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After Professor Susan Brill de RamÍrez

if I had a dollar for each time you stopped me at a coffee shop
to chat for a minute that turned into an hour
I’d have enough cash to buy a beachfront home
with huge bay windows facing the sunset,
the same direction your office perched on the third floor
of the only building on campus that felt like home
you were the first person I ever heard say,
“Stories changed my life. Stories saved my life.”
Native American literature came to life in your eyes,
pulled me into a non-linear understanding of time
you taught me to pay attention to   empty   space
wrote at the bottom of my thesis
“Poetry is the art of silence”
you always said yes to independent studies
office hours extra time to complete assignments
when my chest felt constricted and anxious
you never said no to giving more
most people take, stacking boxes of belongings
around them like shields, you gave away swords
turned anger and hurt into learning and love
in the long spring days of Ramadan
you ate burritos at the front of an English class
Master’s students weary but wanting to learn
to read and speak and be heard
you were always so eager to listen
when I heard you’d gone missing
my heart sank like lead
when I heard you were dead
I closed the door to my office
sank to my knees and sobbed
my limbs turning numb, ears ringing the sound of your quiet hum
I miss how your laughter skipped down the steps of Bradley Hall
where magnolia tress blossomed late into April
I want you to know
your echo is louder than the anger that stole you
your spirit is strong and tenacious
lovely and free and relentlessly kind
one day I will drive to the desert
write a poem in the sand and sign your name
pray to God you are safe now
promise to carry you with me
your spirit of iron, conviction like fire in my veins
I will whisper your name to the crash of the waves
I am so far away but I wanted to say,
thank you.

More magazine feedback

I love the new look of the magazine, the new name and new focus!! I actually want to read some of the articles now! Loved the article on the Navajo alumnus and how he got to Bradley, as well as the rest of the story. I related to the mention of Jim Hansen, a great potter and teacher, and one of Bradley’s finest! Keep up the good work!

Charles Cooper ’71

Significant mentor

Professor Susan Brill de Ramírez was undoubtedly the most dedicated and caring individual I encountered in my five years at Bradley; she also made a point to remain in contact with me after graduation. The literary canon is infamously inundated with old, white men, and she introduced me and my classmates to Native American writers, women writers and writers from non-Western backgrounds. I’m convinced that Professor Brill de Ramírez was a visionary ahead of the times. She recognized years ago the shift from print to digital media and worked to keep the humanities rising with this tide as to not disappear into obscurity. She was a strong, vibrant woman who was exactly the mentor I needed during a vulnerable, uncertain time of my life. I hope every student has a teacher like her, who sees the best in everyone and who leads with a spirit of giving that is such a rare and precious gift.

Sarah McMahon ’15 M.A. ’16

My interest in philosophy was sparked by an early encounter with a major medical crisis that later caught up with me and derailed my college career at Bradley for close to eight years. When I re-entered Bradley to complete my degree, Professor Ted Scharle (see “Passages,” spring 2019) made the time and effort to help me re-integrate into the philosophy program and greater Bradley life. It was a wondrous, but challenging time for me — a re-birth — one facilitated by his understanding. Later, I learned that he had often been called to help decide ethical problems in the medical community, so this was probably something familiar to him. How privileged I was to re-enter Bradley and have someone whose ethos and practice allowed me to do so with grace and acceptance. It is and was truly miraculous in my eyes.

Peter M. Fitzpatrick ’92

Too much or not enough diversity?

I have to agree with (Frank) Wainwright ’70’s comments in the (spring 2019) issue. I graduated in 1970 as well, and can vividly remember the excitement of home games on campus. We may have been spoiled to some degree, as Bradley, throughout the late 50’s and 60’s, was a national powerhouse in college basketball. Sadly, this is not the case anymore, though I remain somewhat optimistic and encouraged by the work of the new coach. Too many issues of Bradley Hilltopics arrived in my mailbox with little or no mention of Bradley sports. They were, however, filled with articles on diversity, equal rights, social justice, etc. Please don’t misunderstand, I believe in those things. Everyone should have the chance to succeed, but it gets old when you are bombarded with it every time you turn a page of the magazine. Please, give it a rest!!

Jim Ebell ’70

I read the cover story about a Navajo graduate who is running the length of the Trail of Tears. It was really cool to see the story (and a positive story about Native peoples) and it talked about the powerful work history of this person. But it’s also been bugging me because the story doesn’t talk about the modern challenges of native peoples or talk about the ways that white people (and Bradley was mostly white) perpetrated this violence over time. The fact that the story made me feel good was what made me suspicious. It gave me that happy corporate liberal “don’t you feel good about yourself because you read these stories” kind of feeling. As I talked with my friends about it — especially the Bradley alumni — we talked about how important it is to be cautious when something makes you feel good when it should bring me discomfort and pain. Some folks even remarked “Alumni don’t tend to donate much when they are challenged by their college magazine.” Please be better. There are ways to talk about these issues that call us towards more justice.

Ken Ambrose ’99

How I earned money as a student

I worked all four years at Schradzki’s clothing store in downtown Peoria on North Adams St. That was when downtown was a hustling, bustling merchant center! All gone now!

Robert Turnbull ’61

I was a phone caller for the Bradley Fund and did babysitting for local churches and families.

Kerri Sklar Alper ’95

My career at Bradley all started when I was hired in November 1958 to clean the Student Center Ballroom at night for 75 cents/hour! I liked working there so much I stayed for 54 years!

Ken Goldin ’64M.A. ’72

As a freshman in 1955, I worked as a member of the Fieldhouse cleanup crew for 75 cents/hour and stayed there all four years. That same year I lived in the home of the university’s then-night watchman, Gus Beach, and worked in the bookstore during registration, watching for shoplifters. With help from journalism professor Paul Snider, I did an internship in my junior and senior years at the Peoria Journal Star that gave me a class credit and paid $15/week for 12 hours of work. I had a job cleaning the women’s gym that started at 7 a.m. and out by 8 a.m. before classes started, also for 75 cents/hour. Finally, one of the funeral homes in town occasionally needed pall bearers for a person who had no living relatives, and a buddy of mine would ask me to help. That paid about $5 or $6, but those were rare. My senior year, Professor Snider got me a summer job at the UPI office in the Chicago Tribune Tower. I got through Bradley without owing a cent.

Fred J. Filip ’59

My first student job in 1978 was lifeguarding, which was quite easy since people were only swimming laps. A second, more “interesting” job we called “Slip Sliding.” Several days a week some of my University Hall pals and I would sit in a room in a warehouse and stuff newspaper advertising circulars into plastic bags. The other days we would drive out into the various neighborhoods. The driver, Steve Corich ’76, would suddenly stop the van and we would all scamper out like a SWAT team: “Two Left!!! Two Right!!!” Dashing up to the various front doors to deposit our stash, we would try to run away before the homeowner would see us or some dog would go nuts. In winter, we would slip and slide all over the streets. Paul Simon’s song, “Slip Slidin’ Away,” was popular so that gave us an anthem. There were very strict rules about not hanging the bags on mail boxes or throwing them on lawns. Problems arose when someone didn’t have a doorknob or when there were long driveways or large entry gates. The diversity of the neighborhoods and dwellings made us realize why Peoria was considered to be a cross-section of America.

Sally Pemberton ’81

I visited my father, Thomas Cromwell, who was then director of Financial Aid and Student Employment, for my weekly allowance. I told him I wanted to get into computers, which surprised him. He said he would talk with Herb Morris, manager of the Student Computer Center, about a job. Once I started working there, I no longer needed weekly financial assistance from my parents. Herb suggested I become a math major, thinking I wanted to go into the hardware/engineering aspect of computers. I worked as an input/output student assistant in the Keypunch Lab, where students created the punch cards for their program assignments and submitted the jobs for execution into the computer. I made sure the jobs were properly assembled, and identified and helped students debug invalid results and fix the errors. I did not give them the answers but helped them think their way through the results, which led to the answers themselves. I went back to Herb and discussed whether computer engineering was really the right direction for me. I realized a business major made more sense. Herb also encouraged me to seek employment with temporary office employment services for summer jobs, since the business experience would help broaden my education of information and data needs for corporations. The experience did prove invaluable throughout my career as it gave me a running start in my first job. And it allowed me to be the most respected business analyst and system tester wherever I worked. Also, many of the engineering students who had to take programming swore I got them an A. But I explained they got their own A; I only taught them how to think. They had to pass the tests on their own. However, the grades got me free beer and pizza at the local hangout, Mecca.

Lyn Cromwell ’72

I worked in the Lovelace Hall Kitchen, six mornings a week for the breakfast shift. The kitchen head, Frank, gave my roommate, Don Canfield ’69, and I breakfast, lunch and dinner because we were on time, did a great job washing dishes, cleaning up and taking trash to the two dumpsters outside. We arrived at 6:30 a.m. Monday–Saturday, and left in time for our 8:30 a.m. class. This lasted for three-plus years.

Arthur Beane ’68

During my last year or two at Bradley, I worked at Sears. I also worked at Montgomery Ward and at a steak restaurant. Occasionally, I co-hosted an open-mike at a bar/restaurant with another Bradley student. We played blues and some other stuff together. I used to play in a pub in the basement of the Student Center but that wasn’t for pay. The other guy is a professional now — Howie Golub ’75 of the Boat Drunks.

Rich Burger ’75

I typed and edited papers for friends. I also worked in the front office of the College of Education and Health Sciences.

Wendy Copeland ’87

During the summer of ’73 as I prepared to enter BU, I worked loading steel I-beams onto railcars in the structural finishing mill at U.S. Steel’s Southworks complex in Chicago. The actual job title was “Hooker,” which earned me my life-lasting fraternity (Pi Kappa Alpha) nickname. During the school year, I washed dishes at Williams Hall. Other college summer jobs included working on road crews on the Illinois Toll Road and as an assembly line worker for Federal Signal Corporation in Blue Island, Ill.

John Mikenis ’77

I was a lifeguard during summer days and a waitress in the evenings. At Bradley, I worked in the library, taught swimming lessons and lifeguarded at the Peoria YMCA. I waitressed at Avanti’s and sold my artwork. My small scholarship in art helped pay the tuition.

Claudia Bordin ’75

My three most interesting jobs required me to dress up: as a campus tour guide for Admission, as a bus boy for the Pere Marquette Hotel weekend dinner service and as a pall bearer at various Peoria funeral homes. I met many wonderful families and prospective students and ate some great leftover meals from bussing. But it was very sad to experience a person passing with no one to bid them goodbye except six college guys. Quite a learning experience for the time spent at Bradley.

George Fraggos ’66

I had a variety of jobs, from waiting tables at Kane’s on Main and University to working at a bottom-of-the-line men’s clothing store for a buck an hour. The best, however, was during my senior year when Dr. Paul Snider arranged for me and my friend, David Horowitz ’59, to be the first two Bradley interns in the Peoria Journal-Star’s newsroom. I think we even got paid.

Edgar Vovsi ’59

I worked in the Admission office, and my favorite days were when I gave campus tours to prospective students and their families. Not only did I get paid, I usually got a great lunch at Jumer’s. I also taught cheerleading for the Peoria Park District to elementary school kids. It was a fun project since I was a Bradley cheerleader!

Mary Ann Morck ’74

I babysat for two Bradley professors and was able to manipulate my schedule so I only had class two days a week. This

allowed me to babysit for three days while they were teaching. It was a perfect job!

Rebecca Fisher Gromala ’00

I worked as a meal card puncher in the cafeteria, as a residence hall staff member (from RA to assistant head resident at Harper), as a graduate assistant at the counseling center and as a copier in the audiovisual department.

Wilma Torres Walls ’80M.S. ’84

I did secretarial work at the ROTC office on campus. In the summers I was a lifeguard at the pool in my hometown.

Carol Miller Renneck Quell ’60MFA ’78

My freshman year I delivered mailers door-to-door for Steve Corich ’76’s business. He had a group of us that he drove around in a van, and we hit different neighborhoods in Peoria. I was a tour guide for the rest of my college days.

Nancy Cooney Taub ’80

I had many jobs during my four years at Bradley because I had very little money saved for college. These included washing home windows, unloading lumber from box cars, selling kitchen knives door-to-door, selling women’s shoes, helping to build a mobile home park on Farmington Road while living in a trailer, washing dishes at the Sigma Phi Epsilon house for free meals and working at a rubber stamp company in downtown Peoria. My first summer, I worked for my dad on a farm in western Illinois. Later, I worked for the Northwestern Railroad in Chicago as a fireman on a diesel locomotive. When I graduated in June, I had a $1,000 loan from my parents. We had one child, and my wife was expecting a baby that October.

Merlin Foresman ’58

During my junior and senior year, I worked at a muffler repair shop in Canton, Ill., on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings.

David Oedewaldt ’60

During my senior year, I carried 18 hours each semester, working afternoon/evening shifts at WHOI and late nights at Sully’s. That was a bit rough, but I lived to tell about it!

John Mathis ’87

Like many others, I have to thank Caterpillar Inc. I worked there the summer of 1950 and quit when school started. Needing a bed and food, I went back during the first semester and worked second shift and left again in the first semester of my junior year. For my accounting internship during my junior and senior years, I had to leave campus at the start of Christmas break and return after March 15 (at that time Tax Day). Later, I kept books for Advanced Blind & Shade. From there I loafed until the U.S. Army gave me a job. Then it became really interesting.

Kenton Hancock ’54

I worked at a florist shop in Washington, Ill., on the weekends. I had a number of retail tasks, but mostly I delivered and set up wedding flowers on Saturdays and funeral flowers on Sundays.

Kenna Pope Atherton ’93

I earned money at Cullom-Davislibrary, babysitting and working at The Fieldhouse.

Kelsey McGuire ’13

From 1971–72, I was a part time draftsman for Henschel Machinery in East Peoria. Once a week I had to ride my bike down the hill and over the bridge, pick up specialty made parts, precision-measure the parts, draw the parts up using the drafting equipment at Bradley in the evenings after class, and then return the parts and final vellums the next week. It was very good pay, and I even set up my own company, Olson Engineering, to be able to cash the checks. I also had a work-study job in the computer center as the IBM 360 mainframe computer operator in 1972–73. I worked about 30 hours per week in the evenings keeping the machine running by loading computer punch cards and changing out the 5MB 11-inch disk drives as the jobs changed. During the summers, I ran the dining hall at a Boy Scout camp up in the northern Wisconsin woods. I managed three cooks and three dishwashers, serving over 300 meals, three times a day for 10 weeks straight: the only time off I got was to do my laundry in town, over an hour away, every other Saturday night for a few hours after dinner. I graduated a semester early in December 1973 and headed to the Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I., to start my successful Navy career, which I just completed in March 2018. I still support the Navy as a volunteer acquisition emeritus for the supervisor of shipbuilding in Groton, Conn., helping to build nuclear submarines.

Tom Olson ’73

I was a female biology major, and back then there were not very many of us. The department chair, Dr. Richard Bjorklund, saw I was struggling to stay in school for financial reasons. He arranged a grant and had me working 20 hours/week for the biology department. I set up lab practicals, proctored exams and even organized Dr. B’s ornithology journals! Along with stints in the library and mother’s helper work, I completed my degree and happily used my lifelong learner education!

Karen West Constan ’69

During my junior and senior years, I worked as an orderly at Saint Francis Hospital.

Jeff Bogart ’69

I worked at Running Central and the RiverPlex.

Jonathan Holland ’11

I worked in the kitchen of the Student Center washing dishes. Summer days, I caddied, worked for the head gardener on an estate and spent nights on the railroad as a car cleaner.

Robert Wick ’62

My first job was at The Bradley Fund where we called alumni to ask for donations. I always loved hearing the stories alumni had and telling them how much campus had changed over the years. It was especially fun when I got a Gamma Phi alum on the phone! Our boss would make this really great queso dip and bring it some nights. It was always a treat to eat anything outside the cafeteria. My second job was working for Diane Swearingen, who owned Greek Creations. We would sew Greek letters on to T-shirts, bags, sweatshirts — anything you could imagine. I would also travel with her to surrounding schools and set up little shops to sell merchandise. I have many great memories sewing in her basement, watching soap operas and “The Rosie O’Donnell Show.”

Monica Soliz ’03

I held three jobs concurrently as a student. I was a resident adviser in my dorm, worked in the dorm’s cafeteria and was an aide in the Education Department. I enjoyed all of my jobs and had no difficulty keeping my GPA at a decent level. My RA position paid for the room, my cafeteria job provided me with meals, and working in the Education Department assisted with incidental expenses such as books, school supplies and sundries. After graduating with a bachelor’s in elementary education, I worked at Pleasantdale Elementary School as a 4th grade teacher for 14 years. I then earned my special education credential and master’s degree at Azusa Pacific University (Calif.), and have been with the Pomona Unified School District for 15 years. I also was a wardrobe consultant at Bullock’s Wilshire and Nordstrom. Today, I proudly display my BU license plate on my Honda CR-V as I travel to/from work at Pomona Unified School District (Calif.) as a special education teacher/job developer for the state’s WorkAbility I Program. I serve young people, ages 16–22, by placing them in part-time jobs. I believe employment helps our teens learn appropriate social skills for the workplace and provides opportunities to find their career-based niche as an adult. I L-O-V-E working!

Natalie Cohen Bogg ’68

I served dinner at the sorority house next door to our fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon. And I worked in the (UICOMP) med school offices on the first floor of a former women’s dorm correcting med school multiple choice exams. From time to time, I acted as a patient while interviewed by med students. I also worked in a band in Chicago and returned home most weekends.

Don Russo ’74

I had to take a summer school class to make sure I graduated in four years. I borrowed money from a bank to pay the tuition, not wanting my parents to pay for summer school, and used my part-time job at Lovin Pharmacy as collateral. My next job was as a stock boy, then salesman, at the downtown Sears. I found out about their management training program, and interviewed with their Midwest Territory personnel office in St. Louis. They offered me my first job out of college, and I spent a year in a training center in Schaumberg, Ill. My first promotion was as a division manager back to the store in Peoria! I was impressed that they wanted me back, and my wife and I moved back to Peoria where my son was born in 1977. At least Saint Francis Hospital and Bradley still exist!

Ted Epand ’73

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