By Gelsey Plaza
A transgender tuberculosis researcher and a female one-star general of the United States Air Force offer a glimpse of the numerous successful alumni Lewis & Clark College has produced over the last century and a half. Many students have gone on to become important cultural figures and innovators. As LC’s 150th anniversary comes to a close, the college is honoring its distinctive past and preparing for many more prosperous years.
One of LC’s earliest Pioneers was Alan Hart, who graduated from LC back when it was known as Albany College in 1912. Hart, who attended medical school and became a physician after leaving LC, was one of the first transgender men to undergo gender reassignment surgery in the United States.
Soon after his transition, Hart was forced to move to a remote place in Montana when a former med school classmate outed him. Due to lack of acceptance over his gender identity, Hart experienced financial insecurities and was forced to relocate many times.
Despite these hardships, Hart devoted the majority of his career to the study of tuberculosis. He pioneered the use of x-ray photography in tuberculosis detection and led a massive x-ray tuberculosis screening program in Connecticut in 1948. Hart saved thousands of lives by containing the spread of tuberculosis and emphasizing the importance of early detection and treatment.
Another noteworthy LC alumna is Major General Jeanne Marjorie Holm ’56, who received her Bachelor of Arts degree from LC. Holm went on to become the first female one-star general of the United States Air Force, as well as the first female two-star general in any service branch of the United States.
A passionate and dedicated leader in the Air Force, Holm was influential in the expansion of women’s roles in the Air Force. She was a diligent advocate in expanding women’s opportunities to serve in the Armed Forces, and she jumpstarted innovative roles and career opportunities for women within the Air Force.
Due to her exemplary service, Holm was appointed director of Women in the Air Force and awarded the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal. A section of Air University was reorganized in 2008 and renamed the Jeanne M. Holm Officer Accession and Citizen Development Center in her honor.
Matt Wuerker ’79, another distinguished alumnus, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American political cartoonist. While at LC, he served as the chief editorial cartoonist for the Pioneer Log. Wuerker is a founding staff member of Politico, an American political journalism company that covers politics and policy in the United States and internationally. He also won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning. He received this award for his consistently fresh and funny cartoons, particularly those that lampooned the partisan conflict in American politics.
Bill Walker ’73, the current governor of Alaska, also attended LC. Walker initially intended to run as a Republican in the 2014 gubernatorial election. However, Walker decided to run as a nonpartisan candidate, taking the recommendation he had received from former Alaska governor Wally Hickel prior to his 2010 campaign.
As governor of Alaska, Walker secured $1 million to help with repairments and recovery after seven landslides devastated the town of Sitka. In November of 2015, Walker signed the buyout bill for TransCanada’s quarter share in the Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas (AKLNG) project. If work begins in the 2020s as planned, 10,000 construction jobs are expected to open, and the state will make $1-1.2 billion per year once gas starts flowing.
Governor Walker is not the only standing state governor to have graduated from LC. The current governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, received her law degree and Certificate in Environmental Law at LC’s Northwestern School of Law in 1985.
Brown took office in February 2015, becoming the first openly bisexual governor in U.S. history. Although her sexuality received a great deal of media attention, Brown’s strengths as a leader got her elected. Brown has successfully implemented many programs to help the state’s economy, such as raising the state’s minimum wage and ensuring a fair work schedule. She was also the first governor in the country to take action to end the use of coal power, making Oregon a leader in the clean energy movement.
In addition to Walker and Brown, Monica Lewinsky ’95 is another LC alumna who is actively engaged with politics. Lewinsky, a political activist and former White House intern, graduated a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Lewinsky became a public figure after news broke about her sexual encounters with then-President Bill Clinton.
After being publicly ridiculed on the internet regarding her sexual encounters with Clinton, Lewinsky decided to stand up against cyberbullying. In 2015, she became an ambassador and strategic advisor for the anti-bullying organization Bystander Revolution.
LC has helped and supported generations of students toward paths of success and accomplishment. Over the past 150 years, LC has cultivated strong and dedicated leaders and innovators. LC strives to continue empowering students and hopes to create many more prosperous alumni from all walks of life.