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Alumni share their Northwestern Directions

Reunion panel asks "Who are you because of NU?"

Led by Northwestern President Morton Schapiro, the “Who Are You Because of NU?” panel Friday, Oct. 21, at 1:30 p.m., will explore the ways in which Northwestern shaped the lives and careers of five accomplished alumni.

Spanning right brain and left brain, arts-oriented and tech-focused, the alumni panelists include a musician, an entrepreneur, a foreign service officer, a sports broadcaster and writer, and an MIT engineering professor. Read on to learn about each of these individuals, and hear them discuss their Northwestern Direction during Homecoming and Reunion Weekend.

RELATED: Watch the panel discussion online and share your reactions using the hashtag #NUReunion.

Linn Hobbs

For more than 35 years, Linn Hobbs, ’66, Elliott professor emeritus of materials science and nuclear engineering at MIT, has chaired many Institute committees and programs, served as associate chair of the MIT faculty, and annually taught In Vino Veritas, a popular course on wine. He joined Northwestern’s graduate program in Materials Science and Engineering as a sophomore, chaired the 1965 Northwestern Symposium, and was Northwestern’s first Marshall Scholar, completing doctoral studies at Oxford University. He was later elected research fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, and worked for the UK Atomic Energy Authority before returning to the U.S. Hobbs’ research spans solid-state physics, orthopedic biomaterials, ceramic and glass science, and archaeological material culture. Hobbs has served as president or director of three national scientific societies and as member of the Fulbright Scholars advisory board. He also founded UK-U.S. exchange programs. In 2001, Hobbs was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth.

Isola Jones

A mezzo-soprano at the Metropolitan Opera at New York’s Lincoln Center from 1977 to 1991, Isola Jones, ’71, holds the record for the most performances of any African-American artist at the “MET: 505” performances and “Live from the Met” telecasts. Jones also served as a cast member of the Grammy Award-winning opera recording of “Porgy and Bess” with Lorin Maazel and the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra and “Die Fliegender Hollander” conducted by Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Now based in Arizona, Jones sings opera and records classical music. She also teaches voice lessons at South Mountain Community College. After graduating from Northwestern, Jones earned a master’s degree in education from Capella University and a doctoral degree in musical arts from Arizona State University.

Samir Mayekar

Samir Mayekar, ’06, MBA ’13, is cofounder and CEO of SiNode Systems, a venture-backed company developing advanced materials for the lithium-ion battery industry. Mayekar, who is president-elect of the Northwestern Alumni Association, also serves as an advisor at the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global consultancy founded by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Mayekar previously served as deputy chief of staff of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. government's development finance institution, and prior to that he was the national security director of the Presidential Personnel Office at the White House. Before his time at the White House, Mayekar managed more than $800 million as a budget manager for Obama for America. He is a guest lecturer on energy and entrepreneurship at Northwestern and the University of Illinois. Mayekar earned both his bachelor’s degree and MBA from Northwestern.

Phyllis Elliott Oakley

As a foreign service officer of the Department of State, Phyllis Elliott Oakley, ’56, was the first woman spokesman under Secretary of State George Shultz. She also served as assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research and assistant secretary of state for population, refugees, and migration. Oakley joined the foreign service in 1957, and since retiring she has taught at Mount Holyoke, Northwestern, and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She has also served as chair of the board of Americans for United Nations Population Fund. Oakley graduated from Northwestern and earned a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of International Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Dave Revsine

Dave Revsine, ’91, is the lead studio host for the Big Ten Network’s pregame, halftime, and postgame coverage for men’s basketball and football, including its Emmy Award-winning football pregame show. Revsine, who has been with the Big Ten Network since its inception in 2007, was hired from ESPN, where he spent more than a decade as an anchor and play-by-play man. In 2009, Sports Illustrated named Revsine one of the top sportscasters of the decade. Revsine has served as a columnist on and, and his work has also appeared in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The OpeningKickoff: The Tumultuous Birth of a Football Nation. A proud Northwestern graduate, Revsine is the National Reunion Chair and a 25th Reunion Committee Co-chair for the 2016 Homecoming and Reunion Weekend.

Pictured above, left to right: Linn Hobbs, Dave Revsine, Phyllis Elliott Oakley, Isola Jones and Samir Mayekar.

Topics: Alumni, Events

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