Custom Class: post-landing-hero

Alumnus Attributes Recovery to Rowland Hall Community, Rowmark Work Ethic

Train daily for a month. Focus on even the smallest details to shave milliseconds off your time. Travel across the country to a race. Crash right out of the gate. Your weekend's over.

It's a seemingly discouraging chain of events for ski racers. But it primed Hank Shipman '13 for perseverance after a near-fatal Rowmark Ski Academy car accident April 9, 2011.

"In Rowmark, there's so much emphasis on conditioning, and nutrition, and time management, and setting goals and accomplishing them," Hank, now a college graduate, rattled off Rowmark tenets. Ski racing taught him to recognize his limitations, objectively evaluate his progress, and not dwell on short-term outcomes. He got used to the sport's ups and downs, and to spending every day training and striving for improvement. And those qualities have continued to serve him ever since he stopped racing, the 22-year-old keynote speaker told the audience at Rowmark's fall barbecue last month (pictured).

Hank Shipman giving speech

Toward the end of the ski season in 2011, coach Scotty Veenis was driving Hank and five other Rowmarkers—Jake Graves, Zach Merrill, Andrew Rutledge, Hunter Stuercke, and Zach Young—north on Oregon's Highway 35, back to their hotel after a race at Mount Hood Meadows Ski Resort. A southbound driver in a Jeep Wrangler illegally crossed a double-yellow line to pass a semi-truck. The Jeep struck Rowmark's Chevy Suburban head on—in a potentially life-saving reaction, Scotty swerved, and the front-left corner of the Suburban took the brunt of the impact.

Hank had been sitting behind the driver's seat. The then-sophomore slept through the accident, but awoke right after. Hank and Scotty endured the most severe injuries of the group. They both suffered significant head trauma. Scotty also had a ruptured lung; a shattered ankle; a broken femur, hip, and ribs; and more.

Hank's primary injuries included a compound femur fracture, a broken scapula, and a broken neck resulting in a spinal cord injury. The five other passengers sustained concussions. Everyone experienced some level of traumatic stress.

In the foggy aftermath, while stuck in the Suburban, Hank said he remembered moving his lips to try to tell his teammates he was alive, but he couldn't pull air into his lungs. Those with minor injuries sprung into action—Zach Young grabbed a fire extinguisher from the semi-truck to quell flames on the Suburban. First responders started showing up; they used Jaws of Life to remove car doors, and they life-flighted Hank and Scotty to Portland hospitals.

In the helicopter, Hank started to realize the extent of his injuries. He recalled asking a nurse if he'd be able to race again that season. He heard her request a tourniquet for his compound open femur, and he knew he wouldn't.

Hank, a Rowland Hall lifer, had joined the fledgling Rowmark Junior Program as a second grader in 2002, the same year Rowmark Director Todd Brickson started. Todd watched Hank grow up: he was always a fun, hardworking, good kid, and an incredible multisport athlete, Todd said.

Then, the accident. "We were reeling," Todd said with a nod and a sigh. "That was kind of burned in our memory forever."

The support was everything. When you have an entire community pulling for you and lifting you up, it makes it a lot easier to overcome challenges.—Hank Shipman, Class of 2013

The Rowmark and Rowland Hall community rallied. Hank stayed in the Portland hospital for 10 days, then came to Primary Children's Hospital (PCH) here in Salt Lake City. Along with Hank's family, a constant stream of classmates, coaches, teachers, and even skiing stars such as Ted Ligety and former Rowmarker Andy Phillips visited him in the hospital. "The support was everything," Hank said at the Rowmark barbecue. "When you have an entire community pulling for you and lifting you up, it makes it a lot easier to overcome challenges."

After the accident, doctors put a metal rod in Hank's femur and 50 staples in his head. He underwent two spinal-fusion surgeries; the second one, though successful, had complications that left Hank temporarily using a feeding tube. He received cognitive and speech therapy, including revisiting second-grade math.

According to Todd, no one argued with Hank when he said he'd leave the hospital on his feet. "But not a lot of people believed him, either," Todd said. Hank's mom, Julie Shipman, recognized her son's unwavering determination to heal. "He seemed to just know that he would," she recounted in a video. "The walker replaced the wheelchair, and crutches replaced the walker." And when doctors released Hank after about three months in the hospital, he walked out on his own two legs, with help from just one crutch.

At the fall barbecue, Hank told the Rowmark community that his racing mentality kept him dissatisfied—but not angry—during his recovery. "In ski racing, you work for a long time paying attention to tons of details, and you're often deprived of any immediate gratification," he said. So in rehab, he focused on those minor details, and the athlete's trifecta of exercise, nutrition, and sleep. "The progress of my recovery was slow and agonizing, but it was easy to track," Hank said. "From one day to the next, I didn't necessarily feel like anything was happening, but if I reflected on where I was two weeks or a month prior, it was easy to tell that I was regaining significant strength and movement."

Hank's rehab—including three years at Sandy's Neuroworx, a renowned physical therapy clinic that focuses on neurological rehabilitation—sparked a new passion. Before the accident, he said, he was narrowly focused on ski racing, and had no other plans for the future. Afterward, he shifted his goals from sports to medicine. As a junior, he volunteered in PCH's Neuroscience Trauma Unit rehab room, where he worked with patients and talked to them and their parents about his own recovery.

Since high school, Hank has also intermittently volunteered at Neuroworx, where he makes special connections with patients—he knows exactly what they're going through. In April, he earned a bachelor's in movement science from the University of Michigan, then applied to 25 medical schools across the country. He's keeping his options open, but is interested in pursuing rehab-based medicine and wants a job with significant patient interaction.

Todd called the accident a watershed experience for Hank. The skier learned about his own injuries and how to move again, and he befriended kids and adults facing similar—and sometimes more serious—conditions. "He all of a sudden latched onto this," Todd said. "That's kind of where the blessing in disguise is. Being able to learn about what he had to do to come back, and what others were going through, it just became a passion of his, and kind of a calling."

Scotty also made a full recovery and now coaches the US Men's World Cup Ski Team. "You'd hope when anybody goes through that sort of life-changing, traumatic experience, that they'd handle it the way that Hank did and the way that Scotty did," Todd said. "I don't think they could have done a better job of turning a negative into a positive." Hank played varsity baseball and golf before graduating, and even returned to recreational skiing. In spring 2013, Rowmark started giving out the Hank Shipman and Scotty Veenis Perseverance Award in the duo's honor. Hank also won the 2013 Spirit of Sport award from the Utah High School Activities Association.

Now, Hank's daily life is barely inhibited. He has incomplete quadriplegia and Brown-Séquard syndrome—he lost strength on the left side of his body, and lost feeling in the right side. But in true Hank style, he pursues new ways to continue his physical therapy. Since July, classmate and fellow med-school applicant Saeed Shihab '13 has been helping Hank learn to rock climb—an activity the former Rowmarker said bolsters his grip strength and range of motion in his shoulder.

I'm one of the students that constantly brags about Rowland Hall.—Hank Shipman

On the precipice of hearing back from med schools, Hank still extols his college-prep education. "I'm one of the students that constantly brags about Rowland Hall," he said. The writing, study, and communication skills he acquired here gave him a leg up at Michigan, he added. And he praised the expertise and helpfulness of Rowland Hall teachers—and not just from an academic standpoint. He still remembers his first day back at school in fall 2011, after the accident. He shuffled in on crutches, and the late Peter Hayes grabbed his backpack, helped him up the stairs, and cheered him on. Today, the Rowland Hall community can't help but continue to cheer for Hank, who'll be anxiously checking his email until at least one of his 25 med school applications proves successful.


Update August 15, 2018: Hank is starting at the University of Utah's School of Medicine this fall—read the news story. Congratulations, Hank!

Rowmark

Six Years After Near-Fatal Rowmark Car Accident, Tenacious Hank Shipman '13 Sets Sights on Med School

Alumnus Attributes Recovery to Rowland Hall Community, Rowmark Work Ethic

Train daily for a month. Focus on even the smallest details to shave milliseconds off your time. Travel across the country to a race. Crash right out of the gate. Your weekend's over.

It's a seemingly discouraging chain of events for ski racers. But it primed Hank Shipman '13 for perseverance after a near-fatal Rowmark Ski Academy car accident April 9, 2011.

"In Rowmark, there's so much emphasis on conditioning, and nutrition, and time management, and setting goals and accomplishing them," Hank, now a college graduate, rattled off Rowmark tenets. Ski racing taught him to recognize his limitations, objectively evaluate his progress, and not dwell on short-term outcomes. He got used to the sport's ups and downs, and to spending every day training and striving for improvement. And those qualities have continued to serve him ever since he stopped racing, the 22-year-old keynote speaker told the audience at Rowmark's fall barbecue last month (pictured).

Hank Shipman giving speech

Toward the end of the ski season in 2011, coach Scotty Veenis was driving Hank and five other Rowmarkers—Jake Graves, Zach Merrill, Andrew Rutledge, Hunter Stuercke, and Zach Young—north on Oregon's Highway 35, back to their hotel after a race at Mount Hood Meadows Ski Resort. A southbound driver in a Jeep Wrangler illegally crossed a double-yellow line to pass a semi-truck. The Jeep struck Rowmark's Chevy Suburban head on—in a potentially life-saving reaction, Scotty swerved, and the front-left corner of the Suburban took the brunt of the impact.

Hank had been sitting behind the driver's seat. The then-sophomore slept through the accident, but awoke right after. Hank and Scotty endured the most severe injuries of the group. They both suffered significant head trauma. Scotty also had a ruptured lung; a shattered ankle; a broken femur, hip, and ribs; and more.

Hank's primary injuries included a compound femur fracture, a broken scapula, and a broken neck resulting in a spinal cord injury. The five other passengers sustained concussions. Everyone experienced some level of traumatic stress.

In the foggy aftermath, while stuck in the Suburban, Hank said he remembered moving his lips to try to tell his teammates he was alive, but he couldn't pull air into his lungs. Those with minor injuries sprung into action—Zach Young grabbed a fire extinguisher from the semi-truck to quell flames on the Suburban. First responders started showing up; they used Jaws of Life to remove car doors, and they life-flighted Hank and Scotty to Portland hospitals.

In the helicopter, Hank started to realize the extent of his injuries. He recalled asking a nurse if he'd be able to race again that season. He heard her request a tourniquet for his compound open femur, and he knew he wouldn't.

Hank, a Rowland Hall lifer, had joined the fledgling Rowmark Junior Program as a second grader in 2002, the same year Rowmark Director Todd Brickson started. Todd watched Hank grow up: he was always a fun, hardworking, good kid, and an incredible multisport athlete, Todd said.

Then, the accident. "We were reeling," Todd said with a nod and a sigh. "That was kind of burned in our memory forever."

The support was everything. When you have an entire community pulling for you and lifting you up, it makes it a lot easier to overcome challenges.—Hank Shipman, Class of 2013

The Rowmark and Rowland Hall community rallied. Hank stayed in the Portland hospital for 10 days, then came to Primary Children's Hospital (PCH) here in Salt Lake City. Along with Hank's family, a constant stream of classmates, coaches, teachers, and even skiing stars such as Ted Ligety and former Rowmarker Andy Phillips visited him in the hospital. "The support was everything," Hank said at the Rowmark barbecue. "When you have an entire community pulling for you and lifting you up, it makes it a lot easier to overcome challenges."

After the accident, doctors put a metal rod in Hank's femur and 50 staples in his head. He underwent two spinal-fusion surgeries; the second one, though successful, had complications that left Hank temporarily using a feeding tube. He received cognitive and speech therapy, including revisiting second-grade math.

According to Todd, no one argued with Hank when he said he'd leave the hospital on his feet. "But not a lot of people believed him, either," Todd said. Hank's mom, Julie Shipman, recognized her son's unwavering determination to heal. "He seemed to just know that he would," she recounted in a video. "The walker replaced the wheelchair, and crutches replaced the walker." And when doctors released Hank after about three months in the hospital, he walked out on his own two legs, with help from just one crutch.

At the fall barbecue, Hank told the Rowmark community that his racing mentality kept him dissatisfied—but not angry—during his recovery. "In ski racing, you work for a long time paying attention to tons of details, and you're often deprived of any immediate gratification," he said. So in rehab, he focused on those minor details, and the athlete's trifecta of exercise, nutrition, and sleep. "The progress of my recovery was slow and agonizing, but it was easy to track," Hank said. "From one day to the next, I didn't necessarily feel like anything was happening, but if I reflected on where I was two weeks or a month prior, it was easy to tell that I was regaining significant strength and movement."

Hank's rehab—including three years at Sandy's Neuroworx, a renowned physical therapy clinic that focuses on neurological rehabilitation—sparked a new passion. Before the accident, he said, he was narrowly focused on ski racing, and had no other plans for the future. Afterward, he shifted his goals from sports to medicine. As a junior, he volunteered in PCH's Neuroscience Trauma Unit rehab room, where he worked with patients and talked to them and their parents about his own recovery.

Since high school, Hank has also intermittently volunteered at Neuroworx, where he makes special connections with patients—he knows exactly what they're going through. In April, he earned a bachelor's in movement science from the University of Michigan, then applied to 25 medical schools across the country. He's keeping his options open, but is interested in pursuing rehab-based medicine and wants a job with significant patient interaction.

Todd called the accident a watershed experience for Hank. The skier learned about his own injuries and how to move again, and he befriended kids and adults facing similar—and sometimes more serious—conditions. "He all of a sudden latched onto this," Todd said. "That's kind of where the blessing in disguise is. Being able to learn about what he had to do to come back, and what others were going through, it just became a passion of his, and kind of a calling."

Scotty also made a full recovery and now coaches the US Men's World Cup Ski Team. "You'd hope when anybody goes through that sort of life-changing, traumatic experience, that they'd handle it the way that Hank did and the way that Scotty did," Todd said. "I don't think they could have done a better job of turning a negative into a positive." Hank played varsity baseball and golf before graduating, and even returned to recreational skiing. In spring 2013, Rowmark started giving out the Hank Shipman and Scotty Veenis Perseverance Award in the duo's honor. Hank also won the 2013 Spirit of Sport award from the Utah High School Activities Association.

Now, Hank's daily life is barely inhibited. He has incomplete quadriplegia and Brown-Séquard syndrome—he lost strength on the left side of his body, and lost feeling in the right side. But in true Hank style, he pursues new ways to continue his physical therapy. Since July, classmate and fellow med-school applicant Saeed Shihab '13 has been helping Hank learn to rock climb—an activity the former Rowmarker said bolsters his grip strength and range of motion in his shoulder.

I'm one of the students that constantly brags about Rowland Hall.—Hank Shipman

On the precipice of hearing back from med schools, Hank still extols his college-prep education. "I'm one of the students that constantly brags about Rowland Hall," he said. The writing, study, and communication skills he acquired here gave him a leg up at Michigan, he added. And he praised the expertise and helpfulness of Rowland Hall teachers—and not just from an academic standpoint. He still remembers his first day back at school in fall 2011, after the accident. He shuffled in on crutches, and the late Peter Hayes grabbed his backpack, helped him up the stairs, and cheered him on. Today, the Rowland Hall community can't help but continue to cheer for Hank, who'll be anxiously checking his email until at least one of his 25 med school applications proves successful.


Update August 15, 2018: Hank is starting at the University of Utah's School of Medicine this fall—read the news story. Congratulations, Hank!

Rowmark

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At the Intersection of Homelessness, Healthcare, and Humanity

Rowland Hall alumnus Jeff Norris lives his purpose treating and advocating for underserved populations as the medical director of Father Joe’s Villages in San Diego When Jeff Norris ’03 applied to medical school, the admissions office at the University of Utah called him in for a rare second interview. He had submitted a personal statement focused on the connection between medicine, public health, and social justice, and that intersectional approach raised some eyebrows.
 
Admissions officers asked Jeff if he was sure he wanted to go to medical school, and not study public health or social work. But he assured them: he knew he wanted to be a clinician who worked with, and advocated for, underserved populations.

Jeff credits Rowland Hall with launching his career trajectory. In high school, under the mentorship of then-faculty member Liz Paige, he volunteered with Amnesty International and prepared and served food at local youth groups. The positive experience of serving others and making an impact—and relevant content in history and psychology courses—got the wheels turning in Jeff’s brain: “I started reflecting on my role in the world and how I could try to do something to make a difference for others. What is my purpose for being here?”

Jeff's self-described “deliberate and diligent” approach to his career—melding his interests in science and social justice, being motivated by a desire to give back to the world—has been nothing short of a success.

The service and activism Jeff began at Rowland Hall carried through his years as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as a med student at the University of Utah, and as a Family Medicine resident at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. His self-described “deliberate and diligent” approach to his career—melding his interests in science and social justice, being motivated by a desire to give back to the world—has been nothing short of a success: in 2016, Jeff became the medical director of Father Joe’s Villages, an award-winning nonprofit that provides integrated services to people experiencing homelessness in San Diego.
 
Jeff’s day-to-day work requires a breadth of skill, knowledge, and tenacity: he estimates he spends about 40 percent of his time treating patients and the other 60 percent engaged in clinic administration, fundraising, and advocacy—including ensuring that state and federal legislation supports nonprofits like his. He serves on a number of boards, including a large network of clinics with over 100,000 patients in the San Diego area. For Jeff, it’s about more than staying connected and representing the interests of Father Joe’s Villages. “It is being present in the community to advocate for the needs of not just those experiencing homelessness, but underserved populations more broadly.”


At the clinic he leads—which serves walk-ins along with residents of Father Joe’s Villages and people receiving assistance from other local agencies—Jeff focuses on decreasing the barriers his patients face in getting adequate care, and staying on the cutting edge of what they need in order to improve their health. “The challenges our patients face are pretty unique, compared to most patient populations,” he said. “Their lives are very chaotic, and they have a lot going on medically, psychiatrically, behaviorally, socially…in all senses.” A significant portion of his time is spent managing programs to deliver medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD)—drugs such as buprenorphine (suboxone) or naltrexone—and for alcohol abuse. 

At the clinic he leads, Jeff focuses on decreasing the barriers his patients face in getting adequate care, and staying on the cutting edge of what they need in order to improve their health.

Among the most recent and cutting-edge programs Jeff and his team at Father Joe’s Villages are running is the Street Health Program, which launched this spring and is already impacting lives for the better. As the name suggests, the initiative involves going out into the streets and providing healthcare directly to people experiencing homelessness. So far, they’ve reached a number of people who’ve avoided or been underserved by traditional healthcare. One example: a man who had been using heroin for 30 years and had never before been interested in treatment. Pending a grant, the street health team hopes to treat patients with OUD at the first point of contact. In the meantime, they wrote a prescription for this particular patient because, as Jeff said, “it was the right thing to do.”
 
One of the long-term goals of the Street Health Program is to develop rapport with individuals so that they will visit the clinic for treatment. Additionally, the launch has created quite a buzz throughout San Diego, so Jeff hopes other clinics and treatment centers will consider similar programs (which do already exist in other large metropolitan areas like New York and San Francisco). “It can’t just be us,” he said. “There are enough folks experiencing homelessness that we certainly cannot meet the need unilaterally.”
 
Jeff is rightly proud of his advocacy work and the impact his clinic makes on a daily basis, and he speaks passionately of the need for everyone to recognize the homelessness crisis—not just in San Diego, but also in Salt Lake City and urban areas throughout the country. While rising housing costs and relatively stagnant wages are the two primary drivers of the problem, Jeff doesn’t discount the power of the individual to make a difference, whether through volunteering, donating goods, or elevating the dialogue to fight the stigma against those experiencing homelessness.
 
When he’s not working, Jeff stays active outdoors, taking advantage of all that San Diego’s famously temperate climate has to offer. He also prioritizes time with his family: two-year-old daughter Alex keeps Jeff and wife Sonia Ponce—a practicing cardiologist—quite busy.
 
Rowland Hall’s Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund is not at all surprised that Jeff is making a difference in the lives of others. He recalled how, as a high school student, Jeff was always highly engaged and motivated to serve, often being the last to leave a volunteer event. “Jeff always treated those he served with dignity and compassion,” Ryan said. “It is wonderful to see him intently living his purpose, in the intersection of bettering human relationships as a way to improve healthcare.”
Jeff always treated those he served with dignity and compassion. It is wonderful to see him intently living his purpose, in the intersection of bettering human relationships as a way to improve healthcare. —Ryan Hoglund, director of ethical education

Just as Jeff credited Rowland Hall for sparking his interest in a life of service to others, Mr. Hoglund credits Jeff for setting an example of genuine student leadership at the school. And, to the student leaders today, Jeff sends these words of encouragement: “Figure out what gives you energy and makes you feel like you're contributing to the world in some positive way, then grab that bull by the horns and don’t let go of it. That’s where you're going to be able to make a difference, to be satisfied with who you are and what you're doing in this world.”

 

All photos courtesy of Father Joe's Villages.

 

Alumni

Portrait of a Gap Year: Work, Activism, Writing, Self-Care, and Self-Discovery

Editor’s note: Gap years have long been common in Europe, and they’re on the rise in the US. So what happens when a high-achieving Rowland Hall alum takes a break from the classroom? Read on for our 2018 co-valedictorian’s account.

By Allie Zehner ’18

Ever since middle school, I had my life all planned out: graduate from high school, launch straight into college, graduate from college, and immediately enter grad school or a career. Straying from this pin-straight path didn’t seem like an option; however, here I am, writing this piece at the end of my gap year.

At the end of my junior year, certain projects arose that I was extremely passionate about pursuing. However, I knew that juggling these opportunities with the intensity of school would be extremely challenging.

Looking back, I don’t remember the exact moment I said, “Hey, mom and dad, I’m taking a year between high school and college.” Because this option did not pop up on my radar until eleventh grade, the only way to describe my decision is as the perfect collision of four distinct circumstances. First: at the end of my junior year, certain projects arose that I was extremely passionate about pursuing. However, I knew that juggling these opportunities with the intensity of school would be extremely challenging. Second: in the fall of my senior year, my family hosted two young women, Priya and Winona, who were in the middle of taking gap years to travel the country, interview people about their intersectional identities, and write a book on racial literacy. Third: I met Abby Falik, the founder and CEO of Global Citizen Year, an organization dedicated to making bridge years between high school and university a socially acceptable norm. Fourth: after continuously pushing myself throughout high school and becoming co-valedictorian, I was afraid of burning out. 

So, I committed to Barnard College of Columbia University in New York last spring and asked for a deferral of admission, elucidating my gap year plans. Barnard approved my request, I filled out a one-page form, and just like that, I was taking a gap year. 

And so the year began.

In the summer, I worked part-time jobs and saved some money.

In the fall, I worked with Sonita Alizadeh (pictured top, right, being interviewed by Allie at a Surefire conference), a young activist who uses music as a tool to catalyze social change, particularly looking to end the detrimental traditional practice of child marriage. Through my work with her and a nonprofit, Strongheart Group, I conducted research, interviewed young activists from around the world, and traveled to the United Nations Foundation’s Social Good Summit in New York City. 

In the winter, I started focusing on curating a book about the next generation of young women. Formatted as a collection of essays, I will write about half of the chapters and other teen girls will write the rest. From omnipresent social media to an extremely divided political climate to gun violence, this book will speak to the most pressing, serious issues my generation is facing on our journey to adulthood. Learning through doing, I taught myself how to write a book proposal, draft a query letter, reach out to agents, and build a website. 

In the spring, I was extremely fortunate to travel to Colombia, where I used my Spanish (gracias, Señor Burnett), attended a women’s conference, and shadowed an incredible nonprofit, Juanfe, that works with teen moms in Cartagena. And, coincidentally, I met another teen who is taking a gap year to live in South American cities, work, become fluent in Spanish, and volunteer. I have also spent the spring loving (pretty much) every second of learning how to write a book. 

The other key aspect of this year is that, having struggled with a chronic illness since the seventh grade, I made time to see doctors and get necessary testing. While I still do not know the root cause of my health issues, I am better equipped to manage my symptoms and look after my own well being: two things I did not prioritize in middle and high school.

And that is my gap year in a nutshell. 

Spending a year outside the classroom has given me time to nurture other facets of my persona: I am an activist, daughter, employee, sister, and global citizen. 

Let me just say that taking this year and venturing from the extremely narrow life path I had envisioned has been one of my best decisions. From around the time I could walk, I was in school five days a week, seven hours a day. For 15 years, being a student was absolutely core to my identity. Spending a year outside the classroom has given me time to nurture other facets of my persona: I am an activist, daughter, employee, sister, and global citizen. 

I will be attending university this fall. Contrary to what is sometimes believed about gap years, I will be going back to school with an immensely stronger sense of self, more direction, and a readiness to return to the classroom. I could not be more ecstatic to finish my book throughout freshman year and continue to grow as a person.

Gap years are not for everyone, but they should be considered a viable alternative to going straight to college. My hope is that society recognizes the immense possibilities bridge years can hold.

alumni

Claire Wang at Rowland Hall graduation in 2015.

Rowland Hall alumna and Duke University senior Claire Wang '15 has added a prestigious new title to her already impressive list of achievements: Rhodes Scholar.

Claire Wang holding climate action now sign

The Rhodes Trust on November 17 announced the names of the 32 Americans to win the 2019 scholarship, one of the most famous academic awards available to US college graduates.

Claire emailed some of her former Rowland Hall teachers Sunday, overjoyed to share the news. "I'll be Oxford bound next fall," she wrote. "Thank you all so much for your support over the years."

Claire is the sole Utahn among the 2019 scholars, and one of 21 women—a record for an American Rhodes class. Here's her profile as published by the trust:

"Claire R. Wang, North Salt Lake, is a Duke senior majoring in Environmental Science and Policy. She is a Truman Scholar and a Udall Scholar, and has a perfect GPA. She is President of the Duke Climate Coalition, was appointed by Duke's president to advise on campus sustainability and climate policy, and has led numerous environmental policy campaigns. Claire also has worked at the Rocky Mountain Institute, and for Earthjustice, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace. She aspires to a career as a climate-change policy advocate and to work at a global level to develop clean energy alternatives to replace fossil fuels. Claire will do master's degrees at Oxford in Environmental Change and Management, and Global Governance and Diplomacy."

At Rowland Hall, Claire felt supported and encouraged on her quest to make the world a better place.

Rhodes Scholarships, the oldest and best-known award for international study, provide all expenses for up to four years of study at the University of Oxford in England. Scholars must display academic excellence, good character, leadership skills, and commitment to service.

Claire has previously said she's fortunate to have attended Rowland Hall, where she felt supported and encouraged on her quest to make the world a better place. The valedictorian for the class of 2015 also said she appreciated her alma mater's emphasis on writing, which helped her as a student and an organizer. She credited her middle and upper school debate experience for giving her many of the skills she uses in her advocacy work: "Just like debate, running campaigns involves strategy, negotiation, and analysis," she said. Read our November 2016 Fine Print story about Claire.

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Alumni

Ikwo Frank and peers on National Academy of Medicine stairs

Ikwo Frank '13 and her peers from American University recently took the stage at the National Academy of Medicine to pitch their solution to the sixth-annual DC Public Health Case Challenge. The competition engages teams of students from DC-area universities in an intensive two-week process of researching solutions to a significant public health issue, culminating in the presentation of a proposal to a panel of expert judges at the Academy's annual meeting. This year's challenge was "Reducing Disparities in Cancer and Chronic Disease: Preventing Tobacco Use in African American Adolescents."

Ikwo, who is about six months away from completing her master's degree in health promotion management, joined American's team at the invitation of another program student—she thought it would be a good academic challenge. Plus it's a subject she and her team members are passionate about, which served them well during the strenuous research phase and at the panel presentation on October 14.
 

Left: Ikwo with fellow American University students Liz Fam and Elizabeth Taormina. Right: Ikwo on stage.

Her cohort spent hours working individually and as a team, sharing ideas for the best and most practical ways they could tackle the case. Ikwo, who has been living in Washington DC for almost a year and a half, found herself focusing on what students do after school. "It's a big city," she said. "Where do all these kids go?" Her team devised an idea for an after-school program built around mental health and wellness—the program would help kids become more mindful, teach healthy strategies for coping with stress, and provide a safe space when school lets out.

Ikwo's team devised an idea for an after-school program built around mental health and wellness—the program would help kids become more mindful, teach healthy strategies for coping with stress, and provide a safe space when school lets out.

Even though her team didn't win the competition, Ikwo regards the experience as extremely worthwhile. The conviction they brought to their presentation earned positive reviews from the panel, and the collaborative energy of participants was inspiring. Furthermore, all teams' proposals will be summarized in an upcoming National Academy of Medicine publication.

And there's one more benefit not to be overlooked: the competition requires students to apply a narrow lens—and look for feasible solutions—in a field where the scope and volume of problems often seem daunting. "The health world is so broad, and there's so much work to be done," Ikwo said. "I wish we could save the world, but we have to be realistic. One small thing really does go a long way."

Ikwo is already applying her studies to the greater community. When not in school, she works at the World Bank as a fitness specialist and instructor. Prior to attending American, she earned her bachelor of science from Weber State University in human performance management (the program has since been renamed).

 

Banner photo: 2018 DC Public Health Case Challenge Participants. Photo credit: National Academy of Medicine.

Alumni

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