Our blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Climbing 'Fences' with Denzel Washington

On Wednesday, May 12, Caucus of Emory Black Alumni (CEBA) NY members enjoyed a fun-filled night on Broadway, as we all braved the chilly weather to watch the mighty Denzel Washington star in Fences.

Act One: We all gathered together for a delicious pre-show meet n’ greet at Bourbon Street Bar & Grille in the Theater District. Think yummy sliders, sultry chicken wings, delectable mozzarella sticks, and heavenly hush puppies. Add a cocktail or two and we were ready for the show!

Act Two: To say Fences was an artistic masterpiece is an understatement. Many of us couldn’t believe that we had already reached intermission when the lights came on midway through the show. Washington and Viola Davis as husband and wife were superb, and definitely earned their Tony Award nominations. Passion, lies, laughter, deceit—this play was jam-packed with drama, drama, drama and kept audience members on the edge of our seats.

Act Three: Those of us who meandered around the theater after the show got to catch an up-close glimpse of Mr. Washington himself! He came out of a side door of the theater and greeted fans for several minutes before he jetted away in his unmarked chauffeured car. We stood there with our mouths open in sheer awe at the site of this prolific actor—though he seemed humble, dressed down in a baseball cap, and of course, a smile.

Well folks, that’s all for now. Thanks to everyone who came out, and a special thanks to Dina Choate, assistant director for regional programs and our Emory Alumni Association (EAA) liaison, for helping coordinate much of this event.

Stay tuned for our next CEBA NY event: A “Hello, Summer” cookout at a private residence in the Gramercy Park area of NYC. Get ready for fun in the sun!!

See the photos on the EAA's Facebook fan page.

-- Montshona Edwards 07C, Caucus of Emory Black Alumni New York

Friday, May 14, 2010

Out to sea (first in a series)

Read part 5 ...

Read part 4 ...

Read part 3 ...

Read part 2 ...

I'm CDR Trent Douglas 95M, and I'm writing from the Naval Hospital Ship, USNS Mercy, where I serve as the director for surgical services for Pacific Partnership 2010. During the next five months we will visit Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, and East Timor to provide humanitarian assistance in the form of medical, surgical, dental, and veterinary care.

Our Seabees (construction engineers) also will be playing a large part in the mission through construction projects in our host nations. We will get the opportunity to work with partner nation colleagues from Canada, Australia, Singapore, France, Portugal, and Japan. Non-Governmental Organizations such as Operation Smile, Project HOPE, and LDS Charities will also be an integral part of our mission.

We got underway from San Diego on May 1, and the pod of dolphins escorting us out into the Pacific soon gave way to some particularly rough seas. Many of the crew, including myself, were a color green somewhere between broccoli and lima beans. It was an interesting start to the mission and gave us a chance to get our “sea legs” and make sure that everything was securely tied down.

After signing the custody sheet for a few million dollars worth of equipment, there is nothing that gives you more heartburn than watching a $125K operating microscope test the tensile strength of the nylon restraining belt holding it to the wall as the ship lists from side to side.

Fortunately the crew had done a great job securing for sea, and we did not incur any equipment damage. A few brave souls tried to run on the treadmills in one of the ship’s gyms, but soon found out that it was a bad idea--again, no injuries, but a few hard lessons learned.

After three days of being tossed around, the seas smoothed out in time for us to enjoy a nice Mexican meal for Cinco de Mayo. Our supply officer went all-out and we even had a piƱata (no injuries). We spent the next few days organizing our supplies and dividing up the many jobs that keep everyone busy on this floating hospital.

Our first stop was in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to take on additional personnel and supplies. We were fortunate enough to participate in the Navy tradition of “manning the rails” as we passed by the USS Arizona Memorial. Once we were securely tied up at the pier, I climbed up to the flight deck and was amazed at the scene before me--an unobstructed, elevated view of the Arizona Memorial just a few hundred yards away.

Our 48 hours in Hawaii passed quickly, and we are now back out in the vast open ocean with no land in sight, just the occasional flying fish and a stowaway pigeon that seems to want to ride to Guam with us.

If you would like to follow our progress during the summer, the Mercy has a Pacific Partnership 2010 Facebook page. I will post to EAAvesdropping along the way and will add some pictures as I collect them. Our Internet and phone service, unfortunately, is iffy. Hopefully they will be able to get things smoothed out soon.

-- CDR Trent Douglas 95M, director, surgical services, USNS Mercy

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Photo of the Day: Show your medal

On Sunday, May 9, the EAA handed out 97 of these medallions. They are given to new members of Corpus Cordis Aureum, the EAA's alumni group for graduates from 50 years ago or earlier.

Since it began in 2004, more than 500 alumni have been inducted into Corpus Cordis Aureum, and our 2010 class was the largest. Not only do new inductees receive medallions, they are invited to march during the Commencement ceremony on Monday. In fact, all Corpus Cordis Aureum members, including those from previous classes, are invited to march, and yesterday nearly 100 did.

This year, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution even took notice.

The golden robes signify membership in Corpus Cordis Aureum. After Commencement we hang them up and get them ready for next year. The medallions, though, are our alumni's to keep and rewear. Which they do. Which makes us very happy.

Monday, May 10, 2010

To the Class of 2010: Hasta la vista, baby (ECW, part 5)

The most lasting impression of a commencement keynote is rarely the words being said. It's the person who says them.

Even the most pedestrian commencement speakers can inspire a certain amount of good feeling and excitement in an audience. Unfortunately, that excitement generally lasts until the audience reaches their cars for the ride home.

For Emory's 165th Commencement on Monday morning, keynote speaker Arnold Schwarzenegger 10H may not have delved too deeply in his message, but the undeniable power of his personal magnetism made for a memorable morning. Even as the words of the newly minted alumni alumnus (he received an honorary doctor of laws degree) vanished into the chilly air, the booming voice delivering them made kept the crowd at rapt attention.

Schwarzenegger spoke a lot about himself and how achieved his success. He skirted the narcissistic edge, but never fully crossed it. Mainly because he deftly tied his personal experience to the bumper-sticker-like (but worthy) advice he bestowed on the graduates: Work hard. Stay hungry. Never give up. Believe in yourself. Don't listen to the naysayers. Never be afraid to fail.

Schwarzenegger devoted the final quarter of his speech discussing the Special Olympics, which was founded by his mother-in-law, the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver. He has strongly supported the organization for many years, and in an important contrast to the earlier part of his speech, Schwarzenegger said what he most cherished about his work with Special Olympians was that it taught him to tear down the mirror that always made him look at himself ... and look beyond it toward helping others.

Schwarzenegger expertly played to the crowd. He poked fun at himself, his accent, his famous in-laws, and even pulled out four fan-favorite movie quotes. (My personal favorite, "It's not a tumor," from Kindergarten Cop, made the cut, as well as Terminator 2,'s "Hasta la vista, baby.")

Schwarzenegger, the politician, rarely showed himself. Now in his second term as California governor, Schwarzenegger made passing reference to a handful of chief-executive accomplishments (most of them about the environment), but primarily spoke of the governorship as one step in his life's ambitions.

He saved his most political statement for a cutting joke about a state adjacent to his own: Arizona. He quipped about being invited to speak at a commencement there but was concerned that "with my German accent I might be deported back to Austria."

As for the rest of the address, I don't remember a lot about it ... but I can't wait to tell my friends who I saw today.

-- Eric Rangus, director of communications, EAA

Watch Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Emory Commencement address in HD:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

50 years of memories (ECW, part 4)

For the past several years, I have had the privilege of helping plan the 50-Year Undergraduate Business and College Reunion. And I really do consider it a privilege--it is my favorite reunion to plan (meaning no offense to my wonderful 20- and 25-year reunions!).

It is traditionally held during Emory Commencement Weekend in early/mid May, when the 50-Year class is inducted into Corpus Cordis Aureum, an honorary group for all of our 50+ year alumni.

We start building the committee in the summer/fall of the year prior to their reunion. My first introduction to the committee is usually through their yearbook pictures. When I finally meet them in person, it takes just a minute for the 50-year old photos and the person in front of me to merge together!

These committee members tend to be very laid back and relaxed. Our meetings often include wine and cheese. During the planning process, we actually become quite good friends--I am privy to bits of scandalous gossip from 50 years ago, they tell stories about the professors (particularly George Cuttino), and how tough the classes were (Some things never change!).

I feel their sadness when they view the “In Memoriam” list for the first time, and realize how many of their classmates are gone. I hear the wonderful stories about the impact that Emory had on their lives.

One of my favorites was the value of the old “drown-proofing” class to one of our alumni. He was the sole survivor of a patrol craft that went down in the South China Sea, and swam for seven hours before being picked up. I also remember one alumnus who admitted to being Dooley, and was captured by students at Georgia Tech, and left naked on a rural country road.

Many of the couples tell stories about meeting their husband or wife-to-be at Emory, and there are many 50-year golden wedding anniversaries celebrated in the summer following the reunion.

One of the funniest stories was from a 1960 alumna. She told me about how her dorm (either Hopkins, Smith, or Thomas) was being built, and would not be finished in time for the fall semester. So the ladies had to be moved into Dobbs Hall and share with the men! (First coed dorm at Emory).

The woman had so many electrical needs (hair dryers, etc) that they kept blowing the power. They also did not know what the urinals were actually used for, so they washed their socks in them.

Panty raids were another fun aspect of campus life, but somehow Dean Reese always knew about them, and would step out of the shadows at the last minute to put a halt to the raid. When women were pinned by a Sigma Chi, they were serenaded by the song, Sweetheart of Sigma Chi.

Saturday night, the Class of 1960 celebrated their 50-Year Reunion--with a record turnout! They had a wonderful reunion gathering, and will continue tomorrow with a reunion brunch, and then induction into Corpus Cordis Aureum. What a great weekend to celebrate 50 years as Emory alumni!

-- Gloria Grevas, director, alumni programs, EAA

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I'm with the band (ECW, part 3)

Bander. Is that even a word? It's not in the dictionary. I think I just made it up.

Banded. That's a verb. It's what a bander does. Banding is the act of wrapping a little piece of waxy paper around someone's wrist. The presence of the band allows the wearer to drink adult beverages. Banding was my job at Friday night's Torch and Trumpet Soiree, the Emory Alumni Association's annual dance party celebrating the Class of 2010.

I worked the ID table, where several of my coworkers swiped Emory Cards (the catch-all ID every Emory student carries). Those who registered as 21 (the vast majority of the seniors did) got banded by the Emory Annual Fund's Chad Wood and me. The whole process was pretty smooth. Not once did I see anyone try to beat the system. Heck, no one even tried to cut in line.

Maybe students these days just aren't all that creative ... or maybe they're just plain responsible. Either way is fine ... it made the job easier.

The traffic-cone orange bands clashed with pretty much every dress I saw (something that was mentioned to me more than once), but no one really seemed to mind. Our guests didn't even mind when I stuck the adhesive to their wrist rather than the other end of the band (this happened more than once too). Trust me when I say it's a bit painful to remove. Yes, the hair on your wrist comes with it.

One the soon-to-be alumni and their guests (which included siblings, significant other and lots of parents) got past us, they scattered either to outdoor patio, the ballroom (where the Gary Motley Trio performed early and DJ TJ 06C rocked late) or further down the hall toward one of several bars where they showed off their bands in return for a drink or two.

Like Thursday night's Candlelight Crossover, the students came in waves. One of the largest followed the conclusion of the 100 Senior Honorary reception at the Miller-Ward Alumni House. a large number of honorees crossed back over the bridge to the Emory Conference Center Hotel to attend the Soiree. The symbolism is kind of neat.

It's like they got to act like students for one more night.

-- Eric Rangus, director of communications, Emory Alumni Association

Friday, May 7, 2010

A light on the bridge (ECW, part 2)

The anticipation that accompanies the Candlelight Crossover is like that of a little kid waiting for the fireworks on Independence Day.

There's going to be lots of cheering, lots of noise, lots of color, and lots of pretty lights. And it all happens after the sun goes down. At least that's the way the Crossover's gone for the four previous crossovers I've attended.

But not this year. Oh, there was still lots of cheering (and smiling and hugging), lots of noise, and lots of color ... courtesy of a very snazzily dressed student body (although there were some t-shirt and cargo shorts-types, too).

And there were also lots of pretty lights, courtesy of the more than 750 candles (and candleholders) that crossed over the Houston Mill bridge. Perhaps the only difference was that we started at 8:20 p.m., a bit earlier than previous years. The sun hadn't gone down yet.

At first, the early start felt premature--one of the most dramatic scenes of the entire school year is the glow of the candles beginning as a mere speck on the far side of the bride. Slowly but surely that speck brightens and brightens until the bridge almost catches visual fire from the scores of alumni to be crossing over.

I was concerned the daylight might mute that drama, but it wasn't the case. The Class of 2010 was just as excited--more excited in a lot of ways--than their forebears. I can't remember the last time I was asked to take so many pictures.

More than 130 alumni (many of them Young Alumni who had crossed over in previous years) joined a smorgasbord of staff, faculty, and administrators lined up, candles in our own hands to welcome them to the alumni side of the bridge.

Wave after wave of students arrived, finally subsiding at about 10 minutes 'til 9. By then it was pitch dark. After snuffing out their candles (some students hung on to theirs as a souvenir), they looped around the Miller-Ward Alumni House and headed straight for the dessert reception. The chocolate fountains and tasty snack cakes and cookies hung on until about 10:00 p.m. The place cleared out around 10:01 p.m.

The night was over for us. For the Class of 2010, I'm sure it was just beginning.

--Eric Rangus, director of communications, EAA

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Saved by the Bell! (ECW, part 1)

After four years of late night study sessions and rigorous coursework, Emory’s Class of 2010 was finally Saved by the Bell during the annual Class Day celebration. Traditionally held on the Thursday before Commencement, Class Day always provides a nice kickoff to the Emory Commencement Weekend festivities with a student-selected keynote speaker who delivers an inspiring message to the departing class. This year’s speaker was actor Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who is best known for his role as Zack Morris in the high school cult classic Saved by the Bell.

Gosselaar began his remarks by noting how much he had to “cram” for his speech, and marveling at how long the Class of 2010 has been here at Emory. After all, he said, in his experience college doesn’t last longer than two seasons.

Though some may have hoped for an appearance of Zack Morris himself, Gosselaar took on his own persona (i.e., he was back to his natural, non-bleached hairstyle). Weaving his speech with funny anecdotes and one-liners about his days as Zack Morris, Gosselaar recounted life on the set of the hit TV show and his struggles as a young actor in Hollywood.

Working on Saved By the Bell was one of the best jobs in the world, he said, but after the show ended in 1994, the real world was waiting with a lesson for the young star. After being typecast in the Zack Morris role, Gosselar found it difficult to find work and struggled for a number of years. However, after contemplating a career change during this rough patch, he eventually found work and continues to be active as an actor in various, high-quality roles.

When reflecting on what wisdom he could offer the Class of 2010, having never graduated college himself, Gosselar told the Class of 2010 that the most important thing in life is finding real love and being passionate about what you are doing. He noted that television is not an avenue for social or civic engagement, because it tends to ignore the larger problems that we are honor-bound to address. At the end of the day, being a husband and father are Gosselaar’s passion, and he hopes the Class of 2010 will lead lives filled with passion, success, and happiness.

All in all, this Class Day speaker seemed to be a real hit with the students, who gave him a standing ovation at the end. Though he did head toward disaster when he mentioned something about P*psi (you know, that other soft drink company), but the audience quickly reminded him what the official drink of Emory University is, a lesson he is not soon to forget.

And I could sense disappointment when there was no appearance by the legendary Zack Morris cell phone. Despite these minor incidents, President Jim Wagner awarded Gosselaar an “A” for his first ever university grade.

-- Shawn Scott 09T, coordinator, program development, Emory Annual Fund

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A true Tiger legend

Today Emory pays homage to Ernie Harwell 40C, one of our most distinguished alumni and a Hall of Fame baseball announcer. Harwell passed away in his home last night, at the age of 92 but his legacy will not be forgotten.

Harwell was a 2003 recipient of Emory’s highest alumni honor, the Emory Medal, awarded to the University’s most distinguished graduates. During his time at Emory, Harwell was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, served as the Interfraternity Council President, and even acted as editor of The Emory Wheel.

A native of Washington, GA, Harwell is most known for his accomplishments during his 55-year career as a play-by-play announcer for Major League Baseball, 42 of which were spent announcing for the Detroit Tigers. He is beloved by Tigers fans around the country and he is an icon in Michigan.

Harwell was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981 and is ranked 16th on the American Sportscasters Association’s list of the Top 50 Sportscasters of All Time, which was announced in January 2009. He began his career as an announcer for the minor league Atlanta Crackers in 1943. Interestingly, Harwell made baseball history in 1948 when he became the first (and only) announcer to be traded for a player.

To borrow Harwell’s customary reading with which he began the first spring training broadcast each year, from Song of Solomon 2:11-12: “For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.”

Play ball, Ernie.

-- Drew Dotson, program coordinator, regional volunteer programs, EAA