5 grads, 5 years out

Diverse careers and locations mark alumni of the Class of 2006

Their careers are diverse and their homes are widespread, but they all share one significant connection: each earned a Drake University degree. These alumni now draw on the experiences they gained from this exceptional learning environment.

They expand their professional accomplishments as they build their lives and serve their communities. More than 1,000 Bulldogs earned Drake degrees in 2006. These are the stories of five of those graduates.

Basili Alukos, equity analyst, Morningstar, Inc.

Kristen Fink, history and communications teacher, Discovery School

Joshua Goldberg, patent attorney, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP

Chris Van Gorp, executive officer, Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources

Rina Strenge Foster, director of public relations, M Resort

Basili Alukos, BN’06, Equity Analyst, Morningstar, Inc., Chicago, IL

Basili Alukos, BN’06, says that one course in particular foreshadowed his career. Finance 190, a top-level class, involved market research and portfolio analysis — key to the job responsibilities of an equity analyst at Morningstar, Inc., one of the world’s most renowned investment research firms.

“Finance 190 was a very specialized course,” Alukos says. “There were 13 or 14 of us, and we were basically analysts for a competitive investment portfolio in this class. I learned very hands-on things that happen to be exactly what I do now with research and reports.”

One course may have been more intensive than the rest, Alukos says, but the entire curriculum provided training and knowledge that help make him an excellent analyst. Six classes per semester, which is larger than a traditional courseload, taught him how to cope with a professional workload, and the diversity of the curriculum gave him a broad understanding of the industry.

“The accounting coursework went above and beyond the normal class,” Alukos says. “It taught you more about accounting than just preparing you for the CPA exam. All of my Drake classes helped me get a little taste of each aspect of finance and accounting. I had a greater insight into all those aspects once I reached the work world.”

That understanding, Alukos says, also helped him found his own investment fund, called Bobo, Inc., with fellow Drake graduate Michael Vahidtari, BN’06. Alukos and Vahidtari hope to watch it grow into a full-time project.

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Kristen Fink, AS’06, JO’06, GR’08, History and Communications Teacher, Discovery School, Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Kristen Fink, AS’06, JO’06, GR’08, a small-town Iowa native, says she was immediately struck by the worldliness of the Drake community. The history and broadcast journalism major says that a first-year seminar chock-full of international perspectives and a diverse cadre of classmates made for a significant life change.

“Both the classes I took and the people I took them with helped me to see what life was like beyond my small town and made me a much more global person,” says Fink.

During her sophomore year, Fink began a journey to London in Drake’s study abroad office. Fink’s semester in Europe took her far away from her rural roots and fathered a wanderlust that she still tends as a teacher in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

“Drake listened to what I wanted, helped me find a program that met my needs and desires, and accepted my credits when I came back from London,” Fink says. “Having that out-of-Iowa exposure under my belt made moving to Honduras a little less scary.”

Fink teaches sixth, seventh, and eighth grade history and 12th grade communications at the Discovery School, an international school in Honduras’ capital city. Her students, she says, have built on her worldly Drake experiences and fed her passion for learning about different cultures.

“In one class alone, I have students from five different nationalities,” she says. “It really makes classroom discussions fun.”

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Joshua Goldberg, AS’06, Patent Attorney, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP, Washington, D.C.

Joshua Goldberg, AS’06, found his career by accident. While arranging for a summer internship relevant to his physics major, the plans fell through.

“I ended up working for a law firm for the summer and decided I really liked dealing with legal issues,” Goldberg says. “Patent law is sort of the junction between science and law, so that was the natural way to go.”

A seminar course in the physics department honed Goldberg’s communications skills through writing and public speaking assignments. The math lab, though, is where the attorney says he gained his most important skill.

“It really refined my ability to teach highly technical concepts to people who find them difficult and confusing,” he says. “One of the main aspects of my practice is taking convoluted technical issues and collapsing them down so they can be understood by a patent examiner, a judge or a jury.”

This connection between science and law is where Goldberg found his niche, but his Drake experience also prepared him to relate with people. He cites a semester abroad in London as a springboard for getting to know his international clientele.

“I’ve found that, London being one of those very international cities, it’s served as a very good point of similarity, something in common, to build relationships with my clients,” he says.

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Chris Van Gorp, AS’95, GR’02, ’06, Executive Officer, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Des Moines, IA

Chris Van Gorp, AS’95, GR’02, ’06, earned his third Drake degree in 2006, piling a master of public administration degree onto master’s and bachelor’s degrees in biology. The trifecta of diplomas came with very different skill sets, especially the two graduate degrees, he says, the second of which he earned five years ago.

“I really enjoyed both of my graduate experiences, but for different reasons,” Van Gorp says. “During my master of science program*, I taught undergraduate laboratories and had a fulfilling experience learning more advanced concepts and principles of biology.  During the MPA program, I had been in the workforce for awhile, so coming back to school I had an entirely different perspective.”

Now an executive officer in the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Van Gorp also served as an environmental specialist. He tackles major ecological issues, working to improve water quality and prevent hydrological disasters. Here, he says, he puts his biological education to daily use, leading restoration efforts.

“For each of the problem waters, we would conduct a detailed study and write an improvement plan, which would end up being a mini-thesis,” Van Gorp says. “The research and writing skills that I learned through my scientific courses have helped me to logically think through a problem; gather the needed information; and communicate the results in a clear, concise and direct manner.”

Van Gorp says earning his MPA from Drake showed that he was ambitious, committed and ready for leadership.

“Those doing the hiring are looking for people who are self-motivated, have a hunger and an ability to learn in addition to the basic technical skills,” Van Gorp says.

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Rina Strenge Foster, JO’06, Director of Public Relations, M Resort and Spa, Las Vegas, NV

Rina Strenge Foster, JO’06, knew she wanted a career in public relations. Des Moines’ myriad internship opportunities provided her with three unique experiences, all of which, she says, guided her in the beginning of her career.

“While at Drake, I worked for a full-service marketing agency, a nonprofit organization and in the corporate sector at Meredith Corporation,” she says. “I was able to get a very well-rounded look at the public relations industry and determine where I wanted to go with my future.”

Foster landed in Las Vegas, NV, where she began working for a public relations agency. One of Foster’s clients, M Resort, offered her a position as director of public relations in 2009. This role, she says, helped show her the value of her college internships.

“Now that I’m in a hiring position, I definitely look for applicants with multiple internships,” Foster says. “I want to know that they’ve taken a conscious decision to pursue corporate public relations and that they know this is what they want to do.”

While internships created opportunities for Foster, she says Drake’s faculty inspired her to become part of the PR fabric.

“The School of Journalism and Mass Communication had teachers within the profession, who were still working in the industry, so we could learn from people who were living and breathing what we wanted to do,” she says. “I wouldn’t have chosen another school.”

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*Drake no longer offers a master of science in biology

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