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Associate Professor of Psychology Autumn Hostetter

Associate Professor of Psychology Autumn Hostetter left high school equally interested in the double entendre and the double helix. She loved literature’s exploration of the human condition, and she also loved the precision of science and the scientific method.

It didn’t take long for these seemingly separate strands to intertwine. The epiphany occurred in her freshman-year, first-semester introductory Gen Psych class. “That course revealed for me psychology as the intersection of science and literature,” says Hostetter. “It is a way to study the human condition using the reason of science.”

It wouldn’t be accurate to say she never looked back. After all, she did earn a minor in creative writing along with her major in psychology (at Berry College [Mount Berry, Georgia], a small liberal arts school of some 2,000 students who enjoy the world’s largest contiguous campus [some 27,000 acres—K, by comparison, has 1,450 students on some 66 acres] and who’ve been known to quip the school has a 5-to-1 deer-to-student ratio). As commencement approached, Autumn considered an M.F.A. (as next step to a dual career of writer/writing teacher) or a Ph.D. (as a pathway to becoming a professor of psychology).

Psychology—the double helix of science and literature—carried the day. Autumn completed her Ph.D. (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and began her teaching career at K shortly after. “I always wanted to teach at a small liberal arts college,” she says. Not surprising, perhaps; nor is her academic and research interests: the psychology of language and communication.

What’s the best song ever recorded?
“The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by The Tokens.

What’s your favorite childhood fairy tale or story?
“The Ugly Duckling.” The idea that what you are now doesn’t determine what you will be in the future has always appealed to me.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
“There are people here who will be very excited to see you.”

What’s your favorite word?
Crock-ah-doddle. My two-year-old son Oliver’s pronunciation of “crocodile.” I like his better.

What’s your least favorite word?
Tepid

What turns you on?
Sunsets

What turns you off?
Guns

What sound do you love?
Silence

What sound do you hate?
Oliver whining

What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Being a writer, or something perhaps in advertising, which combines writing and psychology.

What profession would you not like to participate in?
Being on an assembly line, anything monotonous where you don’t use your mind.

What’s been a GREAT MOMENT in your liberal arts learning?
Probably that first college psychology class, discovering that the subject carried the DNA of both literature and science. The professor, by the way, was a truly gifted teacher, one of the happiest, most optimistic persons I’ve ever encountered.

Who’s the person (living or dead) with whom you’d most like to spend a lunch hour?
Amelia Earhart, mostly to learn what happened.

What memory from childhood still surprises you?
When I was 10 my family took a two-week road trip west, driving from Georgia [Autumn grew up in Augusta] to Los Angeles, stopping at landmarks like the Grand Canyon. But mostly, I sat in the back seat reading Babysitter’s Club books that I’d already read.

What is your favorite curse word?
[The word] “badwords” [exclaimed with no pause between the parts]

What is your favorite hobby?
Baking. I love to make desserts.

What is your favorite comedy movie?
Earth Girls Are Easy, a film from the late 1980s starring Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum, and Jim Carey. My grandfather makes a cameo appearance in one scene!

What local, regional, national, or world event affected you most?
Probably the September 11 terrorist attacks.

If a cow laughed, would milk come out of her nose?
The question’s udderly ridiculous.

Fierce Devotion

uzieGonzalezWhat a blessing that Kalamazoo College’s 17th president, Eileen B. Wilson-Oyelaran, did not decide to retire a year earlier than she did (her last day on the job will June 30, 2016). Her successor, K’s 18th president (elect), Jorge G. Gonzalez, who currently serves as dean and vice president for academic affairs at Occidental College (Los Angeles, Calif.), may possibly have been ready to make a career change and relocate sooner, but in that hypothetical case his spouse, K alumna Suzie (Martin) Gonzalez ’83 would likely have remained in L.A. Why? Because of her children. Not the couple’s daughter and son (Kristina, a recent University of Southern California graduate who works in commercial real estate in L.A. and Carlos, a sophomore majoring in computer science at Rice University), but instead the kids with whom Suzie works as a school psychologist at the El Monte City School District.

“Adults are more equipped to understand a relocation based on a job change—one’s own or one’s spouse’s,” says Suzie. “But an adolescent may feel it is a violation of the trust we’ve worked so hard to build and share. Last year I had a group of eighth graders with whom I’d worked a long time. I wouldn’t have left them just before they started high school. But this year was fine, so the timing for Jorge’s selection as K’s president worked out perfectly.”

That kind of fierce devotion to the well-being of school aged kids has long been a fundamental element of Suzie’s character. She came to K from Puerto Rico. (Some back story on that fact. Suzie was born in Kalamazoo, shortly after which her family moved to Mexico City and, several years later, to Puerto Rico. Her father worked as an executive for The Upjohn Company and managed company operations in both places respectively.) In fact, Suzie’s first return to Kalamazoo was for her first year at K.

She majored in psychology and earned a minor in political science  as well as her teaching certification. During her career service term she worked with three-, four- and five-year-olds at the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Head Start program. She studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, and for her Senior Individualized Project she taught history at Paw Paw (Mich.) High School. Her SIP experience influenced her decision to earn her Ph.D. in  educational psychology (1989, Michigan State University). “In my high school classes there were so many students with needs that could not be effectively addressed by a classroom teacher,” explains Suzie.

She has worked as a school psychologist in San Antonio, Texas, and in Los Angeles. When she returns to Kalamazoo this July Suzie plans to take a year to assess how busy she will be as K’s “first lady.” But don’t be surprised if she becomes a school psychologist at a nearby district, which certainly will be a blessing for those kids with whom she’ll work.

Like her husband, Suzie is a great sports fan. Soccer tops his list, college football hers. Both are passionate about the Spartans and, of course, the Hornets. BeLight is grateful to Suzie for making time for its “Lighten Up” interview.

What’s the best song ever recorded?
Stevie Wonder’s “You Are the Sunshine of my Life”

What’s your favorite childhood fairy tale or story?
The Little Engine That Could

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
“I love that you followed your passion and did well.”

What’s your favorite word?
Believe

What’s your least favorite word?
Can’t

What turns you on?
Living each day to the fullest

What turns you off?
Limits, boundaries

What sound do you love?
Beach waves

What sound do you hate?
Automobile horns

What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I originally came to K intending to major in political science.  So I guess a lawyer specializing on educational issues.

What profession would you not like to participate in?
A computer scientist. I don’t have the passion, or probably the aptitude.

What’s been a GREAT MOMENT in your liberal arts learning?
Going to the Grand Rapids United Methodist Community House and being greeted by the smiling faces of the eager Head Start youngsters ready to play and learn during my K career development.

Who’s the person (living or dead) with whom you’d most like to spend a lunch hour?
Lev Vygotsky. He was a developmental psychologist who believed that social and cultural context significantly influence a child’s development.

What memory from childhood still surprises you?
All the moves my family made when I was growing up. For some this may seem counter-intuitive, but I have very good memories associated with changing homes. I think the experience fostered great flexibility.

What is your favorite curse word?
Well, my colleagues at work would probably tell you that the word is “shoot.”

What is your favorite hobby?
Reading. Right now I’m in the middle of a romantic comedy.

What is your favorite comedy movie?
Home Alone

What local, regional, national, or world event has affected you most?
The attacks on September 11, 2001

Carol Saro ”77

Carol was named director of customer service for Eaton Corporation”s Aerospace Group”s Aftermarket Division. Carol joined Eaton in 2005 after working in a variety of customer service roles at Northwest Airlines. Most recently at Eaton she served as director of customer service for the Fluid and Electrical Distribution Division. She earned her bachelor”s degree at K in psychology.

Siu-Lan Tan, Professor of Psychology

NYU/Steinhardt is celebrating its 125th anniversary by inviting speakers from around the world to participate in year-round events. One of those speakers will be Siu-Lan. In March she will give a short talk titled “Why Movies Move Us: The Psychology and Neuroscience of Film Music.” She also will be one of a four-member panel that will discuss the topic with the audience. In addition to Siu-Lan (a psychologist), the panel includes a film composer, a neuroscientist and a music theorist.

Jane Case-Smith ”75, Ph.D.

Jane died on July 31, 2014. At the time of her passing, she was professor and director of the Program in Occupational Therapy in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, College of Medicine, Ohio State University. A highly regarded educator, Jane was co-editor and author of a widely adopted textbook: Occupational Therapy with Children, now in its sixth edition. At Kalamazoo College she majored in psychology and studied abroad in Muenster, Germany. she earned her Master of Occupational Therapy degree from Western Michigan University and her doctorate from the University of Georgia. Jane was considered one of the nation”s foremost experts in pediatric occupational therapy and rehabilitation. She was a respected clinical scientist and grant reviewer. At the time of her death she was principal investigator on two NIH-funded studies. She won many awards and was named a fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association in 1997. She is survived by her husband and their two sons.

Arianna Schindle ’08

Arianna is an educator, organizer and healer who works for Rhizacollective.org, a women-led collective of cultural workers and facilitators that uses storytelling, healing, organizing and research to support social transformation and environmental justice. Arianna has worked in a variety of settings across the U.S., Asia and Central America ranging from urban public schools, mental health clinics, nonprofit organizations, worker’s centers and labor unions to private and public foundations. She conducts workshops on the trauma of oppression, community organizing and creative campaigning. At K Arianna majored in psychology and studied abroad in Thailand . She received her graduate certificates in urban public health and clinical social work at Hunter College.

Kristin Meekhof ’97

Kristin is a licensed master’s level social worker in southeast Michigan. She is a speaker, writer, author of A Widow’s Guide to Healing, and a contributing editor to Psychology Today magazine. In the past year she served as a panelist at a University of Michigan Hospital conference on compassionate care and as a panelist at the Parliament of World Religions. She also attended the United Nations Conference on the Status of Women. Kristin completed the M.S.W. program at the University of Michigan. She earned her B.A. at K with a major in psychology.

Robert MacCoun ”80

Robert holds a joint appointment as a professor of law at Stanford Law School and as a senior fellow with the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. Robert is a renowned psychologist and behavioral scientist who has studied illicit drug use, drug policy, alternative dispute resolution, judgment and decision making, social influence, and bias in the use and interpretation of research evidence. His analyses of military unit cohesion were cited during “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” debates about inclusion of gays and lesbians in the military. Prior to his faculty appointment at Stanford Law School, he was a member of the faculties of Berkeley Law School and the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley.

Vic Braden ’51

Vic died on October 6, 2014. He was 85 years old and arguably the most well-known graduate of Kalamazoo College. He matriculated to K from Monroe (Mich.) High School, where he had been a multi-sport athlete (football, basketball, baseball, and tennis). He was the first high school tennis player to win the state singles championship three times. At K he earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology and played on the Hornet men’s tennis team. He served as team captain his senior year, the same year he took the MIAA singles championship. He also was MIAA doubles champion in 1949 and 1951. After graduation he was the assistant basketball coach at the University of Toledo, and he played on the professional tennis circuit. Vic moved to California and earned his master’s degree in educational psychology (California State University). He began study for his doctorate in psychology (USC) but discontinued that work in order to become the chief tennis professional at a tennis club. It was in the teaching of tennis that Vic achieved his international renown. In 1971 he started the Vic Braden Tennis College in Coto de Caza, Calif. That effort later expanded to include campuses in Florida and Utah and traveled throughout the United States, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and China. He taught thousands of players and lectured in all 50 states. His players included champions like Tracy Austin, and yet he seemed to have a special spot in his heart for the average weekend hacker. He combined humor and psychology to make every student as proficient as she or he could be. Vic hosted a tennis instructional show on public television in the early 1980s that was carried by 238 stations. He appeared on NBC, made instructional videos, and authored eight books. The New York Times obituary (“Vic Braden, Tennis’s Pied Piper, Dies at 85,” Douglas Martin) noted that “Mr. Braden’s forte was psychology, which he thought could nearly work miracles. He told Sports Illustrated that if he were given eight good 13-year-old players–‘I don’t mean great athletes,’ he specified–he could have all of them in the Wimbledon quarterfinals at 18. Such improbable success, he said, would involve learning to think differently. ‘The moment of enlightenment,’ he said, ‘is when a person’s dreams of possibilities become images of probabilities.’” In recognition of his lifetime achievements, Vic was presented an honorary degree from his alma mater in April of 2008. He is pictured (center, in the photo at left) at that event, held in Stetson Chapel, with the late Professor and Coach Emeritus George Acker (left) and Professor of Physical Education and Volleyball Coach Jeanne Hess.