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August 25, 2008

Alex Loucks '08

I have started my first set of projects at our Eastern Regional Medical Center in Philadelphia, PA.  I am working on the operations side of the hospital in our Rehabilitation Department.  This rotation is used to introduce CTCA Management Fellows to hospital operations and patient experiences.  I will have the opportunity to follow a patient through the individualized treatment schedule to gain an understanding of what the patient deals with day-to-day and how, from a management perspective, this process can be improved.  I will also be able to work with the caregivers, i.e. nurses, doctors, and others, to help improve their process as well as develop and implement new ideas into the treatment process.

My particular rotation in Rehab will be to develop and grow an outpatient rehab program from the ground-up between now and the middle of November. (Just to clear things up, rehab is our name for physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy for our patients.)  In this project I will gain an understanding of the caregiver and patient interaction, the rehab operations, build and develop a working operations program, and manage a section of a department during growth and development.

Along with my operations rotation, I am also completing my Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training.  The project I am doing for my training is in operations as well, and I will be working to optimize space utilization in our Oncology Clinic through changing floor plans, altering schedules, and working with doctors and nurses to develop patient flow plans.  I am really excited about this project because of the level of exposure I will gain from its successful completion and implementation in our hospitals across the enterprise.

(This is a picture of my Management Fellows class taken atop the steps that Sylvester Stallone ran up in “Rocky” in downtown Philadelphia, PA)

So after rambling on about work and the nerdy excitement that I am getting from it, I think I should inject some more exciting things or at least some more about my nonexistent personal life.

Since I have been traveling every week I have not had time to go out in Chicago and see my friends that live here or even meet new friends.  I am currently relying on the people who I am meeting on airplanes to fulfill the role of new people and social entertainment.  My longest lasting airplane connection has been with a woman, about my age, that I met a few weeks ago flying to Philly who has just moved to Chicago.  Unfortunately I haven’t been able to really grow the new friendship because of travel.  It seems pretty sad but my coworkers are doing a good job at stimulating my social life and they have turned into good friends.

Other than the above developments in my life, there hasn’t been a lot that has happened.  I have recently noticed that my life is not in order because I have not had time to get my bank accounts settled, find or purchase various insurance policies, or even clean my apartment appropriately.  But as many people say, “Welcome to the real world!”

I will be updating you all in another month.

August 20, 2008

Brandon Stewart '08

The end of college is hectic time for everyone.  There is just so much to do and so strong a desire to cram as many memories and final moments into the short amount of time that is left.  And while many others at Wabash no doubt had much crazier end-of-the-year schedules, mine was hectic enough for me.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I accepted a position at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a First Amendment watchdog group dedicated to protecting the expressive rights of students and faculty on campus.  (For a short video which briefly explains FIRE's mission and some of our most notorious cases of the past year go here.) 
Due to my start date, I decided to move out to Philadelphia the day after Commencement.  It was a pretty surreal experience boarding that one-way plane for Philadelphia.  It was weird to have to uproot the sense of home and familiarity that had grown up during my years at Wabash and trying to replant myself in a new city, in a new part of the country.  I spent that first week setting up my apartment and getting adjusted to Philadelphia  The next week, I started work and I've been occupied ever since.
The summer has been an unbelievably busy one.  My position is working on the Campus Freedom Network, FIRE's new grassroots college outreach division.  I hit the ground running in May and spent most of my first few weeks preparing for our first annual student conference in downtown Philadelphia.  We hosted roughly 50 college students from all across the United States in a three day, two night conference and spent the time discussing and debating topics ranging from philosophical importance of liberty on campus, tutelage on the practical legal concepts and some time about strategies for making their campuses friendlier to free speech.  Throughout the conference, students heard from FIRE staffers and noted free speech scholars such as FIRE Co-Founder Harvey Silverglate, Senior Counsel Steve Aden of the Alliance Defense Fund, Stanford Law Professor Derek Shaffer and Professor of Brooklyn College and author KC Johnson.
The summer is typically a time where employees catch up on their work and get important long-term projects accomplished.  I have to admit to being both apprehensive and excited at seeing how we can get much more busy than we already are.
There have been a number of highlights of the summer, but perhaps notable was when we helped put to rest a case at IUPUI where a student was initially accused of racial harassment by the college's Affirmative Action Office for reading a book. Never mind that the book was Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan, a story with an inspiring and decidedly anti-racist message.  We have also kept up our pressure at Colorado College and Brandeis University.  Those interested can read about those incredible stories here and here.  And as we head into the school year, the office is currently celebrating DeJohn vs. Temple University a major victory for free speech out of the Third Circuit.
I often felt in my first month like I didn't have time to breathe since I was so busy moving in, learning my job and generally trying to get adjusted to a new life.  That said, I had the opportunity to come up for air such as it was in late June when one of my pledge brothers, Nick Lyons '08 got married.  It was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate their happy day and a great excuse only a few weeks out of school to get everyone back together.  As you can see from the picture, the entire pledge class made it back, with some traveling as far as Texas and (ahem) Philadelphia.  It was so great to see everyone because although technology makes it so much easier to stay in touch, there is nothing quite like hanging out with good, familiar friends in person.  I am already looking forward to my next visit back to Indiana.  I'll be back in October for another wedding and, of course, the 2008 Monon Bell game where Wabash will reclaim the bell from the school down south.  While we've appreciated them holding on to it for us, we will need it back come November.
Fourth of July was an exciting time to be in Philadelphia. It was especially great to have the opportunity to spend the weekend with a friend who graduated this May from Purdue, one of her coworkers, and Lincoln Smith '08. Lincoln is currently pursuing the MD/PhD program at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Princeton.  It was nice to hang out with familiar friends during my first holiday in a new town.
Among the most eventful events for me so far this summer happened at 5AM on a Monday morning when I woke to the sound of the apartment's fire alarms blaring.  To be honest, my initial thought was that I was back at the Beta house and someone had pulled the fire alarm.  That misconception, thankfully, was fleeting and I quickly got dressed, gathered up my wallet, phone and keys and headed down the stairs.  I'm on the eleventh floor, which is great for insulating yourself from the noise of downtown Philadelphia, but (unsurprisingly) can be quite a haul when you have to rush down the stairs at the crack of dawn.  I was only able to make down to the third floor before I was caught up by residents shuffling back up the stairs yelling "Fire!" Thankfully we were able to make it down the fire escape without any problems and the fire department came quickly thereafter. Ironically, the shirt I threw on in my blurry-eyed shuffle was one for work with the FIRE logo emblazoned on front.  That earned me a few suspicious stares from some residents no doubt wondering in passing whether I might be a particularly shameless arsonist. 
Unfortunately the day continued on a downward spiral when, at 7AM, there was still no word about when we would be able to return to the apartment.  Apparently the elevators in the lobby had caught on fire and had been gushing out flames into the stairs on the second and third floors.  No one from the management company to the fire marshal was able to give this blurry-eyed Wally a specific timeframe.  I decide to just head over to work early and since we didn't get the "all clear" until 5PM, I ended up spending the whole day in a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops. Not exactly how I would prefer to spend a day at work.
Although the fire probably wins for the craziest part of my summer, the most random by far came a few weeks later when I met a girl who not only knew of Wabash (and Indiana – a double threat!) but had several family members who attended Wabash. I had gone to see the new Batman movie with a group from church and we had gone out afterwards.  During the conversation, the fact that I had moved from Indiana came up and after a few rounds of questions, I discovered that this woman had a Wabash connection of her own.  It turns out that the young lady was the daughter of John C. Schroeder '69, whose son Scott is featured on the Wabash website as part of the "39 under 39" series.  A pretty amazing coincidence I thought.
These last few weeks have not slowed down much although I feel very much "at home" in my new life and am looking forward to the start of the school year, and accordingly, the start to a number of exciting projects at work. Just as boarding that one-way flight to Philadelphia was a considerable mile marker, I fully expect these next few weeks to be similarly strange as everyone at Wabash goes back to school – minus my classmates and me.  Although different, I am as excited as I was a few months ago about discovering what lies ahead and meeting those new adventures head on.

August 06, 2008

Alex Loucks '08

2 August 2008

The last time I wrote was back in mid-July before I had started working and after I had helped build a house in Montana.  Now, it is the beginning of August and I have been working for a month with Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA).  Even though I have been working this long, I haven’t really started a project nor done much of any work.  We, the Management Fellows, have been in a month long orientation learning the ins-and-outs of the enterprise and how the hospitals function.

Before I dive into what is going on at work, I should update everyone on my personal and social activities or lack thereof.

When I wrote in June I was confident I had found an apartment with a great price and in a good location.  But, as the move-in date of July 1 quickly approached I became less confident.  On the 28th of June I received a call from my future landlord that I wasn’t able to move because the previous tenants had not yet moved out, and they where not going to be leaving until the end of July.  So as any new college grad would do when they are getting ready to move to a new city to start a new life, I decided I would pack the essentials (my suits, shirts, a few casual clothes, and other necessities) into my car and head to the Chicago area a day before work started and basically live out of my car.  This turned out to be quite an adventure.

For the past month I have been sleeping in hotels and on friends’ couches until I can move into the apartment on the 2nd of August, which happens to be today.  This actually worked out pretty well and I have been able to save a little money to avoid borrowing to get started on the right foot.  Many of you probably wonder how I have time to write this on moving day, well I am currently on a 4-hour flight returning to Chicago-O’Hare at 7:00pm tonight.  Upon my return I will be calling my landlord to meet at the apartment for the keys and move into my apartment without furniture.  Because of this, I will be sleeping in my own place in a sleeping bag for the next week until I can return to my parents to actually move all of my stuff.  After returning with my furniture from my parents, I am planning on dropping it in my apartment and head to Philadelphia for the next 3 months for work.

Other than the hick-ups with my apartment, I really haven’t had anytime to start a social life in the Chicago area or have much of a personal life.  My current personal life has consisted of work events and co-workers, but I’m not complaining too much.

4 August 2008--Continuation…..

So far I have spent 2 nights in my new apartment and things are going well.  I haven’t had time to really check the building out because I am now sitting in an airport with a delayed flight.  If you don’t like airports or airplanes don’t take a job with a large travel aspect!

Currently, I am having fun jetting around learning about the different parts of the organization.  I have also had the opportunity to meet many key people in the organization.  Other than this I have not been able to accomplish much at work besides meeting many people and learning vital information for the growth and success of our company.  I do not have much else to write on but hopefully I will be able to add more detail and specifics later this month when I have a little more time.

I’ll be writing again soon.  Hopefully I will be able to include more detail and some exciting new adventures besides airplanes and airports!