That was retired Professor of English Bert Stern's response when I asked him to find the common thread among his students that had pursued vocations "off the beaten path"-men like writer Dan Simmons '70 and others that we've profiled in this issue of Wabash Magazine.
That "interior lodestar" is certainly carried by many Wabash graduates who have taken original approaches to more traditional careers. But the competitiveness of the vocations pursued by those profiled here requires, perhaps, an even stronger focus on that star. Simmons is one of fewer than 400 people making a living full-time as writers. Tom Broecker '84 is one of even fewer design supervisors for network TV and costume designers for Broadway shows. Pat Beidelman '93 is a young man entering the priesthood at a time when declining numbers y shows. Pat Beidelman '93 is a young man entering the priesthood at a time when declining numbers in that vocation are threatening the social fabric of Catholic life. And furniture maker Ryan Lane '85 stepped into a market where most of his potential clients weren't even aware work like his was being done.
When your career involves odds like that, you s odds like that, you know you'll be making plenty of sacrifices to reach your goal. You, and those who love you, better truly know this is your calling. And that's something else these individuals share-a deep dedication to and enjoyment of their work.
They also share a common bond with most Wabash men I've met. They are dedicated to their vocation and continue learning and improving to be the best at what they do.
That yearning for excellence brings to mind the sad news we bring to this issue-the death of Norman Treves Professor of Biology Tom Cole '58. You'll find our coverage of the memorial service held in the Chapel in his honor beginning on page 48. As a mentor and teacher to scores of pre-med and biology students as well as the freshman advisor who memorized the name of every new student so that he could greet them by name when they arrived, the integrity he brought to his vocation made him truly one of a kind a man who marched to the beat of a different drummer.