The loved one
She may not have electricity, might encounter trails of termites in her doorway, and her only instructional resource may be chalk, but for Middleville, NY native Dr. Yvonne Taylor '75, Kenya has become home. In 1995 Taylor began a two-year stint with the Peace Corps; she's now added a year to her service and plans to eventually retire there.
Taylor came to Kenya after several years as a medical researcher at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis. "I got to a point when I wasn't doing what I wanted. I didn't get my Ph.D. to write grant proposals." As a Peace Corps volunteer she relishes the challenge of teaching 27 physics and chemistry classes per week at Kiatineni Secondary School in Iiani.
"My students are fluent in three languages, but are practically illiterate when it comes to maths (that's Kenyan English) and physical sciences." She describes them as absolutely sweet ("well, most of them").
"They have the cutest English accents and expressions," she notes -- asked if the homework assignment is done, a student answers, "Mwalimu (teacher), it defeated me." -- "It's a lot more fun than spending 12 hours a day writing about radiation sensitizers and cell-cycle control genes," she says.
A helper in every sense, Taylor uses her Peace Corps stipend to sponsor students who can't afford tuition, using income from stock investments for her living expenses. Beyond teaching, she has several projects in the works that will be funded in part with dividends from a small business she is connected with in St. Louis, Donna Lee's Honey Mustard, Inc.
Her plan is to develop Ukambani, the part of Kenya inhabited by the Akamba tribe. "Although they usually harvest two crops per year, I witnessed two consecutive failures of the rains, severe draught and famine in my first year." Taylor will build six dams to create a green belt through the area, as well as build water tanks at a higher elevation.
Taylor will also start a public transport business, with her best friend's sons as the driver-mechanics, which will fund solar power and a vocational school. She wants to teach computer applications, train laboratory technicians and establish engineering training programs.
Taylor's experience in Kenya has not been without setback. On April 11, alone in the school compound during a term break, she was assaulted during a robbery and had to be med-evaced to Washington, D.C. Though her attackers have been caught and will be prosecuted, they had beat her with a tree branch and left her with a large gash on her head and a broken hand, for which she required surgery. Despite this ordeal, while recovering she missed her home and was anxious to return to people she loves.
And when she arrived back in early June, her friends visited her daily, bringing gifts of vegetables and fruits, and praying for her, a custom that is part of saying pole (sorry), for her misfortune.
This is what Taylor likes best about Kenya, being loved and appreciated. "While in the States I'm just another Ph.D. scientist struggling to obtain results and publish papers, in Kenya I am a samaki kubwa sana (very big fish)." And her given Kenyan name says it all: Mwende, `The Loved One.'
A good bagel
Drayton Saunders '95 rises early. "Earlier than I ever got up at Colgate." At 4:00 a.m. he's making dough so that when his shop opens at 7:30 his customers will have plenty of bagels to satisfy their breakfast hunger pangs.
But the shop isn't in New York -- not even on the continent. With its opening in March the New York Bagel Bakery introduced the round, chewy breadstuffs to residents of Santiago, Chile.
After graduation, Saunders followed his interest in Latin America to Chile, having spent summers as a volunteer in Costa Rica and Ecuador. He spent five months in an intensive Spanish program to master the language, and looked for job opportunities.
"I would sit in Au Bon Pain drinking coffee and reading the paper, and I noticed lots of growth in fast food," he explains. "I saw one thing missing. A good bagel. And there aren't a lot of new, comfortable cafes geared towards the younger crowd." A market opportunity.
Saunders developed a business plan and searched for property, gutting and remodeling an old house in Santiago's Las Condes section.
"I was lucky. I relied on a lot of people in the States for advice." And he went back to his hometown of Sarasota, FL, to work in a bagel shop. "I've eaten a lot of bagels, been to a couple of bagel brunches at Colgate," but making them was a different story.
He apprenticed with a New York City baker who had relocated to Sarasota and makes bagels the traditional way -- from scratch, boiled and baked. "I didn't get a lot of sleep but I learned how to make bagels."
A year and a half after he started, Saunders was in business. He offers 14 varieties, from plain to jalapeño cheddar. Rye and pumpernickel are a recent challenge -- there's the issue of getting specialty items. "That becomes the difference between having an ok product and an excellent product," he says. "We did get Philly cream cheese, and I brought someone in from Seattle to set up a specialty-roast coffee." To round out the menu: soups, pasta and caesar salads, desserts, and of course, bagel sandwiches. A staff of 13 handles prep work and the register. In typical small-business fashion, Saunders himself bakes two to three days a week, taking turns with his baking staff of two, runs the office and does the marketing.
"It's a catchy name and a lot of Chileans are oriented toward American culture, " he remarks. "Santiago's great. They really take to new ideas here. I advertised in the English newspaper and once the American community found it they started coming here, too. Word is getting around."
Saunders trademarked the name in Chile and Argentina. "I'd love it if I could grow. My desire is to take it to more locations, in Santiago or other countries. Everyone deserves a good bagel."
Covering the issues
In April, Vice President Al Gore announced that David W. Beier '70 would become chief domestic policy advisor.
Beier informs the Vice President on a range of issues that include education, health, crime, space, and others, with a focus on the economy and technology. In his first week, Beier was excited to delve into an initiative Gore announced in his commencement address at NYU, an "Electronic Bill of Rights" that would guarantee the privacy of medical records, Internet transactions and other computerized personal data.
Beier says that his Colgate education (double major in history and urban and African American studies), a J.D. degree from Albany Law, plus his time in the private sector and as a congressional staff person, "have given me a reasonably eclectic background" to bring to this new position. Most recently he was V.P. of government affairs at Genentech, where he worked since 1989 on biotechnology industry issues such as the extension of the R&D Tax Credit. Earlier, for ten years he was counsel to the Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. House of Representatives, assistant counsel for the Committee on Sentencing for New York State's criminal justice system, and a legal services attorney engaged in law reform litigation.
Beier describes the position as "very challenging, a lot of topics." He and his wife Elizabeth have two daughters, ages 12 and 10, and he tries to spend as much time as he can with them as a counter to stress.
"David will be a great addition to the White House staff," said Vice President Gore. "He is well known for his fair and intelligent approach to very complex, but important issues."