Photo by Susan Kahn

Andy Y. Hata | Globe-Trotting Gourmet

While studying at Le Cordon Bleu culinary institute in London and Paris during his junior year, Andy Y. Hata ’07 learned that becoming a great chef requires more than a love of food and talent for preparing it. Part artist, part chemist, and part entrepreneur, a successful chef must meet the demands of the business world while simultaneously honoring time-tested cultural traditions. As a hospitality and food service management major with an entrepreneurship minor, Hata was able to gather these necessary ingredients for achievement in the culinary arts. “I have always loved great food and culture, and am interested in a lot of things associated with cuisine,” says Hata, who was born in Japan and grew up in Hawaii. “I came to SU because I knew I could follow my interest in the culinary arts, and also explore other areas of study, and experience different activities as a regular college student.”

Near the end of his first year in the College of Human Services and Health Professions, Hata was encouraged  by Professor Brad Beran to incorporate culinary school into his hospitality studies. “He helped me organize a study abroad program, and I spent an entire year in London and Paris, and traveling all over Europe,” says Hata, a Founders’ Scholar. “It was amazing!” While abroad, Hata planned side trips based on his interest in food and drink and its connection to a country’s culture, visiting distilleries in Scotland, meeting vintners in Tuscany and Provence, and sampling cheeses, liqueurs, and chocolates in Switzerland. “I also made time to explore my hobbies academically,” says Hata, who took theater and photography classes in London.

Back in Syracuse for his senior year, Hata continued to pursue his diverse range of interests: taking courses in baking, art photography, voice, and ballroom dancing; completing work on his entrepreneurship minor at the Whitman School; and serving as a teaching assistant in classes in cooking and in wine and beer appreciation. He also helped recruit new students into the hospitality management program and organized the wine stock in the program’s new kitchen facility in Lyman Hall.

Still open-minded about the specific direction his future will take, Hata has been offered numerous jobs and internships, including several in Japan and one with a vineyard in France. He hopes to eventually open a restaurant, perhaps one that specializes in food and drink pairings and includes a gallery where he can showcase his photography. “I love food, cooking, and traveling—and I have lots of ideas,” he says. “The hardest part is deciding what kind of restaurant I want to open, and where.”

Photo by John Dowling

Odie Brant Porter |
Celebrating Native Culture and Connections

The morning begins with a quiet recitation of thanks—a joyful acknowledgment of the Earth, sun, stars, and all gifts of creation that typically go unrecognized in the course of a busy day. The occasion is Native Student Outreach Day, inaugurated at SU in 2004 and now held each semester to showcase the University’s opportunities for native high school students and their families. The concept, one of many efforts to bolster the native community on campus, originated with Odie Brant Porter, assistant provost for planning and a citizen of the Seneca Nation of Indians. “Every time we have a gathering of native people, we start out with our thanksgiving address,” says Porter, who grew up on the Allegany Territory in Western New York. “The idea is that once we go through this whole oration in our native language, we say, ‘Now our minds are one. Now we are ready to learn.’ We are ready to discuss important matters, because our minds are unified.”

Porter came to SU in 2003 with her husband, Robert Odawi Porter, also a Seneca, who is a College of Law professor and director of the Center for Indigenous Law, Governance, and Citizenship. She considers the move to Syracuse a kind of homecoming. “Not only was it a great opportunity to be here at SU, but also, family-wise, we thought our kids really need to be connected to our Seneca community in the same ways we were as children,” she says. Before coming to SU, Porter served as senior advisor for provost operations at the University of Iowa. She has also worked as budget director at the University of Kansas, where she earned an M.B.A. degree, and as comptroller of the Seneca Nation.

The youngest of five, Porter treasures the “roughhousing and drama” of being part of a large family, and values the traditions and experiences that defined her childhood. “When I was 9, I would walk to the community building to do beadwork every Thursday night,” she says. “I’d sit with all the older ladies and listen to them tell stories while I made daisy chains to be sold at the little gallery we had.” Porter remains an active participant in the Seneca Nation and is planning with her husband to build a second home on the Allegany Territory for their retirement. She also studies the Seneca language, sharing it with her 7-year-old daughter Olivia and 5-year-old son Elliot. “Our language is critical to our identity, so learning and using it are really important to me,” she says.

Porter brings that same sense of commitment to SU, where she has helped create a more inclusive and supportive atmosphere for native students, faculty, and staff. “When we arrived four years ago, there were few native people on campus, and they probably felt pretty isolated,” she says. “I was given the opportunity to improve the situation. And although recruitment is not an area that I’m trained in, I definitely had the interest and enthusiasm to figure out what was needed.” Porter credits Chancellor Nancy Cantor for her vision and courage to enact bold initiatives, including the Haudenosaunee Promise Scholarship Program, which provides full financial support for qualified American Indian students pursuing an undergraduate degree at SU; the Native Student Program, which promotes a successful transition to college life; and development of a cultural awareness training program for faculty. “I’ve been tremendously energized by all of this, especially working with students,” Porter says. “I love being at SU, and I love being so close to home.”


Photo by Susan Kahn

Jon V.C. Booth |
Fostering International Experiences 

Up a dirt road, on an idyllic hillside in rural Vermont, Jon V.C. Booth discovered a place to nurture the idealistic goals that filled his heart and mind as a young man: the School for International Training (SIT). He went there in 1969, when, after living in a village in India as a Peace Corps volunteer, he returned to the United States with an expanded worldview and a bright-eyed personal vision. “I knew I wanted to work in a nonprofit area that advanced world peace and human understanding,” says Booth, who earned a master’s degree in international administration at SIT and worked in the school’s groundbreaking study abroad and language training program. “It made me feel right at home to be in a non-mainstream part of America, where everyone was working to make a better world by having people learn to live together by living together.”

Since then, Booth, who was named executive director of Syracuse University Abroad in November, has held numerous leadership positions that allow him to “move bodies to change minds” through international travel opportunities for American students. “Whatever I’ve done, the main idea has been to send people abroad to work, study, and travel,” he says, “because good things always come of that.”

An avid traveler who has visited all 50 states and dozens of countries, Booth first went abroad with his parents as a ninth-grader. “My family has always been interested in international relations, world events, and current affairs, and has always valued travel and education,” says Booth, whose grandfather came to the United States from Italy as a student. “I caught the bug at an early age and realized what an exciting thing it is.” He shares that passion with Trish, his wife of nearly 40 years, their two children, and five grandchildren.

Booth, who came to SU in 1994 as deputy director of what was then the Division of International Programs Abroad, salutes the University’s distinguished history of supporting international travel. “Syracuse pioneered the idea that you didn’t have to be fluent in a language to study abroad, which opened the experience to a broader audience,” he says. SU Abroad consistently ranks among the highest quality international education programs in the country and is among the largest university-based programs of its kind. More than 2,000 students from SU and other colleges across the country participate each year in SU Abroad academic programs, internships, and community collaborations. “And we’re growing,” Booth says. “We’re diversifying our offerings, and we’re diversifying our models for the ways in which people study abroad.” The University opened a new center in Beijing and began a program in India last year, and plans to initiate programs in Uganda, Chile, Turkey, and the Caribbean. In addition, several short-term programs, often tied to courses taught on campus, provide opportunities for international study and travel during semester breaks. “I believe deeply in the value of an international study experience,” Booth says. “I’m proud to be part of Syracuse’s long history of providing that opportunity, and look forward to helping shape new ways for making it available to everyone.”

Photo by Susan Kahn

Sarah Anne Ryman | Humanitarian Outlook 

Sarah Anne Ryman ’07 will never forget the face of the 13-year-old boy she met two years ago in Cuenca, Ecuador. While interning there as a caseworker at the Department of Human Mobility, a nonprofit that assists migrants and refugees, she battled through muddy ditches and torrential rains for three hours to meet with him and his family. His father, an undocumented factory worker, had died in New York City, leaving the boy—who dreamed of one day attending school—to head the family. His 7-year-old brother was suffering from malnutrition, and the family, deep in debt, faced the threat of losing everything. “I cannot get those faces out of my head, and I do not wish to,” Ryman says.

To help Ecuadorian families search for missing relatives, Ryman built a database of 45 non-governmental organizations in the United States willing to assist her with cases. During her stay, she suffered bouts of sickness caused by parasites and witnessed an overthrow of the Ecuadorian government. “I became a part of the community by serving the community,” says Ryman, a Remembrance Scholar and Renée Crown University Honors student who was a finalist for the Rhodes and Gates Cambridge scholarships. “As a caseworker, I took on an Ecuadorian identity instead of remaining a student or tourist.”

Ryman’s work in Ecuador earned her a Chancellor’s Award for Public Service. Beyond the recognition, however, her experience in the field, coupled with her SU studies in international relations, Spanish, and geography, confirmed her identity as an advocate for immigration policy reform—an issue she has been passionate about for several years. During her freshman year, she helped refugees resettle in her hometown of Binghamton, New York. For a service-learning seminar her sophomore year, Ryman researched socioeconomic trends in Syracuse, documenting immigrant and refugee flows and analyzing changes in the local labor market. As a junior, she interned at the U.S. Department of State. “Immigrants are coming here for many different reasons,” she says. “It’s my obligation, as a member of this generation and as a U.S. citizen, to help in any way I can.”

Aside from her humanitarian work, Ryman enjoys running, salsa dancing, learning languages, and frequenting art galleries and the symphony. She also regularly visited a Syracuse nursing home, playing piano and singing classics from the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s. “I guess I have a different idea of fun from other college students,” says Ryman, who plans to pursue a collaborative master’s degree in geography and international relations at the University of Toronto.

As her finger outlines Cuenca, Ecuador, on the map neatly positioned above her bed, her face glows. She smiles, recounting the life-altering experience she had there. Ryman continues to trace the circles, marking places she desires to reach in the future. “I am a part of humanity, and I feel connected to all on a human level,” she says. “I’m an optimist because the system of migration is a human construction that can be changed; therefore, I am here to serve.”



Sandra D. Lane |
Advancing Health and Healing 

Photo by John Dowling

Sandra D. Lane possesses the soft-spoken, comforting demeanor of a healer. Yet her gentle ways are made mighty by her experience as a medical anthropologist and health scientist. Lane chairs the new Department of Health and Wellness at the College of Human Services and Health Professions, where she is a professor of social work. She also holds a research faculty appointment in obstetrics and gynecology at SUNY Upstate Medical University (UMU). “This is the perfect job for me,” Lane says of her role as chair of the department, which welcomed its inaugural class last fall. “I draw on every professional experience I’ve had to come up with new ideas for our students, so they can succeed.”

Lane began her career as a registered nurse, working in Boston for 13 years before moving to California. There, she earned a bachelor’s degree in North African studies and master’s degrees in public health and anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, and a doctorate in medical anthropology from the University of California, San Francisco. She has traveled extensively to pursue her research, which focuses on the impact of disadvantages related to race, ethnicity, and gender on maternal, child, and family health in urban areas of the United States and the Middle East. Her doctoral studies took her to northern Egypt as a member of a team of Egyptian and American physicians and public health experts who studied trachoma, a treatable infectious eye disease that often causes blindness. She then worked for the Ford Foundation as a child survival and reproductive health program officer in Cairo, where she helped develop the first Arabic-language code of bioethics, supported research on maternal mortality, and advocated ending the practice of female genital cutting. Returning home in the early ’90s, she worked on a highly publicized federal evaluation of needle exchange programs, sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and conducted by the University of California Institute for Health Policy Studies.

In 1996, Lane left the faculty of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland to join her husband, Maxwell School professor Robert Rubinstein, in Syracuse. As a behavioral scientist at the Onondaga County Health Department, she founded and directed Syracuse Healthy Start, a program that coordinated the efforts of 35 area agencies to reduce infant mortality rates in the area.  “We revamped the literacy level of health education materials, created TV spots that advised mothers how to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and worked to eliminate conflicting messages about such topics as smoking cessation,” Lane says. Among her projects was a collaboration with Dr. Richard Aubrey, a UMU obstetrics professor who designed a screening and treatment program for bacterial vaginosis that is credited with significantly reducing premature delivery rates. “This program is very important, because it was successful in preventing the kinds of premature births that can cause all kinds of problems,” Lane says. Her forthcoming book, Why Are Our Babies Dying? The Social Context of Pregnancy, Birth, and Death in a Northeast City (Paradigm Publishers), is based on her Healthy Start work and subsequent research projects.

Lane, the mother of a 15-year-old daughter, believes the joys and challenges of being a parent have made her work more meaningful. “Two years before Helen was born, I gave birth to a stillborn son, and that made the infant mortality work much more personally compelling,” she says. “We don’t always get a chance to choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we respond. My work was a way to take what I had experienced—to take that pain, that grief—and turn it into something that would help other people.”


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