March Alumni Notes

Catch up on news from the SYA alumni and faculty community: media, awards, books and more.

Lizzi Ackerman ES'05, a 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 and co-founder of Birch Benders Pancake Mix, talks about putting yourself out there in this article about reaching out to a prospective mentor. 

Jason Blum FR'86 was recognized as a 2019 Special Achievement honoree by the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) during its 10th anniversary ceremony in February.  Co-founder and President Gil Robertson described Blum as "a visionary creatively and in business,” whose films like BlacKKKlansman reflect or make us think about the world today."

Jackson Boyar CN’06 was named a 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 in education. Mentor Collective, the company he co-founded, is focused on the college completion crisis. Less than 60% of students graduate from public institutions in 6 years or less, resulting in millions in debt or disadvantage without a degree. The solution: scaleable mentoring.

Jeff Mellow ES’84, a professor at John Jay College in NYC, recently gave a talk on Pre-trial Justice Reform at the Universidad de Guadalajara. The talk was part of the opening session for the Oral Adversarial Skill-Building Immersions Seminar’s (OASIS) Oral Litigation Training at the university and organized by the University of San Diego’s Justice in Mexico program.

Tia Napolitano FR’01, executive producer and writer for ABC’s Station 19, wrote the “Crash and Burn” episode that aired on March 7. Prior to joining Station 19, Tia wrote for Grey’s Anatomy.

Paul Romer FR’73, a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences 2018 recipient, delivered his Prize Lecture in December in Stockholm. Along with co-winner William D. Nordhaus, Paul designed methods for addressing some of our time’s most basic and pressing questions about how we create long-term sustained and sustainable economic growth. Their contributions provide us with fundamental insights into the causes and consequences of technological innovation and climate change.

Sarah Cate Patten Scaduto IT'04 spent a year at SYA Italy to experience a new culture and way of life and along the way Sicily became her new home. Read more in this alumni spotlight profile.

Ellen Skowronski-Polito ES'89 has over the last 15 years collaborated as editor and translator for the Spanish poet, writer and academic José Manual Marrero Henríquez. She has brought his eco-poetic vision to the English-speaking audience with her book, Landscapes with Donkey/Paisajes con burro, the first complete English translation of his works. 

Rick Smolan ES'67, a former Time, Life and National Geographic photographer and best-selling author published the award-winning book The Good Fight: America's Ongoing Struggle for Justice that takes a look at how minority groups across the U.S. have fought for equality over the past century. People magazine chose it as one of the "10 Best Books of the Year." Watch an interview segment on CBS and his TEDx talk.

Alice Stephens ES'84 debuted her first novel, Famous Adopted People, combining dark humor and a keen wit to examine the profound implications of not knowing where you came from, and how our perceptions of an unknown world actually reflect deeper truths about our own. 

Former Faculty

Mark Ott ES'15F ES'19P shared news of his new book, Hemingway and Italy: Twenty-First Century Perspectives, a collection that deepens understanding of Hemingway's relationship to a country that he loved and that was central to his fiction.

Francesca Piana ES'93–'97RD has published Viajera, a book written in Spanish that combines her passion for history and travel. Set in five main narratives, Francesca adds historical context to the places she's traveled to "because that is what gives meaning to the places one visits. Otherwise one church looks like another, one palace looks like the next." For example, you'll learn why Chile is different politically from other Latin American countries; why the Chimborazo mountain is taller than Everest; why Iceland does not have trees; and why the Romans built what we know as Hadrian's Wall. If interested in learning more, please contact Francesca.

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