Matt Clark ’95 and Katie Kraft Clark ’95 after receiving their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine
Clark assists with development of COVID-19 vaccine
U.S. Army Col. Matt Clark ’95 is answering the call of duty in the fight against COVID-19 as a program manager for Federal COVID Response, the group formerly known as Operation Warp Speed (OWS). The program is a public and private partnership within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that is responsible for developing, manufacturing and distributing COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics for the nation.
In his role, Clark’s main focus is on vaccine development for the six leading vaccines against COVID-19. He leads and guides other program managers and collaborates and coordinates across six program coordinating teams supporting leadership at the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority in the Department of Health and Human Services.
In December, Clark participated in a panel hosted by the University of Iowa and Supply Chain Policy Research Consortium for the webinar “COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution: Understanding how the supply chain works and its challenges.” Clark discussed how it has been possible to coordinate the development and distribution of the vaccine so quickly. He explained that while most vaccines are created using a linear process where one step must be completed before moving on to the next, the COVID-19 vaccine was developed using overlapping processes that could be performed simultaneously. This was possible due to the urgent need for the vaccine, the unusual amount of press around product development, exceptional collaborations and coordination and the amount of resources available provided by all partners and stakeholders participating in the whole-of-America approach.
Clark assured the webinar audience that although the vaccine was developed quickly, all necessary clinical trials and safety processes still were administered. “The speed of our collective success is not due to cutting corners. It is instead due to working harder to hold ourselves to a high standard as collaborators working toward a shared vision and goal. It is also doing it while using resources — and that’s not just money — but all national resources as fully as possible across the aspects of the supply chain,” he said.
Clark’s Coe education, Army career and extensive experience in organizational leadership and medical technology have prepared him well for his current mission. At Coe, Clark majored in psychology and was a member of the Army ROTC program, graduating as an ROTC Distinguished Military Graduate. He earned his doctorate in behavioral and neural sciences from Rutgers University in 2000 and is a certified project management professional and Army War College graduate in strategic studies. He is currently on hiatus from his position as director of office medical systems for the Army while he serves with Federal COVID Response. Amid his many professional responsibilities, he also serves on Coe’s Alumni Council. He is married to fellow Kohawk Katie Kraft Clark ’95, and their son Griffin Clark ’21 is a senior at Coe and a member of the Army ROTC program.
Bridging the gap between counseling and spiritual care at Coe
Kohawks have one of campus’s best kept secrets right under their beaks. For many of life’s biggest questions, people oftentimes turn to counselors or clergy members for answers. At Coe, students find both in the Rev. Melea White, who serves as Coe’s college chaplain and counselor. A role that is more unique than most realize.
As an ordained minister with graduate degrees in social work and divinity, White dove into the opportunity to combine two professions that traditionally are kept apart. Before joining the staff at Coe in 2017, she was a therapist at St. Luke’s Hospital with years of mental health experience seeing Coe students.
“I’m in my dream job and am in the exact place I am meant to be. I was already using my counseling and social work background, and adding the ministry piece was the perfect combination of my degrees,” White says. “It’s a beautiful partnership. Whatever is happening to students, my role is to be with them. I get to walk alongside them as they find their way.”
Her role as chaplain is to provide an open space for students to be vulnerable. A chaplain doesn’t impose their own beliefs onto others, but instead provides students with encouragement to discover their own voice.
“Students can bring their grief, loneliness, questions and uncertainties. Some students ask big questions during college about things like the meaning of life, finding their purpose, identity and religious beliefs. That’s where counseling and spiritual care go hand in hand. I try to see things holistically,” White says.
This holistic approach to body, mind and spirit wellness stems from her background as a counselor. White believes the body, mind, heart and spirit are woven together and cannot be separated. She has witnessed how mental health conditions can lead to physical manifestations such as fatigue, headaches or an elevated heart rate.
White meets with Coe students for both counseling and spiritual care. She also oversees and develops programming for the Religious and Spiritual Life Office and serves the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. One of the most influential groups White leads is Peer Ministry, an inclusive interfaith student leadership program where she trains student peer ministers to be empathetic listeners to further support students.
“I’ve grown and have done a lot of reflection about what kind of spiritual care students need and what they will respond to,” she says.
White keeps herself energized with yoga, meditation and translating Greek as her primary spiritual practices. She credits virtual talks with her girlfriends as a saving grace during challenging times.
“I’m lucky to do what I get to do, and I love getting to work in a religiously diverse setting,” she says.
Margaret LeMay (left) and
Kate Aspengren (right)
Poetry, books and afternoon tea connect Kohawks during a pandemic
Amid the turmoil of an unprecedented global health crisis last spring, Coe College faculty members rose to the challenge of converting to online learning and building a sense of community. The English Department relied on the healing power of words to brew opportunities for their students.
“Poetry is a way to get a lot of emotion in a few words. Maybe you don't have time to write a novel of how you feel about 2020, but you can write down a few lines,” Assistant Professor of English Margaret LeMay said.
For LeMay, it all started when the spring term of 2020 was cut short due to COVID-19. She began to ask her poetry students to turn in voice memos of their poems and video responses to readings and each other’s work. LeMay noticed students opened up like never before. The submissions were creative with a few including visuals or elements of music. As the spring term came to a close, she also wanted to extend the chance for students to continue honing their craft. She began hosting a monthly poem exchange with online readings through the summer and fall.
“I wanted to make it clear I wasn’t offering this as a grading instructor and that there would be no specific expectations. It was my way of saying anyone that wanted to continue writing could do so because you love poetry and would love to have these conversations,” LeMay said.
Retired professor Dr. Ann Struthers is an essential member of the group. Struthers taught poetry at Coe for decades and was the national fellowship advisor. She has been influential to student work. Luckily, LeMay’s students are not the only members of Coe enjoying her company. Struthers also is a part of Thursday Tea and a book club organized by Assistant Professor of English Kate Aspengren.
“Students adore her. She talks about poetry, and we celebrated her birthday virtually,” Aspengren said.
Thursday Tea became a department staple in 2015 after Aspengren and a group of students returned from a May Term in England. They started having afternoon tea every other Thursday for an informal catch-up on their lives and even pop culture. Thursday Tea is so popular it now has a mix of students, faculty and alumni. The tradition continues to thrive as a weekly virtual tea time that inspired the creation of a new book club in April 2020. The book club recently finished their eighth book.
“I think we all crave a sense of normalcy. It’s important for them to see each other and for me to see them. We don't have an agenda. We talk about lots of topics, and when we met in person several conversations happened at once. The idea was not to be academic. It’s just a chance to get together,” Aspengren said.
Aspengren was determined to continue giving playwriting students the opportunity to experience a production of their play. The eighth annual PlayWalk Festival was virtual last fall.
“We have a great opportunity. The power of the human voice has always been important. I think it has opened everyone’s eyes to new ways of learning that are conducive to building community as well,” LeMay said.
Honoring the life of Coach Steve Staker
The Staker family is celebrating Steve’s incredible legacy with a new scoreboard at Clark Field, and they invite the Coe community to be part of this special commemorative project. Go to www.alumni.coe.edu/stakerscoreboard to make a gift.
Marley Carviou ’22
Carviou keeps calm and carries on with exclusive FOX Sports internship during COVID-19
In the winter of 2020, Marley Carviou ’22 landed a summer internship most can only dream of. With her plans set to complete an internship with FOX Sports in Los Angeles in the summer of 2020, COVID-19 derailed any chance of fun under the California sun. But there was a rainbow on the other side of stormy clouds when Carviou’s Los Angeles internship was rescheduled for the summer of 2021. Meanwhile, she was offered a virtual internship in place of her planned trip.
Carviou completed a virtual four-week studio programming internship made possible by “FOX NFL Sunday” co-host and Coe Trustee Curt Menefee ’87. The internship is exclusively available to Kohawks through Coe’s C3: Creativity, Careers, Community center. C3 facilitates networking and internship opportunities between alumni and students. With nearly 4,000 alumni in the Cedar Rapids corridor alone and thousands more across the globe, Coe’s efforts have been recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the Top 25 Best Schools for Internships in the U.S. for three years in a row.
“I’ve never been in a newsroom, and I’ve never done anything behind a camera other than the simple stuff. It definitely opened my eyes a lot more. You don’t realize how many people it takes to do one small thing and how many facets of the job there are. We talked to music composers and the people who do the camera work and the editing. It was very cool to see how these high-end producers and top executives led the teams and how they got to where they are,” Carviou said.
During the virtual program, interns attended master classes, networked with the staff of FOX Sports and worked on group projects creating ads. Carviou added the best part of the internship was the connections she made with the staff of FOX Sports and her fellow interns. Working with people from all over the country and with different backgrounds presented her with networking opportunities she didn’t have before the internship.
“[The people from the master classes] were willing to give out their contact information. I found a lot of them on LinkedIn really easily and have been able to connect with them from there. It’s just great because now in the future if I need help, I have those connections. I’m very thankful to Curt for providing me with the opportunity to partake in the internship,” Carviou said.
Carviou will travel to Los Angeles this summer to participate in the eight-week internship as originally planned. The paid position with FOX Sports includes travel expenses to and from California, the cost of summer housing, transportation and meals all provided thanks to Menefee’s generosity.
Read more about this internship opportunity made possible by Menefee at www.coe.edu/marley-carviou-fox-internship.
#KohawkDay is April 8!
The countdown is on! #KohawkDay is just one month away, and there are many ways you can get involved.
- Make a gift. (Busy on April 8? Make your gift early and it will count toward goals and challenges on #KohawkDay.)
- Sign up to be a Challenge Leader or Social Ambassador.
- Track our progress throughout the day.
- Follow along on social media and share your Kohawk pride.
- Join the treasure hunt to win prizes!
Visit alumni.coe.edu/kohawkday for unfolding details as the big day approaches.
Coe College Physics Alumni
Coe’s internationally recognized Physics Department ranks within the top 2% of physics departments nationwide, recently earning the 2021 Award for Improving Undergraduate Physics Education from the American Physical Society. To show prospective students what makes Coe’s program so special, a few alumni shared just how much their Coe physics education meant to them.
Coe College Office of Advancement upgrades to new constituent database
The Coe Office of Advancement is undergoing a database conversion to Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT, a fundraising and alumni management software. This system upgrade will allow the college to serve our alumni, parents and friends more effectively and efficiently, and furthers our commitment to investing in improved technology in accordance with our current strategic plan, A Bolder Coe.
After months of preparation, the final conversion process began on March 1 and is scheduled to be completed on March 16. As a result, the Office of Advancement is unable to issue receipts or thank you letters for gifts made to the college during this timeframe. Once the process is complete, receipts and letters will be issued to all donors who gave during the blackout period. The Office of Advancement thanks these donors for their patience, and Coe thanks all donors for their commitment to the college.
Courier Class Notes deadline is March 15
Estate planning made easy
Creating an estate plan allows you to provide for and protect your loved ones by specifying how you want your property distributed. Completing your plan and achieving peace of mind doesn’t have to be complicated. While an attorney should always draft your will, the Coe Office of Advancement can help demystify the process and prepare you to meet with your attorney. Click here to request your copy of our free “Planning Your Legacy” wills guide.
Kohawk Kickoff Week
Monday, April 12, 2021 - Friday, April 16, 2021
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Join us for Kohawk Kickoff Week!
Grants Workshop with Mario
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Save the date; more information coming soon.
Poet: Neil Hilborn
Thursday, April 15, 2021
8:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Student Development - Campus Life
Do you enjoy slam poetry? Join SAC for a night of poetry with Neil Hilborn!