Spring 2009: From the Editor

July 20, 2009

I was in Nashville, Tennessee, eating a Jack-in-the-Box taco (fast food’s take on toxic waste) when I realized the most rewarding thing about this “39 Under 39” issue of WM.

We know these guys.

And if you’ve been reading WM the last 13 years, you know many of them, too.

They all attended Wabash during the tenure of Director of Public Affairs Jim Amidon ’87, Director of New Media Howard Hewitt, or myself. We’d worked with several as advisors to the Board of Publi-cations; we’d written about many more.

So some of the interviews for this issue were actually reunions—a chance to catch up with friends, and an opportunity for these men to reflect on their lives.

I visited University of the South Associate Professor of Chemistry Deon Miles ’97 in Sewanee carrying a copy of the Works in Progress feature we’d written about him 12 years earlier. He’d proclaimed then his dream to become “a professor at a small liberal arts college.” In Sewanee I got to see just how good he is at it.

When I called Zach Hoover ’01 in California to ask him about his work as a community organizer, I was looking at his Commencement speech in which he said, “If we can mate the partners whose names are think, reflect, actualize, and do, then we will bless others and we will bless ourselves…. Perhaps we will sweeten our world.” From our conversation, I believe Zach’s vocation is doing just that.

There were surprises. I would never have guessed John Jefferson ’97 would one day be named U.S. Army Linguist of the Year. Or that his friend and fellow former Bachelor editor John Deschner ’97—the self-proclaimed “monkey with a shotgun” during his Wabash days—would write for us such a moving reflection on fatherhood.

Our 20s and 30s are the real wonder years: You wonder what you’re going to do, how you’re going to make a living. Sometimes wonder if you’re going to make it at all.

And these guys have been through it: grad school, new jobs, and layoffs; finding vocation, still searching for one; strong marriages, painful divorces; leaving home for good, coming home to stay;
business startups, business failures; the world-shaking births of their children, the heart-shattering loss of a daughter.

Some have returned to the faith of their fathers; some have left it behind; many found new confidence in themselves and their potential to make a difference in the world.

In this issue of WM we glimpse not simply what they’ve accomplished but the lives they’ve lived. How does their Wabash liberal arts education hold up two decades out? Can the Gentleman’s Rule survive in the “real world?”

In the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depres-sion, most of these guys are thriving. If not financially, in mind, body, and spirit. Writing and editing this issue has given me an even deeper respect for a Wabash education and the lives connected by the College.

There’s a taste of that here, and much more at WM Online.

Thanks for reading.

Steve Charles H’70 | Editor
charless@wabash.edu

Photo: Deon Miles ’97: As a senior at Wabash his goal was to become "a professor at a small liberal arts college." Today, he teaches chemistry at the University of the South at Sewanee.

 

 


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