Joy (Buchanan) Harrington ’99

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Get to know: the man behind the camera

(photo by Andrew Daddio)

Andrew Daddio, photographic services coordinator at Colgate since June 2008
– winner of 10 (including four first-place) awards from the University Photographers’ Association of America

First camera When I was 16, I found a 19-year-old Sears Tower Rangefinder through the classifieds. I bought a roll of Kodachrome on the way home, and I shot the whole roll in about 15 minutes.

Digital vs. film  I haven’t shot a piece of film in nine years. My first digital camera was 1999, and last time I shot a piece of film was in 2003. Digital is easier in a lot of ways. The one thing I’ve never been able to replicate is film grain.

People person The students I work with are the most rewarding aspect of my job. And I like being around students on campus. People in that age group are open, excited, and, by virtue of being here, they’re smart. I like that youthful energy.
    Also, I’m primarily a people photographer. I love having a real moment, breaking down resistances to capture a true glimpse into the essence, the soul, the personality of the person.

Kodak moments: tricks to loosen up subjects
Sometimes you have to be silly. I have a standard opening: “Say ‘Thela Hun Gingeet,’” which is a line from King Crimson’s album Discipline. People say, “You want me to say what?” Click. I also have little bits — I actually memorized the entire Austin Powers routine from when his fake identity was a photographer.

Photographic memory Certain things are seared into my memory. I can do entire passages from books, including the last several paragraphs of On the Road. I can recite conversations I had 20 or 30 years ago. I have to be engaged and aware, and it has to have significance — otherwise, I don’t remember it at all.

Free time My wife and sons [5 and 7] are the best things that have ever happened to me. I will never ever get back any time that I lose now, so it’s important to me to be a good dad. Last summer I built them a clubhouse, and this summer I built a chicken coop.
    I love to read. I’m usually reading a regular book, some technical book or journal, and, because I’m a hardcore politics junky, I spend a lot of time reading news. I like art: namely, film, photography, literature, music, and painting. Also, I have a strong interest in philosophy and comparative religion.

On religion I was raised Roman Catholic, but formally converted to Buddhism in 2000. I am fascinated by Vedantic Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism, and am drawn to both.

Why Buddhism and Hinduism
Vestigial memories from another life, I guess. I saw a movie about reincarnation when I was in eighth grade, and it really fascinated me. I started reading about Hinduism and Buddhism when I was about 20. The Bhagavad Gita and Thus Spoke Zarathustra [Friedrich Nietzsche] have made the greatest impression on me of anything I’ve ever read.

Career nirvana A high point of my career was meeting the Dalai Lama at the University of Portland. When he entered the VIP room, I took a shot and he saw the flash. He then came over in his flip flops, shook my hand, saw my malas [Buddhist prayer beads], plunked them, and giggled like a little child.

Parting words Images are the true vocabulary of the human mind. We remember dreams in images. Our memories are often recalled in images. Images transcend all language and time frames and many other things that normally separate us.

— Aleta Mayne

Zhou Tian, assistant professor of music

Born in Hangzhou, China, Zhou Tian began studying music composition as a middle-school student at the Shanghai Conservatory. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, a master’s at Juilliard, and a doctorate at the University of Southern California. Tian arrived at Colgate in 2011.

Tell us about your recent projects. Last summer, I worked on two projects in China. One was to record Poems from the Song Dynasty, a commissioned work I composed for mixed chorus and full orchestra in 2011. The CD was released in China this fall. The second project was to prepare for the U.S. premiere of my Grand Canal Symphonic Suite, performed by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra at its season opening in October. It was originally commissioned to celebrate the Grand Canal of China as a permanent world heritage site. The suite was performed during a nationally televised celebration of the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China and was selected as a theme at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. Now I’m working on an orchestral piece commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

Describe the composition process. Imagine working alone every day for six months, and during that time you’re imagining the whole orchestra playing. I use a piano to give a sense of what’s being created, but that’s nothing compared to the real thing. All that time, the piece is in my head. After I write it out and submit the work, it’s going to be three to four months before it’s prepared for a premiere. That’s when I go to the first rehearsal, where I hear someone play my music for the first time. The orchestra, the conductor, the concert master — everyone is there for the piece I created. It’s a lot of pressure, but I know I’ve created something I like, and it’s a magical moment.

Critics note Chinese, French, and American influences in your music. Where did you pick up your international style? Every time I write a piece, I try not to think about Chinese elements, because I know they’re in my blood. As for American culture and music, I just love it. I’m fortunate to have studied with top-tier composition teachers in this country — like Pulitzer Prize winners Jennifer Higdon and Christopher Rouse. So the American influence came from my education. I played a lot of French piano music when I was young, and early 20th-century French composers — Debussy, Poulenc, Ravel — were among the first to adopt Asian culture in their music. Perhaps that’s why I feel close to French classical music.

How do you teach others to create music? Composers need to be very expressive of what’s in their minds. If they have nothing to say, it’s just exercises. We learn the most from listening to other works critically. A sensitive and sophisticated ear, combined with music theory, allows us to develop a stronger inner hearing so we can “hear” the sound of the finished work in our head while composing. In general, students start by writing short piano pieces, then they go to piano-plus-one before they complete a short piece for a small ensemble. I always invite musicians in to play student-composers’ works, because hearing a performance is perhaps the best lesson a composer could have.

— Mark Walden

Katie Sotos ’15

– Hometown: Potomac, Md.
– Intended major: Biology

She means business: “In high school, I was picked for the Washington Business Journal’s ‘Girls Who Mean Business’ list because a ‘Women Who Means Business’ winner chose to mentor me. My mentor selected me because I was active in many clubs in high school and because I interned for U.S. Representative Richard Neal during the school year.”

Jumping into the co-ed scene: “I went to an all-girls high school, but academically and socially, the transition to having male classmates at Colgate was a breeze. I like having boys in my classes because, in general, they have a different way of thinking than girls do. It is interesting to have a new perspective that I haven’t had for four years.”

Helping the elderly: “I have two adopted grandmothers [through Colgate’s Adopt-a-Grandparent volunteer program]. I go every Tuesday to the nursing home and play cards with Louise — she’s 99. We communicate via whiteboard because she’s deaf. My other grandma is Ruth — she’s also 99, and I walk her to the farmers’ market every Saturday. It’s interesting to hear Ruth’s experiences because she has lived in Hamilton most of her life and she has seen so many changes to the village.”

Researching abroad: “When I was in Bio 211 first semester, Professor Cat Cardelús was my lab instructor and she was looking for help in her lab, so I volunteered. The location of the summer research project was originally the Adirondacks to study the effects of acid rain, but Professor Cardelús e-mailed me and said it was changed to Costa Rica! I signed up immediately. We spent a month there studying the effect pollution has on orchids and other epiphytes in the Costa Rican canopy.”

Tree climbing 101: “To access the plants, you have to climb trees, and go 30 to 40 meters up into their canopy. Some days, you will be there for eight hours just sitting in the tree. A system we used, which Outdoor Ed taught us, is when the trees are rigged with a crossbow and then you get sent up to climb. One day, we had to evacuate because there were monkeys; one actually got face to face with Cat, and we had to go right back down.”

A flair for the theatrical: “I joined the women’s choral ensemble right away and that was fun because I sang in a choir in high school. At Colgate, I started taking voice lessons so I would stay fresh, and I also started doing cabarets — showcases of show tunes that we get to perform at the Palace Theater.”

Singing in the shower: “I used to be really timid about singing in front of people. Last summer, I went to a Broadway workshop in New York City and I learned techniques from professional performers. I became more comfortable with my voice and, when I got to Colgate, I started singing in the shower. Before I knew it, I had a fan base on my floor and people began requesting songs.”

— Natalie Sportelli ’15

Scott Meiklejohn ’77, Colgate trustee

(photo by Andrew Daddio)

– Trustee since 2005; Hamilton Initiative and student affairs committees; chair, capital assets committee
– Wm. Brian Little ’64 Award for Distinguished Service 2012; Maroon Citation 2002; Alumni Council president 2003–2005; Real World participant
– Former board member, Kents Hill School and Waynflete School; former director, Randolph Foundation
– Dean of admissions and financial aid, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine

When you were a student, who made a particular impact on you?
Coleman Brown — I particularly recall a series of conversations in his Religious Understanding and Social Ethics course that sprang from our readings of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. I was wrestling with the tension that seemed to exist between King’s fundamental belief that equal rights and freedom would inevitably prevail and his call to immediate action. Coleman was deliberate in not answering those questions. He just allowed me to struggle with it and experience the contradictions and questions.

As a dean of admissions, what do you say to students struggling with their college search?
There is a lot written about the admissions process that could make students feel anxious. But, if you are a little bit self-reflective, gain a sense of who you are, where you would be happy, and what would be a good next step for you — and you are a little bit organized and can hit a few key dates, and are willing to communicate with someone (your parents, your guidance counselor) about what you’re thinking — there’s no reason for this process to ruin your life, or your senior year.

Give us an example of what you do in your role as a Colgate trustee.
One of the things that’s been rewarding has been working on building projects like Case-Geyer, Trudy Fitness Center, and the renovation of Lathrop. When I worked in the president’s office at Bowdoin, I was involved in hiring architects, campus planning, and building a new hockey rink, so it’s been interesting to work with David Hale and to employ that experience as chair of the capital assets committee. We are interviewing firms to work with us on a campus master plan, to think broadly about the future of the campus. The care of Colgate’s assets, and making good decisions about moving ahead, is meaningful to me as a volunteer.

We hear you spend a lot of time in the mountains — are you a “stop to hunt for rare plants” or a “hustle to the top and then enjoy the view” type?
If you know the British Alpine Club’s classification system, there are ambles, rambles, scrambles, and dangles. I’m definitely into the amble, ramble, and scramble, but not the dangle. My definition of a perfect hike would be: I can go down a different way than I went up; a view at the top (there’s that wonderful Wallace Stegner quote about “ the smell of distance”); solitude; and, especially in the summer, a stream where I can dunk myself and get a jolt of 52-degree brook water.

What’s your favorite meal?
I’m gonna have to go with a lobster on a battered tin plate, with some potato chips and a cold beer — one of the great pleasures of life on the coast of Maine. Nothin’ fancy, lots of napkins.

What’s the last book you read?
John Irving’s Last Night in Twisted River. Its initial setting is in a part of northern New Hampshire that is very close to where my family lives.

If you could meet anyone, living or deceased, who would it be?
Arnold Palmer. A great champion, and he seems like he’d be a great guy to meet at a backyard barbecue, too.

Joy (Buchanan) Harrington ’99, alumni council member

– Managing editor, Millmark Education, Bethesda, Md.
– Former VP and managing editor, HealthCentral
– Former reporter, Daily Press (Newport News, Va.), The Tennessean
– Virginia Press Association Award; Hampton Roads Black Media Professionals Excel award
– Alumni Council member since 2011; Real World participant; Alumni of Color Board 2009

What drew you to science writing as a career?
I had always wanted to become a doctor and a writer. I was trying to figure out how to marry these two things when I discovered Perri Klass, an author who is also a pediatrician. She was talking about working in a hospital pediatrics department, and I was riveted. Then I read her articles in the New York Times, and I thought, I can do this. But, when I was preparing for the MCATs, I literally woke up one morning and thought, I don’t want to go to med school. I discovered the MA in medical journalism program at UNC-Chapel Hill and was awarded a fellowship. It was so fantastic, and it turned out to be exactly what I wanted to do.

What was the most fulfilling article you wrote as a medical journalist?
I worked on a story with several other reporters at the Daily Press in Virginia about the high cost of living for lower-income families. I focused on health care and how people without insurance are making difficult choices: Are we going to the doctor, or do we wait and see if this blows over and pay the rent? After the series printed, people were calling us and volunteering to help the people I wrote about, such as with a car repair, or buying clothes for a family for back to school. It was the kind of thing that restores your faith in humanity.

Can you tell us about the comic strip you created at the online consumer resource HealthCentral?
I found this great blogger, Sara Nash, who was writing about living with rheumatoid arthritis. She was funny, she was poignant, and she made a lot of points that were less “jargony” than most health writing you could find online. I found an artist, and we decided to do a comic strip about Sara’s life with RA. It really made an impact; people loved the strip, and they would ask her questions. My favorite thing every week was to post the new strip.

Tell us about your job today.
Millmark Education is a supplemental publisher that focuses on middle school. I’m developing a product that takes existing content that teachers and students really like in print, and translating it online. The challenge of figuring out what will be cool and engaging — and not difficult or too juvenile — to a sixth-grader is what makes it fun.

What led you to commit to serving on Colgate’s Alumni Council?
I had gotten involved with the Alumni of Color organization. Coming to campus for the first time in years, for a Shaping Your Vision program with students, made me appreciate the benefits of attending Colgate in a way that wasn’t entirely apparent to me at graduation. I realized how valuable it is to be able to connect with an alum, to answer questions or give insight, or make an introduction. And I was concerned that students of color weren’t necessarily tapping into that rich network. So when I was nominated for the Alumni Council, I thought, I want to be able to encourage more alums to get involved ­— I’ve got to do this.

How do you like to spend your spare time?
I started to practice yoga a few years ago for back pain, and it really helped. At first, I looked at it just as exercise, but the more I did it, I realized, this helps me focus, and it keeps me present in the moment; I’m usually very future-oriented. And, my husband, Roy, and I love watching movies — that’s our thing. We just saw Batman: The Dark Knight Rises. I’m totally into comic book characters; I was at Comic Con in San Diego this past summer. I am a nerd; sci-fi, comics, anime — I love it all.

— Rebecca Costello