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Two Different Experiences; Countless Lessons Learned

Samuel Vaught ´16 — Greetings from Ecuador!

For eleven Glee Club members, we have now been away from the United States for a month. Our first two weeks were spent studying Spanish and traditional Ecuadorian music at la Pontifícia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, known to locals simply as La Católica. We lived with host families, ate home-cooked meals, and attended class every day. Dr. Rogers of the Spanish department and Dr. Bowen were our only ties
to home as we were completely immersed in a new language, new culture, and new way of life. Living with my host family was one of the greatest learning experiences of the first half of the trip.

Going into the stay, I was most concerned about the language – being able to communicate well. I was nervous that my previous experience with the Spanish language would not be sufficient, as I wanted to be gracious and make a good impression with my family. What I found, however, was that communication was not the most difficult part of the home stay. In fact, I improved quickly and my Spanish skills have never been better. What I found most difficult was the genuine cross-cultural exchange that took place during the two weeks. Whether it was new perspectives on global politics, or the new city, or the simple things that come with daily life in a new environment, I was constantly challenged to get out of my comfort zone. I had to learn what it means to be the outsider, the alien. I was no longer in comfortable Crawfordsville, Indiana, my home for twenty years. I was in Quito, Ecuador, with Ximena Romo and Gustavo Moscoso. I think that this experience has been an invaluable lesson in the age of global migration. When you know what it feels like to be the outsider, you start thinking about the outsiders in your own home differently.

Sam Vaught '16 (center) is one of 11 Glee Club members who has been in Ecuador for the last month.

Samuel Vaught ’16 (center) is one of 11 Glee Club members who have been in Ecuador for the last month.

If we were aliens for the first two weeks, we have played the tourist for the last two. We were joined on the last day of May by sixteen additional Glee Club members as we transitioned into the second half of the trip: a two-week concert tour of the country. Led by Dr. and Mrs. Bowen, our accompanist Cheryl Everett, and Dr. Hardy and her ever-knowledgeable son Ben (I never want to go to another airport without him), we have had an exciting two weeks of discovery and cultural exchange. Traveling to the north and the south, seeing different parts of the country, and interacting with the diversity of people in La Sierra (one of Ecuador’s four geographic regions), I have had an entirely different experience. This has been a new trip: one of school concerts, cathedral concerts, and small-town concerts. One of exploring outdoor markets and buying artisanal goods. One of spending a night in the indigenous village of San Clemente and learning their way of life. Surrounded by more estadounidenses, my Spanish has certainly  atrophied. But this trip hasn’t been a let-down after the first two weeks. It has simply been different.

Tomorrow, I will board a plane to come home again to Indiana, grateful for not one immersion trip, but two. Two different experiences, and countless lessons within each one.

Adios, mi lindo Ecuador. No te olvidaré.

13 junio 2014
Quito, Ecuador

A Love/Hate Take on Big Bash

Steve Charles—I didn’t know what to say.

Chet Turnbeaugh ’14 had shown up at the Class of 1964 Reunion in Littel Lobby to give President Hess a poster he’d made as a thank-you gift, and the new grad had been mingling with guys coming back after 50 years in the world. Now he was leaving Wabash for that world, we were shaking hands goodbye, and I—who had watched Chet’s transformation from awkward freshman to bold, thoughtful, and creative graduate—couldn’t think of what to say.

Chet Turnbeaugh ’14

Chet Turnbeaugh ’14

Chet is a talented and caring young man who has taken big risks. He may accomplish a lot in the world. For his sake and the world’s, I hope he does. But he’s a good Wabash man whether he does or not. He’s going into the arts, a tough and often thankless way to make a living. I wanted to offer good words, a way to thank him for what’s he has come to mean to us. And he seemed to be waiting for something wise.

But all I could manage was a nod and a goofy smile. I’ve struggled in similar ways saying goodbye to my sons. “Stay in touch,” I told Chet. Oh, how original! How moving! I just don’t do goodbyes very well.

As Chet walked away from Wabash I waved—upping the awkwardness quotient—then turned around to my work of photographing the 70-plus-year-old men who had come home.

I have a love/hate relationship with the Big Bash Weekend.

I love meeting alumni, hearing their stories at Scarlet Yarns and colloquia. I revel in welcoming back friends; I love catching up and seeing how we’ve changed, how quickly our friendships are renewed.

I love Big Bash one-on-one.

But I hate the crowds. I feel a practically pathological anxiety in gatherings of three or more. I deal with that anxiety by doing my job as a photographer. I shoot most of the big events through 85mm or 135mm telephoto lenses, breaking the  “mob” down one person at a time. Then I can see my friends again.

And I publish those images to encourage other crowd-anxious souls, hoping they’ll overcome their concerns and attend reunions. Taking this work-like approach in the midst of friends has its consequences. I often block the very connections that make Wabash Wabash. A wall against the very story I’m trying to tell.

On Saturday, seven Wabash guys and a professor tore that wall to pieces.

I saw Andy Dreitcer ’79 in Lilly Library and called out to him. I had covered Andy’s work on reconciliation for the College’s Pastoral Leadership Program, and we had reprinted a heartbreaking and illuminating personal essay of his in the magazine. I yammered at Andy for so long Saturday he almost missed Alumni Chapel Sing.

At Chapel Sing Kent Merrill ’64 caught up with me as I was taking photographs. I had enjoyed Kent and Midge’s hospitality years ago during a visit to their home outside of Knoxville, TN, where I’d photographed the beautiful furniture the retired doc had made. I’d had a blast taking pictures in his shop. As Jim Durham ’64 would say later that night of his longtime friend, “Kent’s been a person of compassion and integrity since I first got to know him in the 6th grade.” Kent’s stopping me there at Alumni Chapel Sing made me feel remembered and I held on to that sense of belonging throughout that big event.

Last spring we shot a video on campus with Jeremy Robinson ’04 about his former student Francisco Huerta ’14. We’d told other stories about Jeremy’s teaching, but this one brought it all full circle. I felt the pride Jeremy’s Wabash teachers would have felt if they’d been there with us, so I gave him a hug afterward, told him how proud we were of him. A bold thing to do, given I wasn’t a professor. But if Bill Placher or Dan Rogers had been there, I’m confident they would have done the same—I did it for them. Jeremy was back again for Big Bash Saturday and returned the favor on his way to present a colloquium session on teaching, a kind gesture in the middle of a long day that reminded me why I love this place and that I belong here.

At the Psychology Reception, Visiting Professor Teresa Aubele-Futch and I were talking about one of her students and co-researchers, Brad Wise ’14, who hopes to attend graduate school in 2015. Although the professor will be teaching at St. Mary’s College next year, she’s taking Wise to a conference next fall to co-present their research and make grad school connections. “But you won’t be a Wabash professor then,” I said. “I believe in him,” she told me.

Rev. John Sowers ’99 was a compact force of nature when he was a student but our exchanges then were mostly light-hearted. Saturday for our Scarlet Yarns audio project he talked about how his friend and mentor Coach Max Servies ’58 had also been a surrogate grandfather to him. Then John’s classmate and fellow preacher and pastor Josh Patty talked about the ongoing relationship he has with the late Professor Bill Placher ’71 through Bill’s books and I had to wipe the tears off my viewfinder. I reminded Josh about the time he had listened to me bemoaning the rambling nature of my talk to group of Wabash alumni in Pittsburgh after I’d decided to ditch my script and go “off the cuff.” He had told me then that our presence is the gift we give each other, and often the script gets in the way. He said I didn’t have to be perfect, just had to show up and be genuine.

Jesus Campos ’04 shares his story for the College's Scarlet Yarns audio project.

Jesus Campos ’04 shares his story for the College’s Scarlet Yarns audio project.

Then Jesus Campos ’04 showed up at the Scarlet Yarns table. Jesus was my son’s pledge brother, we’d had him over for Thanksgiving when he was a student, and he had struggled mightily with the English language and Wabash academics when he arrived here from Texas. Talk about overcoming the odds! On Saturday he expressed his gratitude to Wabash and the many people who had taught and supported him here. It was joy to hear him speak, and fun, too, as we reminisced about his pledge class’s antics. I’ve rarely felt better about being a part of this College community.

Jesus is helping others now as a social worker in Philadelphia. He said some of his Wabash classmates don’t feel as though they deserve to come back for their reunions. They’re not successful or rich enough to give back the way they want to or feel they should. They think they haven’t done enough in their lives to be worthy of being embraced by their teachers and their classmates. Jesus and I talked about ways to help them see that’s not the point of a reunion: You don’t come home because you have money to build another room on the house; you come home to be with your family.

I got so caught up in the conversation as we walked out of Lilly Library that I forgot my camera and barely made it in time the cover the Class of 64 50th Reunion Dinner. There Steve Cougill ’64 was the final speaker during an evening of stories. He had attended Wabash for six semesters but hadn’t felt like he really was part of the class, didn’t “deserve” to join them at their reunion. His Kappa Sig pledge brothers and all his classmates were happy to see him.

“It’s just been wonderful being back with you guys again,” Cougill told his classmates. “At the Chapel Sing today we were singing “Old Wabash” and I could hardly keep singing because I was getting choked up, just being back with you again. It’s been a great experience, and I hope you guys all come back for our 55th.”

 

So now I know what to say to Chet Turnbeaugh: “Come back.”

“No matter what befalls you, think about your friends and the teachers who believed in you and come back.

“Don’t wait until you think you have achieved or earned ‘enough’ to come back. We knew you when you were dreaming and struggling, singing out of tune the world’s longest fight song, and those friends and family embraced you then. How much more so now?

“Whether you’ve ‘made it’ or you’re down on your luck, come home. Whether you graduated from Wabash or left after a semester, if this place has meaning to you, come home.

“Don’t wait until you’ve got hundreds or thousands or millions of dollars to give to your alma mater. As my friend the Rev. Josh Patty ’99 might say, ‘The present you bring is your presence.’”

If Wabash teaches us nothing else, she teaches us that. And she reminded me over and over again at this year’s Big Bash.

Me llamo Benjamin

Benjamin Washer ‘17 — To be able to write about one thing that happened on our trip to Ecuador is close to impossible.  There are so many things that have stood out to me on this trip.  I’m sure many other people in this situation would write about the delicious and exotic food, or the fantastic views that were presented before their eyes, or the incredible fiesta thrown by the denizens of San Clemente and the generosity and friendliness exhibited by their host families.

It is true that these experiences were all wonderful and worthy of writing about, but I wish to tell a different story.  During our stay in San Clemente I found that my host family consisted of Señora Rosita, her husband, their fifteen-year-old son and their nine-year-old daughter Kalina (which I did not know at the time).

Benjamin Washer '17

Benjamin Washer ’17

My host family was very generous and friendly and treated us as their own.  That is, everyone except Kalina.  She almost never smiled and almost never spoke (but when she did it was in the tiniest voice ever; if you didn’t strain your ear you would’ve have missed what she said).  Based on the pictures that hung about the house, I could tell she was not the smiling type.

Despite my best efforts at child friendly goofiness, I could not get her to smile (and barely even to speak).  Most of the evening remained this way.  After dinner she quietly led us to the village center hall for our evening fiesta and even politely gestured for me to dance though she maintained her introverted nature.

After the fiesta, our group headed back to the house.  On the way back, I noticed that little Kalina had fallen back a short ways as the others moved ahead, so I stayed back with her.  In the quietness of the evening. I asked her in my limited Spanish:
“Como estas? ”
She replied in a very small voice:
“Bien.”
I then introduced myself:
“Me llamo Benjamin.”
“Kalina.”

We continued walking.  I noticed that for the past few minutes little Kalina had her arms folded close to her body and so I asked her:
“Tu frio?”
“Si.”

At that moment I took my sweatshirt (which I was not using because my host family gave me a very warm poncho to wear) and placed it around her shoulders.  At first she gave no response, but I made a gesture indicating that she put her arms through the sleeves.  It was then that she covered herself with my sweatshirt and cracked the first smile I had ever seen from her.  We then walked the rest of the way back to the house in silence.

When we got back she handed me my sweatshirt, thanked me and then went to bed.  The next morning she said goodbye to me as she went off to school and that was the last I ever saw of her.
It’s funny how we get attached to certain people.  We were told that we were adopted by our host families, but I adopted Kalina as my new little sister.  To be able to keep her warm as the family did me and to be able to make her smile gave me great joy.  Even though I will probably never see her again just having had the chance to meet her was more than enough for me and gave me something worth writing about.

Summer Provides Different Pace Around Here

School’s out and the nights roll in; Man, just like a long lost friend; You ain’t seen in a while; And can’t help but smile.Kenny Chesney

Clayton Randolph ’16 - The Chesney lyrics from Summertime may describe what most college students feel when classes finally end. But at Wabash, a few students remain on campus, some with professors gaining valuable job experience in fields such as Economics, Small Business, College office internships, and conducting research.

To outsiders, it may seem obvious that translates to students and more downtime for everyone.

Associate Professor of History Dr. Richard Warner, who has been at Wabash for 15 years, agreed the summer is a different animal. “The summer is much quieter,” Warner laughed. “One of the favorable differences is that we have very few meetings.”

Since most Wabash professors are actively engaged with students, including clubs and activities, it leaves little time for research. First year Assistant Professor of Political Science Michael Burch has already traveled to Ghana for field research. “As soon as classes ended and grades were in, I went off to Ghana for a few weeks,” he said. “My plans for the summer are to take all of that research and create a couple of articles.”

Warner will be completing a filmography article that outlines what movies will work well in a classroom. “It is a list of films that can be used in History classes, 150 different films.”

Fabian House ‘16 and Tim Livolsi ’16 said the summer is more tranquil.

House, interning in the Admissions and Financial Aid Offices, said the campus is more relaxed. “Weekends can even be quieter because a lot of people leave.”

Livolsi, interning in the Information Technology department, agreed with the laid back description. “I do not have anything to worry about in the evening, compared to during the school year when I have no time at all.”

The two agreed the living arrangements make for an interesting summer and can cause issues. “Independents and fraternity men definitely become closer in College Hall, and there is the kitchen dilemma where a group of guys have to use one kitchen,” Livolsi said. “It is a bit more frustrating because we have to provide food for ourselves and the kitchen is always a mess.”

A summer at Wabash provides the opportunity to meet new people, relax, and worry about when you can start grilling on the George Foreman. For professors, it is a time to catch up on research and attend fewer meetings.

Students and professors seem to agree the change of pace is a nice step away from the rigorous academic environment. Nearly 100 students are taking advantage this summer to work and learn in a less chaotic atmosphere.

Clayton Randolph ’16 is a summer intern in the Communications and Marketing office. He is a History major and Economics minor. Clayton is the lead play-by-play radio broadcaster for Wabash College baseball and also broadcasts Wabash College football. He does sideline reporting for Wabash TV during home football games. Clayton co-hosts The Montgomery County Gridiron Report radio show every Friday night on Thunder 103.9 in Crawfordsville. He also calls county high school basketball games on Crawfordsville’s Thunder 103.9 and True Country 106.3.

The Pulse: Memories of Commencement

For this edition of The Pulse, a group of alumni were contacted to talk about commencement and the memories elicited.

Below are three of the best responses with each mentioning touchstones like how quickly time passes, the sense of accomplishment, and being rung out. Not surprisingly, each Wabash Man also recalled that the weather figured prominently in those remembrances.

Art Howe ‘82
“I remember the smell of the freshly mown grass, how good the Mall looked, how colorful were many of the capes and cowls our professors wore in the processional, how warm it was to be wearing black robes in 80-degree heat, and how important it was to have my family present for such a big day. But what first comes to my mind is being rung out.”

“Wabash has many traditions but being rung in as a class and being rung out as a class with the bell that Prof. Caleb Mills used to ring in the first classes of Wabash men is perhaps my favorite tradition.”

We celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2014 this weekend.

We celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2014 this weekend.

Jim Dyer ‘83
“The first thing that comes to mind is the phrase in our Alma Mater, “these fleeting years we tarried here.” I have attended four commencements at Wabash – mine, my two brothers’ (one older and one younger), and my son’s. At each ceremony I always thought about how fast the four years went by – fleeting years, indeed. The other thing that comes to mind is rain. All three of my brothers’ commencement ceremonies were held in Chadwick Court due to rain. My son’s commencement last spring was the first outdoor commencement I have attended, and it was wonderful.”

“There is so much that goes on that weekend that things tend to be a blur. The only thing that stands out for me was singing Old Wabash for the last time at my son’s commencement, and, to quote the song, “tears will rise.” Both my wife and I were in tears as we realized that another milestone in our lives had just occurred.”

David Wagner ‘05
“I remember just hanging out with my family afterwards and thinking it’s over, but there is still a lot to come. I was happy with my accomplishment, but I wanted to do more. Celebrating the time with those who mean the most to me and relishing the moment was special.”

“I remember walking across the stage. It was here on the Mall, so it was a bright, sunny day. Walking across and having the diploma in my hand. I was excited, but sad that I was going to depart everything that happened here in those four years. So many friendships, so many bonds were molded here. It was bittersweet.”

Congratulations to the Class of 2014!

Forever more as in days of yore Their deeds be noble and grand.
Then once again ye Wabash men, Three cheers for Alma Mater.

A Modern Day Clark Kent

Even after leaving four years ago for Dallas, Emmanuel Aouad ’10, still has a Wabash schedule.

The business process engineer at State Farm with the Six Sigma Green Belt applies engineering principles to people and assigned tasks, better known as econometrics. He does time studies, observations, process mapping, and times the steps to be certain that tasks are completed as smoothly as possible.

Additionally, the former indoor and outdoor track and field All-American is also a nationally certified track coach in the greater Dallas Area. For the last two seasons, Aouad has been the hurdles coach for the Irving, Texas, Elite Summer Track team.

Aouad_crop

Emmanuel Aouad ’10 is a man of many talents.

When all is said and done, Aouad, 26, is an efficiency coach. Whether it be process engineering or track and field, the simple goal is to finish fast.

“I maximize my time,” he said. “I think proactively about filling my time and finding fulfilling things to do.”

Mix in a growing career as a nerdcore rapper with the stage name 1-Up, and most all of his time is, indeed, occupied. Nerdcore rap features topics like video gaming, Sci-Fi, bad pick-up lines and even subjects like economics and physics. He self-produces his tracks and shoots and edits his own videos. What goes out is all Aouad.

It’s a nice fusion for the Wally who minored in music and played in the Wabash jazz band. Things are going so well that Aouad has released a few CDs and routinely plays three or four live gigs per month.

Here is a sample verse from a recent song entitled, “Intellirap:”

     When they ask me how I’m doing man I tell them that I’m doing “fine”
     and I always use an adverb there you know… unless it has to rhyme
     Some of these lines will leave your head acrobatic
     I’ll calculate the time it takes to fall… Kinematics 

“This is exactly me, hip-hop and jazz with a nerdy twist,” Aouad said. “I’ll do video game raps or jazz covers of songs. Whatever comes to mind.

“It’s too thoughtful or too intelligent,” he continued. “This is a very obscure genre. I have a little bit of a following, and I never expected that.”

I caught up with Aouad in Dallas on a Sunday morning in early April hours after a Saturday night performance. He took the stage in front of about 35 people the previous night, but the numbers don’t matter. He was there to have a good time and connect with the audience.

“If you get up on stage because you love it and have a good time every show, then you are successful. I try to make it enjoyable for everyone. I love it when I see people laughing or picking up my really obscure references.”

Aouad’s music provides an outlet from the simple stresses of the work day, but also a doorway for an alter ego to emerge.

“It’s my escape from stress at work, and I want it to remain fun,” said Aouad. “Music lets me come out of that corporate shell. Sometimes you have to keep it professional, but music lets the other Emmanuel out.”

Aouad is a modern day Clark Kent right down to the attire. His co-workers might mention a 1-Up video they discovered on the internet, while fellow musicians wonder why he doesn’t do music full time, and his tracksters often wonder about his “church clothes” when he shows up for practice still wearing a suit and tie.

“I now realize that high schoolers have no concept of age,” Aouad laughed loudly and shook his head. “They all think I’m 35. I have to remind them that these are my work clothes.”

This Wabash Man is comfortable no matter what uniform he happens to be wearing.

Click here for a 1-Up video

For the Love of the Game

Professor of English and Commissioner of the Wabash NBA (Noontime Basketball Association) Tobey Herzog H’11

Professor of English and Commissioner of the Wabash NBA (Noontime Basketball Association) Tobey Herzog H’11

Steve Charles—Center 216 got noisy last Thursday.

Professor of English Tobey Herzog H’11, his red #41 Chicago Bulls jersey pulled over his signature blue Oxford cloth shirt, was showing video clips from the championship game of the second Chicago Bulls Fantasy Camp he attended back in the 1980s—the one where he won the MVP award—and as they watched that old footage, 30-plus students were cheering him on.

They laughed at a tongue-in-cheek interview with Bulls radio announcer Johnny “Red” Kerr (not to mention the ’80s short-shorts uniforms and some of Herzog’s middle-aged, hirsute teammates). They applauded as he was introduced for the game, and groaned when he missed his first shot. A few minutes in Tobey said, “Okay, that’s enough,” and stepped to the computer to turn off the video. But the students protested.

“You’ve gotta score,” several called out.

Seconds later they got their wish when Tobey was fouled and hit his first free throw. The gleeful cheers from students were so loud Professor Warren Rosenberg heard them halfway down the hallway. He’d later ask his long-time English Department colleague what the hell was going on down there.

Tobey was just telling stories—personal stories. This one was about his love of basketball: The first shots he took as a kid after his neighbor put up a goal; the exhilaration he felt every day he’d go there and shoot baskets by himself; the joy of playing on his junior high and early high school teams; the trauma of not getting playing time when a new coach took over; the redemption he felt years later when he was named MVP at the Bulls Fantasy Camp; and why more than a half century after he took those first shots, he still plays the game in Wabash’s NBA—the Noontime Basketball League.

All this to set up a conversation about two works of literature—John Updike’s poem, “Ex-Basketball Player,” and Pat Conroy’s memoir, My Losing Season, a book that includes the line, “I have loved nothing on this earth as I did the game of basketball.”

They are literary works that explore, among other things, relationships between fathers and sons, coaches and players, athletes and the games they play and the dangers of living for the glory days of the past.

And you couldn’t have imagined a more moving, hilarious, and enjoyable catalyst for thoughtful conversation about those works than Herzog’s personal stories. His love of basketball connects and resonates with the 18-22 years olds fresh from their own glory days of the sports they love and encourages empathy from the less athletic. Here’s a guy who, in his 60s, can still drain a 15-foot jumper over younger, taller players; who has cheered on the generations of Little Giants from the bleachers of Chadwick Court and Hollett Little Giant Stadium to the sidelines of Knowling Fieldhouse. And that same teacher also loves the works of Dickens and Hardy, Fitzgerald and Miller, Kosinski and Keats, Hemingway and O’Brien, among others. The ultimate scholar-athlete.

The revelation that his stories could be an entre for his students to the very literature that has enriched his own life is a recent one for Tobey. Students in his Modern War Literature class complained that Herzog—a Vietnam veteran and a leading scholar of Vietnam War literature and biographer of veteran and author Tim O’Brien—wasn’t bringing enough of his own war experience into the classroom. Could his own personal stories have helped students better understand and have empathy for the authors and characters in those works?

So in this final year of teaching before his retirement, Tobey took perhaps the greatest risk of his teaching career. He created a one-time class, The History of Herzog, in which he would guide students to the literature that has enriched, shaped, and informed his life. And he would introduce those works he loves with personal stories of when and why those authors and their works came to mean so much to him.

Teaching for Herzog has always been about the material, not the teacher. Putting the spotlight on himself is so contrary to his nature; maybe that’s why this class is working so well. “It could still go off a cliff,” he says. But if it does, it will do so in glorious flames.

I’ll save the details for the article I’m writing about the class for Wabash Magazine, but suffice it to say that by taking this risk and making himself vulnerable, he’s creating a safe space for students to do the same, and perhaps they’ll receive a similar gift this literature has given their teacher.

“They may not remember me,” Tobey told me after class, “but they may remember some of these stories; they will remember some of the literature, and that may be important for them, may help them some day.”

tobey talks closeloresIn the same room a few days later, Tobey gave his final public academic lecture before his retirement (he will give the last Chapel Talk this semester in May). The room was packed; several of us sat on the floor. This time faculty colleagues from across the College along with staff and students were the audience, and the focus was his work as a scholar of Vietnam War literature.

Taking cue from his success in The History of Herzog class, he opened with stories. Personal stories. About his father and his father’s war stories, his mother’s war stories from the home front, his own stories from Vietnam, and the story of what led him to focus his scholarly research and writing on Vietnam War literature.

“I have always been fascinated with war stories and the tellers of those tales,” Tobey said. Those stories will be the final works he’ll be introducing to his students in The History of Herzog class in the coming weeks, and I plan to attend those sessions to finish my article.

For now the image that stays with me from The History of Herzog is from last Thursday: Tobey leans over the podium, reading glasses in hand, and listens to a student’s reflections about the John Updike poem. Hands go up across the room as the professor encourages the student to extend his point, then calls on another who makes a connection with the Pat Conroy memoir. Tobey responds with surprise—“whoah!”—then smiles and nods like a point guard who just dished out an assist to a teammate for a slam dunk.

Forty-plus years and the teacher still loves the game.

State Association Honors Heidi Carl

Wabash’s Director of Financial Aid Heidi Carl was recently honored by the Indiana Student Financial Aid Association.

CarlCarl, in her first year at Wabash, was presented April 22 with the Distinguished Service Award. The award is presented to formally recognize those who have made exemplary contributions to the financial aid profession and to the association..

Carl came to Wabash hoping to increase the profile and strengthen communication with students at Wabash. She has also been an instrumental voice in the re-shaping of the ESH, or student employment, program.

The award honors leadership activities and achievements within the financial aid profession or higher education community.

 

Music Makers and Dreamers

Dan Couch ’89, playing guitar during an interview for Wabash Magazine in Nashville.

Dan Couch ’89, playing guitar during an interview for Wabash Magazine in Nashville.

Steve Charles—Last Friday Dan Couch ’89 was showing me around Nashville’s Music Row in the black pickup he bought with some of the money he’d earned from “Somethin’ ‘bout a Truck,” the first of two #1 Country hits he wrote with singer/songwriter Kip Moore. We’d just pulled out of the parking lot of BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) at the intersection of Music Circle North and Music Circle East and were merging with traffic around the Buddy Killen Roundabout.

“Not exactly what you expected to see on Music Row?” Dan asked good-naturedly as we circled Musica, a sculpture of nude dancers that is the roundabout’s centerpiece.

Two hours earlier in a posh reception room BMI provided (thanks to Dan) for our interview for the next issue of Wabash Magazine, the former Wabash psych major and catcher for the Little Giants told me part of what has become one of the favorite “good guy finishes first” stories in Music City: How Dan left his lucrative job as a medical supplies salesman in Seattle in the early 1990s and moved to Nashville (via a long stay back in his hometown of Logansport, IN) to chase his dream of becoming “the next Garth Brooks,” an aspiration that changed to a focus on songwriting and has taken more than 10 years of hard work and faith to achieve.

Dan talked about his wife, Tina Marie, the sacrifices she made, how she continued to believe in him, even during a crucial moment when he doubted himself. And he spoke of friends who kept believing, too—guys like Wabash classmate Bill McManus, who he still talks with every morning (and called during our interview!).

But driving down Music Row, our conversation turned to potato chips.

More precisely, to his old job supplying a potato chip route in the Nashville area (at various times to make ends meet he also worked construction and tended bar, while Tina Marie works as a nurse.) He’d met a fellow aspiring writer on that chip route. Dan would finish around noon, clear the chips out of the car, pick up his friend, and drive to a songwriter’s circle to play his songs and listen to others’.

“I was overwhelmed by this place when I first came here,” Dan admitted. Driving up and down Music Row, it’s easy to see why: Nashville may be the most competitive music market in the world right now, with the largest concentration of songwriters in the country. The Tin Pan Alley of our day. Don’t let the modest two story homes converted to office space and the relative scarcity of multi-story corporate buildings on Music Row fool you; behind those quaint doors are some of the biggest labels and names in music, not to mention all the people who support this industry. Jobs (song pitchers and pluggers?) I’d never heard of.

Statistically speaking, the former Little Giant baseball player would have had a better shot at making the major leagues than being paid full-time as a songwriter in Nashville.

He knows that. But there’s gratitude, not boasting, in his voice. He’s thankful to do what he loves for a living (he’s old school, too—eschewing computers for the feel of pencil and paper, and his song notebooks read like a journal of each year’s work.)

He’s grateful for those who helped him learn his craft and those who write alongside him now. He counts the trust he and Moore have in each other as a great gift that gives both the freedom to be their most creative.

Most of all, there’s Tina Marie.

You’ll meet her some day,” Dan promised during our interview as he fretted to find the words to do her justice.

Not unlike the way he struggled a couple of years ago on the sixth-floor terrace of the BMI building, when he and Moore were being celebrated for hitting #1 with “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck.”

CMT News saw it this way: Couch was so overwhelmed at having finally achieved success as a songwriter, he could hardly get through his comments to the crowd.

“My wife and I always believed I could get here,” he said looking out toward his family standing near the front of the stage. “She gave me three wonderful kids. Life is good.”

The lyrics to his second  #1 hit with Moore, “Hey Pretty Girl,” get to the heart of it. Lines like:

Life’s a lonely, winding ride
Better have the right one by your side.

“I like to say that song is about who I found, and the kind of person Kip hopes to find someday,” Dan said.

There’s a 19th century poem titled “Ode” inscribed in large letters in the BMI lobby. I photographed Dan in front of it because I read the opening lines—“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.” When I was reviewing those photos after I left Nashville, I realized that in several, Dan is walking toward these words:

“One man with a dream, shall go forth and conquer.”

“Dirt Road,” another song that Dan wrote with Moore (and Westin Davis), debuted Monday as a single from Moore’s upcoming second album with MCA. The song has been a fan favorite at Moore’s live shows, the young singer/songwriter was a nominee this year for the Academy of Country Music’s New Artist of the Year, and he’ll be playing that song a lot when he tours in May with Tim McGraw.

None of this guarantees that “Dirt Road” will hit #1 or even climb the charts. But, as we like to say, Wabash always fights.

 

Nashville was my second stop photographing and interviewing Wabash alumni for the upcoming music issue of Wabash Magazine. A week earlier we were backstage with Ben Kitterman ’06, the classically trained musician and steel guitar/dobro player turned tour bus driver turned musical sideman turn bandleader for Aaron Lewis. (Watch Ben’s arrangement for Lewis and the band of Sheryl Crowe’s “Strong Enough.”

Saturday we spent a late night photographing luthier and violinist Dan Gillespie ’08 at the Galway Arms in Chicago, where he was playing fiddle with his band Can I Get an Amen as part of a raucous folk collective called Old Lazarus’ Harp (Listen to their amazing music at: https://soundcloud.com/can-i-get-an-amen

On my way there stopped by campus to cover chemistry/music major Taylor Neal ’14 at his remarkable composition recital, and topped it all off with Beethoven at Sunday’s Chamber Orchestra Concert.

Here’s a photo album from several of those visits: http://www.wabash.edu/photo_album/home.cfm?photo_album_id=3836

The Pulse: Job/Internship Searches

Richard Paige — With the calendar turning to April, the mental focus also turns toward what to do this summer. So this edition of The Pulse focuses on the search for jobs and internships.

Wabash men were asked about preparing for future careers this summer and the strategies used when searching for such positions. True to form, respondents proved to be proactive regarding the job search.

Half of the respondents claimed to already have an internship in their area of interest. One-third were still actively looking for internships, while less than 20 percent were seeking full-time employment. Not surprisingly, no one claimed a desire to barely pay the bills and load up on fun this summer.

Employment possibilities can come from the simplest of conversations.

Wabash connections definitely play a role in search strategies, as 43 percent of respondents said that those connections were the primary component of the search, followed by family connections, classified ads in desired locations, and a single vote for Craig’s List.

“It’s a real benefit with how our alumni try to get students placements in real life, and good ones at that,” said Ivan Koutsopatiry ’16.

The Schroeder Center for Career Development offers Professional Immersion Experiences (PIE) to students as a way to “test drive” a career. These week-long immersions give Wabash men a chance to get on-site, network and gain real-world experience quickly.

I’m certain the Schroeder Career Services Center will appreciate the fact that PIE easily outdistanced the dessert and mathematical constant when speaking of favorites.

Finally, when asked for the best piece of advice received from a current or former employer, Zach Vega ’14 submitted, “Always wear a watch. A man unaware of time wastes it.”


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