Tag Archives: Alumni in Focus

Finding the Right Chemistry

A teenage Dennis Burkett (95) stares longingly at the clock on the wall, already waiting for the bell’s sweet release from the dreaded high school chemistry class that’s just begun. Three chalkboards filled to the brim with vocabulary from this week’s lesson stare dauntingly at him as he reluctantly lifts his pencil to begin the laborious task of copying each definition into his notebook — a routine to which he’s become far too accustomed. Fast forward almost 30 years. Burkett now stands on the other…

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Making a Musical: A Glimpse Into the Life of Hamilton Resident Director Hannah Ryan

{ SCENE 1 } Morning light breaks. Before getting ready for the day, Hannah Ryan (08) makes her way to her computer, where she edits notes she took from the previous night’s performance of Hamilton: An American Musical. On the subway ride to the theatre, she reads scripts for other projects she is developing. She arrives at the theatre for a “put-in” rehearsal, or dress rehearsal for new company members. The actors get into costume, after which she meets with them to go over dance…

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Changing the Game on Physical Education

George Velarde (94) recalled his first draw into the world of physical education. “I was a cross-country runner in high school, and I remember watching my coaches and physical education teachers having so much fun while building this great rapport with students, and I knew that was what I wanted to do,” he said. In pursuit of that calling, Velarde attended PLNU, where he earned his bachelor’s in athletic training while also running on the cross-country and track and field teams, and went on to…

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The Gift of Music: Fostering Hope Through Jazz

When he was 17, Dr. John Reynolds (03) waited eagerly backstage in a venue in Santa Rosa after a performance by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. He stood in a line of fellow trumpet players about to meet Wynton Marsalis, the famed trumpeter, composer, and teacher. When it was finally his turn to have Marsalis share his autograph, Reynolds took the opportunity to wrest a bit of advice on playing his instrument more effectively, not exactly sure what to expect. “Marsalis hands me his…

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From Late-Night Debates to Late-Night Newborns and Dissertations: The Priest, the Professor, and the Politician

“Impassioned political visionary Thomas Jefferson was not without ironclad convictions. Nevertheless, he wrote, “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” Joel Day (07), Ben Kautzer (07), and Gaelan Gilbert (07) have followed Jefferson’s lead to the letter. While PLNU undergraduates, the three comrades would debate politics, religion, philosophy, and literature all night, every night, with the lights out in Goodwin Hall or with bottomless cups of coffee at Denny’s. Debating “the old…

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Fighting Ebola by Changing the Soil

When Pieter Baker (10) first stepped foot on Sierra Leone soil in November 2014, it did not look as though Ebola had spread. Civilians lined the streets in the marketplaces, selling and buying goods. People rode bicycles with calm demeanors. It was business as usual. Other than the large red signs plastered on every street corner reading, “Ebola is real,” the place didn’t look like the site of an epidemic that had been killing thousands. Though he knew there were a high number of cases…

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Romani-Meets-World: Racing to Serve

Romani-Meets-World: Racing to Serve BY TIFFANY MUSICK MATTHEWS After graduating from PLNU with a degree in athletic training, Nikki Romani (10), like so many students, began her pursuit of a graduate degree. With her heart set on becoming a physical therapist, Romani found work in a local physical therapy clinic, took prerequisite courses at a community college, and sent in applications to several grad programs. As she waited for responses, she prayed that God would open the right door. Little did she know then, a door…

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Annie Gerhart: Living and Working with an Open Heart

Annie Gerhart: Living and Working with an Open Heart BY SHARON AYALA Annie Gerhart’s mother was the first to have an inkling that her daughter would thrive as a nurse. But it was only after watching “Emergency!,” the 1970s TV show about a group of first responders whose stories collide at Rampart General Hospital in Los Angeles County, that Gerhart decided she wanted to be in emergency medicine. “I wanted to be like Dixie McCall [the show’s head nurse]—she didn’t take anything from anybody,” said Gerhart. The real Rampart General Hospital was actually Harbor…

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Behind the Lens: Destin Daniel Cretton

BY ERIC YATES Storytelling and introspection is at the heart of everything that Destin Daniel Cretton (01) does. Whether it’s detailing the inner workings of a short-term foster-care facility, deep diving the San Diego indie music scene, or profiling the real-life coming-of-age saga about a 14-year-old living alternating lives as an emerging adolescent and a vassal in a medieval fantasy kingdom, the 35-year- old can see a story in just about anything. And he has used his gift of storytelling to produce a cadre of short and…

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Intensive Care

BY SHARON AYALA Carol Kibler (87) recalls one clear indication that she was made for the medical field—
the thrill of her family’s biannual trip to Oregon to help friends bring their cattle in from pasture. Twice a year since the age of 10, Kibler and her family would administer shots to the cows as well as tag and brand them. “The blood never bothered me,” said Kibler. When the cardiac field first began using parts of cows’ hearts in human transplants in the early ’80s,…

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Young Leaders

by Brian Becker Each year, San Diego Metro Magazine recognizes 40 of the most influential leaders in San Diego under age 40. Among the awardees are individuals who have made outstanding contributions to their profession, industry, and/or community. SD Metro’s 40 Under 40 is a unique program in San Diego. The winners are vetted through a nomination and judging process. The result? A list it’s an honor to join. In the past two years, two young PLNU alumni have been recognized as 40 Under 40…

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