September 12, 2001: Class Notes
Class Notes Profiles:
Email your class notes...many secretaries have email. Check our online Class Secretaries Directory.
Tom Rankin '83 isn't Italian, but he might as well be. He's lived there since the late 1980s and knows every alleyway in Rome, his adopted city. Certainly the thousands of people who have signed up for his walking tours are impressed with his insider knowledge.
When PAW visited Rankin in June, he was leading a three-hour tour through Rome's cobblestoned back streets. Stopping to absorb such venerable sites as the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, the Capitoline Hill, and the Roman Forum, Rankin explained their history in a casual, unrehearsed manner, as pedestrians and motorbikes whizzed by.
Six years ago Rankin and his Italian wife, architectural restoration student Lucia Principato, founded Scala Reale - Italian for "full scale" - which offers walking tours of Rome that are designed to be an intellectual cut above the competition. Every year, 3,000 people - 95 percent of them Americans - learn about the city through his company.
Unlike most big-city tour operators, Scala Reale (www.scalareale.org) requires that visitors apply in advance, so that Rankin can arrange tours appropriate to their interests, such as history, culture, or architecture. "This allows us to keep the cultural level of our activities quite a bit higher than standard sightseeing tours, and to carefully control the size of our groups, which rarely exceed six people," says Rankin. He employs roughly 20 guides - most are graduate students - with a variety of specialties.
Growing up in the Boston suburbs, Rankin made regular treks to the North End, the Italian-American neighborhood. "I felt at home with the Italian lifestyle," he says. "There have been Italophiles in my family for several generations."
After earning a degree in architecture from Princeton, Rankin traveled in Europe for three months. "I came back to the U.S. to work in architectural firms, but I always had a European bug calling me back," he says. Rankin returned to Italy for six months in 1986, then earned a master's degree in architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, before returning to Italy with a Fulbright grant.
"After experiencing frustration and lack of pay as an architect in Rome and Milan, I found myself making ends meet with extra work - teaching English, consulting, and leading walking tours," says Rankin. His first tours were for friends. Then in 1993 he turned professional, leading tours for a company called Secret Walks. The idea for Scala Reale, Rankin says, emerged when he decided that there was a need for a tour company with a solid sense of the American market.
Rankin acknowledges that Rome has its share of challenges, from keeping traffic jams and vehicle emissions under control to simply keeping old buildings standing. But he says that the culture and history of Rome are hard to beat.
"Rome has something from every period," he says, "the ancient period, the medieval period, the Renaissance, and the Baroque era. Plus, it's a living city. So many other historic cities are mummified museums. Rome has found a happy medium between love and respect for the heritage, and the ability to use it in a modern way. The classic image of Rome is a woman on a cell phone leaning on an ancient column."
By Louis Jacobson '92
Louis Jacobson is a staff correspondent at National Journal magazine in Washington, D.C.
A longer version of this story appears on PAW Online.
If all goes as planned next spring, Laura Bakos '90 could be the first woman to summit and ski Mount Everest, the world's highest mountain.
Why does she want to climb the 29,028-foot peak? "Because it's there, and I can't stand not having the next climbing trip on the horizon."
Climbing, skiing, and breaking records are not new to Bakos, who lives in Telluride, Colorado. A year ago she became the first North American woman to summit and ski an 8,000-meter peak when she tackled Cho Oyu, the world's sixth-highest mountain, at 26,750 feet. Although Cho Oyu, located on the Nepali-Tibetan border, is considered one of the easier of the world's 14 8,000-meter peaks to ascend, Bakos's ski descent proved far from easy.
"The snow was in the most horrible condition you can imagine," says Bakos. "It was wind-packed, crunchy, and there were fracture lines everywhere. There was one pocket of good powder. And I had a hard time getting my breath." She managed in borrowed skis and boots two sizes too big, stuffed with three pairs of socks to prevent her toes from freezing. "Everything swells at altitude, and you have to keep your circulation going," she explains.
Bakos got her start mountaineering five years ago, when she and a friend attempted to climb Alaska's 20,320-foot Denali. Bad weather stopped them from reaching the top, but the effort intrigued Bakos. She fared well at high altitude and savored the high-mountain challenges of weather and physical exertion. In 1998 she traveled to Argentina and climbed 22,831-foot Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas.
When she's not climbing, Bakos works a variety of jobs for flexibility. She and a friend recently started a property management company. "We hope that when one is gone, the other can take up the slack," says Bakos.
In June Bakos and several Everest expedition members traveled to the Peruvian Andes to train. They reached the summits and skied Urus, 18,028 feet, and Pisco, 18,867 feet. Now back at home, Bakos is running and rock climbing, to get ready for next spring's bid for Everest.
By Elizabeth Covington '85
Elizabeth Covington lives in Telluride, Colorado.
Conventional wisdom says it's a bad idea for a recent college grad to quit a job after just a few months. So not surprisingly, when Alejandrina "Ali" Salaverria '94 decided less than a year after graduation that she'd had enough of the world of finance, there was no shortage of people telling her she should stick with it a bit longer. "But I just wasn't fulfilled at all," says the El Salvador native. "I started thinking about what I really wanted to do."
That thought process led to, well, underwear. "I'd always loved design and fashion," says Salaverria, who majored in politics. She turned her sights to lingerie partly out of frustration at never finding any that fit. After quitting her Wall Street job, she left New York for her home turf of Miami, where she realized that the business end of starting a company was much harder than she'd thought. So she took a job at a direct marketing firm in Miami, figuring she'd keep up the lingerie design on the side. Eventually her new supervisor, Mariela Rovito, learned about Salaverria's aspiration, and said, according to Salaverria, " 'If you really want to do this, I'll do it with you.' " They both quit, with Rovito focusing on the computer systems and the finances, and Salaverria concentrating on fashion, taking classes in design and learning how to make patterns.
Financed by their own savings and by loans, they founded Eberjey Intimates (the name means "joy" in a Nigerian dialect) in 1996. The business started as a catalog, but before long Salaverria and Rovito attacked the retail market. They sell to clients around the world through stores like Saks Fifth Avenue as well as online at www.eberjey.com. Demand has surged for the trendy line, which includes bras, thongs, briefs, chemises, and camisoles. The goods "encompass every aspect of femininity without compromising fit," according to the company's Web site. "All we have to do is keep it up," says Salaverria. Up next: maternity wear and swimsuits. "I feel really blessed," she says. "I'm doing some-thing that I love, and we're really successful."
By Katherine Hobson '94
Katherine Hobson is an associate editor in the New York bureau of U.S. News & World Report.