Hidden rocks can spell disaster for even the most skilled snowboarder. For Alana Nichols, an icon of courage and excellence in Paralympic sports, that disaster came not just once, but twice.

Twice torn apart. Twice fighting her way back to Olympic-level competition. 

If there’s a gold medal for heart, Alana Nichols, 31, has earned it, along with the five gold medals she has won in sports she always acknowledged carry high risks.

For a new UA student with a disability, something is instantly obvious. Wherever you look, most everything accommodates access. Lectures. Doors. Ramps. Policies. Entire buildings. It all reflects the UA’s goal of “universal design.” 

“Students with a disability should have a similar experience as their nondisabled peers,” says Sue Kroeger, the UA’s top advocate for this concept. “You should have access without having to ask for something.”


It’s an incredible honor to return to campus this year as the chair of the UA Alumni Association’s governing board and as a committee chair for the Class of 1988 Reunion. As a Wildcat for Life, one of the important things to me is returning to campus each year for Homecoming. Since 1984, I’ve only missed two.

Our University has a student body of more than 36,000, but it has never felt that way to me. For many of us, our campus community broke down the size, engaged us, and made us feel a part of something special.

A player has to love the game. “That’s big,” according to Matt Dudek, who serves as Rich Rodriguez’s director of recruiting. “We want the guy who, if we call a practice for 3 a.m., he’s there at 2:15, ready to go and calling his teammates to hurry up and get there. That’s our kinda guy.”

But transforming a group of players into a team is a work of science, art, and luck. As most sports fans understand, nurturing team chemistry is important and can make or break a season. 

Humans are odd. 

Not because we balk at $4 a gallon for gas but will suck down six venti lattes at $25 a gallon. Not because we drive to the gym to jog in place. Not even because we stress and sweat over how to sign off in email. In the kingdom of things that walk this earth, we’re most odd for how we parent.

For one, we never stop. We’re one of very few species to maintain one-on-one relations with our adult offspring. 

The first time Alison Levine ’87 climbed Mount Everest, in 2002, she had to stop a mere 279 feet short of the summit. 

“We just got hit by bad weather,” the renowned adventurer says. “Wind, low visibility, snow.”

Levine was captain of the first-ever American Women’s Everest Expedition, and the team had trained for months. On the climb, they had made it to the south summit, just below the formidable Hilary Step, a steep pitch of nearly-vertical rock and ice, just a few hundred feet from the top.

In the depths of the earth there is a web of tunnels where human industry uncovers the most basic elements. In chasms, they find minerals and metals from copper and iron to zinc and aluminum. 

The passages remain a mystery to most of us. But not to students at the University of Arizona. 

I am descending into the dusty depths of the University’s San Xavier Mining Laboratory.  On the ladder below me is Chris Zanin, a sophomore in the Department of Mining and Geological Engineering.  

Why does Old Main touch so many hearts?

Whether our memories are of a cool resting place or a romantic spot for engagements, Old Main draws our affection and tugs at our heart strings. To generations of Arizona alumni, its traditional red bricks tell the tale of Wildcat legacy and spirit. 

Now, sounds of pounding hammers and the unfurling of architectural blueprints fill its usually quiet halls. Something big is brewing.


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