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  • Norwich alum Michelle LeBlanc '92  is looking to take her Vermont Paws & Boots service dog business “to the next level.”

    Norwich alum Michelle LeBlanc '92 is looking to take her Vermont Paws & Boots service dog business “to the next level.”

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    Norwich to host First Lego League (FLL) VT State championship on Saturday, Jan. 28.

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    Norwich with the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center on March 7 to hold a free full-day course on Cybersecurity Resiliency in Industrial Control Systems at VTC Williston.

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    Norwich recognizes and remembers Colonel Tim Donovan, NU Class of ’62

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The Norwich Record | Summer 2017

Norwich Fulbright recipient Joshua Tulloch ’11 during his days as a Marine lieutenant.
Norwich Fulbright recipient Joshua Tulloch ’11 during his days as a Marine lieutenant.

Joshua Tulloch ’11 has won a Fulbright scholarship to serve as an English teaching assistant in the Czech Republic. He found inspiration during his deployment with the Marines in Japan, spending his off hours teaching English to local residents. “In the late evening, I would meet with a group of 20 to 30 Japanese citizens, both young and old, from a variety of backgrounds,” he wrote in his Fulbright application. “This was by far the most enriching experience of my tour overseas.” He chose the Czech Republic for personal reasons, citing his great-grandfather, who immigrated to the U.S. from what was then Czechoslovakia.

Having majored in biology with an English minor, Tulloch credits English Professor Patricia Ferreira for challenging him to “break out of my narrow views of other countries and peoples.” He completes his active duty service July 1, and leaves for the Czech Republic in August.

 

The Norwich Record | Winter 2018

Brian Bill ’01
Brian Bill ’01

Vermont has suffered the most military casualties per capita of all 50 states in the Middle East wars. Responding to this startling statistic in 2006, NU Communications Professor Bill Estill began a student-produced film documentary project, Vermont Fallen. Screened in February 2007, it contained footage from 75 interviews gleaned from more than 50 hours of filming, and earned national attention with segments airing on NBC Nightly News. This past spring, Estill and his students completed a 2014 update to Vermont Fallen to include the stories of those killed since the last release. Among those newly honored is Chief Petty Officer Brian R. Bill ’01, a U.S. Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan in 2011. Estill has long fostered student talent at Norwich University in the making of award-winning films, including In Country, a documentary about the Vietnam War that won a national student Emmy in 1999. View the -houlong film. Watch a documentary about Brian Bill.

BY JACQUE E. DAY
The Norwich Record | Winter 2017

 

“If you want to be successful, it’s just this simple. Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe in what you are doing.”

– Will Rogers

Scroll to the bottom of the article for descriptions of the filmstrip photos.
Scroll to the bottom of the article for descriptions of the filmstrip photos.

On a Sunday during the fall semester of his rook year, a weary Michael Rizzuto ’97 marched with his classmates from campus up Union Brook Road to Jack Abare ’57’s sloping, 140-acre farm. By then, he’d already resigned himself. “I was ready to give up and quit school,” Mike recalls. But that day, taking part in Jack’s annual Rook Dining Out, he was overcome with a powerful feeling: hope. He returned to campus with a renewed spirit, and to this day feels a deep gratitude to the Abare family. “They are the reason I stayed in the game,” he avows. “I owe them a lot.”

Mike is a Hollywood film-industry executive. If you ask him about his job, his response almost always includes some variation of the word “helping.” Radiating positive energy and shying away from titles, Mike has come a long way from the kid who started out in the shipping department of Sony Pictures, and is the first to admit he had a lot of help along the way.

Long before he set out for Hollywood, Mike probably knew, somewhere in his heart, that he’d eventually head west. As a student at Northfield Mount Hermon prep school in western Massachusetts, he started a video production company with his brother, Anthony. During that time, helpers in his life pointed him toward Norwich. “I owe a great deal to Jim ’87 and Cynthia Fagan ’88, and Tony Carbone ’58,” he says. And his gratitude list goes on: Joe ’66 and Jill VC’66 Milano, Charley Holden ’67 and his wife, Kathy, and Pier Mapes ’59, “people who are generous with their time and their financial help,” Mike says. “It was because of their generosity that I got to experience Norwich.”

While his heart was in filmmaking, he entered Norwich with another aspiration: to be a Navy pilot. But engineering wasn’t a fit, and his grades plummeted.

Faced with the prospect of flunking out, he wandered into the Communications Building, “the little schoolhouse,” on the south edge of campus. There, he encountered another helper: Professor Bill Estill. “I remember it vividly,” Mike says, “the creaking of the door, the wood floors. I remember Bill saying, ‘Well, hello. How can I help you?’”

Mike thrived as a communications major, and still considers his role on the Estill team that produced the Emmy-winning documentary Our American Journey: In Country one of his most valued life experiences. From Estill, he learned the craft of filmmaking. But the professor also taught him something more profound. “Your parents want what is best for you. Your friends want what is best for you. Your teachers want what is best for you. But ultimately, you have to dig deep inside to figure out what makes you happy and passionate and excited,” he says. “Bill helped me do that.”

Mike smiles at the recol-lection of sitting outside the Communications Building with fellow classmates Jake Head and Bobby Carroll a year before graduation. “The three of us were talking about California. We looked at each other and we all said the same thing, “I’ll go if you go.”

The next year, they did.

Norwich 1997 classmates Mike Rizzuto (left) and Jake Head in front of the Technicolor world headquarters at Sunset Gower Studios. After years working behind the scenes in the biz, Jake (right) now makes his living as a full-time actor. “I am not surprised that Mike has become a leader in our industry,” Jake says. “He looks out for his troops in true Norwich tradition.” Photo by Anthony Rizzuto.[/caption]
Norwich 1997 classmates Mike Rizzuto (left) and Jake Head in front of the Technicolor world headquarters at Sunset Gower Studios. After years working behind the scenes in the biz, Jake (right) now makes his living as a full-time actor. “I am not surprised that Mike has become a leader in our industry,” Jake says. “He looks out for his troops in true Norwich tradition.” Photo by Anthony Rizzuto.

“When I came out to California to pursue acting, Mike put me up while I got on my feet,” says Jake, now a successful Hollywood actor. “I didn’t have a car, so we shared his. We were hit by a drunk driver and lost his Jeep. So then we shared his Ugly Duckling rental car, and it was ugly.” Mike—along with Richard Branca ’78, who by then had already made a name for himself in motion-picture post production—helped Jake get his first industry job at Sony Pictures. Mike opened doors that led Jake to acting opportunities. Later, when Jake landed his first major film role, “Mike made sure that I had a big-time Hollywood premiere.”

Of the three, Bobby Carroll ’97 was the only one not to pursue work in entertainment—he landed in the finance business. “I was a communications major and had zero training in finance,” jokes Bobby, who worked on the West Coast for a few years, then returned east to make a name for himself on Wall Street. Today he is a partner and head trader for Smith Cove Capital in Connecticut. “The thing that Mike used to do, coming from a big family, very proud Italian—he would host Sunday dinners,” Bobby recalls. “It was something everyone looked forward to.”

“Jake, Mike and I — we had such good work ethic that we got from Norwich. It was really an advantage out there. We outworked everyone.”

– Bobby Carroll ’97

Jake chimes in. “Those Sunday dinners included our extended Norwich family—Bobby, Jack Ryan ’99, Dom Bonelli ’00, Marshall Lee ’03, Steve Martin ’01. A lot of our L.A. friends were envious of the Norwich bond,” Jake says, adding, “Professor Estill would send his top students out to us, and Mike would help them get their foot in the door. Mike has a loyalty and devotion to his alma mater that is really special.”

But Mike’s success didn’t come without bumps in the road. “There were many times I was ready to give up, throw in the towel,” he admits. “Because of Jake, I stayed.”

He not only stayed. He persevered, and succeeded. They all did.

On his way to becoming an industry executive, Mike Rizzuto has done every job imaginable, from running errands on set to supervising post production. Today, Mike continues to bridge filmmakers at every level with the talent, the tools, and the technology to tell their stories. He’s proud to have led the technical sound team that won both the Oscar and British Academy Award for their work on Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash. To what he loves most about his job, Mike shares that he is “grateful to be surrounded by a team of very talented individuals,” speaking with an eternal smile. “I believe if you work hard and be kind, anything is possible.”

J.E.D.


FILMSTRIP PHOTOS

Mike Rizzuto ’97’s wife, Lauren (pictured with son, Charlie), is a hairstylist for ABC Studios. They are expecting a second child in the spring. “I can’t tell you how much love, how much excitement, and how much joy my wife and son have brought to my life.”

Shortly before Lisa Totz ’96 stopped by to snap this photo outside the Communications Building, then-juniors Mike, Jake, and Bobby were discussing their dream of going to California, promising, “I’ll go if you go.” Pictured (l-r): Jake Head ’97, Mike Rizzuto ’97, Joel Fox ’97, Bobby Carroll ’97, and Alex Bryant ’97.

In his early years in the film business, when he was working as a post-production coordinator for Sony, Mike Rizzuto ’97 told the Norwich Record, “My goal is to make motion pictures and make them well.” Today, he is a film-industry executive with Technicolor at Paramount. Pictured: Technicolor flagship Stage 1 at Paramount Pictures, where Denzel Washington directed the Oscar-nominated movie, Fences, based on the play by August Wilson. (Photo by Rodrigo Ortiz.)

“Through our years here at Norwich we have learned to use our minds efficiently in the classroom, our hands diligently in the workplace, and our hearts with compassion in the community.”

– Mike Rizzuto, senior class president, in the War Whoop

 

Norwich University’s Counseling and Wellness Center has been awarded a grant of $88,000 from a private philanthropist working with the JED Foundation to participate in a strategic planning initiative for mental health and suicide prevention on campus through collaboration with “JED Campus” over the next four years.

Norwich was one of six Vermont schools to receive funding, along with Middlebury College, Landmark College, Castleton College, Green Mountain College, and Vermont Technical College. The Jed Foundation (JED) is a leading nonprofit organization that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for teens and young adults through JED Campus. This is a nationwide initiative designed to help colleges and universities assess and enhance their policies, programs and systems to help support the emotional well-being of their students and look for ways to reduce suicide and serious substance abuse.

“Having additional support for students who may or may not seek counseling is an important goal of our center,” Director Nicole Krotinger said. “By helping with preventative and psycho-educational materials for our students we would hope they would be better prepared to prosper in life. The online resource center, screening tools, and webinars will be wonderful additions in our ability to reach more students on and off campus.”

The grant is $22,000 over four years. The money pays for a JED campus consultant to work with Norwich’s team and to visit campus; two years of the “Healthy Minds Study” survey administered to students and then evaluated; free webinars offered for staff throughout the four years; and an online resource component for mental health screening tools and psychoeducation for students.

As a “JED Campus,” Norwich will complete a multiyear data-informed strategic plan that enhances the work that is already being done and assesses systems change over time and how that change affects student outcomes, helping to create positive, lasting, and systemic change in the campus community. JED Campus is grounded in an evidence-based model, which is used to assess all efforts underway on campus to identify existing strengths and areas for improvement. This effort will be championed by campus senior leadership and viewed as a campuswide priority, responsibility and shared value.

Norwich University’s Counseling and Wellness Center is assembling a multidisciplinary team of staff, faculty and students to take on this critical endeavor.

* * *

About JED Campus

JED Campus is an initiative of JED designed to guide schools through a collaborative process of comprehensive systems, program and policy development with customized support to build upon existing student mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention efforts. JED Campuses embark on a four-year strategic partnership with JED that not only assesses and enhances the work that is already being done, but helps to create positive, systemic change in the campus community jedcampus.org.

Media contact:
Daphne E. Larkin M’17
Director of media relations and community affairs
Office: 1 (802) 485-2886
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

BY DIANA L. WEGGLER
The Norwich Record | Spring 2015

Lea Williams is writing a book on the life and accomplishments of early-20th-century nurse Ellen N. La Motte. (Photo by Mark Collier.)

Associate Professor Lea Williams decided to write about early-20th-century nurse Ellen N. La Motte, not because La Motte was an outstanding nurse — which she was — but because she was one of a generation of women who used their profession as a means of making their opinions known to a greater audience, through their writings. “Studying La Motte’s life and works helps us to understand...how women used nursing as a way of inserting themselves into public conversations about topics they saw as related—the vote and politics, for example,” Williams says.

Williams first wrote about La Motte, along with several other American and British wartime nurses, while working on her dissertation on the topic of women at war. And although her original thought was to turn that work into a book, she discovered that her true interest lay primarily with La Motte.

“I was fascinated by La Motte’s story and did some additional research while I was completing my Ph.D., such as attempting to locate members of her family to see if there were any surviving papers or letters,” Williams says.

While she didn’t find La Motte’s relatives then, she did start to gather some tidbits of information that would help her later. Williams says she has since found several wonderful information sources that have helped her better understand La Motte’s intellectual and professional growth.

After joining Norwich’s English department in 2006, Williams decided to learn as much as she could about this nurse turned public health advocate, writer, and suffragette.

“I wanted to see if there was a larger story about her to tell,” Williams says.

Her initial research led to the publication of two articles by Williams on La Motte: one in Nursing History Review, and a brief biographical entry in American National Biography, both last year.

In June 2014, Williams was awarded an H-15 grant from the American Association for the History of Nursing to continue her research into La Motte’s life and writings. She views the award as a validation of her scholarly efforts.

“It is an honor to receive support from an organization outside my field,” Williams says, “because in a way it proves the value of the work I am pursuing.”

During her research, Williams says she learned a great deal about war nursing, a topic she has been able to draw on for her literature and writing classes.

“These writings observe war from a unique perspective,” she says.

Through writing — and eventually publishing — La Motte’s biography, Williams hopes to cast light on this extraordinary woman’s life and accomplishments: After attending the prestigious Johns Hopkins Training School for Nurses, La Motte acquired a national reputation as an anti-tuberculosis nurse and public health protector. She also fought for women’s voting rights, lived in Europe before the start of World War I, cared for Allied soldiers on the Western front, traveled through Asia, and was an antiopium crusader.

Throughout her lifetime, La Motte wrote prolifically, publishing seven books and dozens of articles in publications including The Nation and The Atlantic Monthly.

“Her life and work provide an opportunity to reflect on public health nursing, women’s campaign for the vote, war and nursing, and the international opium trade,” Williams says. “By tracing her life and analyzing her writings about these topics, I hope to make a contribution to the scholarship in these fields.”

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  • Norwich alum Michelle LeBlanc '92  is looking to take her Vermont Paws & Boots service dog business “to the next level.”

    Norwich alum Michelle LeBlanc '92 is looking to take her Vermont Paws & Boots service dog business “to the next level.”

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  • Norwich to host First Lego League (FLL) VT State championship on Saturday, Jan. 28.

    Norwich to host First Lego League (FLL) VT State championship on Saturday, Jan. 28.

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  • Norwich with the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center on March 7 to hold a free full-day course on Cybersecurity Resiliency in Industrial Control Systems at VTC Williston.

    Norwich with the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center on March 7 to hold a free full-day course on Cybersecurity Resiliency in Industrial Control Systems at VTC Williston.

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  • Norwich recognizes and remembers Colonel Tim Donovan, NU Class of ’62

    Norwich recognizes and remembers Colonel Tim Donovan, NU Class of ’62

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    Norwich Men's Soccer player Joey Thongsythavong recognized as a First Team All-American.

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