Debbie Colucci is Equity Compliance Director, Deputy Title IX Coordinator

Deborah Colucci (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Deborah Colucci (Photo by Olivia Drake)

In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we talk to Debbie Colucci, who came to Wesleyan in June 2014 as the new equity compliance director and deputy Title IX coordinator.

Q: Welcome to Wesleyan, Debbie! Please briefly fill us in on your professional and personal background. What makes you uniquely qualified to take on this position?

A:  Personally, I have always been committed to creating an inclusive and supportive environment that addresses the needs of a diverse population and provides a rewarding experience for all individuals.  I have a master’s degree in college student personnel and higher education administration and, while my career in higher education began on a traditional student affairs/residence life path, my more recent experiences have afforded me the opportunity to develop a unique skill-set related to equity initiatives. After spending many years developing and presenting programs related to inclusion, I left residence life and became the assistant project director for the Anti-Defamation League’s A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute.  The emphasis of that program is on communication, understanding, respect for differences, and contribution. That is when my career, and my understanding of my role in the world, shifted.

Rushdy to Serve as Wesleyan’s Academic Secretary

Ashraf Rushdy

Ashraf Rushdy (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Ashraf Rushdy, professor of English, professor of African American Studies, has agreed to serve as academic secretary for a two-year appointment beginning July 1. The academic secretary facilitates academic decision-making and supports faculty governance, provides advice and support to the Executive Committee of the faculty, the Academic Council and its committees, and the standing committees of the faculty. He also provides parliamentary advice, helps to administer faculty elections, and informs the faculty on matters related to the academic program and faculty responsibilities.

Rushdy will be replacing Tom Morgan, professor of physics, who has served as academic secretary since 2003. Rushdy previously served as academic secretary in 2010-2011 (while Morgan was on sabbatical).

Read a Q&A with Professor Rusdy in this past News @ Wesleyan article.

McAlister Teaches “Ethnography of Religion” Seminar in Haiti

In June, Professor Elizabeth McAlister taught a seminar on prayer practices at the State University of Haiti. She previously spent almost four months in Haiti studying with Pentecostal prayer warriors and Haitian sorcerers.

In June, Professor Elizabeth McAlister taught a seminar on the ethnography of religion at the State University of Haiti. She previously spent four months in Haiti interviewing Pentecostal prayer warriors and Haitian sorcerers.

Professor Elizabeth McAlister recently presented a weeklong intensive seminar on the ethnography of religion at the Anthropology and Sociology Department, Faculté d’Ethnologie, at the State University of Haiti, Université d’Etat d’Haïti. McAlister is professor of religion, professor of African-American studies, professor of American studies.

Her seminar catered to Haitian university students who are training in field methods of ethnography of religion.

The seminar wrapped up McAlister’s four-month study on “Understanding Aggressive Prayer Forms in Evangelicalism and Afro-Atlantic Religions.”

Her research was supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation in “New Directions in Study of Prayer.” Developed through the Social Science Research Council’s program on religion and the public sphere, the funds support the academic ventures of 28 scholars and journalists on multidisciplinary aspects of prayer in a modern, global context.

Bennett, Scott Receive Cardinal Achievement Awards

Nicola Bennett, administrative assistant in the Office of University Relations, and Lorna Scott, assistant to the vice president for student affairs, received a Cardinal Achievement Award in May.

Nicola Bennett

Nicola Bennett

Bennett was acknowledged for her efforts in supporting the 50th Reunion. According to her award announcement, “Bennett played a vital role in the development and production of this year’s 50th Reunion Class Book. Her creativity and organization skills, coupled with her eagerness to take on a new challenge, made this project a huge success. The Class of 1964 and University Relations are very fortunate to benefit from her great work.”

Lorna Scott

Lorna Scott

Scott was honored for her efforts in gathering data from the files of several hundred students related to their decisions to leave Wesleyan. This data provided critical information to staff in the Institutional Research area in time for them to analyze the data for the Retention Committee.

This special honor comes with a $150 award and reflects the university’s gratitude for those extra efforts. The award recipients are nominated by department chairs and supervisors. Nominations can be made anytime throughout the year.

For more information or to nominate a staff member for the award, visit the Human Resources website and scroll down to Cardinal Achievement Award under “Forms.”

Recipients will continue to be recognized in News@Wesleyan.

Tsui ’15 to Study with Professor Fry as American Chemical Society Fellow

Elaine Tsui ’15

Elaine Tsui ’15, who is currently studying abroad, will speak at the 2014 Connecticut Valley Section-American Chemical Society Undergraduate Research Symposium.

This summer, Elaine Tsui ’15 will work on her undergraduate research in the Chemistry Department as an American Chemical Society Fellow.

Tsui, who is double majoring in English and chemistry, received the fellowship from the Society’s Connecticut Valley Section. Funding opportunities are available for those with interests in physics, biology, materials science, engineering and medicine.

As a fellow, Tsui will conduct self-directed research under the supervision of Albert J. Fry, the E.B. Nye Professor of Chemistry. In 2013, Tsui worked with Fry as a Hughes Fellow and studied “Andodic Oxidation of 1,1-Diphenylacetone in Various Alcohols.” She will continue this research for 10 weeks under the fellowship.

“I will be continuing work on a project that investigates the mechanism for the electrolytic conversion of 1,1-diphenylacetone to the benzhydryl alkyl ether,” Tsui said. “This particular reaction has been my main focus since I first started work in Professor Fry’s lab during my sophomore year.”

As a fellow, Tsui is also required to give a talk at next year’s Connecticut Valley Section-American Chemical Society Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Tsui was initially notified of the opportunity through Professor Fry.

Of particular appeal to Tsui was the funding opportunity that the fellowship presented. “During the year, with all my classes and other responsibilities, it’s difficult to be able to carry out some of my experiments that take hours to complete, and the summer is a great opportunity to just focus on my project in lab,” she said. “To be honest, I didn’t think I would actually get the fellowship considering how many excellent chemistry students are out there, so I was surprised and happy when I was notified that I had gotten it.”

With her most recent appointment, Tsui hopes to hone her skills as a chemical scientist. “I’m also hoping that I will be able to gain more familiarity with lab work and the entire process of using different techniques to investigate different questions we have,” she said.

From the experience, Tsui foresees a growing interest in chemical research surrounding her current work surrounding oxidation reactions in alcohols. “There is still so much to learn about this reaction,” said Tsui, “and the results we have been getting from some of our experiments continually surprise us.”

After graduating, Tsui hopes to pursue additional research opportunities in organic chemistry, largely in part to the influence of her alliance with Fry.

“I think being exposed to this environment and my own growing interest in my project and what my lab mates are working on have made me realize that I do want to get into a career in research,” she said.

Tsui is currently completing a semester abroad in England and will begin her research in June. She’s also planning to submit a paper for review and publication.

James ’14 Publishes Field Guide to the Birds of Wesleyan

Oliver James '14 and his Connecticut bird guide.

Oliver James ’14 wrote and illustrated A Field Guide to the Birds of Wesleyan for his COE capstone project.

“Sporting its conspicuous red crest, the eponymous Northern Cardinal can be found year round on sweatshirts and coffee mugs across campus. In addition to the homecoming football game, the species is also commonly attracted to suburban feeders where it uses its powerful, conical bill specialized to crush seeds. The Northern Cardinal is arguably one of the most recognizable birds in North America.”

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

So begins an entry on the Northern Cardinal, or cardinalis caridnalis, in A Field Guide to the Birds of Wesleyan, a book written and illustrated by Oliver James ’14 for the capstone project of his College of the Environment major. The book, containing descriptions and illustrations of 16 of the most common birds found on Wesleyan’s campus, was published by Stethoscope Press, a student-run writing and publishing group, with a limited release of 300 copies.

James has been an avid birder since about the age of 5. One of his earliest memories growing up in Berkeley, Calif is of accompanying his aunt, a field ornithologist, to Bodega Bay, where she was researching the vocalizations of a type of sparrow.

Students Share Their Summer 2014 Internship Opportunities

As the semester ends and students head off on their summer adventures, The Wesleyan Connection checked in with several students about their summer internships. Here’s a sampling of some of the exciting opportunities they will be pursuing.

Gabe Rosenberg

Gabe Rosenberg ’16

I’m moving all the way from my hometown of Pittsburgh to New York City for the summer, to work for a tech-journalism startup called Contently. They are a place for freelance journalists and brands to connect and tell great stories that aren’t being told elsewhere, and they publish two magazines of their own: The Content Strategist, which focuses on new trends in content and marketing, and The Freelance Strategist, which is aimed at helping up and coming freelancers navigate the world and tell their own stories. I’m going to be an editorial intern, so I’m going to be drifting between their two magazines and writing for brands myself, as well as hopefully getting to table in the marketing and advertising sides of things. I also took a part-time position writing for the Columbia Journalism Review, where I will be reporting and writing about the media and the journalism industry.


Adi SlepackAdi Slepack ’16

I’ll be interning with Channel Frederator, the web division of Frederator Studios, in New York City. Frederator has been making cartoons for television, movies, and the Internet since 1998 and are best known for shows such as The Fairly Odd Parents, Chalkzone, Adventure Time, and - on the internet – Bravest Warriors and Bee and Puppycat. I’ll be working under the Network Manager and the Director of Marketing, Publicity, and Licensing, learning the ins-and-outs and helping manage of one of the first and largest networks of animation on the web. I’m pretty stoked about it.


Lily HermanLily Herman ’16

This summer I’m interning a HelloFlo, an absolutely incredible women empowerment startup that sends monthly feminine hygiene products to subscribers (along with treats, of course) and also seeks to empower women to no longer feel ashamed of their periods. Since the HelloFlo team has only two full-time employees besides myself, I will be the definition of a startup intern the summer as I run rampantly around New York City doing everything from writing content and working on social media to helping create marketing campaigns and doing research.

Ming ZhuMing Zhu ’15

I’ll be interning at Archer Entertainment Group in LA this summer. It’s a talent management firm founded by Mr. Alan Jacobs and my main responsibilities will include assisting with casting submissions, preparation of client materials, scheduling casting sessions, communications with talent agencies, etc.


Caitlin Daniels ’15

Caitlin DanielsI will be working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Headquarters Office Of Policy under Wesleyan alumnus Matthew King’s (’81) international affairs team in Washington, D.C.  In this position, I will be working with either the Asia-Pacific or Canada Director on international affairs projects, lending administrative support, and attending events/meetings with staff; I think being able to see these meetings from an internal perspective will be one of the most rewarding aspects of this opportunity. My past semester spent studying in New Zealand sparked my interest in foreign relations, so I am excited to take what I have learned from my overseas experience and apply it to the context of Homeland Security’s mission abroad. I am incredibly appreciative to have received this opportunity, and I look forward to gaining a better understanding of the United States’ relations with foreign countries.


Dylan NiehoffDylan Niehoff ’15

My internship is an Account Executive position at a marketing agency called Epsilon. Epsilon does the marketing for 26 out of the Fortune 100 companies. I will be working out of their NYC office in the financial district. My department/position is responsible for client servicing and client acquisitions. We are the intermediaries between the Epsilon team and the client. We are responsible for ensuring their satisfaction with our service. I’m very excited to be living in the city and having the honor to be working with such a phenomenal company. 


Andrew Hove '15Andrew Hove ’15

I’m working for Atlas Holdings LLC in Greenwich, Conn., and I’ll be a summer analyst for them. I can’t actually tell you exactly what I’ll be doing, as they haven’t described the position in great detail, but I’ll be researching various companies/industries that they would potentially invest in and find out if the return would be profitable and if the company is able to be saved (they specialize in failing companies). The company is super young, bright and enthusiastic about what they do, which really stuck out to me during the interviews.


Donovan Brady '15Donovan Brady ’16

I will be interning for a cloud computing company called Logicworks, located in Soho in New York City. My official title will be Technical Operations Intern, where I mostly will be fixing and building computers, and coding in addition.

Eusebio ’17 to Study Washington’s Natural Environment as Doris Duke Conservation Scholar

Joseph Eusebio '17

Joseph Eusebio ’17 will explore themes of biodiversity, food, water and climate as a Doris Duke Conservation Scholar in Washington this summer.

Joseph Eusebio ’17 was selected to take part in the brand new Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at the University of Washington this summer. According to the program website, this eight-week, all-expenses-paid program will take students on a journey from the “urban jungle” to the old growth forest and back, allowing them to explore how conservation can make a difference, and how they can make a difference in conservation.

Eusebio is one of only 26 students on the team, chosen from a pool of nearly 400 applicants. He said he came across the scholarship by chance while thinking about opportunities for the summer over winter break.

“I began just looking at internships, but then I started to consider other things such as taking language courses at the University of Washington. While browsing the UW website for its summer opportunities, I happened to come across the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars link and the description just really stuck with me,” he said. “It surprised me that, as far as I can tell, I’m the only student from Washington who is a part of the program.”

However, Eusebio considered it a long shot that he would be accepted into the program, given that he has not specialized in environmental science in his coursework.

“I have, however, always had a strong attachment to nature and the outdoors,” he said.

Goodstein ’14 to Deliver WESeminar on Mental Illness and Stigma

Taylor Goodstein '14 wrote her senior thesis on the human experience of mental illness. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Taylor Goodstein ’14 wrote her senior thesis on the human experience of mental illness. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we speak with Taylor Goodstein from the Class of 2014. She is delivering a WESeminar at Reunion & Commencement on the topic of her capstone project: “Looking Inward: Examining the Broken Brain and Reducing Stigma.”

Q: Taylor, what is your major, and how did you settle on this topic for your thesis?

A: I am a neuroscience and behavior and biology double major, and I am also obtaining a certificate in creative writing. I was never planning on writing a thesis because I don’t conduct research in a neuroscience or biology laboratory, but then one day the idea just sort of came to me. I realized how neuroscience classes at Wesleyan focus so much on the hard science, and it becomes easy to forget that the illnesses and disorders that are discussed at a physiological level have real-world social and personal implications. I wanted to explore the human side of neuroscience, and I was inspired by writers who have done the same thing, such as Oliver Sacks. Combining narrative and current neuroscience research is an excellent tool for increasing understanding and reducing the stigma of mental illness, and I wanted to try it out.

Q: Please tell us about the people you interviewed for your project.

A: I interviewed six people, including one Wesleyan student with multiple sclerosis—whose story illustrates how living with an invisible, inconsistent disability can be hard to explain and thus causes lots of misunderstanding—as well as another Wes student who talked about living with an anxiety disorder that perpetuated an eating disorder. Her story was very valuable to me because she has since made a full recovery, and I really went in to detail discussing the aspects of her environment that made it easy for her to seek help and get treatment. Hopefully, such environments can be replicated more and more so people don’t remain silent about mental illness.

Ojurongbe ’14 to Speak on Media Depictions of Immigration

After graduating this May, Oluwaremilekun "Remi" Ojurongbe '14 will spend two years working at a law firm in New York City. She plans on going to law school and eventually working with immigration law and policy. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

After graduating this May, Oluwaremilekun “Remi” Ojurongbe ’14 will spend two years working at a law firm in New York City. She plans on going to law school and eventually working with immigration law and policy. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we speak with Oluwaremilekun “Remi” Ojurongbe of the Class of 2014. She will deliver a WESeminar at Reunion & Commencement on the topic of her capstone project, “Illegality, Criminality, and the Taxpayer’s Burden: The Incomplete U.S. Immigration Narrative.”

Q: Remi, what is your major and why did you decide to write a thesis?

A: I am a psychology and government double major, but I decided to conduct research in psychology mainly because of the classes that I took in the department. Courses like Professor Sarah Carney’s “Psychology in the Law,” and “Cultural Psychology” with Professor Robert Steele really made the connection between psychology and social policy for me. I felt that psychology was a great medium to further explore these topics of race, class, power and the media.

Q: How did you choose the topic of media coverage of immigrants and immigration?

A: I choose the topic of immigration because it is an area that I am personally familiar with, but I also wanted to learn more about it. My parents are Nigerian immigrants so I have some personal experience with the process of emigrating to the U.S. My sophomore year with the Ronald McNair program, I did independent research on past restrictive immigration and the creation of a perceived American identity. It was through this project that I learned more about restrictive immigration legislation, public attitudes and trends in immigrant representation.

Staff on the Move

The Office of Human Resources reported the following new hires, advancements and transitions, and departures for April 2014:

Newly hired
Ryan Launder was hired as an administrative assistant for the Green Street Arts Center on April 14.
Doug Gilchrist was hired as a boiler tender in the Central Power Plant – Physical Plant on April 15.
Geralyn Ternullo was hired as an administrative assistant for the annual fund on April 21.
Meg O’Brien was hired as an associate director of financial planning on April 28.

Jennifer Curran was appointed Director of Continuing Studies. She served as Interim Director of Continuing Studies since November, before which she served as Associate Director for Student Services and Outreach in Continuing Studies and Graduate Liberal Studies.

Evan Carney, assistant dean of admissions.
Rob Schmidt, senior project manager of construction services.

After Studying Abroad, Mummini ’14 Hired as Health Programs Assistant in Denmark

Swetha Mummini ’14

Swetha Mummini ’14 is a biology and neuroscience and behavior double major.

In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we speak with Swetha Mummini ’14 who studied abroad last spring through the Danish Institute for Study Abroad Program. Her study abroad program hires two graduating past participants to be paid interns for the year after graduation and Mummini received the internship for the science and health programs assistant. 

Q: What prompted you to study abroad in Copenhagen?

A: Macaroni and cheese. I know that sounds a bit ridiculous, but the first time I seriously considered going abroad was at the very beginning of junior year when my friend Catherine invited her friends over for baked macaroni and cheese. Over the course of the meal, her friends talked about their plans to go abroad during spring semester of junior year, and that moment served as my personal eureka moment. I realized what a unique opportunity studying abroad was and how I should take the opportunity to pursue it. That night, I was up until 4 a.m. researching programs and trying to find the perfect fit. Denmark has always fascinated me, especially because of its status as the happiest country in the world and its welfare state. The program that I chose, the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS), also offered a wide variety of health science and public health classes that appealed to me.

Q: What did you like about the DIS program in particular?

A: For premedical students, DIS has a unique program called Medical Practice and Policy. It’s a very hands-on program that exposes students to the fundamentals of clinical medicine and the European healthcare system. By participating in the program, I was able to get clinical exposure that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to experience in the U.S. I learned how to take a patient’s case history and formulate a diagnosis. I also learned how to perform basic medical procedures, such as taking an ultrasound and drawing blood. To give students a broader understanding of healthcare policy, our class also took a weeklong trip to Vienna and Budapest where we heard from physicians and other medical specialists about the challenges in their healthcare systems.