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Jordan AkenPursuing His Dream with Nasa’s International Space Station

Jordan Aken (BS-12) beat out 600 other applicants, some with master’s degrees, for a position with Boeing Co. as a flight integration engineer for the International Space Station.

Aken is part of a team that verifies the space-worthiness of hardware destined for the U.S. side of the ISS via re-supply missions. He also helps track requests for NASA-approved modifications, repairs and upgrades to the station and writes detailed instructions for implementing them.

He credits landing his dream job with his space research at UNC — he was part of a student team that traveled to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility to watch a payload they built launch into space on a sub-orbital rocket — and the faculty in the Physics program.

“UNC prepared me for this job by giving me technical knowledge, unique opportunities and encouraging instructors that were always there for me and wanted to help me succeed,” Aken says.

Read more about Aken at www.unco.edu/news/?5599

Celebrating 25 Years as a campus Hangout

RomasA stone’s throw from campus, Roma Restaurant is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a campus hangout. Graduates Jonathan and Jamie Shaw (pictured with their daughter, Elizabeth, above) purchased Roma in 2005 and have continued its proud tradition.

For five straight years, the Italian restaurant has won the Greeley Tribune’s Best Pizza, Lunch and Take-Out in addition to consistently being among The Mirror student newspaper’s Best of for Pizza, Lunch, Dinner and Italian. A featured item and local favorite, the “Nutty Idea” pizza, drew “Most Bizarre Pizza Topping” by the Huffington Post for ingredients that include cashews, cream cheese, pepperoni, mozzarella and tomatoes.

Jon (BA-95, MAT-06) studied journalism at UNC and later earned an Elementary Teaching License and Master’s Degree in Elementary Education. He also worked in catering and studied in Italy (working at a pizza joint there) but never dreamed of owning the restaurant he frequented as an undergrad. After teaching in Denver Public Schools, he began working at UNC’s School of Teacher Education as off-campus program manager, a position he still holds, and relocated to Greeley. The posters of well-known bands that adorn Roma’s walls are from a collection of more than 400 concerts that Jon promoted for a California production company after graduation.

Jamie (BA-98, MA-07) has taught at schools in Colorado and has managed restaurants in San Diego and Denver. When possible, she enjoys working at the front of the house at Roma.

Interestingly, Roma was originally a church, built in 1920. It has been Roma since October of 1988. Roma Restaurants began in Denver and now only two remain, both in Greeley.

Mackey Saturday


If you’re one of the nearly 100 million active monthly users of the photo app Instagram, then you’re probably already familiar with the work of Mackey Saturday (BA-07). He was commissioned with the delicate task of redesigning the logo of the popular social media platform. Saturday talks about the project in an interview with the Alumni Association on The UNC Bear Den Blog.

Read his story and others at www.uncbearden.tumblr.com


Former Coach Still on Sidelines

Thurm WrightLongtime coach Thurm Wright (BA-51) still motivates students to be their best, although he retired more than 20 years ago.

Today, he’s motivating them through a new $50,000 endowed scholarship.

Thurm’s affiliation with UNC began in 1948 when he arrived from Richmond, Ind. He played first base for three years. The 1949 team was District 7 Champions and the first to play in what was to become the College World Series. This team was the first baseball team to be inducted into the UNC Athletics Hall of Fame. Thurm played basketball for four years and served as team captain his senior year. He assisted the team in defeating Montana State in 1949 to win the Rocky Mountain Conference Championship. After serving in the Army, marrying Margaret (a UNC alumna and daughter of science professor Fred Herman), and teaching and coaching in Indiana and South Dakota for a few years, Thurm returned to UNC as an assistant basketball and baseball coach. He eventually became head coach for both sports. He relinquished his baseball coaching career after three years and continued coaching men’s basketball for approximately 20 years. He taught and coached high school and college for 36 years before retiring in 1989.

Thurm is still a presence on campus, attending numerous games and events. He recently sang for volunteers who were stuffing envelopes for a student-athlete fundraiser and often sings to residents at local assisted living centers (Margaret died in 2011.) While at UNC, Thurm worked with coaching legends John W. Hancock and Pete Butler. “They were like second fathers to me.” Thurm provided the same support for his players.

“You always hope you did something right in working with young men. I’ve had a number of them come back and tell me that I did.”

His younger brother Bill (BA-57, MA- 61) followed Thurm’s footsteps to CSC, playing on the 1953, 1955, and 1957 UNC Hall of Fame baseball teams. Bill had two state championship basketball teams at Mitchell High School in Colorado Springs. He was inducted into the Colorado High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1995 and is still involved in the sport.

Last year, Thurm established The Thurm and Bill Wright Men’s Athletic Scholarship to support baseball and basketball players in honor of his and his brother’s UNC experience.

“I can’t think of a better way to help future students than making a donation to the university that has played an important part in our lives.”

— Amy Dressel-Martin

Lifesaving Act Results in Medal Four Decades Later

Reed SundineIt took 41 years, and a lot of work to find the right person, but alumnus Reed Sundine (BA-66) finally got the medal he deserved. Sundine, an ROTC graduate of Colorado State College (now UNC), spent six years as a pilot in the Air Force and 30 years with Continental Airlines.

His life-saving moment came one day in 1972 when he took his sons fishing near a river in northern California. “We were walking along a pretty dangerous area of the river, where it was very rough water, and a little girl came up to us, crying. She led us to the river’s edge and there was her brother, in the water, unconscious.”

Sundine jumped into the raging river, pulled the boy out, and began artificial respiration. It revived the boy, and saved his life. It was then Sundine learned the boy’s father had jumped into the river to save his son. Sundine went back into the river, found the father’s body, but the father couldn’t be revived ashore.

Several years later, for his efforts in saving the son’s life, Sundine received the Air Force Commendation Medal.

The boy’s mother, Silvia Mayo, had worked for years to get the Airman’s Medal for Sundine, but without an eyewitness, the military couldn’t give the highest award for saving a life. Finally, the man who was fishing with Sundine that day, Civil Air Patrol Lt. Col. Melvin Bridges, was located, and sent his eyewitness account to the Air Force.

The medal ceremony Sept. 25 in Congressman Ed Perlmutter’s office in Denver brought tears to the eyes of Sundine, who now lives in Parker. He is active in the Greatest Generatio
program, which works to take World War II, Korean and Vietnam veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the memorials their country has erected for them.

“This is the highest medal he could be awarded in a non-military action,” says Sundine’s friend Roy Miller. “It ranks higher than even the Bronze Star.”

—Mike Peters (BA-68)



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