Isabel Lopez 05 deeply appreciates her familys tradition
of self-reliance. I was born in Lima, Peru, says Lopez,
a broadcast journalism major at the Newhouse School. My mother
and grandmother decided to immigrate to the United States when I
was 4, because they always did what they felt had to be done, no
matter how difficult. Ive inherited a strong sense of independence
up in West Orange, New Jersey, she entered school with Spanish as
her native language. This created some initial difficulties, but
she quickly mastered English and excelled in her studies. Today,
my bilingual skills help me a lotin school, in getting jobs,
in almost everything I do, she says.
Syracuse, Lopez adjusted easily to campus life, making Deans
List in her freshman year. She credits her mother with stressing
the importance of education to her since early childhood. She
always wants the best for me, Lopez says. I could have
gone to public school, but instead she took on the expense of sending
me to one of the best private high schools in New Jersey. In the
same way, when it was time for college, she encouraged me to choose
SU, even though it meant going away from home.
SU experience that has deeply affected Lopez is her participation
in Race Dialogue Circle, a sophomore honors seminar taught by social
work professor Carrie Jefferson Smith and teaching and leadership
professor Mara Sapon-Shevin. The seminar challenges a diverse group
of students to speak candidly about race relations. We talked
about racismand a lot of other isms in society,
says Lopez, who has since served as a student facilitator for the
course and helped revise its curriculum. I feel more educated
now about the barriers I face as a Latina and as a woman. Some students
struggle more than others with feelings of oppressionand some
students have trouble dealing with ways in which they make others
feel oppressed. But the seminar opens peoples eyes to various
forms of oppression, and that is important.
transferred from the College of Arts and Sciences to Newhouse last
spring, after deciding on a career in TV journalism. Im
minoring in womens studies, and I think that gives me a fresh
perspective that can only enhance my work as a journalist,
she says. Her other campus activities include producing news pieces
for UUTV, the student-run closed-circuit TV service, and holding
a work-study job at the Office of Program Development.
is particularly proud to be a three-time recipient of Our Time Has
Come scholarships, which were established through alumni funding
to provide assistance to African American and Latino students at
SU. Im fortunate to have received these scholarships,
she says. They helped relieve my familys financial burdenand
my own. Its great to know there are people out there who care
Mohammad Reza Khorasani |
A Passion for Service
students select a major based on the prospect of fame or an enticing
income. For Mohammad Reza Khorasani 04, the choice was rooted
in his religious convictions. Theres an expression from
the prophet Muhammad: The best among the people are those
who benefit the people, says Khorasani, a bioengineering
major who will attend the State University of New York Upstate Medical
University in the fall. From a Muslim perspective, its
important for me to be able to serve others. My primary aim is to
in Tehran, Iran, Khorasani moved to Syracuse with his family at
a young age so his father, Mohammad Mehdi Khorasani G90, could
study computer engineering at SU. During high school, Khorasani
volunteered at Upstate Medical University, which piqued his interest
in medicine. Two summer internships in the hospitals pharmacology
department, where he helped construct recombinant DNA, reinforced
his desire to enter the medical field. The time I spent at
Upstate allowed me to meet physicians, students, and patients, and
observe clinics, wards, and research facilities, Khorasani
says. I became convinced that medicine was the only career
summer, he put his bioengineering studies into practice at SUs
Institute for Sensory Research, exploring how the ears cochlear
nucleus functions. I have always loved math, physics, and
engineering, he says. Examining the human body in terms
of its electrical and mechanical functions is a unique and enriching
way to prepare for medical school.
passion for engineering mirrors his dedication to the medical field.
An undergraduate teaching assistant in the physics department of
the College of Arts and Sciences, he has spent the past four years
tutoring peers. Mohammad has always been interested in gaining
a deeper understanding of the material, says physics professor
Allen Miller, who oversaw one of Khorasanis assistantships.
His grasp of the concepts and his superior communication skills
make him an effective physics coach. Khorasani also works
as an academic excellence workshop facilitator, meeting with engineering
students each week to help strengthen their understanding of a particular
course. Its obvious he is sincerely concerned about
his peers progress, says program coordinator Kate Drake.
dedication to helping those around him extends well beyond the SU
community. He has baked gingerbread houses for hospital pediatric
wards and served food at the Rescue Mission. As co-president of
SUs chapter of Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society, a community
service organization, he volunteers for a variety of activities
throughout the year. Volunteering is an eye-opening, fulfilling
experience, he says. It makes me appreciate what I have
and it encourages me to give back to the community even more.
Last May, Khorasani was honored for his exceptional commitment to
service, receiving the Hisako Fujitsuka Award for Outstanding International
Service and Caring. The award was presented by the Office of Financial
Aid and Scholarship Programs and the Lillian and Emanuel Slutzker
Center for International Services.
member of the Persian Speaking Muslim Student Association and SUs
Muslim Student Association, Khorasani says the Universitys
policy on diversity was a strong factor in his decision to attend
school here. SU is a very tolerant place, he says. I
am proud to tell people that I attend the first university in the
United States to have classes closed on Eid Ul-Fitr, the end of
the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Here, my beliefs are respected,
as are the many different beliefs of those around me. Ive
been able to maintain my religious dignity and identity while taking
an active role in the community.
an eighth-grader in a small southern Alabama town, Charlotte Grimes
set out to respond to an essay question posed by a teacher and discovered
her lifes work: Should we, the United States, be militarily
involved in Southeast Asia? I didnt know how to answer
that question, so I started reading newspapers and magazines and
watching the news, says Grimes, the Knight Chair in Political
Reporting at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
The stories were mostly about body counts or what the administration
said that day. I really couldnt find the kind of information
I was seekingsuch as what the people in Vietnam wanted, what
choices they were making, and why they were making those choices.
I became intrigued and wanted to be a war correspondent and go to
this period, Grimes also followed the coverage of the civil rights
movement and grew to respect the journalists who reported these
powerful stories. That eighth-grade class made her realize that
all of life is an essay question, she says. As a reporter,
she could gather facts on such issues as presidential elections,
school board decisions, and health care, and present information
to help people formulate opinions. There are questions we,
as a citizenry, need to answer, Grimes says. Being a
reporter was a way I could help people and have a helluva lot of
fun in the process.
then, Grimes has logged more than 25 years as a journalist, including
12 years at the Washington Bureau of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
During her reporting career, she wrote stories that stirred people
to action. Her series on the lives of rape victims in Missouri resulted
in better services for them, and her investigative reports on foster
care influenced state lawmakers to pass reforms. Sometimes a story
can have a smaller, yet equally profound, effect on people. For
example, she once received a phone call from a breast cancer survivor
who had decided to become a patients advocate after reading
Grimess story on the subject. What can be better than
that? she asks. Nothing! Reporting is a privilege. You
make a difference and people count on you. They make decisions based
on what they read in the newspapers and see on the TV news.
left reporting in 1996 to help rescue her professionthrough
teaching. She sees journalism slipping into a celebrity culture,
where reporters begin to matter more than their stories. Although
somebody else may sign your paycheck, you work for the people who
depend on the newspaper or newscast, says Grimes, who has
also taught journalism at Princeton and Hampton universities and
did research on the profession at Harvard. We talk of the
power of the press and the rights of the press, but I also think
of it in terms of the responsibility to help a democracy deliberate
and shape itself. I firmly believe in the notion that an informed
citizenry can make wise decisions to govern itself.
Dean David M. Rubin believes Grimess philosophy of journalism
fits in well at the school. In Charlotte Grimes
we have a veteran Washington journalist with a particular perspective
on political reporting; that is, she has always tried to make politics
relevant to her readers by demonstrating how the decisions of politicians
affect their daily lives, Rubin says.
addition to passing on her journalists idealism, Grimes intends
to help young journalists develop strong writing and reporting skills,
so they can accurately convey a story to the public. To hold
the Knight Chair at the Newhouse School is an extraordinary opportunity
for me to give back to a profession that has given me so much,
she says. Grimes is the first to fill the position, which is funded
by a $1.5 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
There are 18 Knight Chairs in Journalism at major U.S. schools.
The Newhouse School and the Knight Foundation are two of the
best in their fields, she says, and I have the privilege
of working with them both.
Fernando Diz has never followed the pack. In fact, he credits his
success as a businessman and professor to being a free thinker.
You need to be an independent-minded individual to take the
risks nobody else will take, says Diz, a finance professor
in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management and owner of M. &
E. Financial, a consulting firm in King Ferry, New York. You
have to be convinced that youre right against all odds. I
constantly question my students and make them challenge what I say.
They must not be afraid to ask questions to understand why something
is relevant to them.
history lover, Diz reflects on his own childhood to trace the origins
of his passion for finance. As a 9-year-old growing up in a family
of entrepreneurs in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he accompanied his
grandfathers on their visits to clients. My family believed
that to understand a business, you needed to experience all aspects
of the business, he says. So Ive done everything
from sweeping the floors to dealing with banks. I have been exposed
to the forces of finance, marketing, and operations. The power of
finance has always been seductive to me.
was first attracted to teaching as a graduate student at Cornell
University, where he helped teach a corporate finance course and
enjoyed the intellectual interaction with his students. After earning
a Ph.D. degree from Cornell in 1989, he joined the Syracuse faculty
to offer courses in financial management and derivatives and now
heads DIPAs Management Internship Program in Madrid. He keeps
his teaching fresh by drawing on examples from his consulting business
and current market conditions. If your research has nothing
to do with the realities of business and you try to incorporate
that into class, you lose credibility with students, he says.
I tend to bring experiences from my personal business into
the classroom, and students respond positively to that. They crave
that kind of experience.
always looks for ways to keep his students connected to the business
world through curriculum development and by recruiting professionals
to speak. Last semester, he and Marty Whitman 49 developed
and co-taught a class in distress investing. Whitmanthe
chairman of M.J. Whitman Inc. and co-chief investment officer of
Third Avenue Management LLC who recently gave a naming gift to the
school (see related story)explained
how knowledge of the U.S. bankruptcy codes and proper investing
can be used to make financially sick companies healthy.
The two men are currently drafting a book about distress investing
based on the class. In his Options and Futures course, Diz uses
the book, Markets, Mobs & Mayhem: A Modern Look at
the Madness of Crowds (John Wiley & Sons, 2002), by SU Trustee
Robert Menschel 51, H91, senior director of Goldman
Sachs. This allows him to link classroom learning about investors
irrational behavior with such historical events as the 17th-century
tulip mania in Holland and the recent dot-com boom and bust in America.
Marty Whitman and Robert Menschel teach students that you
cannot think like the rest, Diz says. You have to hold
your ground and be an independent thinker to avoid the risks associated
with booms and busts in the market. Diz hopes the school maintains
its commitment to creativity and continuous growth by remaining
connected to business. The stars are aligning for us,
he says. Im extremely excited about the future of the
school. I believe we can become the leader in distress and value
investing. Thats my dream.
a private pilot, also dreams of one day flying his plane solo across
the Atlantic and hopes to recruit a sponsor to finance the flight.
When not aloft or working, he enjoys windsurfing and reading. I
read a lot of history and, over and over again, you see that when
people or nations think theyre the best and invincible, they
start declining, he says. My goal is to stay humble,
keep listening, and keep rising. Ive performed my best when
people did not stifle my creativity and when they gave me responsibility.
Thats the best recipe for growth.