The Rock, a 2-ton boulder that has been part of Lawrence University lore for 126 years, is being gifted to departing President Mark Burstein.
In searching for the perfect gift for a leader whose rock-solid leadership has helped guide Lawrence to new heights, the university community opted to follow the lead of Burstein’s previous employer. When he left Princeton University to join the Lawrence family eight years ago, Burstein was given small honed pieces of material that were used in the many building and landscape projects constructed and renovated during his nine-year tenure there. These pieces form a small square that resides on his desk in Sampson House.
It’s hoped he’ll proudly display The Rock in similar fashion as he leaves Lawrence and moves back east to begin a new adventure.
“I’ll need a bigger desk,” a gracious Burstein said. “Or David will have to design a garden with The Rock as a center point.”
Now it’ll go further east with a president who also is revered. The gift didn’t include a means of moving The Rock because of ongoing budget constraints. So, come June, volunteers, fully masked and following The Pledge, will be needed to hoist The Rock atop Burstein’s car for the 900-mile drive. A sign-up sheet can be found on the fifth floor of the Mudd Library in the Center for the Advancement and Study of Humor, Hijinx, and Fools.
Andrew J. Graff ’09 speaks of gratitude as he watches the buzz grow for his debut novel, Raft of Stars, released today by Ecco-HarperCollins.
Gratitude for his experience as an English major at Lawrence University, gratitude for the instruction and guidance that led to his acceptance into the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and gratitude for lessons in and out of the classroom that helped him keep his dream alive when the waters got rough.
“I’m thankful for it and just really enjoying everything that is happening,” Graff said.
Set in northern Wisconsin in the mid-1990s, Raft of Stars tells the story of two 10-year-old boys who flee the scene of a shooting and embark on a wild adventure through forests and along rivers while being pursued by law enforcement and family, all with varying motivations and conflicted histories.
The Boston Globe says Graff’s detailed landscape and harrowing tale of boys on the lam has echoes of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn while neatly finding its own path: “The art and craft of this narrative, apparent from the first page with its sublime constellations of images, offers brutal beauty, the glinting edge of truth, and the possibility of redemption for the fifth-grade boys, and also for the adults chasing them.”
The excitement surrounding the book’s release comes six years after Graff found himself at a daunting crossroads.
Before embarking on Raft of Stars, Graff had spent seven years writing a novel that was set in post-9/11 Afghanistan, where he had been deployed as an aircraft mechanic with the U.S. Air Force. He began it while a student at Lawrence and continued with it as he earned his master’s degree at Iowa.
He was back living in northern Wisconsin when his agent sent it to publishers. Graff eagerly awaited the offers.
“I thought, boy, here I come world,” he said. “And no one wanted it. No one. It was pretty unanimous.”
It was the rejection that his professors warned him would come. He remembers Lawrence English professor David McGlynn, himself an accomplished author, telling him that if you’re talented, passionate, and diligent, you can find literary success but it will most likely take 10 years or more. Embrace patience and hard work, McGlynn told him.
And yet there was no bracing for the rejection of seven years’ worth of work, Graff said.
He stopped writing for a year and a half.
But then it was the voice of McGlynn in his head that brought him back and ignited the spark that would become Raft of Stars.
It was late 2014 or early 2015, in the dead of winter, and Graff and his wife, Heidi Quist Graff ’10, were living in an old house on the banks of the Peshtigo River. Graff had started a teaching job at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.
As he rummaged through boxes in the basement, he came upon an old college assignment from McGlynn.
“I wasn’t writing,” Graff recalled. “I had failed at being a novelist, you know. I was lighting fires in the wood stove in my basement, and I was using old notes from college to light the fire. I had saved every single note and every handout from my time in college. I was hoping I would do something great with them but I ended up lighting fires in wintertime. I was about to put this one essay into the fire; it was called The Nature and Aim of Fiction by Flannery O’Connor. I remembered how much David loved that essay. So, I didn’t burn it and I set it aside instead.
“In the essay, Flannery O’Connor says it takes three sensory strokes to bring something fully to life on the page, like smell, taste, and touch. That night is when I wrote the first lines of what later would become Raft of Stars. I just wrote about two boys pushing their bikes down a gravel road and there was a blackbird hanging onto a cattail stalk and there were some bees in the ditch clover. I didn’t know who those boys were and I didn’t know where they were headed, but they are Bread and Fish, the two boys from Raft of Stars.”
Thus began a five-year journey that would land Graff a book contract with Ecco-HarperCollins in mid-2019.
“I felt like I had mourned the first book long enough and I knew I still wanted to write, and these boys seemed interesting to me,” Graff said. “So, once I got to know them and watch them kind of ride their bikes around town a little bit and light off firecrackers in silos, I thought, yea, there’s something here. And eventually the story formed, the drama came in, it became apparent that one boy had an abusive father and the other, his friend, would do something very big and drastic to rescue him. At that point, I felt like the story had enough pressure to get them deep into the wilderness, especially once the adult cast of characters came onto the scene.”
A journey of his own
Raft of Stars is set in a space Graff knows well. He grew up in Niagara, a rural city of 1,600 located near the Menominee River in Marinette County. He hunted, fished, and explored amid the beauty of the Northwoods, landscape that would become central to his story of the two runaway boys as they navigate terrain that is both dangerous and soothing.
Graff enlisted in the Air Force shortly after graduating from high school. When the attacks of 9/11 happened, life took an abrupt turn. He was deployed to Afghanistan.
“I just remember how surreal it was, to be sort of dropped off at this desert combat airfield,” Graff said. “We worked at nighttime, catching C-130s, these inbound cargo jets, to see if they needed any maintenance.”
After four years of service, he moved to Appleton and enrolled at Fox Valley Technical College to train to be a paramedic.
He was being practical, he said. But he couldn’t shake the feeling that he wasn’t where he was supposed to be. He yearned to be a writer. He’d drive past Lawrence and wonder what might be.
“After a year at Fox Valley Tech, which was a great start and I’m thankful for that place, it just became really clear that I have to do this,” Graff said.
He applied to Lawrence as a 22-year-old non-traditional student, got in, and immediately impressed. McGlynn, who joined the Lawrence faculty in Graff’s sophomore year, said the talent was noticeable, even if his writing at that point was a bit “young.” When he turned in an essay about a moment during his time in the Air Force, McGlynn said he could see Graff’s confidence growing.
“He began to believe he could become a writer and set his sights on graduate school,” McGlynn said.
“He called me the day Raft of Stars sold, in July of 2019, and it was a big moment for us both,” McGlynn said of Graff. “His work is a testimony to the fact that inspired, artful writing happens over time and is not the product of a flash of genius or a single good idea. A Lawrence student might not publish a novel while a student, but our record shows that something foundational is happening here. They begin the long journey toward the larger goal.”
Graff, now on the English faculty at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, said he’s thinking frequently of his Lawrence experience as he savors the excitement surrounding the book’s release.
“Without Lawrence, I wouldn’t be writing, hands down,” Graff said. “It was an interest of mine. I loved books; I always loved reading; I loved daydreaming. But it was at Lawrence where I thought, yes, I really want to try this. I got so much guidance from professors like David McGlynn and (former Lawrence professor) Faith Barrett and others that I couldn’t have done it without those years. It was absolutely informative.”
Graff said he will join one of McGlynn’s virtual classes as a guest during Spring Term. And, if pandemic protocols allow, he’ll pay a visit to campus in October when he’s back in Appleton to participate in the Fox Cities Book Festival.
Graff said he’ll happily share with viewers what he took from his time at Lawrence, the joy of getting into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the hard work from then to now. And he’ll speak to the emotions that overwhelmed him on that summer day in 2019 when his agent told him the book had sold.
“It was raining that day and I was parked on the side of the road, and after the phone call I just sat in my pickup truck and cried,” Graff said. “It felt really sweet. I spent seven years working on the first book and five years working on this one. I thought, oh boy, if this one doesn’t sell, I will start again, but it’ll be hard. I’m thankful for every bit of attention the book is getting. It’s been pure fun.”
Three recent Lawrence grads talk about anxieties, changed plans, delayed successes as they job-hunted in the time of COVID
Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications
Launching into a post-college career is no easy thing in the best of times. Now do it amid a global pandemic, the job market suddenly fractured, travel frowned upon, interviews only by Zoom, the family’s basement turned into a makeshift workspace.
“There are six of us in the house working or studying,” said De Andre King ’20, who pursued software engineering jobs from the basement of his family’s New York City home in the months following his June 2020 graduation from Lawrence University. “It meant stuffing a towel under the door to make sure no noise was coming into the room while I was doing the interview. I had to position my table to where the water meter behind me wasn’t showing. It took a lot of planning.”
King is far from alone, of course. We’re closing in on a year since COVID-19 complicated things for new and soon-to-be graduates, adding urgency to the work of Lawrence’s Career Center and importance to connections forged with the school’s alumni.
In some ways, strange as it might sound, the pandemic has lowered the temperature a bit on the pressure to land that perfect job out of school, said Grace Kutney, associate director of the Career Center.
“What I hear from a lot of students, and one of the reasons their shoulders are so tense, is that they feel like they are doing something wrong if they give themselves permission to explore during that first year or two after graduation,” she said. “But I think because of the pandemic, people kind of knew things were going to be weird. I think their families understood that things were going to be weird. And there was the anticipation of bracing themselves for it. … So, it takes a pandemic to be, ‘Oh, it’s OK to find something that is maybe short term.’ But if you look at the statistics nationally, taking a position for a year or two and then shifting to something else is normal; it’s totally normal.”
With that backdrop, we caught up with three recent Lawrence graduates, all of whom leaned heavily on the Career Center and other campus resources as they navigated these uncertain days before landing jobs. Their journeys are all different, but with some shared threads.
^ ^ ^
De Andre King ’20: “It took me a little while to pick myself back up”
King was in Atlanta in early March for the fourth and final round of interviews for an internship with a music company, a software engineering position the computer science major believed would set him on his post-college path.
He nailed the interview. Then everything came crashing down.
The recruiter pulled him aside with a warning. The spread of COVID-19, having recently arrived in the United States, was exploding. The internship was about to be nixed.
“Literally, that world for me was ending,” King said. “And then to check back into reality and see that the world as we know it was possibly ending as well, it was really tough. I was really, really banking on that opportunity. In all of my job-searching experiences, it was something down to the T what I wanted to do.”
He returned to Appleton just as Lawrence was announcing that it would be going to remote classes for Spring Term, and King joined his fellow seniors in scrambling to say goodbyes and honor their college experiences while taking finals amid chaos and tears.
“I wasn’t even able to be fully present for those moments because I was so worried about what was going to happen next,” King said. “Once that opportunity in Atlanta fell through, I was down and out. I’m not going to lie; I was really disappointed and it took me a little while to pick myself back up and keep going. I think I took two or three weeks off before starting back on my job search.”
After going home to New York, he reconnected with the team at Lawrence’s Career Center. Kutney would help guide him through an all-out blitz of job applications, making new connections with alumni, updating application materials, and identifying opportunities that were shifting by the day as companies tried to make sense of life in the pandemic.
“It wasn’t starting from the ground up again, but more so making a pivot and seeing what worked and what didn’t work up to that point,” King said.
He worked through his resume and application letters with Kutney. He circled back with Michelle Cheney, his former advisor in the Career Center who had moved to a position in the Annual Giving office. He reconnected with Cory Nettles ’92, a Lawrence trustee who had been a mentor to him, picking his brain on networking and other skills. He talked with Gary Vaughan, coordinator of Lawrence’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship program, who had been an important conduit to the Atlanta interviews.
“In the earlier search, I was more specifically looking toward the music industry and the music tech industry,” King said. “But after that opportunity fell through, I widened my scope of industries to look into.
“Michelle and then Grace, they were amazing. They took the time to really review each of my materials — my cover letter, my resume, my LinkedIn, my Handshake profile. They also provided me with the tools that helped me manage my time better.”
In all, King sent out about 200 applications.
His efforts eventually led him to Bloomberg LP, where he landed a job in October as a software engineer with the media company’s Princeton, New Jersey office. In November, the Wall Street Journal featured him in a story about the hard work of job searches in the pandemic.
King, still working from the family’s basement, has yet to set foot in the Bloomberg office, but he hopes it’ll happen soon.
“I drove past it one day but I haven’t been inside yet,” he said. “Yea, I’m looking forward to going into the office.”
^ ^ ^
Maria Poimenidou ’20: “You can fall into a spiral of worries”
Poimenidou has been in Houston since mid-September, working as a research assistant for the Experimental Therapeutics Department in Cancer Medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Like King, the pandemic not only added new levels of stress to the job search, it also delayed the process.
“While I was hoping that by graduation I would know exactly where I would be, my interviews and job offers were all pushed back until after graduation,” Poimenidou said. “There is a lot of uncertainty that comes with that and you can fall into a spiral of worries, but the way I adapted to everything was by becoming more flexible.”
She leaned even harder into her Lawrence experience and the resources in the Career Center.
“One of the most valuable lessons you get out of Lawrence is learning how to be flexible and open-minded,” said Poimenidou, a biochemistry and economics double major. “While I waited for my job offers to come back, I reached out to alumni and applied for different unpaid internships that were not directly tied to the job sector I was interested in. I was fortunate to be able to take on an unpaid internship and grateful to receive two job offers by the end of the summer, one in Chicago and one in Houston.”
Advice from Kutney and Cheney was helpful, she said, keeping her focused on her priorities while letting go of things she couldn’t control.
“Both Michelle and Grace were more than just career advisors, they were life coaches,” Poimenidou said.
Her job interviews were all virtual, which Poimenidou said she found oddly comforting.
“To be honest, I enjoyed the virtual aspect of the application process because in a way it felt more personable,” she said. “I had interviews with people that were in their homes and I was in mine, where I could hear their dog bark or some commotion in the background. It felt less intimidating and I actually had amazing, easy-going conversations.”
^ ^ ^
Hoa Huynh ’19: “I’ve become much more comfortable in networking”
Huynh is set to begin a new job as a finance trainee with ING in the Netherlands in April. It follows a just-concluded internship with a small U.S. company based in Amsterdam, an internship she landed after the pandemic put her post-Lawrence plans in disarray.
An economics major at Lawrence, she had wanted to add another internship to her resume. She began looking to large companies, exploring data analytics, finance, and marketing opportunities. That all changed as the pandemic arrived, shutting down hiring at many companies.
“I did a lot of reflection about myself and talked to many people, including peers who were also struggling in the pandemic and those who already succeeded in job applications,” Huynh said.
She reconnected with the Career Center and zeroed in on the finance field, where she already had some experience.
“I diversified the types of companies and applied to smaller businesses and startups,” she said. “After changing strategy, I finally got the internship.”
That led to the opportunity at ING, a multinational banking and finance company. Without the internship and the added experience, it would not have happened, she said, noting that she’d been rebuffed by ING prior to the internship.
“I think the pandemic has definitely made the job search more competitive than before, especially at the beginning when companies were also struggling with changes the pandemic posed,” Huynh said. “I had to adjust my goals.
“More importantly, I had to be even more active in networking to build connections and gain more insights, to make sure that I could prepare the best resume and cover letters. Thanks to networking skills that Grace taught me during my time at Lawrence, I’ve become much more comfortable in networking and reaching out to people, and that hugely helped me land the traineeship at ING.”
Huynh said she now hears herself echoing the lessons she learned via Kutney and the Career Center as she talks with peers who are launching job searches during the pandemic.
“Try to build connections, deepen the connections, and don’t be afraid to show that you’re vulnerable,” Huynh said. “For those who are intimidated by networking, like I was in college, think of it simply as asking about other people’s experiences and information; they would love to share that with you.”
The pandemic is hammering home the important connections Lawrence students and recent graduates have in the Career Center, where Career Communities, Viking Connect and other recent innovations have improved life after Lawrence planning.
Numbers from Lawrence’s 2020 class are not in yet, but Kutney said of the 2019 graduates, 95% are employed or continuing in their education. That is just shy of the 97% average over the past five years, which is good news in a pandemic that started eight months after that class graduated.
Mike O’Connor, the Riaz Waraich Dean for the Career Center & Center for Community Engagement and Social Change, said he was seeing an influx of student interaction even before the pandemic hit. It continues to grow. In September, more than 250 first-year students attended a Career Center orientation, and 150 first-year students paid follow-up visits, an all-time high.
The Career Center’s Instagram account, where important career planning and job search information is shared, has seen an increase of nearly 700 student followers since fall 2019.
“What I say to students in the pandemic is, be prepared to pivot to industries that are hiring,” O’Connor said. “Many are surging. Think tech, health care, even education. Related to that is skill-building for those opportunities. There are tons of ways to approach this, including remote opportunities and internships. And build your network; that is so key. Colleges with ready-to-tap alumni mentors and contacts are super valuable.”
Those conversations are becoming more frequent in the pandemic, Kutney said. The message is often about staying calm and focusing on the next steps.
She talks to students about not stressing over the perfect job. Is the short-term need to earn a certain amount of money? Is the need to gain experience in a particular area? Is the need to be in a particular geographic area?
“In an ideal world, the position would fill all of those things,” Kutney said. “But right now, in a pandemic, that might not be the case. So, we’re really encouraging them to give themselves permission to go, ‘This is what I’m focusing on for this season of time, and then I can shift.’ That’s part of releasing from their shoulders this burden that they have to have it all figured out before June.”
Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: email@example.com
The 56th annual Great Midwest Trivia Contest thrived over the weekend in its first all-digital edition.
Forced to make changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team of trivia masters led by Head Master Grace Krueger ’21 stayed true to many of the weird and beloved traditions that have been part of the contest for five and a half decades. Bizarre questions that focus on information searches, useless prizes, nods to the contest’s history, and interactions between players and trivia masters all lived on.
“All in all, the weekend went fantastically well,” Krueger said. “Despite some hiccups that are always going to happen with the adaption of new technology and the restrictions we were under this year, the contest was a complete success and we are so proud of what we pulled off.”
For a wider sampling of the 2021 trivia contest, see this playlist.
With the WLFM studio unavailable and trivia masters socially distanced, the contest was held on Twitch. The action questions were all virtual and players called in answers via a virtual phone line on a Discord server.
“Teams adapted to all the changes this year so well, and we want to thank them for learning with us,” Krueger said.
What, if any, changes will be rolled into the traditional format next year will be at the direction of Riley Newton ’22, who was announced as the head master for the 2022 contest.
Despite going all-digital and teams not being able to gather together per usual, this year’s contest remained a big draw. It drew 77 off-campus teams and 14 on-campus teams, featuring a total of 551 players.
Here are the winning teams (yes, the tradition of long and strange names continued):
1: Team 3, At this point, Why not trust an Aquarius Microwaving and Peeling and why IS [REDACTED] ON FIRE-oh yes, YES, Flambéing and society of bones and pyromaniacs (owo) cinematic Universe (TM). The previous name has burst into flames; like a phoenix from the ashes has risen as a virgo: 1,650
2: Team 1, The Gaming House Special Featuring the Nipples of Knowledge: 1,415
3: Team 6, joe and ethan funtime bonanza team: 1,315
1: Team 135, Delguigi: 1,710
2: Team 112, are you the onesie #comfycrew: 1,665
3: Team 106, Hobgoblin of Little Minds: This One is for Sheila: 1,650
The Super Garuda was among the traditions that continued. The Super Garuda is annually a weirdly obscure question that serves as the final question of the weekend and then as the first question of the following year’s contest. Here’s your head start for 2022:
Q: The person who installed Pepsi machines on set played a Prohibition agent in a black-and-white film where Peter sets out to prove that he isn’t a boob. The title of this silent comedy is a featured comical word in a 2018 linguistics paper published by Canadian university researchers. A building at this university is named after a man whose last name is the first name of an actor who played a one-eyed man in a movie once described as having “all the appeal of a seaweed sandwich.” In this building, there is a large room on the mechanical floor directly below 2A2. In the southwest corner of the room, a red, graffiti-covered beam crosses the path near a door. A message is written on the wall next to the beam informing the reader of their odor. What, according to the author, do you smell like?
(It was answered correctly by Team 142: Beedough Beedough Beedough.)
Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About this series: Lighting the Way With … is a periodic series in which we shine a light on Lawrence University alumni. Today we catch up with Tom Coben ’12, a motion graphics artist whose work in the past week has been viewed more than 5 million times.
Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications
Nearly a decade after leaving Lawrence University with a growing portfolio of 3D graphics and other visual effects, Tom Coben ’12 has gone viral.
Well, his creative skills have gone viral, if not his name.
A freelance motion graphics and visual effects artist in the Twin Cities, Coben hooked up earlier this month with the creative team of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! They were looking for an artist who could animate statues dancing and singing for a video they were making to mark the end of the Trump presidency.
Coben delivered 14 shots of statues, monuments, and paintings that became the heart of the video – the Statue of Liberty, the faces on Mt. Rushmore, the statue of Martin Luther King Jr., among them – all in full celebration mode. Jimmy Kimmel, the host of the late-night talk show, posted the video late last week, and it quickly bounced around social media, racking up more than 5 million views on YouTube in the first four days.
“I sent a sample video of the Statue of Liberty dancing as a proof-of-concept on spec and they hired me for the bit,” Coben said. “We used a type of motion-capture technique where they filmed an actor with facial tracking markers and I used that information to apply the facial motions to the different sculptures and paintings.”
From there, he watched the final product roll out, and the social media shares and video views quickly grow, all in the days following the Jan. 20 inauguration of President Joe Biden.
Between social media and TV views, it’s the widest his work has been seen. But Coben said he did have one other brush with the power of the internet when Will Smith shared on his Instagram account an animation Coben made of a robot bowling. That got him a ton of exposure and some new freelance work, which is always a good thing.
“But this Kimmel video is definitely the most amount of attention any of my work has had,” he said.
It started at Lawrence
Coben first got a taste for motion graphics and 3D visual effects while studying at Lawrence.
An environmental studies major, Coben developed an interest in animation and 3D artistry. Lawrence’s Film Studies program was launching just as Coben was graduating. He was able to put together a self-directed film/animation-related minor.
“One of my favorite experiences at Lawrence was during the summer after my sophomore year when I got the opportunity to travel to the Philippines for five weeks with my advisor, (Associate Professor of Biology) Jodi Sedlock,” Coben said. “She knew I was interested in film production and asked if I would come and produce a short documentary about cave-roosting bat species and conservation of cave ecosystems on the island of Siquijor. Besides just being rad as hell, that experience helped me get a job the following summer at the Smithsonian National Zoo making promotional videos for their YouTube channel, filming the different exhibits.”
Then during his senior year, Coben took an intermediate sculpture class with Rob Neilson, the Frederick R. Layton Professor of Studio Art and professor of art, and was given the green light to focus on using 3D software to create digital sculptures that he would incorporate into footage taken around campus.
It got wonderfully weird. There was a supersized octopus clinging to the cupola atop Main Hall. And snow goons waging a battle on the snow-covered campus green.
Neilson said he recalls Coben taking to heart the prompt he gave to the class at the outset of the term: “Construct a sculptural piece in any medium you choose that somehow closes — or exists within — the gap between art and life and addresses sculpture as a ‘thing’ in all its ‘objectness’.” Coben chose to use 3D modeling and video, and Neilson said he was all in.
“My approach to teaching art has always been: Sculpture can be anything we, the students and I, collaboratively decide it is,” Neilson said. “While I certainly love to ‘make things;’ to me sculpture is more about ideas than objects. Indeed, this is the fundamental beauty of sculpture; its ability to carry and convey meaning through material — even if the material is bits and bytes in a computer. Otherwise, it’s just an object.”
Coben took that approach and ran with it. He’s still running with it.
“After I graduated, I used some of those animations along with some other personal work to put together a reel, which got me my first few freelance jobs out of college,” Coben said. “After that I worked at a small video production company for about three years before deciding to get back into freelance animation, which I have been doing for the past five years.”
Much of his work is with local clients in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market, doing 3D product renderings, motion graphics for commercials and online marketing videos, and visual effects for music videos.
He’s also designing custom 3D-printed sculptures, selling them on Etsy under the name Tomforgery3D.
“They’re based on the classics but I’ve screwed with them to make them more absurd,” he said.
It might not draw the 5 million views of a Kimmel video, but it’s interesting, challenging, and creative work, Coben said.
“I had a lot of very cool opportunities at Lawrence and I can honestly say that I don’t think I’d be doing what I am doing today if my professors hadn’t given me the ability to pursue my interests with as much freedom as they did,” he said.
One of the great joys in the Communications office is being able to catch up with Lawrence alumni who are shining their light brightly along whatever paths their journeys have taken them.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have canceled our 2020 Reunion weekend, but over the course of the year we had the chance to talk with and write about many amazing Lawrentians, graduating as far back as 1954 and as recently as 2019.
Here are eight who caught our attention in our second annual Eight Alumni, Eight Stories end-of-year feature.
If you haven’t read these stories, we invite you to do so now. See story links below.
_ _ _
Jack Nilles ’54
Living amidst Los Angeles’ traffic congestion, Nilles floated the wild idea that employees could be productive working from home or in neighborhood offices instead of commuting to corporate headquarters. This was in the early 1970s. He studied it. He wrote books about it. He was called the father of telecommuting. But corporate America mostly shrugged. Then, in 2020, when the pandemic sent employees en masse to home offices, people started paying attention. “I keep saying lately, ‘after 48 years, I’m an overnight success,’” Nilles said.
Like many in the arts world, Hopkins found her livelihood at a standstill when the pandemic hit in the spring. The operator of Yahara River Woodwinds, an instrument-repair shop in Stoughton, Wisconsin, Hopkins quickly learned that musicians don’t need instruments repaired when much of the music world has shut down. She quickly pivoted and began making masks, which led to requests for specially made masks that music students could wear while practicing and performing. When her alma mater reached out, Hopkins, already overwhelmed with orders from around the country, agreed to teach students in the Theater Department Costume Shop to create the masks. Those masks are now being worn by students across the Conservatory.
A biology major while at Lawrence, Weston credits his work in the classroom and as a leader in Student Life with preparing him for the lead role he’s taken in battling the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides teaching at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, working two shifts a week in the emergency department at Froedtert Hospital, and serving as the Office of Emergency Management’s director of medical services for Milwaukee County, Weston has taken on the temporary role of medical director of the Milwaukee area’s COVID-19 Unified Emergency Operations Center. To say the least, he’s had a busy year.
Even before he graduated from Lawrence in June 2019, Fam had himself a job offer as a software engineer at Disney+. The streaming service hadn’t yet launched, but the buzz was huge. It’s not often you step from the stage at Commencement and immediately land in the midst of one of the most talked about media developments in the world. When it launched, Disney+ had 10 million sign-ups the first day, 29 million in the first three months, and a new bankable star in Baby Yoda. Fam was part of the team that made it all happen.
See 2019 edition of Eight Alumni, Eight Stories here.
Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: email@example.com
It’s been a different sort of year. The COVID-19 pandemic certainly altered life on the Lawrence campus.
But one thing proved true. Lawrentians (and future Lawrentians and friends of Lawrence) are hungry to read about Lawrence and their fellow Lawrentians. We’ve dived into the analytics to share today the most viewed stories of 2020 on the Lawrence news site. (A few of the stories that placed in the top 20 are partnered here because they are so closely related.)
Eight alumni, eight stories: See 2020 edition here.
From voice professor John Holiday’s success on NBC’s The Voice to Lawrence again being hailed as a world-class school to adjustments made to campus life in the midst of a pandemic, there was no shortage of Lawrence news that drew a lot of interest. We provide here links to those most popular stories. Check out what you missed or take another look at stories that remind us of what makes Lawrence shine.
1. John Holiday hits big on NBC’s The Voice.
“There are people who dare to dream bigger than themselves; they never stop learning, never stop growing. I wanted to show my students what that looked like.” See stories here and here.
2. Princeton Review names Lawrence one of nation’s Best Impact schools.
“I see it and hear it when I meet with our alumni around the world. They point back to their time at Lawrence as unlocking something for them, discovering an interest or talent they didn’t know they had until they started working with professors here who helped guide them in that discovery.” See story here.
3. We say farewell to beloved Lawrentians.
“I will always remember Lifongo as the warmest, kindest, and most generous, joyful, and magnanimous of colleagues and friends.” … “I know many Lawrentians join me in remembering moments when Terry’s advice provided exactly what you needed to hear to be the best version of yourself.” See stories here and here.
4. Campus life changes amid COVID-19 pandemic.
“All of us living, learning, and working on campus this fall need to understand and to honor the responsibilities outlined by the Pledge.” See storieshereandhere.
5. A professor’s guide offers look at Freshman Studies.
“The entire list shows a remarkable range and an admirable ambition.” See story here.
6. New trestle trail adds to trails, parks near campus.
“The abandoned railroad trestle has been transformed into a 10-foot-wide trail that spans the Fox River at the southern edge of campus.” See story here.
7. Bidding good-bye for now to retiring faculty.
“You have served as a steadying force, stepping into a host of academic leadership positions that have lent stability in moments of uncertainty and grace in times of worry.” See story here.
8. Six faculty earn tenure.
“I’m absolutely delighted that their contributions are being recognized through the awarding of tenure and promotion, and look forward to continuing together our rich, rewarding work for years to come.” See story here.
9. Jake Woodford ’13 elected mayor of Appleton.
“It has been a pleasure to watch Jake’s energy turn toward the city he loves.” See story here.
10. Princeton Review names Lawrence to Best Colleges list.
“As we head into another academic year, albeit one that looks different from any other in history, it’s reassuring to see that some things have remained the same.” See story here.
11. President Mark Burstein announces plans to leave Lawrence.
“During Mark’s tenure, our curricular offerings became deeper and broader, applications and the endowment increased dramatically, and our community became more diverse, inclusive, and equity-minded.” See story here.
12. Lawrence offers assistance during pandemic.
“We have always risen to the challenges that face us with resilience and ingenuity.” See story here.
13. Conservatory named ‘hidden gem,’ adapts to life in pandemic.
“It’s beautiful, creative flexibility. We’re working with our students all the time to say, ‘This is what you’re going to need out there in the world, and this is what’s going to be exciting about being a musician in the world today.’” See story here.
14. Natasha Tretheway named 2020 Commencement speaker.
“Our journeys have been intertwined since I visited Lawrence four years ago, and I am delighted and honored to be able to reconnect with this class in such a meaningful way.” See story here.
“One of the really, really cool things about my time at Lawrence was that the boundary between the Conservatory and the college is pretty permeable.” See story here.
16. Lawrence adds major in Creative Writing, minor in Statistics and Data Science.
“We’ve seen more prospective students articulating their desire to focus directly on creative writing.” … “Data scientists are working with bioinformatics, genetics; it’s huge in economics, and it’s become a huge thing in political science.” See story here.
17. Four alumni added to Board of Trustees.
“At this critical moment for higher education, I couldn’t be more appreciative for the diverse group of individuals who are giving so much of their time and talent as trustees to ensure that the college continues to distinguish and differentiate itself.” See story here.
18. Alexander Gym court gets a redesign.
“While resurfacing was certainly a maintenance requirement, the fresh new design work is an added bonus.” See story here.
19. Our 2020 Alumni Awards are announced.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down the annual Reunion celebration, this year’s recipients are still being celebrated for their contributions to both the Lawrence community and the world.” See story here.
20. Alex Damisch ’16 cherishes her Jeopardy experience.
“After I taped the shows, I thought to myself, ‘Man, it went by so fast, and I was always so focused on my next move, I hope I remembered to smile.’ Spoiler alert: I did not.” See story here.
Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The words read like heartfelt letters to an old friend.
For 50 years, Lawrence University students have been trekking to the London Centre for a term or two of study in one of the world’s most iconic cities. Launched in 1970, it has stood as part of the Lawrence experience for five decades, an extension of the Appleton campus that continues to make London the No. 1 destination for the university’s study abroad program. Lawrentians have studied at London Centre with British and visiting professors, soaked in London’s rich history, forged new friendships, and explored Europe in a myriad of ways.
So, we wondered aloud if that London experience — 50 years ago or as recently as last year or any of the years between — continues to impact and inform the lives of our alumni. Does the love endure? Spoiler alert: It does.
“I fell in love with everything — the museums, the people, and the classes that introduced me to famous monuments and hidden gems,” said Nicole Witmer ’19, who spent the spring terms of 2018 and 2019 in London. “I loved it so much that I decided to spend my last term at Lawrence at the London Centre, this time pursuing an internship at a publishing house. That internship led me to my first career out of school, and now I’m back in London pursuing my master’s.”
Sounds familiar, say those who came before. Digging through memories from five decades earlier, the first of the Lawrentians to study at London Centre, now in their 70s and mostly retired, speak with similar reverence.
It was, they said, love at first sight.
“Was not sure what to expect,” said Doug Kohrt ’71, who studied in Arden Hotel with the first cadre of London Centre students in the summer and fall of 1970. “It was hotel living with a shared bath down the hall and no eating facilities in the room. We were furnished breakfast but we were otherwise on our own. This was the time before computers and we had to rent typewriters to write term papers. But travel was inexpensive and student airline tickets were used for weekend trips throughout Europe. Many of our group spent nights taking in West End plays, musicals, concerts and days studying or exploring London. … My London experience was a life-changing event.”
Same for Kevin Fenner ’72, who went a year later, spending the summer and fall of 1971 at the London Centre, the first time he had left the United States. “It was the best experience of my young life,” he said. “It was an experience that could never be repeated. The London Centre changed my life.”
Photo flashback: Clockwise from top left: Professor F. Theodore Cloak is seen in the Fall of 1970 at Arden Hotel, the first home of London Centre (photo courtesy of Dave Mitchell ’71); Julie Panke ‘71 and Virginia Danielson ’71, among the first students at London Centre in 1970, settle in on a ferry from Harwich en route to Amsterdam. (Photo courtesy of Julie Panke ’71); Jim Bode ’71, Jim Geiser ’71, and Dave Mitchell ’71 were among the first Lawrentians to study at London Centre in 1970. (Photo courtesy of Dave Mitchell); a picnic is enjoyed in Kensington Gardens in spring of 1980 (photo courtesy of Alison Ames Galstad ’82).
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Sense a theme?
The dozens of alumni who responded to our effort to mark the 50th anniversary of London Centre spoke of following the trails of literary heroes and theater icons, of visiting grand museums and historic halls, of studying European history on the very streets where it all happened, of exploring British cuisine and taste, of chasing adventures across Europe, and of redirecting in so many ways their global focus.
Many spoke of their London memories, no matter how distant, as being among the fondest of their lifetimes, whether their London home was in Arden Hotel (1970-80) or 7 Brechin Place (1994-2009) or the current location on Great Russell Street in the heart of Bloomsbury (2018 to present) or any of a number of other locations that housed the London Centre through the years.
Find more information on Lawrence’s London Centre here.
Lezlie Weber, director of off-campus programs at Lawrence, said reaching the 50-year milestone is no small thing. It speaks to Lawrence’s commitment to international study.
“Study abroad tends to be a transformative part of a student’s experience at Lawrence,” she said. “Alumni mention the London Centre as a defining part of their undergraduate years, building their confidence and contributing to their career paths. The London Centre allows students to use London itself as a classroom for experiential learning and academic coursework.”
On average, the London Centre draws between 30 and 50 Lawrence students per year spread over three terms, some spending one term there and others two terms. It operates as a closed academic program for Lawrence, much of it focused on the history and culture of England. Lawrence students in their second year and beyond are eligible for the London program, and in recent years internship opportunities have become plentiful.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put in-person studies at London Centre temporarily on pause, although five courses were offered virtually during Fall Term. The most recent group of students were there in Winter Term, when concerns about the spread of the virus in Europe resulted in hectic exits in early March.
London Centre instructor Christine Hoenigs taught two virtual theater courses, Diversity on the London Stage and Shakespeare in London. While theater students would normally visit a theater and see a production each week, she used high quality recordings of shows in London and Stratford-upon-Avon, as well as Q&As and interviews, to bring students closer to the vibrant London theater scene.
“I thoroughly enjoy working with students in smaller groups this term,” Hoenigs said. “Although, like all of my colleagues, we miss having students in London and wish we could work with them here. But I am hopeful that students will be returning to the London Centre next year and we can show them what this beautiful, indestructible city has to offer.”
FRIENDSHIP AND COMMUNITY
The current London Centre location encompasses several buildings in the Bloomsbury neighborhood, with easy access to Covent Garden, the West End, and Soho. The living quarters, equipped with modern amenities and shared spaces, may be a bit more spacious then some early London Centre students recall, but the communal nature of the experience remains the same — friendships and adventures will happen here.
“I grew very close to the other Lawrence students at the Centre as all seven of us lived in one flat,” said Sarah Wells ’20, who spent the spring of 2019 in London. “Some days we would be teaching each other how to cook. Other days we would go exploring for food together in the Bloomsbury neighborhood or at a street market.”
“The faculty and staff at the London Centre really encouraged a strong sense of community in the house, and living in London with its diverse history and culture was a positive way to get a new perspective on life,” said Katie Brown ’04, who arrived in London in need of a new outlook and found it at 7 Brechin Place. “This experience really helped me through a difficult time and was very influential on who I have become.”
Lawrence announced in late 1969 the coming launch of London Centre. A news release hailed it as an expansion of the Lawrence experience. Lawrence students were all in from the get-go, and the momentum quickly grew.
No matter which location housed London Centre at the time, the alumni spoke of the value that comes with experiencing the surroundings. The original location was literally in a hotel. Located in the Earls Court neighborhood, Arden Hotel included a private classroom but residential spaces had students mingled amid the hotel guests. Despite its limitations, it proved to be a worthy home for the program’s first 10 years.
“A terrific group of students, many of whom are among my closest friends today,” recalled Dave Mitchell ’71, who was part of the first wave in the summer and fall of 1970. “Vivid memories of our group huddled in front of the black and white TV on Sunday evenings watching ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus.’ … Shepherd’s pie and warm ale for lunch at the Devonshire Arms.”
“The semester was packed with things to do,” said George Stalle ’75, who studied in London in Fall Term of 1974. “Concerts at the South Bank Concert Halls, a Proms concert at Royal Albert Hall and singing ‘God Save the Queen.’ … Not enough time in the day to enjoy everything.”
CHASING HISTORY, DROPPING NAMES
For many Lawrentians, the London experience means crossing paths with historical figures in a way that can’t be replicated in books or in Google searches. It’s being immersed in a theater scene that brings you inside historic performance spaces and lets you soak in the wonder and power of the arts in Europe. It’s seeing and touching traditions that date back centuries.
Lawrence faculty come to London as visiting professors, providing a chance to teach in a new locale, immerse themselves in the London experience, and forge bonds with students that resonate well beyond the classroom. Alumni decades removed from their London studies still speak glowingly of those relationships.
“One of our assignments in Professor (William) Chaney’s London class was to pick a town and try to write up the history of it, but without going to a library,” said Christopher Lynch ’89, who studied in London in fall 1986. “Chaney said if one really wanted to learn the history of a place, then talk with the ladies that put the flowers on the altar of the local church. Of course, he was right. … Chaney’s genius was to get students out into the community, meeting English people and experiencing their society.”
With legendary performance spaces aplenty, name dropping is not out of the question. Alumni recalling special moments referenced performers they saw live in London who either were or would go on to become household names — Anthony Hopkins, Elton John, Geraldine James, Aaron Copland, and Dustin Hoffman, among them.
It’s the opportunity to experience it all in a very sensory way that resonates, the alumni said.
“I encountered my literary heroes both in London and on super cheap Ryanair weekend excursions,” said Melody Moberg ’10, an English and religious studies major who studied at the London Centre in the fall of 2009. “Sometimes I sought out sacred English literature sights, such as the Keats-Shelley house in Rome, which brims with the looping script of Romantic poets, first editions, and creepy relics. More often, I stumbled upon sacred sites. For example, the church in London where my internship’s fundraiser was held happened to be William Blake’s congregation. In London, deep history is woven into the fabric of the city. I loved wandering through the city and discovering treasures everywhere.”
Susan Carter Ruskell ’91 studied in London in spring 1989 and came away awed by what was so close and available. “Twenty-one theatrical productions in 10 weeks, including performances by Geraldine James, Alec Guiness, Anthony Hopkins, Dustin Hoffman, and many others,” she said.
“Fringe Theatre of London was a highlight for me,” said Chuck Demler ’11, who spent Winter Term 2009 at London Centre. “It was just two of us, Emily May ’10 and me in the class with Ginny Schiele. We would attend a play each week and then review it. Ginny would give us free tickets or tell us about other performances in the city. I think I ended up seeing 25 plays during that term. It really changed the way that I think about theater and art of all kinds.”
For Charlie Seraphin ’72, it was the show he missed during Winter Term 1970 that still haunts. He passed on joining his fellow students at a small venue near London Centre. “After the show, they raved about the small venue — less than 200 people — and the awesome performance by a soon-to-be-superstar — Elton John. Oops!”
Cheryl Wilson Kopecky ’72 still looks at the journal she kept during a Summer Term in 1971. “I’m amazed at the number music and theater ‘starts’ we saw in just one term. Traveling around Great Britain and other countries, finding a B&B when arriving in a new village or city, and researching a history topic where it happened (Battle of Stamford Bridge, 1066) were all new accomplishments. I recall thinking at the time, ‘This is one of the highpoints of my life,’ and that sentiment still remains true.”
A TASTE FOR LONDON AND THE WORLD
Food and drink also land on the front burner when alumni talk of their London Centre adventures. As does travel. No surprise there. Exploring not only England but elsewhere in Europe has long been part of the draw.
Richard Zimman ’73 took a liking to London in the winter and spring of 1971 and never looked back. “Life at the London Centre changed my life by introducing me to three passions that continue to this day — international travel, live theater, and British beer,” he said.
“My London term was one of my best memories from college and the experiences I had there have helped fuel a lifetime of travel, curiosity, and adventure,” said Kurtiss Wolf ’93, who studied in London in Winter Term 1993. “… Having that sort of immersive international experience early in life has definitely made me a better global citizen.”
“I can vividly remember the Earls Court tube stop, the Hot Pot restaurant, Kensington Gardens, the double-decker buses, and exploring the streets and shops,” said Rick Chandler ’74. “I loved the opportunities to travel. I met lots of interesting people and learned that markets, pubs, youth hostels, footpaths, trains, and bicycle trips are more memorable than castles and cathedrals.”
“Still remember studying in the round pond at Hyde Park, as our residence was very close,” said K K (Brian) Tse ’81, a London Centre student in Fall Term 1980. “Watching many plays and going to so many good museums, hitchhiking by myself to Ireland; what a memorable term at the age of 20.”
Chris Porter ’74, who spent the Winter and Spring terms of 1972 at London Centre, continues to return time and again. “Many years after the fact, I told my dad that my six months in London had been life-changing due to the exposure we had to other peoples and cultures and the travel opportunities it provided,” he said. “… I’ve been back to London at least 60 times since 1972; every time I go, I go in search of the London of 1972, which has largely disappeared, mostly for the better, but some for the worse.”
Alison Ames Galstad ’82 was there in Spring Term 1980. “Where to start? The iconic Arden Hotel, favorite pub Devonshire Arms, travels to Germany and a trip down the Rhine with my dear friend and roommate Elizabeth Carter Wills, hitchhiking to Dover and camping on the White Cliffs with my friend Greg Zlevor, travels through Wales and a hike up Mt. Snowdon with my dear and forever friend Catherine Biggs Dempsey, seeing Yul Brynner not once but twice in ‘The King and I’ at the London Palladium and getting his autograph backstage. … And there was the hostage crisis, the Iranian Embassy siege in London, and the failed hostage rescue in Iran — tensions were high, and there were a few days through which we all were certain we’d be sent home given the political climate. Living and studying abroad was an immensely enriching experience for all of us.”
For 50 years, London Centre has been home to academic adventures and life-defining experiences for Lawrence students. Here’s to 50 more.
Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: email@example.com
About this series: Lighting the Way With … is a periodic series in which we shine a light on Lawrence University alumni. Today we catch up with Dr. Ben Weston ’05, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Medical College of Wisconsin who has been a leader in the Milwaukee area in the COVID-19 pandemic battle.
Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications
When Dr. Ben Weston ’05 tells you “it’s been an interesting year,” know that is his understated way of saying it’s been an emotionally draining, frustrating, holy-cow-I-can’t-believe-that-just-happened, gut-wrenching, exhausting, pants-on-fire sort of a year.
So, yes, interesting.
The Lawrence University alumnus is among the army of front-line health care workers who have been living the COVID-19 pandemic up close and personal on a daily basis, and he’s done it wearing three important but vastly different hats.
For two shifts a week, Weston works as an emergency department physician at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, part of his role as associate professor of emergency medicine at Medical College of Wisconsin. It’s here where he sees COVID patients fighting for their lives, where the latest surge threatens to overwhelm staff and space, where he and colleagues have to wear the same protective masks for multiple days for fear of resources running short.
He also lives it in his role as director of medical services for Milwaukee County, working through the Office of Emergency Management to coordinate 14 fire departments, ambulances, and other first responders in providing emergency medical care for a region with a population of nearly 1 million people.
And he lives it in his role as medical director of the Milwaukee area’s COVID-19 Unified Emergency Operations Center, working with the city of Milwaukee, the county, and a bevy of municipalities to coordinate responses to the pandemic and provide consistent messaging to residents.
Three hats, three perspectives of a pandemic that has shown no signs of abating, and a day-to-day schedule that has been dominated by the coronavirus since the earliest days of 2020.
And when Weston’s work day is over and he settles in with his wife and three young kids, can he move away from the brutal realities of the health care crisis? Well, not completely. His wife, Dr. Michelle Buelow, is a physician with Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers on the south side of Milwaukee, treating a heavily Hispanic population that has been hit hard by COVID-19.
“She’s been right in the thick of it as well,” Weston said. “So, the evenings usually start with a little pandemic conversation, and then we try purposely to shift to other things.”
Beyond the imaginable
Weston knew his world was about to change in January as the virus began its spread. What he didn’t know was that nearly a year later we would be staring into what could be a very dark winter as cases surge across the United States, hospitals are stretched to capacity and beyond, and the death toll nears 275,000.
“I don’t think anybody anticipated the longevity or the extreme impact that COVID would have,” Weston said of those early days before the virus landed in the U.S. “We would talk through scenarios about if long-term care facilities were hit or if there were outbreaks in regions of the community. I think it was certainly hard to imagine back then that we would be having this widespread outbreak everywhere like we have now. Every county in Wisconsin, every state in the United States, every country in the world is having these surges in cases right now, along with hospitalizations and deaths. We would have been naïve to think it wasn’t going to affect us at all, but I don’t think anyone anticipated this.”
Weston has been front and center in messaging to the public about the spread of the virus, the significance of the threat, and the need for personal responsibility. He’s spoken at news conferences and done dozens of interviews with media, locally and nationally. He’s done so while fighting conflicting messages coming from the national level.
“There have been a lot of novel aspects to the virus that makes it very challenging to control,” Weston said. “Biologic aspects of the virus, the incubation period, the asymptomatic spread. Things like that make it very hard to control, and difficult to message from a disease perspective. And then you compound that with messaging at the highest level and the national response that a lot of times is contradictory to the local response and the local messaging and you have a pretty difficult situation.”
There are consequences that come with that lack of a unified national response. One, of course, is the accelerated spread of the virus when segments of the population refuse to take it seriously, continuing to gather in confined spaces and refusing to wear masks. Another is the emotional toll it’s taking on health care workers. They not only face burnout because of the workload, but they also have to deal with backlash from people who see the pandemic as politics, Weston said.
“Everyone is really strained from a work standpoint,” he said. “Our public health infrastructure is not designed for this, nor is it funded, nor is it staffed in a way to manage something like this.”
To then receive hateful messages from someone taking exception to the daily news cycle adds to an already overwhelming burden, Weston said.
“It’s disheartening for public health practitioners when they are working these 60-, 70-, 80-, 100-hour weeks, and then at the end of the week when they feel like they’ve done something positive, they open up their email or listen to their voice mail and that’s what they hear.”
Through it all, though, there are opportunities to smile, Weston said. Health care workers need to cling to those moments. For him, it’s a kind email from a woman who opted to skip an indoor Thanksgiving gathering after hearing him speak on the dangers of such behavior. Or seeing multiple health care organizations across the state come together to share data and strategies, something that would have been unheard of a year ago.
“They come in somewhat small victories,” Weston said.
A path forged at Lawrence
Before Weston earned his medical and Master of Public Health degrees at the University of Wisconsin, he was a biology major at Lawrence. The classroom instruction prepared him well for medical school. But he points to campus experiences outside of the classroom that helped him develop the leadership and collaboration skills that are in play now. He worked his final three years at Lawrence in residence hall leadership positions, first in Plantz Hall and then in Hiett Hall, and chaired the Lawrence University Community Council’s Judicial Board.
“I loved my Lawrence experience,” Weston said. “I had the privilege of having leadership opportunities at Lawrence that I think helped to develop and hone my ability to be in these positions I’m in now.”
He cites then-Dean of Students Nancy Truesdell and current Dean of Students Curt Lauderdale as mentors who helped guide his journey.
“They were great mentors, and I saw great examples of principled leadership and steadfast collaboration from both of them that have certainly carried forward to my career,” Weston said. “Those were critical building blocks for me.”
Those lessons, he said, will be close at hand as the calendar flips to 2021 and he looks to help colleagues weather at least a few more months of distress before a vaccine hopefully brings some relief.
“It’s been hard the last few weeks to see the surges going up, knowing that no hospital can keep up with those sorts of numbers,” Weston said.
But the recent news of a vaccine that could be coming soon has buoyed spirits among health care workers, even though they know things will be difficult between now and spring.
“What changes is the perspective,” Weston said. “If we had talked back in July, August, September, we didn’t know when the end point was. We hoped it would be maybe in the spring, but we didn’t know. We had no evidence to point to, to say there’s an end to this, it’s coming. There was talk that this could go on for years.
“And now we see promising signs that there is an end point. We see the vaccine trials and we see this news and we start talking about how we’re going to distribute it. And I think that’s great news and we should celebrate it. But we also should recognize that the vaccination campaign isn’t going to take off and get everyone vaccinated this winter. We have to get through what’s going to be a really hard winter. So, the message has to be that we can celebrate the vaccine, but for the next few months we really need to buckle down. We have winter coming. It’s going to be a challenging time. But we know an end is in sight.”
Do you want to support a fellow Lawrentian as you do your holiday shopping? We’ve pulled together a gift guide courtesy of those who shared with us products or services they’ve created and have available online. It might be a business they’ve founded or crafts they make or art they’ve created or a book they’ve written.
This list only includes Lawrentians who responded to our ask, and only those who have a web presence, whether it’s their primary money-maker or a side hustle. All links here are active. Happy shopping.
Isabel Dammann ’17, Sprig of That; https://sprigofthat.bandcamp.com … Acoustic folk music, soap, socks, prints, posters, stickers. Sprig of That is an acoustic folk trio with violinist Isabel Dammann ’17, guitarist Ilan Blanck ’17, and tabla player Krissy Bergmark.
Chelsea Wagner ’07, Community Homestead; https://app.barn2door.com/e/QBGP5/all … Wooden puzzles, ceramics, cards, fabrics, rugs, felted figures, paintings, baked goods by adults with and without special needs.
Jeanne Loehnis ’81, Songs for Your Spirit LLC; www.songsforyourspirit.com/purchase-cards … Personal life coaching without the coach. Sturdy 4×6 cards inspire out-of-the-box, magical thinking and deep reflection.
All items on the holiday shopping guide were submitted by third party members of the Lawrence community. The entries are provided for general informational purposes and do not imply endorsement by Lawrence University of the linked site or its contents. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.