From Houghton to Hollywood: STC Alumna Follows that Dream

By Dennis Walikainen, senior editor

Suzanne Jurva '82 always knew she was going to end up in movies. And the humanities alumna did.

"Saving Private Ryan," "Amistad," "Gladiator," "Minority Report," "The Prince of Egypt," and "The Lookout"--all have involved Jurva. For "The Peacemaker," with George Clooney and Nicole Kidman, she arranged for the film to premier in Houghton in 1997.

This weekend, she was on campus to promote her first documentary as an independent filmmaker.

“It’s just me. Everyday. Alone,” she laughs.

The film is "Changing Keys," the story of guitar virtuoso Bill McLaughlin, who, after suffering the debilitating disease dystonia, had to learn to play guitar left-handed. McLaughlin’s story is inspiring and magical.

Jurva began her "front-end" career by doing research for movies, bridging the ideas for the films with the scriptwriting and producing.

"I started out with the American Film Institute," she says, "just volunteering to get experience. Then I worked my way onto sets in LA and did some work in public television in Green Bay, getting A reel, which means putting some actual films together," Jurva says.

Then she headed back to LA and landed the dream job: working at Dreamworks, Steven Spielberg's company. She ended up as development executive and head of research; her duties were to bring a project to a script, which meant working with researchers, writers, and directors.

Her children grew up in the Hollywood scene and were unfazed by their mom working at Spielberg's company. Jurva herself has avoided much of the trappings of Hollywood and doesn’t go to the award shows. "They are boring." Besides, she says, she’s busy with softball and volleyball and whatever else her 17-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son are doing.

In her new business, she continues seeking out the good stories, fodder for documentaries, and putting them on film. One might be a new look at Garrett Lisi, "the new Einstein." (Lisi is a long-disappeared physicist who has reemerged with interesting theories regarding general relativity.)

"There’s no shortage of interesting people and stories," Jurva says. That’s where the "Changing Keys" film came from. "Billy was just someone I got to know, this virtuoso, and he loses control of his hand," she says. "He didn’t know what he was going to do. It's not a film. It's a story."

And Jurva's challenge now is distributing the story. That's what brings her to film festivals, like Tech's Northern Lights Film Festival, put on by Erin Smith, senior lecturer in the humanities department.

From the looks of her first offering, you'll be seeing more of her work.

More information on "Changing Keys" is available at: and .

You're Invited to Comment on Changes to the Strategic Plan

The Executive Team is inviting all members of the campus community to comment on proposed revisions to the University's strategic plan. To review both the current and proposed plans and post your comments, visit .

The current plan was approved by the Board of Control April 28, 2006. "It has been a very useful document for planning and budgeting," President Glenn Mroz said. "But after three years, it's time to review the plan in light of our evolving strengths and priorities."

Shelter Home Music Event and Silent Auction Scheduled for Sunday, April 5

The Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter Home is hosting its first-ever Women's Music Event and Silent Auction from 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, April 5, at the Forestry Atrium.

Several local artists will perform: Kari Brown, Rhythm 203, SherAaron Hurt, Nicole White and others.

The silent auction features donations from Keweenaw Gem and Gift, Mary Ann Beckwith, Keweenaw Co-op, Sayen's Auto Quick Lube, AutoPro Glass and Tire, Ed Gray Gallery, Christine Young, Marilyn’s Stained Glass and more.

Donations of $5 are suggested. All proceeds will go to the shelter home. For more information, contact Ann Brady (Humanities) at 487-2066 or .

The event is sponsored by the shelter home and Educational Opportunity.

Grain Processing Seminar in Chemical Engineering

Adrienne Minerick, of Mississippi State University, will give talk, "Electrokinetic Tools in Medical Microdevices," at 10 a.m., today, April 1, in Chem Sci 201. The Grain Processing Seminar is sponsored by Chemical Engineering. Refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Alexis Snell at 487-3211 or at .

Physics Colloquium Set for Thursday, April 2

Assistant Professor Aleksey Smirnov (GMES) will present a colloquium, "Reading Magnetic Fingerprints from Deep Time: an Insight into the Geodynamo and Early Earth Evolution," at 4 p.m., Thursday, April, 2, in Fisher 139.

Before coming to Tech, Smirnov was a research associate at the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale University. Before that he worked as a research scientist at the University of Rochester. He holds a Master’s Degree in Geophysics from Saint Petersburg State University in Russia and a PhD in Geophysics from the University of Rochester.

His research interests include the long-term evolution of the geomagnetic field, geodynamics and global plate tectonics, as well as rock and mineral magnetism.

For more information, contact Ranjit Pati at 487-3193 or at , or Claudio Mazzoleni at 487-1226 or .

New Funding

Assistant Professor Roshan D'Souza (ME-EM) has received $105,865 from the National Science Foundation for a CAREER Award, "Towards Interactive Simulation of Giga-Scale Agent-Based Models on Graphics Processing Units." The grant is for the first year of a potential five-year project totaling $400,000.

Job Posting

Staff job descriptions are available in Human Resources or at . For more information regarding staff positions, call 487-2280 or email .

Faculty job descriptions can be found at . For more information regarding faculty positions, contact the academic department in which the position is posted.

Staff Job Posting

Food Service Helper
Dining Services
AFSCME internal posting only
Regular, full-time, nine-month position

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