Students

Mellon Mays Fellow Haymon ’16 is Double Majoring in German Studies, Theater

Miranda Haymon '16 will be directing her own adaptation of Slaughterhouse-Five in the Center for the Arts Theater. (Photo by Laurie Kenney)

Next year, Miranda Haymon ’16 will be directing her own adaptation of Slaughterhouse-Five in the Center for the Arts Theater. As a Mellon Mays Fellow, Haymon will explore how (or if) artistic works, movements and theories reflect artists’ political positions. “Through this project I hope to put myself in a better position to understand the definition of political theater in the context of post World War II Germany and beyond.” (Photo by Laurie Kenney)

In this News @ Wesleyan story, we speak with Miranda Haymon from the Class of 2016.

Q: Miranda, what are you majoring in and why?

A: I am a German studies and theater double major but when I started at Wesleyan, I thought I was going to create my own linguistics major under the University Major option. I remember very clearly the Wesleyan Admissions Dean telling me I could take four languages for all four years if I wanted to — I was instantly sold. Instead of doing that, I ended up taking a few theater classes, a German language class and a First Year Seminar cross-listed in German Studies. I had recently begun German senior year in high school and always loved theater, so I thought this would be a good place to start for my first semester in college. I ended up becoming really close to my theater and German professors and discovering German theater was something I was interested in exploring further. The rest is history!

Q: What has your theater experience been like at Wesleyan?

A: One of my reasons for choosing Wesleyan was the theater scene. There is a great dynamic between extracurricular theater, Second Stage, and theater sponsored by the Theater Department. I loved that I could pursue theater inside and outside of the classroom, so my theater experience at Wesleyan has been a combination of the two. I served as a Second Stage staff member and Managing Liaison for my first two years and have focused on working more within the Theater Department for my last two years. I’ve stage managed a few Second Stage shows and this past fall, stage managed the Theater and Music Department’s production of In the Heights. I am a directing concentration, so have directed a scene from Romeo and Juliet as well as an adaptation of Kafka’s short story In the Penal Colony as part of my directing curriculum. Through Second Stage, I directed a experimental ensemble theater piece my sophomore fall. Stage managing and directing are my two focuses, but I’ve also dabbled in costume and props design, as well as fight choreography. For my honors thesis in theater and German studies, I will be directing my own adaptation of Slaughterhouse-Five set to go up in the CFA Theater February 2016. I can’t wait!

Q: As a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, you spent this summer developing a research topic “Show not Tell: The Role of Political Theater for a Post-Combat Audience.” How did you come up with this idea?

A: I saw a lot of theater when I was abroad in Berlin. I was completely struck by the fact that in Germany, the theater is a space for political discourse, whereas in America, the majority of theater is for entertainment. How has and how can the theater serve as a space for political discourse for an audience in the aftermath of war? In the case of my research, Germany after World War II? But how about America after the Iraq War or any other post-war country? Is political theater about politics anymore, or is it about something else?

Q: What will be your research process? Will you be traveling?

A: My research project is in two parts: the first being a senior essay engaging with theories of performance studies, affect, actor-audience relationship as well as semiotics. The second part of my project will be investigating these theories surrounding political theater with a practical approach involving directing Slaughterhouse-Five. I recently completed a six week research and writing intensive sponsored by Mellon Mays, so I have a prospectus and a nine month plan of action. At the moment, I am doing a lot of reading to further embed myself in the conversation about political theater. In the fall, I will be traveling to Special Collections and Manuscripts Division at Stanford University to check out a collection of theater programs from productions that occurred soon after the end of World War II.

Q: What do you hope to ultimately accomplish with your research?

A: I want to gain a better understanding of theater in a political context, that is, theater as a reflection or representation of the artist’s environment. I want to explore how (or if) artistic works, movements, and theories reflect these artists’ political positions. I hope that this research will better ground my knowledge of a time period I believe to be fundamental to theater history and theory. Through this project I hope to put myself in a better position to understand the definition of political theater in the context of post World War II Germany and beyond.

Q: You’re also a Senior Interviewer. How did you become involved and what do you like most about that role?

A: I was heavily involved with the Andover Admissions Office, so I knew I wanted the same for my college experience. I’ve been interested in the position of Senior Interviewer since my sophomore year when I became close friends with a former senior interviewer who was a theater major. I love being able to meet so many different students and share my own Wesleyan experience with the hope that they can understand what resources could be available to them if they are admitted.

Q: Are you involved in any extracurricular activities or clubs?

A: I recently became involved with Terpsichore, which is so much fun! Last semester I choreographed a Harry Potter dubstep dance with one of my best friends and also danced in another large group piece. I hadn’t choreographed or danced before this, so it was a scary but really fun experience. I can’t wait to do it again next year!

Q: Where are you from and how did you hear about Wesleyan?

A: I was born and raised in Boston, but attended boarding school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. During the early stages in my college process, I made a list of all the things I loved about Andover and all the things I really disliked. Seemingly out of nowhere, Wesleyan rose to the top of my list. It was absolutely perfect: an interdisciplinary approach to education, spirited students that have close relationships with their professors and not to far from home! I hadn’t heard of Wesleyan beforehand, but I knew immediately it was the school for me.

Q: What are you post-Wesleyan plans?

A: I plan on taking some time off before applying to PhD programs in performance studies. During my time off, I’m hoping to travel, spend time with my family and gain more practical theater experience.

Ebenal ’18 Participates in Wireless Infrastructure Conference at White House

On July 15, Wesleyan Posse Scholar Royce Ebenal ’18 attended the White House Summit on Wireless Workforce Development, a conference that focused on the urgent need to train workers for careers in the wireless industry to ensure that the U.S. wireless network infrastructure capacity will be sufficient for the future.

More than 80 leaders from wireless companies, federal agencies and academic institutions attended the conference. Participants also recognized that this was an opportunity to hire and train underrepresented groups, including veterans, women and minorities, for well-paying technical jobs. Posse scholar Rob Mendez ’18, who is an intern at the National Science Foundation this summer, also attended the conference.

Ebenal is working as an intern at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) this summer. He’s been speaking with senior government officials, including the office of Second Lady Jill Biden, about the Posse Foundation in an effort to expand veterans’ access to elite colleges.

“While working at the White House has been truly humbling, I am motivated everyday to represent veterans, the Posse Foundation and Wes,” Ebenal said.

Ebenal co-authored an article on the White House Summit on Wireless Workforce Development. The story is online here.

Schwartz ’17 Founder of Wesleyan Radio Control/ Drone Club

David Schwartz '17, founder and president of the Wesleyan Radio Control/ Drone Club, flies a drone behind South College July 28. He's also on Wesleyan's ski team, rock climbing team and sailing team. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

David Schwartz ’17, founder and president of the Wesleyan Radio Control/ Drone Club, flies a drone behind South College July 28. He’s also on Wesleyan’s ski team, rock climbing team and sailing team. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

In this News @ Wesleyan story, we speak with David Schwartz from the Class of 2017.

Q: David, where are you from and what is your major?

A: I grew up in Amherst, Mass. When I first came to Wesleyan, I walked around wearing my Amherst sweatshirt for awhile before realizing there was a bit of a rivalry. I’m an Economics and Government double major, with a minor in data analysis. I’m particularly interested in applying “big data” techniques to government policymaking.

David Schwartz operates the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ drone "that was very user-friendly and intuitive to learn," he said.

David Schwartz operates the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ drone “that was very user-friendly and intuitive to learn,” he said.

Q: You are founder and president of the Wesleyan Radio Control/ Drone Club. How did your interest in aerial photography begin?

A: I’ve always had a passion for flying, but unfortunately I get air-sick in small planes, so I’ve been able to apply my interest by being involved in the radio control community. Last summer, I spent my free time building an aerial photography quad copter and coding a basic auto-pilot system. For example, if the gyroscope was leaning left, the program would simply instruct the servos (motor) controlling the ailerons (parts on the wings that tilt the plane) to counter this movement until the plane was stable again. When I was able to stabilize the aircraft, I noticed that the camera on it was able to take some really clear photographs.

Q: Why did you decide to start the club? How many members do you have?

A: After telling my friends about my project building a drone last summer

11 Mellon Mays Fellows Present Research Topics

Lynn Ma ’16 presented “Solitude and the Political Life.”

Mellon Mays Fellow Lynn Ma ’16 spoke on “Solitude and the Political Life” during the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Summer 2015 Research Presentations July 23.

#THISISWHY

Eleven Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows delivered brief research proposal presentations July 23 in Fisk Hall. The fellows, six from Wesleyan and five from Queens College, City University of New York, spent the past two months developing their research projects with the assistance of their peers, Wesleyan faculty and Wesleyan librarians.

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program provides minority students and others with a demonstrated commitment to eradicating racial disparities, with support to pursue graduate degrees in the arts and sciences.

Research topics range from deconstructing African feminism to the role of political theater for a post-combat audience to trauma in Japan caused by the Atomic Bomb.

Uchendu ’17 Researches Production of Biofuels as McNair Scholar

Stacy Uchendu ‘17 is researching second generation biofuels with Erika Taylor, assistant professor of chemistry and environmental studies, as a McNair Scholar.

Science in Society major Stacy Uchendu ‘17 is researching second generation biofuels as a McNair Scholar.

In this News @ Wesleyan story, we talk with Stacy Uchendu from the Class of 2017. Uchendu is participating in Wesleyan’s Ronald E. McNair Post Program, which assists students from underrepresented groups in preparing for, entering and progressing successfully through post-graduate education.

Q: Stacy, where are you from and what is your major?

A: I’m from Houston, Texas, and my major is Science in Society with concentrations in chemistry and religion.

Q: When did you become a part of the McNair Program? Why did you decide to participate?

A: McNair offers a wonderful opportunity to do paid research over the summer and during the academic school year.

Holmes ’17 Studies Congressional Tweets in QAC Summer Apprenticeship

Joli Holmes ’17, an economics major, is one of 24 students in the Quantitative Analysis Center's Summer Apprenticeship Program.

Joli Holmes ’17, an economics major, is one of 24 students in the Quantitative Analysis Center’s Summer Apprenticeship Program.

In this News @ Wesleyan story, we speak with Joli Holmes from the Class of 2017. She is one of 24 students in the Quantitative Analysis Center’s Summer Apprenticeship Program.

Q: Joli, what is your major and what’s your specific area of interest?

A: I’m an economics major. I’m particularly interested in studying investment-related practices from an environmental and social perspective.

Q: Have you worked in the Quantitative Analysis Center before this summer?

A: I’ve taken a lot of classes through the QAC, including “Working with R,” “Excel with Visual Basic for Applications,” and “Python.” These are all classes on how to use statistical software, which also cover some statistical analysis topics.

Q: What does an average day look like in the QAC Apprenticeship Program?

A: We start our days at 8:30, and have class for an hour and a half. The classes are taught by Emmanuel “Manolis” Kaparakis, [director of Centers for Advanced Computing], Pavel Oleinikov, [associate director of the Quantitative Analysis Center, visiting assistant professor of quantitative analysis], and Jen Rose, [research professor of psychology]. The topics of these classes really vary. We cover everything from basic statistics – like how to do a simple linear regression and looking at correlations – to different types of clustering and factor analysis. In the future we might do some latent variable analysis. They make sure all the students have a good foundation, and then cover advanced topics. In these lessons, we work with statistical software and example data sets. For the rest of the day, we work on our individual research projects.

Gavin Pittore ’16 is Playing in the Prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League this Summer

Gavin Pittore pitching for Wesleyan in Spring 2015.

Gavin Pittore pitching for Wesleyan in Spring 2015. (Photo by Brian Katten ’79)

In this News @ Wesleyan story, we speak with Gavin Pittore of the Class of 2016. This summer, Pittore is playing with the Bourne Braves of the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League (CCBL), the foremost of the dozen or so wooden-bat summer collegiate baseball leagues sanctioned by Major League Baseball. A second-team all-NESCAC pick in 2015, Pittore posted a 7-2 record with a 1.54 ERA and seven complete games over his 10 starts during Wesleyan’s 30-11 baseball season. Through games of July 21, Pittore has seen 10 relief appearances for the Braves (15-17-2), throwing 14-2/3 innings while giving up a mere six hits and no earned runs with 17 strikeouts and a 1-1 record. He has been chosen as one of nine pitchers for the West squad in the annual Friendly’s Cape Cod League All-Star Game to be played in Wareham Sat., July 25.

Q: You have accomplished perhaps every college player’s summer dream of playing in the Cape Cod League. Can you describe how you prepared for and earned an opportunity for a spot on one of the 10 teams?

A: Playing in the Cape Cod Baseball League is definitely a dream come true for me. I’ve always been familiar with the league, but not until relatively recently did I think I would have a chance of playing there. I played on the Cape last year and really got to understand what it was about. My sophomore year at Wesleyan was filled with growing experiences and many obstacles, which definitely prepared me for the mental and physical challenges presented by playing a summer on the Cape. One thing I took away from two years of trying to get into the league is that patience is key. As a sophomore, I was very anxious to be placed in a league and [Wesleyan Head] Coach [Mark] Woodworth made sure to emphasize the fact that as long as I pitched well in front of the right people, I would end up where I belonged. I took his advice and went to the annual tryout for the Cape League after both my sophomore and junior years. Both years I was signed to a temporary contract, both of which luckily turned into permanent contracts. Listening to my coaches and sticking with my daily routine prepared me to play in such a prestigious league.

Q: As a member of the Bourne Braves, you are the only Division III pitcher on a staff of some 17 hurlers. Some are from Division I powerhouses like LSU, Illinois and Notre Dame. How do you feel throwing alongside players from such high-powered programs?

A: It definitely is intimidating at first. There is a big adjustment, especially mentally, going from playing Division III baseball to facing lineups that are essentially all college all-star teams. Similarly, it is difficult to adjust to being surrounded by players that come from such storied programs.The first few weeks everyone is still getting to know everyone else and starting to understand where everyone fits in, so it was important for me to prove that I belonged. After a couple successful outings, I no longer viewed myself as D3 guy playing amongst SEC, Big 10, and ACC players, but rather just another member of the Bourne Braves. At the same time, it is an honor to be competing with and getting to know such talented and successful guys. It’s been a privilege getting to know and getting to learn from the 2015 Bourne Braves pitching staff.

Mathew ’18 Participates in Summer Session’s Biology Institute

Christine "Cj" Mathew '18 is taking two intensive science classes this summer that equate to an entire year's worth of credits.

Christine “Cj” Mathew ’18 is taking two intensive science classes this summer that equate to an entire year’s worth of credits. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

In this News @ Wesleyan story, we speak with Christine “Cj” Mathew from the Class of 2018.

Q: Cj, have you chosen a major?

A: I’m a prospective neuroscience and behavior major.

Mathew's second Summer Session class began June 29.

Mathew’s second Summer Session class, Principles of Biology II, began June 29.

Q: This summer, you are enrolled in the new Biology Institute, which is held as part of the Wesleyan Summer Session, and includes intensive Principles of Biology I and II Lecture and Lab. Why did you decide to participate in the institute?

A: For my major requirements and pre-med requirements, there are tons of science classes that I have to take, and I didn’t want to feel too overwhelmed by taking more than one science class in a year.

Q: How many students were in your Bio I class? Do you enjoy the more intimate learning atmosphere?

A: There were 11 people in the class, and I absolutely love having a small class. This class is pretty fast paced, so it’s really helpful to have more individual attention. We spend a lot of time together between class and labs; by the second week of class, it was like we’d all known each other for a long time!

Q: When are you in class? Also, have you done any interesting lab experiments?

A: We’re in class every day from 9-10:40 a.m. and the lab meets Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1:30-4:20 p.m., but most of the labs don’t take that long so we’re let out earlier. In Bio I, we’ve done some pretty cool labs including genetic engineering, where we transformed bacteria. One of my personal favorites was when we looked at what proteins are found in milk and how much protein is found in milk. This one was particularly interesting because so many people are lactose intolerant because of these proteins.

Q: The Biology II course began June 29. How do you feel about jumping right into another class?

A: Luckily, there was a small, five-day break in between the two sessions. But, it’s not too bad. Since we’re only taking one class, not all of our time is consumed with class, so it’s manageable.

Q: After Bio II, do you have any summer plans?

A: Maybe a little traveling!

Q: Where are you from and why did you choose Wesleyan?

A: I’m from Long Island, N.Y. I chose Wesleyan because I knew I wanted a small school, and I loved the fact that Wesleyan has a lot of flexibility when it comes to choosing classes.

Q: Are you involved in any extracurricular activities on campus? What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I’m part of Women in Science and I enjoy playing tennis.

Mehr-Muska, Ottaviano ’17 Discuss Interfaith Relations at Wesleyan

University Protestant Chaplain Tracy Mehr-Muska and Lydia Ottaviano ’17 were interviewed on the WESU 88.1 FM show “Reasonably Catholic” about a new interfaith organization on campus that is working to build ties between the various faith traditions.

Ottaviano is a member of the new interfaith council, which planned the first Faith Shadowing Week this spring. During the week of April 19, students attended regularly scheduled meetings of various religious and spiritual groups other than their own, including several Christian fellowship group meetings and bible studies, Shabbat services, Buddhist Faith Fellowship, Wesleyan Mindfulness Group, Quaker Meeting, Catholic Mass, Muslim Jumma Prayers and Vespers. The week concluded with a campus-wide interfaith dinner that was attended by about 30 students

“It really came from a genuine interest on the part of the students,” said Mehr-Muska said of the interfaith council’s planning.

 

Ottaviano explained that while the council had originally intended to pair up students of different faith traditions, the high degree of interest in Faith Shadowing Week led them to change that plan. Instead, students in small groups attended events held by different faith traditions. This helped students learn about and get comfortable with the unfamiliar traditions.

“Those who were able to participate and attend events other than their own really found it enjoyable and enlightening, in that they were able to learn and appreciate a little more about their own traditions just by experiencing those of others faiths,” said Ottaviano. She also got some new ideas by observing meetings of other faith communities.

 

“I think that the sense of community is really what bubbled to the top” for students visiting other faith communities, said Mehr-Muska. She said the week allowed the students to identify and celebrate common ground.

Read more about the Faith Shadowing Week here.

 

Wesleyan Posse Veterans Attend Benefit for Wounded Ranger

Michael Smith ’18, Bryan Stascavage ’18 and Andrew Po ’18 attended a Veteran’s Gala, sponsored by Homes For Our Troops, for wounded veteran Sean Pesce. (Photo by Bryan Stascavage ’18)

Andrew Po ’18, Bryan Stascavage ’18 and Michael Smith ’18 attended a Veteran’s Gala, sponsored by Homes For Our Troops, for wounded veteran Sean Pesce.

Wesleyan sponsored three Posse Veteran scholars to attend the Veteran’s Gala for Specialist Sean Pesce, an Army Ranger who was shot 13 times and paralyzed from the waist down during a mission in Afghanistan in fall 2012. Michael Smith ’18, Andrew Po ’18, and Bryan Stascavage ’18 attended the June 19 benefit to show support for a fellow veteran, and to learn more about a smaller non-profit organization that is helping those who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The charity that is helping Pesce, Homes For Our Troops, modifies or builds homes that allow wounded veterans to live independently.

“We were amazed by how our radio station rallied around the mission of Homes For Our Troops,” said Chaz and AJ, in a preamble before showing a video about Pesce.

Brianne McNamara, community fundraiser coordinator for Homes For Our Troops, spoke with the Wesleyan Posse Veterans. (Photo by Bryan Stascavage ’18)

Brianne McNamara, community fundraiser coordinator for Homes For Our Troops, spoke with the Wesleyan Posse Veterans. (Photo by Bryan Stascavage ’18)

Brianne McNamara, a community fundraising coordinator for Homes For Our Troops, spoke with the Wesleyan Posse attendees about the organization.

“We don’t do any self-promotion or advertising,” she said. “This allows us to give 90 cents out of every dollar directly to helping veterans. Instead, we rely on word of mouth and events like this gala to spread word of our organization.”

The national average for refurbishing a home for a veteran costs more than $400,000, she noted, and Home For Our Troops has been able to help more than 180 wounded veterans. The organization also provides financial counseling services to ensure that the veteran will be able to maintain the house after renovations are complete.

The gala was particularly important to the Wesleyan Posse Veterans: Po and Pesce served in the same Ranger Company while deployed to Afghanistan. Although they hadn’t known each other well at the time, the two spent much time in conversation at the benefit. Afterwards, Po shared some notes about his conversation.

Sean Pesce (left) and Po talk during the gala. (Photo by Bryan Stascavage ’18)

Sean Pesce (left) and Po talk during the gala. (Photo by Bryan Stascavage ’18)

“Pesce still loves to golf, and is looking forward to attending the University of New Haven in the fall,” said Po, noting that Pesce is interested in earning a degree in business or political science. “He wants to open his own restaurant and perhaps run for public office one day.”

Despite his new home and college plans, the road ahead still has challenges for Pesce. “He still has a lot of medical appointments between now and when he starts college,” says Po. “He’ll also have building events at his new home over the summer—and while these events are exhausting for him, he knows it is for a great cause.”

Those in the Wesleyan community interested in volunteering with Homes For Our Troops can find more information here.

Additionally, details on Pesce’s story can be found here.

Danbury mayor Mark D. Boughton spoke at the event, offering support for veterans in Connecticut.

Danbury mayor Mark D. Boughton spoke at the event, offering support for veterans in Connecticut. (Photo by Bryan Stascavage ’18)

The cover band Rum Runners played for free at the benefit. (Photo by Bryan Stascavage ’18)

The cover band Rum Runners played for free at the benefit. (Photo by Bryan Stascavage ’18)

Students Gain Skills, Help Departments While Working on Campus this Summer

More than 185 Wesleyan students are employed in various campus departments over the summer. Of those, about 78 are work-study eligible. Students earn money that can be contributed to the cost of their education, while learning skills that will benefit them in the classroom and beyond. Employers benefit from students’ skills, insight and enthusiasm.

Andrea Vargas ’17 is spending her summer working as a student assistant for the Office of University Events and Scheduling. She also holds this job during the academic year. “I use a computer program to process information about campus events. We handle all the logistics for events, and right now I’m planning for faculty lectures that will be held next fall.”

Andrea Vargas ’17 is spending her summer working as a student assistant for the Office of University Events and Scheduling. She also holds this job during the academic year. “I use a computer program to process information about campus events. We handle all the logistics for events, and right now I’m planning for faculty lectures that will be held next fall.”

Greenwald ’16 Honored for Study of ‘Street Boys’ in Nepal

Michael Greenwald '16 speaking with a street boy who had approached him at Pashupatinath Temple.

Michael Greenwald ’16 spoke with a “street boy” who had approached him at Pashupatinath Temple. For an independent study project, Greenwald observed more than 150 boys age 5-16, and conducted interviews of NGO affiliates and former street boys.

#THISISWHY

An independent study project by Michael Greenwald ’16 was chosen as one of two winners of the 2015 SIT Study Abroad Undergraduate Research Award.

The project, titled, “Cracks in the Pavement: The Street Boys of Kathmandu,” was one of more than 2,000 independent study projects (ISPs) completed over the past three semesters, and among 20 nominated for the award. SIT has additionally nominated Greenwald’s project for the prestigious Forum on Education Abroad’s 2015 Undergraduate Research Award.