Alumni Connections: Winter 2008
Author: Kathryn Kirkland
Posted: January 18, 2008

Her mother would be proud 

ON THE SURFACE, sophomore Molly Conroy seems a typical pre-med student: smart, self-possessed, focused. If you didn't ask her, you might never know she's also exceptionally resilient. She's had to be.

Her mother, a PSU alumna, died unexpectedly when Conroy was five years old—a turn of events that tested her emotionally, socially, and financially throughout her life. Conroy was undaunted, yet each time she reached a milestone in her childhood, she wondered what it would have been like to share the experience with her mother.

Now she has something to keep that connection alive as the recipient of the 2007 Jane Wiener Memorial Alumni Scholarship. Given by the PSU Alumni Association to children of alumni who lack the financial resources to attend Portland State, the scholarship covers tuition and fees for up to 15 terms. This milestone was, in a way, shared by Conroy and her mother. Conroy earned the scholarship, awarded once every four years, but her mother's 1990 graduation from PSU made it possible for her to apply.

Student Ambassador Molly Conroy gives a campus tourTo cover other expenses and gain experience in health care, Conroy works three jobs: resident assistant at The Broadway building, certified nursing assistant at OHSU, and PSU Student Ambassador. Student Ambassadors give campus tours and serve as representatives of the student population at official functions. Conroy was one of 13 chosen from a pool of almost 90 applicants.

Conroy is motivated by what she thinks her mother would have liked to do, such as travel. That drew her to become the youngest person in the Institute on Aging's Nicaragua Service Learning Program in August. The two-week project took PSU students to Central America, where they held a health fair for the elderly.

Alan DeLaTorre, Ph.D. candidate and student leader for the program, says Conroy, who had worked in a retirement community her freshman year, helped the project planning team—researchers to the core—understand the practical needs of the elderly.

"As we were developing the day-to-day program," DeLaTorre says, "Molly pointed out how important touch is for older people." As a result, the health fair included foot and hand massages for older Nicaraguans, with Conroy rolling up her sleeves to help.

Conroy can't really explain what motivates her, but she thinks she may have inherited one of her mom's personality traits, illustrated by a story her aunt told her about their elementary school days.

As her aunt remembers the story, Conroy's mother once tackled the "cool" kid in school because the kid had dared make fun of the aunt. "My mom had spunk," says Conroy, proudly.

So, too, does her daughter.

Association board members appreciated

FIVE MEMBERS RETIRED from the Alumni Board after distinguished service during the past six years. They are Jackie Bell '71, who served on the Connections Committee; Rob Edmiston '84, also a member of the Connections Committee; Roberta McEniry '76, PSU Weekend chair and board president during 2005-06; Gary Purpura '71, Investment Committee chair; and Trish Trout MA '88, PSU Weekend chair and board president during 2004-05.

New members joining the board this fall are Charles "Chip" Dunn '01, a relationship manager with MBank; Kendal McDonald MA '02, an archaeologist; Milica Markovic '04, a program coordinator with the World Affairs Council; Barbara Verchot MPA '97; and Rick Watson MBA '00, a consultant. The volunteer board members serve three, two-year terms and commit to at least one board committee.

At home and around the world with PSU alumni

Robert 'Mitch' MichelIn September, Robert "Mitch" Michel brought nine family members, including wife, Mary Beth, and son, Sean '99, to an Alumni Association-sponsored tailgate party before the Viking vs. San Diego State game at Qualcomm Stadium. Viking football alumni Jayson Hefley '07 and Erik Ries '97 also attended. Joel '65 and Colleen McCloud were among the many guests at an alumni reception the night before.

Barbara Tombleson, Francis Moore Lappe and Peggy Tombleson"This has been the best weekend I've ever spent at PSU!" said Barbara Tombleson '78 (right to left) as she poses with keynote speaker Frances Moore Lappé and her sister, Peggy Tombleson '87, who went on to say, "I'm devoted to life-long learning and this fits the bill for me. I loved Ms. Lappé and Jost Lottes, the baby-boomer retirement lecturer." The sisters and many other alumni and friends attended the 17th annual PSU Weekend celebration of life-long learning on campus October 27.

Susan Chan and Andrew MillarPianist and faculty member Susan Chan (left) talks with Andrew Millar, son of Branford Price Millar, PSU's third president, at an alumni reception following her Carnegie Hall concert in September. Millar and his wife, Sandra, were among the 35 guests who attended. Artist Thomas Lovcik '61, a lifetime alumni association member, and architect Mike Gibson '97 were also at the event.

Hiro Ejima and Maki ShiinaIn October, University administrators were in Tokyo to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Waseda University, a Portland State partner institution. Hiro Ejima '95 (right) congratulates Maki Shiina '04 on her new job with the Tokyo Foundation at a special dinner for alumni. Ejima is a manager at Starbucks in Tokyo. Other alumni at the event, included Hiroshi Sakai '71, Koichiro Ue '96, and Hideo Uratani '74.

Upcoming events for alumni and friends

Business Briefing: Oregon's Emerging Medical Industry Cluster
For details: e-mail

Robert Burns Dinner, a benefit for the School of Fine and Performing Arts
For details: e-mail

Alumni Basketball Nights, sponsored by PSUAA
For details:

Night of Wine and Roses, sponsored by Athletics Department
For details:

Special Education Reunion, sponsored by Graduate School of Education
For details: e-mail

APRIL 9-10
Seattle-area alumni events, sponsored by PSUAA
For details: and watch your mail

MPA Alumni gathering/reunion (1985-1995)
For details: or e-mail

Alumni Opera Night, sponsored by PSUAA
For details:

PSU Salutes, honoring outstanding alumni and faculty
For details:

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