Catching up: How I spent my summer vacation


Brandon Woods (’12 biology) is a third-year student in the ISU College of Veterinary Medicine who reached out to us after the August issue of “Young Alumni News” to tell us more about how he spent his summer vacation: On an internship in Borneo, researching endangered orangutans. (Read more from Brandon on the EcoHealthNet Alliance website.) We were thrilled to have the opportunity to add his story to the feature. Watch for even more summer vacation stories to be added to the blog in the coming weeks. Did you do something cool with your summer vacation? Contact Young Alumni Council marketing committee chair Andrea Fellows ’06 at to share your story with Young Alumni News.

YAN: What inspired you to pursue this opportunity and travel to Borneo?
BW: My inspiration to pursue this opportunity in Borneo boils down to four things: a curiosity of new cultures, a concern for wildlife conservation, a passion for public health, and of course a great thrill of adventure! After I discovered the internship on the EcoHealth Alliance website, I felt like this global veterinary research project was the perfect culmination of all my experiences. I wanted to make the most of my last summer before I started my senior year of clinical rotations, and what could sound more exciting and practical than an overseas study on orangutans?

How did your time at Iowa State prepare you for the cultural differences as well as the challenges of the internship?
I believe that two of the reasons why I was selected for this internship were my past international experiences and research projects at Iowa State University. Studying abroad for a semester in Tasmania pushed me out of my comfort zone in a land down under, where I explored cultural diversity and grew more independently. Likewise, volunteering on a Nicaraguan veterinary mission trip also taught me how to be culturally sensitive in a foreign country. For example, I respected the local traditions while I toured the Kotakinabalu mosque and tasted exotic foods like bird nest coffee and grilled eel. My years in ISU’s Honors program and my capstone Lyme disease project prepared me for the internship challenges surrounding wildlife ecology research. I learned valuable skills such as how to manage a demanding work load, how to communicate effectively, and how to problem solve and persevere. Although nothing could quite prepare me for a hike through a cockroach and bat-infested cave!


How did you show you are “Forever True” while in Borneo?
Even though I was half way around the world in the hot, humid heart of Borneo, I still showed pride for my alma mater. When I wasn’t wearing my jungle gear or a white lab coat, I sported the good ol’ cardinal and gold and shared Cyclone stories with my new-found colleagues and friends!

What advice do you have for the class of 2015?
I think three of the most important pieces of advice that I learned in Borneo were to remember the big picture, collaboration is key, and balance your time OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwith work and play. Sometimes you’ll get frustrated and can’t see the forest for the trees, but try to keep positive, zoom out, and remind yourself of your overarching goal. I would not have been able to do this internship and promote orangutan conservation without the widespread collaboration of veterinarians, wildlife forest rangers, scientists, and others — so remember that the keys to success are teamwork, compromise, and communication. Lastly, this trip would have been more fatiguing than fantastic if I only worked and never truly experienced the culture, cuisine, and color of Malaysia, Borneo. On one of my days off, I went scuba diving in a crystal clear coral reef and it definitely was a breath of fresh air. Stay focused and work hard, but take time to explore, reenergize and monkey around, at least for a little while.


Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cardinal & Gold radar this week.

1) In what is becoming a trend that might make you laugh if it didn’t make you cry, the Big 12 Conference office has reprimanded and suspended two football officials for negligence that contributed directly to a Kansas State touchdown in Saturday’s heartbreaking 4-point Cyclone loss at Jack Trice Stadium. And in case you were wondering: No, it doesn’t change anything. But the Cyclones (0-2) head to Kinnick Stadium with chips on their shoulders Saturday.

2) The unveiling of the CyclONE City project lived up to its hype — and more. Visitors and fans were truly wowed by the artistry of the unique sculptures, which made their official debut and were on display in front of our building Aug. 29-30. They’re now scattered across Ames. In case you missed the chance to see them at the Alumni Center last weekend, check out the Cyclone City Web page (scroll down to the bottom) for a photo gallery that shows all of the sculptures — and where you can find them in Ames. They are definitely worth checking out.

3) School’s back in session. Want to know you can help your child have a successful year? Why, yes: Extension can help with that.

4) “Beat Iowa Week” means the return of another tradition in Chicagoland — the annual ISU vs. Iowa alumni flag football game. The game has traditionally predicted the winner of the big game later in the week, so if you live in the Chicago area, be sure to suit up for the Cardinal & Gold and help do your part for the Cy-Hawk Series. The game is set for Wednesday night; get details on Facebook.

5) ISU football fans are likely to remember Hiawatha Rutland (’03 psychology MEd ’08), the former Cyclone running back who led the team in rushing before suffering a career-ending foot injury in 2003. What you may not know about Rutland was what a Renaissance man he was, from his work as a stand-up comic who appeared on NBC’s Last Comic Standing to his volunteer work abroad to his summit of Mount Kilimanjaro to his career as a teacher at NYC’s Lower Manhattan Arts Academy. Rutland, who was working toward his dream of teaching in Africa, died last month at the age of 33 after he drowned in Lake Erie. Read more about his remarkable life that was cut so tragically short in his hometown newspaper.

Catching up: How I spent my summer vacation

Young Alumni News recently caught up with some young Iowa Staters and asked them what might be considered a common question: How did you spend your summer vacation? We got a few great, uncommon responses, which you can read below. Did you do something cool with your summer vacation? Contact Young Alumni Council marketing committee chair Andrea Fellows ’06 at to share your story with Young Alumni News.


Evelyn Huyhn Roberts (’09 journalism) of Oelwein, Iowa (originally of Des Moines) is backpacking across Europe while her husband is on an eight-month deployment with the U.S. Navy. She quotes Helen Keller — “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing” when asked why she’d head off on a crazy adventure on her own — and blog about it along the way. Young Alumni News recently caught up with her (over email, of course) to find out a little more about her adventure.

YAN: What inspired you to start your traveling blog?
ER: I decided to start my travel blog because I’m doing a six-month solo backpacking trip across Europe and I decided that was the easiest way for friends and family to keep up with me and my travels. It was also meant to help me keep track of all the places I went and all the amazing things I saw. Although, to be completely honest, I am quite rubbish at keeping it updated. I only have three or four posts, even though I originally planned on doing weekly posts. I’m too busy enjoying Europe!

How did your time at Iowa State prepare you for your travels?
You meet such an array of people when you’re at Iowa State. There are so many opportunities to learn about other cultures and customs. Being around such a mix of people really makes you appreciate all the world has to offer. Traveling is no different. I’ve met so many interesting people from every corner of the world on my journey. Although we come from different cultures and backgrounds, it’s incredible how much we all have in common as well.

How do you show that you’re “Forever True” to Iowa State?
To me, being “Forever True” to Iowa State and the state of Iowa in general means being genuine and friendly. I’m sure we all know what it means to be “Iowa Nice,” and that’s what I’m trying to spread as I travel around Europe. I often get remarks that I’m the nicest American people have met while traveling, and I like to think that’s because of my Iowa Nice roots.

What advice would you share with the class of 2015?
My biggest piece of advice to the Class of 2015 is to follow whatever life path makes you happiest. Too often people feel pressured to live their lives a certain way or follow a certain life path. It’s cliche, but don’t be afraid to take chances, seize opportunities, and jump in with both feet. It’s your life and only you know how you should live it. Don’t let others bully you into living their version of your perfect life.

Photo above courtesy Evelyn Roberts; taken at The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.


Giovanna Rajao is a soon-to-be alum and Rio de Janeiro native who spent her summer interning with CNN International at the World Cup in Brazil. Although she’s not a young alum just yet, Young Alumni News was inspired to reach out to her and find out more about her unique experience.

YAN: What inspired you to apply for an internship with CNN International?

GR: I wanted to have the best preparation before applying for jobs upon graduation, and in my mind, there’s no better company to gain an in-depth understanding of the field of journalism than CNN.

What was your role as an intern, and what was your role at the World Cup?
Some of the work I did at CNN International and Español included assisting producers with logging interviews, monitoring news, and compiling material for editing, performing story research and fact-checking for various programs and specials. During CNN’s World Cup coverage, I was responsible for assisting on shoots and on ground crew activities, transcribing and translating interviews and press conferences from Portuguese to English, and research for presenters and shows.

Not only did you have the opportunity to experience the atmosphere of the World Cup, but it occurred in your hometown. Describe what it meant to see your hometown transform into the center of international sports and cultural attention for the summer.
This experience was a dream I never even had, and even though it’s over now, it still seems surreal to me that I was able to be in Brazil for it. The World Cup has always been something sacred to me, and some of my fondest memories as a child were watching the games with my family and cheering for my favorite teams and players. Never did I think though that I’d to be able to be a part of a celebration that for years I’ve enjoyed by watching it on TV. Nothing really compares to it.

How did your classes/studies/experiences at Iowa State prepare you for your roles throughout your time at the World Cup?
Being involved with journalism-related organizations at Iowa State has been crucial to my involvement with CNN. Organizations like ISUtv gave me a feel for the work I knew I’d do in the “real world,” and many of the things I did at ISUtv transferred to the work I did for CNN.

Do you have a favorite Iowa State sports team, player, or coach?
I had never watched a football game before coming to Iowa State, but today, football season is my favorite — and nothing gets me more excited than hearing Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2″ at Jack Trice.

What advice do you have for the class of 2015?
Be bold, take risks, and get involved. Iowa State is a great place to gain the necessary skills to achieve what may seem to be impossible, but if you work hard, there’s really nothing can stop you from achieving your goals.

Photo above with Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar courtesy Giovanna Rajao.


Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cardinal & Gold radar this week:

1) It’s the first day of school! And the first day of college for the class of 2018. Welcome, Cyclones — enjoy your adventure!

2) Last week President Steven Leath challenged ISU Alumni Association president Jeff Johnson to take part in the ALS ice bucket challenge. During the summer ISUAA board of directors retreat, Jeff delivered — alongside board member Ryan York, who also owed some friends an icebath. While there are certainly a preponderance of these videos online, it never really gets old supporting an important cause — or watching some of your favorite Iowa Staters get doused with ice water. And given that temperatures in Ames have been in the 90s over the past week, it’s not really the worst thing one could do.

3) This morning marked the funeral of Ferguson, Missouri’s Mike Brown, who was killed by a police officer Aug. 9. But although Brown has been laid to rest, the controversy surrounding his death continues. CNN’s Anderson Cooper recently caught up with ISU Distinguished Professor in Liberal Arts and Sciences Gary Wells, an expert on the reliability of eyewitness testimony who pointed out that although there were witnesses of Brown’s shooting, it is no surprise that their accounts differ and we will probably never know for sure what happened.

4) Want to live in a college town? recently made its choice of the best one — and it probably won’t surprise you.

5) In case somehow you didn’t hear, the 2014 Cyclone football season kicks off this weekend. Make a weekend of it by attending the Campustown Action Association’s Campustown FAC (5-9 p.m.) this Friday night and Cyclone Central (8-10:30 a.m.) this Saturday morning before the NDSU game. You can view all of the CyclONE City sculptures and meet the newcomers to the ISU men’s basketball team while you’re there. (Register by Wednesday if you want to eat breakfast with us, too.) Go, Cyclones!

Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cardinal & Gold radar this week:

08-07 ISU Iowa State Fair_62351) It’s all about YOU at the Iowa State Fair this year. Iowa State’s exhibit theme is “Adventurous Iowa Staters Making Iowa Greater” – and the names of 97,002 alumni living in the state of Iowa are featured on a giant wall as part of the display, so be sure to stop by the Varied Industries Building and look for your name. Also, if you’re an Iowa State alum living in Iowa, tell us how you’re making Iowa greater by using the hashtag #myadventure on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Vine. Your story will be shared on the online tagboard AND live at the fair. Read more about Iowa State’s presence at the State Fair, which runs through Aug. 17.

2) Already nostalgic about the 2013-14 year in sports? You can relive it here with this Cyclone athletics year in review. (Remember when nearly 18,000 Cyclone fans filled “Hilton South” in Kansas City last March? How about when the football team came back from a 24-point deficit to beat West Virginia?) Highlights include Big 12 championships, individual milestones, grad rates, academic brag points, awards, and student-athletes giving back to the community.

MR8K3) So you wanna be an astronaut? It might be too late for most of us, but five Iowa State students had the opportunity to “think like an astronaut” Aug. 4-10 in a class taught by Clay Anderson (A)(MS ’93), an ISU distinguished faculty fellow in aerospace engineering. “We turn out excellent graduates at Iowa State in aerospace engineering, but they don’t know how to think like an astronaut,” Anderson said. The workshop exposed students to training programs similar to ones he completed as a NASA astronaut. Anderson retired from NASA in 2013 after two trips to the International Space Station. Read more.

4) It’s hard to believe that Iowa State classes begin in just two short weeks, but next week the new freshmen move into the residence halls and Destination Iowa State starts Thursday, Aug. 21. To get some insight into today’s Iowa State students, follow this fun blog: Cyclone life is written year-round by ISU students who post their thoughts, photos and videos as they go about their daily lives.

IMG_00985) The bright blue porta potties are out in the Iowa State Center parking lot and a couple of tents are up near the Jacobson Building. Could football season be far away?

VEISHEA is cancelled permanently

President Steven Leath has announced his decision to permanently discontinue VEISHEA, supporting the recommendations of the 2014 VEISHEA Task Force and ending a celebration that has been overshadowed by destruction and violence over the past three decades.

“I understand that it is very sad and disappointing to see this 92-year tradition come to an end, and there may be some who are upset with this decision, but I am not going to continue to put students at risk so that we can preserve what, to many, has become a week-long party,” Leath said at a news conference this morning. “I will not be the president who has to call a student’s parents in the middle of the night to say your child has been critically injured in another VEISHEA-related disturbance.”

Leath suspended VEISHEA 2014 in the aftermath of an April 8 late-night disturbance in Campustown. He appointed a task force, led by Tom Hill, senior vice president for student affairs, to examine the celebration’s future. The task force submitted its final report and recommendations on July 11.

Leath said that numerous changes to VEISHEA and attempts to prevent related disturbances since 1992 ultimately did not succeed. Citing student safety as his No. 1 priority, Leath said his decision was a difficult one, but it is the right one for Iowa State.

“It’s time to stop the cycle. We can’t continue to do the same thing and expect a different result,” he said.

Some traditions associated with VEISHEA will likely continue, such as a musical theatre performance. Leath said he remains open to a future university showcase or events, but the content and timeframe have not been determined.

He also said he plans to work with members of the Faculty Senate, deans, and Hill’s office to evaluate the university’s student disciplinary regulations, and he plans to collaborate with city, neighborhood leaders, and local law enforcement to address the task force recommendations related to security and city ordinances.

Even as VEISHEA ends, Leath reiterated his pride in Iowa State.

“I don’t want (this) to, in any way, diminish all of the other extraordinary things we’re doing every day, in every college, department, and unit on campus,” he said.


Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cardinal & Gold radar this week.

1) In case you missed it, the VEISHEA task force handed down its final recommendations on July 11 (after asking for an extension of the original June 30 deadline) and President Leath is expected to make a final decision by summer’s end. The task force report, which you can read in its entirety online, recommends discontinuing VEISHEA in its current form; abandoning the VEISHEA name; creating a new, overarching, university-wide event or series of events; and addressing student behavior/reducing the chance of disturbances at university-wide events going forward.

After we reported about the task force recommendations in last Friday’s issue of our electronic newsletter, ISU News Flash, we got quite a bit of feedback from the alumni community. Most viewed the recommendations as negative or pessimistic and had hoped there’d be more emphasis on the final recommendation of addressing student behavior issues while still maintaining the tradition. But some also acknowledged that they aren’t close enough to the situation to understand it fully. Regardless of how you feel about the situation, we can all agree that it’s a sad one. You can read some of the comments we’ve received on our online letters to the editor page, and feel free to add your thoughts here.

2) The Mayor had his pacemaker replaced last Tuesday, so it goes without saying that Cyclone Nation was relieved to see this photo tweeted by his wife, Carol, shortly after the procedure at the Mayo Clinic.


“The surgery performed this morning at the Mayo Clinic to replace my pacemaker was successful,” said a statement from Hoiberg, who has had the pacemaker since he underwent open-heart surgery in 2005. “I want to thank my doctors and nurses at the Mayo Clinic, as well as everyone that has extended their well-wishes to me. Our family truly appreciates your support.”

Hoiberg had recently learned that his pacemaker was running on reserve power, which meant that that batteries needed to be replaced — a routine procedure for pacemaker users. “It was going to happen eventually,” Hoiberg said.

3) The 2014 American Solar Challenge starts TODAY — and Team PrISUm is ready to race. Omaha and Ames are among the stops planned on this year’s route — so make plans to gather with fellow Cyclones if you can to cheer on ISU’s solar car. Get a virtual Team PrISUm experience on Twitter, where you can track Phaeton’s run at the #ASC.

4) More than a week of picture-perfect Iowa weather has given way to heat indexes over 100 — so that must mean it’s RAGBRAI week. Ugh. (Be safe, everyone!) Once again, RAGBRAI is hosting a college spirit day event — so whether you’re riding or not, beat the heat with your fellow Iowa Staters this Thursday in Greene, Iowa. Wear your Cardinal & Gold!

5) USA Today Sports recently named its top 50 college basketball players for 2014-2015. We’re pretty excited about their pick for No. 10.

Have a great week! Stay cool!