KU alumni careers: Matt Gowen, j’95

Posted on Feb 13, 2016 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

Roses are red,
crimson, not blue.
Matt Gowen loves his job,
and he went to KU.

Okay, let’s face it. Not all of us are gifted in poetry, romance or humor, myself included. But Lawrence native Matt Gowen used his KU journalism degree to land a pretty good gig writing for greeting card giant Hallmark Cards in Kansas City.

A former opinion editor for the University Daily Kansan and reporter for the Lawrence Journal-World and Kansas City Business Journal, Gowen, j’95, started to burn out on the grind of news journalism. In 2000, his career took a turn, thanks to the help of his Jayhawk connections and some thoughtful siblings who steered him toward Hallmark, where writing became fun again. And funny too.

We went behind the scenes at one of Kansas City’s most famous companies to learn how this Jayhawk journalist went from writing headlines to humor.

So if you care enough to send your valentine a card from Hallmark, don’t be surprised– it might have been penned by a Jayhawk.

Now wouldn’t that be poetic?

–David Johnston

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Picture-perfect family

Posted on Feb 12, 2016 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

Hawkins family via kualumni.orgJayhawks looking for last minute Valentine’s Day cards might spot a familiar family.

Jeff and Heather Hawkins are featured in seasonal banners at Hallmark retail locations this year. We introduced alumni to Heather, j’06, g’12, who works for the Association as executive assistant to the president and coordinator of donor relations, and her husband, Jeff, c’06, a former KU basketball player, on our blog in 2014.

The Hawkins family’s modeling career all started with a KU connection. Shannon Presti, a former KU basketball manager and friend of Jeff’s, encouraged the couple to pursue modeling opportunities for their two future Jayhawks, Mavrick and Sienna. Presti, c’05, connected them with Rachel Imdieke, a photographer and fellow Jayhawk, who introduced them to Voices& Talent Agency in Kansas City. The agency signed the family, and the rest is history.

As Jeff tells tells it, “We really feel like the Jayhawk connections made this possible for our family. Without the guidance of Shannon and Rachel, we never would have landed with Voices& and then Hallmark.”

We asked Heather about their experience modeling as a picture-perfect family in this sweet Q&A just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Tell us how you were selected for the Hallmark ad/promotion.
We’ve had a handful of other modeling jobs since our family was signed. Our agent at Voices& submitted us for the Valentine’s Day promotion, and we were really blessed to be selected for the shoot. It was such a fun day, and we were thrilled when we found out they were using the picture of the three of us for the campaign. The people we worked with for Hallmark have been top notch! They were so kind to us and since we were newbies, they really helped us through the process.

Heather Hawkins and familySo what’s it really like being a model?
Oh my goodness, it’s fun! I am absolutely certain that when I hit the lotto someday I’m going to pay someone to do my hair and makeup. It’s been so eye-opening to see the creative process and how many people work so hard to make those shoots go. It’s such a team effort!

Have you had any “superstar” moments where people recognize you from the photos?
It’s been fun to get pictures from friends and family all over the Midwest standing by the banners. My aunt actually went into a store and asked the manager if she could have the banner when Valentine’s Day was over. She’s been collecting them up all over town.

What did Sienna think of the experience?
That girl was absolutely hooked from the moment we walked in. She’s absolutely a girlie-girl and loved having them put her in different outfits and play with her hair. Her favorite part was without a doubt jumping on the bed. She seems to think she now has the clearance to jump on any bed she wants, whenever she wants!

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