[Pacific Lutheran Scene]
W I N T E R   1 9 9 8

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Alumni Profiles


Thoughts on Homecoming '97 from an alum

B Y   B R I A N   O L S O N   ' 8 3

I am going to make an attempt to write a brief article in each issue of Scene while I'm president of the Alumni Association. My goal is to give you a glimpse into PLU from my vantage point. And the first view I would like to share with you is reflections on Homecoming '97. I'm not sure of the official count, but I would venture a guess that there were well over 500 alumni back for various events during this year's homecoming festivities. I'm pretty confident that none of these alums was sorry they made the trek back to our alma mater.
      For many, the weekend began on Friday at noon, when we inducted several new members into the PLU Sports Hall of Fame. The highlight this year was inducting the entire football team from the class of 1947. I had the chance to sit behind several members of the team at the game on Saturday, and they were having a great time. Besides being together again, probably for the first time in a long time, they also got to enjoy watching the Lutes absoLUTEly crush Lewis and Clark. (And I got to enjoy watching my 7-year-old son catch three footballs thrown into the stands by the cheer squad -- I think he's sold on PLU.)
      Friday night marked the gala celebration in Olson Auditorium and Lagerquist Concert Hall. We once again had the distinct privilege of honoring some of our finest alums. Recognizing the unbelievable achievements of our alumni is truly a moving and motivational experience for me.
      On Saturday, before and after the game, various classes got together for their reunions. I had the opportunity to spend a few hours at the Tacoma Country Club, where most of the classes had gathered. We packed the place. The class of '57 alone had well over 150 people crammed into the basement. The class of '67 gave President Anderson an "honorary degree," and the class of '77 whooped it up downtown at the Tacoma Sheraton. I heard it was a great evening for all.
      But I have to tell you, the finale of the weekend was the worship service on Sunday morning. We were truly spoiled. Not only was the sermon outstanding, we also were treated to performances of the Choir of the West and of the new pipe organ (if you haven't seen it yet, you should make the trip -- it's worth it).
      As I sat in awe during the close of the worship, listening to the choir sing "Beautiful Savior," I felt the tingles up my spine. But I really knew it was great when my 7-year-old -- usually Mr. Squirmy during a Sunday service -- turned to me after over an hour's service and said, "Dad, is it over? It seems like we just got here."
      PLU -- what a great place.
      I heard from a few of you after my last Scene article. I'd love to hear from a few more. Write to me about your last time on campus or anything else you feel like sharing. My e-mail address is brian_olson@hp.com.

Brian Olson graduated in 1983 with a degree in economics. He is a media business manager at Hewlett Packard in Boise, Idaho. Olson, who has been on the alumni board for three years, lives in Boise with his wife, Mary (Boyd) Olson '81, '82, an assistant professor with a Ph.D. in adult education at the Boise extension of George Fox University. They have two children, Daniel, 7, and Benjamin, 3.


1997 Mt. Everest expedition -- a personal account

B Y   J A S O N   E D W A R D S   ' 8 4 ,   ' 8 9

Graduates of Pacific Lutheran University have a long tradition of climbing in the Himalayas and on Mt. Everest. In 1963, PLU graduate Lute Jerstad '58 reached the 29,028-foot summit of Mt. Everest as a member of the first American Mt. Everest expedition. This feat was repeated in 1976 by Chris Chandler '70, a member of the American Bicentennial Expedition. * As leader of the Canadian Colliers Lotus Notes Mt. Everest Expedition, I returned this year to Mt. Everest for my third attempt to scale the mountain.
      In January 1997, I was recruited to lead the Canadians up the Nepal side, via the traditional South Col route (Col is a Welsh word for "pass"). The trip focused around two motivational speakers, Jamie Clarke and Alan Hobson. One goal was to place Clarke and Hobson on the summit during our three-month expedition. They planned to use the experience to enhance their future speaking engagements. The team sponsors, Colliers International and Lotus Notes, generously supported our venture and are using the expedition as an internal metaphor within their companies for teamwork and achievement. In addition to Clarke and Hobson, we were joined by four other team members: a doctor, two communication specialists and my assistant leader.
      Another goal of the expedition was to connect with school kids around North America via the Internet and share our daily mountain experiences with them. We accomplished this through a satellite uplink to a web site and used e-mail to answer their questions. This was of particular interest to me, since I was a teacher on leave from the Puyallup School District. I enjoyed the opportunity to keep in touch with my students at Stahl Junior High, and through the Net, they vicariously took each step with me up the mountain. The positive energy created by the expedition continues at Stahl and has been very rewarding for everyone involved.
      Our journey up the mountain began in Kathmandu, Nepal, where we spent two weeks in early March, preparing two tons of food and equipment for our upcoming ascent. After a chartered helicopter flight to Lukia, we began our 10-day trek and 9,000-foot climb to Mt. Everest base camp, located at 18,000 feet. Hundreds of yaks were used to transport our supplies to this camp, which was used as a staging site for our upper-mountain efforts. The camp had an international flavor and was home to 13 other teams.
      Finally, on April 8, we began the climb up the awesome Kumbu Glacier, a dangerous tumbling river of huge ice blocks. We were assisted by eight sherpas -- local guides and mountain climbing experts -- who helped us carry some of our gear through the icefall and to camps higher on the mountain. In total, four camps were placed en route to the summit, the highest being 26,000 feet on the South Col. After an early midnight rise on May 17, we left the col in clear weather and headed for the summit.
      The intense cold was easy to deal with since we were all wearing warm, down suits and using oxygen. The night was incredible, with thousands of stars beaming brightly, seeming just an arm's length away in the heavens. At 27,500 feet, I was forced to turn back due to temporary blindness in my left eye, which has subsequently healed. Clarke and Hobson climbed efficiently to the summit with four sherpas and reached the 29,028-foot highest peak by 9 am. All climbers safely made it back to camp later in the day. When we descended from the col, we were able to assist many other climbers in life-threatening situations, all of whom survived. In the days to follow, we all descended to base camp for a celebration of success and life.
      Our 1997 ascent of Mt. Everest was very successful and was a super experience by all measures. We reached the summit safely, practiced sound environmental practices, shared the experience with children around the continent and made many friends during our adventure. For those of you wondering: yes, I do hope to attempt Everest one more time!

During his summers, Jason Edwards '84, '89 works on Mt. Rainier for Rainier Mountaineering as a summit guide. He also owns an international adventure business. He is married and lives in Tacoma, Wash. He can be contacted at 253-566-2600 or via e-mail at windymtn@aol.com.

*Chris Chandler was tragically killed in the 1980s on Kangenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world


Entrepreneur turns celebrations into events to remember

B Y   K A T I E   M O N S E N   ' 9 6

Maybe it's her years of contacts. Maybe it's an eye for a bargain. Maybe it's simply getting down to finding out what a couple really wants.
      Whatever the reasons, special-events planner Desiree (Neary) Sumers '96 and her company, Events to Remember, help brides- and grooms-to-be find the best deals in town. She also coordinates many or all of the wedding-day preparations.
      Sumers, the first PLU business graduate with an entrepreneurial concentration, started her now-four-year-old company while still a student. "All the classes helped," she said, noting that she was able to apply directly what she learned in class to her own business venture, using it as a case study for class projects.
      Contacts with other entrepreneurial students also helped -- at least one referred a friend to Sumers' services. Being able to work with other entrepreneurs "allows you to make connections with people who want to see others do well," she said.
      Sumers began her business after having worked in events planning for a club in Tacoma, drawing on contacts with clients and distributors to help direct couples to the best local resources, or doing the price negotiations herself.
      Sumers' hard work and dedication have brought her to the attention of local media. She has been featured on the local television program "Around Here," on radio station KHHO, and in an article in The News Tribune.
      Now Sumers is looking for other events to coordinate in addition to weddings. In her previous job, Sumers had experience planning large corporate events for companies such as Weyerhaeuser, and even a fund-raiser for former Vice President Dan Quayle. She is working to expand her clientele to include company dinner parties, anniversary and birthday parties, meetings and conventions.



Rookie TV producer wins Emmy for consumer alert series

B Y   E D I E   J E F F E R S

In the summer of 1992, when many of her classmates were taking a breather from all things academic, Alison Grande '95 was competing in the Miss SeaFair scholarship program. Not only did she win, but she gained exposure to what would become her career -- television news. "Doing television interviews was my first taste of behind-the-scenes TV, so I decided it was something I wanted to look into," she says.
      Now a consumer investigative producer for KIRO-TV, her desire to explore the inner workings of news production has paid off. In her first year on the job, her ideas garnered an Emmy Award from the Northwest Region of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for a series she produced for "Gadget Week" in 1996. The stories were consumer alerts on garage door opener coding, baby monitor frequency snafus and the code-grabber, a device that crooks use to capture codes used for automatic locks on cars.
      Although definitely a fast track, Grande's road to success began at PLU. After her Miss SeaFair summer, she enrolled in communications courses and got involved at KCNS6, the student television station. She did a sports show, Lutes Sports Profile, with Chris Egan '95, who is now the sports anchor at KOBI, the NBC affiliate in Medford, Ore. Grande also anchored the student-run news while at PLU.
      Grande's KCNS experience provided the fuel for the next leg of her journey. She had internships at KIRO in the summers of 1994 and 1995, worked briefly as a law clerk, then became one of KIRO's youngest newsroom staff members when she got the producer's job in March 1996.
      Grande credits having access to PLU's equipment, and the location of the school, with helping her make the jump directly into the country's 12th-largest market for television. "Internships are required for graduation, and the best way to get on-the-job experience. My business administration minor has also been very helpful for my job as a consumer producer," she says.
      But if you look for the former Lute football cheerleader on TV, you won't find her too often. As consumer producer, she is mostly off-camera, arranging the interviews and pictures you see and writing the words you hear spoken by consumer reporter Ross McLaughlin. Their stories appear on the 5 pm news.
      "I produce five stories in a week and set up four interviews on average for each story," says the third-generation PLU grad. "I go into the field, do the interviewing and write whole packages, which are usually two-minute stories. It sounds so short, but you may spend four to six hours doing research, shooting video and interviewing for one story," says Grande.
      The 24-year-old is enjoying the opportunity to make a contribution to the content of the news the viewers see, and to work with experienced journalists. "I sit down every morning with the assignment editor, the news director, the executive producer and the show producer. I'm expected to keep up with consumer news and come up with story ideas," she says.
      Grande hopes her successful journey leads to regular time in front of the camera. "It's still my goal to be a reporter, but I like the creativity that's involved in producing," she says.



Co-writing "Letters to our Daughters" with best friend Kristine Van Raden gave Molly Davis '75 a closer look at the relationship with her own girls, Haley, 15, at left, and Lauren, 11.

Alum's first book a poignant success

B Y   L I Z   R U S S E L L   ' 9 8

"Out of the most ordinary comes the most extraordinary," said Molly Davis '75. This philosophy lies behind the success of Davis' recently published book, "Letters to Our Daughters." The book, co-written with her best friend Kristine Van Raden, highlights more than 40 touching letters from mothers to daughters.
      Davis, who is a writer, speaker and consultant with a degree in education, lives in Vancouver, Wash., with her two daughters, two stepdaughters, and her husband, Tom Pierson. This is her first foray into book writing.
      She and Van Raden already have ventured out on a six-week nationwide promotional tour during April and May 1997, including appearances at Nordstrom stores, speaking engagements for a variety of conferences targeted to women's issues, and interviews with national television and radio programs.
      "Letters to Our Daughters" unites mothers from all walks of life through the commitment and love each one demonstrates to their daughters. Each woman writes a letter to her daughter(s) expressing the uniqueness of their relationship and words of wisdom for the future. Courage, hope, strength and love are just a few emotions conveyed by the mothers. The letters represent eight countries and many different generations of mothers.
      The book (Beyond Words Publishing) is in its third printing in the United States and first printing in Germany.
      Letters are a lasting medium with a flexible format to express intimate feelings, and they often mark transition points during life. For Davis and Van Raden, this book is strong evidence of the deep feelings that emerge from the written word, rather than rushed conversations between busy schedules. At the back of the book, the authors invite the reader to write her own letter and suggest ways to compose a message. With this personalized feature, they help the reader create a personal, cherished keepsake, instead of another addition to a bookshelf or coffee table.
      While on a beach trip away from their daughters, Davis and Van Raden's inspiration for the book flowed from their desire to praise the positive side of parenting, especially mother-daughter relationships. Working closely with a team from Beyond Words Publishing, Inc., in Portland, Ore., they jumped right into the project. Selecting from a pool of more than 200 letters from women all over the world was one of the most difficult tasks. Looking past grammar and spelling errors and translating foreign languages, the chosen letters stood out for their powerful thought and diversity, both in culture and circumstance. It took Davis and Van Raden less than a year to complete the book, quick by most standards.
      After reading the letters, Davis found it challenging to write a letter of her own without comparing her story to the other women's. Davis' letter, written to her daughters Haley, 15, and Lauren, 11, tells of her difficult choice to leave a long-term marriage and the joy and strength found in the midst of being a single parent.
      "Mama, look what you did, you made your dreams come true," wrote Lauren on her mom's computer screensaver one evening. Davis sees this book as an example of overcoming the fear of failure often present in any aspiration.
      Frequently mistaken for sisters, Van Raden and Davis have shared 19 years of close friendship since meeting after college graduation through mutual friends. (Van Raden attended the University of Oregon.) Van Raden, a sculptor and educator pursuing a master's degree in fine arts, lives in Hillsboro, Ore., with her two daughters, one stepdaughter, and husband. Their daughters share a close connection due to their similar ages and a bond of pride in their mothers' accomplishment.
      Davis and Van Raden plan on writing a new book, although the interest in this book continues to take up the majority of their time. Currently, they are working with Nordstrom to repeat a mother/daughter promotion at selected stores, in which mothers and daughters receive a make-over for a black-and-white photograph to insert into their copy of the book.

Letters to Our Daughters," $19.95, can be found at major bookstores and the PLU Bookstore 253-535-7665. Remember, alumni receive a 10 percent discount at the bookstore!



The camera catches Homecoming 1997 Queen Tiana Harper and King Ryan Bebe-Pelphrey at their coronation.

Reflections on Our Times -- Homecoming 1997

B Y   D A R R E N   K E R B S   ' 9 6

Homecoming 1997 is being regarded as one of the most successful ever! For many alums it began with Songfest on Thursday night. Although this is a student event, the evening included a staff skit. With the theme of "Broadway Meets the Silver Screen," the staff group (including many alums) had Batman meeting Mary Poppins. And of course, President Loren Anderson was the masked hero.
      Friday's activities opened with the Hall of Fame Luncheon, which honored alums from several different sports, including the entire 1947 football team. On Friday afternoon we gathered in Scandinavian Cultural Center for the Apple Festival, which included apple cobbler, ice cream and entertainment.
      On Friday night we gathered for the Gala Buffet and Concert to recognize the achievements of our 1997 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients. Saturday morning was filled with many events, including the Nursing Alumni Brunch, the 1957 Class Reunion Brunch, the Golden Club Brunch and the Tailgate Party at Sparks Stadium before the PLU - Lewis & Clark football game (PLU won 53 - 16).
      Saturday evening's reunions were a time for renewing friendships. The night was acknowledged as a great success, due to the hard work and many hours of preparation by class representatives and alumni volunteers. On Sunday morning the weekend came to a close with a special worship services and brunch. The great turnout and enthusiastic responses made Homecoming 1997 unforgettable for many.
      Homecoming 1998 is set for Oct. 9-11 - put it on your calendar!

Fifty years ago, these gents wore pads and helmets and rolled in the Northwest mud as part of the 1947 Lutes football team.

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