A Different Career

October 31st, 2013

Reading the profile of fly-fishing guide Sara Low ’83 brought back memories of my two summers spent in the commercial fishing industry in Alaska while I was a Brown undergraduate (“Woman on the Fly,” Sports, September/October). My second Alaskan summer, during which I was the only woman on a long-line halibut boat fishing the waters off the Aleutian Islands, was a fascinating counterpoint to my Brown women’s studies classes. Because I was female, the boat’s captain assumed I could cook, and, along with my regular crew duties, I was soon preparing three meals a day for a very hungry crew of fishermen. As a then-vegetarian who had never cooked anything more complicated than pasta, my learning curve was steep. But in true Brown fashion, I leapt in, made plenty of mistakes, learned to cook, and had a great adventure in what was truly another culture.

Thank you for the walk down memory lane and the interesting article. I love to read about the unexpected paths that follow from a Brown degree.

Janet Kroll ’86


I dearly loved the Sara Low fly-fishing story. In my fishing days, the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River was one of my favorites. I preferred the Box Canyon area, which is so close to Yellowstone National Park that if you fished until dark you never knew what you’d see as you went back to your car. One night I encountered a bull and a cow moose.

Fly-fishing was my thing for a long time, but unfortunately my age, legs, and stamina are wanting these days. Great story, more power to her.

George M. Hindmarsh ’44
Punta Gorda, Fla.


 I am a senior this year at Brown and worked as a fly-fishing guide in Wyoming the summer before last. Good to hear about other fly girls!

Augusta Clarke ’14


I enjoyed the article about Sara Low ’83, whom I met at a fly-fishing show about fifteen years ago. She was thrilled to know that I knew and worked with her dad, Ted Low ’50, in some leadership roles in the Rhode Island Brown club during the 1960s before I moved to Maine.

My family and I left Maine for twenty years to work in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Chicago. When we came back in 1998, I picked up my hobby and moved it up to the professional level. I am now a master casting instructor, a registered Maine guide, and a staff instructor in the L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools Program. Read more about me at http://www.flycastingmasters.com/rod_mcgarry.html .

Rod McGarry ’61
Portland, Me.


I read the profile of Sara Low ’83 with great interest. Like Low, I am a woman with two Ivy League degrees working in an unusual career, in my case as a Pilates instructor. In Los Angeles, where I live, I know of fellow Brown grads working as massage therapists and itinerant yoga teachers. In many cases, these professions are Plan B after a career in the arts fails to pan out (as was the case for me).

Like Low, I grapple with insecurity about working in a service profession that caters to mostly high-net-worth individuals, some of whom might have once sat across from me in the Ratty. I’ve recused myself from alumni interviewing out of fear that my low-status job might turn off potential Brown students or their parents, who may already be ambivalent about shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars for a Brown education.

I can attest, however, that a job in the fitness and recreation industry offers many rewards, including a strong job market (compared to fields like journalism), the freedom to set your own schedule, an escape from sitting at a desk, and a healthy, balanced lifestyle that provides time and mental energy to pursue such activities as reading for pleasure or learning a second—or third—language just for fun. I imagine that many Brown grads, even the senior Obama staffers, MacArthur genius grant recipients, and Hollywood players I constantly read about in BAM’s pages, might envy a career like that.

Alison Manheim ’90
Venice, Calif.


I am another Brown grad who’s worked as a guide. I earned my AM in the creative writing program and was a guide with O.A.R.S. (Outdoor Adventure River Specialists, one of the premier river companies in the country) for about fifteen years from the late 1980s through 2001. I was a part-timer, but guided dozens of trips on the Salmon and Snake Rivers in Idaho, and also worked freelance for a number of other outfitters throughout the west on such rivers as Oregon’s Deschutes, Utah’s San Juan, the Rio Grande in Texas, and others. I published a book about my experiences back in 1996, entitled What the River Says, which you noted in the magazine then.
Since retiring from guiding (actually, even while guiding) I’ve made my living as a freelance journalist, publishing in magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, Men’s Journal, Outside, and virtually every golf magazine published in North America. I’m currently the founder and managing partner of Golf Media Network, an electronic consortium of fifty of the best golf and travel writers in the world. In addition, I renovate distressed historic properties in Portland, Oregon, which also has very little to do with creative writing!

Jeff Wallach ’84 AM
Portland, Ore.

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Related Issue
November/December 2013