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Title: Librarian Profile: Alayne Mundt
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Abstract: Dedicated to making information more accessible, Resource Description Librarian Alayne Mundt works through the codes and standards needed to make the Library catalog useful and useable.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 05/21/2015
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Resource Description Librarian Alayne Mundt is driven to help others. In her work at AU, she strives to make information more accessible to researchers, but before settling down in the DC area, she explored a number of avenues for her interest in service. While working on her BA (as a double major in English and Religious Studies) at the University of Oregon, Alayne’s interest in Judaic Studies led her to study abroad in Israel for a year. Her time there was deeply “enriching,” allowing her to learn Hebrew and more about the architecture and history of Israel. Later on, Alayne joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to Nepal. While there, she taught English to 4th and 5th graders and helped to train primary school teachers. The experience was eye-opening for this Oregon native: “the poverty was intense, child labor was common, and I wanted to help.” Although the culture shock was initially overwhelming, Alayne developed close ties to the friends she made in Nepal, including the members of her host family, “the warmest, most wonderful people on Earth.”

Upon her return to the U.S., Alayne moved to San Francisco and took a job making swords for an armory. As a part of this job, Alayne learned to fence, a hobby that she would love to pick up again. She spent some time making and repairing epees, foils, and sabers, before realizing that she wanted to become a librarian. Alayne switched coasts to attend Simmons College in Boston, where she received her M.S. in Library & Information Science and then relocated to the DC area. She “never expected to stay on the East Coast” but discovered that she likes “living in a place with such a rich history.”

Where can you find her?

When she isn’t speaking at conferences, working on committees, or researching her next article, Alayne can be found in the Technical Services unit within the Library. The behind-the-scenes work at libraries is a mystery to many. Books, films, databases, and journals are added to the AU Library collection all the time, but from the time an item is requested to when it arrives on the shelf, there is an unseen process that must take place. Part of that process is ensuring that our users are able to locate these new materials. Alayne strives to make all of our resources easier to find. Resource description work can encompass a variety of important tasks, such as creating entirely new catalog records for unusual resources such as board games and data sets, making library metadata (information about data) easier for researchers to find by employing web technologies to connect resources across institutions, and maintaining consistency between name changes using controlled vocabularies. Alayne uses this example “if someone is searching for information on Cary Grant, search results should also include materials associated with the actor’s birth name, Archibald Leach.” Conversely, this work allows users to better differentiate between people, places, and things with the same name. For example, if a researcher is looking for information about former president John Adams, it will be easier for her to separate that data from material concerning minimalist composer John Adams. Alayne’s attention to detail and thoroughness mean that the materials in our collection are easier to find through the catalog for anyone doing research at the AU Library.

Why she loves her job

While Alayne was drawn to librarianship initially because of her love of reading, she does not shy away from the increasingly digital aspect of the job. In fact, she finds it exhilarating to be in the profession during a time of great change and growth. The specialization of resource description is “changing very rapidly, which makes it an exciting time to be in the field.” Her attraction to helping others is evident in Alayne’s enthusiasm for improving access to information. She describes her work as “helping to provide broader, better access to Library services and making Library resources more easily searchable and discoverable.” In addition to the satisfaction of sharing information, Alayne “is so grateful for the collaborative nature of this Library; the openness about sharing ideas and working together to improve services. The people here are dedicated to making our Library the best we can for our students.” In addition to the joy she finds helping students, Alayne even finds the fun in her commute which she spends listening to Mötley Crüe, getting pumped up to start cataloging books!

In the community

Alayne serves on a number of committees, including the Senate Committee for Information Services, the WRLC Metadata Committee, the library’s Digital Strategies Group, and as the Vice Chair of the University Library Faculty Committee. She works with Acquisitions Librarian Stacey Marien to write a regular column for Against the Grain, a journal about libraries and publishers. Their column, "Let's Get Technical," addresses practical solutions to technical problems, and they presented together at the 2014 Charleston Conference. All of her work in the broader academic community helps to give Alayne a fresh perspective on solving the puzzles of resource description. The types of materials found in the modern library are changing, as are the methods that library patrons use to find information. Alayne’s expertise and capacity for inductive reasoning make her a perfect fit for the challenging field of resource description.

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Title: Secret Lives: Dawn Fairbanks
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Abstract: The seventh article in a series of profiles offering a ‘behind the scenes’ peek at our Library personnel. Meet Processing and Serials Specialist Dawn Fairbanks and learn about her secret life as an opera singer.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 05/12/2015
Content:

Dawn Fairbanks, Processing and Serials Specialist by day, opera singer by night, grew up in rural New Jersey, singing in school choruses. Her love of music drew her to the French horn, an instrument that she took up at the age of 9 and played through college. Dawn’s interest in artistic forms found other outlets during her time at Susquehanna University in central Pennsylvania. Since childhood, Dawn recalls that she was “always scribbling in notebooks and writing stories.” Her love of writing drew her to pursing a BA in Creative Writing and then attending graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, where she received her MA in English Literature.

After finishing her Master’s program, Dawn relocated to Vermont, attracted by the natural beauty of the state, the snow, and the bucolic setting that reminded her of the area where she was raised. While there, she began singing in a church choir, where she met the leader of the local Gilbert & Sullivan troupe, who invited her to perform in an upcoming production of Princess Ida. Dawn performed the role of Lady Psyche, Professor of Humanities, in this comic opera with a ‘war of the sexes’ theme. As Dawn recalls “it was the most fun I’d ever had.” After that, she was hooked. She continued to sing with the Gilbert & Sullivan troupe after this first performance, and also sang with the Green Mountain Opera Festival for the next four years, before moving to the DC area with her family.

Although Dawn had tapped into a newfound love of singing, her daughter Chloe gave her the push she needed to take this interest to the next level, encouraging her to sign up for formal instruction. Dawn began working in a vocal studio and taking lessons. She is now part of the American Center for Puccini Studies (ACPS), an organization that performs works by composer Giacomo Puccini, offers educational opportunities for singers, and provides community outreach and service. “There is always something in the works!” Dawn explains, as she mentions that she is wrapping up a 6 week aria workshop. In addition to gigs with ACPS, she continues to sing in her church choir, enjoys taking in local performances, works here in the Library, and finds time for her family.

Music is a big part of family life for Dawn. The whole family sang together with the Gilbert & Sullivan troupe their last year in Vermont, her husband has participated in local theater, her younger daughter helps broaden her musical tastes by making playlists for the car, and Chloe, who nudged Dawn into pursuing her passion for opera, is now a performer in her own right. Dawn proudly shares that the 21 year old AU student just sang lead in the Gilbert & Sullivan Society at Oxford University.

Dawn also has excellent advice for any AU students interested in seeing local performances or getting into opera. Aside from the “huge, huge CD collection and excellent opera selection” at the AU Music Library, she suggests looking for smaller regional venues, which often have reasonably priced tickets, such as the ‘Music at Redeemer Series’ at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Bethesda. She also recommends checking out local venues that offer special student pricing, like the Kennedy Center’s ‘Specially Priced Tickets,’ and DC area groups, like the Inscape Chamber Orchestra, made up of “local, young, insanely talented performers.” On a different note, Dawn’s younger daughter Mollie, whose passion has become human rights, highly recommends the Library’s free Exploring Social Justice series, which features speakers who have had personal and profound experiences with injustice and have demonstrated the capacity to forgive and to live the rest of their lives committed to witness and advocate within their spheres of influence.

Music & Performance Recommendations from Dawn:

Inscape, Sprung Rhythm (CD 10397)

Le Comte Ory
From the Met website: "Jokes, misunderstandings, and gender-bending disguises—including knights dressed as nuns— abound in this hilarious tale of deception and seduction." There's a wonderful scene with the three stars all in bed together....perfect for anyone who thinks opera is stuffy!

Don Giovanni
Aaaaaand...more seduction! What is it with opera?! The themes are familiar to all - jealousy, attraction, and a boss who has all the fun while leaving you underpaid and unappreciated - all set to Mozart's sublime music.

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Title: Composting 101: Help AU Get Greener with this Primer on Composting
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Abstract: Since the program’s inception in 2012, the Library has played a pivotal role in expanding the organic waste collection program across campus. Join the effort to reduce waste on campus by taking a look at our primer on composting.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/22/2015
Content:

Since the program’s inception in 2012, the Library has played a pivotal role in expanding the organic waste collection program across campus. Library personnel participated in the pilot phase of compost collection. In spring 2013 the Library maintained its leadership by being the first academic building on campus to deploy the now ubiquitous orange bins on campus. Today, the Library’s organic waste stream is one of the least contaminated of those in campus buildings.

Unfortunately, due to the increased contamination of organic waste collection bins across campus, the University’s composting program is struggling. When non-organic materials such as glass or plastic bottles are tossed into compost bins, the organic waste cannot be composted safely and efficiently. As a result of the high level of waste contamination at AU, local waste processing facilities neither have the capacity nor desire to process the University’s organic waste. Helen Lee, the University’s Zero Waste Coordinator, has been working with other parties in the region to find an alternative compost facility. She has also been collaborating with other local universities in similar situations to find alternative solutions to this challenge of contamination. In the meantime, the AU community can improve waste sorting practices to ensure that organic waste collected on campus is not contaminated with other items. Organic waste, which should be tossed in the compost bins, includes materials such as:

  • paper coffee cups
  • food scraps
  • sandwich wrappers
  • napkins
  • dishes and utensils labeled ‘compostable’ or ‘biodegradable’
  • anything made from plant material can be composted

Things that never belong in a compost bin include:

  • glass
  • metal
  • plastic

Waste collection bins in the Library have been marked with diagrams to aid in sorting, so if you are unsure where to throw your Subway sandwich wrapper, check the signs above the collection bins. Separating waste now will enable AU to demonstrate to potential new compost facilities that we have a clean stream and will be a good source of organic waste. When all students, staff, faculty and visitors sort trash appropriately into the collection bins, we can achieve the University’s zero waste goals.

Green Team Recommendations:

Our fabulous eco films Pinterest page has a great mix of films and television series (including Captain Planet and the Planeteers, if you’re feeling nostalgic.)

Both of these resources can help you start composting at home, with details on how and where to set up a bin and the science behind how composting works:

Composting by Bob Flowerdew

Perfect Compost : A Master Class With Peter Proctor

If you’re interested in learning more about waste processing in general, and best practices for reducing landfill use, this is an excellent book on the subject:

Lean Waste Stream: Reducing Material Use and Garbage Using Lean Principles by Marc Jensen

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Title: Spotlight on VHS Collection Preservation in the AU Library
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Abstract: Experts estimate that the VHS format will be essentially inaccessible by 2025. Luckily, the AU Library’s Media Services is working to digitize VHS titles in our collection that are at highest risk of being lost in the near future.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/22/2015
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The AU Library’s Media Services department was born out of the invention of the consumer-friendly videotape and the sudden availability of recordings for instruction. This filmmaker-friendly technology was revolutionary, as it triggered a boom in creative production worldwide and a new market for established television producers and film studios.

Between the early 1980s and early 2000s, AU Library’s Media Services department built a collection of 8,000 VHS titles with an emphasis on supporting classroom teaching. The collection includes documentaries, theatrical performances, C-SPAN coverage, feature films, television series, and other genres. The popularity of the VHS format declined with the invention of the DVD and by the early 2000s the format was completely antiquated. It is now facing a crisis: of the thousands of VHS tapes acquired at AU, about 30% of the collection has never been released on DVD or in streaming format. To make matters worse, industry experts estimate that the various forces converging against the VHS format (age of tapes, irreparable and irreplaceable equipment) will make it essentially inaccessible by 2025.

So what is being done about the VHS tape crisis at AU?

Following the guidelines described in Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright law, Media Librarian Chris Lewis, Visual Media Collections Coordinator Molly Hubbs, and student assistant Sophie Brichta have been poring through the VHS collection to identify the distribution status of each item and digitizing titles that are at highest risk of being lost in the near future. For VHS titles available on DVD, the tapes are sent to storage and the DVD is added to our queue of items to purchase. If a VHS recording continues to be requested for teaching or research and no DVD or streaming version is available, then the tape is digitized and made available for onsite use.

Ms. Hubbs has assembled a video digitization workstation to ensure that high production standards are met throughout the preservation workflow. She processes video recordings with quality control tools and saves files in a high resolution format. She also creates backups of all files in order to ameliorate the risk of digital rot and other potential disasters. For each digitized file, a DVD “access copy” is also created, cataloged, and made available for teaching and research needs. After digitization, VHS originals are sent to storage.

Campus VHS recordings are equally at risk

The abundance of on-campus recordings of commencements, guest lectures, sporting events, and other historical moments has not been overlooked. Ms. Hubbs has been working with the University Archives and various departments on campus to collect and digitize video materials unique to American University’s history. Over 200 items have been inventoried from the Audio Visual department’s collection of commencement and convocation ceremonies and dozens have already been digitized and preserved. Some of these vintage films will be added to an AU YouTube channel. Outreach has begun across campus to locate neglected and forgotten VHS recordings. If you have tapes or know any faculty, staff members, or alumni with a collection of unique campus materials on VHS, ¾” tape, or even film, please contact us at mhubbs@american.edu or clewis@american.edu and they will work with you to preserve that material.

More about the crisis of VHS and other magnetic tape formats

Though VHS tape is a relatively stable medium, the playback equipment is less reliable, rubber and nylon parts are deteriorating and replacement parts are scarce. The retirement of VHS technicians and lack of a viable market and training opportunities for videotape technicians further exacerbates the problem. There are still a few manufacturers of VHS playback equipment, but those players are usually squeezed into VHS/DVD combo units, and the quality of the parts is generally of a lower consumer grade suitable for a short operational life. The likelihood of an older tape getting stuck and damaged in a perfectly clean recently manufactured player is considerable. In a word, the VHS tape is all but obsolete.

So if a VHS tape hasn’t been released on DVD, is it really of any interest and is it worth saving?

You might be surprised by the myriad of reasons that recordings go out of release. Commercial profitability is the most obvious and that pertains primarily to feature films and other mass market releases where a studio or television network still owns the rights. More common are the problems endemic to educational distributors. Many educational distributors have gone out of business and their entire inventories have slipped into limbo. Other instances include, distribution rights to a video that didn’t get renewed, purposely or neglectfully, or issues such as music licensing or a legal dispute preventing a title from being re-released. In some cases, such as with major television networks, the distributor discontinued selling VHS or DVD copies of their content altogether.

And yet the demand for some of this content for teaching needs remains high. Often, a given documentary has come to be regarded as a classic or provides such a powerful illustration of a concept or topic that nothing released since compares to the original. Here at AU, along with a growing number of institutions around the globe, we preserve these essential programs before our window of opportunity to save them closes.

About Preservation Week from the American Library Association website:

“Preservation Week (April 26-May 2) was created in 2010 because some 630 million items in collecting institutions require immediate attention and care. Eighty percent of these institutions have no paid staff assigned responsibility for collections care; 22 percent have no collections care personnel at all. Some 2.6 billion items are not protected by an emergency plan. As natural disasters of recent years have taught us, these resources are in jeopardy should a disaster strike. Personal, family, and community collections are equally at risk.”

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Title: Concrete Greens: Urban Agriculture and Food Security
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Abstract: American University’s emphasis on green practices echoes the continued national interest in urban gardening, and the University offers many ways to become involved on campus.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/17/2015
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While AU’s lush greenery already serves as a feast for the eyes, on April 15, Campus Beautification Day, the Library Green Team began cultivating a new garden plot near the SIS building for plants that are not only ornamental, but also edible.

Though gardening and urban life might seem somewhat antithetical to one other, urban agriculture has been on the rise in many major US cities. This urban farming, in addition to providing coveted glimpses of green amongst concrete city structures, also works to alleviate the detrimental health effects of food insecurity in economically disadvantaged urban areas.

Urban agriculture, specifically the cultivation of edible gardens, offers a new way of empowering communities with limited access to viable food options. Community garden advocate Ron Finley, in a 2013 Ted.com talk, offered inspirational words about his work planting gardens in the food desert of South Central Los Angeles. Commenting on the powerful yield of the edible garden, Finley proposed that "[t]o change the community, you have to change the composition of the soil. We [people] are the soil. Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do. Especially in the inner city.”

Finley’s gardens crop up in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs and his work confronts the incongruous conceptions of urbanity and food deserts. According to the USDA, food deserts are defined as “urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options. The lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.” Finley succinctly summarizes the detrimental impact of food insecurity in areas like South Central Los Angeles where, in his estimation, "the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys."

Issues of food security extend far beyond the city limits of Los Angeles as a persistent national concern. Even in Washington, DC, there is startling disparity concerning food availability in the nation’s capital. According to the USDA's 2013 report on household food security in the United States:

  • 13.4 percent of all households in the District of Columbia were food insecure in 2011-2013. That is an increase of 1.4 percent from 2010-2013 when 12 percent of all households were considered to be food insecure.
  • Among the 13.4 percent of District of Columbia households struggling with hunger, 5.2 percent were considered to have "very low food security," a 0.7 percent increase since 2010-2012. People that fall into this USDA category had more severe problems, experiencing deeper hunger and cutting back or skipping meals on a more frequent basis for both adults and children.

Combatting these harsh realities is not easy, but many of DC’s residents are working to improve food security in impoverished parts of the nation’s capital. One such resident is Gail Taylor, a policy activist profiled in a September 2014 Washington Post article. Taylor, with the aid of American University’s free law clinic and council member David Grosso, drafted a bill restructuring city tax regulations that currently hamper urban farmers’ ability to sustain economically viable businesses.

Other organizations, such as the nonprofit DC Greens, are working to change the landscape itself by facilitating partnerships and empowering existing actors and residents to manage green solutions for at-risk communities. While community gardens have an established historical precedent in urban areas, these programs also highlight informal household food growing that uses private property such as back yards, front yards, pots on balconies, and fire escapes to grow edible produce.

American University’s emphasis on green practices echoes the continued national interest in urban gardening, and the University offers many ways to become involved on campus. Towards the rear of AU’s campus near the athletic fields is a pre-existing community garden where students can learn the ins and outs of urban gardening. In recent years, the Community Garden has donated extra food to a local food bank while simultaneously providing the educational tools necessary to spread urban garden practices by bringing 70 middle school students to AU to teach them about gardening and sustainability.

The Library Green Team hopes that cultivating this small plot simultaneously encourages students to consider issues of food sustainability in areas like DC where there is always room for another gardener to get a bit dirty in the interest of improving food security.

Interested in learning more about urban gardening and other related issues? Check out these materials and more in the Library’s collections:

A Community of Gardeners
This documentary by Cintia Cabib explores the vital role of seven urban community gardens as sources of fresh, nutritious food, outdoor classrooms, places of healing, links to immigrants’ native countries, centers of social interaction, and oases of beauty and calm in inner-city neighborhoods.

The World’s First Rooftop Farm: Mohamed Hage
This episode of The Green Interview features Mohamed Hage, who is turning the flat rooftops of Montreal’s industrial buildings into fertile farms that feed thousands-and he’s making a profit in the process. Hage, a self-described "technology geek" turned urban farmer, explains the genesis and genius of Lufa Farms.

City Bountiful: A Century of Community Gardening in America by Laura J. Lawson
In this critical history of community gardening in America, the most comprehensive review of the greening of urban communities to date, Laura J. Lawson documents the evolution of urban garden programs in the United States.

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Title: DC Community Gardens have their Roots in Victory Gardens
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Abstract: Of the 36 community gardens in Washington DC, an estimated 1/3 are former victory gardens, planted during the World Wars. Learn more about local history through our DC History and Local Area Studies subject guide.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/10/2015
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Tucked into the northwestern corner of campus is AU’s community garden, a small plot run year-round by student group AU Community Garden Club. In the summertime, this garden is lush with squash, peas, and greens, and is a testament to AU’s commitment to sustainability. In addition to our campus plot, there are dozens of other community gardens in DC, some even within walking distance from campus. These gardens are often not only rich in produce, but rich in history as well.

One example is the Glover-Archbold Park Community Garden, which is located less than a mile down the New Mexico Avenue hill. The garden is just under three acres large and is home to an expansive 150 garden plots. It is also a former “victory garden,” or a garden that was planted during the early 20th century’s World War era to help increase the public food supply. This garden can reportedly trace its roots to the spring of 1943, when 400 acres of land were given to DC’s “District Victory Garden Committee” to be allocated among 6,000 DC gardeners. According to 1943 estimates from the Department of Agriculture, there were about 18-20 million victory gardens throughout the United States at that time. Families planted gardens not only in the spirit of self-sufficiency, but also as a way to calm anxious nerves and to provide stability during wartime. Of the 36 community gardens in Washington DC, Community Garden Data from 2010 estimated that about a third were former such victory gardens.

To learn more about DC history, check out the DC History and Local Area Studies subject guide, where researchers can read about and explore DC’s historic neighborhoods, culture, and green spaces.

Aside from our comprehensive subject guide, there are some fascinating resources in the AU Library collection, with more information on victory gardens and community gardening.

Char Miller’s "In The Sweat Of Our Brow: Citizenship In American Domestic Practice During WWII—Victory Gardens" from the Journal Of American Culture, v. 26, issue 3 (access available to AU Community only)

Cultivating Victory: the Women's Land Army and the Victory Garden Movement by Cecilia Gowdy-Wygant (access available to AU Community only)

City Bountiful: a Century of Community Gardening in America by Laura J. Lawson

If you’d like to get involved with local community gardens and garden-related organizations, consider these options:

AU’s Arboretum (hires interns every summer)

AU’s Community Garden

City Blossoms

Common Good City Farm

DC Department of Parks & Recreation

DCGreenWorks

Love and Carrots

Three Part Harmony Farm

Washington Youth Garden

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Title: Librarian Profile: Jenise Overmier
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Abstract: The sixth article in our series of librarian profiles focuses on Instruction Librarian Jenise Overmier. Her commitment to public service and education make her an enthusiastic instructor, well-equipped to handle a range of research questions.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 03/27/2015
Content:

Instruction Librarian Jenise Overmier knew that she wanted to work in librarianship early on in her college career. Her deeply held belief that education should be accessible for all people prompted her journey down this path. As a student at the University of Montana, she pursued a course in Liberal Studies that allowed her a broad overview of the humanities, something that is often handy at the Research Assistance Desk. From there, she was drawn to the University of Texas in Austin because of their unique course offerings in conservation and archival studies. After completing her Master of Science in Information Studies, Jenise took some time to travel around the world, exploring national parks here in the U.S., as well as Iceland, Turkey, and France, before relocating to Washington, DC.

Where can you find her?

Jenise can be found all across campus, providing in-class research instruction for College Writing students, helping users at the Library's Research Assistance Desk, serving on a variety of teams and committees, and lending a helping hand in Archives and Special Collections.

Her background in preservation allows her to contribute to Special Collections projects, such as rehousing fragile materials and analyzing collections for preservation processes. "I love working with my hands I am so fortunate that Susan [McElrath, University Archivist] has welcomed me into the archives."

When she is off-campus, Jenise can often be found relaxing in one of the many beautiful parks around town, reading, enjoying the fresh air, people watching, and "trying to coax squirrels into being [her] pets."

Why she loves her job

The idealism and energy of college students is a major perk of working at AU for Jenise. In her role as Instruction Librarian, she works with a number of freshmen and several of the College Writing professors, with a primary aim of helping these students build a foundation of information literacy. When asked about her favorite part of the job, she responds "I am all about the students! AU students are committed to their studies and incredibly passionate about making the world a better place. I love introducing them to tools they'll be able to use throughout their lives, like different research methods and how to synthesize information to strengthen their academic projects."

In the Community

Always eager to be more involved in interdepartmental collaborations, Jenise is a part of the Faculty Senate Social Media Guidelines Committee, the Library Green Team, the External Diversity &Inclusion Committee, and multiple marketing teams. By establishing connections with other departments and units at the university, Jenise continues to learn more about the institution and gains new insight into making the Library even better.

"Libraries are community centers. We've got something for everyone, whether you need help with a research project, a safe space to study, or something in between. I've always felt at home in them and I want to ensure that our students and community members feel that way too."

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Title: Clocks and Clouds Provides a Showcase for Outstanding Undergraduate Research
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Abstract: Launched in 2012, American University undergraduate research journal Clocks and Clouds is a publication dedicated to giving undergraduate students an opportunity to do more with their research.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 03/24/2015
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Serving the AU community with our collection of over 767,923 volumes, 333,242 e-books, 25,000 sound recordings and 16,000 videos, the American University Library offers the resources our students need to achieve academic success. The AU Library collection totals over 106,881 journal subscriptions, 557 print journals, and over 403 databases covering a vast range of subjects. With access to this wealth of resources, AU students are able to produce outstanding research and embark on ambitious projects, the likes of which can be seen in undergraduate research journal Clocks and Clouds.

Launched in 2012, American University undergraduate research journal Clocks and Clouds is a publication with a mission. The team that works on this journal is dedicated to giving undergraduate students an opportunity to do more with their research by highlighting how their work can reach a broader audience and have an impact outside of the classroom. A joint effort between the School of International Service and the School of Public Affairs, this journal focuses on research relating to political science, international relations, and public policy. In an increasing interdisciplinary academic environment, this does not limit Clocks and Clouds to the work of students in SIS or SPA. Additionally, while the journal exclusively publishes undergraduate work, students may submit articles up to one year after graduation.

By providing AU undergraduate students with a chance to have their work appear in a peer reviewed journal, Clocks and Clouds is able to serve as a stepping stone toward submitting work to national publications and making presentations at research conferences. Although Clocks and Clouds only publishes a select few of the submissions received, this selection process offers an excellent learning experience for any students submitting work. The journal’s panel of peer reviewers provides students with thoughtful feedback and suggestions on how they can improve their work and writing.

Working at Clocks and Clouds is another way for students to gain experience and make connections. The journal puts each of their reviewers through a rigorous training process; no small feat with a staff of more than 20 students. Through their work as reviewers, these students gain insight into the processes of research and writing, develop copy editing skills, get a sense of the scope of research in their chosen field, and enjoy networking opportunities on campus. While the journal requires that applicants for reviewer positions have taken, or are taking, a “Research Methods” course, freshmen may apply as ‘junior reviewers,’ allowing them to grow into a peer reviewer position as their college career progresses. As Clocks and Clouds expands and grows, the journal is hoping to recruit more students from the fields of marketing and communications. Students interesting in working as reviewers for the journal can visit their online application form.

Curious about the title of the journal? It references a quote from philosopher Karl Popper: "All clouds are clocks, even the most cloudy of clouds." The Clocks and Clouds website explains further: "Philosopher Karl Popper’s “clocks and clouds” metaphor describes the two ends of the spectrum of predictability in social science: Clouds represent the disorderly and irregular, and clocks represent the predictable and rational. By providing a venue for top undergraduate research, Clocks and Clouds aims to find the clocks amidst the clouds."

Volume 1, released in spring 2012, is available online. The next issue of Clocks and Clouds will be released on April 17th and copies will be available at the 18th SIS Undergraduate Research Symposium. Anyone interested in getting involved with the release, obtaining back issues, or learning more about the journal can email clocksandcloudsau@gmail.com.

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Title: Secret Lives: Susan McElrath
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Abstract: The sixth article in this profile series offers a ‘behind the scenes’ peek at University Archivist Susan McElrath, who manages the Archives and Special Collections, home to some of the most precious items in the collection.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 03/03/2015
Content:

The Archives and Special Collections at the American University Library are home to some of the rarest, most invaluable items in the collection. The University Archives chronicles the history of American University from its founding in 1893 to the present, through a variety of materials, while Special Collections features collections of rare books, publications, and manuscripts. Both of these collections are overseen by University Archivist, Susan McElrath, whose interest in education can be seen in her work in the Library and the classroom.

Highlighted as a History Wonk, Susan holds a Master of Library Science and a Master of Arts in American History from the University of Maryland. Her academic interests left her with a deep appreciation and understanding of historical materials, as did her internship at the Maryland State Archives, where she took her first job after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, with a minor in Math, from St. John's College. Her enthusiasm for all the "cool old stuff" housed in the archives and the "welcoming, nurturing environment" drew her into a career in libraries, and along an interesting path.

Her interest in historical documents and her "need for a job where [she] is making a difference and helping others" led her to work at the Bethune Museum and Archives, now called the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House, in DC. This historic building is home to the National Archives for Black Women's History, which covers the New Deal Era through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. From there, she went on to a position at the National Anthropological Archives (NAA) at the Smithsonian Institution. While at the NAA, Susan taught a class on museum archiving and "caught the teaching bug."

Since coming to AU, Susan has found a number of ways to get involved in instruction. She developed a subject guide that provides an introduction to primary source research and offers historical walking tours of campus for alumni and parents every year during All American Weekend. Susan also develops exhibits for display in the Library that expose the AU community to the wealth of materials that can be found in Special Collections and the Archives. As Susan explains, "to keep it fresh, interesting, and eye catching, I do five exhibit shifts each year. These exhibits help to get the word out about our collections." In addition to these modes of outreach, Susan maintains a blog about new and noteworthy materials in the collection as well as fun facts in AU history. 

Bringing the Archives to the classroom is another way that Susan works to raise awareness of these resources. She offers in-class instruction on primary source research and during recent summer sessions, Susan taught 'Collection Management for Archives and Museums' for AU's Public History program. The Archives has also served as a location for "history lab sessions" in the new AU Scholars program. Susan provided expert help to the professor to provide students with the opportunity to work with, develop research skills, and create research projects using historic photographs and other types of primary source material housed in the Archives. Her expertise allows her to identify optimal primary sources for scholars using the Archives, facilitating and simplifying their research efforts.

In addition to her work in the classroom, Susan is happy to share her knowledge with individual students, stating that "no research project is too small! I enjoy connecting students with sources and hearing about their projects." To that end, Archives and Special Collections is open Monday - Friday, 9 am – 5 pm for drop-ins. Susan also works on the Research Assistance Desk each week and can be contacted by email or phone.The exploratory aspect of research is something that Susan thoroughly enjoys and she makes a compelling case for delving into Archives and Special Collections: "There are so many stories waiting in our holdings to be unearthed and told." That sounds like an irresistible challenge for the many intellectually curious scholars here at American University. 

See what you can discover in Archives and Special Collections by taking a closer look at these selections:

Eagle Lore: Windows into American University History

This online exhibit chronicles the history of American University in Washington, D.C. from its founding to the present day. Through a series of historic images from the University Archives, viewers can see the development of the campus itself and experience the evolution of student life at AU. This site also provides a glimpse of AU during prominent historical moments in U.S. history.

Peace Corps Community Archives

Two years ago AU Library began collecting primary source materials from former Peace Corps volunteers. This growing collection allows scholars to research the experiences of individual Peace Corps volunteers through correspondence, photos, diaries, and Peace Corps training materials.

John R. Hickman Collection

Find supporting multimedia clips for your projects, presentations, and papers in the John R. Hickman Collection, which contains broadcast quality audio recordings of vintage radio news and entertainment programs, from the 1920s through the 1970s.

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Title: Éirinn go Brách! Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with these Library Recommendations.
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Abstract: Get into the holiday spirit of St. Patrick’s Day! Below are some fun and relaxing ways to celebrate this holiday and learn more about Irish culture.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 03/03/2015
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Once classes resume after Spring Break, we will all need a little pick-me-up to get back into our routines. What better way to do that than to get into the holiday spirit of St. Patrick’s Day! Below are some fun and relaxing ways to celebrate this holiday and learn more about Irish culture.

Books

The Wearing of the Green: A History of St. Patrick’s Day, by Mike Cronin and Daryl Adair [GT4995.P3 C76 2002]
A quick and comprehensive account of the ways that St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated and how these traditions originated. What better way to get into the holiday spirit than to understand it!

St. Patrick’s Day: Its Celebration in New York and Other American Places, 1737-1845; How the Anniversary Was Observed by Representative Organizations, and the Toasts Prepared, by John D. Crimmins [E184.I6 C9]
This book discusses the traditions and celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day from the first celebration in Boston in 1737 to the first parade in New York City. This book is also available as a free E-Book via Google Books

St. Patrick: The Life and World of Ireland’s Saint, by J.B. Bury; foreword by Thomas Charles-Edwards [http://bit.ly/1sDOyvf]
This biography points out possible discrepencies in some periods of St. Patrick’s reported history. It is an interesting perspective on the life and times of St. Patrick, the man behind the holiday.

Traditional Irish Cooking: The Fare of Old Ireland and Its History, Andy Gravette and Debbie Cook [http://bit.ly/1ynpxFR]
This fantastic cookbook not only has a plethora of delicious recipes, but also gives insight into the life of those who love these meals. Try a few of them out with friends or solo for some fun in the kitchen.

Irish Countryhouse Cooking, compiled by Rosie Tinne [http://bit.ly/1yhhs74]
A tasty way to try something new and old, these traditional meals range from easy to make to more complicated for experienced foodies. Why not add some green dye to your dishes to get even more festive!

Films

The Wind that Shakes the Barley [HU DVD 3374]
This film centers around two brothers and their respective places in the conflict between Britain and Ireland during the time of the Irish War of Independence.

Gangs of New York [HU DVD 590]
Leonardo DiCaprio plays an Irish American adult seeking vengeance against “Bill the Butcher” who killed his father years before in this film directed by Martin Scorsese.

Once [HU DVD 3745]
Set in Dublin, Ireland, Once is a guy-meets-girl story with a musical twist.It provides a great way to get your romantic movie fix while also experiencing Ireland’s rich culture.

Music

“20 Best Irish Pub Songs” by Noel McLoughlin [http://bit.ly/1yhAY3f]
This compilation includes some popular favorites such as “Whiskey in the Jar,” “The Wild Rover,” and “The Galway Races.”

“Traditional Irish Music” [http://bit.ly/1DIP13h]
Make sure to be logged into your AU account to access this set of songs from Sean Talamh. Some songs listed include “Belfast Mill,” “Valse Ronde,” and “The Humours of Flinn.”

“Celtic Dances: The Legend,” contributed by Liz Knowles [http://bit.ly/1Cszxgg]
If dancing is more your speed, enjoy the Celtic sounds that get the Irish to their feet. The Naxos Library, where this music is located, also has hundreds of other Irish classics for which to search!

Events

D.C. St. Patrick’s Day Parade [http://dcstpatsparade.com/]
On March 15th, 2015, the 44th annual D.C. St. Patrick’s Day Parade is taking place on Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th Streets, N.W. The parade route is easily accessible from the Federal Triangle, Archives-Navy Memorial and Smithsonian metro stations. Come out of winter hibernation to celebrate the holiday with others in the D.C. area.

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newsId: 4579D6B3-5056-AF26-BE8D3B45FA7592CF
Title: Alumni Board Member Shares Passion for Giving Back
Author: Patricia Rabb
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Abstract: Amy Lampert is an AU Alumni Board member and active volunteer
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 05/19/2015
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 "I fell in love with the campus when I visited. What an exciting place to live and study," says Amy Lampert, SOC/BA '94, about her first visit to AU during her senior year of high school. "As soon as I saw the campus, I knew that I wanted to be there. There's nothing quite like Washington, DC," she adds. 

After arriving on campus, Amy was involved with the American University Resident Hall Association (serving as vice president during her junior year), worked at the Anderson/Centennial Hall front desk for three years and participated in many leadership development opportunities on campus. She also worked on the yearbook and The Eagle newspaper and was active with "AU Students for Choice."  

Her most memorable AU experience occurred during her junior year when President Bill Clinton came to campus. "I was able to sit in the second row and shake his hand," says Amy. Not long before that, she stood along the inaugural parade route while the Clintons walked past. "That's not something you get to do anywhere else in the world. It has to be one of the coolest things I've ever done," she adds.

During her time at AU, Amy secured internships at locations as varied as the House Majority Leader's office, the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, US Weekly magazine in New York City, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. "My internships gave me invaluable work experience that I know contributed to being able to get a job right out of college," Amy adds. 

Amy's first job was in the development office at Sidwell Friends School where she worked on publications. "I was able to immediately put my journalism degree to work," reports Amy. "My ability to write and edit as well as multi-task have been essential in everything I've done since graduation whether it's been professionally or in graduate school," says Amy. 

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Amy earned two masters of arts degrees since leaving AU. One degree is in writing and publishing from Emerson College and the other is a business management degree from Webster University. Amy is currently vice president at Time Square, Inc., a family business where she works in real estate and investment management. She manages investments as well as a wide-ranging portfolio of residential and commercial properties. Amy is pleased this position provides her with the flexibility to spend time with her 10-year-old son, describing herself as "a very hands-on mother." She continues to reside with her family in St. Louis and also spends time at a second home in Florida.

An active volunteer, Amy is enthusiastic about giving her time to AU as well as to her local community. She can be found volunteering at her temple, at the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, and in many other activities in her region. As an alumna, she enjoys giving back as a member of the AU Alumni Board and as an Alumni Admissions Volunteer. As an AAV member, Amy enjoys welcoming incoming freshmen and their families to the AU community by hosting summer send-off events at her homes in both Missouri and Florida. "I've really enjoyed meeting prospective students and their families over the years and sharing my passion for such an exciting place with people who are as excited about AU as I still am," she adds.

Amy observes that much has changed at AU since she attended in the 1990s. She finds herself wishing she could go back to AU and take advantage of all it has to offer. "As beautiful as I thought AU was back in the 1990s, it's even more beautiful now," she adds. She also remarks upon what she sees as an evolution of the student body. "Everyone was active and passionate when I was there, but today the students are more impressive than ever. They all are so driven, ambitious, devoted, and passionate about everything in life. They have lofty goals that I know they will achieve," she says.

Although she is undoubtedly busy with both work and family, it is clear that Amy is passionate about volunteering in both her hometown as well as for the alma mater with which she fell in love 25 years ago. "I want to do whatever I can to help AU continue to grow and thrive," she exclaims.

Tags: School of Communication,Alumni,Alumni Board,Alumni Update,Office of Development & Alumni Relations
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Title: SOC Alumna Reports Breaking News for ABC
Author: Nicole Mularz, SPA/BA ’14, and Megan Olson
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Abstract: Cecilia Vega, SOC/BA ’99, discusses her career in journalism and shares advice with students.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 04/09/2015
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As anchor of "World News Tonight" Saturday and senior national correspondent for ABC News, Cecilia Vega's, SOC/BA '99, office is wherever the news takes her. Although she spends much of her time traveling back and forth from Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area to New York, Cecilia says her time in Washington, DC and at American University gave her a start in the journalism field and provided the foundation for her success.

For Cecilia, there is no routine day in the office. Breaking news takes her all over the world. She could start her day in one city and be on her way to another continent by evening. Cecilia has reported from the bottom of the Arctic in a submarine and in London's Olympic Village. She has also covered midterm elections, interviewed Heads of State, and more recently reported on cases of Ebola in the United States. Regardless of where an assignment leads her, Cecilia says that her work gives her a sense of fulfillment as she shares information with the public to ensure they make better decisions as citizens.

After growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Cecilia moved to the nation's capital to attend American University's School of Communication, where she earned a degree in French and print journalism. Her busy schedule today is reflective of her experience as a student. Cecilia remembers balancing studying, working, and interning during her time on campus. Though all of these commitments were hectic at times, Cecilia says that her hard work at AU paid off.

Cecilia's job in broadcast journalism came as a total accident. She started her career as a newspaper reporter and worked for publications including the San Francisco Chronicle. When the opportunity to move from print to broadcast at KGO-TV ABC7 in San Francisco presented itself, Cecilia jumped at the chance. Though she had no formal broadcast journalism training, she quickly learned the ropes. Six years later, Cecilia is an Emmy-winning broadcaster and has appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America," "Nightline," and "20/20."

Reminiscing about her time at American University, Cecilia shared advice for students today saying, "Utilize what you have at your disposal. Being in Washington, DC, you have so much at your fingertips. Your professors are in the newsroom in the morning and teaching classes at night –it is an invaluable education. The ability to capitalize on these opportunities separates AU students from other students."

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Title: Ron Nessen, Press Secretary for President Ford, Gives Back to AU
Author: Megan Patterson, SIS/BA '11
Subtitle: Ron Nessen reflects on his career in politics and broadcasting, and still loves to come back to his alma mater.
Abstract: Ron Nessen, Press Secretary for President Ford, reflects on his career in politics and broadcasting, and still loves to come back to his alma mater.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 04/09/2015
Content:

"I love American University. I wanted to stay and get my degree. No matter what I was doing, I always arranged it so I would have time to go to AU." 

Even from the way Ronald H. Nessen, CAS/BA '59, speaks as we sit in an alcove of SOC's McKinley Building, it is evident that he loves his alma mater. Ron has had a distinguished career in broadcasting and journalism –going from a radio journalist in Arlington, Va. to television news correspondent in Vietnam, to Press Secretary for President Gerald Ford. 

Ron put himself through American University by working part time and going to school in the evenings. He knew more than anything that he wanted to get a degree from AU. He graduated in 1959 with a bachelor's in history.

After a several years of news, writing, and reporting, Ron became a television news correspondent for NBC News. He served as the White House correspondent from 1962 to 1965, and then spent time as foreign news correspondent, including five tours covering the Vietnam War. "In war," he says, "you see terrible things that you will never forget." 

After getting seriously wounded by a grenade in July 1966, Ron recuperated and chose to go back to Vietnam and finish his assignment. In 1974, White House Press Secretary Jerald terHorst resigned after President Gerald Ford gave Richard Nixon a presidential pardon. President Ford asked Ron to join the administration as Press Secretary. Ron served as White House Press Secretary until the end of the Ford Administration in 1977. He went on to be a writer, lecturer, and public affairs specialist in Washington. His book, It Sure Looks Different on the Inside, speaks of his time in the White House. 

Reflecting on his career path, Ron says, "Nobody really knows where they are going to go in life. Things have unfolded in a way that I never expected." In one of many interesting twists in his career, Ron was Larry King's boss at Mutual Radio Broadcasting Network, where ran the news department for many years. 

Throughout his career, Ron always had a special place in his heart for AU. He currently gives back as a volunteer for the SOC Mentoring Program, and he enjoys seeing his old stomping grounds. His favorite memory of his time in college, though, is uniquely AU: "When Willard [Scott, NBC News's "Today" weather-person], Eddie [Walker, radio personality and first blind student at American University] and I worked at WAMU. We all wanted to go into broadcasting, and we all ended up in broadcasting."

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Title: Producer-Director Adam Friedman Discusses Documentary Featuring Meryl Streep
Author: Traci Crockett
Subtitle:
Abstract: Friedman is wrapping up work on a film called “Shout Gladi Gladi,” which Streep narrates.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 03/12/2015
Content:

"I like to say it was like painting the Mona Lisa without the smile." That's how producer-director Adam Friedman, SOC/BA '79, describes his latest film –before Meryl Streep signed on. "For four months, I had a movie I couldn't proceed on too much because I didn't have my narrator in place," Friedman says. 

In February, Friedman says, he got very lucky when his sister, a New York newscaster, somehow got a rough cut of the movie in front of Streep. "I got an email from Meryl's assistant saying 'hey, Meryl would love to do your movie. She thinks it's great,'" he says. And, the rest, as they say, is history.  

Friedman, owner of production company Vertical Ascent, is wrapping up work on the documentary called "Shout Gladi Gladi." It's a film about one woman's drive to help save African mothers suffering from fistula. That woman, Scottish philanthropist Ann Gloag, a former nurse turned businesswoman, now runs medical facilities in three African countries.

"We recorded her at nine o'clock in the morning on Saturday, the day before the Oscars," Friedman says of Streep. "That's how cool she was." Having booked a studio for six hours to do the voiceover, Friedman says, "she was in and out of there in 56 minutes…She was amazing." 

Not everything went so quickly, of course. The project began with a visit to Scotland to discuss it with Gloag. Then came trips to Malawi, Kenya, and Sierra Leone, where Friedman and his crews filmed what he calls an "immense" amount of footage. Friedman says they visited some "horrific" slums during their time in Sierra Leone, and he believes his was the last crew filming in the country before the Ebola outbreak. 

A lot of time was spent working on the film before the first cut was finished in September. Still, one key piece was missing. Enter Meryl Streep. "Obviously she changes the movie completely because of the way she reads. We were all just blown away," Friedman says. "Before we had a movie about fistula…a subject that most people will turn away from." But, he says, with Streep on board, he thinks the movie will reach "an incredibly large and wide swath of humanity." 

Friedman says he wouldn't be where he is today without AU. "I'm in this business because of AU and particularly because of my mentor, Larry Kirkman…I think differently than most producer-directors, and it's all because of what I learned at AU," he says.

Friedman tells a story about "lying his way into ABC" during his time as a student and working on an Emmy-nominated documentary. "But I didn't want to do documentaries then," he says. "There was a new thing happening at the time called music videos." Music video interested Friedman, so he wrote one for Darryl Hall and John Oates. They liked it and hired him to do more. He continued working in the industry, producing videos for the Rolling Stones and other musical acts. 

Since then, Friedman has gone on to do lots of different kinds of work, including a recent television show about the CIA for National Geographic. "AU gave me a lot of opportunities to play with a lot of toys, and you need that," he says. 

Friedman remains involved with AU, serving as a mentor for the School of Communication and as a volunteer leader with the Entertainment and Media Alumni Alliance. "What AU taught me was a really strong notion that there's nothing you can't do if you really want to," he says. "I met the best people in the world there." 

Friedman says he thinks what's happening with film online is going to change everything about his business so that's where he will turn his focus next. 

And, he says, "Obviously we're aiming for the Oscars next year."

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Title: Nate Beeler Draws The News
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
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Abstract: Alumnus Nate Beeler is an award-winning editorial cartoonist.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 12/11/2014
Content:

“There is something primal about a hand-drawn image that goes back to people painting on caves. We’ve always had cartoons, and editorial cartooning has a very rich history in the United States. It’s a powerful way to have a voice in the national conversation,” says Nate Beeler, SOC/BA ’02, an award-winning editorial cartoonist for the Columbus Dispatch.

By now, Beeler’s cartoons are certainly part of the national dialogue. His depiction of the Statue of Liberty and Lady Justice embracing following the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) won the 2014 John Fischetti Editorial Cartoon Competition.

When the news of DOMA broke, Nate says he struggled for inspiration at first, but once he knew what he wanted to portray: the joy of same-sex couples as well as the scope and historical significance of the ruling, he says, “It seemed a natural fit to put Lady Justice and Lady Liberty together because this decision affirmed freedom and also righted an injustice.”

Nate draws five editorial cartoons each week for the Columbus Dispatch and his cartoons are also syndicated internationally to more than 800 other publications. “When you’re an editorial cartoonist, your work is basically a visual column, and you fall into the natural rhythm of the news,” he says.

Nate uses the newspaper and Twitter to track the national news conversation and search for topics that will resonate with his audience. Once he chooses a topic, he does extensive reading to determine how he feels about the topic, which guides his editorial approach.

His first foray into creating a cartoon tied to a national news story was for the edition of The Eagle published after September 11, 2001. Nate drew an image of the Twin Towers with angel wings, and the original drawing still hangs in The Eagle offices today. In fact, the The Eagle was Nate’s first stop when he arrived on campus, and he still stays in touch with his former Eagle colleagues and fellow alumni, including Brett Zongker, Scott Rosenberg, and Andrew Noyes.

American University’s strong journalism program and location in Washington, D.C. motivated Nate, a Columbus native, to attend AU. During his time in college, he was an editorial cartoonist for The Eagle and created two comic strips: Undergrad and Lawn Darts from God. His work with The Eagle earned him the prestigious Charles M. Schulz Award for best college cartoonist as well as the John Locher Award.

Since then, he has won more recognition, including the 2009 Thomas Nast Award from the Overseas Press Club and the 2008 Berryman Award from the National Press Foundation.

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Title: SOC Alumna Lands Media Spot with Oprah
Author: Kristena Wright and Penelope Butcher
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Abstract: SOC Alumna Lands Media Spot with Oprah
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 12/09/2014
Content:

Nicole Howard, SOC/BA '10, who works as the communications coordinator for AU's School of Professional and Extended Studies, says she came to AU to study sports communication and journalism.

"I'm not sure what is was, but I knew I had to come to D.C. for the exposure I wanted. After taking a few classes, public communication became my major," says Nicole. Writing became an integral part of her life, but she wanted to think of ways of make it match up with her career aspirations. Little did she know she would develop the details and skills to one day work for Oprah Winfrey.

After graduation, Nicole began contributing to forcoloredgurls.com, a blog inspiring and empowering women readers to reach their dreams, as a writer. Her first piece, "Blessing in the Storm," was about dealing with being laid off. Her other contributions included a series titled "My Almost Quarter-Life Crisis" and a story covering a National Council for Negro Women event. The founder of forcoloredgurls.com asked Nicole to write a book review for the site, but Nicole knew she needed her own blog in order to really get her writing where it could be noticed.

In December 2013 Nicole started her blog, shininlight.com, using Wordpress. The blog led to writing for adult fiction novelist Danielle Allen's Back to Reality book tour hosted by Carter's Books, and Nicole began reviewing memoirs and books about relationships. This led her to meet Mandy Hale, author of Single Woman. In Hale's book, she talks about her experience traveling as blogger as a part of Oprah's Lifeclass series on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), and it stuck with Howard.

Not long after reading Single Woman, Nicole discovered Oprah was coming to D.C. for her "The Life You Want" tour and needed media personnel. Nicole reached out to Hale for advice and was inspired to apply to be part of the Oprah Tour team. One week before the tour came to town, Nicole received word that she had been chosen to work on the team. She immediately started a page on her blog, as well as a Pinterest page, specifically devoted to the Oprah tour.  

"The Oprah tour taught me to not be afraid to go big, to turn an experience into usable, share-able content" she says. She also explains how the tour really helped her with branding and credibility. "The tour was a leap of faith, the live tweeting and taking pictures for the tour gave me the confidence and skills I needed to expand my blog," she says. Although it has concluded, Nicole continues to interact with the tour through social media. It helps her gain followers, and she now has contacts at OWN. 

In her spare time, Nicole works as an advocate for mental health issues and awareness. She also volunteers at American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Keeping her writing in the forefront, she writes self-love posts on her blog, and also writes for Mind of a Diva, a blog featuring real life experiences as told through the thoughts of a women in her twenties. 

During her time at AU, Nicole was a part of the Summer Transition Enrichment Program, the gospel choir, and the Federal Work Study program. Nicole's advice to aspiring writers is very direct: "Get as much experience writing as you can. Get published if you can. Write for the school or local newspaper. Learn your voice. Pay attention to little grammar details. Stay in the writing center. Try different areas to find your niche, and then focus on your niche."

Tags: Alumni,School of Communication,Media,Public Communication
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newsId: 3A241ADB-C3DC-7F26-99974584FA8EB00B
Title: Alisyn Camerota, SOC/BA ’88, joins CNN
Author: Traci Crockett
Subtitle:
Abstract: After 16 years at FOX News Channel, Alisyn Camerota recently began as an anchor at CNN.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 10/02/2014
Content:

Alisyn Camerota, SOC/BA '88, says she arrived on American University's campus "with a vision of someday, somehow becoming a TV news reporter." And, that's just what she's done. After 16 years at FOX News Channel, she recently began work at CNN, anchoring both morning and primetime programs and covering special stories for the cable news giant.  

"I am loving my new job," Alisyn says. "There's been breaking news on a global scale for months now." In her short time at CNN, she's worked with a variety of co-anchors and producers on both New Day and CNN Tonight. "It's been pretty thrilling. It's been a whirlwind getting to know my new colleagues and getting to know how CNN operates," she says. 

Alisyn is settling in to a new routine –on some level. "Regular hours are not synonymous with news casting," she says with a laugh. She went from being on-air regularly in the early morning hours to anchoring the 10 p.m. newscast along with Don Lemon throughout the month of September. "I feel really fortunate to have this new opportunity," she says. 

Alisyn credits internships and hands-on experience while a student with launching her career. "Because of AU, I was able to achieve what I set out to do," she says. "I got a great internship and it connected me to all sorts of power players in the news business, and that was my launching pad." 

Because of her own experience as a student, Alisyn has remained actively involved with the School of Communication as an alumni mentor, a member of the SOC Dean's Council, and a host for students on site visits in New York. "I'm so grateful that I had a great academic and pre-professional experience at AU that I want to make sure other students have the same," she says. "I know of the goldmine of graduates that American has…And, I just know that if the current students can tap into that resource, then their future is that much easier." 

Alisyn has also made a lasting mark on McKinley, the new home of the School of Communication. Thanks to her generosity, it is also home to the brand new Alisyn Camerota Inspiration Lounge, which Alisyn describes as a one-of-a-kind space where the historic portion of the building meets the with the newly constructed areas –a vantage point showcasing both the past and the present. She's proud to say that the lounge bearing her name is "the bridge between the past American University building and the new School of Communication and all that will be accomplished there in the future."

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,Communication,Journalism,Journalism (SOC),School of Communication
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newsId: 887218AE-014D-DABD-698CF56DB248F9A2
Title: Keosha Varela: Journey Through Digital Space
Author: Kristena Wright
Subtitle:
Abstract: Alumni Board Member Koesha Varela makes her mark in the digital world.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 08/15/2014
Content:

Keosha Varela, SOC/BA '07, SOC/MA '08, currently serves as the digital producer at The Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C. But working in digital production was not originally her career aspiration. "I knew I was going to be a lawyer and later on a politician," Keosha says. "AU was always my first choice school and I couldn't wait to get there. Early on, I realized that rather than campaign to spend a short amount of time on the issue of the day, I could raise more awareness by telling the story and following its development," she explains. Keosha decided to go into journalism, saying that she loves reading and writing. "I still wanted to contribute to society in a meaningful way so I decided to tell people's stories. I wanted to be someone who alerted the world on unjust stories so that we could make a change."

Keosha says she was determined to get as much experience as possible to be able to land a job after graduation. "I used the AU career center and Google religiously" she exclaims, which landed her internships with WAMU 88.5, BBC News, and AARP. Her persistence paid off and led her to the highly competitive NBC Universal News Associates Program in New York City. There she helped to produce segments for the The Today Show, MSNBC, and Dateline. She also worked on the launch team of the African American NBC News website theGrio.com. She went on to become an online news editor for WAMU, an editor and producer for WBUR.org, and the social media strategist for the American Clean Skies Foundation. 

When asked what she enjoys most about her career today, she says, "It's such a multi-faceted position. I'm not doing the same thing every day. I enjoy a little bit of everything versus sticking to one task on a daily basis." Keosha's experience has also opened doors for her to delve into her love of writing and interviewing people. As a freelance writer, her work has been published in Sister 2 Sister magazine, The Grio, AARP's The Bulletin newspaper, msnbc.com, and other media outlets. 

Through her success, Keosha admits she had to adjust to a few things that come with the job. "There's a good chance of getting good paying job, but you quickly learn digital news is 24-7. Jobs are typically 9-5 but if breaking information needs to be released, you're expected to do so no matter what time it is." She sums up her advice to students into three points. 

  1. Get as many internships as you can.
  2. Take initiative during internships. A degree doesn't automatically mean a job. Be sure to suggest positive changes at your internship
  3. Never give up. It's not as easy as it may seem. But those who are successful never gave up.

While at AU, Keosha was involved in a multitude of groups and organizations. She was a proud member of the alto section of the gospel choir and an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Lambda Zeta Chapter. She also served as a resident assistant on the second floor of Letts Hall and in the summers, she was an RA on Tenley campus. 

Keosha moved back to the area from New York with a goal of reigniting school spirit in friends and the AU community. Her first step toward this goal begins with her service as a current Alumni Board member. Keosha hopes to continue in digital space and eventually wants to oversee digital and editorial content and strategy. She has loved AU since her freshman year of high school and has her sights set on someday teaching at the college level.

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newsId: 3831F1B2-EEBA-1613-3AF966FAECEFF341
Title: Building Upon a Family History
Author: Mike Rowan
Subtitle:
Abstract: After her valuable AU experience—and now her daughter’s—Mary McCarthy Hayford and her family are helping lay the groundwork for the university’s next generation.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 03/27/2014
Content:

Stroll along the west side of the quad, passing Frisbees floating across the grass and cheerful student organizations camped outside of Mary Graydon, and at either end of campus you will find a building that has been transformed within the last five years. Across the street from the Katzen Arts Center, the Kogod School of Business opened a 20,000-square-foot expansion in 2008. A few hundred yards down, next to Bender Library, stands the newly reopened McKinley building, the state-of-the-art new home of the School of Communication. Though housing separate schools, and situated on opposite ends of campus, there’s a strong thread connecting the two of them—the Hayford family.

Mary McCarthy Hayford, Kogod/MBA ’78, did her graduate work at AU’s business school, but when she attended, it did not yet bear the Kogod name. It was simply called the School of Business Administration. Classes were housed in the Ward Circle Building, and offices were in the cozy quarters of the Hamilton Building (known then as Hamilton Hall).

“I remember picking AU based on my perception that the administrators and faculty were more accessible,” McCarthy Hayford shares as she recalls her AU experience. “I look back not only on the great full-time professors in subjects which appeal to me, but also on several adjunct professors who imparted real world experiences. For me, that exposure to professionals working in industry was essential to seeing how the theoretical was applied in the real world, and to envisioning the type of career I would want to pursue.”

When the Kogod School of Business announced plans for its expansion campaign, Mary and her husband, Warren, signed on to help by making a major contribution to the building. Their generosity is marked by a plaque adorning one of the new classrooms inside, which displays their names.

Then, three years later, when the effort to renovate McKinley began, the Hayfords were there again, eager to give back once more, naming the facility’s new audio editing suite.

Why jump in to support another major project, especially when the family had so significantly dedicated themselves to an effort close to their hearts just a few years earlier? One reason is that their daughter, Margaret, SOC/BA ’13, just finished a very positive undergraduate career in the School of Communication.

“We feel strongly that SOC and AU provided Margaret with the experience she needs to pursue her career goals,” McCarthy Hayford articulates. “AU was one of few schools where she could study film and graphic design while still broadening her education in history, science and social science. She capped off her SOC experience with a semester in the film school in Prague where she worked with a small group to create a professional-quality film.”

In addition to Margaret, the Hayfords are parents to Amanda, a 2006 alumna of Oberlin College, and Warren, who graduated from George Washington University in 2012. Ms. McCarthy Hayford’s husband, Warren John Hayford, is the president and managing director of the software company RatioServices, and is a director of the Warren J. and Marylou Hayford Family Foundation, which his parents founded. The foundation has been instrumental in the Hayfords’ gifts to American University.

Though she has graduated—as have her children—McCarthy Hayford remains an avid learner. While embarking on a path toward starting a new career, she has been steadily auditing courses at the university. “Wherever that takes me, I hope to keep close ties to AU.”

Tags: Donor,Giving,Kogod School of Business,School of Communication
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newsId: 8B4B6663-0F1B-49C7-FA19296835529E49
Title: Alumnus Michael O'Brien's Book Details Symbolic Civil Rights Movement
Author: Ann Royse
Subtitle:
Abstract: Alumnus Michael O'Brien writes an enthralling and historic account of the famous sit-in protest at Woolworth's in Jackson, Mississippi during the height of the civil rights era.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 02/17/2014
Content:

If, during this Black History month, you find yourself searching for a new and enriching story of the civil rights era, look no further than a book by AU alumnus and successful author, Michael (M.J.) O’Brien, SOC/BA ’84. He is the writer of a new and highly popular book titled We Shall Not Be Moved: The Jackson Woolworth’s Sit-In and the Movement It Inspired, a story accounting the infamous and nonviolent protest in Jackson, Mississippi, during the turbulent American civil rights era. The book has received multiple accolades, and, according to Julian Bond, distinguished adjunct professor at AU and former NAACP Chairman, “Michael O’Brien has written a detailed history and fascinating study of one of the iconic moments of the modern civil rights movement and the powerful effect it had.”

The spark that ignited the passion and growth of this book begins with a single photograph found in the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia. While Michael was visiting the center, he came upon the photograph, which features three young people conducting a “sit-in” protest at the counter of Woolworth’s, surrounded by a violent and angry mob of Mississippi citizens. Shockingly, one of the iconic faces staring back at him was that of an old and very dear friend named Joan (Trumpauer) Mulholland. Joan had humbly omitted ever mentioning her historic involvement with the civil rights movement in Jackson to Michael.

With this new knowledge, he set out on a mission to uncover and tell the story behind the faces in this photograph and the grassroots civil rights movement surrounding the iconic protest. In essence, he used this image as the central organizing feature to tell a much larger story regarding one of the most tumultuous times in American history.

When discussing his book, Michael is quick to recognize American University as a major contributor to his success in writing. He specifically attributes his own growth in confidence to the education he received at AU in the School of Communication, saying it was “the best training I’ve ever had.” Michael fondly recalls former faculty member Joe Tinkelman as a primary guide and mentor during his time at AU. Professor Tinkelman encouraged and nurtured Michael’s passion for writing and telling stories about social change and justice, a passion he continues to embrace today.

Michael first met Joan while he was a working as a camp counselor with Joan’s five boys, and the friendship grew from there. Then, on the day he discovered her photograph, he decided to dedicate his work to telling her story and the larger social movement of that time. Indeed, Michael O’Brien’s life and career took an unexpected yet valuable turn after befriending Joan. In fact, AU students should heed this insightful advice of Michael: “Keep your eyes open. You never know who will have a significant impact on your life.” Whether it is a confidant and inspiring professor or a lifelong friend and civil rights activist you meet in the park, Michael says it is clear that certain people and events have the ability to change the course of one’s life and career.

Currently, Michael lives in Virginia with his wife and three adopted children and looks forward to continuing a career of writing about his various passions. He reflects fondly on time at AU, saying, “my education [there] essentially launched my career.”



Tags: Alumni Author,Alumni Update,Civil Rights,School of Communication
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