Posted on Oct 17, 2018
in Alumni News
The KU School of Journalism and Mass Communications invited alumni back to its Home on the Hill for J-School Generations, a two-day homecoming event.
One of the highlights was J-Talk, a TED-talk style event featuring alumni sharing stories of lessons they’ve learned through their careers.
Carlos P. Beltran, c’09, j’09, discussed his experiences as a digital content producer, both as a freelancer and for NBC Left Field, a documentary unit that profiles human-interest stories such as a KU alumnus’ classroom museum.
We sat down with Beltran to ask him more about his time at KU and his advice on choosing what to do after graduation.
When did you know what you wanted to do your career?
Ever since I was a child running around with a camera I knew I wanted to do something with video. It wasn’t until my second year at KU that I switched to journalism and decided to do it for a living.
As for what kind of video, it wasn’t until 2013, when I finished a fiction project that took two years of my life and it didn’t pan out the way I wanted. I decided I didn’t need fancy equipment and huge crews. I knew that with a camera, a microphone, a great subject, and my editing skills, I could make good work, and I dedicated myself to documentary filmmaking.
How did you get involved with such a cool production like NBC Left Field?
The unit opened a year and a half ago in Brooklyn, and after freelancing in Venezuela for a couple years I was looking for somewhere to settle down. My good friend Mariana Keller, who works at NBC News Digital told me about the opening, and after sitting down with the leader of the unit they liked my work enough to bring me on.
How did your time at KU help you get to where you are now?
I learned everything from ethics, to how to approach networks with my work, the basics of narrative and storytelling, and of course editing over at Dole, spending days editing on Final Cut Pro 7 in the media labs. Here you’ll learn how to be a great journalist, out there, you practice being one. Once you leave, don’t think you’ll get the perfect job right off the bat. You’ll go through times where you’ll discover what you don’t like to do. It might take years, it took me from graduation in 2009 to 2013 when I realized what I really wanted to do.
What advice do you have for those starting out in their careers?
When I graduated from school, I thought I wanted to work at an ad agency, or work in video, and I wasn’t getting what I wanted. I immediately thought I maybe should go get my masters, but I never did. Someone told me “if you want to be a documentary filmmaker, go make documentaries.” Go make one, and then you’ll have a business card. If you want to work in this industry, don’t wait until someone commissions you. If you find an amazing character, then shoot the story. That two minute video that you produced independently shows your skills and that you’re passionate about your work. Go shoot something, make yourself a portfolio.
Posted on Oct 11, 2018
Thomas Angel took the long road to the University of Kansas, but he’s making sure his time here counts. Thanks to the power of the KU Mentoring platform, Angel connected with a practicing surgeon who he will shadow over winter break.
Coming to KU
After nearly a decade deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait, Angel tore his PCL and had microfracture surgery. He chose to be “med boarded out” and applied to the University of Kansas on his girlfriend’s recommendation.
Angel is pursuing a double major in Latin and behavioral neuroscience, the latter of which requires an extensive amount of shadowing to be accepted into medical school. After studying abroad in Italy last summer, he was looking for a mentorship with someone in his dream career of neurosurgery.
Making a Connection
After learning about the KU Alumni Mentoring platform through the Student Alumni Leadership Board, Angel jumped at the opportunity. “I don’t think people realize how hard it is to find doctors who are willing to let students shadow,” he said.
One of the recommended mentors was Dr. John Aucar, c’82, MD’86, an acute care surgeon and KU alumnus. Angel connected with him through the platform and they set up a meeting that Saturday.
“When I met Dr. Aucar we immediately made a connection. My first duty station was in El Paso, Texas, and he practices in the area. Over winter break he’ll be in El Paso, and he invited me to join him. To be able to meet a mentor that you instantly click with, can have a successful relationship with and both benefit in different ways from the experience is a dream come true.”
Angel wants to be a neurosurgeon, a goal that comes with seven to eight years of residency. With that much preparation required, he strives to make his experiences count.
“My number one goal for job shadowing is to make a personal connection with the person I’m shadowing. Beyond that, it’s about making sure you understand what’s actually happening. A lot of times, especially with medical, the doctors aren’t teachers. You have to work to get answers from them. It’s easy to just stand and watch, but understanding why they’re doing it is my key to shadowing.”
Helping Students Succeed
Since arriving at KU, Angel has taken advantage of the many opportunities provided to him, including joining the Student Alumni Leadership Board to add a voice for students like him. “I wanted to find a niche on campus for non-traditional students to be in leadership positions. I saw it as a place for me where my opinion matters and where I can help create and shape [Student Alumni Network] events.”
Angel draws from a completely different set of experiences compared to traditional students, but he wants those in his shoes to know that they belong on this campus.
“The KU community is completely different than how you think it would be from the outside looking in. I am involved in several different clubs and boards around campus and fit in just fine. I’m 12 years older than my average peer at this stage in my academic career and I learn things from them daily, and I hope that they learn from me just as well. Non-traditional students have life experiences and stories of their own that can positively impact this campus.”
Stay tuned for more about Angel’s job-shadowing experience during winter break. For more information on how the Jayhawk Career Network can help you connect with KU alumni, visit kualumni.org/jayhawkcareernetwork.
Posted on Sep 19, 2018
By their senior year at KU, students have taken tests, completed group projects, and are ready for the real world. Or at least they think they are.
For the architects-to-be in Dan Rockhill’s Studio 804 class, their time at KU isn’t complete without putting everything they’ve learned to the test: by designing and building a house by themselves, over the course of a school year.
Rockhill has taught the course to students entering the final year of the Masters of Architecture program at the School of Architecture & Design for 25 years. He’s overseen both private and campus builds in Lawrence, Kansas City, and even Greensburg after a tornado.
Developing work ethic
There are no shortcuts in the process. The class members do everything, with no subcontractors. Rockhill’s students work six days a week in what is almost always their only class. And as an added challenge, Studio 804 students build with sustainability in mind.
“Being eco-friendly has always been a focus, and it’s been an even bigger emphasis now,” said Rockhill. “We strive for our projects to be certified by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The highest certification is platinum, and we’ve received it on a project 11 times.”
To receive the certification, the project must limit the impact on the environment and surrounding ecosystems. It includes everything from adding solar panels to the roof to using native plants to reduce the amount of rainwater flowing into the storm system.
Every year, Rockhill sees the students develop both their abilities and their work ethic.
“I tell the students that they are smart, they just haven’t been exposed to on-site work yet. They may not know how to do concrete placing, framing or roofing, but you have to really want to do it, focus, work hard and concentrate. It is difficult. When I was their age I found it the same way. They haven’t had that experience yet.”
If there is any question about the benefits of the Studio 804 program, ask potential employers.
“We really do have an international reputation. I‘ll get employers calling from Seattle with 60 applications in hand, asking what I can tell them about a student because they recognize 804. Few students are able to slide a portfolio across the table with pictures of what they actually built. One employer couldn’t believe what a former student said she did in the year, and they called me to verify.”
This year’s house is adjacent to Brook Creek Park in East Lawrence, and it includes a secondary accessory dwelling unit for the owner to use as a guest house. Check out the gallery below for a look at the build process and to see the finished product.
Powered by flickr embed.
Posted on Sep 7, 2018
The 2018 recipient of the Fred Ellsworth Medallion for extraordinary service to the University of Kansas is Bernadette Gray-Little, the University’s 17th chancellor, who retired in 2017 after eight years of leadership. The KU Alumni Association will honor her Sept. 14 during the fall meeting of the Association’s national board of directors. Since 1975, the medallions have recognized KU volunteers who have continued the tradition of service established by Ellsworth, a 1922 KU graduate who was the Association’s chief executive for 39 years, retiring in 1963.
During her tenure as chancellor, Gray-Little led the record-breaking $1.6 billion Far Above fundraising campaign and led the successful proposal and implementation of new admissions standards and the launch of a new undergraduate curriculum, KU Core, both aimed to increase student retention and graduation rates. From 2012 through 2016, KU’s freshman class experienced growth for five straight years.
Gray-Little oversaw the physical transformation of the University in 50 capital improvement projects totaling $700 million in Lawrence as well as on the Edwards Campus in Overland Park and KU Medical Center campuses in Kansas City, Wichita and Salina. Most notable is the Central District in Lawrence. Other highlights include the expansion of the schools of Engineering and Medicine, including the construction of the new Health Education Building at KU Medical Center; a new home for the School of Business; new residence halls; and the restoration of Jayhawk Boulevard.
KU also made historic strides in research, achieving National Institutes of Health designations for the Alzheimer’s Disease Center, the KU Cancer Center and Frontiers, the KU Clinical and Translational Science Institute. KU is one of only 26 U.S. universities to house three NIH-designated research centers. The research enterprise also expanded with the recruitment of 12 Foundation Distinguished Professors, a key component of the Bold Aspirations strategic plan to enhance research initiatives on campus.
“We are pleased to recognize Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little with the Fred Ellsworth Medallion,” said Heath Peterson, president of the KU Alumni Association. “One of the most visible and important parts of her legacy at KU was making a commitment early in her tenure to establishing a strategic enrollment management plan. The plan was anchored by a data-driven, highly customized approach to recruitment and supported by a new and very robust four-year renewable scholarship model. The results from this transformation over the previous eight years speak for themselves. Of course, there are many other significant milestones, but enrollment growth stands out for me because it is incredibly important to the health of the entire institution.”
Since 1975, 157 KU alumni and friends have received the Fred Ellsworth Medallion.
Posted on Jun 29, 2018
in Alumni News
The importance of mentors and the rise of e-sports highlighted a lively discussion June 21, when eight Kansas City-area professionals in the sports industry shared their varied expertise, career journeys and advice during a Jayhawk Career Network event at the headquarters of Populous in Kansas City. The Association’s Greater Kansas City Network hosted the panel discussion, which drew an audience of more than 50, including alumni and students.
Association President Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, encouraged participants to join the KU Mentoring digital community at mentoring.ku.edu or through the Association’s mobile app. KU Mentoring is the first phase of the Association’s Jayhawk Career Network, a multi-faceted strategy to connect students to the powerful network of Jayhawks worldwide and connect alumni across industries, he said. Kristi Durkin Laclé, c’99, assistant vice president of the Jayhawk Career Network, leads the program.
Program and panelists
Introducing the panelists was Jordan Bass, KU assistant professor of health, sport and exercise science who directs the sport management program. Panelists included:
- Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff
- Earl Santee, a’81, a’82, Americas managing director and founder at Populous
- Andrea Hudy, KU assistant athletics director for sports performance
- Stephen Hopkins, a’05, president of Shield Healthcare and Sport
- Kathy Nelson, president and CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission and Foundation
- Matt Baty, d’07, KU associate athletics director, Williams Education Fund
- Kim Hobbs, j’94, vice president of corporate partnerships and premium sales for the Kansas City Chiefs
- Zach Mendenhall, c’05, j’05, director of client engagement at VML
Santee, who in his 33 years with Populous has helped design stadiums, arenas and other event spaces nationwide, says architects and designers must collaborate to create not only inviting spaces but also great experiences for the public—and that extends to the new trend, venues for e-sports.
Mendenhall manages sports marketing partnerships, including the digital campaigns, for Wendy’s, a VML client. “We are challenged to not just slap logos on ads but to do a lot with social media activation and trying to find relevant, fun ways to bring sponsorships to life,” he said. As for the e-sports craze: “We all rolled our eyes at first, but it’s amazing how many people watch these competitions. It speaks to the fact that advertising in sports is constantly evolving.”
Hancock, who began his career in the athletics department at his alma mater, the University of Oklahoma, and went on to lead the NCAA Final Four and the Bowl Championship Series before launching the College Football Playoff, said the fervor for college sports is intrinsically tied to school loyalty: “A triple-A Lawrence team in the NFL or the NBA would not have nearly the passion that the Jayhawks have, and it’s because it’s a part of higher education.”
When the discussion turned to mentors, Hancock named three: former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith, d’53; Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer; and longtime KU Athletics Director Bob Frederick, d’63, g’64, EdD’84. “If you’re lucky, your mentors also become your friends,” Hancock said.
—Jennifer Jackson Sanner
Posted on Apr 26, 2018
in Alumni News
The William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications invited a group of Pulitzer Prize-winning alumni back to campus April 25 for a “Politics and the Media” panel.
The panelists included Alberto Araujo, a masters student with a decade of experience reporting in his home country of Ecuador; Colleen McCain Nelson, j’97, vice president and editorial page editor of the Kansas City Star; Patricia Gaston, j’81, editor at the Washington Post; Kevin Helliker, c’82, who has 26 years of experience at the Wall Street Journal; and J.B. Forbes, j’73, chief photographer at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The panel was moderated by Pam Fine, KU journalism professor and former managing editor of the Indianapolis Star.
Citing current tensions between political journalists and their readers, Fine opened the event by asking each panelist what political journalists are doing right in today’s climate. A central theme of journalists’ responsibilities emerged in the evening’s responses.
When asked about the idea of bias in media, Helliker reminded the audience that “journalists are totally self-serving. What I want is a great story. The idea that journalists are molding their coverage to fit their ideology gives them too much credit. We just want a good story.”
Nelson shared her experiences working on an editorial page in the era of partisan segmentation. When asked whether it’s her job to help create common ground, she responded, “It’s part of our goal. At the editorial page, our goal is to expose people to different points of view, and not create an echo chamber where you only have people agreeing with each other. We’re trying to create a civil conversation on the editorial page, which is tough right now. We’re trying to remind readers that it’s possible to disagree without being disagreeable; you can read something where you don’t embrace the idea but you still might learn something.”
Dean Ann Brill concluded the event by starting a tradition at the School of Journalism: presenting the group of Pulitzer Prize-winning panelists with Alumni of Distinction medals.
The William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications hosted several events throughout the week in celebration of its namesake’s 150th birth year.
Posted on Mar 6, 2018
in Alumni News
Keil Hileman believes that the best way to teach students history is to bring the history to them.
NBC’s Left Field, a studio that creates documentaries for social media, recently visited Hileman, d’93, g’96, at Monticello Trails Middle School in Shawnee, Kansas. The segment featured his “Classroom Museum,” a room full of artifacts that began as a personal collection and continues to grow due to community support.
As the video racks up views and shares, we reached out the KU alumnus to hear more about NBC’s visit, his time at KU, and his goals for his students.
What was it like having NBC visit your classroom?
It was a great adventure for my students and I. We had a great time meeting two amazing videographers. They have traveled the world doing stories and chose to come see what we do in our “Classroom Museum” each day. Very cool honor for all of us and our community.
What have people been saying as the video gains in popularity?
There have been lots of new artifact donations and people offering to help financially. The museum budget is currently ¼ of what it used to be so any artifacts or support is appreciated. My emotion and compassion for my students has really struck a chord with people across the country. They see how much a teacher can care about their students…. and why. My favorite connection so far has been with teachers who want to know how to start their own museums and artifact collections. It’s very exciting to see a cool idea spread.
What influences your teaching style?
I have worked hard to simply teach my students in the most effective ways for 25 years. If what I was doing did not work, I threw it away and found a better way to connect my students to the history of the world around them. I continue to use unanswered questions as a way to guide my student’s problem solving and analysis skills. This was a valuable lesson taught to me by Dr. Joe O’Brien, an amazing and awarding-winning teacher in the KU School of Education. He changed my life and allowed me to go on and change the lives of my students by opening their minds, touching their hearts and defining their dreams.
What do you hope students take away from your class?
I want my students to become lifelong learners. I want them to find a passion for something and hold on to it. I want their passion to fuel their life experiences. We have a museum credo… or belief statement:
Explore… Empower… Excel…
Explore your World
Empower yourself and others
Excel in everything you do
Keil E. Hileman is one of 50 teachers profiled and celebrated in the book, “American Teacher: Heroes in the Classroom,” by Katrina Fried. The publisher notes three intentions: “To bring everyone interested in America’s future into 50 classrooms to experience public education first hand; to inspire other teachers through sharing ideas, innovations and successes; and to inspire administrators, parents and policy makers to listen deeply to the thoughts expressed by these teachers about education. Hileman was the Kansas Teacher of the Year in 2004. He was also featured in the Winter 2004 and Fall 2012 issues of the The Jayhawk Educator, a publication of the KU School of Education.
Posted on Mar 4, 2018
in Alumni News
The jokes you hear from host Jimmy Kimmel during tonight’s 90th Academy Awards telecast will be written in part by a Jayhawk— Kimmel’s wife, Molly McNearney.
McNearney, j’00, has served as co-head writer for “Jimmy Kimmel Live” since 2007. She began her career on the show as assistant to the executive producer in 2003. Last year, she served as co-head writer for the Oscars telecast—Kimmel’s first year as host—and will reprise her role for this year’s event.
A St. Louis native, McNearney earned a degree in advertising from the KU School of Journalism. She and Kimmel married in 2013.
Read more about McNearney’s thoughts on writing for the Oscars and her family’s busy year in her recent interview with Vanity Fair.
McNearney was profiled in issue No. 6, 2009, of Kansas Alumni magazine, which is embedded below.
If the embedded document isn’t available above, click here to read the profile on Issuu.
Posted on Feb 15, 2018
in Alumni News
Jerry Skillett, b’81, recently shared his story of the power of being a Jayhawk in the workplace in the KU Alumni LinkedIn group. Skillett is a member of the KU Alumni Association’s national board of directors.
You might wonder how someone with roots in Leroy, Kansas, population 561, could come from such a humble beginning and end up in New York as the founder of the second-largest (hope largest soon—all Jayhawks strive to be No. 1) parking company in the United States. I attribute it to the University of Kansas and the incredible network and power of the Jayhawk brand.
KU for me was the gateway to a much bigger possibility. Believe me, it was a quantum leap to go to KU, where there were more students in my organic chemistry class than in my whole high school. I struggled through a lot of it, but being a Jayhawk and thinking about all of the other brilliant Jayhawks made me determined to be a part of this incredible connection of people. Looking back to graduation in 1981 (wow, that long ago?), just the commitment to step into the challenge and complete it was such a catapult of energy. There was nothing that I could not achieve.
While I would love to say that I was an outrageously successful student (nope), or that I was a wildly popular party guy (hardly), I had an amazing experience nonetheless. How many of us can admit to getting a D in computer science, yet using that background to later start four software companies (yes, it’s true), or even building on an incredible 2.65 grade point average (rounded up to 3.0!) to become an innovator, industry leader and founder of a company with $1 billion in revenue and 8,000 employees? (Jayhawk Power!)
Today, in every meeting I attend, I have this Jayhawk sticker on the back of my portfolio. Ninety percent of the time, anyone I am meeting from around the world knows what the Jayhawk represents and wants to talk about it and how they have a KU connection. My wife, Leonor, a Southern California native, is now truly convinced that the world revolves around Kansas. I’ve always known it does.
Hey, Jayhawks, let’s hear your success stories and help you connect with fellow alumni. 2018 is going to Rock Chalk.
Posted on Jan 17, 2018
in Alumni News
Last November, we encouraged Jayhawks to thank the KU mentors who made a difference in their lives. Marc Langston was inspired to pay tribute to his friend and mentor, Thomas R. Docking, c’76, l’80, g’80, who died last August. Langston, c’08, currently resides in Washington, D.C and is an annual member of the KU Alumni Association.
Internship leads to mentor
During high school, I was a summer intern at the Law Offices of Morris Laing in Wichita. Within my first week, Tom treated me to lunch. We discovered a mutual passion for politics, film, art history and Kansas. Over the course of that summer, I gained a mentor, a champion, and a true friend.
Tom held great interest in my aspirations and willingly shared his sagacity with a receptive 17-year-old. Tom persistently encouraged me to attend his alma mater, KU, versus other out-of-state schools I considered. I knew then how fortunate I was to be counted among his friends, but I could not imagine how profoundly influential Tom would be in my life. Thankfully, I heeded his advice and attended KU.
Tom’s daughter, Margery, was already at KU, and we enjoyed attending events together at the Dole Institute of Politics. Tom encouraged me to continue exploring the intersections between politics and art history. I earned a B.A. in political science and art history. He was thrilled when hearing from me abroad while I explored Turkey and Egypt, always eager to discuss my impressions of places he too admired. When I became involved in Student Senate and Kansas politics, I frequently sought Tom’s advice and counsel.
Tom’s mentorship proved extremely influential while at KU as well as during and after law school. Tom kept track of my progress, changes in my career, and continued to offer sage advice in times of need. My inbox is full of emails from Tom arranging times to meet when I would be in Wichita. I envisioned being able to continue to share my ups and downs with my friend and mentor, Tom, for at least the next 20 years.
An enduring legacy
Tom’s passing in August 2017 jolted those who were privileged to be mentored by him. We all know that Tom is survived by a loving family with an earnest love for KU. Although few of us are in a position to match the generous contributions made by the Docking family toward scholarships, faculty retention, and improvements to the campus, I elected to join the KU Alumni Association.
By supporting KU, even in this small way, I am taking the first step in furtherance of Tom’s enduring legacy of mentorship. I encourage others to follow Tom’s lead in continuing their support of KU and serving as mentors to prospective, current, and alumni Jayhawks.
Want to share your story about a Jayhawk who inspired you? Email us at email@example.com. And stay tuned—the KU Alumni Association will launch the Jayhawk Career Network this spring, which will provide additional mentorship opportunities for students and alumni.