||Cody Wiberg, Blaine High School, Class of 1977, Head of Minnesota Board of Pharmacy
Head of Minnesota Board of Pharmacy was inspired at 'new' Blaine High School
Blaine High School (BHS) was still fairly new when Cody Wiberg graduated in 1977. The result of the building being new had an unintended effect on Wiberg.
"Blaine had many younger, energetic and idealistic teachers," Wiberg said. "Some of them, most notably Roger Dahl and Jim Nelson, inspired me to want to pursue a career where I could help people."
Wiberg initially thought he would be a teacher, but he became interested in pursuing a career in healthcare after he was hired as a ward clerk for the University of Minnesota (U of M) Hospital Emergency Room during his first year in college. While he decided to become a pharmacist after researching various healthcare professions, Wiberg did find his way to teaching. In addition to working as the executive director of the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy, the state agency that regulates the profession of pharmacy and the distribution of drugs into and within the state, Wiberg is an instructor and course director for the University of Florida Graduate School and a clinical assistant professor for the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy.
Wiberg began his post-secondary work at Anoka-Ramsey Community College the summer before his senior year at BHS. After earning a degree from the U of M College of Liberal Arts, Wiberg earned a B.S. in pharmacy and then a PharmD from the U of M College of Pharmacy. He went on to earn a M.S. in pharmacy from the University of Florida.
When told BHS now hosts the Center for Engineering, Mathematics and Science (CEMS) program, Wiberg said that this is important because the world economy is more interconnected than it was when he was a student at Blaine. In his field, pharmaceutical products are being designed, tested and manufactured all over the world. Large pharmaceutical manufacturers are now multinational corporations with operations around the globe.
"Also, the advent of the internet and other communication technologies has made it possible for healthcare to be provided from a distance," Wiberg said. "Boards of pharmacy around the country have been asked to allow U.S. licensed pharmacists located in India to remotely perform portions of the drug dispensing process. If this country is going to successfully compete in the worldwide economy, we must provide superior education in critical areas such as engineering, mathematics and science."
Wiberg, who is often quoted in Minnesota newspapers and appears on television public affairs shows, recommends Anoka-Hennepin students stay in school until they graduate, do the best they can as they study and once they graduate, continue their education.
"For me, education has been a lifelong process that has been rewarding in many ways," Wiberg said. "But have some fun along themway, too and participate in extracurricular activities."
||Semhar Araia, Coon Rapids High School, Class of 1995, International Rights Lawyer
As a student at Northdale Middle School (NMS) and Coon Rapids High School (CRHS) in the early and mid-'90s, Semhar Araia didn't feel like she "fit in." Araia said she was one of 10 brown people in her grade, the only student from an immigrant family, spoke two languages, and lived with both African and American customs.
Although Araia learned to make friends, was involved with school activities and was homecoming queen her senior year in high school, that still wasn't enough to make the CRHS 1995 grad feel like she fit in. Now with the perspective of an adult, she knows she wasn't supposed to.
"I was supposed to stand out and to make friends with all kinds of people," Araia said. "We're unique in our own way and made to stand out. Students should learn how to tell their story and understand other people's stories. School is more than just about grades and the cool club. Everything else in between is what you'll remember most."
Araia's story is amazing. After graduating from the University of St. Thomas and Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, Wisc., she began a career that has involved working for the federal government, international organizations in Washington D.C. and East Africa and as an international rights lawyer on the international peace process between Eritrea, her family's home country, and Ethiopia.
Because organizing and being an advocate comes naturally to her, Araia created Diaspora African Women's Network (DAWN). A non-profit organization, DAWN supports the next generation of women of African descent who are in the U.S. working and focusing on African affairs and issues.
"I started DAWN because I needed a support network of likeminded peers who cared about the same topics," Araia said. "I needed to find women who, like me, are daughters of African immigrants who are working on issues affecting our communities in America and Africa. Since I couldn't find that kind of space anywhere in Washington or Minneapolis, I had to create it myself."
For her work, Araia was invited to visit the White House. That visit lead to a second visit to talk with President Barack Obama this spring.
"That was amazing," Araia said. "It was the best hour of my life."
Araia had an opportunity to share her work experience and talk about meeting the president with NMS students in May. Araia said it's always wonderful to visit her old school and it is much more diverse than when she was there.
"The students are so open to learning about the rest of the world," Araia said. "I loved asking them how they saw their role in the world and hearing their ideas and solutions on how to be a more globally minded and locally active citizen."
Returning to NMS helps Araia to remember the teachers who were instrumental in who she is today, especially Pam Zimba, Trudy Zembles and Judy Blomgren. Araia also appreciates teachers who helped her to "feel better and comfortable" in her own skin, such as CRHS English teachers Linda Carlson and Sharon Tracy.
For current Anoka-Hennepin students looking for their voice, Araia advises them to stay curious, let themselves learn from others and to find someone they look up to and ask them questions.
"And always, be kind to everyone you meet," she said. "You don't know their story and they don't know yours."
||Tarah Andrews, Crossroads Alternative High School, Class of 2004, Fitness Model
In January, Tarah Andrews was featured on the cover of Natural Muscle Magazine. The 2004 graduate of Crossroads Alternative High School is now preparing to compete in "Fitness Universe" in June, with a goal of finishing in the top 10 contestants.
Andrews traces her success to the lessons she learned as a member of the Leadership Program at Crossroads and to instructor Marcia Nelson. In fact, Andrews calls the experience "a life changer."
"Until the Leadership Program, I was convinced I'd never be happy, go to college, live my dreams, or make a difference," Andrews said. "Marcia taught us, 'A Leader is a Dealer of Hope,' and I learned that my attitude had a direct influence on where I could take my life. I'm still practicing this message eight years later in a profession that I love, and I have never been healthier or happier."
Andrews' days are filled with planning meals for herself and clients she works with on eating habits, two workouts a day and working with disabled adults. Depending on the week, Andrews may also take part in photo sessions for fitness-related businesses. Shooting the cover of Natural Muscle Magazine in Las Vegas was stressful, but Andrews drew on her lessons from Crossroads.
"The shoot was intimidating to walk into, but I really felt that keeping my confidence level high was the best way to prove to myself, my team, and the photographer, that I had what it took to be a top fitness model," Andrews said. "I thought about all the sweat and tears I put in at the gym, and I didn't want to lose a big opportunity like this out of fear of the unknown, which is definitely a lesson I learned from my favorite teacher from Crossroads."
With a love of the fitness world, Andrews hopes to have a career that will involve training, coaching, owning a gym, or maybe even getting on the other side of the camera and becoming a photographer. Andrews believes the more she keeps working hard for what she wants the better the chance that everything will fall into place.
For Anoka-Hennepin students thinking about their futures, Andrews offers great advice.
"Get up every morning and be the best you that you can be," she said. "Don't focus on what's wrong in your life and decide to look at life's endless possibilities for your future. Ask for help, nobody does anything great in life without help from people they trust. And last but not least, never EVER give up."
||Cordelia Anderson, Anoka High School, Class of 1973, Consultant for Social Change
After graduating from Anoka High School in 1973, Cordelia Anderson earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota in criminal justice studies and a graduate degree from St. Mary's College in human development.
Anderson's experiences in college led her to working with women coming out of the criminal justice system. Anderson said she kept hearing stories about child sexual abuse, which was not identified as a problem at that time.
In 1977, Anderson received a grant to work with the Hennepin County Attorney's Office helping child victims of sexual abuse. A year into her work, Anderson said she met the artistic directors of Illusion Theater in Minneapolis. They decided to collaborate and co-wrote "TOUCH," a play for children to accompany the education and training for parents and professionals. Three years later, Anderson left Hennepin County and joined Illusion Theater to travel nationally to perform plays and provide their professional trainings.
While Anderson was not involved with theater while a student at AHS, she said she was influenced by Sim Varner, an English teacher involved with the theater program.
"He took special notice of each student and believed in me; that touched me," Anderson said. "He also lived down the street from my family and I did some babysitting for his children later on. I ran into him as an adult after both of our lives had gone through many changes and we laughed about how I wound up in theater and social change work."
Since 1992, Anderson has owned and operated her own training and consultation practice, "Sensibilities," and the Anoka Hennepin School District is one of her clients.
Through Sensibilities, Anderson works for social change; social justice; to inspire people to speak up and out against the harms they see; and to advocate for those unable to use their voices for their own protection.
"People often want to meet because they want to do what I do in terms of my own business which includes a great deal of public speaking," Anderson said. "That is something you build up to either from life and/or professional experience."
Anderson's advice to Anoka-Hennepin students is to do volunteer work and internships to get a sense of options available to them as well as to build networks.
"The bottom line though is to follow your passion either through your main professional or volunteer efforts," she said.
A "late blooming parent," Anderson has a son in college and a daughter in eighth grade.
"They are fantastic young people who teach me a lot," Anderson said. "Between watching their lives and my own work, I know how incredibly different some things are for young people today and alternatively how some things remain the same. Even with technology changing how we connect and communicate, it is still all about relationships and learning how to have healthy relationships. Life is full of major challenges, the key is how we face them, learn from them and move on."
||Kerry McCauley, Coon Rapids High School, Class of 1980, International Ferry Pilot
CRHS grad to be featured in Discovery Channel TV series
Kerry McCauley, a 1980 graduate of Coon Rapids High School (CRHS), will be featured in a Discovery Channel TV series chronicling his experiences as a ferry pilot delivering small aircraft to South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. He is one of two pilots who will be filmed as they deliver planes to remote locations around the world.
After high school, McCauley became a commercial property manager. He quit that job because it was "too boring" and he knew he needed to live an adventurous life to be happy.
"I was in the National Guard for 12 years and was a 'Huey' helicopter crew chief as well as a winter operations and survival instructor," said McCauley.
McCauley became a ferry pilot in 1990.
"A buddy of mine in the National Guard was one and when I heard about the adventures he was having I decided that's what I wanted to do," he said. "I didn't even have a pilot's license but I worked hard and built hours flying skydivers until I had enough experience to get the job."
Now a veteran pilot, McCauley has flown more than 30 solo Atlantic Ocean crossings and numerous flights to Egypt, Kenya and Tanzania. In a local newspaper article, McCauley shared that a challenge of his job is flying across borders of third-world countries because of language barriers, overzealous local officials, sketchy weather
information, and getting fuel.
In June, McCauley was contacted by the Discovery Channel to be on the new show. The first flight filmed was in a six-passenger, twin-engine Piper Navajo McCauley flew from Florida to Argentina. The flight covered 4,500 miles, crossing over the Caribbean Sea, Venezuela, Brazil, and Paraguay.
"The experience was great, it is a lot harder to act natural on camera than I thought it would be, but it was still a lot of fun," McCauley said. When watching the show, McCauley thinks, "most people will be surprised how hard it is dealing with airports and customs officials in other countries.
There is also a lot of danger involved in flying small airplanes over the ocean." The TV company has not announced when the series will air.
McCauley, who began skydiving in 1986, said he loved skydiving and saw an opportunity to make a career out of it. In addition to being a ferry pilot, McCauley co-owns "Skydive Twin Cities," based in Baldwin, Wis. McCauley, his wife Cathy, and their children, Claire and Connor, live in Menomonie, Wis.
As Anoka-Hennepin students prepare for the future, McCauley advises them to find a line of work that they love. "If you do what you love you'll never have to work a day in your life," he said.
||Alicia Ulwelling, Coon Rapids High School, Class of 1990, Helotech, McMurdo Station - Antarctica
Coon Rapids High School alum works at the tip of the world
After graduating from Coon Rapids High
School in 1990, Alicia Ulwelling went to
The College of St. Benedict to study piano.
Sophomore year, she changed her major to education,
but quickly decided she wouldn't be ready to
stand in front of a classroom until she ventured
out and learned more about the world. Ulwelling
changed her major and graduated with a degree in biology.
That interest to learn more about the world has taken Ulwelling to the far reaches of the globe.
After graduation, Ulwelling worked at RockyMountain National Park in Colorado where she led winter ecology snowshoe walks and shared natural history information with park visitors. While working at the park, Ulwelling was introduced to wild land fire and aviation through the Alpine Interagency Hotshot crew, a specialized crew of 20 who fight large fires across the country.
From there, Ulwelling moved to Utah where she worked at Zion National Park and Dixie National Forest, and earned a certificate in geographic information systems (GIS). Ulwelling then moved to Grand Canyon Nation Park where she worked with the fire effects program.
It wasn't long before Ulwelling grew interested in the Grand Canyon Helitack crew. After spending three seasons on this specialized crew, Ulwelling gained the experience and knowledge necessary for her next adventure - working as a helotech in Antarctica.
Since October 2008, Ulwelling has spent three Antarctic summers, October through mid- February, working at McMurdo Station. A scientific research center, McMurdo is located on the southern tip of Ross Island, which is in the New Zealand-claimed Ross Dependency. It is operated by the U.S. Antarctic Program and is a branch of the National Science Foundation.
Ulwelling works for a helicopter contractor and transports science personnel and equipment to field sites. Scientists at McMurdo study animals and issues including penguins, seals, climate change, nematodes, and glaciology. Ulwelling enjoys her work and said each day is different.
"Some days we fly through the mountains of the Dry Valleys where a lot of the climate change research is happening," Ulwelling said.
"Other days we land on the sea ice and need to drill through to confirm that it is thick enough to land a Bell 212 helicopter before we can shut down and allow the Weddell seal researchers out to work. Some days we fly to Mt Erebus, an active volcano, at 10,000 feet."
"Each flight is different depending on the weather and the angle of the sun as it rises high in the sky. By mid-December, there is 24 hours of sunshine. I also enjoy meeting the people and scientists as they are involved with interesting and important research."
When people find out she works in Antarctica, Ulwelling is most often asked: how cold it gets, minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit in October; how warm it gets, 34 degrees Fahrenheit in February; are there penguins, yes; and are there polar bears, no, they live in the Arctic. Ulwelling is also asked about her most memorable day.
"One day I was standing at the sea ice edge watching and listening to numerous Orca whales surfacing and breaching while some curious and comical Adelie penguins were grouped on the ice," Ulwelling said.
After Ulwelling's work wraps up in February, she spends time traveling to warm destinations and visiting family. Ulwelling then heads off to Montana where she works with the Flathead National Forest conducting botany surveys.
As Anoka-Hennepin students prepare for their futures, Ulwelling recommends they get out of their comfort zones, stretch their imaginations and say "yes" to opportunities when they arise.
"Get out and travel the world, see how other people live and make friends from other cultures," she said. "If there is something that catches your interest, if there is something that you would like to do, go. Do what you can to learn about and protect our wild places, support science, and increase your knowledge and respect for the natural wonders that we all love."
For information about the U.S. Antarctic Program, go to: www.usap.gov.
||Bradley, Bob and Kate Beahen: Anoka High School, Class of 1999, 2003 and 2005, Performing Arts Careers
From Anoka to Edinburgh and beyond, Beahen siblings follow their dreams
'Being from AHS is a huge advantage; it really sets you up
they were growing up, Bradley, Bob and Kate Beahens' childhood was filled with
their father, Jeff, playing brass band compilations; to their mother, Carolyn, the
principal's secretary at Coon Rapids Middle School, teaching them the words to
Mamas and Papas songs; to their grandparents taking them to Orchestra Hall and
the Ordway, music and theater were a part of their everyday life.
to their family's influence and the experiences Bradley, Bob and Kate had at
Anoka High School (AHS), all three are pursuing careers in the performing arts.
AHS graduate, Bradley currently lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. near his sister, Kate.
In high school, he was involved in concert choir, concert orchestra, 7th
Avenue, barbershop quartet and theater.
said Bruce Phelps, Kent Knutson, Michelle Hayes, Mike Halstenson, and Jan
Thomsen were all major influences on his career path.
I was done singing for my first audition for 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor
Dreamcoat,' Mr. Phelps pulled me aside and said, 'kid are you in choir this
year?'" said Bradley. "I shyly said, 'no,' and with a big grin on his face he
said, 'you WILL be next year!' That's really when my high school musical career
began leading me to the profession I have today. I was very fortunate to have
such a talented and dedicated music staff to work with and be supported by."
to his involvement in high school, Bradley said his grandmother, Phil, started
him in music lessons at McPhail in Minneapolis by the age of 2. In addition to the
summer concert series at Orchestra Hall, Bradley said the Beahen family would
take weekly trips to music stores to find new music to play.
of my parents are musical as well, even though they didn't make careers out of
it," he said. "I love making my dad drag out his trumpet, or play piano duets
with my mom or grandma. I think in a way, the three of us have inspired them
not to let go of the musical skills they pretend not to have."
high school, Bradley started college at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg,
Penn. but left his junior year for his first professional job in "Plaid
Tidings" at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul.
was fortunate to earn my Actors Equity card during that run and the Ordway was
really the spring board that launched my professional career," Bradley said. "I
did four more shows at the Ordway as well as 'Grease' at the Chanhassen Dinner
Theatre. I also joined a commercial agency in Minneapolis and did a lot of
voice-over, print and commercial work."
this past year, Bradley had his first off-Broadway experience with a standby
part for the lead character in "Enter Laughing." Currently he is performing
again in "Plaid Tidings" at the Gem Theatre in Detroit, MI.
said the best thing about being a performer is the ability to express yourself
every day. He said he's worked in more than seven major cities and made friends
from all over the world.
days a week, going to work consists of performing for a live audience - and my
day ends with applause," Bradley said. "I wish everyone could experience that
it's not very easy, Bradley encourages all Anoka-Hennepin students to follow
your dreams takes a ton of hard work and a lot of self-motivation," he said.
"The work doesn't come to you, you have to find it, and with every set back you
have to take a giant leap forward.
from Anoka High School is a huge advantage. The school really sets you up for a
lot of success."
2003 AHS graduate, Bob participated in orchestra, winter drum line, music
theater, and concert, jazz and marching bands. He also played drums for many of
the choir concerts.
a student, John Lace, Halstenson and Hayes greatly influenced Bob as a
performer and channeled him down different avenues.
Lace expanded my abilities as a concert percussionist and jazz player," Bob
said. "Mr. Hastenson did the same in concert orchestra and really pushed me in
music theater to broaden my visions as a drummer and expand my sound. Ms. Hayes
was a huge inspiration in music theater as well, and gave me opportunities to
play in choir concerts, allowing me to further develop a wide repertoire and
said he and his siblings have the most supportive parents they could ask for. He
said although the three were pushed to show their dedication to school, sports
and music, they were never forced to do these things; they had outlets for fun
and creativity and were allowed to choose what they wanted to do.
in the living room, high school or beyond, we always had our parents in the
audience," Bob said. "They showed us by way of example what hard work is and
what it accomplishes."
of Bob's favorite memories from high school was the music-theater department's 2002
trip to participate in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.
was a once in a lifetime opportunity to truly test ourselves as performers,"
Bob said. "In addition, I was lucky enough to have my sister and brother on the
same stage, with me performing in the pit. Seldom do we get to share such an
graduate from AHS, Bob attended McNally-Smith College of Music for a semseter.
(At the time it was called MusicTech.) After a few semesters at Anoka Ramsey
Community College, Bob left school to work and move to Minneapolis. After
briefly working for the Minneapolis Children's Theatre as a professional
drummer/actor, Bob transitioned into a steady job. Recording and performing as
a musician became a side sourced of income.
eventually moved to Boston where he is working on a degree in drum set
performance at Berklee College of Music.
provides me a new venue to learn and perform that I didn't previously have
access to," Bob said. "The combination of networking and skill development is
mind blowing. I can literally study music that spans the globe and often times
with the artists who have developed these sounds and styles."
goal is to finish his degree in the next two years and return to Minnesota to
pursue his career in live performance and music theater. He said any student
who wants a career in the performing arts has the opportunity to make it
a little cliché, but honestly it's what Bradley, Kate and I have done," Bob
said. "We took the opportunities that were offered to us and created
opportunities when we needed them. There is no shortage of willing and able educators
in the district; in fact, I found the emphasis on the arts to be outstanding
when I was in school.
music seriously; take art seriously; take technical prowess seriously; and you
will grow as an artist. I'm the performing artist I am today because of the
time I put into high school, and the educators who provided their time and
knowledge for me."
youngest Beahen, Kate, graduated from AHS in 2005. Kate said she was blessed to
have talented and patient teachers in math and science, her harder subjects,
and inspiring teachers in her arts classes, where she excelled.
this day, I am still great friends with Michael Halstenson and Michelle Hayes
who were critical influences in my career as a musician," Kate said.
in choir and theater, Kate said her favorite memories from AHS are all
performance based. Her all-time favorite memory was the Edinburgh Fringe
only was I surrounded by amazing teachers and fellow classmates, but I had both
of my older brothers with me," Kate said. "Who can say they've done that? It
high school, Kate attended Florida State University. In 2009, she graduated
with a degree in music theatre. Four
months after graduation, she was living in New York City (NYC).
continues to live in NYC, a few miles from Bradley, where she works a day job at
Anthropologie, a retail store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan. She auditions as often as possible and
has been involved in a lot of cabaret work in and out of the city.
past spring, Kate was asked to perform on "A Prairie Home Companion" (PHC) when
it aired live from Town Hall in Times Square. Kate met Class of 1960 AHS alum
Garrison Keillor when he performed at Florida State and she volunteered as an
to the performance in May, Keillor told the Star
Tribune that the PHC episode would have some big musical numbers that "Kate
can do very handily."
has a big belting voice," Keillor said. "Nobody told her that the American
musical is dead. But nobody told me the radio variety show is dead, either. So
where there is death, there is hope."
said performing on PHC was an incredible, door-opening experience.
coolest part is to be in New York and be involved with something so personal,"
she told the Star Tribune. "My first
professional appearance in New York is a show I grew up with, that all my
friend can tune in and listen to and be part of; this is a very big thing for
Kate is in Indiana working at The New Huntington Theatre's annual Christmas
Show. She'll return to NYC after the New Year. She said she loves what she is
doing and is able to say that she followed her dream.
from now, I will encourage my kids the same way that I was encouraged," she
said. "I will look at them and say 'you can do whatever you want. You can be
the happiest person you'll ever know.'"
current students considering becoming a performer, Kate said not to think
twice, just go for it.
you know in your heart that nothing will make you happier than performing, do
it," she said. "And invest in your education. If it seems impossible, I promise
it's not. Student loans are a fair compromise to a life of excitement and
||Dr. Vincent Voelz, Anoka High School, Class of 1993, Postdoctoral Researcher, Vijay Pande Laboratory at Stanford University
Vincent Voelz had many
interests in his days as an Anoka-Hennepin student. Music, writing, science -
he liked it all. But at Fred Moore Junior High (as it was known then), he was
hooked by the district science fair.
"It was a great chance to have
a sizeable project that was your own creation that you had to work on a long time," Voelz said.
"It was the first time we were taught the scientific method. It was very much doing science, not
learning from a book. When you're in junior high, to have opportunities like that is really important."
His favorite teacher at
Anoka-Hennepin was science teacher Laurie Peterman, who he said really caught
his imagination with her classes. "My path could have been much different had I
not had a teacher like her," Voelz said.
As it is, his path has taken
him from Washington Elementary to Fred Moore Junior High to Blaine High School
for two years and finally to Anoka High School for his senior year.
After graduating from Anoka-Hennepin, he moved on to the University of
Minnesota - Twin Cities where he completed his undergraduate work in physics in
1999. After graduation, he worked as a junior scientist in the David D. Thomas
Laboratory at the U of M studying muscle proteins.
"I've always been interested in
computers and biology," he said. He began graduate work at the University of
California-San Francisco in biophysics in 2001, completing his Ph.D. in 2007.
Now he is a postdoctoral researcher at the Vijay Pande Laboratory at Stanford
University. His lab runs the folding@home program, a distributed
computing project that allows anyone to download and run a piece of software to help
Voelz explained that incorrect
protein folding is linked to diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. The
folding@home project runs processor-intensive simulations to try and pinpoint
the causes and results of incorrect protein folding.
"It's hard to simulate these
experiments over large time scales," he said. "So we send the work out to people's screen savers.
People can join the project and help us learn how to cure these protein-aggregation diseases.
We have more than 200,000 computers, and many of them are running simulations I started."
Voelz said that some users also use the folding@home project to benchmark their
processors or work as a team. "Not only can people be altruistic about donating
computer time, but you can join a team and see how many points you can get," he
said. "Or you can just run it as a screen saver. You can see the graphics and
how the protein folds onto itself."
For more information about the
folding@home project and to download the software to run the simulations on your own
computer, visit: http://folding.stanford.edu.
Photo caption: Vincent Voelz works on the folding@home
project, based at Stanford University. He is displaying a protein model.
||Dr. Matthew Hodges, Blaine High School, Class of 1994, Assistant Professor, Medical College of Wisconsin
1994 Blaine High School graduate researches
mysteries of the brain
Matthew Hodges ate up all the science and mathematics classes that he could in
high school - physics, chemistry, physical science, biology - he loved it all.
He went on to Carleton College, in Northfield, Minn., with the intention of
becoming a medical doctor.
When he graduated, he decided that it would be interesting
to take some time and work in a medical lab to see what that was like. It
turned out to be exactly what he wanted to do with his life. So he took a
different track and worked on his doctorate at the Medical College of Wisconsin
in Milwaukee, Wisc.
His research interest and the topic of his dissertation was
the brain stem and how it regulates breathing. "[Breathing is] boring and
everyone does it, so we take it for granted," Dr. Hodges said.
After he received his Ph.D., Dr. Hodges and his wife moved
to Connecticut, where he completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Yale
University Medical School. His work there focused on a specific type of brain
cell that produced serotonin and may be responsible for respiratory control and
possibly a factor in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Dr. Hodges recently returned to the Medical College of
Wisconsin as an assistant professor, where he does research and teaches courses in
He said that medical research is every bit as much of a
competitive field as being a medical doctor.
"Just like a career in medicine, science takes a lot of
dedication," Dr. Hodges said. "I'm 33 now and I finally have the job I want.
It's just as rigorous as becoming a physician."
While in high school, Dr. Hodges was part of the Blaine High
School varsity football team, in addition to competing in track and field and a
member of the National Honor Society. He was recruited by Carleton, which he
had never heard of before. He ended up playing football and men's volleyball
"[Going there] was the best thing that could have happened,"
he said. "In four years, I never had a multiple choice exam. A liberal arts
education really forces you to be a critical thinker, to be fluent in a second
language and involved in other social sciences. It pushes you to be
He has found research to be extremely rewarding, and said
Yale was a great place to do his research.
"There are thousands of post-docs and students in that
environment," Dr. Hodges said. "One of the most important things to be
successful is to immerse yourself in it, marinate in the environment. Go to a
lab, shadow a physician. You never know if you're as good as the best unless
you go and try."
Now that his doctorate and fellowship are complete, Dr.
Hodges said he feels like he's starting over again in Milwaukee.
"I have to come up with grant money, get students to come to
work in my lab, and convince people that my work is worthwhile," he said.
Just the same, he wouldn't trade his work for anything else.
"It's great to be back in the Midwest. I really wanted to be here in this
department as a professor."
||Kris Helgen, Coon Rapids High School, Class of 1997, Curator, Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of Natural History
1997 Coon Rapids High School grad finds mammals in the remotest places
Anyone who thinks there's nothing new under the sun should talk to Kristofer Helgen. Helgen has discovered about 100 new species of mammals previously unknown to science.
He knows it's surprising to many people to think about new species of mammals, but Helgen said there are many types of animals that haven't been named.
"It's easier to imagine new species of insects or flowers, but the truth is there are areas of the planet that are so little-explored," Helgen said. "There are still opportunities to find birds and mammals that no one has given a scientific name to."
Helgen said his favorite classes in school were AP European History and geography and history. He was also interested in math and active in the orchestra.
However, he has always had a passion for animals that goes back to his earliest childhood. When he was young he was "phenomenally interested" in National Geographic. "That was how I knew there were people out there that did this sort of thing, and that was what I wanted to do," Helgen said. "My post-high school life has been trying to become one of those lucky few."
After graduation, Helgen enrolled in Harvard University where he met Tim Flannery, a professor from Adelaide University. Helgen later moved to Australia and completed his doctorate with Flannery as his advisor. While he was there, he began participating in New Guinea biodiversity surveys, going to remote tropical areas and documenting what he found there. "A common outcome of those expeditions is finding new plants and animals," Helgen said.
He completed his Ph.D. in 2006 and accepted a postdoctoral research position at the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of Natural History. After a year, he was named a curator. He is the youngest curator at the museum.
Many of his discoveries have come not in the field, but in specimen storage rooms of museums around the world.
"For every new species I find in the field, I find two or three more by studying historical samples in museums," Helgen said. "There are vast numbers of species stored from past centuries. There is so much material and a limited number of experts, it just hasn't been possible to study them all."
One of his discoveries was an animal called the striped bandicoot. Helgen describes a bandicoot as a marsupial rabbit. In 2004, he described a new species with a distinctive striping pattern. He discovered them by fieldwork and studying specimens he discovered in museums, but only four samples existed in the whole world - they were in Honolulu, Hawaii; Port Moresby, New Guinea; Jakarta, Indonesia, and Berlin. He found that the species existed only in one specific mountain range in New Guinea.
The process of discovering new species is not a quick and easy one, but Helgen believes it is all worth it.
"It takes many years, it is long work. But to me, it's the most rewarding thing in the world to find something and name a new species that no one has ever named before," he said.
Helgen left the country on Feb. 13 for another expedition to New Guinea. First he will join a BBC expedition to a gigantic extinct volcano crater containing an isolated mountain forest. The second half of the expedition will take him to an isolated mountain range on New Britain, an island near New Guinea.
Photo captions: (Upper right) Kris Helgen with field assistants in Papua New Guinea. (Lower left) Kris Helgen with wolf and thylacine skulls at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. Helgen is the curator of mammals at the Smithsonian, the youngest curator in the museum's history.
||Maria Holland, Coon Rapids High School, Class of 2006, Engineering student at University of Tulsa
Maria Holland didn't dream of engineering as a career path when she was a student at Coon Rapids High School. It wasn't until she got out of the labs and into the field that she found her calling: sustainable energy engineering.
"Once I saw what I could do with it, I decided I really wanted to go in sustainable energy," Holland said. "That's what's really affected where I'm headed."
The turning point for her was in rural northeast China, in Jilin province. Holland traveled there last summer, and again this year, with Engineers Without Borders' Sustainable Energy for North East Asia (SENEA) project. Although she was there for only eight days last year, she describes it as a "pretty life-changing trip."
"Most people who went on the trip have changed areas of study if not majors or life paths," she said. She changed from an engineering/physics major to mechanical engineering and hopes to pursue a Master's degree in sustainable energy after she graduates from the University of Tulsa.
She was probably headed for an English major, she said, until she took physics in high school. But at that point, she didn't like the hands-on aspects of science. Holland said that is ironic, since mechanical engineering is the most hands-on engineering discipline.
This summer, she traveled to Jilin province for two months to help with the construction of a biogas digester. The biogas digester produces energy from manure and biogas can be used for electricity production, cooking, space heating and water heating. Methane in biogas can be concentrated to the same standards as natural gas.
Holland described the biogas digester as an eight cubic meter hole in the ground with a container constructed of brick.
The project also includes construction of three wind turbines, a passive solar oven and a greenhouse with a moat. The system will sustainably power a residence for a shepherd and his animals. The group uses simple designs that can be reproduced by the local people. Unfiltered coal is the primary source of power in the province, which causes widespread respiratory illness when it's burned inside.
Holland didn't know any Chinese when she started traveling to China, but this summer she developed what she calls "functional" Chinese.
"I had a crew of five Chinese men; I had to be able to get them to understand what I wanted to build," Holland said. "At first there was lots of grunting and pointing. By the time I left, I could make myself understood."
This spring, Holland was awarded the Goldwater Scholarship, the premier award for recognizing students pursuing careers in science, mathematics and engineering. The scholarship covers the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board for up to $7,500 a year. Since she is a sophomore, she can receive the scholarship for two years.
Holland said she already has a full scholarship at the University of Tulsa but hopes to be able to use the scholarship for educational opportunities outside her regular classes. Aside from the financial benefits, Holland said the scholarship is prestigious and will hopefully help her on her graduate school applications.
Her application for the Goldwater Scholarship was based on her work in China with SENEA and she hopes to return in 2009 to continue working on the project.
Photo caption: Coon Rapids High School graduate Maria Holland stands at Three
Corners in Jilin province, in northeast China. Behind her to the left
is Russia, to the right is North Korea, and the Sea of Japan is in the
||Briana Scurry, Anoka High School, Class of 1990, Olympic Athlete
When Anoka-Hennepin district residents watch the Beijing Olympics, they will be watching one of their own: Dayton native Briana Scurry. She will be tending goal for the U.S. Olympic team, her fourth appearance at the Olympics. She was a member of the 2000 and 2004 gold medal-winning squads.
"It's going to be a lot of fun," she said. "Every Olympics is different. It's amazing to be among 10,000 of the best athletes on Earth."
When Briana Scurry was growing up in Dayton, there wasn't a girls' soccer team. So she played with the boys, but the coach was worried about her. "They thought the goal was a safe place for a girl," Scurry said. Goalkeeper is widely considered one of the most dangerous positions on the field.
The next year, she played on the field and in the goal for a Brooklyn Park girls team. By the time she was 16 and 17 years old, goalkeeper was her specialty. "Usually they had two players trade off on goal, but one of the girls didn't want to, so I took over the goal," she said.
It seems that it was just the position she was meant to play. "It always appealed to me and I didn't always understand why," Scurry said. "I think it's because I can make an impact on the game. If I could stop a goal, we could at least get a tie."
Scurry and two other girls were the first ninth-graders to play on the Anoka High School soccer team, back when the school was grades 10-12 and ninth-graders weren't allowed on the high school team, no matter how good they were. "We petitioned to be allowed to play," she said. "So I played four years at a time most people only did three. At that time the team hadn't won for a long time, so what did they have to lose by bringing us in?"
In the case of Scurry, it was certainly the school's gain - she graduated as an All-American goalkeeper and the team won the state tournament in 1989. She also played three years of basketball and was on the All-State team her senior year. She had several scholarship opportunities, but her best scholarship was an offer to play soccer for the University of Massachusetts.
"I figured I'd pick the better one," she said. Coming from a family of nine, "I knew I had to get a good scholarship."
At UMass, she was named an All-American her senior year and National College Goalkeeper of the year. Following the NCAA championship game, she was asked to attend the national team camp by then-national coach Anson Dorrance, the University of North Carolina soccer coach.
Scurry began her national career with a bang, recorded a shutout against Portugal during the Algarve Cup in 1994. She was the starting goalkeeper for the U.S. National team from 1994-2000 and from 2003-2004. From 2001-2003 she played for the Atlanta Beat. She was part of the World Cup team that won the championship game against China in 1999, which catapulted the national team members to popularity.
During her career, she has started more than three times as many games for the national team as any other goalkeeper - more than 170 games.
Her most memorable time as a member of the national team was the 2004 Olympics in Athens. "Not a whole lot of people thought we could do it, because we were aging," Scurry said. "It was a hard run for many of us."
Scurry had a personal weight at the games - her father died in June of that year and the games began in August. She felt that during the games, her father was watching her. As one of the senior members of the national team, she feels like she's come full circle from when she came to camp in 1995, and shared the field with her soccer heroes. Now, she said, there are girls at the team camp who have posters of her.
Scurry is happy to be a role model for younger players, and is always proud when she talks about Dayton and Minnesota. Her mother still lives in Dayton, and three of her sisters are in Minnesota.
"I do very much enjoy being a role model for my tiny little town," Scurry said. "I think it's pretty cool I've been able to represent and do my high school proud."
||Tanja K. Manrique, Coon Rapids High School, Class of 1984, Judge, Fourth Judicial District
From her cardinal red Coon Rapids High School graduation robes, Tanja Manrique (formerly Kozicky) now wears the solemn black robe of a judge. "I love being a judge," she said. "It provides an opportunity every day to truly help people."
Prior to becoming a judge, Manrique's career balanced the two sides of government - public policy and politics. From Coon Rapids High School, Manrique attended Cornell College where she double majored in politics and psychology. She took many political science classes from Dr. Craig Allin, whose "courses were infused with substantive analysis of how we ought to be running this country, as opposed to partisan debate," she said. With his urging, she went on to obtain a law degree at Georgetown University, and focused her initial practice on environmental law.
Manrique grew up in Coon Rapids, along the Mississippi River, where she first gained her appreciation for the outdoors and the environment. She expected environmental law would be her long-term specialty, but then-Gov. Arne Carlson had other ideas. Her career would veer headlong into the world of politics and public policy.
Through a colleague at a law firm, Manrique's name and resume reached the Governor's office in 1995, when he was looking for a "real" lawyer to serve as general counsel, she said. "He wanted someone from private practice, someone who had actually practiced on complex cases … He had his political advisors and he wanted a counterbalance to that." After a couple of years she was promoted to the governor's deputy chief of staff.
Then, just a few weeks before the end of Gov. Carlson's term, a judge in Minnesota's Fourth Judicial District retired early, leaving a vacancy. District court judges are elected, but between elections the governor makes appointments to fill vacancies. Carlson wanted Manrique for the job. "I didn't think that was a good idea," she said. "I had worked with the governor on the judicial appointment process. He always was adamant about selecting judges based upon their legal acumen and experience, not their political perspectives," Manrique said. How would it look if the governor's former counsel was tapped for a judicial position? But the governor insisted. Manrique went on to win the seat for her own in the 1999 election, and again in 2006.
Manrique spent her elementary years at Epiphany parochial school before attending Coon Rapids Junior and Senior High schools. From her secondary school years, two teachers are utmost in her memory: French teacher Ann Collins and English teacher Donald Femrite. Manrique always earned good grades, but it was Mr. Femrite who taught her the value of learning simply for the love of it. She recalls that he challenged her to focus on developing her writing skills above and beyond what was necessary to earn a good grade, she said.
Mrs. Collins was "absolutely instrumental in opening my eyes to how big the world is," said Manrique. "The trip to France [when she was 16] with Ms. Collins capped off the great adventure" of being in her teacher's presence every day. "Ms. Collins was a tiny woman with a big voice and booming laugh. She'd walk into the class speaking French 100 mph, and she didn't really slow down." Manrique recalls that French class was a world onto itself created by Mrs. Collins. "It was almost like she encouraged us to have these little French personalities just for her class," she said. "She challenged each of us to expand our comfort zones as teenagers."
As a judge in the Fourth Judicial District (which is Hennepin County), Manrique has presided over a variety of courts including criminal, juvenile and family courts. She was the lead judge in the creation of Hennepin County's domestic violence court, spending more than five years to streamline court processes for families affected by domestic violence.
Manrique currently is the assistant presiding judge of the family court. The image of a judge who sits atop a bench hearing cases all day does not tell the whole story of the job. There is a great deal of behind-the-scenes work to manage the judicial branch. There are over 600,000 filings just in the Fourth Judicial District each year. Judges must constantly be involved in considering how the system can better serve the public, Manrique said. She cites as inspiration for this mission the United States' first Supreme Court chief justice, John Jay who said, "Next to doing right, the great object in the administration of justice should be to give public satisfaction."
As for young people who are considering the law as a career, Manrique says to ignore TV lawyers as the model, along with the conventional wisdom that lawyers always pursue contentious litigation. The oath of a lawyer includes being an advocate and a counselor, she said. More often than not, lawyers counsel clients on how to settle a case or how to avoid litigation. For example, fewer than 3 percent of cases in family court require trial. In addition, good lawyers (and good judges) must be able to "read massive amounts of information fairly quickly and think critically," particularly about what applies to a case and what is irrelevant. Lawyers have to be able to translate their analysis into persuasive written documents and arguments in court. "Lawyers have to be able to think on their feet," said Manrique. "Mental dexterity is a required skill for anyone striving to be an effective lawyer regardless of whether they practice in the public or private sector."
||Dr. Rosalie Ambrosino, Anoka High School, Class of 1963, Provost, University of Texas at San Antonio
As editor of the Anoka High School newspaper, Rosalie Nunn (now Ambrosino) had to answer to the superintendent after publishing an editorial that featured a choice turn of phrase. The editorial decried special treatment apparently allowed for the school's basketball team when it kicked another team out of the gym in order to run a practice. The editorial suggested that had tables been turned and it was the basketball team kicked out, "all hell would break loose in our hallowed halls."
So young Rosalie found herself in a chair opposite the desk of Superintendent Morris Bye. Expecting perhaps the wrath of the administration she found the superintendent to be understanding, yet very clear that this kind of language was not appropriate for a high school publication. His lasting comment to her, "You have to realize that doctors bury their mistakes, editors print theirs."
This encounter came to mind for Rosalie Ambrosino as she reflected on the recent turns her career path has taken, leading her to vice president of student affairs and now provost and vice president for academic affairs of the University of Texas at San Antonio. Working with students, as well as the occasional controversial topic, is part of her job. That early experience with a top-level
administrator, and her years as a professor have shaped how she approaches her job.
One of the things I've taken away is the importance of faculty and staff showing students that they matter in some way," she said. "If somebody cares that you're in school and that you do a good job, you're more likely to do well." The provost of a university is the No. 2 person in charge who handles day-today operations and oversees the academic programs, while the president is typically focused on external matters like meeting with other education leaders, lawmakers and donors. Ambrosino is the first woman provost in the history of the University of Texas at San Antonio, which was founded in 1969.
She did not set out to be a university leader, but was a social worker in the first part of her career. Even before that, under the tutelage of former Anoka High School science teacher Lyle Bradley, she enrolled at the University of Minnesota intending to go into biology. Like many young college students, Ambrosino would change her plans. As she reflected on influences from her high school years, Ambrosino said that the mentorship she found in teachers Bradley, Deloyd Hochstetter, and Jerome Wagner were key to her believing that she could make a difference and they encouraged her to flourish in and outside of the classroom.
She had done charity work like organizing Santa Anonymous donations, but what pushed her totally into the field of social work was working at a summer camp for disadvantaged children during her college years. With her biology background she was the nature director, and she recalls being with the staff and "staying up half the night talking about how we could help these kids." This experience of trying to make a difference in the life of a young person changed Ambrosino's focus.
She graduated with a degree in social work and went on to work at the Phyllis Wheatley Community Center in Minneapolis, which provides social services to African-Americans, and she worked on Indian reservations in northern Minnesota. Ambrosino eventually moved to Austin, Texas.
She went to work for the University of Texas at Austin directing state and federal grant programs in child welfare and welfare reform. At one time she vowed she would not be a teacher, but in the 1980s government support for social programs started to dry up and she started teaching at the university. Despite her reluctance, she proved to be an excellent teacher and won several teaching awards. She also set up dropout prevention programs and supervised school social work programs in Austin area schools as a collaboration between school districts and the university. She authored a college textbook on social work that continues to be used today and she became director the college of social work at Austin.
Transitioning into college administration gave her experience that led directly to the University of Texas at San Antonio. Ambrosino's career path is a good demonstration of the need to be open to new possibilities, such as how she changed her mind about teaching. As a college executive, Ambrosino says it's most important for young people to enter college with critical thinking skills. She says, "They need to be able to problem-solve in world that we can't predict."
||Randy Stenson, Coon Rapids High School, Class of 1975, Vocal Music Teacher, St. Mary's International School, Tokyo, Japan
[Editor's Note: As the Anoka-Hennepin School District begins its 53rd year, one of its great legacies is the number of students who have gone on to become teachers. Randy Stenson is part of the multitude whose experiences in classrooms of this district played a role in their becoming teachers. There are many like him. They work throughout the world, around the United States and many in our own schools.]
Randy Stenton's first memory of music at school was sitting on little carpets in kindergarten at Northdale (now Sorteberg) Elementary School as Ms. Eventyre played piano. "To a five year old, she was a brilliant piano player and the best singer I had ever heard. What I remember most were the Spanish tunes. We learned 'Happy Birthday en Español' and we sang it for every kid on their birthday."
Even as vocal music director for the St. Mary's International School in Tokyo, Japan, and a composer and arranger, Stenson draws from his formative music experiences in the Anoka-Hennepin School District. "We learned great literature and excellent fundamentals for singing" in Betty Axtel's concert choir at Coon Rapids High School, he said. "Today, I use a lot of the music with my own students that she introduced to us."
Stenson teaches the vocal music classes and handbells at the International School, a private, Catholic boys' school with students from 70 different countries whose families live in Tokyo because of business or foreign service. "Many of the students will have their entire education in international schools as their families are transferred to various locations," said Stenson. St. Mary's most famous faculty member is Yoko Ono, who taught there prior to meeting Beatles' guitarist John Lennon.
Stenson came to the International School after working for a year in Bird Island, Minn., prior that district's consolidation. The superintendent there worked in schools overseas and recommended the experience to Stenson and his wife. Taking that advice, they attended the large international school fair at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. They had a couple of interviews, and St. Mary's offered him a job. The school is on nearly the same schedule as American schools, so Stenson's family spends summers in Minnesota. "I guess we consider both Minnesota and Tokyo our home," he said. "When half your life has been spent in one location, it tends to become home. However, like all expatriates, we know that where one comes from is even more important."
It is the touring choirs Stenson directs that have brought him wider recognition. In 1985, after one year on the faculty of St. Mary's, he founded the International Show Choir, made up of students from various Tokyo international schools. In 1999 he started the Varsity Ensemble, a group of St. Mary's students who rehearse during their lunch hour. With these two choirs he has taken students around Asia and the United States and has performed with opera stars Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras.
"Being at an international school in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world has some great advantages in terms of venues and opportunities," Stenson said. Both Domingo and Carerras were great to the kids. It inspired many of the students to consider music on a higher level and the possibilities of pursuing a career in music."
Due to the success of the choirs, Stenson and his wife, Rachel, have been given opportunities to edit music for publishers of vocal music. "We have worked with several composers who have written terrific pieces for male choirs, but haven't had the opportunity to get their music into print. My mission, if you can call it that, is to bring their music to a large audience," said Stenson.
Like many international schools around the world, St. Mary's offers the International Baccalaureate Program. Stenson started the International Baccalaureate music program at St. Mary's. The original purpose of International Baccalaureate was to provide a consistent curriculum for children of ambassadors and employees in international business who changed schools frequently. It still does that, but it has been adopted by non-international schools around the world because of its challenging coursework and prestigious International Baccalaureate diploma.
Champlin Park High School opens this fall with an IB program option, having received approval by the International Baccalaureate Organization. There are two levels within the IB program. In one, students can take IB courses and not take the final exam. The higher level program prepares students for rigorous exams in each subject. Stenson related how extensive the IB music exam is at St. Mary's: It is the culmination of two years of work and students must prepare a 20-minute solo, complete three extended musical compositions, write a 1,500 word, multi-media project and complete a music listening test. While highly rigorous, the payoff can be worthwhile if a student scores high on the exams. Stenson mentioned a colleague whose son recently completed the IB diploma program. Ivy League school Brown University granted the student nearly a year's worth of course credit based on his IB exam scores, saving the family a significant amount on the cost of tuition.
Stenson's students have gone on to an array of work in the music world, including Broadway musicals, Japanese pop stars, choreographers, music engineers and businessmen in the music industry. They have all taken different paths, and Stenson says that "doors will open if you take a chance, work towards a goal, and be willing to go anywhere to make it happen."
||Joe Davies, Champlin Park High School, Class of 1996, Physicist, University of California-Davis
All you need to know about Joe Davies' work is "tiny magnets," he says. Davies is a 1996 graduate of Champlin Park High School, and currently is in graduate school in physics, studying magnetic properties in very small amounts of material.
Anyone with an iPod can appreciate what Davies is working on. An iPod's music and data are stored on a tiny hard drive, a miniature version of what's in a desktop or laptop computer. Hard drives store their information in layers of magnetic material. Davies, and his research partners at the University of California - Davis, work with magnets the size of nanometers. Working with precision at that level is difficult; a nanometer is one billionth of a meter or the length of 10 atoms. Davies creates samples of magnetic material and tests how they behave in different conditions. "Most of my time is spent deciding how to make the samples; these are one-of-a-kind samples," he says.
When he was in high school, Davies never imagined that he would work in physics. High school physics courses were not very interesting to him, except for the hands-on experiments, he says. His favorite classes were architectural drafting and CAD (computer aided design). The enjoyment in those courses was finding creative ways to solve problems. "In CAD class, you couldn't just design anything you wanted-well you could, but you had to make sure it was structurally sound and could actually be built," he says. At Champlin Park High School, "there were a lot of good teachers. My math experience at Champlin Park was really good," he said.
Davies also focused a lot of time on football. His freshman class was the first to go all four years through Champlin Park High School, which opened in 1992. By his senior year the football team had become very good. There was competition for playing time and starting positions, and Davies, an offensive lineman, says at times he was frustrated that he was not playing enough. He credits coaches Clark Sanders and Bob Knudtson who "kept on me and told me not to give up," he says. The hard work paid off, and Davies eventually went to Hamline University, which he selected because he could also play football there. "I attribute where I am and the drive I have, in part to sports and football," he says. "It's a microcosm for dealing with adverse situations."
After Davies graduated from Hamline University, he took a software engineering job with Honeywell. It didn't take him long to realize he couldn't see himself staying there. Engineering is more about applying the tools or technology developed by someone else, says Davies. "I started thinking I needed something more fundamental." During college he had an internship with 3M where he worked as a technical aide in a laboratory. The experience reminded him of the enjoyable part of his physics classes, and of the creativity he enjoyed in drafting and CAD. He discovered magnetic thin films (as his current research is called) by searching for something on the cutting edge.
Davies discovered that the ability to write clearly and concisely is highly prized. Research into magnetic thin films is a competitive field, with the federal government and a handful of corporations all sponsoring research. Grant money often is the lifeblood of research, so grant writing must be effective. Davies writes grants to maintain his position at UC-Davis, and the work supervised by his research advisor, Dr. Kai Liu. "In grant writing you have to be clear. The person reading it may understand science, but you have to write very briefly and clearly why you need the grant," he says.
For any student considering a similar field, Davies advises that four years of math is essential. "The science can be picked up in [undergraduate] college, but math gives you a lot of tools for succeeding in this field," he says. Students who are concerned about paying for graduate school should be aware that there are special opportunities in the science and technology fields. "Often times there is funding for you. It's a lot of hard work to start, but it gets easier and you get used to it," he says.
As for the future, Davies originally planned on going to work in private industry after graduate school. Now that he is approaching the end of graduate school he is considering his options, a couple of which are working in an academic setting or working in government research.
"I like that [the research is] very hands on," he says. "It's like being a machinist; everyone in the lab has taken machining courses, only we're not stamping out materials. You have to think creatively about how you're going to make the samples. What tricks can I use, what tools of the trade can I use to get the results I want."
||Jeffrey Olson, Anoka High School, Class of 1973, Neurosurgeon, Emory University School of Medicine
When Jeff Olson was in high school and thought about becoming a doctor, he did not have brain surgery in mind. "Even as an undergrad I imagined myself as a physician, like a family doctor; as it was what I was familiar with," he said. Along the way, Olson's career path took a turn down the arcane streets of neurosurgery. But Olson is not simply a brain surgeon. He is in the field of surgical neurooncology - the surgical therapy of brain tumors.
This specialized field is a mix of research and applied science. Olson recalls in high school experiencing the satisfaction of understanding how abstract concepts apply to the real world in Kenneth Swenson's algebra II and calculus classes. "He didn't make it fearsome at all," said Olson. "He made the application of math in the sciences easy to understand."
Looking back on school, Olson has a hard time naming a single teacher or experience in school that may have influenced his career. Rather, he experienced the cumulative effect of many good teachers. "I had excellent teachers from the beginning, even in elementary school, who had a knack for making you understand," he said.
Anyone looking to work in a highly specialized field needs help from people who already work in that field. Classes on brain anatomy did little to spark Olson's interest in the brain surgery, he said. It wasn't until his third year of medical school when he was invited by a neurosurgeon at Hennepin County Medical Center to spend time at the hospital that he took a serious interest in the brain. Watching the surgeon deal with gunshot wounds to the head or stroke victims suddenly put the science of operating on the brain into hard reality. "There's not a lot of people who do what I do," said Olson. "So you need someone who makes it clear to you how great this work can be."
After medical school at the University of Minnesota, he started his residency - doctors' form of on-the-job training - at the University of Iowa. Because neurosurgery is a small cadre of doctors nationwide, many neurosurgical residents conduct research in addition to surgical training so as to help improve the field. An opportunity to work in cancer research opened up yet more avenues to Olson. At that time, in the mid-1980s, the hormone drug RU-486 was first introduced in the U.S., and it later made national headlines in the abortion debate as the "morning-after pill." The University of Iowa was interested in the drug as a potential cancer treatment. Under strict oversight from the Food and Drug Administration, Olson was one of the researchers who showed that the drug inhibited tumor growth in mice. In human tests, the drug proved to be unusable for this purpose because of serious side effects, but that information has guided development of other hormone therapies for cancer treatment.
After his six-year residency, he did a three-year stint working on the issue of radiation protection with the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C. "We can cure most brain tumors with radiation, unfortunately, the level of radiation required is lethal to the patient," he said. From there, Emory University was looking for a specialist who could also lead their brain tumor research effort. This combination suited Olson very well and he has been there since 1990.
Becoming a doctor, much less a specialist, takes a long time and a lot of work, said Olson. Before embarking on that path, Olson recommends young people considering medicine connect with someone, a physician or researcher, who can show them the ropes. As co-director of the Emory Brain Tumor Program, Olson is involved in hiring doctors and residents. "At this level, every applicant has straight-As, so applicants have to set themselves apart," he said. "Things like volunteer work at a free medical clinic, or conduct of research with a university show evidence of additional talents. As an example, we have had candidates that, in addition to demonstrating outstanding academic credentials, did special projects, such as raising money to assist in a vaccination program in the inner city - in other words we are interested in something that will make us take a second look."
He added, "Careers in medicine, neurosurgery, and research are the sorts of activities that have to be sought out. In entering these fields you will probably be told 'no' a lot, but eventually you will find someone as mentor and role model who, when you explain that you are earnest, will help you."
||Anthony Cox, Coon Rapids High School, Class of 1973, Jazz Musician
Like many teenagers of the 1960s, Anthony Cox was gripped by the music of the day - Jimi Hendrix, Cream, soul music from Motown and Memphis, the Beatles. Cox and like-minded high school friends would spend hours in someone's basement playing records, listening to and talking about the music. "What you don't realize is what you're doing is studying," says Cox, a jazz bassist and Coon Rapids High School graduate. "You're just amassing all this information about music." As a teen, Cox viewed jazz as his parents' music; he wasn't especially interested in it. That would quickly change.
Cox has earned an international reputation in the jazz world. His career has taken him to New York City, where he played with some of the greats of the jazz world, and with many of the scene's young talents. He has toured the world playing jazz from South America to Japan. As an older, wiser musician he returned to his hometown of Coon Rapids. Success has given him a comfortable living, but not a leisurely one. He plays in the Twin Cities on occasion. He has an adjunct teaching job at the University of Iowa, and he travels widely for recording and performing work. He also works locally in real estate, a job that is flexible enough to fit around his music demands.
Throughout his youth, Cox's parents exposed him to a variety of music, from concerts in Anoka, where he saw piano virtuoso Don Shirley, to his father's LP records of Dizzy Gillespie and Cannonball Adderley. Cox eventually became interested in jazz as an older teen. He sought out jazz on the radio like someone inside the former Soviet Union listening for news from the outside world, he explained.
He played guitar in high school, but switched to the bass after seeing composer and bassist Charles Mingus in concert, and listening to the work of bassist Stanley Clarke in the group Return to Forever. Once he picked up the bass, "then I realized I needed to study," said Cox.
His formal music training did not start until after high school, except for one class at Coon Rapids High School that Cox took at the recommendation of one of his basement friends. Bill Conrad was the school's band director at that time, and Cox took his music theory course. "[Conrad] encouraged everyone to research music and to write papers on music," said Cox. "He was open to all styles of music and that attitude has stayed with me, even as I teach."
Cox graduated from Coon Rapids High School in 1973, after attending Anoka-Hennepin Schools for his K-12 education. He started taking private lessons, then trained with a bassist from the Minnesota Orchestra and earned a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. That's where his early exposure to a wide variety of music took root and set the pattern for the rest of his life. Cox started playing in multiple classical and jazz groups, and accompanied other performers during recitals. He played with jazz groups in Twin Cities clubs while his professors urged him to go to graduate school. Cox had other plans.
In 1981, he moved to New York City, where he was able to find work quickly. He discovered that as important as New York was for jazz music, the scene was changing. Instead of being open and free-flowing, there were factions of jazz artists and styles. Musicians tended to get known for one style depending on the people they were playing with or what they had recorded. "I never quite fit in because I wanted to play with whoever I wanted to play with," he said. "My sensibility was that I wanted to experience all types of music."
Eventually, after some high-profile gigs with masters like Stan Getz, Cox finally earned recognition for his versatility. This was followed by a period of intense touring where "everything was an airport away," so Cox and his wife Barbara decided to move to the Twin Cities in 1991 and found a home in Coon Rapids. Cox never expected to live so close to where he grew up, but they liked the home they found, and after New York, Cox had enough of living in the city.
For young musicians, Cox's advice is to learn about the entire industry and to approach it with the practicality of a business person. Know how recordings are made and produced, know about publishing rights and laws, become familiar with other instruments, especially the keyboard, he said. In addition to becoming a better professional, this knowledge can be used to fall back on if things don't work out. "Even when I went to New York with dreams of making it big, I always had a Plan B in the back of my mind," he said.
Even though Cox considers himself as someone who experiments in different styles and enjoys collaboration, he described jazz as a pure art form. "It communicates so directly," he said. "When someone is creating sound, it creates an instant reaction, you either like it right away or you don't."
Editor's note: In addition to choir, band or orchestra, students interested in a music career might consider the Music/Media Technology classes at the district's Secondary Technical Education Program. These classes focus on music production and engineering. Call 763-433-4000.
||Dale Pomraning, Anoka High School, Class of 1981, Machinist, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks
By conventional measures, Dale Pomraning was not a good student in high school. "I barely made it through school, I got Cs and Ds in most of my classes - except in machine shop, where I got As and Bs," he said. What the conventional academic measurements couldn't tell was that Pomraning was a hands-on learner with keen intelligence for metalwork and machining.
He struggled in math classes, but learned trigonometry with ease once he saw how it applied to machine tool manufacturing. As a sophomore, he found a course that allowed seniors to take a machine class at the Anoka Area Vocational Technical Institute (now Anoka Technical College). From that point on, Pomraning directed his high school career to getting into that class, he said. He later attended the Vo-Tech on a scholarship.
His skills have taken him to the ends of the earth. In 1989, Pomraning was hired as the machinist at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. His job was to repair or build any equipment scientists there needed - everything from reinforcement plates for the broken frame of a bulldozer to a small crank for a bread machine. In his spare time he built a mountain bike, which he used to travel around Australia and New Zealand in late 1989 after he left Antarctica. He was back in Anoka in the summer of 1990, drove to Alaska twice, once with his parents and the second time in January 1991 to visit a friend. "I just couldn't sit still," said Pomraning. "I'd been seeing the world and I wasn't ready to get a steady job yet."
In Fairbanks, Alaska, word got to scientists in the Polar Ice Coring Office at the University of Alaska that a machinist with Antarctic experience was in town. They took an interest in Pomraning, asked for an interview and then hired him for their ice drilling expedition in Antarctica.
One reason scientists drill in polar ice is to detect neutrinos, an invisible subatomic particle hurled through space from the explosion of stars. Sensors to detect neutrinos are placed thousands of feet in the ice. At temperatures of 30-below zero the drill has to remain operational, and hot water must be pumped into the hole to keep it from freezing over. With the engineers and scientists providing ideas and designs, Pomraning was hired to build the necessary parts and to keep the drilling machines going.
Despite being at the bottom of the earth, maintaining drilling machines wasn't too different from experiences Pomraning had growing up on a farm, he said. Pomraning's family farm was one of the last in Anoka; his father kept it well into the 1980s. Being a "farm boy from Anoka" proved to have unique advantages, such as being handy around heavy machinery.
The huge drills and heavy equipment used on Antarctica were different from the farm, of course, but the ability to figure out the malfunction in a busted machine, combined with a knack for improvising, were essential. As Pomraning explained, farmers work under budget and time pressures. When a tractor broke down it had to be fixed. Hiring a mechanic was too expensive and one couldn't lose a day of work with the tractor in the shop. The Antarctic drillers faced similar pressures, with the added disadvantage of being in a location that was inaccessible for nearly nine months of the year.
In the years following the 1991 drilling season, Pomraning returned to Antarctica three more times on drilling expeditions, including once as lead driller. During a year when the university did not receive funding to drill, he traveled to the Kamchatka Peninsula in Siberia, Russia, where he met his wife, Ulyana. They were married in 1997. Pomraning finally settled down in 1998 and he took a job in a machine shop at the University of Alaska. He has periodically worked on drilling projects in Alaska, but the bulk of his job is to "make things for professors and grad students," he said. For example, he built parts for a NASA rocket launched in Alaska to study aurora borealis.
Apart from his machine shop classes, Pomraning's other rewarding high school experiences were Western Biology Field Trips during the summers of his sophomore, junior and senior years. For more than 20 years, Anoka science teacher Lyle Bradley led field trips through the Western United States. "Lyle Bradley was one of the teachers who had an influence on me," said Pomraning. "Instead of just looking in a book, he'd have you go out and do something."
For many years, the field trips' destination was Buffalo, Wy., where Anoka students discovered a huge cache of dinosaur bones. Nearly every summer during the 1970s, Anoka-Hennepin students excavated dinosaur bones and delivered them to the Science Museum of Minnesota. Students chose locations to visit on the way to Buffalo, they made arrangements with local officials, planned activities and prepared science and history presentations. "I learned more from those field trips," said Pomraning. "How many people remember the Teapot Dome scandal from history class? I remember what that scandal was about because we visited Teapot Dome."
Machinists have to be inquisitive and interested in learning how things work, said Pomraning. Good machinists learn to think like engineers by working through the details of a project before starting. Despite his poor performance in school, Pomraning has never stopped learning, something that he credits to his success.
"The thing about the machine tool trade is that not many people have been in a machine shop," said Pomraning. "But just about everything in your house comes from a machine shop."
||Capt. Tamara Ward, Champlin Park High School, Class of 1995, Pilot, U.S. Air Force
Capt. Tamara Ward says she fits well into the organization and structure of the military. A surprising statement from someone whose mother says, "Tammy's going to do what Tammy's going to do." So what is an admitted free spirit doing in the Air Force? Ward is a fighter pilot in the A-10 "Warthog," a plane designed for close support of ground troops. "When the Army is on the front lines, we're the ones that are called in to help," she said. Ward is a 1995 graduate of Champlin Park High School and now is stationed in Tucson, Arizona. In the fall she will be reassigned to South Korea for a one-year remote tour to Osan Air Force Base. Having a military air presence in South Korea is meant to deter hostility from North Korea, she said.
Ward is the only female pilot in her 75-person squadron. Women pilots are increasingly common in the Air Force, but in the ranks of fighter pilots they are rare. She adopted the mindset that she is no different from any of her fellow aviators. "A couple of times, I have looked around and thought I am the only woman here," she said. "The best thing is not to think of yourself as different. Some people may see you differently, but that's their problem, not yours."
Despite the macho, "Top Gun" image of fighter pilots, Ward has not experienced gender discrimination, she said. The pilots in her squadron are like brothers, she said. However, pilots by nature, "are aggressive and in your face … they are going to make fun of you when you mess up," said Ward. "You have to be able to handle it. You don't have to play the game if you don't want to, but they are going to give you a hard time." Being able to take a joke and make them in return is part of the camaraderie of soldiers who spend nearly every waking hour together. "You have to earn their trust and they have to trust you, that's what it's about," said Ward.
In high school, Ward opted for the Post-Secondary Educational Options (PSEO) program, which allowed her to take classes at North Hennepin Community College during 11th and 12th grades. This gave her an early start on college, but Ward said PSEO was not a program for everyone. She saw fellow students who were in the program because of the freedom it offered rather than the education. "You have to be independent and willing to work to get the most out of the program," said Ward.
From her time in Anoka-Hennepin Schools, one of the teachers she remembers is Tom Modec, who taught mathematics when she was at Jackson Junior High (as it was known then). She was in the class with her younger brother, Joe, who now is a math teacher at Champlin Park. "[Mr. Modec] was tough on us, and he really pushed us," she said. "He had a dry sense of humor, he was a bit sarcastic, and he let you know at just the right time that you were doing great." Ward spent three years of her time in the Air Force as an instructor pilot in the T-37, and can relate to teachers in that "being an instructor you contribute to the success of pilots, and you don't often see the final results of your efforts."
After high school and community college, Ward spent three years at the University of Minnesota, participating in Air Force ROTC, an on-campus training program for officers. In exchange for scholarships and training, ROTC members serve in the military after they graduate from college. Most of the pilots Ward knew were earning degrees in engineering, but she studied gerontology, the science of aging. "I thought if the Air Force didn't work out, I want to do something I'm interested in," she said. "I just love old people, they're so valuable, they have so much to offer, and they often get overlooked in our society."
As for the future, Ward has four more years of mandatory service in the Air Force. She is not sure at this time if she will stay in the Air Force. "I don't want to be deployable when I'm thinking about getting married and having kids," Ward said. For anyone who would like to be a fighter pilot, Ward said good grades are critical, as well as being involved in many activities because the Air Force looks for well-rounded people. And as Ward discovered, "Don't pass up any opportunities, don't close any doors."
||Maj. Michael J. Rounds, Blaine High School, Class of 1984, Engineer, U.S. Army
As Mike Rounds went off to college at West Point Military Academy he did not have a clue what the Army was about or what he was getting into. "I probably formed my opinion from watching [the comedy movie] Stripes and watching trucks driving up to Camp Ripley," he said. He expected to graduate, do his mandatory five years of military service and get a public sector job. It is nearly 19 years since he first reported for duty.
As a student at Blaine High School, Rounds did well enough to get into West Point, but at that time he especially looked forward to playing football for a Division I college. He played four years of football for the Army and majored in Aerospace Engineering. Rounds took advantage of other opportunities offered by the Army. Immediately after college he attended Army Airborne School and Army Ranger training. Several years later he earned a Master's degree in engineering from the University of Minnesota and then taught engineering to West Point cadets between 1998 and 2000. Completing the grueling three-month Ranger program was the "most challenging and rewarding personal accomplishment of my Army career so far," he said. Upon graduation, instead of just putting in his time Rounds decided he would "see how the five years played out."
His first active duty was near Stuttgart, West Germany, in 1989, during what was then the Cold War. As an engineer one of his jobs was to design and place obstacles in the event enemy soldiers and tanks invaded across the border from East Germany. A year and a half later the Berlin Wall was demolished, the border dissolved and East Germans were welcomed into the West.
Reflecting on his days at Blaine High School, Rounds remembers "great teachers" in Advanced Placement History and English, Roger Dahl and Joe Getty. "They really challenged us, but also made their classes fun," said Rounds. However, his dad - Craig Rounds, an assistant principal and principal at Anoka High School who retired in 2000 - was his most important teacher, he said. Despite the demands of his father's career, which sometimes required working long hours, Rounds knew his dad "always put his family first, and I have always looked up to him."
Rounds' football and track coaches - Don Larson, Dave Nelson, Jeff Ferguson, Jon Hersch and Ray Kirch - also had a great influence on him, he said. "They taught us how to win and lose with class and how to work hard to achieve our goals," he said. "In some ways, football parallels what the Army is," said Rounds. "It's a team, it's tough, sometimes you have to suck it up, tough it out and deal with adversity. ... [You] all have to work together towards a common goal," he said.
Rounds' wife, Mary Nell, has local connections as a 1984 graduate of Anoka High School (when she was known as Mary Nell Humbert). Rounds is especially aware of the sacrifices made by his wife and family. Mary Nell graduated Magna Cum Laude from the College of St. Benedict and left a career with Arthur Andersen consulting to move to Germany after their marriage. Rounds said the most difficult part of military service are the demands it puts on Mary Nell and their three sons, ages six, nine and 10. "It's a tough row to hoe," said Rounds. "[She had] to sacrifice her career to support mine. Army wives sacrifice so much and never get the recognition that the soldiers get." Currently, Rounds and family are in Seoul, South Korea. He is on the engineering staff of the Combined Forces Command of the United States and the Republic of Korea and his family is on base with him, unlike his previous assignment as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Prior to May, Rounds was the executive officer of the 326th Engineer Battalion of the 101st Airborne Division. Combat engineers, sometimes called sappers, work closely with infantry units like the 101st Airborne. Engineers handle mines and demolition, and help with infrastructure such as airfields and bridges. The 101st and 326th were deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq. Rounds, however, was deployed only to Iraq. "We fought and secured the towns of Al Hillah, An Najef, Karbala and sections of Baghdad," said Rounds. His scheduled rotation took him out of Iraq and the 326th Battalion in May. In July the 101st and 326th took part in the raid in Mosul that killed Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay.
Rounds is eligible to retire in five years but is undecided about how long he will serve in the Army. He eventually plans to move his family back to Minnesota. He enjoyed teaching at West Point and is considering a career as a teacher after retirement. If so, his goal would be to teach physics at Blaine High School and to be part of the football team again - as an assistant to current head coach Shannon Gerrety, Rounds' former high school teammate.
Rounds will be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel later this year and said the Army has continually offered him new challenges. To be successful, Rounds said one needs integrity and a genuine concern for the welfare of your soldiers. "You can't fake either of those. If you have those things, your soldiers will trust you and follow you anywhere and everything else will just fall into place naturally."
||Dean Sorenson, Anoka High School, Class of 1982, Director of Jazz Studies, University of Minnesota
Dean Sorenson beat the odds against making a living solely on music. The 1982 graduate of Anoka High School is director of jazz studies at the University of Minnesota School of Music. He has written books on music education and still works as a freelance musician. Dean decided to attempt a career in music when he was a junior in high school. "I remember hearing a statistic at that time, it was something like one out of every 200 people actually makes it in the music business," said Dean. "I thought to myself, then why can't I be that one person." With that in mind he started practicing the trombone two to four hours a day and to "making the most of my opportunities," he said.
A big opportunity was traveling for two years with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, which plays about 300 dates a year. Dean capitalized on the experience by doing some arranging and writing for the group. "I was really green around the gills when it came to writing - the leader of that band was really good to me in letting me get some experience." However, Dean's career in music has not been one long sustained success. After earning a Master's degree in jazz composition from the Eastman School of Music in New York, he returned to the Twin Cities in the early 1990s and could not find work. "I thought I'd be able to land a college job, teaching." The economy was tight, so for a short time Dean drove a school bus. Eventually he found a job at the University of St. Thomas and then took his current position at the University of Minnesota.
When asked to name a teacher or two of greatest influence, Dean refused because it would be a long list and he did not want to forget anyone, he said. He wasn't just being inclusive, getting a quality education in music is not necessarily about one great teacher - especially for school programs, Dean explained. "The whole system has to work well. I saw that when I when I was at Anoka, I still see it now. The teachers all have to work well together. The elementary, middle and high school programs all have to work together. They have to cultivate the talent and make sure the students stay with it."
Parents need to support their child's music education, especially as it gets harder for public schools to offer comprehensive music programs during budget cutting, Dean said. "Go to the concert, for heaven's sake," he said. " I go to concerts and someone's son or daughter is performing and a parent isn't there." Parents must be especially supportive when their child just begins to learn an instrument. "Even the best sound terrible when they're starting out," he said. "Force them to practice. Teachers will tell them to practice, but often it's up to the parent to make sure their child practices."
Dean knows the tough odds he faced on earning a living through music still exist, but that should not keep students from studying music. He disputes the idea that music programs are "a thrill or extracurricular," he said. "Music teaches values that you don't get anywhere else," he said. "You learn about hard work, working independently, working with others and how to solve a problem together. It takes social skills to be in a band or choir. But the pure joy of creating and performing - it puts you in touch with a part of yourself you can't get to in any other way."
||David Schneider, Coon Rapids High School, Class of 1976, Scientist, U.S. Department of Agriculture
David Schneider, a scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is involved in a revolution. The 1976 graduate of Coon Rapids High School leads a team of scientists working on genetics - research into the basic building blocks of all life. The discoveries are so great that today's genetic research will be read about in the future like we read about Sir Isaac Newton's ideas about gravity, said Schneider.
Schneider and his fellow researchers are housed at the Theory Center at Cornell University, and they work in an area of science that pairs biology with computer science. In order to better understand genetics, they use computers and mathematics to build specialized models of genes to see how genetic activity is regulated. Specifically Schneider's team works on a particular bacterium that infects plants. Any gardener who has seen brown specks on tomato plant leaves has seen a relative of this bacterium," said Schneider. "We want to understand how [the bacterium] overcomes the plant's cellular defenses and injects itself into the plant," he said. Information specifically developed for high school students and teachers on how this organism causes disease can be found at: http://pseudomonas-syringae.org/Outreach/index.html.
Schneider could recall the moment when math came alive for him. It was seventh grade class at Coon Rapids Junior High taught by Russell Grams. The class was working on a geometry proof and "I was the only one who got it right," said Schneider. "I realized that I got it, that I could do math."
Beyond that early success, Schneider learned more important lessons from his seventh- and eighth-grade math classes. "Those teachers [at Coon Rapids Junior High] were teaching the newest of the 'new math,' " he said. "They taught math as an integrated set of ideas," Schneider said. "We were doing trigonometry, but it wasn't in a class called 'Trigonometry,' it was all just math. I still have that bias that there are no boundaries between math, computer science, and even biology." Some of those math classes were so advanced that what he learned in junior high he did not see again until graduate school, he said.
Schneider's path to the frontiers of science would not have been possible without an important detour. In the 1980s he had three young children and was still working on a Ph.D. in physical chemistry. To support his family, Schneider quit graduate school at Cornell and took a job in computer science at IBM (at the time there were no jobs for theoretical chemists, he said). He worked in that field through the 1980s and early 90s. He came back to Cornell to be a part of the school's supercomputer research center. When the genomics initiative involving Cornell and the Department of Agriculture started, the project "needed someone who could speak the language of biochemistry and computer science," said Schneider.
Schneider's employer values most his abilities to speak in public and to write well, he said. "After that comes math and science." As the lead researcher on the bioinformatics project, Schneider must be able communicate about the project with other scientists, university officials, the media and the general public.
For young people considering a science career, one of the tangible benefits is the possibility to earn a very good salary with an undergraduate degree in computer science and biology. But Schneider said that that aspect of the job is eclipsed by the "enormity of discovery." He added, "Now it is possible to be a participant in a revolution in science.""
||Gretchen Carlson, Anoka High School, Class of 1984, anchor/journalist, CBS News
As a student at Anoka High School in the 1980s Gretchen Carlson did not plan on becoming a TV journalist and news anchor. Back then, playing the violin was her focus, and as an undergraduate at Stanford University she planned to go to law school. Instead she chose journalism, and last spring, after more than a decade in the business, Carlson was promoted to co-anchor of The Saturday Early Show on CBS.
To many Minnesotans Carlson is known best as the winner of the 1989 Miss America pageant - the event that led her to a career in broadcast journalism, she said. As a talented young violinist, Carlson performed for radio and TV, and later as Miss America she dealt with the media and made many TV appearances. So instead of going to law school, Carlson embarked on a career in which she worked both behind the camera as a reporter and in front of it as an anchor.
"Fourteen years later I'm still at it," said Carlson. While being on TV may look like a glamorous job, it is not, she said. Her CBS News appointment is the payoff for years of hard work and sacrifice. Carlson's career path to CBS is a familiar one for journalists: she started in small towns for small pay, moved frequently to bigger and bigger markets and slowly advanced her career, she said.
Living and working in Texas, Ohio, Virginia and now New York City, Carlson has seen the quality of education - public and private - offered in other parts of the country. "Minnesota and Anoka-Hennepin public schools were so good you didn't need to go to a private school," she said. "Anoka High School offered me the chance to get a great education, to go on to Stanford and I wouldn't change that."
Carlson lives in New York City with her husband Casey Close and the two are expecting their first child in May, she said. She keeps close ties with family and friends in Minnesota, and she remains a die-hard Vikings football fan, she said. "Every now and then my co-workers at CBS will hear my Minnesota accent, it seems to come back after I visit home for a while."
When asked what advice she would give to high school students, Carlson cites a good basic education as most important - "kids might say how much of a drag it is to go to school, but it is what will turn your life in a positive direction." When they consider a career students should seek out people who work in jobs that interest them, she said. Internships are not only a good way to start a career, but to get familiar with what is required in a job. "Try and do as much as you can to see if you really want to do it," she said.
Carlson was "a serious student" at Anoka High School and graduated as valedictorian of her 1984 class, she said. She had many great teachers at Anoka High School and when asked to talk about one in particular she names Jack Nabedrick, an English teacher who retired in 1995 She recalled that instead of a grade on one of her papers he wrote "carpe diem."
"Shuddering in my boots that I didn't get an 'A,' I asked him what it meant," said Carlson. Nabedrick told her to look it up, and she discovered its meaning: "seize the day," but she still wondered why he put it on her paper. "He wanted to make his students think about everything in a slightly different way," she said. "We were so used to seeing grades … he shook it up a bit. He was telling me I did a good job … but he wanted to challenge me even further. … 'Carpe diem' for me is synonymous with what I do, and I think about that just about everyday."