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Fender Bender

Illinois Alumni magazine November 2005

When David Spelman returned to his Urbana hotel after midnight, he found world-class musicians Mamadou Diabate and Juan Martín jamming in an alcove of the Historic Lincoln Hotel’s lobby. Another guitarist, Dan Zanes, was on the floor with a quiet smile on his face. Others sat on chairs or by the fireplace.

All were rapt.

Frank McCourt Is Forever a Teacher Man

First appeared in National Council of Teachers of English Chronicle in November 2005

Frank McCourt has become rich writing about being grindingly poor. Arriving in America as a teen, having survived a harrowing, poverty-stricken childhood in Ireland, McCourt, who never went to high school, enrolled in college to become a teacher. Many people will be familiar with at least part of his story, told so movingly in his Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, Angela’s Ashes (1996) and his second memoir, ‘Tis (1999).

Isabel Allende

First appeared in National Council of Teachers of English Chronicle in September 2005

Anyone who has read Isabel Allende’s novels will not be surprised that she has what she describes as “an ear for stories.”

“I can’t remember my children’s names, but I never forget a good story,” she says with her deep, warm belly laugh.

Purchasing Power

First appeared in in September 2005

When Mindy Conover Meads ‘74 ACES looks at a shirt, she’s probably not thinking about how it will look on her but how it will look on you.

That’s because Meads, recent president and CEO of the clothing chain Lands’ End, has spent her entire career in the retail clothing industry. Starting out as a 16-year old store clerk, at her latest post she ran a company earning $1.6 billion a year in revenue.

Against the Odds

First appeared in Illinois Times in October 2003

It is a late September afternoon. Eighteen-year-old Johniesha Deberry is in labor. Her child wasn’t growing as expected, so birth is being induced. A fine-boned woman, with beautiful clear, black skin, Deberry wears a well-worn hospital gown. Her black hair, tinged with red, is tied in a high ponytail with a bright plastic hair elastic. She looks tiny and scared.

Medical Students Value Diverse Environment

Science & Spirit magazine September 2003

While diversity issues, from affirmative action to bilingual education, have garnered plenty of attention over the past several months, they have recently registered on the monitors in a different arena: medical school.

A survey conducted at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, the first such study to examine the attitudes of medical students themselves, overwhelmingly indicated diversity was a critical factor in their education.

The Nurture of Nature

Science & Spirit magazine July 2003

What if there existed a simple object found in everyday life that could relieve stress and anxiety, promote healing and increase powers of concentration? It appears likely that such “magic bullets” do exist, and that they come in the forms of trees or shrubs or even philodendrons. Just as plants lift their leaves to the sky, they likewise lift our spirits — helping us de-stress, recover faster, concentrate better and control impulsive behavior.

Focus on Conservation

Lincoln Park Zoo magazine March 2003

From elephants to spiders, many of the animals chosen for the Regenstein African Journey exhibits are threatened or endangered.

A Telling Effect

First appeared in Illinois Alumni magazine in March 2003

Barry Bearak, MS ‘75 COM, doesn’t like to talk about himself.

“It makes me self-conscious,” he said. “I get flustered.”

On the other hand, he is very good at telling other people’s stories. Bearak, a New York Times staff writer who received the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting for his coverage of the devastation of Afghanistan, has been telling other people’s stories for close to 30 years.

Looking for the Edge

First appeared in Illinois magazine in December 2002

The dawn is dull, the day trying to decide if it will be spring or remain winter. The houses in this Champaign neighborhood are faded and worn, the sidewalks cracked and dingy and in this gray, muddy, early spring day there is little vegetation to enliven the scene.


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