Khalied ’16 Delivers Senior Class Welcome (with video)

Wesleyan celebrated the graduates of the Class of 2016 at its 184th Commencement Ceremony on May 22. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Tahreem Kahlied ’16 speaks to fellow graduates. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Tahreem Kahlied ’16 delivered the following Senior Class Welcome during the 184th Commencement Ceremony May 22:

Five years ago, when I was still living in Karachi, Pakistan, and studying for an accounting certification, I logged on to my Facebook and realized that my wall was flooded with graduation pictures. I wrote the following status in a fit of passive-aggressive jealousy (and I quote): “I just realized that I will never have a regular graduation with a convocation where I get to wear a gown and that flat hat thingy.”


Tahreem Khalied ’16 (Photos by Tom Dzimian)

I wasn’t just jealous…I was extremely sad. I believed wholeheartedly that I would spend my life auditing companies, and that was just depressing.

When I came to the U.S. four and a half years ago I did not know what to expect…and needless to say the first few months here were a cultural shock, completely nerve-wracking. Born and raised in Karachi, it was extremely difficult for me to adjust to the Wesleyan environment. I was scared on so many levels: scared about my future; scared about being the odd one out, the adult, foreign student in a sea of smart, articulate young people; scared about not being American enough to understand what it meant to be a Wesleyan student. Coming to Wesleyan was the first decision I had taken for myself, and it scared me that this one independent decision might turn out to be a big failure.

Gruppuso, Tamaddon, Nury Deliver “Senior Voices” Addresses

Abigail Gruppuso ’16, Austin Tamaddon ’16, and Cyrus Nury ’16 delivered “Senior Voices” Addresses on May 21 in Memorial Chapel. Andrea Roberts, associate professor of the practice, chemistry, delivered the faculty reflection. Below are the text of their speeches:


Abigail Gruppuso ’16 (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Abigail Gruppuso ’16

The lunch table in Usdan is where my friends and I split into two camps and argue whether Cherry Berry or Froyo World is better. It’s where Mike and I exchange stories about our study abroad experiences in Nepal and Beijing. It’s where I was urged to Feel the Bern and taught how to eliminate food waste. At the table by the window, Sarah tells me about her research to find a chemical solution to antibiotic inhibitors. And Wolfi and I blabber about our ridiculous idea to start a popup restaurant on campus. Our laughs echo through the dining hall when Lainey and Sam simultaneously yell “Anotha one!” because DJ Kahled is so engrained in their vocabularies. We know everyone is staring at us when we sing Justin Timberlake at the top of our lungs but we don’t care. The long rectangle table is where we support each other in times of crisis—where we tell one another they’re gorgeous and too amazing for that guy, it’s okay to get a bad grade once in a while and your mental health is more important than sticking with pre-med.

73 Seniors Inducted into Phi Beta Kappa Society

Members of the Class of 2016 were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, a national academic honor society, in the Memorial Chapel on May 21. Jim Citrin P'12 P'14 was the featured speaker for the ceremony.  (Photo by Tom Dzimian)

Members of the Class of 2016 were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, a national academic honor society, in the Memorial Chapel on May 21. Jim Citrin P’12 P’14 was the featured speaker for the ceremony. (Photos by Tom Dzimian)

Members of the Class of 2016 were inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the oldest national scholastic honor society, in a ceremony May 21 at Memorial Chapel. The event was held in conjunction with Reunion & Commencement Weekend.

Members of the Class of 2016 were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, a national academic honor society, in the Memorial Chapel on May 21. Jim Citrin P'12 P'14 was the featured speaker for the ceremony.  (Photo by Tom Dzimian)

Wesleyan President Michael Roth welcomes the new members of Phi Beta Kappa. 

The Wesleyan Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was organized in 1845 and is the ninth-oldest chapter in the country. Membership is conferred for high scholastic achievement. Fall election eligibility is based on a student’s grades at the end of junior year; spring election is based on four-year achievement.

Seventy-three students were inducted at the ceremony. They join fifteen other seniors inducted in December 2015.


Holt Akers-Campbell
Elizabeth Marie Alexion
Hannah Monica Ang Ang
Leah Ruth Bakely
Maya Sarah Berkman
Stephanie Rose Blumenstock
Rebecca E. Brill
Kristin Ione Bumsch
Christopher O’Neal Caines
Matthew Werner Chilton

Wesleyan’s T.R.A.P. House Business Incubator Working in Hartford’s North End

Members of team behind TRAP House, one of the three social ventures that won a seed grant, presented their pitch before a live audience of the Board of Trustees, Patricelli Center Advisory Board and others.

Members of team behind T.R.A.P. House, one of the three social ventures that won a seed grant, presented their pitch before a live audience of the Board of Trustees, Patricelli Center Advisory Board and others.

The Hartford Courant has featured the work of T.R.A.P House, a nonprofit business incubator that targets high-crime, high-poverty areas and has recently started working in the north end of Hartford. T.R.A.P. House is the creation of a team from Wesleyan: Irvine Peck’s-Agaya ’18, Gabe Weinreb ’18, Sara Eismont ’18, and Bashaun Brown, a former student in Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education, where he earned 16 credits while serving six years at the Cheshire Correctional Institution for bank robbery.

T.R.A.P. stands for “transforming, reinventing and prospering,” and is a play on the street slang for a place to buy and sell drugs. According to the Courant:

The acronym doubles as the organization’s mission statement. Brown wants to set up shop in the North End and recruit drug dealers, providing them an outlet to “pivot their skills to the legal economy” through college-level entrepreneurship classes.

He has already started to make his rounds, visiting halfway houses and touring neighborhoods, spreading word of what he’s doing.

“There are no headhunters looking at these people, no one’s looking to hire them,” Brown said. “But I believe you have the same type of people in these neighborhoods that have the same business acumen that you might find at Harvard or Yale. They’re just using it for the wrong reasons.”

Brown knows this all too well from his upbringing on the streets of Plainfield, N.J., a city 30 miles south of Newark where “preteens act as lookouts and drug mules in exchange for soda-and-chip money.” He tried to distance himself from this life by enrolling at Morehouse College, but after one year, “his dreams collapsed under the weight of debt.” He returned home and made a series of bad decisions that ultimately landed him in prison.

Wesleyan Class Studies ‘Lost Tribe’ of Lower Connecticut River

The Hartford Courant reported on a study of the Wangunks, the indigenous people of Middletown and Portland, Conn., by members of a Wesleyan course taught by J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, associate professor of anthropology, associate professor of environmental studies. Eleven students spent a semester in the archives of the Middlesex County Historical Society studying the Wangunks as part of a course on local Native Americans: “Decolonizing Indigenous Middletown: Native Histories of the Wangunk Indian People.” Four of those students presented their research at a March seminar at Russell Library.

According to the story:

The Wesleyan students made use of a number of sources to piece together a comprehensive history of the Wangunk peoples, from their contact in the mid-1600s with the first English settlers of Middletown to the tribe’s gradual disappearance.

Through [Gary] O’Neal — a descendant of Jonathan Palmer, a Wangunk Indian who lived in East Hampton in the early 1800s — the students were able to learn about the tribe’s persistence in the area.

“We wanted to understand who the Wangunk were and what happened to them,” said [Maia] Neumann-Moore [’18], who looked at Wangunk migration patterns after the settling of Mattabessett, or Middletown, by the English in 1650. “It was as if the Wangunk disappeared into the woods. But they were here all along.”

The students found that the settlers were increasingly casual in their references to these Native Americans over time, especially their actual numbers. They said the word Wangunk appears often in 17th century records but far less frequently a century later, when a small band was living across the river on a reservation in Portland, known as Wangunk meadows.

Read the full story here.

Women’s Tennis, Crew Teams Qualify for NCAA Championships

Aashli Budhiraja ’18

Aashli Budhiraja ’18

The Wesleyan women’s tennis and women’s crew teams both qualified for the NCAA Championships this week. Women’s tennis, ranked No. 8 in the ITA national rankings, returns to the postseason tournament for the first time since the 2000-01 season, and only the second time in program history. The Cardinals earned a first round bye after posting an 11-5 overall record, and will face the winner of No. 14 Mary Washington and Simmons on May 14 at 11 a.m. on the campus of Amherst College, the regional host. If Wesleyan wins, it would advance to play either No. 7 Amherst, SUNY Geneseo or Ithaca in the third round May 15 at noon.

Women’s tennis is riding a historic season, in which the Cardinals won their first-ever NESCAC Tournament match. Wesleyan, seeded No. 5, defeated the No. 4 seed and sixth-ranked Bowdoin 5-1 to advance to the semifinals. The Cardinals are led by reigning Individual Singles National Champion Eudice Chong ’18, and enter postseason play having won seven of their last eight matches.

In addition to the women’s team qualifying for the team championships, Chong and Aashli Budhiraja ’18 also qualified for the NCAA Individual Championships, while Victoria Yu ’19 was selected as a singles alternate. Additionally, Steven Chen ’18 of the 11th-ranked men’s tennis team qualified in singles play on the men’s side and Michael Liu ’17 was selected as an alternate. Chen and Liu were instrumental in Wesleyan’s success this season, which saw the team win its first-ever NESCAC Tournament match when it defeated Tufts, 5-3, to advance to the semifinals. The Cardinals narrowly missed out on an at-large bid to the team championships and finished the season with a 13-6 record.

Women’s crew, ranked No. 3 in the country, earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Women’s Rowing Championships and will bring its Varsity 8 boat, comprised of Ava Miller-Lewis ’17, Remy Johnson ’16, Annalee Holmdahl ’17, Emma Koramshahi ’16, Ricky Flowers ’19, Emma Halter ’17, Annie Dade ’16, Amanda Molitor ’18 and coxswain Elissa Greenberg ’18. The Cardinals are making their second appearance in the postseason tournament, and first since 2014. Six teams qualified for the championships, while two at-large Eights were also selected. The championship regatta will take place May 27-28 at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center in Gold River, Calif. Wesleyan finished second overall at the New England Championships and third at the National Invitational Rowing Championships.

* Update 5/16/2016
The eighth-ranked women’s tennis team played No. 14 Mary Washington in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and defeated the Eagles decisively, 5-0. Advancing to the ‘Sweet 16′ on Sunday, Wesleyan faced No. 7 Amherst College on the Little Three rivals’ home court. The Cardinals came up short, as they were defeated 5-2. Wesleyan’s historic season came to an end as it finished the year with a 12-6 record.

Women's Crew.

Women’s Crew.

Fox ’19 Writes on Wesleyan’s Jewish Community, Campus Political Climate

Anna Fox ’19 wrote an essay in The Forward about Wesleyan’s Jewish community and the campus political climate surrounding the Israel Palestinian conflict. Though, as a Zionist, she was anxious about coming to a campus with a pro-Palestine reputation, she was met with a pluralistic community, “diverse opinions” and “students exchanging ideas thoughtfully—though rarely in agreement—and leaving the conversations with respect, compassion and nuanced approaches to their ideas.”

She writes:

The passion I see in my peers who engage with Israeli-Palestinian politics, regardless of their political affiliations, gives me so much hope about the future of the Holy Land. My voice is not just heard, but valued. My views have been challenged, certainly, and I often leave conversations grappling with the questions they provoked, but I am always met with compassion.

And this campus makes me feel closer to Israel. My community’s plurality doesn’t alienate me, but pushes me to think deeply about the conflict. When the Bayit embraces students with diverse political opinions, and when we have the opportunity to engage with the issues that we feel so deeply and passionately about, my peers and I are able to develop our opinions in an informed and responsible way. […] The openness of dialogue in this campus’s Jewish community never allows us to be blindly opinionated, or to trust that we are always right. Rather, we are constantly assessing the subtleties of our opinions, strengthening and shifting them as we continue to learn more about the world around us.

Fox concludes:

It’s tempting for adults to dismiss college students as starry-eyed idealists. But as young people, we know that at the end of the day, we have the potential to make the world a better place. When we have the spaces to explore this potentiality fully, we bring a new vitality to the conversation. We engage with one another, and we challenge both our peers’ beliefs and our own. We grow as Jews and as people. Jewish communal leaders looking to understand our generation ought to listen to us.


Students Toss Objects from Exley’s Roof during Big Drop

eve_bigdrop_2016-0504042100 (1)

In 1589, Galileo dropped balls of various sizes from the Leaning Tower of Pisa to demonstrate that they all hit the ground at the same time. On May 4, Wesleyan students repeated this experiment in modern-day way at Exley Science Center. Several Wesleyan students, staff and faculty observed the “big drop.”

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Hanna Elszasz ’18, Sam Sheppe ’18, and Bill Nelligan, director of environmental services, dropped objects from the roof of Exley Science Center. In this test, the group used a Mac and PC.

Students Honored with Academic Prizes, Fellowships

The Office of Student Affairs hosted a Spring 2016 awards banquet for students who received academic prizes, fellowships and awards on May 4 in Daniel Family Commons.

Students received awards for demonstrating outstanding character, leadership and intellectual commitment; intercollegiate debating; extracurricular participation; promoting the health, visibility, and participation of the Latino community at Wesleyan; writing the best paper that uses econometric techniques to analyze an economic problem; excellence in environmental stewardship; excellence in modern languages; exhibition in painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, photography, or architecture; and much more.

To view the entire list of awards and recipients see Student Affairs Prizes website. (Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)


Students Solve, Analyze Complex Problems at DataFest

Students from Wesleyan, Trinity College, Connecticut College, Yale University and the University of Connecticut participated in the American Statistical Association DataFest, hosted at Wesleyan in April. 

Students from Wesleyan, Trinity College, Connecticut College, Yale University and the University of Connecticut participated in the American Statistical Association DataFest, hosted at Wesleyan in April. (Photos by Will Barr ’18)

Three teams from Wesleyan received honors during the American Statistical Association DataFest, hosted at Wesleyan April 8-10.

During DataFest, students are presented with a large, complex, surprise data set and work over the weekend to explore, analyze, and present their findings. Teams of three to five undergraduate students from Wesleyan, Trinity, Connecticut College, Yale, and the University of Connecticut competed against each other.

After two days of intense data wrangling, analysis and presentation design, each team was allowed only five minutes and no more than two slides to impress a panel of judges.

The event, coordinated by Wesleyan’s Quantitative Analysis Center, is part of a set of initiatives to strengthen quantitative reasoning and facilitate computational and data analysis work across the curriculum. It is designed to bring together current students, alumni and data analysis professionals as they work together in addressing real world problems that involve computational data work.

The event also provided an opportunity for recruiters to connect with students who are interested and skilled in data analysis, and may be candidates for internships or job openings.

Wesleyan team 1,588,506 received the "Best in Show" award. Teammates included Jack Gorman ’19, Samara Prywes ’17 and Tiffany Coons ’18,

Wesleyan team 1,588,506 received the “Best in Show” award. Teammates included Jack Gorman ’19, Samara Prywes ’17 and Tiffany Coons ’18,

Wesleyan Students, Local Seniors Become ‘Fast Friends’


Every week, a group of Wesleyan students in the Wesleyan Alliance for Generational Exchange (WesAGE), visit local senior centers to play card games and bingo and interact with the residents.

“Our residents can’t get out into the community because of mobility and safety issues,” David Frankel, activities coordinator at One MacDonough House, told The Middletown Press in a feature story about the program. “So Wesleyan students through a program called WesAGE come to MacDonough Friday afternoons rather than party with their friends. These are special young men and women. They let us know that we’re a value to the community.”

“Wesleyan University has worked very hard at becoming part of the Middletown community,” he added, praising how the program motivates students and encourages assisted-living residents to remain active.

Gabe Borelli ’16 coordinates the WesAGE Companions Program. Borelli, who is studying economics, politics and history, says students in his program are paired with an elderly companion from one of the area’s assisted living homes: Heritage Commons, One MacDonough, South Green Apartments or Wadsworth Glen.

“I try to match student volunteers with residents’ interests,” said Borelli, who became involved in the program when he was a sophomore. “Whether it’s Scrabble, dominoes or other social games, they really enjoy getting to know the residents.”

Borelli says though some people believe there’s a wide gap between generations, “we usually find common interests such as politics, sports and our personal histories.”10255339_10203921605587222_6579148984284863708_o

Carolina Elices ’17, also a program coordinator, is majoring in art history and English. From Arlington, Massachusetts, Elices plans on earning a master’s degree in English, then teaching or working in publishing. She says WesAGE is her favorite activity at school and looks forward to spending Friday afternoons sharing stories with residents at MacDonough.

“It makes a nice change talking to people who aren’t 18 to 22,” she says. One of her favorite resident companions is a woman who is an excellent Scrabble player. “Ann usually beats me,” Elices says. “But, the two times I’ve beaten her she vows never to play me again,” she laughs.