Babette died on May 12, 2014, in Sarasota, Fla. She served nearly 20 years at Kalamazoo College in various positions in the department of student affairs, including dean of students and dean of academic advising. She received her B.A. from the University of Maryland and her master’s degree from Indiana University. In addition to her work with students at K, Babette served at two other colleges: Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (Lynchburg, Va.) and Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, Mich.). In 2002, she received the Weimer K. Hicks Award from Kalamazoo College for distinguished service. Her professional affiliations were a source of great pride. She was a member of Alpha Xi Delta, a fraternity devoted to education for women, and received the Order of the Pearl award for 60 years of membership in the fraternity. Other professional affiliations included president of the State of Michigan Association of Women Deans, Administrators and Counselors; the Michigan Student Personnel and Guidance Association; and Delta Kappa Gamma. She was a former member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. On April 19, 1949, she married Robert B. Trader. After their successful careers in Kalamazoo, they retired to Hilton Head, S.C., and then to Sarasota. Babette loved to play tennis, mahjong, and bridge. She was an avid reader and volunteer. She was preceded in death Robert; at the time of his death, they had been married 54 years. Babette is survived by her daughters, Christine Burris and Diane Trader, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren.
From the “It’s a small world” department: Laura was hiking in early April the Chapel Trail in Sedona, Arizona. She happened to be wearing a T-shirt with the K logo. Two women she passed on the trail inquired if the shirt was related to Kalamazoo College. Turns out the two women–Larissa Miller Bishop ’96 and Stephanie (Gorman) Foote ’96–are alumni classmates, and both know Carrie (Graveel) Diegel ’96, a mutual friend of all three hikers. What prompted Laura’s recollection of the incident was a similar occurrence on a glacier trail in New Zealand, involving Holly Gillis ’09 and Jeff Palmer ’76. Holly remembered Laura; Laura remembered her recent story of Hornets crossing paths. Pictured in Arizona are (l-r): Laura, Larissa and Stephanie.
Two quick stories about our 18th president-elect—one about soccer; the other, students.
First. For 30 years Jorge G. Gonzalez has attended every quadrennial World Cup soccer championship since 1986 except one: the 1990 tournament in Italy.
“Mexico wasn’t playing,” Gonzalez explains. “And a World Cup without Mexico is like a wedding without a couple,” he smiles, “still a great party but with the heart of the matter absent.”
Second. Gonzalez will begin his duties as President of Kalamazoo College on July 1. Until then he serves in the administration of Occidental College (Los Angeles, Calif.) as dean of the college and vice president for academic affairs. He wasn’t always an administrator. For 21 years–“the time of my life!”–he taught economics at Trinity University. He was a gifted professor, in part because he was so creative when it came to combining classroom learning with outside-the-classroom opportunities (often in different countries) where students could apply the learning. His students loved him. And now, former students, when they find themselves in L.A. for any reason, often reach out to connect with him.
“My secretary knows to always find time on my schedule for these students,” says Gonzalez, “a lunch perhaps or dinner with my family. Always! We both know that afterwards I’ll be happy and enthusiastic for at least a month!”
Love binds these two anecdotes—passion for soccer and passion for the outcomes of a particular kind of education we know as the K-Plan.
Example of the former: the London Olympics (2012) Men’s Soccer Tournament. After Mexico knocks out Japan in Wednesday’s semifinal to earn the right to face tournament-favorite Brazil in Saturday’s gold medal match, Gonzalez, having just watched the semifinal on television in Los Angeles, realizes he simply must be in Wembley Stadium in person on Saturday. No question! Also, no ticket for the match, no ticket for the plane, no reservation for a hotel in a very crowded city.
Because within 24 hours, by some combination of dream, boldness and sheer luck, Gonzalez is indeed in London with all three. And on Saturday he’s in Wembley Stadium, midfield, 30 rows up. “The seat was so perfect,” he marvels. “I suspect it was some corporate sponsor’s whose representative couldn’t attend at the last minute.”
Mexico claims the gold medal in a 2-1 thriller; Gonzalez was there! and tears come unbidden whenever he recalls the memory. So, a great ending to a great adventure most thought Gonzalez crazy to begin? Yes, but the ending’s hardly the heart of the story. After all, things could have turned out differently in any number of ways.
The heart of the story is the boldness, the sharing of the adventure (he took along friends and family via social media) and the way that all the stars aligned to support his dream of being there. Sounds like the kind of undertaking only an undergrad who studied abroad his junior year (like Gonzalez did) would be likely to begin.
Gonzalez shared that story (and other outcomes of his study abroad, as well as more experiences of the last three decades, including his marriage to K alumna Suzie (Martin) Gonzalez ’83, that, unbeknownst to him, have prepared him for this presidency) in his first meeting with the Kalamazoo College community last month. Fluent in three languages (Spanish, English, and soccer, if one considers the sport a worldwide “language” with the capability of connecting people across differences) our 18th president-elect quoted a poet who wrote in a fourth: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe–“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. / Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
“I can imagine a Kalamazoo College even stronger than it is,” he says in that speech. “And it is an amazing place right now. [President] Eileen [Wilson-Oyelaran] has left it in a remarkable place. And I can imagine it even stronger. So I can’t wait until July 1 when I can work with all of you to make K a better place.”
K’s amazing because of the K-Plan, according to Gonzalez, which embodies a particular kind of education about which he is every bit as passionate as he is about soccer. The responsibility of a college is to graduate students who are ready for the world. And today, Gonzalez says, that world is being re-shaped by four major forces–technological change more rapid than ever before, growing international interdependence, diversity, and urbanization. The combination of the liberal arts and experiential opportunities to apply the liberal arts is the most effective education for today’s world because of the outcomes that combination yields.
Gonzalez describes the feeling of peace and belonging that a soccer fan experiences in an empty stadium, almost the way one might feel in a church, synagogue, or mosque. Someone passionate about education would feel the same in an imaginary and immaterial work of architecture shaped from the outcomes of the K-Plan. “That ’cathedral’ would include the ability to think analytically and critically,” said Gonzalez. “Outcomes include creativity and the capability to solve problems by drawing upon a variety of perspectives through the prism of different disciplines. And the ability to communicate effectively in writing and in speech, and to interact with people from many different backgrounds, which is both the workplace and the world.”
For 30 years Jorge G. Gonzalez has dedicated his life’s work to that kind of an undergraduate education that results in those outcomes. No wonder he finds time for any of his former students. No wonder they seek him out. And no wonder he’s joyful for at least a month after every meeting with them. After all, more effectively than any other educational option, the liberal arts enrich a life.
(The cover story of the Spring issue of LuxEsto, which publishes the first week of April, is an in-depth feature of our 18th president.)
Something about the K-Plan inspires the desire to start a journey, and, according to John Hitchcock ’78, develops the wherewithal to make it work. Things like planning, leadership, and adaptability. John shares the story of such a journey. He graduated with a major in psychology and did his foreign study in Aix-en-Provence, France. Today John is vice president and managing director for Energy Intelligence Group in New York. Mentioned in the story are Leo Hurley ’78 and the late Kate Plaisier ’77. Leo majored in health sciences and did his foreign study in Caen, France. He is an epidemiologist for Kaiser Permanente in northern California. Kate earned her B.A. in biology. She passed away on August 29, 2012.
To invite 20 students on a seven-day ski trek along the northern edge of the Upper Peninsula, you need SNOW. Snow is non-negotiable. It’s also not controllable. Even as a sophomore two terms away from a course in experimental design I knew what an uncontrollable variable could do to you. Tarps, food, fuel for stoves, sleeping bags, boots that fit, skis that glide—all those could be reliably assembled and accounted for. Not snow. Not even in late December in Michigan’s most remote wilderness; not even in 1975, decades before global warming had cast its existential pall. An end-of-fall-quarter cross-country ski expedition would be nothing without snow.
Thanksgiving came and went without a meaningful accumulation of snow in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The four of us who had organized the trip prepared to refund to 16 trusting souls the $80 they’d each paid for this first-of-its-kind finish to the fall quarter. And then, the weekend before final exams, a storm crossing Lake Superior brought a half-foot of snow—enough to turn the century-old logging roads that were the national park’s entry points into skiable paths.
We became intimate with the weather reports after developing an intense appreciation for what could be learned over the telephone; at first from daily calls from our dorm room phone to the recorded voice of the Upper Peninsula Michigan Bell weather lady, and, later, from more desperate conversations with state troopers stationed in Munising, the only town bordering the Pictured Rocks preserve.
Some of the life skills learned in Kalamazoo’s mid-1970s foray into wilderness education (the origins of today’s LandSea program) were imparted even before we reached the wilderness. “Working the phones” was one. These lessons in rotary technology would later contribute to my career as a journalist covering Iran from outside Iran, China and Indonesia from Tokyo, and Margaret Thatcher’s rise and fall at a careful distance from the sharp edges of her blue handbag. Phone work could uncover so much.
In true K fashion, some of our lessons were learned on the road. We drove the 405 miles to Pictured Rocks the night after finals in a school van and three private cars, led by freshman Kate Plaisier’s Volkswagen Beetle. Her car would become as important to our journey as the Lunar Module had been to the Apollo 11 moon mission six years earlier. At times it seemed as cramped.
By the middle of the morning after finals we had reached a store near an eastern entrance to the park. The mounds of snow described by the weather lady and troopers six days earlier had sagged. The sky was an unbroken gray, the temperature a degree or two above freezing. We drained the store of its coffee and drove the final 20 minutes to the trailhead we had picked to be our base camp. As uninspiring as the weather was, our site, by contrast, buzzed. The 20 of us divided into our carefully chosen patrols of 10. Tarps were set up. Fires lit, cooking areas organized. Skis were laid out. A gentle mist set in.
Many of us had never skied before, much less winter-camped. The open area at the trailhead, cleared by loggers and forest fires decades before and now rimmed by white pines, became our practice ground. Northwest of base camp, a three-day ski away, awaited our destination: the sandstone cliffs and dunes that dropped more than 200 feet into Lake Superior, to be reached via two separate routes through stands of birch, hemlock and beech, winding past marshes, streams and waterfalls.
The mist continued overnight, but under the tarps life was dry and still. Besides, sleep lost from finals week and the previous night’s drive left no one awake to complain. But by morning the snow had disappeared. The drizzle, the mud, the above-freezing (though barely) temperatures were more than an inconvenience. They threatened our plan, which had been to send the patrols on their separate ways after breakfast. We considered carrying the skis and doing the first day’s trek in boots. The forecast was for colder weather, which would eventually bring the comfort of dry snow. But what if the forecast continued to be unreliable?
Lunch came and went, and still it rained. I don’t recall anyone from either patrol upset. They all seemed to think it was an improvement over finals. My leader-mates and I were less at peace: we’d lose daylight in four hours. One leaky boot, one irreversibly cold foot and we’d be forced to evacuate in the dark, and to where? If there was to be a Plan B, better to search for it now. Leo Hurley and I volunteered to head off with Kate Plaisier in her Beetle to visit the state police post an hour’s drive to the west.
The troopers couldn’t have been more amused by our muddy, wet-woolly selves. They also couldn’t have been more helpful. Could they make a call to a church or a school where our soggy band could put up for the night? Three hours later the 20 of us were camped in the Munising High School gym, cooking Sunday supper on the parquet floor. There we slept until students filed in for a Monday morning assembly.
Overnight, rain had turned to snow—perhaps no more than an inch, but it was falling at an encouraging pace. We broke our gym-camp and were ready to return to the woods. Except for a single leaky boot. It belonged to a sophomore who had been bravely mum the day before. She was already shivering despite our night indoors. Her toes were numb.
Weeks before, planning the trip over a meal in the dining hall, we had figured 10 percent of the trip budget would be adequate for an emergency reserve. I pulled the 10- and 20-dollar bills of our reserve fund from the plastic sandwich bag buried at the bottom of my pack. Marquette, a university town two hours by car to the west, offered a hospital and an airport. Off we went.
Leo, whose career would be in medical research, and Kate, who would specialize in adolescent psychiatry, proved great company in a medical evacuation. For our shivering skier there was nothing a round of hugs and a ticket home to Kalamazoo couldn’t cure. We walked her onto the runway and reassured her as she boarded that all would be well. Back at base camp, the two patrols would be off on a trek in fresh snow. Yes, we had lost a day’s skiing to the weather, but we’d make up for it with an early pre-dawn departure the next morning. Our “wounded” comrade, in turn, had a good story to tell. Everyone wins.
The plane lifted off. The storm stiffened. Leo, Kate and I drove the two hours back to base camp. The snow had drifted over the narrow roads. The Beetle, propelled by its rear-mounted engine, ploughed on. We reached camp well after nightfall and dinner with a plan to wake up in the middle of the night to ski.
The cloudless midnight sky gave us our first look at the Upper Peninsula in winter wonder. I remember a full moon, but the night could as easily have been lit by the stars alone. The trails were unbroken and glowed magically. For an hour or more the three of us skied in silence through the forest. The way emptied into a small clearing. We paused, still without speaking. A quarter of an hour went by. An owl, backlit by the moon or the Milky Way, flew in from the right, dipped into the snow at mid-field, and lifted a rabbit into the sky.
Snow was abundant for the remainder of the trip. We reached Lake Superior as planned. I remember being so frightened by its wind and waves that I turned back immediately. The woods, by contrast, were peaceful. No toes were lost. Maybe it was the diet of gorp, mac-and-cheese and hot chocolate. Maybe it was the regular breaks for under-the-armpit foot-warmings. We returned home two days before Christmas Eve.
Nearly 40 Christmases later I’m left with a fine wilderness education, one that includes phone skills (which are now digital), an eagerness to take up nature’s invitation to come out (often) and play, and a confidence in what small groups can overcome—not to mention a favorite story.
Wedding anniversary gifts often focus exclusively on the couple and tend toward the transitory.
Not so for Nahrain Kamber ’01 and her husband Ralph Griffith. In August 2015, to celebrate the first anniversary of their 2014 marriage, the couple established the “Nahrain Kamber ’01 and Ralph Griffith Endowed Student Research Fellowship” at Kalamazoo College, a gift that not only expresses their love for each other, but also honors Nahrain’s gratitude to her alma mater and will benefit women science students at K in perpetuity.
The idea for the rather nontraditional first-year anniversary gift was Ralph’s. “I thought about the things that were most important to Nahrain,” he said. Each year, interest from the endowed principal will help students at K who are majoring in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) to conduct research in those areas, hopefully as early as possible in their undergraduate experience.
“My summer internships at K helped shape the trajectory of my career,” says Nahrain, a senior scientist and group leader in Dow Chemical Company’s Coating Materials Technical Service and Development Group. “I want to be a resource to any K student, but especially to the science majors and recipients of this endowment. I can provide career guidance as they navigate through STEM careers, where women tend to be underrepresented.”
At K Nahrain majored in chemistry. She originally planned a career in patent law. However, she worked the summer after her first year in the laboratory of her advisor and mentor, Professor of Chemistry Tom Smith.
“It was my first practical experience with chemistry beyond the classroom, and I loved it,” says Nahrain. And it changed the course of her undergraduate study and eventual career path.
During her time at K she developed her lab skills through internships, a summer undergraduate research residency (IBM Almaden Research Center, San Jose, Calif.) and a Senior Individualized Project in bioinorganic chemistry (Tom Smith was her supervisor).
At Stanford University, where she earned her Ph.D., she studied “the catalytic reactivity of organic molecules as enablers of controlled routes to produce new polymers (another name for plastics).” In 2005 she received an IBM Scholars Fellowship which she used to return to the Almaden Research Center in San Jose.
“Full circle,” she smiles. “Together, these academic and lab research experiences opened the door to my eventual career in polymer science, which is centered on the use of synthetic chemistry to produce and enable innovative new product research and development.”
Nahrain started work at Dow in 2007. She has developed several patents, written many papers and speaks frequently about her work at scientific conferences in the U.S. and abroad.
“What Nahrain and Ralph have done is inspirational,” says Executive Director of Development Andy Miller ’99. “It honors the value Nahrain attributes to her K education and supports her mission of encouraging young women to go into STEM disciplines.”
Adds Nahrain: “We’d love to see more alumni give back to K on behalf of purposes they find powerful or that were formative in their development at K and their success after K.” Endowed funds are a way to do just that, forever.
Nahrain certainly considers her and her husband’s gift a way of paying back, and forward. She always has felt grateful to the F.W. and Elsie L. Heyl Scholarship that she was awarded to attend K. She also believes in the importance of young women having opportunities in STEM subjects early in their schooling.
“For me,” says Nahrain, “Kalamazoo College was the most influential experience in my life. Without K, Stanford would have been unlikely. Without K, I doubt I’d be in my present career, which I love.”
It’s late afternoon, and De’Angelo Glaze mills about the Richardson Room Café in the Hicks Center, slapping high fives, giving hugs, laughing so hard his eyes close. A faux rabbit fur bomber cap frames a boyish face that can’t stop smiling. He seems to know everyone, and everyone seems very happy to know him.
In a way, he’s been wrapped up warmly here, swaddled in the comforting ebb and flow of college life—playing football for the Hornets, focusing on academics, surrounded by caring friends, professors, coaches, teammates.
It’s a far cry from the life in which Glaze, age 21, was steeped in the years growing up in a tough neighborhood just north of 8 Mile Road, a neighborhood where there is a predetermined path for many young men, one that doesn’t include study abroad and late night study groups.
In 2009, his cousin was shot dead over a dice game. Sometimes, while hanging out on porches in his Royal Oak Township neighborhood, De’Angelo would hear the crackle of gunfire break apart the night. Many of his peers—the ones with talent, potential, intelligence – would choose a life bound to the streets, he says, a future concerned with hustling, dealing drugs, pushing the edges of life, and flirting with an early end to it all.
Glaze blazed his own trail.
“It’s become clearer to me recently that we shouldn’t have to choose between these two paths because it’s a false choice,” he says. “No one really wants to choose a road that leads to crime, to possibly being killed. But for many it’s all they know. I wanted something different.”
Rarely does one get out alone. There’s almost always an encouraging believer, a loyal and loving friend or relative who sees something in us and pushes us to see it, too, to imagine ourselves in a better spot.
For Glaze, a business major, that encouraging believer was his mother. That Glaze would go to college was a foregone conclusion in her eyes, he says. The way out— the way to making a better life—was through education. He will be the first in his family to graduate from college.
“I didn’t see anyone do this. It was trial and error. I didn’t have any one in front of me,” he says. “I had to pave my own way. But people pushed me because they saw something in me. My mom always said, ‘Education is the key.’”
Not everyone was so involved. One afternoon, Glaze was sitting on his front porch with a few friends when his father drove by. He stopped the car, rolled down the window and shouted to his 13-year-old son, a boy with whom he had scarcely been involved.
“He said, ‘They won’t give me a blood (paternity) test for you. You’re not my son,’” Glaze says. “Then he drove away. I don’t remember what I felt at the time. I was in shock. It rattled me.”
Still, he sloughed it off, tried to stay strong, for himself and for his mother and little sister. He’d need to.
A few years later, his mother developed an ovarian cyst, and had to quit her fulltime job at an auto parts manufacturer to focus on her treatment. The loss of income meant that the family lost nearly everything except their house. She found part-time work at Target, but it was barely enough.
For a year, the family fought a monthly battle to keep the gas on. The house routinely had no heat or hot water. To get to sleep that winter, they huddled under mountains of blankets in rooms warmed with space heaters. Pinching pennies, they would store bulk food in a chest freezer in the basement. It was a dark year, the lights turned off whenever they could be. But something burned bright in him, a fire to keep going.
“I had to be the man of the house,” Glaze says. “I had to take care of my mom and sister. I learned a lot at a young age, I guess.”
That Christmas, his mother told her kids that there wouldn’t be many gifts. Times were simply too thin.
“Right then I said, ‘Don’t buy me any gifts.’ I still say that. I’ll take care of my own responsibilities. My motivation in almost everything I do is so my mom doesn’t have to work hard ever again. She sacrificed for me. She gave up a lot so that I could have what I have. Getting a job, making some money for her, that will make me feel like I’m playing my role.”
Glaze was developing a maturity seen in few teens, but he was still a high school kid, still needed the outlets through which the pulse of youth surges. In sports, he found his spark.
At Ferndale High School, he was a multi-letter athlete: an all-state shot-putter, MVP of the boy’s track team, captain of the football team. His talents on the gridiron caught the attention of Jamie Zorbo, head coach of the Hornets football team, who recruited Glaze.
His college choices came down to Michigan State University and K. He saw himself succeeding at either institution, and in the throes of trying to decide talked it over with a calculus teacher.
“She told me, you can have relationships at school anywhere. It’s the ones you develop with other athletes that will last forever,” Glaze says. “The next hour I finished my application to K.”
He toiled in the trenches, on both the offensive and defensive line, for two years. Then he decided football wasn’t for him anymore.
“My time with football had passed,” he says. “It was taxing more than fun. It was time to move on from it.”
And Glaze made the most of the time he gained after leaving the sport. If anything, life might have gotten busier.
He became a resident assistant, became involved in a host of student activity groups, and spent spring term 2013 on study abroad in Bonn, Germany, an experience that taught him “a sense of being adaptable to any situation, of being able to be independent in a different culture with different people.”
“In many ways, De’Angelo represents the liberating power of the liberal arts,” says Sarah B. Westfall, vice president for student development and dean of students “He’s an intelligent, bright, curious, enthusiastic young man who has the freedom to make a range of choices and think broadly about who he is and what his life can be. All of that is exactly what a superb liberal arts education helps a person do. It’s about freedom.”
His K educational experience has also been about friendships based on reciprocal love and a deep desire to serve. For four years, Glaze has been deeply connected to K in part through friendships with students from Los Angeles. Many students from LA attend K as Posse Scholars, a scholarship program that supports public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential often overlooked by traditional college selection processes. Each year during winter quarter the Posse Foundation-Los Angeles convenes a “working retreat” of all the K Posse Scholars and their invited guests. The latter include fellow K students, faculty, staff, and, every year he’s been here, De’Angelo Glaze—a testament to the depth and breadth of his friendships on campus.
Serving others is important to Glaze. “De’Angelo, or any other student from a challenging background, adds unique perspectives to class discussions,” says Amy MacMillan, the L. Lee Stryker Assistant Professor of Business Management, who has had business majors in several classes. “There is a desire in many of these students to give back. I’m moved by how much I see this desire in De’Angelo. He is an excellent example of the social justice spirit that makes K so special.”
Glaze has seen different sides of the education system, from the resource-thin environment of an urban school system to a college like K, where students are free to focus on developing their potential because their needs are consistently met.
“Education is the only way out,” he says. “Supposedly everyone has equal rights, but that’s not so as far as opportunities. Your background has a heavy influence on that.
“I feel like there are an endless amount of opportunities because I went to K. I can talk to different kinds of people, adapt to different situations, learn from others who are not like me. Going to school here awakened me to a lot of hidden abilities. But I know that in a way I’m lucky. And having an opportunity like I did shouldn’t come down to luck. It should be a right for anyone who has talent, ability and a desire to work hard.”
When Glaze graduates this June, his mother and sister will, of course, be in attendance. And when he looks out to see them, in some ways, he says, he will be looking back as much as forward, thinking about challenges met, sacrifices made.
“It will be an emotional day full of tears of joy,” he says. “There will be a sense of accomplishment, I’m sure. But it really will be about knowing that this is the beginning of where my life’s heading. It’ll be a day when I can say that I came a long way, but have a lot further to go.”
Zak Montgomery ’02, M.A., Ph.D., and Sarah (Rupp) Montgomery ’02, M.Ed., Ph.D., are co-authors of “Reconsidering the American Dream and U.S. Latino Culture in a College Spanish Service-Learning Course,” published in The Journal of Community Engagement and Higher Education (Vol. 6, No. 1, 2014). The JCEHE is an on-line, refereed journal concerned with exploring community engagement and community-based learning perspectives, research, and practice.
The paper (which the Sarah and Zak co-authored with four colleagues) describes a 14-week study of a community-based service-learning partnership between an upper-level Spanish course about Latinos in the United States at a small liberal arts college and a racially- and linguistically-diverse class of sixth graders, including many Latinos, at a local urban public school.
Zak is an assistant professor of Spanish at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. He earned his B.A. degree in economics and business at K. He earned a M.A. degree in Hispanic literature and a Ph.D. degree in Portuguese literature at Indiana University (IU) in Bloomington.
Sarah is an assistant professor of elementary education at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) in Cedar Falls. She earned her B.A. degree in psychology at K. She earned an M.Ed. degree and a Ph.D. degree in curriculum and instruction at IU.
They are married and the parents of two young children.
In the study, individual college students partnered with a public school student to photograph, analyze, and narrate their own emerging understandings of the American Dream. The partners showcased their co-constructed knowledge at three public gatherings, thus engaging the local community in meaningful dialogue about the potential implications of reconsidering the American Dream.
By the end of the 14 weeks, concluded the authors, “the college students viewed the American Dream from a new perspective than they had previously, shifting away from the archetypal personal success narrative toward a more civically oriented approach.”
“Although the partnership was certainly not a panacea for intercultural understanding,” said Zak, “the trajectory of college student reflections demonstrated a blurring of beliefs about themselves and others, whether related to race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or linguistic background.”
Sarah added, “Our research showed that the cultural competence gained from this experiential learning opportunity helped students enact their civic responsibility to educate others and combat ignorance about diverse groups in the United States, particularly immigrant populations.”
Sarah and Zak are in various stages of publication on three additional articles from the research project.
Alison Geist, M.P.H., director of the Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) at Kalamazoo College, said, “Sarah and Zak were very involved with civic engagement projects during their time at K, and their current focus on collaboration, co-creation of knowledge, and social justice characterizes critical service-learning at its best.”
Zak was the Center’s first Civic Engagement Scholar, mentoring students at Kalamazoo Central High School in what many K alumni will remember as the AMIGOS program. Sarah worked all four years mentoring elementary school students at Woodward School for Technology and Research, near the K campus. She was also the student member on the campus task force that led to the creation of the Center in 2001.
“Civic engagement must run in the family,” Geist added. Zak’s sister, Breigh Montgomery ’06, served as CCE assistant director from 2006 to 2012.
Kalamazoo College Professor of Psychology Siu-Lan Tan, Ph.D., said that Sarah was the first “co-organizer” of the Co-authorship Project, a key element of “Developmental Psychology” (Psych 210), in which K students learn about child development by co-writing a book with an elementary school student. Since 1998, when Tan began teaching the course, more than 1,500 books have been co-authored by K students and their elementary school partners from the Woodward school.
The thread of this project runs through one of several civic engagement courses Sarah has taught at UNI. Her “Books Without Borders” project was a collaboration between students at UNI, Wartburg, Cedar Falls High School, and Waterloo East High School. Her students wrote and illustrated bilingual children’s books for orphanages in Panama and Haiti. As a result, approximately 300 books were sent to orphanages to support the literacy development of children.
“We are grateful for the many ways that we were able to take on the leadership roles in service-learning at K,” said Sarah and Zak. “Thanks to the forward thinking efforts of dedicated faculty and staff–particularly Alison Geist and Teresa Denton at the CCE, and Doctor Tan–we learned how to create civic minded experiential opportunities that benefit not only our students, but the larger community as well.”
According to Geist, both Sarah and Zak have been recognized for their innovative, community-based pedagogy. Zak was recently a finalist for the Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement for Early Career Faculty, a national award that recognizes a college or university faculty member who connects his or her teaching, research, and service to community engagement.
“He was the only liberal arts faculty member among the finalists,” said Geist.
About the Montgomerys’ recent study and published paper, Tan said: “Studying children’s ideas about the American Dream is such an innovative idea for a civic engagement project. It’s so neat that their data assessed outcomes for both children and college students.
“It really makes your day to see two of your former students making positive changes and curricular innovations like this,” she added. “I remember when they were dating!”
Their paths to the peaks of their chosen academic fields might have been different, but they all shared a common first step before having completed the arduous climb to the top: a Kalamazoo College education that still informs, inspires and invigorates their work.
Three K graduates—Steph Anderson ’06, Rose Grose and Monisha Berkowski (both members of the class of 2008)—earned doctorate degrees in various specialty fields of psychology recently.
Professor of Psychology Karyn Boatwright taught all of them, and was an inspiration to each. Now, Boatwright says she’s the inspired one.
Steph Anderson well remembers her “eureka moment.” She was a student in Boatwright’s feminist psychology class, a course that was routinely challenging and one that helped her redefine her views on all sorts of issues related to gender and the expression of sexuality.
“I had this moment where it all clicked—‘gender inequality is everywhere,’ I thought,” says Anderson. “K taught me how to think critically, that there were no absolutes in things. It instilled in me an intellectual curiosity. The College challenged my worldview, then let me out into the world to see where I could go.”
A psychology and religion major, she was undecided about graduate-level study of psychology and moved to Quito, Ecuador, after graduation, where she taught English. There she began applying to graduate schools and was accepted at City University of New York. In spring of 2016 Anderson earned a Ph.D. in CUNY’s critical social/personality psychology program. Perhaps not surprisingly, she has been attracted to researching issues surrounding gender inequality and oppression, still riding the wave of that moment of inspiration so many years ago at K.
Her research examines the role of gender expression and race in antigay discrimination, looking at the issue from two perspectives: those who are targets of discrimination (cisgender and transgender LGBQ individuals) and those who may discriminate (straight individuals).
She continues to explore the gendered nature of homophobia, to draw attention to how discrimination against LGBQ people is deeply held within traditional beliefs about how people ought to behave and present themselves to the world in relation to their birth-assigned gender.
In her senior year at K, Anderson helped institute “Women in the Weight Room,” a two-day-a-week time for female-only camaraderie while working out. Some women did not feel safe working out in the oftentimes male-dominated gym, she says.
“It wasn’t without controversy,” she says. “But it showed me the College was all about activism, about seeing an issue and dealing with it.”
Rose Grose wants to talk about sex. And if she had her way, we’d all be talking about it.
“I think there should be compulsory comprehensive and evidence-based sex education,” says Grose. “Human sexuality exists on a broad spectrum, and I think that should be celebrated because sexuality is important to our identities, and relationships make up so much of how we identify ourselves.”
Grose recently earned her Ph.D. in social psychology with an emphasis in feminist studies from the University of California- Santa Cruz, last spring. Her work addresses social justice, gender and sexuality. She is currently working as a postdoctoral research fellow in global health at Emory University (Atlanta, Georgia).
For her, the study of human sexuality and how it plays out in society is viewed through the lens of social justice. Injustice based on sexuality is rooted in societal power dynamics and how they play out in the often diverse realms of human sexuality, Grose says. Gender and sexual injustices intersect in complex ways with inequality based on race, ethnicity, class, ability, nationality, and more. The expressions of those power dynamics and how they contribute to the oppression of women, transgender, queer and gender non-conforming members of society is the focus of much of her research.
“Humans are diverse, and we like to put folks in boxes socially,” she says. “When we dehumanize and objectify those different from us, we open the door to violence against marginalized groups.
“Everyone has the ability to decide to treat someone equally. Diversity shouldn’t be viewed as ‘we can all get along,’ but rather that we are distinct and equal. We’re all fully human and deserving of dignity. Healthy and positive sexuality is about these bigger values. There is no way to objectify someone if you acknowledge their full humanity.”
Grose was drawn to K because of the progressive, open-mindedness that permeates so many facets of campus culture. “The encouragement of critical thought—that’s what made my time at K so worthwhile,” she says. “And the people I met there, students and faculty, they were the best part.”
Her study abroad experience working in Kolkata, India, at the All Bengal Women’s Union—an organization that advocates for women’s rights—solidified her passion for gender and sexuality rights justice and equality.
The criminal justice system views a person charged with a crime as someone in need of punitive action and separation from society; Monisha Berkowski may see the same person as an individual with a mental illness in need of support.
That’s not to say that justice should not prevail, but those accused of committing sometimes violent crimes deserve help with psychological issues, assistance which they may not have received prior to becoming involved in the criminal justice system, says Berkowski.
“I’m working with impoverished rural communities from Appalachia, and with poor urban communities from Charlotte and other areas,” she says. “There is a lack of resources, there’s poverty, there’s a lack of access to mental health care. Often, these facts contribute significantly to entanglements with the criminal justice system.”
Berkowski earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 2015 from the University of Detroit-Mercy, after completing a pre-doctoral internship at Broughton Hospital, a state psychiatric facility in Morganton, North Carolina, where she currently works with patients with persistent and severe mental illnesses, some of whom are making their way through the criminal justice system.
It’s easy to see a patient as one-dimensional, she says. She takes a more holistic look at those she’s helping, so they can better understand charges against them and more optimally work with their attorneys.
“How you perceive the patient impacts how you treat that patient,” she says. “I’m often working with patients who have lived on the street. They have experience living in an environment that’s dangerous, where they’ve had to develop certain skills in order to survive. But this might not always be considered when some providers look at a person and conclude, ‘He’s paranoid; He’s aggressive.’ A more empathetic, textured view of someone makes for better treatment.”
Although mental health practitioners are mostly women, positions of power in the profession are still mostly the realm of men, Berkowski says. She is breaking through this glass ceiling, proposing treatment modalities that are rooted in social justice and feminist beliefs in equality for all, directly challenging traditional psychological theories rooted in patriarchy.
“K definitely fostered the idea that you need to look at an issue from many different angles,” she says. “I’m trying to do that in my career. The critical thinking piece is so ingrained at K — to think beyond what you are told.”
Some 20,000 Kalamazoo College alumni live throughout the world, and K is reigniting its commitment to connecting them with their alma mater and with each other. Whether it’s at a Hornet Happy Hour to network with fellow alums or a SWARM event to recruit future Hornets, the members of the Alumni Association Executive Board (AAEB) are proud to serve alongside K staff and class agents to connect alumni with these opportunities and to learn how the college can better meet alumni needs and interests. We are seeking your ideas and involvement!
At K we did more in four years so we could do more in a lifetime. That phrase captures our adventures during our undergraduate years and beyond. We tend to reconnect with our friends and classmates no matter where we go after graduation because the bonds we formed at K endure. We read about the experiences of our fellow grads in the LuxEsto magazine and BeLight e-zine, and we contribute to the College financially and through our participation at reunions and regional events.
I encourage you to reflect on the importance of the experiences we shared and the education we received at Kalamazoo College, and I challenge you to find new ways to reach out and engage with the College that likely changed your life. There are Hornets around the world with whom you can connect; there are current students studying or working in your field; there are alumni moving to your city or country of residence. Please be open to helping them reach their potential. It’s quite possible that you’ll benefit just as much or more from making this new contact.
In addition to the resources available on the College’s website that inform you of social events in your area and special occasions on campus, the AAEB has developed what we’re calling “Alumni Bites” to illustrate the many ways alumni can easily connect with each other and with K in five broad categories: student recruitment, career development, Guilds mentorship, social events volunteerism, and charitable contributions. Check out the Alumni Bites on the AAEB page for more details. Also, please reach out to any member of AAEB. We welcome the chance to hear your ideas and have you join us!
I invite you to read the AAEB article that appears in the fall issue of LuxEsto magazine. It highlights the results of the alumni survey conducted last year and includes more information on how the AAEB and K staff members are working to improve ways alumni can engage with each other and with the College. I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at Homecoming and the Alumni Association Awards ceremony on October 17!
Alexandra Altman ’97