Text by Stacey Wilson '96
Photos by Ross Mulhausen
When we began the “Senior Moments” department in Arches last year, we hoped to give readers a sense of what Puget Sound students are like these days. Commencement for the Class of 2006 came up fast, though, and we realized that we had a lot more stories than time. So think of what follows as 10 minutes of “Senior Moments.”
The graduates here are not meant to be a representative sample of their class. They’re just some of the many, many people that professors and administrators and other students told us were busy doing interesting things. But they are a true reflection of where a liberal arts education can lead. Their ambitions and fears show us what we’ve probably known all along: that the UPS graduate is—regardless of background, major, future employment status, or student-loan balance—driven, motivated, overwhelmed, scared, capable, excited, tired, and worried, but most of all, ready for anything.
Jim Adams is a lucky guy—and not just because he’s going to Europe this summer and has a great job lined up with Hitachi Consulting in Seattle. Adams is likely the only student in UPS history to have lived on a boat for most of his undergraduate experience. Scuttling standard dorm-life after his freshman year, Adams, who grew up in tiny Angels Camp, Calif., bought a 28-foot Carver Mariner fixer-upper so he could “do some hands-on work in addition to all of the academic work at school.” Despite the calluses, it’s been a blast: He’s loved bobbing in the bay, studying near the Tacoma Museum of Glass, having friends over to watch the fireworks on the 4th of July, and eating the occasional freshly caught octopus. Adams managed to balance the seafaring life with a double major in Econ/BLP and a three-year internship working for campus facilities, during which he helped restructure the utilities accounting system, worked on year-end accruals, and made budget projections. Speaking of budget, Adams wants to know if any Arches readers have room in theirs for a nice 1982 cruiser with repaired water pumps, hoses, filters, and bilge pumps. “Yep, I’m selling the boat. All good things must end, I guess.”
Nicole Allen may be the youngest among these graduates—she just turned 21 in April—but she had a supremely wise approach to her UPS academic journey. The Wilton, Conn., native purposely chose a philosophy major and a math minor because “the two fields are more connected than most people think,” she says. “I like philosophy because it has no boundaries and looks at the subjects of every other major and evaluates the meaning. A physicist can tell me how the Earth revolves around the sun, but only a philosopher can (try) to tell me why.” Allen’s longtime passion for education led her to work as a coordinator for the Washington State Public Interest Research Group on its higher-education campaign, focusing on—an issue dear to all of our alumni hearts—the inadequacy of student aid for college students. Set to work for WashPIRG after graduation, Allen also plans to attend law school and maybe pursue politics someday, but in the meantime, is taking some time to grieve the death of her father, Eric Curt Allen, who lost a courageous battle with leukemia just two months before her graduation.
Few college students have approached an “extracurricular activity” with as much zeal and commitment as Josh Anderson did with the UPS debate team. And it paid off—big time. The man from Bellingham, Wash., and his teammate Rachel Safran ’06 put UPS forensics on the map last March when they won the National Parliamentary Debate Association Championship (NPDA) at Oregon State University, creaming the competition on such light-hearted topics as “Safeguarding Private Pensions” and the “U.S.’s Possible Ties with Hammas.” Yikes. (For more on Anderson and Safran, see page 8.) Lest we think he knows it all, Anderson says he’s barely scratched the surface. “I’m actually more aware than ever of what I don’t know,” he says, “but, thankfully, I’m just as curious as I was freshman year.” This will serve him well as a Ph.D. candidate in government at Georgetown, which he’ll tackle after helping research a textbook for professors David Balaam and Mike Veseth ’72, instructing at UCLA’s debate camp this summer, and then (he hopes) teaching English at Xi’an University in China for a year. By the way, why is formal argumentation called “forensics” anyway? “Hmmm,” he says. “I have no idea. See? I told you I didn’t know everything.”
Don’t get him wrong: Playing basketball has been the highlight of Chase Curtiss’ time at UPS. But this two-time “Ben Cheney Male Athlete of the Year” isn’t going the way of other superstar athletes by clinging to his glory days. Life goes on. “It’s really nice to be done and focus on other things in my life,” says the California native. “Sports will always be part of my life; I hope to work with athletes in my career. But I learned, after one of my best friends died a few years ago, that family and living life to the fullest are the most important things.” Curtiss says he is “totally honored” to be playing guard on a U.S. National Team in Australia this summer. In July he’ll present his exercise science senior thesis about the science of basketball shoes to the International Society for Biomechanics in Sports in Austria. “I’d never be able to do any of this stuff if I’d gone to a different school,” he says. “The classes I’ve taken outside my major have been my favorites. I have absolutely no regrets about anything I did or didn’t do here. That’s a good feeling.”
You have to give props to anyone who can work “The Daily Show” into an honors thesis, especially when the honors thesis is about an obscure political theorist from Italy. “The show calls into question the methods used to gain the public’s willing consent around major international issues,” says Evans, an international political economy major. “I think it worked. But, yeah, I was definitely stretching a bit.” Hey, you can’t blame Evans for wanting to lighten up his senior year (which he says he has), considering he not only survived but enjoyed such vigorous honors courses as “Non-Euclidean Geometry.” The Eugene, Ore., native says he’s made some progress on not being the “huge worry wart” he was as a freshman and hopes he can, somehow, return to academia after having a few making-ends-meet jobs in Seattle, where he plans to live after graduation. “I really love school,” says Evans. “I can’t imagine just going off and living my life without pursuing intellectual work. I know I should expand my horizons first, but the academic world is appealing because I’d love to be paid to do what I already enjoy, which is think.”
It is rare indeed for a Logger’s fondest memory of college to take place during the overwhelming final weeks before graduation. T’wina Franklin says it happened to her. “I couldn’t go to class because my 22-month-old son was with me,” says the politics major and mother of two. “But I really needed to get notes for my final, so the people I work with in Admission watched him for me. I didn’t have to miss class and that really meant a lot.” Few UPS students have balanced child care, marriage, work study, full-time course load, and tireless involvement in campus clubs—namely the Black Student Union—during their time as an undergrad. Alabama native Franklin says the struggle was worth it: As she looks forward to a third child with husband Rashawd, due this summer, and a career in elementary education, Franklin says her time at UPS has been, literally, life-changing for her family. “I am the first person in my family to go to college, so I am breaking the cycle,” says Franklin. “It is important, as a mother of African-American children, to make education a priority. I have grown from being a lost ‘Alabamatonian’ into an intelligent, enviro-friendly, compassionate, driven, critically thinking woman who is ready to take on the world. Who knew?”
Kids who were merely “average” in sports during high school very rarely become collegiate athletes. Enter Cortney Kjar, a self-described “just OK” soccer player who happens to be leaving UPS as the most decorated female athlete in school history, racking up such distinctions as two-time Northwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year; two-time First-Team All-American; National Soccer Coaches Association of America Division III Female Player of the Year; and, most recently, a nominee for national collegiate Female Athlete of the Year. (She finds out in June if she won.) “Soccer at UPS has been amazing, and not just because I’ve been recognized a lot,” says Kjar, a Utah native and Pi Phi sorority member. “In high school, I never really felt needed on the team and actually considered not playing in college. But the coaches and teammates I had at UPS showed me what real leadership is. With that, you can really excel.” Kjar plans to use her chemistry degree as a pharmacist.
If there was an award for Most Charming UPS Family Connections, McAninch would be a strong contender. His maternal grandmother, Eileen Spoons Solie B.A.’65, M.S.’67 was a UPS biology instructor in the 1970s. Professor Solie introduced her daughter, future UPS trustee Janeen Solie, to her lab TA, future doctor Malcolm McAninch. The two married a year after their 1977 graduation. “I guess you could say I’m a ‘triple legacy,’” says McAninch, and that’s not even counting two uncles and an aunt who are also alumni. “So I’ve tried to be on my best behavior.” Well, any lapses in judgment (of which McAninch’s Beta Theta Pi brothers would likely be most knowledgeable) were overshadowed by his stint as ASUPS vice president, adventurous academic wanderings—“courses in the humanities and an atomic bomb class were my favorites,” he says—and an up-for-anything post-UPS plan that may include law school, an MBA, accounting, commercial real estate, or a combination of the four. “A lot of people knew what they wanted to do freshman year,” says McAninch. “I actually just started thinking about it a few days ago, so the possibilities are endless.” And if he ever needs an interview icebreaker, there’s always that cute story about how his mom (that’s her with Ryan in the picture) and his dad met.
Esther Morgan-Ellis has loved her time at UPS, and at first she was heartbroken at the thought of graduating. “But lately,” she says sheepishly, “I have to say I’ve grown very receptive to the idea.” If Morgan-Ellis had a bit of senioritis, she’s definitely earned it. A cello performance major, trombone player, and two-year member of the Adelphians Concert Choir, the Port Angeles, Wash., native also squeezed in a pretty ambitious honors thesis. Combining a lifelong music education with a natural proclivity for the high-tech, Morgan-Ellis—stay with me here—wrote an algorithmic software music program in the LISP computer language that composes short pieces of organ music in the style of early Philip Glass. Despite such prowess as a computer geek, Morgan-Ellis is going to stick with music—though in the field of musicology instead of performance—and begins a Ph.D. program at Yale this fall. “I always thought I’d be a professional performer,” she says. “But UPS really widened my view of the possibilities. You really need to keep an open mind because you never know what you’ll end up doing.” This summer she looks forward to one last stint as a counselor at Burton Music Camp on Vashon Island and then the ultimate post-graduate adventure: driving across the country to Connecticut.
Linh Vuong takes the old phrase “go fly a kite” to a whole new level. The Houston, Texas, native will spend her first post-UPS year as a Watson Fellow traveling to Vietnam, Malaysia, India, and New Zealand to research her project, ”Into the Wind: Exploring the Evolving Art of Kite-Making and Natural Design.” During her global adventure, Vuong (a biology major) says she hopes to understand “the larger significance of kite-making as it relates to the preservation of cultural and environmental identities” and “contribute to the renaissance of kite culture and contribute new knowledge to the field.” OK, so she had to say those things to get her fellowship, but she had a choice. Of fellowships, that is. Vuong is UPS’s first recipient of a Fulbright research fellowship (although she has since been joined by a second) and is the one and only UPS student to be selected for both a Fulbright and a Watson. But is there any room in her ambitious plan for some downtime? “I do look forward to spending increasingly less time on the computer,” she says. “But generally, boredom is not sustainable for me.” Speaking of sustainability, Vuong hopes to make it her life mission to further explore her passion for natural design through “sustainable architecture,” which she indulged in as a design studies student in Adelaide, Australia, during her senior year. OK, that’s impressive too, but there’s a more pertinent issue at hand: How do you say “go fly a kite” in Malaysian?
Stacey Wilson ’96 started writing for Arches in 2001, while she was still working on her master’s at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She’s been People magazine’s Northwest correspondent since 2004 and is a frequent contributor to Variety, Portland Monthly, and other magazines.
Ross Mulhausen has been the university photographer since 1987. It was quite a chore setting up these pictures as seniors ran around frantically at semester’s end, but Ross says photographing them was a joy and a privilege.