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Volume 71, Issue 6, Monday, August 29, 2005


Cougars in eye of the storm during summer

Students see it all, from horses to hurricanes

Cougar News Staff

This is the first in a weeklong series of articles looking at how various UH students spent their summer vacations. Today, we look at four students who turned their unique situations into memorable experiences.

Trouble in paradise seemed to be the theme of Cameron Davis' vacation.

The business junior was set to join his family in Cancun, Mexico, in mid-July -- a trip that put him in the resort city two days before Hurricane Emily slammed ashore.

"The airline said people started canceling (their reservations)," Davis said. "The plane was kind of empty, which made me start to think that maybe I should have been one of those that canceled, too."

The flight was smooth, but after Davis arrived in Cancun he began to see signs showing Emily was on her way.

"The day before the hurricane hit ... it started to rain a little and the winds picked up, but people could still go outside," he said. "It was actually really pretty outside."

Though 130,000 people were evacuated from the area, Davis and his family didn't budge: They were staying at the J.W. Marriott, reportedly the safest hotel in Cancun and a hurricane shelter.

"I thought it was kind of cool," Davis said. "Even when they told me (Emily) was coming, I wasn't worried. I stood on the balcony looking at the waves until they told (my family and I) that we absolutely had to come inside."

It wasn't Davis' first time in Mexico, and he said it won't be his last.

"I plan to go back to Mexico -- just maybe somewhere other than Cancun," he said.

The waters were smoother for electrical engineering major Demitry Kalinichenko, who spent his second summer photographing vacationers and attractions for the Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of Aloha ship in Hawaii.

"We start in Honolulu, make seven stops and then return to Honolulu," Kalinichenko said. "I didn't get seasick and there weren't any storms."

In addition to the chance to see the Hawaiian Islands, Kalinichenko received free room and board for his work. But what should have been one of the high points of the trip, a visit to Mt. Kilauea's lava flow, ended up not happening.

"The engines broke down. It stalled us for hours and we missed the lava flow, which people pay to see," Kalinichenko said.

Studio art junior Amy Lopez found a different kind of summer adventure. Hers came in the form of an internship selling educational books and software door-to-door for the Southwestern Co. of Nashville, Tenn. The company offers summer sales jobs to students from 350 colleges and universities around the country.

"It was a good experience," Lopez said. "I got to go to Minnesota."

After a week of sales training in Nashville, Lopez drove to Anoka, Minn., just north of Minneapolis. There, she and other students put their training to work.

"They had us practice scripts called ‘What do you do when you get to the door?' and ‘What to say to the family,'" Lopez said.

After finding their own housing, Lopez and other student salespeople settled into nearly 14-hour workdays Monday through Saturday. Sundays were set aside for additional training.

"We woke up at 6 a.m. and took cold showers," Lopez said. "We had to be down for breakfast at 6:30 (a.m.). The latest we could get to our (sales) territory was 7:59 (a.m.); the earliest we could stop selling was 9:31 p.m."

In the end, Lopez wasn't sold on the job: Though the internship was for the entire summer, she quit after two months.

"I felt lost and like it wasn't my thing, knocking door-to-door by yourself," she said. "I never thought it was a challenge I couldn't handle."

The summer was a chance for another UH student, biology senior Amanda Ritchie, to revisit an old hobby.

Ritchie rode saddle-breed horses for fun and competition while she was growing up in Baton Rouge, La., but she stopped in her teens. This summer, she returned to the saddle, taking first place in the five-gait category at a horse show in Bellville.

"Saddle breeds are docile, not trail-riding horses," Ritchie said. "They're very animated, very spirited and they're judged by their motion."

The competition, though it was only a local one, was expensive. Ritchie competed for two days but paid about $1,000 for entry fees, groomers and transportation costs.

The world championship competition for saddle-breed riding is this month in Kentucky, but Ritchie won't be there. She's planning to graduate in December and is working on another project: training Timmy, a young saddle breed she recently bought.

With reporting by Ashley Anthony, J. Ivan Franceschi, Joanna Garcia and Luciana A. Rodriguez.

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