Articles from the Fall 2013 Newsletter

Eyes On Tomorrow. Feet On Today.

Julie Ann Snyder, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Students & Director

Happy Fall! I hope this edition of the PLA newsletter finds you well. It was wonderful to see so many families at this year’s annual Family Weekend reception. The feedback we received has been extremely positive, and I am happy that families enjoyed the event changes. As I write this article it is hard to believe that half of the semester is already over! Your students were just home for Fall Break and have returned with renewed energy. We are so proud of the hard work and dedication each scholar demonstrates on a daily basis. Our successes continue as we earned a spring grade point average of 3.21 (BGSU=2.79), and maintained a cumulative grade point average of 3.26 (BGSU=2.81). Over 74% of the PLA earned a 3.0 or higher for the spring semester, and we retained 97% of our scholars. This year we are focusing on increasing our community with PLA by living THE FISH! Philosophy! I encourage everyone to ask your student about one of the four tenants: play; make their day; be there; choose your attitude.

On a personal note, Elijah is wrapping up his fall baseball season and is excited to be working with a new travel team. Liliana is gearing up for Halloween! This year she has chosen to be     Princess Sofia. Whatever happened to being a ghost and just wearing an old sheet?

As we move toward the end of the semester, and the holiday season, please know how grateful I am for your support of the PLA. I sincerely hope to see you at our annual spring banquet. The event has moved to a Saturday to help accommodate more families. Please keep an eye out for an official invitation in the spring. In this edition of the newsletter we decided to focus the articles on the amazing things scholars completed this summer, and all of the opportunities that exist for every student. Enjoy reading, and best wishes!

PLA Summer Program

Matt Henkes, 2013 Cohort

Looking back on one of the busiest summers I have ever had, it is easy to see why it was also one of the greatest summers. That is attributed to the PLA Summer Program. Although strenuous and quite stressful at times, the summer program left me with a deeper self-awareness, confidence to act as a leader, and impactful relationships with people that will last a lifetime.

Going through a full-time semester schedule in a matter of 4 weeks is no easy task, but the rigorous academic structure of the summer program was helpful. I could not be better prepared for what I am now experiencing in my collegiate career because of the PLA. Although I am still working on them, I learned time management and organization are crucial in being successful in college. However, the skills and experiences I gained beyond the classroom were the most life altering. Coming into the program as an individual who thought I knew everything, I was rudely awakened to ways of dealing with people who were different than me and better leaders as well. My perspective has expanded because of this, and I have become a more diverse individual. In my wonderful cohort of 22 people I know that I have a family who will be there to support and love me through any future struggles. This summer program experience was one that was well needed and appreciated.

Summer Research: Working with a Mentor

Brionna Powell, 2009 Cohort

This past summer was one of creating new relationships and learning new things. I was afforded the opportunity to become a McNair Scholar here at BGSU, this meant I would conduct research throughout the summer and gain valuable graduate school preparation. The research aspect of the McNair program challenges the student to obtain a research mentor then work closely with them throughout the research journey. Although I am a BGSU student I did not want to limit myself to professors on this campus because there is so much more out there. Instead I reached out to professors at the University of Toledo Medical Campus in the epidemiology department. This is what I am truly passionate about and I wanted to do research with someone that shared the same passions. I was not guaranteed that anyone would respond or be interested in working with a BGSU student, but to my surprise I found a mentor!

My mentor’s name is Dr. Barbara Saltzman and she is an associate professor in the department of epidemiology. This was a dream come true seeing how I plan to obtain my graduate degree in epidemiology. I did not know how beneficial this new relationship I had formed would be until the summer progressed. In the beginning we focused mainly on the research that we would complete. My research topic is “Association between Attention Hyperactivity Deficit Disorder and Heavy Metals”. This was right on target for the type of research I wanted to do which was anything that focused on human diseases or disorders. This really fueled me to want to work hard on my research because it was more of graduate level research.

Aside from my research, my mentor and I began to build a true mentor/mentee relationship. She began to inquire about my plans after undergraduate school and was pleased to hear they were all related to things she could help with. Her genuine care for my future has allowed our relationship to grow and it has made her push me more in all aspects. I could have not asked for a better mentor. Due to her being an amazing mentor I will now be applying to the University of Toledo for their Master’s of Public Health in epidemiology program. I have created a lasting bond with the entire epidemiology department, and they have insisted I become a student there. These are the things a student wants to hear when they are working with a group of professors. My mentor will also prepare me for medical school interviews because that is my plan post-graduate school matriculation. She is one of the professors that conduct medical school interviews for the University of Toledo. I was also able to sit in on one of her lectures and get a feel for graduate school classes. This is preparation I did not expect she could provide but when you use your resources the possibilities are endless.

I am so grateful to have been able to work on my research at an actual graduate school because of the preparation I have received. I will now be confident to enter a graduate school class because I have sat in on one. I also know how to conduct graduate level research and this is something that is expected in grad school, lots of research. This initial journey stemmed from a research opportunity but opened doors that will help me for a lifetime. I can now give undergraduate students the advice to branch out of their home university when planning to conduct research. There is no greater opportunity than gaining skills and relationships from those you share similar passions rather than merely sharing similar schools. This advice is especially for students whose specific career passions may not be offered at BGSU’s campus, doing outside research will allow you to get experience in that area without transferring schools! This is one of the best summers I have had in a while due to the cool new things I was introduced to through my mentor and the University of Toledo Medical Campus.

Summer Research: A Great Learning Experience

Danielle Rice, 2010 Cohort

This past summer I had the opportunity to engage in undergraduate research through the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program.  In the process of completing my research I was able to build relationships with faculty members, and prepare for work at a graduate level. In order to begin my research, I had to find a faculty mentor willing to guide me through the research process, as I’d never done research prior to this summer.  I was hesitant when finding a mentor because I was unsure about how to approach faculty members. I talked with the director of McNair who encouraged me to find a mentor with similar research interests as mine.  After looking through the resume’s and curriculum vitae’s of faculty members I found a few individuals who I believed would make good faculty mentors. I contacted three different faculty members and they were not what I was looking for however, they were able to recommend a woman, who had similar interests and professional goals as me. After an initial meeting with her where I discussed what I wanted to do and what her role in the process would be, I’d found my faculty mentor.  My faculty mentor had similar research interests, and she was a faculty member in the department I was studying under. She was invested in helping me to grow professionally, as well as personally. My faculty mentor and I connected right away; from the beginning she helped guide me in the research process. I’d never done research before and she was very patient in making sure I understood what I needed to do. She pushed me to begin exploring career options for myself. She helped me to narrow down what I want to do in the future and the type of graduate program that I would be interested in.  She also helped me to develop relationships with other faculty members off campus, which were very beneficial to my research and my personal growth. Conducting undergraduate research has prepared me for work at the graduate level.  In graduate school, I will be conducting research but it will be on a larger scale, however, the techniques and the tips I learned this summer from working with my faculty mentor have prepared me to be one step ahead of those students who have never had the opportunity to complete research. For this advantage I have been given I am very grateful and humbled!

Overall, the process of conducting research was a great learning experience for me. I learned how to connect with and reach out to faculty members. I’ve gained a mentor to help me with the process of selecting and applying to graduate school. Most importantly I’ve developed a relationship with my mentor that will continue to be beneficial and help me grow both professionally and personally.

My Summer Experience: WSB-TV in Atlanta, GA

Dominique Hicks,  2010 Cohort

This summer I had the opportunity to intern at WSB-TV channel 2 in Atlanta, GA. It was an amazing experience, filled with challenges and triumphs. I had the chance to work with veteran reporters, anchors, and producers on a wide variety of stories happening in Atlanta and its metropolitan area. Stories ranged from the new Georgia Dome to a series of smash and grab burglaries in the Edgewood neighborhood. Since I was new to Atlanta, I had to study the demographics of the city upon starting my internship. Being in Atlanta I was challenged with finding my way around the city and adjusting to the culture of the city. This was a key task for me to adjust quickly, because news reporters are often moved to new areas and challenged with producing fresh stories about the community they serve. This internship helped me become more comfortable with being in front of the camera and challenged me to be creative and innovative. It reminded me that even though I am bringing today’s news to the masses, I also have to make it entertaining. I learned to never be afraid to step up to the plate, and that being credible is the most important thing. When working in news, there is nothing worse than to present information that is not from a credible source. While being in the PLA, I’ve learned the same thing applies in terms of being a leader; your actions must align with your values and morals. No one wants to follow a leader that is not credible, it was a great thing to see how my PLA experience and my future career are connected in some way!


Study Abroad: France & Burkina Faso

Jayna Clemens, 2012 Cohort

Ten and half weeks was all it took to make me realize that I am just one individual in a world full of people who have a multitude of differences but also share one striking similarity.  Throughout my travels, I heard various different and unfamiliar languages, experienced different cultural traditions, and delved into the daily routines of my two host families that slowly became my new “normal”. But above all, I discovered that beneath it all, we all share one thing, our innate “humanness”. This characteristic brings about our longing to live, striving to build a successful life for ourselves, and loving those around us and the life we are living.

Tours, France and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso were the two cities where I chose to spend this past summer studying abroad. During the month of June I studied French at a language institute in Tours, France. Being there I not only continued my education of the French language but was also able to interact with individuals from all over the world. I had classmates from Mexico, Singapore, Lybia, Japan, and other regions within the United States. Getting to share stories and experiences with them was an unexpected but immensely rewarding experience. In addition to the new friends I made at school, I was also very fortunate to have an amazing host family that I stayed with. My host mom and sister gave me an opportunity to immerse myself in their daily lives and experience it myself rather than observe from the outside.

After spending a month in Tours, France, I traveled to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. For the month of July I studied Burkinabe cinema and aspects of their everyday life. I was not only  able to better connect to the individuals I met because of the course work in my classes, but I was able to deeply appreciate them and their rich history. Located in West Africa, Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world, but regardless of this unfortunate circumstance, every individual I met appreciated and made the most of everyday. This allowed me to see how as Americans we should be more grateful for the necessities we usually have access to. My host family showed me an unimaginable amount of love from the moment I arrived and truly made me a part of their family.

Traveling to Tours, France and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso was an experience of a lifetime. I was able to experience aspects of daily life in each of those cities that, if I was not studying abroad, I would not experience. I explored historic chateaus, went on more train, metro, and airplane trips than I could count, sat on a sacred crocodile, ate a worm that was delicacy, and got my hair traditionally braided like a Burkinabe woman. Yes, some of these experiences challenged my comfort zones, but because I was in the mindset of learning I was able to gain something through every experience.

In addition to the two cities I studied in, I was also fortunate enough to spend a week in London, Venice and Rome. Seeing Big Ben, an authentic Venetian gondola, and Pope Francis were also experiences that I will never forget. Although I was a tourist in these cities, combined with my experiences in Tours, France and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, I had the summer of a lifetime. I learned more about myself and the people that I met along the way than ever expected. And after all of the amazing experiences I had, I occasionally miss things and places I saw, but not a day goes by that I do not think about and miss the amazing friends and family I met along the way. I still keep in contact with my host families and the friends I made, because beyond the language and cultural barriers we are all just people, striving to find our place and make our mark in this world.

Educational Testing Services (ETS) – Intern

Celeste Smith, 2011 Cohort

I am Celeste Smith, a junior here at BGSU. I am a student in the College of Health and Human Services, in the Social Work Program. I am a scholar of the prestigious President’s Leadership Academy and I am heavily involved on BGSU’s campus. I am involved in a myriad of student organizations, one being the Black Student Union. This summer I decided to get an experience outside of BGSU. I served as an undergraduate research fellow at Educational Testing Services (ETS). ETS is a company whose mission is to advance equity in education by providing fair and valid assessments, research, and related services. Just to name a few, ETS is also the company that is responsible for creating well known assessments such as the GRE, Praxis, and Teacher Licensures. My time at ETS was more than amazing! As I mentioned, I served as an undergraduate research fellow and this opportunity lasted for eight weeks. During those few months, I resided in Princeton, New Jersey where the ETS headquarters is located. I worked full time, 9am-5pm Monday through Friday, on a specific research project.  As an undergrad research fellow I spent most of my time doing qualitative research. This included completing a literature review and conducting key informant interviews with some of the nation’s leading experts in assessment development. Due to a confidentiality agreement that I adhered to while working at ETS, I am not able to go into depth about the project that I worked on as an ETS employee. Not only did I have a great time working for ETS, but I was able to travel and explore the east coast.  Traveling was my favorite part of the experience! During my eight weeks, I had the chance to travel very often, for both work related and personal reasons. Some of the places I traveled to were Howard University and The National Press Club in Washington D.C., Times Square in New York, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Seaside Heights in New Jersey, Princeton University’s campus, and a number of other places. Words cannot come close to explaining my summer experience at ETS. It has developed me into a better researcher, networker, and person in ways that I could have not received at BGSU. Most times aside from receiving a great education you have to branch out and develop skills from other institutions that are not specifically offered at your university. Through this internship, I was able to develop a strong skill set that will be essential in my future, for both graduate school, and also the Social Work Profession. I had the opportunity to travel and meet so many amazing, intelligent people, including some individuals who have offered to serve as lifelong mentors. It was a pleasure being involved in this company and representing Bowling Green State University outside of campus life.

My Summer Experience with Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity Headquarters

Greg Cherry, 2010 Cohort

This past Summer, I was given the honor and privilege of being one of nine interns chosen to work at Lambda Chi Alpha out of numerous applications from around the nation and two provinces of Canada.  The internship allowed me to take my undergraduate experience in Greek Life to new heights and show me just how close complete strangers can become when united underneath a common cause and brotherhood.  I was chosen as the alumni involvement intern in which I reached out to alumni of Lambda Chi Alpha. I connected the alumni with undergraduate members at 190+ chapters across the U.S. and Canada.  I also played a role, along with the other interns and staff, in planning and running the Stead Leadership Seminar, which had more than 500 undergraduate members and 700 people total in attendance, at the University of Memphis.  Each intern and staff member was recognized at the event, but that individual moment of recognition paled in comparison to when I saw everyone at the final dinner stand up in pin attire and applaud together towards the end of the event.  It was then that I learned my biggest lesson that the individual is not greater than the whole and every person attributes in some way shape or form.  Yes, the staff at headquarters helps organize the undergraduate and alumni experience, but none of it would exist without the base of the organization which are the undergraduates themselves.  Every person involved in Lambda Chi Alpha is just as important as the next.  Whether someone is an associate member who just accepted their bid or is the CEO in Indianapolis, every single person adds to the final product in an intricate manner. Everyone is essential to our successful brotherhood that has lasted for nearly 104 years.  For an organization to exist is simple, but for it to thrive it needs the unyielding support and belief from its members. That is what this experience taught me, and I am honored to have gotten such a great experience through an internship.

PLA Retreat

 Dan Lemle, 2010 Cohort

On the weekend of September 13th-14th, all members of the Sidney A. Ribeau President’s Leadership Academy traveled to Hiram, Ohio for the annual retreat. Scholars had the opportunity to further develop relationships with one another as well as creating new ones, all while learning practical information about leadership.

This year’s retreat, themed “Lights, Camera, PLAction!”, was planned and executed by the 2010 Cohort.  Beginning in the fall semester of 2012, my cohort members and I brainstormed what we envisioned our retreat to be like. After discussing what we liked about prior retreats, we broke into different committees that worked on finding a location, a theme and other logistical information, in addition to developing fundraisers. Throughout the remainder of the year, we continued to unfold our retreat, focusing on the educational sessions and what we wanted the underclassmen to gain from the experience. An entire day in March was dedicated to mapping out our sessions to ensure they were based on legitimate leadership studies and experiences and ensuring they dealt with relevant topics for leaders in today’s age. I think this planning day was beneficial in making our sessions a success for the PLA scholars.

By the time August rolled around, we had raised $3,000, finished a 33-page long document that detailed every moment of the retreat, and sought an end to last minute preparations. I know my cohort agrees when I say that watching ten months of hard work come to fruition was the most rewarding and valuable experience for us thus far. My cohort has grown personally and as a group from this hands-on experience. I am grateful we had a successful retreat through our hard work!

Study Abroad: Spain

Vaughn Thornton, 2011 Cohort

I’ve known that I was going to study abroad for a few years now, what I didn’t know is that snails are delicious, camels aren’t the easiest to ride, and I don’t stand a chance against a Spaniard in soccer. This past spring I spent the semester in Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain and a stint in multiple cities throughout Morocco. Alcalá, for short, is a bustling Spanish city about 20 miles outside the Spanish capital, Madrid. The experience to eat, sleep, and breathe a culture so different from my own was enlightening and more educational than words can possibly describe. While I took classes abroad, just living there taught me so much about myself and aided in my personal development.
Studying abroad taught me just how different similar people are. I often found myself wondering why Spaniards would stand so closely when they spoke or why Moroccans so often ate with their hands. At the same time, the energy at a sporting event or the embarrassment at karaoke night were all familiar to me. Being able to recognize and connect with people from other countries, and getting the answers to these why questions, opened my eyes in ways that can never be imitated.
The virtue I most appreciated while abroad was patience, because I needed a ton of it, especially when I was lost in Morocco. I don’t speak Arabic or French, the countries major languages and, with two other Americans, I found myself struggling to find a building within walking distance. The language barrier, in Morocco specifically, made me think of the vast amount of people in the United States who struggle on a daily basis with simple task such as asking for directions, solely because their mother language isn’t English. While I loved Spain, my stint in Morocco was more enlightening. I had little experience with practitioners of Islam, or countries in which Islam is the most practiced religion. The opportunity to see the world through their eyes was something I’ll never forget.
While abroad I had the opportunity to take a service learning class. I spent the semester teaching English to Spaniards who wanted to become more marketable or just wanted to improve their English skills. This conversation course gave me the opportunity to have relaxed conversations with Spaniards that taught me so much about both the country and myself. One comment that I’ll never forget is how rarely my students ate fast food. I had a student tell me he ate McDonalds once a month, I remember thinking how funny that was considering there have been weeks when I’ve eaten McDonalds once a day. The class also gave me a chance to leave my mark on people and the country. I felt like I did more than just show up, learn, and leave. I feel like I impacted.
Studying abroad is a feeling like no other. I recommend every single college student find a way to study abroad. Study abroad is about more than just the classes you take…it’s about people. It’s about growth, it’s about impact, it’s about finding yourself and never letting go. Right now I’m planning on studying abroad again because this is one addiction I will never kick.







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Articles from the Fall 2012 Newsletter

Cassy Castle, 2012 Cohort: 

If you asked me several months back how I would spend my summer, my very last answer would be that I planned on spending a month with twenty four complete strangers. I found myself feeling anxious and not knowing what to expect as I walked to the check-in table. That day, I had no idea that I would learn so much about myself and meet friends who would help me through the process.

I became increasingly interested in the fact that if I willingly applied what I learned to my life, I would become a stronger leader and confident in my growth as an individual. I struggled with my own vision of a leader, and soon realized that I had it all wrong. I learned to listen more than speak, and I worked to understand, rather than judge. I rediscovered what my values are and how they are active in my life, making me recognize the qualities of an authentic person.

We took part in various service projects in and near Bowling Green, including work with Metro Parks and Habitat for Humanity. Our service projects were mostly hands-on, and we worked with great effort to serve others.

Some of my favorite memories are the challenges we faced at Camp Heartland and Camp Palmer. The high-ropes course made me face my fears, and the wall showed me how I can help to encourage and strengthen others. Smiles shone and tears were shed, but overcoming those obstacles together created a bond so strong that the difference was hard to go unnoticed by those around us.

Not only did I learn valuable skills to be a better leader, I learned more about myself than I have in my entire life. I saw all of me for who I am – my strengths, weaknesses, flaws, talents – but the summer program taught me how to build upon those strengths and talents, while letting others step in for my weaknesses. Not only have I been blessed with wonderful cohort members and caring faculty, but I now have a PLAmily that will support my accomplishments, hold me up when I stumble, and accept me for who I am.

Celeste Smith, 2011 Cohort:

Coming into college, I was extremely nervous. I had preconceived notions about what to expect, one of them being that college is very hard and that basically you are on your own. While this may be the case for some, it is not one hundred percent true. The Sidney A. Ribeau President’s Leadership Academy has played a major role in my transition from high school to college, as well as contributing to my successful first year here at Bowling Green State University.

One of the major things that the PLA offers that helped me in my freshmen year of college is the fact that it is great for networking. Through the PLA, I have met some amazing, intelligent and ambitious individuals. Some of the friendships I have made have helped me through my first year and I know that some will be lifelong. These people I met have helped me when I needed it, motivated me when I was down, and have just been great friends. Had it not been for PLA, I probably would not know half of the people here on campus that I do now.

In addition to networking with my peers in PLA, the staff has also contributed to my great first year. They are always there with a helping hand and a listening ear. They show us tough love, which is needed with how serious college is, as well as how fun it can be. The one-on-one advising sessions with Dr. Snyder helped me in so many ways. When I felt stressed or overwhelmed, she was there to listen and tried to help in any way that she could.

The Summer Program that all incoming scholars are required to attend played a major role in helping my freshman year go by as smoothly as it did. While the Summer Program was one of the biggest assets to my successful first year, it was also my favorite part. It prepared me for the workload of college and also how to manage time, read syllabi, and become more familiar with the campus.  

Furthermore, study tables are what helped me academically. Study tables were required, so it was a set time for me to focus directly on my academics. It allowed me to get a lot of work done, which led to me earning a very high grade point average.

To conclude, PLA has helped me in so many ways during my first year. While the requirements may sometimes feel like a hassle, it is beneficial in the long run. I am truly thankful for this scholarship and the people in it, both my peers and the staff.

Greg Cherry, 2010 Cohort:

As a new member of the PLA in the fall of 2010, I knew that there was a lot for me to learn, a lot for me to do, and quite frankly, I was nervous and anxious about everything.  I had friends in PLA, I had friends outside of PLA, but I didn’t really have anyone at college that was older than me to just sit down and talk with about different things in life. Fortunately for me, the PLA has a program that provided me with that resource, and that program happened to be the PAL Program

We arrived in the Union for the PAL meeting.  My cohort was one part anxious and one part skeptical. We went into the room and saw the faces of the 2008 cohort, many of whom we did not recognize.  We did an activity where we had to find our mentor, and it was then that I was introduced to mine.  At that moment, I didn’t see how we could have anything in common, but afterwards, I realized there was much more than what met the eye.

During my first meeting with my pal, I realized how relaxed she was and how much we agreed on and thought alike on several topics of discussion.  She and I shared many laughs, many “real talks” and there are memories that I won’t forget.  We were both from different backgrounds, different upbringings, but yet were able to get along so well.  I thought that was the greatest thing about the program.  It brought together two initially unlike people, who, over time, realized they were much more alike than they thought.  We all knew that at the end of the day, we had an older member of the PLA that we could go to, and as a college freshman, that security is so vital to have.

Now I am a junior, and as the time draws closer for me to get my PAL, I’m more excited than anything.  One thing that the PLA has taught me  is that it’s such an amazing thing to have a mentor who is there to take you under their wing and guide you.  That’s what I want to be able to do for my PAL, and I know without a doubt, that they’ll teach me just as much as I teach them.  The new members need that guidance that only experience can provide, and us older members can be rejuvenated and revitalized by seeing how much excitement and energy the freshmen members have about college.  If you go into the program with a positive outlook and a willingness to learn and make a new friend, then it’s going to be a great adventure for you and something that you enjoy. 

Brionna Powell, 2009 Cohort:

The President’s Leadership Academy is a name that almost everyone on campus has heard of. The organization has taught me so much within the past three years and because of that, I am a completely different person then when I first entered college.


The final “exam” is the senior cohort being in charge of planning and executing the annual retreat planning process. Everything we have learned and all our experiences have shaped us for this overwhelming yet rewarding process. We began the planning back in January. It actually seems unreal that my fellow PLA scholars will be at an event completely planned by my cohort. The “unreal” feeling comes from knowing that until September 21, all of the hard work is only on paper, in the form of receipts, lesson plans, and tons of academic research. When we actually execute this retreat it will be “real” and others will benefit from what we have planned for them. We have great leadership based educational sessions that will allow my fellow PLA scholars to leave as better leaders and fun PLAmily bonding activities. I know this will be one of the best retreats because of the dedication my cohort has to the PLA and to planning the best events.

I would like to call this retreat our “baby”, we have carried it for nine months and soon we will be delivering the hard work that we have put into the planning process. I am pleased to say this will be a beautiful “baby”, one that I hope my peers will be in awe of for weeks, months, and even years later.



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