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Amy Mrotek ’16 and Brooke Kazik (Alumni & Parent Relations) on the porch of the Alumni House.

Duly Noted: You Make the News!

The email may well begin, “Not sure if this is of interest to the magazine, but … .” And thus, with characteristic diffidence, another fascinating nugget for our Alumni Notes section drops into the editor’s mailbox. It will join with many more to make up what constitutes the most popular section of any college magazine – the section our own readers tell us they turn to first. Let’s imagine a note from your own full life as it might travel from your keyboard to our latest issue.

The journey begins at the desk of Brooke Kazik, who works in the alumni house. Brooke gathers all the news submitted via our web form or forwarded to her by alumni office colleagues. “It’s lovely to see all the happy news come through – the births and the marriages!” says Kazik. “As the notes come in, I wonder what each person looks like or what kind of a person they are. It’s very important for us to keep in contact with our alums – not just for ourselves, but to communicate their life events to their classmates. Our college community is much bigger than just our on-campus community!”

Our note journeys on, falling next into the hands of Amy Mrotek ’16, publications intern. It’s Mrotek’s job to add to Kazik’s collection any news that readers have sent in directly to the editor. (News also comes our way from colleagues who run into alums, from media releases and press clippings – even from the alums with whom we stay in touch via social media.) Mrotek is our copyeditor, too: She makes sure that the lengthening Word doc conforms to our house style. “Maybe it’s because I’m a student myself,” says Mrotek, “but the updates on career changes or promotions in a field – especially for grads on the younger side – is just so exciting. It kind of gives me hope for the things I can explore once I become an alumna, knowing there’s always fluidity, always a new opportunity waiting.”

Mrotek’s work gets passed to associate editor Jill Wiesman, who adjusts the text to fit, making room for as many notes as possible. (We’re committed to running all the notes submitted to us, although we often have to hold over the more recent submissions until we have space in the next issue.) Wiesman has a background in admission marketing, so she likes seeing all that our students have gone on to achieve: “There are a lot of jobs you don’t even think of and here our graduates are, out there doing these things and leading the charge.”

From Wiesman’s desk our note heads downstairs and into the careful hands of graphic design specialist Donna Schaut, who formats the notes ready for layout. “I go line by line,” Schaut says. “You want to take good care so, as you go, you can’t not read each note! I’m always particularly interested in the people about my own age – what they’re doing as they’re well on into their careers, or how they’re spending their retirement.”

On a final note
When the old Knight Life publication gave way to St. Norbert College Magazine 14 years ago, our obituary columns would still sometimes note the passing of venerable alumni with class years from early in the 1920s. For some years on, they would belong mostly to those with class years from the 1930s. Only quite recently, we laid to rest our last surviving alum from that decade, and now it is the veterans of the Greatest Generation whose passings we mourn. Increasingly, the names we note are those whom we have ourselves encountered over the years – and, on occasion, they are very young. 

“We have so little space in which to sum up these lives of service to country and family,” says editor Susan Allen. “We do try hard, too, to see that no-one is laid to rest in our columns without someone who mourns them named alongside them – even those who do not leave a surviving spouse or children. We take particular care over each and every one: It is the last thing we can do for our alums, and we want to make sure we do it right.”

July 3, 2015