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Winter 2024

Voices

Women’s Leadership Program director Ellen Taaffe says many women at work encounter the “mirrored door” phenomenon — the internal place where, when presented with opportunities, they reflect inward and hesitate, seeing themselves as unworthy or unready to move forward. This self-judgment, Taaffe says, can cause women to hold back from raising their hands or applying for a new role.

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Portrait of Ellen Taaffe
Snorkeling, tightrope walking, woodworking and competitive whistling — you won’t believe what Northwestern community members are up to outside of the classroom and office!

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Portrait of Jeffery Coleman curling

Innovation

Ruchi Gupta is co-founder of Yobee, a startup that makes an all-natural, topical scalp treatment clinically proven to revitalize the skin’s microbiome and reduce flakiness, itching and redness. In spring 2023 Gupta was one of three women chosen to be part of the inaugural class of FoundHer Fellows, a program supporting women faculty at Northwestern who are first-time founders of entrepreneurial ventures.

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Portrait of Dr. Ruchi Gupta
Suyash Mohan is co-founder of Breer, a Hong Kong–based startup that upcycles unsold bread from local bakeries into craft beer.

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Gif of an illustration of a beer bottle with little bread slice dominoes falling inside the bottle.

News

With a Circumnavigators Travel-Study Grant, senior global health and neuroscience double major Elizabeth Hyun traveled to five post-conflict nations in 10 weeks to study how historical context contributes to trauma diagnoses.

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Elizabeth Hyun smiles in Seoul, South Korea
Students in the Maple Syrup and Climate Change course tap sugar, silver and Norway maple trees on campus to examine the local effects of climate change on soil and plant life. They also learn about the maple syrup industry, including maple tapping by both Native American and non-Native harvesters, farmers and companies, as well as how Indigenous people today use maple tapping for food sovereignty.

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juliana zitron checks a spiel
Each year, Northwestern Formula Racing designs and manufactures a Formula-style race car. At a Society of Automotive Engineers competition each spring, Northwestern students race their car against hundreds of other college teams’ entries.

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Team smiles around a Northwestern branded race car
This winter, Nitasha Tamar Sharma offers a new Black studies course for students: New Black Music in Chicago: Artists’ Reflections on Music, Race and Entrepreneurship. Students will organize a free public jazz event for the community, which will take place March 4 as part of the Department of Black Studies’ annual Leon Forrest Lecture Series.

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Portrait of grammy-nominated harpist Brandee Younger playing the harp

Alumni

What do a biography of Martin Luther King Jr., an award-winning poetry collection and a bestselling mystery about the dark side of love have in common? They were all written by Northwestern alumni.

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A man wearing glasses and a suit smiles while signing a book.
It appeared the NU Club of Switzerland might disintegrate amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but Barbara Pereira Rübel ’93 MBA refused to allow it. As President of the club, Rübel has worked tirelessly alongside a dedicated board to bolster membership, plan events and form partnerships with other organizations.

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Headshot of Barbara Rubel

My Northwestern Direction

Armed with a love for Shakespeare and a degree in languages and literature, I graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2009 amid the Great Recession. I applied to doctoral programs in English, thinking, “I am going to be a professor!” Never mind the warnings that the job market for college educators was collapsing, with more PhD graduates than tenure-track positions.

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Illustration of Aaron Greenberg

Impact

With his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and storied career as a writer, actor, director and producer, Garry Marshall ’56 made an indelible mark on American film and TV. His legacy lives on at Northwestern with the donation of the Garry Marshall Papers to University Archives.

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Portrait of Gary Marshall from Northwestern’s 1956 Syllabus yearbook.
Since its launch in 2014, Kellogg’s Youn Impact Scholars program has recognized, supported and convened 100 talented creators from Northwestern and beyond, helping them tap into an exceptional global network of leaders, all working toward effecting change in social and environmental areas that matter most.

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Portrait of Nicole Cuervo
Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management has received a landmark gift from the Zell Family Foundation that will be combined with past gifts from Sam Zell to endow the Zell Fellows Program. As part of the program, MBA candidates aiming to run small businesses upon graduation benefit from mentorship by Kellogg faculty and outside experts, regional and international treks to meet with global industry leaders and resources to advance their businesses.

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David Schonthal Zell Foundation

People

Mimi Scheffler Gordon ’94 dreamt of working in Africa one day when she visited for the first time as a Northwestern undergrad. Nearly three decades later, she’s spearheading a sustainability project in Kenyan communities, building up local economies with an unlikely partner: local bees.

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A beekeeper holds a panel of honeycomb with swarming bees
A U.S. Marine veteran and former logistics officer, Matthew Vacca didn’t think twice about taking a break from his full-time job and heading straight into a conflict zone.

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Portrait of Matthew Vacca
In her 19 years in the U.S. Postal Service law department, Michelle Ochs Windmueller has argued cases before federal judges and educated attorneys across the country.

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Portrait of Michelle Windmueller
Jennifer Keishin Armstrong ’96 has written seven books on pop culture history, including So Fetch: The Making of Mean Girls (And Why We’re Still So Obsessed With It), which comes out this January. Armstrong identifies ​​​​five TV and movie moments that have influenced today’s popular media.

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Alt SATC
After learning to DJ during quarantine, Karen Valencia ’15 broke into Chicago’s nightlife scene, bringing reggaeton beats to some of the trendiest clubs. She shares how Northwestern shaped her worldview, what she loves most about DJing and more.

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Headshot of Karen Valencia
Lauren Dandridge Gaines ’04 is co-founder and principal of Chromatic, a Los Angeles–based lighting design firm working at the intersection of architecture and social justice.

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Michelin-starred restaurant asterid in the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles
Northwestern alum Aspen Buckingham ’23 and senior economics major Steven Jiang are the creators of Intervallic, a new video game changing the way aspiring musicians can practice their skills. Both musicians, Buckingham and Jiang are making practice into entertainment.

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Screencap of the video game Intervallic