First Person

A Place to Learn, a Place to Grieve … a Place to Thrive
by jim Gray, BA’75 | First PersonSpring 2012

Whenever I think about my years at Vanderbilt, I still shake my head with a tad of disbelief and think, “How did circumstances even allow me to apply to Vanderbilt?”

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A Race to the Death (or Close)
by Valerie Matena, BA’08 | Fall 2011First Person

I didn’t finish the race. Forty hours into the Death Race and a mere five hours from the end, I quit. In my four years as a Vanderbilt athlete, I had never failed to make it to the finish line. I had faced disappointment, failed to meet goals, even finished last, but I had never simply stopped.

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Arts and Science Shaped the Mind of This Late-Night TV Comedy Writer (Seriously)
by Matt O'Brien, BA'01 | First PersonSpring 2011

I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t given Vanderbilt a dime post-graduation. Sure, they’ve asked for money, even angrily at times.

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How Nixon, Campus Protests and Alexander Heard Still Inspire Social Change
by John Gaventa, BA'71 | Fall 2010First Person

I live in Sussex, England, though most of my work takes me to poorer parts of the world in Africa, Asia or Latin America. The College of Arts and Science, from which I graduated almost 40 years ago, often seems a long way away. But when I learned last year of the death of Chancellor Alexander Heard, I began to reflect on the connections between my years at Vanderbilt and my work in international development today.

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Why I Said Yes To Guantanamo
by Wes Powell, BA’91 | First PersonSpring 2010

I’m pretty sure I had never uttered the word “Guantanamo” before the summer of 2004. I had never even seen A Few Good Men, the movie famously set on the U.S. Navy’s base there. Guantanamo Bay Naval Base first crossed my mind in early 2002, when the U.S. began transferring suspected al-Qaida and Taliban members captured in the war in Afghanistan to the prison located there.

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Inside the Trauma Ward of the World's Financial Markets
by Craig S. Phillips, BA’76 | Fall 2009First Person

I feel like I work in the trauma unit. Not in a hospital as you might imagine, but at the heart of the global financial crisis. And for some weird reason I really enjoy it. At Vanderbilt I shifted from premed to economics as I concluded that passing out at the sight of blood might not be good in a medical career. Now I tie tourniquets to stem the hemorrhaging of capital in the credit markets.

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Driving Dreams
by Robert “Bob” Boniface, BA’87 | First PersonSpring 2009

I had almost forgotten Furman Hall. Almost. And I had almost forgotten the painful experience of earning a D in Econ 100 in that very building. As a Vanderbilt freshman 26 years ago, I hated Furman Hall. Yet there I was, walking past Furman to go speak to undergraduates about my career since graduation.

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From Art to Internet
by Emily White, BA’00 | Fall 2008First Person
On the Ground Floor at Google

My first year out of the College of Arts and Science was an exciting, amazing and scary time in my life. It was 2000–2001. My personal play-by-play: First, with the NASDAQ at 5,000 and headed to 10,000, I moved back home to the Bay Area with the hope of joining an Internet company and becoming a participant in the “Technology Revolution.”

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International Finance with a Brazilian Beat
First PersonSpring 2008

It’s 8:30 on an October morning on the trading floor in New York City. Fifteen people share a conference call to decide whether to announce a $1 billion bond deal for Brazil’s largest oil and gas company, Petrobras. The markets have been turbulent since July, but as I look at my computer screens, I see Asian and European stocks are “flashing green” (meaning stocks are up) and U.S. Treasuries are stable. I advise my Brazilian client to go forward with the launch…and fast. Three hours later, we have almost $3 billion in orders from investors—a major success! It’s exhilarating…I never imagined in college that I would work on Wall Street—in New York City—for almost 20 years!

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