Winter 1998

Alumni News


Online Community
Alumni Association's Career Networking Gets Electronic Boost
Stories by Angela J. Krum ('98)

The JMU Alumni Association's 4-year-old Career Networking program just got an electronic boost. Through the association's new and improved JMU Online Community, job connections will be even easier to make.

Under the new system to be implemented in October, students and alumni will be able to search on the computer for alumni who can help them with job contacts and get instantaneous results - and more.

"The Online Community provides a lot of services and technological factors alumni are looking for," says Geoff Polglase, director of alumni relations. "They want interaction. Here, they can find a name and address at their own convenience and pace."

The JMU Online Community will include

  • A business yellow pages full of lawyers, doctors and other business contacts;
  • A Career Center with posted job opportunities;
  • A list of permanent e-mail addresses for alumni;
  • Distance learning chat rooms;
  • Bulletin boards; and
  • An online alumni directory.

Once online, the community will be available from on and off campus. With the exception of the online directory, each component is free to students and alumni.

To take advantage of the alumni directory, users will have to pay a fee. But with that fee, users will be able to search for networking contacts by class year, occupation, geographic location or ZIP code.

Users can purchase the printed directory for $59.95 and receive a password that will give them access to the online alumni directory. The computerized version, because it is updated quarterly rather than every five years, will be more current than the book.

Individuals who want to use the directory for six months instead of five years can receive the online service for $19.95, minus the book. This shortened access time is aimed at alumni in between jobs who will not need long-term use of the directory. Senior Kim Schloss understands the importance of such a list and easy access to its contacts. After using the alumni association's original career networking program to find a summer internship in public relations, she decided to try again in search of a job come May.

"I found out about the service by accident, and now I think everybody should know about it," Schloss says. "Nowadays, the computer is the main way to find a job."

That is exactly why the alumni office, along with Harris Publishing, decided to start up the new computerized program.

"We're keeping with the times," Polglase says. The main parts of the JMU Online Community are scheduled to be online by next month. The new alumni directory will be posted in October 1998, when the printed directory is due for release.

"Now, students will feel like they're part of the alumni association," Polglase says. To access the JMU Online Community in March, go to MadisOn-line, the JMU alumni home page, at www.jmu.edu/alumni.

Students, Alumni Learn Value of Connections When the JMU Alumni Association established its Career Networking program four years ago, JMU students and alumni learned the value of connections. No longer alone in the cold, cruel job-hunting world, JMU students and alumni began to actively seek one another to ask for and offer help.

A student who hoped to be a journalist in North Carolina, for example, could go to JMU's alumni office, ask for a list of North Carolina alumni journalists and two weeks later receive a list of participating contacts willing to help.

Theresa Roeber ('97) landed a Manhattan marketing job through this very process. After receiving a list of about 50 contacts last spring, Roeber sent out 25 cover letters and resumes. She received 15 responses, one of which was from Mary Nelson ('82). Nelson, who works in sales for a software company called Information Builders, was impressed by Roeber's personal touch and her experience in marketing and international business. The two met for lunch in Harrisonburg to discuss job prospects.

"Theresa treated the lunch like an interview," Nelson remembers. "She came fully dressed in a suit and gave me respect. She didn't come with the attitude, 'Hey, buddy, give me a job.' At the same time, it was easier because Theresa saw me as a peer. She was able to hear about the company, and I gave her recommendations for her cover letter and resume."

Roeber now has an entry-level position in Information Builders' corporate office. "It's a great all-around process," Nelson says of the networking program. "Now my company has a quality person, and Theresa's in a place where she can really move up. She's getting huge exposure."

While Roeber worked hard to get her position, support from inside the company certainly helped. As Nelson put it, "If you know someone inside, it's better. Otherwise, your resume just sits in a stack of papers."

As Roeber puts it, "All it takes is one connection."

Virginia's Top Teacher

Last fall Philip Bigler ('74), pictured left, was selected as the 1998 Virginia Teacher of the Year. He teaches history, humanities and social studies at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax.

"I'm very honored to be recognized by the state in this way," says Bigler, who was first named Fairfax County Teacher of the Year and then became one of eight regional finalists. He went on to receive the statewide award after an interview with the awards committee and after he gave a speech on the standards of learning.

The state honor puts him in the running for the National Teacher of the Year. The winner of that award will be announced at the White House in April.

Bigler graduated with a bachelor's degree in history and a master's in secondary education and history from JMU. He went on to earn a second master's from William and Mary in American studies.

Bigler says he sees the award as more than a personal honor.

"I see it in terms of representing teachers more than anything," he says.

Focus on the President

Where the president goes, Mark Walz ('84), pictured left, follows. He has played horseshoes with former President Bush, flown aboard Air Force One and joked with President Clinton at a Hawaiian luau.

It's just part of the job for the CNN cameraman who, along with 80 other journalists, covers the president of the United States.

"It's something new every day," says Walz, who, during the presidential election year, trailed Clinton to more than 360 cities. "Bush holds a fond place in my heart," Walz says of the former president who would always say hello or give him a wink. "He called me by name at a White House Christmas party."

The Oklahoma City bombing was another unforgettable story, says Walz, who filmed Clinton's speech at the memorial service for the bomb victims.

"The emotion and grief there overwhelmed me," says Walz, who at times found himself in tears and barely able to focus the camera.

Speaking for the Boss

Carrie Carnes Kemper ('91), near left, with twin Julie Carnes Puckett ('91) had no idea her summer internship with the Department of the Interior would get her so far.

"I started as a program assistant, and then all of a sudden, Vice President Al Gore wants to meet me," says the former English major, who today is a senior speech writer for the Department of the Interior.

Kemper went to Gore's office, where he told her that in the spirit of "reinventing government" and "bypassing bureaucracy," he wanted a communications network for the government's nearly 2 million employees.

For a year, Kemper worked with a team on the project, which became the Federal Communicators Network, and used electronics, newsletters and phone calls to link government workers and the administration.

"I was privileged to be given this opportunity to work with Vice President Gore," who, Kemper says, remained in constant contact with the team. "The vice president is extremely involved in what he does."

In her position as a senior speech writer, Kemper writes for Interior Department officials like the secretary of the interior and the assistant secretary of water and science.

Ex Libris
Books by JMU Alumni
Spirituality: Where Body and Soul Encounter the Sacred
1998 North Star Publications
ISBN 1-880823-16-0
By Carl McColman

Carl McColman ('82) is a free-lance editor, writer and author. He and Frances live in Atlanta.

In Spirituality, he explores the issue of relating to the sacred without choosing one "path" as the "right one." McColman writes in the spirit of an anamchara - the "soul friend" of an ancient Celtic spirit who befriends a person seeking the sacred and provides support along the way. The anamchara presents spirituality not in terms of rigid doctrine and dogma, but through a graceful affirmation of culture and community.

Unreported
1990 self-published
Poetry by Michael Tucker
Graphics by Ed Hume

This book of poetry represents Michael Tucker's ('82) journey through adulthood, his love for jazz and his experiences as a U.S. Marine traveling to Spain and Asia.

Unreported is part of the 20th-century-American-literature curriculum at The Field School in Washington, D.C.

Mike Tucker, a Marine infantry veteran and JMU history graduate, earned honors in poetry at JMU for 1982 and 1983. He has completed a quintet of novels and novellas and is now working on his master's thesis in English at JMU with Geoffrey Morley-Mower.

Ed Hume ('81), a fine arts graduate of JMU, is a graphic artist who lives and works in Los Angeles.

Reason to Believe
1998 Avon Books
ISBN 0-380-78474-2
By Michael Clark

Michael Clark ('84) is an author and staff writer for The Virginia-Pilot. The JMU English graduate is working on his master's at Old Dominion University. He, Ruth Ann and their two children live in Virginia Beach.

Reason to Believe, a guidebook on psychic phenomena, focuses on the increasing belief in psychics and other paranormal phenomena. The book evaluates the tools and techniques used by psychics and gives first-person accounts from psychics.

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