The real measures of a DePaul education are the accomplishments of its alumninot only professional successes, but creativity and satisfaction in other facets of life. Each year, we call on members of the community, including alumni, faculty, staff and others, to nominate alumni who distinguish themselves in some important way. We then choose 14 of them, with the goal of representing schools and colleges across the university. The result is an inspiring, interesting mix of people, professions and achievements. Just click on the photos above to read these stories.
We hope you'll enjoy the pages that follow and that you'll write and tell us about yourself or other remarkable alumni. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brooks Boyer (COM '01) Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer
Chicago White Sox
Forty thousand black hand-towels sat on a truck in Wisconsin, seven hours from Chicago's South Side, waiting for Brooks Boyer to give the word.
Boyer was counting the minutes through a three-hour rain delay and seven innings of baseball during the White Sox's final regular-season game last fall. If they won, it would force a one-game playoff for the Central Division championship. Then Alexei Ramirez hit a grand slam, essentially clinching the win, and Boyer told the truck and his staff to get rolling. He had less than 24 hours to fill U.S. Cellular Field and create a spectacular fan experience. The Blackout was under way.
When the White Sox took the field the next night, they were greeted by a sellout crowd of 40,354, nearly all of them Chicago fans, nearly all of them wearing blackand waving those towels.
It's an evening that's entered Chicago sports lore, but more importantly, it's indelibly etched on the minds of the fans who experienced itand that's something that Boyer strives to do every game.
"We can't control anything that happens out on the field, but we certainly can control everything that goes on around the field," says Boyer, who joined the Sox in 2004 after 10 seasons with the Bulls. He's enlivened the atmosphere inside and outside the park with fan favorites like acoustic jams and Mullet Night, the Comcast Fundamentals Deck for kids, bingo for seniors and value specials for families. He's also led the creation of acclaimed advertising campaigns that capture the team's style and capitalize on players' individual quirks (yes, A.J. Pierzynski does practice doing everything left-handed).
"We want to create a second-to-none fan experience for everybody who walks in the doors," says Boyer, who credits his DePaul MBA professors and classmates with giving him insights into problem-solving across a wide range of industries.
It's working. Total combined attendance at U.S. Cellular Field was 12.42 million for 2004-08, the highest in franchise history for any five-year period. (The World Series championship in 2005 didn't hurt.) That turnstile success led Crain's Chicago Business and the Sports Business Journal to both name Boyer to their 40 Under 40 lists.
Boyer is quick to share the credit with his marketing team, who have been coached by College of Commerce Professor Joel Whalen. "The pleasure I get is ... having people acknowledge that we are creating a pretty good experience out here."
Karen Aldridge (THE '01) Actress
Karen Aldridge is forever grateful that her mother made her take French in high school.
Soon after earning her master's degree at DePaul, Aldridge auditioned for the English-language staging of "Le Costume." Backstage, a casting agent thrust a copy of the play in its original French form at Aldridge and asked if she could read it.
"I've always been really good at reading and speaking French. ... It comes out of my mouth easily," says Aldridge. Famed director Peter Brook thought so, too, and Aldridge suddenly found herself in Paris, playing the lead for the show's 11-month international tour.
"Le Costume was just an incredible experience on so many levels," says Aldridge, who was fascinated by the varying reactions to her character, a penitent adulteress. "In most of the countries, most of the people sympathized with her; [the play is] heartbreaking at the end. But in African nations, specifically in Burkina Faso, most of the people were very unforgiving. The attitude was, 'Well, that's what she gets.'"
After returning to Chicago, Aldridge stirred similarly powerful emotionsand garnered Jeff Award nominationsfor "The Cook" at the Goodman Theatre and "In the Blood" at the Next Theatre. The plays were notable for their colorblind casting. In "The Cook," Aldridge played firsthand an Afro-Cuban woman; for "In the Blood," her children were both white and black.
"Chicago is a very segregated city, and yet in the arts, it's still leaps and bounds ahead of Bay Area theatre," says Aldridge, who was raised on the outskirts of San Francisco and is currently appearing in Santa Cruz, Calif., in "Shipwrecked! The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as told by himself)." On the West Coast, she's primarily considered for roles that specify an African-American actress. In Chicago, "they'll give the talent you have a chance."
That's why Aldridge could spend most of the past year doing classical work with Chicago Shakespeare Theater, including an acclaimed turn as Lady Macbeth. Having explored the Bard's monologues, she now wants to find a physical play that challenges her to convey meaning through movement, a technique emphasized by her Theatre School professors.
"That was the base of our training, where emotions fit in the body. We're made to move," says Aldridge, who stays in touch with several faculty members, especially John Jenkins. "He's just an incredible human being, an incredible performer and an amazing teacher. ... I'm always using what he taught."
Angela Rogensues (SNL '09) Social Justice Advocate
Angela Rogensues says she knows it sounds clichéd, but she wants to change the world. All of her workpaid and unpaidturns her words into action.
For the past year, Rogensues worked for the Cook County Sheriff's Department of Women's Justice Services laying the groundwork for and serving as a program mentor and coordinator for a virtual high school program that launched in January at the county jail for women ages 17 to 21. The students take online classes and earn a diploma, rather than a GED, through the Chicago Public Schools.
After work, Rogensues volunteers between 10 and 25 hours a week as director of operations for The Dreamcatcher Foundation, which works with girls and women ages 12 to 25 who are involved in the sex trade or human trafficking world or are at high risk for being sexually exploited.
The foundation, which Rogensues runs with two other women, is based in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood and funded out of pocket. It provides educational, health, counseling, personal development and employment placement services, but its main goal is to inspire the young women to dream for a better life and broaden their options.
The young women get an opportunity to talk about issues that no one else talks to them about, like sex, HIV and STDs, prostitution, and pimps. "A pimp or someone who wants to exploit a girl might know that she really wants to go to prom. They'll buy her a dress as a way to reel her in," Rogensues says. "Whether it's getting a prom dress or paying for a telephone bill or school supplies, we try to be that resource so they're not looking elsewhere for it."
Rogensues was drawn to DePaul and the School for New Learning because of its commitment to social justice. Shortly after she began the master of arts in educating adults program, she realized how much she had been teaching since she moved to Chicago four years ago to start her social work career. "Social work is individual education," she says.
The Community Renewal Society recognized Rogensues' commitment to social justice in May with a 35 Under 35 Leadership Award. She also serves on the Chicago Commission on Human Relations Advisory Council on Women.
Rogensues says she's a dreamer, but she gives herself daily doses of reality. "I remind myself that tomorrow is not promised. Thinking this way forces me to reflect back to today. I ask myself, 'Do I feel comfortable with the work I've done so far?' If not, then that's a cause for a conversation with myself about what I need to change."
Jason M. Bristow (COM '95) Treasurer
While studying at the Budapest School of Economics with a DePaul program in 1994, Jason Bristow had an insight that helped him create the international career he has today at Amazon.com.
"The whole of Eastern and Central Europe was opening, and it was a very exciting time to be there," he says. "The program was in English, but native English-speakers were in the minority. I realized that if you were going to be competing in the world marketplace, you had better do something to remain competitivelearn languages or at least understand how cultures work and realize that the way of doing business in the United States isn't the only way."
Bristowwho grew up in Canada, traveled extensively and has an English fatheralways had a goal of living and working abroad. Along with his work in the College of Commerce, Bristow studied political science with a focus on Eastern Europe and Russia. He credits "DePaul's good strong balance between real-world experience and the classroom and textbook" with enabling him to "hit the ground running both in business school [at Pennsylvania State University] and beyond."
While he was in the treasury department at General Electric, Bristow worked in Holland for three years, where he and his wife, Heather, who also was employed by GE, had the opportunity to "work hard and play hard," he says. From there, he was recruited for the treasurer's job at Amazon.
Today, working with a company that does about 50 percent of its business outside North America, Bristow says, "I get the best of both worlds: I get to work for a fantastic company, yet I get to be very external facing, in that I'm constantly working with the stock markets of the world, the real money centers of the world, whether it's London or Tokyo."
He also enjoys what he calls the company's "entrepreneurial feel." He jokes, "My business card has said the same thing for six years, and my job has been different every day."
Bristow hasn't forgotten the value of the experience he had in Hungary. Last fall, he and his wife endowed a scholarship for DePaul students who want to study abroad in Eastern or Central Europe. "I wouldn't trade that experience for the world. I've held it near and dear to my heart," he says.
Luis O. Sanchez (LAS '02) Policy Director
Office of the Secretary of Defense
When Luis Sanchez was learning to write policy papers in his public service management courses at DePaul, he never thought he would be using those skills to help develop policy for the conflict in Afghanistan. "I've never imagined myself where I am today," he says, "working where I'm working and talking with whom I'm talking."
Sanchez works in Washington, D.C., for the European NATO office in the Department of Defense (DoD), where he is involved in high-level strategy. "I was part of the President's Pakistan-Afghanistan Strategy Review teama very small, intimate group between the State Department and DoD. My office primarily focuses on the allied and the international efforts in Afghanistan. We're the ones that work with Allies and international partners on their efforts in Afghanistan."
Educating "the entire global audience" about NATO's efforts in Afghanistan is another important goal. "There are a lot of players. It isn't just a U.S. mission, it's also an international mission," says Sanchez.
Sanchez first went to Washington during his senior year at Loyola University in Chicago to intern with Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) as part of a national summer program with Latino appointed and elected officials. Sanchez stayed to work for Gutierrez for two years in Washington and Chicago, and the two still have monthly lunches together.
After two years of graduate study in DePaul's School of Public Service, Sanchez landed the Presidential Management Fellowship, a national program that enabled him to market himself to federal agencies. Rotations with the Office of the Secretary of the Navy and the policy office for the Secretary of Defense led to opportunities to work on such projects as counter-narcotics in Colombia and stability in Haiti. After the fellowship ended, Sanchez landed a "dream job," he says, working on Latin American policies for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and serving as his regional director for Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Sanchez says he always knew he would do "something important" because of his "drive and passion." His mother knew, too; she tells the story of 7-year-old Luis surrounded by a group of her women friends as he engaged them in a discussion.
As to the policy papers he wrote at DePaul, Sanchez says, "I would write three or four pages, and now I have to write a policy memo that can't be longer than a page. Now I know where my professors were coming from."
Ronza Othman (LAS/LAW '06) Policy Advisor, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights & Civil Liberties
Ronza Othman may rub shoulders with some of the highest-ranking U.S. government officials, but she also lends an ear to some of the most underrepresented U.S. citizens.
In her job as a policy advisor for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in Washington, D.C., Othman is responsible for the department's outreach and engagement efforts for the American-Arab, Muslim, South Asian, Sikh, Somali and Middle Eastern communities in Chicago, the Twin Cities and other areas throughout the United States.
Othman travels about 40 percent of the time to talk with members of these communities. "I meet with individual leaders and groups to ensure that these populations learn about local, state and federal government programs. I also bring their input and concerns back to government leadership in Washington. My colleagues and I might then advise the Secretary of Homeland Security, or we might actually brief the White House or members of Congress.
"I'd like to do this kind of work for the rest of my life," Othman says.
But before Othman began walking the halls of the Capitol, she was gaining her footing as a graduate and law student at DePaul University. "The public service management program was a good avenue for me to figure out how to leverage my talents in a way that would impact society," Othman says. "The real benefit of DePaul's program is that it is very close-knit, and the instructors have a real commitment to social causes."
Othman notes that both of her DePaul graduate degrees prepared her for the work she does now.
"I'm using my legal knowledge and skills every day in crafting good, effective civil rights policies, and I'm using my public services management training to navigate the governmental structures and advance the civil rights needs of the public," she says. "And every day on the job, I'm employing the confidence I gained as a DePaul student."
Othman, who was born with an eye disease called Leber congenital amaurosis, was president of the Illinois Association of Blind Students from 2006 to 2008, and currently serves as its treasurer. In her spare time, she volunteers with the National Federation of the Blind out of its Baltimore office, helping people with sight disabilities find jobs and learn Braille.
Ryan McGeehan (CDM '07) Security Manager for Investigations and Incident Response
Ryan McGeehan's job is to stay one step ahead of the cybercriminals who want to hack your Facebook account.
McGeehan manages security for the social networking platform, which now has more than 250 million users. In simple terms, he's the "think-tank and foreseer."
"My role here is to predict when [attacks] would happen, how they would happen, and to make sure that we had systems to defend against [those] attacks before they happened," says McGeehan, whom Facebook hired upon graduation to become its first full-time employee devoted solely to security.
McGeehan began consulting with Facebook while he was still a student. He was a member of the first class to earn a degree in information assurance and security engineering from DePaul's College of Computing and Digital Media, which has been named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance by the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. As a student, he also worked in Web security for the Federal Reserve Bank and volunteered with the Chicago chapter of the Honeynet Project, a research group that invites hackers to break into their servers and systems so that it can study the attacks.
When McGeehan arrived at Facebook, he expanded systems already in place to combat attacks such as phishing (stealing usernames and passwords), ad fraud and botnets (malicious software that hijacks users' computers). His team now handles daily issues while he focuses on thwarting new forms of attacks.
"Facebook is by far the most powerful communications platform that you can find on the Internet," says McGeehan. "It becomes an attractive target for spammers and hackers, etc., to use that same platform for their own gain."
McGeehan's group reports to the legal department at Facebook, so offenders quickly find themselves in hot water. "We cooperate with law enforcement and other providers in the Internet industry against cyber crime, and we'll take spammers or other criminals to court if we have to," he says.
"It's a constant arms race as far as research goes, because we need to be studying attacks that both happen to us and happen to other companies, so that if the cybercriminals ever decide to move their sights onto us, we [will] be ready for it. I have to keep my thumb on the pulse of security on the Internet," says McGeehan, who talks regularly with his counterparts at Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and similar companies. But he doesn't find it stressful: "I love this job."
- Facebook security blog posts by McGeehan
- Honeynet Project
- CDM Information Assurance and Security Engineering
Samina Khan (EDU '04) Science Teacher
Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet School
When Samina Khan was a little girl, her life felt like a fairy tale. And even though her life was touched by personal tragedy a few years ago, she says it still does.
"I would often imagine myself in this enchanted land where I lived to help people," says Khan. Born in Ethiopia and raised in Nigeria, Khan always was fascinated and intrigued by nature. "I had the craving to discover things and an uncontrollable urge to get to the depth of how things work and why."
At first, she thought she wanted to be a doctor and was admitted to one of the best universities in Nigeria. "But fate had something better in store for meto be able to mold the future of our children," she says.
Khan has won numerous teaching awards, including the prestigious Golden Apple Award in 2008, for her exceptional work as the middle school science teacher at Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet School in Chicago's Austin neighborhood. Since she joined the faculty there in 2001 through the Chicago Public Schools' Global Educators Outreach program, the number of students passing the Illinois Standards Achievement Test in Science has skyrocketed from about 27 percent to nearly 90 percent in 2007.
Khan earned a bachelor's degree in microbiology from Kaduna Polytechnic in West Africa. She was working on her master's degree in biology at Northeastern Illinois University when tragedy struck and her younger brother passed away. "Teaching was the outlet I was looking for, to start life over, and my students were my healers," she says. Now she is ready to go back to complete her master's in biology.
Teaching comes naturally to Khanperhaps because it's in her genes. Her parents, now retired and living in India, were teachers. "I'm always drawing on their philosophy, vision and insights," she says.
Khan hopes "to change the world by making a difference in the life of each and every child in my care." She wants to empower her students to find their own voices, reach their full potential and become lifelong learners. She does that by serving as a good role model, teaching them to think critically and supporting them in a positive learning environment.
That's what her DePaul graduate education did for her. "I was totally inspired and blown away by the professionalism and support I received from all my professors," Khan says. "The classes truly guided me in the direction I needed to go with my teaching profession."
Ben L. Welsh (CMN '04) Database Producer
Los Angeles Times
When Ben Welsh received a National Journalism Award last year as part of a team at the Los Angeles Times, he shipped it with thanks to his mentors, television and print journalist Carol Marin and producer Don Moseley. He says that his internship with the nationally prominent partners and their DePaul Documentary Project taught him that journalism "could be rewarding and fun, something I could actually do."
After earning a master's degree in journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he picked up research and IT skills, Welsh worked for a couple of years at the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit that "does heavy-duty investigative reporting," he says. From there, he moved to the Los Angeles Times, where he is a database producer.
"If you look at the corporate directory, I'm the only one who has my job description," he says. "It's half-journalist, half-programmer." In a rapidly evolving field where news reporting is enhanced by the ability to gather in-depth information and organize it online, Welsh's skill set allows him to create Web sites that present a story in detail while "doing it with an editorial eye and a commitment to accuracy," as he describes it.
Sometimes Welsh uncovers a great story while he's gathering data. Recently, while analyzing crime data, he discovered that the Los Angeles Police Department mapping site was missing 40 percent of the crime, which led to a front-page story with his byline.
Welsh says Marin and Mosley modeled all the right skills for the "entrepreneurial" task of creating investigative journalism. "You have to be in control. You have to have ideas. You have to be vetting your own ideas and testing them. And then you have to execute them. Carol and Don have a clear-eyed approach to dealing with all of thatpatient and thorough."
The award-winning story for the Times (visit http://projects.latimes.com/mexico-drug-war/#/its-a-war), "Mexico Under Siege: the Drug War at Our Doorstep," involved a team of about 30 people. The award "gives you the feedback that you did something right," says Welsh. "The award was for everybody, but I think the people who deserve the credit are the reporters and photographers who were on the scene. What we did for the Web was to try to organize their work in a way that did it justice."
"Mexico Under Siege: the Drug War at Our Doorstep"
Los Angeles Times
Rami Nashashibi (LAS '97) Co-founder and Executive Director
Inner-City Muslim Action Network
Rami Nashashibi spent much of his youth living in Western and Eastern Europe and the Middle East. "I've been exposed to many different cultures and traditions, and that is a powerful thing. It really piqued my interest in engaging communities and developing a more intimate connection with them," he says.
That interest grew into action when, in 1995, as a student at DePaul University, Nashashibi co-founded the Inner-city Muslim Action Network (IMAN) to help bridge the segmented Muslim communities on Chicago's South Side. Today, Nashashibi serves as executive director of IMAN, where he strives "to manage a growing nonprofit infrastructure while remaining focused on the heart of the work that moves and inspires me."
Working with a dedicated group of staff and volunteers, Nashashibi has helped build IMAN into an organization that delivers a wide breadth of social services, organizes marginalized urban communities around the issues that impact them and works to further the arts in urban areas. IMAN's health clinic provides no-cost primary health care, while its Career Development Initiative offers digital literacy courses. By celebrating traditional Muslim art forms and encouraging contemporary artistic expression, IMAN connects its audience, especially young people, with social justice issues in a culturally relevant way.
Although the nonprofit was formed with Chicago's inner-city Muslim population in mind, it has grown to include people of many backgrounds and faiths. In fact, IMAN is a founding member of the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations, a group that advocates for human rights and social justice through a multiracial, multicultural alliance. "We've developed over the years and really mobilized a broad cross-section of people to become actively engaged with social justice issues, particularly as they affect urban, marginalized communities," notes Nashashibi.
Under Nashashibi's direction, IMAN recently developed its own organizing structure and training program and has begun instructing others. "It was a feat to see our young people and community leaders being trained, engaged and inspired by a framework that not only allows them to connect to the issues and the broader community, but is a reflection of who they are," he says. Through these organized efforts, he hopes communities are able to influence policy and drive legislation around the social justice issues that affect them. "That's what inspired me to get involved in this work so many years ago and what keeps me going even today."
Juan Carlos Linares (LAW '02) Global Real Estate Manager and Assistant General Counsel,
Flying off to Europe and South America is just part of what Juan Linares enjoys about his job with IES Abroad. He's the global real estate manager for the organization, which implements international study programs for students from the United States. "To experience another culture gets you out of your everyday mindset," he says.
Linares manages a portfolio of real estate holdings in 33 citiesnegotiating leases, purchases and build-outs of its centers and student housing, as well as managing the headquarters property in Chicago. Along with real estate and finance expertise, the work requires Spanish and French language skills.
"You also have to adapt your expectations to the way business is done in different cultures," Linares says. As the son of a Peruvian mother and a Guatemalan father, he says that firsthand knowledge of another culture is an advantage that he always had. "I grew up in Bellwood [a near-west Chicago suburb] with African-American, white and Indian friends. I benefited from the diversity."
Linares says he found diversity at DePaul's College of Law, along with a faculty that taught him how to negotiate creatively. He also found values that matched his and a great network. "DePaul's Vincentian mission really rings true for me," he says. "And I think we have the best alumni base of any law school in the city."
After law school, Linares took a position at Deloitte & Touche while earning an LLM degree in international business and trade at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago. He then took his finance skills to the City of Chicago, providing legal counsel to a $500 million low-income housing initiative.
Today, he donates his time and expertise as a board member of the Latin United Community Housing Association and to the Geneva Foundation, which works to stabilize the lives of young men who have aged out of the foster care system. He also teaches part-time at John Marshall and Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.
For his service and leadership, Linares was recognized with a "Top Lawyer Under 40" award by the Hispanic National Bar Association in 2009.
Looking back, Linares sees a dedication to education that began with parents who told their children how important it was to go to class every day. "I had perfect attendance all the way through school," he says.
Aviv Screwvala (CDM '05) Associate Producer
UTV Motion Pictures
To Aviv Screwvala, it makes perfect sense that he left a fast-track, high-visibility project management position with AT&T to become an associate producer at one of Asia's largest film studios.
"Most people understand the apparent lack of convention in any of my accomplishments better when they discover my academic goals," says Screwvala with a grin.
Screwvala double-majored in computer science and international studies and added minors in theatre arts and history based on his rewarding interactions with faculty members at DePaul's Loop and former Barat campuses, especially Gene Beiriger, associate professor of history.
"I enjoyed my discussions with the faculty so much that I decided to pursue their academic programs. I believed that they would lead to a broader, more enriched and all-encompassing education. I was right," he says.
After graduation, Screwvala's impressive academic and extracurricular portfolio landed him a coveted project management internship with AT&T's $6 billion Lightspeed project, working with a team of committed overachievers. During the next two-and-a-half years he was promoted four times, becoming senior team lead. "I had the fastest growth trajectory amongst my peers. With each vertical movement came massive responsibility, tremendous exposure and loads of adrenaline," he says.
Yet he wanted a say in the conception of an initiative, not just its implementation. So he made the leap from project manager to associate producer for UTV, whose releases include "The Namesake" and M. Night Shyamalan's "The Happening." Since project managers and producers both focus on costs, timelines and quality, their roles are surprisingly similar, but film producers also have creative control.
"I've always wanted to see the end result of my efforts," he says. "There are few things you can see clearer than your film on the silver screen."
Three of the films Screwvala has worked on since 2008 are fast approaching release: "Arjun: Warrior Prince," an animated war epic about India's greatest warrior; an upcoming genre-defying comedy; and a thriller called "Peter Gaya Kaam Se," which translates to "Peter's in Trouble."
As he continues producing films, Screwvala hopes to narrow the gap between Hollywood and Bollywood, evolving a market that will fully appreciate films from both industries. He believes his experiences at DePaul have taught him that "nearly anything can be accomplishedit's just a matter of how you pursue your goal."
Frank Catalano (MUS '99) Tenor Saxophonist and Composer
Frank Catalano chose the saxophone for fifth-grade band without even knowing what it sounded like. Today, Downbeat Magazine calls him "John Coltrane energy for the 21st century." Signed by the renowned Savoy label, Catalano has played with virtually every living jazz great and composes for and plays with pop stars such as John Legend, Destiny's Child and Jennifer Lopez.
How did it all happen? "There's a lot in my life that was meant to be," says Catalano. After wowing his sixth-grade teacher and parents by accompanying the class choir on The Jackson Five's version of "Rockin' Robin," Catalano progressed rapidly with just a few lessons. He pursued his passion relentlessly, though an accident when he was 16 severed his right middle finger two weeks before an all-state competition. "I knew not only that I wanted to be the best that I could be, but that I wasn't going to let this stop me," he says. The summer after high school graduation, destiny stepped in againat the renowned Andy's Jazz Club in Chicago. Too young to go alone, Catalano invited his mom to hear Charles Earland's organ trio. "A little voice told me to bring my saxophone," he says. Earland's sax player didn't turn up, and Catalano begged to sit in. He played the third set, and the next day, the club owner called him with 50 gigs.
Other schools also offered scholarships, but Catalano chose DePaul so he could be part of Chicago's vibrant jazz scene. "If I hadn't gone to DePaul and I hadn't stayed in Chicago, these things wouldn't have happened," he says.
Today, Catalano reaches even further back than the classical composition he studied at DePaul. "I'm listening to tribal and primal percussion stuff and playing with a couple of percussionists," he says. He's also going deeper, as he explores his Catholic upbringing and meets people, including the Dalai Lama, who expose him to other spiritual paths. "If you're an open-minded person, you're going to be absorbing bits of everybody you come into contact with, whether it has something to do with music or not," he says.
Catalano welcomes feedback from his live audiences. "They used to come up and say, ?great job,'" he says. "Now I'm getting lengthy e-mails. I think my music is striking some chord in them, and I appreciate that."
Catalano's recent CD "Bang!" has enjoyed great success and debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard sales charts. His next CD for Savoy/Columbia is expected to be released next spring. Listen now at catalanomusic.com.
Stacy R. Janiak (COM '92) Vice Chairman and U.S. Retail Leader
When business news anchors and Deloitte's retail clients seek insights to tackle today's business challenges, they call on Stacy Janiak.
As vice chairman and U.S. retail leader, Janiak leads one of Deloitte's largest sectors, which includes more than 1,000 retail professionals across the United States. She has been in charge of several multinational retail accounts, providing audit, internal control, due diligence, consulting and other specialized services.
Janiak is interviewed regularly by business media ranging from CNBC to The Wall Street Journal when they need a specialist to talk about consumer spending trends that affect retailers. She's also no stranger to the "under 40" list, having been named to Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal's 40 under 40 list in 2007.
Janiak, her husband, Jeffrey (COM '92), and their two children currently reside in Eden Prairie, Minn. They will be returning to Chicago next year when she takes over a new account. Janiak says she is excited to be moving closer to her alma mater.
A native of Louisville, Ky., and a huge fan of the University of Louisville Cardinals, she became familiar with DePaul through its basketball team. The university was attractive to her because of its location and her interest in studying business.
Janiak has served as a former adjunct professor of auditing and believes strongly in the value of community service, especially working with students. Many of them, she says, represent the future business leaders of our country and the rest of the world.
As an accounting student, Janiak was a Strobel Scholar. She is grateful to DePaul for allowing her to hold a couple of jobs within the university "that were just eye-opening, wonderful experiences," she says. Janiak spent three years working as a student auditor in the internal audit department at DePaul. That experience helped her land a job as an associate at Deloitte right after graduation. "I learned how to audit before I even had an audit class. It provided me a leg up in many, many ways, and I feel compelled to give back."