by Kara Petrovic // Fall 2010

Go on an African safari

My most memorable trip was to Africa. While there, I visited the Ivory Coast, and it was amazing to stand and look out across the Atlantic Ocean and imagine that many years ago slaves were transported to the United States. Learning the different cultures of West Africa, including its food and dress was also a great experience. Another one of my most heart-warming trips included a visit to Cape Town, South Africa. I visited various sites and traveled down the coast of South Africa, where I went on a safari. Riding in an open jeep and looking for wild animals running loose was amazing. I think often of my travels to Africa, and I hope to return one day.

Yvonne N. McCay
B.B.A. ’86

Know your historical facts

I enjoyed taking history classes while pursuing my undergraduate degree at UMKC. The study of history has given me a perspective on my civil engineering practice that allows me to understand and explain how a built environment shapes a community. As a senior water resource engineer with HDR Engineering, Inc., I spend a lot of time working on the Brush Creek Flood Control Project. Knowing the history of Kansas City has helped me understand where the rivers were and why certain decisions were made at the time. Without knowing the background of the city, it’s difficult to make future decisions. Studying history also gave me the knowledge to ask, “Why was it built like this?” “Why was it built there?” Answering these historical questions is important because for me to help fix the problem, I have to first find out how the problem was built.

Thomas James Kimes
B.S. ’87

Read a book with meaning

The best book I’ve read is Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. The story takes place during the later stages of World War II and is ultimately about individuality, taking a stand and overcoming adversity in a world of contradictions and rules. I’ve read it four times. The book is really funny, and there have been numerous times I’ve found myself laughing so hard I start crying. The characters are also well-developed and become silhouettes of actual people, and by the end of the story there’s a real meaning you can walk away with. I first read the book in high school during an advanced literature class. The teacher sold me on the book, and I still remember a lecture he gave on the climax of the book, which had him throwing chalk in the air to demonstrate a point. And in what other novel is there a character named Major Major Major Major? I mean, that’s reason enough to read it!

Raymond A. Cattaneo
M.D. ’03

Revisit destinations through photos

One of the best places I’ve traveled was the Mayan ancient ruins in Mexico. I went on a cruise with a friend, and we took a day excursion to see the ruins. I think anyone who gets the chance to visit them should, because they are a part of history. Seeing them up close puts everything into perspective, because you get to see the tools and artifacts they used. I also have a renewed appreciation for the ruins because my daughter just finished an art appreciation class at UMKC, and part of what she studied for that class I saw during my trip. During our discussions, I got my photos back out and had the chance to relive the experience of being there. She got to see pictures of secret altars we found at the pyramid we climbed, which were similar to pictures in her book. After getting my photos out and looking through them with my daughter, we’ve definitely talked about going back to visit the ruins together.

Shawn McFerrin
B.A. ’97

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Since playing Dorothy in my sixth grade play, my favorite movie has been The Wizard of Oz. The movie has always reminded me how important good friends and family are in life, and that home is where the heart is. I own several copies of the movie both on DVD and VHS and watch it whenever it’s on TV. And to this day I still love red shoes and own several pairs, because they make the perfect accent to just about any outfit. I even wore ruby slippers under my wedding dress. I felt like I was playing Dorothy all over again.

Julie Brown Longly
M.D. ’00

Explore Alaska’s scenery

The absolute best vacation I ever took was to Alaska. I have traveled around the globe, and I have yet to find a place where I can drive a couple of miles out of a town and feel completely and utterly alone in the vast wilderness. The wildlife is unlike any you can see in the lower 48 states. Alaska also provides the opportunity to do things I love like fishing and rafting, and it includes some of the tallest mountains, including Denali, which is amazing. Alaska is one place that no one should leave this earth without visiting at least once.

Allison Burke Gardner
M.S.N. ’05

Learn outside the classroom

I really enjoyed the class Urban Planning Studio 4, because part of it took place in New Orleans. Our class was able to visit the city four times that semester thanks to a grant we received from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and through private donations we collected. Our studio was given the challenge of using heritage tourism to promote economic prosperity for post-Katrina New Orleans.

We investigated neighborhoods outside the French Quarter with tourism destinations and eventually narrowed our focus on the neighborhoods of Treme and Mid-City with the Laffitte Corridor connecting them. New Orleans is a fabulous city, and to be able to say that your work has helped to rebuild the culture of this city feels pretty great. It definitely felt like we were making a difference and learning from real world experience. As an alumna, it’s nice to see that the Department of Architecture, Urban Planning and Design continues to do great work down there.

Vanessa Spartan
B.A. ’06

Class of 2030
Epic career’s final chapter