ISU Magazine

Volume 41 | Number 2 | Spring/Summer 2011

Moonlit Tree

Moonlit Tree: the beauty of freshly fallen snow resting on the branches of a tree on campus.

Photo by ISU Photographic Services/Susan Duncan

Brightest and Best

Spring 2011 Issue

Julie Johnson

HOMETOWN: Paul, Idaho
HIGH SCHOOL: Minico High School, 1990
CLASS YEAR: Senior at ISU-Meridian Health Science Center
MAJOR: Associate of Science (ISU), Sign Language Studies Bachelor of Science, Educational Interpreting

INTERESTS/HOBBIES: I have three kids-two boys, ages 11 and 13, and a girl age 8. I'd say my hobbies are whatever my children are doing at the time. In spring, summer and fall, it's baseball. In fall, it's football and in spring, it's gymnastics.

CAREER GOALS: My motto is "baby steps first" so my immediate goal is graduating in May 2011. Then I'd like to work as a sign language interpreter in the public school system, preferably the same district where my children attend school. That way, we remain on the same schedule.

WHY ISU-MERIDIAN HEALTH SCIENCE CENTER? Because it's the only bachelor's program in educational interpreting in the Boise Valley. I wouldn't have been able to embrace this new career had the program not been here. It is my passion. It is what I love.

WHY SIGN LANGUAGE/EDUCATIONAL INTERPRETING? My brother and sister-in-law came to visit five years ago. She worked in the Texas state disabilities office and took classes in American Sign Language. She showed me what she'd learned, and I instantly fell in love with the language. Because ASL is very expressive, I often joke that I have the "face" for sign language and my hands are just trying to catch up. I wouldn't make a good poker player because my face tells it all. On a serious note, sign language is a tool to bridge the hearing and non-hearing worlds. The more sign language we interpreters have, the more options available to the deaf community.

ISU EXPERIENCE: I first enrolled in ISU 20 years ago right out of high school. I moved into a dorm, made a lot of friends and loved campus life. My ISU experience today isn't much different except I have developed much better time-management skills, thanks to marriage and three kids. My classmates are younger, but we've become good friends. I tell them I have a lot of wisdom to impart (laughing) and real-life experiences to share. They keep me young so it's a win-win situation for everyone.

ADVICE TO FUTURE STUDENTS: If you find your passion go for it, and you're better off pursuing it with a college degree. I'd tell younger students to earn that degree the first time around because it's harder to go back to college when you're 40 and faced with family responsibilities. When I left ISU the first time, life started to happen... and it took me 20 years to get back to class.

Erica Wendt-Richardson

HOMETOWN: Idaho Falls, Idaho
HIGH SCHOOL: Skyline High School
MAJOR: Secondary Education and History

HOBBIES: Scrapbooking, cooking, playing the piano, and running (specifically cross-country and the steeplechase in track and field).

My mom was a runner and won the state championship in the 800 meters. I developed the love of running from her. I began to run seriously when I was in the sixth grade and have been at it since. I put in about 10 hours a week in training and generally run nearly 60 miles a week.

LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: I became Idaho State University's first female Big Sky cross country champion this past fall.

CAREER GOALS: I hope to teach middle school or high school and work toward a master's degree. Ultimately I'd love to raise a family of "little runners!" I'll undoubtedly keep on running, perhaps in more competitive venues. I love running and want to do it the rest of my life - at least until I'm 99 years old!

WHY ISU? When I was looking at potential universities I was impressed with the breadth of programs ISU offered and I really liked the campus. My sister graduated from ISU and had a positive experience so I'm sure that affected my decision. I was fortunate to receive a scholarship, which also made my choice easier. My coaches and teachers have been great and the relationships that have come out of that will be with me for a lifetime.

ISU EXPERIENCE: Adjusting from high school to college was different in many respects. Fortunately there were several professors who took the time to get to know me and encourage me that I could be very successful. Dr. Wendy Ruchti was very influential in helping me learn how to be a good college student. Dr. Kevin Marsh, my history professor, influenced me to work hard and by doing so, I could accomplish anything.

When I joined the cross country team I was taken by how different the training protocol was compared to high school. Fortunately, we had good senior leadership when I was a freshman. Lois Keller, a senior teammate, was a positive influence on me and my teammates. That's why it's so important for me, as a senior, to provide that same type of leadership that enabled me to develop and succeed.

Miki Goodwin

EDUCATION: Nursing Diploma, University College Hospital, London, England
Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Holy Names College, Oakland, Calif.
Master of Science in Nursing Education, Idaho State University
Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Education, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
AGE: 52
PROFESSION: Nursing Professor and Coordinator of the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program at the Idaho State University-Meridian Health Science Center; Registered Nurse (England and United States), and Public Health Nurse

HOBBIES: My family-husband Peter and children Daniel and Rebecca-and our international connections keep me very busy! I also enjoy dance, travel and our two dogs-a spaniel mix named Samba (we found her in a marketplace in Chile) and a miniature dachshund, d'Artagnan (named after the young protagonist in The Three Musketeers). One of my favorite quotes is by wildlife writer Roger Caras who wrote, "Dogs are not our whole lives but they make our lives whole." I also love to read and recommend Anne Fadiman's The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, a blend of medicine, culture and linguistic struggles in the treatment of a Hmong child with epilepsy.

LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: I was honored to receive the 2009 Outstanding Nursing Ph.D. Student Award from University of Nevada, Las Vegas for my dissertation on the role of holistic comfort in nursing education. In 2010, I completed an executive leadership fellowship sponsored by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and was honored as a Health Care Hero Educator by the Idaho Business Review newspaper.

I spent last Thanksgiving in Uganda, visiting my daughter, who is an on-site program director for the Global Emergency Care Collaborative, a nonprofit organization devoted to improving trauma care in Uganda. I had the opportunity to volunteer to care for critically ill and injured patients and share my knowledge with the hospital staff. It was also fun to whip up a Thanksgiving dinner for the volunteers - chicken, pumpkin bread and dried cranberries prepared on a kerosene stove.

WHY I DO WHAT I DO: I think it was the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu who originally said, "If you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life." I feel that way about teaching and nursing. I can't imagine doing anything else. I am happiest in the classroom participating in a learning community with my students, the accelerated students who have all been experts in other fields and have chosen nursing as their second career. I love their enthusiasm, their ideas and their perspectives. They are my oxygen!

ISU EXPERIENCE: I am proud to be a part of ISU-Meridian which is positioned to lead the health professions in the Boise Valley. We're making a huge impact on our community not only in health but in education as well. I'm proud when I hear from local hospitals, "We want your nurses!" I'm also proud when students who've left the state tell me how well our program prepared them, and I'm proud when our students compete for highly sought-after positions and get them.

Gary and Karlene Dance

Gary and Karlene Dance have made great music possible in Pocatello through their philanthropic support for the Stephens Performing Arts Center. Their lead gift made possible the enriching performing arts and cultural offerings provided by Idaho State University. In grateful recognition of their philanthropic support Gary and Karlene were recognized with membership in the Topaz Society in February.

PERSONAL BACKGROUND: Gary and Karlene raised their family in Pocatello, and have been active in the community most of their lives. Gary earned his master's in hazardous waste management at ISU in 1994. Previously he received a juris doctorate from Willamette University. He stepped down this year after serving seven years as CEO and president of Moffat, Thomas, Barrett, Rock and Fields, Idaho's second largest law firm. Among his many honors, he has served as president of the Sixth District Bar Association and the Bannock County Red Cross. He was named in Best Lawyers in America, and is a past chair of Leadership Pocatello. Gary currently co-chairs the ISU Foundation's committee to reduce the debt on the Stephens Center. Karlene graduated from ISU with honors earning a Bachelor of Arts degree. She taught mathematics at Franklin Middle School for 19 years. She was the recipient of the Simplot Innovative Teacher of the Year Award in 2000 and has been named in Who's Who of Teachers in America for the last 16 years. She is currently vice president of the Idaho State-Civic Symphony Board of Directors. Gary and Karlene have five children and 12 grandchildren.

GIFT: Gary and Karlene provided a lead gift in support of the Stephens Performing Arts Center and continue as benefactors of the cultural arts at Idaho State University.

GIVING PHILOSOPHY: "ISU has been very good to us and to our family, not to mention to the entire community. We feel a need, in some small way, to give back in recognition of all we have received. Hopefully, this will give others the same opportunities that have benefitted us so greatly. Small acts of giving, both financially and with our time, seem to be the least we can do to help build the school and see its transformational growth as a prestigious institution. We are grateful to join those who have provided the private funding for the magnificent Stephens Performing Arts Center."

WHAT ISU MEANS TO US: "We feel truly blessed to live in a university community with its varied array of cultural opportunities. ISU has been the source of knowledge that has enabled us to receive graduate degrees in the arts and sciences. ISU has been the center of our entertainment for 30 years, and now with the addition of the Stephens Performing Arts Center, the gem of Idaho, we are benefiting from the additional cultural events that are provided. Our lives have been enriched by the presence of ISU."

Dan W. Spindler

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Arts, Business, 1974
AGE: 59
PROFESSION: Owner and founder of Gym Outfitters, established 1990

HOBBIES: I enjoy elk hunting, backpacking, golfing, skiing and racing my Porsche in autocross and hill-climb events. I'm an avid fan of college football.

LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Gym Outfitters provided and installed fitness equipment for Idaho State University's strength and conditioning facility and recreation center. We also just completed a project with BYU-Idaho, supplying fitness equipment for the recreation center expansion.

WHY I DO WHAT I DO: I've always enjoyed fitness, strength and conditioning, to enhance my participation in physical activities, and I enjoy helping others who use the equipment we provide to health clubs, hotels, apartment complexes, fire stations, police stations, schools, corporate fitness facilities and in their homes. I'm proud knowing my company is providing product support to the fitness industry - an industry not accustomed to local product support. Prior to starting the business, most customers in the industry had to do their own service and repair work. Now, Gym Outfitters can provide the service and repair at considerably lower prices for what it would have cost them for staff and to inventory the parts. The business grew because my customers asked me to do something they couldn't do; I figured out a way to accomplish it for them.

I also wanted to build a company to provide employment for people in an industry that had few opportunities in this region. Launching the company during the recession of 1990, I was able to provide jobs doing preventative maintenance and service repair for customers in southern Idaho. Today, many of those customers are still doing business with Gym Outfitters - many for the past 15 years. I credit this success to the services the company offers, the products we carry and how we respond to the needs of our customers.

ANECDOTE: I was told by others that my business concept was a "pie in the sky" and there was no market. Twenty years later, Gym Outfitters is the northwest region's leader in the fitness equipment industry. When hurdles or mountains are in front of you, figure out a way to get over them. Like a marathon, it takes a lot of perseverance and self-discipline.

ISU MEMORIES: As a member of the 1974 men's basketball team, the high point of the season was beating the University of Montana on their home court in Missoula for the Big Sky Championship. With teammates; Steve Hayes, George Rodriguez, Kevin Hoyt, Jim Anderson, Paul Doos, Frank Krahn and Leroy Gibbons; we played to sellout crowds in Dubby Holt arena. Our team was close; some of us even played cards together and went fishing on the weekends. After winning Saturday night games, we'd all go down to the Bengal Hut and owner Lou Pajovitch would buy us all the free beer we could drink. Of course, a lot of fans followed us there.

ISU EXPERIENCE: As a scholarship athlete majoring in business, I felt like a minority when it came to academics. In fact, one of my business professors called me a "big dumb jock," even though I attended all classes, carried up to 19 credits a semester and earned a degree in four years. Through that experience, I learned you can achieve your goals with focus, hard work and discipline.