STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 05/18/2011

Alumni News

Chemistry Student Works toward New Treatment Option for Cancer Patients
After spending two summers of research under the direction of Dr. Robert Baiocchi and Dr. Lapo Alinari at the Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, chemistry student Carl Quinion ’11is receiving international attention.

Carl’s and his advisors’ research have focused on a new possible treatment option for patients with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), an extremely aggressive cancer generally considered incurable. The treatment consists of a combination of two highly selective drugs and is shown to be very effective in both in vivo (in a living organism) and in vitro studies. With the support of this data, phase-1 clinical trials have begun.

Quinion’s hours of dedicated research gained him recognition as a contributing author to a paper published in Blood, a national medical journal, by the American Society of Hematology. The title may not be the easiest to say—“Combination anti-CD74 (milatuzumab) and anti-CD20 (rituximab) monoclonal antibody therapy has in vitro and in vivo activity in mantle cell lymphoma”—but the results may provide hope for those suffering from one type of highly aggressive lymphoma. Quinion’s advisors agree: “His work advanced a preclinical strategy aimed to help improve the therapy of patients with lymphoma, helping clarify how a new treatment delivering two separate monoclonal antibodies led to enhanced anti-tumor activity. Since these studies started, we have opened a clinical trial delivering this new experimental therapy to patients with lymphoma at the Arthur G. James Comprehensive Cancer Center at Ohio State University.”

“I am grateful I had the opportunity to contribute to research that could directly help individuals who are suffering from lymphoma,” says Quinion. “It was fascinating to observe and participate in the process of medical research. My experiences in the lab gave me a new appreciation for medical discovery. I highly recommend similar research opportunities to any student considering a career in the sciences.”

Drs. Baiocchi and Alinari speak highly of Quinion’s work: “We’ve been impressed with his impeccable integrity, strong work ethic and his genuine interest in basic as well as translational lymphoma research. He is truly one of the best students we have had in the lab.”

When not in the labs of the Ken Olsen Science Center, Quinion is taking classes and preparing for a year of research at Ohio State at the invitation of Dr. Baiocchi before going to medical school.

Standing Guard over World Leaders

Stationed in Washington, D.C., Nathan Purswell ’07 is a member of The Old Guard, our nation’s oldest regiment—the Third Army Regiment. Nathan is part of the Honor Guard Company, a highly prestigious group considered “the face of the Army.”

In January Nathan served as officer in charge—standing guard as President Obama welcomed Chinese President Hu Jintao on the South Lawn of the White House.

Nathan, an Airborne Ranger and platoon leader of The Presidential Casket Platoon, participates in high-level ceremonies involving heads of state, foreign dignitaries and the president. He is responsible for military burials at Arlington National Cemetery, escorting presidential caskets before burial, special ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and presiding over state arrivals at the White House.

After Gordon he attended Officers’ Candidate School, was commissioned and stationed in South Korea. He participated in the first live-fire joint exercise between the South Koreans and the U.S. since the Korean War, and received an honor from the South Korean Military for his contributions.

Nathan Purswell (left), President Hu Jintao (left center), President Obama (right center) and Mrs. Obama (right). AP photo/Charles Dharapak, reprinted with permission.

Honing His Craft
by John Mirisola ’11

It’s been over a decade since Thomas Lake ’01 got his feature writing assignment back covered in red pen from his professor. He thought the piece was good when he turned it in, but his professor, Stephen Crowe, knew something was lacking—a spark in him that hadn’t ignited the page. So Lake set to work, striving for a higher standard of excellence in narrative journalism, learning to hone his craft. His writing became more lucid, more vivid.

His hard work and his professor’s guidance paid off; today Tom is a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, a job he’d dreamt about for years. “I’ve been reading SI since I was 9 years old,” says Lake. “For years I thought, ‘What if I got a chance to write for this magazine someday?’ But at that point I couldn’t even get a job at the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.” After graduating from Gordon summa cum laude and spending nine years writing award-winning articles for various publications, Lake was asked to join the magazine’s senior staff this past September.

And even though he is, technically, a sports journalist, Tom makes it clear that his work is about more than that. “This job gives me a chance to write great stories that happen to be about sports. It’s an entry point into writing about big and fascinating themes in life.”

Giving Voice to the Chilean Mine Disaster
by Cyndi McMahon

Peter Lewis ’02 had been living in Santiago, Chile, since 2004, running La Bicicleta Verde, a sustainable tourism company that provides bicycle tours of Santiago and surrounding areas. A languages and linguistics major at Gordon, fluent in Spanish, he’d received a master’s degree in international studies from the University of Chile. His entrepreneurial approach to green tourism had been reviewed by Rolling Stone, The New York Times and Travel & Leisure.

Because he’d been regularly interviewed on CNN Chile about U.S. politics, and had taught classes on U.S. foreign policy in Chile, the United States Embassy had identified him as a translator and cultural resource. After a devastating earthquake (8.8 on the Richter scale) hit Concepción, Chile, on February 27, 2010, Lewis was asked to accompany ABC News as a translator.

On a Chilean Air Force flight to the epicenter of the quake, he was absorbed into the world of international press. He landed in a “ghost town of one million inhabitants without electricity, water or gasoline. After we landed we slept at a police station inside the captain’s car, rationing water and cashews, not knowing how long we would be staying.”

A few months later 33 Chilean miners were trapped beneath the earth for 69 days, and Lewis was again asked to translate for ABC programming—this time with a larger crew of journalists. Lewis says: “Calls were coming in from NPR and the BBC, and the world was watching. Journalists were asking me to share what I was seeing. I didn’t have much time to think; I just wanted to be an instrument to get the miners’ message out.

“I interviewed a brother of a miner. I was too emotional to translate—couldn’t keep myself together seeing a 65-year-old man break down. Another miner’s family told me they wouldn’t leave until every miner was rescued, saying, ‘We are all family now.’ When the first miner was pulled up, I snuck into the family cafeteria and, along with 100 family members, watched the first hero come out. Unforgettable.

“As an expat I get asked all the time ‘Why Chile?’ My answer has never changed. I love Chileans, their idiosyncrasies, their sense of humor. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

He also appreciates his alma mater. “Gordon prepared me to have a nonjudgmental, servant state of mind, and taught me to listen well. I credit Gordon with so much of what I’ve done.”

As the miners were rescued and the coverage slowed down, Lewis was ready to get back to his business. “I’d been part of a living history,” he says, “but it was time to get back to what I’m most passionate about: sustainable tourism in and around Santiago.”

Life along the River: Serving in Nicaragua’s Mosquito Coast and Rainforest
by Roger Drost

Last summer Peace and Hope Trust, a nonprofit Christian organization that focuses on remote villages in Nicaragua, welcomed Gordon alumni and friends to offer support to the locals.

Trickling down Nicaragua’s central highlands of Matagalpa through rainforests, streams form the Rio Grande de Matagalpa, traveling 267 miles past Miskito Indian villages, wilderness and jungle. The struggling people along the river are the real story. A father paddles a dugout canoe carrying his wife and children and loaded with plantains he has grown in some remote part of the jungle, headed to a nearby jungle to sell his goods. Children peer from windows of rickety shacks on stilts—villagers of great need are all along the way.

The story of our Nicaragua team is intertwined with the story of this river. Our work began at the mouth of the Rio Grande de Matagalpa in the village of La Barra—led by field directors Peter Coleman and Paige Crockett ’08—and included Gordon alums Mark Coleman ’66, Tom Clay ’79, Sarah Amadon ’97, Matt and Meg (Gleason) ’06 Pascucci and Roger Drost, former adjunct professor in the Education Department, among others.

In La Barra, we held vacation Bible school and participated in church services, worked alongside village experts to lay a concrete path to the riverbank, constructed cement catchments for rainwater, and built friendships with villagers, encouraging them and praying.

Our team then wound its way up the Rio Grande to the village of Esperanza, carrying two Nicaraguan nurses and medicine. The nurses set up a makeshift clinic, and we delivered mosquito nets and school supplies. We continued upriver to the village of Company Creek, where we donated mosquito nets, visited homes and discussed community needs with village leaders.

From there we traveled to the remote village of Makantakita to build a radio hut as a critical communication link to the outside. When the structure was completed, villagers excitedly crowded into the hut to hear the first broadcast. We also painted and finished minor carpentry work on their church—which can likely trace its roots to Moravian missionaries sent to the Mosquito Coast from Germany in 1847.

Our journey ended where the Rio Grande begins—in the mountains of Matagalpa, where a Nicaraguan Christian woman and her husband run an orphanage. We spent two days there constructing a retaining wall and enjoying the children.

Community Building from Wenham to Palestine
by Natalie Ferjulian ’10

For Jessica Hansmeier ’07, living, serving and working come wrapped in one package. A housing director and assistant resident director for the last two years at Gordon, Jessica moved to Palestine in August to continue community building—without a return ticket.

In Bethlehem she works two jobs: as teacher at a Christian school for Palestinian children, and as youth leader. Jessica teaches seventh- to 12th-grade health, and 9th-grade English literature. She loves discussing moral and ethical issues students haven’t yet grappled with. “The biggest struggle,” she says, “is fighting against hopelessness and oppression that come from living here. But progress is being made; the Lord is growing them into leaders for Him.”

Jessica is also connected with a hostel whose mission is to get visitors involved in community outreach. “I am a liaison between community groups and Westerners who come to volunteer,” said Hansmeier. “I encourage travelers to volunteer—all proceeds feed and clothe the poor living in the West Bank.”

The steps ahead will be hard. “The Palestinian life is not easy,” she said. “But if I can pour love into people—the way Gordon poured into me—maybe these concentric circles can keep moving outward.”

Photo Journal: London, Baby!
Amber Primm ’04, manager for the Barrington Center for the Arts, recently traveled to England and Scotland with Gordon’s Introduction to British Stage class. Even though the group attended class in the morning and theatre performances at night, they still had lots of time to sightsee. Check out all the places they traveled.