The Colgate Scene
July 2005

People on the go

Rick Roth '75, creator and organizer of the Pawtucket Film Festival, at the Amnesty International office in Somerville, Mass. Many of the posters behind him reflect campaigns that he organized and directed. [Photo by Margo Cooper '76]


Roth took a bit of license to express his activism on the sign at the Plough and Stars, a favorite live music venue in his Cambridge neighborhood. Both photos are by Roth's Colgate friend, Margo Cooper '76.
The links page of the Mirror Image, Inc., screenprinting company website, Mirrorimage.com, is a reflection of owner Rick Roth '75.

There are few of the industry links you'd expect to see there. Instead, there's a link to Amnesty International, which the Connecticut native has been a part of for 24 years. Another link details the opening of a new school in Pakistan that honors Iqbal Masih, a slain 12-year-old former slave and human rights activist. (Roth helped Quincy, Mass., middle school students raise the money for the school.) And then, at the very bottom of the list, is a link to "Easy Air Guitar."

Roth may be a serious activist, but that doesn't mean he's always serious.

"I think most of the stuff I do, I have a good time doing it," Roth said.

The list of stuff Roth does is considerable. In April, he worked with "Get on the Bus," a project that transports hundreds of New England students to New York City for a day of human rights action and education. In September, Mirror Image will produce and sell T-shirts to raise money for the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic. Roth is also on the board of Free Tibet and is active in Farm Aid, child labor issues, and the anti-sweat shop movement. He's been an activist for most of his adult life.

"One of the earliest things I did was join Amnesty International," Roth said. A month after his first daughter was born, he went to his first meeting. "I felt [that] making the world a better place was part of being a parent." His four oldest daughters are now activists, and after remarrying last year, he has four more new children at home -- even more reason to continue his activism.

In conjunction with his social work, he has also successfully cultivated a reputation for quality alongside responsible business practices for Mirror Image. The pro-worker and pro-union shop printed the 2002 official Superbowl T-shirts, and won three Impressions Awards in 2004, including the coveted Grand Champion title. Impressions Awards set the standard for quality in the industry. The industry, however, Roth said, is becoming progressively challenging.

"I'm trying to expand marketing of my business," Roth explained. "A lot of work has gone overseas." It's a doubly important challenge, since the success of his business impacts his activism.

Roth's interest in helping others extends back to his first year at Colgate, he said. He remembers friends, professors, and renowned visiting speakers as profound influences on him ethically.

"Many students I was there with and many professors, I think, were pretty damn influential in a positive way," he said.

Friends often asked him for help with a cause. Professors encouraged awareness. He learned activism, he said, from all of them. Now, he tries to put the people he knows in the same situation -- asking them to lend a hand.

"If they think that you're going to accomplish something in the end, that Tibet will be free or some [unjustly held] prisoner will get out of jail, I find most people will help," he said. "I think everybody wants to do good. A lot of people just don't know how. And I guess somebody showed me the way."
— Vicki L. Wilson


Voiceover artist and actor Michael Yurchak '94
[Photo by Ryan Jenson]

You probably don't know Michael Yurchak '94. But you probably have heard his voice. A lot.

With hundreds of television and radio commercials to his credit, Yurchak currently serves as the voice of the daily morning talk show Cold Pizza on ESPN 2 and is also a regular promotional voice for Cartoon Network.

He'll soon be heard on national radio spots for the new Coke with lime, Volkswagen, and Ambien, as well as television spots for Cingular Wireless and in the newest version of the popular video game Grand Theft Auto. So if you have kids, watch sports, play video games, or just listen to the radio, you have probably heard Yurchak some time in the past few years.

Yurchak has also appeared in a handful of films (including Puddle Cruiser and Club Dread with fellow Colgate alumni, Broken Lizard) and had guest-starring roles on several television shows, including Roswell; Men, Women, & Dogs; and the The Drew Carey Show.

He gives a lot of credit for his broad range of work to Colgate, where he was the first person to graduate with a major in theater. (Theater had been offered as a minor prior to 1994).

"The work we did at Colgate provided a solid foundation for me to get started professionally," Yurchak said. "The combination of reading and talking about great plays and actually having the opportunity to experiment with different techniques whetted my appetite."

He recalled working with David Pinner and Jacques Levy, former directors in the Colgate theater department.

"They both had long careers in theater before coming to Colgate. The chance to work with people like that is really special. Sometimes we butted heads a little, but that was mostly me being 20," said Yurchak. After graduating, he moved to Los Angeles, where he pursued his on-screen and voice-over careers. He was also a house team performer at The Improv Olympic West, a satellite company of Chicago's Second City, and created his own show, Edgy, with writing partner Jim Edwards '94, which was produced at the HBO Work Space and other venues around L.A.

It was while he was in L.A. that he got a call from the Broken Lizard comedy group -- Jay Chandrasekhar '90, Kevin Heffernan '90, Steve Lemme '91, Paul Soter '91, and Erik Stolhanske '91 -- about appearing in Puddle Cruiser.

Yurchak had performed with them in Charred Goosebeak comedy shows at Colgate. He caught up with them again for an acting role in 2004's Club Dread.

"They are like my big brothers," he said.

Moving back to the East Coast in 2002, Yurchak completed his master's degree in educational theater from New York University last summer. While continuing to pursue his own work, he is a teaching artist for The New Victory Theater, a Broadway house that provides opportunities for inner-city students to see and learn about theater. This summer he is a faculty member at The Powerhouse Theater and New York Stage and Film's Summer Apprentice Program at Vassar College.

A principal voice (Okhi) on Hey! Spring of Trivia for Spike TV, he also performed two of the principal character voices for the animated pilot Childhood for Noodle Soup Productions and is slated to begin filming The Lather Effect later this year.

Yurchak, who lives in Brooklyn with his wife Molly Foran '96, said his highlight CD includes jobs as the official spokesperson for such companies as Pacific Sunwear and KBKids.com.

Of his time at Colgate, he said, "I enjoyed everything. If I had to pick one thing that stands out, it would probably be doing Equus my senior year. It is such a tough play and we were so excited and scared and desperate to do it. It was just a great final project for all of us."
— Tim O'Keeffe

Sound clips of Yurchak's voices can be found in the news archives at www.colgate.edu.
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