by Olivia Drake •
For six weeks this summer, 11 Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows received an intensive introduction to graduate school expectations while developing a research topic to pursue during their time in college.
On July 28, the students, who hail from Wesleyan (6) and Queens College (5), offered brief project presentations at the Center for African American Studies.
The fundamental objective of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) Program is to increase the number of minority students, and others with a demonstrated commitment to eradicating racial disparities, who will pursue PhDs in core fields in the arts and sciences. The program aims to reduce over time the serious underrepresentation on faculties of individuals from certain minority groups, as well as to address the attendant educational consequences of these disparities. Wesleyan’s MMUF is coordinated by Krishna Winston, the Marcus L. Taft Professor of German Language and Literature.
Wesleyan fellows, their majors and research topics include: Paige Hutton ’18 (American studies),”White Skin, Black Masks: The Appropriation of Black Womanhood by White Gay Men;” Iryelis Lopez ’17 (American studies), “Committing to Difference? Performing Diversity at the Neoliberal University;” Delia Tapia ’18 (American studies), “Historicizing and Combating Colonial Threats to Community and Survival in Harlem;” Aura Ochoa ’17 (American studies and chemistry), “Deconstructing ‘Humanness’: Understanding and Rehistoricizing the Exploitation and Erasure of Women of Color in Science and Medicine in the United States;” Alicia Strong ’18 (religion and government), “Blurred Lines: The Politics of Islamic Identity in Postwar Kosovo;” and Aleyda Robles ’18 (American studies), “From the Salvadoran Civil War to the Refugee Crisis: Can there be U.S. accountability and reparations for El Salvador.”
by Olivia Drake •
The Gordon Career Center is helping students design their future.
Through a new intensive seminar called Careers by Design, Wesleyan students can explore the many influences on their career decision making and make choices that are right for them. The Gordon Career Center’s innovative approach to career education encourages students to design their own careers by exploring the intersection between their interests, the skills they have and wish to acquire, and market demand.
“Careers by Design is a framework that applies the principles of design thinking to solve every college student’s ultimate questions: ‘Who do I want to be? What do I want to become?’” said Sharon Belden Castonguay, director of the Gordon career Center.
Careers by Design, which is offered in January as part of Wesleyan’s Winter on Wyllys career programming, also is taught through an online course. Students learn how to apply design thinking to the search for meaningful work, write an “elevator pitch” to describe themselves, analyze the past and visualize the future, understand and define workplace success, and explore ways to launch their career. The online course, which runs for about an hour and 15 minutes, includes multiple exercises and recommended resources.
In addition, Careers by Design boasts a series of interviews by well-known Wesleyan alumni and guests including Joshua Boger ‘73, founder of Vertex Pharmaceuticals; Andy Brandon-Gordon ‘86, managing director of Goldman Sachs; Ed Heffernan ‘84, CEO of Alliance Data; Laura Walker ‘79, CEO of WNYC; Bradley Whitford ‘81, actor (The West Wing, The Cabin in the Woods, Transparent); and more.
These interviews are offered as podcasts and can be accessed through iTunes U and Sound Cloud.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Hannah Levin ’19 recently interviewed Peter Cambor ’01, an actor on Showtime’s Roadies, about his career and his time at Wesleyan. The interview appears on Master Chat Mag, a website Levin has been running since her sophomore year of high school, which serves as a resource for students who are passionate about TV, film, theater and comedy and wish to work in the field one day.
Cambor has starred in television series including Notes from the Underbelly and NCIS: Los Angeles. In the interview with Levin, he talks about catching the acting bug in high school, and about how his time at Wesleyan fueled his creativity:
I guess that the best thing for me was the faculty at the time was great, Bill Francisco was a great teacher who has since retired. A litany of great actors had come out of Wesleyan before my going there, like Bradley Whitford and Frank Wood. The ’92 Theater [Wesleyan’s student theater] had a play going on every weekend. Some of the plays were quite good, including In the Heights, as you know. There were things like that going on all the time.
There are two sides to working as an actor professionally. There’s the creative side where you’re making all the fun stuff, making theater, which is great. But you also have to have a business acumen. Just like in any other business you have to know how to work on a team, how to work with other people, what’s realistic under great constraints and how you can find freedom within those constraints. You’re forced to creatively think your way out of problems. I think that little microcosm of the ’92 Theater really taught me that thing. People took big swings and sometimes things were great, sometimes things were awful. But there were always big, bold swings. Learning how to work together, fail together, succeed together was great.
I was also working with a great group of people. I was good friends with Thomas Kail (’99) who directed Hamilton, Lin-Manuel [Miranda] (’02) and I were in a play together, I did a film with one of the executive producers for Brooklyn-Nine-Nine. There’s just so many more: Zack Whedon, Joss Whedon’s younger brother. All those guys were there. That’s a pretty hefty group of people to be working with, which of course I didn’t realize at the time.
Read the full interview here.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Kindergarten Kickstart, a research-based, summer pre-K program for children in Middletown created by Associate Professor of Psychology Anna Shusterman and her students, is celebrating its fifth year. It’s marking the occasion with an event July 20 at the Middletown Roller Skating Rink (free for any current or past Kickstart family, 4 to 6 p.m.) and using a new grant to further develop student innovation in the program.
Shusterman and three of her students first launched Kindergarten Kickstart in summer 2012 as a pilot program with 15 children at MacDonough School. They designed the curriculum and taught the program together with a MacDonough teacher. Today, this five-week program serves 35 children at Bielefield and Farm Hill schools (who will be entering kindergarten at those schools plus MacDonough), with six Wesleyan undergraduates and recent alumni leading the classes and developing the curriculum. A certified teacher continues to work at each site. Funding comes from a variety of sources, including a small budget from Wesleyan’s Provost, the Foundation for Greater Hartford, Safe Schools/Healthy Students, and a seed grant from Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship.
The program is intended for children who could benefit from an extra pre-school experience before beginning kindergarten in the fall. Through a partnership between university-based research labs, Middletown Public Schools and local community organizations, Kindergarten Kickstart aims to bridge the research-to-practice gap and improve participants’ school readiness skills through a short-term, high-impact, low-cost preschool program.
According to Shusterman, children in low-income neighborhoods start kindergarten with academic skills up to two years behind their peers. Research shows that quality early childhood education makes a huge difference in helping to shrink this achievement gap. In fact, economists estimate a $7 return for every $1 invested in early childhood education, resulting from lower spending on school remediation, incarceration, unemployment and other programs that become necessary when children do not start out on the right foot.
Shusterman said Kindergarten Kickstart was started as a way to put early childhood research into practice.
by Olivia Drake •
Two Wesleyan students, one recent alumna and a faculty member contributed to a groundbreaking discovery of the first Philistine cemetery, a crowning achievement of more than 30 years of excavation in Ashkelon, Israel. Archaeologists and scholars have long searched for the origin of the Philistines, and the discovery of the cemetery is poised to offer the key to this mystery. Findings from the cemetery, dated to the 11th–8th centuries BCE, may well support the claim – long inferred and recorded in the Bible – that the Philistines were migrants to the shores of ancient Israel who arrived from lands to the West around the 12th century BCE.
Kate Birney, assistant professor of classical studies, assistant professor of archaeology, assistant professor of art history, is the assistant director of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon and has been bringing Wesleyan students to the site since 2011 to participate in the research and excavation. The 3,000-year-old site, located in the southern district of Israel on the Mediterranean coast, offers clues to the Philistines’ way of life. Little is known about their origins.
This summer, Joy Feinberg ’19, Jaimie Marvin ’19 and Sarah McCully ’16 worked on the Philistine cemetery. McCully ’16, who came to Ashkelon with Birney years ago, is now a staff member for the Leon Levy Expedition. In addition, Sam Ingbar ’16, Hannah Thompson ’17, Maria Ma ’17 and Sabrina Rueber ’18 are also in Ashkelon this summer working on the excavation of a 7th century merchants’ neighborhood.
by Olivia Drake •
Wesleyan’s Graduate Liberal Studies is offering 13 courses this summer in narrative fiction and film, biography writing, European history, world literature, multivariable mathematics, the photographic book, abnormal psychology and more. Wesleyan offers a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) and the more advanced Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts (MPhil), as well as a Graduate Certificate in Writing and non-degree graduate study. Rather than becoming specialists in narrow fields, GLS graduates possess the highly-valued ability to connect across disciplines, identify multiple possibilities, and argue all sides of a topic.
by Olivia Drake •
During the Roman Empire, the art of gem carving or intaglio provided a way to characterize one’s self, family or acquaintances.
This summer, three Wesleyan students with an interest in classical studies worked with a Roman intaglio collection previously owned by J. Pierpont Morgan (father of J.P. Morgan) at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford.
As interns, Maria Ma ’17, Margot Metz ’18, and Emma Graham ’19 collaborated on documenting and cataloging about 200 intaglio gems, which made the collection accessible to a wider audience of scholars and museum visitors. The gems were hidden from public view for decades.
“It’s so exciting that our students had the opportunity to work in the local community and to employ what they know about Greek and Roman antiquity in a partnership with a wonderful museum like the Wadsworth Atheneum,” said Lauren Caldwell, associate professor of classical studies.
Graham, a College of Letters major, felt the internship would perfectly combined her two intellectual passions: classics and art history.
“I have always been interested in how these two areas of study overlap and influence each other,” Graham said. “Also, I have always been a great lover of museums and I was interested in what goes on behind the scenes at a museum.”
The students would frequent the museum three days a week for about six hours a day. During their time, they documented the gems’ measurements, material and imagery.
“The subject matter of the gem determined how long we spent on each one. For example, we were able to identify animals very quickly but other gems, such as badly weathered gems or gems with more complex imagery, took more much time,” Graham said.
In order to determine the symbolic meaning of each gem, the students worked together and consulted intaglio collections online owned by the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and The British Museum, as well as a huge collection of imprints of intaglio gems housed at Cornell University.
“We were able to personally work with every gem in the collection, which was truly an amazing experience,” Graham said.
Metz was interested in the internship because she wanted to explore another area of ancient civilization. “It was fascinating being able to apply what I had learned in the classroom at Wesleyan in a practical manner at the museum. We were able to identify generic figures as gods and goddesses, such as Neptune and Ceres, by using the objects they were pictured with in gems and comparing them to stories in mythology,” she said.
The internship, which concluded June 23, was jointly supervised and organized by Wesleyan faculty and Atheneum staff including Caldwell; Clare Rogan, curator of the Davison Art Center; Linda Roth, the Charles C. and Eleanor Lamont Cunningham Curator of European Decorative Arts; and Johanna Miller, school and teacher programs specialist at the Wadsworth Atheneum. The Watson Squire Fund in the Department of Classical Studies supported the students’ room and board expenses. Students applied and interviewed for the internship through the Atheneum.
“The interns did a great job and their work will be entered into our database and made available to the public through our website,” Roth said. “There already is a small selection on view now in a gallery devoted to Art and Curiosity Cabinets.”
Classes in Drawing, Biology, Programming, Writing Currently Offered during Wesleyan’s Summer Session
by Olivia Drake •
During Wesleyan’s Summer Session, students complete semester-long courses in only five weeks.
This summer, classes are being offered in drawing, biology, chemistry, computer programming, legal thinking, writing creative nonfiction, foreign policy, the art of the personal essay, the narrative, techniques of fiction, and international politics. All courses have limited enrollment, preserving the small seminar style and opportunity for close relationships with faculty and fellow students.
Summer Session I runs May 25 to June 23, and Session II takes place June 28 to July 28.
Pictured below is ARST131, Drawing I, taught by Kate TenEyck, assistant professor of art:
by Olivia Drake •
Eight earth and environmental science E&ES 344 Advanced GIS students presented posters at the Northeast Arc Users Group Spring Spatial Technologies Conference, May 9 at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
The posters highlighted the students’ semester-long research and service-learning projects incorporating applications of advanced geographic information systems skills.
The project-based course E&ES 344 is taught by Kim Diver, assistant professor of the practice of earth and environmental sciences, and is part of the Academy for Project-Based Teaching and Learning hosted by the Center for Pedagogical Innovation.
“The 14 students in the course conducted independent research projects, worked with faculty on their research projects, or collaborated with community partners on service-learning projects,” Diver explained.
Half of the course’s projects were represented at the conference.
Participants included Sophie Breitbart ’16, Stephanie Ling ’16, Laura Dempsey ’16, Pierre Gerard ’16, John Hossain ’16, Jesse Tarnas ’16, Jed Siebert ’16 and Avi Stein ’17.
Ling won the poster contest with her innovative spatial humanities research on examining the spatiotemporal mobility of bishops in Medieval England.
by Michael O'Brien •
The 2016 Memorial Day Weekend was a historic one for Wesleyan athletics as women’s tennis player Eudice Chong ’18 defended her crown as the NCAA Division III Individual Singles Champion, and the women’s crew team captured a bronze medal in the Varsity 8 Grand Final at the NCAA Division III Rowing Championships.
Chong, a First Team All-NESCAC selection for the second consecutive season, capped off an incredible sophomore campaign with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Juli Raventos of Williams College in the championship finals of the singles bracket. Chong and Raventos met twice, earlier in the season, with Raventos claiming both matches — the only two losses of Chong’s collegiate career. With a win over Raventos in the third match-up of the season, Chong became Wesleyan’s second two-time national champion in school history.
She also remains the only national champion in Wesleyan tennis history, and boasts an incredible 52-2 overall record in two seasons. In addition to her individual singles title, Chong also reached the doubles semifinals with teammate Aashli Budhiraja ’18. Read more here.
While Chong was excelling on the tennis court, the women’s crew team was busy placing third overall in the Varsity 8 Grand Final at the 2016 NCAA Division III Rowing Championships in Gold River, Calif. With a time of 6:47.82, the Cardinals became the first at-large team to win a bronze medal in the history of the national championships. Wesleyan was edged by Wellesley, who finished first in 6:46.10, while Williams placed second in 6:47.40. Read more here.
In addition to Wesleyan’s varsity athletics success, the Cardinals’ club sports also shined as the women’s ultimate frisbee team finished second in the USA Ultimate Division III College Championships.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
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.”
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.