With coffee shop tunes in the background, and a cool autumn breeze flowing through the open door, Jon and Julie (McGill) Hauenstein reflected on their homecoming weekend adventures and shared their memories of the days when they were students at The University of Findlay. Jon was a mathematics major and computer science minor, and Julie was a health science major with plans of applying to the physical therapy program. Jon was a commuter student from the surrounding area while Julie was from Decatur, Indiana and lived on campus in Myers Residence Hall during her freshman year. They had different interests, different career paths, and different student experiences, but Jon and Julie happened to cross paths before classes even began freshman year.
Standing hand-in-hand in Croy Gymnasium, Julie and Jon were introduced during a group “icebreaker” to get to know their classmates. “Its crazy to think of how much that icebreaker impacted our lives,” said Julie. After hours of laughing and getting to know each other during the numerous games and activities, they exchanged numbers and went to lunch the next day. “There was a good chance we wouldn’t have ever crossed paths because we were in two different worlds as students,” said Julie.
In their first-year experience classes, both Julie and Jon were exposed to not only the many different career fields but also more in-depth, real-life scenarios and struggles of their particular majors. This gave Julie a greater appreciation and confirmation of wanting to pursue physical therapy as her major. “Right from the beginning semester, I was expected to start thinking of what I wanted to do with my life after graduation,” said Julie.
In his own experience, Jon recalled professionals in the areas of statistics, computer programming, or other related fields who caused him to think about his future early on. “We were exposed to different careers we could go into and advised to start preparing for them now,” said Jon.
Currently an associate professor of applied and computational mathematics and statistics at the University of Notre Dame, Jon attributes part of his success to his time as a tutor at The University of Findlay. “As a tutor, I learned early on that students learn in different ways. I had to adjust my style of teaching for them to understand and comprehend my explanations,” he said. “The lessons I learned then helped prepare me for my teaching assistantships in my graduate and doctorate programs, and in the position I am in today.” Luckily for Jon, Julie’s education and success in her career field allowed him a better opportunity to focus on attaining his doctorate. The Monday after graduation in 2005, Julie started working as a physical therapist in Decatur, Indiana. While he was earning his Ph.D. in mathematics at Notre Dame, Julie supported the two of them and allowed Jon to focus on his studies.
“The transition from being a student to a professional was an easier switch than expected,” Julie said. “Not only did my classes prepare me with the appropriate material I needed to know, but the clinical rotations we had in our last year of classes tremendously helped me transition into my career.” She was also able to find numerous work opportunities wherever Jon needed to go for his post-doctoral fellowships after he finished his Ph.D. in 2009.
After completing his doctorate, Jon worked at many institutions in Toronto, Texas, Sweden, North Carolina, and California, until returning to the University of Notre Dame. “When we were looking at what the future could be, we never imagined the many adventures we would have together,” Jon said. “But it would not have been possible without Julie by my side, supporting us along the way.”
Today, Jon and Julie live outside of South Bend, Indiana with their three daughters, twins Morgan and Leah, age five, and Kristyn, age four. Julie is working part-time as a physical therapist on the weekend while being a full-time mom. Jon is focusing on growing his research group at the University of Notre Dame and continuing to be a successful professor. Jon was also a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award this year at Homecoming and Family Weekend for his career as an educator and his dedication to the world of mathematics. Even though they are enjoying their time in South Bend, being back in Findlay during homecoming weekend had the charm that never seemed to leave no matter how far they went. “Its quaint, beautiful, and comfortable,” Julie said. “Even though the buildings are changing and we haven’t walked around campus in years, it still, and always will, feel like home.”