The alumni you never hear about
October 20, 2011
Not all of the College of William and Mary’s great alumni walked our campus in colonial times. Not all of our great alumni live in the limelight. Some incredible College graduates have shaped our culture, much like the superheroes they personified — by working hard, under the radar.
Superman studied in Swem. Thor played frisbee on the Sunken Garden. The College has had National Parks Directors and the doctors of Sacred Heart walk along our brick paths. Here, we highlight just a few inspiring careers of graduates of the College.
It looks like Jon Stewart ’84 is not the College’s only ‘Jon’ to claim some fame.
Jonathan Jarvis ’75 is the Director of the National Park Service for the U.S. Department of the Interior. In the year following his graduation, Jarvis found himself a job as a seasonal interpreter in Washington, D.C. He slowly moved up through the ranks, beginning as a protection ranger, then a resource management specialist, a park biologist and, eventually, the Chief of Natural and Cultural Resources. He has worked at parks such as Prince William Forest Park, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Crater Lake National Park and North Cascades National Park.
In addition, Jarvis has acted as superintendent of Craters of the Moon National Monument, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve and Mount Rainier National Park.
Perhaps his most notable accomplishment to date, prior to his 2009 promotion to his current position, was serving as regional director of the Pacific West Region. According to Doi.gov, “he oversaw 2,000 employees with a $350 million annual budget.” Maybe this Jon does not crack any political jokes, but the passion he puts into our national parks deserves attention as well.
Last month, students at the College grabbed their picnic blankets and friends and flocked to the Sunken Garden for AMP’s “Screen on the Green.” Munching on popcorn and sipping soda, they began the evening with the movie “Thor.” What they didn’t know was that they were in the presence of one of the College’s great legacies.
Ashley Edward Miller ’94 graduated from the College with a degree in English and government. After experimenting with careers as a middle-school teacher and a defense contractor, Miller found his real passion in screenwriting. With partner Zack Stentz, Miller wrote screenplays for the movie “Agent Cody Banks” and the series “Andromeda,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles” and “Fringe.” Toward the end of “Sarah Connor” and the beginning of “Fringe,” Marvel Studios offered the duo a dream job — a movie based on Miller’s childhood hero, “Thor.” While making Thor, Miller came full circle working with director Kenneth Brannagh, who had inspired him as a student at the College.
This year, Miller also wrote the screenplay for “X-Men: First Class,” which was released alongside “Thor,” and has worked on various projects for Paramount, Disney and Dreamworks.
Scott Glenn ’63: a bronco-riding ex-con, an FBI agent giving Jodi Foster her assignment to interview Hannibal Lecter and a Commander of the U.S.S. Dallas hunting down a Soviet submarine under the command of Sean Connery — these are just a few of the roles portrayed by this College graduate.
Glenn grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa. where he suffered from scarlet fever as a child and was bedridden for a number of years, during which he developed his passion for literature by reading Lord Byron and writing as much as possible.
Glenn continued this passion at the College by earning his B.A. in English. Glenn then joined the Marines for three years, after which he worked as a reporter for the Kenosha Evening News.
Glenn’s passion for writing eventually led him to attend acting classes in order to improve his dialogue. Within a year he was appearing in off-Broadway productions and in 1970 he starred in his first feature film “The Baby Maker.”
However, it was not until his role in “Urban Cowboy” in 1980 that he officially broke into the Hollywood scene.
Glenn went on to appear in films such as “The Silence of the Lambs,” “The Hunt for Red October” and even more recently “The Bourne Ultimatum.”
Yuri Lowenthal ’93 is better known in show business for his voice than his face. He is most famous for voicing Superman in the kids television show, “Legion of Superheroes,” Iceman in “Wolverine and the X-Men” and the titular role in the “Prince of Persia” video game series. Lowenthal graduated with a degree in East Asian studies and has spent several years of his life to working for the Japanese government before he began his acting career.
Additionally, Lowenthal has been very successful in taking on roles in anime shows such as “Naruto” and “Afro Samurai.” He has even appeared in several live action television shows such as “Gilmore Girls” and “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.” His roles frequently involve the typical American accent, but he is known to use more regional dialects as required by the role.
Lowenthal is married to fellow actress Tara Platt, with whom he co-authored a book entitled “Voice-Over Voice Actor: What It’s Like Behind the Mike.” He is fluent in German, French and Japanese and grew up in many different areas of the United States as well as Europe and Africa thanks to his father’s occupation as a Foreign Service Officer. Lownethal claims his passion for acting became apparent by the end of his high school years.
For College alumnus Bill Lawrence ’90, attending and graduating from college meant more than simply earning a diploma: It was a chance to improve his writing techniques and explore his creative abilities. After graduating with a degree in English, Lawrence packed up his vehicle and headed off to California to pursue his passion for writing.
A mere three years after graduating, Lawrence began writing for several television shows including “Boy Meets World,” “The Nanny” and “Friends.” Then, in 1996, he co-created the popular ABC show “Spin City,” which ran for six years. While all of this constitutes an impressive list of accomplishments, Lawrence still had one more idea he had been itching to share with the world.
Inspired in part by his fascination with “The Simpsons,” Lawrence created the medical sitcom “Scrubs” in 2001. The show proved to be a hit with audiences and ran for nine seasons. Lawrence directed and even starred in several episodes.
Even with his success as a writer and producer, Lawrence never forgot about his experience at the College. In fact, Lawrence named the main character on “Scrubs,” John “JD” Dorian, after Dr. Jonathan Doris, one of his friends at the College. In further attempt to show his Tribe pride, Lawrence constructed a detailed background of JD and Turk, another doctor on the show, as best friends and former roommates from the College.
Lawrence’s accomplishments in the entertainment industry should be an inspiration to students attempting to turn their dreams into reality. Just remember, as Lawrence did, to keep the College in mind once that success is achieved.