Volume 17 • Issue 2
Southwestern @ Georgetown
Southwestern @ Georgetown

Alumni Profiles

Eric Wivagg ’01

Eric Wivagg ’01 cherishes the liberal arts education he received at Southwestern. Although initially attracted to the University’s architecture courses, his adviser, Thomas Howe, professor of art history, persuaded Wivagg to broaden his focus. Wivagg chose to major in communication studies and feels that his education prepared him for his latest challenge, designing a house for an episode of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” which aired Jan. 29, 2006.

Wivagg believes that the key to creating a home that will satisfy clients’ needs as well as their personal styles comes from open communication. “Nearly 70 percent of what I do involves communicating with other people. I want to design homes that are based on what people really need,” he says.

Stylecraft, Wivagg’s firm, and the “Extreme Makeover” design team watched a videotape of the family chosen for the show to assess their needs and to get a feel for the kind of house that they would enjoy. Wivagg took on the additional challenge of incorporating space in which the family could run their animal rescue organization.

The “Extreme Makeover” house was built in Washington, Texas, and is the first house built for the show in the Lone Star State. Because of the fast-paced nature of the show, success required the hard work and dedication of hundreds of volunteers and the greater Washington community. “We created this home in 100 hours; usually, we have 100 days. People were working 20-30 hours at a time. Everyone gave 100 percent of their effort and was so dedicated to the project,” Wivagg says.

When asked what he learned most from working on the project, Wivagg shares, “No matter where you live or whom you work for, you can be an industry leader if you strive to be the best.”

Southwestern @ Georgetown

Meghan Hines ’05

When Meghan Hines ’05 came to Southwestern as an art history major, she could little imagine that she would later return to campus as the Georgetown Habitat for Humanity contact. Since she took on the role of volunteer coordinator for Habitat, Hines has worked tirelessly to see the Southwestern community build a Habitat house.

After graduating from Southwestern in May 2005, Hines joined AmeriCorps as a VISTA volunteer. AmeriCorps VISTA provides full-time human resources to nonprofit, faith-based and other community organizations, and public agencies to create and expand programs that will bring individuals and communities out of poverty. Hines was placed in Georgetown at Habitat for Humanity. “Our volunteers are phenomenal. It’s refreshing to work with individuals who are truly dedicated to the cause. They’ve taught me a great deal since I started working with this affiliate—not just about Habitat, but about life in general,” Hines notes.

Hines’ largest project while working with Habitat for Humanity is forming a partnership between Habitat and Southwestern. “Southwestern has done a lot for me, and this is a chance for me to give something back to the University.” Ron Swain, senior advisor to the president for strategic planning and assessment at Southwestern, is also vice chair of the board for Habitat for Humanity. “Dr. Swain has advised me along every step of the way and has been a great teacher. Since he’s a stakeholder for both Habitat and SU, he, too, is committed to making the Southwestern House a success,” she says.

Hines’ goals for her role as volunteer coordinator include developing a sustained volunteer program and enhancing the relationship between Georgetown and Southwestern. Through the Habitat project, Hines is helping the Southwestern community by improving student awareness of Georgetown’s needs.

If you are interested in getting involved in the Southwestern University Habitat for Humanity house, contact Hines directly at 512-863-4344. To see Habitat projects in your area, visit www.habitat.org.