While 24 below zero may seem too cold for some, Karel Anne Berry Tieszen ’83 found warm Austin College hearts while in Alaska for the Iditarod, “The Last Great Race.” She volunteered at the event, serving as a ‘Certified Dog Handler’ at the ceremonial start in Anchorage. She and five other handlers had an additional leash attached to the team of 16 dogs, and ran with them about five blocks from the staging area up to the starting chute.
Due to a lack of snow, the official timed re-start of the Iditarod was moved from its traditional spot near Anchorage to Fairbanks, six hours north. The morning of the race was a brisk minus 7 before wind chill. Karel Anne was stationed about 300 yards past the starting chute to regulate people crossing the race path as they prepared to cheer on mushers. Her day began about 7:30 a.m., and the last musher left the gate and cleared her station about 12:50 p.m. When they passed by, she could see the dogs and musher had found their stride, with big happy smiles as they went whizzing past.
When Karel Anne knew she would travel to Alaska, she perused the online alumni directory to see what alumni might live there and sent postcards and emails to some. A cheery answer came from Greg ’74 and Clare (Thurmond) Hill ’75, pictured, with Karel Anne, who live just outside Fairbanks. Greg shared that he was involved in getting the soccer program at the College organized, but graduated before getting to play more than a club sport. Karel Anne delivered a College jersey courtesy of Athletics and shared a warm evening with the couple.
“The ‘Austin College effect’ of feeling you know someone even before you meet them is such a solid part of our alumni base,” Karel Anne said. “That instant connection and shared history are some of my favorite things about Austin College. You just never know where you will find a ’Roo!”
Texas Rising Stars
Many Austin College alumni are named to Texas Super Lawyers listings each year. For 2015, three representatives of those alumni are listed as “Rising Stars” in the profession. For consideration as Rising Stars, individuals must be either 40 years old or younger or in practice for 10 years or less. While up to 5 percent of the lawyers in a state are named to Super Lawyers, no more than 2.5 percent are named to Rising Stars. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations, and peer evaluations.
Brandy Baxter-Thompson ’98, also in the 2014 list, joined the law firm of Calloway, Norris, Burdette, and Weber in 2012 and was board-certified in estate planning and probate. She has written articles and made presentations for various continuing education programs, including “To Probate or Not to Probate,” presented at the Intermediate Estate Planning and Probate Seminar in Houston, Texas, and at the Tarrant County Probate Bar Association Nuts and Bolts Seminar in 2013. She also wrote and presented “Standing Issues in Probate and Guardianship” at the Tarrant County Probate Litigation Seminar in September 2014.
Jack Skaggs ’98, also a 2014 honoree, is a partner in the Austin, Texas, office of Jackson Walker law firm. He practices general commercial litigation, with an emphasis on insurance defense, real estate litigation, administrative law, creditor rights, and health care law. He earned his law degree, with honors, from Baylor Law School, where he was technical editor on the Baylor Law Review and was a member of the mock trial team.
Lindley Bain ’02, honored for five consecutive years, joined the GoransonBain family law firm in 2007. She also was included in The 2015 Best Lawyers in America listing in the field of family law. Board certified in family law, Lindsey opened the firm’s Austin office, which she heads, in 2013. She received an MBA and her law degree from Southern Methodist University in 2007. She is a member of the Austin Bar Association, Austin Young Lawyers Association, Collaborative Professionals of Dallas, Annette Stewart Inn of Court, Mac Taylor Inn of Court, State Bar of Texas, Family Law Section Dallas Bar Association, Dallas Association of Young Lawyers, Collin County Bar Association, and the Collaborative Law Institute of Texas.
’Roos Working for the Environment—and the Future
A 2011 discussion of how to use the Great Trinity Forest for environmental education for children morphed into a vision for an environmentally focused charter school—and Trinity Environmental Academy was born. The school’s five-member board of directors went to work, developing a strong partnership with Paul Quinn College—and ultimately being awarded one of five 19th Generation charters by the Texas Education Agency.
The president and secretary of the board of directors were primed to take on ambitious challenges—using their Austin College educations. However, Jennifer Hoag Maylee ’03, president, and secretary Dhriti Pandya Stocks ’09 didn’t know of their ’Roo connection until long after the initial meetings. Both women are committed to improving educational outcomes in North Texas, especially in the highest-need areas, and both were drawn to Trinity Environmental Academy’s vision because of the hands-on, interdisciplinary focus.
Jennifer’s decade-long career as an educator, instructional coach, and charter school administrator and Dhriti’s strong track record in fundraising for important local nonprofits were valuable as they began working with their fellow board members to ready Trinity Environmental Academy for its first day with students on August 6, 2015. Jennifer left the board to serve as chief academic officer for the school, which will be housed at Paul Quinn College, with access to the forest and room to grow from the initial 228 kindergarten- through sixth-grade scholars to a K-12 school. The school’s supporters hope to achieve recognition as a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Designated School by the 2019-2020 school year. The board seeks volunteers, students, donors, and teachers, and Jennifer and Dhriti would love to see other ’Roos join the effort.
By Mike Sinclair ’16
Dr. Olivia Carleo Eklund ’04 and Dr. Anita Carleo Jones ’07 opened their private practice optometry clinic, Vision Veritas, in December 2014. They explained that veritas is Latin for truth and that through clear vision, they believe their patients can see the “truth of what our inspiring world has to offer.” Both sisters studied biology at Austin College, furthering their love of optics and the medical aspects of optometry—and both graduated from the University of Houston College of Optometry. They chose optometry because that healthcare field allows continuing interaction with patients and the ability to make a true difference in patient lives, but also offers the sisters the flexibility to enjoy careers and families. After working for other optometrists, Olivia and Anita decided to go into business together; they built their practice from the ground up, literally. They purchased the land and created plans for the building, a process that took almost two years. For Anita and Olivia, the appeal of optometry is its blend of science—treating and managing diseases of the eye as well as vision correction—and fashion. Vision Veritas functions as both a medical office and a source for frames of many shapes and styles. It’s amazing, Olivia said, that a single pair of glasses can change a person’s whole life. Vision Veritas occupies a single suite of the building, providing space for a small medical complex in the future, and is located on Prestonwood Boulevard in Dallas. Olivia and her husband, Joseph Eklund ’04 have a baby daughter, Lucia. Anita lives with her husband Brad Jones ’08.
By Mike Sinclair ’16
John Warren ’07 is the CEO of Minicore Studios, a small, independent video game production company. Initially, John considered a career in psychology but internships in the field led him to rethink his career path. Too, he was encouraged by his professors to strive for his passion: game design. After graduating from Austin College, John completed his master’s degree in digital media management at St. Edward’s University. He then worked for several media companies, but found that most of the creative input—the aspect of game design that most inspired him—came from those in higher positions. Eventually, John decided to start his own company, Minicore Studios, in Austin.
Minicore Studios produces games that are “platform agnostic,” meaning that the games can be for computers, video game consoles, and even mobile phones. Every game idea at Minicore Studios is internal; ideas are created by employees rather than being outsourced as at some companies. All Minicore Studios games are made from start to finish, and almost every part of the company is located in Texas. Finally, games from Minicore Studios have storydriven experiences with rich characters and settings. To John, a powerful story in a game is important. He said many people neglect to appreciate stories in games, but he feels that a good story can increase a person’s sense of self in a game and cause the player to care about characters he or she controls. “When a player is more engaged in the story, that player will be more engaged in the game,” John said, adding that a story in a game can be just as valuable an experience as watching a movie or reading a book, and allows the player to see the characters from different perspectives. John lives in Austin, Texas.
Congratulations, 2015 Legends Honorees!
Athletic Hall of Honor Inductees
Cory Hailey ’01
Football | Associate Principal, Lake Dallas High School | Lantana, Texas
Dennis Kelly ’06
Baseball | Junior Varsity Coach, St. Mark’s School of Texas | Plano, Texas
Matthew Kyle ’88
Football | Attorney, Kyle Law Firm | New Braunfels, Texas
Rick Page ’71
Football | Retired Athletic Director | Bryan, Texas
Kedric Couch Alumni Coach of the Year
Jeff Riordan ’01
Head Football Coach | Crosby (Texas) High School
Coach Joe Spencer Award for Meritorious Service and Lifetime Achievement in Coaching
Don Newsom ’64 of McKinney, Texas, was a standout athlete at Austin College as a four-year letterman and co-captain of the baseball team, a three-year letterman in football, and a letterman in track. Don’s coaching career began in Honey Grove ISD and continued to advance; he served as athletic director and head football coach at several Texas high schools. He also was an assistant football and head baseball coach at Austin College, then assistant athletics director and head football coach at McMurry University. He continued his career at Conroe ISD as head coach, district athletic director, and assistant superintendent, then was named superintendent for Celina ISD.
A Golden Anniversary
Members of the Class of 1965, pictured here with Austin College President Marjorie Hass, returned to Austin College in May in celebration of the 50th anniversary of their Austin College graduation and for induction into the Golden ’Roo Society, alumni who graduated 50 or more years ago. They received anniversary diplomas from President Hass, toured campus, heard from current students, led the procession into Baccalaureate, attended Commencement, and had plenty of time for reminiscing. Get a closer look at this photo—and find identifications plus more photos—see the Austin College Goldenroos webpage. Also find memories shared at the “Walk Down Memory Lane” session, compiled by Drs. Jerry Lincecum and Peggy Redshaw, retired faculty and honorary Golden ’Roos.
Honoring 50 Years at the Bar
Buck Files ’60 recently learned that he was one of six lawyers and judges to receive the Texas Bar Foundation’s 2015 Outstanding 50-Year Lawyer Award, which recognizes attorneys whose practice spans 50 years or more and who adhere to the highest principles of the profession and service to the public. “I was both surprised and honored to receive this award,” Files said. “For 52 years, I have loved the legal profession and the practice of law—and I will continue to do so. A day as a lawyer is a glorious day … every day a holiday, every meal a banquet. It’s like Sunday on the farm, just another picnic.”
His 52-year legal career has been an interesting one—spanning successful prosecution at the first general court martial convened by the Marine Corps in Vietnam in 1965 to serving on the appellate team that prevailed for their client at the Supreme Court of the United States in 2014.
A charter member of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, he also is an inductee into the association’s Hall of Fame. He was a member of the charter class to be certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Files is only the second criminal defense lawyer to serve as president of the State Bar of Texas in its 75-year history. The Criminal Justice Section of the State Bar named him Defense Lawyer of the Year in 2004 and presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
He and his wife, Robyn (McChesney) ’62 will celebrate 53 years of marriage this fall.
Of Special Note: Files is the only Austin College alumnus to receive this prestigious 50-Year Award or to serve as president of the State Bar of Texas.
Alumni Networking Creates Dream Internship
Honing her talents in campus productions, she was selected to the prestigious Powerhouse Theater Training Program at Vassar College one summer and admitted to Stella Adler Summer Conservatory in New York the next.
Back on campus in fall 2014, Anika directed a full-length play for Homecoming—and loved the experience. “I couldn’t wait a whole semester to get out into the real world—and then I discovered I had only .75 credits to complete, so I didn’t have to wait,” she said, having arranged a Directed Study to fulfill the credits. With help from Austin College theatre faculty Kirk Everist, Kathleen Campbell, and Liz Banks, and from Kim Powers ’79, whom she had met in New York, she sought new possibilities—and found them in London with Allen Liedke ’03.
Allen, too, had a love of theatre—since, at 7, he played the rambunctious church mouse in a Christmas play. He, too, was active in theatre at Austin College, and upon graduating, headed to graduate school in London. He made his professional debut at The Old Vic in Bristol in October 2003; that exposure caused his career to take off, including acting alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in Body of Lies. Then came an audition with Actorshop for a corporate role-play job—and that changed Allen’s life. Actorshop has multiple branches—an agency representing actors and artists, drama-based professional development programs for companies and schools, and TV and film production. Allen now is a director of Actorshop and upon meeting Anika, couldn’t say no to the internship Kathleen Campbell had asked him to consider.
Anika was already in London for January Term, thanks to a Stephens International Scholarship; when the course ended, she headed to Actorshop and myriad exciting opportunities. Busy weeks in London flew by, and soon Anika was back in Texas on a different sort of stage to receive her Austin College diploma. After graduation, she headed to New York City, anxious for new adventures in theatre.
Anika recalls first seeking out theatre opportunities at Austin College. “I was welcomed with open arms,” she said. “Whether you were involved in theatre in high school or not, if you have an interest, the Austin College Theatre Department will take you in. It’s possible; it’s fun; and it’s life-changing.”
Anika Nichols-Payne—Jayne C. Chamberlin Fellowship in Communication Arts, Stephens International Studies Scholarship