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Erica Bauer

Erica Bauer

Director of community relations , Chicago Bulls | Founder, Girl Power Songs | Class of 2010

That’s Erica Bauer — smiling, soon-to-be Ph.D — on the right, sharing a special moment with Dale Brashers, her beloved advisor and the then-head of the Department of Communication, after spring commencement 2010.

There's no more cherished photo in Bauer's collection, because of what would happen a month after it was taken.

"Dale passed away unexpectedly on July 5th, 2010. I defended my dissertation later that summer without him; his absence was felt," says Bauer, who went on to a career her mentor would surely be proud of — director of student engagement for Chicago Public Schools, director of community relations for the Chicago Bulls, founder of Girl Power Songs and self-described "artist, analyst and actionist" — all within a decade of earning her Ph.D.

"Following his death, John Caughlin, the current head of the Communication Department, found a gift card to a campus bookstore and decided to use it to purchase a graduation present for me that was, in effect, from Dale. John purchased a beautiful frame for my diploma.

"John presented this to me during my graduation dinner; I was blown away by his thoughtfulness and kindness."

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