Steve Charles—A colleague stopped me in the Kane House parking lot yesterday to tell me the latest edition of Wabash Magazine—“39 Under 39”—was not a good idea. That focusing on only 39 young alumni on the website (or 47 young alumni, as we did in the mathematically challenged WM) would smack of exclusivity. Would leave those young alumni not included in the issue wondering, “Why not me?”
Nothing could be further from our intent. We saw the theme not only as a chance to meet or catch up with some remarkable Wabash alumni, but as an opportunity to explore a time of wonder in all of our lives—those years after Commencement when so much happens, so much changes.
This is an issue of Wabash Magazine by and about young alumni—in their words and images. But I hope that as older alumni read it, they will (like me) be reminded of that time in their own lives—the weddings (being a best man, groomsman, usher, or groom), the career decisions, the mentors, the miscues, the confusion, the clarity, the miracles.
We turned to Adam Cole ’98 for images that illustrated the themes that cropped up as we talked with young alumni—big risks taken, faith, the desire to find a home, the need to define oneself, romance, bouncing back when romance or a job went bad, the desire to serve and be a part of something bigger than oneself. You can see more of his work at threespotimages.com. I hope this will be the first of many collaborations with this photographer whose works of art just happen to be wedding photographs and portraits.
But for the issue to work and get beyond the trappings of a “top young alumni” propaganda piece, I needed our best young writers to write honestly about their personal experiences—their failures, their successes, what they learned, what they still can’t figure out. And I needed them to take us to those moments, give us the details, to help us older guys remember what it felt like to be 25, 30, 39.
Evan West ’99, Kyle Nickel ’03, Jacob Rump ’05, John Deschner ’97, Jacob Pactor ’04, Joe Warfel ’04, and Kyle Hall ’00 all did so, and in their own inimitable voices. I can’t thank them enough.
And in his End Notes piece, "A Wabash Man, Ten Years Out," Tyler Bush ’99 expresses thoughts I believe many Wabash men have had: The Gentleman’s Rule is an ever-elusive thing when you attempt to practice it in the real world. What does it mean to be a gentleman? How do we become good men, even in the face of tragedy?
So if you’re turned off by the "39 Under 39" theme or think this is going to be some half-baked rip-off of TIME’s Top 100 newsmakers or in the spirit of IBJ’s “40 Under 40,” I hope you’ll take a closer look. Give our writers and young alumni a chance. Read about their lives, hear about them in their own voices. See if you don’t recognize something of yourself, something of Wabash, in them.
And if you’re still thinking, Why not me?, send me a note at charless@wabash. edu. I’d love to hear your story.