through my studies at Union allows me to be a better counselor. I just completed my internship and was hired by the company because of my excellent training.”

September is National Recovery Month and offers the opportunity to highlight the important work of the M.A. with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling – Graduate Certificate Program.

“The M.A. is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and led by scholar practitioners. Our accreditation ensures that students receive a curriculum based on the highest educational standards. CACREP is the accrediting body for master’s and doctoral degree programs in counseling and its specialties offered by colleges and universities in the United States and the world,” said Dr. Brown Beatty. “Our counselor educators pride themselves on being able to teach the theories, techniques, and skills required to become a counselor using decades of combined counseling experience to adequately prepare students to become practitioners in the field of counseling and building connection to the broader counseling professional network,” said Dr. Brown Beatty.

The Union certificate in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling is a fully online graduate certificate offered as a stand-alone program or embedded in the M.A. major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

“This program trains and prepares professionals for a career in counseling individuals with substances use and abuse problems,” said Dr. Brown Beatty. “The certificate can be completed in just one year. An alcohol and drug abuse counselor specializes in providing counseling and support to individuals and families experiencing problems with substance use or dependence. This may include individual, family or group counseling about the causes and effects of addiction support for families dealing with addiction, and/or referrals to treatment.”

A benefit only available to Union students is the fully online library. Access to the library is a service few universities can match. It provides access to a growing collection of more than 125,000 electronic full-text periodicals via 150+ online licensed research databases, available to students 24/7, 365 days a year.

In addition, career services leads students to employers looking for their skill set through the job alert network. The career counselor also offers resume and interview services to successfully market students to a rewarding career.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a high growth rate for both occupations with a salary range of $39,000 to $65,680 for the mental health counselor field and a salary range of $39,600 to $73,050 for a drug and alcohol counselor.

“Union is known for transforming lives and communities. The UI&U Master of Arts with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling or Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling Graduate Certificate program offers the opportunity to enter a rewarding profession that makes measurable improvement in the quality of the lives of clients, families, and society,” said Dr. Brown Beatty.

Combine your passion and purpose into the rewarding life of a counselor.

Union Welcomes JoNataye Prather, Ph.D.

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JoNataye Prather

If there was ever an advocate for social work and students, it is JoNataye Prather, Ph.D. the new chair of the UI&U Social Work undergraduate program. “I am passionate about supporting students through education to transform their lives. I take into consideration their holistic and academic needs.”

The servant leader brings 15 years of experience in the social work and education fields as a college administrator, assistant professor, education coach and non-profit consultant. Students, educators and human service practitioners nationwide have benefited from her insightfulness, compassion and spirit of enthusiasm to transform their organization, professional and personal lives.

She is excited to put her stamp on UI&U’s fully online bachelor’s program with a major in Social Work. “My goal is to transform our students into social work practitioners by strengthening our curriculum and providing added value resources,” said Dr. Prather who wrote the forward for “The Best College Student Survival Guide Ever Written” and recently released the book, “Don’t Even Think About Getting Your Ph.D. Without Reading This Book First”.

Dr. Prather is truly enthusiastic about empowering students with her inspirational quotes that have attracted over 20,000 followers on her Instagram account.

She strives to emulate a quote from her mother, JoEthel Prather: “The ability to begin is useless without the willingness to endure.”

Dr. Prather earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and African-American Studies (1999), Master’s in Social Work (2001), and PhD (2010) from The Ohio State University.

Welcome to Union Dr. JoNataye Prather!

Start your career in social work today.

Faculty spotlight – Dr. Alison Hazelbaker

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Dr. Alison Hazelbaker

Union Institute & University is proud to join with the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in the celebration of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7) and the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) in the celebration of National Breastfeeding Month during August.

Union is joining the observance with spotlights on the students, alumni, staff and faculty in the fully online Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation undergraduate program and M.A. Health & Wellness: lactation studies program.

Today, Dr. Alison Hazelbaker, faculty in the M.A. Health & Wellness: lactation studies program and UI&U Ph.D. alumna, is in the spotlight. Learn why she chose to teach at Union in Q & A below.

Q. What excites you about being a part of higher education?

A. Supporting the next generation of lactation consultants to do their best performance as clinicians.

Q. What attracted you to become a part of the Union family?

A. I attended Union for my doctorate and I had one of the most exciting and rich experiences of my life here. I have always thought that Union would be an excellent place for a lactation program so when it became possible to teach here, I was thrilled!

Q. If you could have any job in the whole world, what would it be?

A. I am doing my dream job as a clinician and an educator!

Q. What surprises people about you?

A. That I love dogs and have many.

Q. What is your favorite book, and why?

A. I have about 2000 favorite books! I love to read and my favorite genre is Science Fiction but I read my share of non-fiction with a few mysteries thrown in here or there.

Explore a rewarding career in the lactation profession with the fully online Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation undergraduate program or the M.A. Health & Wellness: lactation studies program.

Congratulations 2018 California Graduates

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Union Institute & University California Commencement Ceremony was a day of celebration as over 160 adults received their diplomas and joined Union’s legacy to engage, enlighten, and empower in a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility on August 19, 2018.

Dr. Rhonda Brinkley-Kennedy, executive director of the Los Angeles Academic Center, welcomed the audience and reminded our graduates “there is only one Union Institute & University. It not only transforms our lives, it can – and does – transform the world around us.”

President of Union Institute & University, Dr. Karen Schuster Webb, congratulated the graduates and welcomed them into the legacy of service and leadership that our alumni provide to their communities every day.

Dr. Webb introduced the keynote, Adrienne Lamar Snider, Executive Director for Operations at the Child Abuse Prevention Center. Dr. Webb bestowed the university’s highest honor, the Doctor of Humane Letters: Honoris Causa to Ms. Snider with the following words. “ Ms. Lamar Snider, in recognition of your lifelong dedication to selflessly serve others and to provide pathways to success, it is an honor not only for Union to have you as our speaker today, but also to bestow upon you the university’s highest honor, the Doctor of Humane Letters: Honoris Causa. Through your life’s work, you have become a beacon of service, and one whose work echoes Union Institute & University’s beloved mission to engage, enlighten, and empower all to a life of learning, service, and social responsibility.”

Ms. Snider shared with the graduates that she understood their journey of work, family and courage to pursue their degrees. She reminded them how smart adults are because they possess the kind of experiential knowledge gained only from life experience. She also asked the graduates to think of what’s next in their lives.

Other Highlights included:

  • Grand Marshal – Dr. Birgit Monks, faculty in the undergraduate program.
  • Invocation – Presented by Kent Wilson, a new graduate in Criminal Justice Management.
  • Announcer – Dr. Allison Leggett, lead faculty for the Child and Adolescent Development major
  • Recognition of veterans – Designated by wearing a special red, white, and blue honor cord, in recognition of their service to our country.
  • “America the Beautiful” – Sang by Ms. Ami Bryant and Ms. Mercy Smith.
  • 2018 Mark Dunakin Award for Extraordinary Achievement – Awarded to Sergeant Heather Forsythe in honor of Sergeant Dunakin, a UI&U student killed in the line of duty and presented to a new graduate of the Criminal Justice Management major who serves in law enforcement and who emulates his commitment to community service and academic success.
  • Special thank you – Thank you to the Los Angeles Academic Center staff especially Ms. Camila Pulido, Ms. Katy Sue, and Ms. Brenda Melendez, who coordinated commencement events.

Congratulations 2018 California Graduates! Enjoy the pictures of the 2018 California Commencement Ceremony and connect with us on our Facebook page to see more commencement pictures.

Union’s next commencement ceremony will be the National Commencement on Saturday, October 6, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. at the Hilton Netherland Plaza in downtown Cincinnati.

Discover your UI&U academic path towards a new career.

Fallen Officer Memorial Award 2018 Recipient Selected

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Sgt. Heather Forsythe

Sergeant Heather Forsythe is the 2018 Mark Dunakin Award for Extraordinary Achievement recipient presented by Union Institute & University to a new graduate of the Criminal Justice Management major.

“The award is humbling. Sgt. Dunakin and the other officers gave their lives to keep their community safe,” said Forsythe. “I am committed to working in our community and keeping it safe too.”

The Mark Dunakin Memorial Award honors the memory of Sergeant Dunakin, a UI&U student who tragically lost his life on March 21, 2009, at the age of 40, when he and three other Oakland police officers were killed in the line of duty. The award is presented to a new graduate of the UI&U Criminal Justice Management major who serves in law enforcement and who emulates Sergeant Dunakin’s commitment to community service, academic success, and enthusiasm for Union’s Criminal Justice Management major.

Sgt. Forsythe was chosen by the faculty as an example of someone who not only works hard and maintains high standards, but also is deeply committed to serving others in her community and beyond. She will receive the award at the California Commencement on August 19.

“Union is a perfect fit for me. I had to find a university with a real world curriculum that allowed me to work full time,” said Forsythe.

She is a 17-year law enforcement veteran and sergeant with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department where she is a specialist in the Criminal Intelligence Division and Terrorism Liaison Officer Coordinator for the San Bernardino County. She presents workshops on terrorism and co-hosts and coordinates the monthly Inland Empire Terrorism Early Warning, providing relevant training in counter terrorism, active shooter, and suspicious activity.

Her list of achievements include POST Certified Academy Instructor (AICC) and Field Training Officer (FTO), and an instructor for Basic Academy, teaching POST Learning Domain 43- Emergency Operations/ Law Enforcement Response to Terrorism. She also instructs for POST supervisory school, teaching Terrorism Liaison Officer for supervisors and at the Advanced Officer Training Division teaching Terrorism Awareness and Criminal Intelligence Investigations.

Sgt. Forsythe previously worked in developing the “Women’s Warriors” recruitment program that provides pre-academy mentorship to women who want to join law enforcement in the San Bernardino County. She was also a liaison for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in San Bernardino.

In her community, she has been a volunteer as a youth/explorer scout advisor for eight years, and worked with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) on the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) task force.

This past March, she planned and hosted a faith-based active shooter awareness/ preparedness seminar with the Department of Homeland Security. The conference had approximately 400 local faith-based leaders and members in attendance. She also has conducted numerous site security assessments at schools, churches and community buildings for the CDC/ Department of Public Health Strategic National Stockpile Points of Dispensing program. She is an administrator for CalCOP which is a critical infrastructure assessment data base.

The other recipients of the Union Institute & University Mark Dunakin Memorial Award for Extraordinary Achievement are:

  • 2011 – Isabel Resendez
  • 2013 – Frederick Henry Bobbitt Jr. and Tony Silva
  • 2015 – Ray Framstad
  • 2016 – Sergio Lepe
  • 2017 – Orrlando Mayes
Explore what the Criminal Justice Management program can do for your career today!

Breastfeeding Month – Alumni Spotlight on Natashia Conner

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Natashia Conner

Welcome to the “Alumni Spotlight” monthly series. Learn how our Union Institute & University (UI&U) graduates are living the UI&U mission of engagement, enlightenment, and empowerment.

Featured this month: Natashia Conner Education: 2014 Union Graduate Maternal and Child Health – Human Lactation major

Profession: UI&U Professor Natashia Conner, MS, CHES, IBCLC in the Maternal and Child Health – Human Lactation major

Q. What has your degree meant to you personally and professionally?

A. Obtaining my B.S. in Maternal Child Health was world-changing for me. I started this program after having two traumatic births and what I would consider a mildly successful breastfeeding experience. This program opened my eyes to the issues of infant mortality and health disparities that exist within the African American community. I have since dedicated my life’s work to reducing health inequities that contribute to these disparities. As a result, of completing this program and working in the field of lactation, I went on to successfully breastfeed my third child for four years!

Q. What quality do you admire most about your alma mater?

A. I most admire the administrative staff of my alma mater. Being a local resident (of Cincinnati), I remember spending many days working on countless assignments in the library/computer lab with my newborn baby. The staff was super encouraging and supportive. The support I received from the staff played a tremendous role in my ability to meet my academic goals.

Q. If you could give advice to a Union student, what would it be?

A. I encourage all of the students to utilize the services offered. The writing center is there to assist you. I remember complaining about how difficult the professors seemed to be when it came to perfecting my writing. Now that I am on the other side, I see that it was all for my benefit. Although college is hard at times, and life situations arise, things do get better and it will be well worth the struggle in the end.

Q. What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?

A. My greatest accomplishment has been helping over 3,000 women, infants, and families through their breastfeeding journey. There is nothing more rewarding than to see a mom/dad achieve their goals.

Discover a rewarding career supporting breastfeeding with the Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation major or the Health & Wellness: Lactation Studies major.

Breastfeeding Month – Student Spotlights on Jeanna Spears and Amanda Marion

By | Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Latest News, News, Students, Union Institute & University | No Comments

Union Institute & University is proud to join with the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in the celebration of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7) and the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) in the celebration of National Breastfeeding Month.

Union is joining the observance with spotlights on the students, alumni, staff and faculty in the Bachelor of Science in Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation and the Master of Arts in Health & Wellness: Lactation Studies. Read about two of our students and their plans for their degree in the Q & A below.

Jeanna Spears:

Q. What do you plan to do with your degree?

A. Once I have completed my degree I would like to pursue a childbirth educator certification and continue to teach and help mothers reach their breastfeeding goals.

Q. What led you to this program?

A. I needed a few courses to take the IBCLC exam. I figured since I was already enrolled I should complete my Bachelor of Science in Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation.

Q. Why did you choose Union for your studies?

A. I am a full-time mom, I work 40 hours a week (at least) at the local hospital and I work on the Appalachian Breastfeeding Network’s after hours breastfeeding helpline twice a week so the fact that Union offered courses online made getting back into school fit right into my schedule.

Q. If you could give a piece of advice to your 20 something, what would it be?

A. Be patient with yourself…

Q. Who has influenced you the most in your life, and how have they influenced you?

A. My grandfather and my dad because of their selflessness… as for my lactation life, I would have to say Stephanie Carroll. She started as my WIC breastfeeding peer and is now one of my closest friends. She helped me when I had questions and encouraged me to get into the field itself. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the encouragement from all three of them.

 

Amanda Marion:

Q. What do you plan to do with your degree?

A. Upon completion of my degree, I plan to be the educator I have always dreamt of in the field of lactation and maternal-child health. I want to be able to educate moms who are having difficulties or just need a boost in confidence using evidence-based research. I want to be able to answer anything that they have been misinformed about, or not informed at all about breastfeeding. I want to be able to ease their minds and educate them properly in the way I never was when I was breastfeeding.

Q. What led you to this program?

A. I was sitting at my desk one day and decided that I wanted to obtain a bachelor’s degree in maternal-child health since my background experience was in maternal-child health due to my former position. When I was at the CLC course, I remember UIU being mentioned. When I ‘googled’ college that offered a Bachelor’s in Maternal-Child Health, UIU was the first that popped up – and better yet, it was in human lactation!

Q. Why did you choose Union for your studies?

A. I chose UIU because the pathway is going to enable me to obtain the rest of my pre-requisites to sit for the IBCLC exam sooner, rather than later. Taking into consideration all the credits I would receive from another degree I have, my military education/experience, and the generous scholarships I was offered compared to other colleges, UIU was the best fit.

Q. If you could give a piece of advice to your 20 something, what would it be?

A. Honestly, it would be nothing. I was in nursing school in my 20’s. Had I continued in nursing school, rather that joining the military, I probably wouldn’t have come as far as I have now with my different degrees, experiences, and finally figuring out that maternal-child health and lactation education is what I am called to do.

Q. Who has influenced you the most in your life, and how have they influenced you?

A. Two coworkers were influential in my pursuing my degree. I worked with a Certified Practitioner in Lactation and Breastfeeding Care (IBCLC) and a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) as well as an Army Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) who both encouraged me and supported me in my goals to obtain my bachelor’s at UIU. The other person is my daughter. Nothing makes me more proud than to see her watch me with a smile on her face while I struggle through online classes while balancing my active-duty military job and taking care of her. It makes me believe that I am her great role model and I hope that one day she can say that I was her most influential person.

Jeanna Spears

Amanda Marion

Florida Academic Center Celebrates Graduates

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Tears of joy flowed at the Union Institute & University Florida Academic Center Commencement as over 70 adults realized the dream of earning their college degrees on July 22.

Degrees are life changing. “Graduation day validates why Union exists. We have made an impact on their lives with a degree they never thought they would have,” said Dr. Jay Keehn, executive director at the Florida Academic Center. “When life got in the way, we were here to help them finish. Union is a special place. Students are not numbers; we know each graduate’s story and struggles.”

New Master of Science in Organizational Leadership graduate and 2016 Criminal Justice Management alumna Markevya Johnson agrees. “The mission of Union was developed with me in mind. Giving working adults the opportunity to advance their education while offering a flexible schedule was exactly what I needed. I am a wife, mother of two children (ages 11 and 8), and a fulltime employee. The flexibility of Union’s online courses was a perfect fit for my busy schedule.”

Graduate Toni Soldano explains. “My MSOL degree was so important to me! The degree has expanded my skillset at work and will open opportunities for me in my career. It has given me confidence and enthusiasm for what is to come.”

Keynote speaker Dr. Kim Byas, UI&U doctoral alumnus and Board of Trustees member, challenged the new alumni to make a personal and professional mission statement that reflects their values. He encouraged them to consider the following points:

  • Why am I here on earth?
  • What is my unique or distinctive characteristic?
  • In life and in my work, what is most important to me?
  • What philosophical issues, personal values, and priorities are important to my career?
  • Outside of my organization, for whom am I working?

Dr. Byas concluded by reminding the graduates that they are now part of the Union Institute & University legacy, a university founded and committed to advancing social justice, and urged them to remember their commitment to social justice.

Union hosts academic center graduations throughout the year. The California Academic Center graduation is Sunday, August 19, 2018 at 11 a.m. at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Redondo Beach, CA 90278. For more details click here. National Commencement is Saturday, October 6, 2018 at 11 a.m. at the Hilton Netherland Plaza, 35 West Fifth Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202. For more details click here.

Jay Keehn

Kim Byas

Markevya Johnson

Toni Soldano

Union Institute & University educates highly motivated adults who seek academic programs to engage, enlighten, and empower them to pursue professional goals and a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility. Explore Union today.

Alumni Spotlight – Bob McGill

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Welcome to the “Alumni Spotlight” monthly series. Learn how our Union Institute & University (UI&U) graduates are living the UI&U mission of engagement, enlightenment, and empowerment.

This alumni spotlight is on Bob McGill, a 1975 Union Ph.D. graduate. His passion to pass down traditional Ozark music led him and his wife Karlene to organize the nonprofit Ozark Mountain Music. He is a retired Youth Specialist with the University of Missouri Extension Service and is founder and director of a not-for-profit corporation, Ozark Adventures.

His commitment to share his love of music with youth has even led him to the White House. Learn more in the Q & A below.

Q. What has your degree meant to you personally and professionally?

A. Union’s mission to social justice is something I appreciate. The stated mission and goals of the university to contribute to a pluralistic, just, and equitable society and helping remove the fear of those working to do so has always helped me personally and professionally.

Q. What quality do you admire most about your alma mater?

A. Union allowed me to design my own course of study and that process allowed me to immerse myself in adventures that I deemed relevant at the time. Doing so, with the help and support of the faculty gave me the knowledge and confidence to continue in my field.

Q. If you could give advice to a Union student, what would it be?

A. Get to know yourself and follow you own passions and dreams. Don’t get caught up in following in the footsteps of others. Be wise. Plan and enjoy your own adventures.

Q. What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?

A. My greatest accomplishment is whatever I’m working on at the time. Right now I’m helping young people learn to play traditional Ozark fiddle tunes. Music, we have discovered (as have so many others) cuts across both generations and cultures and develops, simultaneously, both self-discipline and self-expression. Music helps create character in young people. My proudest moments were hearing the members of our fiddle troupe play perform “Let There Be Peace” in the East Room of the White House and actually witnessing White House visitors cry at the conclusion of the song. A close second as a memorable experience was assisting three of our experienced young fiddlers in conducting a week-long fiddle camp high in the back mountains of Haiti in 2017.

Q. What is your passion away from work?

A. In just a few months we’ll be totally retired and I’ll get to tend to our small pecan orchard on our small and rustic Ozark farm,

Experience transformation as a Union Ph.D. student. Start today.