Washington State Magazine

Winter 2009 cover


Winter 2009

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In This Issue...

Features

How We Eat Is What We Are :: In the 1960s, 24.3 percent of Americans were overweight. Now, over 60 percent of us are. Even though other countries are hot on our heels, we are still the plumpest folk in the world. Does it matter? by Tim Steury

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Gallery: Vintage food advertisements }

Paper Cuts :: Not that many years ago Washington's legislature was covered by more than 30 journalists from around the state. Now that number is eight. The Seattle Times no longer has a bureau on the east side of Lake Washington, and a print Post-Intelligencer no longer exists. Who will give us information and investigation when the papers have all gone? by Hannelore Sudermann

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Map: Changes in Washington state newspapers: An interactive map of layoffs, closures, and re-invention of news sources in Washington state. }

Old News :: Just as several of Washington's newspapers have vanished from the landscape, librarians and volunteers are bringing our state's near-forgotten newspapers to light.

Talking Turkey :: As you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, you might like to know that turkey farming in North America has been around a lot longer than you thought. New genetic tools applied to a common turkey byproduct have given turkey afficionados a lot more to think about. by Cherie Winner

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Galleries: Heritage turkeys and Turkey Feathers }

ESSAY

Life After Newspapers :: It's a whole new cyberworld out there, and I'm the dinosaur dude who's trying to figure out where to go from here. by Jim Moore '78

Panoramas

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Gallery: Photographs of Olympia Avenue, WSU's new sustainable residence hall }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Gallery: Stormwater project by Spokane County Extension }

Departments

:: FIRST WORDS: Cultivated thought

:: LETTERS

:: SHORT SUBJECT: Track to the future

:: SPORTS: Doubling back

:: IN SEASON: Clams

:: LAST WORDS: Grover Krantz (1931-2002) and Clyde

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Video: Acres of Clams }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE: Design presentations from the “Powering the Palouse” symposium }

Tracking

Cover photo: Railroad tracks through the basalt cliffs at Palouse Falls State Park. Photo by David Hogan.

Tracking
Courtesy Yolandé McVey

Courtesy Yolandé McVey

Yolandé McVey '07—Taking life back

by | © Washington State University

The heroine of Love’s Secrets puts on perfume, goes to a barbecue, and meets Rod: caramel skin, wavy hair, muscles, and commitment issues.

The author of Love’s Secrets can never do two of those three things. Exposure to perfume or barbecue smoke could kill Yolandé McVey ’07, who suffers from severe asthma and allergies. “I’m so allergic to everything that when I was given an allergy test, I went into shock,” she said. “They had to call an ambulance to take me to a hospital.”

McVey began to lose ground in her lifelong battle with respiratory problems in 1997. She had just moved to Arizona to help her oldest son get over his asthma.

“His health improved while mine declined dramatically,” she says. She returned to the Chicago area and retreated to the filtered air of her home. “I believed the four walls of my bedroom would be my prison,” she says, “and that I would never live a fulfilling life.” Adding to her sense of defeat, her medications made her gain more than 100 pounds in less than a year.

“When you’re disabled and you’re home-bound and you’re bed-bound, your life is bound up in one room,” she says. “My whole world was four walls and a laptop.”

But McVey wasn’t ready to give up. After all, this is someone who made a triple grade jump in elementary school. Who graduated high school at 16 in the top 5 percent of her class. Who raised three foster children in addition to two of her own.

“One day,” she says, “I got very tired of being very tired and decided to take my life back.” First on her list was completing college, which she’d put off in 1985 to get married. She enrolled in Washington State University’s Distance Degree Program.

“It did a lot to make me feel empowered,” McVey says. She graduated from the online program in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences. “Washington State opened the doors to my life,” she says from her home in Hammond, Indiana. “It gave me hope. I met people from all over the country, shared experiences, and interacted with professors who inspired me to learn more, to push the envelope.”

McVey pushed it hard. She finished her first book Love’s Secrets, which was published by Genesis Press in July 2008 to positive reviews. The book is billed as a romance novel, but it focuses on the love between sisters, mothers, and daughters. The family’s last name is Foster, and they do foster one another, amid the blistering insults: “I hate you” is how sisters Veronica and Darlene say, “I love you.”

McVey is now earning a master’s degree in counseling and human services at National-Louis University. With the help of medication, she is able to attend classes once a week.

She carries a 4.0 grade point average, which she credits to the writing skills and self-discipline that she developed during her WSU studies. “The regimen I learned there has done me very well at National-Louis,” she says. After graduation, she’d like to create a support group for parents of bipolar teens.

Along with her grad school work, McVey has written a couple of plays and is “toying with” a mystery novel and a vampire series. She missed her calling as a chef, she said, so instead treats family and friends to “grand feasts with specially crafted sauces and desserts fit for royalty.” One favorite: Granny Smith apple pie cheesecake with a rich brandy sauce on a vanilla wafer and oatmeal crust.

“Good food is like real love,” she said. “Who ever really gets enough of either?”

Categories: Alumni, Literature | Tags: Distance education, Novelists, Writers

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