Miriam Boyle has first-hand experience at how hard it is for a woman to climb the ladder of success—especially if she’s carrying a hundred-pound fire hose on her back. She was the only applicant among five women last fall to complete the physical agility test for firefighters and land a job with the Evanston, Ill. fire department.
A college dropout, Miriam, 22, was managing her brother’s tropical fish store in Chicago when she heard that Evanston was taking applications from women. “My eyes lit up,” she puns. She had to train for months. “Women aren’t raised to use certain muscles. It isn’t a matter of not being able to do it, it’s a matter of making up for lost time,” she says, and adds, “There are men in the department who couldn’t get a 250-pound person out of a burning building by themselves either.” (Miriam is 5’6″ and 135 pounds.) The youngest of 13 children, she says her family supports her choice of careers, but she is surprised by the encouragement from strangers. As for the men in the department, Miriam says, “I’m treated fairly. I expected a lot worse.” She has been granted one concession—the secretaries’ washroom. This June Miriam will graduate from paramedic school and go on call for ambulance emergencies.
Paul O’Dette was 14 and into electric guitars and rock music when a family friend gave him a classical guitar record for Christmas. “I liked it so much I dropped rock and went classical,” he recalls. One year later he heard a recording by one of the world’s leading lute players, Julian Bream, and “that was it.” O’Dette’s interest in medieval music—the lute in particular—led him to three years of study and concertizing in Europe. Last year he became the director of the Collegium Musicum at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music and an instructor on the conducting and ensemble staff. O’Dette, 23, who is essentially self-taught on the lute, has done extensive research on music composed before 1700. Besides his work at Eastman, O’Dette plays a concert “nearly every weekend.” He comes from a musical family. His mother sang with the Opera Society in Washington, D.C., and his father, a chemical engineer, played the piano. O’Dette’s brother David, 27, is working on a doctorate in 20th-century musicology. “I grew up with music,” says O’Dette. “My brother and I were dragged around to church services and recitals all the time. It was not a TV and beer-drinking kind of atmosphere.”