Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Lucia Mauro: art critic

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

mauro-lucia-resizeLucia Mauro earned her BA in English/Communication from Loyola in 1986. Shortly after graduation, she embarked on a long and fulfilling arts writing career–specializing in dance and theatre–in Chicago. Today, she continues to review and write about dance for the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine, Playbill, and other publications. She is the dance critic for Chicago Public Radio and has penned three arts-related career books for McGraw-Hill. Since 2008, she has served as an adjunct professor of dance history in Loyola University Chicago’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts.

Besides the arts, Lucia harbors a great love of Italy, something that derives from her time as a student at the John Felice Rome Center. She has traveled to every region of the country and writes and speaks frequently on Italian culture and life. In Summer 2010 she will teach Dance History: Renaissance to Present at the Rome Center.

What’s the most enduring lesson you learned at Loyola?

It’s a two-fold lesson: to regard everyone as an individual with unique gifts and talents, and to carefully evaluate all sides of an issue.

What’s your favorite memory of Loyola?

Many are tied to my unforgettable experiences of seeing history come to life before my eyes at the John Felice Rome Center. I’ll narrow it down to a significant one. I was put in charge of picking up the tickets for my History of Opera class at Il Teatro dell’Opera di Roma and frequently managed to sneak into the elaborate theater, where I caught more than a few delightfully chaotic rehearsals.

Why did you decide to become a writer, speaker, and educator?

My career and life seem to have evolved in unexpected ways. I always loved telling stories and discovered that I could best express myself in writing. And I was determined to follow my passion. My writing has, over the years, allowed me to extend my infatuation with words to public speaking and teaching. Personally, I believe writing must begin with observation…the rest is a lifelong process of chiseling and polishing.

What’s the most interesting part of your job?

There are so many dimensions, and I’m constantly shifting gears. What unites them all is the unexpected joy of meeting people from all walks of life, traveling to new places, and engaging in an exchange of knowledge and insights with others.

What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I can’t believe I would ever find myself quoting The Karate Kid, but there’s a lot of truth to Miyagi’s adage, “Wax on…wax off”.

What book are you reading right now? Would you recommend it to others?

I’m splitting time reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. So I’m vacillating wildly between ideas of self-reliance, survival and the role of instinct and compassion.

What (or who) inspires you?

Though I’m no technophobe, I’m inspired by individuals who maintain a real connection to humanity despite the temptation to rely on the abundance of gadgetry invading our lives.

If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction?

A sword-and-sandals epic. Not quite an accurate portrayal of my life, but I like the way it sounds…and I’ve spent a lot of time in Rome.

Describe your perfect day.

Coastal sailing in Italy with my husband Joe…and not being tied to a schedule or deadline.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?

I never tire of Italy, in general, or the island of Sardinia, in particular–it’s ancient, remote, and mystical…and I could subsist on Sardinia’s wafer-thin carta da musica bread, pecorino sardo cheese, and red cannonau wine.

What’s your favorite Chicago pizza?

As an unrelenting Italo-phile, I prefer the more traditional thin-crust pizzas at Spacca Napoli Pizzeria and the unconventional but flavorful Neapolitan Coalfire Pizza. I also have fond memories of the deep-dish spinach-and-mushroom pies at Gino’s East when I was a student at Water Tower Campus.

Who would you want to be for a day?

Anita Garibaldi–the Brazilian-revolutionary wife of Giuseppe Garibaldi and quintessential woman of action.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

The Food Network….besides Giada, Rachael, and Tyler, I’m hooked on The Next Iron Chef.

Which one best describes you in college: athlete, intellectual, artist, young professional, activist, or social butterfly?

I’d have to start with young professional because many of my classes were at Water Tower, which had a high number of economics and law students. I often wore a business suit and carried a briefcase – remember it was the ’80s. At the same time, I clocked many hours reading in the library when I wasn’t obsessively studying ballet in downtown Chicago. So intellectual and artist also apply (but both sound a bit pretentious to me).

Ian Brennan: “GLEE” co-creator

Monday, September 21st, 2009

brennan-for-webA 2001 graduate of Loyola, Ian Brennan majored in Theatre and Spanish. Following graduation, Ian began his career acting in Chicago at the Goodman, Steppenwolf, Northlight, Marriott, and Writers’ theatres.

In 2003, he moved to New York to do new plays at MCC Theatre, the Vineyard, and Playwrights Horizons, and began to act in TV and film. In 2005, he took a crack at writing a screenplay for the first time. He is now co-creator, co-writer, and co-executive producer of the new hour-long comedy, “Glee,” Wednesdays on FOX.

What’s your favorite memory of Loyola?

I did a lot of plays in Chicago while I was still a student, and I used to break into the old auditorium in Skyscraper (Mundelein Center) in the middle of the night to rehearse auditions–no joke–just me and a ghost light.

If you could go back to school, what Loyola course would you take? Why?

I’d probably get a theology degree, which is weird, as I’m not particularly religious. But I invariably enjoyed my theology courses the most. John McCarthy taught an honors course called “Imagining the Future” about ways people throughout history have construed the concept of the future… absolutely extraordinary. And Pauline Viviano can teach a MEAN Old Testament class.

Where was your favorite place on campus?

Cuneen’s, though that’s off-campus. It was the Thursday night actor bar. I hated the Damen building–that escalator system is a disaster. Hundreds of co-eds forced down a series of, like, seven escalators. I swear, every day someone almost lost a foot.

Why did you decide to become an actor/writer?

Always knew I’d be an actor, never thought I’d be a writer. Waking up every morning is like winning the lottery.

What’s the most interesting part of your job?

I laugh really, really hard every single day.

What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?

There’s no such thing as your one big break. They happen again and again.

What book are you reading right now? Would you recommend it to others?

I’m visiting Barcelona right now (thank you, Loyola Spanish major), and I’m reading Paul Preston’s book, The Spanish Civil War. I’m realizing that everything anyone needs to know about politics, EVER, happened in the Spanish Civil War.

What (or who) inspires you?

If you make me laugh, I’ll follow you around forever.

If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction?

It would be all of these, and it would SWEEP at the Oscars.

Describe your perfect day.

Any day with a nap in it.

Describe yourself in three words. I am…

Usually somewhat embarrassed.

What’s your favorite Chicago pizza place?

Gasp! I don’t really like Chicago pizza. A Chicago dog, however? Amazing. It’s like a hot dog married a salad and had a delicious baby. There’s even celery salt on it. Don’t know where you can find celery salt? Your parents’ cupboard. I GUARANTEE there’s celery salt in there, and it was purchased no less than 30 years ago. It’s literally a spice a person purchases ONCE.

Who would you want to be for a day?

Bo, the Obamas’ dog. I kind of want to hang out with all of the Obamas equally.

Which one best describes you in college: athlete, intellectual, artist, young professional, activist, or social butterfly?

None, probably “Prating Type-A Know-it-all.” I do have a sense of humor though, so at least people liked me.

Barry Hillenbrand: global journalist

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

hillenbrand-barry_2Barry Hillenbrand graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences in 1963 with a degree in history. After graduation, he volunteered with the Peace Corps in Ethiopia then earned a graduate degree in history at New York University.

He joined TIME magazine in 1967 and spent most of his 34-year career as a foreign correspondent, including two years in Saigon covering Vietnam and Cambodia in the closing days of the Vietnam War. He bounced from three years in Rio de Janeiro to three more years in Bahrain covering wars and oil in the Persian Gulf with intermediate stops for a few years in the Chicago and Boston bureaus.

He moved to Japan as Tokyo Bureau Chief in 1986 being appointed London Bureau Chief in 1992 in time to chronicle Charles and Diana breaking up and the Irish making peace. He returned to the United States in 1999 to work in Washington DC covering foreign policy. He retired in 2001.

Hillenbrand has remained active with freelance editing and book reviewing for TIME, Washington Post, AARP The Magazine, and Commonweal. He has also edited WorldView, the magazine of the National Peace Corps Association. He edits The Herald, the publication of Ethiopia & Eritrean returned peace corps volunteers. He has also undertaken speaking tours for the State Department to Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia.

What is the most enduring lesson you learned at Loyola?

Loyola in the ’60s had a stellar array of history professors – John J Reardon, Edward Gagan,  Raymond Schmandt, to name a few – who taught me how to think. We learned to analyze an issue from all sides, ferret out sources, check facts thoroughly, and approach problems with skepticism while always questioning conventional wisdom. Wow. They were training future historians, but these were exactly the skills I needed for a life in journalism.

If you could go back to school, what Loyola course would you take? Why?

I’d head right for the fine arts department and take FNAR 201, Renaissance to Modern Art, followed by Music 155, Intro to Symphonic Music. LUC had no courses in art history or music in the ’60s, and that was a big hole in my formal education-along with economics. I’ve learned a lot about art, music, and especially economics in years of reporting on them, but it would be fun to take some courses and see if what I learned was right.

Where was your favorite place on campus?

Sitting on the steps in front of Madonna della Strada Chapel looking at the Lake

Why did you decide to become a journalist?

Unlike the rest of my family, I had no aptitude for science and did miserably in my two miserable semesters in pre-med. But I could write pretty well-and I was a romantic idealist who felt that journalists could help right wrongs and make the world a better place. I didn’t right very many wrongs, but I explained the world to readers. Maybe that made it a better place. I’m still a romantic idealist. And I had a lot of fun.

What is the most interesting part of your job?

Being paid to go to live in interesting places and learn new things. Every time I’d get bored (oh, God, not one more story on Japanese auto exports!), I’d be sent off somewhere (get to Manila today, Marcos is going down) and start learning a whole new topic.

What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?

This may not be the greatest piece, but it was pretty good. An editor once suggested that I change “he refused to comment” to “he declined to comment.” That was subtle but important difference. So, I learned that journalists and writers need to pay close attention to the shadings of words and not use the overly dramatic word when a less contentious word is more accurate.

What book are you reading right now? Would you recommend it to others?

I always have several books going at one time. I’ve been working my way through Rick Atkinson’s The Army at Dawn, the first volume of his excellent trilogy about the American army in World War II. Definitely worth the time.

I’m nearly finished with Richard Wolffe’s Renegade: The Making of a President, the first book published about the Obama campaign. It’s just okay; it needed more editing. A better read, I think, will be Dan Baltz and Haynes Johnson’s The Battle for America 2008, which came out in August. That’s next on my list. Finally, I am listening to an audio book of Melvyn Bragg’s wonderful The Adventure of English on my iphone when I’m at the gym or working in the garden. It’s a fascinating history of the development of English. Everyone should read it.

What (or who) inspires you?

Reading a well-reported, well-written story in a newspaper, magazine or even-when they appear-online. Otherwise, listening to Mitsuko Uchida play Mozart.

If you could travel to any time and place in history, where would you opt to go?

Asia in 1945, based in Hong Kong. Everybody came through: Mao, Ho Chi Minh, MacArthur, Gandhi, Syngman Rhee, Magsaysay, dazed Japanese, failing British and French colonialists, bewildered, muscle-bound Americans. The second half of 20th century history was beginning.

Describe your perfect day.

A day when I can reach my retirement goal: never having to do anything you don’t want to do. I seldom reach that goal.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?

Gosh, having visited, for work or play, more than 90 countries, there’s not a lot left, but I guess I’d love to visit North Korea, a place only George Orwell could understand.

What’s your favorite Chicago pizza place?

I haven’t eaten pizza in Chicago in 30 years. In fact, I seldom eat pizza anywhere, if I can help it, and that’s mostly because the only kind I remotely like is deep dish which seems to be out of fashion most everywhere except Chicago. Right?

Who would you want to be for a day?
James Levine conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra 

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Popcorn. I can never resist buying it, especially freshly popped by a street vendor. I recently had a great bag from a guy selling it in the central square in Skopje, Macedonia. Delicious. And cheap.

Which one best describes you in college: athlete, intellectual, artist, young professional, activist, or social butterfly?

An intellectual who thought he was an activist. Or was it the other way around?

Maribeth Brown Romslo: photo pro

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

romslo-maribethMaribeth Brown Romslo earned a Bachelor of Arts at Loyola in 2000. She also studied at the John Felice Rome Center, where she met her husband, Erik.

A documentary wedding photographer, she lives in Minneapolis with her husband, 6-month-old son, and dog. Prior to opening her own business, Red Ribbon Studio, in 2004, she was a magazine photo editor in New York City. Her work has been featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, Real Simple Weddings, and Brides Magazine, and she was honored as a 2008 and 2009 “The Knot Best of Weddings” Photographer.

What is the most enduring lesson you learned at Loyola?

Service. I volunteered in a few ways during my time at Loyola and it impressed on me the importance of service and volunteering. I loved being involved in the Hunger Week planning and events-I felt like it increased awareness about such an important topic.

Since Loyola, I have continued to make service a priority in my life. I ran as a volunteer guide with the Achilles Track Club (for disabled runners) when I lived in NYC, volunteered for Peace House Africa, and have organized a Christmas gift drive for a needy family every year with my book club.

If you could go back to school, what Loyola course would you take? Why?

Color Theory with Professor Vodvarka (a professor in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts), I LOVED that class.

Where was your favorite place on campus?

In front of Madonna della Strada, looking out at the lake

What is your favorite place in Chicago?

When you’re driving on Lake Shore Drive and you go over the river. The view of the city and lake is so pretty right there-especially at night.

Why did you decide to become a photographer?

I love telling stories with my camera. I feel so fortunate that I am able to do it as my job! My grandfather taught me to take photographs when I was a teenager. I went to college not knowing I would major in fine art, but was very encouraged by my fine art professors to pursue it as a major.

I also photographed for The Phoenix (student newspaper), which was a great experience for learning how to document news events and stories. The documentary skills I learned photographing for The Phoenix were definitely a foundation for how I found my passion and direction in photography.

What is the most interesting part of your job?

Every wedding day is unique-so personal and different for each couple. I love that.

What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Joy is the best makeup.

What book are you reading right now? Would you recommend it to others?

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Yes, I would recommend it, especially to “dog people.”

What (or who) inspires you?

Love. Kindness. Color. Kids. Nature. Yoga. Friends. Family.

If you could travel to any time and place in history, where would you opt to go?

The 1960s in the United States-it was such a transformational time: civil rights, JFK, Martin Luther King Jr…Plus I think it would be awesome to wear go-go boots on a daily basis.

Describe your perfect day.

Latte from the coffee shop. Go to a yoga class. Lunch with a girlfriend. Walk around the lake with my husband, son, and dog. Afternoon nap. BBQ dinner. Glass of wine and a movie after my 6 month old goes to sleep.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?

Back to Africa. My husband and I traveled to Tanzania for two weeks in February 2008 and volunteered at a school there. The school is run by a Minnesota based non-profit (www.peacehouseafrica.org) that I had been involved with the past few years. It was an amazing experience. The kids were so inspiring, they maintained such joy and hope in the face of adversity. I would go back and volunteer again in a heartbeat.

Describe yourself in three words. I am…

Happy. Busy. Energetic.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

These days, my 6-month old, Max. I haven’t used my alarm clock since March.

Which one best describes you in college: athlete, intellectual, artist, young professional, activist, or social butterfly?

Artist

Jennifer Setlak: crime solver

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

setlak-jenniJennifer Setlak graduated from Loyola in 2001 with her BS in biology (she also attended the John Felice Rome Center during the spring of 2000). For a few years after graduation, she worked as a research tech in a neurobiology lab. She then “dusted off her forensic dream” and decided to pursue her passion. These days, she’s a “super-crime-fighting-DNA-analyst” who loves baseball, her cats, Disney World, and her crazy family. She indulges her creative side by playing the piano and crocheting. Even though she’s in Florida, she tries to stay out of the heat as much as possible (something that makes her the envy of all her Chicago friends)!

What’s the most enduring lesson you learned at Loyola?

I learned that you really can find God in all things. It’s always easier to find God in church, but if you can quiet your mind and really look around you, God is everywhere.

What’s your favorite memory of Loyola?

The night after graduation there was a plan to meet up on the rocks in front of the Jes Res to watch the sun come up. I remember it was one of the most beautiful sunrises I’d ever seen. It reminded me that the next chapter of my life was about to start.

Where was your favorite place on campus?

The Jes Res lawn! As soon as the weather turned warm I would head out there with a blanket and a book. I always had good intentions of studying, but somehow I always got distracted by the volleyball team.

What’s your favorite place in Chicago?

Wrigley Field – I just love the tradition that surrounds Wrigley. You can almost feel the history as soon as you walk into the stadium. There’s nothing better than drinking an Old Style with good friends and cheering on the Cubbies from the bleachers.

Why did you decide to become a crime lab analyst?

I love this job because it combines my love of science with the chance to serve my community in a concrete, tangible way. I like to think that I work for the victims and try to bring the truth to the surface. And, though it took me a while to get here, my advice is to never give up on your dream. If you really want something, you need to do whatever it takes to make that happen. Even if you have to leave everyone you know behind and move across the country [Jenni moved to Florida for her current job]. And besides, isn’t that what God invented cell phones for?

What’s the most interesting part of your job?

How stupid criminals are! A good example is the burglar who drinks a beer out of your fridge while he’s robbing you, then leaves it behind, covered in fingerprints and DNA.

What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. And it is so true!  I love my job because I feel that I have a purpose when I come into work–that what I do makes a difference to someone.

What (or who) inspires you?

My parents. They have always supported me, no matter what I wanted to do in life. From an ill-fated attempt at rollerblading, to owning a horse, to moving to Florida (where I didn’t know a soul) to pursue my dream job, they have been behind me every step.

Describe your perfect day.

I am a Disney Season Pass holder, so my perfect day would be spent at Disney World with my best friends and family. It would be sunny, but not hot, and we would never have to wait in a line for more than 10 minutes.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Usually my cat, Sophie, begging for treats. There’s a routine that must be followed and if she doesn’t get her treats right away, she’ll let you know that she’s still waiting.

What’s your favorite Chicago pizza place?

Pizano’s–get the Rudy’s Special!

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Reality TV!  And it’s not my fault, really. I first started watching some of the shows so that I could know what everyone at work was talking about. My current favorite is “So You Think You Can Dance,” although I never vote. You should watch!

Which one best describes you in college: athlete, intellectual, artist, young professional, activist, or social butterfly?

I was a spirituality seeker. My sophomore year I went on the Search retreat. It really changed how I thought and communicated with God. It was also such an uplifting experience to see my peers going through the same struggles with faith that I was.

Helen (Hershinow) Ramirez-Odell: caregiver

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

ramirez-odell-helenHelen (Hershinow) Ramirez-Odell earned her BSN in nursing from Loyola in 1964 and is a certified nurse in the Chicago Public Schools, where she keeps Chicago’s children healthy and able to succeed in their educational programs. She represents school nurses in the Chicago Teachers Union and serves as co-chair for the Women’s Health Committee of the National Coalition of Labor Union Women. In addition, she is the co-author of Working Without Uniforms: School Nursing in Chicago 1951-2001, published by the Working Women’s History Project in 2002. In 2003, Helen received the Damen Award for the Niehoff School of Nursing.

What’s the most enduring lesson you learned at Loyola?

I learned the importance of developing the whole person: intellectually, professionally, socially, physically, spiritually, and the importance of both the arts and the sciences in our lives.

What’s your favorite memory of Loyola?

I was working on the student newspaper in 1962 and wanted to cover an event at Lewis Towers but feared I’d be late. Father Bryant [the advisor for the student paper] trusted me enough to offer me his car. I got there on time and was very grateful to be treated as an adult and a good driver.

If you could go back to school, what Loyola course would you take? Why?

I’d take a class in economics. It was not part of the nursing program and living through the financial crisis today, I’d like to know more about money and the way our country handles it.

What’s your favorite place on campus?

The Loyola newspaper office and student union, where hanging out was comfortable and coffee was cheap.

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

Growing up in the 50s, women were expected to go into teaching, secretarial work, or nursing. I thought nursing would be more exciting than the other occupations. I was impressed that Loyola offered a college degree in nursing and public health experience.

What’s the most interesting part of your job?

I work in a high school with more than 2,200 adolescents who present special needs and challenges every day. The ever-changing political scene, budget, and value people place on health and education guarantee the job is never boring.

What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t wait for things you want to happen. Make them happen.

What book are you reading right now? Would you recommend it to others?

The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler tells the stories of young women who went to homes for unwed mothers, gave up their babies for adoption, and were expected to forget what happened and go on with their lives. It’s a powerful, myth-shattering book.

What (or who) inspires you?

I am constantly inspired by my nurse friends and colleagues who use their knowledge and skills daily to help people, one life at a time, often under very difficult conditions.

If you could travel to any time and place in history, where would you opt to go?

I’d go to Seneca Falls, New York (July 1848) for the first women’s rights convention.

Describe your perfect day.

A perfect summer day would start with tennis in the park, participation in a meeting or event to promote women’s rights, women’s history, health care for all, or some other cause, and dinner and a concert at Ravinia or Grant Park with family and friends.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?

I’d like to go to Maui, Hawaii to see the sun rise on Haleakala and to Arizona to ride a mule into the Grand Canyon on a cool day.

Who would you want to be for a day?

Hillary Rodham Clinton–she designed a health care plan for all, was a serious candidate for U.S. President, and currently helps us improve relations with other countries as Secretary of State.

Which one best describes you in college: athlete, intellectual, artist, young professional, activist, or social butterfly?

I tried to be an intellectual and an activist. It took a while before I could feel I was a professional.

Colleen E. Morey: district attorney

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

morey-colleenColleen E. Morey earned her BA at Loyola in 2005, and, not being ready to leave Chicago, stayed in the Windy City to pursue her JD, graduating from the Law School in 2008. She currently works as a district attorney in Fort Collins, Colorado.

During undergrad, Colleen spent a semester in Washington DC with the Les Aspin Program for Government. It was there she decided to get into politics and figured the best way to do that was by getting a law degree. She’s not ready to make a run for office just yet–she’s still adjusting to the public scrutiny that comes from working in the District Attorney’s office.

What’s the most enduring lesson you learned at Loyola?

The importance of service in your everyday life. There is always time to give back if you make it a priority. I’ve been involved with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, trash pick up days, after-school tutoring, and volunteering at the Irish-American Society. Nowadays, I run in various races that support charities.

What’s your favorite memory of Loyola?

Coffey Hall during freshman year. Most of my best friends are Coffey alums. We were upset when we found out we were in the “all girls” dorm, but cried when we had to leave.

If you could go back to school, what Loyola course would you take? Why?

I think I would take some business classes. Finances have never been my strong suit.

Where was your favorite place on campus?

The Jes Res lawn, which is now a beautiful information building [Klarchek Information Commons], but I loved when it was nice out and we could “study” on the lawn.

What’s your favorite place in Chicago?

The lakefront path between Irving Park and the boat harbor. It’s where I trained for the 2006 Chicago marathon and cleared my head on a daily basis. I haven’t had the opportunity to train for another marathon, yet, but hope to soon!

What’s the most interesting part of your job?

I deal primarily with alleged criminals. I get yelled at a lot, called derogatory names, and cursed at. So, that’s interesting. There’s always a good story around the office about something crazy that happened that day. At the same time, making a difference in my community is extremely rewarding.

Sounds like that can be pretty stressful. What do you do to unwind?

I run twice a week and hit the gym the other days. I also ski a lot during the season. Even the drive up there can be relaxing if the traffic cooperates.

What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“Be here now” and “trust the process.” There’s only so much you can do today, and it’s better to live in the present than waste it worrying about the past or future.

What book are you reading right now? Would you recommend it to others?

A Long Way Gone by Ishmeal Beah (yes); Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran (yes); and The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz (maybe).

What (or who) inspires you?

My dad and the human ability to achieve greatness.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?

South America, specifically Peru. I’ve been to Europe and India, so I feel like South America is the next step.

You studied at the John Felice Rome Center. What hidden gems did you discover in Rome?

I didn’t know the names of anything in Rome. I was always following my friend Courtney around. There was this sandwich shop by the Pantheon that was fantastic. I also loved “cheap bar” (had cheap Heinekens).

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Reality TV, though I’d never actually want to be on any of the shows.

Which one best describes you in college: athlete, intellectual, artist, young professional, activist, or social butterfly?

Part activist, part social butterfly

Johnny Heller: “the voice”

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

heller-johnnyJohnny Heller graduated from Loyola in 1979 with a degree in political science, though his passion has always been performing. He was involved in theatre as an undergrad, organized a comedy troupe, and wrote a comedy column for the Phoenix. After a brief stint as a journalist, Johnny returned to the performing arts, where he’s had a long and successful career.

Today, Johnny lives in New York City and spends most of his time narrating audio books and doing commercial voiceover work (he was the voice of the book Marley and Me and won a 2009 Audie award for the recording of You Staying Young by Drs. Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz, frequent guests on Oprah). Publishers Weekly named him a 2008 Listen Up winner and he was named a Best Voice of 2008 by Audiofile Magazine. He’s also done some stand-up comedy, written three plays and numerous short stories, and has a children’s book in the works.

What’s the most enduring lesson you learned at Loyola?

That there are no real limits on us other then those that are self-imposed. Also, that it’s important not to schedule anything first-thing in the morning as it cuts heavily into time best spent dealing with a hangover.

What is your favorite memory of Loyola?

I enjoyed a great deal of it–intramural sports, frats…I guess my favorite was Father Loftus’ existentialism classes. The guy was hilarious and quirky. I still impersonate him in my audio work sometimes.

If you could go back to school, what Loyola course would you take? Why?

Computer programming and Web design. They weren’t big at that time, and I remain clueless.

What’s the most interesting part of your job?

Meeting and sharing with interesting creative people. And, there’s a certain excitement in wondering where the next job will come from.

What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Father Jerry Hogan told me I could never make it as an actor. I set out to prove him wrong immediately. Anti-advice I guess.

What do you say to students or new grads who want to pursue a career in the performing arts?

Pursue your dreams but be realistic about your place in the business. And realize that it is a business.

What book are you reading right now? Would you recommend it to others?

Lee Child’s Gone Tomorrow. I would recommend it. Jack Reacher is awesome–a Jack Bauer for the workingman.

And, what’s the children’s book about?

Dealing with tough choices, bullies, and moving to a new place. But don’t look for it on bookshelves at Barnes & Noble anytime soon. I still have to finish it.

What (or who) inspires you?

My father, Groucho Marx, anyone who can bat near .300 without steroids, and people who believe and follow their dreams.

If you could travel to any time and place in history, where would you opt to go?

I would like to see the Marx Brothers do Vaudeville. I would also like to visit Edison. I would not like to see the Visogoths or the Hittites.

If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction?

It would be a comedy. But I bet I wouldn’t get the part.

Describe your perfect day.

Get up at the bright hour of 10:30 a.m. or so. Have some coffee and grape juice and some fruit.  Read the paper. Go to the gym or for a long walk. Play some softball. Work the rest of the day and finish with some dinner and wine with my lovely girlfriend.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

I am one of those horrible people who leaps out of bed greeting the new day–fully awake and chipper.

Which one best describes you in college: athlete, intellectual, artist, young professional, activist, or social butterfly?

Social butterfly.

Is that still true today?

Now I’m an intellectual social butterfly.

Rick Dutkiewicz: CFO

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

dukiewicz-rickRick Dutkiewicz earned his BBA in accounting from Loyola in 1977 and has more than 25 years of experience in finance and accounting. Immediately after graduation, he spent several years working in public accounting, mostly with KPMG. He has been the Chief Financial Officer at Vari-L Company, Inc and Coleman Natural Products, Inc. Currently he is the CFO of Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, which operates, licenses or franchises over 650 restaurants in 34 states, predominantly under the  Einstein Bros. Bagels and Noah’s New York Bagels brands. In 2008, he was named CFO of the Year by the Denver Business Journal. Rick lives in Evergreen, Colorado with his wife and sons.

What’s the most enduring lesson you learned at Loyola?

You are born with a moral compass, but my family and Jesuit education at Loyola enforced that. My instructors were invested in us and taught us to question that which we did not understand.

If you could go back to school, what Loyola course would you take? Why?

Psychology. Business is all about dealing with people and diverse personality types. Psychology should be a core course.

What is your favorite place in Chicago?

The lakefront. I also enjoy the neighborhood and shops around the Water Tower campus–Rush Street is such a vibrant area.

Why did you decide to become a beancounter [Rick's term, not ours]?

Well, let’s just say I took accounting instead of physics in high school. As luck would have it I had a passion around accounting. It is the scorecard for the success or failure of a business.

What is the most interesting part of your job?

Identifying opportunities to improve the profitability and cash flow of the business. It is also about sharing your knowledge and experience with bright young minds. Our goal in life is to lead and coach.

So, how do you motivate the next generation of leaders?

I try to get them to challenge conventional thinking. Often, if they can do that, they come up with good solutions to problems.

What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?

That being liked is not the key to success in business. Being respected is the key. Not everyone will like us, but it is important that they respect us.

What book are you reading right now? Would you recommend it to others?

Just finished When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management by Roger Lowenstein. It clarifies the recent failures on Wall Street. I am just starting Leading at a Higher Level.

What (or who) inspires you?

My family. My wife is my soulmate. My boys are my angst and joy at different moments, and I love my brother and sister deeply.

If you could travel to any time and place in history, where would you opt to go?

Kitty Hawk, NC, on the day the Wright Brothers flew. That changed the world.

Do you have any aspiration to learn how to fly?

I’ve always wanted to but haven’t gotten around to it… yet.

If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction?

I love the movie Rudy. It’s the story of a young man from Joliet who went to Joliet Catholic and never gave up on his dreams and ignored the naysayers. In many ways my life is the same. Never give up.

Describe your perfect day.

18 holes of golf with my buddies. You forget about the challenges in life and “play it where it lies.” Sometimes you like it. Sometimes you don’t. It’s just like life in the business world.

Describe yourself in three words. I am…

A persistent bugger

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I love great food. I enjoy going to great restaurants and having the chef’s specialty. Italian, steak, German, Thai, seafood–it doesn’t matter.

What’s the best meal you had recently?

I just had a great meal at Osteria del Circo at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. In Chicago, Richard Melman [of Lettuce Entertain You] has some excellent places. In New York, the spot is Union Square Café [an award-winning restaurant by Danny Meyer].

Which one best describes you in college: athlete, intellectual, artist, young professional, activist, or social butterfly?

Part athlete, part social butterfly and part young professional. I played club hockey at Loyola, was a member of Sigma Pi, and focused on business junior and senior year.

Sonal Shah: “Scrubs” actress

Monday, July 13th, 2009

shah-sonalSonal Shah is a 2002 Loyola grad who majored in theatre and had minors in psychology, biology, and chemistry. Although she was pre-med, she opted not to go to medical school after realizing that her passion for performing outweighed her passion for wanting to be a doctor. Instead, she hoped that one day she would have the honor of playing one on TV. This dream came true when she recently played intern Dr. Sunny Dey as part of a recurring role on “Scrubs.”

An active member of the Asian-American community, Sonal emceed the 2009 Chicago Foundation for Women’s Asian American Leadership Council Achievement Awards. She was also a guest lecturer at Harvard University as part of the South Asian Association Lecture Series and a panelist at the 2009 Kriti Festival (the Midwest’s South Asian Literary Festival).

What is the most enduring lesson you learned at Loyola?

To be of service to others. I went on an immersion trip to Belize with the Ministry Center and was overcome by Loyola energy–positive, pure, and strong. I also learned to be courageous, to follow my dream, and which coffee to drink for all-night study sessions!

What is your favorite memory of Loyola?

So many to choose from! I was honored to give the student commencement speech when I graduated. That was awesome! Also, I loved every experience with the theatre department as well as with Alpha Sigma Alpha. Above everything though, if I must say… my favorite memory is definitely the people. I am grateful for the friends I made there.

If you could go back to school, what Loyola course would you take? Why?

Ha! I took way more courses than I needed to because I changed my career goals halfway through!  Hmm… If I could go back, I’d take a business/entrepreneur type course since being an actor is like having your own business.

Where was your favorite place on campus?

I must say the theater…even when it was empty. It houses an engaging energy full of vibrant creativity, peace, and magic. I immediately felt a surge of familiarity and excitement every time I walked in. I felt really alive in it. I know I’m a bit cheesy!

Why did you decide to become an actor?

The fact that I’m crazy! Honestly though, I’m a huge goofball, and I have always aimed to make people laugh. I’ve always desired to create, connect, inspire, heal, and for me, acting is also a spiritual discovery.  I’ve been a performer my whole life and I absolutely love it.  It wasn’t just one thing, but definitely all of my random life experiences that propelled me to become an actor.

What’s the most interesting part of your job?

I cannot plan anything. I need to keep my schedule free to attend an audition or a booking at anytime. It’s a roller coaster and constant challenge. Thus, I am always living in the moment. Also, no matter how hard I work, nothing is guaranteed, but it is possible.  It’s that small possibility that makes all of the struggling worth it!

What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Everything taught to me by my parents! A few that stand out are: always be positive…what’s done is done and can’t be undone…never give up…live without regret…always be grateful…never complain…it’s what you make of it…everything happens for a reason.  Can you tell I’m indecisive?!

If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction?

It would be a complex dramady. Yes, lots of funny moments will abound (I’ve had way too many crazy experiences), but I believe the film will have the depth and heart of a true drama as well.

Describe your perfect day.

Wow.  That is a hard question.  I guess that one example of a perfect day for me would be one in which I could perform, my parents are there (because I love them so much), and I squeezed in a morning hike (or yoga) and a delicious Indian dinner after!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?

Italy. Again. I studied at the John Felice Rome Center and I would love to go back. I love Italy…the food, mountains, history, architecture, romanticism, language, culture, vibrancy, people, fashion, wine, energy…ok, now I’m excited!  Buy me a ticket!

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

I jump out of bed with a smile every morning. I hope to be able to share love, peace, and laughter with everyone I can. I hope to learn something new and give back. I wake up and call my parents…we have a magical relationship.  They are absolutely incredible, supportive, loving, understanding, and I talk to them at least 5 times a day.  I couldn’t do anything without them.

What’s your favorite Chicago pizza place?

Lou Malnatis! Every time I come home, my dad buys me frozen pizzas and I bring them back to LA in my suitcase! I love how Chicagoans root for their fave pizza place as if it were a sport team (I’m a Cubs fan, by the way).

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Dancing like a fool. I know I’d win a freestyle dance-off with most anyone (unless they’ve been on Dancing with the Stars). I love to dance and I love to make people laugh at (or with?) my dancing! Can you tell I’m slightly confident about my dancing!?

Which one best describes you in college: athlete, intellectual, artist, young professional, activist, or social butterfly?

Intellectual, artist, young professional, and social butterfly. Does that count? I’m pretty complex (hee hee). As a pre-med student, I loved to study and spent hours everyday in the library. After I switched my major to theatre, I spent my days rehearsing, painting sets, reading plays, designing, dancing, singing, etc.