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Meet August's Humans of the U: Sharing compelling stories from the heart of the University of Utah campus.


Niki-Pokemon 2

“My 11-year-old self is very happy that it’s now socially acceptable to once again be into Pokémon. When I was little I was super into the cards and I remember my mom taking me to Target one morning before school to get a binder. I ended up walking into the toy aisle and I found the card game with the starter pack. I brought it to school and no one knew what it was…fast forward a few months and it blew up. The video game came. I played on a lime green Game Boy and was very competitive with it. Then in 1999 there was a Pokémon tournament at Fashion Place Mall. You brought your own Game Boy and you would battle with other people. I ended up getting third place – it was insane – I was there all day with my Pokémon T-shirt on. It’s been really fun to relive those memories with Pokémon Go, but now I’m regretting not buying stock in it.”

— Nicole, University of Utah staff

Sara Jarman the voice of TRAX. At The University of Utah Stadium TRAX station.

“UTA called the student employment coordinator and inquired about posting a job for a young female voice to do some recording for TRAX. She gathered a group of young ladies to audition, and I guess they just liked what they heard. Only one person has ever known it was my voice on TRAX without being told. Usually when people learn that I’m the voice on TRAX, the first thing they say is, ‘say something!’ When I recite one of the lines for them, their response is always, ‘It is you!’ I recently re-recorded every single stop because my voice changed slightly while I was pregnant, and they wanted everything to sound consistent. Redoing everything took about an hour, but when I only have to do a few phrases, it takes as little as five minutes.”

— Sara Jarman, recruiting coordinator, University of Utah Career Services

Alf Seegert, assistant professor of English writes and designs storytelling board games

“Like a children’s fantasy book, a board game offers the opportunity to inhabit, however briefly, a different world — yes, to escape.
One type of escape is…that of one unjustly imprisoned…imaginations imprisoned behind bars which rattle but rarely budge. A fantasy world is the sharpened file smuggled inside the prisoner’s cake. Making games — like making stories — is part of that liberation, too.
In all my board games I strive to make it fun for the players to lose themselves in strange characters: Horrible, hungry bridge trolls (Bridge Troll); marauding troll-Vikings (Trollhalla); or cackling medieval pardoners preying on pilgrims wending their way to Canterbury (my adaptation of Chaucer in The Road to Canterbury). But my favorite of the bunch so far is Fantastiqa, a tribute to my love for fantasy literature ranging from Lord Dunsany to “The Phantom Tollbooth.”
In an age of hypermediation, there’s also something both quaint and deliciously subversive about an art form that requires its participants to sit face-to-face around a table in a shared space of play.”

— Alf Seegert, assistant professor of English

Tom Wallisch

“I grew up in Pittsburgh and fell in love with skiing during my high school years. When I started looking into colleges, the University of Utah became a top pick almost immediately. The U is set within 30 minutes of so many world class ski resorts and has an awesome business program. I was sold right off the bat. And to add to all that, the university was so much more reasonably priced when compared to other universities out West.

After attending the University of Utah I fell in love with Utah and the surrounding mountains. I moved from Salt Lake City up to Park City to be even closer to some of the world-class skiing. These days, I’m traveling the world as a professional skier and competing in free ski events around the world. I also spend a lot of my season in Utah, exploring the backcountry around the Wasatch Range and making ski films. I spend a lot of my ski season filming and traveling with friends that I made while attending the University of Utah. Skiers from all over the country come to the university to ski and further their education.”

— Tom Wallisch, professional skiier

Humans of the U series. Yomi Karthik Rupesh, Harikrishna Kambala Subramanyam, Akshay Khatwani Electrical Engineering Grad Students from India.

“Rupesh: This place is quite serene and calm compared to our place back in India.

Subramanyam: And the view is also – wow!

Khatwani: Back home everything is very chaotic, but it kind of works. Here, we’re not used to the organization. Everything is very systematic. We figured out the TRAX, bus, everything is very organized. This is a very welcome change for us.

Back home, we stayed with our parents. Over here we are alone, we just rely on each other. I miss my family a lot. I do miss my city, the weather, the food. I’m still not adjusted to the food here.

Subramanyam: We just went grocery shopping.

Khatwani: We’ve never gone grocery shopping in our lives.

Subramanyam: Ever. A few more trips to the store and we should be good.

Khatwani: Everything I’ve done in my life, I’ve always consulted my family for decisions. The only difficulty was leaving them because they didn’t want me to go.

Subramanyam: My story is my mother. She couldn’t complete her education, so this degree is for her.”

— Akshay Khatwani, Harikrishna Kambala Subramanyam and Yomi Karthik Rupesh, graduate students in electrical engineering

[bs_well size=”md”]We’ll be featuring Humans of the U and sharing their stories throughout the year with the university community. If you know someone with a compelling story, let us know at[/bs_well]