Alumni News

Finding a Place to Stand

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Actor and playwright Vicente Guzmán-Orozco ’92 got through life’s tough spots with the help of a great teacher

By Nadine Fiedler

From the Fall 2010 Caller

Twelve-year-old Vicente Guzmán-Orozco loved growing up in Colima, a small and pretty city on Mexico’s southwest coast. Although his parents had moved to Oregon to work in the fields of Washington County, his strong, vibrant grandmother provided a haven for him. He had an innate talent for performance, nurtured in theater and dance classes. Vicente’s world was safe and comfortable, and then it burst apart.

It was time to rejoin his family, said his mother and father. Vicente came north and moved in with them—into a trailer in the middle of a berry field outside of Hillsboro. That reversal of fortune shook him and his sense of who he was, and it took years to overcome. He did finally succeed. The story of that success winds from rural Oregon through Catlin Gabel, to Portland’s stages and beyond as Vicente rediscovered himself and learned to take pride in his life.
Vicente came to Catlin Gabel in 9th grade, introduced by Spanish teacher and admissions staffer Ron Sobel. Vicente had been attending junior high school in Hillsboro and working summers in the district’s migrant education office, mostly translating letters for those who spoke only Spanish. He loved Catlin Gabel when he toured the school and was eager to attend: “My parents were always good at encouraging me to think for myself. After the tour Ron looked at them, and they looked at me, and I said yes right away.”
But when Vicente started going to classes, he felt like he really didn’t belong. “As far as I knew, everyone led a different life from mine. They didn’t live in a trailer,” he says. “It took me one to two hours to go to school and come back. I wrote a piece my freshman year, an uncomfortable conversation between the two different people I had to be: Vinnie at Catlin Gabel, and Vicente at home.” As a young gay man, he hid behind a façade of flamboyance that was not just about sexual identity: it was about the freakishness of feeling like an outsider, mostly in terms of class and color.
Vicente knew he was dealing badly with his situation. He finally confided in teacher Pru Twohy, who had often spoken up for him and expressed confidence in him. That conversation still resonates for Vicente. “Pru asked me to think about whether Catlin Gabel was a good opportunity for me or not. I admired her and Clint Darling, my English teachers, most of all. So I took her seriously and decided to deal with it,” he says. “Academics weren’t the hardest part of Catlin Gabel for me: it was getting a better understanding of certain forms of privilege. But I told myself that this is a good opportunity, and that Catlin Gabel will open doors for me.”
“I finally did get through it,” he says. “I love the school and am proud to be a Catlinite. Pru was right: it was not the torture I thought it was then. It was my own inner turmoil about moving quickly to a disadvantaged position in the States, and moving in a world that was not my own. That experience—finding a place to stand— this is where I am, this is who I am, this is who I need to be—and finding my strength taught me that I am as worthy of a Catlin Gabel education as those around me. And I learned to say why that was.”
One thing about Catlin Gabel that always connected for Vicente was the ethos of service, as expressed by the school chapter, 1 Corinthians 13 (“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”). Back in Mexico, Vicente’s grandmother had found her unique place in the world through serving others. She was the center of her community: if people needed flowers for a funeral, she’d cut them from her garden. If people needed letters written or advice on life’s thorny issues, she was there for them. “She taught by example,” says Vicente. “The whole thread that runs through my family is dedication to the world around you. Enjoy yourself, but serve! The contents of the Corinthians verse spoke to me then, and they speak to me now. It’s why I do the things I do. I constantly use that angle in my projects.”
Vicente’s pursuits at Catlin Gabel built on his talents and prepared him for his eventual career as actor and writer. He wrote his first play in Pru Twohy’s “Hell in Literature” class, a takeoff of Dante’s Divine Comedy. He loved his theater classes, where Robert and Mary Medley provided great support for him. He eventually got his first shot at professional theatre when Portland’s Miracle Theatre asked him to join BRIDGES, its anti-racist teen theater group. Vicente’s skills were a perfect match, and he fell right in with Miracle. He started directing a year later, while still in high school, then after graduation worked in the office and wrote grants. “For commissioned plays I used a bilingual style so that you could understand the whole thing if you only spoke English or Spanish, but were not bored with repetitive dialogue if you understood both,” he says. Finally he was named resident playwright and guest performer in the dance ensemble.
In the three years he was resident playwright, Miracle Theatre produced eight of Vicente’s plays, including an HIV educational piece they performed in migrant camps. One of his plays opened in Mexico City, toured the West Coast, and was performed in Festival Cervantino, Mexico’s biggest performance event. He left Miracle to join CITE, a theater company that put on educational plays in schools on topics such as water conservation and energy efficiency. In the evenings Vicente would rehearse and perform for Artists Repertory Theater and other companies.
As an actor, Vicente has worked mostly with Miracle Theatre, appearing in about 25 of their productions over 20 years—twice as Pancho Villa. He has performed for many local companies, including Do Jump!, Stark Raving Theatre, and Theatre Vertigo. Between shows, he’s found time to present workshops in acting and improvisation, playwrighting, cultural sensitivity, environmental issues, and more. And he’s spent 20 years as an activist and counselor about sexually transmitted infections, to both English and Spanish-speaking people.
Since his time in Hillboro’s migrant education program, Vicente has been serving others through his knack for language and translation. That skill had an emotional cost for him when he translated for asylum hearings. “I had to speak in their words, in the first person, and say things like, ‘The soldiers came at midnight and took my wife away.’ But it was important that the person’s statement be totally clear to me,” he said. He’s translated three books, one of which is used to train seasonal agricultural workers to care for senior citizens. He’s spot-on when he mimics various Latin American accents in his acting roles; once when he played an Argentine radio announcer an audience member said to him, “I know you’re Mexican, but listening to you I was back on the streets of Buenos Aires.”
Today Vicente is back in Colima, Mexico, with his partner, Eric Widing. He moved there recently to concentrate on writing and researching a novel based on four generations of women in his family. He doesn’t see himself living in Colima forever, but while he’s there he hopes to connect with the local arts scene, and he enjoys the slow pace of life in the beautiful city of his childhood.
In looking back on his busy life, Vicente says, “My satisfaction has come from the hopeful messages of most of the work I’ve been able do. If you can do good work, you can lead by example.” And in a nod to his teachers at Catlin Gabel who helped him when he needed it most, he says that working with children and youth is deeply important to him. “If other people hadn’t taken the time with me when I was growing up,” he says, “I wouldn’t be this inspired.”
Nadine Fiedler is editor of the Caller and Catlin Gabel’s publications and public relations director.

Production photo at left: Vicente in "The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa." Production photo at right: Vicente in "Te Llevo en la Sangre." Photo by Russell Young.


Congratulations to Our Alumni!

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Distinguished Alumni Awards and Volunteer Award
From the Fall 2010 Caller

Every year the alumni association recognizes former Catlin Gabel students for their life work and accomplishments. Through their unique contributions, these alumni embody the school philosophy in “qualities of character, intelligence, responsibility, and purpose.” The 2009–10 honorees were recognized during Alumni Weekend at the celebration of leadership and service event, along with this year's winner of the Joey Day Pope '54 Volunteer Award.

Volunteer award recipient Bob Noyes (second from left) and distinguished alumni Rachel Cohen ’90, Sally Bachman ’75, and Henry Dick ’65

Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award

Henry Dick ’65, marine geologist
For his significant accomplishment as an earth scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
As a student Henry Dick was part of Catlin Gabel’s first soccer team that played year round, and he developed his passion for the sciences with guidance from teacher Lowell Herr. He received his BA in geology from the University of Pennsylvania, followed by an MPhil and PhD in geology from Yale University. Since 1976 he has worked at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Cape Cod as a researcher, teacher, scientist, and director exploring the earth’s lower crust and mantle. As Lowell noted while presenting this award, Henry is an impressive alumnus: a dedicated scientist discovering the core of the earth, and a person committed to the well-being of his community and the world.
Henry’s work in earth science includes research on the formation of the oceanic lithosphere and crustal evolution at ocean ridges. He has received numerous honors, notably Yale University’s Ford Mineralogy Prize, the Woods Hole W. Van Allen Clark Chair for Excellence in Oceanography, accomplishment-based renewal from the National Science Foundation, fellowships in the Geological Society of America and the American Geophysical Union, and standing as a highly cited researcher from the Institute for Scientific Information.
Henry lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Winifred, and has three children. In addition to his family he devotes his time to Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Cape Cod, receiving the President’s Award in 1986 and Big Brother of the Year in 1994.

Distinguished Alumni Service Award

Sally Bachman ’75, child labor advocate
For her extraordinary service exploring and explaining global events and trends, and her advocacy for social change
Award-winning journalist Sally Bachman writes for popular media as well as academic and policy-oriented audiences. She began writing about child labor in 1995, after a visit to Bangladesh where she saw firsthand the horrid conditions under which children were forced to work in clothing sweatshops. “The solution implemented must make a positive difference for the child, or what has been solved? I continue to report and write because we need to know who child workers are to know how best to help them,” she says.
Sally’s writing has appeared in publications that include the Los Angeles Times, Long Island Newsday, the Far Eastern Economic Review, and U.S. News & World Report. She has won awards and grants from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Overseas Press Association of America, and InterAction, the largest coalition of United States-based non-governmental relief agencies. Sally has taught at the University of California-Berkeley, and conducted research at Stanford and Santa Clara Universities. She received her undergraduate degree from Yale University, a certificate in Asian studies from the University of Hawaii, where she was a Gannett Fellow, and a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she was a Knight- Bagehot Fellow.
Sally is co-director of the Child Labor & the Global Village: Photography for Social Change, a team of 11 photographers documenting child workers around the globe. By photographing individual children in their worlds, the team hopes to see behind the child labor label. She lives in San Mateo County, California, with her husband, Ray Wells.  

Distinguished Younger Alumni Award

Rachel Cohen ’90, global health advocate and humanitarian
For her work with Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières
Lifer Rachel Cohen has always been drawn to service in the developing world and tying that service to advocacy, speaking out for international policy change. Since 1999 she has been working for the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). She worked for four years in southern Africa as field coordinator and then head of mission in Lesotho, where she launched and oversaw an HIV/AIDS treatment program in a rural health district. Subsequently as head of mission in South Africa, she managed numerous medical programs that focused on treatment for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, emergency care for survivors of sexual violence, and primary health care for Zimbabweans seeking refuge in South Africa. She now serves on the board of directors of MSF’s operational center in Brussels. Before working for MSF in the field, Rachel was the U.S. director for its Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines in New York, directing policy advocacy initiatives related to drug pricing, intellectual property, and medical innovation.
Rachel graduated from Bates College with a degree in women’s studies and a minor in Spanish. She recently completed a master’s in public policy at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Rachel lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her partner, Sharonann Lynch, and visits Portland as often as she can to see family and friends. Upon receiving her award, Rachel spoke of Catlin Gabel’s influence in her life: “I am so grateful to Catlin Gabel for inspiring in all of us who have been fortunate enough to go here an inquisitive, open, and critical mind and for challenging us to put our incredibly privileged education to good use wherever in the world we find ourselves.”  

Joey Day Pope ’54 Volunteer Award

In honor of the service of Joey Day Pope ’54, this award has been given each year since 1992 to a Catlin Gabel community member who personifies volunteerism within our community. The honoree should bring longevity of service to the school as well as enthusiasm and commitment, act as an ambassador of Catlin Gabel, provide the gift of talent, and have admirable qualities of character and responsibility.
2010 honoree: Robert H. Noyes
Bob Noyes’s dedication to Catlin Gabel goes back to 1966, when he chaired the school’s board of trustees and focused on fundraising and investments. He is an original member of the Catlin Gabel Foundation and as its president established the school’s first endowment. “Bob has been one of Catlin Gabel’s most instrumental volunteers,” said Henry Wessinger II ’72 in presenting the award. “He was a mentor and a visionary who thoughtfully guided this school to where it is today.”
Catlin Gabel’s endowment has grown at a healthy rate and continues to provide the school with stability. Bob’s vision continues to thrive as Catlin Gabel focuses on increasing endowment to ensure long-term financial security.
Bob was born in Portland and educated at Williams College and Yale University. During his career he owned and managed various companies, the largest of which was Norwest Publishing Company. He has been an active community volunteer in Portland, serving on boards such as the Oregon Symphony, Portland Opera, Outward Bound, Reed College, and Catlin Gabel. He enjoys hunting, fishing, and tennis while traveling all over the world. He lives in Portland with his beloved wife, Libby Cronin Noyes.  





Phil and Penny Knight honor CG with largest gift in school's history

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Introducing the Knight Family Scholars Program

Q&A with Lark P. Palma, PhD, head of school

Interview by Karen Katz '74, communications director

Phil and Penny Knight have honored Catlin Gabel with the largest gift in the school’s history. Their multimillion-dollar gift for the new endowed Knight Family Scholars Program is a rare opportunity for Catlin Gabel to reach our full potential as a model school as outlined in Ruth Catlin’s philosophy. Phil and Penny Knight’s unprecedented generosity is a tremendous vote of confidence in our school from world leaders in philanthropy.

What is the Knight Family Scholars Program?
It is a pilot program for the Upper School faculty to explore a new model for high school education and attract outstanding new high school students. The gift funds an endowed faculty member to direct the program and teach in the Upper School. In the anticipated inaugural year, 2012-13, we hope to enroll about four Knight Family Scholars as fully integrated members of the Upper School student body who benefit from our exceptional curriculum. The Knight Family Scholars Program is similar in concept to the Rhodes Scholar program in terms of the caliber of students who will qualify.

What is your vision for how this program will affect Catlin Gabel?
The current generation of students is far more sophisticated than previous generations. Their educational needs are evolving quickly. Educators must ask, what more can we do to prepare them? How can we ensure that they have a great liberal arts and sciences foundation for success in college plus the experience and skills to thrive in a workforce and world that will change in ways we cannot imagine?

Catlin Gabel teachers have envisioned a high school that is more real world, project-based, experiential, and interdisciplinary — but limited resources have stymied our progress toward this goal. Now we can take some big steps in building on our curricular innovations and evolve more quickly. As a new Catlin Gabel faculty member, the Knight Family Scholars Program director will collaborate with our high school teachers and students to develop methods of teaching and learning that respond to the changing educational environment.

Where did the idea for the program originate?
The genesis for the program stems from the Imagine 2020 conference held in the spring of 2006. A lasting idea that emerged from the conference was to enrich Catlin Gabel’s educational offerings by taking advantage of what our great city and region have to offer— using Portland as a learning laboratory. Bringing students together with creative, analytical, medical, political, entrepreneurial, and science leaders would further our experiential and progressive education goals. The intent is to get our students “off the hill,” as one alumnus put it in 2006. Our global education and PLACE programs, and the urban studies class in the Upper School, also stem from the Imagine 2020 conference.

How did this gift come about?
As I got to know Phil, our shared interest in improving education emerged as a vitally important theme. Phil and Penny Knight are long-range visionaries and Oregon’s most generous individual education philanthropists, which is humbling and exciting. We talked about Ruth Catlin’s vision of modeling for others and how, because of our relatively small size, our success, and our focus on progressive education, we are the ideal school for innovation. I described some of the seminal ideas that emerged from the Imagine 2020 conference and how hard our teachers work to implement those ideas.

Can you give us an example of a program feature from Imagine 2020 that this gift allows us to implement?
The faculty and program director will have the opportunity to advance the exchange of ideas in seminars taught by a network of community experts, including some of our talented and notable parents, alumni, and grandparents. The seminars, both on and off campus, will examine topics that emerge from the shared interests of the students and the director as they move through the program together. The seminars will also respond to the availability of influential mentors, speakers, and guest instructors. Upper School students, not just Knight Family Scholars, will be able to attend seminars. It is vitally important that this is open and inclusive, and that we prevent any kind of “us and them” dynamic.

We also expect that as the program grows, it will include opportunities for the Knight Scholars to travel nationally and abroad for summer learning.

How else does the program benefit current students?
The research is clear: high caliber students raise the level of learning for everyone. The positive peer effect is evident throughout our school. Students in our supportive, non-competitive environment engage more deeply when their classmates are excited about the lab, discussion, problem solving, or literary analysis at hand. And, naturally, teachers are their best selves when their students are highly engaged.

What are the student qualifications for the program?
Prospective Knight Family Scholars Program will stand out in four key areas: academics, community service, athletics, and leadership. As Knight Scholars they will receive tuition assistance funded by the program’s endowment. The amount of assistance will depend on their family’s need. The program will attract well-rounded students who will inspire their peers, take advantage of everything Catlin Gabel has to offer, and go on to serve their communities.

Can current Catlin Gabel students apply for Knight scholarships?
Current and former Catlin Gabel students are ineligible to become Knight Scholars because one objective of the program is to attract new students and deepen our pool of admitted students. The Knight Scholars Program will raise the profile of our excellent Upper School and entice students who will be wonderful additions to our community.

Who determines who qualifies for the program?
The faculty, admission office, and a new program director will decide whom we accept.

Who is the Knight Family Scholars Program director and how is the position funded?
Typically, when donors make large gifts to institutions they fund a position to oversee the program. We will launch a national search for a Knight Family Scholars Program director to fully realize the vision of this program. The director will be Catlin Gabel’s first endowed faculty member. This turning point for Catlin Gabel could very well lead to additional endowed faculty positions.

What are the director’s responsibilities?
First and foremost, the director will find the right students for the program. A big part of the job is outreach and making a wide range of communities aware of the program and our school. As the program spokesperson, the director will bolster the Knight Family Scholars Program and our overall admission program. The director will also lead the scholars’ seminar and teach other Upper School classes so he or she is fully integrated into our faculty. We will hire a dynamic educator who becomes a vital member of our school community.

How will this historic gift change the school?
When we laid out strategic directions in 2003 one of our top three goals was to strengthen our identity and visibility in the community. We set out to identify and attract qualified, informed, and diverse applicants and to increase our applicant pool, particularly in the Upper School. The Knight Family Scholars Program will move us quickly and decisively towards these goals.

Has Catlin Gabel ever received a gift of this magnitude?
In 1987, the school received a $3.6 million bequest from the estate of Howard Vollum that allowed Catlin Gabel to establish an endowment fund. His foresight and generosity moved the school beyond a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle.

What other benefits does the Knights’ gift offer?
The Knight Family Scholars Program raises our visibility as one of the leading independent schools in the country.

On a purely financial and pragmatic level, the program releases financial aid dollars for students in all divisions.

On a more philosophical and curricular level, the Knight Family Scholars Program will stretch us to take some risks about how we teach. All Catlin Gabel students will benefit from the innovations we pilot through the program. On a grander scale, my dream is to model innovations that can benefit students nationwide.

We cannot underestimate the value of raising our profile, too. What’s good for Catlin Gabel’s reputation is good for Catlin Gabel’s students and teachers. As far as fundraising, this is the tip of the iceberg for all programs and needs of the school. I know Phil and Penny Knight’s generosity and confidence in Catlin Gabel will inspire others to give. In fact, two other donors are planning to give to this program.

We anticipate a positive overall effect on admissions and on our ability to attract phenomenal student applicants. Some great young people, who perhaps don’t qualify as Knight Family Scholars, will still apply to our Upper School when they learn about Catlin Gabel’s curriculum, meet our faculty and students, and hear about our generous financial assistance program.

Is this Phil and Penny Knight’s first gift to Catlin Gabel?
In the past three years, the Knights have quietly and generously funded other immediate needs that I identified. They were instrumental in our ability to provide financial aid for families who have struggled through the recession. I am so honored that they have put their trust in me and in Catlin Gabel.

“To maintain a school with the most enlightened ideals of education, content of work and methods of teaching. . . . To contribute to the community and its schools an educational laboratory, free to utilize the knowledge and wisdom of leading educators.” (excerpt from Ruth Catlin’s 1928 philosophy statement)



New challenge course emphasizes cooperation, ingenuity

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Catlin Gabel has recently installed a challenge course where students will have the opportunity to test themselves on a variety of high and low elements. The course is nestled in the woods below the Lower School Art Barn.

Safety issues have been thoroughly vetted and were our top priority in designing and building the course. Professional arborists assure us that the trees used to anchor the course are not at risk of damage.

The course is designed for students ages 10 and over. Use of the course is strictly limited to times when a trained facilitator is on site. Almost two dozen faculty-staff members have taken the extensive professional training sessions required to become facilitators. (See photo.) When a facilitator is not supervising the course, the ropes and cables are secured and inaccessible to passersby.

Every challenge course has its own personality. Catlin Gabel’s facility was constructed with an emphasis on group cooperation and overcoming obstacles. Under the guidance of trained facilitators, groups of students will tackle various challenges that require skill and ingenuity to resolve. The course contains four high elements and seven low elements. Some of the elements can be tailored for use by different age groups. Parent and alumni groups can arrange for challenge course events by e-mailing outdoor education teacher Erin Goodling ’99 at

“We expect that sports teams, global education groups, departments, and classes will use the challenge course to help set the stage for their work together,” said Peter Green, outdoor education director.

We are very grateful to Andy and Becky Michaels, Oregon Mountain Community, Reed and Tina Wilson, and an anonymous donor for this exciting addition to our program. The challenge course fits right in with Catlin Gabel’s hands-on experiential approach to learning.


Paul Folkestad '82 talks about cooking classes

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Oregonian article, October 10

Robotics program director Dale Yocum named technology educator of the year

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Congratulations, Dale!

The TechStart Education Foundation named Dale Yocum Oregon's technology educator of the year. The award honors a teacher who is:

An effective, engaging instructor who inspires passion and commitment from her or his students while advancing their critical thinking ability, skills, and knowledge in challenging, meaningful ways.

An advocate for the study of information technology, making technology accessible to all students and building an inclusive culture.

A role model for colleagues, who is committed to ongoing personal and peer professional development and establishes, evolves and communicates best practices and pedagogy.

In addition to prestige and recognition, the award comes with a $1,000 donation to Catlin Gabel's robotics program.

George Thompson '64 in Oregonian article about Cycle Oregon

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Oregonian article, September 10

NY Times prints article by Lee Weinstein '77

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New York Times article, September 10

Science teacher Becky Wynne wins high school teacher award

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Upper School science teacher Becky Wynne has been selected for the University of Oregon High School Teacher Award. The award is given during convocation, in appreciation of the fine teaching that has prepared students for the university.

Every year, UO asks the nearly 3,700 incoming freshmen to nominate high school teachers who have influenced them in a particular subject area. Catlin Gabel graduate Becky Coulterpark ’10 nominated Becky Wynne. The subject area varies with the theme of their common reading and convocation. This year, they honor a science teacher because UO’s common reading is Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains. The book is about doctor Paul Farmer’s heroic effort – begun when he was a medical student – to tackle the human and medical challenges created by drug-resistant tuberculosis in Haiti. Paul Farmer’s understanding of science, coupled with his enormous sensitivity to human suffering, enabled him to accomplish the impossible. Coincidentally, Mountains Beyond Mountains was Catlin Gabel’s common reading book last year.

“I am delighted by Becky Wynne’s dedication to excellent teaching,” said UO biology professor Karen Sprague. “As a UO faculty member, I always feel indebted to the teachers in all subjects who have worked with my students before they enter my classroom. As someone who teaches cell biology and biochemistry, I’m especially grateful to those who’ve introduced students to the chemical and physical underpinnings of biology.”

Congratulations, Becky!

Grads Kevin Ellis & Yale Fan celebrated on FIRST robotics website

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FIRST web article, June 2010

"This school opened up the world for me"

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A personal story of the importance of financial aid from Dr. Derrick Butler '86
From the Spring 2010 Caller

After hearing the news that the Rummage Sale would retire, Derrick Butler ’86 M.D. shared his story on how financial aid changed his life. Inspired by his life story, we invited him to speak at the Gambol and help the school raise funds for student financial aid. Here are some excerpts from his speech.

I am confident that my life’s work is changing lives and inspiring others. My work is challenging and, many times, fatiguing, but I can wake up every day and possibly make a small positive difference in someone’s life. That is the essence of what Catlin Gabel has given me, and must continue to instill in its students.
My journey at Catlin Gabel began with me as a shy, fat kid from the ‘other side of the tracks’ (or in this case, the Willamette River). I was black, not wealthy, from a single-parent household, but hungry for knowledge. Six years later I emerged as a confident, curious, inspired young adult with a desire to explore every corner of the planet. Catlin Gabel allowed me to navigate the world outside of my inner city neighborhood and to realize my own potential for achievement. This school opened up the world for me and gave me the skills and courage to go out and savor it.
Financial aid at Catlin is what made all of this possible.
Catlin Gabel exposed me to a diversity of races, cultures, religions, and ideas that made a difference in my life by broadening my world view. I believe that my tenure there equally exposed my peers to someone like me, which helped them understand racial and socioeconomic differences—but also realize our sameness as human beings. I think the need for a wide diversity of students is even greater in our world today, a world of global cooperation and increased complexity.
I graduated from Catlin Gabel in 1986 to continue my journey of self discovery. I was first on full scholarship at Morehouse College, where Catlin Gabel’s academic rigor gave me the discipline and study skills to graduate second in my class. Then with the Peace Corps to Africa, where I taught science and math, traveled extensively, mastered French (which I first encountered at Catlin Gabel), and truly became a world citizen.
Led by my desire for service, my love of people in general, and passion for science, I then pursued my medical degree at the University of California–San Francisco and a public health degree at the University of California–Berkeley. During this period I also first experienced the devastation of the HIV epidemic, which would influence my later career path.
Now as a family physician I treat all types of patients, especially underserved populations of color in South Central LA and those who are even more disenfranchised: people living with HIV. I consider myself a doctor, master of public health, HIV specialist, breaker of stereotypes, lifelong seeker of knowledge, student of the world, and servant to humanity. Upon reflection, I see that Catlin Gabel was the foundation for these accomplishments.
I hope my humble story will help convince you that Catlin Gabel’s investment in people is what makes this school such a special institution. Greater than any investment on Wall Street, the support you can give for Catlin Gabel’s students will reap so much more in terms of human impact.
We must continue to give talented and motivated students the support they need to realize their potential at Catlin Gabel. Please help Catlin Gabel continue to change the world with its amazing graduates. So please, give cheerfully, give heartily, and give with inspiration. Thank you.
Derrick helped Catlin Gabel raise the crowd to its feet—and raise $150,000 for student financial aid. We thank him and all those who were moved by his story.
Photo: Reversed Lens Photography


Service in the Name of Compassion

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Julie Sutherland McMurchie '81 is a public face for end-of-life choices
From the Spring 2010 Caller
When Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act passed in 1994, Julie Sutherland McMurchie ’81 hardly noticed. A new mom who had three babies in four years, she was overwhelmed with family responsibilities. The Act zoomed into precise focus for her in 2001, though, when her beloved mother was dying of lung cancer at age 68—and made the decision to choose the way she would die.
Peggy Sutherland was an active, intelligent, and independent woman who had survived a bout of cancer in 1986. When she was diagnosed with a new lung cancer in 2000, she and her family fought it until they had exhausted all medical treatments, and she was declared terminal. In great pain and discomfort, Peggy knew what she wanted: to die on her own terms. After going through the state’s careful screening process, she died at home in January 2001 after taking a lethal dose of barbiturates supplied by her doctor. She was surrounded in peace by her family and their love, and Julie was by her side.
This experience was transformative for Julie. She and her family had received counseling from Compassion & Choices of Oregon, a group dedicated to informing the public about endof- life choices. The organization recognized Julie as someone who believed in their cause both emotionally and intellectually. After her mother died they asked Julie if she would like to do media appearances and public speaking about her mother’s experience. Julie became an impassioned speaker. “Public speaking makes me remember my mom and keeps me close to her,” she says. “It has been a good part of my grieving.”
Julie became more and more involved with Compassion & Choices, willing to work hard to help the organization grow and succeed. Today she is the chair of the board and has gained recognition for her effective leadership in fundraising and outreach. “I’m lucky to be in Oregon at the forefront of the movement. I’m at a place I can make an impact, and there’s lots of impact to be made,” she says. “I’m most proud of helping terminally ill people understand their choices. I want them to know that if their suffering gets too large, there’s an option. It brings comfort to people, even if they never do more than gather information.”
Julie came to Catlin Gabel in her junior year, and says that her education there was crucial to her: “It changed the way I think about myself. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.” She and husband Brad have three children, Kate ’11, Grace ’12, and Simon ’15, who have absorbed the value of service from school and family. Julie and Kate spent two weeks this spring in Uganda working in a medical clinic, and Grace plans to go on a service trip to Tanzania this summer. Julie is gratified that service work is so much a part of the culture for her children and their generation and is eager to see where their compassion will lead them. “I’m excited to see what my children end up doing,” she says.