Movin' on up: Batavia grads make their mark on the world
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Kevin King of Batavia is serving 27 months as a Peace Corps volunteer in Azerbaijan.
Courtesy of Kevin King
Not long ago, I spoke with Chris Burrichter, a 2004 graduate of Batavia High School. Burrichter had recently joined the prestigious law firm of Kirkland Ellis LLP in Chicago.
The firm employs 1,600 lawyers in offices around the world.
"There were 50 new lawyers joining the firm in the Chicago office," said Burrichter. "I looked around and there were two other new associates from Batavia; Billy Foster and Shane Mulrooney."
From a city of just over 26,000 people? Impressive.
The Peace Corps currently has 7,209 volunteers in 139 countries. In addition to my son, Kevin, in Ganja, Azerbaijan, there are two other Batavians serving. Matt Flannagan is teaching in Sierra Leone, Africa, and Karen Kilberg is doing health education in Cameroon.
These three have made a 27-month commitment to live in another culture, which involves learning a new language during the fast track, four-month training program.
Three Peace Corps volunteers from a town the size of ours. Amazing.
We have had many choose to go into the military, and quite a few have chosen the military as a career. Some have furthered their training for elite forces. All to protect our freedom. Awesome.
Alex Blunk headed to the world of dot-coms after graduating from Indiana University. He worked for two companies in San Francisco and recently took on the risk of starting his own company. Last year, he launched Farallon Co. to showcase top-tier brands, fund developmental projects and encourage feedback for its clients.
"I love the energy that comes out of creating a sustainable business -- one that is creating value for all parties involved," said Blunk. "I've mostly been around e-commerce startups and have experienced a wide array of growing pains and successes -- which should help to navigate our company through the early days."
The new company is generating buzz in the San Francisco area, and recently was featured in Crowdfund Insider.
"Showcasing and supporting amazing makers is the lifeblood of Farallon Co.," said Blunk. "Our story is their story -- people who are making great things and have great stories behind their brands."
Twenty-six years of age and starting his own company?
When he was in high school, Kurt Isaacson astounded Batavians with his original composition for piano. He went on to win the Illinois Music Educators Association's top prize for composition.
"After high school I went to Oberlin Conservatory and studied composition," said Isaacson. "I'm now in the final stages of finishing my doctorate in composition at Stanford. I will have a busy winter and spring because I have premieres and performances of new works in Stanford, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Oberlin and Bowling Green, as well as the culmination of a collaboration with Brooklyn-based poet Matthea Harvey in a lengthy song cycle titled 'the future of terror.'"
The talented musician is getting the recognition he deserves. In 2013, he won a prestigious BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) award for student composers.
"In the future, I hope to compose for performers and small ensembles," he added.
Other music students have achieved their goals of playing professionally or teaching. Other business students have found their place in companies and are working toward their goals. There are lawyers and doctors who aren't just helping their clients or patients, but also doing volunteer work to help the poor.
Venture downtown for a cup of coffee and you will probably hear about a twenty-something who is spending a year in a developing country on a mission trip, or working for Teach for America to work with underserved populations in our country.
These are the young people who were told upon graduation from college that there were no jobs for them. They are making their mark and they are from Batavia.
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