The Magazine of the University of Minnesota Duluth
THE POWERFUL PULL of a dynamic campus
Five students bring talent, intellect and enthusiasm to scholarship at UMD
The undergraduate and graduate programs at UMD continue to exert their magnetic force, drawing exceptional students to the campus. In this issue of the Bridge, we profile five students who were attracted to this environment of excellence.
When Hazel Richmond was just five years old, her uncle taught her
how to dive and snorkel from the shore. As she grew up, she spent
more time on his fishing boat in the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Cod,
going out for up to a month at a time.
From these first encounters with the ocean, Richmond has developed
a connection to the water that goes beyond simple enjoyment. She feels
a deep concern for the ocean fishing industry that is a way of life
for many families in New England. With Newfoundlands cod industry
nearly coming to a halt in 1992 because of a lack of fish and drastic
reductions of fish populations in New England and Europe, the industry
has been in the forefront of peoples minds.
Richmonds uncle chose to leave the fishing business when his
small lobster operation, with under 300 traps, proved to be economically
unsustainable. He was faced with price fluctuations and environmental
disasters such as the red-claw disease, which affected lobster. Scientists,
conservationists, and anglers alike, like Richmonds uncle, are
struggling to find a balance between the demands of the fishing industry
and the survival of fish species.
These experiences have led Richmond to dedicate her life to a deeper
understanding of aquatic life interactions beneath the waters
surface. She graduated in 1998 from the University of Massachusetts
with a degree in Biology, and went on to explore the field of mariculture,
or the cultivation of saltwater life in its natural habitat. In the
summers, she taught Marine Biology and other courses at the Childrens
School of Science in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. In 1999, she also
took a position as an assistant animal care technician at the Marine
Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. While there, Richmond assisted
veterinarians in establishing animal care protocols as well as administering
disease treatments and caring for the animals day to day needs.
During her time at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Richmond met
Allen Mensinger, assistant professor of Biology at UMD. When she decided
to continue her education, UMD was a logical choice. I dont
think I would have made it if I was completely landlocked, she
said. While over a thousand miles from an ocean, the Lake Superior
shore and the land of 10,000 lakes has provided new and unique opportunities
for Richmond to study the interaction of aquatic life in a smaller
environment. In addition to its natural setting, Richmond was drawn
to UMDs Large Lakes Observatory, the Blue Heron research vessel,
Minnesota Sea Grant, the Natural Resources Research Institute, and
scientists in a number of fields with a special interest in fresh
Taking advantage of the opportunity to explore her own interests,
Richmond has combined two areas of study fish physiology and
ecology to form a single thesis research project. With two
separate fields coming together into one, she has the benefit of two
advisors during her research Allen Mensinger and Thomas Hrabik,
both assistant professors of biology.
Beginning her research, Richmond spent the summer at Trout Lake Field
Station in northern Wisconsin, collecting not only fish, but also
daphnia, the food they thrive on. She joined other graduate students
utilizing this facility and often recruited help in her gathering
process. Some mornings she rowed herself onto the lake to collect
fish on her own. Originally intending to collect the native yellow
perch and the exotic rainbow smelt, Richmond was disappointed to find
that unusual weather had decreased the smelt population so dramatically
that she could not gather enough for her research. With minor modifications,
she focused her research on two native fish yellow perch and
After creating an intricate system of tanks with a self-contained
rotating water supply, Richmond began her research. Separating one
fish from the group, she adjusted the amount of light in the tank
and added daphnia. She said, My favorite part of the research
is that Im able to study live, healthy fish. Her goal
is to measure the reaction distance between the fish and its prey
under a specific light condition.
Now in her second year at UMD, Richmond has 40 videotapes of reactions,
each of which she watches frame by frame in order to pinpoint the
moment the fish reacted. When she has completed this part of the project,
she will analyze the data and report her overall findings.
With plans to be finished in the spring, Richmond is looking forward
to returning home with her new-found knowledge. She has not decided
where this knowledge will take her, however. One possibility is working
for the whale survey effort, which would entail spending months at
a time on the Atlantic Ocean. She may also be able to offer a new
perspective in the controversy surrounding the New England fishing
industry and declining populations.
While she is excited to return to the ocean, Duluth has gained a
special place in her heart. Im going to have a hard time
going to the East Coast where its more populated, she
said. Its really special that there is so much wildlife
around Duluth . . . . and Im going to miss it.
her African heritage, Kumoji offers a unique perspective on art, but
Ida Kumoji, a student in UMDs Master of Fine Arts in Graphic
Design program, is bringing tales about Ananse the spider from Ghana
to Duluth. One of Kumojis projects is to illustrate the Ananse
folk tales that have entertained children in Ghana for generations.
She hopes that with her illustrations, she can cross cultural boundaries
to share African wisdom with children of all backgrounds.
One story she is working on is Ananse and the Wisdom Pot.
Its a simple story but its packed with meaning. She told
the story using just a few sentences. Ananse was a wise old
spider and people came from every corner of the land to gain wisdom
from him. One day, hoping to hide his wisdom from the rest of the
world, Ananse placed all of his wisdom in a pot, tied the pot in front
of him and climbed a tall tree. As he was climbing, his son saw Ananse
struggling with the pot tied to his front and suggested that he tie
the pot to his back. Startled that his son had wisdom that he did
not, Ananse dropped the pot and the wisdom spread throughout the world.
Kumoji said Every Ghanaian elementary student reads about Ananse
as a way to learn about Ghanas history. Ananses
behavior is human but he has the form of a spider and lives in a community
of animals. He is considered to be wise and cunning, but the spider
trickster also teaches the values of the society. Lessons are found
in the stories especially when Ananse is motivated by greed and takes
inappropriate advantage of others. At the end of such a tale, like
Ananse and the Wisdom Pot, Ananse is shamed.
The Ananse stories come from the Ashanti community, who inhabit the
rain forest of Central Ghana. Due to the density of the rain forest,
the Ashanti are protected from the influences of modernization. Kumoji
said that in Central Ghana, many traditional aspects of life
are maintained to this day.
Ananse and the Wisdom Pot teaches children to share their
knowledge and that is exactly what Kumoji is doing in Duluth. She
first came to the United States in 1997 to attend the College of St.
Catherine in St. Paul. She used her background in traditional media
artwork and her new computer-aided and digitally based skills to achieve
her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture and Graphic Design.
While studying at St. Catherines, Kumoji visited Duluth. She
said, The way the city was situated on the hillside overlooking
the water reminded me of the town where I went to boarding school.
The beauty and familiarity of Duluth drew Kumoji north.
After finishing at St. Catherines, Kumoji worked as a freelance
graphic designer. One of her first jobs was to design the 2001-2002
Academic Handbook for the College of St. Catherine. She also took
on other freelance opportunities, including creating a logo, stationery
and a graphic design plan for a new lawn care company. After a year,
however, Kumoji wanted to further her education, and UMD provided
her the opportunity.
Now in her first year, Kumoji is enjoying UMD. She appreciates the
personal attention she gets from staff and faculty. She also has the
opportunity to return personal attention to the students she teaches
in her Introduction to Art class. With her African heritage, Kumoji
offers a unique perspective on art but its research and preparation
that make her successful in the classroom. As an instructor,
it is important to answer any question a student brings to me. At
least, I want to be able to tell them where the answer can be found,
she said. My base of knowledge is growing as I prepare to teach
Like Ananse, Ida Kumoji is sure to touch many people with her unique
wisdom and experiences in the years to come.
Shelley Christie traded the historic Sproul Plaza at University of
California, Berkeley for the Ordean Court at UMD, and shes happy
she did it. Well, maybe the Minnesota cold weather part isnt
the greatest, she said, but the training in business and
computers will set me up for a career.
Christie studied English literature at UC, Berkeley, and appreciated
her studies for the sheer beauty of the field. However, after she
graduated, she felt that a job as a writer didnt suit
me for a career.
When Christies father took a job in Plymouth, Minnesota, Christie
started searching for extra training nearby, and found what she was
looking for at UMD. People say hello to me in the grocery store.
Its like a small town here; all of my professors remember my
name, she said.
Sharon Torrison, assistant dean for student affairs in the School
of Business and Economics office, helped Christie pick her classes.
Sharon noticed that I didnt have many computer skills
during our first meeting. I didnt even know much about the internet.
But that all changed in Christies first class. She went from
learning e-mail to creating computer programs in a couple of months.
The UMD accounting program has been a good move for Christie. Making
it through financial accounting and managerial accounting has paid
off. Christie signed up for job interviews during a recent Career
Services Job Fair. Accounting firms and other employers from across
the Midwest pre-selected who they would interview. I received
a 3.7 grade point average last semester and have been on the Deans
Honor Role for four semesters, and that might have made a difference
in meeting recruiters, she said. Christie had five interviews
at the fall Job Fair and two of the five recruiters made job offers.
I couldnt have done it without some wonderful people
at UMD. she said. Both UMD Career Services and the Accounting
Department staff took a real interest in seeing us succeed.
Christie has landed a paid internship at McGladrey & Pullen next
spring. Its a great opportunity to work with a local CPA
firm and gain real tax preparation experience, she said. She
also accepted a paid internship at Honeywell for the summer of 2003.
She said, I havent made that much money since a summer
job I had driving a forklift.
In todays competitive job market, internships will make a difference
in whether a student will land a full-time permanent job after graduation.
Christie said she found a balance between something she loves doing
and something that will get her a job. She said, My degree in
English literature enriches my entire life, but my degree in business
gives me the chance to work with people and help out. It feels great
to be needed.
native people share struggles over land rights and educational opportunities.
. . What she learns at UMD will help her to better represent
When Maggie Cho was a child in Laguna, a village in the mountains
of Belize, harvesting rice was a family project. Her parents would
wake the children for a 4 a.m. walk to their rice field and give each
child a bundle of rice to carry on the two mile walk home. Only then
would Chos brothers and sisters get ready for school. When classes
let out, the children would join Chos mother and father, who
had been cutting and bundling rice during the day, to bring another
In the rural community of Laguna, Maya people have lived on the land
for generations. Cho says that the people of her village still use
the land in traditional ways. They farm, hunt, and fish; they
save certain land for gathering medicine, and designate other
land for homes. They share the land to ensure the survival of the
community. It is a rain forest jungle, with huge old trees, covered
in vines, orchids, and innumerable plant species. According to Cho,
subsistence farming sustains them and their reliance on
the rain forest helps to maintain a beautiful and culturally rich
But that way of life is threatened, and the threat is part of Chos
story. The land surrounding Laguna, while managed by the village,
is owned by the Belizean government. Not recognizing any legal land
rights of the Maya people, the government has granted almost 10 percent
of the countrys total land area to long-term logging concessions.
Cho said, Some members of the community go to work for these
companies, but others try to continue the way of life they have always
known. This struggle has divided communities and created hardships
for everyone within them. The companies are even violating the
generous terms of the agreement by clear cutting, cutting more trees
than allowed and destroying streams and wildlife habitat. Cho said
that it is a difficult issue to fight, The government will only
stop companies if someone can prove that it has broken the specific
guidelines of its contract.
And someone did. That someone was Maggie Chos husband, Julian
Cho. He was a friend of UMD English Professor Linda Miller-Cleary,
who went to Belize in 1998 to conduct a study on the literacy of indigenous
people. She interviewed Julian Cho and seven other teachers at Toledo
Community College in Punta Gorda. Miller-Cleary said, I realized
then that Julian Cho was both a remarkable person and the spokesperson
for the Maya people with the Belizean government. I had tremendous
respect for him and arranged for him to talk with other indigenous
people at the International Literacy Conference in Bordeaux, France.
Julian Cho helped the Maya people file a lawsuit seeking recognition
of their land rights against the government of Belize. The lawsuit
declared the logging licenses a violation of rights, which caused
damage to the environment. It sought to cancel logging and other resource
extraction in Maya aboriginal lands and to give Maya leadership negotiation
rights. He was killed on his way home from a late night meeting.
Before his death, Julian encouraged his wife Maggie to get a graduate
education. She said she was always supported in her efforts to go
to school, by her family when she was growing up and later, by her
husband. When other young girls of 12 and 13 were leaving school
to start families, my parents encouraged me to continue my education.
That meant Maggie Cho had to go to a government operated high school
in Punta Gorda, the city that was nearest to her village.
Cho received her undergraduate degree in Belize and became a social
worker. Belize has the same problems unemployment, crime,
alcohol abuse, domestic violence that the rest of the world
has, she said. But Cho realized she needed an advanced degree
and sophisticated training in order to make more of an impact. I
feel that Ive been called, she said. With no graduate
social work program in Belize, Cho had to look for this opportunity
in another country and because of Miller-Clearys connection
with Julian, Cho became interested in UMD.
Miller-Cleary and another UMD faculty member, Helen Mongan-Rallis,
initiated a UMD student teaching program in Belize. This will be the
fourth year that students from UMD go to Belize, and they hope to
place students soon in the secondary school near the Maya village
that has been named after Julian Cho.
After her husbands death, Chos parents offered to care
for their grandchildren, Chos two children, so Cho could pursue
her social work degree. When Cho made the difficult decision to leave
Belize, Miller-Cleary and the College of Education and Human Service
Professions made the transition to UMD easy. Everyone was helpful,
Cho said. They offered me a Graduate Teaching Assistant Award
and my professors have been really, really understanding. Now
in her second year, Cho is planning on graduating in May 2003. She
has been the teaching assistant in the Race, Class and Gender course
as well as the Global Issues course.
Of course, so much of the culture is different, Cho said
of Duluth. Despite these differences, she has found similarities that
cross the boundaries of the two countries. She has found a connection
with Minnesotas Native American population. She said, All
native people share struggles over land rights and educational opportunities.
It has helped me to learn about the strategies and issues of U.S.
indigenous people. Cho understands the importance of the competence
she is gaining. What she learns at UMD will help her to better represent
her people in Belize. Miller-Cleary believes Cho can do it. She said,
Maggie Cho is a wonderful woman: bright, strong, articulate,
personable, and very caring. I feel she will be a real leader for
With only a semester left at UMD, Cho is anxious to return home.
She is excited to see her children again, now ages eight and four.
As the first woman from her village to come this far, she is looking
forward to helping young people get involved in change. People
have great expectations of me when I go back, and I look forward to
the challenge, she said.
felt he was able to form a bond with the hunters through a mutual
respect for their dogs, and in the process, he learned something of
the overall history, culture, and language of the
Willis Tompkins was reviewing graduate programs to find one that
would match his particular interests. Hes interested in American
Indian culture, and UMD turned up in his survey of universities. Tompkins
also has a special curiosity regarding dogs. He had studied dog populations
while doing anthropological field research in Venezuela, and he cared
for sled dogs in the American West and Alaska. He also shares company
with two Alaskan Huskies, and he wanted to find a region of the country
that would be sympathetic to that special concern. Duluth and the
John Beargrease Sled Dog Race, appeared in his research. Finally,
he was looking for a masters degree program that was self-directed
and would allow him, as a graduate student, to pursue his individual
interests. UMDs Master of Liberal Studies surfaced, and Tompkins
decided to apply.
Once accepted, Tompkins found himself in the office of American Indian
Studies Professor John Red Horse. When I told him my folks were
from Maine, and that I had a strong interest in Algonquan language
and culture of the Northeast, Professor Red Horse seemed to smile
behind his eyes. He said that UMD had just hired a new faculty member
that I should meet, Tompkins said. The faculty member was Kenneth
Mello, a Passamaquoddy and a scholar of indigenous folklore. The Passamaquoddy
are an Algonquian speaking peoples of the Wabanaki confederacy of
Northeastern North America. Mello had come to UMD from the University
of Maine. When Professor Mello walked in a few moments later,
and shook my hand, I realized that I had probably just met my thesis
adviser, he said.
Tompkins says the Master of Liberal Studies program is a perfect
fit. It allows the university to showcase faculty members from a variety
of fields on a graduate level without locking itself into a rigid
masters curriculum. Its a versatile program that can easily
respond to dynamic faculty and student interests.
From Tompkins first meeting at UMD, he has stayed focused on
the folk lore and culture of the Wabanaki. I remember climbing
Mt. Katahdin in Maine with my folks when I was a kid. Mount Katadhin
plays heavily into the life of the Wabanaki, he said. One
thing leads to another.
Tompkins originally wanted to start by studying a language of the
Wabanaki confederacy, but Mello encouraged him to come at it from
another direction. Tompkins said, Professor Mello feels, I think,
that it works best to try and fathom the hearts of a people through
their stories. Understanding storytelling to him, is one of the essential
keys to understanding peoples hearts.
Tompkins road to UMD has taken many turns. He studied anthropology
at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, both as an undergrad and as
a graduate special student. He spent five years, on and off, working
with sled dogs in the American West and in Alaska. When your
community is made up of mostly dogs, the world begins to look different.
The importance of animals to the life of human beings is something
I think the indigenous people of the Americas understood better than
many people here still maintain that knowledge. Thats
a big reason for my continuing interests in the indigenous lifeways
of this hemisphere.
Around the next bend Tompkins found himself in a study-abroad program
through the School for International Training. His work took him to
the Orinoco River in the Venezuelan rainforest where he became somewhat
disillusioned with anthropological study. Living in peoples
houses and asking them continuous questions about their religion and
eating habits seems intrusive and alienating, he said. Instead,
Tompkins found a project that felt right. His dog sledding mentor
from Wyoming had told him that contrary to current opinion
all indigenous people of this hemisphere, at one time or another,
had lived with and used working dogs. Indeed, he found that the Arawak
of the Orinoco River were reliant on dogs for their livelihood. They
traveled with dogs almost every time they went hunting using
sometimes two or three dogs at once to flush prey from the forest.
Dogs seemed essential to their continued success in hunting. Tompkins
felt he was able to form a bond with the hunters through a mutual
respect for their dogs, and in the process, he learned something of
the overall history, culture, and language of the Arawak people.
Through Tompkins studies, he has gained great esteem for indigenous
people and their cultures in general; cultures that the world today
is in danger of losing. Tompkins said of an estimated 4,000 languages
in the world today, only 500 or so are likely to be in use by the
year 2050. Tompkins feels that each individual language embodies a
unique and irreplaceable way of viewing the world. Language
frames the way in which the world exists in a persons mind,
he said. Each lost language represents the loss of a whole systematized
way of thinking, an entire symbolic perspective of life. Eventually,
he would like to learn an Algonquian language well enough to teach
it, if invited. He also is looking into a Ph.D. program, but he isnt
rigid about his direction: Im just going to let things
come my way and see where they take me.
Cheryl Reitan, Heather Ziebell and Amelia Anderson