It’s not easy being an educator of America’s future. “I work with over 150 adults every day who go home exhausted, because they are doing everything they can to reach and teach children,” says Freedom Siyam ’00.
Siyam is the principal of Balboa High School in San Francisco’s Excelsior district. “This area is the last bastion of the working class family in the city,” he says. All over the Bay Area, rents and home prices have skyrocketed as Silicon Valley has swollen and high-paid tech workers price people out of their neighborhoods.
“Regardless of what district, our families are educationally underserved,” Siyam says. “There’s … » More …
Master storyteller James Thayer turns in another winner with House of 8 Orchids. In Chungking in the early twentieth century, Chinese gangsters snatch the two sons of a diplomat—John, five, and his brother William, two—from the care of their amah.
Fast forward to the 1930s. War with Japan is heating up. The boys, now men, have been raised in the eponymous House to … » More …
The dream of a little boy to become a cowboy came true for Dan McLachlan. He read a 1927 text, All in the Day’s Riding, as an eighth-grader in Palo Alto, California, and became enamored with the vision of a wide blue sky viewed from horseback. After earning enough to buy two horses and tack, he eventually ended up in Montana for … » More …
Jason Chan ’99 had to travel roughly 10,000 miles to satisfy a childhood curiosity. “I grew up in Singapore and the rate of urbanization is incredible there,” explains Chan. Interested in engineering and design, “architecture felt like a natural step.”
Chan, who specializes in medical and research facility architecture, first pursued his passion in Pullman. “I definitely had to look at architectural history and design studies with critiques. (Being a Cougar) helped me develop design skills,” Chan says.
Now a principal and regional leader for the research sector at Perkins+Will in Houston, Texas, his design prowess is on full display in concrete ways.
When Ana Cabrera ’04 first set foot on Washington State University’s Pullman campus in 2000, she had no idea she’d be live on national television in 17 years.
She didn’t know she’d go on to work as a weekend anchor for CNN and live in New York City. She was unaware that she’d cover major stories like riots in Ferguson, marijuana legalization, and immigration—or that her life would soon be at the 24/7 mercy of the “news gods.” And she certainly couldn’t predict that the president of the United States would call her and her fellow journalists the “enemy.”
“Fiction is a document of trouble,” says novelist James Thayer ’71. The trouble began for Thayer as a teenager reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula on his father’s wheat farm in Almira.
“The narrator sees the Count leap to a window frame—and then crawl down the exterior of the castle wall like a lizard!” Thayer exclaims. “That scene scared me to death! It was a revelation as to the power of fiction.”
Now, decades later, the Seattle-based author of 14 novels teaches fiction writing through the University of Washington’s continuing education program.
“The main thing that keeps people from writing a novel is that it … » More …
What began as a way to avoid going stir crazy while recuperating from a nearly fatal equestrian accident has become an award-winning western genre trilogy that blends suspenseful mystery and the allure of lost fortunes with good old-fashioned frontier fortitude.
Landscape architect STEPHEN B. SMART ’75 calls himself an unlikely novelist. He’s spent most of his life outdoors, designing everything from elaborate gardens and water features to a driveway gate cleverly concealed to appear as a fallen ponderosa pine. And in his free time, he’s more likely to be found atop a favorite mule exploring the Pacific Northwest backcountry than sitting at a keyboard … » More …
James Thayer ‘71 reads the first chapter of his romantic comedy, The Boxer and the Poet.
Tips and Techniques
Thayer started teaching the craft of the novel about ten years ago as a creative writing instructor at the University of Washington. He’s also a regular contributor to Author magazine.
Thayer, a natural storyteller, absorbed his craft through his lifelong voracious reading habit. When he first got the teaching job, he realized he didn’t have enough to say to fill a 90-hour, year-long course. So, as is his wont, he read a bunch of books. … » More …
Steve Smart ’75 had spent much of the hot summer day making the rounds of the various landscaping and construction projects his company had underway throughout the Inland Northwest.
Back at his office atop a commercial nursery just outside Spokane, he agreed to take a break and read a selection from his first novel, Whispers of the Greybull. He’d have preferred to stay out on the work sites but got cleaned up and took a seat.