Everyman a Hero

Years before Guardians of the Galaxy unexpectedly charmed its way across the silver screen — before the movie made $774 million with a gun-toting raccoon and a talking tree — the galaxy’s unlikeliest heroes first entered the imagination of an editor at Marvel Comics named Bill Rosemann.

In a profile for Notre Dame Magazine, I spoke with Rosemann about the genesis of his comic book career, and discovered how Rosemann’s story arc so closely mirrors — and inspires — the pulp heroes we love.

Read “Everyman a hero” at Notre Dame Magazine

The Secret Sources of College Financial Aid

Paying for a college education can be daunting: A four-year public university can cost $19,000 a year on average, while the priciest private nonprofit schools can cost near $70,000, according to The College Board.

But even if students and their families are disappointed by paltry financial aid packages, there are still numerous sources of financial aid that can help students pay for an education.

In an enterprise story for NBC’s city stations, I spoke to financial aid professionals and dug through reams of data to find some ways for college applicants to make the most of their financial aid applications — and the surprising sources for college cash.

Read 7 Ways to Maximize College Financial Aid at NBC 

A “Super” Battle of the Beers

Craft beers — defined as beers from independently-owned, traditionally styled brewers making less than 6 million barrels a year — are more popular than ever across the U.S. But Super Bowl Sunday has traditionally been home turf for big American brewers like Anheuser-Busch and Miller-Coors, which can compound their worldwide cultural status with titanic advertising budgets.

In my first story for NBC’s national digital enterprise, I talked to craft brewers, big brewers, barmen and boozehounds alike to understand just what exactly people were drinking during Super Bowl.

Craft Brewers Tackle Super Bowl, Beer Industry’s Marquee Event

Invincible No More

Notre Dame Magazine | Winter 2014-2015

His friends knew that, even as a boy, James Perri ’94 was destined to do great things. And he has — largely because of those friends and family and his encounter with his own mortality.

This was the most challenging story I’ve ever attempted, and likewise the most rewarding. It is a story of confronting mortality and raising children, of science and faith, of flesh and not. And it is a story about the power of love.

Click here to read “Invincible No More” at Notre Dame Magazine

Fast Tracking

Notre Dame Magazine | Autumn 2012

With a semester left at Notre Dame, Kelsey Falter dropped out, moved to New York, and started her own company.Two years later, Falter is remaking the social media landscape.

But when we first spoke, her fledgeling startup was just getting off the ground. This is how she did it.

Click here to read “Fast Tracking” at Notre Dame Magazine.

A New Generation of Jazz

Since he burst onto the New York City club scene in the early 2000s, singer and pianist Tony DeSare has earned rave reviews as a standard-bearer for a new generation of young jazz musicians.

On the verge of launching a new show at New York’s 54 Below supper club, the new father—and overall second-place winner of the 2013 USA Songwriting Competition—spoke with me for Making Music Magazine about connecting with audiences all over the world, why YouTube is his next frontier, and which of his songs is Sir Paul McCartney’s favorite.

Click here to read “A New Generation of Jazz” at Making Music

More than a Game

Notre Dame Magazine | Summer 2012

In 1946, a group of American soldiers returned from the world’s most hellish battlefields to the picturesque campus of the University of Notre Dame.

There, under the steely gaze of former Navy lieutenant Frank Leahy, they found themselves in a war of a different kind.

This is their story.

Click here to read the whole story at Notre Dame Magazine

From Memphis to Madagascar

Notre Dame Magazine | Spring 2014

As one of 12 black freshmen at Notre Dame in 1965, Dr. Bill Hurd  was a pioneer.

His life is one of giant steps. A five-time All-American sprinter — he still holds two Notre Dame records and nearly qualified for the 1968 Olympic team — Hurd was also an honors electrical engineering student and a standout jazz saxophonist who was named “most promising sax” at the Collegiate Jazz Festival.

In Hurd’s senior year, Ara Parseghian personally invited him to join the football team for a season (he played wideout). Father Ted Hesburgh, CSC, encouraged him apply for a Rhodes Scholarship (he was a finalist).

Dr. Bill Hurd / Photo by Barbara Johnston
Dr. Bill Hurd / Photo by Barbara Johnston

Now a practicing ophthalmologist with two U.S./foreign patents for ocular devices, the Memphis native annually travels to such places as Madagascar, Mexico and Kenya, where he performs pro bono eye surgeries for hundreds.

“Most of these people [have] never seen a doctor before, let alone an eye surgeon,” says Hurd, who is composing an autobiography tentatively titled Memphis to Madagascar.

Even with a career as remarkable as his — “I’ve been very blessed,” he says — Hurd is reticent to single out a defining moment. There is his latest album, Return of the Hip, which opened in 2014 near the top of the Memphis jazz charts. There is the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award he received in 1994 alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and other legends. There is the pride, shared with his wife, Rhynette, of seeing their sons Bill Jr. and Ryan ’05 attend Notre Dame.

If there is a defining moment, it might be this: During one of his medical journeys to Madagascar, Hurd successfully restored vision to an elderly woman who “had never seen her grandchild before.” The surgery complete, Hurd removed her eye patch. As she saw her family for the first time, “She just started crying. And I did too.”

Read more of the “Stories of Us” at Notre Dame Magazine.

The Professor of Rock

Notre Dame Magazine | Spring 2012

Like any good rock musician, Don Savoie looks like a mechanic.

He has Bruce Springsteen’s blue-collar appeal, as if he should be installing sheetrock or working at a car wash when he’s not playing onstage.

But Savoie isn’t a mechanic or even your average rock ’n’ roll musician. He’s a professor at Notre Dame.

Click here to read “The Professor of Rock” at Notre Dame Magazine


Photo by Barbara Johnston for Notre Dame Magazine

(A note about the photo: I helped Barbara and Kerry Prugh, Notre Dame Magazine’s art director, scout several locations for the photoshoot. We ultimately chose the University’s motor pool as the backdrop.  The gritty concrete-and-metal interior matched Don’s blue-collar look. Speaking of which: The outfit? All Don. He arrived at the shoot from a junkyard, where he was searching for spare parts for his daughter’s car.)

Governor, Meet Notre Dame Students

Notre Dame Magazine | Winter 2011-2012

It is 10 p.m. on a Tuesday night, and the six resident assistants of Alumni Hall are sitting in a third-floor apartment in their dorm, trying politely to convince the governor of Indiana to go downstairs with them and try a slice of student-made Dawg Pizza.

Click here to read “Governor, Meet Students” at Notre Dame Magazine

Collected writing for Men's Fitness, Men's Journal, Muscle & Fitness, NBC News, and Notre Dame Magazine