Alumni

Alumni news.

Harun ’20 Receives Governor’s Innovation Fellowship

Eunes Harun '20

Eunes Harun ’20

On July 20, recent alumnus Eunes Harun ’20 was chosen to join the first cohort of the Governor’s Innovation Fellowship (CTGIF) team.

CTGIF offers ambitious, high-achieving recent college graduates the opportunity to work at top, innovative companies developing their career while working together as a community of fellows, growing together professionally and personally to create a cohort of talent, camaraderie, and growth in the State of Connecticut. The fellowship comes with a $5,000 award.

Harun, a government and economics double major, will be joining McKinsey & Company in Stamford, Conn., as a business analyst and will be participating in the CTGIF program simultaneously. As a fellow, he will gain access to mentorship, curated professional development, and a community of similarly-driven peers.

“I’m most looking forward to the opportunity to dive right into the greater Stamford community and build connections with business leaders,” Harun said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Harun’s start date with McKinsey has been pushed back to December, though the CTGIF programming will begin in August.

For Harun, staying in the State of Connecticut following college was a top priority.

“I’ve grown up all my life in Hamden, Conn., and after going through the Hamden public school system, I was on the college search and it was a priority of mine to study in a state that would open the door to many career opportunities. I realized that Connecticut and Wesleyan would provide exactly that,” he said. “Over the last few years, I’ve come to love Connecticut and the community, opportunities, and climate it affords its residents.”

Artist Gittes ’10 Donates 1,800 Paintings to NYC Hospital Staff

Los Angeles artist Michael Gittes wanted to show his appreciation for frontline health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic, so he created paintings for every single person working at Interfaith Medical Center in New York.

Los Angeles artist Michael Gittes ’10 wanted to show his appreciation for frontline health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic, so he created paintings for all employees working at Interfaith Medical Center in New York. (Image courtesy of NBC Nightly News)

Gittes

Gittes holds up a sampling of the “Strangers to No One” project.

On July 26, Los Angeles artist Michael Gittes ’10 was featured on NBC Nightly News in a “There’s Good News Tonight” segment.

For an entire month, Gittes worked on a project titled “Strangers to No One,” which involved painting 1,800 flowers. He donated the works to every employee at the Interfaith Medical Center in New York City, a nonprofit community hospital, to show his appreciation for frontline health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

“If you love somebody, you give them a flower,” Gittes said in the interview.

Donning a Wesleyan University sweatshirt on the show, Gittes demonstrated how he painted the flowers using a syringe as opposed to a paint brush.

“I … felt powerless and frustrated,” Gittes said. “I can’t paint one for everyone and everywhere, but I could paint one for everyone at one hospital.”

Gershberg ’95 Plays Key Role in Reuters’s Pandemic Coverage

Michele Gershberg '95

Michele Gershberg ’95

With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States in February, and as doctors and scientists intensified their search for ways to stymie the virus, it quickly became clear to Michele Gershberg ’95 that her already challenging job was about to get even more complicated.

As the U.S. health editor for the Reuters news agency, Gershberg leads a team of eight reporters covering health and scientific innovation, as well as the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. “It runs the whole gamut,” Gershberg said. “We are part of a larger global team of health and pharma industry reporters, with reporters in London, Paris, Zurich, and Beijing, so we really work together very closely to try to tell the global story.”

Price ’20 Featured in #20for20Grads Campaign

On June 19, Anthony Price ’20, a government and American studies double major, was featured in Complete College America’s #20for20Grads Campaign. CCA selected outstanding graduates from around the country who come from diverse backgrounds—from first-generation college students to parents, returning adults, and more.

During his time at Wesleyan, Price was the recipient of a 2020 Fulbright award and a Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellowship, and served as a Congressional Black Caucus Intern in Washington, D.C. He’s also the founder and executive director of Be The Change Venture, a Cleveland, Ohio-based nonprofit that teaches young people networking skills to support their career development. In the future, Price plans to earn a law degree, work for the Department of Education, and eventually run for office.

price 2020

anthony price '20

 

Williams ’20 Raises Funds to Deliver Care Packages to Congregate Care Settings

follow me home

A Follow Me Home volunteer delivers a care package.

Despite the effects the COVID-19 pandemic had on much of the population, a recent alumnus’ addiction and wellness recovery program continues to offer essential services and compassion for local residents in need.

Patricelli Center Fellow and Posse Veteran Scholar Lance Williams ’20 created his program, Follow Me Home, in 2017. Based at the Trinity Episcopal Church in nearby Portland, Conn., Follow Me Home partners with local mental health care providers, recovery treatment facilities, and other community-based organizations to provide Follow Me Home Fellows with the infrastructure to build their social networks and recovery capital.

“As [the state reopens], there are many who are still suffering from the mental health fall-out from this natural disaster,” Williams wrote in a recent Engage blog.

On June 1, Williams celebrated Follow Me Home’s first GoFundMe campaign, which raised more than $1,100 and afforded the delivery of a weekly care package to more than 60 congregate care settings. Working in partnership with Gilead Community Services, the organizations prepare packages of baked goods and crafts for the deliveries.

Lance Williams '20

Lance Williams ’20

“More than a simple act of compassion, these care packages have allowed Gilead’s clinicians and case management teams to safely engage with community members and clients to provide more in-depth services after their main outpatient offices were forced to close,” Williams said.

Follow Me Home is now launching a second GoFundMe campaign to continue the expansion of care package deliveries throughout Connecticut over the next month.

“Our new goal of $2,400 will provide us with the opportunity to continue supporting the care package delivery services and human-centered case management throughout the south-central Connecticut region—a region whose congregate care settings have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic,” Williams said.

Alumni of Color Help Wesleyan Plot a Path ‘Toward an Anti-Racist Community’

The recent death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man killed while being forcibly detained by police, has ignited the United States and brought issues of inequality and violence against black people to the forefront of the national consciousness.

Alison Williams ’81, vice president for equity and inclusion/Title IX officer, and Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 hosted a panel discussion on Thursday, June 11, titled “Toward an Anti-Racist Community,” featuring six alumni of color who discussed how to move beyond the pain and trauma of the current cultural moment toward constructive action.

“What I hope is that this will be the beginning of many conversations that lead to transformation both at Wesleyan and beyond,” Williams said. “This requires that we first take a look at our own attitudes and biases and do some personal work. . . . Until we do the personal work, any structural or institutional changes that we implement will be meaningless.”

“We feel confused, angry,” President Roth said during his panel introduction. “Sometimes energized, sometimes full of despair. When I have that mixture of feelings, I turn to friends and colleagues . . . I want to listen.”

Podcasts by Magruder ’17, Smith ’92, Trufelman ’13 Receive Webby Honors

Three Wesleyan alumnae are the producers of podcasts that recently received 2020 Webby Award honors. The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet.

daily breath podcastJulie Magruder ’17 was one of the co-producers and David Shadrack Smith ’92 is the executive producer of Daily Breath with Deepak Chopra, which won a Webby Award in the Health and Wellness category.

In Daily Breath, listeners expand their minds by exploring impactful ideas and themes. According to the show’s description, “Together we will delve into topics such as happiness, gratitude, love, sex, the true self, physical well-being, death and more. This is a space to build mindfulness into your daily routine and to end your week peacefully with a complete 10-minute meditation every Friday. Join us and BREATHE . . .”

Magruder also produced Deepak Chopra’s Infinite Potential (2019). In the 17-episode podcast, Chopra speaks with Jane Goodall, Russell Brand, Christopher Wylie, Jean Houston, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and others who have paved new paths for understanding our present and future.

She’s currently producer of HISTORY This Week (2020). This Week “turns back the clock to meet the people, visit the places, and witness the moments that led us to where we are today. Every week, the show magnifies something that happened that very week in history, that we should all know about,” Magruder explained.

nice tryA podcast hosted and produced by Avery Trufelman ’13 was named a 2020 Webby Award Nominee in the Arts and Culture category.

Nice Try! (2019) is a nine-episode podcast that explores stories of people who tried to design a better world—and what happens when those designs don’t go according to plan. Season one, Utopian, is about the quest for the perfect place.

Trufelman is also the producer of two other podcasts: 99% Invisible (2020) and Articles of Interest (2019).

Read more about Trufleman in this Wesleyan Magazine article.

Established in 1996 during the web’s infancy, the Webby Awards are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS)—a judging body of more than 2,000. The Academy is comprised of executive members—leading internet experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries, and creative celebrities—and associate members who are former Webby winners, nominees, and other internet professionals.

6 Alumni Receive Fulbright Awards

Six recent Wesleyan alumni are the recipients of 2020–21 Fulbright Awards.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide. The program currently awards approximately 2,000 grants annually in all fields of study, and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.

The recipients include:

Inayah Bashir ’20

Inayah Bashir ’20

Inayah Bashir ’20, who majored in the College of Social Studies, won a Fulbright grant to teach English in Kenya. Bashir will work with Kenyan students to place their identity and interests at the center of their learning experience. She looks forward to learning from the teachers and students while following her passion for developing student-centered curriculum and programming. In the future she wants to attend law school with a focus on education and international law in order to prepare for a career as an advocate for equality and education.

Young ’88 Addresses the Severity of the COVID-19 Crisis for Black Americans

Al YoungAlford “Al” Young Jr. ’88 is the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the Department of Sociology and professor of Afroamerican and African studies at the University of Michigan. Young’s research focuses on low-income, urban-based African Americans, African American scholars and intellectuals, and the classroom-based experiences of higher-education faculty as they pertain to diversity and multiculturalism.

In this Q&A, Young addresses the severity of the COVID-19 crisis for black Americans, particularly in Michigan. Michigan is ranked fourth in the country for having the most coronavirus-related deaths (4,915+).

How has COVID-19 affected your research interests?

Alford “Al” Young Jr.: I have spent the better part of my career studying the plight of socioeconomically disadvantaged African American males who live in large or midsized cities. I am interested in their vision of how mobility unfolds in America, especially the extent to which that broader vision relates to their conceptions of personal possibilities for advancement. In doing this work I pay a lot of attention to how these men talk about perceived challenges, problems, and struggles concerning the effort to get ahead. They argue that some of these factors are created by others (racism, public fears of black men, etc.) and some were created by themselves (black-on-black violence, etc.).  The basic point of the research has been to assess how much whatever they imagine to be pathways forward are grounded in their broader understandings of pathways for Americans more generally. I seek to know whether they maintain distance or connection between how they think other Americans get ahead and how they think they might do so.

“You Just Have to Read This…” Books by Wesleyan Authors: Meyerson ’04, Card ’04, and Fink ’77

In this continuing series, we explore a selection of the latest books by Wesleyan alumni. The volumes, sent to us by the alumni authors themselves, are forwarded to Olin Library as donations to the University’s collection and made available to the Wesleyan community.

The Imperfects coverAmy Meyerson ’04, The Imperfects (HarperCollins/Park Row Books, 2020)

Generations of secrets loom large in this novel about the dysfunctional Miller family. When the eccentric family matriarch, Helen, passes away, the items she leaves behind—including a 137-carat diamond hidden in her bedroom—stir up old resentments, new tensions, and plenty of questions among her daughter and grandchildren. As the family races to determine whether they are the rightful heirs to the precious gemstone, they make startling discoveries about Helen, who immigrated to the United States from Austria, and her family’s tragic past.

A fast-paced and engaging read, The Imperfects is based on the true story of the Florentine Diamond, which went missing around 1918, after the fall of the Austrian Empire.

Amy Meyerson ’04 is an associate professor of writing at the University of Southern California. The Imperfects is her second novel. Her debut novel The Bookshop of Yesterdays, an international best-seller with translations in 11 languages, was featured in a 2018 Connection article.