Alumni News

Jacobs ’98 Discusses His Popular Fitness App

Jason Jacobs

Jason Jacobs ’98 is cofounder and chief executive of Boston’s FitnessKeeper Inc. Photo: Suzanne Kreiter/Boston Globe

Jason Jacobs ’98, creator of the RunKeeper smartphone fitness app, sat down recently with The Boston Globe to chat about his business. The article notes that Jacobs, a government major at Wesleyan, proves that “you don’t have to be a techie to start a successful tech firm.”

“I didn’t study a whole lot,” Jacobs tells the Globe, “but when I did, American government was my major. I got out in the late ’90s, and I came to Boston and started working in small, high-growth technology. I’m not trained as an engineer. The plumbing of the Internet is very important but it’s not something that I could relate to a ton.”

Read more of Jacobs’ secrets to his success here.

Alumni Return to Campus for Class Reunions, Festivities

Alumni walk in the traditional Parade of Classes on May 25 during Reunion & Commencement Weekend.

Alumni walked in the traditional Parade of Classes on May 25 during Reunion & Commencement Weekend.

On May 23-25 hundreds of Wesleyan alumni flocked to campus to celebrate Reunion & Commencement Weekend.

In addition to class reunions, alumni attended WESeminars, academic department open houses, a parade of classes, campus tours, an all-college picnic and festival, and an all-campus party featuring mamarazzi and Illegalize. The weekend culminated with the 182nd Commencement Ceremony featuring commencement speaker Theodore Shaw ’76. View the full schedule online here.

Classes ending in “4” and “9” celebrated their reunions.

For psychology major Sheryl Sturges '79 and theater major Jonathan Duell '79 of Cornwall, N.Y.

Sheryl Sturges ’79 and Jonathan Duell ’79 of Cornwall, N.Y. are celebrating their 35th reunion.

For psychology major Sheryl Sturges ’79 and theater major Jonathan Duell ’79 of Cornwall, N.Y., being together on campus is all too familiar.

“I just showed up here in 1975 and I met my significant other,” Duell said.

“We met on the lawn in between Harriman Hall and Clark Hall, before Olin had an addition put on,” Sturges said. “We could see each other at night by pointing a flashlight through the window.”

Duell said the biggest change to campus is the addition of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life.

Students Write to Campaign Donors at Thank a Cardinal Event

On April 23, University Relations hosted Thank a Cardinal Day in Usdan University Center.

On April 23, University Relations hosted Thank a Cardinal Day in Usdan University Center.

Students provided blank cards, pens and edible goodies at the event's "thank you table."

Students provided blank cards, pens and edible goodies at the event’s “thank you table.”

All students had an opportunity to write brief thank you notes to alumni, parents and friends who've donated through the Wesleyan Fund in 2013-2014.All students had an opportunity to write brief thank you notes to alumni, parents and friends who've donated through the Wesleyan Fund in 2013-2014.

All students had an opportunity to write brief thank you notes to alumni, parents and friends who’ve donated through the Wesleyan Fund in 2013-2014.

The Wesleyan Fund raises $10.25 million annually through gifts large and small. Many donors give every year to support the university's current expenses, and special fundraisers like the March GOLD Challenge support financial aid. On Thank a Cardinal Day, students could write one or several notes of thanks for this support.

The Wesleyan Fund raises $10.25 million annually through gifts large and small. Many donors give every year to support the university’s current expenses, and special fundraisers like the March GOLD Challenge support financial aid. On Thank a Cardinal Day, students could write one or several notes of thanks for this support.

All the gifts raised by the fund count in Wesleyan's multi-year, multi-million dollar fundraising campaign promoting access, inquiry and impact across the university

All the gifts raised by the fund count in Wesleyan’s multi-year, multi-million dollar fundraising campaign promoting access, inquiry and impact across the university.

Sign a card, thank a donor.

Sign a card, thank a donor.

Lin ’12 Honored with NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Zin Lin '12

Zin Lin ’12

Zin Lin ’12 received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for his research on PT-symmetric systems performed while a student at Wesleyan. Lin’s advisor was Tsampikos Kottos, the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Physics.

Lin was selected for his “outstanding abilities and accomplishments, as well [his] potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise. He’s currently studying quantum nonlinear photonics as a second-year graduate student at Harvard University.

As a fellow, Lin will receive a $32,000 stipend for 2014-15. Fellows are expected to make satisfactory academic progress towards completion of their graduate degrees, as defined and certified by the Fellow’s GRFP institution. Upon completion of his fellowship, Lin is required to provide an Annual Activities Report that documents his activities, accomplishments, progress and productivity.

At Wesleyan, Lin double majored in physics and mathematics and graduated with high honors. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and received the Robertson Prize, awarded during his sophomore year for “excellence in mathematics.”

Novel by Guiney ’77 Addresses Women’s Health Issues in Cambodia

Sue Guiney '77

Sue Guiney ’77

Sue Guiney ’77 has published her second novel, Out of the Ruins (Ward Wood Publishing). At the beginning of the book, a Cambodian doctor is frustrated that the poor women in his country are dying needlessly. He reaches out to friends to help him create a new clinic for the local villages around Siem Reap’s world famous temples, and they answer his call.

An Irishman, Dr Diarmuid, arrives with his English assistant, Dr. Gemma, and a Canadian administrator Mr. Fred. Together they establish a place where poor women of Cambodia can find the basic care that so much of the world has long since taken for granted. A young and ambitious Cambodian nurse, Srey, acts as an interpreter and connection to the trust of the local community, but her idealized view of western medicine will be seriously challenged.

Tradition collides with science as East meets West, and though the doctors are all too eager to help, they have much to learn about their own personal demons in a desperate and seductive society.

Novel by Sue Guiney '77

Novel by Sue Guiney ’77

In a recent interview in The Phnom Penh Post, Guiney comments on an aspect of her writing process: “I do quite a lot of research for my books, both through reading and on the Internet, but most importantly, by immersing myself in the place, walking the streets and talking to the people. For example, to research Out of the Ruins, I found a Khmer guide in his 20s who was willing to take me to streets where there are karaoke bars and tin-roofed shacks with girls of all ages offering themselves up for sale. He was brave to take a middle-aged Western woman to places she had no right being in. And I suppose I was brave to go with him. But I need to see things with my own eyes, even if they are just buildings and surroundings. And I need to talk to people about their experiences if possible.”

Guiney has lived in London for nearly 20 years where she writes and teaches fiction, poetry, and plays. Her work has appeared in prestigious literary journals on both sides of the Atlantic, and her first book, published by Bluechrome Publishing in 2006, is the text of her poetry play Dreams of May, (now been relaunched by Ward Wood Publishing). which premiered at London’s Pentameters Theatre. Ward Wood has also published her poetry collection Her Life Collected and her first novel set in Cambodia, A Clash of Innocents.

Sue Guiney web site

 

Esdaile ’00 New Athletic Director at Boston Public Schools

Avery Esdaile ’00

Avery Esdaile ’00

Avery Esdaile ’00 started his new job as athletic director for Boston Public Schools on Monday, April 14. Before his recent transition, Esdaile spent 12 years in the Wellesley College Athletic Department.

Ken Still, the former athletic director for Boston Public Schools, retired in October, leaving the schools without an AD for much of the fall and the entire winter season. Esdaile, with a degree in sociology from Wesleyan and a master’s of science in management of sports industries from the University of New Haven, says he is looking forward to being “in a position to hopefully down the line develop a program that infuses some learning and life lessons through athletics” because he hopes to help “kids that participate in athletics not only grow athletically but grow as the people that they are,” according a Boston Globe article.

Esdaile will face challenges through the transition from college to high school including the huge shift in size; at Wellesley he had only one team in each sport but as AD for Boston Public Schools, he has multiple teams participating in each sport. One issue Esdaile is planning to tackle is “the lack of interest in certain sports in the city.”

Less popular sports include hockey and swimming and Esdaile hopes to give students more opportunities to participate in these sports. Speaking about his plans, he states, “Right now, for me to come in and make changes would be foolish. The goal is to get through the year, take that breath, and then start to get ready for next year and look at what are some of things that we can do that make us more efficient or open the lines of communication or deal with anything that will just make what we do in this office here work at a higher level.”

Morrison ’96 Writes and Edits Romantic Comedy Film Hank and Asha

Juila Morrison '96 and James E. McDuff

Juila Morrison ’96 and James Duff

Julia Morrison ’96 has co-produced, co-written and edited a new film, Hank and Asha (website), which opened at the City Cinemas Village East Theater New York City last weekend and will run at the Laemmle NoHo 7 Theater in Los Angeles from April 18–24. This lovely romantic comedy about identity, longing, and the irresistible appeal of entertaining life’s what-ifs was co-written and directed by James Duff, who is also Morrison’s husband.

In the film, an Indian woman (Mahira Kakkar) studying in Prague and a lonely Southerner (Andrew Pastides) living in New York begin an unconventional correspondence through video letters—two strangers searching for human connection in a hyper-connected world. When their relationship develops, they must decide whether or not to meet face to face.

Andrew Pastides in "Hank and Asha"

Andrew Pastides in “Hank and Asha”

Hank and Asha premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival and won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. Since then it has screened at more than 25 festivals worldwide, and has won 11 awards.

In his New York Times review, Nicolas Rapold writes: “A rare sustained epistolary romance, … this winsome, whisper-thin tale shimmers along with the charming urge to connect and reveal yourself that links its two correspondents. … this is a movie by people who honor the pleasures of waiting, wondering and longing in an instantaneous world.”

 

Mahira Kakkar in "Hank and Asha"

Mahira Kakkar in “Hank and Asha”

NPR interview with Julia Morrison and James E. Duff

Hank and Asha on Facebook
Twitter: @HankandAsha

YouTube Preview Image

 

Jeremy Serwer ’70 Inducted into Outlet Industry Hall of Fame

Jeremy Serwer ’70 was inducted into the Outlet Hall of Fame

Jeremy Serwer ’70 was inducted into the Outlet Hall of Fame.

Jeremy Serwer ’70 joined the Outlet Hall of Fame in 2013. In 2005, the Developers of Outlet Centers and Retailers started the Outlet Industry Hall of Fame to honor people in the outlet retail industry who help the industry grow and improve. Serwer is the president of a consulting firm he began in 1993.

At Wesleyan, Serwer majored in French, Russian, and music, so his decision to enter the retail industry shocked his family. As a 14-year-old boy working in a girls’ clothing store, Serwer thought that retail was the most exciting market. “The constant demand and constant energy and the measurement of your efforts every day through sales really turned me on,” he said.

With a client list that includes Michael Kors and Jockey, Serwer has worked on both developer and retail sides of the industry. As he accepted the award, Serwer said he had “never envisioned that the industry would become a primary channel of growth and innovation. We started with a cigar box for cash and 2-year-old inventory, and then one day a landlord offered to write a check to build a store.”

Boston Children’s Establishes Griscom ’52 Chair

Boston Children’s Hospital announced the establishment of the N. Thorne Griscom Endowed Chair in Radiology. Dr. Griscom ’52, recently retired after 49 years in pediatric radiology, served as president of the Society of Pediatric Radiology (SPR) in 1981-82. Dr. George Taylor, SPR president in 2005-06, is pictured with him here at the reception to celebrate the announcement. Taylor calls Griscom as “an outstanding radiologist, clinician, mentor and friend,” adding, “This was a very deserved honor for this truly gentle man.” A Phi Beta Kappa chemistry major at Wesleyan, he earned his medical degree from the University of Rochester and was a professor of radiology at Harvard University.

The first holder of the N. Thorne Grisom Endowed Chair is Dr. Simon Warfield, who serves as research director on the department of radiology at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Dr. N. Thorne Griscom ’52 (left) with Dr. George Taylor.

Dr. N. Thorne Griscom ’52 (left) with Dr. George Taylor.

 

Saint John ’99 Named SVP of Global Marketing at Beats Music

Bozoma Saint John '99

Bozoma Saint John ’99

Bozoma Saint John ’99 was named senior vice president, head of global marketing, at Beats Music, reporting to Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers. Saint John will lead Beats Music marketing initiatives, from brand and performance marketing to collaborations with AT&T, Target, Chevy, Beats Electronics and others. She will also work closely with Luke Wood ’91,who serves as president of Beats Electronics and vice chairman of Beats Music.

Prior to Beats Music, Saint John was most recently the head of the music and entertainment marketing group at Pepsi-Cola North America, working with entertainment celebrities such as Beyonce, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Eminem, Katy Perry and Michael Jackson. She has been named one of Billboard Magazine’s Top Women in Music, Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People, and Ebony Magazine’s 100 Top Executives. Saint John also shares her expertise, serving on the Leadership Council for the United Nation’s partnership with the PVBLIC Foundation, and as a mentor for the Levo League.

At Wesleyan, Saint John majored in English and African American studies.

Hourihan ’86 Named President of AIG Private Client Group

Jerry Hourihan ’

Jerry Hourihan ’86 was named president of AIG Private Client Group for the US and Canada.

Jerry Hourihan ’86 is the new president of AIG Private Client Group for the United States and Canada. In his new role, Jerry will drive the development, implementation, and execution of strategies and priorities in the Private Client Group business.

Before being named president, Hourihan served as executive vice president and chief marketing officer for AIG Personal Lines, working with marketing, distribution management, and field operations. Hourihan has been with AIG Private Client Group since 2002 and has held several different positions. At Wesleyan, he studied economics.

Gionfriddo ’75 Named President and CEO of Mental Health America

Paul Gionfriddo was named the new president and CEO of Mental Health America

Paul Gionfriddo ’75 was named the new president and CEO of Mental Health America.

After an extensive national search, Mental Health America’s board of directors has named Paul Gionfriddo ’75 the new president and CEO of the organization. Gionfriddo is an experienced nonprofit leader and former state legislator and mayor. During his over 30-year career, Gionfriddo has held many leadership positions related to health and public heath; he has led nonprofit organizations in three states, run his own consulting business, specializing in public health, children’s health, primary care and mental health.

In 2013, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appointed Gionfriddo to a four-year term on the National Advisory Council to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Mental Health Services. Gionfriddo writes a popular weekly health policy blog and has written multiple essays, one of which was adapted as an opinion article in The Washington Post. Not only did Gionfriddo get his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan, he was also a member of the adjunct faculty during the 1990s.