newsId: 474764C5-5056-AF26-BEAB1C9C95FF76EE
Title: Bowles Award Deadline Extension
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Abstract: The deadline to apply for the W. Donald Bowles Award ($1000 award) has been extended to November 14th. Apply now!
Topic: Announcement
Publication Date: 11/01/2016
Content: The W. Donald Bowles Award recognizes students for conducting outstanding research or pursuing a course of study addressing productivity, income, or poverty in the United States through empirical, theoretical, or artistic efforts. The $1,000 award will be given annually in November, following evaluation by a committee comprised of teaching faculty and librarians from AU. A $500 runner-up award will also be given.

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Title: Librarian Profile—Olivia Ivey
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Abstract: This article in our series of librarian profiles focuses on Public Affairs Librarian Olivia Ivey. With her background in social work and her interest in information literacy, Olivia brings a special perspective to the Library and classroom.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 02/25/2016
Content:

Born and raised in Georgia, Public Affairs Librarian Olivia Ivey began her college career in “The Peach State” at the University Of Georgia in Athens. She received her BA in Social Work and continued on to earn a Master of Social Work at Columbia University in New York City. Olivia was drawn to social work because of its practical and rewarding nature, and inspired by her father’s dedication to the field. After graduation, she moved on to work for a nonprofit organization, The Caring Community, as the Director of a senior center in Greenwich Village. Although the work was gratifying, after two years, Olivia was ready for a new challenge and wanted to explore her interest in Archival and Library studies. She received her Master of Library Science from University of Maryland in College Park, where she found a strong community of fellow students and a break from the busy pace of New York City. Post-graduation, Olivia worked as a Law Librarian at the Wirtz Labor Library before transitioning to academic librarianship, first at the Washington College of Law, and now at Bender Library.

Where can you find her?

Olivia provides individual appointments to students each week, in addition to her work at the Research Assistance Desk, and the Library instruction she provides by working with SPA professors to add an information literacy component to their courses. She is also working to assess learning outcomes that take a holistic approach to information literacy. Olivia can often be found riding her bike when she isn’t at work. Between her regular bike commute to work and weekend rides on local trails, she loves the “glorious Vitamin D, guilt-free milkshakes, and getting out of the heart of the city.” Olivia even spent her honeymoon last year cycling from Salzburg to Vienna!

Why she loves her job

“I love the students with my whole entire heart! I don’t like to be on center stage, but I love playing a support role that matters and helping students and researchers find the missing puzzle piece for their projects. Learning through the curiosity of others helps me to grow and develop as a person each day.” Olivia also enjoys being a part of an academic community, where she finds motivation in the lively environment and high level of student engagement. Another stimulating aspect of working at a university is the increased activity and the many opportunities for human engagement through her work as a librarian.

In the community

Olivia stays busy within the AU Community, chairing the Budget & Benefits Committee, serving on the Faculty Senate, the Dean’s Round Table, the Senate Executive Committee, the University Library Faculty Council, and the Collection Management Team (which she chaired last year.) She will be presenting later this spring at the 2016 Colloquium on Libraries & Service Learning in Boston, speaking about an assessment project of information literacy as a institution-wide learning outcome in service learning courses.

While it can be challenging to stay on top of it all, one lesson that Olivia has taken from cycling is this: “The cap to what you’re capable of is so much higher than you think.”

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Title: Secret Lives: Adam Robinson
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Abstract: This article in this profile series offers a ‘behind the scenes’ peek at Adam Robinson, a Resource Description Specialist and collector of degrees.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 02/02/2016
Content:

As a Resource Description Specialist in the Technical Services unit, Adam Robinson works to make Library materials findable for researchers. In his words, “If books are not properly cataloged, libraries don’t know what they have and users can’t find what they need.” The good news for AU students and faculty is that Adam enjoys the “problem solving satisfaction” of his job and is dedicated to making Library resources easier for users to locate.

Additionally, Adam works with other units around campus to include partner collections in the Library catalog. The American University Library cooperates with unaffiliated, on-campus library collections in order to make their content more accessible to the university community. These collections include the Career Center Resource Library, the Center for Language Exploration, Acquisition and Research, and the Visual Resources Center.

Adam brings a broad knowledge base to his cataloging work, with BAs in English, Spanish, and Art History from the University of Kansas, which his sister, mother, and grandfather all attended. During his time as an undergraduate, he worked at the University Library and enjoyed the experience so much that he decided to pursue a graduate degree in Library Science, and relocated to Boston to attend Simmons College, where he received his MS. Here at AU, he is in the process of completing his master’s thesis for the Art History program, a project that focuses on the design and decoration of the Boston Public Library. When he finishes this work, he will have an MA in Art History.

While attending school in Boston, Adam loved exploring all of the art, culture, and history of the city. His favorite Bostonart museum is the Museum of Fine Arts, with its substantial ‘Art of the Americas’ collections. As a specialist in American art, Adam has a bit of a bias, but also enjoys the more internationally focused collections at the Gardner Museum. He sees some similarities between Boston and DC, “both are charming, walkable big cities that offer a tangible feeling of history and have great art museums.” Here, Adam tends to gravitate toward the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Gallery of Art.

His love of art history attracted him to the MA program at AU, but it is difficult to say what he may study next. “I value lifelong learning and just follow what interests me.” He plans to continue auditing courses in interesting subjects. His experience as a grad student at AU has been a positive one. Adam stresses the importance of accepting challenges, while keeping perspective, and praises his thesis advisor and professor, Dr. Helen Langa, for inspiring him with her depth of knowledge and encouraging him as a student.

Adam’s interest in amassing knowledge is also what attracted him to a career in library work. “Cataloging can be intimidating. It requires learning a new language in order to interface between the library and the user. There is also rarely a single solution, which makes the process feel a bit like solving little puzzles.” Working on the Research Assistance Desk is a similarly intellectually rewarding experience. “It is exciting to sit down with someone who is not acquainted with AU Library materials and be able to shed light on their research problem – or show them an unexpected resource or tool! The dynamic back and forth is fun too. It is gratifying to delve into other subjects, learn new things, and help someone on their personal journey.”

As a result, Adam is able to help users on both sides of the Library experience. In his work cataloging materials, he is behind the scenes striving to make the Library collection easier to search, while on the Research Assistance Desk, he is helping scholars and researchers face-to-face with some of their trickiest research questions. His familiarity with these two aspects of the research process give him a unique perspective on the user experience. Insights like these help the Library provide the best possible service, digitally and in person.

Book, Film, and Game Recommendations from Adam:

Novels and stories: the Lottery, the Haunting of Hill House, We have Always Lived in the Castle, Other Stories and Sketches by Shirley Jackson.

Readers familiar with Jackson’s better-known works, The Haunting at Hill House, or The Lottery already know that she has a talent for writing about the strange and uncanny. In the short story format, her ability to evoke psychological fear is perhaps even more pronounced. Whether these elements slowly seep into or suddenly upset the carefully-ordered and mundane lives of her characters, the dread and fear they engender is masterfully developed and eminently relatable.

Housebound

A film that any fan of the comedy-horror genre is “bound” to enjoy! I tend to enjoy atmospheric horror movies and dark comedies, and this marries the two nicely within the framework of a family dramedy, offering a little something for everyone—and not just at Halloween!

Betrayal at House on the Hill

(3-6) Players. Casual board-gamers beware? Betrayal at House on the Hill features a cooperative strategy gaming experience with a mid-game twist, as a yet-unidentified member of your party turns on the rest to achieve an almost always different, but ever-nefarious B-Movie/Horror scenario.

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Title: Slaying Snowzilla
Author: Maggie Barrett
Subtitle:
Abstract: A by-the-numbers breakdown of how intrepid staff kept operations running smoothly.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 01/28/2016
Content:

Forget showdowns over the federal budget or getting a bill to pass both houses. If you really want to see DC frozen in its tracks, wait for a blizzard. Preferably one that dumps 1-3 feet of snow across the metro area.

AU was closed from noon on Friday, January 22 through Tuesday, January 26. While some employees enjoyed an impromptu extended weekend, numerous others didn’t have that luxury. After all, there were still students on campus to be fed, kept safe, entertained, and allowed to continue their studies. Not to mention faculty and staff working on deadline, come hell or high water (or in this case, frozen, crystalline flakes of water).

Stats don’t lie. Below, a by-the-numbers blizzard breakdown of just how hard intrepid staff worked to keep things running smoothly on campus and for AU staff members working remotely.

AU Library

24 staff members kept the library open for students Sunday through Tuesday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The library was closed at the height of the storm on Saturday, January 23.

  • Most of the library’s services were available, including Blackboard support, borrowing, course reserves, Graduate Research Center, Information Desk, Media Services, New Media Center, Printing Services, research and IM help--including late night/overnight chat to answer research questions--and Technology Services.

77 percent increase in “Reserves” books check-outs.

4,525 people came to the library.

123 movies loaned in advance of the storm on Thursday, January 21—twice the number of movie loans on the same Thursday last year.

45 research-related questions answeredthrough chat/IM.

Campus Life/Recreation

2,629 people sweated out their cabin fever at Jacobs and Cassell fitness centers.

11 people manned the information desk and helped with University Center events.

15 hours of OCL-planned programming to entertain students featuring 5 different kinds of indoor, snowy-day activities (movies, Bingo!, board games, coloring, knitting).

20 staff attended and planned events.

Experience #SnowyAU through students' photos and social media posts.

Dining Services

12,000 + meals served in TDR (Terrace Dining Room)—1,400 more meals (13 percent more) than they would usually serve under normal conditions.

4,000 purchases at the POD (Provisions On Demand).

18 people handled the work that normally requires 90 people. BRAVO!

  • In addition to the dedicated food service workers, Charles Smith, director of auxiliary services, pitched in. Throughout the weekend, Smith worked 12 hour days in the kitchen making pancakes, cooking roasts and running stations to feed the AU community.
  • President Kerwin visited TDR to thank staff and interact with students.

Facilities Management

60 staff members directly supported snow removal operations.

10,000 lbs. of magnesium chloride applied to walkways and stairways and 8 tons of road salt on all campus roadways.

280 gallons of biodiesel to fuel diesel-powered equipment and vehicles.

1,200 cubic yards of snow transported and stockpiled.  

11 building maintenance technicians supported facility related corrective and emergency repairs.

6 plows; 8 salt-rigs; 3 backhoe loaders; 1 dump truck; 8 snow throwers; 6 tractors; and 35 snow shovels.

Office of Information Technology (OIT)

85 OIT staff members worked full days from home, including 9 who worked around the clock to upgrade the MyAU portal environment.

4 NOC (Network Operations Center) team members stayed overnight in the data center throughout the storm to provide 24/7 monitoring of the IT infrastructure. Under normal conditions, only 1 NOC team member is scheduled per shift.

438 Help Desk support requests resolved.

4,000 concurrent users a day of AU’s wireless network on Saturday and Sunday; 5,000 concurrent users a day of AU’s wireless network on Monday and Tuesday.

575 AU employees from across the university worked remotely via the VPN (Virtual Private Network).

25 percent more VPN users could work remotely at the same time. This thanks to OIT procuring 50 additional VPN licenses from the vendor in advance of the storm.

Public Safety

28 police officers and 8 dispatchers worked 12 hour shifts—4 hours longer than their typical 8 hour shifts.  

9 police officers and 3 dispatchers stayed on campus overnight to ensure shift coverage.

University Communications

5 staff members worked to communicate information from administrators about weather operating status.

4 + channels for communicating weather operating status, including the university website, social media, AU Alerts via Get Rave, and news media outlets in the Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD areas.

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Title: Changes to Accessing the Library's Electronic Resources from Off Campus
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Abstract: New login procedures for off-campus access to electronic resources.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 01/06/2016
Content:

Due to increased security requirements, the Library has worked with WRLC and AU's Office of Information Technology to change our login procedures for accessing electronic books, journals, and databases from off-campus. Instead of using your last name and AUID number to access these resources, you will now use your myau.american.edu portal credentials. 

For other Library services, such as accessing My Library Account, you will continue to use your last name and AUID number. If you run into issues logging in, please contact the Library's Borrowing Desk at 202-885-3221.

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Title: Library Support for Successful New Year’s Resolutions
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Abstract: Here at AU Library, we have resources that can help you to succeed with your resolutions. We have rounded up some books, films, and music items in our collection to help support the most commonly made New Year’s Resolutions.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 01/05/2016
Content:

Here at AU Library, we have resources that can help you to succeed with your resolutions. From improving fitness, to traveling more, to learning a new skill, we rounded up some of the most helpful books, films, and music items in our collection to help support the most commonly made New Year’s Resolutions.

Books:

Kicking Butts: Quit Smoking and Take Charge of Your Health This helpful little eBook can be part of an effective solution to kicking the smoking habit by guiding readers through the process with tips and suggestions. Offering solid support when its needed most helps maintain the motivation to quit and STAY quit. As a bonus, the electronic format means you can read it on your computer, tablet, or smart phone.

Fit At Last: Look And Feel Better Once And For All by Ken Blanchard and Tim Kearin Embracing a healthier lifestyle is a common resolution each year. This book can help change an interest in exercise into a commitment to exercise.

Diet Cults: The Surprising Fallacy At The Core Of Nutrition Fads And A Guide To Healthy Eating For The Rest Of Us by Matt Fitzgerald True to its long title, Fitzgerald debunks fad diets and offers a reasonable approach to healthy eating that is flexible enough to accommodate a range of personal preferences and lifestyles.

Money Book For the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman In this book, personal financial guru Orman helps millennials navigate the basics of the financial world, like coping with huge student loans and a dismal job market.

Off The Beaten Path: A Travel Guide to More Than 1,000 Scenic and Interesting Places Still Uncrowded and Inviting from Reader’s Digest Follow your wanderlust with this budget-friendly vacation planner highlighting lesser-known destinations in the United States.

Resources:

Pronunciator
Learn a new language or brush up your existing language skills with this free program. Use your AUID to sign up for this program, which offers instruction in 80 languages taught in any of 50 languages, making it easy for English speakers to learn Tagalog, or Spanish speakers to learn Arabic. Access Pronunciator through the “Search Databases” link on the Library homepage.

Lynda
The Lynda Software Training Library offers free online tutorials in a huge range of subjects. You can polish your professional presentation skills, discover how to take better photographs, finally master JavaScript, learn how to design a website, or even bone up on Music Theory. Access Lynda through the “Search Databases” link on the Library homepage.

Films:

Super Size Me This classic documentary about the fast food industry may reinforce those healthy eating resolutions.

Planet Earth The stunning mini-series captures rare action and impossible locations—great motivation for any would-be world traveler.

Music:

Did you know AU has a Music Library? Start the New Year off with a visit to their location in Katzen. There, you can complete New Year Resolutions such as expanding your musical taste with recommendations from the friendly staff, as well as check out sheet music for the musical instrument you’ve always wanted to learn to play.

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Title: Librarian Profile—Stacey Marien
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Abstract: This article in our series of librarian profiles focuses on Acquisitions Librarian Stacey Marien. In addition to working with Library collections, Stacey is an enthusiastic gardener, volunteer, and mom to two teenagers.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 12/10/2015
Content:

A member of the AU community since 1999, Acquisitions Librarian Stacey Marien started her career at the American University Library as the Business Librarian. Stacey began working at libraries in high school, but she pursued other avenues of education before returning to the field of librarianship. As an undergraduate, Stacey attended McGill University in Montreal where she received her BA in Humanistic Studies. She then moved to Boston where she earned her MBA at the University of Massachusetts, Boston campus, before relocating to Geneva, Switzerland for two years. While in Geneva, she volunteered almost daily at the American Library, now called the Library in English, a membership-based library with a substantial collection of English language books and magazines. Her colleagues at the American Library encouraged Stacey to pursue a degree in Library Science, and when she returned to the US, Stacey attended the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where she received an MSLS.

Where can you find her?

After working as the Business Librarian for 10 years, Stacey wanted to try something completely different and moved to the Technical Services division of the Library. She now oversees the Acquisitions unit, which works to obtain books and other materials needed for the Library collection. Acquisitions is also responsible for developing relationships with and selecting vendors, an aspect of her position that Stacey particularly enjoys. In addition to her work behind the scenes at the Library, working with vendors and doing hands-on work with resources, Stacey also spends at least one hour each week on the Research Assistance Desk, helping students with their research questions.

When she is not at the Library, Stacey can often be found gardening at home or at her local community garden, where she works as the compost manager and liaison to the Campus Kitchens Project, an organization that works to reduce food waste. In this capacity, Stacey picks unharvested produce donated by her fellow gardeners and delivers it to the St. Luke’s Mission Center, where volunteers make and deliver meals to those in need.

Why she loves her job

Stacey likes the academic setting and energy of campus, particularly the engagement of both AU students and her colleagues. Her role cultivating relationships with vendors has been especially rewarding. As a detail-oriented person, she enjoys the challenge of problem solving and the “nitty gritty of dealing with resources.” Another perk of the job is “getting first crack at the new books!”

In the community

Here on campus, Stacey serves on the Faculty Grievance Committee and is working on a subcommittee which is developing a proposal for AU to hire an ombudsperson, who can hear complaints from faculty and help to facilitate discussions about faculty issues. Within the Library, she serves on the Collection Management Committee, which makes purchasing and budgetary decisions regarding Library collections.

Stacey is active within the broader field of librarianship as well, co-writing a bimonthly column, “Let’s Get Technical,” for Against the Grain with Resource Description Librarian Alayne Mundt. She also just returned from the Charleston Conference, where she and Chris Hagan, Acquisitions Data Management Specialist, presented "The Paper Chase: How One Library Tackled the Chaos of Media Acquisitions" on the Reserves Media Acquisitions Database system and how it is used for media and reserves ordering at the AU Library.

Her strong interest in the issues associated with aging in place led Stacey to volunteer with the Northwest Neighbors Village (NNV), a community organization committed to helping elderly residents of northwest DC remain independent at home. Stacey contributes content to the organization’s monthly newsletter, The Village News, (she interviews another volunteer in the October 2015 issue) and has been helping Ginny, a disabled member of NNV, for the past two years. Stacey admires Ginny’s spirit and strength, saying “She’s a firecracker. Her disabilities don’t stop her – and I hope to follow her example as I age.”

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Title: Citations & Tweets: Tech-Savvy Research Impact Measurements
Author: Erica Bogese
Subtitle:
Abstract: Science Librarian Rachel Borchardt's new book focuses on the importance of altmetrics, a growing approach to analyzing the influence of research based on measuring emerging digital modes of scholarship.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 10/30/2015
Content:

It used to be that scholars shared their research primarily at academic conferences/symposiums or in academic journals/books. But now in the digital age, academic conversations are as likely to be found on Twitter or Facebook.

Scholars are sharing information in new ways and the reach of a publication can no longer be judged exclusively by the number of times it is cited. Students, faculty, and researchers are downloading digital content, emailing articles to their peers, and sharing research through social media.

A new book, co-authored by Rachel Borchardt, Science Librarian at American University, with Robin Chin Roemer, Instructional Design & Outreach Services Librarian at University of Washington Libraries, Meaningful Metrics: A 21st Century Librarian's Guide to Bibliometrics, Altmetrics, and Research Impact, explores how the tools used to determine research impact are changing—and how researchers can use these new metrics to maximize the reach of their work.

“Altmetrics offer researchers a means of evaluating their sphere of influence, in a way that goes beyond citation numbers,” Borchardt explains. “Through this book, we wanted to introduce altmetrics to a more general audience; including how this approach to assessment adds a broader dimension to metrics.”

Altmetrics 101

Altmetrics is a growing approach to analyzing the influence of research—in academia and beyond—based on measuring emerging digital modes of scholarship. These include open access journals, digital repositories, blogs, social media, and online communities, which are becoming a bigger part of the academic landscape.

The system of altmetrics responds to the changing demographics of academia, as more scholars take advantage of online tools to discover and engage with research. Borchardt describes altmetrics as a “suite of metrics generated from online tools, measuring and providing data about a wide variety of online activity surrounding scholarly research.”

Altmetrics extend beyond the traditional means of assessing the importance of research and publications, by considering factors that did not exist when long-established assessment tools were created. These factors include information about the number of times an article in an online journal is viewed, downloaded, mentioned in online conversations, and cited in both traditional and nontraditional venues, such as Twitter.

How Impactful Research is Commonly Assessed

The traditional means of assessment have not yet caught up with the increasingly digital academic environment. Bibliometrics, the analysis of written materials to determine their influence in their field, generally refers to Journal Impact Factor (JIF) or h-index. In simplified terms, JIF is used to measure the significance of an academic journal, by determining the average number of citations to articles published in said journal. The h-index is designed to assess both how often a scholar’s work is published and the frequency with which that work is then cited. This mode of analysis does not work equally well for all fields. Borchardt notes that “there are disciplines that do not publish or cite with the frequency of biomedical disciplines, for whom bibliometrics were created.”

Why Measurement Matters

In higher education, decisions about tenure status and promotion often factor in bibliometrics. While simply publishing research is important, the status of the journal in which this research is published is also critical. It is generally considered more prestigious to be published in a journal with a higher JIF. Along those same lines, the analysis of how often a scholar’s work is cited serves as a stand-in for that scholar’s influence in their field.

While these forms of measurement are recognized as imperfect, they are still used in decision-making processes regarding hiring, continuing appointments, tenure status, promotions, and funding.

“In academia, there has been an increasing focus on measuring research impact,” says Borchardt. “Members of the AU Committee on Faculty Actions, a body that evaluates most AU faculty in matters relating to appointments, reappointments, tenure, and promotion, requested copies of Meaningful Metrics. Faculty and administration members alike are finding value in having a resource that clearly describes the research metrics that assist in their evaluations.”

Looking Forward

New systems for measuring research impact are becoming more readily available, but right now, the metrics tool creators are often shaping the conversation. Borchardt hopes that her book will encourage other stakeholders, like researchers and librarians, to get involved. The straightforward language and practical exercises of Meaningful Metrics are designed to empower these stakeholders by showing them how they can maximize and better understand the reach of their own research.

“Altmetrics are not the single solution, but a new way to evaluate research,” states Borchardt. “Altmetrics are not replacing traditional metrics, but can be used in conjunction with them to provide a fuller spectrum of impact, engagement, and attention.”

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Title: Season of the Witch
Author: Gregg Sangillo
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Abstract: AU Associate Librarian Explains the Allure of Paganism.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 10/26/2015
Content:

Halloween may be more than just costumes, candy corn, and scary movies. For many contemporary Pagans, it's considered a high holy day.

Gwendolyn Reece is not only a Pagan, but she's done extensive, quantitative research about the subject. In advance of Halloween, she discussed the philosophy of her religion, while shedding light on the types of people who practice it. At American University, Reece is the associate librarian and director of research, teaching, and learning in the University Library.

The Twilight Time

So, what exactly is going on during Halloween for contemporary Pagans? Traditionally, it's considered a Festival of Death, but it's really a whole Halloween season based on the Celtic calendar. Reece talks about how this is a "liminal" time. "You're not in one state, nor in another state. You're in this middle," she says.

As deciduous trees shed their leaves, a certain form of the world is dying. It's "twilight, where it's not day, and it's not night. Those are always times, in any of the magical traditions, that are particularly powerful," Reece explains. "Pagans are often doing ancestral work, we're doing psychic work, and we're doing work to honor those who have died."

Everything Old is New Again

Reece stresses how Paganism is a diverse religion, practiced in a variety of ways. But through her research and experience, she has drawn some general conclusions. Though it's a new religious movement, it's steeped in old traditions that can be traced to pre-Christian Europe. Paganism is a broad umbrella that includes Wicca. And there are Reconstructionist forms of Paganism, such as Celtic, Norse and Hellenic.

Though not universally incorporated, Reece says magic has a prominent place in these religions. And belief in reincarnation is common among Pagans. "One of the types of extraordinary spiritual experiences that many, many Pagans will talk about is past-life memory," she says.

She also considers Paganism an extension of Romanticism. Unlike the Enlightenment preoccupation with reason, it embodies certain undefinable spiritual discoveries. "A large part of what it is trying to do is establish the legitimacy of non-rational ways of knowing. Not irrational, but non-rational," Reece says. Pagans also "claim at a fairly high frequency to have had various kinds of what we might call psychic, or unusual, spiritual experiences," she adds.

Who are the Pagans?

Reece surveyed 3,318 practicing Pagans, many of whom are religious leaders and clergy. She said participants tend to be highly educated, and based on their professions, not hostile to science. They often work in health care, education, and the STEM fields.

American University associate librarian Gwendolyn Reece.

Most people come from some other strong—usually Christian—religious background. You're less likely to find an atheist turn to Paganism. These are people "finding a religion that reflects or accepts them in a way that maybe is more complete than what they had previously experienced," she says.

It's also a welcoming and tolerant community. "Women are very overrepresented, gay and lesbian people are very overrepresented, bisexual people are very overrepresented, and transsexual people are very overrepresented," she says. "There's a very strong element of acceptance, and really reverencing alternative sexualities."

Some Wiccans adopt the term "witch," while others eschew the label. As in fairy tales, women are more likely to embrace being a witch—a term that often connotes feminine power, she adds. "It does seem to be used primarily for women who have seized power in some way," she explains. "They're not dependent on the dominant society to give them value, because they claim their own value."

According to the most recent figures from the American Religious Identification Survey, there are about 682,000 people who identify as either Pagan or Wiccan. Non-Pagans are increasingly hip to the topic, and Reece credits the Harry Potter series and Buffy the Vampire Slayer for helping to popularize these traditions.

Challenges Ahead

Reece formulated her Pagan beliefs while living in southwestern Ohio in the 1980s. It wasn't an easy time or place to practice Paganism, as the notorious "Satanic Panic" was raging there.

In her intellectual pursuit of this subject, she earned a master's in religious studies from University of California, Santa Barbara. Establishing a doctoral dissertation committee on Paganism proved too difficult, but she later earned her Ph.D. in education from AU.

Reece belongs to a Wiccan coven. And as part of the Hellenic tradition, she's a priestess of Athena and Apollo. She's involved with a D.C.-based Pagan community, but she feels that practitioners of the religion will have plenty of challenges in the near future. There's clergy burnout, with most working as volunteers. Since it's a generally non-institutionalized religion (operating in house-churches, not larger buildings), it's unclear how they'll accommodate new members looking for accessible spaces.

"It will be interesting to see if they go the same direction that most other religions have gone at some point in their history, which is some sort of institutionalization," she says. There's a danger that its distinctiveness—what drew people to Paganism in the first place—will be lost.

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Title: Librarian Profile: Nikhat Ghouse
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Abstract: This article in our series of librarian profiles focuses on Social Sciences Librarian, Nikhat Ghouse. Not only does she have a background in history and anthropology, she is now honing her expertise in the field of organizational development.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 10/20/2015
Content:

In addition to working as the Social Sciences Librarian for the College of Arts & Sciences, the School of Professional & Extended Studies, and the Department of Health Studies, Nikhat is an Organization Development MS Candidate, in the School of Public Affairs. She majored in History and minored in Anthropology as an undergraduate at Cleveland State University, then went on to earn her master’s degree in Library & Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh. In 2011, Nikhat was one of eighteen fellows selected for the Association of Research Libraries’ Leadership & Career Development Program for mid-career librarians. This fellowship sparked her desire to return to graduate school at American University.

Where can you find her?

Nikhat can be found at the Research Assistance Desk, where she helps students and scholars to find their footing and thrive in the AU community, and in the classroom. She also engages with the departments of Anthropology, Economics, Health Studies, Sociology, and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) supporting faculty research and teaching students about information literacy. Additionally, Nikhat supports Washington Internships for Native Students, Washington Semester and Graduate Gateway Programs.

In the evenings and on the weekends she does most of her grad school research from home, “thanks to all of the great electronic resources available through the Library website, especially the subject specific databases.” Her strategy for eliminating distractions and being productive: “When I am getting ready to write research papers, I unplug the TV, go to my makeshift standing desk, and allow my books and articles to take over the dining room table.”

When she takes a break from work and research, one of Nikhat’s favorite hobbies is photography, which gives her a perfect reason to explore the sights of DC.

Why she loves her job

“The Library is the heart of campus. We aren’t just a study space, we’re a second home for students, a reflective space where students can internalize the knowledge that they are beginning to master in the classroom.”

For Nikhat, the allure of librarianship was the chance to help others. “Working with students gives me an opportunity to explore unique and fascinating areas of research. I want to empower the students at AU to find their own path to researching their topic – and that starts with drawing out their knowledge and passion.”

In the community

At AU, Nikhat recently served on the Graduate Curriculum Committee and is Co-Chair of the Mentoring Committee for the University Library Faculty Council. As a member of the American Library Association (ALA), Nikhat serves on the ALA Awards Committee at the national level and recently chaired the ALA Beta Phi Mu Award, which honors an individual each year for distinguished service to education for librarianship. This year for the ALA Awards Committee, Nikhat will be serving on the jury for the Joseph W. Lippincott Award.

As a librarian with a “dedication to diversity and international communities” Nikhat loves being at a university with such a globally diverse student population. “The work I do is all about student and faculty engagement. It is so rewarding to build relationships here at AU and to have the opportunity to be involved in the learning and personal growth of our students.”

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Title: AU Launches Crowdfunding Platform
Author: Joanna Platt
Subtitle:
Abstract: UFUND is a platform the AU community can use to directly fund projects and initiatives.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 12/15/2016
Content:

American University's Office of Development and Alumni Relations recently launched UFUND, a crowdfunding platform just for the AU community. This is a new way for alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends of the university to directly fund the projects and initiatives they care about most.

AU faculty, staff, and students are planning ventures to shape the future of the community, nation, and world. By making a gift, donors support the development and success of these projects.

Currently, UFUND features five initiatives – The Eagle Innovation Fund, the DC-Area High School Ethics Bowl, an Alternative Break in Cuba, the Skills for Success Career Seminar, and production of the documentary In The Executioner's Shadow.

Members of the AU community are invited to submit new projects to be featured on UFUND.


 

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Title: Non-stop News and A Heart for Helping
Author: Penelope Buchter, SIS/BA '16
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Abstract: Janell Lewis, SOC/MA ’06, has a passion for information and a desire to see others succeed.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 02/10/2016
Content:

Janell Lewis, SOC/MA ‘06, is an alumna whose passion and drive are evidenced by her impressive honors. Her energy and ambition have earned her the titles “Top 5 Under 40 Citizen,” and “Young Professional on the Move” as well as winning an award for dedication and service to the community from the local Courier Eco-Latino newspaper in her former home, Columbus, GA. She has even been nominated for an Emmy. She is currently in Lawton, OK, assisting in the KSWO Channel 7 News transition into a Raycom Media company.

Janell’s work in the news and media industry stems from an unquenchable desire to be informed on issues and know what is going on around her first. But more than just wanting information for herself, Janell wants to be part of informing others about what is going on in their community and their world. It is that get-up-and-go attitude which has yielded her such great success in her field.

Despite all of her success in news, Janell says that she is most proud of her work as a mentor, especially with young people. She started a local non-profit chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) in Georgia and has worked with several other organizations, including the NAACP and Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Through these organizations, she has had the chance to talk to students in elementary school through college and had the opportunity “to inspire, empower, and encourage, to give people someone to look up to and to show them that they can be successful.” With the NABJ she has been able to mentor students through college and sometimes even into their first journalism jobs. She says that getting into journalism, especially in places like DC can be incredibly difficult, but Janell loves to encourage people and see them succeed in getting these tough positions.

When Janell came to AU, she says that she maintained good relationships with her professors, made sure they knew her career aspirations, and allowed them to help her achieve those goals. This is the same advice she has for students hoping to pursue a media career, “have good relationships with your professors and do internships.” She says that “The best way to figure out what you want to do is to do it.”

It’s easy to see that Janell has been running full speed ahead, and she doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. Right now, Janell is looking into starting her own business for event planning, and hopes to do media consulting.

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Title: SOC Alumna Gets a Running Start
Author: Megan Olson and Nicole Mularz ’14
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Abstract: Anne Mahlum, SOC/MA ’03, shares her passion for entrepreneurism, fitness, and strengthening communities.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 11/18/2015
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Whether it is going for a mid-day run or teaching a class at Solidcore, working up a sweat has led to success for Anne Mahlum, SOC/MA '03. As founder of Solidcore boutique fitness studios, Back on My Feet, a national nonprofit serving the homeless community, as well as noted motivational speaker, Anne is nothing if not entrepreneurial.

A native of Bismarck, North Dakota, Anne was drawn to graduate school in Washington, DC for its politics, and to American University for its reputation. As a student in AU's one year Master of Public Communication program, Anne was very diligent and took advantage of all of the opportunities available to her on and off campus. While taking a full course load, she balanced work as an intern at Widmeyer Communications and as a server at a local restaurant. 

In November 2013, Anne followed her passion for health, fitness, and its community to launch Solidcore. Today, she serves as the company's founder and chief motivational officer, empowering a community of more than 10,000 members. Just a few miles from American University's campus, Solidcore offers rigorous classes that encourage participants to push themselves to be their best physically. Anne says, "Solidcore is not just a workout. We are on a serious mission to help you create the strongest version of yourself inside and out."

As Anne continues to push others to be their best selves, her own success seems to have only just begun. Anne plans to make Solidcore a national brand with hopes of inspiring individuals across the country. In addition to Washington, DC, Solidcore has locations in Virginia, Maryland, and Minneapolis.

Prior to opening Solidcore in 2007 at 26 years old, Anne's commitment to service led her to start a non-profit, Back on My Feet. With a mission of serving those facing homelessness, her vision was to help as many people as possible and empower them to redefine themselves so they could redefine their lives. Anne found that by using running as a tool, participants could gain the endurance to meet and exceed their goals as well as promote a healthy lifestyle both mentally and physically. Under Anne's leadership, Back on My Feet has enabled 1,942 members to obtain employment and 1,350 to obtain housing. 

For American University students looking to get a running start like Anne, she encourages them to take big risks, ask themselves what the worst thing that can happen is, and to not be afraid to try something different.

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Title: SOC Alumna Kelsey Marsh Experiences Success at Cannes Film Festival
Author: Melissa Bevins ’02
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Abstract: SOC Alumna Kelsey Marsh experienced success at the Cannes Film Festival with her film, NonCritical.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 09/04/2015
Content:

When she was in the Kingdom of Lesotho serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, Kelsey Marsh, SOC/MFA '15, knew that her next career move would be to head to graduate school and study documentary filmmaking. Kelsey spent her days working as a community health and economic development volunteer and a primary resource teacher, but she had her sights set on American University and was thrilled to learn of her acceptance while still in Lesotho. 

As a student at AU, Kelsey says she was constantly busy. She made it a point during her tenure to avoid saying no to opportunities. In fact, she held three different jobs one semester (as a fellow at Center for Media and Social Impact, intern at Voice of America, and student worker at the Academic Support and Access Center), all in addition to being a full-time graduate student. 

As a result of her reputation for working hard and getting the job done, Kelsey had the opportunity to work with Professor Brigid Maher on a film she was producing and directing, The Mama Sherpas. Kelsey credits this opportunity to AU's culture of blending theory with practicality and encouraging students to work in the field. In the case of The Mama Sherpas, Kelsey's involvement and responsibilities continued to grow, and she earned credit as an associate producer on the film. 

Kelsey made every effort to emulate the experience she had working with Professor Maher as she produced and edited her own thesis film, NonCritical. The film, a short documentary about America's ambivalence toward finding missing black adults, earned Kelsey an invitation to the Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase, where she won the Jury Choice Award. As Kelsey said, "The majority of filmmakers participating were from USC's famed film school, and my success proved to me that AU students are on the same level and do belong in international filmmaking competitions."

Kelsey now works full-time at Maryland Public Television as an associate producer. She loves the excitement of the position and the fact that every day is a little different. Currently, Kelsey serves on the arts and culture team and works on two half hour shows, Chesapeake Collectibles and Artworks

Kelsey also continues to freelance on many projects. She is currently producing a film called Women with Balls, about the D.C. Divas professional female, full-contact football team. The Divas had an undefeated season this year and just won their league's championship. Since the final game was played in Los Angeles, Kelsey was able to engage with three other American University alumni to help her with shooting the championship game.

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Title: AU Alumna Recalls Powerful Katrina Experience
Author: Ann Royse, SIS/MA '14
Subtitle:
Abstract: This month, AU is honoring the anniversary by remembering and sharing the firsthand experiences of alumna Rebecca Callahan, SOC/MA ’91, an American Red Cross public affairs liaison.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 08/11/2015
Content:

The news today is filled with images of treacherous weather patterns all across the country—from raging wildfires in the west to blizzards, floods, and storms in the east. Ten years ago, however, it was a single, violent storm covering the news outlets, a storm now infamously referred to as Hurricane Katrina. Whether you watched the horror unfold on television, responded to the national call for help, or actually lived amidst the chaos, the devastation Katrina caused will forever remain etched within the nation’s memory. This month, AU is honoring the anniversary by remembering and sharing the firsthand experiences of alumna Rebecca Callahan, SOC/MA ’91, an American Red Cross public affairs liaison.

As a communications student in both her undergraduate studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and graduate studies at AU, Rebecca’s venture at the Red Cross began with a simple volunteer role updating the organization’s database. However, due to her strong communications background, she found herself at a disaster relief call center the week of August 23, 2005, warning anxious Gulf Coast residents to immediately head inland. As the date of the hurricane’s landfall drew closer so did the intensity of calls and questions from residents frantically wondering where to go, what to do, and how to leave—even as many said, their instinct was to remain in their own homes.

While Rebecca worked with a range of people on the ground—from parents to children to soldiers and reporters—her skills were truly put to the test. However, she soon found herself particularly concerned with the psychological trauma and effects on the younger children, specifically the six- to 12-year-olds.

One young girl’s struggle to process the unfolding events inspired Rebecca to communicate and connect. Rebecca provided the girl with a job, instructing the 10-year-old to stand at one of the Baton Rouge River Center's entrances with a large bottle of medical grade sanitizer, ensuring that everyone entering or exiting was thoroughly disinfected. The job soon became too large for one person so, under Rebecca’s direction, the young girl led a team of purpose-seeking children to help guard and sanitize multiple entrances of the Center. As Rebecca explained, “People need that sense of empowerment…if you have all of your control taken away, one of the most therapeutic things is to give them a sense of control over something, even if it’s in the smallest, most unexpected ways. For kids, that was easy. For everyone else, that was hard.”

This story is only a sampling of the profound experiences Rebecca endured during her time volunteering with the Red Cross in New Orleans. From assisting in the search for family members, to counseling children, to being thrust in front of the cameras on behalf of the Red Cross, it is apparent how vital Rebecca’s communications skills were to her survival and success in such treacherous environments.

Today, Rebecca continues her passion for public and strategic communications as a public affairs strategist at Booz Allen Hamilton. She also continues work with the Red Cross as a public affairs liaison for the National Capital and Greater New York regions. Her time at AU prepared her for a much greater purpose, and she says that purpose lives on in the memory of those she aided during one of the most tumultuous disasters in recent American history.

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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
Content:

 "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.

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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: 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
Content:

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: 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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newsId: 4D9FB6D6-5056-AF26-BECD1B3F2095E040
Title: Nate Beeler Draws The News
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
Subtitle:
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.

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,School of Communication
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