Dreamers and Doers: Fall 2017 Edition of Silver & Blue

UNO Public Relations

Drew Kinchen spent her summer days in T-shirts and gloves, digging carefully through Austrian soil for remnants of a plane crash that happened 73 years earlier when a Tuskegee Airman was flying a reconnaissance mission during World War II.

As a senior anthropology major at the University of New Orleans, Kinchen was one of 12 UNO students to participate in an unforgettable hands-on learning project, searching for U.S. Army Capt. Lawrence Dickson, who was last sighted Dec. 23, 1944 near Hohenthurn, Austria.

When photographer Roy Woo, who traveled to the dig to capture images of the work for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), sent us a picture of Kinchen carefully plying the soil at the site, we knew the senior anthropology major would make the perfect cover for the fall 2017 edition of “Silver & Blue.”

As the University of New Orleans’ bi-annual magazine for alumni, students and friends, “Silver & Blue” seeks to share the stories of the University’s doers — people who continually push beyond what is expected to pursue what is great, even in the face of long odds.

It turns out the latest issue of “Silver & Blue” — just like the University of New Orleans — is brimming with stories of determined doers.

The Austrian field school that Kinchen participated in was the result of a thoughtful collaboration between UNO, DPAA, the National WWII Museum, Austrian authorities and the University of Innsbruck. At its helm was D. Ryan Gray, assistant professor of anthropology at UNO, who served as lead archaeologist on the international project, facilitating the historic mission with a careful hand. “I think all of us were very motivated to get this done for the family, for the DPAA and for ourselves,” Kinchen told “Silver & Blue” editor Adam Norris when he talked to her for “Dig of a Lifetime,” the cover story in the magazine’s latest edition.

Also read about Lauren Heflin, a student who came to the University under the unlikeliest of circumstances and discovered her passion for biology, a field in which she has excelled even while her family expanded to include four children. Heflin was one of three to land a competitive internship at Eurofins, a global bioanalytical company with operations at the UNO Research and Technology Park, adjacent to campus.

Also in the 52-page magazine is a feature on a service learning course designed three years ago by Randy Bates and Elizabeth Steeby, two passionate, experienced faculty members in the Department of English who sought to tackle one of the most intractable issues in the U.S. — incarceration — through creative writing instruction and literature. Their class immerses graduate students in the issues and experiences of those who have been incarcerated, eventually pairing those students with faculty and alumni volunteers who bring weekly writing classes to women detained at Orleans Justice Center, New Orleans’ jail.

“It’s been the sunshine in my life here,” one inmate told “Silver & Blue” executive editor Rebecca Catalanello in “A Voice to the Unheard.”

And just when you thought you knew all you needed to know about Louisiana Rep. Julie Stokes, (B.S., ’92), chosen as the 2017 Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumna honor, Stokes opens up to “Silver & Blue” about the role UNO played in her life at a very critical time following the death of her father. Now battling breast cancer, the one-time candidate for Louisiana Treasurer seems to be facing this challenge with the same kind of determination that makes UNO and so many of its alumni stand apart from the crowd.

The new issue also features news on faculty and student awards, updates from our incredible alumni and more.

“Silver & Blue” is being mailed to homes now. It can be found around campus starting Monday and is also available online.