Passion for Fun and Success
Youre light, youre loud, and youre passionate
about things. Those were the words that originally inspired Eric
Miller 03 to try out for his high school crew team. But they
might also apply to his general sense of enthusiasma spirit
that has helped him cope with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA),
a disease he was diagnosed with at age 7. I tried crew and
liked it, says Miller, who was later recruited as a coxswainthe
person who directs the rowersfor the SU crew team. Now a graduate
of the College of Visual and Performing Arts five-year industrial
design program, Miller says his crew team experiences have had a
profound influence on his attitude, his work ethic, and his professional
goal of designing athletic equipment. Im very competitive
and really engaged in things, he says. Being a coxswain
was a perfect role for me.
up with arthritis was an equally formative experience, although
Miller is quick to pass it off as no big deal. I
got through it because I had to, he says. It was a chapter
in my life I had to deal with. Still, Miller acknowledges
that JRAa sometimes crippling condition that caused his joints
to become swollen and painfulshaped who he is today. It
affected how I deal with people, how professional I am about my
work, and how I organize my life, he says. Im
grateful for it completely. He even credits the disease with
leading him into crew, because the medication he took for the disease
stunted his growth. So Im a small dude, he saysa
key characteristic of a stellar coxswain.
an effort to share Millers experience with other children
with arthritis, his mom, Dee Dee Miller, recently wrote a childrens
book, Taking Arthritis to School (JayJo Books, 2002), featuring
her son as the main character. I wanted kids with arthritis
to know they can play sports, go to college, and have a career,
says Dee Dee Miller, a local elementary school teacher. She dedicated
the book to her son, who consulted with her as she developed the
story. Eric has always been an inspiration to all who meet
him, she says. Hes had to overcome more obstacles
than most adults ever come in contact with. But hes always
been very positive, a real fighter. Industrial design professor
James Read, who has known Miller since he was a sophomore, agrees
that he is a pretty amazing guy. Eric has a real
high level of enthusiasm and he channels that energy into his design
work, Read says. And its infectious.
disease has been in remission since the end of Millers freshman
year, although he occasionally experiences flare-ups. Even then,
he stays active and enthused about pretty much everythingeven
athletic footwear: At last count, he owned 43 pairs of sneakers.
Im into snowboarding now, and thats cool stuff
from an industrial design standpoint, he says. He also enjoys
writing, running, and spending time with his two best friendshis
older brother, Jason, a graphic designer who lives in Boston; and
his grandfather, Raymond J. Axelson Jr. 50, an aerial photographer
in Syracuse. I have a lot of interests, Miller says.
But whatever I do, I want to have fun.
Food for Thought
students first arrive at college, their eating habits can drastically
changesometimes for the worse. Perhaps no one knows this better
than Julia Salomón, the Universitys only full-time
registered dietitian and nutrition educator. For the last three
years, Salomón has worked with Syracuse University Food Services
to balance campus dining center menu options, offering healthy foods
while remaining sensitive to students comfort-food cravings.
If we took away the chicken nuggets, wed have a mutiny
on our hands, she says. But at the same time, we try
to offer healthy options.
part of her duties, Salomón works alongside the Food Services
menu committee to adapt and implement menu choices and nutrition
programs and to train employees. She also reviews menus for the
dining centers, snack bars, and cash operations with Food Services
staff. There are more than nutritional options and suggestions
that go into running a food services operation, she says.
We have to think of labor and food-cost issues, customer service,
and food trends, so its all a team approach.
latest accomplishment involved broadening vegetarian and vegan choices
in the dining centers. The effort earned a Chancellors Exemplary
Achievement Award in 2001. This year SUs vegetarian and vegan
offerings placed third in a national online survey of college non-meat
and non-dairy dining options sponsored by People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals.
with her responsibilities to Food Services, Salomón works
with the Universitys Health Services (part of the Division
of Student Affairs), counseling students who have such food or clinical
nutrition conditions as allergies, diabetes, high blood pressure,
or eating disorders. Many students who make appointments with her
are looking to validate lifestyle or diet-related changes theyre
making, she says. Perhaps theyve just become a vegetarian
or maybe theyve made some really small changes for a healthier
lifestyle, she says. They want to make sure theyre
doing it right.
also gives educational presentations to sororities and fraternities,
athletic teams, and other student groups on how to make smart eating
decisions. She emphasizes her personal philosophy that nutrition
is part of ones entire lifestyle, not just part of ones
diet. Focus should be placed on consuming food in moderation rather
than whether the food contains a lot of fat or calories, she says.
I tell students that all foods can fit, she says. Its
OK to eat a piece of cake, but they should try to have a healthy
diet throughout the day, not just for one meal.
discovered her interest in nutrition while working as a research
assistant on cholesterol metabolism at the University of Chicago
Medical School. After earning a masters degree in nutrition,
she supervised community nutrition projects in Guatemala and Ecuador,
completed a yearlong dietetic internship, and passed the registration
exam for dietitians.
a dietitian and educator for two different campus departments, Salomón
says the responsibilities of her dual role can prove challenging.
But theres a great opportunity to be creative,
she says. Salomón, for instance, is currently working with
a group of students to produce a training manual on food and body
issues for use by SU residence advisors. She is also continuing
to develop a food allergy assistance program for students who have
food allergiesan initiative that earned a Chancellors
Exemplary Achievement Award in 2002. As part of the program, Salomón
created a food allergy manual with Food Services staff and the SU
publications office that won a national publications award from
the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. I tell
students that if theyre going to make a drastic lifestyle
change, the key is to seek reliable information, she says.
Use campus resources, and come see me.
Flowers lounges back in his office chair, his eyes looking up to
the ceiling and his interlocked hands resting on his chest. His
deep voice lingers on vowels as he repeats particularly poignant
phrases that describe his work as a novelist, performance artist,
and English professor. There are those of us in African American
literature who feel we are heirs to two literary traditionsthe
Western written tradition and the African oral tradition,
Flowers says. He pauses, sits upright, and exhales a thoughtful
hoo. His conversation resonates with the qualities one
would expect in someone who calls himself a literary bluesman. For
me the blues are a waya metaphysical way, he says. The
blues are more than just a music form, the blues are a cultural
Memphis, Tennessee, native says that growing up, he and his sisters
considered the citys legendary Beale Street their playground.
Many black professionals had offices on Beale Street, and
it was one of the centers of the black community, he says.
But I wasnt aware of its cultural significance until
I joined the Army and went to Vietnam. When Id tell people
I was from Memphis, theyd say, Tell me about the blues,
tell me about Beale Street.
after returning from the war, he headed to New York City to become
a writer and awakened to the value of his cultural literary heritage.
He threw his energy into researching and developing the idea of
the Mississippi Delta (the setting of all his works) as the African
American Holy Ground. He also began an intensive study of the griotic
(African oral storytelling) tradition and hoodooone
of a family of Afrospiritual retentions in the United States that
evolved from the fusion of Catholicism and African religions,
Flowers explains. He developed basic literary skills and the theoretical
pillars of his writingsthe blues and literary hoodoo. The
writer as shaman, he says. Every book is a spell, every
draft a divination. I try to use the power of literature to take
care of the tribal soul, to give it what it needs to enhance its
strengths and alleviate its weaknesses.
says his role as a teacher of undergraduate and graduate English
literature and writing courses is indelibly connected to his role
as an author. I have a very mystical attitude about teaching,
he says. I consider it a sacred calling. It is my responsibility
to pass that legacy on as it was passed on to me. Although
the teaching schedule can at times be taxing, he says being a faculty
member in an MFA creative writing program of Syracuses stature
ignites his drive as a writer. Its like being in a literary
pressure-cooker, he says. Your peers are constantly
growing, and youre constantly being exposed to young writers
who are often as good or better than you are. When trying to understand
the narrative strategies of my students, I grow as a writer.
One graduate student, for example, introduced Flowers to hypertext
writing. Flowers, in turn, has adapted the nonlinear, disjunctive
style into his own literary technique. He calls it hypernarration
and uses this narrative strategy in his upcoming novel Rest for
not grading papers or working on one of several writing projects,
Flowers enjoys doing performance art for local audiences and colleges
across the country. With bells on his ankles and African instruments
in his hands, he incorporates a bit of the griotic and blues traditions
into the performance of his engaging stories. I look at it
as a ritual performance that transports the audience to a higher
ground, he says. Flowers seeks personal enrichment by taking
such SU courses as electronic music, African dance, and sculpture,
and by traveling to places as undeveloped as Kenya and as commercialized
as New York City, where he maintains a residence and serves as director
of the New Renaissance Writers Guild. I consider myself an
old bluesman, he says, catching the rails and getting
In her photographs, School of architecture graduate Wei Windy
Zhao G03 captures the intricate artwork, statues, and structures
of Chinas ancient temples as well as the busy, colorful streets
and sleek, modern buildings of its big cities. She could easily
spot the beauty and virtues of architecture in her homeland, but
longed to see architectural accomplishment through a different lens.
In my first year of college one of my professors gave a lecture
about American architecture education, says Zhao, who received
a bachelors degree in architecture from Tsinghua University
in Beijing. It looked so interesting that I decided to continue
my education at a college in the United States. I really wanted
to look at the world outside of China. After applying to several
schools, Zhao enrolled in the masters program at SUs
School of Architecture because of its reputation for excellence
and the financial aid she received from the school.
arrival in Syracuse was her first experience in the United States.
I didnt know anyone and I had no idea how hard it would
be to adjust to living here, she says. In fact, during her
first few weeks Zhao considered returning home until she found the
support and encouragement she needed from faculty members who convinced
her to stay. To help settle in and avoid feeling homesick, Zhao
quickly got involved with various activities and took on some teaching
responsibilities. For her first two years at SU, she worked as a
teaching assistant in drawing classes for freshman architecture
students. This year she spent about 20 hours a week helping out
with a freshman design class. I learned how to distribute
my time and be independent, she says.
fall, Zhao completed her thesis, in which she designed a public
bath and explored public versus private spaces within that context.
She also examined how strangers communicate physically and verbally,
and architectures role in that communication. In the thesis,
she argues that architecture can generate new relationships between
public and private spaces, especially by implementing the concept
of transparency. Her diligent craftsmanship and research earned
her an A on the project and a second-place showing in a school-wide
thesis competition judged by a group of professors and architects.
love of architecture builds upon her related interests in freehand
drawing and photography. Last spring, she took a black-and-white
photography class to learn how to develop photos so they come out
as she envisions them. Zhao has also continued to participate in
international-style ballroom dancing, a hobby she and her partner
at Tsinghua University mastered as university-level champions. Id
like to dance competitively in the United States, but Im having
trouble finding a partner because there are very few people who
dance in the area, she says.
she ultimately hopes to return to China, Zhao first wants to gain
a few years of professional experience at an architectural firm
in the United States. Architects have a lot of responsibility,
not only to the buildings they design, but to society in general,
because architecture has the ability to shape people's lives,
Zhao says. Aesthetics is not the only concern, and that is
the difference between architecture and fine artarchitecture
Swing and Margaret Costello
A silver-haired engineering professor stands at the front of the
lecture hall, ready to introduce first-year students to their first
design project. Instead of expounding on mathematical equations
or the differences between pulleys and levers, the professor watches
a young woman, masked and dressed in black, dart through the room,
slipping sealed envelopes to the teams of students. She leaves,
and the professor, without so much as a word, turns and walks out,
too. The students were just set awash there with the envelopes
and were fumbling around as they figured out what to do, recalls
the professor, Samuel Clemence, with his distinctive chuckle.
opening the envelopes, the students moved on to their real class
assignmentsolving a fictional crime that involved recovering
the stolen Buzz Shaw Diamond, protected by a crisscross
of motion-detecting lasers. This was their design project, ECS 101:
Mission Impossible, and this is Sam Clemence designing the engineers
of tomorrow. What makes him such a great professor is his
ability to relate course material to his own experiences and convey
that in a very intriguing way, says Mike Thibert 05,
a student in the Mission Impossible class. Through his descriptions
of the field, he strengthened my desire to become an engineer.
is a long way from where he expected to be when he studied civil
engineering at Georgia Tech more than four decades ago. I
liked building things with my hands, and always wanted to travel,
says the Atlanta native. Teaching was the last thing on my
mind. After graduating, he served six years in the U.S. Navy
Civil Engineer Corps and traveled the globe, building bridges and
civil infrastructures in the South Pacific, Thailand, Spain, and
war-torn Vietnam. He then returned to the United States, worked
for several consulting engineering firms, and eventually returned
to Georgia Tech to earn a Ph.D. While working toward his doctorate,
he discovered another way to satisfy his desire to build. I
was fortunate to be a teaching assistant, and thought, Wow,
I love this teaching stuff, he says. His desire to mold
young minds led him to a job at the University of Missouri-Rolla
and then to Syracuse University in 1977.
developed a reputation as a researcher and became a well-known specialist
in the design and field application of soil properties and soil
anchors used in underground piping and tower foundations. But teaching
continued to fuel his career as a professor, and, in 1990, the University
named him the Methodist Scholar/Teacher of the Year. From 1991-96,
he served as associate dean of the L.C. Smith College of Engineering
and Computer Science, which required him to all but abandon his
classroom role. Then this wonderful thing came alongthe
Meredith professorshipsthat allowed me to do a lot more teaching,
something I really love, Clemence says.
Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professorship for Teaching Excellence
provided Clemence with the opportunity to develop a series of University-wide
engineering courses and lectures that describe how technology affects
our lives. Topics included the Erie Canal, technology in nursing,
engineering in the Roman Empire and Middle Ages, and communications
technology. In 2002, Clemence teamed with art professor Gary Radke
to teach a course on Leonardo da Vinci that covered his artistic
and engineering accomplishments and culminated with a spring-break
class trip to Paris, Milan, and Florence. For the past three years,
Clemence has shared his teaching expertise with new engineering
faculty from across the country during a summer workshop series
funded by the National Science Foundation.
greatest rewards are when former students drop by to visit or call
me when they run into problems on the job, he says. Education
is a great life.
and Hard Hats
Nissa Monrad 03 heeded her high school chemistry teachers
advice to pursue a career in chemical engineering. Curious about
how things work and gifted in science and math, she was confident
chemical engineering was the right career path. For Monrad, that
belief was reinforced when she spent a semester during her junior
year at Dow Corning Corporations basic silicone manufacturing
plant in rural Carrollton, Kentucky, as part of the L.C. Smith College
of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) cooperative education
program. At the plant I wore a hard hat and steel-tipped boots
while working on day-to-day operations, analyzing trends, and diagnosing
problems, Monrad says. In my free time I learned how
to drive a tractor and feed cows, and went to tobacco-spitting contests.
Norwegian American father and Japanese mother taught her to believe
that if she worked hard and never gave up, her dream of becoming
an engineer would come true. She took her parents' advice to heart
and received a bachelors degree in chemical engineering at
the Universitys 149th Commencement ceremony in May. Monrad
was also one of two Class Marshals who led the procession of graduates
into the Carrier Dome. It was an honor to be chosen to lead
my classmates, Monrad says. I felt even more honored
when I learned that I was the first-ever female engineering student
to serve as a Class Marshal.
as a Class Marshal is one of the most prestigious accolades for
an SU student because it recognizes academic achievement, involvement
in student activities, and community service. Monrad excels in all
three areas. Shes a member of Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor
Society, Phi Kappa Phi University Honor Society, Golden Key International
Honour Society, and University 100. She was also a 2002-03 Remembrance
Scholar. That meant the most to me because a Remembrance Scholar
is someone who can look back on the past and learn from it, never
forgetting the events that shaped history, Monrad says. In
addition, she found time in her busy schedule to serve as an ECS
Academic Excellence Workshop facilitator and participated in the
colleges K-12 Outreach, a community service program. My
most enjoyable experience at SU was working with the kids in Shea
Middle Schools technology club, she says. I loved
itmy community service activities wont stop just because
Ive graduated from college.
graduation, Monrad headed for Stamford, Connecticut, where she now
works as a process engineer at Clairol, the hair-care products manufacturer.
Ive traded in my hard hat for a hair net, she
says. Well aware that many people opened doors for her and helped
her achieve the success she enjoys today, Monrad is eager to give
something back by becoming a mentor. I want to support and
encourage other young women to go into the engineering profession,
she says. I want them to know that if they dream it, they
can achieve it.