Kristie Koehler Vuocolo (J96), aka Dr. Sparkle Gong, conducts clown rounds three times a week at local children’s hospitals in Chicago as a performer with the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit, leading the hospital staff in a dance break and cracking up the pharmacists with the joke of the day. “If the staff is happy, they’ll give better care to the patients,” she says. Vuocolo started her career as a journalist for WTTW Channel 11 in Chicago. While working at WTTW she saw a story about the Clown Care Unit, and “a light bulb went off,” she says. “I felt like this is what I was meant to do, to use my goofiness to bring some lightness to places that needed it.” In 2001 she left WTTW to work full time for Barrel of Monkeys, which, like Northwestern’s Griffin’s Tale, teaches creative writing workshops in Chicago Public Schools. Two years later she earned a spot with the Neo-Futurists theater troupe. Vuocolo now balances her time between clown rounds, teaching journalism and theater at North Park University and writing and performing with the Neo-Futurists.