SOU alum and former Hawai'i mayor Harry Kim

Family: SOU’s connection with former Hawai’i mayor

Southern Oregon University played a big part in the family of former Hawai’i County Mayor Harry Kim, who received his bachelor’s degree in 1966 and master’s degree in 1967. He met his wife, Roberta, while he was an undergraduate, and one of his sons also graduated from the university and met his future partner there.

“SOU is a family thing,” Kim said. “It’s been with us and connected us with people we love.”

Kim grew up in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawai’i, and served as an Army medic. His first trip to the mainland didn’t occur until after he was honorably discharged from the Army in the 1960s. When he landed in Medford to attend what was then Southern Oregon College, Kim was a bit stunned.

“I remember, it was January 11, 1964,” he said. “Medford was dark and foggy, and I was wearing the wrong clothes for the weather. I thought to myself, ‘what the hell am I doing here?’”

It did not take long, however, for his impression of Oregon to change. After meeting the staff and some faculty members, Kim knew he was in the right place.

“There was so much kindness and support,” he said. “I didn’t doubt that I belonged there.”

Kim was the youngest of eight children from Korean-American immigrants in Hawai´i.

“Like many immigrants who came to the island in the early 1900s, my father worked for a sugar plantation, and life was hard,” he said.

From a young age, Kim got used to waking early and working long days – habits he has kept throughout his life. The family lived in a one-bedroom house with no electricity or running water.

“People in our community knew the value of working together and supporting one another,” Kim said. “Families helped each other in order to make things better. SOC was like that, too. People were there for you.”

Kim said the relationships he formed in college were a constant reminder of what is truly important in life.

“I always tell young people not to place the value of yourself on material things,” he said. “Measure your life by the people you love and the people who love you.

“I learned that as a child, and I saw people model it at SOC all the time. There was a totality of niceness, both on campus and around town.”

Kim knew he wanted a career in which he could help people, and his time at SOC helped him find the path.

“SOC opened my eyes to a lot about the world,” Kim said. “I learned so much outside of textbooks. I remember learning about the hardships people faced in other countries and how America helped them or allowed them to make it their home.”

He decided in college that he wanted to improve people’s lives through his work.

Kim graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education and sociology in 1966. He continued his studies and earned a master’s degree in economics the following year. He returned to Hawai´i and became a high school teacher, counselor and football coach.

He later worked as a civil defense administrator for the county government. Kim didn’t expect to still be serving the people of Hawai´i some 20 years later, when he was first elected mayor in 2000. He served from 2000 to 2008, then served a third four-year term from 2016 to 2020. He lost his race for a fourth term last summer.

As mayor, he advocated for education and economic development and worked to mitigate the county’s homeless issues. Among the biggest challenges, however, came after the devastating Kilauea Volcano eruptions in 2018. Then 78 years old, Kim was determined to help citizens recover from the disaster, and he kept a heavy work schedule despite being hospitalized twice for heart problems and pneumonia. Kim was awarded a prestigious Homeland Heroes award for his efforts to keep the people of Hawai´i County safe.

Kim was awarded the SOU’s Stan Smith Alumni Service Award in 2019. He said that when reflecting on the university and its impact on his life, he often remembers a teacher who reminded him of the importance of listening.

“He’d say, ‘Good grades don’t make you a good student – opening up your mind makes you a good student,’” Kim said. “Learning isn’t just memorizing facts, it’s being able to listen to others and being open to new information. So, I try to always be open. And to listen.”

Shared from the Fall 2019 issue of The Raider, SOU’s alumni magazine

Ryan Wines, from volunteer radio gig to music industry

Sound Design: SOU alum’s journey from college radio to global music agency

Ryan Wines remembers the first time he stepped into the student-run KSOC radio station in 1999. He was a junior studying marketing and political science, and KSOC was just a year old. “It was a two-room closet, tucked out of sight in the basement of the student union,” he recalls.

Wines never would have imagined how a volunteer gig, playing hip hop and garage rock on a campus radio station, could be a catalyst for a career.

Wines in 2010 co-founded Marmoset Music – a Portland-based global music agency that provides music for brands, ads, television and film projects. What began as just an idea kicked around by two friends at a Portland coffee shop has turned into a rocketing creative industry powerhouse. Marmoset is one of the fastest-rising companies of its kind – meticulously curating rare, vintage and emerging artists, bands and record labels for music licensing opportunities, while also forging an award-winning original music studio that crafts original scores and sound design for virtually any creative need imaginable.

Marmoset, for Wines, is the culmination of his early work as a college radio DJ, a band manager and a self-described “marketing nerd.” He held down a variety of marketing and creative agency roles after graduating from SOU in 2001, steadily building his “side hustle” of working with record labels and bands such as The Dandy Warhols, Dolorean, The Dimes and indie filmmaker Margaret Brown.

Marmoset collaborates with clients ranging from filmmakers to creative execs at Apple, Wieden and Kennedy, Nike and Vice TV, helping them find that perfect song to help shape the stories they’re trying to tell. Scouring through Marmoset’s roster of rare, vintage and emerging artists can be both fulfilling and time-consuming. Its catalog holds thousands of songs – including music by The Jackson 5, Duran Duran, Shuggie Otis, Typhoon and Y La Bamba – and finding just the right song can take hours or even days. But the final result is always worth the wait, as projects have been featured in the Academy Awards, Super Bowl commercials, the Cannes Film Festival and award-winning films.

Marmoset had just four employees in 2012, and by 2014 the “Marmogang” had quickly reached 15 people. “Today, we’re a crew of more than 60 full-time family members and collaborators, many of whom make art, release records and tour with their bands,” said Wines, whose title is Fearless Leader in addition to CEO and co-founder.

The company has picked up numerous awards, including a Webby and an SXSW Interactive award, and it is regularly recognized as one of the state’s fastest growing and best places to work.

Wines is a vinyl record junkie who says his experience at SOU helped him find his true self and gave him the confidence to start his own company.

“SOU’s business program definitely planted the seeds for my entrepreneurial aspirations,” Wines said. “But it’s also where I learned to be active in my community, to stand up for what’s right and pursue things I believe in. All of that has helped shape and form the way I think about and lead my business today.”

Wines is especially thrilled about the opportunity to become a Certified B Corporation, which recognizes companies that balance both profit and purpose. B Corps consider their impact on customers, employees, communities and the environment.

“We’re super excited about the B-Corp certification,” he said. “We’ll be the first company in our industry with that honor and distinction. And it aligns so naturally with our approach to business, always working to be fully transparent, sustainable and focused on the greater good.”

The B-Corp label seems appropriate for a company that has defined its core purpose as “community.” The Marmoset website boldly declares community as its highest calling. “It’s the thing that everything we do and everything we are is informed by and filtered through … what really drives us is supporting, educating, advocating for and serving our community: the people, artists, musicians and creatives we work with on a daily basis.”

Wines is justifiably proud of what he has accomplished and the clarity of Marmoset’s values. He credits much of his vision and success to his time at KSOC radio – which closed in 2013 – and his experiences at SOU.

Shared from the Fall 2018 issue of The Raider, SOU’s alumni magazine

Shannon Luders-Manuel has found her voice as a mixed-race writer

Finding her voice: Addressing race with creativity and compassion

Shannon Luders-Manuel (2007 alumna) wasn’t sure what a thesis statement was when she came to SOU as an English major. She now makes her living as a writer, essayist and critical mixed-race scholar who has been published in a number of academic, news and creative publications.

Luders-Manuel garnered national attention in 2017, when the New York Times published her essay, “My Grandmother’s Story is Ending as Mine Begins.” It is true that the piece in the Times increased her audience base, but it is equally true that Luders-Manuel’s other works are where she earned her writing chops. 

Luders-Manuel has found herself at the epicenter of some of the nation’s most polarizing race issues as a public speaker and author of “Being Biracial: Where Our Secret Worlds Collide: Educators’ Guide.”

“When I talk about my family culture, I’m mixed,” she wrote on For Harriet, an online community for women of African ancestry. “When I talk about racism, I’m black. When Trayvon Martin was shot for wearing a hoodie, I was black. When Eric Garner was choked to death for selling cigarettes on the street, I was black. When Sandra Bland was arrested for failing to turn on her blinker, I was black. When churchgoers were shot for being black, I was black.”

Luders-Manuel found her voice while sharing her experience as a mixed-race woman at SOU and during graduate school at the University of Massachusetts. She has been researching and writing the biracial experience for more than 10 years. The essay posted on For Harriet was shared over 50,000 times on Facebook when it was published in 2015.

Luders-Manuel originally chose SOU because it was an easy drive to visit family in California, but she realized shortly after arriving in Ashland that she had found her place.

“There was such a welcoming community,” she said. “I lived in Baker dorm, and it had a real family feel. Also, I had a work-study job at the library, and we really had a tight-knit community of students working there. Some of us still stay in touch.”

Though she has been away from SOU for 13 years, she still draws on the lessons she learned here. Luders-Manuel recalls one of her favorite instructors, Alma Rosa Alvarez.

“Professor Alvarez used to make us write short-response papers,” Luders-Manuel said. “After we turned them in, she would offer feedback and keep giving them back for rewrites until they were correct. She’d do this as many times as needed.

“If she did like it, she would put a tiny check mark at the top of the paper. I remember when I got the checkmark, I would be so excited. It was one of the most effective ways of learning to write well. She wouldn’t just tell you about your errors, she’d make you work to change them.”

Alvarez, says Luders-Manuel, was also the first teacher of color that she ever had. “It was important to me to see a woman of color in that position,” she said. “Even though we are different ethnicities, I could see myself in her. She was also my biggest advocate. Professor Alvarez was the one who encouraged me to go to graduate school, and I’m so glad I did that. I am so grateful to her.”

Luders-Manuel, who earned a master’s degree from UMass, said she hadn’t always seen college in her future. “It wasn’t something my family encouraged at first, and it took me a long time to take the leap,” she said. 

She credits SOU for giving her the foundation to write in a variety of genres, including business, news, academic and marketing.

“I am able to write in many different genres because I had so many different classes and opportunities while I was at SOU,” Luders-Manuel said. “That has helped me more than anything.”

This story was repurposed from the fall 2017 issue of SOU’s alumni magazine, The Raider

Alum and coach work together on face mask project

SOU alum and football coach team up on face masks for virus protection

SOU alum Crystal Clarity and her mother Betty Camner have pulled together to produce homemade face masks to help battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Homemade masks are great for people in the system, not around patients, so that we can control the spread of the virus,” said SOU football coach Charlie Hall.

Hall has organized a drive for personal protective equipment, or PPE, for local health care provider Asante, which offers services to 600,000 people in southern Oregon and northern California. The Asante Foundation, which is Hall’s point of contact, is the philanthropic arm of Asante and teams up with partners in the community to enhance health care in the region.

“My daughter is an ICU nurse at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford,” Hall said. “(She) told my wife and I that Asante had to conserve PPE and that they may need to source their own PPE because of a shortage.

“After making a few calls, I learned Asante was launching PPE donation sites, (and) I asked if I can help with a site in Ashland. I am trying to use my platform as a longtime coach … to rally the community and support our health care workers in need.”

Clarity, who graduated from SOU in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast telecommunications, heard and responded to Hall’s call to action. She works for a small, Seattle-based public relations agency that helps tech startups in the Pacific Northwest. While Clarity is still able to work via virtual meetings, her mother has been put out of a job due to the quarantine.

“I came up with the idea to make the masks a few weeks ago, and purchased all the supplies and had them shipped to my mom,” Clarity said. “My mom loves to sew and I knew this project would give her a sense of purpose, especially since she has so much time on her hands right now.”

The raw materials needed to make the 100 percent cotton and elastic masks were purchased from Joann’s Crafts for under $50 dollars.

“In these unprecedented times, we need to all step up and work together as a community to get through this,” Clarity said. “Even though we can’t physically be together, if we all look for how we can be generous, compassionate and helpful, we’ll be coming together as a community – just in a different way.

“We know hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, food banks, etc, will all need more supplies. This was our way of doing our small part to help.”

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Master distiller Molly Troupe

SOU alumna and distiller helps to make hand sanitizer

SOU chemistry graduate Molly Troupe (2012), the master distiller at Portland’s Freeland Spirits, is setting aside drinks and helping to make hand sanitizer in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The SOU alumna is using her academic training and a World Health Organization-recommended formula to help her community in a time of crisis.

“Spirits are about community,” said Troupe, a member of the American Craft Spirits Association Board of Directors. “As shortages arose with hand sanitizer, we saw that we could help by providing the community with our own.”

Freeland has allowed community members to pre-order and pick up a maximum of two bottles per day of the sanitizer since the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau announced in late March that it would waive certain provisions regarding distilled spirits regulations. That move allows distilleries that produce alcoholic beverages to pivot their production to ethanol-based hand sanitizers.

As social distancing and quarantine measures continue, distilleries around the U.S. have taken the lead in addressing a shortage of germ-killing hand sanitizer. Troupe and the Freeland Spirits distillery have joined big industry names such as Absolut Vodka and Jameson Irish Whiskey in altering their business operations to support healthy communities and slow the spread of COVID-19.

“I am extremely proud to be a part of this industry,” Troupe said. “Our own businesses are at economic risk and rapidly pivoting due to physical distancing, and instead of falling victim to the whiplash, the distilling community has stepped up in a large way, postponing their own projects to help while the need is there.”

To shift production to hand sanitizer, distillers have to denature the ethanol they would otherwise have used to make spirits, then blend it with hydrogen peroxide and glycerin. In spirits, the ethanol is not nearly as potent. The ethanol used for hand sanitizer is sometimes too strong for normal distillery machinery to handle, which slows the process, but distilleries such as Freeland Spirits continue to fill the need for their communities.

Sanitizer and spirits can be ordered from the Portland distillery at All Portland orders are delivered to customers’ car windows with minimal contact.

Story by Kennedy Cartwright, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

From trailer of "Illegal, the Project"

SOU alumnus premieres first documentary, “Illegal,” at film festivals

Southern Oregon University alumnus Nick Alexander premiered his documentary film, “Illegal the Project,” on Sunday at New York City’s 9th Annual Winter Film Awards International Film Festival. It will be shown locally in April during the Ashland Independent Film Festival.

The feature-length documentary – which focuses on Salvadoran immigrant and successful Rogue Valley entrepreneur Laz Ayala – will also be shown at several film festivals along the West Coast.

After graduating from SOU in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in emerging media and digital arts, Alexander founded Nick Alexander Films – a video production company focused on marketing, weddings and documentaries.

The company’s first film, “Illegal the Project,” follows Ayala’s story as it explores the challenges of present-day immigration and efforts to humanize and reform it.

The film’s premier this past weekend was at Cinema Village – the oldest continuously operated cinema in Greenwich Village and one of the longest-tenured in New York City. It was one of 79 films in various genres from 27 countries that were selected from more than 650 submissions for the Winter Film Awards.

The Ashland screenings will be April 16-20, during the Ashland Independent Film Festival, when a variety of movies will be shown at the Varsity Theatre, Ashland Street Cinema the Historic Ashland Armory.

Additional showings of Alexander’s film are scheduled for the Red Dirt Film Festival on March 6-8 in Stillwater, Oklahoma; the Universe Multicultural Film Festival on April 3-5 at Palos Verdes Peninsula in California; and the Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival on May 8-10 in Santa Monica, California.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Javier del Rio

SOU to present Distinguished Alumni Awards

(Ashland, Ore.) — An arts graduate with a 30-year career as a museum curator and a regional education leader who has championed the underrepresented will be honored Friday when Southern Oregon University presents its annual Distinguished Alumni Awards during a luncheon on campus.

Bruce Guenther, who earned a bachelor’s degree in applied design from SOU in 1971, will receive this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award. The award recognizes alumni whose personal and professional achievements have significantly benefited humankind and brought distinction to Southern Oregon University.

Javier del Rio, currently the assistant superintendent for business and human resources at the Phoenix-Talent School District, will be recognized with the Excellence in Education Award. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from SOU in 1994 and a master’s degree in education in 2005.

Bruce Guenther

Bruce Guenther

Guenther grew up in Medford and came to what was then Southern Oregon College in the late 1960s to study art and participate in the honors program. He found his career path when he landed a National Endowment for the Arts curatorial internship at the Portland Art Museum after graduation. Guenther served in curator roles at the Seattle Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and Orange County Museum of Art in California. He returned to the Portland Art Museum as chief curator in 2000 and oversaw two major expansions before retiring in 2014.

Del Rio, who came to SOU as an exchange student from Spain, went to work for MCI Telecommunications in Los Angeles after earning his bachelor’s degree. He discovered his calling a few years later when he began teaching under an emergency credential in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He earned his teaching license from Cal State, Northridge, while he worked and then returned to SOU for his master’s degree. He has served in a variety of roles in the Phoenix-Talent School District and as principal in the Medford School District. At each stop in his education career, del Rio has advocated for underprivileged and underrepresented children, and those for whom English is a second language.


Van Delden holding baby

Van Delden: Returning kindness with compassion

Service has been a way of life for Dr. James Van Delden (’70). He has delivered babies in war-torn nations, cared for children on Native American reservations of the Great Plains and served on medical missions in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

“I was a family doctor; I wanted to help wherever families and kids needed a doctor,” he said.

Van Delden’s career path began when he emigrated with his family from the Netherlands to Grants Pass in 1961 at the age of 12. He was born in what is now Indonesia, and became a U.S. citizen while studying pre-med and playing soccer at Southern Oregon College in the late 1960s. He chose the small college in Ashland because of the atmosphere – it offered what he needed.

Van Delden with mother and child“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at SOC,” Van Delden said. “The professors were very helpful, I made a lot of friends and I loved soccer.”

The kindness of his instructors, friends and teammates made a lasting impression on Van Delden, who studied biology. His experience at SOC had a profound influence and led to a lifelong commitment to help others. “When people give to you, you want to give back,” he said.

Van Delden entered medical school in 1969 at Creighton University in Nebraska, with a bachelor’s degree and just three years of pre-med coursework at SOU. “Graduation was a glorious day, but then I went back to work swing shift at the plywood mill to earn some money for med school,” said Van Delden.

“I truly had no funds when I reached third-year status at Creighton, and the U.S. Army came to the rescue by signing me up in 1971 and made me an instant ‘butter bar’ (a second lieutenant),” explained Van Delden.

He was then on active duty during his senior year and was stationed in West Germany after completing his medical degree in 1973.

After retiring from active duty in 1977, Van Delden joined the Army National Guard and signed on with the Indian Health Service as a civilian. The Indian Health Service is a division of the U.S. Public Health Service, and is the principal federal health care advocate and provider for American Indians and Alaska Natives who belong to the more than 550 federally recognized tribes.

“I had two careers simultaneously,” he said. “I was working full time at the Indian Health Service and part-time as a soldier.”

Van Delden was recalled to active duty with Army National Guard during Desert Storm in 1990. He retired from the Army in 2001 after 30 years, earning the rank of Brigadier General upon retirement. Van Delden’s career with the Indian Health Service ended in 2005, although he remained busy helping tribal administrators with their own medical clinics for almost 10 years.

“It was a fun ride,” he said. “I met lots of good folks, and I was honored to have been able to be a part of their lives.”

Throughout his career and into retirement, the SOU alumnus’ focus has remained squarely on serving those in need.

“If there is a situation where I can be of help, then that is what I will do,” he said.

He volunteers with veterans’ organizations and continues to work at the Omaha Nation tribal clinic in Nebraska.

Van Delden said his sense of service comes from the joy he takes in meeting people and the many kindnesses people have shown him over the years.

“I’d tell anyone who wanted a career in medicine or in any public service to just think of those who were of service to you,” he said. “Then knuckle down, hit the books and engage with your community.

“So many people were good to me and supported me when I first came to the United States. It never occurred to me not to give back.”

Reposted from the Spring 2017 issue of The Raider, SOU’s alumni magazine

Abbigail Rosewood to discuss her novel at SOU

SOU alumna Rosewood returns to read from her novel

SOU alumna and current best-selling author Abbigail Rosewood will return to her alma mater on Friday (May 24) as part of a cross-country book tour for her novel, “If I Had Two Lives.”

She will discuss and read from her book at 5 p.m. in the SOU Art Building’s Meese Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Rosewood received her bachelor’s degree at SOU in 2013, focusing on creative writing, then earned her master of fine arts degree in fiction from Columbia University in 2017. She won the Michael Baughman Fiction Award while at SOU.

“At the time, I was still finding my voice,” Rosewood said in a 2017 interview with the SOU alumni magazine. “In this nascent stage as a writer when you are vulnerable, doubtful of your abilities, it’s very easy for your flame to get snuffed out by an unkind comment, a skeptical glance. Writers are sensitive.

“Words such as ‘have faith’ and ‘believe’ are often so overused that they can lose their meaning, but that’s what the SOU community gave me,” she said. “They had faith and they believed in me.”

Rosewood’s “If I Had Two Lives” was published in April by Europa Editions, an independent publisher in New York. The novel has since been reviewed by publications ranging from the Hungry Reader and Foreword Reviews to The New Yorker and the Los Angeles Review of Books. The book quickly became the No. 1 bestseller in its genre at Kinokuniya USA, a Japan-based bookseller with retail stores across the U.S.

Her book tour is taking Rosewood to New York, Miami, Washington, D.C., Portland, Ashland and other locations.

“If I Had Two Lives” centers on the daughter of a political dissident growing up in a Vietnam military camp during the 1990s and the girl’s adulthood as an immigrant in New York, where she deals with issues from her youth. Trauma prompts her return to Vietnam, where she comes to grips with her identity.

Rosewood was born in Vietnam and lived there until age 12.

In an interview with SOU English Professor Ed Battistella for the “Literary Ashland” website, she said the novel is only indirectly about her life.

“My work is autobiographical in the sense that it is blanketed with emotional truths and emblemed with personal ‘objects,’” Rosewood said. “My writing will always be honest in this way and autobiographical even if I were writing about dragons.”

She told Battistella she has a second novel, “which is still looking for a home.”

Rosewood has also written several essays, reviews, articles and creative works for various online and print publications.

Molly Troupe and Jill Kuehler from Travel Oregon story on distilling

SOU alumna helping to reinvent the distilling world

SOU chemistry graduate Molly Troupe (2012) and her business partner are being portrayed by Oregon’s tourism marketing agency as “the women changing the distilling world” at their craft distillery in Portland.

Troupe and Jill Kuehler opened Freeland Spirits in northwest Portland two years ago. Kuehler serves as the CEO and Troupe is the master distiller – placing theirs among the fewer than 2 percent of U.S. distilleries that are owned and operated by women.

Freeland is also set apart by its commitment to fresh ingredients and flavors – such as the cucumber, mint and other farm-to-still components in its trademark gin.

“Distilling is like art, just in the way that you balance out your recipe,” Troupe said in the recent story and video for Travel Oregon, the marketing arm of the Oregon Tourism Commission.

“You try to create ebbs and flows, and top notes and bottom notes, and that beautiful middle note as well,” Troupe said. “All of the recipes we’re trying to achieve here have this amazing balance that takes a lot of time, patience and understanding of the art and science of distilling to actually achieve.”

Troupe earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry with an emphasis on forensics at SOU – where she was a resident assistant for housing, a chemistry lab teaching assistant and a mentor in organic chemistry. She then studied brewing and distilling at Scotland’s Heriot-Watt University, earning a master’s degree and the designation of master distiller.

She served for a year as a quality control assistant at Hood River Distillers and then three years as production manager and lead distiller at Bend’s Oregon Spirit Distillers.

That’s when Troupe was contacted and recruited by Kuehler, who had developed the vision of a women-run distillery that would get most of its ingredients from local, women-owned farms.

Troupe had already begun to make a name for herself as one of the nation’s youngest master distillers, and she has since been chosen for the Forbes Magazine 30 Under 30 list of food-and-drink innovators. She is also on the board of directors of the American Craft Spirits Association.

Freeland Spirits focuses on craft gin and bourbon, distinguished by unique ingredients and pioneering techniques – such as the combination of heat and vacuum distillation that preserves the fresh flavors in its gin.

“We’re starting with West Coast domination – and then the world!” Troupe said in the Travel Oregon video.