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.
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.
It’s been 25 years since the 1993-94 basketball season, when Jacque Vaughn introduced himself to the world with an overtime buzzer-beater against Indiana. For some Jayhawks, their experience that season was special not just for what happened on the court, but also in the stands.
Jeremy Boldra spent his sophomore year in the stands as Kramer, Jerry’s goofy neighbor in the hit television series “Seinfeld”. What began as an idea for a Halloween costume put Boldra, d’97 g’03, into Captain Jayhawk-levels of fame for one fun season.
We could try to tell the story, but perhaps it’s best to let the man himself share how Kramer came to be.
An idea is born
The idea came to me when a roommate saw me with my hair standing up and told me I looked like Kramer. At the time I had no idea who that was, so he introduced me to “Seinfeld,” which we soon were all watching together every Thursday night. As we watched, I knew I could totally play that character. So I decided I’d do it for a Halloween party my sophomore year. That fall, I saw an ad in the Daily Kansan for a sitcom character contest at Late Night with Roy Williams, which was the night before Halloween.
When I got to the Fieldhouse, I knew I had to make an entrance like Kramer always would. So I swung the door open and stormed in, making so much noise that all the contestants that were already there turned and said “Kramer!” One of the judges literally leaps over a table and tells me “You’re in!”
So it’s time for the contest and we’re in the hallway where the team comes out. They called my name, and I had a plan. I just jogged out there, and once I made it to the free throw line, I wiped out. I hit the floor, then got up shaking, then strutting out to half court. By the time I got there, fans were chanting “Kramer! Kramer!” The chanting went on over the next contestant. One contestant got booed, another got no response. I made it to the finals, the Kramer chants started again, and it was a blast.
Kramer lives on
The next night was Halloween, and we were talking with some cheerleaders at a party who said I should dress up for home games, so after a little convincing I decided to do it.
So I dressed up as Kramer in the student section, and by the second or third game people were asking me for autographs, it was getting a little weird. So I decided to not dress up for the next game. Which was Temple, which we lost. As I was leaving, several people said to me “We lost because you didn’t dress up.” So I start dressing up again and sure enough, we go on a huge winning streak.
I only did it for that year. I had a lot of fun, but it was time. Since then, I’ve run into people who remember me from those games.
Where is Kramer now? Boldra is the superintendent at Flint Hills school district, just outside of El Dorado. Jeremy and his wife, Bryna, have two sons, Landon, 11, and Keenan, 8. This year’s Late Night in the Phog takes place Friday, Sept. 28.
Every Jayhawk has his or her own home on the Hill, but for Patrick McCarty, it’s one shared with his family.
McCarty, f’04 g’14, had the special experience of sharing the field with his father Gary McCarty, d’76, and grandfather Philip McCarty, d’52, for alumni band day at 1999’s Homecoming celebration.
“At first, it seemed like a normal game day,” McCarty said. “However, right before the halftime performance, it dawned on me how special of a moment and opportunity it was for myself, my father, and my grandfather to perform together on the campus that we all went to college to. It is probably the first and only time we ever had the opportunity to perform together.”
The McCartys claim three generations in the Marching Jayhawks, but music runs deeper in the family.
“My grandfather was one of the first to study in the beginning stages of the KU music therapy program, and he ended up working in hospitals helping patients cope and recover through the use of music. My father went on to be a high school band director for over 30 years before he retired. My mother (Diane McCarty, d’74 g’81) was an elementary music teacher for many years before retiring. My younger brother is also a professional musician.”
Patrick keeps the music going, too. He’s in his 14th year as a high school or college band director, currently at Olathe North. He points to his time at KU as a reason why.
“The professors, colleagues, and friends that I made during my time at KU in the music education program and band program have been incredibly inspirational towards the musician, teacher, and person that I now am today. The band program provided a great musical and social outlet, including some very special performance memories, like playing drumset in the KU Men’s Basketball Band at the 2002 and 2003 Final Four.”
KU Alumni Band performs annually during the Homecoming Parade and at halftime of the Homecoming football game. For more information about alumni band weekend, visit the KU Band Alumni Network page.
What started 15 years ago as an idea to get TRIO students more involved during Homecoming has grown into a tradition you don’t want to miss.
Rod Oelschlager, then TRIO Academic Coordinator, launched the event in 2003. “The first one was in Room 7 with about 25 mugs that my mom donated,” Oelschlager said. “We put up a few crimson and blue streamers, made hot chocolate in a turkey roaster, and waited to see if anyone was interested. The mugs and hot chocolate were gone in 15 minutes. We knew we were on to something.”
Each year, the Great Mug Giveaway gets bigger and bigger. The number of mugs has multiplied, and a few streamers has given way to hallways turned into art studios. Oelschlager is since retired but remains heavily involved in his creation.
“After a few years in Room 7 and more and more people showing up, we moved into the hallway outside our offices,” Oelschlager said. “Today we will have over 500 mugs to choose from, hundreds of guests, and decorations that we start on in July or early August each year.”
Collecting all the mugs is a year-round process. Rod and the TRIO staff keep an eye out for mugs at thrift stores and garage sales. They also appreciate mug donations.
TRIO is a college opportunity program that provides support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds in their pursuit of a successful college experience.
Even in retirement, Oelschlager gives his time to TRIO and his alma mater. “Like so many alums at KU, we have a real love for our University. Rock Chalk is much more than just a chant to us.”
If you’ve been on social media at all this past week, you’ve surely seen the highlight of the year in college football. If you haven’t, enjoy:
North Texas’ Keegan Brewer faked out the entire Arkansas team by standing around after catching the ball, without ever signaling for a fair catch. After a couple of Arkansas players started walking to their sideline, Brewer took off for a touchdown.
Brewer started his football career at the University of Kansas, where he caught 15 passes as a true freshmen. After his freshman year, Brewer transferred to North Texas to be closer to home.
Brewer’s heroics got us thinking about other trick plays that Kansas has run throughout the years.
2016: Downed in the end zone
When the Jayhawks wore all blue against Iowa State in 2016, wide receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez took the opportunity to camouflage himself in the blue turf of the end zone. Wide receiver Steven Sims returned the kick, then turned and threw across the field to Gonzalez, who scampered down the sideline for a 34 yard gain.
2016: Razzle-dazzle to hook the Horns
After driving the length of the field to cut the deficit to 21-16, the Jayhawks needed to go for 2 to cut the deficit to a field goal. Head Coach David Beaty called for misdirection, with running back Ke’aun Kinner taking a direct snap and pitching the ball to Steven Sims, who ran his way into the end zone to close the deficit.
2008: Orange Bowl heroics
Faced with a 4th and 10 at midfield, Head Coach Mark Mangino took a big gamble to keep the drive going. A direct snap to running back Brandon McAnderson, who threw to Micah Brown to keep the drive alive. While the drive didn’t end with points, we promise you’ll like the ending if you stick around.
2004: Randle ends the streak
With Kansas State in town holding an 11-game winning streak over KU, Mangino pulled out all the stops to bring the Jayhawks a victory. Quarterback Adam Barmann threw a screen to wide receiver Brandon Rideau, who pitched it to running back John Randle, who dove for the end zone to send the Memorial Stadium crowd into a frenzy.
1996: Hidden Henley
Throwing it way back here, to when Glen Mason’s Jayhawks traveled to Salt Lake City to play the #20 Utes. Down 38-35, KU lined up for a field goal, with running back June Henley jogging towards the sideline. Quarterback Matt Johner, serving as the holder on the play, threw the ball to a wide-open Henley near the sideline for a touchdown.
1995: No punt in Norman
Head Coach Glen Mason had more than one trick up his sleeve. When the Jayhawk offense stalled out in Norman against the #15 Sooners, punter Darrin Simmons kept the ball and ran it himself for a nearly 50 yard gain. KU would go on to win 38-17.
We probably missed a crazy play from back in the day, so let us know if we need to add your favorite one!
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.
It looks like a normal garage from the outside. Maybe it’s to keep the neighbors happy.
Inside, though, Rory Ramsdell’s two-year project of the ultimate KU garage is complete. His daughters now park in the middle of Allen Fieldhouse.
The big build
“I’ve envisioned this for a long time,” said Ramsdell, e’93. “I wanted to build a multipurpose garage with a gym atmosphere.”
The Shawnee resident built the entire building himself. Ramsdell drew on his experience as a mechanical engineer to design the structure, and he tried his hand at amateur photography for the Fieldhouse photos. He printed large sizes of the photos to cover the walls.
Highlights of the project include a programmable scoreboard, lockers for each family member, a TV for watch parties, and a ceiling covered in hand-sewn banners.
The Ramsdells loves hosting friends and family in the garage to watch games and entertain. Pickup games are also known to break out; there’s a hoop, plenty of balls in the lockers, and court lines painted on the concrete floor.
Allen Fieldhouse is special to plenty of Jayhawks, but Ramsdell put in time there as a student behind the scenes.
“I played baseball at KU, and my student work-study program was to do the baseball team laundry, which at the time was in the Fieldhouse. So I was there late at night doing laundry and homework, and sometimes the basketball players would ask me to rebound, maybe play 3 on 3 with them.”
Rory’s love for KU is matched by his family, especially with his daughter Raegan starting at KU in the fall.
“I’m really excited for her future, and hope she has as good of a time as I did as a student.”
The KU Alumni Association’s summer on the road continues! The alumni networks team has visited Jayhawks in San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and most recently, Omaha.
Omaha is home to 1,700 alumni, including network leader Holly Currie. Currie, c’09, g’10, organizes watch parties for KU games at the Good Life Bar and Grill. “The watch parties and the network have grown exponentially with Holly,” said Grace Knott, h’78. “She chose a great location.”
The happy hour brought together Omaha residents of all ages and levels of knowledge about their city. Knott has lived in Omaha for 40 years, while Ashlee Duffy, c’01, just moved to the city from Alabama this month.
The trips are part of a summer-long effort to encourage Jayhawks to volunteer in their local networks. “The best kind of event you can organize is one you are passionate about,” said Danny Woods, assistant director of legacy and alumni programs.
More trips are in store, with Woods visiting Oklahoma City and Tulsa next week.
Check out the KU Alumni Association calendar for more upcoming events. For more on how to volunteer in your network and the types of events you can help coordinate, visit the network volunteer page.
Pulley, c’77, moved to Sacramento in 1997 and has organized watch parties and other alumni events for Jayhawks since 1999.
Nick Kallail, assistant vice president of alumni and network programs, is impressed with Pulley’s efforts.
“Sacramento checks in with just under 600 alumni within 25 miles, but always compares favorably in event attendance and network Facebook activity with much larger groups,” said Kallail.
“The great connections within this network and love for KU was shared with Jayhawk Nation at the KU/Stanford Basketball game played in Sacramento this past December and is a testimony to the great volunteer work Joyce has done for the KU Alumni Association.”
Kallail will present the award to Pulley at a summer happy hour July 11.
About the award
The award is named for Dick Wintermote, c’51, who served as the executive director of the Association from 1963 to 1983. His legacy represents the importance of building a strong volunteer network, the need for a dues-paying membership program and establishing the KU Alumni Association as one of the premier associations of graduates in the country.