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Linh Bui ’14
Linda Havlin ’72
Travis Leach ’94
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Linh Bui ’14
(photo by Andrew Daddio)
Linh Bui ’14 just wants a nap. Leaving her dorm early in the morning, schlepping from class to class, working two campus jobs, and not returning to her room until nightfall, the student from Hanoi, Vietnam, “desperately needs” a midday snooze sometimes. Through a campus survey sent via e-mail, Bui found that she’s not alone. “In only a week, I received more than 300 responses, so I felt like I really struck a nerve,” she said. So Bui decided to take the initiative and develop a space to nap on campus.
She first dreamed up the idea last year when she couldn’t find a place to crash between morning and afternoon classes. “I was so tired,” said the double economics and psychology major. Bui first tried the couches in the chapel, but found that events and social gatherings interrupted the quiet time she craved. Then she scoped out the Cooley Library in McGregory Hall, only to discover that all the couches were taken and students had even squeezed themselves into chairs to nod off. As a Case-Geyer Library employee, Bui knows that students also curl up in study carrels. Bui took her idea to Thought Into Action (TIA), Colgate’s program that helps students develop their entrepreneurial ideas.
Backed by her survey data, Bui approached campus deans and the Student Government Association. Susan Smith, associate dean of the college, helped Bui secure a space — the chapel library — and funding for couches.
TIA not only helped Bui find a way to get some sleep but also, on a much larger scale, taught her how to turn her dreams into reality. “Most people’s first reaction was, ‘A napping space on campus? What?’ but I know now that if I want something enough and work hard for it, I will make it happen,” she said. “That’s such a powerful realization. Before I was someone who accepted the status quo, but I don’t think I can go back to my old self ever again.”
Now she’s undeterred by obstacles. Bui was hired for a spring-semester internship as a financial analyst with the Chobani yogurt company in Norwich, N.Y., despite the fact that she doesn’t have a car — or even a driver’s license. “I didn’t know how I was going to get there, but I still applied, thinking everything would take care of itself. And it did!” Bui found two alumnae who work at the company and live in Hamilton who could give her a weekly lift. “Life is not fixed; I can shape it to my will,” she reiterated.
With her newfound courage, Bui has stepped outside of her comfort zone, from learning ceremonial tea making with the Tea Club to performing Bollywood dance in Dancefest with the South Asian Cultural Club — an activity she shyly admitted is difficult for “a traditional Asian woman” like herself. “Through all these experiences, I learned that many things seem scary at first, but once you start doing it, you find out how much you enjoy it. And even if you don’t enjoy it, so what? You learned that it’s something you don’t like.”
Bui has also become a campus organizer and leader. As president of the Colgate Vietnam Society, she recently coordinated a popular karaoke night. Chosen as the interfaith liaison for the Secular Association of Skeptical Students, Bui plans to take what she learns in that position to enhance interaction between campus cultural groups as the cultural liaison of the Colgate International Community.
And Bui already has plans lined up for the fall semester. She has been selected to participate in the College Fed Challenge, a nationwide team competition set up by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to test students’ knowledge of the U.S. macro economy. She was also just elected as the international student policy coordinator for the Student Government Association’s executive board.
No wonder Bui needs a little shuteye.
— Aleta Mayne
Linda Havlin ’72, P’10, Colgate trustee
– Nationally recognized author, speaker on health innovation and reform
– Business Insurance’s “50 Women to Watch” list
– Recently retired executive vice president, Engaged Health Solutions, Chicago; former partner at Mercer
– MBA, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
On the early days of coeducation:
Let’s just say it was a difficult learning experience for everyone. There were only 42 women in my class, and the transfer classes [’69–’73] helped Colgate transition to coeducation. We didn’t have the benefits and traditions associated with the freshman year. Our male colleagues and professors chose an all-male school, and then the game changed. This was just one more change on top of all of the social and political change of the late ’60s. What did I learn? On my worst days, I’d say I learned to value having a pulse — seriously. In terms of my career, it was the best experience I could have had. Businesses in the ’70s were male-dominated. I was prepared. I’d been to boot camp.
The “CULTA” family:
My son, Todd Boulis [’10], was a member of Colgate’s lacrosse team. By extension, I was welcomed into the “Colgate University Lacrosse Tailgate Association.” It was formed by an amazing group of fun, dedicated lacrosse parents. I had a wonderful time getting to know my son’s friends and their parents, preparing recipes for tailgates, and learning the fine art of layering to survive February games in Hamilton. I also learned how hard Colgate students work to balance their academic and athletic demands.
Starting with startups:
Todd got a great job at Progressus Media, a relatively new digital marketing firm focused on mobile advertising. I’m a strong proponent of working in start-ups. My first job was with Harvard Community Health Plan, which at the time was a fledgling HMO. Everyone has to pitch in. You have to check your ego at the door.
Thoughts about the health insurance and benefits industry:
One thing that gives me hope is the recent experience I had at Engaged Health Solutions. We used face-to-face coaching to help people who have multiple health risks. Those risks drive health costs and compromise a person’s quality of life and ability to work. We underestimate how hard it is to change (there’s that theme again). You need face-to-face coaching, not a 1-800 number, to create trust and learn what will truly motivate a person to change. Within two years, we reduced our population’s health risks, increased their use of preventive care, and improved both their health knowledge and perception of their employer. So, I’m passionate about our potential to improve health.
Her travel bucket list:
Last year, I spent three weeks in Umbria and Puglia. And I just returned from two weeks in Morocco, combining an educational trip to the major cities and a bike trip in the Atlas Mountain area.
Living in Chicago provides an immense array of athletic, cultural, and educational options. For exercise, I take pilates, bike along the lakefront, walk my dogs, Huck and Lou, and run — and I’m starting sculling lessons. If I stay retired, I’ll have no excuse for my pathetic golf game. I support PAWS (Pets Are Worth Saving, a no-kill shelter), the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and the Writers’ Theatre Board.
People would be surprised to learn:
I love nothing better than cooking a cholesterol-spiking egg concoction, snuggling with my dogs, and watching
Game of Thrones
I didn’t get to thank people, like Arnie Sio, who were so inspirational. I think every graduate should take time to thank people who have had a positive influence — faculty, administrators, coaches, and friends.
Travis Leach ’94, Alumni Council member
(photo by James Leach)
– Admissions committee chair, athletics and nominations committees, regional VP (New England)
– Past president and board member, Alumni Club of Boston; Real World volunteer; class gift and reunion gift committees
– Environmental specialist, Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo
I played basketball at Hamilton High, and I like to tell everyone that my number’s the only one ever retired from there. While I wish I had something to do with that, I only averaged about four points a game, so I must admit it’s because Adonal Foyle [’98] wore number 31 after I did! I moved to Hamilton when I was 8. My dad, Jim Leach, was director of communications at Colgate. I used to tag along with him to road football games. Going to those games, and all the hockey games, was my introduction to Colgate. Shortly before I enrolled, my mom, Linda, entered the master’s in teaching program. We think we were the only mother-son combo ever to be enrolled at Colgate at the same time. My sister, Darcie, ended up at Colgate, too. She graduated in ’98.
Mentor and guide.
My senior year in high school, I got a chance to take Physical Geology with Chief [Jim McLelland]. I had a lot of fun and did very well. When I enrolled at Colgate, I took his freshman seminar. I remember everyone saying what they thought their major would be. I was undecided, but Chief said, “I know what your major’s going to be.” He was my adviser, friend, and role model from then on — he cultivated my interest in geology, and encouraged me to take advantage of everything else Colgate had to offer.
From hard rocks to soil and groundwater.
After coaching rowing at Colgate for a year, I landed a job with a small environmental consulting company in Boston, which Larry Lessard [’85] had started. I worked on everything from sampling monitoring wells and building groundwater remediation systems to standing next to backhoes as they pulled out underground storage tanks. Then, about 11 years ago, I ended up at Mintz Levin — a large Boston law firm with a thriving environmental practice. We work on regulatory compliance, real estate transactions, permitting for large infrastructure projects, Superfund-type cleanups, and high-level federal litigation. It’s very interesting work.
Most unusual task on the job.
Thanks to document requests for very old records, I’ve spent a lot of time going through mountains of boxes in dusty old warehouses that almost seemed like bigger environmental hazards than the hazardous waste sites that the cases were about!
Favorite Colgate memorabilia.
An old wooden oar — one of the originals from when the rowing club started that somehow made it out of the boathouse. It’s got chipped maroon paint and you can see red paint underneath it. I think they’d bought an old set of oars from Cornell. At all my different apartments, it’s always been the first thing I hang on the wall.
Spending time with my girlfriend, Lindsay Barnett [’97] — we overlapped by a year, but we didn’t know each other at school. When we met in Boston, we learned that we have dozens of Colgate friends in common. I love to play golf. I grew up on the Seven Oaks sixth hole and learned to play by sneaking out onto the course after dinner with my dad and my brother, Tyler. I see a lot of live music, mostly Americana-type, alt-country acts. And I took up the ukulele a year or so ago; it’s been a really fun hobby. I took one lesson with Ed Vollmer in town, but other than that, I’m just sort of fiddling my way through it.
My favorite summer activity is going to my family’s place on Limekiln Lake in the Adirondacks. We spent the last few summers renovating and rebuilding our 100-year-old camp. The renovations and repairs will never end (that’s part of the fun), but now we have it to a point where our family and friends can really enjoy it.