Domers in the news

Author: Carol Schaal

The Wisconsin Poet Laureate is considered an” activist” position, one that Kimberly Blaeser ’82M.A., ’90Ph.D. the author of three poetry collections and a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, says she is happy to fill. Selected to serve as Wisconsin’s poet laureate from 2015-16, the member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe was praised by the selection committee for her “ability to reach broad audiences through poems that explore her Native culture, poems of place and community, poems of witness . . . and poems with a sly sense of humor.” . . . The winter Domers in the News missed a sixth alumnus who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives last November. John Ratcliffe ’87 of Heath, Texas, won over a long-serving House member in the Republican primary and ran unopposed in the general election to represent his state’s 4th district. . . . Jimmy Fallon told Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates he was “pretty confident” the liquid he sipped on the January 22 Tonight Show was bottled water. Fallon soon learned he actually had imbibed water filtered through an Omni Processor, a machine that turns sewage into clean, safe drinking water. The engineering marvel was designed and built by Janicki Bioenergy, a Seattle-area company whose founder and CEO is Peter Janicki ’86 and whose president is John Janicki ’84, Peter’s brother. “And yes, we actually shipped out water from our machine to The Tonight Show crew,” the company’s Facebook page notes. The waste-to-water project is being funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with an eye to improving sanitation in poor countries. A pilot project will take place this year in Dakar, Senegal. . . . Alex Coccia ’14 of Columbus, Ohio, was one of the 32 Americans selected as a 2015 Rhodes scholar. The Africana studies and peace studies major plans to use the award to study comparative social policy at the University of Oxford in England. Among his many undergraduate activities, Coccia was student body president in his senior year, president of the Progressive Student Alliance and a member of the varsity fencing team. Allison Wettstein ’13 was among the 2015 Rhodes scholar finalists. . . . He’s a former U.S. Army Blackhawk pilot who underwent four years of treatment and rehabilitation after being severely wounded in a 2004 helicopter crash in Afghanistan, but Chris Marvin ’01 says he did not want to be viewed as a victim in need of charity or pity. So in 2012 the Philadelphia resident founded Got Your 6 (military lingo for “got your back”), a campaign designed “to empower veterans and challenge them to convert their leadership and operational training into positive civilian roles in communities nationwide.” Among its endeavors, the campaign supports the work of 30 veteran-focused nonprofits. Additionally, its 6 Certified program partners with the entertainment industry to “normalize the depictions of veterans on film and television to dispel common myths about the veteran population.” TV producer Charlie Ebersol ’05 recently joined that effort, saying “The 6 Certified program gives producers like myself a tangible and exciting way to incite social change by integrating accurate veteran content into film and television.”. . . Mystery writer Leslie Budewitz ’84J.D. of Bigfork, Montana, was elected vice president/president-elect of Sisters in Crime in November. The 3,600-member organization offers networking, advice and support to mystery authors. Budewitz, who has won an Agatha Award for both fiction and nonfiction, writes the Food Lovers Village Mystery series and the Spice Shop Mystery series. . . . The Washington Post national political reporters Philip Rucker and Bob Costa ’08 won a publisher’s award for “the best political story of 2014.” Their article, “Battle for the Senate: How the GOP did it,” was published a day after the November midterm elections. . . . Yara Sallam ’10LL.M. has been in a Cairo jail since June 21, 2014, when she was arrested while in the vicinity of a protest march. The event was decrying Egypt’s passage of a 2013 law that restricts political protests. Sallam, a researcher with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, is one of 23 activists who received a sentence of two years of imprisonment and two years’ probation. Amnesty International is protesting the arrests. . . . In this magazine’s Winter 2011-12 issue, Evan Wray ’12 and Sean O’Brien ’12 talked about a mobile app they had developed called TextPride, which allowed users to add branded emoticons of school teams’ images to text messages. Their company grew to manage the mobile applications of more than 300 brands, including Disney, MGM and DreamWorks. Last year the duo renamed their company Swyft Media; this year they sold it to Monotype Imaging Holdings for a reported $12 million plus $15 million in performance incentives. Members of Swyft now work from the Manhattan offices of Monotype. . . . You never know where lightning might strike, and it was in a parking lot at the University of Virginia in 2004 that Nicole Farmer Hurd ’92 was hit with a brilliant idea for how to help low-income high-school students navigate the college admissions process and secure financial aid. Today the nonprofit College Advising Corps she founded places new college graduates as higher-education advisers in 491 high schools, thus not only assisting the students but also providing jobs for recent college alumni. The former UVA dean was named a 2014 Influencer by The Chronicle of Higher Education. . . . Their appearance at Reunion 2014 was such a hit that The Laughing Irish, comprised of stand-up comedians Jimmy Brogan ’70, Eric Hunter ’88, Michael Somerville ’94 and John Garrett ’98, were invited back to perform at Reunion 2015 on June 6. “It is so much fun hanging out with three other Notre Dame graduates who never put their degrees to good use,” says Hunter. . . . Products made from the nutrient-dense moringa oleifera plant are being touted as the new superfood. Valerie Popelka ’09 is a co-founder and the chief marketing officer of Kuli Kuli, an Oakland, California, company that sells moringa-based nutrition bars and powder. Launched in 2012, the company also supports women-owned cooperatives in West Africa. . . . Dr. Gerard Berry ’71, an expert on the genetic disease galactosemia, was inducted into the LaSalle College High School, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, Hall of Fame in March. Berry is the director of the Metabolism Program at Children’s Hospital Boston and a professor of pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School. . . . They won’t do your homework, but tutors with the integralCALC Academy ( promise “to help you conquer math.” Calculus, algebra, geometry and fundamentals of math are among the courses offered by the online school launched in 2013 by Michael and Krista Santee King ’08 of Greenville, South Carolina. . . . He has been a Big Brother for more than three decades, and last November the IndyStar celebrated Vince Wagner ’73, an Indianapolis patent attorney whose “gift of time” changed three lives. Tony Slocum, 44, an Indiana State Police sergeant, and Jimmy Saddler, 43, a Citizens Energy employee, were friends as children and became Wagner’s little brothers at ages 8 and 12, respectively. Both told the Star that Wagner was more than a mentor to them; he was, as Slocum said, “setting an example for us of what a man should be.” The trio still hangs out together, attending Notre Dame football games and other events. “The truth is, the big brother can get as much out of the experience as the little brother,” said Wagner. “We got friends for life. We got a family for life.” . . . Another participant in a mentoring program is Matt Alverson ’01, an adjunct instructor in Notre Dame’s Mendoza College eMBA program and an account strategy director at IA Collaborative in Chicago. Alverson was among those featured on the November 5 NBC Nightly News report on the Chicago Lights tutoring program. Part of a community outreach organization at Fourth Presbyterian Church on Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue, the weekly Chicago Lights tutoring sessions offer healthy meals, enrichment classes and academic aid to students in grades 1 through 12.

Carol Schaal is managing editor of this magazine.