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American Magazine: August 2014

Marjorie Merriweather

Marjorie Merriweather Post’s treasures include a diamondstudded crown, glistening chalices, ornate Fabergé eggs—and, of course, the sprawling, Georgian-style mansion that houses them. But the CROWN JEWEL of the Post cereal heiress’s collection may be the EXQUISITELY MANICURED GREENERY that surrounds her northwest D.C. estate. Forty years after Post’s death, master gardener Jason Gedeik has a hand—literally—in carrying on her LEGACY OF IMPECCABLE TASTE and affinity for flowers. As head of greenhouse and design operations at the Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens, Gedeik maintains 25 ACRES bursting with vibrant azaleas, roses, peonies, tulips, delphiniums, and POST’S BELOVED ORCHIDS. (Hillwood has more than 2,000 specimens and hundreds of varieties of the exotic flower.) Gedeik says the gardens, nestled near Rock Creek Park, were designed for spring and fall, when Post would host EXTRAVAGANT SOIRÉES for the who’s who of Washington—but the property is picturesque year-round. “I love creating beauty for our visitors and continuing to tell Mrs. Post’s story, which is one of GRACE AND CHARM in an era long since gone,” says Gedeik. “People don’t live this way anymore.” Jason Gedeik SPA/MPP ’05 18 22 28 30 Incarcerated D.C. youth are more than the sum of their rap sheets Tools of the trade have changed, but SOC’s mission remains the same Al-Qaeda to Zeta Function and 24 projects in between Even gator-infested waters need a protector

1 POV 4 4400 Mass Ave Ideas, people, perspectives 16 Metrocentered 35 Your American Connect, engage, reminisce AMERICAN American University magazine Vol. 65, No. 1 SENIOR EDITOR Adrienne Frank, SPA/MS ’08 ASSOCIATE EDITORS Suzanne Bechamps Amy Burroughs Ali Kahn STAFF WRITER Mike Unger WRITERS Adrienne Frank Ali Kahn Kerry O’Leary ART DIRECTOR Maria Jackson PHOTOGRAPHER Jeffrey Watts CLASS NOTES Traci Crockett VICE PRESIDENT, COMMUNICATIONS Teresa Flannery ASSISTANT VICE PRESIDENT, CREATIVE SERVICES Kevin Grasty ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, CONTENT STRATEGY Laura Garner American is published three times a year by American University. With a circulation of 118,000, American is sent to alumni and other members of the university community. Copyright©2014. An equal opportunity, affirmative action university. UP15-001 For information regarding the accreditation and state licensing of American University, please visit american.edu/academic. End of Watch During my sophomore year of high school, I began working as a community columnist for my local paper, the Chandler Arizonan. I use the term “working” loosely, as I wasn’t paid for my prose. But the dozens of clips I collected were priceless. I was, by far, the youngest of the dozen or so columnists who worked for editor Susan Keaton, and my articles, while lively and technically proficient, were hardly hard-hitting. (Susan, with her friendly Southern drawl, would call them “charming.”) While my fellow columnists weighed in on immigration issues and the housing boom, I penned 400 words about such topics as my first fender-bender, which occurred, embarrassingly enough, in my parents’ garage. In August 1995, however, my column took a more serious turn when I chronicled the funeral for my dad’s friend and colleague, Arizona Highway Patrolman Bob Martin, who was gunned down during a traffic stop on a stretch of road my father also policed. I didn’t go to the service intending to write about it. My dad asked me to join him because, at 16, I was old enough to understand the danger of his job, to share in his grief. But the experience left me profoundly moved. My heart ached for Officer Martin’s family, but it also swelled with pride for my dad. Despite my teenage angst, I was always proud of him. I remember beaming when he brought his cruiser to my elementary school and passed out plastic badges to my classmates. But this was different. Sitting next to him in the pew, I realized that the world can be cruel and unforgiving and that it takes a special kind of person to run towards danger when my instinct—our instinct—is to run away from it. As a writer, you pore over every word, but you can never be sure if anyone will read it, or care. The job is a bit anticlimactic that way. But I know my dad read that column—and sometimes an audience of one is enough. That clip, now yellow with age, will always hold a special place in my heart. This issue, writer Mike Unger asked School of Communication professors, students, and alumni to share their most impactful stories to celebrate the school’s new home in the renovated McKinley Building. I think you’ll find their stories powerful and engrossing. Do you have a story of your own to share? Email me at afrank@american.edu. And follow us on Twitter @au_americanmag. Adrienne Frank Senior editor