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Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is upon us at Emory University! But our celebration began last week at the Miller- Ward Alumni House as school favorites came out to play.

On Thursday night, the super heroes and witches and fairy princesses and ladybugs all came dressed in their finest to Jake's Open House.

The Miller-Ward Alumni House was transformed into a Halloween spectacular destination, with carnival games for kids of all ages on its grounds.

Fresh-popped popcorn, yummy classics from The Varsity and plenty of sweets were on the bill of fare.
Emory's loyal mascot Swoop flew in for a visit, and Lord Dooley, the school's oldest student, brought his entourage of guards to call on party-goers.

But what did we see on faces more often than the telltale signs of delicious cotton candy? Plenty of smiles, of course!

"Bras Against Cancer"

If you've walked up to any of the offices of the third, fourth, or fifth floors of the Dobbs University Center during the past month, then you've definitely noticed the display of sequined, tie-dyed, and embellished bras hanging on the walls of what's known as the DUC's art gallery.

(It's located in that foyer-looking area just before the hallway that leads to the third floor staircase and it's a creative space open for student and department use.)

Decorated bras hanging around the DUC? This can't be normal.

It turns out these racy and artsy creations are part of a quirky project to promote breast cancer awareness during October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

The mastermind behind the project? Why DUC Operations and the Division of Campus Life, of course! In fact, most of the "bratists" who created these 24 "Bras for Cancer," as the project is called, are staff members in other campus life departments.

Sarah Cammuso, program coordinator for DUC Operations, said she borrowed the "bra art" idea to spread awareness from another school and wants to make it an annual project with the possibility of a bra auction next year to raise money for breast cancer research.

That's the kind of research that's done right here at Emory's Winship Cancer Institute.

This tie-dyed masterpiece in the photo above was created by Cammuso, herself, dedicated to her grandmother, a breast cancer survivor!

And she's not alone. Many of the lacy masterpieces in the display were created by those who have been affected by the disease in some way.

Cammuso said she hopes this project can not only raise awareness, but offer an outlet for those who have been affected by breast cancer to remember their loved ones or their personal struggle to survive.

--Lindsey Bomnin 12C, EAA communications intern

Friday, October 28, 2011

Woodward and Bernstein Speak Out: No Safety Plays in Journalism and Politics

A hush fell over the packed rows of seats in Glenn Auditorium Wednesday night as legendary Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein took the podium for the 2011 Goodrich C. White Lecture.

After a quick tap on a quiet microphone, Bob Woodward leaned toward the crowd, smiled, and revealed his sharp sense of humor. “We asked Gordon Liddy to arrange the mics – and once again Gordon has failed us.”

As laughter rippled through the audience for the reference to the orchestrator of the Watergate burglaries, the vastness of the contribution Woodward and Bernstein made to the field of journalism remained at the forefront of people’s minds. Just moments before, Emory University’s Vice President and Deputy to the President Gary Hauk described the writing duo’s teamwork as having “indelibly shaped the American consciousness” whose work is synonymous with “fearless accountability.” The team’s investigative reporting while at The Washington Post effectively set the standard for integrity and has been hailed as the most influential body of journalism of the 20th Century.

In breaking the news story of the 1972 Watergate debacle and its ultimate connection to a corrupt Nixon White House, these once young reporters were self-described “outsiders” to political circles in our nation’s capital. With full support of The Washington Post leadership, and using nose-to-the-grindstone methods of solid research, following leads from low-level organizational sources, and plenty of legwork and page-turning in archives and photo libraries, the pair took an all-in personal approach to exposing arguably one of our nation’s greatest political controversies.

Unlike their competition, Woodward and Bernstein fueled their ambition for the truth by relying on gut instinct and audacity, building relationships with sources such as the legendary confidential informant “Deep Throat” (recently revealed as former Federal Bureau of Information Associate Director Mark Felt). To challenge convention, they called on sources at night. When commenting on the entourage that often surrounds politicians during the work day, Bernstein pointed out, “You see the truth at night, and lies in the day.”

With vivid recollection of historical details, the writers shared the discovery process that led to the unfolding story and the ultimate demise of Richard M. Nixon’s presidency. Bernstein recalled the first phone call to the then United States Attorney General John N. Mitchell, placed late in the evening hours before the first story about President Nixon’s secret slush fund broke. After listening to Bernstein’s article, Mitchell verbally threatened the reporter with retaliation and scrutiny.

Woodward points out that this response wasn’t merely an idle threat. At the heart of the issue was the battle between political embarrassment and First Amendment rights. Woodward notes, “That a person in Mitchell’s position would talk that way to a reporter said he thought he was in control.” From that day forward, the Nixon Administration tried to discredit the press and make the overriding issue about journalism. “They thought themselves impregnable.”

Both Woodward and Bernstein staunchly defended their legal right to continue their investigation. Bernstein said, “What was Watergate about? An unconstitutional, criminal presidency that tried to undermine the process of the election.” Woodward agreed, saying “This was a war against history. President Nixon denied wrongdoing and tried to rewrite history.” When referencing the legendary tapes President Nixon made of telephone conversations with his staff, Bernstein comically pointed out that whenever a new tape is released to the public, “They’re the gift that keeps on giving.”

Truth be told, the meticulous investigative work of the inseparable Woodward and Bernstein changed the landscape of American politics forever. “Perhaps Watergate was the last time that all the elements of the American system ever worked together in a significant way.”

The Changing Face of Journalism
In an age where circulation in traditional newspapers is on the decline and information on the Internet seems to grow by the hour, journalists are now driven by an even greater pressure to get it right. As Bernstein said, “The truth is not the thing that drives the Internet.”

Woodward cited the breakdown of true news into “manufactured controversy.” He pointed out, “The media is looking for a gotcha. But there must be a system of accountability rather than coverage built around trivial and gossip-driven topics.” He is quick to admit, “most good stories are hidden” and it is only through developing relationships that real news will emerge. “We are on the edge of a crisis about how we are getting information about our government.”

Woodward also voiced his questions about journalistic integrity today. “How have we come to this point? How much time is dedicated to one story?” he asked. Bernstein concluded to a raucous round of applause with his statement, “When we give up on news and focus on ratings, we’ve abdicated leadership.”

As one audience member so aptly named the prolific authors, these “titans of journalism” hold fast to traditional methods of information gathering and story development. “Follow what you’ve got, and see where it takes you,” Woodward recommends. “Pursue the story.”

“People think the Internet is a magic box that will give truth,” Woodward said, recounting that “We are in an age where extreme news dominates. We’ve got a lot of work to do to make it more relevant.” Woodward spoke strong words about getting to the truth. “When you don’t have smoking gun evidence, hard evidence, you don’t have anything.”

--Michelle Valigursky, EAA Assistant Director of Marketing Communications

--Photos courtesy of Ann Borden, Emory Photo/Video executive director

Jumping for Jake!

At Jake's Open House Carnival sponsored by the Emory Alumni Association at the Miller-Ward Alumni House, everyone got in on the fun. Our crafty cameraman Tom Brodnax was on hand to catch Emory's oldest student James W. Dooley jumping for Jake. Will Dooley now earn an athletic award to add to his many accolades?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Fever!

Pumpkins are iconic. Pumpkin carving isn’t something you’d think would spark office rivalries, but at the EAA we love our Jack-o-Lanterns! We take the pumpkin carving competition very seriously. This year our alumni association teamsters created their own designs and executed them with artistic flair and plenty of panache. Some pumpkin stylists opted for the more classic approach and others injected a clever little twist on what Halloween at Emory means. Dooley would approve, don’t you think?

Pumpkin created by competitive EAA champs Michael Parker and Valrie Thompson.

Friends and Fitting In

Four years ago, I stepped onto Emory’s campus as a freshman. I had no friends. No one from my hometown of Fair Lawn, NJ comes to Emory. In fact, I was one of the first students in so many years that when I was applying my guidance counselor looked at me funny when I said I wanted to go to Emory.

She thought I meant Embry-Riddle, the aeronautics school somewhere in the middle of nowhere. She even Googled Emory University to make sure I wasn’t making up a school (she was new).

Down south, I had no family because for the most part we’re northern people, and no one really roams much further down the coast than Virginia.

But five months later, my mom I moved all my stuff into Harris Hall. As soon as my mom left campus, my roommate bailed, and I was left all alone to twiddle my thumbs. I lay in my freshly made bed, and stared at the walls thinking, “I should have gone to Rutgers. At least there I’d have some friends.”

Things have changed, and now move-in never causes me the same anxiety or feeling of abandonment.

Four years after, I was left to fend for myself as a college student, it feels weird to be a senior and basically be done with my undergrad career. I’ve experienced so much at Emory, yet I feel like there is still so much more I want to experience before I graduate in May.

My Fame leader once said that you have 72 hours to make friends freshman year, and after that people aren’t very friendly. I can honestly say that most of the best and closest friends I’ve met at Emory were not made during that 72-hour window. So, to the froshies out there who feel like you’re stuck with your friend group…you’re not. Friends change. It’s a fact of life.

That isn’t to say I’m not friendly towards the first people I met at Emory. I am. But I have also discovered where I truly belong. A personal mantra that I strictly live by now is, “be who you were born to be and not who others want you to be because someone else can do that.”

I’m the oldest of four and have this tendency to forget that I’d be considered a role model in my family, especially since I’m all about making honest mistakes. Not to say I don’t strive to do the best that I can. I do.

But let’s face it: you can’t learn if you ALWAYS get everything right. But, I guess that’s why people look up to me. I don’t mind sharing my struggles and mistakes and talking about issues I’ve faced as an undergrad.

Just ask Liz, my EAA office neighbor from across the cube. I never have a problem telling her stories about all my many escapades because what’s the point in living if you can’t share and help someone else learn. Right?

--Cindy Okereke 12C, EAA communications assistant

Monday, October 24, 2011

Library school alumni reunite for the first time in five years

On Saturday, September 24, alumni from Emory’s Library School gathered at the Woodruff Library for their first reunion in over five years. Nearly 70 alumni and friends attended the brunch followed by a tour of Emory’s Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library (MARBL).

Ginger Hicks Smith 77C 82G, director of external communications at the Emory Libraries, interim director of MARBL and Library School graduate, welcomed the group to campus with a brief history of the Library School. In special tribute, Smith invited the school’s last graduate, Margaret Whittier Ellingson 88G, to cut the cake decorated with images of the old and new libraries of Emory.

Following the brunch reception, Woodruff Library curators led the tour of MARBL to share new treasures and share insight about popular collecting areas, including modern historical collections, rare maps, and African American and literary collections.

Many of the Library School alumni had not visited Emory’s campus in more than 10 years. It was exciting for them to see all of the positive changes at Emory and to learn that the University continues to educate librarians in innovative ways.

-- Jaime Katzman Russo, Assistant Director of Development & Alumni Relations, Emory Libraries Development Office

Friday, October 21, 2011

From Pocket to Pocket

One day Frigyes Karinthy had an idea. He hypothesized that every single person on Earth is connected through six steps or fewer - through only six introductions.
We think if we played the six degrees of separation game we could introduce any two of you almost 114,000 Emory alumni out there in way fewer steps than six!
But have you ever thought about all of the people that each one of you knows? And how big that number of connections gets when you multiply it by 114,000?
This morning when we made a trip to the Emory Bookstore, this dollar bill was among our change. We tracked it at www.wheresgeorge.com and found that Emory is only its second recorded stop, which begs the questions: who will be the next Emory connection of you 114,000 alumni to come across this bill?
--Liz Speyer 14C, communications assistant, EAA

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

SAA to SAB: different acronym, same purpose

Emory’s Student Alumni Association (SAA) has made an exciting change this year. SAA has traditionally been composed of roughly 40 undergraduate students from all classes and fields of interest. These students act as liaisons between the student body and Emory alumni by representing students at Emory Alumni Association (EAA) sponsored events, organizing programs that connect students and alumni, and facilitating the transition from active student to proud alumni.

This year, the SAA has decided to both expand and reorganize, extending SAA membership to all students who have become alumni – at Emory this includes any student who has completed two full semesters of academic work. The tradition of becoming an alumni after two semesters was created in order to honor Robert Woodruff. Robert Woodruff left Emory after only two semesters to run the Coca-Cola Company and then gave back to Emory in many important ways.

The new structure of SAA will mirror the structure of the EAA. All alumni are members of the EAA, while those on the Emory Alumni Board represent the voice of alumni. All students who have achieved alumni status will now be considered a part of the SAA, and what used to be the SAA will now be the Student Alumni Board (SAB) that will represent students in alumni affairs.

To become a member, students either must attend the annual Sophomore Pinning Ceremony or contact the EAA to request membership status. All SAA members will receive a pin, EAA giveaways, digital communications from the EAA, membership in “Hometown Connection” Club, volunteer and leadership opportunities, access to the alumni database and LinkedIn group, resume listing, and numerous other opportunities to interact with alumni.

The SAB feels that this change will help students be more aware of and feel more included in alumni activities. We believe this will create a stronger sense of unity among all generations of Emory students.

I have been involved with the SAA since my freshman year at Emory, and now I'm it's co-president. The relationships I've formed have made my experience at Emory what it is today. The alumni I've met have given me so much guidance in determining my path at Emory and beyond. If you're interested in learning more about the SAA expansion, the SAB, or any other student-alumni-related activities, please contact me at alross2@emory.edu.

--Anna Ross 12C, SAA co-president

Dooley toasts 175 years of Emory

Did you know that the first graduating class of Emory College in 1841 only had three students?

Tuition came in at a whopping $185 a year.

To learn more fun facts about Emory University's amazing history and future, take your time savoring the special anniversary edition of Emory Magazine featuring special guest essays about life at Emory through the years.

Check it out online right now! The print edition of the magazine will mail next week on Tuesday, October 25.

--Michelle Valigursky, assistant director of marketing communications, EAA

Monday, October 17, 2011

Nothing says legacy like a pinning ceremony

On a beautiful Sunday morning, proud parents and grandparents joined first-year students for the Freshman Pinning Ceremony at the Miller-Ward Alumni House.

The Freshman Pinning Ceremony is an informal celebration in which an immediate family member who is also an Emory alumnus/a welcomes a first-year student to the Emory family.

After Dr. Gary Hauk provided a little bit of Emory history and after a cappella group No Strings Attached serenaded the audience, family members stood up with cameras in hand and smiles on their faces to pin future Emory alumni.

Thomas Milton Jones 56Ox 58C 59L is proud his grandson, Brett Wilmot 15C, decided to attend Emory. With no pressure from his family, Brett is very proud of his legacy status. Just take a look at the video.

--Tania Dowdy 08Ox 10C, online services specialist, EAA

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

If you pour it...

If there's one thing Washington, D.C. does well, it's happy hour.

We have happy hours for just about everything in this city -- networking, speed dating, charitable causes, you name it. It's tough to go anywhere at 6 p.m. on a workday in D.C. without stumbling across at least a few happy hours.

So, how do you make an Emory happy hour stand out in D.C.? SweetWater!

With the help of our friends from the Black Squirrel Bar in Adams Morgan, we were able to procure four of our favorite brews for the first-of-its-kind event, "A Night with SweetWater" last Wednesday.

For those uninitiated alums, SweetWater is a brewery in Atlanta that was founded in 1997. Served at many Emory events, SweetWater is a beer cherished by almost every Atlanta resident.

The kicker -- it's almost impossible to get SweetWater outside of the Southeast. For many who leave the South after graduation, the first thing they do when they come back is head to Chic-Fil-A. Others go find some SweetWater.

We clearly weren't the only ones in this city who wanted to get our hands on some SweetWater. More than 100 alumni came out to taste some SweetWater, catch up with old friends, and make some new ones.

But we didn't just stop there.

We paired our SweetWater with our favorite Southern staples: BBQ sandwiches, cornbread, and mac-n-cheese. The food and beer kept alums mingling at Black Squirrel for hours.

The event turned out to be an incredible success. The biggest question now is, when can we do it again?

At least when it comes to SweetWater, if you pour it, they will come.

--Jonathan Beam 06OX 08C and Erica Breese 08C

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Staff spotlight: Getting to know Pam Allen Ambler

The Emory Alumni Association likes to highlight faculty, staff and administration that help make Emory the thriving community it is.

Pam Allen Ambler, Senior Admission Counselor in the Office of Undergraduate Admission, is one such person here at Emory. Here's a bit of insight into what she does:

You're a Senior Admission Counselor at Emory College. What are your primary responsibilities?

As a senior admission counselor, I lead information sessions, speak at high school parent nights, mentor new counselors, and maintain membership with a few professional organizations. In addition, I am a member of the Admission Committee, and I collaborate with the Emory Alumni Association.

How did you first become interested in admissions?

I’ve been interested in admission (as a necessary next step to college and as a profession) since my senior year of high school. I had an amazing college counselor who is still a mentor to me today. I enjoy meeting with people, and I love to feel as though my contributions and insights impact people’s lives. A career in admissions helped me satisfy these desires.

How long have you held this position and what positions have you held prior to your current one?

I have worked in the Office of Undergraduate Admission for just over five years. When I began, I helped plan our open house programs. In five years, these programs have taken on a great, new shape. I currently arrange several counselor programs, and I assist with numerous admissions-related alumni projects. Prior to my career on this campus, I worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. My experiences in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate shaped the person I am today, and they will stay with me forever.

What is your favorite aspect about your job?

I take pleasure in explaining the application review process to prospective students and parents. Applicants always seem to leave this campus feeling refreshed and renewed because our visit experience is more authentic than many of our peer institutions' tours and information sessions. My favorite month in the admission cycle is April. Each spring, we honor the students who were accepted to Emory. It’s always fun to celebrate our efforts to build a dynamic, diverse freshmen class.

What have you found to be most surprising about your job?

I get very excited when students stop me on campus to say hello. I am sure they’re all so busy with school and campus life, and it makes my day when they let me know I played a part in their decision to attend.

Do you have any funny anecdotes about your experience as an Emory admission counselor or about your involvement with Emory admissions in general?

Travel season brings up all sorts of funny stories. In the fall months, we feel like traveling salesmen. We have Emory materials in our back seat as we commute from one high school visit to the next. For this reason, I always reserve a compact four-door car. One fall, I was "upgraded" to a sporty Mustang convertible. Not only was this two-door car inconvenient for work travel, but it was really, really loud. I still remember receiving an email after a visit to a boarding school in Maryland. The student used the salutation, "nice mustang."

How has Emory changed since you first started working here?

I love how Emory balances rich traditions with progressive change. Since I started five years ago, we have a new freshmen village, a new psychology building, and a new admission building (among other construction projects). In addition, Emory Advantage has made Emory a possibility for students with higher financial need. The sustainability initiatives have gained ground, and our office now reviews applications on computer screens.

--Lindsey Bomnin, communications assistant, EAA

Friday, October 7, 2011

And the 2011 Emory Medal goes to...

If there’s one thing I admire most about our alumni, it’s their selfless desire to serve their community and their love for helping others.

Last night, the Emory Alumni Association celebrated the noble work of two outstanding alumni, James Turpin 49C 51T 55M and Mary Ann Oakley 70G 74L, the 2011 Emory Medalists.

The Emory Medal is the highest University honor awarded exclusively to alumni. Honorees are selected by the Emory Alumni Board based on a list of criteria, including service to the Emory community and leadership.

To me, Jim Turpin and Mary Ann Oakley embody the true meaning of an Emory Medalist. Turpin, founder of Project Concern International, has devoted his life to serving the world in places where medical care is limited or does not exist. Oakley dedicated her life to her career as an employment lawyer, fighting for the rights of children in the middle of messy divorces.

The recipients enjoyed the Emory Medal ceremony with close family and friends, including President Jim Wagner and EAB President Dirk Brown, who served as the master of ceremonies for the night. The night included a video montage of the two talking about their accomplishments, their families, and how their Emory education shaped them to become the people they are today.

I watched as the twosome viewed their stories on the big screen with pride and humility shown on their faces. I can only imagine what it feels like to visualize the incredible impact they’ve made on the Emory community and the world summed up in a five-minute video.

This was my first time attending the Emory Medal ceremony, and having met with our recipients previously, I know they were both humbled and shocked by the honor—even nervous about the ceremony. I couldn’t think of more-deserving Emory Medalists this year.

Stay tuned for one-on-one interviews with our 2011 Emory Medalists.

--Tania Dowdy 08Ox 10C, online services specialist, EAA

Monday, October 3, 2011

Alumni Spotlight: from "Opera" to "Theater Bar"

Nicole Rose Stillings is a “go-getter girl” if I’ve ever seen one. Having recently met the author of The Go-Getter Girl’s Guide, I can tell Stillings is exactly what she had in mind.

Young, ambitious, and fabulously stylish, Stillings is making a name for herself in New York City. She graduated from Emory with a double major in international studies and sociology and a minor in French in 2009.

Stillings began her career in marketing and public relations in Atlanta at Weber Shandwick. The summer before she graduated, Stillings worked in the Beijing branch and, after graduation, made the move to New York City and it stuck.

While in Beijing, Stillings grew to appreciate Chinese culture, and when she moved to New York, she spent time hanging out in Chinatown. Stillings frequented a bar there called Apotheke where she and the owner, Albert, became friends. A year and a half later, the two became partners and opened Theater Bar, a bar in the Big Apple.

It was just the opportunity she’d been waiting for: a way to incorporate the things she loved into a lucrative enterprise.

So how did she get into the nightlife and entertainment scene in the first place? Well, she can thank Emory for that one.

While at Emory, Stillings took advantage of all that the Atlanta nightlife had to offer and even worked as a DJ in her spare time. From the Highlands to Buckhead to Downtown to Midtown, she scoped it all out, while meeting dynamic and interesting people. In fact, many of her business contacts from the early stages of her career she met because she ventured outside the Emory bubble.

As a jet-setting, young professional, Stillings remarks that “You can never get anywhere in life unless you go out and meet people.”

This is a value she’s lived by all her life. She mentioned she found her first job in Atlanta using Emory’s vast Alumni network, and she still stays in contact with her sociology advisor to this day.

“Everyone has knowledge they are willing to share, and what bonds us first is Emory, and after that, it’s up to you,” Stillings said.

When Stillings moved to New York, the first thing she did was connect with alumni and got involved with various alumni groups in New York.

“I wanted to be part of a smaller community in a large city,” she said. “Emory gave so much to me. I figured I’d give something back in return.”

And somewhere between owning a bar and running the Alumnae and Women of Emory (AWE) chapter in New York City, Stillings has put together a classy, fabulous, and stylish event called Sip & Shop at Theory.

Be there, Wednesday, October 26, to mingle and shop with New York alumnae.

--Cindy Okereke 12C, EAA communications assistant