Letters and "Tweet Beat"

From Minnesota Alumni Magazine Fall 2015

Inspirational Alumni

As a fan of Minnesota magazine, I particularly enjoyed the Unstoppable section [Summer 2015]. Special kudos to Meleah Maynard for the story Unwavering, describing the experiences and contributions of Cheryl Robertson. She captured beautifully and accurately the frustrating realities of working in other cultures, along with the pull that keeps Cheryl going back to share what she can. It is always interesting to read about people like those described in this section whom I would like to meet!

Siegliinde Gassman (B.A. ’85) Apple Valley

Thank you for the feature on Ben Utecht [Summer 2015], especially the mention of invisible injuries, which many survivors of a traumatic brain injury suffer. They can affect the survivor’s relationship, block any chance of a new relationship, or cost the individual their career.

The effects of a brain injury are complex and vary greatly from person to person, and depend on such factors as the cause, location, and severity of the injury. Residual effects may include, but are not limited to, depression, impaired logic, confusion, fatigue, difficulties understanding or speaking, decreased control over body movements—and this is just a short list of what may occur. As with Ben, a common problem is aphasia, a condition that may affect mainly a single aspect of language use, such as the ability to retrieve the names of objects, put words together into sentences, or read. More commonly, however, multiple aspects of communication are impaired, while some channels remain accessible for a limited exchange of information. A more common explanation of the condition is that someone broke into your house and rearranged the furniture. You know it’s in there, you just can’t find it. People have to be reminded that aphasia is a loss of language, not intellect. The person is literally trapped in their head. There could be many reasons why someone has difficulty communicating, and no one should be quick to judge or size up the character of that person. Whether they are struggling with aphasia or something else, attempting a better understanding of their situation will go a long way towards giving them the dignity they deserve.

Darryl Weiss (B.E.S. ’77) San Diego

Editor’s note: The spring 2012 issue of Minnesota contains a profile detailing Mr. Weiss’s journey of living with brain injury.

Context Matters

I really appreciated the Editor’s Note [Summer 2015] and remember Jean Ward’s inspirational emphasis on context as well. After finishing graduate work at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, I wrote about education for a major metropolitan newspaper for several years. Funding was often a focus, necessitated largely by inconsistencies across districts and tax sources. Still, education funding is meaningless unless we cover the context: the needs of students, families, and communities they come from. While I still write, I also decided to teach English in Minneapolis schools. There, many of us work more than 50 hours per week addressing the complex needs students bring from the context of an urban district.

Maureen Smith (M.A. ’98) Golden Valley

The Tweet Beat

News and views from Gophers on social networks


  1. UMN ranked in the top 50 universities in the world. #UMNProud of all who make us great!


Des Moines Register on #Gophers football: “Minnesota might be the best team on paper in the Big 10 West division.”


About 80% of messages and tweets I receive in July are regarding #Gophers football. Proof that I surround myself with good people.

@Pi Beta PhiUMN

We are ecstatic to be honored with this year’s Balfour Cup—awarded annually for the best chapter of Pi Beta Phi.


Save the date for Saturday, 9/19—@UMNAlumni Day of Service!


This Gopher is stopping in Badger country for a lunch break. #GoGophers #UMNProud


Did you know that the University of Minnesota is the only Big 10 university located in a major metropolitan area?


America’s top states for innovation 2015: “The home of the #UMN and @MayoClinic is a research powerhouse.”


Congrats to U Prof. Julie Schumacher, winner of the 2015 Midwest Booksellers Choice Awards for Dear Committee Members

@UMN Give

  1. UMN Raptor Center donors helped make a new Biomimicry camp possible. THANK YOU!


When you go to orientation & figure out an advisor there is your 4th cousin. . . #nicetomeetyoufam #umn #bigschoolsmallworld


Be a mentor and provide an invaluable career learning experience for a current student. For information MinnesotaAlumni.org/mentor

Get the latest from the Alumni Association. Follow us on #UMNAlumni.

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