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Fall 2021

Features

It’s not every day that a playwright gets to see their words brought to life by talented performers onstage. It’s even more unusual when that playwright turns out to be an ordinary 7-year-old.

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Voices

Northwestern faculty, staff, alumni and students share sources of hope and growth after a difficult year.

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Northwestern President and Professor Morton Schapiro marks the conclusion of a historic fundraising campaign with celebration and appreciation for the University community.

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Morty President Letter
As the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications celebrates its centennial, Charles Whitaker is incredibly bullish about the future of media and the school’s role in shaping that future.

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Writer and scholar Lauren Michele Jackson often gets her best ideas when she ventures outside academia. For the assistant professor of English, staying receptive to a variety of art forms sparks inspiration and ideation.

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Innovation

Communication studies senior Anna Lise Ericson founded Cerer, an e-commerce platform that offers women’s clothing and accessories from brands committed to ethical and eco-minded practices.

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Blip energy CEO Sophia Wennstedt, a second-year student in the University’s MBA and design innovation dual-degree program, and her team of Northwestern entrepreneurs created blipOne, a device that allows users to store electricity when it is cheap and discharge power when it is expensive. Launched through the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s NUvention: Energy course, blip energy is working with an engineering services firm to build a mass-manufacturable prototype of blipOne before launching a preorder initiative.

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News

Dreams take us to an alternate reality while we’re fast asleep. A new study led by Northwestern researchers shows that a person in the midst of a vivid dream can perceive incoming questions and provide answers to them.

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Izzy Scane’s offensive dominance on the lacrosse field earned her the nickname the “Scane Train” — and for good reason. The attacker has gone full steam ahead through some of the best defenses in the country.

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Alumni

“Take pride in your story and who you are.” “You deserve to be here as much as your peers.” A group of new students received cards with these uplifting messages at the start of the 2019–20 school year. The encouraging words were for students who identified as first generation and low income — a population that has doubled at Northwestern in the past decade.

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Once a shy high school student in suburban Washington, D.C., Jack Kang credits Northwestern for awakening his social side. More than three decades later, Kang’s once-latent outgoing spirit endures.

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My Northwestern Direction

Institute for Policy Research Director and professor Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach reflects on her Northwestern direction — and the value of interdisciplinary research.

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“We Will” Update

We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern, which was publicly announced in 2014, set out to amplify the University’s local and global impact and to elevate its status as a leading teaching and research institution.

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A generous gift from University Trustee Peter Barris ’74 and Adrienne Barris will establish two endowed scholarships for undergraduates in Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music and McCormick School of Engineering. The Gus and Diane Chagares Music Scholarship will help the Bienen School attract top student musicians.

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Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management has received a transformative gift from Ann M. Drake ’84 MBA to establish the Drake Scholar Network — a powerful intergenerational and global network of women students, faculty and alumnae.

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People

Donna Washington ’90 is a storyteller based in Durham, North Carolina whose original stories and folk takes inspire community and connection. She chooses stories specifically for different aged young audiences, tackling topics like anti-racism, red-flag relationships and how to understand the construction of a story.

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Gita Pullapilly and her husband and filmmaking partner Aron Gaudet hope movie theater audiences are ready to laugh. Their counterfeit coupon crime caper, Queenpins, starring Kristen Bell and Vince Vaughn, opens in theaters nationwide Sept.

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Gabriel Neely-Streit ’16 is co-owner of Colores Mexicanos, an importer of handmade art, clothing and accessories from Indigenous communities across Mexico. By working directly with dozens of artisans and artisan cooperatives across 11 Mexican states, Colores Mexicanos aims to help preserve the cultural diversity of Mexico, which is home to more than 60 living Indigenous languages and a wide variety of folk art.

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Kate Zambreno ’99 considers herself a late bloomer. She began her career as a journalist with Chicago alt-weeklies before delving into more experimental fiction, pushing the boundaries of traditional forms. “Much of my writing goes past fact into the realm of fiction,” says Zambreno. The author of eight books, she is now nationally recognized for writing that “troubles genre,” as she puts it.

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Nancy Johnson ’93 worked for more than a decade as an award-winning television reporter for CBS and ABC affiliates before moving into corporate communications and public relations. “Still,” she says, “I always wanted to tell the stories of my own imagination, particularly those about the Black experience in America.” Johnson has accomplished just that in her debut novel, The Kindest Lie, named one of the most anticipated books of 2021 by Newsweek; O, The Oprah Magazine; and Elle.

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If you’re a fan of John Legend’s hit song “Conversations in the Dark,” you’re already a fan of Kellen “Pom Pom” Pomeranz too. A songwriter and producer based in New York City, Pomeranz has worked on some of today’s most popular songs, such as “Novocaine” by the Unlikely Candidates, which topped Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart for 33 weeks.

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Chris Williams, who grew up figure skating and playing hockey in north Minneapolis, says he didn’t encounter racism on the rink until he got to high school. “Some of the guys on the hockey team were real cool, but a handful weren’t,” recalls Williams, now a pediatrician in his hometown.

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Chris Williams
Rosina Samadani had been on the job for just two weeks as CEO of Oculogica, a company that develops eye-tracking products for improved brain health, when she was struck in the head by an umbrella while sitting on the beach. That’s when she learned firsthand the benefits of Oculogica’s EyeBOX, a first-of-its-kind concussion diagnostic tool.

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Rosina Samadani