Arwen Davé '88
Design engineer, Lockheed Martin,
working on the international space station
Reed major: art
While at Reed, Arwen Davé struggled to choose between her love of art and physics.
"When I had to choose a major, I decided to drop physics in favor of art. I thought I'd have less courage to be 'impractical' as the years passed. There are skills common to both areas-creativity, an intuition for motion, and the ability to construct a mental image of how objects interact in three-dimensional space."
Davé credits Reed physics professor Robert Reynolds with focusing her interest on an engineering career.
"Whenever there was a shuttle launch, he'd bring a little portable TV into class," she says. "During one newscast, they announced plans for an international space station. I remember thinking, 'Now, that's something that would make me want to get up in the morning.'"
After earning an additional degree in engineering studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, she signed on with Lockheed Martin. In the spring of 1997 she drew her dream assignment. Davé works on testing and redesign of a space station that draws on the cooperative skills of 18 nations. It is the greatest international science effort in peacetime history.
"It is not a weapon or part of a race. Work on the space station represents hope for the future," Davé says.
"I'm really happy I didn't go straight from high school into engineering," she adds. "I would have missed the Reed humanities experience. Reed taught me how to organize my thoughts before presenting them, which I have to do in very complex ways where I work, and how to think on my feet. The emphasis at Reed is on enjoying the academics, not just looking for success no matter how you get there. That perspective is what really helped me go after my dream."
George Alderson '63
Conservation activist, musician
Reed major: biology
George Alderson was the former special assistant of the EPA Superfund program to clean up hazardous chemical sites; while at the Department of the Interior he helped found the BLM's wilderness program and developed standards for protection of millions of acres. He also served as the chief lobbyist for the Friends of the Earth in the 1960s and 1970s and wrote a book on how citizens can influence Congress. Alderson is also an accomplished classical violinist.
"At Reed I acquired a habit of hard work. My years of learning by perusing the assigned material 'once over lightly' were history. The need for patience, organization, and methodical study became clear. I also discovered how to plunge into a new field of interest, make it my own, and explore it in depth."
Susan Davis '88
Poet, radio producer
Reed major: art history and English
Poet Susan Davis has edited and produced numerous documentaries and programs for public radio, including Talk of the Nation, Marketplace, Soundprint, and Along for the Ride, and she has independently produced many sound essays. She has also served as editor of Poets and Writers magazine and is the founding board chair of the Women's Health Education Project.
On applying for a job at NPR: "The producer called me and said, 'You don't have ANY of the experience we're looking for, but this is the best cover letter I've ever read. Try the job for a week and see if you are any good at it.' See, kids, this is how your Reed education helps you in life!"
Jennifer Ferenstein '88
Reed major: biology
Jennifer Ferenstein is the past president of the national Sierra Club and now serves as a board member and chair of its public education committee. She was the youngest woman ever to head America's oldest and largest grassroots environmental group.
"At Reed, the role of history, philosophy, and scientific method figured prominently in my worldview. Overcoming our lack of connectedness between place, people, and society is the greatest challenge we face. There are myriad environmental issues, but one key challenge-to acknowledge that the planet's health depends upon the active participation of each of us. Apathy is the enemy."
Bill Hohengarten '84
Reed major: history
Bill Hohengarten was one of the lead attorneys in the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court case that overturned Texas sodomy laws, which had prohibited "homosexual conduct." The decision is an enormous step towards equality under the law. Hohengarten, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of the firm Jenner & Block, says, "I chose law because it's a profession that uses many of the same skills as philosophy or humanities study generally and has social implications." He has an active appellate and Supreme Court litigation practice, focusing on regulatory appeals, commercial matters, and civil rights and constitutional law.
"The key to being a top-flight lawyer is being able to critically analyze and synthesize a complex array of facts, concepts, and authoritative texts and then explain your position in clear and persuasive terms to a judge or other decision maker. Those are exactly the skills I learned at Reed.
Rebecca Lave '93
Graduate student, urban planner
Reed major: art history and political science
Rebecca Lave worked as an urban planner in Boston while she was an MIT graduate student on an ambitious and contentious master plan for the Charles River Basin area. After working in Berkeley for a consulting firm as a planner on complex urban projects, she decided to pursue a Ph.D. in geography at the University of California-Berkeley.
"As much as I liked the policy and planning aspect of my job, the part that has had the most lasting impact is that I could get people to talk to each other and deal. I have this deeply corny but strongly held belief about the value of democracy. Having a job where I could make that work was wonderful."
Priscilla Laws '61
Award-winning physicist and teacher
Reed major: physics
Priscilla Laws is a celebrated professor of physics and astronomy at Dickinson College. Since receiving her doctorate in nuclear physics her interests have expanded to include radiation dosimetry and the health effects of diagnostic x-rays. In 1993 she received the Charles A. Dana Award for Pioneering Achievement in Education for her work in boosting achievements in physics classes nationwide. She also received the Millikan Medal in 1996, recognizing her as a physicist who has made notable and creative contributions to the teaching of physics.
Michael E. ("Mike") Levine '62
Airline industry expert, educator, telecommunications leader
Reed major: philosophy
Mike Levine is one of the country's leading authorities on the airline industry and one of the principal architects of airline deregulation. He has had the unusual opportunity to be involved with the industry as an academic, regulator, and executive. An entrepreneurial president and CEO of New York Air, and an executive vice president at Northwest Airlines and Continental Airlines, he also served as general director, International and Domestic Aviation, at the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board. A lawyer, he has held endowed professorships at USC, Caltech, and Yale, where he also served as dean of the school of organization and management. He is currently a member of the faculty at Harvard Law School and chairman of Rohn Industries, a manufacturer and constructor of telecommunications infrastructure.
Derek Lyons '00
Reed major: chemistry
Derek Lyons attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. When notified of his position as Reed's 31st Rhodes Scholar, Lyons replied: "Reed has given me so much during my time here, I'm thrilled to be able to share this honor with the college." As a chemistry major at Reed, Lyons volunteered in the biology outreach program for local elementary and middle school students. During his summers he held research positions at Stanford, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and at Washington State University. At Oxford, Lyons focused on computer science, with an interest in developing robots that are capable of helping people with disabilities.
Laura Peterson '98
Graduate student, former investigator
Reed major: Chinese
Laura Peterson formerly worked as investigator of counterfeiting for Pinkerton in Shanghai, China. She is now a graduate student at Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Relations.
"I managed a team of investigators who were seeking the source of counterfeit products made in the Chinese hinterland. True to my educational training at Reed, I was initially critical of my job. I didn't see the value in helping to put counterfeiters out of business. They were making, say, fake watches and purses in a developing country with incredibly high rates of unemployment. I came to understand, however, that our work at Pinkerton was a significant encouragement to local police and administrators to treat intellectual property law the same, no matter what the subject matter."
Steven Raichlen '75
Cookbook author, food writer, TV host
Reed major: French literature
Steven Raichlen is a syndicated food and cooking columnist and the author of 24 award-winning books on food and cooking, including The Barbecue Bible, How to Grill, and Cooking USA. He now has a public television show, Barbecue University with Steven Raichlen, and has said that he'd like to be known as "the man who raised barbecue to the level of intellectual pursuit." His cooking career began when he went to France on a Watson Fellowship to study medieval cooking and went on to train in classical French cooking at La Varenne and the Cordon Bleu.
"I look at questions such as, why do we do what we do? Where does this food come from and what are the antecedents? How does this compare to the way people do this in other cultures? I think of that as a very Reed way of thinking, and that has definitely shaped the way I write."
Larry Rinder '83
Reed major: art
Larry Rinder, dean of graduate studies at the California College of Art, lives in San Francisco, but continues his long-time association with the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. Now adjunct curator, he has been chief curator of contemporary art with responsibilities for acquisitions of works made since 1985, and exhibitions, including the Whitney's 2002 Biennial. Rinder also writes and lectures widely on contemporary art.
"Reedies themselves are the most valuable dimension of the Reed experience. "
John G. Sperling '48
Private education entrepreneur
Reed major: history
John Sperling is the president, CEO, and chairman of the Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix. The university is a thriving private, degree-granting enterprise in higher education for adults. It features an outcome-oriented adult education consulting company with an in-house publishing division. In 2000 he wrote Rebel with A Cause: The Entrepreneur Who Created the University of Phoenix and the For-Profit Revolution in Higher Education.
Howard Wolpe '60
Former congressman, international relations scholar
Reed major: political science
A specialist in African politics, Howard Wolpe is a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, in Washington, D.C. He formerly served as a seven-term U.S. congressman from Michigan and as a special U.S. presidential envoy to Africa's Great Lakes Region. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, he serves as an adviser to the World Bank and was formerly a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution.
"Even at graduation I did not appreciate just how relevant my studies at Reed would prove to be to my subsequent involvement in electoral politics and in diplomacy. As it turns out, my immersion at Reed in political science, sociology, and social psychology greatly deepened my understanding of the dynamics of ethnic conflict and political mobilization. But my largest debt to Reed is the encouragement it gave to me to always question established wisdom, no matter its institutional setting."
Sheldon Yett '86
United Nations coordinator
Reed major: international studies
Sheldon Yett oversees emergency operations for the UN Children's Fund. He has also served as the United Nations policy analyst in Burundi, reporting on political and military developments and coordinating humanitarian activities.
"When I arrived at Reed, I was interested in everything and thought I could conquer it all. I had absolutely no idea where my competitive strengths were. On Thursdays I wanted to be a theatre major, on Mondays I wanted to major in biology. I soon found that I couldn't be number one in everything. I learned that I was going to fail in some things, but it didn't really matter as long as I picked myself up and kept on going. Push yourself. Don't be afraid to take on tasks that seem impossible."