Categories
Xavier Magazine

When in Rome… Draw

Mercedes Tryba is organizing her thoughts. A senior art major with concentrations in fibers and graphic design, Tryba is used to talking about art. But this afternoon, as she takes a break from a summer fibers seminar in the A.B. Cohen Center, the cascading images from her recent study-abroad trip to Rome are still too fresh—and there are too many of them—to wrap in a neat, all-encompassing description.

“Almost everything there is art,” she says. “Walking down the street, the cobblestones, the different-colored buildings, that’s all art. Even the people, what they wear, all the jewelry the women wear, the bangles. Everything is art.”

This kind of total experience is exactly what associate professor of art Suzanne Chouteau was hoping for when she began to plan the trip—the first of its kind for Xavier art students. Chouteau first visited Rome while a junior at St. Ambrose University, a small Catholic school in Davenport, Iowa, and it left an indelible mark on her outlook as an artist. So when Paul Colella, director for the University’s philosophy, politics and the public honors program, asked if any art majors would like to travel along with his annual summer study-abroad program in the Italian capital, Chouteau didn’t hesitate.

“Some of the most incredible pinnacles in the development of art and human life can be found in Rome and Florence,” she says. “There’s a long tradition of artists, since the early Renaissance, traveling to these places and sketching, a whole lineage of going to these places to study and learning from it. My goal was to expose my students to as many of these gems as I could. And at the same time, I wanted to give them the opportunity to make a very personal connection with something that’s part of their history by having them draw from artwork and objects in those places.”

A total of 11 art majors made the trip, staying at the Residenza Montemario, a Jesuit residence in the Roman suburbs, part of which has been converted into a four-star hotel. In the course of three weeks, they visited a mind-boggling list of sites, including the Capitoline Museum, Doria Pamphilj Gallery, Barberini Palazzo, Piazza Navona, Borghese Gallery, the Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Cathedral, the Sistine Chapel and numerous other churches.

They also explored the zoo, visited the pantheon, forum and colosseum, and ventured out of town to see art in Florence and Assisi.

If the pace was non-stop, the art was, in the word of sophomore Chrissy Jackson, “awesome.” The group saw works by Michelangelo, Carravagio, Bernini, Boromini, Botticelli, Raphael and Perrugino, among others. In the process, the flat images from art history books came to life.

“The works of Carravagio are almost perfect,” Tryba says. “But you can’t fully understand them until you see them up close, see the brushstrokes and how they’re actually constructed. And then when you see them as these really large paintings that take up most of the wall, it becomes something more than just a picture in a book. And you realize that, yes he was an artist, and, yes, he did create this, and he had to start somewhere. ‘The Pieta’ was created when Michelangelo was 21, which is my age. So where am I supposed to be? It motivates me.”

Motivation comes in handy when there’s a lot of work to be done. And this was no mere sightseeing trip. Each student was charged with creating three to five exhibition-ready works—primarily drawings—plus a large, life-size self-portrait depicting themselves in Rome. These were then combined into a large mural.

With all of this before them, the students began each morning by 9:00 a.m. Chouteau’s schedule called for the sketching trips to end at 2:00 p.m, with students returning to work in the studio space at Montemario. But, in practice, the trips sometimes ran as late as 6:00 p.m. Students also had the option of drawing on weekends.

“Every day was busy. You didn’t really want to miss anything,” Tryba says. “I took 1,900 pictures. We would come home with pictures and sketches. And then you would have to sit down and think about ‘What did I see today?’ I bought postcards everywhere that I went, and I’m in the process of making a book with them right now, adding my thoughts and combining all that with my sketchbook.”

Not surprisingly, Chouteau says, the inspirations found and conclusions drawn were as individual as the student themselves. For Jackson, the trip provided a world of new ideas for using media, approaches and subject matter. “We saw a lot of frescoes, and seeing the way they did things was fascinating, like all the gold leaf,” she says. “It’s stuff that I wouldn’t think of using normally in my art, which would be fun to experiment with.”

Jackson also found herself drawn to the use of Greek mythology in art, in particular the symbolism related to the gods and how those gods interact with each other in various works. Tryba found her inspiration in Carravagio’s paintings and Bernini’s sculpture. Senior Elizabeth Lechleiter, who hopes to transform her concentration in fibers into a career in fashion design and merchandising, took particular inspiration from an evening side trip to a fashion show featuring evening gowns by such names as Donatella Versace, the House of Valentino and Giorgio Armani. Playing with that idea, Lechleiter’s self-portrait places her on a fashion runway. “It was a high point,” she says. “I have a while to go before anything like that is probably ever going to happen. But it’s very encouraging.”

If the sheer volume, variety and quality of art was even greater than some expected, perhaps the biggest surprises came from cultural differences. “They don’t have a bus schedule—the bus comes when it comes,” Tryba says. “If the driver wants to take a smoke break mid-trip, he will. You can’t have an agenda. They have no concept of time. When they say class starts at 9:30 a.m., nobody shows up until 9:45, even the professor wouldn’t dare show up until 9:45 a.m.”

Jackson recalls the trip back to Rome from Assisi. “We were caught in a traffic jam during rush hour,” she says. “It was really impressive. There’s a three-lane road, and they turned it into five lanes. They’re honking, cutting each other off, the scooters go up on the sidewalks—it’s crazy.”

But such experiences are more than curiosities, Lechleiter says. They help students learn not only about other cultures, but about themselves as well. “You have to be patient,” she says. “If you don’t know Italian, you have to work with what you have. You have to be resourceful. It kind of helps you see the world. It opened my eyes.”

While agreeing that the various impacts of the trip may take months or even years to surface, Tryba already senses some change. Certainly, she’s aware that her perspectives have shifted. “Only in Rome can you walk around the corner and see the pantheon and the colosseum,” she says.

Categories
Xavier Magazine

View From the Top

Before former University President James E. Hoff, S.J., took over the presidency in 1991, he turned down a chance to interview for the job three times. Historically, his hesitancy wasn’t unusual. More than 150 years earlier, John Elet, S.J., petitioned his religious superiors to work as a missionary among indigenous tribes. However, they thought his leadership skills better suited for academics and, consequently, appointed him to lead the University. Both men changed the University in dramatic and remarkable ways. Thirty-two other Jesuit presidents have also shaped the University, each in his own unique way while facing his own unique challenges. Here are some of their stories.

The Mob Squad

During his five-year tenure, Maurice Oakley, S.J., the University’s sixth president, focused on repairing buildings affected by factory pollution and general decay. To construct the new college parish, workers demolished the old church building section by section.

Work began in March 1860 and continued until a wall suddenly collapsed, killing 13 workmen. “A large crowd gathered at the scene of the accident and the anti-Catholic forces in the city used this as an excuse to blame the president of St. Xavier College for the tragedy,” writes Lee Bennish, S.J., author of Continuity and Change: Xavier University 1831-1981. The onlookers soon turned into a mob and proceeded to the college where the police and the mayor eventually calmed them.

An Unwelcome Visitor

Irish-born Thomas O’Neil, S.J., the ninth University president, had two close calls during 1870. First, he negotiated the acquisition of a 43-acre Kentucky farm along the banks of the Ohio River as a vacation home for religious faculty. The purchase also included an 11-room house, stable, wagon and a horse named Bob. After the spring semester ended, several faculty members withdrew to the property—just in time. A cholera outbreak struck Cincinnati, killing scores of people, but not reaching the Jesuits across the river.

The second—and more imminent—incident occurred one day in November after classes had been dismissed. A crazed man ran into the building shouting for the treasurer. One of the Jesuits tried reasoning with the man, who seemed to think that the school housed hidden gold chalices and other treasures. Suddenly the man dashed up the stairs. “That moment out sprang the Rector, Fr. O’Neil, and pounced on the man halfway up, catching him by the arms,” an eyewitness recalled. “But though pinned, the madman drew knives from under his sleeves slashing our brave Rector on both arms.”

Two religious brothers, along with some students, dragged the man out onto the porch and hailed a fireman who took him to jail. At his trial, the man was declared insane based on testimonies from O’Neil and another Jesuit.

Silent Bells

John Coghlan, S.J., the 14th president, came to Xavier with a lot of parish missionary experience and, therefore, wanted to further develop St. Xavier Church. Shortly after his arrival in 1881, he commissioned a set of bells for the church tower, which was installed the week before Easter Sunday. Unfortunately, a fire broke out in the church three days before the celebration. Despite the close proximity of the fire station—across the street—the ceiling and rafters collapsed and only the walls and foundation survived. The blistering heat of the fire also melted the newly installed church bells.

Bricks and Mortar

The appointment of alumnus Hubert Brockman, S.J., as president in 1923 marked two major achievements for the University. First, he took a rough, 26-acre campus in North Avondale and transformed it into a modern college campus. This bricks-and-mortar period ultimately produced Elet Hall, the Schmidt Library Building, Schmidt Fieldhouse, the Albers Biology Building and the football stadium.

Secondly, Brockman assembled a package of materials that he sent to the Jesuit Superior General in 1927 with the goal of changing the name of St. Xavier College to Xavier University. Unfortunately, less than a year after Archbishop McNicholas gave his approval to the name change, Brockman contracted pneumonia and died.

Wartime Leader

Celestin Steiner, S.J., took over as Xavier’s 27th president in 1940, shortly before the U.S. entered World War II. To aid wartime efforts, Steiner instituted an accelerated program that allowed students to graduate before age 22 so they could serve in America’s defenses. As a result of the war, however, the University was faced with a significant drop in enrollment, and with less than 100 students remaining, Steiner contacted military officials to offer Xavier as a training site. Soon, the campus echoed with the marching of more than 1,800 cadets from the Air Force’s 30th College Training Detachment.

The post-war years witnessed a spike in enrollment—from 85 in 1945 to 1,500 in 1946—due to the G.I. bill and Xavier’s reputation for civic responsibility. Steiner not only saved the school from closure, but oversaw the development of a graduate division and the undergraduate honors A.B. program. He also formed the first lay advisory board consisting of nine prominent local businessmen that would parallel the all-Jesuit board of trustees.

“But the members of the Lay Advisory Board were not the only source of advice to Father Steiner,” Bennish writes. “The president installed a suggestion box in Albers Hall, as an invitation to students who might wish to express their opinions.”

A Mighty Tenure

Paul O’Connor, S.J., a former Navy chaplain who witnessed the end of World War II with the Japanese surrender on the U.S.S. Missouri in 1945, served as Xavier’s 29th president from 1955-1972. In his 17-year tenure—the longest of any Xavier president—monumental changes occurred from shifting social structures both political and spiritual. Under O’Connor’s direction, Xavier moved from a tranquil campus in the 1950s to a hotbed of activity in the 1960s. Women and black students began enrolling in traditionally white male-dominated classes, and, by the end of 1969, ROTC was no longer mandatory.

O’Connor successfully led the University through these varying decades, and while he sometimes met resistance, students couldn’t help but respect his decision-making and passion for Xavier.

Growth of a University

When James E. Hoff, S.J., took office in 1991, he became a catalyst for a school that had become admittedly stagnant in the late 1980s. In his nine-plus years at Xavier, the 33rd Jesuit president orchestrated an era of growth and change unmatched in the University’s history.

During his tenure, Hoff strengthened the curriculum, bolstered the endowment, created a national alumni association, envisioned a nationally recognized basketball program and oversaw the renovation and revitalization of campus, including the Cintas Center, Gallagher Student Center and new housing complexes.

Most important, however, Hoff achieved these goals without compromising the Catholic, Jesuit mission of the University. His vision statement—“to prepare students intellectually, spiritually and morally to take their places in a rapidly changing global society and to work for the betterment of society”—is now a University mantra. His revival of the Jesuit mission links past to present and lays the groundwork for another 175 years.

Categories
Xavier Magazine

The Roof of Africa

Amanda Trice, a 2001 graduate, left for a six-month volunteer commitment in Tanzania on July 4, 2004. She glimpsed Kilimanjaro, or “Kili” as it is affectionately called by locals, on a trip to Moshi, the small town at the base of the mountain. Kilimanjaro is Africa’s tallest mountain (at three miles above sea level) and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. Three ancient volcanoes collectively form Kilimanjaro, of which Kibo is the highest. Today, more than 20,000 tourists per year attempt to climb Kilimanjaro. Statistics vary, but most agree that less than 50 percent of climbers actually reach the summit. 

Pre-Climb
Now, I have never been a trekker, climber, or even much of a camper, so as you can imagine I was ill-prepared for an adventure like this. I had run two marathons in the past year though, so I thought that physically and mentally I’d be ready.

There are a half dozen different routes up Kili, and at least 100 different tour companies based in Arusha and Moshi. My roommate, Sarah, and I finally signed on to do the Machame (mah-cha-may) route with Victoria Expeditions about two weeks before we climbed. We decided on late October, before the short rainy season begins. The Machame route was six days and five nights total; four and half days up the mountain, and one and a half days down. We would sleep in tents each night, and have porters to carry our heavy packs.

The night before the climb, with butterflies in our stomachs, we stuffed our big packs with boots, socks, journals, cameras and lots of film, headlamps, snacks, water, and pretty much every layer of clothing we owned. Layering is key.

Day 1: 1800m to 3000m
We said some prayers and then said goodbyes to our beloved housemates, wondering if we would indeed return. And, if so, if we would still have all of our fingers and toes. We set off to the Victoria Expeditions office in town, with our big packs, daypacks and huge bottles of water in tow.

At the office we met our guide, Arusha. He was a short, stout middle-aged Tanzanian. He looked pretty intense and gritty-a veteran. We loaded up the Range Rover we would be taking to the base camp with our gear. Our cook and four porters jumped in then: Lucas, Emanuel, Ravo, Ilia and James (affectionately called “Babu,” which means “grandfather,” because he was the oldest by far-near 40). Except for Babu, they were all young Tanzanians in their 20s. All very thin and wearing a rag-tag assortment of clothes, socks and shoes. Sarah and I each had a huge pack and daypack full of clothes and gear. Each of them came with the clothes on their back and a small bag with an extra hat, coat, and gloves.

They had two tents (one for Sarah and me, and one for the porters, cook and guide), our two large packs, some packs of their own, and enough food and water for the eight of us for six days. They used huge woven baskets the diameter of a small table to carry food and supplies. They would pack them to the brim, tie them up with rope, then hoist them onto their heads. They could carry loads on their heads that Sarah and I, together, could barely lift off the ground.

Once everything was packed and ready, Sarah and I started off with one of our porters, Ilia. Arusha stayed behind with the other porters so they could get all of their packs weighed. There are regulations that mandate that porters are not allowed to carry packs more than 20 kilos in weight-roughly 44 pounds. This regulation was a hard-fought battle. Prior to this, porters would carry packs weighing up to 40 kilos, and had more frequent injuries.

Sarah, Ilia, and I hiked up, up and up. I felt like we were in a South American jungle. The trails were thick with trees, vines and hanging mosses. And it was humid and steamy. Sarah and I were in t-shirts and pants, and were sweating like crazy. It was a peaceful and calm hike, with Ilia silently leading the way. Walking behind him, it was impossible not to notice that his legs were incredibly thin, the thickness of my arms. We were in awe watching this slight frame carry such a huge basket on his head, from time to time letting it slide back to rest on his neck.

Towards the end of the four-hour hike, it began to rain-a light rain at first, which actually felt refreshing on our sweaty foreheads. Then it began to rain harder, and it truly felt like we were in the rainforest. Sarah and I pulled out our ponchos and rain jackets, while other better-equipped trekkers simply popped open their umbrellas. By the time we made it to the first campsite, Machame Camp, the vegetation had thinned out quite a bit and changed to a more arid, mountainous landscape.

When we arrived at Machame Camp it was still raining, raining, raining. While our porters set up camp, I waited in the rescue hut where park employees are stationed and live for weeks at a time. There was a huge group of Polish tourists who had arrived at about the same time. While we waited, it struck me as so funny how most of the other tourists who were climbing Kili were so geared up with professional trekking equipment, expensive cameras and proper clothing. And then there was us-the two crazy American volunteer girls.

The porters finally got everything set up and Sarah and I headed to our two-man tent. Cold, soaked, tired and a bit disheartened, we climbed into our tent, layered up and crawled into our sleeping bags. Emanuel brought us hot tea while we rested, shivered and commiserated. I must admit, we were feeling a little defeated by Kili already…and it was only the first day.

A little while later, one of the porters came and got us for dinner. When we crept out of our tent, we were surprised to find that a tent city had sprung up all around us.

We crowded into the staff’s tent for dinner. I think that typically trekkers would eat separately from the porters, guide and cook, but we had already been living in Tanzania for four months and had become accustomed to the culture and people, and even picked up some functional Swahili. So, we ended up taking all of our evening meals together.

Each night we would start with chai or coffee, a brothy soup and white bread. This would be followed by a main course of a ginger vegetable stew and some type of carbohydrate-rice, french fries or pasta. Our cook, Lucas, also made the best fried cabbage that we found in Tanzania. After dinner we usually had some type of fruit for dessert.

After dinner and some interesting conversation, we headed back to the tent and went to sleep…well, actually we went to laying in the tent and tossing and turning. The effects of the altitude were already starting to hit us. It was impossible to fall asleep. They say that this is because your body is not getting as much oxygen as it is used to, so your brain tells you that it is not safe to fall asleep. It’s very surreal, because as you lay there perfectly still you can feel how much quicker your breathing is than normal.

Day Two: 3000m to 3840m
Each morning we had toasted bread with margarine and honey, chai, coffee, powdered milk, sugar, fried eggs with cucumber, tomato, green pepper garnish and uji (ew-gee), which is a liquid-y porridge made from millet.

The hike was mostly an ascent again, but very scenic, beautiful and completely different from the lush jungle we had hiked through the day before. There were short, strange-looking twisted trees, bushes and earthy colored moss on the ground. And clouds, always clouds, in front of us, below us, and above us. We felt like we were in the Andes Mountains, hiking along narrow, winding pathways on the tops of green and brown ridges. You could see small figures, baskets on heads, creeping up the trails ahead.

Towards the end of the hike, we passed through areas that looked liked dried up coral reefs with little trickling waterfalls, and wispy trees blown all in one direction, as if they were being tossed around by the tide.

We made it to the Shira Plateau Camp early in the day, not long after lunch. Our porters had long since passed us that morning, and made it to the site with enough time to completely set up the tents and relax. We headed straight to our tent for the daily task of unpacking and reorganizing our packs.

By this time, I had a splitting headache from the altitude. I tried to take a nap, but wasn’t able to sleep. Our tent was set up right by a small, bare tree. After our attempted nap we hung up some of our clothes that hadn’t dried earlier that morning.

The Shira Plateau was beautiful. We did a little exploring, but before we left, Arusha had warned us that the fog rolls in really quickly, so we shouldn’t wander too far. He was right. Intermittently, a thick, intense blanket of fog would roll onto the plateau and cover the whole camp in a matter of minutes.

That night, after eating dinner and playing cards with our porters, we saw our first Kili sunset. It was so incredibly gorgeous. Shira is above the cloud level, so you felt like you were in a whole new word, a city of clouds. The setting sun poured majestic hues of red, yellow and orange onto the clouds below. We could also spot the top of Mt. Meru peeking out of the clouds in the distance.

When we turned around to face the looming snow-capped peak of Kili, we saw a nearly full and shining moon rising over it in the bright blue evening sky. A truly spectacular sight.

Day Three: 3840m to 3950m
After another sleepless night, we ate our breakfast and began our seven-hour hike, the longest one yet. We climbed up in altitude to 4600m, and then back to almost the same altitude that day. This is part of the “acclimatization” process. In order to get you used to the altitude gradually, the ascent up Kili is broken up into short hikes that do not increase too dramatically in altitude.

Due to the increased altitude, some parts of the hike were chilly and windy. Arusha had advised us of this change, so we had geared up in pants and long johns on the bottom, and four layers on the top. We also got out our hats and gloves.

There was not much vegetation, just low-lying bushes and enormous boulders covered with hanging moss. We also saw our first patches of snow and ice that day, in the shadows, between rocks. As we ascended the wind continued to pick up, and it got quite nippy.

About halfway through the hike, word got passed along that two trekkers had turned back. One of them was very sick from the altitude. We passed their porters who were headed back down the mountain to join them. Defeat, quite literally, staring us in the face.

We had lunch that day in a small valley by a clean, snowmelt stream. Our lunch each day was pretty much the same. We would get a brown paper sack lunch each morning. My lunch that day consisted of a margarine, cucumber, green pepper sandwich on white bread (it sounds gross, but after hours of hiking it hits the spot), a small piece of fried chicken, a hard boiled egg, a carrot, an orange, a muffin and a baby banana.

After lunch we ascended a bit more and then hiked down, down, down to the Barranco Camp, passing strange desert-like trees on our way. The campsite was very picturesque, set in a small, rocky mountain valley.

Once again, our tent was already set up when we arrived, so we retreated and relaxed for a few hours-reading, writing, and trying to sleep. After dinner, I was bound and determined to get some sleep. I took three Tylenol PM pills. I read for a while and then decided to try to sleep, which meant readjusting myself and zipping my sleeping bag-not fun tasks, especially when it’s so cold in your tent that you can see your breath, and the 18 layers of clothes you’re wearing make you all but immobilized, and your hat keeps getting pushed into your eyes, and you haven’t slept in three days.

After two failed attempts at getting situated, and being on the verge of screaming or crying, I finally fell asleep. Three or four blissful hours-my first real sleep on Kili.

Day Four: 3950m to 4600m
We had our breakfast and then crossed a creek and began a steep hike up the Barranco Wall. We had to do some serious climbing, up steep steps, looking for grips for our feet and hands.

The landscape during this six-hour hike was very desolate and barren. The ground was mostly loose rock and dust, and towards the end of the hike there were mountains of shale and slate rocks that crumbled under our feet. You could see the path winding far ahead, a faint line on a dull landscape. It was almost beautiful in its starkness. I felt like we were on the mountainous slopes of Mordor from The Lord of the Rings films.

I felt physically good for most of the hike. None of the hikes thus far had been very strenuous. But during the last hour of the hike, the combined affects of the altitude, the sun and several days without sleep really started to hit us. We trudged up to the Barafu Camp, very slowly. The final half-mile or so was a steep climb and we were fading.

So, we had reached the pivotal night in the climb. We would start our final ascent that evening at around midnight. That night at dinner we tried to eat as much as we could, but at that point we were pretty nervous and also getting tired of camp food. After dinner Arusha had our final climb “briefing” with us. He went over what to wear: two to three pairs of socks, hiking boots, four pairs of pants, as many layers on top as you have, hats, gloves, scarf and coat. I felt like we were preparing for a lovely little jaunt in Antarctica.

They would wake us up at 11:30 p.m. that night to begin hiking. We did our usual layering up for bed and then packed our daypacks for the big day. We settled in and tried to sleep. In only a few hours the real adventure would begin.

Day Five: 4600m to Peak
They woke us up at 11:30 p.m. with hot chocolate and biscuits. And we started putting on all of our clothes. Arusha, Sarah and I set off around midnight (the porters stayed behind at the campsite). We were very lucky to have a beautiful, shining full moon for the hike. We didn’t even need to use our headlamps. We climbed the whole night by moonlight…very romantic. The climb started at around 4700m, near Barafu Camp and ended at Uhuru Peak at over 5900m. So we were to climb almost a mile up in around six hours. I felt really tired from the beginning. I was excited about the hike, but just so tired from sleep deprivation. The altitude was also affecting me-headache, shortness of breath, nausea. We started off s-l-o-w, but Sarah and I were still both panting.

After about an hour or so of climbing I started feeling really nauseated, so we stopped and I pretty much willed myself to throw up. Goodbye biscuits. I felt better after that. Sarah was in a much better state and better spirits than I was, the trooper that she is. She was looking after me: un-zipping or zipping my coat when I got hot or cold, adjusting my scarf and providing moral support.

There were also other groups of trekkers climbing at the same time. We would pass them, and then they would pass us as we all periodically stopped for breaks. These bundled up figures passing by us in the dark, sharing our experience and our pain, exchanging hushed words of encouragement and commiseration.

When we stopped for breaks and turned around we could see the lights of Moshi shining below. They looked so incredibly far away. At one point we saw lightning crackling below in the distance over Arusha-90 minutes away. It was very eerie and unearthly to be above clouds and lightning, looking down on the sleeping world below.

After a couple hours, each step was exhausting. We would take one step every second. Imagine trudging along to the beat of “One Mississippi, two Mississippi…” very slowly and methodically, using your walking stick to keep the rhythm. Suffice to say there was not much chitchat going on anymore. We were all in our old little worlds of pain.

On and on we climbed, our only point of reference the huge glacier gleaming above us in the moonlight. We hiked straight towards it for hours, and then veered off to the right…a detour. It was so difficult to keep track of time. It seemed like we were climbing for ages, the minutes melting away with each methodical step.

It was hard to breathe, we were huffing and puffing, light-headed, each step a trial. My mindset was just to keep moving no matter what. It was getting colder as we progressed up the mountain, my hands and feet felt numb and frozen. My mumbled mantra, borrowed from a marathon friend, was “Pain is temporary, pride is forever.” This also morphed into: “COLD is temporary…” and “FATIGUE is temporary…”

Eventually, against our better judgment, Sarah and I asked Arusha how much longer we would be climbing. He said we were an hour from the main trail junction at the top of the mountain, but from there it would be another 45 minutes to Uhuru Peak, the highest possible point. To say we were depressed is an understatement. It was not long after that that I started crying. Sarah was up ahead of Arusha and I at this point. Arusha took one look at me and yelled up to her, “Sarah, she is cry! She is cry!” Sarah started yelling back encouragements, while I blubbered on for a few more minutes feeling sorry for myself. It was quite a pathetic mental and physical state. I wanted to lie down right there and fall asleep and never get up. But the worst part was that I know that we were so incredibly close now to the “roof of Africa” and there was no way I was going to stop. I had to keep going.

The last hour and a half to the top was pretty miserable. I was moving extremely slowly at this point. Arusha finally took me by the arm and started walking with me in tow, half guiding, half dragging me along.

When we reached the main trail junction the sun was rising. It was a little before 6:00 a.m. Even in my sad, sad state it was stunning. I have never seen a sunrise that even compares. It spread across the whole sky to the east-a rich red and orange-and reflected off the magnificent glaciers lining the path to our left. This is the white that you can see when you view Kili from a distance. I wanted to climb around on them. They were so white and pure.

Even with all this inspirational beauty all around me, I was still feeling deflated. We were walking and walking and walking. And I was getting the feeling that Arusha wanted to just throw me off the mountain and be done with it. He was pretty tough and didn’t put up with a lot of complaining.

We finally made it to Uhuru Peak at 6:35 a.m. or so. There is a large weathered wooden sign there, denoting it as the highest point in Africa. There was a huge crowd of wazungu (Swahili for Westerners) waiting to get their photo taken. While we waited I sat on a low wooden bench with my head down and thanked God that we had made it alive and that it would all be over soon.

There are glaciers all around the top and a huge volcanic crater that some people (only the craziest of the crazy) camp in. It was extremely cold there, with an icy wind whipping all around us. We had to get down.

The descent back to Barafu Camp took about three hours. As we descended, our spirits soared. As we climbed down farther, the sun came out and it got warmer, and it really began to sink in that We had made it to the top.

Day Six: 3100m to 1700m
When we got to the base camp, we went to the National Parks Station and signed the guest book. We received certificates stating that we had made it to the top, and noting the date and time. I was climber number 12,862 to reach the summit in 2004. We felt like kissing the ground and if we had been physically able, we probably would have done a few cartwheels.

In the End…
In the end, all the pain, sleepless nights, and filth were absolutely worth it. I had the opportunity to see and touch some of the most beautiful and interesting landscapes in the world. I faced a challenge that at many times seemed completely impossible, and I won. I beat that mountain. I reached the top.

When I reached the bottom of the mountain that last day and drove away, I turned back and looked up at Mt. Kilimanjaro and I smiled. And I thanked that mountain for all it had given me. Climbing to the “roof of Africa” is an accomplishment that will live on in my mind and heart forever, and change the way that I view all future challenges in my life.

An accomplishment such as this begs the question: If you can climb all the way to the top of the world, what can’t you do?

Categories
Xavier Magazine

Concerted Effort

There’s an old joke in the music business:

Q: How do you make a million dollars in jazz?

A: Start with two million.

The same joke applies to that other great art music, classical music. As standards fall and popular culture continues what seems to be an endless decline, classical and jazz are in danger of becoming dead musical languages.

But given his vocation, John Heim, S.J., is no stranger to maintaining strict standards in the face of changing fads, of holding to timeless values and a sense of what is truly good and what is truly not. That faith in the redeeming quality of great music continues to drive Heim—and the music series he has created and made renown. For the last 30 years, Heim has presented hundreds of concerts through the University—more than 250 classical concerts and nearly that many jazz events—and attained near-legendary status in the national and international jazz and classical music communities for his honesty, lack of compromise and devotion to the music. Not to mention his notoriously wicked sense of humor.

Asked how he manages to fund his jazz crusade, he says with perfect comic timing and deadpan delivery, “We beg … And we borrow … And we steal.”

Since he began presenting classical concerts in 1976, with jazz following a few years later, he has transformed the University into one of the area’s leading concert venues. Back then, classical music lovers had Music Hall and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, but if you preferred solo piano and classical guitar, you were out of luck. Jazz devotees had it even worse. Greater Cincinnati was home to the great guitarist Cal Collins, but if you wanted to hear him, the only options were loud, smoky jazz joints.

And while every jazz lover in the Cincinnati area no doubt has fond memories of the original Blue Wisp in nearby O’Bryonville, that was pretty much it as far as the area’s jazz venues when the Xavier series was in full swing in the 1980s. Back then, the opportunity to hear great jazz in an acoustically fine theatrical setting was a rare bit of heaven.

Some of the greatest names in jazz have performed on the University stage. For guitarists, there was Herb Ellis, a former member of Oscar Peterson’s greatest trio; classical/jazz/bossa nova great Charlie Byrd; and perhaps the greatest, most lyrical mainstream jazz guitarist of the past 50 years, Joe Pass. Xavier’s roster of jazz pianists includes McCoy Tyner, who made history with the great John Coltrane; Harold Mabern, one of the kings of modern Memphis jazz, blending the soul of blues and R&B into his swinging, hard-bopping style; and the legendary Marian McPartland, the grand dame of jazz piano. Even Teddy Wilson, who made history as part of Benny Goodman’s groundbreaking integrated quartet, performed at Xavier. And of course, there were hundreds of lesser-known jazz artists, as well as platoons of classical virtuosi, all coming to Cincinnati to perform at the University.

Joking aside, Heim hasn’t resorted to larceny to fund his habit. But while the University provides the venue and staffing, it can’t afford to subsidize a classical and jazz concert series. “We get some corporate support, but it’s mostly private,” Heim says. “We just the other day got $6,000 in the mail as a bequest. It’s partial. I’m not sure what the other part is going to be.” But Xavier’s support, combined with his vocation, does make the series possible, he says earnestly. “It’s the difference between being associated with a non-profit organization, as opposed to having my own venue where I have to make a living and support five children and a wife,” he says. “I just couldn’t do it, and I don’t think many people could.”

He’s right. The failed independent promoters who have come and gone since the Xavier concerts began 30 years ago could nearly fill the 360-seat theater in the Gallagher Student Center where Heim stages his events.

With the venerable CSO dominating classical music in the area, Heim is understandably better known in jazz circles than for his classical efforts. J Curve Records, the Cincinnati jazz label that briefly flourished in the late 1990s and early part of this decade, even dedicated a CD of Cincinnati jazz to him. But though many of Cincinnati’s jazz fans are also his fans, Heim’s first and truest love remains classical music, played on piano unadorned by accompaniment. The direction of the series has evolved by popular demand.

“People complained that, with the nice theater, it wasn’t fair that we didn’t have classical guitar as well,” Heim says. “And then they said, ‘Look, if you’ve got the piano and guitar idea, why don’t you expand it to include jazz?’ At one point, we even had a string series, but nobody showed up.”

They did show up for both the piano and guitar series. But drawing crowds has never been easy. And after a while, the jazz audience began dwindling, as older performers lost their drawing power—and sometimes their dexterity. It was time for a change. So, with the aid of patron and amateur promoter Rod Barr, Heim shifted gears. He ended the jazz series and launched a swing series, featuring a big band led by Bill Gemmer, as well as other local, smaller groups and national guest artists. The series draws nearly full houses every time.

Through these changes, Heim’s spiritual calling continues to shape his musical decisions. Faith in high standards and the deep belief that those standards do not change have helped him maintain the series’ high quality despite its small budget. “The only way I’m going to put anybody up there is if I’m pretty well sure they’re going to do a good job for the audience and myself,” he says. “There’s enough junk around, I don’t want to be responsible for more of it.”

Still, at age 71—even a very youthful 71—Heim knows he can’t keep this up forever. But for now, he sees no end in sight. And in a way, he sees the series very much in keeping with the Jesuit commitment to service. “I think that’s one of the functions of universities,” he says. “Not only to educate the young kids who come to them, but also to be of service to their communities. And I think this is one way in which we are being of service to our community.”

Categories
Xavier Magazine

Profile: Paul J. Dunn, M.D.

Paul J. Dunn, M.D.
Bachelor of Science in chemistry, 1955 | Retired pediatric physician, Ferryville, Wis.

Primal Knowledge | Though Dunn’s family was of meager means, they believed in education. He graduated from Covington Latin School in Northern Kentucky at age 15 and spent the next few years working odd jobs and attending college classes taught by the bishop of the Diocese of Covington.

Career By Chance | Dunn dreamed of studying aeronautical engineering, but while visiting a hospital in 1940 with his sister, who was interested in nursing, he discovered medicine.

Lightning Strikes | “It just hit me like a lightning bolt that this was what I wanted to do,” he says. “While on the roof of the Fenwick Club sunning myself, I would pray something would happen so I could go to medical school. Then the war happened.”

The Doctor Is In | Dunn joined the Navy and became a pharmacist’s mate. He soon was working in a surgical ward in the Naval Hospital in Great Lakes, Ill., where he filled in when the doctors were out. After a year, he was transferred to the Marines’ medical field service with the 28th Marine Infantry Regiment, the one that raised the U.S. flag on Iwo Jima.

Witness | “I worked in a field station behind the lines stabilizing those injured soldiers who might be saved,” he says. “I was there on the island when the flag went up and saw it from where we were on Mount Suribachi.”

End of the Innocence | “Hour after hour, night and day, the most horrible injuries came in. These Marines were kids, 17, 18, 19 years old. You’d never hear any of them complain.”

Education in Reverse | Shaken but toughened by his experiences, Dunn returned to Xavier, where he’d been studying before the war, and threw himself into his studies. Before he could finish, he was offered enrollment in Loyola University Chicago’s medical school. He graduated in 1951, did post-graduate study in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, then returned to Xavier to complete his undergraduate degree in 1955.

Time for Family | Dunn met his wife, Kath, a fellow medical student, in his junior year at Loyola. She had similar interests in treating brain-injured children but was sidetracked from her medical career by their family of 10 children—eight boys and two girls.

Out of the Box | While working as a pediatrician, Dunn and Kath started two unique programs: a Montessori school and an institute for the treatment of brain-injured and learning-disabled children, which was popular, but controversial. They later expanded the institute to include adults, offering sensory stimulation and other holistic treatments drawn from osteopathic medicine.

Categories
Xavier Magazine

Profile: Anthony Armada

Anthony Armada
Master of Hospital Administration/Master of Business Administration, 1988 President and CEO, Henry Ford Hospital and Health Network, Detroit

Fresh Start | Armada was born in the Philippines and moved to Northville, Mich., when he was a boy. “A family of eight moved out here with two suitcases each and $8,000,” he says.

Family Pressure | “My father was a doctor and my mother worked in a pharmacy. There was a lot of pressure from my family for me to become a physician. I didn’t have as much passion for being a physician as I did serving people and working with communities.”

Family Guidance | “I believe I had a good upbringing, faith-based in nature, that’s always been a guiding light to what we need to do in living our daily lives.”

A Changing Role | After graduating from Michigan State University in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in medical technology, Armada worked the midnight shift as a medical technologist at St. Lawrence Hospital in Lansing, Mich., and began tackling business issues as well. The hospital president recommended he earn a master’s degree and enter hospital management.

Life After Xavier | After completing his degrees, Armada moved to Los Angeles where he spent 16 years working his way up to senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente’s Metro Los Angeles service area. Among his accomplishments: an employee-satisfaction increase of 12 percent over two years; oversight and strategic direction for the $640 million rebuild of the entire Los Angeles Medical Center and construction of a new patient tower at a sister hospital.

Power of Pride | “I pride myself on having a passion to serve. You are dealing with a multitude of different constituents and they’re counting on your leadership to make a difference in their lives. I have a collaborative nature in getting different people and interests together to actually take action.”

New Challenges | In 2004, he began overseeing Henry Ford Hospital and its 24 ambulatory medical centers throughout southeast Michigan. “Because we are a medical center, we have a social responsibility to provide access to care and meet health care needs for the community. It’s a pretty daunting task. We have to be open 24 hours a day and they really entrust their lives to us.”

Using His Noodles | Armada recently participated in the hospital’s annual “Men Who Cook” competition, which raises money to provide health care for uninsured or underinsured patients. More than 70 chefs raised about $205,000 during the event. His Asian noodle dish, Eancit, took first prize.

Categories
Xavier Magazine

Profile: Francesca Thompson, O.S.F.

Francesca Thompson, O.S.F.
Master of Education, 1964 | Assistant Dean/Director of Multicultural Programs, Fordham University, New York

Home in Indiana | Thompson’s route to her vocation with the Sisters of Saint Francis of Oldenburg, Ind., was both circuitous and unexpected. Raised in a politically active Anglican family in segregated Indianapolis, she found that only one public high school and virtually no private schools accepted African-American students. A twist of fate landed her at St. Mary’s Academy.

Act of Faith | “I loved St. Mary’s; I loved the whole drama and aura of the Catholic Church, and after a year I wanted to join. My father made me wait. After a year, he said, ‘OK, I think you’re sincere.’ ”

Reading the Signs | Thompson decided to enter the convent, but her father insisted she attend college. He eventually acquiesced on the condition that she first join a group touring Europe for the summer. “We had an audience with Pope Pius XII, and he gave us all medals. I asked him to pray that I would be allowed to enter the convent. His eyes opened real big and he gave me another, larger medal. I figured that was a sign.”

Mission Cincinnati | Thompson began teaching at St. Mary’s in 1954 as she continued her education at Marion College in Indiana. After graduating in 1960, her first mission led her to St. Joseph’s, a black grade school on Cincinnati’s West Side. Her impact was strong—in 2004, those first students honored her with the school’s distinguished service award.

Back to School | Thompson’s superiors soon sent her with a group for summers at the University, where she earned a master’s degree in education with a concentration in communications. “I loved it—it was the very first time that we had been on our own. Our courses were chosen for us, but I felt like I had died and gone to heaven.”

Curtain Calls | Thompson’s parents were film actors and members of the Lafayette Players, the first black dramatic stock company in the United States. Her deeply ingrained love for the art led to the University of Michigan where she earned a doctoral degree in theater in 1966. At Michigan, she taught actresses Christine Lahti and Ann Crumb, and coached comic Gilda Radner. She’s also a longtime board member for Broadway’s Tony Awards.

In Demand | After 15 years teaching at Marion College, Thompson moved to Fordham in 1982. A noted orator, she’s spoken for such organizations as the Leadership Conference of Religious Women, the Leadership Congress of Religious Men, the NAACP, National Black Congress and National Black Women’s Conference.

Reflections | Thompson’s amassed honors, degrees and awards over the years, and has taught at all levels. But she says her greatest highlights pale in comparison to her vocation. “It is the joy of my life. Maya Angelou says we work to pay rent for the space we occupy, and I think working as a religious is the way I’ve worked to pay my rent.”

Categories
Xavier Magazine

Profile: Denis M. Forster

Denis M. Forster
Bachelor of Science in Political Science, 1960 | Principal, the Law Offices of Denis M. Forster, New York

Firm Focus | Forster is one of the nation’s leading experts on the legal aspects of derivatives—financial securities that derive their value from an underlying financial source, such as shares in a company or stocks, and are used as a hedge against financial risk. He has represented a number of high-profile clients, including Microsoft, the Kingdom of Belgium’s ministry of finance, Bill Gates Investments, Procter & Gamble, MSNBC and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Golden Gates | Forster also represents the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest charitable foundation with assets of about $30 billion. “A primary focus of the foundation is to use technology, science and good business practices to transform the health of often neglected people in developing countries. My job is to help those who manage these funds protect the foundation’s assets through legally enforceable derivative contracts.”

Family Tradition | Forster was raised in Washington, D.C., and “guided” to the University by his father, Francis Forster, M.D., a 1934 Xavier graduate who was then dean of the medical school at Georgetown University.

Legal Learning | After graduation, Forster moved on to the University of Wisconsin Law School. In the summer of 1961, he hitchhiked through Mexico and Central America to Panama, in the process launching a lifelong interest in Latin America. Forster served as a J.A.G. officer in the U.S. Air Force from 1964-1968, and then worked as a litigator with a major law firm in San Francisco from 1969-1974.

Southern Success | In 1974 Forster returned to Latin America, teaching at the law school of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. By the late 1970s, he was in Venezuela, heading the Bank of America’s legal offices in Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

Derivative Experience | Forster moved to England in 1979 and began practicing law in London. There, he became involved with currency exchange agreements that evolved into derivatives. It has remained his area of expertise—he is a lecturer, expert witness and author on derivative legal issues.

Setting Up Shop | In 1994, Forster formed his own firm in New York City. One of his first cases was to assist Proctor & Gamble and its Cincinnati counsel in a successful, highly publicized suit against Bankers Trust regarding more than $150 million in derivative losses.

Categories
Xavier Magazine

Training Teachers

The department of nursing received a $200,000 grant from the Ohio Board of Nursing. The grant, one of only three awarded, creates teaching assistant positions for graduate students in nursing. Xavier is partnering with the Good Samaritan Hospital College of Nursing and Health Sciences to create the positions.

“In addition to the nursing shortage, there is also a shortage of nursing faculty,” says Linda Schmid, assistant nursing professor and project director. “The goal is to get the students into teaching roles and help them advance into faculty roles.” The grant is also being used to purchase a human-patient simulator. The high-tech patient simulation helps students with their assessment skills and their self-confidence in the clinical area.

Categories
Xavier Magazine

The Midas Touch

The University received its largest federal grant ever, more than $1.1 million from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. The money funds the new Master of Science in Nursing: Direct Entry as a Second Degree, better known as the MIDAS program, which is geared toward individuals who have undergraduate degrees in fields other than nursing but who want to become a registered nurse.

The program is also the only one in Ohio tied to the new emerging health care role of clinical nurse leader. “A CNL registered nurse is able to assess a patient’s needs by looking at the whole picture and then provide coordinated care for that patient,” says Sue Schmidt, chair of the department of nursing. “This is especially important as healthcare systems are becoming increasingly complex.”

“This very generous grant will allow our students to make a tremendous contribution to our community,” says University President Michael J. Graham, S.J. “The care they provide is vital, and the impact they make is lasting.”

The nursing program also received a $26,000 traineeship grant for scholarships for MIDAS students.

css.php