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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.

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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.”

Bachelor Students Reflect on NY Times Visit

Patrick Bryant ’16 – As I prepare to take over the Editor-in-chief position for the 2014-15 production of The Bachelor, it meant a great deal to me that I had an opportunity to attend the “Inside the Times” Student Editors’ Conference that welcomed college students from a number of universities to The New York Times building in Manhattan.  We had the opportunity to hear from a number of Times editors, including senior editors in copy editing, an associate managing editor responsible for weekend content, and editors who have responsibilities in newer multimedia areas.

GuysTimesSquareBefore I share with you some of what we learned, I want to first share some anecdotes from what I observed in conversing with students from other publications.  At our table, we were joined by the Editor-in-chief and two section editors from Brigham Young University and an Editor-in-chief and section editor from Queen’s College in New York City.  I get used to thinking of the size and reach of The Bachelor staff as the norm for most collegiate publications, forgetting that many universities have journalism programs with a few thousand students.  These editors are very insulated from the writing and page design that each and every member of our staff has to concern themselves with.  Where one could call that a drawback, I see it as the liberal arts at work.  Where I have friends and classmates from my high school newspaper publication having to wait until their junior year to begin writing for the paper, our guys have the opportunity to start writing from the first week on.  I made a comment to the editors from BYU that often times the new staffers for The Bachelor do not have prior experience and that some of us higher-level editors take time to teach them how to use InDesign.  How did they respond?  Turns out that they did not really know how to use InDesign either.  They had designers who were insulated from their position and responsible for the page design.  Again, this is a testament to the well-rounded men that are learning everyday inside and outside of the classroom.  Elsewhere there are formal journalism programs teaching less than what our extracurricular group teaches peer-to-peer.

When I think of the nature of the staff, I am quick to think that our prime responsibilities are generating content: coming up with story ideas, interviewing, writing, copy editing, page layout, and distribution.  I was enthused by this conference and the testimonials we heard that there are ways that we, with our manpower, can find ways to innovate.  One way is copy editing.  We received a great deal of literature for copy editing “tips and tricks” and got some practice in proofreading and headline writing.  Also, we talked about the evolving media and the variety of forms it’s taking place in.  Recently, The Bachelor started a Twitter handle @WabCoBachelor.  Testimonials from editors in the realm of social media lead me to believe that we can do a better job in engaging our audience through social media.  Sending out links and referencing stories is one thing, but creating a dialogue where users can generate content and conservation.  Ideally, through this avenue, this could be a marketing tool for the print edition for The Bachelor, but also a supplementary forum for print content.

These opportunities to learn are invaluable to the on-campus collaboration and innovation that are taking place on a consistent basis.  Taking time to ask questions and hear the testimonies of peers at other universities allow the smaller publications like The Bachelor to demonstrate our prowess as an efficient, savvy on-campus resource, but also give us a chance to learn from peer publications in order to improve ours.

Alexander Appreciates Chance to Dive into Journalism

Adam Alexander ’16 – I’ve always wanted to see the Big Apple, but I have never had the opportunity. Thankfully, The New York Times invited The Bachelor to their offices and the College agreed to fund our trip. Patrick Bryant and I learned a great deal on our trip – just as much from the other college editors in the room as from the Times editors.

GuysNCopsAs a prospective student, one of the biggest downsides of Wabash was the lack of a journalism program. I’ve wanted to at least pursue a minor in journalism for many years. But when I saw how other schools with established journalism programs run their newspapers, I became very grateful for Wabash’s unique journalistic opportunities. Editors from the other schools with whom we spoke all seemed to indicate that to even be considered for the newspaper staff, you had to be a sophomore. The editors at our table from Brigham Young University said that they recruit the best students from introductory-level journalism courses; very few of them ever have the chance to become an editor. I, on the other hand, was able to walk onto The Bachelor staff and fill the role of Copy Editor at the beginning of my freshman year. This is a tremendous example of the benefits of a small school like Wabash over bigger universities.

The other editors also seemed to be a bit removed from the whole process of putting the newspaper together. While Patrick and I write stories every week, most of the students at the conference had not written a story the entire year. In addition, very few of them knew how to use Adobe InDesign, the program used to create the actual pages of the paper. When we talked about having to teach each other how to use InDesign, one of the editors in the room said, “That’s what we pay the designers for.” I feel as if they identified significant drawbacks within their own system – they were all so specialized that they did not know how to operate any other part of the paper.

Of course, the Times editors themselves were very helpful. I personally took away great copy editing advice through the use of examples. I learned to be more vigilant of a writer’s math; in one example, an increase from 75 to 90 was cited as a 15% increase. This seems relatively minor, but I believe the whole point of copy editing is to make our stories seem as credible and professional as possible. Little things like typos and math errors undermine The Bachelor’s credibility, so it is my job fix those. We also were given several pieces of general advice for writing stories.

In addition to my personal takeaways of new editing techniques, I think we really learned where we have to take The Bachelor in the future. In order for it to be a sustainable voice of the student body, we are going to have to put a website together. This is not going to be overnight, but I think we can begin discussion now and at least have an online presence (beyond a mere Twitter account) by the time I graduate. We will definitely need more manpower though – as well as an infographic designer.

The Pulse: Spring Break

Richard Paige — With the clock rapidly ticking down to the start of Spring Break, I wanted to take a look at what plans were afoot for that week away from Wabash. With snow still scattered about, it might be shortsighted to believe that every available Wabash man might make a beeline for the nearest tropical beach.

Only one respondent to The Pulse, Alex Hirsch ’14, was planning to head someplace warn for his Spring Break. The responses ran the gamut from staying here to get ahead on school work to job searches to community service trips.

Just how many Wabash men can you squeeze into a car? Two-thirds of the respondents said they were road tripping with fellow students to their desired destinations, while significantly fewer were traveling by plane. One was being dropped off at a relative’s home in Carmel.

True to our serious nature, nearly 85 percent of respondents mentioned a job/internship search when asked to finish the sentence “Spring Break is a time for…” Relaxing finished second, catching up on school work third, while community service finished just ahead of spending time with family.

Perhaps you’ll find a creek worth paddling over Spring Break.

Ian MacDougall ’14 had an interesting twist to the grad school dilemma, as he is also prepping for a late summer wedding, saying, Spring Break should be for vacation, but it is all about selecting a school and a wedding cake.”

Zach Vega ’14 used The Pulse as a time for Spring Break reflection, comparing this year’s break where he will travel to Indianapolis to participate in medical molecular and genetic translational research to the one he enjoyed as a freshman, relaxing at home in Munster, Ind.

“I see no difference between that first Spring Break and the one I now have,” he said. “I will be working with a fraternity brother, so I will still be around friends. Much like three years ago, I will be doing what interests me; it’s just that my interests have developed over the course of four years. I believe it would be foolish to attribute all that has happened over the past four years solely to Wabash College alone, but I also believe it would be foolish to not acknowledge such an institution that offers opportunity for the brave 900 who decide to attend.”

The Music to ‘Wabash Always Fights’

Steve Charles—Making a living as a professional musician requires a “Wabash Always Fights” attitude like few other vocations in America.

We may love music, but we prefer not to pay much for it. The Internet has broadened the range of music available, even increased the number of musicians who can reach an audience, but just try to make a living off of iTunes, CD baby, or Pandora if you’re not a mainstream artist.

Which makes the careers of the Wabash musicians I’ve been working with this past month—several who will return to campus Friday for Wally Tunes: A Symposium on Music and the Liberal Arts—even more remarkable.

All of them contributed tracks to a commemorative CD that Media Specialist Adam Bowen and the Wabash Office of Communications and Marketing produced for the Wabash Archives and to be given away to the first 180 attendees at the symposium. All of them embody that “Wabash Always Fights” spirit in their own way as they’ve built liberal arts lives around music. Working with them on this project was one of the great pleasures and honors of my time at Wabash. Just room here for five of the dozens of memorable moments:

1. We call the CD Scarlet Hues after a song written by Dick Durham ’64, and it’s the final song on the CD. I had emailed Dick to discern his interest in the project, and I found out in succeeding emails that 1. He had recorded a song called “Scarlet Hues”;
2. He had dedicated it to Wabash on his solo album, Solilokeys; 3. It was the first song he ever wrote; 4. He wrote it when he was a student at Wabash, only a few years after he began playing piano, which he used to sneak into the Chapel to play. In between emails with Dick, I learned that Sam Vaught ’16 was being interviewed for an article on the Web site and had told us about his own recent experiences playing piano and organ in the Chapel: “I like to go in there whenever it’s not being used – often in the dead of the night – and just play…create so much sound.  You can rattle the windows with that instrument.”

I emailed Sam’s comment to Dick, who responded: “Cool—the aura lives on!”

2. Allen Schulz ’87, founder of Random Access Music in New York City and an award-winning composer, wrote a piece for the symposium called 3 Phantasies. Thanks to pianist Diane Norton (Allen’s teacher at Wabash), cellist Kristen Strandberg, and Wabash Audio Technician Phillip Merriett ’08, we were able to include the beautiful second movement of 3 Phantasies as a sort of prelude (a world premiere!). But because we had limited space on the CD, we had to edit Throttle, the other piece Allen had contributed. Rather than getting angry, he gave us permission and thanked us for the work we’d done. The Gentleman’s Rule in music! Philip Seward ’82 was equally gracious when we had to change his selections, as was Professor Peter Hulen when we had to ask him to edit his.

3. No one embodies that “Wabash Always Fights” spirit quite like Dan Couch ’89. He worked 15 years as a performer-then-songwriter in Nashville, currently the most competitive music market in the world, before his songs written with Kip Moore— “Somethin’ ‘bout a Truck” and ‘Hey Pretty Girl”—hit #1 on the country charts. (Read about the “Moment of Inspiration” for one of those songs here.) With that success, Dan’s been crazy busy lately, but he still took time to record “songwriter night”-style versions of those songs—just Dan and his guitar—for the Scarlet Hues CD and worked up a bio and photos for us. When it came in just a day after I’d expected it, he thanked us for our patience! We felt lucky just to have it.

4. I was playing guitar in a jam session with a friend in the pouring rain at the Indiana Fiddler’s Gathering last summer when a guy and his wife in the circle sang a song. The guy played and sang like a pro—way above our pay grade. That’s when I found out we’d been playing with Gordon Bonham ’80, who I had known only from articles that declared him one of the best blues players in the country. Or, as WFYI’s Matthew Socey writes, “one of the best musicians in any genre in the state.” You could tell from his playing, but you would never have guessed that from his generosity and interest in everyone else’s music that night. (He was there, in part, doing research for his “banjo meets the blues” project.) At the top of his game and still learning!

5. I emailed Amos Garrett ’64—one of the most respected players in the world and a guitar hero of mine—not expecting a reply. His kind response was cool enough, his contribution of a track (okayed by his agent and sent from Stony Plain Records) way beyond that. I’ll be interviewing him in March for the magazine (along with several of the folks on the CD) and hope to confirm a story from Jim Durham ’64 that has Jim driving the poet James Dickey to the airport after a Wabash reading, Amos along for the ride, and Dickey pulling out his guitar and playing for them. Got to know if Amos, then 18 or 19, played along.

There’s a story behind every one of these “musical warriors” on that CD—each makes Wabash proud in his own way. Gordon, Allen, Philip—along with Eric Stark ’88, Andrew McKone ’07, and Rick Fobes ’72—will join Wabash faculty at the Wally Tunes symposium Friday. If you’re near campus, I hope you’ll join us in welcoming them home.

Kesling ’02 Cites Liberal Arts in Diverse Career Path

Scott Morrison ’14 – Ben Kesling ’02 ha spent his entire life “finding his major” with his liberal arts perspective on life. Monday evening, Kesling gave the fourth and final talk in a series called “The Liberal Arts at Work.”

Ben Kesling ’02 talks about his career journey.

I was privileged to have dinner with Kesling and a few of my fellow current students and then attend his talk titled “Don’t Bury the Lede, A Few Thoughts on the Liberal Arts.”

Kesling’s career has embodied the utility of a liberal arts education. A religion major and member of Sigma Chi Fraternity at Wabash, he went on to attain a graduate degree from the Harvard Divinity School.

About that time, the war in Iraq was beginning, and Kesling was faced with a decision. “I sat and watched the initial invasion of Iraq on a television in a common room in grad school housing,” Kesling said. “I was able to wrestle with these questions of war, politics, and humanity thanks in large part to the liberal arts mindset that I had been able to build. I was able to think not only to the arguments being made prima facie but to the motivations behind those arguments.”

Kesling made up his mind to serve his country as a member of the United States Marine Corps and served two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. After deciding that a career in the Marine Corps was not for him, Kesling went to the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern on the GI Bill. He left Medill before graduating in order to pursue his career opportunities and now works for the Wall Street Journal.

His message to students was focused on the importance that liberal arts has had on his life. To Kesling, the liberal arts is not simple dilettantism which entails mere dabbling in subjects in a superficial way.

“A liberal arts approach to life is having the ability and willingness to study a variety of subjects, the capacity to focus in on one when need be, and the humanity to make connections between everything,” Kesling said. “[It is] Like a good physician who knows all of the various organs and muscles in the body and can tell you a great deal about any single one of them but realizes also that the whole physical enterprise ceases to function without the sinews, tendons, and ligaments that connect those parts together.”

Kesling’s liberal arts background and his desire to learn and explore new subjects helped make him be successful as a graduate student, a member of the Marine Corps, and a journalist.

His message was comforting and inspiring as a 22-year-old senior who knows that life may hold a lot of twists and turns ahead. As Kesling never thought he would be a Marine or a journalist while he was at Wabash, I do not know what I may be pursing five to ten years from now.
I would like to thank Dr. Herzog and Wabash College for bringing alumni like Ben Kesling back to Wabash to share their advice and perspectives.

 

A Good Time for a Road Trip

Richard Paige — Teachers always say they’ll go to the ends of the earth for their students. Oscar Santos did just that for one of his.

Santos, a 10th-grade geometry teacher, volunteered to drive Jonathan Alcala the roughly 1,200 miles from Pharr, Texas, to the Wabash campus to make sure that Alcala could attend today’s Top 10 Visit Day.

Alcala wasn’t sure he’d be able to make the trip due to some issues with his visa, but those cleared up Friday afternoon, a little too late to purchase a plane ticket, so Santos stepped up.

“It was kind of a last minute thing,” said Santos. “He found out Friday afternoon that he could make it, so he needed someone to drive him. I said ‘sure, I’ll do it.’ I knew it was important to him.”

Oscar Santos covered 1,200 miles in 22 hours to deliver a student to Top 10 Visit Day.

Santos, a first-year teacher and former social worker, is the coach of the math club of which Alcala is a member, and he freely admits that he didn’t know Alcala all that well. That changed dramatically over the previous 22 hours.

“I got to know him really well on this trip,” Santos laughed. “He’s a great kid.”

They pulled out of the Rio Grande Valley at 9:30 p.m. CST and arrived in Crawfordsville just after 8 p.m. Sunday. Aside from the two speeding tickets he received in Texas – “I was worried about getting him here on time,” he said – there were a number of stops including a few cat naps along the way.

It was the first trip to Indiana for both driver and passenger.

All in all, it’s been a memorable experience.  “I never imagined I’d have that kind of road trip where you do the whole trip in one day,” Santos explained. I didn’t think I could do it, but it was a good experience.”

Like any high school senior making his college choice, Alcala had his own share of questions and reservations during the trip north. Santos did his best to allay those fears.

“We live in a very small town in the Rio Grande Valley,” he explained. “It’s a different culture. I warned him about some of the things he might see and emphasized not to get frightened by the snow or the cultural differences.

“I don’t know quite how he feels about campus and things because I haven’t talked to him yet,” Santos said after the alumni panels, “but I loved the presentations this morning.”