Article Category Archives: Alumni Profiles

Chain Reaction

Ian Delinger found his true calling by following his heart and his faith.

It’s fair to say Ian Delinger (’92) has always been attuned to signs from the universe. He wanted to pursue a career in food science after watching a film in high school on quality control at the Hershey chocolate factory. Growing up, he split time between Hay Springs, Nebraska, and Santa Maria, California, and he planned to attend college out west before the universe gave him another sign in the form of an acceptance
from Truman.

“My entire childhood, my plan was to go to UC Santa Barbara, simply because I was born in Santa Barbara, and we lived not far away,” Delinger said. “That didn’t happen because of that letter that was waiting for me when I returned to Nebraska from California that end-of-summer, 1987. I would have gotten a fantastic education at UCSB, but I would have been lost in a large institution. The personal attention from all professors and an institution that is genuinely concerned about you reaching your full potential are things no 18-year-old realizes the value of until they get it.”

Because of his academic aptitude, Delinger was offered a full-ride scholarship. In addition to his chemistry degree, he took some business classes and joined the Business Administration Club to bolster his career prospects.

“My plan was to start on the bench of a big chemical company and work my way up to management,” Delinger said. “The University did not offer a business minor at the time, so I was making one up, thinking some of that business acumen would rub off on me.”

His plan paid off, and Delinger returned to California for his dream job as a project manager for an environmental, health and safety consulting firm. He was also working with a local church and eventually felt pulled in another vocational direction, so he decided to attend seminary as a self-described “free agent.”

“I thought that it couldn’t hurt to know more about my faith in a deep dive sort of way,” he said. “As a Christian, I listen to what I think God is calling me to do in this world. It would probably be more accurate to state that I explored a call to ordained ministry, and that’s where I ended up.”

An admitted Anglophile, Delinger chose to study in England where he earned a bachelor’s degree in ministry from the University of Cambridge and a master’s degree in pastoral and practical theology from the University of Chester. Following his education, he served the Church in various capacities in England. All totaled, he spent nearly 15 years across the pond before returning to California. As a priest in San Luis Obispo, he serves members of his congregation wherever they are in life.

“What I love about my role is sharing in the key moments in the lives of God’s people,” Delinger said. “Whether that’s baptisms, weddings or funerals, having made the decision to retire, the excitement of booking a six-month round-the-world cruise, or sitting vigil with someone who is dying, it’s such a privilege to be invited into people’s lives in this way.”

Faith and the scientific fields are sometimes perceived as being at odds, but Delinger doesn’t see it that way at all. Many of the scientists he studied under and worked with were people of faith, and nearly every clergy member he knows has some training in the sciences. While he does not use his chemistry skills every day, Delinger credits his Truman degree for success in his current occupation, and he has no difficulties reconciling the relationship between the scientific fields and faith.

“My education at Truman is the foundation of my ability to learn more,” he said. “My brain is wired to ask questions, collect data, analyze, make conclusions and manage projects. All of those skills are required for what I do now. The more I do what I do, the more I see that God is very compatible with this material world.”

For the past few years Delinger has also looked out for a flock of a different nature – his fellow Bulldogs. In three years of service on the Truman Alumni Board, his world travels and home base nearly 1,900 miles from campus prompted him to advocate for one change in particular. With the help of the other board members and University staff, Truman now has an alumni association structure that allows every graduate to be a member, regardless of their geographical location. More information on the program can be found at

And the Oscar Goes to …

The versatility of a theatre degree elevated Andy Berry to the top of an industry he never planned to enter.

Most theatre majors have probably imagined themselves taking home a Tony, Emmy or an Academy Award. As the gold standards of achievement in the field, it’s only natural to strive for the greatness they represent. With an Oscar win in 2023, alumnus Andy Berry (’93) knows what it’s like to reach the pinnacle of the entertainment world – even if the path to the top was different than he envisioned.

A St. Louis native, Berry’s natural love for theatre steered him toward the degree he would ultimately earn.

“I got involved in the program and it just kind of took off from there,” he said. “The education we got touched on every aspect of the art, so you learned everything from how to build scenery, to how to light a show, to how to apply makeup, to how to build a costume. All of those skills transfer into things you do later in life.”

After graduation, Berry headed west to Portland, Oregon. Other alumni he knew had found jobs in the city’s vibrant theatre community, and so did he, predominately as prop master at a couple of local theaters. That paved the way for some live-action film work as a carpenter and set dresser.

Around the same time, Oregon native Will Vinton, the creator of stop-motion classics such the California Raisins and the Domino’s Pizza Noid, was turning Portland into an animation hub.

“He was a pioneer in the area of stop-motion animation and Claymation,” Berry said. “He had a big hand in creating the studio, and it drew a lot of people from animation to the area.”

To keep up with demand, animation studios called on the theatre world. With a versatile skill set rooted in his theatre education, Berry soon found himself working on television commercials and eventually larger-scale productions such as the animated feature film “Coraline.”

“I never really intended to go into film or animation, but the opportunities just kept popping up around me,” he said. “It seems like it’s a common thing that theatre skills transfer over into other areas of the arts or media production.”

In his current role of art director, Berry oversees teams responsible for making models, landscapes and all of the visual elements associated with a stop-motion project in order to maintain a particular look and style.

“It’s really interesting to me to conceptualize environments based on what’s happening, or the characters that are involved in a show,” he said. “It’s fun to design things around the personality of a character, to kind of get into somebody’s head and design something around their persona.”

The world Berry helped create as the assistant art director for “Pinocchio” played a role in earning ShadowMachine studio an Oscar in 2023. Working with director Guillermo del Toro and stop-motion legend Mark Gustafson, the film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. The project was slated to last 18 months before pandemic delays stretched the timeline to nearly four years.

“We managed to make something incredibly beautiful through some pretty uncertain times, and I think everybody on the crew has been pretty proud of what we made it through to make it happen,” Berry said. “It was an amazing experience, and I feel very fortunate to have been part of it.”

While the film industry of today might be synonymous with CGI and special effects, the world of stop-motion animation still has a large role to play, and Berry believes it holds a special place in the hearts of audiences.

“There is a love for the amount of detail and the amount of expression you get out of stop-frame animation that’s different, that doesn’t seem quite as artificial as computer-generated animation,” he said. “It will always be a 3D object that’s filmed on camera, and I think that’s kind of the charm and what people will be looking for – something that’s more genuine.”

Although his tradecraft has some decidedly old-school vibes, Berry is open to any techniques that can make his work more efficient, from advances in digital photography, to the use of rapid prototyping technology to make facial expressions or recreate pieces of sets and puppets. Berry even sees opportunity in the realm of artificial intelligence as it looms large over the future of creative arts.

“It’s encouraging and terrifying at the same time. It is, like any other new technology, probably something that deserves some respect, and it will find its niche eventually when we understand it better,” he said.

New technology may not be the only thing in Berry’s future. ShadowMachine has plenty on its to-do list after bringing home the Oscar. The team is responsible for the television series “In the Know” on Peacock, as well as the Nickelodeon hit “The Tiny Chef Show.” Also in the works are more feature films, including a second project with del Toro, so there may be more awards to come.

“It’s really kind of amazing to work with the quality of the people we have here,” he said. “There are more things on the horizon, so who knows what will happen.”

The Trail Blazer

Being told to wait her turn didn’t sit well with Candice Alcaraz, so she bucked the status quo and established some judicial firsts in her county. 

After three years at Truman pursing a degree in justice systems, Candice Alcaraz (’13) was encouraged by one of her professors to consider law school. Flattering as that was, she did not exactly warm to the idea right away.

“I gave her every excuse I could think of,” she said. “I told her I was the first in my immediate family to go to college, so I’ve accomplished enough by walking across that stage. No one in my entire family has gone to law school or become a lawyer.”

Alcaraz had plans to join the FBI, but an invitation to attend the Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life changed her trajectory. Upon meeting female attorneys, judges and others in the legal profession, she shadowed a judge in her hometown of Chicago prior to her senior year and she was hooked.

During her time at Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas, Alcaraz discovered she had a passion for the courtroom. She excelled in civil classes, but was more drawn to litigation and later interned with various agencies including the Kansas Court of Appeals, a family law and immigration clinic, the Kansas Appellate Public Defender’s Office, and a veterans’ law clinic. Upon passing the bar exam on her first attempt, Alcaraz took a job with the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office in Kansas City, Kansas.

“I started in the juvenile offender unit and then gradually transitioned to the adult criminal felony unit,” she said. “I handled all levels of cases including homicide, narcotics, sex crimes and battery.”

On the walls of the third floor of the Wyandotte County Courthouse hang the portraits of every district court judge in the jurisdiction’s history. Her first day in the building Alcaraz took note of a detail that immediately set a goal in her mind.

“I noticed there had never been a Black woman in that position. I tucked the dream away until five years into my career,” she said.

When Alcaraz crossed paths with a judge who she – as she politely puts it – “did not enjoy being in front of,” the time seemed right for her to follow that dream. Motivated by the idea of making positive changes, she threw her hat in the ring.

“The unspoken rule in my jurisdiction was you wait until a seat is open,” she said. “I was warned multiple times not to challenge the system, and to wait for my time because ‘that’s the way things are always done here.’”

Alcaraz did not subscribe to that line of thinking, and neither did the citizens of Wyandotte County who chose her over a 15-year incumbent. In securing nearly 69 percent of the vote, she became the first Black female district court judge in the county, and possibly the youngest person to ever hold the position.

“It feels inspiring and also challenging,” Alcaraz said. “The people chose me in an overwhelming fashion, and I must choose them every day because they put me here.
I have to stand on my word and be as fair and just as I promised when I was asking for their vote.”

In Alcaraz’s eyes, her youth is an asset in her role as a judge, from allowing her to understand the current state of affairs in the world from a new perspective to enabling her to fully utilize the most current technology available in her courtroom. And while she earned her position by a decisive margin, Alcaraz understands the gravity of her role in the community and has maintained a humble perspective on life.

“Judges are regular people. I have a robe, but I also have student loans, a mortgage and a family I care for deeply,” she said. “I workout, play video games and hang out on the weekends. I’m just like anyone else.”

While that is technically true, there some things that set Alcaraz apart. Her portrait will one day hang in the halls of the Wyandotte County Courthouse as inspiration for the next generation of legal professionals, and in 2026 she plans to be the first Black woman re-elected as judge in her district.