VOL. 9 NO. 4 THE MAGAZINE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH SPRING 2000
IDEAS STIMULATE IDEAS
What will the University look like in 150 years? Time often makes a mockery of predictions, but it's certain that without talented students, the U would cease to exist as a vital center of learning. Any vision of the University in this millennium is primarily a concern about shaping lives.
With that in mind, University administrators defined areas of need that were of greatest priority to students. They included student scholarships, for example, as well as educational enrichment opportunities that could expand the boundaries of the classroom in science, the fine arts and performance, global business, the Honors Program, and undergraduate research. In light of increased competition for revenue to support faculty salaries, attracting and retaining a distinguished faculty through the establishment of endowed chairs was deemed necessary too.
Plans didn't stop there. Other areas for which private support was sought as part of the "Generations of Excellence" fund-raising campaign in recognition of the University's 150th anniversary included research and technology, academic programs and public outreach, the libraries, and buildings and renovations. In the end, a goal to raise $500 million was agreed upon, and the work of communicating these needs to alumni and friends of the University of Utah commenced.
Supporters have been responding ever since, with gifts more generous than administrators and the U's 295 volunteer leaders and advisors dared imagine. The central development office, which coordinated the campus-wide campaign, reports having received $646 million in pledges to date. Contributions to the campaign will accrue through June 30, 2000.
The ability to offer added scholarships and fellowships will not only make the U more competitive in recruiting the best candidates, but also more capable of assisting those who are particularly deserving. As a means of recognizing the generosity of those foundations and individuals whose private contributions made the campaign a rousing success, Continuum editorial intern Kathryn Austin talked with students whose educational experiences at the U have been enriched by the outcomes of the efforts. Granted, these are just the first of many generations to come who will benefit from the campaign's legacy. But as the University sets out upon its next 150 years this spring, this is a means of sharing, in our students' words, a taste of all the campaign has wrought.
-Anne Palmer Peterson MPA'00, editor
I got my first taste of geology in a 100-level course and I was hooked. I later started working in Thure Cerling's lab, which got me interested in the chemical side of geology. Now I plan to major in chemistry and geology, then continue on to grad school and do research in geochemistry.
This is the second year I have received the Dorothy Rice Good Scholarship. The greatest thing about it is that I have time now to pursue my interests. I can work more in the lab or spend time in other avenues of research.
My entire academic experience has been changed by Cerling's lab. I didn't really know what aspect of geology I wanted to focus on, so there was a void. This job filled that void. I spend my time in the lab measuring the concentration of carbon dioxide present in the enamel of fossil teeth in order to identify the type of vegetation that existed several million years ago. Knowing the type of vegetation allows us to theorize about the history of the climate. It's fascinating work which has changed everything for me. A year ago, I even went to Ethiopia with Frank Brown, the dean of the College of Mines and Earth Science, as his field assistant. Scientists in the late sixties found two human skulls in the Kibish formation in the south of Ethiopia and dated them from 150 thousand years ago. We looked for material there which could establish a more accurate time period.
In addition, Harry Good, a retired professor and sponsor of the scholarship, interviews me at the beginning and the end of each semester. We talk about geology and the history of geology. I ask him about what he did; he asks me about what I will do. These interviews, in addition to my time in the lab, have given me the direction and the motivation I need. I know now what I want to do and I'm prepared for it.
I think that I was the first student who had ever been the valedictorian, Athlete of the Year, and Homecoming queen in a single year at Apollo High School in St. Cloud, Minnesota. I competed in three sports, played the violin in the orchestra, played the piano, and competed on the international level in Future Problem Solving three times (we were world champions once). But my real passion is skiing.
I initially got into cross-country skiing to get in shape for tennis, but in no time it became an obsession. When I started looking at universities, I wrote to several ski coaches, and that's how I became acquainted with the U. Otherwise, I wouldn't have looked out here. It's funny, because this is probably the only school in the country where I couldn't make the ski team-it's so good.
When the President's Club Committee called and presented this scholarship, I was having a hard time deciding where to go to school. Their proposal to fly me out here to look at the school surprised me. I had seen what athletics will do for recruiting, and I was impressed that the U would do the same for academics. Seeing the school made my decision for me, and the U has been a perfect fit. With my honors classes, I feel that I'm getting an education comparable to that of an Ivy League student. We have the advantage of a huge university with all of the students and research funds, and, at the same time, the beauty here hasn't really been discovered.
Right now I'm skiing and competing on my own and working with the ski coach to get on the team. I'm almost on the team's level, but not quite. I've also stayed busy as a peer minister for the Newman Center, a member of the Honors Student Advisory Committee, and a volunteer teacher for the American Cancer Society.
Each summer the Honors Program sends two to four students on partial scholarships to Cambridge to study literature, but this was the first summer that the International Center at Cambridge was offering an "International Politics in the Global Age" course. I work with the Downtown Alliance in event planning, and my dad works for the military, planning for emergencies and national threats, so I have always been interested in politics, terrorism, and emergency preparedness. When I discovered that three of my heroes would be available to advise me at Cambridge, I immediately made arrangements with the Honors Program to use my scholarship in creating my own course of study at Cambridge.
Rather than literature, I focused my research on terrorism and asymmetric warfare and how it relates to the political environment. My three advisors, who were all experts in their respective fields, helped me to write six essays that were sent to the Honors Program and now fit into my Honors Thesis. As a result of the program, I realized how much I am interested in international politics and organizational communication, and more surprisingly, that I am good at it.
Each day I met with a class of 18 students representing 15 different countries. Mornings, we heard a lecture on a topic such as the Cold War or the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Afternoons, we all participated in a roundtable discussion of the day's topic. That is where the real learning took place. We had students from Croatia, the Republic of Georgia, South Africa, and even India. It was fascinating to hear so many different points of view and to discuss events that weren't big enough to be covered by CNN.
Overall, it was just amazing to be there, to live in the building that I lived in, to ride my bike past Trinity College each day, and to call this place with so much historical significance "home" for a summer. I've always wanted to live in England, and this experience surpassed all of my expectations.
Both of my parents are college graduates, but we were hit real hard by the recession in the '70s. I was lucky that they worked hard to get me out of the poor neighborhood, but they were gone seven days a week, 18 hours a day.
When I heard about the U's Minority Opportunity Program in my business class back home at the University of Texas in Brownsville, I decided to apply. My GPA wasn't the best, but I had a long history of community service. My dad and I were finishing a two-year project we had spearheaded called "Beautify Brownsville." We cleaned up major streets and historical sights. I had been an altar boy for seven years, taught bible school for three, and was a volunteer lifeguard for the Boys and Girls Club. Receiving the scholarship really surprised me.
The program began with the Summer Institute, which prepared us for the opportunities and demands of student life at the U. My second day here, we climbed Mount Timpanogos and I spent the whole first month recuperating. We camped in Moab, hiked in Arches National Park, rafted on the Colorado River, shopped in Park City, and saw the sights. On campus, we went to countless workshops on subjects like finance, case studies, and business math. We had the opportunity to meet and speak with successful business people. It was just mind-boggling how much information I was getting in such a short time.
The program continues to help me financially, and I can go in any time for advising or tutoring. Moreover, I'm taking classes that I couldn't have taken in Brownsville. There are so many doors open to me right now. My goal is to find a career that I enjoy and then to spend more time with my family than my father was able to spend with me.
I always knew that I would work with children. During my senior year in high school, I spent half of my day in a kindergarten as part of a work-study program. I loved it. When I started at the University, I wanted to work with deaf children, but different instructors came into my life at important moments and directed my path toward elementary and early childhood education.
While working as a third-grade teacher, I first heard that Granite School District had joined with the U to give teachers training in reading instruction. The Co-op offered a two-year master's degree program through evening classes held at the school. Most of my students were reading at a below-average level at the time, and although I had a strong background in literature, I wasn't at all prepared to teach kids how to read, so I decided to get involved.
As I went to the classes, I began to understand why certain techniques had succeeded and others had failed. Our discussions always applied directly to my classroom. I found myself saying things like "I should start doing that" or "I should stop doing this." Having access to the research gave me a lot of confidence as a teacher, and that's the whole point of the U's new Reading Center.
I am working now as a specialist at West Kearns Elementary, which was targeted for one-on-one reading assistance. Our goal is to improve early reading instruction and help at-risk first graders before they fall through the cracks. Bringing experts into the schools has been really powerful. Teachers are using the new information and it's working.
Although the technology is only now developing and the funding is not yet established, the plans for the center are exciting. Through new Internet technology, we hope to make the Reading Center available to schools around the state. Without ever leaving my classroom, I will be able to tutor students in Richmond or St. George. The possibilities are limitless.
At the end of one of my genetics classes, Dr. Sandy Parkinson announced that there were positions in his lab for anyone interested in research. I hadn't ever set foot in a lab before, so I was really surprised when he accepted my application. Parkinson's research, which is housed in the new Aline Wilmot Skaggs Biology Building, involves a family of the e-coli bacteria. Over the past three years, my responsibilities have varied, so that I have been able to see the research as a whole, rather than understanding only one specialized part. And our move to the new biology building has been great. Now I know that anything I may discover on the countertop was introduced by one person-me-and not some biologist 15 years ago.
Three other students were hired at the same time I was. They were all involved in the Biology Undergraduate Research Program, BioURP, which they all recommended. After working in Parkinson's lab for a year, I joined BioURP, too.
The program is designed for students like me who are interested in doing research. We receive a stipend and hourly wages for our time in the lab. Each week we meet and discuss the research we are doing or other interesting published research. In addition, first-year students participate in a weekly series of presentations given by faculty members. At the end of the presentation, we are encouraged to ask questions. The point is to get involved.
As I have progressed into the upper-division biology courses, I have become even more grateful for my time in the lab and my involvement in BioURP. I often wonder how other students decipher the journals and other reading materials without this background. I know the terms for certain procedures not just because I memorized them out of some book, but because I have used them in real life.
Copyright 2000 by The University of Utah Alumni Association