Johns Hopkins Gazette: May 22, 1995

On Students: The Long Run

"This week, a record number of students--more than 4,300--will
receive degrees from associate's through doctorates at
university-wide commencement ceremonies. What the numbers don't
reveal, however, is the unique effort put forth by each student
to reach this day. Here are just a few of those stories that
struck a cord with The Gazette's writers."

     Some people spend years trying to figure out what to do with
their lives. Others have it all figured out.  
     No matter how diverse their activities may be, they have the
uncanny ability to link everything they've ever done to some
common purpose. 

     Walt Schalick, a seventh year medical and doctoral candidate
at the School of Medicine, is one of these people.

     A  medieval scholar, rower, musician and professional
magician, he's a true Renaissance man. 

     But his interests are more than mere distractions or
hobbies. Instead, they have proven instrumental in pushing
Schalick toward his ultimate goal--becoming a pediatrician.

     He learned his first magic trick at age 7 and performed at
schools, churches and birthday parties throughout high school to
earn a little extra money. As an undergraduate at Washington
University in St. Louis, he volunteered with David Copperfield's
Project Magic and contributed his skills to a greater purpose,
teaching hospitalized children his numerous self-taught tricks.

     "Skills like magic can be very therapeutic to children,
especially if they are hospitalized or in physical rehab," said
Schalick, who will receive his M.D. in pediatrics from Hopkins
this Thursday and do his residency next year at Boston Children's
Hospital. "Learning the tricks boosts their confidence and makes
them feel better, but it also gives them activities to
concentrate on and may help increase their physical range of

     But children won't be attracted to Schalick's magic alone. 

     He is also a storyteller, his head full of tales of
forgotten lands and ancient peoples. 

     When just a freshman in high school in Connecticut, an early
fascination with things medieval led him to pursue an independent
study of Old English literature at Yale. 

     Years later, while enrolled in the highly competitive
Scholar's Program in Medicine at Washington University, Schalick
complemented his undergraduate scientific studies with Old Norse
and Middle Welsh, earning a bachelor's degree in (medieval)
English literature and physics.

     And his interest in the past didn't stop there.   

     In addition to earning his medical degree in pediatrics,
Schalick is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in (medieval)
medical history, which will be conferred later this year. 

     In 1988, his interest in 13th- and 14th-century pharmacology
led him to Europe, where he studied for several months in the
Vatican and at the BibliothŠque Nationale in Paris.

     "With the study of medical history, instead of being stuck
in a lab, one has the great benefit of going to Europe to learn,"
he said. 

     As he finishes up his dissertation on 13th-century French
physician Jean de St.-Amand, Schalick still manages to squeeze in
time for both his wife, Lisa, a doctoral candidate at the Hopkins
School of Public Health, as well as his other passion,
competitive rowing with the Baltimore Rowing Club. 

     And with the effort of a true self-made man, he is slowly
struggling to teach himself to play the violin. 

                                                  --Lisa Mastny

     When Eric Conway performs Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 1
in G minor for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's annual
All-Baltimore concert at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall on May 31,
he'll have reason to celebrate.

     Although he has appeared with the BSO numerous times as a
rehearsal pianist and as an accompanist to the orchestra and
chorus, this marks his debut as a soloist with the symphony. It
also will be his first performance as a doctor of musical arts,
the  degree he receives this week from the Peabody Conservatory.

     Conway and the Peabody go way back. The 31-year-old Owings
Mills resident recalls that he started studying at the Peabody
Prep when he was 9.

     "My family is musically inclined," he says. "They all play
the piano for church services and their own enjoyment. There was
a piano in the house, and I was encouraged to take lessons."

     Conway went on to receive his bachelor of music performance
degree from Peabody in 1985 and his master of music performance
there in 1987. Along the way, he was the recipient of a Liberace
scholarship and winner of the Yale Gordon Piano Concerto

     He also was blessed along the way by his studies with four
teachers who've nurtured many a budding pianist in Baltimore:
Jack Thames, Ann Schein, Ellen Mack and Robert Weirich.

     "My way of playing is ultimately a matter of a culmination
of all four teachers I've had," Conway says. 

    Conway started making his own mark by teaching at the
Baltimore School for the Arts from 1984 to 1991, and concertizing
with a number of local groups including the Hopkins Symphony
Orchestra. He also went on a USIA-sponsored concert tour of East
Africa that included a solo performance for TV and radio
audiences in Madagascar.

    But even with a budding career, he says the late 1980s were
"a time of reflection for me. I wondered whether I wanted to stay
in music, whether it would give me enough financial security. So
many musicians who graduate with a doctoral degree don't stay in
their field." 

    So this cautious fellow got a master's in administrative
science from the Hopkins School of Continuing Studies in 1992 to
build on the Certificate in Accounting he earned at the
University of Baltimore in 1991. And from 1991 to 1993 he worked
as a senior staff accountant with KPMG Peat Marwick.

     "I wanted to prove to myself I could work in the business
community," he says. "I wanted to see what the grass was like on
the other side of the fence."

     He liked accounting but knew that music had the real claim
on him. So, he's currently settled in as an assistant professor
of music at Morgan State University and also teaches at the
University of Maryland Baltimore County.

     Trying to decide between two different careers is a worry
with which Ney Fialkow can identify.

     The 35-year-old pianist's path to the doctor of musical arts
he receives this month from Peabody began in his native Brazil,
where he became a medical doctor and then went on to receive a
bachelor's degree in piano.

     As he spent more time in black tie and less in a white
hospital gown, he laughingly relates that his medical colleagues
"all thought I was crazy to give up medicine for a career that
was so uncertain as music. I told my wife that she married a
doctor, and now he's become a musician. What do you think of
that? I wish each day had 48 hours so I could do both things."

     He conceivably could practice medicine and music
simultaneously if there were a medical emergency during a concert
and the anguished cry rang through the hall: Is there a doctor in
the house?

     But Fialkow has firmly settled on music. What really
clinched his decision was winning a Brazilian competition, whose
scholarship money he used to enroll at the New England
Conservatory in Boston, where he received his master's degree. At
Peabody, he studied for his doctor of musical arts degree with
Ann Schein.   

     For now, Fialkow and his wife have settled into life in
Mount Vernon with their two Baltimore-born children. Their
3-year-old already is enrolled at the Peabody Prep. But they'll
be moving back to Brazil late this summer.

     As he prepares to take a full-time university professorship
in his native country, Fialkow says he is looking forward to the
pedagogic "role of passing on the baton of the piano tradition."

                                                  --Mike Giuliano

     Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. has a problem. And mechanical
engineering students Joshua Houck, Andrew Lazur and Yit-Shun
Leungki have crafted an ingenious, low-cost solution.

     The students devoted their two-semester Senior Design
Project to designing and building a device that will allow a
small electric car equipped with a fiber optic camera to maneuver
inside the 30-foot-long, cylindrical boiler headers that direct
the steam in power generating plants.

     Their device--a portable, multi-sectioned steel beam that
can be positioned inside the header and operated by a hand crank-
-would enable a technician to efficiently examine each of the
header's several hundred inlet tubes for cracks and other
deformities that can suddenly disable a power plant for up to six
months. Early detection of the problem could save BG&E hundreds
of thousands of dollars in lost operating time. 

     "That was a very worthwhile experience educationally, in
that it reinforced the knowledge gained in the classroom," says
Leungki. "And on a personal experience, it was both enlightening
and satisfying."

     Adds Houck, "We learned that engineering is not design, it's

     Their months of painstaking work ended on Friday, when
theirs and seven other teams presented final versions of the
Department of Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Projects
during a morning-long event in Maryland Hall.

     According to William Sharpe, department chairman, the Senior
Design Project provides a capstone experience in which the
students draw upon earlier course work. The fall semester is
devoted to conceptualization and design, and the spring semester
to the construction and testing of a prototype.

     "This project provides an excellent opportunity for our
students to work on important problems and gives them valuable
preparation for their future," Sharpe says.

     Among the most important components of the course are the
students' interaction with practicing engineers and involvement
in all phases of a project, including purchasing, scheduling and
machining. Sponsors contribute, on average, $5,000 per project,
which is used to fund all aspects of design and construction. The
sponsor also designates a contact engineer to review the project
and provide technical support to the student teams.

                                                  --Ken Keatley

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