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ALUMNI NEWS

September 3, 2008
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Bob Young, LA'70; Mike Vavrus, LA'70; and Ron Roark, BN'72, at Roark's Seattle home. In addition to busy careers, all three alumnni serve on the Donald V. Adams Leadership Institute Steering Committee.

Submit your photos for the alumni scrapbook

We want to see photos of your favorite Drake get-togethers and memories, too. Send us your personal snapshots of the Drake moments you treasured most and we'll publish them in the Drake alumni scrapbook program, sponsored by the Drake National Alumni Association.

Your photos will be included in a lively online photo gallery and may be printed in Drake publications like Drake Blue, the University magazine.

What to submit:

  • Prints or digital photos (digitals should be 4x6-inch jpgs taken at high resolution).
  • Short descriptions of the images and names of folks pictured.
  • A self-addressed, stamped envelope if you'd like us to mail back your prints.

How to send your pictures:

1. Upload your photos online at www.flickr.com/groups/drakealumniscrapbook

2. E-mail your photos to alumni.scrapbook@drake.edu

3. Mail a CD or photo prints to: Calee Himes, Drake University Office of Marketing & Communications, 2507 University Ave., Des Moines, IA 50311

 

Questions? Contact Calee Himes at 1-800-44-Drake, x3247 or
alumni.scrapbook@drake.edu.

 

By providing Drake your photographs, you are granting the University
permission to use them for various print and online marketing efforts.


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Mark Nelson

Drake alumnus produces CNN documentary 'Black In America'

By Emilee Richardson

Mark Nelson, AS '70, vice president and senior executive producer for CNN Productions, recently produced "Black In America," a series of documentary programs that portrays the in-depth lives of African Americans.

Two years in the making, the six-hour documentary series is divided into three parts. The first commemorates the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination and was broadcast in April. The other two -- "The Black Woman and Family" and "The Black Man" -- aired on July 23 and 24, respectively.

Nelson believes it is important to focus on black Americans. "There's a story that has not been told well in the press," he said. "This is not a monolithic society. It's a very diverse society.

"Once you get past the headlines, which focus on crime and drugs and prisons and blood, there is a very positive story that can be told," he added. "Whether you're black or white, inquiring minds ought to know and, in fact, they do. The ratings were very high."

Nelson said his keys to success were his "great love of journalism" and his great mentor -- the late Jim Duncan, professor of journalism and mass communication.

"I took the skills I learned at Drake and ran with them," Nelson said. "I asked questions, I was in the right place at the right time and, yes, I got lucky sometimes. Some smarts and a little luck can get you a long way."

After graduating from Drake with a degree in political science, Nelson joined Iowa Public Television as a producer and director. He later served 11 years as a producer for ABC News based in the Middle East and Rome and 10 years senior broadcast producer for ABC's "Nightline," where he produced numerous Emmy-winning broadcasts.

He joined CNN in 2004 and previously worked as vice president and executive producer for the National Geographic Channel.

Learn more about the documentary "Black in America" online.


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Sean Bagniewski and Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, GR'94, celebrate the signing of two bills lobbied by students through the Legislative Practice Center.

Law grad wins President of the Year Award for Drake Student Bar Association

Recent Drake University Law School graduate Sean Bagniewski has won the 2008 Student Bar Association President of the Year Award from the American Bar Association/Law Student Division. The award was announced at the ABA annual meeting last week in New York City.

Bagniewski, who served as 2007-08 Drake SBA president, received the award for creating a better environment for law students and a more positive image of the legal profession.

"We have an outstanding SBA and Sean provided exceptional leadership that I'm confident was the best in the nation," said Law School Dean Benjamin B. Ullem. "Last year, the SBA was selected as the best in the nation. This latest award is another example of what great students Drake has."

"Sean Bagniewski is the perfect person to receive this award," said David Walker, who served as dean until June 1. "He accomplished a great deal for the student body and the school. It was a pleasure working with him and the SBA to address issues and opportunities as they arose."

Bagniewski, a Des Moines native, graduated from Drake Law School in May with certificates for Legislative Practice and Constitutional Law and Civil Rights. A 2002 graduate of Roosevelt High School, Bagniewski holds a bachelor's degree from Truman State University.

As part of his work with the Law School's Legislative Practice Center, Bagniewski lobbied the Iowa General Assembly on behalf of bills expanding children's rights in collaboration with the school's Middleton Center for Children's Rights.

Former SBA Vice President Kendra Boatright and current SBA President Amos Hill nominated Bagniewski for the national award.

"I'm incredibly grateful to receive this prestigious award and I'm even more grateful that it can bring recognition to the work of the Drake SBA this year," Bagniewski said, "On issue after issue, we saw students come together and pour weeks and even months worth of time into new policies to better the entire law school."

While serving as SBA president, Bagniewski successfully met ambitious goals and in his major accomplishments he:

•    Initiated a fundraiser and established the Cyrus A. Sinclair Memorial Study Room for a third-year law student who died from sickle cell anemia

•    Reorganized funds to allocate $20,000 to SBA's operating budget, which allowed more than 50 law students to travel to conferences in the United States and Puerto Rico

•    Co-sponsored the annual Halloween Hoops event, which provides a safe place for local children to trick or treat (nearly 330 inner-city children attended the event at Drake's Bell Center)

•    Raised money to provide holiday gifts for a low-income family being represented by a student attorney through the Middleton Center for Children's Rights

•    Researched, proposed and developed a flexible examination schedule for students that was implemented last spring

•    Developed a separate American Bar Association Law Student Division at Drake for ABA members

Bagniewski also clerked for former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and the Polk County Attorney's Office while at Drake.

In addition, he received two awards last spring: the Martin Tollefson Award for best exemplifying civility and professionalism in his dealings with fellow students and the Timothy N. Carlucci Award for his leadership and contributions to the school.


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Tim Laehn, Sara Bouska and Matt Crummy.

Three alumni launch online magazine promoting spirituality

Three Drake graduates who work and live in Des Moines recently launched Veritas, an online magazine for hip Des Moines twenty-somethings interested in spirituality.

Spearheading the magazine, which is updated daily at veritasmag.com, are:

  • Managing Editor Sara Bouska, JO'05
  • Executive Director Matt Crummy, AS'08
  • Editorial Director Tim Laehn, AS'08, JO'08

Their mission, according to the magazine, is to "provide a place of encouragement, refuge and refreshment from the daily grind. Veritas challenges believers and offers hope to people who are genuine in their spiritual search."

The magazine's articles focus on Christ-centered perspectives on life and culture. In addition, Veritas features blogs in which staff writers talk about culture as well as their relationships with God and invite readers to interact with them. There's also a calendar listing cultural activities and events at local churches.

"Our staff is made up of many talented writers, designers, photographers and Web people who love the Lord and want to use what he's given us for a worthwhile purpose," Laehn said.

In addition to producing Veritas, all three of the magazine's founders maintain day jobs. Bouska works on the campus staff at Great Commission Ministries while Crummy serves as a Web designer at WebSpec Inc. and Laehn writes for New Home Magazine.