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18-Karat Co-ops


Co-op leaves an imprint for life on students, and often, on the firms they work for. Co-op has been a life-saver and a career-maker for many. Below is a brief sampling.

Date: 8/10/2005 12:00:00 AM
By: Mary Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Dottie Stover and provided by alumni

UC ingot  


A "Federal" case

Look at the Federal Express name.  See the arrow created by the negative space between the capital “E” and the “x” of Express?  Co-opping student John Lutz was on the team that created that logo concept in 1994, and it was adopted by the company later that year. 

“…someone’s life may depend on it.”


On her first co-op in 2003, nursing student Shannon Walker literally saved a life when she wondered about giving a cardiac/pneumonia patient a drug that was closely related to penicillin. Already having learned that her patient was allergic to penicillin, Shannon ran to her drug-reference guide and found she was right: The related drug about to be administered to the patient would cause the same allergic reaction as would penicillin.  How serious would that have been?  “It could have killed her,” explained Shannon, adding “It’s very serious, and it would have been worse in this situation.  The family had just arrived to visit the patient, who could have literally died right in front of them.”   Shannon, “I felt so good about it.  A mistake was about to be made, and I – the student – was the one who caught it.  I was very proud to have caught the mistake…because someone’s life may depend on it.”

Movie magic


Charles Bailey, ’71, has been creating special effects for countless movies – from “Star Wars” to “Pirates of the Caribbean” – at George Lucas’ renowned Industrial Light & Magic.  He’s the most senior of a number of UC co-ops now at work full-time in Hollywood.  Others include Scott Leberecht, a ’94 industrial design grad.  His early co-ops had Leberecht literally crying to his mother, “I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life.”  But a later co-op led him to his Hollywood dream: A Kenner co-op making promotional toys for movies helped him to connect to the studios (who were Kenner’s clients).  Three days after graduation, he was working for Lucasfilm

Building laughter with the Hollywood stars


His co-ops led one-time architecture student Mike Gasaway to the realization that he’d rather do “kids’ stuff” with his life.  The architecture animations he did on co-op led him to a career in entertainment animation and then, to directing.  He’s now the award-winning director of Friday night’s “The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius,” named the Best Animated Television Series for Children in 2004.  The show employs some of Hollywood’s best comedic talent, including Mel Brooks and Tim Allen as well as Christian Slater, all of whom have provided their voices to “Jimmy Neutron” characters.   Gasaway says he’ll never forget the day Mel Brooks ridiculed his name: “When Mel makes fun of your name, it has a whole different quality than what the kids at school did when I was growing up.  I had to call my Dad right away after receiving a ribbing from Mel.”

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Return to main page of excerpts from The Ivory Tower and The Smokestack.