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Were it not for a sportswriter in the Chicago Daily Tribune, Northwestern’s athletic teams might still be known as “The Purple.”
Writing in 1924, Wallace Abbey said of Northwestern’s football team:
“Football players had not come down from Evanston; wildcats would be a name better suited to [Coach Glenn] Thistletwaite’s boys.”
Since then the Wildcats have taken that same expansive enthusiasm and applied it to endeavors both on and off the field.
A founding member of the Big 10 conference, Northwestern’s reach extends as far away as Qatar, where it runs a journalism and communications school. It has put an emphasis on sustainability with LEED-cetified buildings and its membership in the Green Power Partnership, which purchases energy from renewable sources. Its reputation for research and innovation is as competitive as anywhere else. Little wonder its alums are leaders in politics, entertainment, literature and medicine.
Below we recount a few of the ways in which that Wildcat spirit is applied to science, philanthropy and innovation.
Bast and Palchak started meeting weekly to do research about bullying and talk to parents, teachers and school psychologists. Without a real framework in place yet, Bast e-mailed the Northwestern athletics community to see if her peers would help out with the initiative. The buy-in was incredible, and roughly 30 other student-athletes showed interest in the project.
“It’s one thing I think a lot of us miss,” said Mike Dawson, a Michigan alum and former lieutenant in the Navy. “When you’re in the military and serving on a ship, as I did, they become your family.”
But Dawson, a co-founder and chief operating officer of CloudSpotter, has found those kinds of bonds at The Bunker, a start-up incubator established by former Navy officer and Northwestern alumnus Todd Connor to help his fellow vets find camaraderie and guidance as they launch new businesses.
“When you are a young person with all the expectations of a healthy future, having a cancer diagnosis is one of the most existential crises that you can go through,” Woodruff said. “You now are faced with your own mortality rather than the hope for a career and family in your future.”
Kittling’s efforts began with small fundraiser, but soon attracted the attention of heavy-hitters such as McDonald’s Corp. and Ariel Investments. While the restoration of the roundhouse is still a work in progress, she’s excited to be a part of a project that’s played an important role in her own history.
“What I’ve learned over the years,” she said, “is that I want to do projects that I feel passionate about, and this was something that stirred me. I want to help the DuSable Museum grow, help it continue to be here so that my children can bring their children here.”
This group works in communities in the Chicago and New York areas affected by gun violence. They receive confiscated weapons from law enforcement, and then melt down the metal to create jewelry. The revenue from the jewelry sales is then given right back to those communities.