overcomes obstacles to help others
by Katherine Hedland Hansen '88
Curt Peterson ’81 has climbed Mt.
McKinley and almost made it up Mt. Everest twice. But he had
more uphill battles after trying to conquer the world’s
highest peaks. The Kirkland, Wash., businessman learned from
his climbs that getting to the top of the mountain wasn’t
his only goal. Driven and determined, on his 2000 trip to Everest,
Peterson reached 20,000 feet with a broken ankle before being
forced to abandon his quest for the summit. He later learned
he had broken the record for the highest altitude reached while
His second attempt earlier this year had
to be called off when he suffered potentially fatal cerebral
by high altitude.
He stayed on the mountain longer than doctors wanted, hoping
to complete his climb, but finally admitted he had to get medical
care. He continues to recover. He says he’s not affected
daily, but calls himself “permanently compromised,” meaning
he’ll always be susceptible to altitude sickness and likely
cannot climb again.
But his trips to Everest were still successful, as they raised
money and awareness of causes important to Peterson and made
him more resolute in his goals of outreach.
“When you’ve seen God pull you
through on that last hurdle time and time again, you’re
determined to give it that final effort,” he said.
reaching the summit of McKinley in 1999, Peterson made his first
Everest ascent a chance to raise money and awareness
about Asperger’s Syndrome, a condition related to autism
that affects social interaction skills and afflicts his 18-year-old
son, Kurt. Peterson raised $10,000 for the Asperger’s Foundation,
which indirectly led to a $10 million donation from the Gates
Foundation for the Autism Research Center in Seattle.
His last climb
garnered pledges of $10,000 for the McFadden-Willis Children
Memorial Foundation (www.mssmfoundation.org/). His cousin,
Christine McFadden of Merced, Calif., started the foundation
in memory of her four children who were murdered by her ex-husband
in 2002. She has started scholarships, given money to build a
reading room at a library and hopes to build a pediatric wing
and children’s playroom at Mercy Medical Center.
“It’s proof that good can come from evil,” Peterson
He credits PLU for much of his drive. He
says football coach Frosty Westering, and former crew coach Dave
Peterson, were instrumental
in forming his confidence and ambition. He rowed to the Northwest
Championship on the crew team.
“They were formidable in my development,
and PLU has always been supportive of community service,” he
After PLU, Peterson studied international
relations at Stanford University, then owned and operated several
partnerships in Alaska. He and Arne Einmo ’62 founded IFQ
Brokers, and Peterson continues to lead the company that brokers
fishing grounds for Bering Sea anglers.
He says his fund raising
and outreach efforts show a hobby can turn into much more.
“People can be creative and have great
enthusiasm for something they have a passion for.”
Randa Shoeb ’03 celebrates with her
husband, Abba Zaher, her son, Rafik, and her daughter, Nada,
after her graduation in August.
Woman leaves Egypt in order to return better
prepared to teach there
by Greg Brewis
She didn’t exactly commute from Alexandria,
Egypt, to Tacoma, but Randa Shoeb ’03 did spend 14 months
almost half a world away from her husband and two young children
to earn her M.A. in education.
A certified teacher, Shoeb began
her career at Schutz American School in Alexandria—a
private American international school—as registrar and as an admissions
counselor. But soon she found her calling in the classroom.
“After moving from administration
and spending three years in the classroom, I knew that I wanted
to make teaching my career,” Shoeb said. “I also
knew that in order to teach and teach well, I needed the proper training.”
Shoeb was a child her family lived in Tacoma, so returning to Washington,
where she had many family friends, was a natural. And PLU’s program was
a perfect fit.
“I researched all of the master’s in education programs in Washington
and found PLU’s to be one of the best,” she said.
at PLU in June 2002, Shoeb took courses and practiced student
teaching for a year at the middle school level at Charles
While Shoeb found her studies rewarding on many levels, the time
away from home was not easy.
“One of the hardest things for me
was being away from my family. I had a lot of support at home
and my family encouraged me to pursue my dreams.
“If it wasn't for their support, I could never have done this,” she said.
Shoeb’s husband, Abbas Zaher, is an orthodontist in private practice and
is a professor at the University of Alexandria dental school.
Her son, Rafik Zaher, 12, is in seventh grade. Her daughter,
Nada Zaher, 9, is in
“We kept in touch daily online, and
were able to talk for hours, so that was a lifesaver. I also
visited home several times during my stay, and they were able
to come and see me. In the end it all worked out,” she said.
commencement in August Shoeb was one of four graduates to receive Graduate
Studies Achievement Awards, which recognize students’ exemplary
academic performance, collegial relationships that stimulate the learning
and dedication of others
and special contributions to profession or community.
the to Schultz American School to teach seventh- and eighth-grade
English and social studies.
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