2003 – Spring ’19 Class Letter

Co-Class Agents:

Liz Matelski ’03

[email protected] / (920) 475-7415

Elayne Monnens Norweb ’03

[email protected] / (917) 509-4826

Spring 2019


Happy Spring Class of 2003!

What a long winter it has been! Ripon even closed campus this year…which NEVER happened while we were there! Needless to say, I think we are all looking forward to the warm summer months, so mark your calendar for Alumni Weekend, June 27-30! It is really a special weekend, even when it is not your reunion year!

Here are some updates from your classmates. We would love to include more in the next letter, so please continue to share your news with us!


Class notes:

BRYAN GERRETSEN ’03 of Ripon, Wisconsin, started a new position at Quad/Graphics Inc., as the New Product Development Specialist.

ELIZABETH HALEN ’03 writes “2019 finds me a till running both of my businesses, Flying Monkey Bakery and Condiment inside Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. I was voted President of the Reading Terminal Market’s Merchant’s Association, the first female to ever hold the position.”

TIMOTHY HANEY ’03: Mount Royal University sociology professor Tim Haney comes by his passion for natural disaster research . . . well, naturally.

Three of his major life events have been punctuated by natural disasters. The birth of his and his wife’s first child occurred at the height of the 2013 southern Alberta flood; their wedding day in 2005 was disrupted by a powerful tornado in Wisconsin; and, their housewarming party in New Orleans was cancelled thanks to Hurricane Katrina.

It’s a trifecta of events that led to a perfect storm of sorts and a passion to help families and communities better prepare for, and respond to, catastrophic disasters.

In short, disasters kept on following Haney so he decided to follow them back and is now the director of MRU’s Centre for Community Disaster Research.

“After Katrina, I decided if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” jokes Haney, 37, from his Glamorgan area backyard in southwest Calgary. “I didn’t choose this career path, it chose me.”

At the height of the flood that took place five years ago, Sara was “very pregnant” with the couple’s first child.

Ironically, on June 22 when huge swathes of Calgary were still under many feet of water, the couple watched the comedy Evan Almighty — a modern take on the Biblical tale Noah’s ark. Hours later, Sara went into labour at 2:30 a.m.

Since so many roads were closed off as a result of the flood — including many in the Bowness area — the anxious couple didn’t know if they could make it to Arbour Birth Centre on 16th Avenue N.W. as planned. Thus, the midwives they had been working with came to them instead.

“We had not planned on having a home birth,” admits Tim, “but the flood forced our hand.”

Sara in front of floodwater during 2013 flood the day before Evan was born. For Licia

Corbella story on Mount Royal University professor Timothy Haney. Photo supplied by Haney.

At 6:15 a.m. on June 23, a healthy seven-pound, two-ounce baby boy was born in their bungalow. Thanks to the movie they had just watched, the flood that was occurring and the name already being on their shortlist of baby names, the couple named their new bundle of joy, Evan. He turns five on Saturday.

The couple had met at Ripon College in Wisconsin, both getting their undergraduate degrees from there. On their wedding day — June 4, 2005 — a powerful tornado wreaked havoc on Ripon, felling trees, knocking out power and blocking roads just 20 minutes before their wedding ceremony was set to start. “A lot of our guests couldn’t make it and we were married in the dark without light, without electricity and air conditioning, so in our wedding photos we have sweat running down our faces,” Tim says with a chuckle as Evan plays with a new toy truck nearby.

Recently, Sara had another home birth — of son Adam — on May 7 and because of their track record, they were fully anticipating early flooding in Calgary as a result. Thankfully, none occurred.

But it was their experience with Hurricane Katrina that whipped up Haney’s anger and then passion about natural disasters, eventually leading to his career focus.

The couple recalls that while living in New Orleans, they had just moved into a new place. Sara, a high school science teacher, and Tim, who was just starting work on his PhD at Tulane University, planned a housewarming for Sunday, Aug. 28, 2005.

Hurricane Katrina had already caused enormous destruction in the Bahamas, where it started on Aug. 23, and then in Florida, as it gained strength. By Saturday, Aug. 27, it became obvious that New Orleans would be in the path of the hurricane, so the Haneys packed up a couple of days of clothing and headed to the home of a friend’s mother in a safe area of Louisiana away from the eye of the storm.

Needless to say, their housewarming party was a non-starter — permanently. After two weeks away, the Haneys went back to their devastated and mostly abandoned city. They moved back into their third-floor apartment, essentially becoming “urban campers” and living without electricity or running potable water for months.

As the months dragged on and survivors returned to the below sea-level city, every street became lined with refrigerators filled with rotting food — reminiscent of Calgary neighbourhoods flooded in 2013.  

“The smell was overwhelming,” recalls Tim. Outside of the more than 1,800 deaths caused by the Category 5 hurricane, “for so many people, including for us, Katrina is really defined by the smell of rot.

“There’s a certain anger that comes when you see 80 percent of your city wiped out because in New Orleans’ case it didn’t have to happen that way,” he says. “There’s a whole series of political, environmental and economic decisions that played out and allowed New Orleans to have a flood protection system that was in such utter disrepair that it failed.”

Homes in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward that had been destroyed by Katrina (and untouched since). For Licia Corbella story on Mount Royal University professor Timothy Haney. Photo supplied by Haney.

Katrina wasn’t done messing with the Haneys’ lives. In December, because of massive flooding, Tulane University slashed its operating budget in order to rebuild its infrastructure and Tim’s PhD program was shut down.

His PhD supervisor got a job at the University of Oregon and with little hesitation, the newlyweds followed.

It was on the west coast where the couple realized they loved the mountains and the west.

“When we moved to Calgary in 2009, people said: ‘Oh, you do disaster work, so it’s a little strange to move to Calgary because disasters don’t happen here.’”

But then the Slave Lake fire happened on May 14, 2011; two years later, on June 20 came the 2013 flood; and on May 1, 2016, the Fort McMurray fire took place.

Not surprisingly, Sara says their family is well prepared for any disaster. They have a 72-hour kit (as prescribed by the Calgary Emergency Management Agency) in their car and another in their home that contains first aid equipment, clothes, food and water for at least 72 hours. They keep important documents saved on the cloud, which can be easily accessed in case of emergency.

Sara not only grows much of the family’s food in their backyard but has the knowledge on how to do it, should world food supplies be disrupted.

Even little Evan knows all about disaster resilience. “There are some toys in there,” he says as he points to the 72-hour bag. “I’d also grab bunny,” he says of a well-worn stuffy, “and this truck.”

VANESSA LAMB ’03: environmental studies; lecturer in geography based in Melbourne, Australia

BIO: After graduation from Ripon College, Lamb received a master’s degree in conservation biology and sustainable development from University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Ph.D. in geography, focused on environmental politics, natural resources and development geographies, in 2014 from York University, Toronto, Canada. With the help of Ripon faculty, Lamb spent six months interning in Bangkok, Thailand. She has since continued to research environmental issues in Southeast Asia, researched for the Greater Mekong Program for CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE), obtained additional WLE grants to support fellow researchers, and worked with the Salween River project. She works at University of Melbourne- School of Geography.

Quotes: “The campus atmosphere was lovely. I went to high school in ‘small-town’ Wisconsin. I was interested in environmental studies, and Ripon had interesting environmental work going on inside and outside the classroom (local restoration, coursework, etc). The other students I lived and studied with and the support of professors at Ripon College were instrumental in moving forward with my studies.”

MICHAEL MAXWELL ’03 of Rolling Meadows, Illinois performed for the first time at Stage 773’s 6th Annual Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival on the weekend of May 18th-20th.

ELAYNE MONNENS NORWEB ’03 states “Crazy year in the Norweb household! We helped some friends start a family! I was the gestational carrier (no genetic connection to me) of their baby girl, Vivienne Lynn, who we welcomed on January 12. She is absolutely perfect and I am feeling fully recovered! She lives in San Francisco but we stay in touch and hope to remain close for years to come!”

There is so much going on at Ripon right now, I hope you are able to stay on top of the emails, Facebook page and mailings to stay connected!  

Keep in touch!

Liz & Elayne