N O V E M B E R 2 0 0 7
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First things first: Yes, Trent Johnson has met the Rockettes.
They're friendly, and in many ways they carry the show, the
says. "They seem to be very nice. They work as hard as
anybody." Johnson's happy to talk about his brief backstage
brushes with the famous dancers. But frankly, he would rather
tell you about Radio City Music Hall's storied Mighty
Wurlitzer organ and about the thrill of playing it several
times a week during the holiday season for the Christmas
Spectacular. What else would you expect from an
|Trent Johnson says that playing Radio City Music Hall's Mighty Wurlitzer is a mighty responsibility: You have to use the instrument to "its full capabilities."||
A musical multi-tasker, Johnson serves as music director and organist of the First United Methodist Church in Westfield, New Jersey, where he plays for services and leads several choirs. He is music director of the Oratorio Singers and Orchestra of Westfield. And he composes chamber and orchestral music-right now he's working on a viola concerto and a set of art songs.
So he keeps busy. Still, when a friend phoned Johnson in summer 2006 and told him Radio City was holding auditions for its Christmas show, he jumped at the opportunity. Johnson arranged for some practice time on Radio City's showpiece Wurlitzer, the largest theater organ ever built by that company and the only one of its kind still in use. It's a hulking four-keyboard instrument with dual identical, but independent consoles at which two organists can play at the same time.
Johnson auditioned for the job, was hired, and began rehearsals in October. Playing such an impressive organ was a bit daunting at first, Johnson says. "It's quite a responsibility — we have the task of using the Mighty Wurlitzer to its full capabilities."
From November through the holidays, Johnson played 11 shows a week. Throwing such a demanding schedule into his already busy mix was a challenge, but it was worth it. The show "truly is a spectacular," says Johnson, who is scheduled to perform this year's 75th anniversary show. "It spreads the Christmas spirit, from start to finish. I think that everyone who sees the show feels joy."
Another thrilling first on the Mighty Wurlitzer came when Johnson played the theme music for the television game show Jeopardy. The fall he auditioned for his first Spectacular, Jeopardy was being taped at Radio City, and Johnson was asked to perform the "think" music played as contestants mull over their answers for Final Jeopardy. "It was one of the coolest gigs I've ever had,"
Johnson says. "At the end, they told me to look into the camera, smile, and wave." Johnson says he came to music relatively late, taking his first piano lesson at age 13. "I took to it pretty seriously, and I began to make rapid progress," he remembers. "By the time I was 15, I knew I wanted to make music my career." In fact, Johnson took three years off after high school to concentrate on music, studying with a private teacher and practicing constantly. Johnson, who was then living in Clinton, Maryland, knew he wanted to study music at a major conservatory, and Peabody was a perfect fit — excellent reputation, and close to home so he could continue working part-time playing organ for a church and a synagogue. He began as a piano major, with an eye toward becoming a concert pianist. But after a year, he switched to the organ; he took to the instrument easily and figured his chances at building a career were better. Johnson graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1989, then earned a graduate performance diploma in organ from Peabody and an advanced certificate from the Juilliard School in 1991.
He says he realizes his rich experiences at Peabody helped
put him on the path to a fulfilling life in music. "I
received an excellent education, and I had great interactions
with the student body. My experience with the faculty was
excellent, too — from my music classes to my
Inspiration struck Gretchen Cook-Anderson at lunch. An expert in media relations, she was in a deli while visiting California to manage media for a NASA satellite launch when she spotted a group of pregnant women in conversation. These women, she noticed, shared a penchant for drinking bottled water. She recalled downing 14 bottles of water a day herself while carrying twins in 2001 — an attempt to compensate for dehydration, which had sent her to the hospital six times.
"What if there were a brand of water designed for pregnant mothers?" she wondered. A Web search indicated that no such drink existed. Thus, an entrepreneur was born.
Today, Anderson has brought her idea to fruition with Saphia Lifestyle Beverages, products she describes as "nutrients plus hydration all at once in a great tasting beverage." Cook-Anderson andher neonatologist partner, Angela Patterson, designed Saphia over the course of two painstaking years. There were consultations with physicians and lactation experts, taste tests, beverage chemistry, and marketing. Saphia Water — available in Lovingly Lemon, Pacifyingly Peach, and Bliss Berry — is now on shelves in Babies R Us and Motherhood Maternity stores, with plans to expand.
Her aspirations don't end with business success. "Because I
graduated from SAIS,
I have a huge passion for anything international," says
Cook-Anderson, who earned her master's in international
economics. There are "a lot of women out there who are
expectant moms who do not have access to clean water." She
hopes she can work with humanitarian aid organizations to
provide her nutrient-enriched beverage to women across the
globe. For now though, that goal lies in the future. Breaking
into an industry as competitive as bottled water is, alone,
enough to make anyone work up a sweat.
Barnstormers, Game 2: Three Kids, a Letter, and Lots of
Horsing Around, by Loren Long and Phil Bildner, A&S '90,
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (2007)
Lacrosse goalies are, well, different. Special intensity and dedication are required to put yourself between a goal net and a small, hard rubber ball fired at nearly 100 miles an hour.
John Kelly amply displayed those qualities as goalie on Johns
Hopkins' 1969 national championship team. He continued
exhibiting what he cheerfully calls his "obsessive-compulsive
nature" not only in his highly successful pediatric dental
practice in State College, Pennsylvania, but in an
extraordinary variety of extracurricular activities —
competitively racing a 1961 Porsche; assembling $150,000 in
rare ice hockey memorabilia; and compiling what may be one of
the country's finest private collections of historic,
|Dentist/collector John Kelly may sell his museum-quality bibles, using the proceeds to support his philanthropic pursuits in the Dominican Republic.||
Since 1995, however, Kelly's obsession has been providing dental and medical care for destitute children in the Dominican Republic. Proceeds from the sale of his Porsches and hockey treasures already have funded that mission. The Bible collection eventually may go the same way. Filling floor-to-ceiling bookcases in a third-floor study of his home in Boalsburg, a State College suburb, the collection encompasses everything from 13th-century Torah fragments to a 15th-century handwritten masterpiece illuminated by Italian monks; a 16th-century Archbishop of Canterbury's Bible; a copy of the first English-language Bible, printed in 1536 (and once owned by Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science); and a pocket Testament carried by a soldier in the 17th-century English Civil War.
Kelly says his commitment to transform the dividends of his success into care for the less fortunate reflects the principles of his late father, Frank; lessons at Baltimore's Loyola High School; and what he learned from a legendary Hopkins lacrosse coach, Bob Scott.
"Bob Scott was unique in pushing you to the highest level of athletics, while at the same time, on a daily basis, emphasizing the importance of integrity and character and social responsibility, and paying back for all the gifts you've been given. I hold Scotty right up there with my father as an influence on my life," Kelly says.
In building a dental practice that serves more than 20,000 regular patients from all over Pennsylvania, he insisted on treating as many indigent families as possible. His practice nevertheless prospered, and he enjoyed engaging in what he now calls "conspicuous consumption." He raced the antique Porsche, owned a newer model for driving about town, and began buying historic hockey memorabilia around 1988, when his sons Sean and Brian started playing the sport.
In 1995, he experienced "a life-changing event" when he participated in a building mission in the Dominican Republic organized by his Baptist church. Stunned by the country's poverty, he returned home, sold his Porsches, and gave all the money to the church's mission work. "It hit me," he says. "These people don't have food to eat, and you're spending 25 grand a year to race sports cars on the weekend? Are you out of your mind?"
Occasionally accompanied by his wife, Carol, Kelly has made multiple trips to the Dominican Republic over the past 11 years — traveling from village to village, treating youngsters under extremely primitive conditions, and performing an estimated 40,000 extractions. In 1998, he sold off the hockey collection, including the only jersey of "hockey's Babe Ruth" Howie Morenz (1902-1937) not in the Ice Hockey Hall of Fame, and Bobby Hull's blood-stained jersey from the Chicago Black Hawks' 1961 Stanley Cup championship game.
Now Kelly is developing a $90,000 dental clinic in the Dominican capital. It will have three suites to provide comprehensive care. He hopes it will be the first of a "franchise." "I'll have the Kentucky Fried Fillings of the Dominican Republic," he laughs.
Although he anticipates selling his Bible collection (and
hopes it will be maintained intact), he says there is one
item he may have to keep: a rare 1790 Catholic Bible once
owned by George Washington's dentist.
Winjie Tang Miao is a little tired of talking about her age. "Now everyone knows how old I am," she says. "I can't lie about my age anymore." Miao is the newly installed president of Harris Methodist Northwest Hospital (HMNW) in Azle, Texas, a western suburb of Dallas-Fort Worth. At 29, she's one of the youngest hospital directors in the country.
For years, Miao has been proving that gray hair is not a prerequisite for a position of serious responsibility. When she was 23, her background in engineering and health administration (she earned a bachelor's in the former at Johns Hopkins and a master's in the latter from the University of North Carolina) made her the choice candidate to oversee a $207 million, 500,000-square-foot expansion at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas. There, she also was involved in developing a breast cancer center and served as administrative director of oncology services.
After several years navigating the sometimes perilous and often rewarding channels of a major city hospital, Miao took the helm at HMNW in September. Though HMNW is a much smaller, 36-bed facility, Miao's enthusiasm is only growing: "I'm one of those lucky people who really has a career in something they're passionate about."
In her new job, she will be challenged to keep up with a growing community that, like much of the nation, includes uninsured and underinsured residents. Given her record of accomplishment, there seems little doubt she is prepared to meet their needs.
"From a hospital administration standpoint, I think we can be patient advocates and serve as educators for government officials," she says.
Despite all her achievements, Miao, who keeps in touch with
her alma mater by interviewing applicants, may still be known
primarily for her wunderkind status for some time. But she
doesn't fuss over it. "All it takes is interviewing one
potentialHopkins student to see how young I am not," she says
with a chuckle.
Andrew Cappuccino, Engr '84, an orthopedic surgeon and spine specialist in Buffalo, New York, helped perform an emergency spinal decompression surgery on Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett after the player suffered a near-fatal helmet-to-helmet collision during the team's season opener loss to the Broncos.
Cornelius (Neil) M. Kerwin, A&S '78 (PhD), was elected by unanimous vote to become American University's 14th permanent president. Prior to his September 1 appointment, Kerwin served as acting and then interim president since August 2005, provost from 1997 to 2005, and dean of the School of Public Affairs from 1988 to 1997.
Stephen Yates, SAIS '96, has joined Rudy Giuliani's campaign as Asia adviser. Yates is a senior fellow in Asia Studies at the American Foreign Policy Council and president of D.C. Asia Advisory, a Washington, D.C., based businessconsultancy. He served in the White House as deputy assistant to the vice president for national security affairs from April 2001 to September 2005.
Tracie Luck, Peab '97, and Timothy Mix, Peab '01, made their New York City Opera debut in Margaret Garner, a new American opera composed by Richard Danielpour with a libretto by Toni Morrison. Based on Morrison's novel Beloved, the opera tells the story of a fugitive slave who murders her own children rather than see them return to slavery. Luck, in the title role, was hailed by Associated Press writer Martin Steinberg as a star who "rose to the occasion with a heartfelt depiction."
Whether funding a literary magazine, a tae kwon do team, or a program that exposes Baltimore City youth to art, the Alumni Association has since 1993 invested directly in Johns Hopkins student projects through its Student Services Grant (SSG) and Community Service Grant (CSG) programs.
Grant applications come from students in all university divisions. A committee for each program selects the most worthy projects and assigns alumni liaisons who offer guidance and support. The SSG program funds activities that enhance the student experience culturally, educationally, and professionally, while the CSG program supports volunteer activities aimed at fostering positive relationships between the university and communities local and abroad.
David Yaffe, A&S '74, CSG chair, says the group looks for projects that can "truly benefit the community being served" and put students' skills to best use.
"We try to enhance student life," adds SSG committee chair
Janice Webber, Peab '70. "We want [students] to become
involved with Johns Hopkins and stay involved, and we feel
these grants and the projects they support can make a real
Putting health care on the table, locally and
Vivek Kalia, a second-year medical student and co-president of the chapter, says the group wanted to offer an in-depth assessment of local and regional health issues. "It's mostly public awareness, to educate the community about the problems we face right here in Maryland," he says. "We want to empower future health professionals."
Designs on young minds
During the program, the girls design and build projects that relate to a theme — and they get pretty creative, with ideas like a portable egg carrier bike attachment (for eco-friendly grocery shopping) or a recycling sorter.
"It's been shown that it's in middle school that girls fall
off on math and science," Webster says. "We are trying to
reach out through this program. It's all girls,
non-competitive, and we do projects they can relate to."
|Photo by Will Kirk||
The editors of the Bloomberg School of Public Health's literary and arts magazine, The Stew, have a simple acceptance formula. "If it's well written, it goes in," says Bamini Jayabalasingham, a magazine editor and a molecular microbiology and immunology doctoral student. The biannual magazine, formerly called The Biased Observer, provides a venue for students, staff, and faculty to express their creativity with short fiction, journal entries, opinion pieces, poetry, art, and photography. In other words, it's a stew.
"It reflects the diversity of the student body in its international content," says Jayabalasingham.
The Stew's editorial staff used Student Services Grants for two years to help cover printing costs. Copies go fast, so as the editors like to say, get The Stew while it's hot.
Down in Ecuador
Wan and others assessed the environment during a 2007
intersession trip and plan to return next intersession for
the first of two implementation phases. Ultimately, CSG money
will be used to buy toys, books, cleaning supplies, and other
items for the day-care facility.
|Photo by Will Kirk||
A bigger, better bash
In January 2006, the Chinese Student and Scholar Association (CSSA) used a Student Services Grant to throw a Chinese New Year's bash. The sellout event, held at Shriver Hall, was so successful that this year they moved the party to the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Roughly 2,000 Chinese students and scholars from 20 regional institutions enjoyed traditional and modern music and dance, including Chinese kung fu and Peking Opera. "An event like this not only benefits the Chinese community; it's part of the bigger effort of diversity at Johns Hopkins," says Jun Wang, co-organizer and a doctoral student in chemistry. "[Hopkins] attracts people from many backgrounds and cultures, and this sort of activity shows support for that."
The Alumni Council is the governing body of the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association. Its mission is to provide feedback to the university and strengthen the quality and quantity of alumni connections to Johns Hopkins. The Alumni Council serves to unify all Johns Hopkins alumni and foster a university-wide perspective among them. The council strives to provide professional and personal networking opportunities for alumni and students, prepare current students for their roles as Johns Hopkins alumni, and support lifelong learning through various activities such as the Alumni College and the alumni travel program.
The Alumni Council is open to all Johns Hopkins alumni, and nominations are accepted each year in January.
James A. Miller Jr., A&S '64, President
Ron Abrams, SAIS '91
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