Class Notes Noteworthy news from featured alumni.


Rachel Harry BA’85, a drama teacher at Hood River Valley High School, in Oregon, has received the Tony Awards’ Excellence in Theatre Education Award. The honor, announced at the 71st Annual Tony Awards, at Radio City Music Hall, recognizes a K-12 theater educator in the U.S. who has demonstrated monumental impact on the lives of students and embodies the highest standards of the profession. Harry will receive $10,000 for her theater program. A native of northern Wisconsin and a former dancer, she received her bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Utah, and a second bachelor’s degree in theater as well as a master’s degree in theater production at Central Washington University. In addition to teaching at Hood River for 30 years, she is an instructor at Columbia Gorge Community College.

Carl L. Laurella BS’82 has been recognized as the top financial advisor in Utah by Barron’s magazine in its annual “America’s Top 1,200 Advisors: State-by-State” list. Of six Utah advisors highlighted, Laurella was ranked number one in the state, based on client assets, return on assets, client satisfaction/retention, compliance records, and community involvement. At the University of Utah, Laurella serves on the Humanities Partnership Board and the College of Nursing Advisory Council and is a member of the Health Sciences Benefactors. He also supports scholarships for first-generation U students in humanities, nursing, and athletics. Laurella resides in Park City and has worked in Merrill Lynch’s Salt Lake City office for more than 31 years. He has been recognized on Barron’s Top Advisors list several times.


J. Aaron Sanders BA’98 MFA’01 received a 2017 Lambda Literary Award for his first novel, Speakers of the Dead: A Walt Whitman Mystery Lambda Literary is the nation’s leading organization advancing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender literature. The 29th annual awards were announced at a ceremony in New York City. Sanders’ mystery covers the investigative exploits of young reporter Walt Whitman as he navigates the seedy underbelly of New York City’s body-snatching industry in an attempt to exonerate his friend of a wrongful murder charge. An associate professor of English at Columbus State University, Sanders received a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Utah, and a doctorate in American literature from the University of Connecticut.

Sylvia Torti PhD’98, research assistant professor of biology and dean of the Honors College at the University of Utah, won the Nicholas Schaffner Award for Music in Literature for her novel Cages. Set in and around a research laboratory in which two scientists are experimenting on birds to discover the origins of memory and birdsong, Cages is a complex interweaving of biological, philosophical, and mystical themes. It is also a story of love, loss, and memory as the two scientists vie for the heart of a young research assistant. Torti previously received the Miguel Marmol Award for first fiction by an American of Latino descent for her novel The Scorpion’s Tail. An ecologist and writer, she holds a doctorate in biology from the U’s College of Science.


Clint DeMill BS’11, associate director of administration at the University of Utah Guest House and Conference Center, was named the 2017 Certified Hospitality Technology Professional (CHTP) of the Year. The honor is considered the ultimate achievement in hospitality information technology and recognizes the individual who scored highest on the CHTP certification exam within a given year. The award is presented by Hospitality Financial Technology Professionals, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to solving hospitality industry problems and facilitating education. The nonprofit’s certification programs set industry standards around the world for hospitality, finance, and technology. DeMill began his hospitality career at a Utah mountain resort in 1996 and worked at University Guest House while pursuing his bachelor’s degree from the U in parks, recreation, and tourism.

Ishion Hutchinson ex’12 has been awarded the National Book Critics Circle’s Award for Poetry for House of Lords and Commons. The collection traces the landscapes of memory and childhood in the author’s native Jamaica. Hutchinson, whose work is often political in nature, received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of the West Indies and an MFA at New York University before coming to the University of Utah. His first poetry collection, Far District, won the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry. Far District was completed at the U under the direction of Professor Jacqueline Osherow. Hutchinson also has received the Whiting Writers Award and the Larry Levis Prize from the Academy of American Poets. He currently lives in Ithaca, New York, and teaches poetry at Cornell University.

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