Miriam Rich is a classic example of a person who has taken a hobby to the next level.
Rich created a book titled “You’re a Hokie Now!” — composed of a poem and coinciding illustrations — to hone in on the distinctive memories most Virginia Tech students hold.
Rich, who works for the Office of International Research, Education and Development, published the book to highlight Tech’s campus, student life and the surrounding Blacksburg culture.
“I have written my whole life, and I wanted to capture the experience at Virginia Tech,” Rich said.
Blacksburg is Rich’s newest home — she has lived in various places abroad and across the nation.
Rich grew up in Japan, and it wasn’t until college that she traveled to the United States. After college she ventured to Louisiana, Illinois, Oregon and Washington. Along the way she did a variety of things for work, including teaching French and being a licensed masseuse.
Seattle was not her last stop, though. When Rich heard the 1996 Olympics would be held in Atlanta, she decided to make the trek to the city.
While at the gold medal match for women’s field hockey, Rich’s life — professionally and romantically — changed.
“I happened to sit next to this guy who worked at Virginia Tech,” Rich said. “We traded emails, and when I went back to Seattle, he started writing me.
“So, it wound up that out of romance, I moved to Blacksburg, and a month later I got a job at Virginia Tech in his international office.”
Now, Rich works with others in her department to help developing countries around the world. Rich oversees communication for the office, which means looking after the website, writing articles about international work, giving presentations and writing press releases.
With this position, writing has become a more prominent part of Rich’s working life — but, she has allowed it to spill over into her personal life. Rich began writing poems for birthdays and going away parties.
While she was sitting in a hotel during an overseas trip, Rich came up with the idea for “You’re a Hokie Now!” — bringing her poetry to a larger level.
With some help from a family member who graduated from Tech, Rich came up with a list of key moments that all Tech students have experienced or will experience in their college careers. From this list, she created her poem.
Rich soon realized she needed illustrations to accompany her poem, so she sought out Truman Capone, director of the School of Visual Arts at Tech, with the hope that he could help her find an art student who could do the job.
When they met at Capone’s store — Capone’s Fine Jewelry — she ran into Jonathan Kolodner, who was at the shop designing an engagement ring for his fiance. Having overheard Rich and Capone’s conversation, Kolodner chimed in, letting Rich know he was an illustrator.
Kolodner — a 25-year-old Tech graduate with a bachelor’s degree in industrial design — said he has always known he is artistically inclined.
“It’s kind of like the serendipity of life,” Kolodner said. “You find projects, and you have to grab them when they show up.
Rich and Kolodner worked together on the book, collaborating on ideas for the themes of each image. They decided they would take readers through the four seasons, displaying each one throughout the book. The pair also decided they would place a Hokie Bird on each page.