University of Iowa alumni all over the world are excited for the Rose Bowl Game. And for some who call Los Angeles home, it’s a time to celebrate their beloved team and reflect on how their time in Iowa City helped prepare them for where they are today.
A perfect welcome to a new home
Having the Hawkeyes in Pasadena for the Rose Bowl is particularly meaningful to Sheri Salata; it’s the perfect way to say, “Welcome to your new life in Los Angeles.”
Sheri Salata and her daughter Alexis Wright, a UI sophomore, pose with Bruce and Mary Harreld at the UI vs. Maryland football game on Oct. 31, 2015. Photo courtesy of Sheri Salata.
The co-president of the Oprah Winfrey Network just moved to the City of Angels full-time. In fact, she packed up her car and headed out from Chicago on Dec. 26. She arrived in L.A.—and her new home—on the 29th, and the timing couldn’t be better.
“It’s an absolute dream come true and this feels like such synchronicity and serendipity,” says Salata, who graduated from the UI with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Salata says she’s proud of the humility the Hawkeyes have had throughout the season.
“Taking it one game at a time—that’s a mindset and spirit I’m familiar with and it’s the spirit of the heart of America and the Midwest,” says Salata. “I’m bursting with pride on how they handled their dream season and getting the job done—without a lot of exaggeration and fancy talk and boastfulness. This is one of the reasons I love this team.”
And she says there are few more reasons why she loves the UI and proudly wears black and gold.
“The experience at the UI means all the benefits and advantages of a Big Ten university with a small-town feel. So it really helped with my confidence, exposed me to all different kinds of things, and I felt very supported by the structure of the school and my living and learning situation,” says Salata. “I feel like I got a fantastic education with that great Midwestern sensibility—something very special is very much in play in Iowa City”
That special feeling now extends to L.A., and Salata is reveling in the excitement along with thousands of other loyal fans.
“I feel like this is going to be such an amazing day and experience for everyone,” says Salata.
Iowa roots run deep for actor/comedian
If you check out Tom Arnold’s Twitter account, you instantly know he’s a proud Hawkeye. In fact, it’s the first thing listed in his bio.
So the Ottumwa native is excited to have Hawkeye Nation in L.A. and says he’s feeling pretty good right now about the game, though a little nervous.
“But I’m feeling like there’s something very magical about this year,” says Arnold. “And It’s always good when people appreciate Iowans. You know, we travel so well—the streets are flooded with Iowans.”
While he’s having a great time with all the Iowans in town, he also says it’s a time to reflect on how the UI impacted his life.
“The UI taught me that if you work really hard you might get lucky,” he says. “You know there was a moment in my career where I was producing the Roseanne show and we got divorced, I got fired, and everybody in my business said that guy will never work again. And then three months later a movie called True Lies came out. You know what, we work hard, do our best, and see what happens.”
And now, Arnold can’t wait to see what happens on Jan. 1. But no matter what the results are, he’ll always be proud to be a Hawkeye.
In one word, unbelievable
The man leading the efforts to welcome Hawkeye Nation to Los Angeles is Alvin Chang, president of both the LA Iowa Club and the Big Ten Club of Southern California. The LA Iowa Club has been hard at work rolling out the red carpet.
Alvin Chang at the Hawkeye Huddle. Photo by Matt Jansen.
“You can take the person out of Iowa, but can’t take the Iowa out of us,” says Chang, a Waterloo native. “We want to provide the Iowa hospitality to all those who are visiting here and make it the best and most memorable experience that we can. We realize that this will be a vacation, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many to come out west and experience this Rose Bowl.”
Chang has lived in L.A. since 2001, and says he’s “only” waited 14 years in L.A. for a Hawkeye Rose Bowl, yet others have been waiting 25 years or more to have this chance.
“So our goal has been creating and procuring discounts, access, events, experiences, and just being available to fans to answer questions and pacify any concerns,” says Chang. “It’s just our way to give back and make it as smooth a time as it can be.”
He also says his time in Iowa City helped pave the way and prepare him for his career.
“One of the most valuable things I did was a study abroad after my junior year to Shanghai, China. That experience to travel, be out of my comfort zone, and immerse myself in a different country, culture, and environment helped me see how big the world was and helped me adapt. It made my adjustment to L.A. a lot easier and not as intimidating as I thought growing up in a small city environment,” says Chang. “The UI business courses also offered some great mentors and tutors that I was able to connect with to further my education.”
Chang also stresses the connections he’s made through an established alumni group. He’s made some of his best friends through the UI and continues to bond with others inside and outside his industry by virtue of the common thread of the black and gold.
While he’s looking forward to sharing the Rose Bowl Game experience with Hawkeye Nation, there’s one person in particular he can’t wait to have experience everything with him.
“My wife is not an Iowan or Hawkeye (born and raised in Southern California) and is doing an internship in upstate New York for the year. We haven’t been together during the season and have been a bi-coastal couple. So she hasn’t really been with me since the Hawkeyes have been really good and doesn’t understand my obsession and why I put in so many volunteer hours for the club—although she does now follow the Hawkeyes and looks for scores every Saturday before talking with me,” says Chang.
“We’ve never been to a game together, so I’m looking forward to having her see it at one of the most iconic venues and games ever played—the Granddaddy of them all!”