The Colgate Scene
September 2000
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People on the go

Wide world of education
When Matt Kline '95 and Marieka Van Tilburg Kline '96 graduated they knew there were two things they wanted to do: teach and travel.

     So they headed for California.

     Matt, originally from Maine, earned his M.A. in education from Pepperdine University, while native Golden Stater Marieka completed her masters work in the same field at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

     Matt's first job was as a third grade teacher, while Marieka taught fifth grade. In the back of their minds, however, the couple's second goal of travel persisted. When they got married in the summer of 1999, Matt and Marieka decided the time was right to begin planning the adventure of a lifetime. The two began to think of a way that they could use their backgrounds in education in conjunction with their dream of taking a trip around the world. The result was the formation of "Edu-Ventures" and the "Go Monty" project.

     "Go Monty" is a program designed to utilize technology, through the creation of an easy-to-use website for children, that is a globally diverse resource for students learning about the world. Monty the Lizard, essentially a tour guide, leads groups of schoolchildren around the world, via the Internet. Students, parents and teachers who log on to www. will be able to follow Monty as he trots the globe visiting many international schools. With a mouse click, children may explore a world of schools, and learn that education is a universal experience, no matter how different classroom or students may look from one another.

     The project is funded through a grant from The Mana Foundation, a nonprofit organization interested in education, preservation and archaeology, specifically in the Pacific Islands.

     The website offers lesson plans for grades one through six that allow educators to effectively incorporate technology, world geography and cultures into their everyday curriculum. For parents, the possibilities for use of the website with their children are endless. Children seem to adore the character of Monty the Lizard and will eagerly follow his progress from school to school as he circles the globe. Matt and Marieka feel the "Go Monty" project will help kids to establish connections around the world through something all children can relate to learning.

     As Matt, Marieka and Monty the Lizard head off on a six-month journey that will take them to places like Greece, Egypt, Nepal, Kenya, Vietnam and the Cook Islands, they are thrilled that they can continue to teach and to learn.

Robert Aberlin and Lou Buttino
A film to heal
Classmates Robert Aberlin and Lou Buttino (1966) are collaborating on a documentary aimed for national broadcast titled The Patriotism of Others: Vietnam and the Boys from Colgate.

     The film is the story of how the Vietnam War affected a generation of young men from Colgate -- those who fought and some who died in the war -- and of those who were opposed to it.

     "The idea just took hold and wouldn't let go of us," said Buttino, who teaches communications studies at University of North Carolina, Wilmington. He wrote the treatment for the documentary he calls "a story "of remembrance and healing."

     It was Aberlin's return to campus for his 25th reunion that began the saga. While at the chapel he noticed plaques for those who died in the world wars, but no commemoration for the Vietnam dead. After emotional research and maddening red tape, Aberlin compiled a list of 20 men (13 of whom died in Viet-nam, seven in training missions), and a plaque was dedicated in 1994. Also established was the Vietnam Memorial Endowed Scholarship in memory of those who "lost their lives in military service during the Vietnam War."

     The entire process unleashed an outpouring of communications. "The letters I've gotten are unbelievable, beautiful letters. I look at them even now and get teary eyed," said Aberlin, who shared some of the stories with Buttino.

     "Vietnam really did have an impact on me and my relationships," said Buttino. "And it seems there has not been a lot of healing. While the nation has finally welcomed the Vietnam veteran home, our generation itself has had little dialogue about our differences and choices."

     The production plan for the documentary calls for an on-campus shoot in the fall with Colgate film students involved in the process. Buttino and Aberlin continue to collect stories and chase down leads, but the structure for the film is in place.

     "It tells a story close to many of us," said Aberlin. "I hope it will help bring people back together and help others understand how a generation was affected by this."

     The ultimate goal of the project is to build up the scholarship fund. "We want to help support students," said Aberlin.

     "This is already the hardest, most emotional film I've worked on," said Buttino. "I have a feeling it will be the most meaningful, too."

     To share stories, contact Lou Buttino at or Robert Aberlin at To lend support, contact Patty Caprio, University Relations, Colgate University, 13 Oak Dr., Hamilton, NY 13346.

Looking for answers
Research has taken Hayley Thompson, PhD, to the streets.

     A postdoctoral research fellow in the Program for Cancer Prevention and Control at the Ruttenberg Cancer Center of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Thompson '91 is conducting a pilot study in East Harlem in which she explores the attitudes of African American women toward genetic testing for cancer. It is part of the New York City medical school's outreach, the East Harlem Partnership for Cancer Awareness, that intends to identify the barriers to cancer screening in the black and Latino communities and to develop programs that address those barriers.

     "It's given me a great way to explore my interests," said Thompson. "There is little known about genetic testing attitudes, but previous work has shown black women express more medical mistrust and are more likely to believe that cancer is unpreventable and untreatable compared to white women."

     Collecting the data is a long, slow process of interviews. But even before the first question can be asked, Thompson works to build trust and establish some sort of credibility in neighborhoods in which so much negative history has accumulated.

     "People are very wary. They know about the Tuskegee syphilis study and they wonder, `what are you going to do to me? How will this information be used to make African Americans look bad?' These are valid concerns."

     While preparing her dissertation at the University of Pittsburgh, Thompson had to recruit African Americans to participate in her study. Armed with that experience, she goes to clinics and residential communities in East Harlem and other parts of the city to begin the process of developing relationships.

From music to medicine
Hayley Thompson came to Colgate wanting to be a music major. She was the pianist with the Sojourners and may have continued in the arts had her love of research not changed her mind. Advised by Professor of Psychology Jack Dovidio, she decided to go into clinical psychology with its multitude of options.

     "At Colgate I really began to see psychology as a tool for community uplift and as way to address the devastating effects racism has had on people of color."

     At Pittsburgh, within its strong behavioral medical program Thompson began the process of data collection and analysis and the racial and cultural influences on cardiovascular disease that set the stage for her postdoctoral position.

     The statistics are chilling but haven't discouraged Thompson. There are higher death rates from breast cancer among black women across all age groups, and 20 percent who have undergone testing for the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes, which increase a black woman's risk of developing breast cancer, never bother to get their results, as opposed to two percent of white women.

     Explained Thompson, "Breast cancer carries a stigma, and finding out you carry a genetic mutation that may affect your daughter's risk can be very distressing. It all ties together with conflict about being tested in the first place."

     Despite skepticism, Hayley Thompson pushes forward. "What I really appreciate about a lot of the research I've been able to conduct and contribute to is that I can see its effect on people's lives." JDH

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