Category Archives: Tiger of the Week

Tiger of the Week: Four-Star General Mark Milley ’80

Gen. Mark Milley ’80 (U.S. Army)

Gen. Mark Milley ’80 (U.S. Army)

Gen. Mark Milley ’80 has been described as “an Ivy League graduate and career grunt” (Army Times), “a soldier’s soldier” (defense adviser Maren Leed), and “a warrior and a statesman” (Defense Secretary Ashton Carter). He’s also Princeton’s first four-star general and, pending Senate approval, will soon head the Army as its next chief of staff. Carter introduced Milley as President Barack Obama’s choice for the post at a press conference in Washington May 13.

Milley, a politics major, ROTC cadet, and varsity hockey player at Princeton, was commissioned after graduation. In the last decade, he served on the secretary of defense’s staff at the Pentagon and oversaw NATO operations in Afghanistan. He currently directs the U.S. Army Forces Command, known as Forscom, the Army’s largest command. Based in Fort Bragg, N.C., Forscom includes more than 750,000 active-duty, reserve, and National Guard soldiers.

In a 2014 interview with PAW contributor E.B. Boyd ’89, Milley spoke about the pressures of being responsible for the lives of soldiers, specifically the 100,000 NATO troops who were under his command in Afghanistan:

“It’s incredibly high stress. You’re looking at four hours of sleep, maybe five on a good night. Usually it’s interrupted. I had 122 [U.S. and NATO soldiers] killed in action while I was over there, and several hundred more seriously wounded. That weighs on you heavily — every day, day in and day out — and it’s never far from your mind. But through training, through experience, through a strong sense of purpose and a strong sense of the moral rightness of your cause, you learn to deal with the stress.”  Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Sarah Sherman ’08, Studying Earth From Space

Sarah Sherman ’08 (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Dutch Slager)

Sarah Sherman ’08 (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Dutch Slager)

When the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite launched smoothly on Jan. 31, Sarah Sherman ’08 had cause to celebrate. As the mission’s launch-phase lead at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the Caltech-managed NASA center in Pasadena, Calif., Sherman was in charge of putting procedures and contingency plans into place, as well as executing dress rehearsals of the launch.

SMAP uses the radar and radiometer it has on board to gather soil moisture data, which can be used to monitor droughts, predict floods, and improve weather forecasts, among other things. Sherman is now doing operations for the satellite, which involves being on console as a systems chair and overseeing the 90-day commissioning phase that precedes the beginning of the three-year science, or data-collection, phase.

Perhaps that seems like a lot of responsibility for someone who hasn’t yet hit 30. In reality, however, Sherman has been working on SMAP for almost seven years, since the summer after she graduated from Princeton. Before that, she worked in the summers of 2006 and 2007 as a Caltech research fellow analyzing wind models of Titan and developing control algorithms to steer a hot air balloon in its atmosphere. Her next project will be as a mechanical engineer on the Sample Caching System of the Mars 2020 Rover. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Actor, Musician Valerie Vigoda ’87

Valerie Vigoda in 'Ernest Shackleton Loves Me' (photo by Jeff Carpenter for ACT Theatre, Seattle)

Valerie Vigoda ’87 in ‘Ernest Shackleton Loves Me’ (Jeff Carpenter for ACT Theatre, Seattle)

Ernest Shackleton Loves Me, which stars Valerie Vigoda ’87 and is now playing at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, has an unusual premise: Kat, a blue-haired video game composer and single mother, has been when for 36 hours when Ernest Shackleton, a polar explorer famous for keeping his entire crew of 27 men alive for nine months after their ship Endurance sank in Antarctica, travels across time to reach her. Vigoda, who sings and plays her Viper electric violin as Kat, also co-wrote the music and lyrics for the show with her husband and partner Brendan Millburn.

“I’m passionate about all the work that I do and that I have collaborated on for the past many years,” she said. “But for me, this might be the one I’m most passionate about.”

Part of the reason is the nature of the story. Ever since she saw a museum exhibit about Shackleton’s harrowing adventures in Antarctica, Vigoda has been “sort of obsessed” with the explorer, she said. For her, the musical is “a combination of this inspiring story and the resonance of this modern character.”

Unlike Kat, Vigoda did not have blue hair or tattoos before she slipped into her role. She now embraces the head turns when she walks into a space. In addition to the musical, Vigoda is working on a solo album called Just Getting Good, which was fully funded through Kickstarter in the fall. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: First-time Novelist Lili Anolik ’00

Lili Anolik ’00

Lili Anolik ’00

Lili Anolik ’00 has just published her debut novel, Dark Rooms. It is a story of “sex and murder and glamour set at a New England prep school,” as she describes it. Both a mystery and a coming-of-age story, Anolik wanted to write something that was “heavy on mood and atmospherics … sly and seductive … spooky, and [has] a fairy tale quality.”

The novel was six years in the making. “The writing process was pretty brutal,” Anolik said. “I loved writing the book but it definitely wasn’t a snap.”

Anolik was an English major and tennis player at Princeton, and wrote for The Daily Princetonian her senior year. Princeton, she said, “was hugely influential on my taste and sensibility.” She recalls the many great and inspiring teachers she had — Laura Quinney on film noir, Larry Danson on Shakespeare, Michael Cadden on Irish drama — but also the slow, agonizing process of churning out papers. “I used to spend forever on my papers when I was an undergraduate — was just completely anal retentive and obsessive about them,” she said.

As a contributing editor now at Vanity Fair (a “contributing editor” is actually someone who writes regularly for a publication; it doesn’t involve any editing), Anolik works on profiles and cover stories regularly.

“I think writing for Vanity Fair is the best job in the world. Not only does the magazine give its writers space, it’s respectful of voice. Meaning they don’t mess with your prose!” she said. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Writer, Editor Landon Y. Jones ’66

Landon Jones ’66 (Courtesy Landon Jones)

Landon Jones ’66 (Courtesy Landon Jones)

While the diploma of Landon Jones ’66 may say that he graduated from Princeton with a degree in English, the St. Louis, Mo. native who claims to have actually “majored in The Daily Princetonian.” His dedication to journalism eventually led to a career at Time, Inc., which honored Jones last week with the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award at the company’s annual Luce Awards.

On one assignment for The Prince, Jones had the opportunity to interview Malcolm X in the Firestone Library. Despite the activist’s fiery reputation, Jones found Malcolm X to be thoughtful and good-natured. “It was a lesson to me that sometimes what you expect is not what you get, and as a journalist you need to keep your eyes open to that,” he said.

After a brief stint at Life, Jones returned to Princeton to serve as the editor of the Princeton Alumni Weekly from 1969-75. From writing articles to working on the layout to proofreading, Jones performed any and all roles at the magazine. Rather than just continue with business as usual, however, he applied his experience as a student journalist to more accurately capture the politicized environment of the campus.

“I took it from a fairly conservative [magazine] to reflect the way the campus was changing, from Vietnam, to female empowerment, to sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll,” he said.

After his work with PAW, Jones wrote for Time and People before becoming the editor of Money magazine from 1984-89, and, later, serving as the editor of People from 1989-97. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Stu Nunnery ’71, a Musician on the Comeback Trail

Stu Nunnery ’71 (David H. Wells/The Wells Point)

Stu Nunnery ’71 (David H. Wells/The Wells Point)

As an undergrad at Princeton, Stu Nunnery ’71 played guitar and sang at Tower Club (and at the Holiday Inn on Route 1). After college, he released an album that placed two singles on the top 100 of the pop charts. And in the decade that followed, Nunnery had a successful run composing songs for the advertising industry.

Nunnery’s life in music ended abruptly in the early 1980s, when he suffered a serious hearing loss. Relying on hearing aids, he was able to converse in everyday life, but his ability to hear music was gone.

This month, however, with help from advances in hearing-aid technology, a stint in what he calls “music rehab,” and a successful Kickstarter campaign, Nunnery is preparing to return to the recording studio to complete a new album. Continue reading