Grace Under Pressure

So, the long, hard winter is finally behind us. Yay! Which means that tornado season is upon us. Ugh.

Just this past week, the entire university took part in a tornado warning exercise. At the Levitt Center for University Advancement, which houses the alumni association, when the tornado sirens blare, we all have to traipse down to the basement—against a backdrop of flashing emergency lights and ominous sirens and automatic warning messages.

Usually, we’re pretty bored while we wait there in the storage area, surrounded by boxes of stationery, archived copies of Iowa Alumni Magazine, and other odds and ends. Eight years after the actual event, though, one such drill remains clear in my memory. At the time, we were interviewing for the position of associate editor on the magazine. Halfway through a meeting with one candidate, the sirens went off—and off we all went to the basement.

We joke now that we actually arranged the drill just to see how Associate Editor Kathryn Howe coped under pressure. Yes, she was the candidate caught up in the tornado drill; and yes, we did hire her. How could we not? After all, she passed our stress test with flying colors. And, to this day, she still exhibits incredible grace under pressure.

Tina Owen

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