Jim Bower, M.D. '80
Since graduating from Sewickley Academy in 1980, Jim Bower has been studying and researching at some of the nation’s finest institutions of higher learning. Earning his undergraduate degree at Duke University and his M.D. at New York University, Jim now serves as associate professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He is a leading researcher of movement disorders and Parkinson’s disease and has published over 50 articles on the subject in the last 11 years.
During medical school, Jim embarked on two rotations to Brazil and India that would ultimately change his life and the lives of countless others. Time spent in these two countries sparked Jim’s interest in international health, but upon beginning his medical career, he found himself in the routine work of caring for patients and performing research. “Most physicians in academic medicine want to advance the field of neurology and I, too, questioned how I could best contribute to that.”
Through the American Academy of Neurology, Jim found and contacted the only professor of neurology in Ethiopia at the Addis Ababa University School of Medicine, the main teaching hospital for the country. After learning more about the nation’s growing burden of neurological diseases and lack of a neurological training program, Jim knew exactly what he needed to do. In 2001, Jim traveled to Addis Ababa to teach neurology for two weeks and has returned each summer since. To say that Jim and other neurologists’ expertise and service are needed is an understatement. In the U.S., the ratio of patients to neurologists is 25,000 to one; in Ethiopia, the ratio is a staggering 15 million to one. In recent years, Jim has recruited other doctors to join him in his efforts.
Recently, the Neurology Residency Program that Jim helped to develop graduated its first seven doctors, bringing the total number of neurologists in Ethiopia to 10. “While there is still a long way to go, it is promising to see the beginnings of long-lasting results in the country.”
Rusty Condieff '78
Rusty Condieff has lived in Los Angeles since 1979. After graduating from the Academy, he spent a year at Loyola University in New Orleans and then transferred to the University of Southern California where he majored in philosophy of religion. He has been there ever since, first acting and doing stand up comedy and now as a writer and director. After college, Rusty did his fair share of stand-up comedy. In fact, when he would come home to Pittsburgh to visit family, he would do stand up at the Portfolio in Oakland where many up-and-coming comics — like Dennis Miller and Jim Cren — were getting their careers started. He also dabbled in acting, including “Days of Our Lives” for about a year, “Hollywood Shuffle,” and “School Days” with Spike Lee.
He then made the transition from acting to writing and directing. Some of his recent directing projects include “Chocolate News” for Comedy Central with David Alan Grier and “Somebodies,” a half hour single camera show for BET about college students. From 2003-2006, he directed the “Chappelle Show.” Currently, he is co-writing a script for “CSI New York.”
Rusty looks back fondly on his time at the Academy. His grandmother was a domestic for a family in Sewickley many years ago and she always talked about the Academy with him. He transferred here from Oliver High in ninth grade because he “wanted a better education,” which he says he definitely got at the Academy. He is thankful for the opportunities for performance he had at the Academy in terms of theater and the arts, even stating, “Sewickley Academy had the best theater spaces of any school he ever visited.”
Edward Michael Fincke '85
Mike Fincke graduated from Sewickley Academy in 1985. He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on an Air Force ROTC scholarship and graduated in 1989 with a bachelor of science in Aeronautics and Astronautics as well as a bachelor of science in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. This was followed by a master of science in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University in 1990. He was awarded an associate's of science degree in Earth Sciences (Geology) from El Camino College in Torrance, California in 1993 and then a second master of science in Physical Sciences (Planetary Geology) from the University of Houston, Clear Lake in 2001.
Selected by NASA in April 1996, Colonel Fincke reported to the Johnson Space Center where he completed two years of training and evaluation. He was assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office Station Operations Branch serving as an International Space Station Spacecraft Communicator (ISS CAPCOM), a member of the Crew Test Support Team in Russia and as the ISS crew procedures team lead. He also served as back-up crewmember for ISS Expeditions 4 and 6 as well as back-up commander for ISS Expeditions 13 and 16. He is qualified to fly as a left-seat Flight Engineer (co-pilot) on the Russian Soyuz TM and TMA spacecraft. He was the Commander of the second NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO 2) mission living and working underwater for 7 days in May of 2002. Fincke has a total of 365 days, 21 hours and 32 minutes in space, and has logged a total of 26 hours and 12 minutes of EVA time on six spacewalks.
Fincke is currently assigned to the crew of STS-134 to the International Space Station. The mission will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), a state-of-the-art cosmic ray particle physics detector designed to examine fundamental issues about matter and the origin and structure of the universe.
Mike's last visit to the Academy was in November 2009, when he presented the school with a plaque that holds a flag that was flown aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.
Jennifer Iserloh '90
Academy alumna Jennifer Iserloh has built a blooming culinary business with multi-media appeal. As the founder of Skinny Chef Culinary Ventures, her work as a private chef included a clientele of high-profile professionals and internationally known celebrities.
A highly favored writer at Self Magazine, Jennifer also writes for Yoga Life and was the spokesperson for the Go Florida Grapefruit campaign. She shares her expertise on health and cooking, making appearances on the Today Show and CBS. As the recipe developer for Joy Bauer’s Food Cures and Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook on hidden nutrition entitled Deceptively Delicious, Jennifer shows families that healthy cooking can be fresh and fun. More recently, Jennifer appeared as a judge in General Mill’s new baking competition 350F – One Hot Cooking Show that was watched by millions on the Betty Crocker website. On her hugely popular website www.SkinnyChef.com, she provides resources for anyone who is ready to take small steps towards a healthier life with her deliciously simple recipes, articles, podcasts, and webcasts.
Jennifer earned a master’s degree in French Literature from the University of Pittsburgh. She spent time traveling throughout Europe and worked in Lugano, Switzerland for a telecom company, but her passion for cooking was ever-present. After relocating to New York City with her husband, Jennifer decided to leave the business world to follow her dream of becoming a chef.
After graduating with honors from the Institute of Culinary Education, Jennifer was invited to intern with Chef Scott Bryan, chef owner of Veritas restaurant. She also interned on Tyler Florence's cookbook, Eat This Book, where she learned the essentials of food styling and photography. As a dedicated yoga-practioner for over eight years, Jennifer recently completed her 200-hour teacher’s training at the renowned Dharma Mittra Yoga Center in New York City.
Jennifer lives in New Jersey with her husband, Ulrich who shares her passion for food and healthy living. Her cookbook - Secrets of a Skinny Chef - publishes in March 2010. Jennifer visited the Academy in November as the 2009 Sector Speaker and as part of the 2009-2010 Sewickley Series.
Megan McAdams '04
A graduate of Skidmore University, Megan McAdams works as a program manager for Rustic Pathways, an organization that offers travel abroad programs for high school students, families, groups, and college students. As a senior at Sewickley Academy, Megan had hopes of spending her summer traveling to Thailand with the program, but a bad case of strep throat kept her home. Her plans were thwarted again the following year due to the tsunami that struck the country and surrounding areas on Christmas Eve 2004. Finally, in her sophomore year of college, Megan made it to Thailand and worked as an intern with the program, gaining experience with the company for which she now works full time.
In summer 2008 Megan led high school students through Cambodia. The year leading up to the trip she spent preparing and scouting to create an itinerary for the students. Her group started out in Phnom Penh, the capital city, visiting the genocide museum and killing field to gain understanding for the country’s history and current state. They then stayed with local families gaining an appreciation for the Khmer culture and people. Megan and the students traveled by boat to various locations in the country to work at orphanages and deliver supplies to remote floating villages, where excited villagers gathered eagerly outside their floating homes to greet their guests. The group ended their trip at the Angkor Wat, the most famed and well-preserved ancient site in Southeast Asia.
While she looks forward to leading more student trips in the country, putting smiles on villagers’ faces, Megan has future plans to specifically aid women in Cambodia. After determining the best location, she hopes to buy a guesthouse and employ young Cambodian women, keeping them from the dark life of sex trade and also empowering them with additional income.
As a student who was first inspired to be globally conscious in an African Issues class at the Academy, Megan says that the first skill needed to interact abroad is the willingness to be uncomfortable. “People often discount how difficult it can be to leave one’s social networks and customs in exchange for a completely new set of norms.” Even after numerous less-than-comfortable nights spent in a bamboo hut on a straw mat, she says this skill is one she is still developing. “On some days, I would much rather stay inside my hotel room than go outside where tuk tuk drivers and street vendors follow me down the street. However, each day I overcome the desire to be comfortable, I grow to some degree.” Her global perspective and experience abroad allows her to appreciate each opportunity to represent America to the best of her abilities. While sometimes a source of frustration, Megan says that she seeks each day to be a good ambassador of our nation, and reminds her students to do the same.
J. Stephen Mikita '74
At age two, Steve was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy and was not expected to live to his third birthday. From the onset of his disease, however, Steve managed to defy the grim odds set before him. After Steve’s mother and father searched for a local day school that could best accommodate his disability, the family decided that Sewickley Academy was a place where Steve could grow and succeed. In the fall of 1972, Steve began a new chapter in his life as he started at the Academy as a junior, with his younger sister Judith two grades behind him.
As the first wheel-chair user in the history of Sewickley Academy, Steve says he was immediately surrounded with strong support from the administration, faculty, and students. With a father who strongly believed that an education was the greatest gift a parent could give their child, Stephen quickly realized the wealth of opportunity that the Academy offered and vowed to seize each one. In his two years here, he became quite popular with his classmates and was even elected senior class president. Steve also used his musical talent in chorus and on stage in former song and dance teacher Mario Melodia’s musical.
After he graduated from the Academy, he entered Duke University as their first wheel-chair bound student. He graduated magna cum laude, and a few years later received his law degree from Brigham Young University. During law school, he clerked for the United States Senate Judiciary Committee. Today, Steve is an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Utah. He is the legal counsel for Utah’s two largest state agencies that provide protection and services for people with disabilities and vulnerable adults. He is also a national expert on the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
As a popular motivational speaker, Stephen has been featured on 60 Minutes, The Sally Jesse Raphael Show, and The Leeza Show. Mr. Mikita’s autobiography, The Third Opinion, is available online and includes a chapter in which Stephen speaks of the community of support he found at Sewickley Academy.
In 2007, Stephen received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Sewickley Academy.
Garner Tullis '55
A noted bronze sculptor, painter, and master painter, Garner Tullis received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Arts from Stanford University. He traveled extensively throughout Italy and much of Europe upon winning a Fulbright Award. In 1972, he founded the International Institute of Experimental Printmaking where he collaborated with hundreds of other painters and sculptors throughout the years. As the first recipient of the Ralph T. King Award for outstanding contributions to printmaking of the Print Club of Cleveland, Cleveland Museum of Art, he previously taught at Bennington College; California State College, Stanislaus; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Davis; and Harvard University – and worked extensively as a visiting artist in Australia, Europe, and South America. He has had solo exhibitions of his own work at the Cleveland Institute of Art; the National Museum of Art, Belgrade; the Martha Jackson Gallery, New York; and numerous other galleries and museums. His art currently hangs in the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Art; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and numerous other well known public and private collections.
Garner's artwork will be featured on the cover of the Winter 2010 edition of Sewickley Speaking.