KCD Connections https://www.kcdconnections.org The alumni magazine of Kentucky Country Day School Tue, 29 Aug 2017 14:26:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.6 67787600 Flashback: KCD’s Morning DJ https://www.kcdconnections.org/kcds-morning-dj/ Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:43:05 +0000 https://www.kcdconnections.org/?p=233 Travel back in time to 1985. If you could tune in to KCD’s morning announcements, you’d be treated to a performance featuring music, sound effects, and mock interviews—all hosted by Bohemian Stu, the on-air persona of senior Stu Pollard.

WSTU was born when Stu signed up to read the daily sports scores, a dry and thankless task that he quickly turned into an extension of his personality. Stu’s two minutes of daily airtime morphed into an elaborately produced show that blended humor and satire. The sports report grew to include mock locker room interviews and play-by-play commentary, and Stu even began writing and producing commercials to promote school events.

WSTU was popular with students, but occasionally less so with administrators: when the school hired a security guard to supervise a dance, Stu responded by rewriting the lyrics of “Ghostbusters” into the satirical song “Dancebusters”.

WSTU went off the air when Stu graduated in 1985, but he went on to put his creative talents to good use. After graduating from the USC School of Cinema Arts, he’s been busy in the film world, where he’s directed two films—Nice Guys Sleep Alone and Keep Your Distance—and produced a number of others.

Corals in Peril https://www.kcdconnections.org/corals-in-peril/ Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:30:53 +0000 https://www.kcdconnections.org/?p=227 The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from space, a vast maze of reefs, passages, and coral islands that stretches for 1,400 miles off Australia’s northeastern coast. It’s the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem, home to a staggeringly diverse array of plant and animal life. It’s been declared a World Heritage Site and one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It’s also in serious trouble.

Nearly 90 percent of the Great Barrier Reef is suffering from a condition called coral bleaching. In some parts of the reef, half the corals have died. Bleaching isn’t just happening at the Great Barrier Reef, though; it’s part of an ongoing global bleaching event that’s threatening reefs all over the world.

To learn more about what’s happening, we checked in with Dr. Mark Eakin ’76, a coral reef specialist and the Coordinator of the Coral Reef Watch Program at NOAA—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Coral Reef Watch uses satellite data and computer modeling to identify areas where coral reefs might be at risk. “We work not only with scientists, but also with marine resource managers and the general public,” Mark explains. “We work with people all around the world who are concerned about the problem of coral bleaching.”

NOAA announced the current global bleaching event in late 2015, and media around the world have begun to pay attention. Mark estimates that he’s given over a hundred interviews, including appearances on The Diane Rehm Show, Science Friday, and The Today Show. Over the last four months, he says, about 20 percent of his time has been spent discussing coral bleaching in various interviews and articles.

Mark says that to understand the current bleaching event, you first have to understand the unique nature of corals. “It’s like the children’s game 20 Questions,” he says, “where you usually start by asking ‘Animal, vegetable, or mineral?’ The interesting thing about corals is that they’re all three.”

Healthy corals have a symbiotic relationship with the algae that live inside them. These algae turn sunlight into food, providing coral not only with essential nutrients, but also with their beautiful colors. “It’s a symbiotic relationship that benefits both the algae and the coral,” Mark explains. “What’s happening now is that this relationship is breaking down. The corals are being forced to expel their algae—they literally rip their guts out and spit them out into the water.”

After the coral expels its algae, only the white skeleton is left behind, which is why the sick corals are described as bleached. “It looks like what would happen if you took a coral and poured bleach all over it. What you’re looking at is an animal that is still alive, but it’s very sick and has lost its source of food. It’s starving and is more susceptible to disease.”

This global bleaching event is the third that NOAA has documented since 1998, but Mark says that the current event is unprecedented in both scale and impact. “This global bleaching event we’re in is unlike any we’ve seen in the past. This is the longest bleaching event on record and also the most widespread. It’s caused damage in most areas around the world because it’s been such a long event—we’re going into our third season in some areas … We’re talking about an event that’s had devastating impacts on many coral reef ecosystems around the world.”

While the bleaching at the Great Barrier Reef is troubling, Mark says there are other reef systems around the world that are much worse off. “What’s happening at the Great Barrier Reef sounds horrible, but then you hear about some of the other areas, like Christmas Island in the central Pacific. When people were looking at it in April, over 80 percent of their corals had died. That number is just going to go up as injured corals continue to die. Then there’s Jarvis Island, a small US island in the middle of the Pacific, where 90 percent of the corals had died as of May.”

Mark points out that the impact of bleaching extends beyond the reefs themselves, leading to serious human and economic consequences. “You have to remember that a lot of people are dependent on coral reefs for a variety of services that they provide. We’ve got at least a half billion people around the world who are completely dependent on the reefs as their main source of food. The fish in their diet comes from these reefs. When you wipe out these corals, you’re losing all of that.”

Reefs also play an important role in protecting the shoreline from erosion. In many places, the reef’s protection is what allows people to live near the shore. “The reefs are protecting the shoreline from the incoming wave energy,” Mark says, “whether it’s a routine wave or a large storm or a tsunami.”

What’s causing all this? Mark says there are a number of factors, but the most important are rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification—both related to the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. “These corals are seeing sustained high temperatures that they cannot tolerate, and that’s what’s breaking down the coral-algal symbiosis. Additionally, ocean acidification makes it harder for corals and other organisms to build their skeletons and makes it easier for natural forces of erosion to break down those skeletons. It also makes them more susceptible to higher temperatures. It’s essential that we act to protect coral reefs from local stressors, but we also have to deal with the issue of excess CO2 in the atmosphere. If we don’t, then we’re just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

Mark has seen some of the devastating effects of coral bleaching firsthand. “It’s not a requirement of my job to get out and dive,” he says, “but I enjoy the opportunity to do so whenever I can. It’s also important to get out and help with documenting the changes that are going on.”

Mark’s love of diving goes back a very long time. In fact, if you look up his senior page in the 1976 Fleur-de-Lis yearbook, you’ll find a picture of him in a scuba mask and snorkel as well a quote from Jacques Cousteau. “I’ve been lucky to have had a chance to go diving in reefs in much of the world,” he says. “I’ve seen some amazing places and I’ve also seen some devastating destruction. Over my 40 years of diving on coral reefs, I’ve sees places that are now nothing like they used to be. It’s heartbreaking to see the damage that’s been caused from a variety of reasons. There are some places I’m just not interested in going back to. I’ve heard enough about how bad it is—I don’t want to see it. I want to keep those memories alive.”

photo courtesy XL Catlin Seaview Survey

Welcome to the Big Leagues https://www.kcdconnections.org/welcome-to-the-big-leagues/ Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:26:58 +0000 https://www.kcdconnections.org/?p=224 Like many little kids who come to love the game of baseball, Will Smith ’13 started out by tossing a ball around in the back yard with his dad. From there, his path led to tee-ball and eventually to Bearcat baseball, where Will played varsity for six years, mostly as a pitcher and infielder.

Of course, he dreamed of one day playing in the majors. “I did dream about it,” Will admitted. “I think every baseball player who wants to play in the MLB dreams of it, but I was focused more on college than on pro ball. Even if I’d had an offer, I would have turned it down to go to college.”

Will moved behind the plate when he joined the U of L Cardinals. “I think I had some natural talent behind the plate,” he said, “but I really leaned on three seniors to show me the ropes. I learned a lot from them.” In some ways, Will realized, his lack of experience may have been a blessing in disguise. “I didn’t have any bad habits from catching my whole life, so it was easy for me to learn.” And then there was Cardinal pitcher Zack Burdi, who could throw 100 miles per hour. “Scouts could see that I’m catching the best arm in the country in college,” he said. “They see that I can handle that kind of pitching at a high level and succeed at it.”

Scouts started taking a serious look at Will during his breakout junior season. The buzz began to build in local sports media in late spring: along with pitcher Burdi and outfielder Corey Ray, Will’s prospects for the draft were starting to look pretty good.

Something definitely clicked during his junior year. Near the end of the season, Will was batting .382 with seven home runs and 43 RBIs—a big step up from his sophomore year, in which he hit .242 with two home runs and 15 RBIs. He was also named to the 2016 American Baseball Coaches Association Gold Glove Team, making him the first Cardinal player to earn the defensive honor.

“I can’t think of one thing I did differently during that year,” Will said, “but I was really dedicated to the process of getting better, and I knew I could do it. Once it started rolling, it just kept rolling and I was able to keep playing well.”

Eventually, Will knew, that hard work would pay off. “I knew that if I worked hard and got better that I could be drafted in my junior or senior year. That’s what I tried to do: work really hard and put myself in a good position to get drafted.”

Will’s dream came a lot closer to reality on June 10, when he was selected in the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft—picked 32nd overall by the LA Dodgers. It was not only a big night for Will, but also an historic night for U of L baseball, who saw two other players picked in the first round and another in the second.

Despite the excitement, Will says that it wasn’t hard for him to stay focused. “My freshman and sophomore years, I had seen guys going through that same process and learned from how they dealt with it. I think we did a good job of staying focused and leaving the draft and all that separate from playing our games. Also, my parents were a big help. My dad always said, ‘Don’t get the big head. Just stay focused, play your game, and let everything work out.’”

Will says that the next few weeks were kind of a whirlwind. “After my last college game, I flew out to Arizona to sign my contract. They sent me to Ogden, Utah, to play a short season. I was there for a week or so to play a few games. I played pretty well and was promoted up to Low-A ball in Midland, Michigan. It’s been a good couple of months.”

Shortly after we spoke, Will was promoted again to the High-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. With the Quakes, Will found himself once again playing infield—something he hadn’t done since his years with the Bearcats.

It’s been a lot of change in a short period of time, but Will doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who gets flustered easily. In his combined 29 games with the Ogden Raptors and Great Lakes Loons, he went 30 for 109 (.275) with one double, two home runs, and 12 RBIs.

In an August 13 article on the Think Blue LA website, Quakes coach Drew Saylor said, “I see a lot of versatility in Will. You look at him behind the plate—he’s got tremendous hands, unbelievable release, extremely strong arm—and then you put him in the middle infield you’d think there might be a little tardiness with the feed but that’s not it … To be able to have that type of versatility I think is a tremendous advantage for him in his career and also to our organization, as we preach versatility.”

Right now, Will’s having a great time playing the game he loves. He says he’s grateful for everything he learned at KCD and for the support of the Bearcat community. Mostly, he says, he’s focused on playing the best game he can. “I love competing and playing the game. I’ve always wanted to be the best I could be at it, and it’s enough for me to keep chasing that dream of playing MLB. The most exciting thing is that I’m playing a game I love and that I’m getting paid to play it. My job is to play baseball. It’s a lot more fun than sitting at a desk all day.”

photo courtesy of University of Louisville Sports Information

Erin Wilhelmi ’04 steps onto the Broadway stage https://www.kcdconnections.org/erin-wilhelmi-04-steps-onto-the-broadway-stage/ Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:22:22 +0000 https://www.kcdconnections.org/?p=220 It wasn’t the first production of The Crucible for Erin Wilhelmi ’04, but this one was still a milestone. When Erin was cast as Mercy Lewis in Ivo van Hove’s revival of Arthur Miller’s classic play, Erin got to step onto the Broadway stage for the first time. “I was over the moon when I was cast,” she recalled.

Erin found herself sharing that stage with distinguished actors such as Ciaran Hinds, Ben Whishaw, Sophie Okonedo, and two-time Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan. Contemporary composer Philip Glass scored the production, and Erin described his music as one of her favorite parts of the show. “I’ve been a fan of his for years. It was almost like watching a film, where you have music that is guiding you and making the tension of the piece resonate.”

That tension was clear in what Erin describes as her favorite scene: “We called it the ‘storm sequence.’ There was a huge fan blowing trash at us, and a huge light fixture would fall from the ceiling to the middle of the stage. I was very apprehensive at first, but after a while, you think, ‘Here’s this spectacular moment that’s about to happen, and we get to do it again.’”

Erin’s road to the Broadway stage began at KCD, where she played Mary Warren in the upper school production of The Crucible. She also understudied that role for the Broadway revival and appeared as Mary three times—once with only nine minutes’ notice! “That was quite an adrenaline high,” she recalled. “I told myself, ‘Just go for it.’”

Erin was back at KCD in September, working with upper school actors on their upcoming production of The Crucible.

Next, Erin is looking forward to the festival premiere of the film Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl, in which she plays a young woman battling loneliness and temptation while caring for her aging aunt.

Above: Erin Wilhelmi ’04 as Mercy Lewis, along with Elizabeth Teeter (Betty Parriss), Saoirse Ronan (Abigail Williams), Tavi Gevinson (Mary Warren), and Ashlei Sharp Chestnut (Susanna Walcott) in the Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Photo by Jan Versweyveld.

Mollie Mulloy Creason ’05 wants you to find art you’ll love! https://www.kcdconnections.org/mollie-mulloy-creason-05-wants-you-to-find-art-youll-love/ Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:17:19 +0000 https://www.kcdconnections.org/?p=217 A former art student and broker, Mollie founded Well & Wonder (wellandwondercollective.com) to make it easier for young collectors to buy art. “The idea behind Well & Wonder is that buying art can be accessible and not intimidating,” Mollie explained. At Well & Wonder, visitors can browse and buy work in a variety of styles made by emerging southern artists.

Mollie believes it’s important for people to have a personal connection to the work they buy. “When you buy original art, you find that the artist has a story behind every work—what inspired them, how they got started. You have a real understanding of what that piece means and where it comes from.”

In addition to her work with Well & Wonder, Mollie serves on the KCD Alumni Council. She and her husband Scott have two children: Francie (4) and William (20 months).

An American Muslim https://www.kcdconnections.org/an-american-muslim/ Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:14:24 +0000 https://www.kcdconnections.org/?p=230 Ayah Kutmah ’16 was a little nervous as she stepped onto the stage at the Yum! Center, where she knew she would be speaking in front of more than 22,000 people. She didn’t realize it at the time, but her real audience was much, much bigger: a worldwide audience of millions, all part of the largest event in TV history.

Ayah was one of the speakers at Muhammad Ali’s memorial, where she provided the English translation of the passage from the Quran that opened the service. Ali’s memorial served as a reminder that the man being honored as a boxing legend, political activist, and philanthropist was also a devout Muslim.

For Ayah, it was a rare but wonderful moment. “It felt like one of the few times that our country has come together to celebrate a Muslim American man,” she said. “He truly embodied what a Muslim American is and what a Muslim anywhere should be. For once, we were celebrating a Muslim man as a role model.”

Both of Ayah’s parents are originally from Damascus, Syria, and she remembers going back to visit every summer since she was young, practicing her Arabic and getting to know the culture. All that came to an end in 2011 with the first uprisings against Syrian President Assad. She remembers sitting in her family’s living room, watching on TV as tanks surrounded the city of Homs, only a few hours away. She recalls that moment as the spark that fired her interest in international politics, but she hasn’t been back to Syria since. “It was way too dangerous after that.”

Over the last few years, Ayah has been active with a number of organizations that provide humanitarian aid to the millions of Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war. She started Students for Syria in Louisville, which raised money to provide education for Syrian children. She’s also been active with Kentucky Refugee Ministries, helping Syrian refugee families learn English and acclimate to life in the United States. She’s now at the University of Michigan, where she plans to major in international relations.

The essay that follows is a very personal portrait of a young woman who’s proud of her identity, both as an American and as a Muslim. “I do get rude comments,” Ayah said, “but those comments have made me stronger. They’ve made me look at my own identity and realize what I want to do and who I want to be.”

An American Muslim
by Ayah Kutmah ’16

What does it mean to be an Arab-American hijabi Muslim? Most of the time it is the looks, the stares and hate you see crossing the street at the Paddock Shops. It is going shopping and having the sales associate ignore you or having a person cut in line and having no one else speak up. It is smiling at someone and being returned a frown, because what you wear on your head has suddenly become more important than what you hold in your heart. It is some stranger, or even friend, breaking it to you nicely that this country isn’t ready for a hijabi lawyer. It is being the only hijabi at a mock United Nations conference and having fellow delegates tell a crowd that what you are wearing is a form of oppression that should be banned like it is in France. It is being told on the Fourth of July that you can’t be patriotic if you are a Muslim.

It means that you may be called a ‘towel-head’ or a ‘terrorist.’ It means that every time you go to the airport, you are ‘randomly’ selected to pass through a metal detector and endure another humiliating pat down. It means being told to ‘Go back to your own country’ or that, ‘This is America honey, you can take that off now.’

The worst time—the moment every Muslim around the world dreads, hates, fears—is in the wake of a new terror attack. It is the moment when the suspects are announced to be Muslim. It is then that we begin begging for forgiveness, swearing up and down that we are regular people who only want to live in a country we love and eat McDonald’s and secretly watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians peacefully just like the rest of you, accompanied with the feelings of shame, sadness, and hurt. It is at these moments, following 9/11, or the Paris attacks in November, or the San Bernardino shootings, that we feel the worst. We want to grieve for those killed, for the hate that drove a handful of people to commit an atrocious act, but instead we are attacked by politicians, the media, and the public.

Instead of being able to properly grieve for our fellow Americans, we divide our time between begging for forgiveness, condemning the attacks, and defending ourselves. It is in the wake of these attacks that we experience the most hatred: the angry stares, the shoves, the calls for extra security of mosques, a ‘Muslim database’ and ‘Muslim IDs’ (not that I need one; my ID is pretty obvious), even a call for a ban on all Muslims coming to America. It is then that we experience the spitting and cursing, the hijab-pulling, and the condemnation of 1.5 billion people because of the actions of a few.

It is easy to live according to fear; to bow down your head, accept the inequality of this world, accept the discrimination, and just try to make it. I know friends who have decided to take off their hijabs because of harassment at their workplace. Honestly, I don’t blame them. I have thought about doing the same thing several times throughout my life. However, I always circle back to the reasons why I choose to wear the hijab—why I choose to follow my parents and be a Muslim. At the end of the day, it’s not easy. However, I refuse to acquiesce to fear. I refuse to let others tell me that I’m not a true American because of a religion I follow or a piece of cloth around my head. Instead of bowing down my head in defeat, I have decided to speak up. I am a proud Muslim American.

What many don’t realize is that being Muslim, or even a hijabi, does not stop me from doing anything. I still cried during the last Hunger Games movie. I still went Black Friday shopping and came back disappointed. I still wore an America scarf and helped with the family BBQ on the Fourth of July. I still blast Nicki Minaj with the windows down or cry to Adele’s ‘Hello.’

Being a hijabi doesn’t stop my friends and I from going out to a restaurant and a movie or going to a festival by the river. I enjoy a good ’ole slice of dutch apple pie as much as the next Southerner, but I have to admit I have never understood iced sweet tea.

Most of all, being a Muslim, even a hijabi, does not stop me from being a proud, politically conscious American. I have never thought of myself as not American, and I have always been the proudest when I am overseas, whether it is in Europe or the Middle East. It is at these moments, when I see the different governments, cultures, and societies, that I become the proudest American. I have never found a country quite like America, beautiful in its unwavering spirit and—most of all—its people. My people.

Yusor Abu-Salha, one of the victims of the Chapel Hill shooting, spoke to NPR months before she was murdered. She said, “Growing up in America has been such a blessing, and although in some ways I do stand out … Such as the hijab … there are still so many ways that I feel so embedded in the fabric that is, you know, our culture. And here we’re all one.”

So, the next time you meet a stubborn, obnoxious, fashionable, and egotistical hijabi Muslim like me, don’t judge me by what I wear or what religion I adhere to. Instead, judge me for the beliefs I hold and the actions I take. Try to get to know a fellow Muslim. Education is the eradication of hate. And even if only one person today realizes this, then that is another step away from hate and towards peace.

Cooking with Catherine McCord ’91 https://www.kcdconnections.org/cooking-with-catherine-mccord-91/ Tue, 27 Sep 2016 15:04:36 +0000 https://www.kcdconnections.org/?p=212 Catherine McCord ’91 might be a familiar face if you’re a fan of Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, where she appears regularly as a judge.

Catherine is a culinary school grad, cookbook author, and food blogger who’s also a mom to three children: Kenya (9), Chloe (7), and Gemma (1). Her search for simple, nutritious recipes for her kids was the inspiration for Weelicious.com, which provides parents with fast and easy recipes featuring wholesome, delicious homemade food.

Catherine’s most recent cookbook is Weelicious Lunches: Think Outside the Lunchbox, which provides realistic solutions for time-challenged parents looking to move beyond the standard PB&J school lunch.

Her latest project is One Potato (onepotato.com) the first organic home meal delivery kit for families. One Potato recently expanded into a brand new facility with the goal of being nationwide by 2017.

photo courtesy of The Gold Collective

Bearcat athletics focuses on safe play https://www.kcdconnections.org/bearcat-athletics-focuses-on-safe-play/ Tue, 27 Sep 2016 14:57:36 +0000 https://www.kcdconnections.org/?p=208 Last winter, the star-studded movie Concussion focused public attention on the risks of traumatic head injury in professional football. In the movie, forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu (played by Will Smith) fights to convince the National Football League to accept his research on CTE brain injury in pro football players. The movie helped boost public awareness of concussion-related injuries into the mainstream. Although it focused its attention on the NFL, the issues raised by Concussion affect athletes at all levels of play, including young athletes playing at the middle and upper school levels.

According to Athletic Director Dr. Tim Green, KCD has been well ahead of the curve when it comes to developing programs to prevent and manage concussion-related injuries for athletes in all sports. Dr. Green feels that the Bearcat athletics program already has strong policies in place to keep our athletes safe and said that those policies continue to develop in response to new research and techniques.

Nearly ten years ago, KCD became the first school in Kentucky to embrace a comprehensive concussion program for athletes at all grade levels. This includes a policy that soccer players not begin heading the ball until high school—a policy that exceeds the recommendations issued by US Soccer in 2015.

In the fall of 2015, KCD’s football program adopted rugby-style tackling at all levels of play. This technique teaches the player to tackle with the shoulder instead of the head, eliminating the head contact that can lead to concussions. Rugby tackling was first popularized by the Seattle Seahawks and has since been adopted by many college football programs. The football team worked with a former U of L rugby coach to help develop and implement the new drills and techniques.

The following year, Dr. Green and head varsity football coach Matthew Jones attended the 2016 AFCA conference to learn more about rugby tackling and other alternative approaches. The football team has adopted additional new tackling techniques from Dartmouth football as well as the Practice Like Pros program, which encourages high school coaches to adopt the non-contact practices used by the NFL.

KCD has also implemented policies that safeguard athletes in all sports, such as the ImPACT concussion baseline testing program. This program was introduced under the guidance of certified athletic trainer Ray Hibbert. According to Trainer Ray, the baseline test is an important component of concussion management. The ImPACT test provides a pre-injury snapshot of the athlete, allowing neurologists to compare post-injury test scores to the athlete’s own baseline.

Trainer Ray also helped develop KCD’s return-to-play protocols, which provide a set of structured guidelines to help athletes who have had a concussion return to play safely.

“No sport can guarantee that athletes are completely safe from concussions,” said Coach Jones, “but our goal and our obligation is to get the players to gameday and keep them healthy and safe. Times have changed, skills and drills have evolved, and our program has been ahead of the curve in all aspects to protect our athletes.”

photo by Amber Ritschel ’18

Editor’s Notebook: The Hard Work of Diversity https://www.kcdconnections.org/editors-notebook-the-hard-work-of-diversity/ Tue, 27 Sep 2016 14:52:26 +0000 https://www.kcdconnections.org/?p=206 Jeff TophamLeafing through an old scrapbook the other day, I came across a Courier-Journal article from November, 1982. “Kentucky Country Day pursues a new look,” the headline stated; the article that followed described the school’s efforts to recruit more “minority and middle class students.”

I found this article striking because it’s a snapshot of the moment when KCD, along with many other independent schools across the country, began to push back against the perception that it was there to serve only white, upper-income families.

That push was hardly unique to KCD. For the last 30 years, we—along with many other independent schools—have worked to diversify our student population and create a more thoughtful, welcoming, and inclusive school culture.

By any objective measure, that work has paid off. This fall, the Admissions Office reported that 33 percent of our families self-identified as families of color. If you think back to that 1982 Courier-Journal article, that’s a remarkable success story.

Those numbers only tell part of the story, though. Getting diverse students in the door is one thing; truly meeting their needs in a meaningful way is something else. A truly diverse community requires both dialogue and mutual respect. It means allowing students to affirm their own backgrounds and identities rather than expecting them to simply fit into the status quo. It’s an ongoing learning process that can be challenging and occasionally contentious. It can actually be hard work sometimes. Like many kinds of hard work, however, it’s well worth doing.
There are pragmatic arguments to make, of course. Learning to negotiate a diverse school environment is essential preparation for success in both college and career. Diversity can spur the development of critical thinking by helping students learn to view issues or problems from multiple points of view.

I think that the most important thing that diversity can offer our students is the realization that not everyone is like them; that there are people whose lived experience is different than their own. This is an invaluable opportunity for students to step outside their own lives and recognize that their culture, background, and experience is only one of many possible ways of living. Over the years, I’ve come to believe that this is one of the most enriching experiences people can enjoy. I also believe it’s the starting point for one of the most valuable skills of all: empathy.

Institutions that are committed to the hard work of diversity can occasionally find the process challenging. Members of our community can and will disagree, sometimes strenuously, but as long as there’s trust and mutual respect, we can all pull together to move the institution forward. We may be gay or straight, Christian or Muslim or Jew, black or white or brown. At the end of the day, we are all Bearcats.

Alumni Director’s Letter: Introducing KCD Connect https://www.kcdconnections.org/alumni-directors-letter-introducing-kcd-connect/ Tue, 27 Sep 2016 14:49:55 +0000 https://www.kcdconnections.org/?p=203 It’s been nine months since you last received Connections, and it’s been busy at KCD. School is back in session, and we are off to a great start! The campus is constantly buzzing with activity in the hallways and on the athletic fields. The cast has been selected for the fall play, so even the stage is warming up. I often walk around campus and think about how fortunate our students are to be able to be a part of so many activities. Our students leave KCD as well-rounded young people who have been exposed to many opportunities and experiences that allow them to graduate as strong citizens, scholars, and stewards.

Over these last nine months, the Alumni Office has been busy setting up and launching KCD Connect, our new networking and mentorship platform. KCD Connect is a resource that allows our alumni to develop relationships with members of the KCD community who are willing to offer advice about their careers, their colleges and universities, or even simply about the cities in which they live. It’s about making connections and allowing our community to take advantage of the resources and opportunities that exist right here in the KCD family.

The best networking platforms are those whose membership includes not only older and younger members, but also a good balance of men and women and a wide variety of professions and specialties. Regardless of what your current profession is today, your experience and the story of your career path could be invaluable for those who have questions or are just starting out. Whether you are a KCD graduate, a parent, or a friend of the school, we hope that you will join KCD Connect and share your experience.

To create your KCD Connect profile, please visit connect.kcd.org.

In addition to serving as a great resource for our alumni, KCD Connect also offers event registration. Moving forward, we will be handling registration for KCD events, including reunions, through KCD Connect. Check it out and sign up today!