newsId: DCC8BA08-5056-AF26-BE289ECB50AD64D7
Title: AU Students Make Valuable Contributions to Science Faculty Research
Author: Patty Housman
Subtitle:
Abstract: Summer science opportunities included lab and field research.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 08/29/2015
Content:

On American University’s campus this summer, the science labs were bustling with activity. More than 30 undergraduate students spent these months collaborating with their mentors—AU’s science and mathematics faculty—getting first-hand experience conducting research in the lab and in the field.

“These summer research opportunities offer so many advantages to our students,” said Nancy Zeller, AU’s coordinator of science teaching labs. “They get hands-on lab experience; they work closely with scientists and researchers; and they get to apply what they learn in the classroom to real and ongoing research projects.”

Zeller pointed out that each student has a unique experience in the lab. “No matter what you hear about research, it’s always different when you’re actually doing it. For every ten experiments you set up, maybe one or two will work out, and it’s thrilling when that happens. So the students learn how to persevere, solve problems, and be creative and innovative.”


From Antibiotic Resistance to Ecohydrology

The students worked with more than a dozen faculty members in biology, chemistry, environmental science, mathematics, physics, and psychology labs. The research projects ranged from skin cancer to magnetic nanoparticles to wireless topographical math.

Jessica Balerna (environmental science ’17) and Gabriel Santos (environmental science ’17) worked with Karen Knee, assistant professor of environmental science. Santos’s research was funded by a Brazilian government scholarship, and Balerna’s work was funded by an American University Faculty Research Support Grant awarded to Knee.

“We were trying to assess whether hydraulic fracturing (fracking) affects the quality of the Potomac River, Washington’s water source,” said Knee. “We sampled creeks and streams that flow into the Potomac, in areas with varying levels of fracking activity. We were particularly interested in conductivity (a measure of the total dissolved solids in water), and the concentrations of heavy metals and radium, a toxic element that has been associated with fracking wastewater.”

Knee said that Balerna and Santos’s help was instrumental in getting an ambitious amount of field work done in a relatively short amount of time. “They assisted with all field work tasks: collecting and filtering water samples, measuring stream flow and water quality, and navigating on questionable dirt roads through rural parts of Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland,” she said.

“Working with Dr. Knee at the ecohydrology lab during the summer was an amazing experience,” said Santos. “I had the opportunity to develop new skills related to lab techniques and field work. And as a student of environmental science, it was nice to apply a lot of subjects I learned separately during my courses to a single research project.”


In the Chemistry Labs

Cassidy Hart (biochemistry ’17) and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Schott (neurobiology ’18) conducted research with Matthew Hartings, professor of chemistry.

Hart was funded by the Chemistry Department's Anthony Schwartz Fellowship, said Hartings. “She is making new materials that will increase the resolution and quality of medical MRI scans. Her work will be crucial for generating a patent that will cover our intellectual property over this technology.”

Schott was funded by a NASA grant for studying how metal nanoparticles influence public and environmental health. “Lizzie made many foundational discoveries for our research including an observation plant life is really effective at removing gold nanoparticles from wastewater streams,” said Hartings. “Lizzie also developed many of the protocols that we will use for these experiments (in biology, chemistry, and environmental science) as we advance the project.”


Summer Undergraduate Research Experience Seminars

The students also had the opportunity this summer to attend eight professional development seminars designed to give them insight into different research-associated topics, and how to develop a career in the sciences.

Sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and organized by Zeller, the seminar themes revolved around big data and the importance of communications for future scientists. Five speakers were AU faculty members, and three were visitors:

Ivan Amato, communications and public affairs consultant, US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Maria Giovanni, director of Genomics and AdvancedTechnologies, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health

Anke Scultetus, NeuroTrauma Department, Operational & Undersea, Medicine Directorate, Naval Medical Research Center

“The students were extremely engaged in the seminars this year,” said Zeller. “Big data is going to be more and more of a critical tool in general science research in the future, and we wanted students to understand this. At the same time, we focused on the importance of communication, because the better scientists can communicate, the better they can collaborate, explain their research, and get published.”


For More Information

For more information about summer research opportunities, students can stop by the Science Hours on Tuesdays from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Battelle Atrium, attend the Research Open House held the first Friday of classes in January, and talk to their science and math professors.

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Title: Back to School Tips for Undergraduates
Author: Emily Jones-Green
Subtitle:
Abstract: Undergraduate Advising Office shares words of wisdom for the year ahead.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 08/28/2015
Content:

The Undergraduate Advising Office shares words of wisdom for the year ahead:

  1. Get to Know your Professors. Go to office hours and talk, even when you don’t have a specific question. These relationships will help you grow, and also will help when you need a recommendation for graduate school. 

  2. Schedule Accordingly. Not a morning person? Do not register for classes before 10:10 a.m. Can’t stop yawning after 7 p.m.? Then steer clear of any classes starting at 8:10 p.m.

  3. Get Involved. Being active on campus will not only help you perform better academically, but also allow you to expand your social circle.

  4. Take Advantage of Academic Support. The Academic Support and Access Center offers free tutoring for certain classes; the Writing Center will help you shape your research paper; and the Math/Stats Lab will help you hone your skills. 

  5. Learn How to Retain Information. Either type or handwrite your class notes over again within a day after class. Information retention is higher when the information is reviewed within 24 hours of hearing it. 

  6. Go to the Career Center often. Workshops, networking events, and individual appointments will help you figure out what options you have for your future. 

  7. Be Open to Exploring. If you don’t know what you want to major in, that is okay! We offer a ton of resources to help you narrow down your options. 

  8. Take Care of Yourself. Getting enough sleep, eating right, and exercising will all help you stay healthy and do well academically. We want you at your best!

  9. Study Abroad. When else can you study and explore another country?  

  10. Visit your Academic Counselor. Not only are they knowledgeable about the university, they are awesome people and want to get to know you! 

 

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Title: Back to School Tips for Graduate Students
Author:
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Abstract: AU faculty members share words of wisdom with graduate students.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 08/28/2015
Content:

AU faculty members share words of wisdom with graduate students:



“Be open-minded to new experiences at AU and your program, those opportunities may lead you to some interesting places.”
Anastasia Snelling
Department Chair
Department of Health Studies

 

“Reach out early in the semester to your professor or advisor if you feel you are struggling in your classes. We want all of our students to succeed, and there are resources we can provide to help you.”
Kara Reynolds
Associate Professor
Department of Economics


“Find ways to connect to grad students outside your chosen field. Some of the most powerful connections for your education and your future live at the boundaries between disciplines.”
Andrew Taylor
Associate Professor
Department of Performing Arts


“Research your professional development options in DC before you begin classes as it becomes harder to do so thoroughly once you are preoccupied with your studies.”
Kyle Dargan
Associate Professor
Department of Literature


“Remember that graduate school is about much more than the classes you take!”
Anthony Ahrens
Associate Professor
Department of Psychology


“Be very diligent to communicate with the faculty in your program—especially your advisor. Both problems and opportunities can be identified earlier and handled better that way.”
Michael Robinson
Assistant Professor
Department of Mathematics and Statistics


“You are no longer an undergraduate and should no longer think like one.”
Daniel Fong
Associate Professor
Department of Biology


“Avoid imposter syndrome by talking with your advisors (who selected you for a reason) and colleagues (who will have similar experiences). Graduate school can be demanding and demoralizing at times—remember your passion for the subject!”
Joshua McCoy
Assistant Professor
Department of Computer Science


“Your peers will be your greatest professional allies throughout your life. Try to network and cultivate strong friendships. Keep in mind that the person you alienate now may be the person that could help you down the road. Be courteous and avoid conflicts.
Luis Silva
Associate Professor
Department of Art


“Grad school is just as much about building your community as it is about building your subject knowledge. Take 20 minutes a week to find and connect with someone who intrigues you, whether it's a fellow student, a faculty or staff member, the author of one of your textbooks, a visiting speaker, or a journalist who's writing about your area of study.”
Andrew Taylor
Associate Professor
Department of Performing Arts

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Title: Empanadas and Diplomacy: Uruguay Embassy Event Kicks off “Global Israel” Series
Author:
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Abstract: Uruguay Embassy event kicks off “Global Israel” series on Sept. 9.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 08/28/2015
Content:

On May 19, 1948, Uruguay became the first Latin American country to recognize the new State of Israel, a mere five days after it had declared its independence. To celebrate and explore the rich historic relationship between Israel and Uruguay, His Excellency Carlos Gianelli Derois, Uruguayan Ambassador to the United States has invited the AU community to the Embassy of Uruguay on Wednesday, September 9 at 6:00 for “Empanadas and Conversation.” Ambassador Gianelli will also introduce His Excellency Nestor Alejandro Rosa Navarro, who was recently appointed Uruguay’s Ambassador to Israel. Ambassador Rosa has been serving Uruguay in Washington, DC as itsDeputy Representative to the Organization of American States. Center for Israel Studies Scholar-in-Residence Dan Arbell, a former Israeli diplomat, will participate in the conversation about Israel’s relations with Latin America. The event will culminate with a reception hosted by the Uruguayan Embassy.

The September 9 event, “Uruguay and Israel: a Historic Partnership,” is the first in a series of “Global Israel” events presented by the Center for Israel Studies at different Embassies in Washington this fall. The events will explore several facets of Israel’s diplomatic, economic and cultural relations with countries in Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Students will be able to pose questions and enjoy a reception featuring cultural foods from each nation.

The Global Israel event at the Embassy of Ethiopia in October will feature not only the rich trade relationship between the countries but a discussion of the large Ethiopian diaspora living in Israel. Ethiopian Israelis, called Beta Israel, now number approximately 135,000. The Beta Israel, judged by some Israeli rabbis to have descended from the biblical tribe of Dan, were brought to Israel in several waves beginning in the late 1970s, including two airlifts, Operation Moses and Operation Solomon.

Later in the Fall Semester, the Series will move to the German Embassy to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two states. Representatives of the German and Israeli embassies to the United States and Seymour and Lillian Abensohn Chair in Israel Studies Michael Brenner will discuss the history of Israel’s special relationship with Germany throughout the past half century and into the future.

The Global Israel Series is supported by Barbara Ann Bender in memory of her mother, Sondra D. Bender, a long-time trustee of American University. Free transportation for AU students to the embassies will be provided.

To reserve a ticket, please use our event RSVP.   

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Title: During the VMAs, Think of the Technology Behind the Magic
Author: Paul Oehlers
Subtitle: Behind Every Celebrity Lies Technicians and Technology
Abstract: Beyond Miley and Taylor, the Video Music Awards will provide a new batch of case studies to dissect and analyze.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 08/26/2015
Content:

I’ll watch the MTV Video Music Awards on August 30 — but I’ll be watching a different show than most people. It’s just part of being an audio technician.

I’ve been this way since I was a little kid. My memories of Disneyworld are much different than my sister’s. While she enjoyed the magic of the rides, I was looking under the seat, trying to find the air hose, and leaning over the edge to find the mirror that created the illusion.

I was a magician’s worst nightmare. To me, there is no such thing as magic, just technology I haven’t figured out. I’m not afraid of Oz. I see the man behind the curtain.

When the VMAs appear on television this week, I expect it will be more of the same for me. Most people are content to enjoy the illusion that the music industry creates. They will watch the VMAs and be interested in the “who” and “what” of the evening:

  • What did Miley Cyrus say?
  • Who performed better “live,” Taylor Swift or Selena Gomez?
  • Who looked more like a hipster, Bruno Mars or Mark Ronson?
  • Did Kanye West rush the stage and rage on a fellow musician?

For those of us who are interested in the “How did they do that?” it will be a much different evening. The VMAs will provide a new batch of case studies to dissect and analyze. More opportunities to delve into the art and science of audio technology.

At events like the VMAs, the technology evolves and expands while the talent seems pretty similar from year to year. Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, and Selena Gomez aren’t much different than Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Ashlee Simpson a decade ago. This generation’s One Direction is simply New Kids on the Block.

The technology has improved to make the illusion seem more real, but reality remains the same: the songwriters, musicians, and audio and video technicians behind the camera play a huge role in making those celebrities look great in front of the camera. Between these well-trained professionals and rapidly emerging industry tools, many of the “stars” that the media promotes are rather interchangeable. It’s the “machine” that keeps churning out one platinum hit after another.

I’m not saying that there won’t be enjoyable moments during the VMAs. After all, people eat hamburgers because they taste good, not because they are good for them. I’ll just be watching a different show than most people. My satisfaction comes from knowing “how,” not “who.”  I appreciate the techniques these audio and video engineers use to create a spectacle worth watching.

Will there be twerking? Probably. But I won’t care. I’ll be too busy figuring out how they used the video screens to turn a virtual Donald Trump into Batman.

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Title: New Israel Study Travel Awards for Students
Author:
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Abstract: New Lorry Segal Israel Travel Awards available for AU students.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 08/25/2015
Content:

Born in Brooklyn to parents originally from the northern Israeli city of Tzfat, Lorry Segal and her sister Frieda grew up in a Zionist, Orthodox household that never forgot its origin. Frieda Segal Raben remembers raising money to support the Jews living in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine. The sisters would stand on the street and ask pedestrians to “give money for Palestine, give money for the Jews.” It was not until 1959, however, eleven years after the founding of the State, that Lorry and Frieda would travel there to visit family. While this would be Lorry’s only trip to Israel, she never forgot the beauty and splendor of the new nation.

Frieda believes an intensive experience in the country itself is the best way to understand and appreciate Israel. Therefore, Frieda and her husband Milton have established the Lorry Segal Israel Travel Grant through the Center for Israel Studies in memory of Frieda’s sister. The grant will enable American University students to pursue their academic interests in Israel, as well as experience its vibrant culture. “If you spend several months in Israel, you’re going to get hooked,” says Frieda. 

Frieda’s sister Lorry earned her Master’s Degree in Library Science from Columbia University before pursuing a career in elementary school education. Frieda fondly remembers how animated Lorry became when she told a story, and the pride and pleasure she took in her young students’ accomplishments. Lifelong learners themselves, Frieda and Milton are regular attendees of Center for Israel Studies educational events; this past spring Frieda helped create an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute seminar on Israel. 

“CIS is grateful that the Rabens have established this award fund to support AU students studying in Israel. Study abroad enhances how students from different countries and cultures view the world and understand the relationship between the US and Israel,” said Michael Brenner, the Seymour and Lillian Abensohn Chair in Israel Studies. American University and the Center for Israel Studies offer several opportunities to study in Israel, both through the AU Abroad program and through trips with AU faculty.  

The first Lorry Segal Israel Travel Awards will be available for American University students studying in Israel during the 2015-16 academic year. For information on applying for the competitive award, or to contribute to the Lorry Segal Travel Grant fund, please contact Laura Cutler, cutler@american.edu

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Title: Students Nominated for Helen Hayes Awards
Author:
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Abstract: The annual Helen Hayes Awards are Washington theatre's highest honors.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 08/17/2015
Content:

This year, AU students were nominated for 21 Helen Hayes awards. The annual Helen Hayes Awards are Washington theatre’s highest honors and bring together theatre makers and theatre lovers to celebrate excellence on Washington professional stages. 

"The fact that we have so many students nominated for such a prestigious award certainly is testament to the quality of training students receive in our program,” said Sybil Williams, professorial lecturer in the Department of Performing Arts. “But equally important, it is evidence of the caliber of students that we continue to attract as a viable program in a city with such outstanding professional theatres. Our goal is to continue to contribute to the vibrant DC theater community by consistently producing innovative, imaginative, and disciplined theatre artists/scholars who push the boundaries of the field in wildly exciting ways."

 

2015 Nominations

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical-HAYES Production
Samuel Edgerly, BA musical theater ’12
Ordinary Days, Round House Theatre

 

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play-HELEN Production 
Katie Ryan, BA theater ’12
Terminus, Studio Theatre 

 

Outstanding Choreography in a Musical-HELEN Production 
Kelsea Edgerly, BA musical theater and journalism ’12
Miss Nelson is Missing, Adventure Theatre MTC 

 

Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical-HELEN Production
Josh Sticklin, BA political science and musical theater ’08
Hair, The Keegan Theatre 

Ben Gibson, BA musical theatre ’06
Spamalot, Toby’s Dinner Theatre 

 

Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical-HAYES Production 
Kelsea Edgerly, BA musical theater and journalism ’12
Vishal Vaidya, BA musical theatre and international studies ’08
25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Ford’s Theatre 

David Landstrom, BA musical theatre ’12
How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Olney Theatre Center 

Angela Miller, BA musical theatre ’12
Sunday in the Park with George, Signature Theatre

 

Outstanding Ensemble in a Play-HELEN Production 
Pasquale Guiducci
, BA musical theatre and secondary education ’13 Chelsea Thaler, BA theatre ’14
The Island of Doctor Moreau, Synetic Theater 

Adi Stein, BA theatre and philosophy ’12
The Wonderful World of Dissocia, Theater Alliance

 

Outstanding Ensemble in a Play-HAYES Production 
Michael Litchfield, BA theatre ’12
Colossal, Olney Theatre Center 

 

Outstanding Production, Theatre for Young Audiences 
Don Michael Mendoza, BA musical theatre and journalism ’10
The Jungle Book, Adventure Theatre MTC  

 

Outstanding Musical-HELEN Production 
Josh Sticklin, BA political science and musical theater ’08
Hair, The Keegan Theatre  

Ben Gibson, BA musical theatre ’06
Spamalot, Toby’s Dinner Theatre 

 

Outstanding Musical-HAYES Production 
Angela Miller BA musical theatre ’12
Sunday in the Park with George, Signature Theatre 

 

Outstanding Play-HELEN Production 
Adi Stein, BA theatre and philosophy ’12
The Wonderful World of Dissocia, Theater Alliance 

 

Outstanding Play-HAYES Production 
Michael Litchfield, BA theatre ’12
Colossal, Olney Theatre Center  

 

Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company 
Adi Stein, BA theatre and philosophy ’12
Flying V

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Title: AU Faculty Improving Science Education in DC Schools
Author: Patty Housman
Subtitle:
Abstract: Summer institute hosted by AU focuses on new science curriculum.
Topic: Science
Publication Date: 08/17/2015
Content:

For four weeks this summer, American University science faculty taught DC middle school teachers how to develop innovative and effective new science curriculum for their classrooms. 

The program, named the Learning and Teaching Science with Scientists Institute, was funded by the DC Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE) through its Mathematics and Science Partnerships Grant Program. The grant was awarded to AU’s science departments and School of Education in partnership with the Ideal Academy Public Charter School in DC. In all, 14 DC public and independent school teachers completed the training: 4 from Ideal, and 10 from other DC middle schools.  

“AU is uniquely suited for this program because of the strong relationship between the science departments and the School of Education,” said Danielle Sodani, director of Project Development and Community Outreach at American University’s School of Education. “Through programs like Lab2Class, a NSF-funded initiative that prepares new science teachers to teach in DC schools, AU education faculty and science faculty have explored the issues of teaching and scientific inquiry as a way to deeply engage K-12 students in science disciplines.”  

 

Developing and Implementing Innovative New Curriculum 

The participating teachers completed weeklong one-credit graduate courses in biology, chemistry, environmental science, and physics, followed up a three-credit education course that helped them create lessons plans for their classrooms using the science content they learned. They tested their lesson plans at Ideal Academy’s summer school with students in grades 3-8, and they will officially implement the new curriculum in their classrooms this fall. 

The new curriculum was developed in response to new state and national science curriculum standards named Next Generation Science Standards (NGSI). 

“The goal of the institute was to help teachers develop curriculum based on the new standards,” said Nancy Zeller, AU’s coordinator of science teaching labs and the grant manager for the institute. “The Next Generation Science Standards emphasize both science content and the scientific process,” said Zeller. “One of the reasons why the institute was such a success was because our faculty taught the teachers the processes that scientists use when they conduct research in their labs: to make predictions and set up experiments to test those predictions. The teachers learned that by giving the students something to observe or analyze, and by guiding them through the scientific method, the students also learn the content. It is a more effective way of teaching science.”  

 

American University Scientists and Faculty 

Nine AU faculty members taught the courses:  

Meg Bentley, director in residence of laboratories, Department of Biology
Jane Ferguson, director, Chemistry Teaching Labs, Department of Chemistry
Mark Hannum, adjunct instructor, School of Education
Michele Lansigan, professorial lecturer, Department of Chemistry
Jonathan Newport, lab director and research specialist, Department of Physics
Christina Pondell, instructor, Department of Environmental Science
Sorangel Rodriguez-Velazquez, professorial lecturer, Department of Chemistry
Angela Van Doorn, professorial lecturer, Department of Environmental Science
Nancy Zeller, director, Science Teaching Labs

 

Science Teaching Labs  

In addition, seven AU research scientists from four science departments volunteered their time to give seminars to the teachers: 

Naden Krogan, assistant professor, Department of Biology
David Carlini, associate professor, Department of Biology
Jim Girard, professor, Department of Chemistry
Stefano Costanzi, assistant professor, Department of Chemistry
Kiho Kim, department chair, Department of Environmental Science
Gregory Harry, assistant professor, Department of Physics
Kathryn Walters-Conte, director, Professional Sciences Master's in Biotechnology, Department of Biology

Four undergraduate students will assist with the grant. This summer Kirk Blackmore (biochemistry ’15) and Nikita Srivastava (physics ’15) assisted with the science courses. In the fall, two more undergrads will join them in helping to implement and evaluate the lesson plans at the participating middle schools.  

 

What’s Next  

The Learning and Teaching Science with Scientists professional development program will continue throughout the upcoming academic year.  

“AU undergraduate student assistants and faculty will work with teachers in the program's partner school, Ideal Academy, and other DC schools to implement the lessons they created this summer. Preliminary data already show that the program has increased teachers' knowledge of the inquiry approach to teaching science,” said Sodani.  

The institute was a real partnership between the faculty members and teachers, said Zeller. “Everyone worked together enthusiastically, and as a result, the AU science faculty members look forward to seeking similar science education grants in the future. There was nothing more fulfilling than watching the students at Ideal Academy in lab coats investigating electric circuits, germinating bean seeds, and analyzing a forensic robbery scene. We hope to create more opportunities like this in the future.”

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Title: Race to the Finish
Author: Gregg Sangillo
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Abstract: AU assistant track coach Kerri Gallagher will compete in the IAAF World Championships in China.
Topic: Athletics
Publication Date: 08/13/2015
Content:

Out of the Blocks

Through countless hours of training, American University assistant track coach Kerri Gallagher pushes herself to the limit. And now she's getting ready for perhaps the biggest race of her life. She's heading to Beijing, China to compete at the IAAF World Championships, which start on August 22. Gallagher is one of four standout athletes representing the United States in the women's 1500 meter.

After finishing third in the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, she qualified for Beijing by hitting the world standard time in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy. Her 4:03.56 Italy time was about five seconds faster than her previous personal best.

In an interview last month, Gallagher was overjoyed about her recent accomplishments. "It's been a big year for me," she says. "It was my highest finish at the U.S. championships. So it's been exciting, for sure."

Journey to AU

During her formative years, Gallagher found a way to exceed expectations. A New York City kid, Gallagher dabbled in soccer, swimming, and basketball before discovering track. "Everybody does a little bit of everything when you're young. So I stayed with basketball in high school, freshman year. And I was riding the bench the whole year. I was like five feet tall. And, you know, they took me on the team mainly because I was fast," she recalls. "I got better, but by sophomore year, my mom suggested maybe I should try cross country. And I was a little hesitant; I didn't really want to do cross country. But then I tried it. I said, 'All right mom, I'm not going back if I don't like it.' But, of course, I liked it and I stayed with it."

While attending high school in Brooklyn, her track skills developed and she started to meet with college coaches. Her high school coach was friends with American University's cross country/track & field head coach Matt Centrowitz. Gallagher then took a trip to AU and was completely sold on coach Centrowitz' program. But wanting to stay close to home, she attended Fordham University in the Bronx. She ran the 800 meter during her freshman and sophomore years. Her strength increased, and by senior year, she was running her current specialty, the 1500. Gallagher earned her bachelor's degree in mathematics, with minors in computer science and economics.

She started off working in the financial sector, but fate and initiative drew her back to AU. As detailed in a recent Runner's World profile, she quit her job and came down to D.C. on a bus. She trained with Centrowitz and took a volunteer coaching job, before eventually getting hired as a full-time assistant coach. "I'm actually really happy that I was able to come down here to work with him, because it just kind of solidified that feeling I had four years earlier."

At AU, Gallagher is also earning her master's degree in quantitative analysis, and she's enjoyed both statistics and business courses.

The Long Run

As part of her training regimen, Gallagher usually runs about 12 miles a day, seven days a week. Put in perspective, that amount of mileage over a full year would be like running from New York City to Salt Lake City and back again. And especially during the season, she stays entirely focused and eschews headphones and music during workouts.

"A lot of times I find myself on runs visualizing races coming up. And I don't plan my runs for that, but when those natural thoughts happen, I want to let them happen," she says. "It's a good time for reflection in that way. I'm not trying to distract myself."

So, what makes Kerri run? Unlike that cliché about how you race against yourself, Gallagher admits she's quite focused on the competition. "For me, it's pushing myself to see how good I can be here in the U.S. and even on a world stage," she says.

And she jokes about the need for a quirky personality. "I think runners are all a little bit crazy in a way. You kind of have to be."

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Title: Winning Essay - 2015 Alumni Association Scholarship
Author: Sirah Bah
Subtitle:
Abstract: Sirah Bah, Class of 2019, submitted this essay describing how her father's student experience influenced her own decision to attend AU. This was one of the requirements to apply for the Alumni Association Scholarship.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 08/07/2015
Content:

My father was a graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences at American University in 1990 with a focus in Development Management. My father's time at AU has not only shaped his life but has influenced me with my current passions and interests. One reason why I would like to attend AU is because it is dedicated to help educate their students to grow into a person who favors philanthropy, and uses their knowledge to make a positive impact in the world. My father's education at AU exposed him to international relations, and social change work 20 years before it became a "fad". AU is on the forefront in all educational fields, encourages their students to push the boundaries, and inspires their students to "Be the change that you wish to see in the world" (Gandhi). Although after my father's time at AU ended he did not leave behind that mantra, and used those very same words to help me aspire to be the person I am today. I would like to attend AU, because it is a unique institution that cares about educating the "whole body", and more importantly focuses on social change. I give all credit to my father's unwavering vocation to enact social change, because of his experiences at a truly unique university, and to his philanthropic fervor that has motivated me to follow in his footsteps. With the seed of philanthropy within me, I took the first giant leap in starting a nonprofit to create a brighter future.

My father is very proud about having attended American University, and his enthusiasm about the school is another reason in why I wish to attend for the upcoming school year. I would love to be a part of an institution that will leave such long lasting positivity within their graduates. My father does not entirely show much emotion about a lot of things, but when he speaks about AU, and about his time in the DC campus, his face truly lights up. He marvels over his time at AU, and speaks about his professors and friends from there with such irrefutable glee. I love to see my father's face when he talks about AU, and I know that if I am able to attend AU, I will meet people like he did that will lead me to speak about AU with so much joy.

As a proud alumnus of American University, my father has taken advantage of our close proximity to the school to attend some of the basketball games. At these events in Bender Arena that are full of students seeping with team pride, and with the eagle mascot running around enticing uproarious cheer from the stands, I can see myself at an institution like so. I would love to attend AU, because groups of students from SIS to CAS to Kogod can all come together in a non-academic environment to meet one another, and form a strong school community that means so much to me.

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newsId: C102DB5D-5056-AF26-BEDEEF3B7B98054B
Title: Two Alumnae Mix Business with Conscience
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
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Abstract: Glen’s Garden Market and Peeled Snacks want to bring you delicious, sustainable food and products.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 07/10/2015
Content:

Students buying coffee at Starbucks on campus (and across the nation) can also find a healthy option to munch on between classes: Peeled Snacks. Started by alumna Noha Waibsnaider, CAS/BA ’96, Peeled Snacks offers organic dried fruit, trail mix, and other tasty treats. In Dupont Circle, Glen’s Garden Market, owned by alumna Danielle Vogel, WCL/JD ’07, also sells Peeled Snacks along with a bevy of other organic food and locally-sourced sustainable products.

Noha Waibsnaider found the inspiration to start Peeled Snacks during the anti-globalization protests against the World Trade Organization in 1999. “Seeing the protests on the news, I realized we need people on the inside of business to make a difference,” she says.

Noha went to Columbia Business School and landed a job in brand management at a large food company. “Working there, I learned about how horribly processed all of our food is,” she says. “Food companies add lots of preservatives, chemicals, and sugar. I realized people deserved better and thought I could make something better.”

Thus, Peeled Snacks was born.

Inspired by her childhood in Israel, where people have been eating dried fruit and nuts for thousands of years to make the fruit last longer after harvest, Noha started Peeled Snacks in 2005 with dried mangos. She works closely with the farmers in Mexico to ensure they use sustainable practices and that the local economy benefits from the business. Peeled Snacks is a certified B Corp, meaning it focuses on benefiting all stakeholders and is held to rigorous standards regarding the social and environmental impact of its business decisions. Peeled Snacks are sold nationwide at Starbucks, Hudson News, Giant, Whole Foods, and locally at Glen’s Garden Market.

Danielle Vogel focused on environmental law while completing her degree at the Washington College of Law. She went on to work in the Senate on climate change legislation, but when the political climate proved that legislative progress was at an impasse, she decided to create her own change by opening Glen’s Garden Market. “We call it progress one bite at a time,” Danielle says. “We have created a space where our neighbors can only make good choices for the environment.”

All products sold at Glen’s are locally-sourced from the six states in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and the building is constructed with sustainable and reclaimed materials. But Danielle is not only committed to the environment, she also helps fellow green entrepreneurs by launching their brands in the store.

“We grow small businesses along with our own... That is how we expand this movement beyond our four walls. We help grow, incubate, and accelerate small food brands that treat their land, animals, and ingredients with respect,” Danielle says.

In its first two years, Glen’s Garden Market has launched more than 35 other small businesses by providing them with a first opportunity to sell their product in a grocery store. Danielle is also focused on a second location in Shaw at the intersection of 8th and U streets, slated to open in November 2015.

Both Danielle and Noha say their AU education has been immensely helpful in starting and running their businesses. Noha says her major in Spanish and Latin American studies helps her establish relationships with Mexican farmers and understand their culture as well as the issues they face. Danielle says her degree from the Washington College of Law has given her the knowledge to negotiate contracts and the confidence to succeed in a male-dominated industry.

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Title: CAS Alumna Returns to AU for Alumni in the KNOW: Women in Leadership
Author: Nina Cooperman, SPA/MPA '15
Subtitle:
Abstract: Virginia Louloudes, CAS/MA ’84, reflects on an AU experience that set the stage for her success.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 03/12/2015
Content:

Virginia Louloudes, CAS/MA '84, received her degree at AU when the arts management program was just beginning. Since then, she has gone on to become a prominent leader in the arts management world, serving as the executive director at Alliance of Resident Theatres in New York (A.R.T./New York). Louloudes was a panelist at this month's Alumni in the KNOW: Women in Leadership event, where she shared her thoughts on the career landscape for women in the arts and gave advice to current students. 

Louloudes has been in her role at A.R.T. New York for more than 20 years. The organization is devoted to assisting 300 member theatres in managing their organizations. A.R.T New York does everything from offering shared office and rehearsal spaces, to serving as the nation's only revolving loan fund for real estate, to providing technical assistance programs for emerging theatres. According to its website, "A.R.T./New York supports nonprofit theatre companies in New York City by providing four core programs: Funding, Training, Space, and Connections." 

In 2010, A.R.T./New York received Tony Honors for Excellence, and Louloudes had the opportunity to attend a luncheon for honorees in New York City. About the experience, she said, "I never felt so special in my life." 

When Louloudes was an arts management student at AU, she worked part-time at organizations like Arena Stage and the National Endowment for the Humanities. According to Louloudes, the course material in the arts management program challenged her to "use a different part of my brain, and talk about the quality of life that the arts brings to the United States." 

According to Louloudes, one of the benefits of attending AU is the proximity to "the wealth of arts that exist in Washington. Being in Washington, DC was great. Having access to the Smithsonian, the Kennedy Center, and Arena Stage was such a resource. Being in a city where the arts are vibrant is really amazing. It's something that is special about AU." 

Before she came to campus for Alumni in the KNOW: Women in Leadership, Louloudes said she was "looking forward to seeing how much campus has changed, meeting students and the other panelists." The one piece of advice she hopes sticks with students is to become comfortable with being yourself. After the event, students seemed to connect with her message and were actively engaged.

When asked about how the arts management program has evolved since she was a student, Louloudes says the industry has changed. "It has become much more specialized, and it's wonderful to hear that the program has become a great one," she says.

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Title: Emerging as a Young Leader in the Arts
Author: Megan Patterson, SIS/BA '11
Subtitle: Adam Natale, CAS/BA '03, leveraged his interdisciplinary studies at AU to become an emerging player in the arts as SVA Theatre's Director.
Abstract: Adam Natale, CAS/BA '03, leveraged his interdisciplinary studies at AU to become an emerging player in the arts as the Director of the SVA Theatre.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 01/15/2015
Content:

As the director of the School of Visual Arts' SVA Theatre in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York, Adam Natale, CAS/BA '03, has had some incredible opportunities – from hosting events featuring Oprah and Beyonce in 2013, to moderating a Q&A with actor David Duchovny in 2014, and finishing the year with a special 25th anniversary screening of Batman

Adam's path to being SVA Theatre's director started while he was a student at American University. At AU, he created his own interdisciplinary major – a bachelor's in directing for theatre and film – by combining the fields of visual media, psychology, and theatre. He credits his "three terrific advisors" for helping him reach his potential: Caleen Jennings, professor of performing arts; Leonard Steinhorn, professor of communication; and Anthony Ahrens, professor of psychology. "I was able to take many other classes; I wasn't strictly confined to theatre and film. I was incorporating other courses from a wide range of programs, all of which I feel like gave me a really well-rounded experience," he says. "I think that is really important in this line of work."

Adam remembers a particularly seminal experience as a member of AU's performing arts group. "My first semester on campus I got to stage-manage and assistant direct a production, which was the unheard of for a freshman," he recalls. This unique opportunity reinforced a passion for directing. "I was always interested in this line of work. I performed as an actor in high school, but I didn't want to live the life of an actor. Then I realized that there are also starving directors." 

In his final year at American, Adam interned at the National Endowment of the Arts, leading him into what would become his first job in the field of arts administration. He says, "Without the internship, I wouldn't be on the path that I am on now. I wouldn't have been able to interact with all the different professionals in the field." His success prompted an invitation to come back to AU to speak at the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium in 2009, on a panel called "Challenges of Being a Young Leader." He also served in a leadership role for Americans for the Arts, a national arts advocacy organization, which connects him to the AU and D.C. arts scene. 

Adam works with groups both inside and outside the community to bring a variety of productions to SVA Theatre's stage. He organizes everything from lectures and conferences to student events and film screenings. He especially loves the ability to bring some artistic programming to the theatre, like the inaugural alumni film and animation festival called "After School Special," which he launched in September.

Adam hopes to continue his success as SVA Theatre's director by "becoming a player in the New York art scene" and continuing to have diverse programmatic events that attract people from all walks of life. To see what is next on his schedule, check out SVA Theatre's calendar.

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Title: "Braven" The Odds
Author: Megan Patterson, SIS/BA '11
Subtitle: Marshall Thompson, CAS/BA ’03, opens Braven Brewing Company in New York City
Abstract: Marshall Thompson, CAS/BA ’03, opens Braven Brewing Company in New York City
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 11/12/2014
Content:

"Perseverance, patience, persistence and pride" –that is the mantra of Marshall Thompson, CAS/BA '03. Marshall is owner and CEO of Braven Brewing Company in Brooklyn, New York, and the journey to get to this point has taken several turns. 

Marshall came to American University with an interest in business. He enrolled as a freshman in Kogod, but transferred to the College of Arts and Sciences to complete his bachelor's degree in anthropology. Marshall says that he was attracted to the program because of his interest in people and culture. As an entrepreneur, he says one of the best parts of his work is meeting new people.

Appropriately, people have been a large part of Marshall's success. He credits AU for bringing together people who are "really driven, smart, and creative." Marshall's sophomore year roommate, Dan McAvoy, introduced Marshall to his now-business partner, Eric Feldman, who is a friend of Dan's from high school. 

Marshall surrounded himself with talented and creative friends during his time at AU, and most of them have stayed connected more than 10 years later. Marshall emphasized his strong support network of AU friends and family members who he says continue to encourage him to pursue his dreams. 

After graduating from AU, Marshall's first venture into entrepreneurialism was District Line, a clothing store that carried brands which were popular in the United Kingdom but hard to find stateside. Envisioned after his study abroad program in London, the store saw great success online, getting orders from all over the world. District Line closed in 2008 (during the recession), but Marshall learned from this great experience, saying "It taught me that I need to believe in what I am doing, that it needs to be authentic and real." 

Now, continuing to live by his mantra, Marshall has persevered through challenging setbacks, was patient with slow-moving bureaucracy, and persisted to fulfill his dream of opening a brewery. Braven Brewing Company, located in the historic Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, will be open to the public in the spring of 2015. You don't have to wait to try their beers though –restaurants and bars all around Brooklyn will be getting Braven beers on tap by the end of this year. 

Keep an eye on the New York Young Alumni Chapter events calendar –soon Braven will be on it!

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Title: Alumni Board Member Uses Family Business Experience to Assist Others
Author: Patricia Rabb
Subtitle:
Abstract: Lee Tannenbaum actively supports family-owned business
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 11/12/2014
Content:

"I guess you can say that I came to AU in 1976 and never left," says Lee Tannenbaum, CAS/BA '80, about his ties to AU. "A college counselor told me how beautiful the campus was and felt that I would be at home there since I had grown up in the suburbs," he adds.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Lee has lived in Rockland County, N.Y., since 1960. Upon graduation from high school, Lee knew he wanted to attend college in Washington, D.C., since he was fascinated with politics and its effect on business.  

After arriving on campus as a freshman, he immediately went to Capitol Hill and was hired as an intern in the office of his Congressman, Benjamin Gilman, who served as a U.S. Representative for New York for 30 years. Thus began Lee's "love affair" with Washington, D.C.   

During his time at AU, Lee wrote for the university newspaper, played intramural sports, and made several life-long friendships. "My best friend at AU is still my best friend today," says Lee. His favorite memory is attending concerts and writing music stories for The Eagle. Lee was able to meet several artists whose music inspires him to this day. He recalls meeting Dennis DeYoung, founding member of the rock band, Styx. Lee says the rocker called out to him, saying, "Get over here and ask me some questions, kid."  

Since graduating, Lee has been the president and owner of Mill Supply Division, wholesale fabricators of Hunter Douglas blinds. He runs the company with his brother, Ross, and the two have been working together there for more than 33 years. Their father started the company in 1969 and Lee joined him upon graduation from AU. Over the years, he's helped grow the business from $4 million in revenue in 1994 to $23 million in 2013. Lee says that the most rewarding part of operating this company came from the example his father set. "I got to work with my dad and brother. We were always there for each other," says Lee. 

Lee is now a business development manager for a growing family business, Designs by Town & Country, a full-service window treatment company in Greenwich, Conn. Lee is helping the owners build their family business by enhancing their brand and improving their networking with interior designers, architects, and home automation integrators. In this role, Lee helps the father and son team use lessons he learned while running his own family business.

Lee says that volunteering his time to AU has been very rewarding. "The fact that I can still help my alma mater makes me feel valued," he says. In addition to being a member of the Alumni Board, Lee serves as an Alumni Admissions Volunteer. At a recent college fair in New York, Lee says he was impressed by the quality of the prospective students. "Just seeing the types of young men and women being accepted by our university makes me feel good about our future," he says.

Lee notes that much has changed at AU since he attended in the late '70s. He recalls the time, before Bender Arena was built, when students had to ride a bus to the Fort Myer gym in Virginia to attend basketball games. "All the new academic buildings on campus demonstrate that this indeed is a new AU. There is a new attitude and it is infectious," he says.

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Title: Brett Smock, CAS/BA ’92: From Dancer to Producing Artistic Director
Author: Patricia C. Rabb
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Abstract: AU alumnus is Producing Artistic Director of The Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 09/09/2014
Content:

"I remember getting out of the car and walking across the quad and immediately having this sense that things felt right." So says alumnus Brett Smock, CAS/BA '92, about his first impression of AU.

As the son of a diplomat, born in Hawaii but raised predominantly overseas, Brett enjoyed living in countries such as Libya, Pakistan, Israel, and France. During his junior year in high school in Singapore, he took a two-month tour of select U.S. universities – starting at UCLA and ending at NYU. His second to last stop was American University. "I am someone who listens closely to my gut reaction, and it has never let me down. I went back to Singapore with AU on the brain; and well, the rest is history."

Trained as an Olympic swimmer, graduating from AU as a theatre major, and then becoming a dancer, Brett realized that he also enjoyed the business side of theatrical companies. In June 2014, he assumed the role of producing artistic director for The Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, a three-venue operation, after working with the company for almost 30 years. 

Brett now oversees a budget of roughly $5 million and a staff of approximately 20 that grows to a company of over 250 at the height of the season. This includes the youth theater and the programming and operation of the festival's musicals at Merry-Go-Round Playhouse at Emerson Park, Auburn Public Theater, and The Pitch at Theater Mack in Auburn, N.Y. Auburn, located in central New York on one of the Finger Lakes, is an historic city where Harriet Tubman and William H. Seward lived while helping lead slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad.  

Much has changed since the time when Brett first started at this playhouse. He recalls actors brushing their teeth in a spigot in the yard. Now, alongside a renovated 500-seat, state-of-the-art facility, two more venues have been added. In line with his organization's mission, Brett says, "When the arts flourish, so do local communities. That's exactly what we've seen happen. Auburn is thriving. [It's] certainly not entirely as a result of the arts, but we're a driving force."

In terms of his goals for the coming years, Brett is focused on growing the festival's audience, developing the next generation of theatre-goers, introducing important works of musical theatre, and developing musical theatre writers. The company operates on three stages and plays to audiences of more than 65,000 each season. "We're an arts organization and our sole task is to create terrific theatre. That is my mantra and my light in the storm. If we do that and we provide theatrical excellence, the rest will organically follow," says Brett.  

Brett has returned to AU many times since graduating more than 20 years ago. He has served as a guest director and as a choreographer several times – beginning almost immediately upon his graduation and continuing to the present. Brett has gratitude for his time at AU and likes to support other AU alumni whenever possible. "I am a product of that investment – not only by the faculty but by the institution itself. AU has given me a lot and I feel, as a leader in the arts today, an incredible responsibility to pay that forward as well as pay that back to AU in every way," he says. 

Brett splits his time between homes in New York City and Auburn. He spends more time in Auburn as a result of this position but gets back to the city whenever possible. He admits to being a workaholic and recalls training for the Olympics by swimming in the pool daily, both at 5 a.m. and immediately following school. He brings a lot of passion to his work in theatre. "If you don't get out of bed and run to work, what are you doing?" he asks.

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Title: Family Values Worth Cherishing
Author: Mike Rowan
Subtitle: To keep Larissa Gerstel’s legacy alive, her relatives are inspiring future generations at AU to follow in her footsteps.
Abstract: To keep Larissa Gerstel’s legacy alive, her relatives are inspiring future generations at AU to follow in her footsteps.
Topic: Education & Teaching
Publication Date: 03/25/2014
Content:

Take a family member of Robin Berk Seitz, SIS/MA ’95, or her husband, Richard (Bob) Seitz, and chances are pretty good that person is an educator. Counted among their relatives are principals, classroom teachers, reading specialists, community college instructors, instructional design specialists, and trainers who have worked with diverse populations spanning young children, college students, adults, medical professionals, ESL students, and the deaf and blind. There is a passion that is palpable, illustrated in one case by Bob’s mother, who directed a reading clinic open to people of all ages into her eighties

So when their daughter Larissa Gerstel, née Rozek, CAS/BA ’00—fittingly, an elementary school teacher on her way to graduate school in Denver to become a bilingual reading specialist—had her life cut short by a sudden illness just after her 26th birthday, their response was only natural. Within months, Robin and Bob set in motion a vision to honor Larissa’s life by inspiring students and future educators, bringing all of their extended family together in an effort that is still growing after almost a decade.

“This is important to all of us,” Robin confides.

********

As an AU student, Larissa Gerstel quickly stood out as a passionate force against injustice. While studying to become a teacher, she became an outspoken advocate of critical literacy, an instructional approach that emphasizes active analysis and questioning on the part of the reader to uncover underlying messages of power, inequality, and injustice in human relationships. Together with one of her mentors—Dr. Vivian Vasquez, a professor of education in the School of Education, Teaching, and Health, (SETH)—Larissa helped found an organization called Educators for Critical Literacy, and reached out to local communities in an urgent effort to make literacy a central component of children’s lives. It was the discovery of a calling that would become her life’s work. When it came time to enter her field professionally, she took action on her ideals.

“Larissa had been offered a teaching position in a wealthy area near her home in Port Orange, Florida,” Robin remembers. “And she chose instead to drive 60 miles each way to teach migrant workers’ children.”

Dubbed “the fern capital of the world,” the town of Pierson, Florida relies heavily on agriculture to support their local economy. Around 60 percent of the population is Latino, as classified by census figures, and one-third live below the poverty line, including 40 percent of children under 18. After a year teaching in Montgomery County, Larissa moved to central Florida, teaching at Pierson Elementary School. Shaped by her own childhood as a second-language learner growing up in Switzerland and Italy, as well as her influential experience as a Spanish tutor in high school, she found a fundamental connection with the community.

“Larissa really knew herself. Kids were really important to her, especially kids who were disadvantaged, and who came from immigrant backgrounds learning English as a second language,” says Robin. She also notes that her daughter also worked hard to involve parents, and encouraged them to be active and informed participants in their children’s education. “We really were grateful to Pierson because Larissa really found her voice as a teacher there, and really loved her students and colleagues. It was a very important place to her.”

Today, Pierson is home to the Larissa Gerstel Parenting Center, where parents join their children in reading and other literacy events.

**********

AU became home for Larissa before she even began the college application process, as a high school student while Robin was working toward her master’s in the School of International Service.

“I often took her with me to AU, to the library. Larissa became very familiar and very comfortable being there,” Robin explains. “She was always ready to grow up fast. After her sophomore year [of high school], she was ready to move on. Really the only place she wanted to go was AU.

“She really wanted to apply early decision, but you normally can’t apply two and half years through high school!” Fortunately, after meeting with the family, the administration at McLean High School wrote a statement in support of Larissa and explained her circumstances, and AU accepted her application, to Robin's delight. “She was just thrilled.”

The mother-daughter trips to AU, which set the stage for a college experience that nurtured Larissa’s passion for her chosen career and close friendships, remain special to Robin. “I’ve really been putting a lot of my efforts and energy over the last nine years into the library. It's very meaningful to me and to us as a family, because that’s where Larissa developed her passion for AU... It is still that way for me when I visit campus; I feel like I am coming home, this is where I belong.”

**********

After Larissa’s passing, an outpouring of support from her professors and mentors at AU quickly followed. As Robin recalls, “I talked to Vivian and to Sarah [Irvine-Belson, dean of SETH, another professor who knew her well] to tell them what happened. Immediately they said they needed to do something to honor Larissa’s life’s work and memory.” The Larissa Gerstel Critical Literacy Collection was born, initially funded with $10,000 from SETH, plus other donations. After a pre-opening ceremony in 2006, the collection officially opened in 2007. “They [Vivian and Sarah] really helped this process a lot by initiating the vision. In fact, they both came to Larissa’s memorial service [two months later] and brought flyers about the collection to our church.”

The collection was to be housed in the Curriculum Materials Center within the AU Library, and as discussions of the concept progressed, AU librarians and development staff worked increasingly closely with SETH and the Seitz family. “It was a partnership,” Robin emphasizes. “It really evolved over time.” The scope of the effort grew to include an annual event, the Larissa Gerstel Critical Literacy Symposium.

“I remember putting together the first symposium,” Robin reflects. “From the very beginning, we set up the fund so that 75 percent would go to the books and curriculum materials and 25 percent would go to a symposium. We knew early on that we wanted it to be both something living—in terms of an event—and also long-lasting, which would be the books, and the teaching of teachers through the curriculum materials.”

“The spreading of the importance of child literacy issues has really taken off,” Bob adds. “We are very happy to have this as a remembrance for Larissa, but the other goal is genuinely helping students and professors at AU communicate about child literacy issues. [The symposium] has done very good work for all the potential teachers that come out of SETH, and others who attend out of sheer interest. You get different perspectives, and a continually higher level of discussion every year.”

In the Curriculum Materials Center, among the many multicultural books for students, children, and parents to learn about issues of social justice and equity in a safe, comfortable space, there hangs a plaque with a quote from Larissa’s graduate school application essay:

“The look of understanding that comes over a child’s face when she or he finally understands a concept that before was baffling and yet now seems simple is the greatest joy I have had as a teacher.”

***********

As momentum surrounding the collection and symposium continued to build, the conversation of sustaining Larissa’s presence on campus expanded. “Over time, we gradually began discussions about establishing the Larissa Gerstel Critical Literacy Endowment,” Robin stated. With the support of the extended family, the AU Library and SETH, after years of difficult but uplifting work, the endowment became fully funded this fiscal year.

“Why an endowment? It evolved into that. This is really going to be an ongoing legacy that will build—and hopefully exponentially over time—and continue to give to the school and the students, and really have an impact. We’re grateful to have the opportunity to have Larissa remembered in this way, as a living legacy.

“I think what’s really unique about this is the partnership between the school (CAS) and the Library. It’s not easy to work across departments at a university. The fact that this is such a fantastic success story, and that it’s ongoing, it’s external as well as internal—outreach to the community as well as students and teachers makes this really special. There are a lot great things about that for everybody, including the library.”

Not least among these benefits of the endowment is preserving the memories of Larissa for future generations of her family. Says her fourteen-year-old sister Loree, “AU has helped keep Larissa’s spirit and ambitions alive, and this has been an experience I will never forget. Over the past nine years, I’ve felt like the AU community has been like family to me.”

“It’s really an enduring legacy and an annual legacy,” Robin imparts. “We have the best of both. On Larissa’s birthday, we want to come on campus and be with Larissa there, and we feel the same way about the symposium during Alumni Weekend in October. This is a way of keeping Larissa’s spirit alive; that’s the value to us as a family.”

 

The Seitz family wishes to communicate special thanks to all current and former AU community members who played important roles in making the Larissa Gerstel Critical Literacy Endowment a reality: Sarah Irvine-Belson, Vivian Vasquez, and Danielle Sodani of SETH; Alex Hodges, Bill Mayer, and Nancy Davenport of the AU Library; and Jenny McMillan, Sarah Papazoglakis, and Nicole Weaver of the Office of Development.

Tags: College of Arts and Sciences,Giving,Library,School of Education, Teaching and Health,Donor
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newsId: 23A354A3-08DC-6AA5-D4C948B8A867E86A
Title: SIRIUSXM Executive Gives Back as Mentor to Current Students
Author: Megan Olson
Subtitle:
Abstract: Steve Leeds, CAS/BA ’72, began a career in music while a student at AU.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 03/12/2014
Content:

Today the students of American University listen to WVAU, the Internet based student-run radio station. For American University alumnus Steve Leeds, CAS/BA ’72, the campus radio station, then WAMU AM, was a second home for him during his formative years while studying at AU in the early ’70s and just the beginning of his successful career in the music industry.

Steve reminisces warmly about his time at AU – many life experiences, putting service first, and living in Washington, D.C. during the Nixon administration. He remembers fondly the house he lived in on Wisconsin Avenue his senior year as well as his experiences during the war protests in Ward Circle – even broadcasting live while wearing a gas mask. An avid music fan, Steve proudly shares that The Allman Brothers’ Band recorded an album live in the American University gym on December 13, 1970.

Steve, who is now vice president of talent and industry affairs at SIRIUSXM, is an active AU alumnus. In his current role, Steve is part of the department responsible for providing talent for all of the channels at SIRIUSXM. At the office, no two days are ever the same for Steve. His responsibilities range from maintaining relationships with promoters, publicists, and record labels to coordinating times and talent from New York to Nashville, Los Angeles, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C.

Even though Steve’s job can be demanding, he continues to serve as a dedicated alumni volunteer and mentor to numerous SOC students. He is passionate about giving his time freely in an effort to provide students with access to candid career advice. He says he enjoys “sharing insights with students and helping them to see the forest through the trees while they are trying to navigate what to do next after AU.”

Steve’s involvement reaches beyond personally advising students. He also invites students to his office at SIRIUSXM in New York during the annual SOC site visit trip. SIRIUSXM is always a favorite site for students to attend, and Steve asks his colleagues at various levels in the company to provide them with stories about how they got started in the industry.

Steve continues to pay it forward, acknowledging how instrumental a mentor can be in shaping someone’s future. He recalls that his faculty advisor at AU was vital helping him figure out how to turn his passion into a career, including assisting him in creating an interdisciplinary degree track, which is known today as the BA in American Studies, as well as encouraging him to continue on to graduate school at Syracuse University, where he received an MS in television and radio.

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,College of Arts and Sciences
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newsId: C4C2C1BD-B0C1-206B-F6A5151137FE3300
Title: Alumnus Daniel Maree wins Do Something Award for Creating Social Change
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
Subtitle:
Abstract: When Daniel Maree, SOC-CAS/BA ’08, heard about the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, he took action.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 09/12/2013
Content:

When Daniel Maree, SOC-CAS/BA ’08, heard about the fatal shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, he knew he had to take action. “I lived in Gainesville, Florida for two years, and I’ve been in positions like [Trayvon was in]. I’ve been stopped in predominantly white neighborhoods in Florida by police or [citizens] just because I was an African American male. … Trayvon could have easily been me or my little sister, and I knew immediately I had to do something about it.”

Daniel definitely did “do something.” He launched the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice movement, and because of its success, on July 31, 2013, he won the Do Something Award, broadcast on VH1, which includes a grand prize of $100,000.

Trayvon was wearing a hooded sweatshirt the night he was killed, so Daniel recorded a YouTube video to launch Million Hoodies Movement for Justice. “We were calling on people around the world to show solidarity for Trayvon’s family with one act – simply by putting on a hoodie and sharing a picture of themselves in the hoodie,” Daniel says.

This sparked a social media firestorm, the fastest-growing petition in the history of the internet, as well as more than 50,000 people participating in more than a dozen protests in different cities across the United States, including 5,000 people in New York City’s Union Square.

Daniel credits American University for giving him the opportunity to create his own interdisciplinary major in history, philosophy, and film so he could study how social change occurs and how to use media to create change. He says some of his mentors are Professors Russell Williams, SOC/BA ’74, Peter Kuznick, and Gemma Puglisi.

“I had the privilege of being taught by some of the best professors. … I look back every day, and I see how their coursework and the conversations I had with them, not only in the classroom but during office hours, helped establish my foundation in critical thinking and exploring issues beyond the surface,” he says, “The School of Communication provided a great basis for my training in interactive media and film, which has been a huge part of the Million Hoodies movement. We leverage media and entertainment every day to galvanize people to the cause.”

When asked how he will spend the prize money to continue his activism, Daniel says, “Trayvon Martin is just the tip of the iceberg. … We want to prevent [incidents like this] from ever happening again, so we really have to attack to root causes: racial discrimination and structural violence against young people of color – black, Latino, Hispanic, Asian American, the list goes on. It’s not just African Americans.”

Daniel hopes to accomplish this by educating young people and engaging them in conversations on race and gun violence at an early age. He is in talks now with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create a digital study guide for classrooms to start these discussions. He also hopes to start local conversations about racial profiling and common sense gun legislation because, he says, change must come from the local level.

“We are calling on college students to start Million Hoodies chapters on their campuses, and we will give them the resources they need to have an impact on their local communities. And I want American University to be the first Million Hoodies college chapter. All it takes is one student,” says Daniel.

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,College of Arts and Sciences,School of Communication
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newsId: 528D56DD-EB88-65D2-CC4833E8E6916E04
Title: Nicole Zangara, CAS/BA ’06, Has New Book Analyzing Female Friendships
Author: Patricia Rabb
Subtitle:
Abstract: The book is an analysis of how to find and keep female friendships in the age of new technology and social media.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 07/17/2013
Content:

“I truly hope that after reading this book, a student or alumna walks away with validation and adopts the ‘it’s not just me’ mentality when finding/managing her friendships.”

So says alumna Nicole Zangara, CAS/BA ’06, about her book, Surviving Female Friendships: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, an analysis of how to find and keep female friendships in the age of new technology and social media. Nicole is a licensed clinical social worker and provides psychotherapy in Arizona, where she moved to be closer to family.

Nicole decided to write the book because she felt that “there wasn’t enough information out there for women who have experienced complicated friendships – from how we meet and make friends to the long-lasting friendship that ends without any explanation, to having to let go of an unhealthy friendship.”

In this book, Nicole not only recalls her own experiences but also includes stories from women ranging in age from 20 to over 60. “Regardless of age, every woman has a story,” she says. “Another reason for the book is that, as women grow older, we tend to focus on our family and career, and sometimes friendships take a backseat in our lives; it’s not good or bad, it simply is, and I want to acknowledge the shifts that so often happen in female friendships.”

The book examines what Nicole calls a popular myth about female friendships —that they will last. “Friendships take work. They take both parties putting in time and effort to keep the friendship going. Oftentimes, friendships lose steam if both people are not reaching out in some way,” she says.

The longest friendship that Nicole herself has consistently maintained has lasted seven years (and counting). “This friendship has lasted so long because we both put in time and effort to make it last. And the kicker is that we don’t live in the same state, so it takes even more time and effort – calls , emails, and text messages to maintain the friendship,” she says.

According to Nicole, one of the best parts of writing the book was “asking various women for their incredible stories, thoughts, and experiences and being able to give them a voice.” She says also enjoyed the “journey” of making a book.

Nicole also maintains a blog.

When sharing aspects of her AU experience that have stuck with her since graduation, Nicole says, “I learned a great deal about friendships during my time at AU and even write about some of these experiences in the book. College allowed me to grow as a person, yet also provided insight into how friendships can change.”

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