University of Minnesota Alumni Association


Editor's Note

A Creative Culture

Photo credit: Scott Streble

I’ve been musing lately about the idea of our college years as a crucible, where a mix of elements combine to form something brand new.

I think most of us would agree that our time at a university affected us in meaningful ways. For instance, it may have put us on a creative career or life trajectory we hadn’t originally contemplated, since college is an environment where we discover things about the world and our place in it that we didn’t previously know. The time we’ve spent in classrooms, whether that was a decade ago or many multiples of that, couldn’t help but change us since pursuing higher education means actively working to incorporate new-to-us concepts, knowledge, and information.

As a result, every student scholar who enters at the front end of this experience later exits as a uniquely different individual.

In this issue, we share the stories of alumni who were shaped in large part by their time at the University of Minnesota, either through traditional coursework or by the various activities they pursued while here.

In our cover story, we look at the fascinating, decades-long history of a quiz show called College Bowl.

This program engaged many U of M students in a national academic competition that tests broad areas of knowledge and demands a lightning-quick ability to recall that information.

College Bowl brought honor not only to the talented participants involved with it, but also increased visibility for the University. Through the years, U of M teams repeatedly took national honors in this competition, capturing personal glory while building a strong camaraderie usually associated with sports teams.

That competitive academic spirit continues to thrive at the U of M, with today’s students demonstrating exceptional prowess in similar formats. Two of these include Nibir Sarma, a then-junior who won $100,000 in the 2020 Jeopardy! College Championship, and Emmey Harris, a U of M history major sophomore who made it to the semifinals of the same event this year.

Also inside this issue, we bring you several stories of noted artists who expanded their passions after studying at the University. Each of them found a way to expand on the creative curiosity the U of M nurtured, while continuing to explore the world around us through their art.

Kelly O’Hara Dyer can be reached at

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